Children will be told to avoid public transport
Head teachers will ignore advice to drop some subjects to concentrate on maths and English
Children will be told to walk or cycle to school rather than take public transport when the new term begins in September, the Government will say. Ministers have drawn up plans that will encourage children not to rely on public buses, trains and trams. For children who travel to school on dedicated buses, attempts should be made to ensure that “bubbles” stay together and that different year groups do not mix, guidance is expected to say.
CHILDREN will be told to walk or cycle to school rather than take public transport when the new term begins in September, the Government will say.
Ministers have drawn up plans that will encourage children not to rely on public buses, trains and trams.
For children who travel to school on dedicated buses, attempts should be made to ensure that “bubbles” stay together and that different year groups do not mix, guidance is expected to say.
Officials considered relaxing the statutory duty on councils to provide home-to-school travel for children, The Daily Telegraph understands.
This would allow councils more flexibility to insist that children make their own way to school rather than rely on council-funded shared transport.
Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The older children get, the bigger an issue transport becomes. Secondary pupils travel further to get to school. Head teachers need to plan for this.”
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, will announce this week how schools in England will operate from September and detailed guidance will be published by the Department for Education. It is expected to focus on how schools ensure that children catch up on work they have missed.
Draft guidance states that secondary schools will be asked to put students in
“year bubbles”, while primaries will be asked to stick to “class bubbles”.
This means that in secondary schools, entire year groups of up to 240 pupils could be sent home if one child tests positive for coronavirus.
Schools may teach a slimmed-down curriculum focusing on maths and English, with the full syllabus not reappearing until next summer.
Some subjects may even be put on hold until 2021 to allow time for pupils to catch up on the core subjects, under plans being considered by ministers.
Experts warned that this could lead to “cultural apartheid” while head teachers vowed to ignore the advice.
Prof Lee Elliot Major, a social mobility expert at the University of Exeter, said he understood the importance of focusing on maths and English but warned it could lead to a cultural gulf between rich and poorer pupils.
“Clearly maths and English are absolutely essential for future life prospects,” he said. “If you don’t get a grip on the basics, your life prospects, whether in terms of earnings or any other way, aren’t good.”
But Prof Major added that ideally, all children should be taught a broad curriculum and subjects like art and music should not have to be “sacrificed”.
“The dilemma will be that the middle-class students will retain all the enrichment and curriculum breadth whereas those from poorer backgrounds will not,” he said. “It will create a cultural apartheid between middle-class children who will get enrichment outside the classroom and poorer children who get nothing.”
The proposed guidance says that pupils taking their GCSES next summer may also need to drop some subjects so that extra space can be made in their timetables for English and maths, while those in their first year at secondary school may need to be retaught parts of the English and maths syllabus from their final year at primary.
Head teachers criticised the plans on social media, and said they would refuse to comply.
Ruth Luzmore, the head teacher of St Mary Magdalen Academy, a north London primary, said: “Pupils in my school will continue to have a broad curriculum in September... We are not going to narrow the opportunities for our pupils.”
Tracey Griffiths, the head teacher of Barn Croft primary in Walthamstow, added: “Only maths and English? Not on my watch!”
Andy Byers, head teacher of Framwellgate School in Durham, said he was happy to adjust or postpone some activities in some subjects, but “certainly not the subjects themselves”.
Nearly nine in 10 primary schools in England have reopened but only around a third of eligible pupils in some year groups are back in class, official figures show.
Almost three quarters of secondary schools welcomed back more students in Years 10 and 12 on June 25, the second week that the Government said “faceto-face” support should be offered.
But only a third of pupils in Reception and Year 1 attended school on June 25, up from just over a quarter the week before. Attendance continues to be highest among Year 6 pupils, with around two in five attending school last Friday, up from a third on June 18.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, is due to set out how schools will operate from September