Chil­dren will be told to avoid pub­lic trans­port

Head teach­ers will ig­nore advice to drop some sub­jects to con­cen­trate on maths and English

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Camilla Turner ED­U­CA­TION EDITOR

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

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