Should the schools open?

Some are writing to me to support the Prime Minister and the Chief Inspector of schools in wanting the schools to open today. Others are contacting me urging closure in line with the ideas of the main teaching Union and the Opposition parties. I invite more views. I just want us to adopt the least bad answer in what is a difficult situation for the country.

The government case is based on several propositions. Children get very mild versions of the disease and the younger ones often show no symptoms so they are not much at risk. There will be testing systems to ensure early isolation of anyone with the disease.Teachers will be protected by social distancing with bubbles , limits on numbers in confined spaces to reduce the risk of any infection spreading and regular cleaning.

If children are barred from school they will lack social contacts with their friends and will miss the benefit of a class teacher. There will be more cases of depression and other mental illnesses. Exams may be disrupted leading to another year with a likely different basis for assessing a student’s level of achievement for qualifications.

Closing schools will force many more parents into home working or not working leading to income loss and further strains on other important activities that need the workforce to turn up to work in person.

The Union case argues that with the advent of a strain of the virus which is more infectious there is a danger that school children will spread the virus to others at home. Teachers need more protection than the testing and social distancing regimes adopted so far. They think seeking to limit any additional spread of the virus should take precedence over any other consideration of people’s mental health, educational progress or ability to go to work.

The government counters by saying it advises families with elderly and at risk members who do not live with them to avoid any contact with the children until those at risk have been vaccinated.

328 Comments

  1. Mark B
    January 4, 2021

    Good morning.

    If the children are to be made to stay at home then I see no reason to pay the teachers for something they are not doing. If the Unions are unhappy about this, tell them that they can pay their members from their funds.

    It is always easy to have moral virtues when someone else is paying.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      January 4, 2021

      Teachers are providing lessons online. Measuring how much of their roles they are delivering remotely enters the public and private sector home working conundrum where everyone declares that they are more productive at home but management and innovation are problematic.

      I do think that if we enter a second lockdown we should see the furloughing of senior pubic sector workers so that they have some skin in the game.

      1. Mark B
        January 5, 2021

        If they are working, pay them. If not, stop their wages.

        1. a-tracy
          January 6, 2021

          furlough 80% of pay up to £2500 per month if not working same as everyone else.

    2. Martin in Cardiff
      January 4, 2021

      It’s not a question of having moral virtues.

      It is one simply of reasonable self-protection from danger at work.

      In France pupils wear masks.

      However, the UK could not organise their supply for schools, I suspect.

      1. NickC
        January 4, 2021

        Don’t be silly, Martin, there is less danger from covid19 than there is from road traffic for children.

    3. Simeon
      January 4, 2021

      Ah, but remote learning allows teachers to do their jobs from home – something of which the government presently approves. What government don’t like is that children staying at home creates a childcare problem.

      You have to remember that the teaching unions are only playing the game the government has created, and the rules of which they drew up. The blame for this mess lies solely at the feet of government.

      1. a-tracy
        January 5, 2021

        You think these professionals are ‘playing the game’. I sincerely hope not.

    4. Mike Stallard
      January 4, 2021

      Totally right! We are falling into two classes: those who are on the public pay roll and those who are not. One is so highly moral it hurts. The other just desperate as they watch their lives’ work, their hopes, their dreams, disappear like Fenland fog in the afternoon.

    5. Chris S
      January 4, 2021

      The teaching unions should be told that if Schools are closed, all the teachers not fully involved delivering 35 hours a week of distance learning will be furloughed.

      That will concentrate their minds

    6. Stephen Priest
      January 4, 2021

      As we know PCR tests are completely inaccurate

      What Is A Covid-19 Case?

      Dr. Sam Bailey – – you tube

      Dr Sam starts from scratch and explains what is a Covid-19 case and unravels the web.

      1. hefner
        January 4, 2021

        Dr Bailey will be happy that you advertise her video. Does she shares her internet consultation business profits with you?

    7. oldwulf
      January 4, 2021

      @Mark B

      Presumably furlough is the answer. It seems the pandemic has highlighted differences between the public sector and the private sector. At the end of the day, the private sector pays for everything.

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        January 4, 2021

        No the private sector does not pay for everything.

        It and the public one are all part of the same economy and are mutually dependent.

        The clue is in the word “sector”.

        1. Edward2
          January 4, 2021

          Could we have successful economy if everyone worked for the State?
          Maybe some examples would be useful in your reply.

          1. Helen Smith
            January 5, 2021

            This!

        2. Lynn Atkinson
          January 4, 2021

          Well you are going to see the end of the private sector within weeks. So I’m looking forward to the state sector create one single bloody £ of wealth for us to live on.

        3. Mike Wilson
          January 4, 2021

          Okay, everyone in the private sector goes on a general strike. How long before the government has no money to pay the public sector?

    8. bigneil(newercomp)
      January 4, 2021

      ” It is always easy to have moral virtues when someone else is paying “.

      Yes – just like waving in thousands of unemployable uneducated non-English speaking foreigners who then proceed to demand WE change to THEIR ways, while living off OUR taxes. They claim they want a BETTER life – then demand the exact same as where they left.

    9. Sarah Tun
      January 4, 2021

      That’s one way to stop unions from using the virus as a political football.

    10. Qubus
      January 4, 2021

      As a halfway measure, why no furlough them at 80%, or less, of their normal wage?

      1. Qubus
        January 4, 2021

        The present behaviour of the teachers reminds me of the old adage: those who can do, those who can’t teach !

        1. NickC
          January 4, 2021

          Unfortunately, many of them can’t teach either!

    11. Iain gill
      January 4, 2021

      Pointless when packed passenger flights arriving from around the world.

    12. sam
      January 4, 2021

      well said

  2. Lynn Atkinson
    January 4, 2021

    I can’t see how capitalism can be totally snuffed out unless you keep the schools closed, demand the wearing of masks, move infected people around the country to uninflected hospitals, furlough most of the NHS, arrest anyone taking pictures of empty hospitals, and keep this up until there are no pips to squeak at all.
    Best if you don’t fund any of the destruction you cause – give pay rises to the NHS staff, working or not so that maximum pressure on the treasury to raise taxes on anyone who still has anything at all.
    Maybe you could make it a criminal offence not to listen to at least 3 BBC productions a day just to put the cap on it?

    1. Everhopeful
      January 4, 2021

      Absolutely!
      The Marxist handbook..as applied by our “Conservative” government.
      ( Although I still see a few shops open…which must end immediately!).
      I’m looking forward to queuing outside a govt run store for my sauerkraut ration. Oh..assuming I can leave the house.

    2. a-tracy
      January 4, 2021

      I have no problem with there being empty wards if there aren’t staff to staff them because of shielding and sickness or redeployment into covid care but why can’t the NHS just be honest with people. We’re finding out drip by drip anyway, most people now knows someone who has been into an empty A&E or seen empty wards. If 40% of NHS front line workers are shielding or sick at any time then there are going to be problems. How many surgeons aren’t working with routine operations being cancelled in December? Are they asked to redeploy? Why can’t we ask questions we are expected to pay up in advance.

    3. Iain Gill
      January 4, 2021

      lol

    4. oldtimer
      January 4, 2021

      Contemporary Britain: my wife and I were invited last week to receive the first of two Pfizer vaccine jabs. We got them on Wednesday with the advice, and documentation, that the second must follow three weeks later and with a confirmation of the appointment. Yesterday she received a text message cancelling the appointment for the second jab and that it will come “later”. It seems to me this is in breach of the terms of approval given to this vaccine by the regulatory authorities (and thus illegal) as well as a breach of trust. It is one thing to offer a single jab with delayed second jab before it is administered. It is quite another to do so only after the first had been delivered. It is clear that the NHS and those in charge are out of control.

      1. Helen Smith
        January 5, 2021

        I share your concern, but, if you and your wife get a second jab, someone else, at equal risk of the virus will get none.

    5. Kevin Caudwell
      January 4, 2021

      Here here.

      Funny how the solutions the establishment prefers to problems caused by the establishment always lead to more establishment projects.

      The global virus was caused by globalism and the only solution is more globalism such as a world government.

      Capitalism and personal responsibility are the only things standing in this way and as you point out – all these policies are doing a good job of destroying it all.

      1. Mark B
        January 6, 2021

        Same with the EU. The solution to the problems caused by the EU is, you guessed it, more EU !

    6. John Hatfield
      January 4, 2021

      +1

  3. Ian Wragg
    January 4, 2021

    School teachers who refuse to work should be banned from shopping.
    It’s amazing how the virus only affects the public sector who of course continue to get full salary and pension ben.
    It’s the same for the members of SAGE, all advising lockdown when it doesn’t affect them.
    When the vaccination doesn’t control the virus, what are we going to do then, permanently close the hospitality sector for our own good.
    The peasants must be taught a lesson.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      January 4, 2021

      ++

    2. Narrow Shoulders
      January 4, 2021

      School teachers who refuse to work should be banned from shopping

      Or just put up plastic sheeting at the front of the class. It is deemed safe for retail.

      Your points about public sector workers being financially unaffected are pertinent. The public sector is now awash with funding and their livelihoods are assured. Decision making is much improved if you have skin in the game.

    3. Lester Cynic Beedell
      January 4, 2021

      Ian

      + 1

    4. JoolsB
      January 4, 2021

      Exactly. Not to mention far more sick days than those in the private sector. I know of a teacher who has self diagnosed herself as having long covid and hasn’t worked since March, on full pay of course. Funny how she can find the energy to go out shopping most days and take the dog out twice a day.
      The politicians, scientists, the whole public sector are completely cushioned from the disastrous actions they are so eager to impose on the wealth creating private sector.

      1. Lynn Atkinson
        January 4, 2021

        This needs to change. 40% of last 3 years salary up to a max of £2,500.00 for all State sector employees – this now apparently included MPs many of whom claim to have a ‘job’.

    5. Hope
      January 4, 2021

      Ian, it only infects public sector people in work. When they go out shopping etc they are immune apparently.

  4. Polly
    January 4, 2021

    What better way to achieve lasting changes to a nation in pursuance of the sustainability targets of Agenda 21 than to cripple it with an artificially exaggerated public health emergency?

    Soon to be followed by further economic crippling through the introduction of net zero requirements into the energy sector.

    Is that what the Johnson administration is trying to achieve ?

    As we know from the statistics that 2020 is nothing out of the ordinary insofar as the overall death rate is concerned, there surely has to be an ulterior motive for your administration’s draconian and economy destroying actions?

    Polly

    1. Bryan Harris
      January 4, 2021

      +++

      Too close to the truth

    2. Lester Cynic Beedell
      January 4, 2021

      Polly,

      I agree 100%, this has nothing to do with the impossible task of beating a virus but more to do with destroying the country and until people wake up to this what hope is there?

    3. Christine
      January 4, 2021

      Any Government with the slogan Build Back Better is part of this. People need to wake up before it’s too late. They have only just started.

    4. Zorro
      January 4, 2021

      Got it in one Polly!

      Zorro

    5. Hope
      January 4, 2021

      If there are no businesses or jobs no point in education I guess.

    6. DavidJ
      January 4, 2021

      Indeed Polly, too many are unaware of the evil intent of the UN and the members of the WEF. Time to ignore the “woke” lot and the falsified climate “data”.

    7. Peter from Leeds
      January 4, 2021

      Just checked on ONS website:

      “Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths up to 11 December 2020 was 579,491, which is 67,864 more than the five-year average. Of the deaths registered by 11 December 2020, 72,546 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 12.5% of all deaths in England and Wales.”

      1. Polly
        January 4, 2021

        How many deaths were there due to reduced treatment for anything other than C-19 except in A&E ?

        Polly

      2. sam
        January 4, 2021

        how many deaths due to flu and pneumonia?

      3. NickC
        January 4, 2021

        Peter, The five year average is only a guide – we have no idea if we would have had more or fewer deaths without covid19 in 2020.

    8. Norman
      January 4, 2021

      ‘What better way to achieve lasting changes to a nation in pursuance of the sustainability targets of Agenda 21 than to cripple it with an artificially exaggerated public health emergency?’
      Well said, Polly: and it’s more or less worldwide, with an ominous spiritual root. Time to look up! (1 Thess 4:16-18, or as blindly sung in Handel’s Messiah).
      As for schools, yes, keep them open – and teach the children well, as used to be!
      Thinking back, I’m so grateful for the post-war vision and professionalism of so many of my teachers. Home schooling is entirely understandable, but is no match for what we had in those days.
      Having said this, the real education of ‘life beyond’ follows by grace, as so many have found: and was helped by the generally favourable climate we then enjoyed throughout so much of the world: sadly, so different now. So again I say, look up!

    9. turboterrier
      January 4, 2021

      Polly

      Spot on the money polly , well said.

  5. Mick
    January 4, 2021

    Bloody unions trying to take us back to the dome years of the 60s and 70s, all these leftists unions are doing is trying to start a fight with a elected Tory government because they haven’t got a labour lot in, ill tell you what unions if your members don’t work no pay and to catch up on kids education shorten all term holidays for a few years , better still now it’s proved to be effective teach pupils on line there by being able to reduce the teachers needed in the system, haven’t work that out well have you lefty unions

    1. Andy
      January 4, 2021

      Schools are not safe. There is nothing lefty about unions telling teachers they do not have to work in an unsafe environment. Lessons can continue online.

      And a point to remember: 57% of us did not elect this useless Brexit government. It might have a majority in Parliament but it does not have the backing of the majority of the people. We always knew Johnson would be a useless prime minister and lead a failed government. We were right. This mess is entirely on those of you silly enough to vote for him.

      1. Edward2
        January 4, 2021

        Currently a poll shows Tories up 6 points to 43%
        A similar level to that which gave them a huge 80 seat majority at the last election.
        The losers are the anti Brexit Lib Dems who are down 5 points
        Oh dear Andy, you must be so sad.

        1. Lynn Atkinson
          January 4, 2021

          I’m sadder than Andy! If the morons are happy with Boris, I’m off.

          1. Fred H
            January 5, 2021

            but not to the EU?

      2. sam
        January 4, 2021

        schools are as safe as they have been every year when the flu season started

      3. NickC
        January 4, 2021

        And a point for you to remember, Andy: 77% of us didn’t vote for your Remain parties.

    2. oldwulf
      January 4, 2021

      @Mick

      Yep – its political

      https://www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/news/council-continues-its-support-city-primary-schools

      Here, the local authority has publically requested government support for online learning. A a short term fix, this is probably not worth the money and many poorer families are more likely to lose out. As a long term solution it might make economic sense if it leads to fewer teachers and the repurposing of school buildings. However, I believe the negative effect of home working on the children and their parents would not be worth the financial savings.

      Boris is losing the PR war.

      1. a-tracy
        January 5, 2021

        Children don’t have individual desk computers in school they have workbooks.

        Why do we have to overcomplicate everything!

        Issue each child with a book to read each week according to their reading level and ask them to write a book review for their teacher to read and a questionnaire to answer to ensure they have understanding. Give them each a collection slot to come to school to sit with their teacher who will be masked and behind a screen, the pupil can also wear a mask for this interchange to give them their books for the week.

        Give the child their Maths books and lessons on a dedicated tv channel for each year group to explain the maths function for each year group, send their parents the marking sheet to mark their own child’s work, ask for the workbook to be dropped off at school once per fortnight for teachers oversight and check marking.

        Same with science books.

        Simplify back to basics for each year.

        It’s got to be better than nothing.

  6. Freeborn John
    January 4, 2021

    Keep the schools and universities open. I would vaccinate them in school as part of a national mobilisation. It seems other countries are being a bit tardy authorising the Oxford vaccine so let’s take advantage of the quantities available to accelerate vaccination here. We need to be doing many millions a week. All the test centres should be providing vaccines to anyone who turns up for a test.

    1. Everhopeful
      January 4, 2021

      Don’t you remember the swine flu jabs?
      Jab healthy kids first? Too much of a risk.

    2. Nigel
      January 4, 2021

      Yes, vaccinate school staff as a priority then the schools should stay open.
      The vaccination programme should be put on a war footing. Instead of giving contracts to the big accounting firms to advise, contract out the distribution of the vaccine to Amazon or someone similar, apply some common sense to the ridiculous regulation regarding the use of recently retired doctors and nurses, and mobilise student nurses etc, and then go full speed to vaccinate as many as possible.
      It’s not rocket science.

    3. dixie
      January 4, 2021

      I remember getting my BCG jab in school

    4. Jon
      January 4, 2021

      Yes what a good idea use the young as guinea pigs to see what the mid / long term effects of the vaccine are !!

    5. Fred H
      January 4, 2021

      we might have millions of vaccines available from April, but not for January we have to decide priorities. Do we give to elderly and vulnerable to ‘save NHS’ and them?
      Do we give to care workers, hospital and GP surgery staff? Do we determine who spreads it? Is the 18 -30 age group the real problem – close social contact, Unis, customer facing work? Should we consider providing vaccination in those areas?

    6. beresford
      January 4, 2021

      Why would you vaccinate the children? They are at little risk themselves and as far as we know vaccines don’t stop them carrying the virus or spreading it. Current medical advice is that those who are ‘thinking of having children’ shouldn’t be vaccinated, so it might be a bad idea to give it to the girls.

    7. Thomas E
      January 4, 2021

      It doesn’t make sense to mass vaccinate children with any of the existing vaccines as they haven’t been tested on children yet. It may not be safe.

  7. BW
    January 4, 2021

    The problem is obvious. Nobody knows and Boris, unfortunately will be dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn’t.
    I have seen no evidence of children social distancing whilst on holiday. On the contrary they hang around a large groups. Admittedly in the open.
    So whilst there are arguments from both sides I cannot see a correct way forward.
    Keep the schools shut and be blamed by parents for taking away their free child care and ruining their children’s mental health. Stopping parents working.
    Keep the schools open and be blamed for using the children as experimental services. Putting teachers at risk.
    It goes on.
    What is most damaging is the political point scoring agains Boris at every opportunity at a time of crisis, especially by the SNP to use this crisis to hammer their anti Westminster, anti U.K. agenda home at all costs.
    If our emergency service can work with all sorts of degenerates in confined spaces and make it work. It could be argued that we should be able to make teaching our children work.

    1. turboterrier
      January 4, 2021

      BW

      Regarding the SNP they are not only thinking that they are helping their only focus in life which some will argue this is true but it is about all the other things they are promoting on the world and European stage.. Fanatical yes, selfish yes, team player no sensitive no, understanding no and the list goes on and on. Who in their right mind wants this in their team, especiallywhen real crises unfold.

      You dont get respect ,you have to earn , as my old granny used to say. There seems to be a dearth of old grannies in Scotland. As a country and potential partner they are sending out all the wrong signals.

    2. Martin in Cardiff
      January 4, 2021

      There are simple things which could be done, and it is reckless with people’s health not to do them.

      Have pupils wear masks as in France, for instance.

      Uh-uh.

      The Tories can’t supply the schools with them

      THAT is the unions’ point.

      1. NickC
        January 4, 2021

        Martin, Most pupils and most teachers are at less risk from covid19 than they are from road traffic and accidents. Do try to restrain your natural bossiness.

      2. Edward2
        January 5, 2021

        So that is it.
        Just wear masks.
        A cure.

    3. Mark B
      January 4, 2021

      Kids pick up all sorts and pass it on from viruses to lice. It is part of growing up. Mild diseases are nature’s way of testing and strengthening the immune system. Whilst I understand parents concerns it is high time we had a clear pathway out of this mess. That requires both leadership, planning and everyone to do their bit. Sadly I see none of this.

    4. John Hatfield
      January 4, 2021

      The government should be taking advice from sources other than the politically motivated SAGE.

    5. Ignoramus
      January 4, 2021

      Well said BW.

      We need to rid ourselves of these Scottish fools a soon as possible.

      Let’s follow through on Brexit and be shot of the union A.S.A.P. England has been held back by Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales too long. Let us rid ourselves of these shackles and let the English lion roar.

      1. Fedupsoutherner
        January 4, 2021

        +1

    6. sam
      January 4, 2021

      there is virtually zero danger to children from this virus so why shouldn’t they socialise? Its madness

  8. formula57
    January 4, 2021

    Government advice changes so often, too frequently to close gaping loopholes in its previous advice, that the teaching unions are well-advised to stay their course for it can only be days at most before the Government view aligns with that they profess.

    Surely by now remote teaching/ learning has been perfected?

    1. Simeon
      January 4, 2021

      There is a point here. Sometimes I almost feel sorry for our kind host. Trying to defend the indefensible is bad enough, but how much worse when the position you are defending is guaranteed to flip! Cases will continue to rise, and so too will the number of people dying. A(nother) u-turn is inevitable, and the government will once again demonstrate its incompetence/ability to respond appropriately to a rapidly evolving situation.

      My children’s school’s leadership is meeting today to establish what can be done. The headmaster is a good man and will do whatever he can to ensure they open. But even should he manage this, it’s only a matter of time before he is told to close by the higher ups.

    2. Nig l
      January 4, 2021

      Re last line, I guess you haven’t got young kids or some time ago. They are seriously missing their little mates and need the ‘playground’ fun desperately for both their ‘sanity’ and development.

      On line as an acceptable alternative is an oldie solution.

    3. Mike Durrans
      January 4, 2021

      So Formula57, those families who could not feed their children , Surely they have no computer either? Therefor no remote teaching, unless that generous footballer payes for their installation and monthly internet payments. Yeh! Hes made a name so will not be interested anymore

    4. Robert McDonald
      January 4, 2021

      The nature of children does not change, they generally want to play and need to engage with friends. That isn’t one of the attributes of remote teaching and learning requires listening. Of course government advice changes, they have to balance risks short and long term and the conditions change .. the unions only have closing down everything in their basket of solutions to every problem.

    5. Mike Stallard
      January 4, 2021

      I have been a teacher all my life.
      Remote learning is fine for people at public school like one of my grandchildren. She sits upstairs in her large bedroom in front of her mac and studies the work which her excellent teachers have set her, ready to email it in to be marked.
      What about, let’s call him Nick, whose Mum disappeared, whose Dad has been in prison and who lives with his Grannie? He shuffles between houses and has no permanent bedroom, let alone any form of access to a computer. He finds reading hard, of course, and I personally wonder if the teachers are bothering to set work anyway for someone in a school for failures like his.

      1. steve
        January 4, 2021

        Mike Stallard

        “I personally wonder if the teachers are bothering to set work anyway for someone in a school for failures like his.”

        Probably they don’t, because the lad won’t be handing homework in anyway if he doesn’t have the facilities or parents.

        I hope you are not inferring that the kid is the failure, I hope not.

      2. a-tracy
        January 5, 2021

        Mike, do we leave children with people who ‘don’t have a permanent bedroom’ for them?

        I wonder if retired people could volunteer to listen to ‘Nick’ reading to them over the telephone, a book that could be given to him and the volunteer by the school, just 30 mins to 60 minutes per day.

    6. Fred H
      January 4, 2021

      Teaching in person for nursery, reception and primary age grouop is essential and invaluable. At secondary level the varied, inconsistent quality of teaching, and the hazard of pupil behaviour causes so much variation in achievement.
      From year 7 upwards increasing amounts of teaching should be lecture format, and internet based. The best do the teaching, we reduce the numbers of average teachers, and underused lecturers in Unis. A first-class teacher via internet can address an audience of dozens even hundreds instead of rarely a maximum of 30.

    7. Kevin Caudwell
      January 4, 2021

      Perfected?

      With all due respect, what planet are you from? Teachers aren’t very good at learning new tricks. This is why the Unions always demand loads of extra training days for them.

      You see, teaching would be so much easier if it wasn’t for those pesky students!

    8. Iain Gill
      January 4, 2021

      its hard to get remote learning if you dont have internet in the house or a laptop

      1. a-tracy
        January 5, 2021

        There are books Iain, worksheets, time tables and maths lessons for each school stage could be shown on tv.

        Even if we can only concentrate on Maths, English and Science.

  9. Mary M.
    January 4, 2021

    Amanda Spielman, HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills sets out very clearly just how damaging it is to remove school attendance from children’s lives (Daily Telegraph, 2nd January).

    ‘The government counters by saying it advises families with elderly and at risk members who do not live with them to avoid any contact with the children until those at risk have been vaccinated.’ Could this be a first step on the long path back to when we were credited with being able to think for ourselves (heady days!) and when it was recognised that we were capable of taking responsibility for ourselves and for those around us, without the Government dictating to us?

    Once again, bring on the review and renewal vote on the Coronavirus Act 2020.

    1. Simeon
      January 4, 2021

      Er, no. Government is not giving the people any credit, but merely recognising the limits of its present power. But don’t besurprised if they add to those powers in due course. The renewal of the Coronavirus Act would be the perfect opportunity, so I’m not looking forward to it!

      1. Mary M.
        January 5, 2021

        Correction. (Apologies for any indigestion caused over your breakfast, Simeon.)

        I meant to write ‘bring on the review and vote on the Coronavirus Act 2020’. Like you I certainly do not want the Act RENEWED again.

        As you know, the Act was voted on and renewed at the end of September. I hadn’t proof-read carefully enough my copying and pasting.

        It may be remembered that I often drew the attention of fellow-readers to the petition ‘Repeal the Coronavirus Act 2020’. We just got it over the line (102,805 signatures) by the petition’s deadline. We’re still waiting for a debate date in Parliament.

        Mary

        1. Simeon
          January 5, 2021

          Hi Mary,

          I understood from your post you are not in favour of the extension of government powers, and that you see the vote as an opportunity to let the present powers elapse. I was trying, though perhaps not hard enough, to make the point that an extension is guaranteed to be rubberstamped. I’m sure a few, our kind host probably amongst them, will vote against, but, alas… the present situation will continue.

          PS I did avoid choking on my cornflakes, though a queasy feeling later manifested. Just after 8pm if I recall… 😉

          PPS Congratulations on a valiant effort. Though even if a debate happens, will it change anything? Nevertheless, bless you.

    2. Julian Flood
      January 4, 2021

      “(Daily Telegraph, 2nd January).’

      Subscribe now and save 75%? Perhaps a public employee should voice her opinions in some medium other than the house organ of the Conservative Party which requires payment. I’m sure the Guardian would be pleased to oblige.*

      JF
      *Hmm. Perhaps not.

    3. Kevin Caudwell
      January 4, 2021

      The second “personal responsibility” was mentioned before Christmas was the moment the policy was doomed. There is nothing the establishment hates more than the concept of personal responsibility and trusting voters!

    4. DavidJ
      January 4, 2021

      +1

  10. Sea_Warrior
    January 4, 2021

    I think that schools should remain open, if that’s what a risk assessment concludes. The older teachers should, of course, get early jabs. Teachers refusing to work should lose their pay but Gavin Williamson doesn’t seem to have a lever to pull to inflict that essential financial discipline.
    The BBC should now be ready to deliver a full education service, for each year group, over TV. It isn’t, of course – and that’s why it must now be destroyed.
    But the big issue is this: why are we headed for a national lockdown at the very moment that the Big January Migration of ‘Uni’ Students is about to start? And, as a side-question: why are so few ministers able to interpret a curve on a chart?

    1. Kevin Caudwell
      January 4, 2021

      My God no – the BBC delivering a full education service?!
      Heaven please forbid such an idea.

  11. Bloke in Wales
    January 4, 2021

    Tell the schools to open.

    If the teachers then choose to go on strike, that is up to them.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 4, 2021

      +1

    2. Everhopeful
      January 4, 2021

      +1

    3. Martin in Cardiff
      January 4, 2021

      How much do you think that the family of a teacher who contracts covid19 and who dies, or whose kin do, could claim in damages, bloke?

      The circumstances in schools are blatantly against scientific infection avoidance advice.

      1. Lynn Atkinson
        January 4, 2021

        If the teacher and all their kin die too, they will claim nothing.

        1. steve
          January 4, 2021

          There will also be less left wingers filling the kids heads with shyte.

      2. Fred H
        January 4, 2021

        and what of bus drivers, train drivers, shop workers, nurses, policemen moving on the leftie rabble protesters….

      3. sam
        January 4, 2021

        what happened the previous year if they got flu and died?

      4. NickC
        January 4, 2021

        Martin, Life is full of risks. Didn’t you know? You should be embarrassed to always expect other people to hold your hand – it is both selfish and pathetic.

  12. BeebTax
    January 4, 2021

    As long as we pay teachers their full salary to stay at home then these arguments will continue.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      January 4, 2021

      Others are being paid to work from home ad infinitum.

      So long as the lessons are being delivered as per timetable and marking is carried out why shouldn’t teachers join the “working from home” productivity fest?

      If lessons are not delivered as per timetable then that is a performance issue.

    2. Andy
      January 4, 2021

      What a genuinely silly comment. Teachers have literally never worked harder. Having not only to work in schools to keep them open for the children of key workers – but to transform lessons to online while teaching the kids at home.

      Whilst you sit at home receiving your pension at full value moaning at everyone else, plenty of us are putting our lives at risk to try to protect people like you whilst still keeping the economy moving. Perhaps we shouldn’t bother.

      1. Robert Mcdonald
        January 4, 2021

        True, many are putting their lives at risk … shop workers, bin collectors, delivery drivers, nurses, farmers but teachers? not when they shut the schools down and have long holidays. Some work, most don’t.

      2. steve
        January 4, 2021

        Andy

        “Whilst you sit at home receiving your pension ”

        …you have no knowledge of his personal financial affairs, what a stupid thing to say.

        1. Fred H
          January 5, 2021

          they always are.

      3. NickC
        January 4, 2021

        Andy, What a literally silly comment. Teachers have literally never worked less. Having literally only a few to work in schools to keep them open for the children of key workers – the rest can put their feet up at home whilst clicking on their Zoom lesson – no need to keep order in the classroom any more.

        Whilst you sit at home receiving your salary at full value moaning at everyone else, plenty of us are putting our lives at risk by continuing to work to keep everything from electricity, water and food supplied to you, and others, in order to keep the economy moving. Perhaps we shouldn’t bother.

    3. Lifelogic
      January 4, 2021

      Indeed, and it will continue for years to come with every infection that comes along.

    4. Richard416
      January 4, 2021

      Exactly. If teachers want to withdraw their labour they should not be paid.

    5. DavidJ
      January 4, 2021

      +1

  13. Iain gill
    January 4, 2021

    The schools should open, unlike some I know some primary children, the trauma from missing their peers is bad. At that age you learn a lot from your peers, you learn to be a social person. It is a complete disaster to have them out of school for long times.

    Politicians should not be regarded as key workers, they should have skin in the game and suffer like everyone else.

    Why cannot we do what the public schools are doing and test all the pupils and teachers every day.

    We should not be allowing corbinista unions to hold the country to randsom.

    1. Iain gill
      January 4, 2021

      On the other hand vulnerable school staff should be helped, type 1 diabetics etc do have a case for shielding.

    2. Iain gill
      January 4, 2021

      But then type 1 diabetics in the NHS have a case for shielding too. And cleaners etc too not just the glamorous roles.

      1. Iain Gill
        January 4, 2021

        the leading public schools have been doing it every single day

    3. Frances Truscott
      January 4, 2021

      Rubbish and the test is horrible. It would cause injury. It would be abuse to do it often. It’s intrusive and painful.

      1. a-tracy
        January 5, 2021

        There are plenty of companies giving free tests once per week Frances. Their staff haven’t been whinging about it they’ve got on with it and worked keeping important factories open throughout.

    4. Nig l
      January 4, 2021

      Agree. The Tory government famously gave in to the blob when Gove was axed and we are seeing the result. This is as much about a power struggle than safety.

      The problem I have is that this alleged testing scheme is slow and inefficient.

      I know of at least one company that has a now proven saliva test with accuracy levels in the 90s with results via small machine in 15 minutes.

      The bureaucracy to get this far has been criminal, and it needs a massive scale up and other companies are probably in the same boat. Serious risk finance £150 million provably can be done but the IPO itself takes months and then land acquisition, factory building to gear up for the tens of thousands of machines etc means these things will not stream until next year. Too late?

      It is the vaccine that provides the quickest solution and the government/NHS already telling me half a dose will help a bit gives me little confidence.

      One of Sir JRs famous questions that never get answered, if the vaccine needed a second shot 19 days after the first to be effective, how is that suddenly it can be effective given months later. Of course it can’t be and lives will be put at risk because of both purchasing and logistical failures.

      Open primary schools by all means but from personal experience with a five year old who was quarantined because a class member got it, it will only be a few days before it happens again.

    5. Peter Parsons
      January 4, 2021

      Simple – testing capacity (and, probably, cost).

      Current testing capacity is about 650,000 PCR tests per day. There are about 450,000 teachers across primary, seconday and special school, and something like 8.3 million enrolled in state-funded education.

    6. Newmania
      January 4, 2021

      The schools should open, unlike some I know some primary children, the trauma from missing their peers is bad.

      If you knew any children at all you would know they are in 24 hour contact via games phone and ..other stuff –

    7. Kevin Caudwell
      January 4, 2021

      I agree with this broadly.

      However, I don’t agree that politicians are not key workers (which by the way is a horrible phrase) – politicians *should* be the best of us and their work respected – if we go down the route of them having to be the same as non politicians we are saying they can only vote if they’ve got first hand experience of the policy – which would be nonsensical.

      Also, the more we test the more cases we have and the bigger the problem becomes.

      Mass testing in schools will lead to many more cases in young people which will lead to a misconception that kids are now more vulnerable and ironically this will make them more vulnerable to wellbeing issues.

    8. Derek
      January 4, 2021

      I’ve just thought. With no classroom “mentors” to indoctrinate them into the ways of the “utopia” of liberal left socialism, this country might benefit from the fact that these naïve pupils will be able to learn to think for themselves for once.
      I do hope I have not let the cat out of Boris’ bag of tricks!

  14. Dave Andrews
    January 4, 2021

    Looking at the infection rates, the curve went up and continued going up from the beginning of September – about the time children went back to school. All the other measures to limit the spread of the virus seems to have had little effect. So the policy is to continue a high risk activity whilst attempting to mitigate with closing down many low risk activities.
    I see though that advertising people, journalists and elite sportspersons are exempt from self-isolating when returning to the country. Hardly essential services.

  15. Iain gill
    January 4, 2021

    If nothing else the infants entitled to free school meals by virtue of their age and not means testing should continue to get free school meals by another mechanism. This is important, don’t leave them stranded like the last time.

  16. SM
    January 4, 2021

    Under normal circumstances, no school staff would know if a pupil had been in close contact with someone suffering from a primarily asymptomatic infectious disease and would therefore not expect the abolition of schools ‘just in case…’

    I appreciate that the world is in a flux, with a great deal of media-induced hysterics inflaming this serious situation, but at some stage ALL governments are going to have to be firm and start looking forward. Individuals and families have suffered personal and economic tragedies from other bacterial and viral epidemics, but normal life has continued, and MUST now continue, or all the efforts of good people will have been wasted.

  17. ian@Barkham
    January 4, 2021

    Another illustration of Centralized Government single minded control – one size fits all.

    One employer, one union. Those they serve, that pay for the service have no voice. Just as everyone is different, every area of the country has different needs, requirements and at any one time has a different set of circumstances. You just cant shoe horn everything and expect to maintain optimum results.

    Basing everything on the needs of a vocal noisy liberal left wing of Metro activists, does a disservice to us all. Its Government WOKE-ness that is destroying us, by not standing up to them and not understanding there is a larger country than their own ‘little’ bubble. The essence of the fault line is Government advisers that are driving their personal agendas that has no supporting facts. As someone stated on this blog over the weekend on analyzing the government advisory panels – they were all without exception behavioral disciples. No logic or facts employed between them, just guesses, outdated doctrine on how best to manipulate and control the masses. Lord help us all.

    Once past ensuring our children leave school with the knowledge of ‘how’ to learn, the next aim is to nurture and push the brightest if that’s what they see as their future, for all our benefits. The 2020 version of education qualifications has consigned that year as a batch worthless to a future employer – lets not do the same for 2021.

    Industry and business is looking to identify the top 5-10% of our brightest for their own as well as our future as a nation. Just giving everyone a great result just so the teacher can say look at me – I have educated them well, is perverse.

  18. Frances Truscott
    January 4, 2021

    The answer is to leave it up to parents. Only parents can judge if they are vulnerable or
    Cannot work from home. The depression in children remark is wrong. Nothing more crushing than a suspicion that a relatives or even teachers death may have been caused by a child going to school. Don’t make them do it until it is known how much children can spread it without knowing it.

  19. Sir Joe Soap
    January 4, 2021

    “If children are barred from school they will lack social contacts with their friends”
    They won’t. They’ll mix. For younger children their grandparents or carers will come into contact with them individually.

    Closing schools is quite mad and counter-productive.

  20. Richard1
    January 4, 2021

    Open them.

    Professionally minded teachers – as opposed to unions – want the schools open as they know that’s best for the children, for whose benefit schools exist. The private sector has managed with it without adverse results and will open up. So the state sector can do so also. Ignore Sir Smarmer and the unions, who are happy to sit at home on full pay oblivious of the devastation lock-down causes.

  21. Enigma
    January 4, 2021

    Keep schools open

  22. Everhopeful
    January 4, 2021

    The entire adult population of this country is being abused by the “government.
    And this, and this …is child abuse!

  23. Everhopeful
    January 4, 2021

    Avery good comment from Daily Mail …if allowed.

    Tony, Buckingham, United Kingdom, moments ago

    The virus is not meant to be cured, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the lockdown is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The lockdown is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over the virus but to keep the very structure of society intact. with apologies to George Orwell, 1949, from “1984”

  24. DaveM
    January 4, 2021

    Good morning Sir John. Would it be possible for the government to give an indication of the milestones which will be used to lift restrictions? I’m hearing many soundbites lauding the design and production of the Oxford vaccine and the procurement of that and the Pfizer vaccine (and numbers in comparison to other countries). I don’t really care how many people have been vaccinated elsewhere, I (and I expect many others) would like to know how many need to be jabbed before the question of schools opening is moot, when we can meet people inside and out etc.

    Daily updates on progress would also be helpful. At the moment it seems like a big secret – I have to hunt on Twitter via Nadhim Zahawi’s account for any info and there’s not a lot of it there. Some good news would be most welcome right now.

  25. DaveK
    January 4, 2021

    It’s quite amusing to see the governments own propaganda thrown back at it though. Perhaps they shouldn’t have used the 70, 60, 50, possibly a bit more increased virulence mutation scare. Remember the enemy can use psyops too. This is another illustration why you need a red/blue team approach to scientific questions and no data manipulation. Unless Polly above is correct and we are sorely in need of a resistance. It cannot have passed notice that the climate change lunacy is a foundation stone of the treaty. So destroying the economy fits in nicely.

  26. The Prangwizard
    January 4, 2021

    I dare say ‘the government’ will wait to hear what Sturgeon does in Scotland before acting.

    Of course we don’t have a government in England for England, so the whole management in England is chaos. When Boris speaks we don’t know who he is speaking for and neither does he.

    As for the schools in particular in the unions will decide; they have ‘the government’ running round in circles. It is certainly not in leadership.

  27. Everhopeful
    January 4, 2021

    Teachers in any case are turkeys voting for Christmas ( except that globalists are doing their utmost to abolish turkey / meat eating and Christmas).
    Can’t the teachers see how they are enabling the rollout of online learning?
    ( Here actually what amounts to gangs of kids roaming the streets).
    No classrooms = eventually no teachers.
    Abandon furlough ( if it seems too good to be true then it IS) and save your jobs!

  28. Chris Dark
    January 4, 2021

    The vaccines have not been guaranteed to prevent people catching the virus (therefore they are not real vaccines); therefore the programme of jabbing everyone in the country is rather pointless. Schools should be open, the children are our future and they should be receiving their full rights to a proper education (if there is such a thing these days). If the current batches of teachers don’t want to teach then they should consider themselves as having resigned and not be entitled to any salary; and be replaced with people who will do the job.
    The whole covid thing is hysteria on steroids. The unions will play this for all it is worth and it will never be solved until some brave soul brings the hammer down and says “enough”.

  29. Iain Moore
    January 4, 2021

    The teachers complained they only had 3 weeks to set up testing, but they give parents 1 day notice to arrange child care, or tell their employers they can’t go to work.

    The teaching profession has come out of this pandemic as the most work shy profession there is, they have spent the whole year agitating to close schools.

    1. Sea_Warrior
      January 5, 2021

      And to get exams cancelled.

  30. Lifelogic
    January 4, 2021

    Obviouly yes.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 4, 2021

      As closing them surely does far more harm than good.

  31. agricola
    January 4, 2021

    YES.
    The unions see it as a further way to disrupt normal life in the UK while letting the blame fall on the government. Reverse the PR, let the unions take the blame for any schools that fail to open without good cause.

  32. Narrow Shoulders
    January 4, 2021

    The schools that do open must have windows open all the time freezing the pupils. On PE days the children have to sit around in wet kit (PE must take place outside) in cold classrooms for the remainder of the day.

    Children and teenagers are hardy souls but my kids come home highly chilled.

    What needs to be defined is “do asymptomatic children pass the virus on to others”. Why has this research not been concluded? It seems a relatively easy experiment to carry out especially as secondary school aged pupils are testing positive in great numbers. Breathe on this petri dish please can be carried out at any test centre.

  33. a-tracy
    January 4, 2021

    Are teachers being tested at work on a once per week or twice per week basis? If not why not big companies are doing this in house and have been for months.

    There should have been tv educational programs for each year group set up from March, I said this at the time. If the British education service can’t organise this buy the lessons in from English speaking Countries that already do it such as Australia or America and just put rolling lessons for all 11-year groups on one channel each and get the pupils to come in to school in rotas to pick up their work papers for the week ahead, drop them off to get them marked and bring teachers into the classroom to do this at a safe distance.

    Teachers could be offered two further weeks off now on holiday and then make the time up during the summer six-week break.

    Or you could furlough the teachers on 80% of pay with a maximum of £2500 per month like the vast majority of the rest of the workforce you’ve pushed out of work.

  34. Roy Grainger
    January 4, 2021

    The media and unions and SAGE want them closed. Boris will cave in and close them. If he doesn’t SAGE will directly brief the media with more scarmongering to get their way . Once closed they will stay closed till half-term or (more likely) Easter. Then the exams will be cancelled again. Not much point debating any of this as this is what will happen.

    Further points:

    All schools have already been closed for two weeks – why hasn’t that worked ?

    Teachers are shamless in wanting to jump the queue for vaccination – as the vaccine is limited every shot given to a healthy 30-year-old teacher would mean an at risk 70+ year old in a care home would miss out.

  35. James Bertram
    January 4, 2021

    The Government reaps what it sows:
    It makes up stupid stories of a new Kiddie Mutant Virus so as to justify another round of ridiculous Lockdown measures; so Unions will use these same false stories to stop teachers working and create anarchy.
    Good. Hopefully this will be the end of this lying, and we can all get Back to Normal.

  36. Peter Parsons
    January 4, 2021

    “The government counters by saying it advises families with elderly and at risk members who do not live with them to avoid any contact with the children until those at risk have been vaccinated.”

    And yet, in many families, it is these same people who are delivering after-school care while parents are working. What government says and what the reality of day to day life is are completely at odds for many, many families.

  37. Alan Jutson
    January 4, 2021

    Surely the sensible thing to do is to stagger the schools return but test pupils and staff before they return, so that you know you are starting off with a clean environment.

    Yes schools should remain open, but bubble size needs to be much smaller if thousands are not to be sent home to self isolate, time and time again.

    Wonder why portocabins have not been erected in playgrounds, or the use of non school premises for lessons, in order to create more segregated internal space.

    Remote home tuition is simply not working for many as we all know, with some schools reportedly hardly bothering at all.

    Seems like many headmasters and teachers simply do not want to think outside the box for solutions, they simply want to complain and let others think for them, problem is they are the example for the next geeneration of snowflakes.

    What would happen if supermarket staff said their environment is not safe, given they meet thousands of different people each day, no bubbles for them, simply no work no pay.

  38. Peter Parsons
    January 4, 2021

    Why do so many on here hold the view that if pupils are not in school, teachers are not working? It’s the usual reactionary utter rubbish from some.

    Teachers are working. The ones I know personally have been working continuously throughout all this. They are delivering their lessons via different media and in different formats, and there has been a process of adaption and change, but the work has still been going on.

    One of my big questions is what has been done to ensure that all pupils have the ability to participate in these new ways of learning, in terms of network connectivity (broadband of sufficient capacity, mobile daya etc.), devices, etc.

    1. Peter Parsons
      January 4, 2021

      *mobile data

    2. Martin in Cardiff
      January 5, 2021

      I think that the attitude to teachers here is because they – like the vast majority of educated and materially beneficial people – generally voted Remain.

  39. Fedupsoutherner
    January 4, 2021

    Where are the school nurses we used to have? Many of us had vaccinations at school given by the nurse. If we have the time to test and trace then surely we have time to give a shot which only takes a minute. Include teachers and then we can all stop listening to their demands. For Christ’s sake don’t they realise there are people working who have no choice and many people surviving on a percentage of their salary. Why haven’t public workers been made to take a 20% drop in wages like the private sector?

    1. Alan Jutson
      January 4, 2021

      Ah yes the School days of old.

      Assembly for the whole School to start the morning off, with the head giving us the usual daily message of choice.
      Well remember waiting in line at school for the TB jab, we also used to have a quick cough type medical as well from memory, along with hearing and eyesight tests, and tests for colour blindness, then there was always the regular queue for the head lice inspection from time – time.

      Now teachers dare not even put a plaster on a tiny cut due to regulations, instead they now phone parents to come in and complete such simple tasks.

      Gone are the fun of ice slides, snowball fights and football in the playgrounds.

      How times have changed, now they cannot do simple maths without a calculator or mobile phone !

  40. Brian Cowling
    January 4, 2021

    It’s about choice.

    Schools should remain open. It is wrong to prevent law abiding parents from sending their their children to school should they wish to. Those parents who believe they have a case to keep children home should do so (and face the consequences). Teachers can choose to strike (and face the consequences).

    What next? Barracks closed and soldiers staying home because they’ll be in harms way. Nurses, doctors …..

  41. Alan Holmes
    January 4, 2021

    I’d be more concerned if the “education” children got was worth a candle. It isn’t. College is no better. My son has learnt less in a years college than I could teach him in a week. If teachers want to continue to have a never ending holiday let them. Stop paying them and let them stay at home whilst living on the pittance they’d get on UC. What could they do- strike?

  42. oldtimer
    January 4, 2021

    Schools should remain open. Teachers should get the Oxford vaccine jab.

  43. Sakara Gold
    January 4, 2021

    As the party slumps further in the polls, I wonder whether allowing Matt Hancock – the bungling “health” secretary – to go on BBC R4 this morning and blame the public (again) for his incompetence is making the best use of his time?

    As the government, once more, completely ignores scientific advice and turns the roll-out of the vaccines into another total shambles this man’s usefullness to the country has clearly reached it’s sell by date

    The Chinese plague virus is once more spreading out of control – as predicted last month. It’s Johnson’s indecision, the mixed messaging over the Christmas break, Hancock’s NHS bungling and pressure from a narrow spectrum of right-wing opinion in the parliamentary party – to keep the economy stumbling along at any cost – that has brought us here again. Those of the public who manage to survive will vote accordingly at the next election.

    1. Alan Jutson
      January 4, 2021

      Sakara

      The virus is spread from person to person, not by government, its quite simple really, keep your distance and try to limit the risk.

  44. Bryan Harris
    January 4, 2021

    So much of this is based on supposition.

    I support any move that will derail the NEW NORMAL thinking — Especially when it is becoming obvious to all clear thinking individuals that lock-downs cure nothing. The concept has become a white elephant.
    It doesn’t work – but the medical establishment have nothing to put in its place, and appear very reluctant to consider other options. Why is that?

    If we extrapolate from the viewpoint that lock-downs are the only option, then the future looks dire — {Even if vaccinations help} I fear we will see more draconian orders issued to further ruin our way of life.

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      January 5, 2021

      Lockdowns in liberal countries are not expected to eradicate the virus.

      They are to save lives and to prevent the breakdown of health provision.

      Thinking in absolutes where relatives are needed is infantile.

  45. None of the Above
    January 4, 2021

    If I remember correctly, the whole purpose behind these restrictions was to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, it was never going to prevent people from becoming infected. This being the case, I trust that the following questions have been asked amongst Government decision makers:-
    1). How many School Teachers and other full time school employees are in hospital with Covid?
    2). If there are any, did they contract the disease within school or in a situation unconnected with school?

    The answers to these questions will provide adequate evidence for a policy decision.
    In the meantime, my view is that they should open all the schools now, employing sensible hygiene precautions.
    If there is any concern about students likely examination success rate then the exams should be postponed nationwide until the very end of the summer Term.

    1. None of the Above
      January 4, 2021

      P.S.
      What proportion of Covid 19 sufferers in hospital are Teachers?
      Are their numbers more or less representative of the general working population?
      In other words, are School Teachers hospitalised with Covid 19 disproportionately?

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        January 5, 2021

        For goodness’ sake.

        Think for a moment, if you can.

        Let’s get you started.

        “Retirement age”

  46. Nivek
    January 4, 2021

    “They think seeking to limit any additional spread of the virus should take precedence over any other consideration of people’s mental health (emphasis added).

    It is my understanding that the Abortion Act provides that a person shall not be deemed guilty of an offence if a pregnancy is terminated because relevant parties have deemed it necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the pregnant woman’s mental health. I sympathise with the Union’s pro-life attitude with regard to the potential spread of a disease. I would be interested to learn its stance on this statutory provision with regard to the actual termination of a pregnancy for reasons of mental health.

  47. Walt
    January 4, 2021

    For the next term, either open and run schools largely as pre-Covid, or close them and teach at home by internet. Parents and teachers can plan accordingly.
    The system used last term, with schools theoretically open but with whole classes sent home if one of their number was infected or potentially so, was a compromise that did not work well. Last term, supposed social distancing on school campus fell apart at the end of school, with phalanxes of low to mid teenage schoolchildren, unmasked and in close proximity, sweeping down the pavements and gathering outside shops. That renders pointless the attempted social distancing measures in-school. Teachers that are vulnerable (the old, the pregnant, those with certain healh issues, possibly the BAME) should be excused normal in-school duties. Review at the end of term, by when vaccination and the coming of Spring should support a return to more normal times.

  48. Newmania
    January 4, 2021

    Funnily enough I have just said a fond farewell to my good lady wife who has gone to work to look after Key worker`s children. Like many others she will not be able to stay within the fictitious bubble as she has wider responsibilities for behaviour throughout the school.
    You will appreciate that any risk she runs, I also accept .(Gulp)
    Those people who sit in safety making the same utterly discredited arguments for a Swedish approach or high risk strategies would be wise to reflect on how little interest we have in their views at this stage.

    1. Roy Grainger
      January 4, 2021

      I’m in the same position as you and I disagree with you. So don’t refer to yourself as “we” in future.

      1. Fred H
        January 5, 2021

        he can refer to wife and himself as we.

  49. Iain Gill
    January 4, 2021

    this “key worker” nonsense has not half made it hard for the freelancers who regularly work in sectors like defence and healthcare. sometimes they aint full time in one, sometimes they are cycling in and out, really such people need clearer definite status as key workers.

    1. steve
      January 4, 2021

      Iain Gill

      Well I’m classed as a key worker, in the defence industry. I don’t get preferential treatment, no one claps for me, and I don’t get a 60% discount in the supermarkets for no other reason than doing the job I am paid to do.

      1. Sea_Warrior
        January 5, 2021

        You get Sea Warrior’s claps, Steve. Across the MoD and its supply base, hundreds of thousands have carried on working to keep us safe. Respect!

  50. RichardM
    January 4, 2021

    If you want to insist anyone go back to work, then move them to the top of the priority list for the vaccine.
    Those accusing teachers of being work-shy need to give their head a wobble.

    1. RichardM
      January 4, 2021

      Where IS the vaccine ? Manufacturers say there is no shortage of supply, Doctors are screaming out for it so they can administer, so it can only be government incompetence as usual in some link in between that has failed. Is it a vial shortage ?
      According to an online calculator I am not due to receive until Sept/Oct, and I am over 60, yet manufacturers say they can produce much quicker than this.

      1. gregory martin
        January 4, 2021

        Given that there are 6810 GP practises in England, we should ask a well-known internet provider to suspend shopping distribution for a single day, deliver to its hub the vaccine, and watch 6810 consignments arrive next day. This could be done weekly , perhaps on a Sunday, until complete.

      2. Fedupsoutherner
        January 4, 2021

        I hope you are wrong. I’m over 60 and I have booked a holiday abroad in Oct after my holiday was cancelled this year. I will be gutted if I can’t go because I haven’t had the vaccine.

    2. steve
      January 4, 2021

      Richard M

      “Those accusing teachers of being work-shy need to give their head a wobble.”

      Do you make that statement without bias ?

      And when you say ‘teachers’ do you mean left wing brainwashers ?

      1. RichardM
        January 5, 2021

        Steve it is you with the confirmation bias problem. The levels of teacher bashing really are getting absurd. They merely are wanting a safe place to work. For that reason alone it would be one of the last places I would want to work. Please do stop reading the Sun.

  51. Mike Stallard
    January 4, 2021

    I am lucky because I come from a happy home where my Mum and Dad got along well and spent time with us boys showing us the path to adulthood. Lucky me! I could take you to five (without thinking) homes within 200 yards of where I live where this is not the case. Divorce, estrangement, betrayal of the children. Fancy being stuck in there day after day with no release!
    And then there is the computer problem. Not a lot of families can afford a special homework room or even a computer for each child. Not a lot of Mums and Dads can stand over their little kids and check they are not playing Call of Duty.
    So here is my suggestion: Like the hospitality industry or like many shops, how about if teachers were given the choice: go back to work or stay home without pay? Their pay would go to those on Universal Credit.

  52. Lester Cynic Beedell
    January 4, 2021

    The virus poses little threat and the efforts to magnify the dangers are becoming ever more desperate.

    The U.K. has the lowest number of beds per 100.000 of any country in Europe, the NHS is the largest employer in Europe and no government dares to reform it.

    Boris Johnson and his team have to go, does he ever have a moment of self doubt?
    His energy policy for which he doesn’t have a mandate will result in the return to a pre industrial revolution situation, or is it part of the plan?

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      January 4, 2021

      Your comment at 9.44am. At 9.17pm Boris has locked the country down for at least 6 weeks! No nightmare I have ever had compares with living ‘in Boris’s world’ as one contributor informed us.
      JR this HAS to stop. I have a 5 year old relation who is clinically depressed in the name of all that is good!
      The ‘creative sector’ aka the private sector has absorbed as much as it can take. Boris better start printing big bucks to meet a lot of private debt – call it the equivalent of state sector wages. We need action fast. Get rid of the inept sick man!

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        January 5, 2021

        With you as a relative the state of mind of the poor child is more easily explained, I think.

  53. BJC
    January 4, 2021

    Let’s put it this way, my Christmas/New Year was decimated because “they” said it would slow the spread of the virus. All it did was prove, yet again, that lockdowns . don’t . work.

    The government already has a year of compassionate actions/behaviour deposited in the “Care Bank”, so I suggest it’s safe to call out the unions, tell us the games they’re playing and force them to defend their own behaviour. Do listen to Julia HB who called out Amanda Martin, NEU representative this morning……….rottweiler and got her hopping all over the place trying to defend the NEU’s stance. Priceless!

    As an outsider looking in, though, it’s clear that the NEU’s actions are subversive and present a way around the hated laws on “solidarity strikes”. Someone with nous needs to prove a direct link to the strategy of the NHS unions and even SAGE, whose views they quote as if from a bible.

    The NEU have set themselves up as “superheroes”, annointing themselves with unlawful “rights” in the name of “saving the NHS”, whereas only strong, flexible and visionary (and honest) management will achieve this. The unions are acting as the true dye in the wool Marxists they are, manufacturing the very issues they claim only they are equipped to “solve”; worryingly, we’re letting them loose on our children. Sadly, the management failures are legion and start at the very top and these Marxists are simply exploiting it.

  54. Jane
    January 4, 2021

    Happy New Year to you.

    Any teacher not turning up for work should be put on 50%! That should sort the wheat from the chaff!
    Parents need to get back to work if they are not in a vulnerable category in order to earn money to keep the private sector alive that pays the taxes that pays the teacher’s salaries.

    Councils should get off the fence and make a decision and direct, not pass the buck. They should also stop dabbling in areas of the private sector such as electricity and commercial property that they are patently outside their area of expertise.

  55. Chris S
    January 4, 2021

    With the new strain of the virus spreading very quickly, I believe that the government have been told that nothing less than the most severest of lockdowns will have any chance of bringing the R number down to less than 1. Anything less will be tinkering with the problem. Even with a full lockdown, it will be touch and go and will depend on how many people obey the rules.

    There can be little doubt that the swiftest distribution of the two approved vaccines is the only thing that will get the outbreak of the new strain under control and get us back to normal.

    We have not been given exact figures as to how many people can be vaccinated with the supplies we have on order, or when they can all be used. It obviously makes sense to lengthen the time between first and second dose, especially as it appears that the first dose dramatically reduces the chance of a person becoming seriously ill and needing hospitalisation. Nobody would be too worried about getting the virus if it were to bring on merely flu-like symptoms.

    Like our host, my wife and I are in group 5, and it seems likely we will receive at least one dose before the end of March, possibly much sooner. We have just been moved into Tier 3 but intend to follow Tier 4 rules until our vaccinations are effective. Many of our friends here in Dorset are doing the same and I suspect this responsible attitude is why our area is not suffering too badly at present.

  56. NickC
    January 4, 2021

    Should schools be open? Yes. Covid19 is endemic, and is a nasty disease for a small proportion of the country. They should be protected (if they wish), and the rest of us can get on with our normal lives.

  57. Newmania
    January 4, 2021

    of people’s mental health, educational progress or ability to go to work…..

    Ha ha ha …. some of them were inconsolable when they had to go back to school they bad enjoyed time at home so much

    1. Roy Grainger
      January 4, 2021

      You made that up.

      1. Fred H
        January 5, 2021

        welcome to the serious blog, but filled with would-be comic or anarchist contributors.

  58. Julian Flood
    January 4, 2021

    Sir John, at a tangent, England has had over half a million cases since 20 Dec. If the devious virus is the same as all the others, shouldn’t this mean that those individuals now have immunity? If so, why are we bothering to immunise anyone who has tested positive?

    As to your question, yes, schools should be able to decide to remain closed. All staff should be furloughed for the duration of closure. I’m sure there will be complaints at that last restriction, but we are all in this together, even those with the backing of powerful unions.

    JF
    (No, I’m not being serious. Vaccinate and then open is the right thing to do.)

  59. Kevin Caudwell
    January 4, 2021

    Teaching unions want more for their teachers – more pay, more holidays, more influence in society. They also want less – less hours, less work and less exams and fewer students.

    Why does anyone listen to them?

    Let them strike then we don’t have a problem anyway.

    Note: would they be arrested for protesting in the form of picket lines?!

  60. Fedupsoutherner
    January 4, 2021

    So now we have a new variant in South Africa and health experts are concerned the vaccines won’t be effective against it. We may have to accept that the virus is with us for the long term and just get on with life. What is the alternative? Our economy cannot sustain any more lockdowns.

  61. Richard416
    January 4, 2021

    Teachers used to be highly regarded and patriotic, schools even stayed open in war time, now look at them, they won’t even admit to being teachers.

    1. Fred H
      January 4, 2021

      not at the Grammar school I went to in late 50s – -they were mostly pompous, failed subject specialists who could barely teach, but did little in lessons but set endless homework that got hardly any useful marking. Couldn’t wait to get out.

  62. glen cullen
    January 4, 2021

    10 months of covid-19 with an incubation period of 10-14 days

    PM today saying stronger measures required

    We have washed our hands, kept our distance and worn masks for the past 10 months with apparently no effect as the virus infection rate is reported as still high

    We have killed the economy

    However if you only look at the death rate (died because and as a direct result of) its no real difference to the death rate of flu

    No children are affected therefore school should remain open

  63. Lily
    January 4, 2021

    If teachers had been offered a vaccinati9on, along with other front-line workers who are equally at risk, this situation may not have arisen. As it is, teachers are at great risk as it is impossible to socially distance in a classroom with 32 children, and in many schools windows don’t open more than a couple of centimetres, if at all, so there is little likelihood of fresh air circulating to disperse the virus. In some secondary schools the “bubbles” comprise over 100 pupils so the virus can spread very easily, and many youngsters will be asymptomatic. With over 30 years experience as a teacher I can assure you that most children and young people don’t come to school with tissues or handkerchiefs so the chances of them coughing and sneezing carefully are slim. May I also assure your readers that teachers are working increased hours to provide online learning and assessment, as well as teaching those children who are in school and in many cases helping their own children also learning at home. It’s a wonderful vocation but it is hard work!

    1. Lily
      January 4, 2021

      Sorry for the typo – vaccination, obviously!

    2. Alan Jutson
      January 4, 2021

      How about supermarket cashiers, are they not even more at risk ?

      Many other examples !

  64. John Hatfield
    January 4, 2021

    Schools must open.

  65. Keith from Leeds
    January 4, 2021

    The schools should open without fail. The NEU is a left wing Union which will do anything to disrupt education. The disgrace is that teachers have not left the union in disgust at the attitude & approach. Personally I would make teachers a priority group for the vaccine & not pay any teacher who refuses to work. I have two grandsons, one in his A level year & one in his GCSE year, & can see the effects on them both of the uncertainty of their schools re-opening & whether or not they will be able to take their exams, for which both of them are working hard.

  66. Mike Wilson
    January 4, 2021

    Open the schools during the day. Close them at night and at weekends. Close them completely for 13 weeks every year, to allow teachers to recover.

    Allow bricklayers to take 13 weeks paid holiday every year. Provide them with good sick pay and a pension.

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      January 4, 2021

      The brickies should all join a union and organise to get exactly that, like they often do on the Continent.

      It’s a perfectly reasonable expectation, but you have been brainwashed in this Tory dystopia to think of such things as fantasy.

      1. Mike Wilson
        January 4, 2021

        I used to work in the construction industry when the unions did have sway. They never managed to get 13 weeks holiday. They did go out on strike a lot.

        The thing is – in the private sector – where there is competition – 13 weeks holiday is just never going to happen. If you are a contractor who pays his brickies 13 weeks holiday, you are not going to be able to compete with the subby whose blokes are all self-employed and who get no paid holiday.

        The simple fact is – this can only happen in the public sector. And, unless it can happen to everyone – it is not FAIR.

        That said, I fully agree that people work far too hard in this country and that ‘work’ is treated as a demi-god.

        1. Fred H
          January 5, 2021

          they work so hard, and charge so much to be able to pay the ridiculous taxes on everything from income, rent, rates, council taxes, travel and transport cost, food, clothes, utilities, and finally death!

  67. Andy
    January 4, 2021

    Open them up, the rebadged common cold is no threat to any healthy children. Chronically ill children can stay home.

  68. Christine
    January 4, 2021

    They definitely should be open.

    Keeping kids from school is very bad for their education.

    Where is the evidence that teachers are being badly affected?

    It forces grandparents to provide childcare putting them at risk.

    Parents can’t work.

    Other workers like those in supermarkets, transport, councils and the NHS are expected to work. Why should teachers be an exception?

    Are private schools, providing an education for children of the rich, going to remain open?

    This is the union flexing its muscles and nothing more.

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      January 4, 2021

      Having Leave-voting parents has been shown to correspond with the poorest educational outcomes.

      1. Edward2
        January 4, 2021

        You have data to prove this claim?

        1. Fred H
          January 5, 2021

          evidence? – you have to be joking!

      2. a-tracy
        January 4, 2021

        Just ignore the trolling please.

  69. Martin in Manchester
    January 4, 2021

    Starmer and the teaching Unions are playing politics, cheered on by the MSM who are fed by constant one sided briefings from SAGE.

    The education of children is of no importance to any of them.
    Starmer and the teaching unions want a Labour government in power.
    The MSM are loving their unelected rise to power.
    Unelected SAGE can set policy with no comebacks.

    The solutions are not easy, and will require Boris to grasp a few nettles and accept that his government and those of Cameron and May made significant mistakes in their management of the NHS in the past. Front up and be honest. It’s a good look.

    SAGE needs disbanding ASAP. They are only tasked with the aim of Zero Covid, which is now completely impossible to achieve as we have reached an endemic state. Hence SAGE have no reason to exist.
    Boris needs to accept that the MSM hate him, and will always do so, and will scream murder whatever he does. Therefore he should ignore them completely and do what is right.

    Teachers in general want to teach. Facilitate that in everything you do. Make it easier for them to teach children. Again, the last 10 years have made it ever harder for teachers to teach children. Own up to your previous mistakes.

    The Covid crisis is being managed on emotions not on evidence. Any evidence that does exist is being manipulated to confirm those emotions, not to drive policy direction. That must change. Evidence should drive policy not the reverse.

  70. bigneil(newercomp)
    January 4, 2021

    On the radio this morning hints that more Draconian “Can’t mix with other people” rules are to be introduced. Will that include all the foreigners sat in hotels at our expense. Don’t they mix in there ??? Do they clean their own rooms? Do they make their own beds? etc etc. Or are we paying staff to look after thousands of NON-paying ” (permanent) guests? Free NHS, eyecare and dentistry. Free tv, no licence needed, free electricity, hot water etc. Priorities are clear – and it is NOT the tax-payer.

    How long till you ask for our votes again?

  71. Zorro
    January 4, 2021

    So, the teachers want to be furloughed?

    Zorro

    1. steve
      January 4, 2021

      Zorro

      “So, the teachers want to be furloughed?”

      Of course they do ! Think of all the coffee breaks and two hour lunch breaks.

  72. DOM
    January 4, 2021

    The fact that as a Tory MP you afford credence to the stance of the NEU is beyond offensive. I know and you know this union is slime personified

    Stop pandering to scum public sector unions whose only aim is total power over the actions of elected governments and the promotion of their own absolute power

    The gutless Tory party has become a bigger threat as it gives way to the Marxists than even the Marxists themselves. At least we can the destructivre intent of McCluskey and his kin

    Either defend morality, freedom and individual liberty against the ever increasing power of this most vile aithoritarian police state or declare that you are no longer a small state conservative cos your party’s bullshit is becoming utterly insufferable

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      January 4, 2021

      What do you talk about at parties, Dom?

      1. Fred H
        January 5, 2021

        parties? – what are they Martin? – – do you attend funding parties for Momentum?

  73. beresford
    January 4, 2021

    Children will mix whether they are in or out of school, unless you lock them in their bedrooms. Would you forego meeting your mates because of a disease that kills some 80-year-olds? So they must go to school (and allow their parents to operate the tattered remains of the economy) and teachers should be prioritised for vaccines ahead of older people like me who live on their own and are at little risk.

  74. Elaine
    January 4, 2021

    The impact of covid and closing schools had a terrible effect on my children. I have huge compassion for the teachers and their commitment to the children must be acknowledged. The technology has not been there to support home learning, as the schools can’t use business apss like zoom or webex.
    The children need to back to school. Teachers and children should be prioritised for vaccination after the vulnerable. The mental health impact and of isolating them and has been truly difficult and painful, CAMHS are overwhelmed, at least 28 mth waiting list. YES at least 3 months just to get an initial assessment. My 17 Yr old dropped his A levels. Wake up, this is no game, children are being damaged, it’s not fiction.

  75. beresford
    January 4, 2021

    Meanwhile the corona crackpots are demanding that more irrelevant restrictions should be imposed until the virus is ‘under control’. They are struggling to think of new wheezes in excess of Tier 4, candidates might be making facemasks mandatory in the open air or curfews (we already know that the virus can tell the time). Of course this process is only limited by the number of new restrictions you can think of, since they have no effect whatsoever on the virus.

  76. John McDonald
    January 4, 2021

    Not sure that all your correspondents are on the front line and know what is actually happening, same with the Government also.
    The teachers still have to run the distance learning of secondary school pupils.
    They are still there for contact for the primary school children. Primary school children have phones/tablets which connect to the internet and so to their friends and distance learning.
    Not ideal but what about risk of death to the front line teachers and the contacts they make.
    If not a big deal perhaps some would like to help out at a local school and run a day Centre. A large number of grandparents are involved with child care for their grandchildren which includes collecting from school.
    At the end of the day the responsibility for Children is with the Parents not the state – the modern times issue. Where not possible, the State has to provide support but not put lives at risk to do so. Each child parent situation is specific and not addressed by broad bush categorisations. “poor families may take more care of their child’s education than more well off Families.
    Good that Primary Schools closed for two weeks in Wokingham – common sense at last.
    PS why is not vaccinating our teachers a top priority ??

    1. Robert Mcdonald
      January 5, 2021

      Using your logic of front line workers being prioritised for vaccine then surely shop workers must be up there, and the police, and all medical staff, and delivery drivers, and of course parents who also deal directly with children … school dinner workers indeed, so in fact teachers are just one more in the queue.

  77. alastair harris
    January 4, 2021

    On what grounds would schools close? I can accept that if there are not enough teachers prepared to teach then there might be a short term challenge, but as you say, and as many others have said, and the statistics support, chilfren are not at risk, and being for the most part asymptomatic carriers, they are unlikely to posw a risk.
    On the other hand, how do you explain to the cohort of 16 and 18 year olds that their potential qualifications don’t matter!

  78. Fred H
    January 4, 2021

    returning to our favourite topic.
    BBC website.
    Some specialist online retailers in various EU countries have said they will no longer deliver to UK addresses because of tax changes due to Brexit. Bicycle part firm Dutch Bike Bits said from now on, it would ship to every country in the world except the UK.
    “We are forced by British policy to stop dealing with British customers,” it said on its website. Another firm, Belgium-based Beer On Web, said it was now shunning the UK “due to the new Brexit measures”.
    The companies are angry because they now face higher costs and increased bureaucracy in order to comply with UK tax authorities.

    eat your heart out. More opportunities for British business.

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      January 4, 2021

      So what about all this “they need us more than we need them” baloney then?

      1. Edward2
        January 5, 2021

        Great news.
        Terrific opportunities for UK suppliers.
        More jobs.
        More tax revenues.

      2. Fred H
        January 5, 2021

        You may not have been aware but there are dozens of small (and large) brewers in the UK, and we are not short of bike manufacturers.
        If that is the total ‘spiteful’ reaction to the UK leaving – bring it on.

    2. Lynn Atkinson
      January 4, 2021

      But all our businesses are closed – forever apparently. However nobody will be going anywhere on a bicycle or anything else.
      Boris’ world!

  79. Graham Wheatley
    January 4, 2021

    NO.

    From PHE / NHStrack&trace data a few weeks ago – Source: Page 17 of this document https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/936672/Weekly_COVID-19_and_Influenza_Surveillance_Graphs_w47.pdf – contact tracing referrals from the following settings were :-

    Restaurants or Cafés = 1.0%
    Gyms = 1.1%
    Universities = 1.4%
    Pubs = 1.6%
    Colleges = 2.4%
    Hospital visiting = 3.6%

    and er……
    Supermarkets 18.9%

    and errrr…….
    Primary & Secondary Schools = 22.8% – the Government’s OWN admission!!!

    (Other weeks’ data seem to be difficult to find – they don’t make it easy for the data to be viewed!!).

    So …..we close the gyms, restaurants, cafés, and pubs (coincentally the places where most people gather in groups to DISCUSS things, and the places where illogicalities in both the SpAd / S.A.G.E. advice and Government measures are highlighted. We can’t have people discussing things, and so we will lock them down in their smaller family groups and prevent LAWFUL assembly and debate. Oh yes, and peaceful protest of course, because that is so-oooo dangerous [/sarc].

    People have been saying for MONTHS that transmission within schools is the problem. Government acknowledges it but is adamant that we won’t do anything about it. A more cynical person than I might conclude that it is the intention to have this spread as widely as possible and to then blame it on another cause. One might also conclude that our national leaders are on the Temperance Wagon and trying to push ‘Prohibition’ via the back-door! What IS this emphasis on stopping alcohol consumption??!

    People really do need to start waking-up and CRITICALLY EXAMINING the ‘science’ and the data that is presented to them, and not suckle at the teat of Government-fed information via the Mainstream Media.

    1. Graham Wheatley
      January 4, 2021

      …despite searching for over an HOUR, going round-and-round in circles on the government / PHE / ONS sections of the government website(s) I eventually had to resort to a newspaper article (The Independent) for the link to the graphic detailing the % from those various settings. ‘Transparent’, it ain’t !

    2. Jim Whitehead
      January 4, 2021

      +1
      Sir John, The fence must be an uncomfortable perch, especially when it is becoming all too clear that the Party is no longer presenting a savoury face.

    3. Know-Dice
      January 4, 2021

      Thanks for that… Clearly shows where infections are coming from. Shut schools and see what can be done to lower the infection rates from shopping.

      1. Roy Grainger
        January 4, 2021

        Schools have all been shut for two weeks, it made no difference. I notice the #1 setting for covid transmission has been conveniently left off that list – hospitals. Do you want those closed too ? There was a new mass testing regime in place to allow schools to open, it hasn’t even been tried, they just caved in to the lockdown fanatics.

        1. Graham Wheatley
          January 5, 2021

          ….. and the post-lockdown ‘surge’ in ‘cases’ (i.e. non-symptomatic and non-ill positively tested individuals) has come from people who contracted the disease DURING the lockdown phase, when person-person contacts were limited.

          Dr. Mike Yeadon (ex-VP of Pfizer!) has said that we have ‘tested lockdowns to destruction and proved that they do not work”. https://www.aier.org/article/an-education-in-viruses-and-public-health-from-michael-yeadon-former-vp-of-pfizer/

          The last lockdown didn’t show what the Government was hoping it would show…….. so the answer is more lockdown – rather than trying something else.

          One definition of ‘stupidity’ is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’.

        2. Know-Dice
          January 5, 2021

          Hospitals are at 3.6% which agrees with a survey by Imperial College, if they were at 22.8% then may be they should be shutdown…

    4. Fred H
      January 4, 2021

      you only analysed 50% – what about the rest?

      1. Graham Wheatley
        January 5, 2021

        I didn’t list all settings from that linked document – go look at it.
        It’s Government data, not mine.

  80. a-tracy
    January 4, 2021

    I just don’t understand why people are just passively taking these threats of tier 5 lockdowns again now. Why aren’t we collectively insisting on arrivals by air and sea arriving with certificated negative covid tests, lorry drivers could be done with a 20-minute test at Calais if they are positive they can’t board.

    Why aren’t we being as strict as NL, Pakistan or France? Why is it ok to keep locking down British people but allow the flows to and from South Africa.

    These mouthy celebrities who all jetted off on their Winter hols are really taking the mickey out of us. It’s like another world where we allow people to come and go as they choose, private plane, private test oh thats fine it’s the plebs that have to suffer.

    NO, NO, NO. We want some more protections now. We were locked down in November, we were locked down in December and now we’re being threatened with potentially three months, and Hancocks at it again saying his vaccines might not work with the new mutant covid. ENOUGH. If you are serious show us you are serious Hancock and stop arrivals without clear tests from today.

  81. Lester Cynic Beedell
    January 4, 2021

    When are the decent Tory MPs going to stand up and be counted and stood putting party before country?

    At the current rate there won’t be a Country left, the men in grey suits should pay Boris Johnson a visit without delay, when is the nightmare going to end?

    1. Lester Cynic Beedell
      January 4, 2021

      Stop!

    2. Lynn Atkinson
      January 4, 2021

      +1000 what the hell is wrong with the 1922?

    3. Original Chris
      January 4, 2021

      They are too weak and unprincipled, or near the end of their political career, so do not want to rock the boat?

  82. Kenneth
    January 4, 2021

    What is the point in having a national lock-down when the while the airports are still open?

  83. Sarah Tun
    January 4, 2021

    Schools need to stay open. Move heaven and earth to do so if necessary, but they need to stay open. Full stop.

    1. Graham Wheatley
      January 5, 2021

      Bollocks.

      1. Sea_Warrior
        January 5, 2021

        Must you be so rude?

        1. Fred H
          January 5, 2021

          it has become a trend on here.

          1. G Wheatley
            January 6, 2021

            ….because people are becoming annoyed and frustrated at both the mismanagement of the situation, the lack of logic & transparency in the government measures to ‘combat’ it, and more importantly with the compliant sheep who appear unable to think for themselves or robustly question all that they are told by Boris, Hancock, SAGE [et al] via the Mainstream Media. Turn OFF the BBC, Channel-4, Skynews, and look elsewhere.

            For MONTHS the Government and its ‘expert’ advisors have been acknowledging that CV19 was spreading within the schools environment but ‘because kids aren’t affected by it’ there was no need to act…… ignoring the fact that pupils would then take it home to their parents…. so the answer was to restrict the activities of the parents by closing Cafés & Restaurants (1% of contact tracing referrals), Gyms (1.1%) and Pubs (1.6%) and severely limit their other exercise and social opportunities.

            University students accounted for 1.6% of contact-tracing referrals, Carehome workers 2.4%, Hospital visits 3.6%.

            Supermarkets on the other hand accounted for 18.9% of referrals, and…….. (you can check the link in my previous posting if you like – its Government / PHA data not mine..)
            ….. ta-daaaa! Primary & Secondary Schools = 22.8%.

            It is only NOW – now that the results of lockdown-2 haven’t shown what S.A.G.E. [et al] envisaged – that they have finally acknowledged that schools should be closed, but with the added-in guilt-trip factor for everybody else and that we must now lockdown again, and even more severely.

            Dr. Mike Yeadon, (see also a previous link that I posted – if it doesn’t cause you any emotional or physical discomfort – …..actually I’ll save you the effort of looking, it’s here = https://www.aier.org/article/an-education-in-viruses-and-public-health-from-michael-yeadon-former-vp-of-pfizer/) has said that “we have tested lockdowns to destruction and they don’t work”.

            The definition of ‘stupidity’, is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.

        2. G Wheatley
          January 6, 2021

          Only when necessary.

  84. LondonNick
    January 4, 2021

    While we know that only a minuscule number of children become infected, the objection to reopening schools is the fear that infected (but asymptomatic) children will pass the virus to their teachers, leading to these then spreading it to their families, having to isolate, and possibly even dying.

    While I think this can be almost completely mitigated by keeping the teachers and children 10 feet apart, I believe the best way to reassure the teachers is to prioritise them for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (just like frontline medical staff). This is what the government should do, while at the same time insisting that ALL schools remain open and legislating to ensure that any healthy teacher not working will not be paid.

    1. Original Chris
      January 4, 2021

      Asymptomatic spreading of Covid is a myth, according to medical experts (who are not communist party behavioural scientists).

  85. Gordon
    January 4, 2021

    Very Strange! This morning (4th) the Daily Mail online ran a prominent piece on a trial being run by the WHO of a flee drug which has been in use all over the world since 1970 , The results are very good but as always with these situations ” it needs more testing” It has been shown to paralyze the covid 19 and have very quick results.

    My reason for commencing with “Very Strange” is that when I looked for it just now (16.30) to check the name of the drug the article had completely disappeared!

    1. James Bertram
      January 4, 2021

      Gordon – it’s on Ivermectin, a very cheap and effective drug without side-effects. The government wants to suppress information on this as it competes financially with the new vaccines, particularly the Oxford vaccine which they hope to distribute to the Third World.
      Check out ‘who-preliminary-review-confirms-ivermectin-effectiveness’ on the Swiss Policy Reserach website and search for Ivermectin.
      A 12 minute video.
      WHO-sponsored review of ivermectin trials indicates 83% reduction in covid mortality.

  86. Al
    January 4, 2021

    ‘The government counters by saying it advises families with elderly and at risk members who do not live with them to avoid any contact with the children until those at risk have been vaccinated.’
    Which is a severe problem when the child lives with an elderly or at risk adult, or when the child is the at-risk individual (asthma, lung problems, immuno-suppression issues etc.) Children may not suffer as badly from it, but they can certainly be carriers – we see that annually with the flu! And then the issue when the vulnerable person is the teacher…

    As has been pointed out, social distancing isn’t working in schools because children cannot be expected to adhere to it: they are children. Allowing teachers to wear PPE or encouraging the pupils to do so would do a lot to ease fears of spreads: our local schools banned PPE before Christmas and two were promptly closed due to outbreaks. Rather than cramming children into an enclosed space where the viral load can increase it would make more sense to have learning done from home where it can be, and allow social interaction to take place outdoors in non-school hours.

    Opening and closing the schools every week or so when there’s a case is doing more harm than good because no one can plan round it for work or childcare: can you please make a choice and stick to it!

  87. hefner
    January 4, 2021

    For people who like these things
    bsac.org.uk ‘Covid-19: Resource Hub’ 2021
    (British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy) They put together in one place the access to ‘An education and training resource hub’ including more than 300 Covid-19 related documents.

  88. Derek
    January 4, 2021

    The future of Britain relies upon our new generations. To deny them the educations given to their fathers and their mothers is certainly not the way to proceed to achieve our aspirations and our goals for OUR Nation.
    The mass of Virus data now accumulated shows, quite clearly, that the older you are the more vulnerable you become. The ‘Under 25s” are all but invulnerable to this virus so it beggars logical belief that our schools and Unis, et al are closed down, as though they house the over 80s! WHY is this happening? It is damaging our future prospects.

  89. DOM
    January 4, 2021

    The Captured Party

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      January 4, 2021

      If proof were needed, the virus hasn’t changed its course from 9 am on Sunday until 8 pm on Monday, so the only explanation is Johnson being leaned on by Marxists in the unions and NHS elite.
      Crystal clear.

  90. Everhopeful
    January 4, 2021

    Johnson about to pronounce again.
    So come on..spill the beans.
    What is this all about?
    Cos it ain’t about no virus …that’s for sure!

    1. Lifelogic
      January 4, 2021

      +1

  91. glen cullen
    January 4, 2021

    So the saving from not remitting the 20% of VAT to EU isn’t being passed on to the people – the UK government are keeping the lot

    So much for a brave new independent Britain….same same – same same

    1. Know-Dice
      January 4, 2021

      And HMRC expect exporters in the EU to register and collect Vat on exports to the UK… What planet are they on? Certainly not planet Earth

  92. Stred
    January 4, 2021

    Predictably, HMRC have got greedy and screwed the import of goods up. BBC ate cooperating in the anti Brexit message.

  93. DOM
    January 4, 2021

    So the NEU and the NHS get their way and Johnson bends over backwards to accommodate the Marxists in teaching by crushing our freedoms once more

    The Tories are a despicable party who took our votes to get into power and then turned against us to pander to Labour’s Marxist client state and their Marxist unions especially in teaching

    Deceit and betrayal doesn’t even begin to describe the deplorable behaviour of this party since 2010

    1. Jim Whitehead
      January 4, 2021

      +1

    2. Sir Joe Soap
      January 4, 2021

      +1 spot on
      Let’s get this lot out and get Farage in in 2021.

      1. Fedupsoutherner
        January 4, 2021

        +1 count me in

    3. Everhopeful
      January 4, 2021

      + a great deal.

    4. Original Chris
      January 4, 2021

      + infinity, DOM.

      This seems to me the most disgraceful abuse of power in order to implement the Great Reset of the globalists, setting us on the path to global communism, as spelled out in UN Agenda 2030.

      What joy it will be when President Trump is re-elected, having dropped all the incontrovertible evidence, collected by military intelligence I believe, of industrial scale voter fraud in the recent election.

      Johnson always seems to want to be on the winning side. This time he has chosen foolishly, which just sums him up perfectly.

  94. Lester Cynic Beedell
    January 4, 2021

    My comment is still awaiting moderation!

    Did I touch a nerve?

    Pathetic

  95. Lester Cynic Beedell
    January 4, 2021

    Quite frankly it’s a total waste of time posting anything on here, you’re not going to deviate from the party line and you’re as responsible as the rest of the government for the state we’re in, total and absolute waste of time.

    1. steve
      January 4, 2021

      Lester

      +1

      He started doing that to me recently, so now I don’t defend him when he gets called.

      1. Fred H
        January 4, 2021

        Sir John needs to stand Independent, and be lonely on the benches with head held high, rather lonely and very embarrassed to be with ‘them’.

    2. Original Chris
      January 4, 2021

      I think you are right, LCB.

      Sir John can post his thoughts and just carry on writing benign articles whilst real life and the true threats to our country from the global communism promoting globalists proceed unabated, due to our totally naive (or in some cases, complicit) Tory MPs. Read UN Agenda 2030, which Johnson has committed us to, to see the radical Left agenda.

      Enough is enough, Sir John. If our country is to be saved, Johnson and his agenda have got to be stopped at all costs. His actions can never be justified by genuine science. He seems to be a fully paid up globalist puppet. Why should they have such a hold on him, transforming him from the witty, rather lazy buffoon, to a very sinister and determined individual, apparently focused like a laser on the destruction of this country and rendering it to a vassal of the CCP?

  96. glen cullen
    January 4, 2021

    Lockdown again (didn’t work last time) and ordered to stay at home

    But foreign truckers can still enter without a test

    What of all the private sector jobs ???

    1. steve
      January 4, 2021

      glenn cullen

      “Lockdown again (didn’t work last time) and ordered to stay at home. But foreign truckers can still enter without a test ”

      ……..now just watch the government ALLOW inbound flights to continue from new variant hot spots just like they did when this crap all started.

      Can’t be closing the airports and upsetting the big businessman, oh no.

      1. Graham Wheatley
        January 5, 2021

        ….Which proves to me that this is NOTHING to do with ‘containment’ (if indeed it ever was….) and is all about ‘coersion’ and ‘control’.

        A population that is scared, is easier to manage.

      2. glen cullen
        January 5, 2021

        This lockdown has more holes than Swiss cheese its most certainly not containment

    2. Caterpillar
      January 4, 2021

      Glen Cullen,

      Yes the PM, advisers and any MPs supporting the continued self-imposed dystopia somehow need to be held to account. We know that the lockdown and masks approach has no scientific evidence for working with the previous strains of coronavirus-sars2 (nor indeed the rhinoviruses that might actually be helpful, but has reduced the noroviruses presumably due to better hygiene, less contact etc) – no controlled trial, no retrospective data. Along comes another strain which appears to transmit by air more effectively and the response of the Govt and advisers is to lockdown. It is worth repeating this, lockdowns and masks not working against the transmission mechanism, so that is the strategy to stick to. At the end of all this, there needs to be a deep enquiry, for maximum learning and to hold people to account for what has been done – both nationally and of course the CCP.

      U.K. did not prepare for 24/7 vaccine roll out for those who JVT states cannot be protected (carehomes, multigenerational houses). U.K. did not even attempt GBD, but carried on with on-off changes to behavioural patterns. U.K. has not worked out prophylactics, or even supported those with retrospective evidence. U.K. has not used testing to identify origins of infection for learning, nor used testing strategically to reduce R. As Sir John has alluded other aids such as the use of air filtration with UVC do not seem to have been followed etc. etc.

      On the positive side total winter deaths are not as anomalous as April total deaths, though of course many people will have had their health reduced since then and might be more vulnerable.

      On the real negative side is that communities that have suffered from the virus are the same communities that suffer from the political/journalist wealthy-class policies. The Govt and its advisers have been wrong all along and have cut-off options, so it is no surprise that they continue this way, but any MPs from any section of the HoC that support them are equally guilty. Again there will need to be a deep enquiry, including identifying why so many MPs went along with the Govt for so long.

      Democracy has failed in the U.K., if we are ever liberated there will need to be changes to the system to protect us from tyrannical Govts and subservient MPs.

    3. Lynn Atkinson
      January 4, 2021

      What? Both of them? I’m looking forward to living off teachers tax.

      1. glen cullen
        January 5, 2021

        Me too

  97. Iain gill
    January 4, 2021

    Did we vote for Corbyn? I must have missed it…

  98. Fred H
    January 4, 2021

    No mention of rules affecting sport.
    No mention of severe penalties for disobeying the lockdown rules.
    No mention of STOPPING people arriving by planes, boats and trains.
    No mention of improvement and massive fines for refusing contact after track and trace locating you.
    No mention of ensuring at least 10 days quarantine on those arriving in next couple of days.

    When is our PM going to man up and use Police and armed forces to enforce rules, fines, car confiscation, prosecution and imprisonment?
    Total paper tiger destroying the economy and letting this virus run the country.

    1. Graham Wheatley
      January 5, 2021

      Who wants to live in 1960s East Germany under the STASI? You perhaps?

      1. Fred H
        January 5, 2021

        well you show your foolishness. Nobody is being carted off, tortured and killed ( I hope). However, even with Stasi life was freer – but you had better obey the rules.
        Life in the UK is becoming fully dictated, we will be encouraged to spy and inform on people soon.

        1. G Wheatley
          January 6, 2021

          And what of today’s press articles highlighting that Police & Crime Commissioners are calling for more Police Powers enabling them to (effectively) kick-in people’s doors (without an entry warrant) if they don’t voluntarily grant access to the premises?

          Re-read your last sentence to me. And then re-read the first.
          Which of us is the fool – the compliant, unthinking, willing, fool?

    2. glen cullen
      January 5, 2021

      This lockdown has more holes than Swiss cheese

  99. Roy Grainger
    January 4, 2021

    Is there a single person who thinks schools will open after the February half term ? Why does Boris even say things like that ? SAGE will keep them closed till at least Easter.

    1. Fred H
      January 5, 2021

      and with the variant following this one, the autumn half-term 2022 is likely.

  100. Sea_Warrior
    January 4, 2021

    Some guidance for house sellers/buyers needs adding to the Gov.uk website. Once again, I find myself wondering if I can discharge my duties as an executor by making security & maintenance visits to a property I am responsible for. And wondering if a sale agreed only last week can now go ahead. I suppose it counts as ‘work’ so I will get on with it – but I will check on the penalties first. Is it too much to expect that the law coming into force in the early hours of Wednesday will take account of these issues?

    1. Sea_Warrior
      January 5, 2021

      It seems that I can – so there’s some common-sense going around.

  101. Addanc Monster
    January 4, 2021

    Publish evidence that any aspect of lock-downs actually work.
    Publish evidence that the PCR test false positive rate is low.

    The most inept Government ever led by a bunch of science illiterates. Johnson and Hancock shouldn’t even be in Parliament never mind Government. When paying for this self inflicted damage I trust there will be massive Public sector cuts including MPs pay cuts, as opposed to any tax rises.

    1. glen cullen
      January 5, 2021

      good post

  102. Mike Wilson
    January 4, 2021

    Anyone who is retired should be isolating as much as they can. Where I live, most in my little street are retired. We are all careful.

    SO YOU DON’T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT US! Carry on as normal. Give us the vaccine when you can but, in the meantime, get on with your lives.

    1. Mark B
      January 6, 2021

      Cheer Mike and take care.

  103. steve
    January 4, 2021

    Oh dear, Sir Redwood. I don’t think people like your party anymore.

    1. Fred H
      January 4, 2021

      maybe they haven’t liked them for a few years? The bogeyman finally arrived in Corbyn – so anything was preferred.

    2. Alan Jutson
      January 4, 2021

      steve

      So which other one would you choose to be in power at the moment, I would be interested to know !

      Not defending any of them, but just interested in the options you think may be better.

    3. Sea_Warrior
      January 6, 2021

      I’m a member of it – and I don’t!

  104. glen cullen
    January 4, 2021

    For your own sanity its best you don’t watch any news on TV, especially the BBC or Sky over the next two weeks

    1. Original Chris
      January 4, 2021

      Keep your eyes on the US election and developments there. I believe there are going to be fireworks and our globalist UK politicians, wedded to the Great Reset, aka global communism, are going to be apopleptic at President Trump being re-elected.

      1. glen cullen
        January 5, 2021

        If it takes crying nurses and teachers off the news I’m all for the return of Trump

  105. Original Chris
    January 4, 2021

    WHY is there no parliamentary debate before these rules are enforced? So much for Johnsons’ assurances to MPs. What are Tory MPs going to do about this? Johnson makes a mockery of democracy, and his MPs’ faith in him. Where is Sir Graham?

    1. Caterpillar
      January 4, 2021

      Origianl Chris,

      Debate?

      We are in a country in which the Government tells us who we can meet, the Government tells us where we can/cannot work, a Government that tells us to cover our faces, a Government that tells us how close to be to others…

      We have been infected by a Chinese virus, yes the biological one, but much much more shockingly the psychological one. If MPs do not bring this Govt and its policies down in the next two days this will be confirmed. They are just members of the single political class applauding the leadership that believes in locking the people up for their own good.

  106. Pat
    January 4, 2021

    A pragmatic approach to minimise deaths and economic damage in the covid pandemic would be to immunise based on total risk, not just clinical risk.

    The following trades/ professions are obvious vectors and should be given priority:

    Front line medics
    Dentists
    Dental hygienists
    Dental assistants
    Public facing transport workers incl taxi drivers, bus drivers
    Teachers and teaching assistants
    Nursery workers
    Public facing shop workers

    There are several studies online from leading institutions which detail occupational covid risk, from my own quick Google search.

    1. Iain gill
      January 4, 2021

      The cleaners on the covid wards are at rather more risk.

  107. sam
    January 4, 2021

    Please Sir Redwood,
    I vote to keep the school open
    Children under 15 are more likely to be struck by lightning than die from covid.
    Keeping them at home could seriously damage their mental health and future prospects, especially for the disadvantaged.
    We need to ask for evidence of isolation of this ‘new strain’
    We also need to not jump to all the fear mongering coming out of the SAGE group, Ferguson and the govt.
    The ave age of death from covid is 83 years old. We need to get a grip.
    This is all about ‘The great Reset’ and its slogan ‘Build back better’ that is coming out of the mouths of many Presidents and Prime Ministers in the West. Its from Klaus Schwab’s book.
    Central planners have never in history managed to build an economy. We have plenty of examples especially the USSR which is where we are heading.

    1. glen cullen
      January 5, 2021

      wise words

  108. Fedupsoutherner
    January 4, 2021

    Are flights from South Africa being stopped? What about people that fly to an interim airport and then come into the UK? Has Boris learnt his lesson from the last lockdown? Why are lorry drivers from France not being tested? They are coming from all over Europe. It’s all nonsense and until some of these issues are addressed the public feel outrage at the restrictions imposed upon them.

  109. Iain gill
    January 4, 2021

    Get school content on the national TV channels, get the royal society lectures etc on TV on rotation. Don’t waste teachers time reinventing the wheel, free them up to interact remotely with their children.

    1. Sea_Warrior
      January 5, 2021

      This is something I’ve been pushing for a while. My comment on Mail Online yesterday attracted 854 up-ticks and only 23 down-ticks. Once I get up to a thousand I’ll be requesting an upgrade of my MBE even though I’m not an overpaid footballerist. Or maybe I should just set up a new political grouping: the Sea Warrior Party.

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        January 5, 2021

        My total on the DM is about 600,000 likes, and about 2,000,000 dislikes over six years.

        Thats not bad for that paper.

        1. Edward2
          January 5, 2021

          Not something boast about.

        2. G Wheatley
          January 6, 2021

          Can’t say that surprises me Martin.
          Perhaps it should also tell you something that perhaps you don’t wish to acknowledge?

    2. G Wheatley
      January 6, 2021

      Brilliant suggestion Iain !

      Sir John – perhaps you could push both the PM and the Education Secretary on that?

      The public broadcaster should be compelled to broadcast things that benefit the public. Especially when they are paid for by the public.

  110. Helen Smith
    January 5, 2021

    This is a bit superfluous now but the government MUST NOT MAKE VACCINATING TEACHERS A PRIORITY.

    It would do nothing to ease pressures on the NHS and result in hundreds of otherwise avoidable deaths as the elderly are pushed down the queue.

  111. a-tracy
    January 6, 2021

    Doing away with external exams in education has been around for years now, I’ve been reading Fiona Millar (Alastair Campbell’s wife) for two decades discussing ending externally marked examinations “in an era when young people must stay in education or training until they are 18, do we really need exams at 16 at all? Why not have external assessments for maths and English at 16, teacher assessment for the other subjects and a final diploma at 18?” teachsecondary.com 2014

    “Governments have to let go,” she says. Well, who would have thought it would be a Conservative government that throws the towel in, surely you want to know what gaps in the curriculum were missed by each school this year (I would want to know my child’s missing knowledge). In 2014 she wrote “Ten years ago [so 2004] Sir Mike Tomlinson concluded a painstaking study into 14-19 education that came up with a broadly similar conclusion. It was ditched by the then Labour government but, had his proposals been adopted, the Tomlinson diploma would have been coming into force this year. Which makes me realize that maybe 2025 isn’t so far away after all.

    Massive savings in expense, no more external tests.

    But who checks on the bad teachers and don’t tell me they aren’t there I had many (poor school closed now), my children, each had several (one at primary school didn’t teach the times tables and stifled maths and one an entire module that comprised most of the A level because he thought the 1st year of 6th year teacher who retired had done it causing two children to lose their first choice University). Can I make a suggestion, High Schools don’t trust SATs test, swatting for the best results hides lack of deep long retained knowledge, why doesn’t Williamson just devise a similar CAT test that teens in Cheshire take at the start of year 7 for setting purposes but for Year 11 and track progress from CAT1 to CAT2, no revision materials, no teachers revision classes or knowing what will be in the test, just a test on retained knowledge.

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