Education and lockdown

The decision to put the country back into lockdown ended the argument about whether the schools should stay open. It also strengthened the position of all those who wanted to have another year without GCSE and A level exams. The Secretary of State who had been defending keeping schools open and exams in the summer had to announce an abrupt change of plan. Numerous matters now need to be sorted out as arguments continue over how much longer schools will remain closed.

The loss of exams is a blow. Whilst many teachers appraise their pupils professionally and give them realistic grades, the reliance on teacher grades contains at least three problems for the Examining Boards. The first is how do the Exam Boards ensure common standards throughout . Working with a limited number of Examiners and a marking scheme for exam answers makes this easier when using professionally moderated exams comparing with previous years. . The second is how do you ensure a few teachers are not affected by the social skills and friendliness of the pupil which may not be the same as the work and talent on display. The third is how do you stop the natural process of wanting to do well and seeing the pressures on the school leading to Grade creep? Will there be surrogate school based tests and exams? What is the role of the mock exam? How much adult support and guidance is allowed for course work?

The loss of social contact and play with peers is a big loss for young children. They learn a lot from each other at school and need the challenge and stimulus of others of their age.

Have now all families in need been equipped with laptops or mobile devices that allow them to participate fully in remote learning? Have teachers been trained in offering good on line courses? What use is going to be made of bought in on line materials as opposed to teacher driven materials?

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  1. David_Kent
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    It is possible nowadays to have invigilated on-line exams, perhaps a limited programme of these could be used in addition to teacher assessments and so have a standardised benchmark and thus reduce the risk of grade creep and teacher bias.

    • Hope
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Blair moved away from exams to fake teacher assessments so everyone had fantastic grades, even though some left school completely illiterate!

      Johnson has taken up his socialist quest. I thought Gove changed this under Cameron? Johnson going full socialist so no pupil fails even if the y cannot read or write is not a surprise.

      I note Johnson has changed the name of his energy department include clean in the title. He is a pathetic embarrassment in everything he does.

  2. Stephen Priest
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Conservative Government 2021:

    All pubs banned from offering takeaways.

    Starbucks (US left wing bad coffee company ), newly opened in Wokingham, allowed to offer takeaways all day long

  3. Mark B
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    According to some here teachers are continuing to teach so I see no reason why exams should be postponed or cancelled. Exams are held in the summer months and a nice warm day in the open air to take said exams presents little risk.

    I was disappointed not to see our kind hosts name not on the list for those opposed to such measures. But I am sure he has to balance what he believes and the views of his constituents.

    It is clear now that this power grab by the State is to continue well into next year. But I doubt there will be many that will care one way or another as they will have other pressing concerns.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Next = new

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Certain types of pupils do far better in actual exams than they would with teacher assessments. I find teachers often tend to reward neatness, obedience, reliability in handing in work and general likability – this rather than actual ability. Often pupils who are able and understand their maths, physics etc. very well can be rather bored with all this. Some teachers even feel threatened by pupils who are often rather brighter than they are and actively dislike some pupils. They also understandably often like to reward the hard working but dim over the intelligent but lazy. Exams do not do this so much.

    In other subjects politics often comes into it. Teachers are, more often than not, rather left wing and have almost invariable fallen for the lefty “BBC think” views on climate alarmism, enforced “equality” of outcome , the absurd war on plant food, virtual state monopoly healthcare and education, identity politics, much other woke lunacy, ever bigger government and ever higher taxes ….

    Students expressing more sensible and practical views in class can often get penalised, often subconsciously, by such teachers. This happened even 40 years ago. I think is is far, far worse now.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      my only disagreement with your post @LL is that it is unlikely that students will be expressing the views we think are more sensible and practical. They have been indoctrinated that the correct answers are those espoused by the establishment

      The danger of bias against behaviour and conflating that with ability is great

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    You ask:-

    What use is going to be made of bought in on line materials as opposed to teacher driven materials? Indeed there is huge scope for such efficiencies in education and for all ages child or adult. One lecture, training or education package delivered to millions rather than one second rate one to say 20 or so in a class.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      doesn’t that rather increase the opportunity for indoctrination

  6. Peter
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    University students find themselves paying large sums of money for something little better than a correspondence course.

    If they have moved to university accommodation they are often under virtual imprisonment. Except they sometimes have the expense of paying their jailers for inadequate food.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      +1. Even where running normally most (perhaps about 70%) of UK degrees are worth a tiny percentage of the circa 75k they cost.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    What is very clear is how much better private schools have coped than most state schools. Parents are paying fees and so demand a decent service in return. In the state sector, rather like the NHS, you get what you are given or not given and lump it.

    The state should give out education vouchers to all than can be topped up and make nearly all schools (in effect) fully private and thus responsive to parents and carers. Putting the power into parent’s hands rather than teacher unions, governments and local authorities. State monopolies in education, healthcare and almost everywhere else are a disaster. Covid has exposed this in spades.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      If a private hospital shuts down (as much of the NHS has done) they would have no income. The NHS get paid in full regardless, so far easier for them to close many services just as they have done. The patient has no consumer power or choice. The state have taken your money in taxes already and killed nearly all private healthcare services by unfair state competition anyway.

      • Lynn
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        Agree with your ‘school vouchers’ solution and think it should apply to health too.
        If our objective is to educate British kids and keep British people healthy, that’s the way.
        If our objective is to educate the world and medicate them too, it will not work.

  8. jerry
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Teacher assessments are likely better than external exams, because teachers know their students and their true abilities, a student needs to have many bad days to fall short, with ‘stress-test’ exams they just need a bad couple of hours. If the Govt wants to discourage grade inflation then simply scrap the already discredited school league tables!

    Also, with regards higher education, funny how some students are happy to take a voluntary gap-year, or to resit failed exams, but are lead to believe their education and life chances lay ruined if there is some other forced delay to their education!

    “The loss of social contact and play with peers is a big loss for young children.”

    True but they quickly recover, assuming they really do not have any contact with other children or other stimulating play opportunity, such as structured play via TV or radio programming. I understand play areas are to be kept open during this lockdown, whilst older children will no doubt meet their friends, discuss and help each other via on-line and/or mobile platforms.

    “Have now all families in need been equipped with laptops or mobile devices that allow them to participate fully in remote learning?”

    How on earth did children manage to learn anything before there was the internet, perhaps they used printed course work, the OU was built upon distance learning using the services of the Royal Mail. But you do raise an important questions your govt has dodged for 10 years now, access to universal (fast) broadband and if school children really do require a laptop to study these-days then surely the state should be providing each child with one, in the same way as the state used to provide both text books and exercise books!

    My glass is half full, I get the impression for far to many their glasses are (always?) half empty…

    • jerry
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      OT; Just seen Sky News report that the DfT are bring in mandatory pre-travel testing for people travelling to the UK, this is good news, but they must not allow the Do not not travel unless essential message to be diluted by those with a business agenda (such as airport bosses…) rather than a public health agenda.

  9. Peter
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    The three issues you mention around exams will undermine the credibility of exam results during the lockdown period. I am not sure that can be rectified.

    Families in need may not have suitable accommodation for home learning. Internet provision at home may not exist. Pupils may struggle using a computer.

    • Hope
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      1903 education became compulsory. Fake Tory party decided to stop educating children! They are sick! Your party and govt decided to wreck their life chances, wreck any chance of social mobility and current stats show increase in child abuse. A choice exercise by Johnson.

      Johnson said … I had no choice… he said …no wants to take these measures. What a load of dishonest lies. It was a choice exercised by him. Other countries have not followed this course from day one. He himself had chose another course at the beginning and flipped flopped. Is his memory that bad or he just cannot stop himself lying?

      Your party and govt wrecked these children’s education, you own it and take responsibility. Your govt has caused unemployment to soar for u dear 25 s you own it you caused it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Any sensible employer or university would surely have there own exams like the Bmat. UKcat ones you sit for medicine or similar. Then again most university degrees now are fairly pointless and many universities just want the fees and accommodation rents!

      Then they give you a fairly worthless bit of paper can be rather profitable for them!

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      I have been a teacher all my working life. Believe me, if the teacher is not there, the majority will see it as a holiday.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        Indeed – I would have been on “The Rec” playing football or cricket, sailing yachts the lake (or estuary), fishing or digging rag/lug worms, playing guitar or keyboards (badly) with my band, trying to train our mad dog, checking up on my elderly granny round the corner or making electronic sound effects and even a home made synth. Or helping my dad rewire the house or fix the car or bikes. Or later doing up my own £50 car and chatting up girls.

        All reasonably educational though, I suppose.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 9, 2021 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

          Now it is illegal to re-wire your own house, but in those days it was fine for a 13 year old to do it.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      John will insist on identifying people as “wanting” things which they judge to be necessary, however regrettably.

      This is irresponsible and highly unhelpful.

      • steve
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:33 pm | Permalink


      • Fred H
        Posted January 9, 2021 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        the best example of ‘ wanting’ things that are not sensible, practical nor popular are the subjects you go on and on and on about.
        Mostly characterised by ‘wind up’.

  10. BW
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I hear the BBC are preparing a massive education programme for school children. Now that is a frightening thought. Can you imagine the indoctrination.

    • turboterrier
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:12 am | Permalink



    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      +1. It will be woke, climate alarmist, identity politics pushing, diversity quota, left wing, big government drivel.

      The BBC is a pure unaccountable propaganda service and wrong on almost every issue. Yet we still have to pay for it under threat of law – watch it or not. No sign of real reform from this government.

    • jerry
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      @BW; “Can you imagine the indoctrination.”

      Funny, I seem to remember the BBC (along with ITV) used to screen hour upon hour of schools and college programmes during term-time back in the 1970s, based on your rational one has to ask, how on earth was Mrs Thatcher ever elected in 1979? Oh hang on, I take your point!…

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        The communists made the mistake of educating the peasants & we all saw the consequences behind the iron curtain. So if you want to control the population don’t educate them, indoctrinate them which we’re seeing in the the UK’s universities & schools today.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      And why?
      So the kids can stay at home indefinitely?

    • JayGee
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      BW, have you never heard of the BBC education departments in both Radio and TV over many years, broadcasting extremely useful material to schools and further education. You may be too young to remember those but I most certainly benefited from them when I was at school. Ever heard of BBC Bitesize? It’s nonsense to talk of indoctrination.

    • Duyfken
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      As against the teaching which is conducted within schools, the BBC education programme should be open for wider monitoring, such that it can be scrutinised for bias and brain-washing. Well, I hope so.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Postman Patricia and her electric delivery vehicle. The Fire Brigade at Trumpton all trans gender people.

    • Mike Durrans
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Your right BW, the left wing BBC cannot be trusted and should not be given this responsibility.

      Also as an employer I would look very closely at any potential employee who was educated in the 2020 / 2021 period

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Yes I can imagine it. Very scary. But it is what the govt want. British Brainwashing Corporation?

    • Derek
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      The Open University ran such an educational programme daily on TV but it was withdrawn in 2006 in favour of DVD and on-line. If they were paid to resurrect and update their TV educational packages on their own dedicated Channel, I would certainly agree to all/part of the licence fee paying for it for that really is a worthy cause.

    • SecretPeople
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 12:51 pm | Permalink


    • Mark
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Surely already evident in the three hours of Green Party political broadcasts masquerading as the Christmas RI lectures?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2021 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        +1 plus we had all that tedious, unscientific green crap and other lunacy from Mark Carney in the Reith lectures.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      probably to help them decide if they want to be a boy, or a girl. Gay or straight. Trans or put up with the smirks….

      • Fred H
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps the Beeb will sprinkle some Kinks ‘Lola’ and Bowie’s performances, with some New York Dolls and Freddie Mercury.

        • Simeon
          Posted January 9, 2021 at 8:37 am | Permalink

          I’m impressed that you know the NYDs. Ray Davies and David Bowie both have much to offer inquiring minds – though I’d rather they were kept off the curriculum. The thought of the DfE butchering their work makes me shudder.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

          So, following brexit, the BBC hasn’t reverted to military music for its signature tunes after all then?

  11. Sea_Warrior
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    What will happen to all of these laptops at the end of the crisis? Will they be called in from the ‘vulnerable’ and then sold to help generate receipts to alleviate our fiscal crisis? I expect we will just see more waste. Education should have been delivered across television channels, something that could have been done on a shoe-string. And the BBC’s efforts are still not enough.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      You misunderstand.
      THIS is the new normal. Remote learning.
      THIS is what our politicians have signed us up to.
      Laptops will stay.

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        I think you’re correct Everhopeful.

    • MickN
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      I expect a lot of them will “get broken” and end up on Ebay

  12. Lifelogic
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    I see the government have only managed to vaccinate about 500,000 people in the two weeks since Christmas Day. At this rate it will take about 4 years to do just 1/3 of the population. Major pharmacies not even consulted in the main it seems until yesterday.

    It it being managed by Hancock, or someone else with a PPE Oxon. degree, civil servants or the brilliant people who managed test and trace system so well perhaps?

    The people organising it still do not seem to have adjusted to priority to reflect men’s higher COVID risks. This is clear proof of gross incompetence. They cannot even get supplies to a Matt Hancock photo op at a surgery in Bloomsbury so inept are they.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      It looks as though the army have taken over so something might happen finally.

  13. Sakara Gold
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    It is indeed regretable that the government has been forced into another u-turn over schools. However the evidence is strong that, while schoolchildren have symptomless infection by the Chinese plague virus, they do bring the virus home and infect other members of their household.

    It appears that the hospitals themselves and the supermarkets near the hospitals are major places to catch the virus. Taking schools out of transmission chains will help reduce the R0 value.

    Unfortunately, despite assurances to the contrary, Williamson has not managed to provide a laptop to every child who needs one for home schooling. Using BBC TV channels to deliver lessons would be a better idea now.

    • turboterrier
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      S G

      These ministers are damned they do and damned if they don’t.

      Too many are try to operate outside the limits of their capability and experience , compounded by the lack of similar capabilities of their civil service staff they rely on.

      The secret to success is never to take a position outside the limits of your capabilities. It seems not to be the norm anymore. Get in a position struggle radiate incompetence, get promoted and start all over again until the golden bowler is offered.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Re hospitals.
      A friend of mine is in hospital and contracted the virus whilst there. Previously he was house-bound, meeting no-one. On the local news last night there was an item about this hospital and how over-stretched they were. The message was all about people staying at home and no mention of the infection being spread around the wards.
      That seems to be a factor no-one wants to talk about, although figures for hospital infection vary from 10% to 40% of people in hospital with Covid. They go into hospital poorly and the health service finishes them off whereas they might otherwise have got better.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      It lurks EVERYWHERE, any surface, what a scare!
      Up the chimney, on your shoe, behind the sofa, down the loo.
      Get a bucket, mop and broom and clean it out from every room.
      Then, you sit down… and ponder on…the damage done to everyone!!

      Cowards have taken our lives.
      Cowards and charlatans.

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        👏🏻 True

      • Mark B
        Posted January 9, 2021 at 6:42 am | Permalink



    • Ian Wragg
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      It’s amazing that the virus only attacks public sector workers.
      My local shops are all functioning normally together with on line deliveries etc.
      Why hasn’t the government mandated supermarkets close as this is probably the most likely source of infection if there is any risk.
      There are many in the private sector losing their livelihoods as the public sector sails on regardless advised by self confessed Marxist experts.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Pupils could wear masks as they do in France.

      The State would have to supply them, of course.

      That’s the bit that the Tories can’t manage.

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        Hmmm …. let’s look at France’s Covid data ….. oh dear ….

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

          The point is the schools are open, have been for ages, but their stats are better than the UK’s.

          • a-tracy
            Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            No France’s stats are not better, they just don’t test the same rate of people. Their hospitals may be better, they may have less of a problem with medical staff self-isolation and sickness if they don’t test them as often as we do.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        If you value your children’s health, and don’t want them to run the risk of catching Covid, wouldn’t decent loving parents be prepared to buy them masks? – – just saying.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but it’s more a matter of stopping the kids from infecting the teachers, and from transmitting the virus to each other and to their families etc.

          Parents would raise the point of principle of schools providing the masks, but I doubt that the Tories would want their supply problems for PPE to resurface anyway.

          • Fred H
            Posted January 9, 2021 at 8:50 am | Permalink

            you always have to divert the point away from your nonsense, don’t you!

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        May I suggest you read Ivor Cummins who has released his latest forensic comparison of the international data on Covid-19 mortality – on the impact or otherwise of lockdown and mask-wearing as against other, more likely, causative factors.
        His latest study of the international data, of the facts and of the science, continues to support his analysis that lockdowns don’t work – at all.

      • steve
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:32 pm | Permalink


        Utter tripe !

    • Barbara
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Last week, a new study from the University of Florida, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, found no evidence of asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread of Covid 19.

      If you have zero symptoms and feel completely healthy, you have virtually a 0% chance of spreading the virus.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        So how did our famous asymptomatic superspreading skier’s case work then?

      • Know-Dice
        Posted January 9, 2021 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Unlikely to be true…

  14. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Well we all know teachers have their favourites. It was like this when I was at school. They seemed to always be those from better off backgrounds. The wealthier families could invest more in school projects and when it came to the arts, better supplies for things like arts and crafts and domestic science. It has always been easier for children from smaller families to study too. I think those children who come from large families with many siblings will struggle with lack of space for learning and lack of online facilities and in many cases a lack of interest from the parents themselves. Children need encouragement and if they are not getting it at school and they have parents who can’t be bothered then they will suffer. The gap between rich and poor will certainly get wider. Vaccination is critical to get everything back to normal. It’s the only way forward now and all resources should be channelled down this route.

  15. Simeon
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Oh yes, Williamson’s brave defence of the children’s interest. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

    This is just the latest example of a government-created mess that the government will now try to fix. Inevitably, government will succeed in making things even worse, and the ratchet-effect continues.

    Are you belatedly realising that merely abstaining on Wednesday was insufficient? Is this post the closest we get to an apology that you didn’t properly think this through? And if you hadn’t properly thought this through, what else has not been properly thought through?

    Present generations are, and have, suffered at the hands of governments. The outlook for future generations is even worse. How long before my young children begin to ask me why on earth I brought them into such an awful world? I consider my children to be amongst the luckier ones. There are young families that are in truly desperate circumstances as a direct result of your government’s policies. My heart goes out to them.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      Not trying to defend our kind host but I think it better to be in the tent than out.

  16. None of the Above
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Whilst I agree that the social and psychological aspects of absence from school are important, I do not see why exams need to be cancelled.
    Even if schools do not reopen until the last week of March, this only represents a loss of 11 teaching weeks. Postponing the examinations by 11 weeks nationwide is not impossible and would certainly be better than the lottery of Teacher assessments.

  17. William1995
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Sir John, off-topic but my girlfriend works with U.K. based biotech startups. Apparently suppliers in the EU (her specific example was nucleotide suppliers in Germany) are not currently exporting to small companies in the U.K. because of a long complicated tax reclaim process.

    These startups will relocate out of the U.K. if they can’t get supplies in quickly to meet deadlines. We should be removing red tape, not adding it.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      Sir John, I thought the agreement was for trade deal to ease trade, if it isn’t working then what is the point of it.

      Would these German companies working through WTO trade get caught up in the same export tax reclaim process or not?

      • Know-Dice
        Posted January 9, 2021 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        Yes true. What are HMRC playing at?

  18. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    My children have laptops to enable them to continue their learning, they also have access to robust broadband which I provide. This all provided through my taxed income.

    I see 1.5 million families are now being provided laptops (why not desktops which are cheaper?). These people already have subsidised rent through either council housing, housing benefit or both and I am competing with them for housing while my rent is being pushed up because they the same amount of money as I have to pay their rents (universal credit will pay a three child family in London £36K take home per year, the equivalent of £50K gross). My wife’s hours have been reduced as footfall through their grocery store has reduced due to the lockdown. Can we access the nectar of Universal Credit to top our our usual income? – of course not we are told to pay for ourselves as we have been prudent in the past.

    How many of these laptop recipients went on holiday this year? We didn’t.

    Time for the government to look after those who look after themselves. How about giving me my child benefit back? Increase my tax free threshold.

    As for exams, just grade on the curve, the cream will rise, some will pass and some will fail. Darwinism in action.

    I am fed up with special interest groups pressure applying more and more payments from my taxes. “But what about me is the plaintive cry” If we are indeed all in this together then exist on what you have.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      As for shutting schools – if plastic screens work in retail and other work environments just put them up at the front of the class for teachers and between each pupil and keep the schools open.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:21 pm | Permalink


        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted January 8, 2021 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

          Supermarkets did it overnight. But then they had to in order to keep making money

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 9, 2021 at 8:04 am | Permalink

            It’s the “between each pupil” bit!

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted January 9, 2021 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            Free standing Perspex screens are readily available, no fixing required.

            Floor standing or desktop models can be ordered depending on gaps between desks.

            Probably cost the same as buying laptops for 1.5 million children and no ongoing broadband costs to worry about.

          • a-tracy
            Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            The bigger between the desk safety glass screens were £100 and the desk top free standing safety glass screens on stabilising feet were £70 each.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      I have sympathy for your situation. The more you do for yourself the less help and support you can get if you need it when circumstances change. Whilst those that don’t do a stitch get everything thrown at them.

      As you say no “lets’ use repurposed desk tops” that large and medium companies wipe down and dispose of on a regular basis. Oh no “that won’t do”, brand new laptops each, when a typical double working none claiming family with three children have to provide themselves. I actually know a couple that split up because as a family they’re so much financially better off apart, with him back at parents and she’s getting the rent covered, training covered, top up benefits on her part-time earnings, and a top up from him. How on earth is the State a better financial provider than a full-time working real Dad!

  19. Richard1
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    It is a bad decision and a victory for the anti-education teaching unions. A better idea would have been to change the academic year so as to make it work, doing the exams next November and starting the university year in January (as in fact happens in the Southern Hemisphere anyway). With all the sitting at home we have had the last year it would have been perfectly reasonable also to put in some extra term time during the Easter and Summer holidays. But I suppose the teaching unions would have objected to that also. Some years ago as I recall there were A-level boards which set exams in November, so it can’t be impossible.

    GCSEs are a waste of time, few other countries have public exams at this stage and they have now been dumbed down to an extent to make them largely meaningless so let’s take this opportunity to just abolish them.

    I’d also suggest getting rid of Gavin Williamson in the next reshuffle he really is not a credit to the Government or the Conservative Party.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      I don’t believe that exams even figure in the plan.
      They’ve done away with them in Singapore already.
      It is much later than one might think!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

        Qualification Is Power.

        No, Singapore doesn’t want its ordinary people to have any.

  20. Everhopeful
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Point is.
    Kids will be ready when the climate emergency hits.
    They will be used to remote learning at home and used to not going outside!
    That’s what globalists want.
    Glad to say it is utterly freezing this morning. Many frost lately.
    No wonder agenda must be speeded up.

  21. Longinus
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Time for national on-line teaching programmes made up of standard lectures given by the best unbiased teachers available with final MCQ exams marked by computers. When the covid crisis is over, schools can be re-purposed as lecture theatres to view these on-line courses and 1 or 2 teachers employed to answer any questions not covered in lectures or course materials. PE and minor hobbie subjects can remain. Sack the majority of teachers who were unwilling to do their job during the pandemic.

  22. SecretPeople
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    We’re lucky our child is now in secondary school and being actively taught, in person, in Teams. He also happened to get a second hand laptop for Christmas. By way of contrast, his primary school, earlier last year, posted on their website links to a few pdfs they’d found on the internet and invited parents to get their children to work through them. No interactivity, no feedback. But, worse, the loss of social contact and an entire swathe of societal learning for children and young people has been severed.

  23. Bryan Harris
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    This could be an opportunity to improve the way that kids are taught – but I doubt neither the education system nor teachers are able to grasp it.

    Rather than zoning kids to be taught at the slowest rate applicable to students in a class that don’t easily get a subject, students should be allowed to proceed at their own pace, at home via PC, with a regular assessment done by teachers.

    That would require a parent to be at home – something the socialists made into a sin, for they wanted all women to have the opportunity to work instead of looking after their kids.

    The current system holds back bright kids, while allowing the school bully to prosper. It is an archaic system, fundamentally unchanged since the beginning of time. In this technological age we ought to be able to do a whole lot better.

    There should be no reason for kids to attend school physically unless a stay at home parent was unavailable or they needed special attention, thereby reducing the need for massive school buildings.

    As for the social elements of school attendance, which are somewhat exaggerated, parents would just need to get more inventive in getting their kids involved in different group activities – we should not have to rely on schools for social development, with its fundamental hierarchical flaws.

  24. Neil Hartley
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Sir – you are asking highly pertinent questions yet you voted for these measures.

  25. Mike Wilson
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    On the subject of education, why is the government charging students 6% interest on their student loans. SIX percent! It is usury!

    My son is paying £150 a month off his debt. £50 a month of that is interest.

    With the endless increases in house prices encouraged by the government (the stamp duty holiday merely being the latest predictable inflator) – coupled with crippling student debt – the government is ruining the life chances of young people.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Scandalous indeed. You wouldn’t take it unless you knew you were going to be a low earner or not work. Such are the incentives here now.

    • JoolsB
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 12:29 am | Permalink

      Well said. 6% is outrageous. They are ripping our young off.

  26. Lester Cynic Beedell
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Off topic

    Johnson’s credibility has further plummeted in his response to Donald Trump, all the Republicans are trying to do is restore faith in the voting system and if the democrats have nothing to hide they should welcome an investigation!

    For the first time I’m unable to read the telegraph today because they’re vilifying Trump, so the media are ok with a fraudulent election, the rot is much deeper than we thought!

    • Lynn
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Italygate! Why is nobody talking of this. The proof of how the votes were switched has been obtained.
      I have today deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Use Parler! It’s great!

  27. Nivek
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    “The decision to put the country back into lockdown ended the argument about whether the schools should stay open…. The loss of social contact and play with peers is a big loss for young children.”

    Have you consulted any experts on whether or not, or at what point, enforced loss of social contact may amount to torture?

  28. ukretired123
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Tomorrows World was one of the last good serious educational BBC programs that fired up and motivated youngsters in STEM subjects with world class teachers like James Burke who is now feted in American curriculums widely. Here we have a woke BBC that has lost its way on what Public Broadcasting should be unlike the American PBS channel.
    The BBC micro was another STEM success but it never saw the potential for furthering its educational potential. The BBC systems themselves were revolutionary and scaled using Linux home grown experts in Audio and Vision which also saved them a fortune. Now the licence fee income is not invested wisely at the beeb but wasted on woke instead. How sad that it has taken it one year of CV19 to wake up to it’s educational obligations!
    Most households have a TV and before the PC came along was the natural successor to teaching via the radio which is another medium for teaching music and languages etc.
    The blob Teaching Unions will resist change and must be resisted if we want progress to improve education.

  29. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I know four students well. One left a major university with a Mickey Mouse degree and is now on the dole. Another went to London to train in a technical subject and found his digs had been closed. He is now working from home without any practical experience in his chosen profession. A third is at home, out of the country, having had her college course destroyed by covid restrictions. The fourth is working in a local shop and turns up at a nearby college for her Mickey Mouse degree one day a week. All are deeply in debt financially.

    I also know someone who has had their GCSE cancelled. No harm there at the moment. It is simply a pass to go on to A level and this is done internally anyway.

    Sir John, you and I both went to Cambridge in the far off pre-Tony Blair days. Cambridge University this is not. They have no Buttery meals, no sport, no Junior Common Room…

    • M Brandreth- Jones
      Posted January 11, 2021 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      yuk …

  30. JayGee
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Not every pupil/student performs at their best during exams. It’s just possible that those who don’t thrive under formal exams will benefit from the absence of exams, but it will still require a huge effort to provide all children with access to online learning.

    Just imagine the situation of two working-at-home parents with 4 children living in a 3-bed flat, where the ages and abilities of the children require access to different levels of education. Load pathetic broadband speeds into the equation and it could be more than tricky.

  31. Fishknife
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Why is the scholastic year sacrosanct?
    Just click on a term and have the Summer exams at Christmas, adjust later if you must – like the bin men with a bank holiday.

  32. Caterpillar
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Decades (more) have been spent institutionalising education (and indeed healthcare) and it is then ripped away from people. The absurdity of the situation was made real to me this week in hearing about a young adult who is now spending all her time caring for younger siblings and this has prevented her progressing with her … childcare course.

    However well meaning, even discussing tweaks to what has been done gives undeserved validity to the actions. The actions are unfair and inhuman.

  33. alastair harris
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Was lockdown a “decision”? Sounded more like a pronouncement from “on-high”. I do wonder how long the government thinks ordinary people will carry on accepting this Orwellian imposition. Particularly since we have seen the constabulary taking a more proactive approach to alleged rule/guidance breaking. And especially since the incidence of businesses and livelihoods disappearing is growing apace. And not to mention the chilling increase in non-covid deaths, even if the statistics continue to misprepresent these.

  34. Ian Jacobs
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    JR – you are underestimating the many benefits of children attending school. The academic aspects of their learning can try to be addressed by home learning – but everyone learns best in different ways . A child who is happy using their phone in all sorts of ways may cope very poorly with learning on line despite their tech. abilities. Childrens learning can be very different from adult learning – the principles rarely coincide. As an adult learner you want to learn as quickly as possible so you must find out which methods suit you best so that you can use your time efficiently.

    Children not attending school will miss out on ( many but not all ) of : socialisation , friends , social challenges, dealing with authority and discipline , sport and competitive sport, fitness , art , drama , music , development of technical and manual skills , expanding their imagination , self-confidence and self-reliance and measuring themselves ” against “others .

  35. Lester Cynic Beedell
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Again off topic

    We must be in deep trouble if Johnson is castigating the leader of the Free World for wanting an investigation into a rigged election!

    And I bet this isn’t published!

    • Lynn
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Johnson is a national disgrace! He MUST go and now!

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      He’s just jumping on the latest band wagon, that’s all. Typical of the man

  36. GilesB
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Our constituencies are supposed to be geographic – providing connection, continuity and community.

    Once upon a time Oxford and Cambridge universities had their own MPs. But they were abolished as being inappropriate.

    But due to the creation of enormous higher education institutions and lowering the voting age to 18 we again have ‘university’ constituencies. They are bad for the local population, and bad for our geographic form of representation. They also massively increase the risk that people vote multiple times.

    Students should vote in their home constituency only.

    Would you support a private members bill?

  37. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Using the BBC to provide lessons is a hopeless idea – there would be no interaction or feedback from teachers at all and no tailoring to different abilities. Schools should assume they will be closed until the summer holidays and plan proper on-line lessons accordingly.

    I have heard a few ministers sayings some restrictions will be lifted once the top 4 vulnerable groups are vaccinated. This will not happen. SAGA will not allow that decision to be taken from them based on a simple metric like that, they want it to be subjective so they can decide. Here are the arguments they will deploy to make restrictions permanent:

    1) Although the four groups have been vaccinated the first shot is only (say) 50% effective so we need to wait until they’ve all had a second shot.

    2) Although the four groups have all had two shots the vaccine is only (say) 70% effective so we need to wait till a much larger part of the population has had one shot.

    3) Same as (2) but two shots

    4) The vaccine does not prevent you catching and passing on the virus, we need to wait till a much higher percentage of the population has had one shot.

    5) Same as (4) but two shots

    6) There are signs that immunity from the vaccine starts to deline significantly after (say) 12 months – we have to wait till after a second round of vaccination – go to (1)

    7) Restrictions need to remain over the summer to reduce the infection rate to a minimum to prepare for the autumn seasonal increase when restrictions will also need to remain until the following spring

    8) There is a new form of the virus which is more transmissable, more virulent, bypasses the vaccine.

    Boris and Starmer will both cave in and support any of these.

    • MB
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 1:15 am | Permalink

      You have hit the nail on the head!

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      Yep ! Sounds about right. The only thing I would disagree with is the caving in part. This false, on their part.

  38. TryingTimes
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Provide a laptop free of charge.
    Fantastic idea if the UK had the funds to pay for it.

    Presumably the cost of the laptops will be deducted from the education budget/teachers payroll, and not be treated as yet another gift from Father Christmas aka the UK taxpayer.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      The schools could just ask the public for their wiped clean laptops (many have got old ones just going to waste). They don’t need lots of memory and RAM. There is a solution to no broadband through their parents mobile phone I know a couple of students that had no wifi but connected from their phone. Council housing estates could have a fee wifi connection for school hours 9am to 3pm.

      One IT guy in each school could check they are wiped clean and re-issue them with education software loaded on it for those children without current wifi.

    • Al
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      If laptops don’t have to be new there are plenty of good quality second hand ones going for under £100 at consumer prices from commercial suppliers. Buy in bulk and the price gets lower. There’s no reason why price should be a problem. If all the classes are online, you can use older ones with a slim linux distro and web client, which are even cheaper.

      The problem is that it requires bureacracy to look outside their “must purchase from the manufacturer” ethos. A voucher for school children obtainable from their schools and redeemable only for computers for school might be a better way. (Make it a requirement that the computers be returned to the school or the family pays the voucher cost and you can get them returned for cash or factory-reset and handed out again.)

  39. Mactheknife
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    The government is bowing to pressure from the teaching unions in the main. Are we stepping back into the 70’s when the unions were all powerful ? There is of course the lock down liberals who perversely enjoy state imprisonment and dominate media outlets a-la-BBC etc.

    As far as exams are concerned, if pupils are to be graded by their teachers, then why not make it a legal requirement that should any pupil be offered a provisional university place, they should have to sit an entrance exam to prove that they have the knowledge and had been graded correctly. This would eliminate any sort of confirmation bias. However I would expect the teaching unions to vigorously challenge this.

  40. Man of Kent
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    The problem at the root of all this is public service unions .

    In the days before telephones were privatised it took months to get a line, on the railways standards of service were appalling .
    We are now sliding back to a situation where great areas of our life – health and education – are clearly run for the convenience of the staff and not the customer ( children and patients )

    Some will say ‘‘twas always thus ‘ but with COVID it becomes more apparent .

    I can believe staff are at their limit in the NHS. But why is this ?
    Thanks to PFI we are pitifully short of beds so rapidly run out of space for patients.
    Staff are worked to a frazzle so many choose not to come in for duty.
    It is the NHS which is at fault not the virus.

    The same goes for the teachers ,there are some who go all out to do their best for the children and other unionised members who refuse to get involved.
    A teaching family I know are resentful that their Head refuses to have anything to do with COVID measures , leaving it all with the do on his own initiative while the other who has kept pupils up to date as far as possible will next year hand these over to a teacher who has done nothing and receive in return classes who are a year behind .

    Caving in to the Unions merely gives them the further extended holiday they now feel is their right.

    We cannot go on like this , but what to do when GW fails to support the responsible sector ?

    • Peter
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

      ‘I can believe staff are at their limit in the NHS. But why is this ?
      Thanks to PFI we are pitifully short of beds so rapidly run out of space for patients.
      Staff are worked to a frazzle so many choose not to come in for duty.
      It is the NHS which is at fault not the virus.’

      The NHS has also been lumbered with layers of unnecessary management and an assortment of chiefs on huge salaries.

      Lucrative areas have been opened up to favoured outsourcing firms. These perform existing tasks but at a much greater cost.

      If the NHS had not been lumbered with the huge burden of PFI and the workforce could be rebalanced towards medical staff as opposed to managers and health professionals it would, of course, function better.

      The blame for this situation lies with various governments and not NHS medical staff

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Johnson has a history of caving into unions when he was Mayor.

  41. Derek
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Surely, those of school age count among the invulnerable? So why are they being held back under a one-size-fits-all lock down regime?
    It’s all every well have teachers rate/certify in lieu of official examinations but will industry et al accept these new but “dubious” qualifications? I do feel this problem has not been thought through sufficiently enough to make such a decision that dramatically affects our youth and their own futures.

  42. Christine
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    We hear that the private education system has provided very good remote learning. The question should be asked why the state education system has not provided a consistent good education. What has the Education Minister being doing?

    Surely it’s possible to take the best teachers from every subject and age range and put together on-line lessons.

    Has the Government asked companies to donate their older laptops to poorer families? My company, a large global IT firm, regularly refreshes its laptops. The older machines work perfectly well. We should be making more effort to recycle.

    • ukretired123
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:10 pm | Permalink


    • Alan Jutson
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 11:17 pm | Permalink


      Given we have the advantage of a National Curriculum with all pupils having to learn the same stuff to take the same examinations, surely it is not beyond the whit and ability of a few teachers to get together and put forward subject lessons for the whole Nation of pupils is it, why do individual schools need to do it with varying degrees of competence on all sorts of devices.
      Like wise we have a national broadcaster with 4 channels, with two of those channels not broadcasting during the day.
      Would seem if you were to put the two together, we then have lessons for all delivered via a television, which is already in most houses in the Country, no need for more equipment.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

        As usual no one thinking outside the box, or with a big enough plan.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      One of the differences between Private and State, is the former has a large bureaucracy to maintain.

  43. Mark
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    There is a more fundamental problem. Children are not being taught the full curriculum, never mind being properly assessed on their understanding of it. That must be remedied, otherwise they will remain at a permanent disadvantage.

  44. Polly
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    After all, you said yourself that the UK’s C-19 response is ”an exercise in global government”.

    So by your own logic, Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock are merely messengers.


  45. Fred H
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Two women have described how they were surrounded by police, read their rights and fined £200 each after each driving five miles to take a walk. The women were also told the hot drinks (peppermint tea) they had brought along were not allowed as they were “classed as a picnic”. Guidance for the current lockdown says people can travel for exercise as long as it is in their “local area”. The police force involved, Derbyshire Police, said driving for exercise was “not in the spirit” of lockdown. “One of them started reading my rights and I was looking at my friend thinking ‘This must be a joke’.
    “I said we had come in separate cars, even parked two spaces away and even brought our own drinks with us. He said ‘You can’t do that as it’s classed as a picnic’.”

    Human rights barrister Adam Wagner said: “There is no law against travelling to exercise. The guidance is not legally binding and the police have no power to enforce it unless it is reflected in the lockdown regulations which in this case it is not.”

    Another example of over the top Policing – no wonder these haphazard and ill-defined rules get ignored. Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, said he regarded the reservoir as a local area. He tweeted: “I’m concerned that my constituents are facing fines from Derbyshire Police for taking exercise in what I would class as the local area.
    “It is important that common sense is used when enforcing guidelines, and a fine rather than issuing guidance appears to be rather over zealous.”

    • Fred H
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      perhaps you will include later on?

    • Fred H
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      So in future BEWARE. Walking anywhere with a take-away drink like tea or coffee, near another person may result in the Police fining you £200 for ‘holding a picnic’.

  46. London Nick
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Whether schools are open or closed (I would prefer the former, but this lockdown-obsessed government has opted for the latter) nobody has ever explained why exams should be cancelled.

    Exams are naturally ‘socially distanced’ events, with desks spaced well apart to prevent cheating. So they are SAFE, virus or no virus. In addition, children could be required to wear masks, making these exams even safer . So why on earth do they need to be cancelled? As I said, this has NEVER been explained.

    Cancelling exams is one of the stupidest things thhis government has done – and that’s saying something!!

    • JoolsB
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 12:35 am | Permalink


    • a-tracy
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      The results would be a line on the new curve of general knowledge of each subject. They can’t do it though because they know lots of the kids will be reading at home and given work to do and workbooks and those that aren’t, the most severely affected through no fault of their own but because their parents can’t even get a book from the library and don’t have the knowledge to pass on themselves will fall even further down the pit.

  47. Kevin Caudwell
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Teachers can’t support home learning effectively because they’re too busy teaching the children of sainted key workers who are still deemed worthy of education.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      How many teachers are home isolating Kevin and can’t do in person teaching?

  48. Newmania
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Oddly enough I just picked up an additional lap top from the local school. I was able to tell one or two teachers I know, and bumped into, about the tremendous concern for our children expressed by Sir John Redwood.
    As you may well imagine they were quite willing to take it at face value and I am certain the tears I noticed were of heartfelt gratitude, not mirth.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      I hope you didn’t BUMP INTO them?

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Christ, reading your post anyone would think this pandemic was John’s fault. Lay off!

  49. L Jones
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    And this is what YOU voted for, Sir John.

  50. Alan Jutson
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Given students study for two years for their GCSE and A level courses, this pandemic will have the effect of interrupting and compromising 3 years results.
    University degree courses will also be affected, although much of this work is usually self study anyway, with little tutorial and mentoring completed in the traditional sense.

    Would have thought if students are going to be given, or loaned laptops etc then they could be handed in once the student finishes their course work so that the next years intake could use them, but I guarantee they will be damaged or simply go missing in many cases.

    If they are to be re-used, then clearly they need to be wiped clean of any existing data that is stored on them first.

    Home schooling is not for suitable everybody, indeed not suited for probably for quite a large percentage of students, but clearly it is better than nothing if the courses are planned and run properly.

  51. Nig l
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Off topic but worrying. Doesn’t look as if your bullish, no problems either exports etc is working well for our fisherman.

    With the news 7 super EU trawlers have been licensed to hoover up fish, only seems to confirm, that did indeed get a raw deal/sold out depending on ones perspective.

    As for the schools, not sure anyone could have sorted out the ‘gordion knot’ but a fall guy and a fresh face, as is often the way in politics, would mean someone starting with no baggage.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Well Nig perhaps we should say NO to the new 7 super trawlers, Boris is a plank if he lets this play out and handcuffs the UK whilst giving the EU the right to walk over us. As he said we are sovereign now and independent so time to flex his muscles 💪🏻. Diplomatically of course.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 10, 2021 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      couldn’t we simply approach them to check for illegal nets, meaning haul them in, we check, we loiter , we ruin their fishing session for a few hours?

  52. mancunius
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I agree that the BBC should already be supplying for school pupil the Open University-type courses it managed for many years. One problem is that the UK ‘educationist’ mafia will be put in charge of such a programme, and they are (and have been for decades) culturally marxist and determined to reduce any educational programme to the lowest IQ. The idea of a multiplicity of approaches and learning levels is anathema to them, and they will turn any online or tv programme into dross.
    The state should ideally be hiring the private sector to improve standards and create a learning programme that will challenge and stimulate.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      We can just buy in ready made American online resources that are already set up and have been running successfully for decades, they do a lot of online teaching and home schooling. We don’t need to start from scratch. There are already models existing and we need to move quick much quicker than the educationalists and government can handle so just buy up their resources we buy up their films, tv shows etc.

  53. mancunius
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    *for school pupils*

  54. Dr. Sok
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    You do not need education to see tyranny. The real leaders will always be the boss.

  55. Lynn
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    So the person in Italy who actually moved the votes from Trump to Biden via the Leonardo satellite has given sworn statements backed up by the proved computer paper trail. The evidence is indisputable.
    The USA Courts declined to confirm the integrity of the Presidential election in 2020 (by not hearing the case). But Boris Johnson, unconditionally, announced to the world that the US Presidential election was ‘free and fair’. Arab announced that ‘the U.K. Government had full confidence in the checks and balances of the US electoral process.
    This is a national humiliation. This Government’s indiscretions and idleness not to mention moral decadence is incomparable with the standards of ordinary British people. Boris has humiliated the President of our greatest trading partner and ally.
    Go! In the name of God!

    • Lynn
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Watch the CIA video on Italy and the election stolen from the American People.

  56. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    In my area some schools are at 25% attendance with keyworkers’ children. Teachers can’t both teach them and others remotely. Best get them all back to school with the testing plan as previously intended.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Why not? Group them to make 4×25% = 100% with one teacher, leaving 3 teachers for the on line stuff for the 75%x4. We just had a book or two for each subject and some blue/purple “photocopies” run off the duplicator.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      1,350 people died of covid in the past 24 hours.

      How many teachers do you want to see amongst them?

      Come on, how many?

      • Edward2
        Posted January 8, 2021 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        Stupid question because 99% of these deaths were people over 80 year old.
        How many teachers are there who are over 80?

        • hefner
          Posted January 9, 2021 at 11:24 am | Permalink

          Edward2, Which statistics do you use to prove that 99% of these deaths were people over 80? Give your references, or I’ll think you are making it up.

          Latest ONS document is ‘Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 25 December 2020’. Funnily enough this does not give statistics with a boundary at 80, but at 65, 75, 85.
          And just a quick look at figure 4 shows that your 99% is a bonker statement (to put it politely)

          So how do you know the current distribution by age?

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

          Another question Edward would be how many teachers are there over 60?

          • Fred H
            Posted January 9, 2021 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

            an even bigger question – how many Civil Servants continue working after 60?

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      There will be teachers Roy who have to self isolate or have underlying conditions and have to work from home for online lessons and video recordings, marking etc., there may be some who are in the more vulnerable age group over the age of 60 (are those most at risk we are told).

      There were also lots of new teachers straight out of University that are in the lowest age group to worry about that could be deployed better a new teacher than no teacher.

  57. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted January 9, 2021 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I did comment on this via my mobile but it has not been published . It was to say simply that a year in a life of education is nothing, If all were to be put back a year ,no particular emergency gap in knowledge or opportunity would occur . There is enough worry about covid and jobs at present to contend with .

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 9, 2021 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      As I’ve said before Scottish High Schools do a year less, if English High Schools have to do the same programs that Scotland do in two years instead of three years from years 7-9 before the two GCSE years start then there is a path to follow to cut an entire year out.

  58. Margaret Brandreth-
    Posted January 9, 2021 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous programmes on TV .. You tube.. teaching us how to grow our own food. Many programmes on how to look after health , Much information on over the counter medication and healthy alternatives, an abundance in both gentle and vigorous exercise. We have to teach our children well.
    Many excellent science programmes , brilliant language applications on the net for self help.

  59. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 11, 2021 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Matt Hancock let the cat out of the bag the other day. Schools are perfectly safe but there is a danger that pupils may transmit COVID-19 to elderly and vulnerable relatives. I fall into this category and my 13 year old grandson lives with us. No doubt Mr Hancock thinks that I should be grateful to him. However, I would have preferred it to be my decision, not his.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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