Wednesday 24 February 2021

UK Briefing Education Special with Gav 24th Feb 2021

UK Briefing Education Special with Gav 24th Feb 2021

Cases: 4,144,577 (+9,938)
Losses of life: 121,747 (+442)
In hospital: 16,803 (down 20% from a week earlier)
Using a ventilator: 2,273
First dose vaccination: 18,242,873
Second dose: 669,105

"Today is the culmination of many months of planning, research, negotiation & coordination. But it's just the beginning. We still have a lot of work to do to realize our shared vision for Vaccine Equity by starting vaccination in all countries within the first 100 days of the year."
Dr Tedros of the World Health Organisation this morning, as the first COVAX shipment of 600,000 vaccines arrived in Ghana. 

UK Gov COVID Roadmap Business Step 2 April 1 of 6

Public Health England have added more people to vaccine priority groups:
“JCVI supports the plan to invite anyone on the GP Learning Disability Register – as well as adults with other related conditions, including cerebral palsy – for vaccination as part of priority group 6.”
This is presumably a result of their comprehensive computer programme algorithm - it has highlighted people who are significantly more vulnerable to COVID than we realised before (or were willing to admit. Common sense and logic suggested a few of them).
The cynic in me also adds that every adult we label "vulnerable" (and there are genuinely a lot), can justifiably be vaccinated as priority. It eases the conscience and pressure from the world, over vaccinating UK general population before other countries even get their health workers jabbed. It's a bit naughty - and they know it.
Invites will go out immediately it's possible, according to supply of vaccine in your area. 

Wales intend to offer vaccination to every eligible adult by the end of July, subject to supply.

Big announcement on extra funding for education:
"When schools re-open on 8 March, I want to make sure no child is left behind as a result of the learning they have lost over the past year.
A new £700m package of catch-up funding will help teachers support their pupils as they return to the classroom."
(Some of this money has already been announced, so it's 'new' funding, but only 'this year new'.)
- A new one-off £302m Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools, building on the Pupil Premium, will be provided to schools to use as they see best to support disadvantaged students.
The Recovery Premium amounts to around £6k for your average Primary school and £22k for the average secondary school, and can be used for clubs and activities or whatever seems to work with the cohort.
- "£200 million (from the £300 million announced by the Prime Minister in January to expand our successful tutoring programmes). This will fund an £83 million expansion of the National Tutoring Programme for primary and secondary schools, which has been shown to boost catch up learning by much as 3-5 months at a time; a £102 million extension of the 16-19 Tuition Fund for a further year to support more students in English, maths and other vocational and academic subjects; and £18 million funding to support language development in the early years, supporting a critical stage of child development."
- "£200 million (including the final £100 million from the Prime Minister’s announcement) will be available to secondary schools to deliver face-to-face summer schools. Schools will be able to target provision based on pupils’ needs but the government is suggesting they may want to initially target incoming year 7 pupils. This is alongside wider support funded through our Holiday Activities and Food Programme across the country."

UK Gov COVID Roadmap For Business 2 of 6 All images show smiley people behind text explaining steps from April 12th

When they return from March 8th, secondary pupils, and further and higher education students, will wear face coverings in class/lectures as well as when walking around corridors.

ALL secondary pupils will receive 3 tests during their first 2 weeks in school - the school start can be staggered across the week, to allow for the first test to occur before they actually return to classes. There will be regular further testing.

Frankly, let me apologise to my 2 youngest children here and now. They've both borne the brunt of this, and have hardly ever grumbled. One is current year 7, and pretty much missed his school leaving and first year of secondary, and the other is current year 6, about to leave primary school and then enter secondary as a year 7. At least they'll have similarly exciting tales for their Grandchildren....  

UK Gov COVID Roadmap Business 3 of 6 non essential shops no earlier than April 12th

Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, led today's UK Briefing, with help from Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England.
He went through today's figures and then discussed the plans Boris has already presented to us.
He thanks school staff for "going above and beyond", and parents for being supportive, and then the young people themselves, for being resilient and adaptive.
Quotes Bozza "We can now take the next steps", but it will be cautious.

Full return to schools from 8th March.
Wraparound childcare and practical uni courses can also return.
The return for remaining students will be reviewed by the end of the Easter holidays.

A range of immediate measures are being put into place, he talks about the money announced earlier today (see above). He actually read the same text out loud, so that was amusing.
Outcomes will be tracked, and any further opening will rely on data. The science is currently "strongly in favour of children going to school".

4m tests have already been completed across primary, secondary and colleges. Gavin talks about further testing, and the wearing of face coverings for all children while in school. This is a temporary measure, which will be reviewed at Easter. We are also looking at other measures - staggered starts, ventilation etc.
He won't yet confirm how exam grades will be awarded this Summer, but there will be no algorithms, it will 'put our trust in the hands of teachers' - announcement TOMORROW.  

UK Gov COVID Roadmap Business 4 of 6 Hairdressers and personal care no earlier than 12th April

Public asked if the English roadmap can be accelerated if data is better than expected. There are NO PLANS TO MOVE AHEAD OF THAT. Jenny explains it allows us to see the effect of every bit of reopening before we plough ahead, it can't really be rushed.

Public asked if we won't have to wear masks from June (at the earliest). Jenny says outdoor is most safe, it's possible over Summer we'll be able to put them to one side, and we may have to get them back out next Winter. It's too early to say for sure (but that's looking the likely scenario at this moment).

Press asked if all children who need help will get it? Is that a promise? Gavin did not promise.

Press asked about school days being extended, and Summer schools - Gavin says it can be 'wellbeing led', and he's hoping schools will be able to offer something to children over Summer.
He denies 'lengthening school days' is the point, but says it's about getting the best for every child, so that wasn't a very clear answer at all. 

UK Gov COVID Roadmap Business 5 of 6 No earlier than 17th May drinks inside pubs

Press questions about new data suggesting the Kent B117 UK Variant actually has a longer life, and leaves people infectious for longer. Should quarantine be lengthened? Jenny talks about original COVID, and infectious period being different from 'knowing you have the disease' anyway. She says all variants are being examined.

Gavin says the novelty of going on walks with him has worn thin for his children. Shame. We've just had a go at geocaching. We haven't found any yet, but it's great fun learning all the footpaths in our local area. Maybe you could try that Gav?

Press asked if this generation of children have lower life chances than others? (As EVERY single year is going through this pandemic, I'm guessing it'll barely be noticeable within a few years. It isn't just 7 year olds, or 17 year olds, it's all children and young people who have been disrupted.)
Jenny talks about social and emotional wellbeing, and how our already failing children's mental health has become even worse. 

Press asked if teachers would staff Summer schools? Gavin explains cash is being given to the schools, so leadership teams have flexibility to choose what works best for their own school. 

UK Gov COVID Roadmap Business 5 of 6 No earlier than 21st June no limits on regular social mixing

Question for Gav as to whether he agrees with what Boris said last year about 'face coverings in class being nonsensical'. Gav and Jenny said 'times have changed'.
Jenny: "Things have moved on, it should be reassuring to know we look at the evidence and adjust our advice accordingly". Nice answer. There are exemptions, just as there are with general face coverings rules, and it is 'face coverings', we aren't talking about medical masks.

Back tomorrow with the usual world news report! Stay well. 




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