School closures UK: Children may be forced to REPEAT academic year, warns ex-Ofsted chief

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Nearly a billion children across the world were made to stay home as school closures were enacted internationally due to the coronavirus pandemic. Experts have warned Newsnight that one of the major impacts of this could be a widening of the attainment gap between rich and poor. Former Chief Inspector of Schools in England, Sir Michael Wilshaw, told the BBC that British children could be expected to repeat the academic year or risk falling behind.

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He said: “The Government’s going to have to get into a negotiation with the teacher professional associations to look at this, to say we missed a huge amount of school.

“There are going to be adverse consequences to this, particularly for disadvantaged children.

“We’re considering bringing in schools over weekend periods, holiday periods or extending the school a day.

“That means staff will have to be paid to come in during those periods.”

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School closures UK: Children may be forced to repeat academic year, warns ex-Ofsted Chief (Image: BBC)

Twiggy backs Express campaign Brilliantly British as she launches new photo competition

“That means staff will have to be paid to come in during those periods.” (Image: BBC)

Sir Michael continued: “If we do that, can they make a commitment to ensure that staff do come in and that children do come in as well?

“If that doesn’t happen, then I can see no alternative but to repeat a year for some of our children.

“That will have hugely logistical difficulties.

“Not to mention progression problems to university and so on.”

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“Not to mention progression problems to university and so on.” (Image: BBC)

The current chief of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, also spoke to Newsnight about the role her office is playing in the pandemic.

She said: “We are reliant on the goodwill of the teaching profession to a considerable extent at the moment.

“A lot of teachers are stepping up and doing a fantastic job in a lot of schools.”

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Ms Spielman continued: “There’s a phenomenal amount of work going on, but my fear is that despite all this effort we will end up with a large proportion of children not making very much education progress if any.

“Gaps could widen, and widen substantially.

“That’s going to be a huge hill to climb when schools do go back.

“Normalcy is the number one thing and most children are really resilient and will bounce back.

“But when need to make sure children are back soon in the structure they need to make progress.”


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