Nicola Sturgeon hails return of schools in Scotland from TOMORROW – weeks before they will return in England – as she apologises for exam downgrading blunders
- Nicola Sturgeon hailed the reopening of schools in Scotland from tomorrow
- First Minister said she was ‘impressed and reassured’ by viewing preparations
- Schools in England do not come back until next months as holidays end later
Nicola Sturgeon today hailed the return of schools in Scotland this week – as she apologised for exam downgrading blunders.
The First Minister admitted there will be ‘anxiety’ for staff and pupils but said she had been ‘impressed and reassured’ by viewing preparations for the reopening tomorrow.
The move north of the border comes weeks before children are due to get back in classrooms in England, because Scottish summer holidays finish earlier.
Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon said sorry for the bungled assessments for pupils who could not sit exams last week – which saw around 125,000 children get their results moderated down.
She said the Scottish government ‘did not get this right’ and those affected will not need to appeal. There will an announcement on how to fix the problems tomorrow.
Nicola Sturgeon (pictured on a visit to West Calder High School today) admitted there will be ‘anxiety’ for staff and pupils but said she had been ‘impressed and reassured’ by viewing preparations for the reopening
The move north of the border comes weeks before children are due to get back in classrooms in England, because Scottish summer holidays finish earlier
Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said schools will ‘feel different’ when they return, with staggered starts and lunches ordered on apps in some places.
‘i know that there will be anxiety for students parents and teachers this week and I think that is entirely understandable,
‘All of us know that the reopening of schools is important for children’s education, personal development, general wellbeing and happiness.
‘I was really impressed and reassured this morning by what I saw of the preparations at West Calder and I know these are being repeated in schools all across the country.’
Mr Johnson told teachers today they have a ‘moral duty’ to help schools reopen in England next month as he faced a standoff with unions.
The PM warned it is ‘not right’ that pupils should spend more time out of the classroom, reiterating his determination for a full return when term begins.
While he was careful to praise the work done by teachers and unions to make schools ‘safe’ in time for the crucial step, he added: ‘It is our moral duty as a country to make sure that happens.’
The comments – as he tried his hand at archery on a visit to a school in Upminster – came as unions were accused of a bid to sabotage the government’s plans with a 200-item list of safety demands.
The National Education Union has provided its half a million members with a ‘checklist’ of Covid-secure measures, saying they should ‘escalate’ complaints if they are not being followed. There have also been calls for pupils to be taught on a week on, week off rota.
But Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of Sage, said studies had suggested children were ‘very minor players in the transmission overall’ of the virus.
And he insisted teachers were not at significantly higher risk than any other workers.
Ministers have also played down calls for teachers and pupils to be routinely tested whether or not they have symptoms.
With the coronavirus crisis having wiped out exams this year, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) ran a system based on teacher assessments.
However, officials then moderated the results and downgraded about 125,000 estimates.
At her briefing, Ms Sturgeon said pupils who were downgraded will not all be expected to appeal.
She said: ‘I do acknowledge that we did not get this right and I am sorry for that…
‘We will be taking steps to ensure that every young person gets a grade that recognises the work they have done.
‘Our concern – which was to make sure that the grades young people got were as valid as those they would have got in any other year – perhaps led us to think too much about the overall system and not enough about the individual pupil.’
Ms Sturgeon added: ‘That burden has not fallen equally across our society. Despite our best intentions, I acknowledge we did not get this right and I’m sorry.’
Boris Johnson (pictured visiting a school in Upminster today) told teachers they have a ‘moral duty’ to help schools reopen in England next month as he faced a standoff with unions