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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES: 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. 5. If one topic or question threatens to overwhelm the webchat, MNHQ will usually ask for people to stop repeating the same question or point.

Webchat with Vicky Ford, Minister for Children, Wednesday 26 August at 11am
76

BojanaMumsnet · 21/08/2020 12:35

Hello

We're pleased to announce a webchat about COVID-19 and schools, colleges, nurseries and childminders with Vicky Ford, Conservative MP for Chelmsford and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, at 11am on Wednesday 26 August.

The government is planning for all pupils to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. Vicky will be coming along to give us the government’s response to your concerns and questions.

Vicky was elected MP for Chelmsford in 2017, and has been Minister for Children since February 2020. Before joining Parliament she was an MEP for the East of England constituency in the European Parliament. In a previous life she worked in finance.

Please join us here on Wednesday at 11am. If you can’t join us on the day, please post up your question in advance.

As always, please remember our webchat guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered, and please keep it civil. Also if one topic is dominating a thread, mods might request that people don't continue to post what's effectively the same question or point. (We may suspend the accounts of anyone who continues after we've posted to ask people to stop, so please take note.) Rest assured we will ALWAYS let the guest know that it's an area of concern to multiple users and will encourage them to engage with those questions.

Many thanks,
MNHQ

Webchat with Vicky Ford, Minister for Children, Wednesday 26 August at 11am
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herecomesthsun · 21/08/2020 15:04

This is about temporary homeschooling for those who have been shielding.

In the scenario with care homes, a group of people who were vulnerable (the elderly residents) came into close contact with people at higher risk of covid 19 (other residents recently discharged from hospital). The vulnerable people exposed to this virus became ill and died in large numbers.

We are heading now for a similar situation in which school students are all to go back together in one big crowd with limited safety measures and no special provision planned by the government to protect extremely clinically vulnerable pupils, teachers and students’ families, who have all been shielding.

Just one teenager with an infection, who perhaps has had a very different social summer, could start the spread of covid 19 in a secondary school. Will there be a further outcry about the lack of foresight, protection and provision for children who have been shielding?

As winter draws in, we have the prospect of very sad situations involving children from shielding families who have been infected in school, and parents of families who have been shielding are currently torn as to what to do for the best.

I would ask that temporary homeschooling is allowed as it was in Denmark, especially for families who have been shielding, without fines or loss of a school place.

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hippyhappyhoppyhuppy · 21/08/2020 15:25

Can you do anything to protect the PPP+ for previously looked after children post lockdown? PPP+ is ring fenced for LAC but not for post LAC and is rarely used for the children it is meant for. Returning to school is going to be hard for this already vulnerable group and it would be wonderful if some ring fencing could be put in place for the funding that is intended for them.

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Johnny1963 · 21/08/2020 16:30

I would like to ask the Minister about provision for children with SEND. The government was very quick to relax LAs' responsibilities to provide support for these children and as predicted many LAs and schools have used this as an opportunity to cut back SEND provision.

When the Prime Minister talks about getting all children back to school and fining parents who don't comply, what are his plans for children with SEND who cannot attend school as their needs are not being met e.g. children who cannot access education without their funded 1:1 TA who is now redeployed to facilitate small school bubbles (as happened to us during lockdown.)

What will the government be doing to ensure these children can return to school full time?

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marytuda · 21/08/2020 16:31

Can I ask whether you and/or your children were privately educated? I know you are not Minister for Education, but what are your feelings about our very segregated education system - socially, financially, often ethnically and quite deliberately academically in many cases (grammar, 'top' private schools etc) and how this deliberate segregation exacerbates and consolidates existing disparities in childhood experience, social hierarchy and life-chances? Are you concerned about the vast and widening differences in opportunities and resources available to children in this country depending on their background? Are you aware of the extent to which your party's Austerity programme has affected already- deprived families most? (Have you grasped that it is the poorest who are most dependent on ever-diminishing state support?) Do you recognise that Taxation and public funds are a mechanism for income distribution; and do you think it's right that the wealthiest should contribute most - or is that unfair on them, given that they do not require public services or use state education at all? Do you think that deprived families really have only themselves to blame for their poverty? Do have any direct experience of child poverty and deprivation in this country, and is your government serious about eradicating it? Please demonstrate how.

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CalledYouLastNightFromWaitrose · 21/08/2020 17:29

What is the plan for those in enhanced Provision within a mainstream school. I live in Essex so hopefully you'll be familiar with some of these schools:

St Mary’s Primary Academy, Honywood Community Science School, Coggeshall, Hamford Primary Academy, Walton-on-the-Naze, Tendring Technology College, Merrylands Primary School, Basildon, The Bromfords School and Sixth Form College, Wickford, Millwards Primary School, Harlow, and Passmores Academy, Harlow

How will pupils be able to access mainstream lessons? The hubs have a mix of year groups so they can't stay in bubbles. But nor can you suddenly expect the pupils to be able to cope with mainstream full-time.

These types of provisions appear to have been overlooked yet it's a model that is being pushed

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katmarie · 21/08/2020 19:07

You will see from the many many threads on here that families have been pushed to the brink of desperation during lockdown, trying to care for and home school children, work full time jobs either as key workers (without childcare) or from home, as well as dealing with the worry and stress caused by the risk of getting covid itself, or supporting vulnerable relatives. What plans are you putting in place which will support families who find themselves in local lockdown in the next few months and have to go through all this again? What mental health provisions are you putting in place to address the impacts of this incredibly difficult time, on both children and families as a whole? I fear that lockdown has made many mental health problems worse, and brought out new mental health issues in previously well people. With the current state of mental health support in this country, this is a ticking time bomb, particularly for our children and teenagers.

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Solasum · 21/08/2020 21:29

In other countries, outdoor playgrounds remained open throughout the pandemic.

In the event a further lockdown is necessary, can the UK government consider trusting parents/careers to supervise their children appropriately while leaving playgrounds open, especially heading into the winter months when picnics and long walks are less practical?

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Moreen1234 · 22/08/2020 00:13

Many of us are genuinely and deeply concerned about the possible rushing and mandating of a Covid-19 vaccine. Particularly that pharma companies may be free of liability for side effects. Vaccines usually take years to develop and trial so I would plead that you oppose making vaccines mandatory and leave the choice to the individuals. Much more could be said about boosting the immune system through diet, exercise, sunlight and health/vitamin supplements instead of treating the population as victims. The flu vaccine is not very effective and so far animal trials on coronavirus vaccines have failed, why would any decent government put its people at risk? We can take care of ourselves and hope you can support the freedom of choice.

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thanksamillion · 22/08/2020 00:45

Can you explain how you'll ensure that Local Authorities pass on the 'block booking' that you promised for early years settings? Many are saying that they can't afford it and settings are starting to shed experienced, qualified staff left, right and centre. As most settings weren't able to claim furlough funding (a whole other issue) there's also no additional incentive to keep them on.

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SerenityNowwwww · 22/08/2020 10:38

Why are teachers not allowed to wear PPE at schools - even if they have asthma (and have a child at home with asthma)?

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Winniefred · 22/08/2020 11:45

Why is the Minister for Children so quiet about the removal of sex based provision for Girls by LEA's with the enforced provision of mixed sex toilets in a lot of Schools ... all done without consultation with Parents, who are in law the legal first safe guarders of their daughters?

Girls are protected under the protected characteristic of "sex" yet "Gender", which is not a protected characteristic is being used to undermine our daughters rights to privacy, safety and dignity.

Why are schools being allowed to teach our girls that they are being "unkind" to say No to males "Who Identify as 'Women or Girls if they say so" in their female intimate space? When are you going to speak up to protect Girls sex based rights or do " males subjective identities" take precedence over Girls rights? It feels as a mother who is tackling these issue for her Autistic Teen Daughter, that female politicians have given up on our Girls for political expediency, it's telling our Girls they are not worthy of care, protection or dignity as biological females and must centre males in every aspect of their lives. It is heartbreaking and allows our girls to be bullied for not wanting boys in their toilets & changing rooms as they learn to manage their periods and personal boundaries.

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GingerbreadTeen · 22/08/2020 11:48

Could you outline what plans you have in place to protect exam sessions over the next 2-3 years (I have a child going into year 10) and enable students to safely sit exams in exam halls during further waves and national/local lockdowns?

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Decentsalnotime · 22/08/2020 12:22

Will private schools be required to follow government policy re if the decision is made to delay reopening or close again?

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IloveJKRowling · 22/08/2020 14:38

Why is the government not funding schools to stop the spread of sars-cov-2 in England and follow best practice for reopening as advised by experts?

So they can have smaller class sizes and better ventilation as advised by the WHO, Unicef and Independent Sage.

Do you not think the economic cost of seeding outbreaks through schools, and a second wave and second lockdown, will vastly exceed the money required for schools to follow the covid-safe guidelines for schools agreed to by experts? Not to mention the mental health impact on children of schools opening and closing and children knowing that the measures in place are inadequate?

Look what happened in Israel: www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/world/middleeast/coronavirus-israel-schools-reopen.html
"The lesson, experts say, is that even communities that have gotten the spread of the virus under control need to take strict precautions when reopening schools. Smaller classes, mask wearing, keeping desks six feet apart and providing adequate ventilation, they say, are likely to be crucial until a vaccine is available."

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MotherOfGreyhound · 22/08/2020 21:43

What are you going to do for the thousands of home educated children who've been left without GCSE and a level grades as a result of the exam cancellations?

Unlike their schooled peers, they have no mocks or coursework upon which to base their grades. So far nothing has been done for them.

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nannynick · 23/08/2020 13:15

Nannies have received no guidance even though 10,813 in England are registered with the regulator (Ofsted).
When will parents employing a nanny and nannies themselves have a section on GovUK which contains specific guidance for them.
One line in Ofsted Rolling Update saying "If you are a nanny on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register, you should discuss with the family you work for to see if it is appropriate for you to carry on working at this time." is insufficient.

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JamieLeeCurtains · 23/08/2020 19:48

I loved sports as a girl, especially hockey, tennis and athletics. I was not great, but good enough for the school 'first' teams for girls. It helped me with confidence, fitness, and teamwork.

If a boy or boys had identified as a girl or girls, and taken a place in the Hockey IX, or the Tennis VI, or athletics team VIII, I'd have been bumped off every team I had been on and missed out on all those experiences which were so beneficial to me as a girl.

I would also have been physically at risk from being tackled by a recently-former teenage boy in a contact sport, with sticks, like hockey, given differences in musculature etc.

The world of rugby is rightly concerned about Stonewall's lobbying on this.

I wondered what you have to say about this?

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JamieLeeCurtains · 23/08/2020 21:07

Re my post above ^^, I thought I'd copy across just one of the many illuminating posts from the Rugby Thread on here (ie on Mumsnet).

It's from a poster called 52Nagsnovalballs

I’ve written about this before, but my team played a uk military B team and they had a trans woman playing.

2 outcomes:

1. The skilful, complex aspects of a multi-phase high-level game were eliminated as they had one tactic: shovel the ball to number 12 who then steamrollered us because she had been through male puberty. It was like going back to the early days of crap female rugby.

2. More significantly, there were 5 catastrophic injuries that day relating to shoulders and knees from tackling or being tackled by the 12. Two in particular were career ending. The TW wasn’t massively bigger (second or 3rd tallest person on pitch), but their shoulders and legs were just so dense and heavy. It was like trying to tackle moving concrete posts. Never experienced that even playing against XX chromosome Scotland A and England B team players.

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rbsk12 · 24/08/2020 08:55

I’m a Chelmsford resident and dismayed that we can’t appeal CAG grades unless we can prove bias/discrimination. There is a conflict of interest as we would be relying on the school for a UCAS reference or prediction if my son were to reapply.
My son has lost his offer for a competitive course at a top university because the school were unduly harsh in awarding their CAGs and tried to fit the distribution of grades to their past performance. With the government U-turn on awarding everyone their CAG and the resulting inflated grades, it has shifted the unfairness to students at schools where the teachers awarded “constrained CAGs”. They did this to avoid significant adjustments to their results as this is what Ofqual guidance said and therefore the grades were not truly “holistic”.

There must be a route to appeal for these students. What are your thoughts on this?

We need this to be presented to Nick Gibb and Ofqual. There is an article about it in Schoolsweek by David Blow (headteacher and Ofqual advisor). Thanks

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RowanMumsnet · 24/08/2020 09:25

Hello - this webchat is specifically about COVID and its impacts on the education and childcare sectors so no more questions about sex/gender/self-ID/trans people etc now please.

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GobletOfIre · 24/08/2020 09:33

What is the government’s strategy for dealing with a child or teacher in a school who tests positive for Covid?

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Raindancer411 · 24/08/2020 09:52

I have a son going to school and a 3 month old. Will I have to test them both every time they get a temp for him to still go to school?

An option to temporarily homeschool would have been more suitable for me I think. I think if she gets a regular temp like he did as a baby over winter, he won't ever be at school as I don't want to have to keep getting one so young tested with the swab.

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IloveJKRowling · 24/08/2020 11:12

Look what happened in Israel: www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/world/middleeast/coronavirus-israel-schools-reopen.html "The lesson, experts say, is that even communities that have gotten the spread of the virus under control need to take strict precautions when reopening schools. Smaller classes, mask wearing, keeping desks six feet apart and providing adequate ventilation, they say, are likely to be crucial until a vaccine is available."

Just to be absolutely clear that the government is putting no money in to enable this in state schools (private schools can manage to follow the expert guidelines).

None.

Despite bodies like Independent Sage saying they should and must to prevent outbreaks.

My daughters small village primary cannot manage to achieve this, so I think very few schools will be able to.

It is more of a scandal, in my opinion, than the A-level fiasco, with government currently showing about the same level of competence.

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BigChocFrenzy · 24/08/2020 13:57

Testing & isolation

  1. There is much concern that schools could be continually closing down whenever someone tests positive

    What is the criterion to close down and isolate a school or bubble ?
    Would this be reviewed regularly and relaxed or tightened according to community infection levels ?

  2. It would be difficult to persuade many children to be swab tested, especially after the 1st time

    Will schools be able to use the new saliva tests or the LamPORE rapid swab tests ?
    Have these tests been benchmarked yet for accuracy ?
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PacificState · 24/08/2020 14:34

Hello. Do you agree that live video teaching is going to be crucial if schools do have to close again? And if so, what is the government doing to ensure that it can go ahead?

I don't want to reprise the squabble between teachers' unions and the government, but I saw the incredible difference between the experience of my two sons last term. One had live video lessons all day every day, one didn't. The difference in their motivation and in how much progress they made was huge.

The discrepancy is hugely unfair - kids who've had video teaching are going to be miles ahead. Realistically, schools might have to close, which means the government needs to be implementing bulletproof plans for virtual classrooms. I'd really like to know if this preparation is happening.

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