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More action needed to ensure COVID safe return-to-school plan in NSW

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/09/2021 - 9:30am in

The NSW government has announced a staggered return to school from 25 October for those areas of the state in lockdown. This is welcome news for the teachers, students and families struggling through remote learning, but also comes with concerns over safety. Schools in local government areas with high numbers of cases may also remain closed, with a requirement to have less than 50 cases in the area per 100,000 people over a fortnight.

A return to school needs to be paired with improved safety measures for staff and students.


Firstly, teachers across NSW need to be prioritised in the vaccine rollout. The NSW Teachers Federation has for months been calling on the government to prioritise teachers, yet this was largely ignored. The government is now mandating all teachers be double vaccinated before the return-to-school, when many teachers have only recently become eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

While students at the elite private St Joseph’s College in Hunters Hill received their vaccines “in error” by early July, teachers down the road at Hunters Hill High School took industrial action in August to highlight they were still not on the vaccine priority list.

Then when Year 12 students in Sydney hot spots were given priority, several teachers outside Sydney reported they had their vaccination bookings cancelled as the Pfizer was re-directed to Qudos Arena for Sydney students. It is blood-boiling hypocrisy for the government to have delayed so many teachers being able to get vaccinated yet now mandating every teacher be vaccinated before November.

Infrastructure funding

Even with teachers vaccinated, many students will remain unvaccinated. For younger children without serious medical conditions, the risks of COVID are less than for adults.

Older children aged 12-15 will be eligible for vaccination on 13 September, but there is no guarantee they will secure a booking in time.

Further safety measures do need to be put in place at schools, including investment in infrastructure. A recent report by the Office of the NSW Auditor General found that the current budget for government schools is not enough to meet classroom requirements for 2023 and beyond. That was without considering COVID-19. Cramped demountable classrooms crowding what was once the school oval are a common sight across NSW schools. There is an urgent need, particularly now with COVID-19, to invest in proper school infrastructure, including spacious classrooms with windows that open!

In addition, research is now showing that high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters could be installed in classrooms to help reduce exposure to airborne viruses such as COVID-19. They would go some way in helping make schools safer, particularly as bushfire season will force many teachers to close classroom doors and windows. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has promised to carry out ventilation assessments of school facilities and the NSW Department of Education says it will also review the issue. Teachers and parents will need to push to ensure adequate changes are made.

Testing, cleaning, and reduced class sizes

Additional measures such as regular testing, increased school cleaning, hand-washing stations and employing additional staff to reduce class sizes would all help make schools safer.

While schools currently lack the classrooms and staff for smaller class sizes, these are needed to reduce the risk of transmission among students but also to improve educational outcomes as students return to school potentially months behind in their education.

For schools with students from lower socio-economic backgrounds there needs to be even greater funding. Many of these students will have suffered more from the lockdown. If schools in some areas remain closed due to large numbers of cases, the government must address the inequity issues by providing all students there with laptops and good internet access. Smaller class sizes when back at school will help provide all students with more support to catch up on missed learning.

Scrap the HSC

Scrapping the HSC would be another welcome health measure.

Despite the pandemic, the government has been stubbornly focused on making the HSC happen, sending a message that tests are more important than health. The government was forced to back down on the return to school of Year 12 students in mid-August as case numbers continued to rise. However, they are now claiming the exams will go ahead in some form in November.

Several petitions and an open letter by the Activist Teachers Network NSW have called for the HSC to be scrapped. As the open letter argues, the HSC is a highly inequitable exam, it is redundant with most first-year university students using alternative pathways to enter university, and it is an unnecessary health risk bringing large numbers of students and staff together for the tests.

Improve pay and conditions

We also need better pay and conditions for school staff, particularly now in recognition of the complex student problems they are going to be dealing with in the return to face-to-face teaching.

Once schools re-open, teachers will be the ones to pick up the pieces with students likely to be behind in educational outcomes and facing more severe mental and social problems.

A 2018 report found that NSW teachers are already working on average 55-hour weeks. They will be stretched further to deal with the issues students present with after months in lockdown.

Completion rates in undergraduate teaching programs are now at around 50 per cent, yet at least 11,000 new teachers are needed in the next 10 years to meet the growth in student population. Improved conditions and pay are desperately needed to attract and retain teachers.

The NSW Teachers Federation will begin bargaining for a new award in October. Public school teachers are campaigning for a two-hour reduction in face-to-face teaching hours per week so that they have more time to plan for their classes, and a 5-7.5 per cent annual pay increase for two years.

The basic resources and conditions needed for teachers to do their jobs safely will take a fight. The NSW Teachers Federation is preparing for industrial action to win its pay and conditions claims. The same action is needed to ensure our classrooms are safe when they open.

By Vivian Honan

Sign the open letter to scrap this year’s HSC exams in NSW here

The post More action needed to ensure COVID safe return-to-school plan in NSW appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Cartoon: Welcome back to school

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/09/2021 - 7:50am in

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As Our Children Head Back to School, Partisan Politics Threatens their Learning and their Safety

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/08/2021 - 9:56am in

My granddaughter will go to school next week. So may your child or grandchild. For many, it will be...

Another Gavin Williamson performance to forget | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/08/2021 - 7:00pm in

The education secretary has done his best, which isn’t exactly saying much

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School Lockdowns Lead To Entire Generation Of Kids Unable To Play The Triangle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/08/2021 - 8:15am in


Science, schools

Australia is facing a bleak future after it was revealed that due to covid lock downs an entire generation of children will be growing up unable to play the triangle, finger paint or know the rules of “heads down thumbs up”.

“Teaching maths, english and science is a piece of piss but I’m clueless when it comes to instructing my kids how to correctly ting a triangle with that little metal thingy,” said distraught Kirrawee mum Madelaine Tartay. “Heaven help anyone wanting to start a symphony orchestra in the year 2040 on the lookout for a gun triangle player.”

“If a child doesn’t learn to fingerpaint in the important 5 to 7 years age bracket there’s nothing we can do to help them catch up later on,” said Professor Xavier Easel, lecturer in early childhood education at Macquarie University. “Home schooling parents do their best but unfortunately it takes a fully trained art teacher to know exactly how much starch to mix with the paints.”

Apple sellers are demanding that schools fully re-open as soon as possible, citing they will be unable to conduct business in the future if children don’t learn how to do story problems.

“If apples cost 9 cents each and Ken buys five apples how will my cashier know how much change to give him from 60 cents,” said apple merchant Corey Gala. “My friend who owns an orange shop had five oranges and gave three of them away and his own son couldn’t tell him how many oranges he had left. Damn this pandemic.”

Peter Green


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In Paris, More Student Diversity Means Less Private School Flight

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/05/2021 - 6:00pm in

In 2014, Paris earned the wretched nickname of France’s “capital of schooling segregation” due to huge social divisions that had emerged between the 85,000 students at its 175 public and private high schools.

In the city’s most privileged high schools less than one percent of students were classified as disadvantaged — defined as those whose parents are working class, unemployed or inactive — despite a citywide average of 16 percent. At the other end of the scale, nearly two-thirds of pupils at some schools were disadvantaged.

“On one street you could have entire classes of Black children standing outside a school, while entire groups of white teens were in schools located a few blocks away,” says Ghislaine Morvan Dubois, president of the Federation of Parents’ Councils of Students (FCPE) in Paris. “It was and still is a deeply troubling social divide.”

Further evidence of that divide was the abnormally high proportion of public high schools in Paris classified as priority education (REP) — 30 of the 114 — meaning they face “significant social difficulties.” But perhaps the most damning statistic of all was that 10 percent of high schools educated 63 percent of the city’s disadvantaged students.

In an article for newspaper Le Monde in 2016, influential French economist Thomas Piketty, known for his analyses of wealth and income inequality, declared that social segregation in Parisian schools had reached “unacceptable heights.” 

paris schoolsIn the city’s most privileged high schools less than one percent of students were classified as disadvantaged. At the other end of the scale, nearly two-thirds of pupils at some schools were disadvantaged.

Piketty identified two significant factors behind this “extreme segregation.” First, the underlying residential segregation in Paris, since, in the current system, a student’s address automatically determines their assigned school. Second, the prominence of private schools in Paris, which, unusually, receive government funding and cater to 34 percent of students — but are not free and can choose, or reject, students as they please.

In response, Paris City Hall and the Academy of Paris decided to experiment with a new method for allocating pupils to high schools called “multi-school sectors,” in the hope of improving diversity and social cohesion without prompting more privileged families to flee to private education, worsening the problem.

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Three of these sectors — containing two schools each — were created in the northern 18th and 19th districts of Paris in 2017, with nearly a thousand students entering sixth grade assigned to them each year.

Within them, two radical methods for assigning pupils were implemented after consultation with parents’ representatives. The “alternate climb” adopted by the Berlioz-Coysevox sector saw entire grades of students switch from one school to another each year — if they studied the first year at Berlioz College, the second would be at Coysevox College. The “regulated choice” method chosen by the Bergson-Pailleron and Curie-Philipe sectors allocated the students using an algorithm, while considering input from parents.

“We chose schools that are geographically close but ones that have contrasting social compositions,” says Bérénice Delpal, director of school affairs at Paris City Hall. “We know the Paris school system is the most segregated in France. It’s a very serious challenge. And with this program we wanted to bring more balance and equilibrium.”

After three years of experimentation — for the academic years of 2017, 2018 and 2019 — researchers at the Institute of Public Policies (IPP) have hailed the results as “encouraging” in a recent report and have called for a wider rollout.

Two of the three sectors have vastly improved their social diversity and led to a clear reduction in flight to private schools. Before the scheme began, the two schools in the Berlioz-Coysevox sector, for example, had 59 percent and 22 percent disadvantaged students respectively — but that leveled out to an average of 24 percent in both by 2019. At the same time, flight to private schools fell from 24 percent in 2016 to 16 percent in 2019. In the third sector — Curie-Philipe — after initially disappointing results, gaps between the two schools also began to narrow and there was a 20 percent decrease in private school flight.

“These sectors clearly have more diverse student bodies,” says Julien Grenet, who led the research. “It’s a very positive sign. It’s evidence that this approach works.”

paris schoolsPauline Givord, a researcher specializing in school diversity, has found that “if there isn’t choice, there is segregation, and if there is too much choice, there is segregation, too.”

But for Grenet the “alternate climb” method showed better results — perhaps, he says, because of the fact pupils stayed together throughout, unlike the “regulated choice” method, which would change each year. “The social mixing was sufficiently permanent to have a lasting effect,” he says.

However, Grenet says while evidence shows the system works in urban areas that are dense and diverse — like parts of Paris, and other French cities such as Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux and Marseille — in others the model is less likely to be effective. “If there is not a diverse social fabric, the mixing won’t be effective,” he explains, pointing to the modest achievements in the Curie-Philipe sector.

Delpal of Paris City Hall adds that although multi-school sectors can bring about rapid change, more deep-seated societal shifts must be made. “Multi-school sectors are more rapidly effective, but can only work alongside other efforts such as housing and welfare policy,” she says. “The pandemic has only deepened structural inequality.”

But independent experts praise multi-school sectors as an effective medium that both improves social mobility and student choice, by incrementally widening the catchment areas for students in Paris.

“My research has found that if there isn’t choice, there is segregation, and if there is too much choice, there is segregation, too,” says Pauline Givord, a researcher specializing in school diversity at France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. “This system allows for partial regulation without locking students in their neighborhood.”

The post In Paris, More Student Diversity Means Less Private School Flight appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Why the Howling That New York’s Private Schools Have Been Taken Over By Critical Race Theory?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/04/2021 - 5:30am in

Photo credit: MB Images/Shutterstock.com_____ Late last week, Paul Rossi, a member of the mathematics faculty at Grace Church School in...

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Reopen or Close Schools: A Lose-Lose Situation for the Working Class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/04/2021 - 9:25pm in


Education, USA, schools

image/jpeg iconeducation.jpg

Article from 1919 (, the new journal of the North American affiliates of the ICT.

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Forward with Classics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/12/2018 - 1:38am in

A Book at Lunchtime seminar with Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Steven Hunt, Dr Mai Musie, Dr Peter Jones (Co-founder, Classics for All), Dr Alex Pryce (Head of Student Recruitment, Oxford), Chaired by Professor Fiona Macintosh (St Hilda's Oxford). Despite their removal from England's National Curriculum in 1988, and claims of elitism, Latin and Greek are increasingly re-entering the 'mainstream' educational arena. Since 2012, there have been more students in state-maintained schools in England studying classical subjects than in independent schools, and the number of schools offering Classics continues to rise in the state-maintained sector. The teaching and learning of Latin and Greek is not, however, confined to the classroom: community-based learning for adults and children is facilitated in newly established regional Classics hubs in evenings and at weekends, in universities as part of outreach, and even in parks and in prisons.

This book investigates the motivations of teachers and learners behind the rise of Classics in the classroom and in communities, and explores ways in which knowledge of classical languages is considered valuable for diverse learners in the 21st century. The role of classical languages within the English educational policy landscape is examined, as new possibilities exist for introducing Latin and Greek into school curricula. The state of Classics education internationally is also investigated, with case studies presenting the status quo in policy and practice from Australasia, North America, the rest of Europe and worldwide. The priorities for the future of Classics education in these diverse locations are compared and contrasted by the editors, who conjecture what strategies are conducive to success.

About the Authors

Edited by Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Steven Hunt and Mai Musie.
Arlene Holmes-Henderson is the postdoctoral researcher for the Classics in Communities project in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Oxford, as well as an experienced teacher of Classics in both Scotland and England.

Steven Hunt is the Subject Lecturer of the PGCE in Classics at the University of Cambridge. He taught Classics for over twenty years in state comprehensive schools and is author of Starting to Teach Latin (Bloomsbury, 2016).

Mai Musie is a co-founder of the 'Classics in Communities' project and Knowledge Exchange Officer within the Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team, Oxford. She has recently completed her PhD thesis on the Representation of Persians in the Ancient Novel.

Contributors: Mary Beard, Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Steven Hunt, Mai Musie, Emma Searle, Lucy Jackson Michael Scott, Emily Matters, Paula Corrêa, John Bulwer, Barbara Bell, Jane Maguire, Rowlie Darby, Lorna Robinson, Xavier Murray-Pollock, Peter Olive, Olivia Sanchez, and Nicola Felton, Corrie Schumann, Lana Theron, Patrick Ryan, Francesca Richards, Evelien Bracke, Aisha Khan-Evans, James Robson, Emma-Jayne Graham, Kathryn Tempest and Edith Hall.

Should universities raise school attainment? Yes, and here’s why

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/06/2017 - 9:02am in



Many university leaders have been uneasy about the Conservatives' plans to enforce school sponsorship. Anne-Marie Canning argues that instead, universities should embrace the challenge to help raise attainment in schools.

The post Should universities raise school attainment? Yes, and here’s why appeared first on Wonkhe.