Summer schools won’t mean children missing out on socialising – far from it

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Monday 01 March 2021 17:11
No plan for longer school days to make up for lost time, says Gavin Williamson

In response to Georgina Fuller on summer schools, I taught in comprehensive secondary schools for 34 years. Political bias aside and considering the needs of children, I would agree that school is so much more than academic targets – something political parties of all colours have failed to recognise in the last 25 years.

I think it’s fair to say we are all sick of the restrictions on our lives and the immeasurable losses we have all sustained. The arguments for and against each measure seem to depend on the political leanings or personal situation of each author.

Children in a part-time summer school will not relinquish all social connections, far from it. My son benefitted from extra help his comprehensive school offered over one critical Easter vacation. It definitely favourably impacted his GCSE results and has helped him have a successful career since. He couldn’t and wouldn’t do it on his own.

Children who have not had learning support at home, are bored or who are about to enter the job, college, university market have much to gain, along with those who might already have been struggling with the critical basics of reading and numbers.

If schools can use the money to finance that support, fantastic. I am sure some parents will opt out but that’s nothing new.

Teachers I assume would be paid, we like that – we don’t get paid enough and I expect it will be largely run by those teachers wishing to take part.

I used to give free additional hours, as did most of my colleagues, at my own comprehensive to help children achieve for exams and, cynically from a senior management point of view, to help with league tables. However, the teachers did it to see pupils they knew were able to get the best possible outcome.

I think after months of social limbo and testy parent home teaching that this is a welcome option.

Candy Matterson

Address supplied

Too slow

We have to accept for once that which our PM claims. Asked whether the government was too slow to implement the travel policy, Boris Johnson told reporters: “I don’t think so – we moved as fast as we could to get that going.”

However, the problem is a continuing one: “as fast as we could” was too slow due to his reluctance to be the bringer of bad news or to annoy his own backbench critics. Hence his “moves” throughout the Covid-19 pandemic are always days/weeks off the pace and only partial or plain wrong. For example, engaging Serco to undertake the test/trace/isolate scheme nationally rather than, as advised by experts and the public, handing it over to the NHS/GPs/local government. Acting locally, they did so much better when they were allowed to become involved. Witness the vaccination success, for instance.

Eddie Dougall

Bury St Edmunds

Respect for Salmond

The session of the Salmond Inquiry on Friday at Holyrood was engrossing. I am not a supporter of Alex Salmond, but I respected his demeanour and conduct: calm, courteous, dignified. There was no grandstanding and nothing but clear exposition. His memory for detail is formidable.

It will be interesting to see, on Wednesday, how Ms Sturgeon comports herself. With all that is now in the public domain, it seems highly probable that Ms Sturgeon will emerge from this inquiry to remain in post. But it is at least as likely that she will be regarded, on pretty much all sides, as damaged goods.

Jill Stephenson


Rishi Sunak hints at tax rises in Budget next week

Increase personal tax allowance

The chancellor should honour David Cameron’s policy of gradually increasing the personal tax allowance to the advantage of low paid workers, such as those in retail, who as key workers have kept the country fed. Such a proposition also makes rational economic sense. Low paid workers tend to be net spenders. Thus more money will change hands in local high streets and local economies to the benefit of economic growth, including government revenues. After all, VAT is charged upon the purchase of goods.

The chancellor should also scrap the job-destroying business rates and replace them with an online transactions tax. We need to keep the high street for all the livelihoods it sustains, both within retail outlets and through diverse trades within facilities management.

John Barstow

Pulborough, West Sussex

Fresh air learning

I think that Georgina Fuller’s article is quite right. Children need to be outside learning in the fresh air, having fun and meeting their friends in outside play areas, going on Scout and Guide camps and forest schools. As a child, I learnt so much at Scout camps having fun; being part of a team, making lifelong friends, self-discipline, appreciating nature and the countryside, not spoiling it by dropping litter, the list goes on. Lessons I remember to this day.

From my experience, learning is so much more effective when children are happy having fun. What children don’t need over the summer is more boring Gove-type rote learning.

Dr Mike Scott

Northall, Buckinghamshire

Thank you, NHS

Thanks to the NHS, the vaccination roll-out is a remarkable British achievement that echoes across the world. Even more impressive when you see how the vaccination centres work.

It’s everyone’s moral duty to take up the offer of the Covid-19 vaccine. Until everyone is vaccinated, no one will be safe from coronavirus. If people can’t get infected, they can’t pass it on to others.

Sadly, many died before they could be offered the Covid-19 vaccine or because they were unable to take up the vaccine due to health issues.

Until all adults in the UK are vaccinated twice, foreign travel poses a risk as countries like France, Germany and Belgium are lagging behind vaccinating their own citizens.

We need to learn to live with the threat that coronavirus is here to stay and we should not get ahead of ourselves as lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted and derail all the efforts and sacrifices made to control the virus. We owe it to the many who didn’t make it.

Jeannette Schael

Tadley, Hampshire

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