To receive an update on education issues, including the impact of the Covid pandemic on tests and examinations, lost learning and action to address digital poverty.
Ms Riordan provided an update on education issues as follows:
· 89 pupils and 81 staff had so far been confirmed as having contacted Covid-19. Measures had nevertheless been put in place in schools ahead of their reopening to minimise the risk of infection;
· There had been no standard assessment tests (SATs) for year 6 children this year and no predicted score was given. Instead, primary schools had used existing data to inform schools ahead of secondary transfer;
· There had also been no GCSE or A Level exams in England in summer 2020. An algorithm process had instead been used to predict A level results initially. This had resulted in many young people being awarded grades that were significantly below that which had been predicted. Some had missed out on their chosen university after issues had been rectified due to places already being allocated. Many young people had deferred university until 2021, which was likely to put additional pressure on places next year;
· Although grades had been awarded, they had not been published and there were no school league tables. GCSEs and A Levels would be going ahead in 2021 but had been moved back to give young people more time to prepare. SATs were expected to go ahead;
· All children and young people had needed to rely on remote learning for at least time in recent months. A joint report had been published with five other London boroughs that looked at what had worked well in order to share good practice. Haringey Education Partnership (HEP) was working with schools in order to assist them and it was also being taken up as part of continuing professional development for teachers. Action had been undertaken to ensure that it was possible to switch to remote learning smoothly should the need arise. Hard copies of learning materials had been provided where necessary. Measures had also been taken by schools to share IT equipment with families who did not have easy access. Some assistance had also been provided by the government to assist vulnerable children in accessing IT; and
· In respect of free school meals, the government had now pledged to provide further assistance during the Christmas school holidays. The detail of this was still awaited.
In answer to a question, she stated that children were isolated if they began to exhibit Covi-19 symptoms whilst at school and parent or carers were contacted and asked to pick them up. If they tested positive, they were required to self-isolate for 10 days. Schools would look at who they had come into contact with. There was little evidence so far of in-school transmission. All pupils for Year 7 upwards were required to wear masks when moving around within schools.
In answer to another question, she stated the quality of teaching was the most important factor in motivating pupils to work remotely. It had been steep learning curve for all schools. A range of tactics had been used to work effectively with the most difficult children to engage with. She reported that she was unaware of the severity of the infections that those who had tested positive for Covid had suffered but children normally only became mildly unwell.