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Reconfiguring secondary & tertiary education

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 colinakmc 14 Oct 2020

Can anyone suggest why there’s been no public discussion about secondary education.

  • the science seems to suggest that from 13 -14 on young folk are as infectious as adults
  • we seem to have re-opened secondary schools with more or less business as usual arrangements
  • Shouldnt we have both national and local leadership looking at reconfiguring based on lots of education happening at home/on zoom or whatever with selective elements happening back in the classroom involving many fewer children present at any one time?
  • ditto with tertiary. Online, and not living in institutions. Tell me how a new student can self isolate in a 12 person flat with 4 shared cubicle showers and one kitchen?
4
In reply to colinakmc:

My totally baseless take on it:

Schools: totally essential, but totally impossible to make covidproof. A big reason we're having a such a problem just now, but shit happens. I guess they should do what they can to slow down transmission (I bet it seems like token gestures) but for me the priority is to keep them open. 

Universities: nope. They shouldn't have started the term until we knew where we were once the schools had gone back. Different order of magnitude in priority to schools. Massive error. Give the kids a choice of defer or discount for online learning. Would mean totally remodeling the funding etc. of HE since there'll be huge knock on effect in years to come. Shit happens. 

1
 gezebo 15 Oct 2020
In reply to colinakmc:

I think compulsory education should continue as it was. There is to much at stake for them and universities should have either gone totally online or had a year gap bar the essential subjects such as medicine etc were there are limited places for a truly essential subject and the knock on effect of availability of work placements is big. 
 

Personally I feel that this may be a good opportunity to re design compulsory education anyway as the one box fits all doesn’t really work. 
 

I’m on a side note I know of a yr9 pupil who had spent the equivalent of 2 days of valuable school time being taught about eggs! What is that all about?? There must be room for improvement on teaching/teachers if that’s seen as appropriate. The subject is good technology but they won’t every be able to actually cook an egg as it’s not Covid safe to do so. WTF? 

 henwardian 15 Oct 2020
In reply to gezebo:

> I think compulsory education should continue as it was. There is to much at stake for them and universities should have either gone totally online or had a year gap bar the essential subjects such as medicine etc were there are limited places for a truly essential subject and the knock on effect of availability of work placements is big. 

Yes and Yes... sort of. I think there are probably quite a few subjects you might end up classifying as "essential" when you really start looking into it but broadly I agree.

> Personally I feel that this may be a good opportunity to re design compulsory education anyway as the one box fits all doesn’t really work. 

Trying to redesign - yeah, worth a shot, but we spent about 5 years redesigning it from top to bottom less than a decade ago. What has changed in the last 10 years that makes a new design any more likely to work wonders than the last time it was done?

Trying to redesign right now - hopeless idea. The entire world and their dog are barely managing to function among constantly changing rules of all shapes and kinds, it's the worst possible time to try to redesign any system from top to bottom and the results would be rushed and terrible. Also, there is a question of time and manpower - it takes a (un)surprisingly long time to create a new education system!

Overall I think you have to think about the impact of losing 2 years of something (and it is likely to be 2 years minimum) - kids at school losing 2 years of education is in my estimation a very big deal. Young people having to put off university for 2 years is, in my estimation, a much more moderate deal. Adults having to take 2 years out of their career progression is, in my estimation, a very minor deal. The balance that has been struck between trying to avoid damaging young people's prospects and trying to avoid damaging older people's health seems broadly reasonable to me thus far.

 girlymonkey 15 Oct 2020
In reply to colinakmc:

I'm not a teacher, so maybe this idea will be shot down as totally not feasible or increasing work loads too much. 

In Russia, schooling in some areas is done in shifts. So some go in the morning and some in the afternoon.

Presumably if class sizes are smaller, less time is wasted and more can be learnt in the time? So halving class sizes would be safer, if lesson times were reduced accordingly they could maybe learn as much, or at least get foundations of something to work on at home in the other half of the day? 

Unis really shouldn't be back other than for practical labs etc. That is surely a no brainer!

2
 Sam Beaton 15 Oct 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Halving class sizes would mean doubling the number of teachers. Not possible to achieve overnight!

 girlymonkey 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Sam Beaton:

No, that's the point of shifts. Same teacher morning and afternoon (so normal length day for them), half of the kids at a time though

2
In reply to gezebo:

> The subject is good technology but they won’t every be able to actually cook an egg as it’s not Covid safe to do so. WTF? 

Pardon?  Assuming you meant food technology, why on earth should it not be safe to cook eggs?

Post edited at 08:21
 cp123 15 Oct 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

I sincerely doubt teachers would willingly sign up to having the length of their working day doubled, unless of course you doubled their pay.

And that's ignoring the fact the taught lesson is probably only 50-80% of the job, depending on experience. There is lesson planning and assessment which happens before and after the taught lesson occurs.

1
 stevieb 15 Oct 2020
In reply to colinakmc:

Before the summer break, our school had a smart solution for 6th formers - a single 2 hour lesson for each subject. So, no mingling at school, mostly on-line learning/self taught, but a chance to touch base. Something similar would be possible for gcse students too. 

I think the decision on unis was either an economic decision, or a misguided idea for herd immunity in a low risk group. Otherwise it just doesn’t make any sense. 
 

 gezebo 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Pardon?  Assuming you meant food technology, why on earth should it not be safe to cook eggs?

Sorry. Yes food technology. I’ve no idea why year 9’s can’t cook an egg after 16 teaching hours on the subject. 

 neilh 15 Oct 2020
In reply to stevieb:

Unis are also an important part of the system. Next generation if doctors , engineers , civil engineers, computer scientists , biologists , teachers etc etc. You cannot turn the tap off. 

most  have moved to online anyway where possible. 
 

 gezebo 15 Oct 2020
In reply to henwardian:

Has it been redesigned? It largely looks just the same as it was before from the outside looking in and hearing from pupils sounds very similar too bar terminology.  

In reply to gezebo:

> Sorry. Yes food technology. I’ve no idea why year 9’s can’t cook an egg after 16 teaching hours on the subject. 

It seems there are plenty of adults who can't do it.  Actually, spending two days teaching kids about eggs, what they are made of, and how useful they are in cooking is probably time well-spent.

In reply to Dave Garnett:

> It seems there are plenty of adults who can't do it. 

I can't do it.  I hate the smell of boiled eggs and don't want them anywhere near me, never mind cook them myself.

 stevieb 15 Oct 2020
In reply to neilh:

Yes, unis needed to continue operating, but it’s hard to understand why so many encouraged students to be in situ. 

 gezebo 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

There’s plenty of adults who can’t do many things. 2 days spent learning about eggs seems eggsessive. The school have been approached about the rationale of it as it seems most are now bored and spend their time surfing the internet now as they’ve moved onto producing a leaflet on it. 

 neilh 15 Oct 2020
In reply to stevieb:

Escaping their parents....it works both ways. Just as many students would take umbridge at being told to stay at home. Same with parents.

Also at the moment not a good job market, so alot of students have their hands tied anyway.

 jkarran 15 Oct 2020
In reply to colinakmc:

> Can anyone suggest why there’s been no public discussion about secondary education.

Hasn't there been quite a bit?

> the science seems to suggest that from 13 -14 on young folk are as infectious as adults

From the ONS random testing it looks like pretty much all kids catch it as freely as everyone else, a safe working assumption is they also transmit it quite freely. I suspect few show up in the Pillar I and II data for a combination of reasons: they don't get notably sick, people don't want to know because they don't want their kid excluded or stigmatised and 'little Johnny is always snotty'.

> we seem to have re-opened secondary schools with more or less business as usual arrangements

Realistically there is only so much they can do. My local primary has just been at least partially shut down by covid.

> Shouldnt we have both national and local leadership looking at reconfiguring based on lots of education happening at home/on zoom or whatever with selective elements happening back in the classroom involving many fewer children present at any one time?

Probably not. Remote teaching kids seems pretty rubbish, it disadvantages the already disadvantaged and disengaged and it imposes a disruptive care burden on people holding down desperately needed jobs. All in all schools are an overwhelming public good we should do pretty much whatever we can to keep as open as we can as long as we can.

Depending how freely it really is circulating in schools we may see some resistance develop within that closed environment quite quickly. That's my hopeful but doubtful take.

> ditto with tertiary. Online, and not living in institutions. Tell me how a new student can self isolate in a 12 person flat with 4 shared cubicle showers and one kitchen?

It was always going to rip through halls and shared housing, if student get access to timely testing and good isolation support then maybe it remains mostly contained within those environments. We might be able to live with that (again, hopeful but doubtful). The winter term should have been taught as remotely as possible bearing in mind that for some (care leavers for example) uni is home and for some courses, hands on lab/bench experience is a must. Both unis and students would have needed compensating for their losses which, compounded by the A-level shitshow and the need for government to demonstrate (pretend) no harm was done is I suspect a large part of why we're now facing down disaster again.

jk

 neilh 15 Oct 2020
In reply to jkarran:

It is not ripping through shared housing though. Daughters uni produces  weekly stats of the figures. Barely any. Everything is in 1st years halls of residence. Same with staff , barely any. This is from a uni with 27,000 students and 7000 teaching staff.

quite reassuring if you are not in  hall of residence. 

 Jim Hamilton 15 Oct 2020
In reply to neilh:

> quite reassuring if you are not in  hall of residence. 

I think it might be better to be in a halls of residence with a greater chance of catching it sooner rather than bringing it home at the end of term!  

 neilh 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

Makes no difference as you can still catch it more than once .  Especially if you are assyomaptic .

1
 Jim Hamilton 15 Oct 2020
In reply to neilh:

? Catching Covid more than once is very rare 

 neilh 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

Read the who info. It’s not scientifically proven at all that you are immune. Even better is the mayo clinic which had better advise on this. 

The jury is out. Do not assume people are immune. 

Also younger people are likely to be assyompatic a couple of times. As per daughter who is studying modelling on this. 

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 trouserburp 15 Oct 2020
In reply to gezebo:

> I’m on a side note I know of a yr9 pupil who had spent the equivalent of 2 days of valuable school time being taught about eggs! What is that all about?? There must be room for improvement on teaching/teachers if that’s seen as appropriate. The subject is good technology but they won’t every be able to actually cook an egg as it’s not Covid safe to do so. WTF? 

Great rant, next time don't come back to explain anything

1
 Darron 15 Oct 2020
In reply to gezebo:

> Sorry. Yes food technology. I’ve no idea why year 9’s can’t cook an egg after 16 teaching hours on the subject. 

After teaching in D&T depts for 21 years I would say that story is extremely implausible. Yr9 kids don’t tend to be the most (ahem) exact when describing the days learning experience😁.

 gezebo 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Darron:

Maybe. They only have double lessons now since going back in September on some crazy timetable. No practical cooking allowed as pupils their own ingredients and homework is all egg based 🙄

 Fozzy 16 Oct 2020
In reply to gezebo:

I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but our practical cookery lessons at work have cracked on as per normal, with no mandatory egg-based curriculum. 
 

 Jim Hamilton 16 Oct 2020
In reply to neilh:

There's plenty of other stuff to read on the net to suggest that it very much does make a difference. 

 Richard Horn 16 Oct 2020
In reply to colinakmc:

Its not school but for me the limitations of home working are becoming more apparent by the day. As people work on their own, their social skills also deteriorate. People who in April were saying they missed the company of other people in the office are now tetchy when I call then up for an update because I am not leaving them to themselves 100%. Foisting this arrangement on school-age children at a time in their lives when they are just learning how to form relationships is bordering on abuse. School is not just about academic learning, and we must not get complacent with this idea that Zoom provides some sort of meaningful long term alternative to social contact.

 aksys 16 Oct 2020
In reply to colinakmc:

In my humble opinion, schools - particularly secondary (and particularly the upper age group) are the elephant in the room. Difficult to discuss because kids generally need to be at school for many very good reasons, parents need to be at work and it is a big political football.

I have been thinking and worrying about schools since March as I have a son in year 7 (absolutely mad on outdoor climbing) and he has (the misfortune) to have two loving parents who are in an older age group and who have both had serious medical issues in the recent past. I worry everyday about him going to school and bringing the virus home, but also appreciate that his education and social skills are important. He did just fine though in lockdown, school provided work to be done and we helped where necessary (we both have teaching backgrounds) - his ability to get down and work independently grew noticeably over this time.

 His school has had two Covid cases (as far as I am aware) - a student in year 11 (all the year isolated for a fortnight) and a member of staff. The school did not supply any details as to which year group and we only found this out on the grapevine, by asking a friend to look at the school Facebook site (we are not on Facebook). We also found out via grapevine that the sister of the year 11 is in my son’s class and she has since been off school. I think the head is doing his best and he has emailed to say that if it was entirely up to him, he would implement a move to smaller class numbers and half days, but says he can’t (!?)

I can’t see logically how the standard student numbers in small classrooms, with little social distancing and masking only in corridors is really going to inhibit the spread of the virus, particularly when cases are growing rapidly in the surrounding community. We are not in a very high area but expecting to get moved to tier 2 soon - looking at the “restrictions” for each tier, I can’t logically see them having much impact. We live opposite the primary (two cases there) and secondary school; it’s clear that some parents are being careful but a big majority are not too bothered.

What personally I would like to see:

- transparency from schools/media/government about cases so that as parents we can weigh up the risks for ourselves

- masks in classrooms until community cases numbers are brought much lower; the more successful Asian countries have done this. Surely sensible if class numbers/ distancing cannot be done? At the very least, some rigorous trials in specific schools that can assess their impact.

- an efficient test/ track and trace. 

- smaller class numbers/split days.

- a choice for parents to take their child out of school over the winter months and not be fined. Our school is already posting work on line for isolating students. For those parents willing and able to work at home, then this would help to bring class numbers down. Controversial maybe, but worth considering.

- an awareness and a practical plan for students/teachers/parents/grandparents/carers that have genuine medical concerns.

I’m not holding out any hope of any of this. It’s going to be a very long winter. As a family we have been really careful since March. We’ve been getting out climbing at areas where we can keep a distance and my son loving being on the rock, his dad (who had major heart surgery in July) has come for the walks..... or last week, twelve year old pleased as punch to lead his 66yr old dad up a severe ........on a very tight rope.

Hang on to the happy moments.....

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 Darron 16 Oct 2020
In reply to aksys:

Huge sympathy for the predicament you are in.

Re info from the school I’m pretty sure if you contacted the school (Head of year or Pastoral lead perhaps best) they would by very sympathetic and make arrangements for you to recieve info that goes out on Facebook. There is lots you are legally entitled to receive.

very best wishes.

 aksys 16 Oct 2020
In reply to Darron:

Thanks, I very much appreciate that and the advice. We are in contact with the head, who I think is genuinely concerned but limited in what he feels he can do. I also don’t want to email him too much as I think heads have enough to deal with and we’re def not pushy parents. The info about the year groups was on the parents’ comments section - much more informative than the official school/PHE letter.

best wishes back.

 colinakmc 16 Oct 2020
In reply to colinakmc:

Some really interesting and thoughtful responses to this, thank you ukc comunity (and for the truly awful egg jokes). My further 2p’s worth - secondary education really is a non negotiable but we (they) need to put some creative energy into making it work while keeping infection rates down. Developing the idea of education in shifts -Part time physical presence in school buildings, looking at how pupils need to move about the buildings (or do they need to ? Couldn’t teachers move instead?); taking on space in other public buildings for tuition space; tactical use of working at home and using zoom to check in with small groups - all building up to a blended model of education maintaining or enhancing the support given to each pupil, while also radically reducing the exposure to crowds.

Tertiary - I shake my head in wonder, the headlong rush to reopen can only have been driven by reasons of finance (even worse, university-as-landlord finance) and the need to maintain an overseas-student sales profile. Must be a horrible experience particularly for new students launched into the thick of lockdown.


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