20 March 2020 08:42
All staff who work in Britain's food supply chain will be designated as key workers and have access to childcare during the coronavirus crisis, Food Secretary George Eustice suggested today amid wider confusion about who will be eligible for the help. All schools in the UK will shut as of tomorrow afternoon but children of key workers will still be looked after to enable their parents to continue to work. Boris Johnson said NHS workers, police officers and supermarket delivery drivers will all be eligible for the childcare provision but the government is yet to publish a planned full list of key worker professions having said it will be published today. 'Later today, the government will announce jobs defined as key workers, but I can assure [you] that we fully recognise that over 25 per cent of staff generally working in the food supply chain have children of school age, and that will be reflected when the list is published.' And amid growing chaos in Britain's schools students whose GCSE and A-Levels exams have been axed fear teachers could give them disappointing grades based on their mock results and coursework because so many traditionally 'cram' ahead of final tests in May and June. Headteachers and nursery managers across the UK were today taking a roll call of all people who believe they need a place for their child or children while they keep working over the coming months.
One social worker parent tried to register their child for an emergency school place in south-west London today only to be refused because their partner does not have a public sector job. Teenage boys walk to a bus stop in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, as all schools close tomorrow for months but a promise to keep the children of key workers in classrooms throughout the crisis descended into chaos today The Government is yet to confirm who will be classified as a key worker whose children will be given a place in school or nursery during the coronavirus crisis. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said today that any NHS worker from medics to cleaners and administration staff will have a school place for any child to keep the health service running. Parents, teachers and nursery staff have also claimed that non key workers will be expected to care for their children at home Parents are today demanding clarity on how their children will be fairly graded without GCSE and A-Level exams this year as Gavin Williamson failed to give any details but admitted schools could be closed until September because of coronavirus. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said the Government will work with schools, colleges and exams regulator Ofqual 'to ensure children get the qualifications they need'. In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday, Mr Williamson said guidance will be issued on Friday about how pupils unable to sit their exams due to school closures will get their grades. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), told the PA news agency: 'We are waiting for details from Ofqual about how GCSEs and A-levels will be assessed and grades awarded in lieu of exams. The Education Secretary has warned parents they should 'assume' their children will be at home 'for a considerable amount of time' when asked if the academic year is over until the Autumn when all schools close their gates on Friday. All schools in England will close on Friday along with those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in the UK with London's Mayor Sadiq Khan saying only 'critical workers' should use the Tube and supermarkets emptied by shoppers queuing through the night to buy household goods. Mr Williamson has confirmed there will be no SATs, GCSE or A-Level exams this year but has only said children will be graded only to say their path to work, sixth form or university will not be impeded - not how they will be graded. He also revealed that anyone who works for the NHS, including office staff and cleaners, will get a place in a school for their children so they can remain in work. Children and parents have been told anecdotally that teacher assessment and mock results would form the basis of grades – but with many students traditionally 'cramming' for exams at the last minute there are concerns they may not get accurately graded or have a proper right to appeal. As millions of working parents face the extraordinary prospect of having school-age children at home for six months - and students had their exams cancelled, it has emerged: Children whose parents are classed as 'key workers', who would not otherwise be able to do their jobs, will be able to attend some schools, which will remain open with a skeleton staff. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned working parents that children should not be looked after by elderly grandparents who are among those most at risk from coronavirus. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said only that schools would be closed 'until further notice' – although those catering for key workers will remain open over the Easter break. They had insisted that shutting them would put unacceptable pressure on the NHS and other public services as parents were forced to take time off work, without significantly curbing the spread of the outbreak. Children and parents were told teacher assessment and mock results would form the basis of grades – but it was unclear how this would work in practice. Mr Williamson said guidance will be issued on Friday about how pupils unable to sit their exams due to school closures will get their grades. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday morning, Universities UK chief executive Alistair Jarvis said: 'If an appropriate way can be found to assess students, perhaps a combination of teacher assessments and assignment works that's already done, then awards could be granted this summer. Many parents are in despair about how they will look after their children for the next six months and hold down their jobs - while key workers in the NHS, the police and other vital services are in the dark about who will care for their children while they remain working. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced school closures across the UK but promised the children of NHS and police workers and supermarket delivery drivers would still be able to attend, as would vulnerable children. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday, Mr Williamson said there will be a 'proper and fair system' of appeal for students who are unhappy with the results they are given as GCSEs and A-levels are cancelled. Gavin Williamson today admitted schools could now be closed until September at the earliest because of coronavirus but gave no detail about how GCSE and A-Levels students will be graded without any exams It comes as Boris Johnson today said the capital – home to almost 9million people – will not face being locked down this week, after fears had been growing that travel around and in or out of the city would be stopped.