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Head teachers’ fears over pupil numbers in schools

Rules for schools: Gavin Williamson PICTURE: GETTY

NEARLY half of headteachers in England have had to prioritise school places among children of key workers and vulnerable pupils due to high demand, a survey has found.

The government’s ‘confused’ message on school attendance could ‘seriously undermine’ lockdown, said the National Association of Head Teachers.

Some 74 per cent of school heads said demand for places has ‘greatly increased’ compared to the lockdown last March — which the NAHT branded ‘very concerning’ — as 12 per cent said more than 41 per cent of pupils have attended class in person.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said students in England — except children of key workers and vulnerable pupils, such as those lacking internet — should learn online. But only one parent has to be a key worker for children to go to school, although they should stay at home ‘if they can’.

Urging clarification on how many pupils in a school is ‘too many’, NAHT head Paul Whiteman said: ‘It is critical school places are only used when absolutely necessary.’

Universities urged to keep entry grades up

UNIVERSITIES should not lower the A-level grades they require, despite disruption to learning caused by Covid-19, a vice-chancellor has said. Students will struggle if they are accepted on to courses despite lacking the ‘basic knowledge’ required, said Prof Nishan Canagarajah, of the University of Leicester. He said his top priority was fairness to applicants but everyone accepted must be ‘able to benefit’ from higher education. Leicester has said it will put its trust in the teachers who will be assessing students’ grades, with exams cancelled.