“SATs are about the Accountability of Staff not about Students’ Education” Nick Gibb

This piece is from Karam Bales, a member of the National Executive for NEU. writing in a personal capacity. Here he analyses the responses to the education committee and matches them with tweets sent out by @commonsEd.

Who is convinced by these answers on increasing student number?

Education Committee


🚨On Wednesday 27 May we’ll be questioning @NickGibbUK and Andrew McCully from @educationgovuk on the DfE’s response to and plans to reopen schools.

Read more about the session here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/203/education-committee/news/146595/schools-minister-questioned-on-school-closures-and-plans-for-reopening/ 

And follow this thread for live updates 👇

We are questioning Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for School Standards. Watch live on Wednesday 27 May at 9.30am.
SAGE said an effective contact tracing system should be well established before increasing students, Social distancing is essential and that RO should be lower than it currently it.

Education Committee


Chair @halfon4harlowMP asks Nick Gibb which of the reopening scenarios modelled by SAGE was chosen by the DfE.@NickGibbUK says that the DfE is ‘totally led by the science’. SAGE will announce tomorrow whether the 5 tests have been met and if it is safe for schools to return.

Children with symptoms can get tested, Isn’t the main reason they say it’s fine to open schools is that most of them are asymptomatic? How does that help to prevent transmission into the community?

Education Committee


Chair @halfon4harlowMP asks whether there will be a full track and trace mechanism for schools.

Minister @NickGibbUK says that testing will be available to all staff and pupils with symptoms, including children under the age of 5.

Regarding insurance and liability, DfE hasn’t spoken to insurers, particularly important for Independent sector.

When asked about developing trust Gibb used the stock answer denied real detail for many questions ‘led by the science’

Education Committee


@DSimmonds_RNP asks about insurance.

‘Insurance is critical issue for schools. What discussions have there been with the insurance industry to ensure they are happy with risk management?’

Andrew McCully says there has been no direct discussion with insurers.

This is an answer for @MoreThanScore when asked why year 6 and not year 5? Nick Gibb confirms SATs are about accountability of staff not about student’s education.

Education Committee


@JEGullis asks about Year 5 and SATs.

He is ‘baffled’ that the DfE is not bringing in year 5 over year 6 as they are the ones who will be facing SATs exams, and will be under pressure to catch up.

Nick Gibb says SATs provide accountability for the school, not for pupils.

On PPE across education settings, it pointed out the guidance is similar to that which originally applied to care homes and led to disaster. Gibb says he’s led by the science, but then a few minutes later gives an answer that appears to be more a supply issue

Education Committee


But @IanMearnsMP says that @educationgovuk advice for schools on PPE ‘echoes what was told to care homes two months ago, advice which has had to change’.

Nick Gibb says ‘I can only give you the advice that we have. PPE is a scarce resource’.

Education Committee


@JEGullis follows up on SATs.

‘They do have a huge impact on children, because they are used by the Fischer Family Trust to determine target grades. They impact the educational path children may go on.’

Nick Gibb says that no-one asks people how they did in SATs in later life.

DfE not modelled impact on disadvantaged, when questioned about online guidence taking a month after lockdown he said priority was resources. Someone should have asked if any planning was done before lockdown? I’ve seen no evidence of planning b4 lockdown

Education Committee


@halfon4harlowMP now asks about the timeliness of DfE guidance.

‘Why did @educationgovuk take a month to issue clear guidance on remote education to schools?’

Nick Gibb says the most urgent task was to get free materials online.

Interesting contradiction here, when it comes to keeping track of disadvantaged and vulnerable it’s down the heads judgement, however, when it comes to the timing of increasing student numbers and which students the heads aren’t trusted.

Education Committee


@halfon4harlowMP asks about children not in school.

‘There are a lot of children not getting education. Are you monitoring those children and schools, to check learning is going on at home?’

Nick Gibb says they trust schools, and schools are accountable for their results.

Gibb dodged a question on why FSMs are not being offered over the summer holidays, just pretended it hadn’t been asked FSM vouchers had bumpy start but are doing fine now Is that the case?

Education Committee


@KimJohnsonMP asks about funding.

‘With more children now defined as vulnerable as a result of the crisis – what additional funding will be made available to help those children?’

Nick Gibb says the voucher system had a ‘bumpy start’ but more money per meal is now available.

What the @CommonsEd havent put up here are some of the questions on laptops, luckily I took my own notes. Gibb began with ‘I want to pay tribute to officials for tremendous work’ 200k laptops will be delivered this month and next. Shouldn’t this have been in place in March?
As with the guidance for increasing student numbers, it seems work on supporting students during lockdown only began after the announcement was made.
There is already a ridiculous amount of confusion about the guidance regarding reception, are they early years or primary? What size bubble should they have?
Appears the DfE doesnt know and leaders have 4 days to plan
KT Thompson #instinctive 🇪🇺@thepetitioner

The Government’s own guidance for children aged 5 & under in schools (half the year groups being sent back) states they are not expected to socially distance, making this a v dangerous & contradictory comment from @NickGibbUK @karamballes @MaryBoustedNEU @NAHTnews @RLong_Bailey https://twitter.com/tes/status/1265614987239862273 


Clinically vulnerable teachers are safe to work in schools, provided social distancing measures are in place, the schools minister, @NickGibbUK, has said https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-gibb-clinically-vulnerable-teachers-safe-schools 

As for the clinically vulnerable, Gibb comments about as long as social distancing is possible goes against the DfE’s own primary guidance

Issues around vulnerable staff already occurring with advice being put out to schools, see here.

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