Analysis Exclusive

Video: UK now ‘only nation sending kids to school as normal in pandemic’ – while nations like NZ have virus ‘in rearview mirror’

Health adviser Adam Hamdy contrasts misleading government/media narrative and global reality, as Education Secretary Williamson threatens council for closing schools a few days early

The UK yesterday became ‘pretty much the only country in the world’ to keep sending its children to school almost as normal in the midst of a pandemic – and is not even doing ‘the bare minimum’ recommended by the world’s leading health experts.

While the Tories and their media allies have neglected to mention it, Sweden and the Netherlands – the only nations to be ‘keeping us company’ yesterday announced new school closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Health adviser Adam Hamdy explained the situation and its consequences during an interview with the SKWAWKBOX on Socialist Telly last night:

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has just issued a legal threat to Greenwich council in London for closing schools a few days early for Christmas, even though London is going into the highest ‘Tier 3’ lockdown and schools in the borough have been hit by multiple outbreaks:

Schools will also remain open during the new, nationwide ‘severe’ lockdown planned to begin 28/29 December.

The Tories continue to throw the lives of the UK’s people under the bus, in spite of global examples and overwhelming scientific evidence.

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  1. Johnson & Starmer want schools open for childcare so workers can put their lives at risk while being overworked and underpaid⚠️

    1. ps The party Starmer plotted to put in government rather than have Jeremy as PM, that party are content with Covid-19 spreading and killing the maximum number of elderly and vulnerable as soon as possible. + Excuse to bung chums at least Eighteen BILLION GBP for often useless PPE. Projected fifty BILLION GBP non-test and non-trace. A Tory racket⚠️ That’s why Starmer will NEVER criticise SERCO, Dido Harding, Soames, Deloitte, G4S, Kate Bingham… too many list. But expect SIR Starmer to stay schtum⚠️⚠️⚠️

    2. Keir’s letter to Johnson
      Dear Prime Minister,
      Urgent review of the Covid Christmas restrictions
      It has become increasingly clear over recent days that the tier system you introduced two weeks ago has failed to control transmission of Covid-19. Sadly, it does now appear that the government has – once again – lost control of infections, putting our economy and our NHS at grave risk in the new year.
      This will be a source of great anxiety for people across the country, who have made so many sacrifices to keep families, loved ones and communities safe. The fantastic work of scientists and others in developing a vaccine has been a tremendous achievement for our country and allowed us to all feel hopeful again. But we have been brought back down to earth with a thud as the grim possibility of an increasingly bleak winter comes into view.
      I welcomed the fact that the government had sought a four-nation approach on the arrangements over the Christmas period. I understand that people want to spend time with their families after this awful year, but the situation has clearly taken a turn for the worse since the decision about Christmas was taken. It serves no-one for politicians to ignore this fact.
      It is my view that you should now convene COBRA in the next 24 hours to review whether the current relaxation is appropriate given the rising number of cases. If you conclude with government scientists that we need to take tougher action to keep people safe over Christmas, then you will have my support.
      Any further tightening of restrictions will obviously be deeply disappointing to many across the country. Many will have already started planning for Christmas and would have held on to the prospect of a happy day with family and loved ones to get us through these tough months. But the public do not want false reassurance, warm words or ducked challenges from their Prime Minister. They want leadership.
      This is a critical moment for our country. The tiered system has not kept the virus under control and has left us with precious little headroom. Put simply, if you take the wrong decision now, the ramifications for our NHS and our economy in the new year could be severe.
      Our country has already seen one of the worst excess death rates in Europe and the worst recession of any major economy. This was not inevitable, but a failure to take the tough decisions at the right time. The government was too slow at the start of the pandemic and in September, when it was clear we needed a circuit break over half-term, you chose to ignore the scientific advice and delayed the inevitable until November.
      I am urging you to not repeat that same mistake now. Your priority should be a safe Christmas, which allows a healthy and prosperous new year.
      Yours sincerely
      Keir Starmer
      Leader of the Labour Party

  2. ps Typical desperate trait – Starmer is worse than Johnson. Like all slave overseers, Keith is showing his controllers he’s eager to serve them⚠️

  3. The leader of Greenwich Council has said he has “no choice” but to ask schools to remain open after threats of legal action from the government.
    The authority wrote to head teachers asking for classes to move online from Tuesday amid rising Covid-19 cases.
    Education Secretary Gavin Williamson ordered the council to keep all schools open until the end of term.
    Council leader Danny Thorpe said he could not justify using public funds to fight the decision in the courts.
    In a statement, the Labour councillor said he did not agree that it was right to keep schools open but he had “no choice but to ask our schools to keep their doors open to all students, rather than just continuing with online learning”.

    1. Yeah – they call him “Scary Gavin” you know. Pfft.
      I know a five-year-old who could make him fuck off.
      And she’s small for her age…

  4. I thought gavin williamson was education secretary not health secretary Skwawky

  5. I might have missed it but I didn’t hear Mr. Hamdy mention the effect of vaccines on his projection of a possible five years of plague, and that seems odd.
    I wouldn’t bet the farm on vaccines either, and that’s clearly what the Tories are 100% relying on, but I wouldn’t discount them either.
    The obviously sensible course of action is to do everything conceivable and practical to attack your enemy with everything in your arsenal while waiting for the new superweapon to arrive – and hoping it works as well as Mr. Oppenheimer promises.

  6. I think Greenwich Council should have fought the decision in court. I think the council could easily justify using public money to protect the public from this reckless government’s ignorance and half baked policies. I don’t have any school age children but if I had I would readily risk legal action and keep them home from school if I felt circumstances demanded it.

  7. NO IF’s NO Buts NO Equivocation ,,,,, humm now what Tory supporting TWAT said that

  8. Just watched Robert Halfon, Tory chair of the education select committee,
    arguing that if kids aren’t in school every day they’ll be educationally crippled for life – and that families NEED to be together at xmas for their mental health.
    What an imbecile.
    It’s not impossible to work around the loss of a year’s education by legislating that employers and further education establishments must make allowances.
    Some children do less well than others at school but find study easier in later life, and vice versa – as socialists we believe in lifelong access to free education for all anyway, don’t we?
    If employers want better educated entrants make them pay to train them like they used to when I left school, instead of importing labour to suppress wages.

    1. The Tories have consistently underfunded the FE sector with catastrophic results.
      However I am surprised that the Trade Unions haven’t taken the opportunity to become involved in this sector.and also in Free Schools.

      1. They’ve also consistently underfunded HE, the Police, Fire Service, NHS, DSS, Civil Service and everything else that makes a society worth living in.
        Should the unions have “become involved in” all those too?
        Or another half-dozen National Lotteries perhaps?
        What kind of fucking socialist are you? (rhetorical)

      2. David – Why would you object to the Trade Unions taking advantage of the Tory’s ‘Free Schools’ system.

  9. Because there’s no “advantage” except to middle class nimbys – “free” schools are just a way for them to cuddle a bit closer to the kind of public school education they dream of affording but can’t – and pretend their “executive starter homes” aren’t in the same catchment area as the council estate down the road.
    Their abilityto subsidise teachers’ pay and conditions enables them to denude the LEA of teaching talent.
    Education without universal access should always be opposed by decent socialists.
    Privileged education perpetuates privilege throughout society.
    I object to free schools because, like most commenters here, I try to be a decent socialist.
    Your every word tells us you’re one of those nimbys – the antithesis of a decent socialist – just in case you were wondering why we constantly deride you.

    1. David – You obviously have very fixed views but could you explain why a ‘Free School’ run by Unite instead of a capitalist company would be a bad thing.
      Besides children getting a good education it would really piss off the Tories.

  10. Because Unite represents support workers not teachers?
    Don’t you think teachers might resent working in a school run by the dinnerladies’, caretakers’ and Groundskeeper Willie’s union?
    Not saying the capitalists who manage schools are competent – I have no information on that, just a few memory snippets about graft, inflated costs and badly maintained falling down buildings – but is managing schools really within Unite’s competence?
    And I say that without criticism or rancour – I am a Unite member.

    1. David – Why you would imagine that teachers would resent working for a Union employer who in all likelihood would be much more likely to consult them than many other employers. As far as I can see there would also be nothing to stop a Teachers Union doing the same. The only reason I originally mentioned Unite was that I also used to be a member so it was the first name that came to mind, perhaps as the days of individual industrial and technical sectors having separate unions are long gone I ought to have said the TUC instead.
      As for your concerns about the necessary skills to run a school or educational institute then I would imagine that they would simply do the same as other Academy Trusts or Free Schools and employ people with the required skills.
      I’m not looking for any big philosophical argument I simply think that Labour and the Union movement should like the business world be woven into the fabric of our society and education should be a part of that sphere of influence.

      1. Government would have to set up selection authorities/committees and define criteria on which to decide which business or organisation should be chosen to set up a new school or take over a failing one.
        When the cause of failing schools is always lack of funding, lack of qualified teachers or lack of motivation of both teachers and students due to local conditions – all failures of central government – such ‘novel’ measures are always attempts to distract from failures of government.

        A Tory government would clearly favour private over union tenders.
        Capitalism is inefficient for that very reason despite the claims made for competition – if 10 companies bid, 1 wins and 9 have wasted all the effort given over to researching their bids.
        The primary purpose of unions is to speak for and defend employees – in becoming employers themselves they’ll naturally offer better terms and conditions, and in Tory and capitalist terms, be decried as “wasteful, inefficient and uncompetitive.”
        Another stick with which to beat the left.
        Education is a universal need and provision must be universal and curricula be consistent.

        This is not to say that novel ideas shouldn’t be tried, but only after extended discussion within the teaching profession leading to research, experiment, evaluation and extended trials.
        Too many changes in education have been made for political, factional or doctrinaire reasons and with far too little consideration given to unintended consequences… like ITA or over-testing that doubles teachers’ workloads, or hiring teaching assistants instead of having in-class training as a normal part of teacher training.

      2. Really?

        Free schools were introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition following the 2010 general election as part of the Big Society initiative to make it possible for parents, teachers, charities and businesses to set up their own schools. Free schools are an extension of the existing academies programme. The Academies Act 2010, which allowed all existing state schools to become academies, also authorised the creation of free schools. The first 24 free schools opened in autumn 2011.

        The Education Act 2011 gave rise to the academy/free school presumption; Government advice which clarified that any local authority in need of a new school must in most circumstances seek proposals for an academy or free school, with a traditional community school only being allowed if no suitable free school or academy is proposed. In July 2015 the advice was renamed the free school presumption reflecting the fact that the newly elected Conservative Government regarded all new academies established after May 2015 as free schools.

        Free schools are subject to the same School Admissions Code as all other state-funded schools, although they are subject to the 50% Rule whereby oversubscribed free schools with a faith designation must allocate at least half of their places without regard to faith.

        Free schools are expected to offer a broad and balanced curriculum, are subject to the same Ofsted inspections as all other maintained schools and are expected to comply with standard performance measures.
        To set up a free school, founding groups submit applications to the Department for Education. Groups include those run by parents, education charities and religious groups. Start-up grants are provided to establish the schools and ongoing funding is on an equivalent basis with other locally controlled state maintained schools.

        The majority of free schools are similar in size and shape to other types of academy. However, the following are distinctive sub-types of free school:
        Studio school – A small free school, usually with around 300 pupils, using project-based learning
        University Technical College – A free school for the 14–18 age group, specialising in practical, employment-focused subjects, sponsored by a university, employer or further education college.

      3. Like I said – doctrinaire – just another way to delegitimise left wing local government, like council tax instead of rates.

        Excellent job of copy-pasting the Tory bollocks though.

      4. David – I know the truth may be inconvenient sometimes but sticking your butt in the air and dismissing it as Tory propaganda won’t alter the facts.
        Is anything I have quoted above untrue?

      5. “Is anything I have quoted above untrue?” he whined.

        Don’t be so fucking obtuse.
        The debate isn’t about what the right claimed as the INTENT of its “big society initiative” – which I’m willing provisionally to accept you copied diligently like a good little boy, though you did fail to credit the author.
        Naughty boy.
        You don’t seriously think I’m going to mark you on the accuracy of your plagiarism?

        The debate is about whether the intent of ‘free schools’ can be justified on grounds we as socialists would accept, whether their performance meets or exceeds that of LEA schools, and whether they do so at an equivalent cost per pupil.

      6. David – FFS grow up and stop arguing the toss just for the sake of it.

  11. Small suggestion on teaching assistants.
    Having a martyr for a mother I had zero responsibilities as a child and I’m still a lazy git – because of that I feel it’s never too soon for children to learn responsibility and how to negotiate compliance with their peers rather than enforce it.
    Suggest appointing every child as ‘teaching assistant’ for a day might help them begin to learn what adulthood is actually like?
    6-weekly rotation for a class of 30 if that works, or alternating half-days if 3-weekly rotation fits better.
    Just a passing thought, not wedded to it.

  12. Anyone curious about vaccine prices ?

    While campaigners for access to medicines were delighted at the transparency, pharmaceutical companies were not. Pfizer complained of a breach of confidentiality. “These prices are covered by a confidentiality clause in the contract with the European commission,” said Elisabeth Schraepen, the US drugmaker’s spokeswoman for the Benelux region to the Belgian daily Le Soir.
    The price list revealed that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is the cheapest and Moderna is the most expensive – as was already known. But the details allow countries that may be negotiating with the vaccine manufacturers to take a harder line.

    This is the list of what the EU is paying:
    Oxford/AstraZeneca: €1.78 (£1.61).
    Johnson & Johnson: $8.50 (£6.30).
    Sanofi/GSK: €7.56.
    Pfizer/BioNTech: €12.
    CureVac: €10.
    Moderna: $18.

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