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Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education


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Victory
Petitioning Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education, Ofqual, Department for Education

Boris Johnson: we need a fairer system for this year’s A-level and GCSE students

Like many thousands of school pupils doing A levels, GCSEs, BTECs and other qualifications, I’d expected to be getting my exam results this week. Instead, because of coronavirus, all of us who couldn’t take exams are having our results decided by a computer algorithm, which doesn’t look at our individual performance and marks us down for which school we went to. Almost 40% of A-level assessments have been downgraded, potentially impacting the futures of thousands of young people. This is not right - and I’m calling on the Government to urgently sort out this injustice. For a lot of pupils, the algorithm doesn’t even consider what our own teachers predicted we’d get. There isn’t a proper appeals process. Worst of all, pupils from poorer schools, with lower results historically, are due to get automatically marked down by the software. Poorer pupils get marked down because of where they live and the school they go to, with their individual efforts and performance disregarded and their teacher’s assessments ignored. How can this be right? Nobody's saying that this year's arrangements for results are easy to sort out. The times we live in are difficult ones, but that’s no excuse for building a system that systematically discriminates against poorer pupils. Appeals using mock exams aren't the solution, not least because many people don't have reliable or recent mocks, and many would perform better at the end of the year than months ago. I’m calling for Boris Johnson, and his Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, to step in and fix it urgently. At a minimum, the Government must ensure there is: No “marking down” of individual pupils based purely on them having gone to a less good school A free appeals system open to any pupil More weight given to our own teachers’ assessments, as they are better placed than an algorithm to judge us as individuals  I go to a comprehensive school in West London, and had the benefit of some of the best teachers I could have asked for. I've done well in my results, but me personally doing okay does not make the Government's proposed system fair. I am disgusted at the number of my friends, as well as thousands of students up and down the country, receiving grades that aren't indicative of the hard work and effort that's been put in for the last two years. This system could have resulted in 18-year-old students receiving grades, perhaps on the basis of last year's pupils having a bad day, and those same students subsequently having no recourse beyond sitting new exams after it was already too late for their chance to go to university. The Government can choose to stop this injustice. I have sat on the end of the phone in a previous year comforting a close friend of mine whose exam results were far from what they expected. I do not want more of my friends brought to tears solely because the Government decided that the numbers that they produced from a computer were infallible.

Curtis Parfitt-Ford
253,931 supporters
Petitioning Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education

Prioritise Vaccinations for Teachers

I am calling upon the UK government to prioritise vaccinating our country's school teachers. Teachers are still having to go in to schools to look after the children of key workers and the vulnerable. Many people are not aware of this. This leaves them in the company of potentially the most risky carriers of Covid-19 or the new, quick-spreading strain, without any option of rejecting their work.  My mum is a primary school teacher and has carried on throughout the entire period of previous lockdowns too. Although the schools have been announced as closed, this is not the case. I'm sure she is not the only teacher that is anxious about going to work, especially without the prioritisation of the recently available vaccine. In the classroom, children aren't expected to wear masks and although teachers may have the option to wear them, they know that having their face covered can affect clear communication while the children are learning. For children with learning difficulties and extra needs, seeing a whole face with expression or being able to lip read is a vital part of their understanding. The government have been so clear about the importance of education, which I understand, yet with little thought to how much this could affect teacher's wellbeing and ultimately, safety. If teachers are not given the option to protect themselves soon and are taken unwell, the consequences could be catastrophic to the entire education department.  I am calling upon the UK government to please prioritise vaccinating the teachers who are continuing to risk their lives to look after the children that still have to go in to schools.

Emma Tonkinson
207,832 supporters
Petitioning Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education

Demand no child with a serious illness is left without an education. #InvisibleChildren

This week children will return to school. But not all. Children with serious illness will be left behind and in desperate need of home learning. As a nation, we don’t know how many children are affected, that is why I am asking you to sign this petition to ensure all children unable to attend school are recorded in a national dataset. My son Sam was isolated for the last four years of his life until he died last November. He was diagnosed with leukemia at 8 years old and could no longer go to school. I had no idea what education Sam could have, or how disruption to learning would also tear away his connection to the outside world.  Learning for children like Sam is often forgotten. They are known as “invisible children” because there is no dataset to record them. And without it, authorities can’t allocate help, nor be held to account. That’s why I’m calling on Gavin Williamson to ensure that isolated children are correctly identified within the education system - so that they can access the educational experience to which they are entitled.  School is not just about teaching children English and Maths, it’s a place they foster friendships and learn key social skills for life. The support available varies based on where you live and how proactive authorities are at keeping local records. It’s a postcode lottery. I had to push hard for Sam to get some education and although he received on average 3 hours a week of home tuition, he remained socially isolated from his whole school community. Sam developed post-traumatic stress disorder which manifested into anxiety and OCD due to extended isolation. I believe that if more had been done from the outset to provide Sam with a full education with available technology, Sam’s mental health would not have deteriorated to such an extent.   After 3 years of limited tuition, Sam was loaned a robot (AV1) which he named Marvin. Marvin would be in class and Sam could control him remotely. It transformed Sam’s ability to participate in lessons and interact with his friends. To get Marvin allowed in class, we had to challenge the school and wait 7 months. No child should have to fight to be included in education. Despite everything, Sam was tenacious and creative. He created a superhero cartoon “Bubbleboy” who was with him throughout his struggle. If Sam were here, I know he and Bubbleboy would be on a mission to make sure no child is left invisible. Now, I take this campaign forward in his memory. In the pandemic, people saw a glimpse of what isolation is like. This is everyday life for some children.  Don’t leave these children behind. Please help by signing - so that no child is invisible. Amy Dixon

Amy Dixon
91,322 supporters
Petitioning Boris Johnson, Matthew Hancock MP, Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education

Make schools as COVID secure as possible so they can open safely!

As a passionate and committed teacher working in a UK secondary school, it is clear that both staff and pupils need to return safely to the classroom in September. Many students have missed vital education that will impact their future and so it is right that we get the education system up and running. However, the current government guidance does NOT go far enough to reassure staff, parents and pupils.  COVID-19 thrives in indoor settings where social distancing cannot happen. Classrooms are hotspots for viral infections to spread and we do not have space to apply social distancing universally. That is why more preventative support is required in schools.  The government has announced they are no longer advising schools against wearing masks. But it still remains at the discretion of head teachers so isn't a universal right granted to all staff and students. Countless schools are prohibiting the use of masks, visors and other measures. Whilst I am lucky to teach in a school that allows me to wear a mask/visor, thousands are not in this position and it is therefore a postcode lottery.  I am calling on the Government to do the following to make schools as Covid secure as possible: Allow teachers and pupils to wear masks or visors in ALL schools Provide funds for ALL schools to have specialist cleaners to carry out regular deep cleaning To provide ALL schools with enough hand sanitiser for all staff and pupils We all have a duty of care to students in our schools, and staff want to return, safe in the knowledge that there is some form of additional protection to inhibit the spread of airborne particles that can easily carry this unscrupulous disease.  We need to act now! Please sign this petition to bring about the necessary changes to ensure that staff and students can return to environments that are as safe as we can possibly make them.  Many thanks for your support. 

Nicholas Morgan
54,685 supporters
Petitioning The UK Government, Ministry of Education, Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education

End the digital divide - provide children with internet access and a device to learn

With the announcement of the second national lockdown in the UK, and second school closure, it is important more than ever that we don't sit back and let our future generations suffer. Ofcom estimate that between 1.14m and 1.78m children in total in the UK have no home access to a laptop, desktop or tablet. Children need internet access and a device to learn. Education is a basic human right, and children can't be educated from home if they don't have a device or internet access. The government are failing to allow our children to learn. We mustn't leave these children behind.  The Children’s Commissioner has stated that the Government’s scheme to make laptops and 4G routers available to children unable to access on-line learning during the pandemic was simply not enough. The £100 million package was introduced in April 2020 and was used to fund laptops and 4G wireless routers to be sent to vulnerable pupils with social workers, care leavers and disadvantaged year 10 pupils. Out of these groups only 200,000 devices and 50,000 routers were distributed between 540,000 children who were in need. That means the scheme only helped 37% of these children.  The scheme mentioned above also ignored millions of children in need. There are disadvantaged and vulnerable children in every year group (Reception to Year 13). These children haven't even been thought about by the Government. These children need a voice. Enough is enough, and we need to take action.  We ask that Mr Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education takes immediate action in ensuring that schools and other organisations (as necessary) have the funds and support needed to ensure that each child in the UK has the tools they need to learn from home. The Government has enough money to provide internet access and a learning device to every vulnerable child in the UK. It is the government's responsibility to make sure this happens.  We need to end the digital divide in the UK, now more than ever. Sign this petition to push for the empowerment of our children by providing them with the tools they need for a basic education during the national lockdown, and thereafter. 

Emily Cookson
53,986 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education

Deaf students need clear masks & other support whilst face coverings are worn in class

Note: please remember to confirm your email otherwise your signature won't be counted! Thank you so much for your support... please share as every signature counts! :) As an A-level student with hearing loss, I am really worried that all students and teachers in secondary schools in England will now be asked to wear face coverings, including in class. There are 35,000 deaf students like me who will be put at serious disadvantage, because we need to read people’s lips to be able to understand what’s being said. Many of us will be left behind academically and will become socially isolated if we can’t communicate with our friends. I know I will feel isolated as the only deaf student in my year group – especially in classes that need debate and discussion. It’s not just deaf students that would benefit from this, but also those with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities).  We’re nearly a year into the pandemic and clear face masks STILL aren’t available in schools and colleges where they’re needed by deaf students. The Government in England must do everything possible to make sure that we can still understand our teachers. They should make clear to schools and colleges that all necessary adjustments must be made, whether these are transparent face coverings, face shields or visors, note-takers or sign language interpreters, additional hearing technology, and so on. Telling teachers to be “sensitive” to the needs of deaf children is not enough. The government should also ensure all online resources and catch-up/tutoring sessions they are funding are accessible and available to deaf students who need them (i.e. subtitled and BSL).  There needs to be extra support ready for deaf students before we return to school on 8th March or there will be a devastating impact on our education, mental health and on our futures. Online schooling has been a big challenge for many deaf young people, please don’t leave us behind yet again.

dinah mandell
45,141 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education, Boris Johnson

STOP 'triple lock' approach and use the teacher-assessed grades for all GCSEs / A Levels

At 10:30pm on Tuesday 11th August, Gavin Williamson announced a new ‘triple lock’ process for GCSE and A Level students in England, implying this was great news and they will receive the higher of either their calculated grade (by Ofqual, after their computations), their mock result, OR if they sit one, their autumn exam result.   This is UNFAIR, UNWORKABLE and DISRESPECTFUL of teachers and schools that put so much time into giving their recommended assessed grades. This petition is asking for  teacher-assessed grades to be used instead of triple lock if a student wishes to appeal.  UNFAIR - not all schools do mocks and virtually all students improve between mock and the real exams. English students will also be competing with Scottish students and Nicola Sturgeon has promised to override the Scottish results to reflect what teachers submitted - if the Triple Lock system is applied in England it could result in English students incorrectly being marked lower than Scottish students.  UNWORKABLE - not all mocks are equal or done at the same time of year with the same conditions so it is ridiculous to compare their results. DISRESPECTFUL and DISTRUSTING - teachers know their students best and have used a range of information to put in a realistic assessed grade, already including their mock result if it was appropriate. This announcement by Gavin Williamson ignores teachers' hard work, experience and knowledge.  Please support this petition, students in England deserve to get the results they worked so hard for, and teachers deserve to have their experience listened to. 

Lottie Beck Johnson
27,154 supporters
Petitioning Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education

Cancel 2021 GCSE & A-Level Exams

Since the pandemic began, school and college students have lost out on five months of face-to-face teaching. This figure is likely to get worse as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise over the winter, putting immense pressure on our National Health Service. Despite the best efforts of teachers to adapt to this crisis, student learning has been drastically impacted by so many months out of school – and those who can least afford it are paying the price. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have faced extreme difficulties, with many lacking access to the internet, laptops or quiet learning spaces, as well as free school meals. Meanwhile, students with additional needs have not been able to access the essential support provided by teachers and assistants in the classroom. Students are under enormous pressure to catch up on five months of lost education while having no access to their usual support networks or services. Many feel overwhelmed and at breaking point. A survey of NEU teachers revealed that nearly 80% believed they would not be able, in the time available, to teach the whole syllabus. Under the current circumstances, the results of exams next year will tell us more about the unequal impact of Covid-19 on the student population than they will about their subject knowledge and skills. The Secretary of State for Education’s plan to address this problem by delaying exams for three weeks does not make up for the five months of education that was lost during lockdown – or the broader fallout from Covid-19, with prolonged isolation impacting both the educational outcomes and mental health of many students. We believe that every student deserves to be supported and given access to the best possible education. Learning must be organised to meet the needs of young people, especially in such challenging times, and examinations must be conducted fairly. The current policy of the UK government fails on both of these tests, disproportionately impacting disadvantaged students, underfunded schools and those with differing needs, as well as potentially harming the futures of many more students who fall into none of these categories. We therefore call on Gavin Williamson and the UK government to cancel GCSE and A-Level exams in England next summer, in line with announcements in Wales and Scotland.

Hasan Patel
23,898 supporters
Do not make masks mandatory for children in primary or secondary schools in UK.

The Department for Education's guidance is clear that children are not expected to wear face coverings in schools. Here is the relevant section: Public Health England does not (based on current evidence) recommend the use of face coverings in schools. This evidence will be kept under review. They are not required in schools as pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups, and because misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission. There may also be negative effects on communication and thus education. Face coverings may be beneficial for short periods indoors where there is a risk of close social contact with people you do not usually meet and where social distancing and other measures cannot be maintained, for example on public transport or in shops.

1 year ago