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Children ‘forget how to use knife and fork’ due to lockdown

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Ofsted has examined the impact of the pandemic on children and found that some have slipped quite far back with their skills.

The report highlighted that children have been the hardest hit by Covid-19 measures put in place during the pandemic.

In some cases, for instance, where children were potty-trained pre-lockdown they have reverted back to nappies. Others have forgotten basic numbers or how to use a knife and fork. Older children have lost their stamina for reading, according to the inspectors.

Based on visits to 900 schools, Ofsted found there were three ‘broad groups’ to describe what has happened to children in the UK in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The majority of children sit in the middle of the three groups. This group has ‘slipped back in their  learning to varying degrees since schools were closed to most children and movement restricted’. 

The report adds that ‘lost learning is unarguable, but it is hard to assess’.

The hardest-hit group of children have suffered from time out from school, retreating on their numeracy and literacy skills as well as ‘regression back into nappies among potty-trained children’. In some cases ‘basic skills’ such as using a knife and fork have been lost.

There are some children, the findings explain, that have gained a positive experience from lockdown. These children come from ‘supportive’ backgrounds and have benefited from a greater sense of togetherness and ‘quality time’ with parents and family.

The report adds that children’s experiences weren’t necessarily determined by privilege or deprivation. However, it explains that those children whose parents were unable to work more flexibly have experienced less time with parents and other children and have therefore been more greatly impacted.

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The chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, says the divide is not along the lines of ‘advantage and deprivation’. Instead, it depends on factors such as whether parents were able to spend time children and families. She described this as ‘good support structures’.

Children with special education needs and disabilities have been ‘seriously affected’ across all age groups both in car and education, losing vital support including speech and language services.

Ofsted remains concerned about children who are at risk of neglect, exploitation and abuse. Child protection referrals fell while schools to most pupils and have yet to return to normal levels. 

In older children, Ofsted warned of a loss of concentration. Spielman added that some boys have spent most of the lockdown gaming online with friends and after months of online-learning, ‘online squabbles’ that started in lockdown on social media are now ‘being played out in the classroom’.

There are also reports of loss of physical fitness, ‘signs of mental distress’ and concerns over eating disorders and self-harm.

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Leader of the ASCL headteachers’ union, Geoff Barton, says the report ‘starkly shows the educational and emotional impact of school closures, and why we need to do everything possible to keep schools open’. 

Barton warned that it was becoming financially unsustainable to keep schools running with the increased cost of safety measures and paying for staff to cover when teachers need to self-isolate. 

James Bowen, the director of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “The government’s refusal to recognise the financial difficulties schools are now facing due to Covid-19 means that not only is money being taken away from children’s education and wellbeing, it could push some schools over the edge financially.”

A Department for Education person said: “The government has been clear that getting all pupils and students back into full-time education is a national priority.”

Adding: “We know that some children do need additional support to catch up as a result of the pandemic, which is why we launched a £1bn Covid catch-up fund for schools to support those children who need it.

“Our national tutoring programme is now live in schools, providing intensive support to the most disadvantaged children. The evidence shows high-quality tutoring can make up as much as three to five months’ lost learning.”

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Aldi launches new ‘bargain hour’ where prices are slashed by 75%

All 912 Aldi stores across the UK will take part in the scheme

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Aldi has announced it’s introducing a special ‘bargain hour’, where shoppers will be able to save 75% on certain goods.

Aldi customers will be able to grab a proper bargain on things like bread, meat and fruit, the supermarket confirmed.

All 912 Aldi stores across the UK will take part in the scheme, marking down perishable products such as fruit, vegetables and meat on their last day of life, just before stores close.

The retailer is doing this to stop fresh produce from going to waste, and it’s part of their wider pledge to halve food waste by 2030.

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While at the moment Aldi does reduce the price on certain products when they reach their best-before or use-by dates, it will now be offering bigger savings on products marked with a red sticker.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi, said: “Aldi is already known for its low prices, but these discounts will help some shoppers to cut their grocery bills even further – all while helping us reduce food waste.

“Customers should look out for the red stickers when shopping at Aldi, but shoppers need to be quick as I’m sure the products will prove popular.”

It’s worth remembering that items will be reduced at different times at different stores, and of course reduced produce is sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Кирилл Венедиктов / Wikimedia

Meanwhile, Aldi has teamed up with Marcus Rashford to launch a brand new campaign to help feed hungry kids across the UK.

Marcus has been busy over the past year, highlighting the shocking food inequalities in our country and holding the government to account, and he’s been doing a fantastic job.

And while one in five children in the UK currently live in food poverty, the Man United star – who experienced food poverty when he was a kid – won’t stop on his mission to help end this tragedy.

To help tackle the issue of child food poverty, Aldi has confirmed that it will donate 10 million meals to feed families in need across the UK during 2021.

The supermarket has also released a short animation that personifies ‘hunger’ through a child’s eyes, to mark the collaboration with Marcus, with the footballer narrating the emotional poem that accompanies the short film.

The video explores a young kid’s relationship with hunger, using a poem by Giles Andreae, with illustrator Lisa Stickley bringing the story to life via the animation.

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MP calls for teachers to be given the vaccine next so schools can reopen

He’s called on Matt Hancock to give teachers increased priority

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An MP has called for teachers to be given the Covid-19 vaccine so kids can get back to school.

Richard Graham MP is asking Matt Hancock to vaccinate teachers, following the news that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson can’t guarantee schools will reopen after the February half term as was originally planned.

Mr Graham said vaccination was the only way forward, confirming that he has asked the government to make sure teachers are included in the next round of vaccinations, once the 13 million most vulnerable have had their jabs.

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He told GloucestershireLive: “If we want to give teachers, parents, pupils, families real certainty on schools, I think there’s only one way to do it, to vaccinate all the teachers.

“That way schools will know their staff will not have to go off and self-isolate, and are not going to catch the virus.

“Parents will also know their pupils are not going to be either infected by teachers or infect them.

“That would be a huge step forward. It doesn’t rule out all the risks. Pupils can still spread it amongst themselves and then back to their parents at home.”

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A teacher from Derbyshire has created a petition asking for teachers, school and childcare staff to be prioritised for the coronavirus vaccine.

Charlotte Appleyard’s petition has already gained more than 470,000 signatures, which meant it was discussed in parliament on Monday.

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Sir Alex Ferguson’s emotional message to Marcus Rashford as he’s honoured for his charity work

The footballer was honoured at the Football Writers’ Association annual tribute awards

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Marcus Rashford has been in the news a lot over the past year for his valiant efforts in fighting child food poverty in the UK.

The Manchester United star has now been honoured again for his efforts, becoming the youngest person ever to receive an award at the Football Writers’ Association annual tribute awards.

Sir Alex Ferguson sent the 23-year-old an emotional message after he was honoured in recognition of his hard work tackling child poverty during the Covid-19 crisis, praising the ‘wonderful person’ he had become.

Marcus has been busy highlighting the shocking food inequalities in our country and holding the government to account, and he’s been doing a fantastic job.

And while one in five children in the UK currently live in food poverty, the striker – who experienced food poverty when he was a kid – won’t stop on his mission to help end this tragedy.

The footballer campaigned for free school meals to be extended during holidays, and more recently has raised awareness of the ‘woefully inadequate’ meal parcels some families have been receiving this week.

Marcus has been working with charity FareShare to help deliver food to hungry kids who are no longer getting free school meals, and yesterday it was reported that he’d teamed up with Aldi to donate 10 million meals to families in need.

Sir Alex said: “I would like to congratulate Marcus on his achievement and presentation (of the FWA Tribute Award) tonight.

“I have known him since being a kid of 7 years of age, and seen him develop through the ranks of Manchester United into a truly wonderful person.

“Apart from his football life, what he has achieved in the last few months is quite astonishing, how he has helped the people in need is a truly amazing achievement.

“I would like to congratulate him on that. He has shown to young people in particular there is a different way of dealing with life.

“He has shown great humility, he has shown courage to do what he did, so this achievement is well deserved and should be recognised with what he has done.

“So Marcus, well done on a fantastic achievement.”

Кирилл Венедиктов / Wikimedia

Marcus responded by thanking the legendary United manager, saying: “He has always, from the beginning really, backed me with what I am doing.

“Probably when other people in sports were telling me not to do it and just focus on football, he said if I believed in that, and I believe it is the right thing to do, then he is behind it.

“Those words from him are an amazing feeling to hear that.”

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