The decision to cancel next summer’s GCSE and A-Level exams in Wales has left teachers and pupils in uncharted waters. After Scotland scrapped its GCSE-equivalent National 5 exams in 2021 – opting for teacher assessments and coursework instead – England is under pressure to follow suit. But education secretary Gavin Williamson must stick to his guns and ensure that next year’s exams do go ahead.
‘My water bottle has leaked in my bag!’ The 11-year-old girl was distraught. It was her first week at secondary school. Her neatly titled exercise books – hitherto in pristine condition – were dripping wet; was she in trouble? What would become of her?
That happened in my wife’s class. She is also a teacher and has seen most things in her career. Flooded bags are a regular mishap. Usually, upset children are easily calmed when their teacher takes charge to put things right. But September 2020 has been a very different experience in schools. Socially distanced from the class, Stephanie was unable to offer any more than verbal instructions to her young pupil. Twenty minutes later the poor girl was still wiping out her bag.
The latest U-turn – this time on face masks in schools – comes less than a week before hundreds of thousands of teachers, including myself, return to the classroom. But is the announcement that secondary school pupils may have to wear masks as they make their way around schools really a smart idea? I’m not convinced.
How can you ensure young people can express their gender identity in school without experiencing discrimination or being made to feel uncomfortable? And how do these concerns intersect with legal and safeguarding requirements? Teacher Debbie Hayton explains all in this guide
On Transgender Day of Remembrance we remember trans people who have lost their lives in the face of ignorance, oppression and violence. I remember Lucy Meadows, a teacher who took her own life on 19 March 2013. Three months earlier she had transitioned in the full glare of the media after Richard Littlejohn wrote an infamous article in the Daily Mail: “He’s [sic] not only the wrong body … he’s [sic] in the wrong job”. Coroner Michael Singleton had no doubts about the role of the press in Lucy’s death. “Shame on all of you” he said, as he accused them of ridicule, humiliation, and a character assassination.
Unbeknown to the Mail, another teacher transitioned at exactly the same time. On 20 December 2012, the same day they published Littlejohn’s article, my news was shared with the pupils in my school. Despite months of planning, I was at my most vulnerable. I knew my career hung in the balance; my job would have become untenable had I lost the confidence of my pupils and their parents.
What can be done to increase the number of women in physics? This question keeps committees busy and researchers funded, but the solution seems as elusive as squaring the circle. Four years ago, however, I did my bit: I transitioned from male to female. As this also meant that the number of men in physics was simultaneously reduced by one, it was, as they say in football, a “six-pointer”.