In the news this week 16.04.21


As lockdown restrictions continue to ease across England, this week saw campaigns for ringfenced funding for primary school libraries and investment in children’s outdoor play spaces. Parents and teachers are also expressing concerns about the excessive number of assessments being carried out on GCSE and A-level students this year.


Government urged to fund outdoor play spaces


The Association of Play Industries (API) has written to the Prime Minister to call for him to match the funding commitment to children’s outdoor play spaces that has been pledged by Scotland’s First Minister. Last weekend, Nicola Sturgeon promised a £60m fund to renew play parks in Scotland if SNP are re-elected.


The API has written to the government to ask them to follow Sturgeon’s lead and introduce ring-fenced funding for the creation and renewal of outdoor play spaces. They argue that without investment, these spaces could disappear for good, having ‘catastrophic effects’ on children’s mental and physical health. Read more in Nursery World.


Learning in the outdoors is a key part of the Montessori approach, and we’ve put together a resource with tips and activities for parents to help their children connect with nature. Find out more here.


Children’s Laureate campaigns to fix school libraries


Amid fears that literacy levels have dropped during the pandemic, Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell has penned an open letter asking the Prime Minister to ringfence £100m a year to help primary school libraries. Despite a wealth of research showing that childhood reading is linked to future success, one in eight primary schools don’t currently have a library, and both public and state school libraries have been subject to harsh cuts over the last decade.


The £100m in funding would allow schools to build entirely new libraries, hire professional librarians and buy new stock. The letter has also been signed by former Children’s Laureates including Quentin Blake and Jacqueline Wilson. Read more on BBC.


GCSE and A-level grading


Parents are expressing concerns over how GCSEs and A-levels will be awarded in England this year, with headteachers under apparent pressure to carry out excessive numbers of assessments on students. The Guardian reports that some schools are asking GCSE students to sit as many as 35 exams over the next four to six weeks, so that they have recent evidence to justify the grades they’re awarding.


Teachers are worried this is sending schools into a state of panic and is putting unfair pressure on pupils. The Telegraph is similarly reporting parents’ fears that an ‘exam blitz’ will cause children to attain lower GCSE grades.