Covid-19 Daily Bulletin
20 August 2020
A series of daily updates for CHO members regarding relevant updates pertaining to Coronavirus from home and abroad.
- The Times are reporting that Gavin Williamson was warned directly that the A-level and GCSE grading system could lead to hundreds of thousands of students being given the wrong results but decided to push ahead. Their article states that a senior source at the Department for Education disclosed that Sir Jon Coles, a former director-general there, wrote to Williamson early last month to express concerns about the algorithm used by Ofqual.
- BTec results, which were due today alongside GCSE results, will now not receive their results today as the exam boards have to recalculate grades to match the government’s change in policy. The exam board Pearson, who announced this late last night, have admitted this delay could cause distress as 200,000 students try to secure higher and further education places.
- A write up by Katy Balls at the Spectator has suggested Williamson will not be sacked over the scandal.
- HSJ are reporting that the NHS should be able to achieve net zero carbon emissions much earlier than the target set by the UK government, according to the expert in charge of setting out the NHS’s route to environmental sustainability.
- Some happy news as many media outlets are reporting that a charity that rehomes Chickens – Fresh Start for Hens – have had more than 52,000 requests to adopt chickens since lockdown began. Mrs Hann from the charity stated the increase in requests coincided with the egg shortage at the beginning of the pandemic.
- According to figures from the Department for Health and Social Care ( BBC ), confirmed cases have dipped in recent days but remain higher than two weeks ago. As of Wednesday, the daily toll was 16 dead and 812 new cases.
- First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced that the local lockdown in Aberdeen will be extended for another week. Aberdeen City Council were not supportive of her decision.
- New figures (HSE data) have shown that 600 people in Scotland are thought to have caught the virus at their place of work. Care home workers account for nearly two thirds of the suspected occupational exposures.
- Northern Ireland’s health minister, Robin Swann, has said he will be recommending Covid-19 restrictions to the executive to curb the increasing spread of the disease.
- Spain and Italy have recorded their highest daily figures in months on Wednesday and cases are still rising steadily in France, according to the BBC . Spain saw 3,175 new cases on Wednesday.
- Germany has also logged its highest daily infection rate for the coronavirus since April, with 1,707 new cases.
- Australian airline Qantas has reported an annual loss of almost A$2bn (£1bn; $1.4bn) as it struggles with the impact of the pandemic. The firm has stated that 4,000 of the expected 6,000 job losses should also be confirmed by the end of September.
- India has reported a record daily increase of 69,652 infections on Thursday, taking the total number of cases there to 2.84 million. The BBC’s India Correspondent has a write up here .
- More than 787,000 deaths and 22 million cases have now been recorded worldwide, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.
- As the US’ “Covid Election” continues, the US Democratic Party is holding its convention as a virtual event of pre-recorded and live speeches amid coronavirus restrictions.
- Ofqual published a statement this morning on the delay to BTec results to say: “Everyone is working as quickly as possible to confirm results as soon as possible, recognising the impact that delays are having on schools, colleges and students. No learner’s result will go down as a consequence of regrading.”
- Other stakeholders however are exceptionally unhappy, as the Association of Colleges’ Chief Executive David Hughes said : “BTEC students deserve equal footing with A Levels and GCSEs. The public perception was that using CAG grades for some exams and not for BTEC students was unfair. We had asked Pearson to look at a small number of results which looked unfair and they were happy to do that. An overall review can address those results and check that no student has been treated unfairly.”
- Labour’s Kate Green commented on Williamson being aware of the issues with the algorithm to say: “ This endless pattern of incompetence is no way to run a country. His failure to listen to warnings and to act on them risked thousands of young people being robbed of their futures. It is time for full transparency. The Department for Education must now publish all correspondence to and from the Secretary of State in which concerns about this algorithm were discussed, as a matter of urgency.”