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Education

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“Universities must not become the care homes of a Covid second wave”

Queen's University now joins Glasgow and Manchester in locking down halls of residence due to Covid-19 outbreaks. Within the first week of the university term, 30 students in Elms Village in south Belfast have tested positive for the virus. Fears of rising infection rates and the limitations of health and safety measures have been ignored by management in favour of forcing lecturers, support staff and students to participate in in-person classes without a uniform policy of sanitisation, mask-wearing and social distancing. 

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Education: No return until it’s safe

The recent announcement by Peter Weir, the NI Education Minister, that all pupils are set to return to school in September full-time will bring mixed feelings for parents and teachers alike, who no doubt will have serious concerns over safety. In order to facilitate this, Weir also announced that previously planned social distancing guidelines would be relaxed.

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Scrap the transfer tests!

The announcement that the primary-secondary school transfer tests will proceed in the autumn is a source of anxiety for parents and pupils alike. School closures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have meant that the same level of preparation and teaching resources will not be available to those pupils scheduled to sit the tests. This is obviously a serious cause for concern, as the selection of secondary education is a major life event for young people. 

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No tuition fee hikes! Fight for a fully funded, free education system

The raising of tuition fees would be a direct attack on access to higher education, especially for working-class students. It is part and parcel of a broader strategy of “marketisation” in education. Westminster is committed to de-regulating the higher education sector in favour of private companies, creating what it calls a 'level playing field' for profit-making companies. Stormont has not stood in the way and has facilitated this approach at every stage.

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Fight for free, public education!

Jeremy Corbyn's call to scrap tuition fees and to introduce maintenance allowances is a welcome development in the fight for free education. Although there is a way to go before these reforms are won, the Labour Party's proposal to invest an extra £25 billion into education in England offered a clear alternative to the long-term programme of cuts and corporatisation.