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National lockdown put at risk by decision to keep colleges open, says UCU

31 October 2020

UCU said all colleges must move learning online for the duration of the new lockdown

The union was responding to a report in The Times that schools, colleges and universities will stay open during the lockdown.

UCU said universities must be included in plans for a national lockdown earlier today. It has also launched a legal challenge to the government's decision to ignore advice from its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) in September to move learning at universities and colleges online.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The Prime Minister is gambling with the health of the nation by keeping college campuses open. We desperately need to lower the rate of transmission to protect the NHS, and SAGE says that halting in-person teaching will help contain the virus. Half measures that keep campuses open do not represent a full lockdown.

'Teachers in further education moved mountains to create high quality online delivery during the last lockdown, and stand ready to support students with high quality remote learning again. But this time the government must match their commitment by providing the funding and support students need to learn remotely. During the last lockdown it only gave students half the funding needed to learn online, it must not fail them this time.

'The government must use this time to fix test and trace so the country can stop yo-yoing in and out of isolation.'

Earlier this year, Tes reported that only half of college hardship requests were funded by government, leaving colleges short by over £400,000.

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