TikTok rolls out support to combat suicide searches 

  • TikTok has announced a set of features to help users struggling with mental health issues and thoughts of suicide.
  • These features will also include guides on wellbeing and support for people who are struggling with eating disorders.
  • Among the changes, TikTok will introduce a search intervention that will direct users to local support resources when they search terms related to suicide.
  • This follows the recent scrutiny faced by Instagram and findings from a report by the Education Policy Institute and the Prince’s Trust on the impact of social media on young people’s mental health.
  • The report revealed that heavy social media use was linked to negative wellbeing and self-esteem, with more girls experiencing feelings of depression and hopelessness.
  • The new features are expected to roll out globally in the next coming months.
  • Full story, here.

Ofsted’s off-rolling omission ‘deeply worrying’ 

  • The chair of the Commons Education Committee, Robert Halfon, has expressed concerns over Ofsted’s omission of ‘off-rolling’ in school inspection reports.
  • ‘Off-rolling’ refers to the removal of a pupil from the school roll without formal permanent exclusion or by encouraging parents to remove their child in the interests of the school rather than that of the pupil.
  • This follows Ofsted’s admission that the practice was found to take place in schools in some cases.
  • However, Ofsted did not describe it as ‘off-rolling’ in the reports themselves.
  • This caused schools to put out press releases claiming off-rolling was not found, since the term was not used in reports.
  • Ofsted’s admission was contained in an update to inspectors published last week and this asked inspectors to explicitly state that ‘off-rolling’ was found in future reports to avoid ambiguity.
  • Full story, here.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout for young people to begin in UK schools  

  • All children aged 12 to 15 across the UK will be offered a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine soon.
  • Invitations will be offered, and parental consent will be sought soon for the school-based vaccination programme.
  • This follows advice from the four UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) that administering the vaccine will help reduce disruptions in education due to the pandemic.
  • Vaccinations in England are expected to begin by the 22nd of September with more information to come for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Click here for our helpful short animation and activity on explaining COVID-19 to children.
  • Full story, here.

Headteachers call for reform of school admissions to redress attainment gap 

  • Headteachers have called for an overhaul of school admissions policies to prioritise places for children from disadvantaged backgrounds as a way of addressing the widening attainment gap.
  • Proposals put forward by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) outlined that a proportion of places in oversubscribed schools in England could be ringfenced for disadvantaged pupils.
  • There is a similar requirement currently in place for children in care, but none for disadvantaged children whose families can’t afford to live within catchment areas in affluent neighbourhoods.
  • This follows concerns on the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disadvantaged children.
  • The ASCL urges the government to consider asking schools to prioritise places for children who are eligible for additional funding, those on free school meals and those growing up in poverty.
  • Full story, here.