Top agricultural college mandates Covid jabs for sixth form students
Top agricultural college becomes the first to BAN sixth form students from halls unless they get a Covid jab as ‘extremely worried’ parents say ‘we don’t know what to do’
- Hartpury College has made Covid jab ‘mandatory’ for those living on campus
- The students, aged 16 and 17, risk losing their place in halls without evidence
- Parents of pupils at the sixth form college are ‘extremely worried’ by news
- Government says vaccine must be voluntary and not be a ‘barrier’ to education
A top agricultural college is mandating Covid vaccines for all pupils aged 16 and 17 who use campus accommodation, stables and sporting facilities.
Up to 500 pupils at Hartpury College in Gloucester must provide evidence of their first vaccine after the autumn half term or risk losing their place in halls.
This is despite the government signalling the vaccine must be voluntary for under-18s, and should not be a ‘barrier’ to education.
The college, which is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, offers A-levels and diplomas and specialises in agriculture, animals, equine and sport.
Many pupils choose to live on campus because they come from elsewhere in the country.
Up to 500 pupils at Hartpury College in Gloucester must provide evidence of their first vaccine after the autumn half term or risk losing their place in halls on campus
One parent of a Hartpury pupil said: ‘We are extremely worried.
‘We don’t want to ruin her chance of doing the course, but we also don’t want her to have a vaccine at the moment. We don’t know what to do.’
Molly Kingsley, of parent group UsForThem, said: ‘Education is a fundamental human right and policies of “no jab, no education” prejudice this.
‘Voluntary informed consent is the bedrock of trust in vaccination programmes.
‘Making access to education contingent on vaccination undermines that trust, and informed consent morphs into coercion.
‘We urge the college in question to rethink this flawed and discriminatory policy as a matter of urgency.’
The college website says it ‘expects’ all pupils aged 16 and 17 to ‘engage and take up their vaccinations as soon as they are given the opportunity’ unless they are medically exempt.
And it is a ‘mandatory requirement’ for all pupils in ‘onsite residential accommodation’ to have ‘both doses’ when they are offered.
The website adds: ‘This also applies to students who wish to join/continue with Hartpury’s sports activities outside of timetabled academic sessions, and those who wish to use Hartpury’s livery.’
The livery is an on-campus stables where students can keep their own horses.
The college’s two halls of residence for under-18s, Dingle and Rudgeley, accommodate around 500 students – just under a third of the total population of 1,800.
The college says anyone affected by the mandatory rule ‘will be required to evidence at least one vaccination dose before their return after the autumn 2021 half term.’
A college spokesman said yesterday: ‘Students who are not intending to engage with the vaccination programme will still be able to attend their teaching in-person on campus, but will not be able to reside in Hartpury onsite accommodation, unless they are exempt due to medical reasons.
‘We have taken this decision, as one of the largest residential colleges, to protect our student and wider communities, and offer all of our college students the best possible experience in this forthcoming academic year.’
It comes after the government announced earlier this month vaccines would be offered to those aged 16 and over, to minimise educational disruption from the virus.
The Hartpury spokesman stressed the vaccination requirement for sports only applied to activities outside of the curriculum, in the college’s ‘Sports Academy’.
They added: ‘The Students’ Union are in full support of our vaccination requirements for students who wish to live on campus, and feedback from parents and students has been overwhelmingly positive.’
However, a government source said at the time institutions would be discouraged from treating pupils unfavourably if they have not had the vaccine.
And they said: ‘The government doesn’t want the absence of a vaccine to be a barrier to education for anybody.’
Hartpury College is attached to Hartpury University, which is rated the top ‘gold’ in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
It has the highest satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey of all land-based colleges, and is within the top 10 per cent of all institutions.
A total of 90 per cent of its students are satisfied with the quality of their course, compared with a sector average of 83 per cent.
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