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Jab our teachers so schools can open, says public

The UK public is so desperate for schools to re-open that nearly two-thirds are willing to hand their Covid-19 vaccine to a teacher.

With the debate about schools reaching fever pitch amid concern for children’s mental health, digital pollsters Findoutnow.co.uk asked more than 5,000 people “Would you be willing to delay your Covid-19 vaccine so that a teacher/school staff can be vaccinated earlier?”

More than 63% say Yes. That figure rises to above 74% among 35-44 year-olds.

Moreover, 44% of those who said yes would be willing to put back their vaccine by six months or more so teachers and other school staff can get a jab.

You can see the full results here

Another Find Out Now poll conducted on Monday the 25th showed that 73% believe teachers and support staff should be vaccinated before primary schools can reopen.

Today Boris Johnson told Parliament that schools won’t re-open until March 8 at the earliest.

About the survey

The survey of 6,629 members of Pick My Postcode was conducted on Tuesday 26th of January. Find Out Now adjusted the results to get a nationally representative sub-sample of 2,000 within +/-1% of ONS quotas for Age, Gender, Region, socio-economic group and past voting using machine learning. 

For further information, or to request a poll or survey, contact us on ask@findoutnow.co.uk.

 

Amazon offering free resources to help families with home learning

What is Amazon offering?

Maths

  • Amazon Maths4All now offers hundreds of free maths games, apps and challenges on Alexa, worksheets for Kindle and Fire Tablets, and caters for a range of ages across primary and secondary school, learning styles and abilities.
  • Students can tune into a maths lesson from Rachel Riley, Countdown presenter and the nation’s favourite mathematician, who joined our Very Important Breakfast Clubs to play the numbers game and show that maths is ‘easy as Pi’.
  • You can even involve Alexa in learning from home. Get started by saying, “Alexa, ask the Maths Coach to start a test”, or “Alexa, ask the Maths Coach for a hard addition test”.
  • Amazon has injected some fun into times tables lessons with free games available to download on Amazon Fire Tablets. Older students can try out Timestables Rockstars while younger learners can play ‘Meet the Numberblocks!’.

 

Science

  • The Hour of Code Dance Party is the perfect feel-good Friday finish after a long week of remote learning. This interactive dance-themed online coding tutorial gives students the opportunity to build their computer science skills while have some fun coding characters to dance to songs from leading artists.
  • Dr Ranj Singh, the NHS doctor and BAFTA award-winning TV presenter, is providing a short brain-busting lesson in biology. Children in years 1 -7 can learn about the growing brain and how to keep your brain healthy.
  • Amazon Future Engineer is our comprehensive childhood-to-career programme designed to inspire, educate and enable children and young adults from lower-income backgrounds to try computer science. Earlier this year, Amazon Future Engineer launched free virtual coding programmes to help young people build computer science skills while learning at home.
  • Those aged 11-16 can enter the Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize, which challenges students to develop technological innovations to help solve some of the world’s biggest issues (entries close 12th February 2021)

English

  • Young people and parents can listen to stories at Stories.Audible.com, with specially curated categories such as ‘Littlest Listeners’ and ‘Elementary’ offering free audio books. Get whisked away to Alice In Wonderland (read by Scarlett Johansson), Jane Eyre (read by Thandie Newton), Anne of Green Gables (Read by Rachel McAdams) and Frankenstein (read by Dan Stevens).

Physical Education

More information can be here: https://blog.aboutamazon.co.uk/in-the-community/home-schooling-resources-for-parents-carers-and-children-during-lockdown

 

Coram’s education charities launch free resources to support children’s wellbeing, literacy and learning at home

Coram’s education charities, Coram Life Education, Coram Beanstalk and Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation, have developed a programme of free online resources for teachers and parents to use during the lockdown, helping to boost children’s emotional wellbeing as well as their academic learning at this time. 

 

Coram Life Education, the UK’s leading provider of children’s Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, has launched SCARF at Home, a programme of activities for primary school teachers to share with parents, helping children to learn the valuable life skills needed to help them be happy, healthy and safe.  

 

The activities, developed by teachers, are part of the charity’s online SCARF programme, promoting the values of Safety, Caring, Achievement, Resilience and Friendship. Over 45,000 teachers across the UK are now SCARF subscribers, and they have told the charity that what they most need during this time is engaging, fun and memorable activities to share with parents.  

 

SCARF at Home focuses on the ways children can keep themselves healthy and safe, including staying safe online, and the skills needed to help them look after their bodies. Older children learn about assertiveness, recognising the influence of friends and how to think critically about the decisions they make and managing risks safely. 

 

The activities are designed for different age groups and include body bingo, bedtime routines, online safety activities, games and films and bullying discussion points. The resources also include the return of ‘Harold’s Daily Diary’, launched during the first national lockdown in March 2020, encouraging children to read about and send their ideas to Coram Life Education’s healthy-living giraffe mascot Harold, as he describes his experiences of staying safe and happy at home. 

 

Feedback from teachers who have tried the SCARF at Home resources has been positive, with one commenting: “When I received the SCARF alert I had to email you to say a big thank you! Really looking forward to the return of Harold’s diary in addition to all the lessons and resources.” 

 

Harriet Gill, Managing Director of Coram Life Education said: “Schools, children and parents have experienced so much disruption and uncertainty. With schools’ restricted opening, offering easy-to-access, free resources from reputable sources is invaluable, particularly as SCARF at Home focuses on children staying safe and well, both on and offline”. 

 

The SCARF at Home activities are suitable for children aged 3-11. To find out more and to access the toolkit, school teachers can visit coramlifeeducation.org.uk/scarf/scarf-at-home. ‘Harold’s Daily Diary’ is freely available to all at coramlifeeducation.org.uk/harolds-daily-diary. 

 

In addition to the SCARF at Home programme, Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation has launched resources for Key Stages 2, 3 and 4, which can be taught directly or explored independently, focusing on the language and history of Shakespeare.  Teachers can access these at shakespeareschools.org/resources-for-schools.  

 

National reading charity Coram Beanstalk is providing regularly updated tips and fun book-based activities to help children with their reading at home, including tips for ‘Growing A Love of Reading’, Story Dice illustrated by popular illustrator Nick Sharratt, video story readings and monthly #BeanstalkBrilliantBooks, all available at beanstalkcharity.org.uk. The website also features a ‘Stay Home And Read Every Day’ poster which families can display in their windows to ‘SHARE’ the books they are enjoying together as a family over the lockdown period. 

Most say teachers should be in same group as NHS staff for jab

THE UK public (87%) think teachers should be included in a priority group for vaccinations so that schools can re-open.  More than half (55%) think teachers should be in the same group as frontline healthcare workers.

Digital pollsters Findoutnow.co.uk asked over 4,000 people: It is argued that teachers’ vaccinations should be prioritised so that children can return to school sooner. In which priority group, if any, should teachers be included?  The answers are:

Same time, or sooner than frontline healthcare workers:  55%
Same time, or sooner than over 70s: 63%
Same time, or sooner than at risk groups: 77%
Same time, or sooner than over 60s: 83%
Some kind of priority: 87%

You can see the full results here

There is growing concern for the mental health and education prospects of children who cannot attend school.

Chris Holbrook, founder of findoutnow.co.uk, said: “The results show people are desperate to get schools re-opened.”

 

About the survey

The survey of 4,214 members of Pick My Postcode was conducted on Wednesday 6th of January. Find Out Now adjusted the results to get a nationally representative sub-sample of 1,500 within +/-1% of ONS quotas for Age, Gender, Region, social economic group and past voting using machine learning. 

 

For further information, or to request a poll or survey, contact us on ask@findoutnow.co.uk.

Primary pupils to learn how to be compassionate as first UK course launches

A new free course that teaches primary pupils how to be compassionate and resolve playground disputes themselves has launched in the UK – the first of its kind.

 

The Compassion Project, which is for Key Stage 2 pupils, teaches children to notice how others may be feeling and to think about different points of view to their own.

 

Pupils are introduced to a group of cartoon characters who are preparing for a talent show and playing games in the playground. Through interactive scenarios,  animated videos and offline activities, pupils are shown what compassion is and how to practise it to overcome disagreements and get along better with their classmates.

 

As part of the course, pupils are taught how to identify which emotions each character might be feeling and to learn that it is ok to have different feelings about things. Pupils are taught that empathy is when you can imagine how others are feeling and that compassion is doing or saying something helpful, kind or caring.  

 

The course is the only one of its kind for primary pupils in the UK and has been adapted from a US version, which was the idea of LinkedIn Executive Chairman Jeff Weiner. The original version has already reached about 20% of all primary schools in the US.

 

The course, which is linked to the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education programme of study, has been developed and tested by UK teachers. The PSHE Association has accredited the short blended learning course.

 

It has been launched in the UK by education company EVERFI and is underpinned by research from Loyola University in Chicago that shows teaching pupils compassion helps their social emotional skills as well as their capacity to learn.

 

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s Executive Chairman, said: “Given the state of the world today and how much polarisation is taking place at a time when we actually need to be coming together to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, I’m not sure I can think of anything more important than teaching compassion.”

 

Nick Fuller, EVERFI’s President (International), said: “We know from research that compassion enhances our overall well-being and our capacity to learn.

 

It is a quality that is very much in need in these troubling times and should be taught from an early age.

 

“Our hope, in launching the first UK course on compassion for primary pupils, is to help create a more equal society by providing young people with life skills that prepare them for a happier, safer and more resilient future.”

 

The course is completely free for all UK schools, with no plans to charge for any part of it in the future. It can be used in class or at home and teachers receive impact reports to show how much their pupils have learnt and understood.

 

The course has both online and offline resources, comprehensive lesson plans and pupil worksheets, all linked to the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum.

 

Schools can register to access the course – and others like it – here [everfiteachers.co.uk]

 

How parents can help children improve mental health during pandemic with fun PE lessons at home

School closures, Covid-19 self-isolation and lockdown restrictions have made primary school children appreciate PE lessons and sport more than ever before.

A survey by the Youth Sport Trust found that more than a quarter of youngsters said sport and exercise made them feel better during the pandemic.

With most grassroots sports cancelled and ‘bubbles’ being sent home from school; parents are now being urged to help their children stay active during tiered lockdowns.

PE Planning, a team of experienced PE specialists, have created a free resource of ideas and tips on how primary school children can exercise safely at home, boosting their well-being and mental health.

Yorkshire-based PE Planning has published a series of free resource sheets online for both parents and teachers to keep primary aged children active.

Research by the Youth Sport Trust found that 27% of children said sport and exercise improved their mood. This was particularly true for junior school-age pupils aged eight to 11.

More than a third (37%) said sport and PE was more important in their lives now than before lockdown.

Will Smith, founder of PE Planning, said: “Since the start of the pandemic we have seen just how important PE, sport and exercise is to our children and young people.

“Not being able to burn off that excess energy and let off some steam affects how they feel and their mental health.

“With grassroots sport cancelled and school life being very different now it’s important that children still maintain regular exercise.

“Home-schooling has meant parents have been more closely involved with the education of their children than ever before and physical exercise (or physical literacy) is just as important as academic learning.”

PE Planning are specialists in delivering PE planning for primary school age children which supports National Curriculum requirements.

But the company also publishes free exercise advice for parents. There are lots of ideas for family-friendly exercise and games, all with the accent on fun.

There are indoor games, ball skills, dancing and gymnastics – and even exercises that can be done at the kitchen table. There are also family fitness plans so mum and dad can join in too.

The ideas are all simple and inexpensive so everyone can take part even without sports or other equipment at home.

“Our sessions are active, engaging and fun,” said Will. “We want everybody to have access to high quality exercise plans and much of what we offer can be done without any equipment at all.

“We aim to inspire and motivate our children to get active and that’s more important today than ever before. Parents can really make a difference to their children’s physical and mental well-being with a few simple ideas.”

The free resources can be found at www.peplanning.org.uk 

Let’s Talk About Flex: Flipping the flexible working narrative for education by Emma Turner

Opening up the conversation around flexible working in education, this book explores what can work, what has worked, and what could work. Based on the experiences of a professional flex-pert this narrative encourages teachers and school leaders to revisit and rethink flexible working

‘This is a groundbreaking book and an exceptionally good read. Emma has a gift for a musical metaphor, stretched to provide remarkable insights into the possibilities and many of the barriers to flexible working. If any other sector was haemorrhaging highly trained and capable staff with such rapidity, then there would be serious questions asked. Emma poses these questions and provides a range of sensible solutions. We need to stop paying lip service to teacher retention, start taking it seriously and  this book points to the way to take solid steps to get there.’

Mary Myatt, education adviser, speaker and author

Let’s Talk About Flex by Emma Turner is an engaging and witty book that invites school leaders and teachers to re-examine flexible working. After being able to work flexibly for 14 of her 23 years in education across teaching, school leadership and MAT leadership roles, Emma Turner realised that sadly, she was actually in the minority and has just been very fortunate. Recently there has been a groundswell of support across the education system for developing more life friendly, innovative and flexible ways of working, however there are still a great deal of misconceptions, biases and prejudices about flexible working and flexible workers.

 

Through her ‘playlist’ of favourites and engaging, humorous musical analogies, Emma explores the countdown of successful ways that flexible working can be viewed by both employers and employees for staff at all levels, including senior and school leadership. This book examines the options and opportunities and asks the questions that need to be answered in order to open up the flexible working conversation.

 

After introducing the reader to her ‘disco in the kitchen’, and the thoughts behind her selection of educational floor fillers, the conversation turns to thinking about:

  • What flexible working means
  • Challenging historical working practices, allowing a more flexible approach that encourages continuous professional development that helps attract and retain teachers
  • Looking into the types of flexible working defined by the Department of Education: part-time working, job-sharing, compressed hours, staggered hours, working from home and what these options have to offer when combined with some innovative thinking about staffing
  • Providing opportunity for staff to request flexible working and its position within the school staffing structure
  • How flexibility fits with performance management, mentoring, coaching, facilitating and staff training and ensuring equitable opportunities to both full time and flexible workers
  • The ‘famous five’ common myths about why flexible working would be impossible to implement: opposition from parents, schools need one leader, complications with contracts and calculating wages, the school timetable, there are already too many part-time staff, each of these are thoughtfully debunked
  • The logistics: building shared expectations and designing systems for communication, events and meetings to ensure continuity for students and staff
  • Co-leadership structures and how they are built
  • Accountability and mechanisms for job-shares and support for lone workers.

 

Each chapter is full of examples of Emma’s first hand experiences as a teacher and a leader, illustrating the issues being discussed and ending with guiding questions for both employers and flexible workers to help continue the discussion.

 

Commenting on her new book, Emma Turner said, ‘Whether you’re an individual wanting to know more about flexibility, an organisation wanting to shake up the way you flex in your own workplaces or you’re someone determined to take on rigid or outdated systems in your own organisations, then I want to let you know you are not on your own. There is so much happening on the flexi dance floor right now so pull on your dancing shoes, turn up the volume and whack on an edu floor-filler.’

 

To learn more or order a copy of Let’s Talk About Flex (priced at just £12), please click here.

 

How Technology is Helping Tackle the Widening Maths Attainment Gap

With recent findings predicting maths to be the subject most affected by school closures, it’s time to harness the power of tech to address the maths attainment gap once and for all, argues Joy Deep Nath, co-founder of SplashLearn – a game-based maths programme for primary aged children that is free for all UK schools.

The impact of Covid-19 on a generation of school children and their families has been well documented, as school closures around the world triggered an almost overnight shift to home learning. Despite the tireless efforts of both teachers and parents to facilitate remote lessons, many children struggled to focus during this time of high stress, whilst others lacked essential digital devices and internet connections to effectively complete their work. Without the support of a traditional school environment, each pupil faced their own individual challenges and unfortunately, the obstacles of 2020 are now evident in recent estimates – with the Education Endowment Foundation recently warning that maths skills in children will be disproportionately affected by the lockdown.

Covid-19 has highlighted existing structural inequalities across society, from healthcare to employment stability, and education is no exception. School closures have exacerbated existing weaknesses in the curriculum, like maths, which require high levels of engagement, confidence and personal attention to succeed. Technological solutions like tracing apps, mathematical models to chart future outbreaks and assembling ventilators and PPE, have played a key role in our response to Covid-19. So how can technology be similarly applied to education to help solve one of the teachers’ most pressing concerns during the pandemic?

 

Educational equity

If educational technology is to play even a minor role in closing the attainment gap, it is vital that we first begin to bridge the ‘digital divide’. Edtech enabled many schools to create a virtual classroom and support pupils remotely during the lockdown, with recent figures estimating a 400 per cent global increase in the implementation of edtech solutions since March 2020. Yet with a high proportion of children from low-income families lacking hardware or a high-speed broadband connection, schools and edtech providers must ensure that no child misses out on an education due to their socio-economic background. It is vital that now, more than ever, edtech companies design their products with all kinds of different devices and systems in mind to provide as equitable access as possible. 

One example is something we built into SplashLearn which is an offline synchronisation functionality that allows the program to work seamlessly without the internet, and syncs with its cloud server when the connection is re-established enabling cross-platform usage. This means the programme is not dependent on an internet connection at all, let alone a high-speed one.

Organisations can also help children from disadvantaged backgrounds sustain their learning by offering printable worksheets. Encyclopaedia Britannica, for instance, has recently partnered with HP to provide content for print resources which are distributed to students without reliable internet access at home. 

Many edtech providers have also temporarily offered their services free of charge to teachers and schools, in order to help pupils catch up on lost learning during the lockdown and ensure school budgets are spent on procuring digital devices to enable continued learning in the event of pupils shielding or local lockdowns.

Game-based learning and engagement

Another consideration is the importance of engaging students in their learning at a time when they may not be getting the 1:1 focus they need. Although research into the outcomes of game-based learning continues to progress, studies have consistently found that video games can improve problem-solving skills, knowledge acquisition, motivation and engagement. Furthermore, gamified learning can be easily integrated into the classroom or home to provide a balance of fun and learning. For Generation Z, who grew up with the Internet, screen time and digital devices, game-based programmes allow students to interact and engage with educational material in a way more commonly associated with video gaming. 

The most compelling game-based learning resources offer a wide range of pictures and graphics to represent problems and demonstrate concepts. This visual provision helps children master mathematical concepts and skills through visual representations. The learning experience itself is the reward as pupils can blend fun with learning through creating profiles, choosing customised avatars and exploring the new digital environment. 

Changing perceptions and boosting confidence levels

Despite being a core curriculum subject, a combination of poor parental experiences, societal attitudes and anxiety has left many people with a negative perception of maths. It is hard to fathom a world where children proudly declare they are bad at reading or “not a reading person” – so why have these attitudes been allowed to set in with maths?

Many edtech programmes offer high levels of autonomy for children to set their own pace, with inbuilt AI tracking their progress to gradually suggest more challenging exercises. This allows pupils space to safely make mistakes without the fear of embarrassing themselves in front of their peers or stressing about answering a question in time. Moreover, the information collected on a child’s progress provides parents with a valuable opportunity to engage with their child’s progression and learning journey. This can all take place in a safe, risk-free environment – ideal for children whose schools are in local lockdowns or are self-isolating/shielding.

Ultimately, maths is a crucial tool rather than just an academic subject we need in order to fully understand the world around us. Although 2020 has been a year of upset and uncertainty, it has also offered us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rip up the rule book and reshape education for the better. As children around the world continue to return to reopened schools, educational technology is playing a core role in shaping educators’ response to the widened attainment gap.

 

Students call for greater teamwork between teachers during the pandemic

 

  • Study by Teacherly finds that almost two thirds of pupils would like teachers to work together to create online lessons to help everyone achieve their potential amid coronavirus pandemic
  • Pupils believe schools of all reputations can learn something from each other and should work together more in delivering education during this time
  • Derby High School adopts a more collaborative and flexible approach to teaching pupils in response

 

LONDON 25th November 2020: As the EPI warns of varying levels of attendance in schools across England amid the coronavirus pandemic, a new study conducted with pupils in Britain has identified that almost two thirds (66%) of children would like teachers to work collaboratively together – joining forces and combining their skills to create online lessons that will help everyone better achieve their potential during this time.

 

The findings come as schools continue to decide how best to utilise the COVID-19 catch up funding announced by the government in June. The study, conducted by Teacherly, highlights how pupils are open to creativity, greater flexibility and collaboration within education in order for them to have a better learning experience during this highly disrupted time. The study identified that over half (53%) like the idea of attending a virtual school where they can learn through both online courses and in-person online lessons that cover a wide range of subjects – even those not available at their school. Almost a quarter (23%) of pupils who weren’t home schooled before coronavirus said they liked the idea of attending a virtual school because they’d be able to learn from a wider pool of teachers beyond those available at their school.

 

The research also found that nearly 7 in 10 (67%) pupils who weren’t home schooled before coronavirus agree that everyone should be allowed access to the best education possible, with 41% of pupils agreeing that, regardless of where they live, pupils should be able to access the best teachers. In addition, when asked about school rankings and perception of different schools as good or bad, nearly half (46%) said they believed schools of all reputations can learn something from each other and should therefore work together more closely. 

 

Atif Mahmood, CEO, of Teacherly says: “Education has been on the back foot when it comes to collaboration because schools have often been more focused on competing for the best Ofsted reviews and performance. The COVID-19 pandemic has, in many ways, removed these silos and taken the focus away from competition – in the short term at least. Evidently, there is enthusiasm among students for greater collaboration and the opportunities this creates for better education and learning. During this time in particular, where schools are having to contend with catching-up on lost time, changes to exams and ongoing disruption to in-classroom teaching, the value in collaborating should not be underestimated. We’ve started to see senior leaders from different schools uniting to share ideas and come up with solutions for tackling the challenges in this unprecedented time, but there is a clear need for this to go further.”

 

Mrs R Hamilton, Year 4, Derby High School: “In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve adopted a more collaborative and flexible approach to teaching our pupils. We recognised that we needed to streamline the process of planning lessons by working together as a team across departments, making use of new online solutions that allow for collaboration and teamwork. Collaborating with other teachers within the school has helped not only with creativity but has helped to improve teamwork and reduce workloads during what is an extremely demanding time. Pupils are no longer learning from one single teacher but from all of us as a community, where we share our knowledge and skills collectively online as well as where we can in the classroom in order to provide them with the best education possible.”

 

Quarter of Teachers Have Less Time to Focus on Their Mental Health

Latest research reveals the knock-on effect of virtual learning on mental health issues

In recognition of the incredible challenge ahead, a new mental health course to look after the UK’s educators has launched today and will be available for free for teachers, teaching assistants, support workers and school leaders.

The training will provide education staff with helpful ways to manage their mental health, reduce work-related stress and engage in self-care as one in four teachers stressed that during lockdown and virtual learning, they had less time to concentrate on their own mental health matters compared to during regular term time, a survey* released today from High Speed Training has revealed.

The complimentary course is responding to rising concerns from the industry that not enough importance is given on the subject of mental wellbeing, with almost half (45%) of teachers across the UK stating that they feel unconfident that they have had sufficient training to deal with safeguarding and mental health matters. This coincides with the concerning fact that the large majority (81%) of teachers expect to see an increase in mental health issues amongst pupils this academic year that they will require the ability to cope with.

Catherine Talbot, Education Sector Analyst and Course Lead at High Speed Training, said: “This year has been more turbulent than most and it is clear that teachers will carry the burden of a growing attainment gap and rising safeguarding issues amongst pupils on their shoulders. This overwhelming amount of pressure to continue having a positive impact on young people’s lives, on both an educational and personal front, will undoubtedly have an effect on teachers’ own mental wellbeing across the country. High Speed Training is offering its Mental Health Training for Teachers course for free for a limited time to ensure that teachers feel confident and content in the workplace.”

Corinne Sweet, Psychologist and Psychotherapist, added: “Currently, teachers are under enormous strain as they manage their students’ and their own mental health issues in an extremely challenging situation. Teachers need to be able to deal with their own stresses, strains and pressures as, if they are not coping, they will not be operating at their best. In my experience, I see how those within the education sector can neglect their own mental health badly, due to the pressures to perform and cope with hugely challenging circumstances. Teachers can often put their own needs last, as the workload mounts and now with virtual learning and dealing with the demands of the pandemic, this has added another layer of high stress to what was already an overstretched situation. Resources that seek to help teachers psychologically, like the Mental Health Training for Teachers course, is gold dust at this difficult time.”

The CPD accredited course will be available for free for those within the education sector for a limited time only. For further information regarding High Speed Training’s Mental Health Training for Teachers course, simply visit the website here.

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