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Boris Johnson to launch £700million summer school programme to help pupils catch up

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Secondary schools are being asked to offer face-to-face summer schools as part of a multimillion pound catch up programme for children.

An additional £400 million of funding has been pledged, on top of the £300m pledged earlier this year in January.

The catch-up scheme is set to help children whose education has been disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Part of the scheme involves summer provision for those pupils who need it the most, such as incoming Year 7 pupils, with one-to-one and small group tutoring schemes set to be expanded.

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The programme includes a one-off £302m ‘Recovery Premium’ to help disadvantaged pupils in both primary and secondary schools. The money is set to fund the running of additional clubs and activities in the summer, or for evidence-based approaches to help students from September.

Face-to-face summer schools for secondary schools will also be funded by a further £200m.

However, Labour points out that the funding totals to 43p per pupil per day, and is less than the amount spent on the now controversial Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Mr Johnson said: “When schools re-open and face to face education resumes on March 8th, our next priority will be ensuring no child is left behind as a result of the learning they have lost over the past year.

“This extensive programme of catch-up funding will equip teachers with the tools and resources they need to support their pupils, and give children the opportunities they deserve to learn and fulfil their potential.”

Sir Kevan Collins was appointed as the education recovery commission earlier this month by Boris Johnson to help oversee the government’s catch-up programme for pupils.

Collins is set to develop long term plans for evidence-based interventions to address the impact of Covid-19 on learning, after engaging with schools, colleges, charities and parents.

Sir Kevan said: “We know that ensuring all children and young people can make up for lost learning will be a longer-term challenge, and the range of measures announced today are an important next step.

“But this is just the beginning and I’ll be engaging with the sector, educational charities as well as families, to ensure this support is delivered in a way that works for both young people and the sector and to understand what more is needed to help recover students’ lost learning over the course of this parliament.”

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson added: “Our package of measures will deliver vital support to the children and young people who need it most, making sure everyone has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential no matter their background.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Summers schools will be of value for some pupils but it will be important not to overwhelm students. Recovery cannot happen in a single summer.”

He added: “Fortunately, there already exists a wealth of knowledge within the profession about how to narrow achievement gaps. We need to trust schools to put in place a long-term approach based on what they know about the needs of their pupils.”

General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton said it is ‘frustrating’ the £700m package has been ‘salami-sliced to such an extent that it may reduce its effectiveness’.

Explaining, he said: “Our view is that the total sum of the money should go directly to schools, colleges, and early years providers, rather than being diverted into other pots or ring-fenced.

“By allocating a large sum of money to the National Tutoring Programme and apparently earmarking another large sum of money specifically for summer schools, there is less available to schools and colleges to use for catch-up support in general.”

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The measure was called a ‘promising start’ by founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, Sir Peter Lampl but he added that there were ‘no quick fixes’ and called for a consistent multi-year recovery plan.

He said: “The strongest evidence for accelerating learning is for increasing time for high-quality teaching. Targeted summer schools are one way to achieve this, and it’s good that schools will have flexibility to decide what will work best for them and their staff.

“However, it’s important to recognise the problem of teacher burnout that could be exacerbated by additional workload.”

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said: “This is not adequate and will not make up for the learning and time with friends that children have lost.

“There is no specific mention of supporting children’s mental health or wellbeing, which is fundamental to enabling their recovery from this pandemic.”

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Manchester ruled out of hosting Eurovision 2023

BREAKING: The decision now lays between two northern cities

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Manchester has been ruled out of hosting the Eurovision song contest for 2023 as the shortlist for cities is cut from seven to two.

The BBC has announced today that Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield have been axed from the shortlist of wannabe hosts for the competition.

This leaves Liverpool and Glasgow as the last standing contenders.

The BBC said the two remaining cities, which both have riverside arena venues, had ‘the strongest overall offer’.

A final decision will be made ‘within weeks’, the broadcaster added.

If Liverpool is selected as the host, the competition would be staged at the 11,000-capacity dockside M&S Bank Arena, which is next to a conference centre and near the city centre’s hotels and rail links.

In Glasgow, alternatively, the 14,300-capacity OVO Hydro venue would play home to Eurovision.

Liverpool and Glasgow will be scored on a set of criteria, the BBC said, including:

  • “Having a suitable venue and sufficient space to deliver the requirements of the Song Contest.
  • “The commitment that can be made by a city or region to hosting the event, including the financial contribution.
  • “The strength of the cultural offer which includes off screen local and regional activity as well as showcasing Ukrainian culture and music.
  • “And alignment with the BBC’s strategic priorities as a public service broadcaster, such as providing value to all audiences and supporting the creative economy in the UK.”

It was announced last month that the UK would host the annual song contest for the first time in twenty-four years after organisers decided it could not go ahead in Ukraine – who won this year’s competition – due to the ongoing conflict with Russia.

The UK came in second place thanks to Sam Ryder’s smash-hit ‘Spaceman’, prompting the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to open talks with the BBC.

A statement from BBC director general Tim Davie read: “It is a matter of great regret that our colleagues and friends in Ukraine are not able to host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.

“Being asked to host the largest and most complex music competition in the world is a great privilege. The BBC is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity.”

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Kwasi Kwarteng reportedly said ‘who cares if Sterling crashes?’ after Brexit

This comes as Labour overtakes the Conservatives in a new opinion poll for the first time in 20 years

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Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said ‘who cares if Sterling crashes?’ in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, a new report is claiming today.

The then-Tory backbencher, who publicly backed the Leave campaign, was heard making the comment outside of private members club Groucho Club in Soho, London, the Evening Standard claims. 

In her Londoner’s Diary column for the Evening Standard, journalist Joy Lo Dico said she found Kwarteng with ‘his white shirt hanging out of his trousers’ and talking ‘feverishly’ into his phone after the Brexit result in 2016.

Dico says she then overheard the Brexiteer saying: “Who cares if Sterling crashes? It will come back up again.”

This revelation comes as Labour overtakes the Conservatives in the latest YouGov poll as the pound hits an all-time low.

With the fallout of the tax-slashing budget still unfolding, Labour has opened up a seventeen-point lead over the Tories – the party’s biggest poll lead in over twenty years. 

According to YouGov, Conservative support has dropped by four points to 28% in the wake of the budget, while Labour’s has surged by five points to 45%.

The Lib Dems remain unchanged on 8%.

Sir Keir Starmer is set to deliver his keynote speech at Labour’s conference in Liverpool today, with him expected to promise to get the UK ‘out of this endless cycle of crisis’.

Starmer is expected to say: “What we’ve seen from the government in the past few days has no precedent. They’ve lost control of the British economy – and for what? For tax cuts for the richest one per cent in our society.”

The party has also pledged to bring the nation’s railways back into state ownership if it wins the next general election, as well as hire ‘thousands’ of NHS doctors and nurses. 

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Tragedy as 6-year-old boy killed in front of mum on her birthday

The youngster was killed after being hit by a van in 2014

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A mum has spoken of her heartache after her son was killed in front of her on her birthday.

Bobby Colleran was just six-years-old when he died after being hit by a van in West Derby, Liverpool, in October 2014. His mum, Joanne, witnessed the full tragedy.

And just last week ahead of the eight-year anniversary of Bobby’s death, Joanne watched as a teenage boy was knocked off his electric bike by a car in a chillingly similar incident.

According to the Liverpool Echo, last week’s incident in West Derby left the teenager with a serious head injury.

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For Joanne, witnessing the incident brought the heartache of losing Bobby back, with her telling the paper: “It’s bizarre because we were just there as it had happened, but your whole inside turns over.

“You think whoever it is, their parents, their family, I hope they’re ok. You kind of go through all of your emotions again and then it just puts stuff in your mind.

“I used to love September and October, the run up to autumn, it was one of my favourite times of year – and now the minute the chill comes in the air it’s horrible. I just relive everything, everyday – what we were doing when he was here.”

Speaking on the upcoming anniversary of Bobby’s death, Joanne added: “It is a difficult day. What makes it harder is it’s my birthday on the day he died.

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“People say grief gets easier and it doesn’t. It’s like every milestone, everything that happens you’re like where is he? He was the middle one of the kids.”

In the wake of Bobby’s death, Joanne established the Bobby Colleran Trust which campaigns for better road safety on roads across the city.

And back in March 2021, the charity announced the launch of its ‘Take Care for Bobby’ campaign to support the mental health of children and young people in the Liverpool City Region.

The trust is set to open its very own centre next to Blackmoor Park Infant School in the coming months, where it will run counselling sessions for children and young people.

You can read more about the new centre and donate here.

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