News broke earlier in the week that secondary school students would have to wear face masks and take twice-weekly Covid tests when they return to classrooms from March 8th.
It’s now been confirmed that neither of these measures will be enforceable, with schools told they won’t actually be able to make students wear a mask.
This is despite the government saying that secondary school pupils would need to wear them, both in classrooms and in the corridor.
However, according to the finer details of the ‘operational guidance’ for schools, ‘no pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.’
While before Christmas a lot of secondary school and college students were wearing masks in corridors and communal areas, the ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ revealed this was being expanded so kids would have to wear them in classrooms too.
The official document states: “The government also recommends that the use of face coverings in Higher Education, Further Education and secondary schools is extended for a limited period to all indoor environments – including classrooms – unless 2m social distancing can be maintained.
“Face coverings are now also recommended in early years and primary schools for staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible, for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas.
“All children will once again be expected to attend school, as they were in the autumn term.”
The move had divided opinion among parents, with some saying they might keep their kids off school if they’re forced to wear masks, while others said they were in favour of it.
As well as face masks, it’s now been revealed that the twice-weekly Covid tests secondary students were meant to be taking are also ‘not compulsory’.
Education minister Nick Gibb confirmed that testing will be voluntary for pupils, saying that it remains ‘highly recommended’ to do so, however.
Mr Gibb added that it will not be a case of ‘no test, no school’, also clarifying that face masks will not be compulsory in schools, even though the government strongly advises pupils to use them.
He told Good Morning Britain: “No, they’re not compulsory but we highly recommend it, it’s everybody doing everything we can to identify asymptomatic cases of Covid, helping to reduce the transmission.
“The first three tests will be taken in the school that will show the students how to do it most effectively and it’s the students themselves that will do it at home with supervision by their parents.”
Labour pledges to renationalise railways and hire thousands of doctors and nurses
The party’s shadow transport secretary said the conservative’s ‘disastrous rail system’ has ‘catastrophically failed us all’
The Labour party has pledged to bring the nation’s railways back into state ownership if it wins the next general election.
Speaking at the party’s annual conference in Liverpool today, Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said putting ‘failing private operators in the hands of the public’ would ‘improve services and lower fares’.
Haigh added that the government’s ‘disastrous rail system’ has ‘catastrophically failed us all’ and turned railways into a ‘cash machine for companies and foreign governments’.
She cited the recent Avanti West Coast disruption as an example, slamming it as ‘the worst performing operator in the country’ over its long delays and service disruptions.
During its conference, the party also promised a recruitment drive for thousands more NHS doctors, nurses and midwives by reversing the Conservative party’s abolition of the 45p tax rate for top earners.
The scrapping of the 45p tax rate – which is paid for by those who earn over £150,000 a year – has received huge backlash from both Labour and Conservative MPs, many of whom say the move is only set to benefit the wealthy.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said the billions of pounds saved on reversing this cap would deliver ‘one of the biggest expansions of the NHS workforce in history’, instead of handing financial rewards to the UK’s top earners.
She announced that under Labour’s plan, the money saved would pay to double the number of district nurses qualifying every year, train 5,000 more health visitors, and create an extra 10,000 nursing and midwifery each year.
She also said that the number of medical school places would be doubled from 7,500 to 15,000 to ‘make sure that everyone who wants to train as a doctor in Britain can’.
Reeves said: “Our priority is not tax cuts for the wealthiest few – it is securing our public finances and investing in our public service.
“I can tell you: with a Labour government, those at the top will pay their fair share. The 45p top rate of income tax is coming back.”
Boy, 15, arrested after teenage boy stabbed to death outside school
He’s the second person to be arrested
A teenage boy has been arrested following the murder of a 15-year-old on Wednesday.
The suspect, also 15, was picked up by police after student Khayri McLean was stabbed to death in Huddersfield.
He has now been arrested in connection with the murder.
He’s the second person to be arrested as police investigate Khayri’s death outside his school.
West Yorkshire Police said: “Police investigating the murder of 15-year-old Khayri McLean in Huddersfield have arrested a second youth in connection with the incident.
“The 15-year-old male was arrested yesterday and is currently in custody. A 16-year-old male who was arrested yesterday also remains in custody.
“Officers from West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major enquiry team (HMET) are continuing to conduct enquiries into the death of Khayri, who died after being stabbed on Woodhouse Hill, Huddersfield, on Wednesday.”
Kwasi Kwarteng scraps cap on bankers’ bonuses in first mini-budget as Chancellor
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Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng gave his first mini-budget in the House of Commons this morning.
He began by discussing the government’s plan to support people with the cost of energy, including freezing domestic bills at £2,500 and giving out the £400 rebate.
There’s also unit price limits for companies.
Kwarteng said he believes the UK needs a ‘new approach for a new era’ to achieve growth of 2.5%, saying the three important parts of his mini-budget are reforming the economy’s supply side, tax cuts and a responsible approach when it comes to public finances.
As part of this, the Chancellor announced a new bill to overhaul planning restrictions, saying this will ‘unpick the complex patchwork of planning restrictions and EU-derived laws’.
He revealed that benefit claimants will see their benefits reduced if they do not fulfil their job searching commitments.
Kwarteng also confirmed that the cap on bankers’ bonuses will be scrapped, following reports that he would make this one of his first moves.
As well as that, the planned corporation tax increase has been cancelled, and will remain at 19%, with the Chancellor also setting out a series of tax cuts for businesses.
This includes tax cuts for businesses in designated tax sites for 10 years, accelerated tax reliefs for buildings, and no business rates to pay for newly occupied business residences.