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Government’s plan to reopen schools ‘not realistic’ before summer, teachers union says

It plans to take legal action…

Alex Watson

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The main headteacher’s union has said that schools cannot fulfill the governments plan to reopen safely. 

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has warned that schools will be unable to hit the target set by the government to have all primary school pupils back in classrooms before the summer holidays. 

NAHT, which represents 29,000 headteachers, explained that the proposals are ‘not realistic’ and ‘as they currently stand, are likely to prove impractical and unworkable in most schools’.

Teachers are also in a position to legally refuse to return to school when they reopen unless they have the same protections against the coronavirus as other frontline workers, according to another leading teachers union. 

The NASUWT has threatened legal action to defend teachers in a letter to the government. 

They say: “Stringent guidance has been issued for the NHS, for care homes and for employers across the UK. It is unacceptable that this has not been the case for schools.

“The NASUWT believes that teachers and other school staff have the right to the same consideration and protection, and to be confident that their health and welfare, as well as that of pupils, is at the heart of any planning for wider opening.”

Credit:Element5 Digital / Unsplash

The general secretary of NASUWT, Patrick Roach, added: “The NASUWT recognises that schools and employers have been placed in a situation where the wrong decision will result in people becoming seriously ill and dying, and will, therefore, appreciate that there can be no compromise on health and safety.

“If this means that schools are unable to open safely before September, because they are unable to make arrangements to safeguard their staff and pupils, then that position must be accepted.”

Giving power overclosures to local authorities has been pushed for by both of the main teaching unions. England is the only part of the UK asking schools to begin phasing reopenings from the start of the next month.

One headteacher from Kent has voiced his concerns regarding reopening schools with a brutally honest letter that has gone viral on social media. 

Many schools, including independent schools, have told parents they intend to reopen at the start of June.

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A huge change to driving tests is being introduced at the end of September

Here’s everything you need to know…

Proper Manchester

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RAF

Driving tests are set to change from the end of September, with a new UK theory test to be implemented.

People taking the test will sit a different driving theory test from Monday September 28th – the change was originally meant to happen on April 14th but was postponed due to coronavirus.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced they’ll be using a video clip instead of written scenarios, with the switch being brought about to help boost accessibility.

Basher Eyre / Geograph

Learners will watch a driving clip of up to 30 seconds before answering three multiple-choice questions – you’ll be able to watch the clip as many times as you want.

These clips will include a vehicle driving through the countryside or a town centre, with questions about safe overtaking or motorcyclists being considered vulnerable road users.

According to the DVSA, the change is coming as a result of research which found people with disabilities and reading difficulties felt more comfortable with video-based questions.

Mark Winn, DVSA chief driving examiner, said: “Being able to drive can be life-changing and the DVSA is committed to helping everyone access the opportunities driving can offer.

“We have worked closely with road safety experts and learners to create a theory test which fully tests a candidate’s knowledge of the rules of the road and is more accessible.”

Albert Herring / Flickr

The DVSA worked alongside the British Dyslexia Association, the British Deaf Association, and the National Autistic Society to change the exam.

John Rogers, from Disability Driving Instructors, commented on the move: “A picture paints a thousand words, especially for candidates with special educational needs.

“Having to go back and forth between the text in the written scenario and the written questions and answers was a big obstacle to understanding what was required. Video scenarios should prove much easier to follow and the questions will hopefully appear more relevant.”

As it stands, learners have to read a case study then answer 5 multiple-choice questions, as well as take a hazard perception exam – you must pass both sections of the theory test before you can take the practical test.

For more info head over to the government site here.

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Remembering PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes eight years after their tragic deaths

Rest in peace.

Proper Manchester

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Greater Manchester Police

Today, Friday September 18th, marks eight years since PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes were tragically murdered while doing their jobs.

The two GMP Police Constables were killed while serving and protecting the public, as they responded to a hoax call in Mottram in Longdendale, Greater Manchester.

At around 11am on that tragic day, the two officers attended an address after receiving a false report that a concrete slab had been thrown through a window.

PC Bone, 32, and PC Hughes, 23, were then ambushed by Dale Cregan, who fired off 32 shots from a Glock pistol in just 31 seconds, before throwing a hand grenade.

Remembering Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, 8 years on. #NeverForgotten

Posted by Greater Manchester Police on Thursday, 17 September 2020

PC Bone was pronounced dead at the scene, while PC Hughes died later on, after reaching the hospital.

Their tragic deaths were met with anger and shock, and the next day a moments silence was held by Greater Manchester Police at 11am in remembrance. The Union Flag was lowered to half-mast at GMP’s headquarters as a mark of respect.

Their funerals were held over October 3rd and 4th at Manchester Cathedral, and large parts of the city centre came to a standstill as huge crowds attended to pay their respects to the brave officers.

On June 13th 2013, Cregan was sentenced to whole life imprisonment at Preston Crown Court following his trial – meaning he’ll be locked up until he dies.

On the eighth anniversary, Hyde and Hattersley GMP took to Twitter to pay their respects to the fallen officers.

They wrote: “Today marks the 8th anniversary of the tragic loss of PC’s Nicola and Fiona. A private service will be held with close family, and Chief Supt Allsop.

“The family have given permission for this to be live streamed here at 10.50 for those wishing to pay their respects.”


RIP to Fiona and Nicola, gone but never forgotten x

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Chester Zoo ‘faces financial ruin and closure’ if the government fails to deliver funding

Sad news…

Alex Watson

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Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo and other UK attractions potentially face closure due to lack of financial support from the government despite earlier promises, according to an MP. 

Justin Madders, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, has slammed the government for ‘talking a good game but failing on delivery’. 

The UK government promised £100m to the country’s zoos and aquariums to help them recover from months of financial loss during the coronavirus lockdown. 

Three months later and the attractions have yet to receive any of the money, according to the Liverpool Echo

Mr Madders explains that Chester Zoo will face ‘financial ruin’ unless the support and funds are provided.

Chester Zoo/Facebook

Madders explained: “Sadly this is yet another example of the government talking a good game but failing on delivery.

“I understand that the restrictive criteria applied to the fund mean that it will be virtually impossible for most zoos to qualify for support.

“It is typical of this two-faced, insincere Government to claim they are offering help to everyone when in reality they are not, just like the three million people who have been excluded from any financial support at all.

“I am concerned that zoos like my own Chester Zoo will face financial ruin unless the Government wake up to the reality that their support fund is an illusion.

“Unfortunately, I fear they already know this and are content to pretend to be helping when they have no intention of doing so at all.”

Chester Zoo/Facebook

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) said it is ‘virtually impossible’ for zoos to qualify for support under the current parameters.

BIAZA added that most zoos will not benefit from the funding. Dr Cerian Tatchley, BIAZA’s acting joint director, said: “Without urgent changes, the Government is putting at risk some of the UK’s best-loved zoos and aquariums.

“Our zoos, aquariums and safari parks are reliant on admissions to keep going, and so the lockdown earlier this year has wreaked financial devastation that will be felt for years to come.

“While the sector is grateful that the government has demonstrated its support through providing £100 million to save zoos, it is frustrating that not one zoo has yet benefited from the new Zoo Animals Fund.

Chester Zoo/Facebook

Dr Tatchley continued: “BIAZA has been clear in our regular meetings with Defra and the minister that restrictions on the fund means very few zoos will be eligible to receive any support and this is being borne out.

“While we expect that more zoos will apply for the fund over the next few months, many of England’s best zoos and aquariums will still not receive any support from this fund.”

Jamie Christon, chief operating officer at Chester Zoo, said: “The Government has said it is continuing to talk to large zoos like us to explore ways of supporting us and our vital efforts to prevent extinction. But still there is nothing on the table.

“After significant time spent in lengthy and what have been seemingly very positive discussions with Government representatives for several months, this is extremely disappointing for us.”

Chester Zoo/Facebook

A Government spokesperson said: “We understand the challenges zoos have been facing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“That is why we put in place this specialist fund specifically to ensure zoos facing severe financial difficulties can provide the best possible care for their animals.

“We are rapidly processing current applications and we stand ready to support any future requests to the fund.”

Applications for the funding are open until November 16th. 

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