Those children who don’t have a laptop or a space to work from at home are able to go into school throughout lockdown instead, Gavin Williamson says.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson has explained that children who don’t have access to digital devices are allowed to go to school to learn from classrooms alongside the children of key workers.
Children who don’t have access to a laptop or a place to study are now described as ‘vulnerable’. It is estimated around one million more kids will be included in the new, wider category – around 9% of children in the UK.
However, MP’s have blasted this as ‘poor communication’ and said they weren’t aware of the rule.
Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Schools Minister, told The Sun: “The government’s support for pupils and guidance for parents is a mess. Ministers have had over nine months to get laptops to kids, but thousands are still unable to access online learning.
“A discretionary approach which passes responsibility onto individual schools is simply not good enough. The government must urgently get every child online with the laptops, internet access and support they need.”
Education Committee Chair Robert Halfon has welcomed the news of more children now being able to attend school. He said: “It’s really good news for hard working parents that children who have no remote access will now be able to attend school.
“This will make a huge difference and mean that these children will not be forgotten or left behind once again.”
Schools have been forced to close following the lockdown of the country announced by Boris Johnson on Monday. This news now means thousands more parents won’t have to worry about juggling home-schooling while working.
Boris Johnson hopes that schools will reopen after February half term, however the decision won’t be made until nearer the time.
Mr Halfon raised concerns in the House of Commons of a digital divide that some children will suffer from, with 880,000 children living in a household with only a mobile internet connection.
He explained: “I strongly welcome the Government’s laptop scheme but we know that there still will be, possibly, hundreds of thousands of people on the wrong side of the digital divide.
“Can (he) confirm that those students who just don’t have internet connection or computers at home will be able to go to school alongside children of critical workers?”
Mobile provider, Three UK said it will provide unlimited data upgrades to disadvantaged children in England until the end of the school year in July.
Teach First, an educational charity explains that the digital divide in England hits poorer students hardest, and suggests that four out of five schools with the poorest pupils do not have enough devices to ensure all those self-isolating can keep learning.
Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said: “Access to high-quality education has always been unequal. But whilst trying to learn from home, the gap between children from wealthier homes and their poorer peers is greatly exacerbated.”
More than 560,000 devices were delivered last year to schools and councils however some are still struggling.
The Guardian reports that St Ambrose Barlow Roman Catholic high school in Salford has only received 75 laptops for a school with more than 1,000 pupils. At least 40% of students at this school do not have their own device.
Head teacher Ben Davis said: “Very few of our pupils have no devices at all at home, but you often have families of five with one laptop and everybody needing to get online.”
Newman Roman Catholic college in Oldham added that the school received 138 laptops from the central government scheme this week, adding to the 34 they received last year – nine months after making the original request for 237.
The Department for Education posted a photo on Instagram of a warehouse containing some of the 50,000 laptops and tablets that are set to be delivered to schools this week.
Labour MP, Siobhain McDonagh, who coordinated a letter in which MPs, unions and charities called on Boris Johnson to take action to help ‘children on the wrong side of the digital divide’, said of the photo: “It beggars belief that the government would celebrate distributing devices almost a year after schools first closed and to just a fraction of the pupils who need them.”
Student suffers severe heart failure after drinking four cans of energy drink a day
‘I believe they are very addictive and far too accessible to young children’
A young man who consumed two litres of energy drink a day was admitted to intensive care with severe heart failure.
According to a leading medical journal, the university student landed himself in hospital after drinking four cans of energy drink per day.
The 21-year-old spent nearly two months in intensive care due to heart failure, with the British Medical Journal stating this was ‘potentially related to excessive energy drink consumption’ in a report.
According to the report, the man drank four 500ml energy drinks every day for two years, becoming so ill that medics thought he might require an organ transplant.
The patient went on to describe his medical episode as ‘traumatising’, eventually seeking medical help after he suffered from weight loss and shortness of breath for roughly four months.
Doctors performed blood tests, scans, and ECG readings, and found that he had both kidney and heart failure – however, the kidney failure was discovered to be linked to a previously undiagnosed condition.
Each energy drink the man was consuming contained around 160mg of caffeine, and medics said that ‘energy drink-induced cardiotoxicity’ was the most likely cause of the severe heart failure.
In the report, the authors from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust wrote: “We report a case of severe biventricular heart failure potentially related to excessive energy drink consumption in a 21-year-old man.”
They said the conclusion to their report ‘adds to the growing concern in the literature about the potential cardiotoxic effects of energy drinks’, adding that the man’s heart function seems to have returned to normal nine months later but with ‘mildly impaired function’.
The recovered patient added his own thoughts to the article, saying: “When I was drinking up to four energy drinks per day, I suffered from tremors and heart palpitations, which interfered with my ability to concentrate on daily tasks and my studies at university.
“I also suffered from severe migraine headaches which would often occur during the periods when I did not drink energy drink; this also restricted my ability to perform day-to-day tasks and even leisurely activities such as going to the park or taking a walk.”
He added: “I think there should be more awareness about energy drinks and the effect of their contents.
“I believe they are very addictive and far too accessible to young children. I think warning labels, similar to smoking, should be made to illustrate the potential dangers of the ingredients in energy drink.”
Drivers could soon be fined for parking on the pavement under new rules
Make sure you’re aware of the proposed rule changes
A ban on parking on the pavement could soon be implemented across England, under new laws which are expected to be rolled out this year.
Parking on pavements would be a thing of the past, with £70 penalty fines for offenders coming into effect under the proposed new rules.
According to reports, the new legislation would see a ban on antisocial parking introduced, in a bid to make pavements safer for people with disabilities and visual impairments, as well as families.
The changes to the law which are being considered have already been implemented in London and would be rolled out nationwide.
They come in response to complaints about pavement parking and the risks it brings with it to those whose use pavements, with the Department for Transport (DfT) initially launching a proposal on the subject in September 2020.
The proposals came after a review discovered that almost half of wheelchair users and a third of visually impaired people were less willing to go out on the streets alone due to ‘antisocial’ parking on the pavement.
A spokeswoman from the DfT explained to The Mirror that the government is currently collating responses after receiving ‘overwhelming’ feedback.
The public consultation period for the proposals ended back on November 22nd, and as such a decision on the plan is expected imminently.
However, Mark Tongue, director of Select Car Leasing has said that ‘the guidelines are currently quite confusing for motorists’.
The motoring company conducted a report which discovered that local authorities would have the power to dish out £70 fines if a vehicle was considered an obstruction, even if it was parked outside the driver’s house.
Mr Tongue said: “A pavement parking ban is 100% needed nationwide – anything that puts pedestrians at an increased risk requires action.
“However, the information given so far is slightly confusing for drivers. At the moment, there’s no clear guidelines for those who park on the pavement due to having no room on their own drive. Most households have more than one car, so it will be interesting to see where motorists are expected to park if not on the pavement outside their homes.
“Clear guidance is required for drivers so they know the correct location to park in order to avoid a fine.”
Operation Forth Bridge: the full plan for what happens next after Prince Philip’s death
Buckingham Palace confirmed the sad news of his passing earlier today
Buckingham Palace announced this afternoon that HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh has died.
The 99-year-old, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in June, passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle this morning, Friday April 9th.
Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
There were already strict procedures put in place for when Prince Philip died, which have now begun, and they’re known as Operation Forth Bridge.
According to the plan there are several steps that need to be followed, including everything from national mourning to a burial site for the Duke.
Operation Forth Bridge has been around for many years, with Buckingham Palace, in consultation with both the Queen and Prince Philip, regularly updating and reviewing it.
Part one of the operation was the announcement from Buckingham Palace confirming the death of the Duke, which was distributed to the Press Association and BBC first.
Then the country enters a period of national mourning, meaning a set of rules, like flags being flown at half-mast, must be followed.
According to reports, it’s thought newsreaders and other TV presenters must wear black out of respect.
Next, plans for the funeral will be drawn up, and while Prince Philip is entitled to a state funeral he reportedly wanted something more discreet – a private service in the style of a military funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, followed by burial at Frogmore Gardens.
The funeral is still expected to be televised despite the current restrictions, although it remains unclear how many people will be able to attend it.
The Queen’s private secretary and senior adviser, Sir Edward Young, will be on hand to help her during the undoubtedly challenging days ahead.
As well as being responsible for supporting the Queen in her duties, Sir Edward is also the channel of communication between the Queen and the government.