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Opening schools is a national priority, government says

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Schools Minister, Nick Gibb told the commons that schools in England will be reopen ‘as soon as possible’. 

Responding to an urgent question brought by Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green, Mr Gibb said the government would ‘prioritise the reopening of schools as we begin the process of lifting lockdown restrictions’.

Ms Green went onto say that the government had ‘failed  to give parents, children and staff the credible plan they deserve’.

Adding: “We simply don’t know what the government’s plan is for school reopening – other than what we read in the newspapers,”

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“In recent days, we’ve had reports that the prime minister wants pupils back before Easter, the health secretary saying he wants pupils back after Easter, Public Health England saying overnight the primary schools are already safe to reopen – so which is it?

“What is the plan for full reopening? The schools minister mentioned some metrics but was vague about the required performance against them – can he give us some more clarity?”

Mr Gibb said it was the government’s ‘strong desire to reopen all schools, colleges and universities as soon as possible’.

“We are acutely aware of the damage to children’s education and development – particularly to the most disadvantaged pupils by being away from school and of the increased burdens placed on parents.

He added that the ‘government has been clear that education is a national priority’ throughout the pandemic.

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“We had worked hard to keep all schools, colleges and universities fully open but scientific advice we received in January meant we had no choice but to close schools and colleges to all but vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.

“And to restrict in-person teaching in university to those studying to be future critical workers.” He said. 

He added that there will be an announcement in the next few days as remote learning is no substitute for face-to-face learning. 

“We want to give two weeks’ notice so parents can make arrangement for the care of their children and we will be making announcements in the next few days.” He said.

Chairman of the education select committee, Robert Halfon, told Mr Gibb that parents and children were suffering.

“We need to get our schools open again sooner rather than later,” he said.

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Sir David Amess MP has died after stabbing incident, police say

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Sir David Amess / Twitter & Richard Townshend

A Conservative MP has died after being stabbed multiple times in his constituency.

Sir David Amess was attacked during an incident at his constituency surgery, Sky News reported earlier this afternoon.

According to police, he was treated by emergency services but died at the scene.

Sir David represents Southend West in Essex, and was reportedly attacked at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.

According to Sky News, a man walked into his constituency surgery and stabbed the MP multiple times.

He received treatment at the scene for his injuries, with emergency services at the scene.

The road surrounding the location has been closed off while the incident is dealt with. 

Police said in a statement: “A man has been arrested on suspicion murder after a man was stabbed in Leigh-on-Sea.

“We were called to an address in Eastwood Road North shortly after 12.05pm today (Friday 15 October).

“We attended and found a man injured.

“He was treated by emergency services but, sadly, died at the scene.

“A 25 year-old man was quickly arrested after officers arrived at the scene on suspicion of murder and a knife was recovered.

“He is currently in custody.

“We are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident.”

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Conservative MP Sir David Amess stabbed multiple times in ‘major incident’

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Richard Townshend

According to reports this afternoon, a Conservative MP has been stabbed multiple times in his constituency.

Sir David Amess was attacked during an incident at his constituency surgery, Sky News reports.

Sir David represents Southend West in Essex, and was reportedly attacked at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.

According to Sky News, a man walked into his constituency surgery and stabbed the MP multiple times.

The latest updates suggest he has been receiving treatment at the scene for his injuries, and police are reportedly at the scene.

The road surrounding the location has been closed off while the incident is dealt with.

Essex Police have confirmed a man has now been arrested. 

They wrote on Twitter: “A man’s been arrested following an incident in Leigh-on-Sea.

“We were called to reports of a stabbing in Eastwood Rd North shortly after 12.05pm.

“A man was arrested shortly after & we’re not looking for anyone else.

“We’ll bring you more info when we have it.”

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The Manchester Christmas Markets is moving to Piccadilly Gardens this year

Big changes for the Christmas Markets this year…

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Manchester City Council & David Dixon / Geograph

Manchester’s beloved Christmas Markets are making a grand return to the city this year, but its main hub will be found in a different location.

While the heart of the markets is usually centered around Albert Square, ongoing renovations to the Town Hall have forced them to move to Piccadilly Gardens, the council have confirmed today.

The area will be transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’, with all the usual yuletide bars, market stalls and food huts.

Plans for the Winter Gardens also include a one-way system and separate entrances and exits, as well as a strict limit on visitors to limit the spread of Covid-19.

David Dixon / Geograph

They are also adding a fully accessible toilet to make the Winter Garden as inclusive as possible.

Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester’s Christmas spokesperson, said: “It’s wonderful to welcome back our world-famous Christmas Markets and the addition of the Winter Gardens for the very first time.

“Manchester has been the capital of Christmas for twenty-two years since the very first Christmas Market arrived in the UK in 1999 and we know it was a huge disappointment that we had to scale back our celebrations last year.

“We’re making up for lost time this year and I can’t wait to see the transformation in the city centre into the festive wonderland we know and love.”

@mcrchristmasmarkets / Instagram

Last year, in what would have been the markets’ twenty-first birthday, the festivities were cancelled as a result of the pandemic, much to the dismay of Mancunians all across the region.

At the time, Councillor Karney said that even the proposed smaller markets didn’t meet public health approval, adding that the council ‘could never take any risks’ with people’s wellbeing.

He said: “We’ve cancelled everything. It’s not met our commercial and public health tests, so the three markets in those locations have been cancelled, and won’t take place. It was a million miles from the traditional Christmas Markets, which obviously people would have been very anxious about.”

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