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Pupils face full ban on mobile phones in UK schools under new plans from the education secretary

Headteachers and teaching unions have challenged the proposal

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@pongsawat / Unsplash & Catholic Church England & Wales / Flickr

Mobile phones could be banned in all schools as part of a government clampdown on poor discipline in classrooms across the UK.

The education secretary Gavin Williamson said he wants a ban on mobile phones as he launched a consultation on pupil behaviour and discipline in schools, The Guardian reported.

He said he wanted to make the school day ‘mobile-free’ to help ensure that classrooms remain calm and pupils can overcome the impact of the pandemic.

He said: “Mobile phones are not just distracting, but when misused or overused, they can have a damaging effect on a pupil’s mental health and wellbeing. I want to put an end to this, making the school day mobile-free.”

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Williamson also urged teachers, parents and other school staff to share their views and policies on managing good behaviour in classrooms before he updates government guidance on behaviour, discipline, suspensions and permanent exclusions later this year.

When announcing his plan, he stated: “No parent wants to send their child to a school where poor behaviour is rife. Every school should be a safe place that allows young people to thrive and teachers to excel.

“In order for us to help pupils overcome the challenges from the pandemic and level up opportunity for all young people, we need to ensure they can benefit from calm classrooms which support them to thrive.”

However, headteachers and teaching unions have opposed the proposal, insisting that mobile phone policies were a matter for schools. The education secretary was also accused of using the issue as a distraction from the government’s failures on education during the pandemic.

Catholic Church England & Wales / Flickr

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the education secretary is ‘obsessed’ with mobile phones in schools: “In reality, every school will already have a robust policy on the use of mobile phones; it isn’t some sort of digital free-for-all.

“Frankly, school and college leaders would prefer the education secretary to be delivering an ambitious post-pandemic recovery plan and setting out how he intends to minimise educational disruption next term, rather than playing to backbenchers on the subject of behaviour.”

As well as the mobile phone policy, the government is looking at introducing ‘removal rooms’ and ‘managed moves’ where a pupil would be transferred to another school as a way of avoiding a formal expulsion.

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Manchester Christmas Market mug design has been revealed for 2021

The council has also confirmed how much it’ll cost if you want to keep your mug as a souvenir

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Manchester City Council & Andrew Stawarz / Flickr

Exciting Christmas news: The mug design for this year’s Christmas Markets has officially been unveiled. 

For those who descend upon Manchester’s Christmas Markets each year, the highlight is undisputedly the warm (and boozy) drinks served in the trademark mugs, which feature different designs each year.

In previous years, designs have included interactive reindeer noses, Santa Clause, snowflakes, Christmas trees and mistletoe. 

And as for this year? 

@nicolenavigates / Instagram

Well, the design has officially been unveiled and, for the first time in the markets’ history, the mugs won’t feature the date; this is  because they were originally designed for the markets that never happened in 2020.

This year’s design will instead feature a simple ‘Manchester Christmas Markets’ graphic with the words ‘Christmas is what you make it’ alongside an abundance of stars and snowflakes.

The mugs will be available in two sizes – a smaller navy gluhwein mug and a larger white mug for coffees and hot chocolates.

There will be around 80,000 mugs in total in circulation at the Christmas Markets, and as always there’s the option to take yours home as a souvenir.

Manchester City Council

Visitors will be required to pay a £3 deposit when ordering a hot drink, or £1.50 for beer and wine glasses, which will then be given back to you if you return your mug.

Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson Councillor Pat Karney said: “Second only to the disappointment of the cancellation of last year’s Christmas Market was the realisation that there would be no Christmas Market mug!

“We know that some visitors have a complete collection of mugs going back more than 10 years – and we expect those people to be first in line for a warming gluhwein or hot chocolate.”

This comes just a week after it was announced that the markets’ ‘main hub’ will be moved from its usual spot at Albert Square to Piccadilly Gardens.

@mcrchristmasmarkets / Instagram

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.

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

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Bonfire Night events and fireworks cancelled across Manchester

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For the second year in a row, Bonfire Night firework displays and celebrations across Manchester have been cancelled.

As a result of ongoing fears surrounding the spread of Covid-19 and the current Government advice around large-scale events, the eight free council-organised events scheduled to take place next month will no longer be going ahead.

The events were planned for Heaton Park, Platt Fields Park, Wythenshawe Park, Crumpsall Park, the Eithad Campus, Cringle Park, Debdale Park and Brookdale Park.

David Dixon / Geograph

Manchester City Council said that the guidance around Covid-19 safety has made the events ‘unworkable’ and that the ‘health of Manchester people has to come first’.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly and I know that many people who look forward to these events will be disappointed, especially when we could not host them last year because of coronavirus restrictions.

“But the health of Manchester people, and the logistical considerations around that, has to come first.”

@alexjones / Unsplash

This comes after Greater Manchester Police Chief said he would ban fireworks if ‘given half the chance’; while appearing as a guest on BBC Radio Manchester, Chief Constable Stephen Watson said he has long held the view that ‘it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets killed’, stressing that it simply ‘cannot happen’.

When asked if he would ban fireworks altogether, he replied: “Given half a chance – yes I would. We’ve had people almost pointing rockets at passing vehicles and buses and putting them into telephone kiosks and all the rest of it.

“This goes a long way away from kids knocking around a bonfire and letting off a few fireworks and having fun. It’s that of course that we want to preserve. This is something we’re very much alive to.”

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‘Smoking kills’ could be printed on every individual cigarette to encourage smokers to quit

The new proposal comes as the government clamps down on smoking across the UK

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Pixabay & @iriser / Unsplash

Tough new proposals to get more people to quit smoking could have ‘smoking kills’ printed on individual cigarettes. 

MPs have submitted an amendment to the health and care bill going through parliament which would allow the health secretary to make graphic health warnings mandatory.

Mary Kelly Foy, the Labour MP behind the move, said, as per The Guardian: “We know that cigarettes are cancer sticks and kill half the people who use them. So I hope that health warnings on cigarettes would deter people from being tempted to smoke in the first place, especially young people.

Pixabay

“I hope it would encourage some smokers to give up because if they are putting that in their mouth and seeing that message on cigarettes every time they smoke, I hope it would have the desired effect.”

The other amendments proposed by Foy include raising the legal age for buying cigarettes from eighteen to twenty-one, preventing e-cigarette manufacturers from using marketing tactics that could encourage children to try them, such as sweet flavourings and cartoon characters, and making it illegal to give e-cigarette samples away for free, something that many companies have done in the past.

Though this isn’t a UK government’s first attempt to stamp down on the toxic habit; in 2008, a law was passed that required graphic images warning of the deadly effects of smoking to be shown on all cigarette packets.

A set of fifteen images were rotated while tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide emission numbers were also shown on the side of packages.

@koalink / Unsplash

Plain packaging was then fully implemented in the UK nearly a decade later in May 2017 for all cigarette and tobacco brands. This policy forced the removal of all brand images, colours and promotions, and instead required all packaging to be standardised in terms of shape, colour and text design.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said on the proposed requirements: “Warnings on cigarettes were suggested over forty years ago by then health minister George Young.

“The tobacco companies, with breathtaking hypocrisy, protested that the ink would be toxic to smokers. The truth is cigarette stick warnings are toxic to big tobacco and this is an idea whose time has come.”

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