Education secretary to deliver more laptops to schools

  • An extra 300,000 laptops and tablets have been bought to help disadvantaged children in England learn at home, says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
  • Mr Williamson said the devices would be delivered to schools
  • He also pledged to publish a remote education framework to support schools and colleges to  deliver lessons during the latest national lockdown
  • It comes as research shows  children from poorer families are likely to struggle more with remote learning as they have no laptop to work from
  • Children from families with no laptop have been classed as vulnerable and can attend school in England, contributing to an increase in the number of students in classrooms
  • The Department for Education said its data showed that over 700,000 devices had been delivered to schools in England so far during the pandemic – 100,000 of which were delivered last week.
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Former Northants special constable had indecent images of children

  • A former special constable who served across Northamptonshire quit the county force over crimes involving indecent images of children.
  • Courtney Ravenscroft, 24, was the subject of a fast-track gross misconduct hearing just before Christmas after he was convicted at Northampton Magistrates’ Court last year.
  • He resigned before the hearing, which was chaired by Chief Constable Nick Adderley, and would have been dismissed without notice had he failed to do so.
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Children  are going hungry during covid crisis with governments ‘free school meals’ programme

  • For many parents, skipping meals and rationing even basic supplies are realities of surviving the Covid crisis
  • A 41-year-old mother, from Kidsgrove in Staffordshire, was one of dozens who shared photos of the food parcels they had received as part of the government’s free school meals programme
  • Her box contained just five potatoes, a loaf of bread, two packets of crisps, butter, a handful of fruit and vegetables and some biscuits. That was intended to feed her two 12-year-olds for 10 meals
  • “My kids have gone hungry,” she told The Independent. “Sometimes you can go three or four weeks without a box, sometimes it’s just a few days. We have had to stretch everything – we even have to ration out crisps. There are 21 in each bag and we share them out.”
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Covid lockdown sees increased demand for mental health services in Wales 

  • Childline is appealing for volunteers, having seen a rise in demand for its services during Covid-19 restrictions
  • Since April, mental health counselling sessions delivered to young people in Wales have increased by 13% on average
  • However, the service has also seen a 40% decline in the number of volunteer counsellors across the UK
  • Concerns raised by those using the service during lockdown include anxiety, low mood, depression, loneliness and low self-esteem
  • Childline, run by the NSPCC, offers free support and advice to children and young people over the phone and online
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Crossparty outcry after new guidance allows children to be recruited as undercover spies

  • Tory peers, Bishops and crossbenchers could inflict defeat on the government after an outcry over new guidance which allows state agencies to use children as undercover spies as part of the government’s Covert Intelligence Bill
  • Labour sources said they believed there would be enough backing to ensure the Bill is returned to the Commons, where it is hoped the government may accept some of the new safeguards
  • The current guidance in the Bill would allow children spying for government agencies to break the law if their actions would prevent or detect crime – and even permits those over the age of 16 to be recruited to inform on their parents if they are suspected of terror or criminal involvement
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