Government Launches £10m School Behaviour Hub Programme

Government Launches £10m School Behaviour Hub Programme

20th Apr 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) has issued a press release to announce that they will be sending behaviour experts to support schools with poor discipline records. The new £10m ‘behaviour hub’ programme will be operating in time for the summer term. It is designed to help pupils re-engage with education after the lockdown.

The DfE say they have identified 22 schools with an excellent behaviour track record, who will provide mentors and trainers to support struggling schools. The teams from schools and academies who have consistently good OFSTED ratings for behaviour will advise participating schools with problem diagnosis, mentoring, and policy suggestions.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Whether it’s supporting some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children with the routines and structures needed to help them fulfil their potential, or helping prepare young people for the expectations of the workplace, parents and teachers know that orderly and disciplined classrooms are best.”

Partaking schools will also have access to specialist government teams of advisors, open days at lead schools, hub networking events, and online forums to exchange ideas.

Tom Bennett, the Lead Behaviour advisor to the DfE, said: It’s been a real honour to recruit some of the best schools in the country to offer their support to other schools who want to refocus on behaviour and culture. Every school can, with assistance, be safe, calm places where everyone is treated with dignity, and students and staff can learn and flourish together.”

Gavin Williamson has also called for mobile phones to be banned in schools, the BBC News website reports. He claims that phones can facilitate cyber-bullying and use of social media can be harmful to mental health. Most schools already have some sort of policy to restrict mobile phone use in classrooms, and some do not allow them to be used at break times.

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Government Announces Kick-Start For Summer School And Activities

Government Announces Kick-Start For Summer School And Activities

12th Apr 2021

The government has issued a press release to announce £200m of funding for summer schools and activities at secondary schools across England. It is to be targeted at those who have suffered the most disruption to their education during the lockdown. The plans will begin to be rolled out after the Easter break.

The scheme will include academic support as well as sporting activities, and also mental health and wellbeing advice. The government also intends to work with a national supply contractor to give extra support for councils to deliver the Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF), which will be expanded over the summer.

HAF is a scheme which involves charities, councils, sporting organisations, and the voluntary sector, designed to ease pressure points on families who are experiencing increased childcare costs and reduced incomes. Children from disadvantaged families are less likely to access out-of-school activities, and can miss out on nutritious food during the holidays.

Charities such as Family Action work to deliver family-friendly holiday activities such as food preparation, physical activity, and arts and crafts. They also provide free and nutritious meals. During last summer’s HAF programme, 50,000 children received support across 17 local authorities.

After the Easter break, the programme is set to launch in every council in England, with a focus on those primary school children who are eligible for free school meals. The intention is to prepare the incoming year 7 group for the experience of secondary school in September, who may have missed out on key opportunities over the past year.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I am confident this summer of enrichment and engagement in academic work will be a great success, tailored to local circumstances by their local authorities and also the wonderful heads and teachers who best understand the needs of their students.”

The Department of Education has also published the Conditions of Grant for schools and local authorities on the 30 March. This provides guidance on how to use the Pupil Premium funding, which is expected to increase to £2.5bn over the next year. The fund is intended to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

To make sure the funding is being used to best advantage, schools will be required from September 2021 to publish an annual pupil premium strategy, and demonstrate with evidence why their spending decisions have been made.

Schools have been asked to sign up to run summer schools by the end of April, and confirm their plans by June. A two-week summer school has also been proposed for primary school pupils who will be entering secondary education in September, to help ease the transition at what can be a difficult time for some children.

The operation of the HAF scheme has been affected by the lockdown restrictions over Easter, but some areas have managed to offer face-to-face activities, and others have provided remote support. To help vulnerable families over the Easter period, they have also been able to access the extended £229m Covid Winter Grant Scheme.

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Road Resurfacing Contracts Revealed

Road Resurfacing Contracts Revealed

8th Apr 2021

Yorkshire will be among the regions benefitting from extensive resurfacing work confirmed by Highways England this week.

The body named its contractor partners to carry out work on England’s concrete roads, with the £218 million deal seeing Morgan Sindall and John Sisk carrying out reconstruction operations over a five-year period.

These road surfacing contractors will carry out the work on a design and build basis, with existing surfaces being demolished and replaced with new materials.

In addition, £67 million of lifecycle extension works will be undertaken by VolkerFitzpatrick, Colas, Dyer & Butler and Tarmac, which will help increase the life of existing concrete surfaces on motorways and A roads.

Overall, England has more than 400 miles of concrete roads, with Yorkshire being among the regions were they are most common. Most were built in the 1960s and 70s, meaning they are overdue for repairs. Many are carrying up to 25 per cent more traffic than they were designed for.

Highways England regional director Martin Fellows, commented: “This is the biggest concrete road renewals programme we have ever embarked on.”

He said the contracts confirmed this week will “help us deliver the maximum benefits of safe, reliable and smooth journeys for many years to come.”

The repaired roads will see their lifespans extended by another ten years, while the entirely new surfaces will be made to last for 40 years.

Yorkshire roads will be included in the latest phase of the five-year plan, which began last year with work to improve roads in the East of England.

Focused on the A11, A12, A14 and M11, this work will, when completed, led to the replacement of half of the concrete road surfaces in the region.  

Beyond repairing concrete roads in Yorkshire, future possible Highways England schemes that may take place in the county during the next five years include the A1 between Doncaster and Darrington, the A64 at Hopgrove and the M1/M62 Lofthouse Interchange.

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New Footpaths And Cycleways Set For Taunton?

New Footpaths And Cycleways Set For Taunton?

6th Apr 2021

There are proposals to create a series of new footpaths and cycleways in Taunton as part of new green infrastructure that would help to open up the town and riverfront, Somerset County Gazette reported.

In its 2040 Vision document, Somerset West and Taunton Council unveiled its strategy for developing sites along the river. As part of this strategy, rights of way along the riverside will need to be upgraded, with the town intending to also introduce new paths and cycleways to encourage more people to walk or cycle.

Although the newspaper noted that large sections of the riverside are already accessible to walkers and cyclists, the council’s plans will mean that both sides of the river bank are fully accessible and will increase the scale of the existing network.

Also in the 2040 Vision document are plans for a number of car parks in Taunton town centre to be developed.

Speaking during a Facebook Live council leader Federica Smith-Roberts said that the proposals aren’t about being “anti-motorist” but rather to get everyone to consider how they use their cars.

“People need to look at how they change their ways of moving around that takes out the car,” she stated.

In his budget announcement earlier in March, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government would be setting up a bank with the aim of investing in green infrastructure, Argus Media reported.

The aim is for this bank to support £40 billion of investment in these kinds of projects.

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One-Third Of UK Drivers Suffer Pothole Damage To Their Cars

One-Third Of UK Drivers Suffer Pothole Damage To Their Cars

30th Mar 2021

New research from Citroen has revealed that as many as 32 per cent of UK motorists have had their car damaged by potholes, with the average repair bill costing £141.95, and 11 per cent of drivers having to fork out over £251 for a pothole-related repair.

This is Money reports that Citroen surveyed 2,000 drivers, with almost a quarter of respondents stating that they had tried to claim back the repair cost of the pothole damage from their local council.

Pothole-related repairs cost local authorities a total of almost £6 million in compensation in 2019/20, latest data from The Asphalt Industry Alliance ALARM report shows.

According to the report from ALARM, a pothole is repaired every 21 seconds in England and Wales, but with local authorities facing a carriageway maintenance budget shortfall of around £826.6 million a year, 9 per cent of the UK’s road network is considered to be in poor condition and will need maintenance within the next 12 months.

Eurig Druce, Managing Director of Citroen UK, said: It is concerning to find that potholes have caused damage to nearly a third of driverscars across England and Wales. Local authorities have a lot of issues to solve and this will take time.”

The study also revealed that 42 per cent of drivers wish their car had better suspension to cope with the condition of the country’s roads.

In January, the RAC revealed it had attended almost 1,500 pothole-related breakdowns in the fourth quarter of 2020, which raised concerns as the figures were recorded during the lockdown and travel restrictions and they were similar to the numbers recorded during the same lockdown-free period in 2019.

RAC head of road policy Nicholas Lyes called on the government to put aside 2p from the existing 58p-per-litre duty on the sale of petrol and diesel, which he said: would generate nearly £5bn of additional funds for local roads over five years”.


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