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Too many teens are "poorly prepared" by region's secondary schools

The head of Ofsted , Sir Michael Wishart, in his annual report on the state of education in England, says the biggest challenge facing the region is the poor performance of secondary schools.

Ofsted report criticises poor performance of the region's secondary schools. Credit: Press Association

On leaving secondary education, too many of the region’s young people are poorly prepared for the next stage in their lives.

Standards of literacy and numeracy at age 16 are among the lowest in England. The stark reality for too many 16–19-year-olds continues to be life without a job, training or further education.

Sir Michael says the overall quality of education has moved in the right direction since last year's Ofsted’s Annual Report.

A notable success is the fast rate of improvement in the quality of further education and skills providers across the region.

However, the proportion of good and outstanding secondary schools remains below the national level.

This is compounded by the uneven quality of provision for the region’s under-fives and weak primary education in Yorkshire and Humber.

It is still too easy to see variable quality at every level: between the different phases of education, in different geographical locations and in the gap between the achievement of disadvantaged pupils and others.

The quality of children’s social care services is, similarly, variable despite children having a better chance of accessing local authority services that are at least good than is found nationally.

Inequality in the achievement of the region’s 200,000 disadvantaged children and young people has remained a blot on its educational landscape for too long. Outcomes for this group are typically poor from the early years through to age 19.

Almost three quarters of the local authorities in the Yorkshire and Humber region increased their proportion of good or outstanding primary schools in 2013/14.

Over half of them increased or retained their proportion of good and outstanding secondary schools. This means that 30,000 more pupils are attending schools that are good or outstanding than last year.

Significant improvement was seen in the quality of primary schools in York and a similar picture is evident for secondary schools in Rotherham.

In marked contrast, the chances of pupils attending a good primary or secondary school declined in Bradford, Kirklees, North Lincolnshire and Doncaster.

Across the region there are huge variations in the quality of provision. Six local authorities in Yorkshire and Humber feature in the bottom 25% nationally on the same measure: Bradford, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, Hull, North East Lincolnshire and Sheffield.

East Midlands education provision " is plagued by mediocrity"

In his third annual report , the head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wishart has said education provision in the East Midlands, which includes Lincolnshire,North Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire, is plagued by mediocrity.

Ofsted's annual report is out today Credit: Press Association

The overall effectiveness of schools in the East Midlands is below the national level in both primary and secondary, with almost 158,000 pupils attending schools that are not yet good. Sir Michael's report highlights that :

  • Attainment across Lincolnshire is a concern at key stages 1, 2 and 4.
  • At secondary school, EM’s students reaching the national benchmark of five A*-C grades including English and maths is the joint lowest of all regions at 53%.
  • Many families in the region are caught up in a cycle of deprivation.
  • White British children from poor families achieve less well than others.
  • Only 33% of children on free school meals achieve at least 5 good GCSEs including English and maths compared to 63% of non-FSM pupils.
  • Children in care do badly, and, as a group, their achievement is among the worst in the country. It is the third lowest in the country. Only 13% in the EM achieve 5 A* - C GCSEs, including English and maths, compared to 15% nationally.
  • · In some parts of the region such as Lincolnshire, children with English as an additional language are not getting the start they need to enable them to do well.
  • Almost one third of post-16 learners attend colleges that are not yet good and there are weaknesses in the courses offered by work-related learning providers.
  • The proportion of students who achieve level three qualifications by the age of 19 in East Midlands is among the lowest in the country.

“Too many pupils and young people in the East Midlands go to schools and colleges that are not good enough. They and their parents deserve better.

“School quality in the region is well below the English average, 158,000 pupils attend schools that need to improve. Only one council area, Lincolnshire, is in the top third of English local authorities for the proportion of pupils attending secondary schools that are good or better.

“Yet there are schools and colleges which are equipping children and young people with the education and skills which will serve them well in the future. They have strong leaders and high quality teaching, and they show that it can be done.

“Next year Ofsted will be working with local authorities, the East Midlands regional commissioner and schools to make sure pupils are learning well at school. Our inspectors will be encouraging schools to raise expectations for all pupils, and promote good practice in careers advice to help make sure that young people learn the kind of skills which employers want.”

– Christopher Russell, Ofsted East Midlands Director

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New online service to improve English skills

A new online service to help people learn English as they settle in to life in Leeds has been officially launched.

The Learning English in Leeds (LEL) website is designed to give providers and learners information about finding the right classes to help with key language skills.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor David Congreve performed a digital ribbon cutting to officially launch the new site Credit: Leeds City Council

The site also aims to help them integrate into their communities and gives those in established communities who want to improve their English more opportunities to learn.

The launch event, hosted by Leeds City Council at the Civic Hall, was attended by learners from the council, The University of Leeds, Leeds City College and Leeds Language College.

Those attending the launch saw a demonstration of the new site, took part in a quiz, and got the chance to talk to other learners about their experiences of learning English as a second language.

Tens of thousands of teens in failing schools

Tens of thousands more teenagers are now attending failing state secondary schools, the head of Ofsted is warning, raising concerns standards are stagnating.

The proportion of secondaries rated as inadequate has risen in the last 12 months, with over 50 more schools now in special measures than there were a year ago, according to the Sir Michael Wilshaw.

In his third annual report, published today, Sir Michael says while primary schools in England continue to forge ahead, the rate of improvement in secondary education is grinding to a halt, with the overall proportion rated good or outstanding remaining the same as last year.

Young people highlight dangers off-road biking

Young people from Ravenscliffe Youth Centre in the Eccleshill area of Bradford are producing a film to highlight the dangers of off-road biking.

Off-road motorbiking Credit: Press Association

The filming will be completed in early December 2014, when young people will take part in their third and final day of filming on location.

All aspects of the film have been made by young people at the centre; from the script writing and planning, to the filming and the acting. The project has been run by Bradford Council in conjunction with Void Arts.

Young people chose the issue of off-road biking as it is one that affects young people in their community.

The project has been developed over a number of months. It began originally during the Anti-social Behaviour Week in July where the prime focus was around off road biking within communities.

The young people who have produced it will gain accreditation for their involvement and will be awarded certificates for taking part.

The film will be showcased in the New Year once the editing and final version is complete. Once complete, it will be available on Youtube and will be used to raise awareness with other youth groups as a way of prompting discussion of this issue.

"Young people have been involved in every aspect of making this film and have learnt new skills, gained confidence and made friendships along the way. It's great that they have decided to do something about an issue that affects them which will also be used to help other young people."

– Nicky Lannen, Senior Youth Worker for Bradford Council,

"I'd like to commend the young people who have taken part in making this film. It is a positive project where they have taken the initiative and are trying to tackle an aspect of anti-social behaviour that affects them and their local community."

– Coun Ralph Berry, Portfolio Holder for Children's Services

"Illegal off-road biking is an activity that can be dangerous and which can cause serious nuisance to communities. It's great news that young people are raising awareness of the problem amongst their peers."

– Coun Imran Hussain, Deputy Leader of Bradford Council

Classroom assistant found guilty of five-month bullying campaign against pupil

A classroom assistant who carried out a five-month campaign of bullying against a seven-year-old pupil who was taped her a chair and shut in a storeroom has been found guilty of child cruelty.

Rachael Regan, 43, "singled out and bullied" the girl at a school in the Calderdale area of West Yorkshire, Bradford Crown Court heard.

The catalogue of incidents against the pupil, who is now nine, also included sticking post-it notes to her thumbs, tying her shoes on with string, calling her a nickname, kicking her chair, goading her with a biscuit, hiding her doll and tearing up her photograph.

A jury of four men and eight women took under four hours to find Regan guilty today.

A teacher, Deborah McDonald, 41, was cleared of the same offence.

Judge Neil Davey QC told Regan she will not go to prison when she is sentenced on January 8.

The judge said he was concerned about the length of time between the time of the incident and the trial.

He said the young girl concerned that had waited "a quarter of her lifetime" to give evidence about event that took place and that Regan had spent more than a year on bail before she was charged.

Judge Davey said that whatever his initial thoughts about sentencing, these delays had convinced him that custody was not appropriate.

He said: "The position is now that whatever sentence I pass it will not be a custodial sentence."

Regan said "thank you" to the judge who gave her bail until the sentencing hearing.

McDonald held her head in her hands after she was cleared and the two women hugged after they left the dock.

The left the court building together with supporters.

Prosecutor Simon Waley told the week-long trial an investigation was launched by the school and the police after the girl told her mother a teacher had tied her to a chair with sticky tape so she could not move.

He said: "She said that the class had been laughing at her and that she was the 'class clown'."

Mr Waley said: "She said that Mrs Regan put it all around the chair and it was hard breathing. She said that she couldn't get out to reach her things. She said that the whole class were laughing."

The girl's mother said the moment her daughter told her a teaching assistant had taped her to a chair was "heartbreaking".

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the jury how the young girl "clung" to her "for dear life" with tears streaming down her face after the incident.

She said: "(My daughter) just came rushing out and hugged me and tears were just rolling down her face.

"It was just so heartbreaking to see her like that because (she) is so bubbly and outgoing and I have never seen my daughter so upset. She just clung to me for dear life."

She told the court: "(My daughter) said one of the teachers had Sellotaped her to the chair and that all her class friends were laughing at her.

She continued: "She said 'They all thought I was funny. I was the clown. They all laughed at me'."

Mr Waley told the trial how the girl also told police that Regan had bound string to her legs and feet to keep her pumps on.

He said: "She said it was horrible and that, again, everybody had been laughing."

The girl told police that Regan, of Illingworth, West Yorkshire, put Post-it notes on to her thumbs when she had been sucking them and shut the door to a store room, leaving her on a chair inside.

Other staff members at the school told police they had witnessed some of the incidents.

One support assistant said the girl's arms were "fastened down by her sides with the Sellotape around her more than once" and said she was taped to the chair for around 10 minutes. She said Regan went to another classroom to fetch another teaching assistant to show her what she had done.

Mr Waley said Regan told her colleague: "She'll not get up and wander around the classroom now."

He said Regan pulled a photograph of the girl off the wall and ripped it to pieces in front of her.

The court heard that the defendants denied ever bullying the girl when they were interviewed by the police and described some of the incidents as "fun" and "a joke".

Mr Waley said: "In relation to some of (the incidents), the defence accept that they occurred but say that they were not malicious but rather well-intentioned and good-humoured incidents in which (the girl) had been a participant in the humour."

Giving evidence, Ms McDonald told the jury she had not deliberately ill-treated or humiliated the girl.

The teacher, from Halifax, said: "(She) is a lovely little girl. We got along very well together, I liked her, she liked me, I was very happy to be her teacher. She made me smile on so many occasions. I have many happy memories of her."

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MP criticises Cologne police over 'murder' of Northumbria student

Jane Khalaf died after her drink was allegedly spiked with ecstasy during a carnival in Germany. Credit: Mercury Press

A British woman was murdered after having her drink spiked, a Labour MP has claimed as he criticised German police for not investigating the death.

Nineteen-year-old Jane Khalaf reportedly died on November 20, eight days after she was put on a life-support machine after collapsing at Cologne's St Marien Hospital.

Read More: Northumbria student dies after 'drink spiked' on a German exchange trip

Speaking in the Commons, Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman hit out at the handling of the case by police in Cologne as he called for help from the Foreign Office.

Raising a point of order following Foreign Office question time, Mr Sheerman told Speaker John Bercow:

I wonder if you could give me some guidance. A young girl in my constituency has been tragically murdered in Cologne.

There is no police investigation although there is every evidence that her drink was spiked - she was poisoned.

There has been no police investigation and no help for the family. There's not another Foreign Office questions for another month. How do you advise me that I can raise this issue in the House?

– Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman

Mr Bercow replied that Mr Sheerman could write to a Foreign Office minister, adding: "You have effectively raised your point through ruse of the use, and some would say the rather gentle abuse, of the point of order procedure. Foreign Office ministers will have heard your utterance."

Richard III - case closed after 529 years

An international research team has confirmed today that the skeleton discovered under a car park in Leicester is the remains of King Richard III, closing what is probably the UK’s oldest forensic case.

Richard III

Scientists carried out key parts of the analysis at the University of York and the research team included members of the Department of Biology at York.

Led by Dr Turi King, from the University of Leicester, the research which is published in Nature Communications, traced seven living relatives of Richard III – two by the female line and five by the male line.

The researchers collected DNA from Richard III’s living relatives and analysed several genetic markers, including the complete mitochondrial genomes, inherited through the maternal line, and Y-chromosomal markers, inherited through the paternal line, from both the skeletal remains and the living relatives.

While the Y-chromosomal markers differ, the mitochondrial genome shows a genetic match between the skeleton and the maternal line relatives.

The former result is not unsurprising as the chances for a false-paternity event is fairly high after so many generations.

This paper is also the first to carry out a statistical analysis of all the evidence together to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Skeleton 1 from the Greyfriars site in Leicester is indeed the remains of King Richard III.

The researchers also used genetic markers to determine hair and eye colour of Richard III and found that with probably blond hair and almost certainly blue eyes Richard III looked most similar to his depiction in one of the earliest portraits of him that survived, that in the Society of Antiquaries in London.

“Our paper covers all the genetic and genealogical analysis involved in the identification of the remains of Skeleton 1 from the Greyfriars site in Leicester and is the first to draw together all the strands of evidence to come to a conclusion about the identity of those remains.

"Even with our highly conservative analysis, the evidence is overwhelming that these are indeed the remains of King Richard III, thereby closing an over 500 year old missing person’s case.“

– Dr Turi King

“It’s amazing how much we can deduce from ancient DNA today. Making inferences about hair or eye color of a person just from some DNA snippets obtained from a skeleton would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.”

– Professor Michi Hofreiter, Honorary Professor of Biology at York

“The University of York is immensely proud of its contribution to the Richard III project.

" These exciting results are testimony to the positive collaboration between two great historical cities associated with Richard - Leicester and York – and the crucial part they have played in identifying and commemorating England’s last Yorkist king.“

– Professor Mark Ormrod, of the Department of History at York

Yorkshire student dies after drink spiked at German carnival

A student from Yorkshire collapsed and died after her drink was allegedly spiked with ecstasy during a carnival in Germany.

Jane Khalaf, 19, collapsed at St Marien Hospital in Cologne after telling friends she believed somebody had laced her drink with deadly drugs.

Student Jane Khalaf who died after her drink was spiked Credit: Mercury Press

Jane Khalaf, 19, collapsed at St Marien Hospital in Cologne after telling friends she believed somebody had laced her drink with deadly drugs.

Her condition deteriorated and she was put on a life support machine after being transferred to the Kliniken der Stadt Koln on November 12.

Her parents, restaurant owners Rojin and Khalil, travelled from their home in Shelley, Huddersfield, West Yorks, to be by their daughter's bedside.

They had only discovered she was ill after finding out on Facebook and are angry no authorities tried to contact them.

Student Jane Khalaf who died after her drink was spiked Credit: Mercury Press

Jane died eight days later and tests found amphetamine and ecstasy in her blood.

Her body has been flown back to the UK where Home Office pathologists will carry out a post mortem examination.

Jane, a first year politics student at Northumbria University, was in Cologne on an exchange trip after being selected for her aptitude.

She began her studies in September and had only been away from home for two months before she died.

Her distraught parents, who own the Med One restaurant in Huddersfield, are furious at the way they were treated by German authorities.

"The way we were treated and the way her case has been dealt with in Germany was appalling.

"No one rang to tell us that she had been taken ill in hospital despite the fact she had her driving licence on her as ID.

"We found out through Facebook.

"She was a very sensible girl and very anti drugs so we are confident that her drink was spiked.

"A horrendous experience has been made so much worse by the frustration they've caused us and we just want answers.

"It's terrible and we can't believe what has happened.

"When we found out how serious the situation was we just hoped for a miracle. But it didn't happen.

"She was such an intelligent, ambitious, funny and happy person who was so full of life and hoped to become involved in politics and was good at everything.

"But really there are no words that can properly describe her."

– Rojin Khalaf, mother of Jane

"We can confirm that one of our students has tragically passed away while studying at a partner university in Germany.

"Representatives from Northumbria University have met with the family and we continue to offer support at this difficult time.

"We are in contact with the authorities in Germany and the UK, and stand ready to assist further where we can."

– Northumbria University spokesperson

Man arrested over schoolgirl assault

A twenty seven year old man has been arrested following an attack on a York schoolgirl.

A 15-year-old girl was allegedly assaulted as she left Joseph Rowntree School on Haxby Road, New Earswick yesterday afternoon.

It is claimed that at around 4pm, the girl was walking by herself out of the school grounds when she was approached by a man who assaulted her and put his hands on her head.

The girl fought back and bit the man on his hand. He did not speak to her and left the area when she told him to leave her alone.

Last night, detectives arrested a 27-year-old man from York in connection with the incident. He is currently in police custody and will be questioned today by detectives.

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