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Dolly Parton backed reading scheme faces axe

A reading scheme for children in Rotherham backed by country and western star Dolly Parton is facing the axe after the local council pulled its financial support.

Dolly Parton launched the Imagination Library eight years ago

The Imagination Library was launched eight years ago to encourage under five-year-olds to read by sending them a free book every month. Rotherham Council is blaming government cuts for its decision to withdraw £400,000 funding.

A spokesman for Dolly Parton said she was disappointed with the decision.

Former academy principal charged with fraud

The founder and principal of a flagship free school in Bradford has been charged with fraud and other offences.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Sajid Hussain Raza has been charged with offences which relate to his involvement with the Kings Science Academy.

Raza was arrested last year following an investigation into the school, which was visited by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012.

The CPS said it had authorised West Yorkshire Police to charge him with three offences of fraud by abuse of position, three offences of false accounting, two offences of obtaining a money transfer by deception, and one offence of fraud by false representation.

Julian Briggs, reviewing lawyer at CPS Yorkshire and Humberside's complex casework unit, said: "The Crown Prosecution Service has been working closely with West Yorkshire Police in connection with this case.

"Having carefully considered all of the evidence presented to us, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to charge Sajid Hussain Raza (principal) with a range of offences relating to his involvement with the Kings Science Academy, Bradford, and that it is in the public interest to do so.

"Accordingly, I have authorised West Yorkshire Police to charge Sajid Hussain Raza with three offences of fraud by abuse of position, three offences of false accounting, two offences of obtaining a money transfer by deception, and one offence of fraud by false representation. He will first appear at Leeds Magistrates' Court shortly.

"This defendant has now been charged with serious criminal offences and has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings."

The academy was one of the first free schools to open in September 2011. It was set up by Mr Raza and praised by Mr Cameron on his visit in March 2012.

West Yorkshire Police said Raza, 42, of Spring Gardens Road, Bradford, has been released on bail and will appear at Leeds Magistrates' Court on a date yet to be fixed.

The force said the charges relate to financial matters at the school between April and August 2011.


'Dementia Friends' to visit schools in awareness campaign

The Alzheimer's Society are going into schools across our region to recruit so-called Dementia Friends. These are people who know about the condition and are able to offer help and support to those who are receiving treatment for the illness.

The campaign hopes to educate more young people about the signs and symptoms of dementia - as figures show more and more of us will be diagnosed with the condition over the next decade.

It comes as the government pledges to increase funding to research the condition. Jon Hill reports:

Top teen author visits students for World Book Day

Award-winning author of teen thrillers James Dawson visited a school in Leeds this week to mark World Book Day.

James Dawson with students at The Grammar School at Leeds

His latest novel, Under My Skin, which is a modern take on the classic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde story, was released today and he spoke yesterday to students at The Grammar School at Leeds about it.

It is a feminist teenage fiction novel concerning the tug of war for Sally’s body. I have given darkness a character of its own.

– James Dawson, author

Under My Skin is told from the perspective of a teenage girl, and Dawson championed feminist issues during his talk, praising role models like author Malorie Blackman, actor Emma Watson, Olympian Jessica Ennis Hill and he youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner and campaigner for girls’ education, Malala Yousafzai.

The students thoroughly enjoyed James’s entertaining and thought-provoking talk. I think it is important to promote a love of reading and it was wonderful to hear James address an issue which is important in society today.

– Judith Kerr, Deputy Head of English at GSAL


Doncaster school wins World Book Day award

A school in Doncaster has won the first world book day award for a video they produced.

Hexthorpe Primary will receive £10,000 of books for its school library from American author James Patterson.

A school in Bourne in Lincolnshire also won £3,000 after finishing second.

Click here to see the winning video entry

Bleach attack teen to be sentenced

A teenager is set to be sentenced for throwing bleach in the face of a model.

Rebecca Morris, 18, from Hull, has admitted throwing bleach at Victoria Smith in August 2014 which temporarily blinded the victim and left her scared that she might never see again.

Miss Smith, who was 17 at the time of the attack, has a history of depression and self-harm, attempted to commit suicide two months later.

Prosecutor Stephen Welch told Hull Crown Court there had been "ill-feeling" between the pair, who were both students at Hull College, and Miss Smith had made a complaint to the college about Morris.

Morris shouted: "There's your shot of bleach instead of your shot of vodka. That's for getting me kicked out of college" as she threw the bleach at Miss Smith whom she had followed from a house party in Hull.

Miss Smith attended hospital, where she was given eye drops. Her hair turned green and she suffered burns to her scalp.

The court heard the victim's hair began to fall out and she now wears a wig after shaving her head.

She was saved from more serious harm by the quick actions of her friend who washed her eyes with a cola drink.

Miss Smith, who goes by the modelling name of Toria Melody, feels unable to model any more because she has lost her "confidence and self-esteem" and stopped going to college because she is "frightened and scared" of being bullied, Mr Welch said.

He said she has stopped going out and feels like a "prisoner in her own room".

Miss Smith went to Hull Royal Infirmary on October 21 last year after taking an overdose.

Morris, who has one previous conviction for common assault, has admitted throwing a corrosive liquid with the intent to burn, maim, disfigure or disable or do some grievous bodily harm.

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