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High Court rejects Lincoln libraries challenge

Library campaigners in Lincoln, 2013

An appeal to the High Court for a judicial review into Lincolnshire County Council’s plan to cut the number of libraries from 45 to 15 has failed.

After a week long hearing, a High Court judge dismissed the legal challenge on all grounds.

"We're delighted with the judge's decision.

"However, it's disappointing that at least £350,000 has had to be wasted defending plans that are clearly best for taxpayers, best for library users and best for local communities.

"The delays caused by the legal action have also led to Lincolnshire Co-op withdrawing its bid for Boultham Library, meaning this site is now likely to close.

"Hopefully, the campaigners will now see their actions are only having a negative effect on services, and they are doing anything but save Lincolnshire libraries.

"Now we have cleared this hurdle, we can concentrate on putting the new-look service in place – something that will ensure the future of local libraries.

"We're working closely with local groups to get the new community hubs up-and-running, and have a few that are ready to go-live in the next few weeks, the rest will then follow over the summer months in a phased approach. Everything should be in place by the end of September. "I'm sure these new facilities will be of real benefit to their local community."

– Cllr Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, Lincolnshire County Council

Under the plans, the council will continue to provide 15 major libraries, along with online services and specialist support for those unable to reach their nearest library because of, for instance, disability, age or ill health.

These will be complemented by around 30 community hubs, including library services, developed in partnership with local community groups who will also be given over £5,000 per year towards their running costs and access to a one-off grant of up to £15,000 for changes to buildings or equipment.

In addition, the authority is undertaking a competitive procurement to seek an external organisation to potentially deliver library services on its behalf, including the support for the community hubs. This follows an approach by Greenwich Leisure Limited, a not-for-profit organisation interested in running local libraries.

Because of the work involved in a competitive procurement, it is likely to take until the end of 2015 before a final decision is reached on who will run the service.

  1. Chris Halpin

Teachers suspended after Trojan Horse teaching again

Two teachers suspended from teaching after an inquiry into the allegations of a hardline Muslim takeover of schools in Birmingham are back taking lessons, despite not having had disciplinary hearings yet.

The members of staff at Park View Academy in Alum Rock were given Interim Prohibition Orders while they await hearings this autumn by the National College for Training & Leadership.

The school says the men are being supervised and have insisted the children are not being put at any risk. Chris Halpin reports.

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First apprentice graduation ceremony held in Stafford

The first Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony will take place in Stafford later.

More than 150 apprentices from across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent will celebrate the completion of their training at the county's first ever Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony.

It is also hoped that the event will raise the profile of apprenticeships.

Credit: PA Wire

Cllr Ben Adams, Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills at Staffordshire County Council said:

"We want local employers to recognise the fantastic contributions that apprenticeships can bring to their companies and our local economy.

"Apprenticeships play just as important a role as graduates in growing our economy and it's about time that apprentices got the recognition they deserve."

Nottinghamshire praised by Ofsted inspectors

Nottinghamshire children's services have been praised by Ofsted inspectors in a report which rated the County Council's services for children in need of help and protection as 'good'. The report also found that success levels in finding homes for children in need of adoption were also 'high'.

Credit: Press Association Images

Nottinghamshire has one of the largest child populations in the country and a rating of 'good' puts the country in the top quarter of local authorities in England according to the County Council.

Girls told: Don't wear skirts, it distracts male teachers

A school in Stoke on-Trent has banned pupils from wearing skirts because they are 'distracting male teachers and pupils'.

Trentham High School has introduced a strict dress code Credit: Newsteam

Trentham High School has ordered all students to wear the same style of 'business-like' trousers to stop pupils coming to lessons in clothing that 'barely covers their bottoms'.

Headmistress Dr Rowena Blencowe said she has been forced to introduce the new rules because staff have started spending more time telling pupils to roll down their skirts than teaching.

Now it's just a constant nag. Girls are coming in with skirts that just cover their bottoms - it's totally inappropriate.

Girls with the right length skirts are just rolling them up. We tell them in form period to roll them down, but by first break they're back up again.

It's not pleasant for male members of staff and students either, the girls have to walk up stairs and sit down and it's a complete distraction.

After a while it stops being a uniform issue and starts becoming a safeguarding issue.

– Dr Rowena Blencowe, Headmistress

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  1. Anglia

Children get hands on in their campaign to save part of their school playing field

Parents and children at Oundle Primary near Peterborough have made a video to campaign against proposals which could mean the school loses use of the land.

Northamptonshire County Council is replacing the middle school with one primary to create a two tier system and says it'll leave too much land for the number of pupils and is looking at other uses for it.

The idea of disposing of school land is controversial but not unusual.

Between 2001 and 2010 the Government gave approval to change the use of 242 playing fields across the UK.

In the last five years there have been 103 earmarked, with the largest numbers seen in 2013 and 2014...where 61 were given approval to be disposed of.

Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Sarah Cooper

  1. Keith Wilkinson

Primary school children taught to avoid gang violence and exploitation

Primary school children in Birmingham have been having special lessons in how to avoid becoming victims of gang violence or child exploitation. They're being taught how to recognise dangers and how to speak up about their fears.

So far more than 500 teachers, as well as hundreds of school nurses and police officers have become involved in the project. The organisers - the Dot Com Children's Foundation - say it's been a great success.

  1. West Country (E)

Cheltenham's dinosaurs pulling in the crowd

Thousands of people are heading to the Cheltenham Science Festival, which has been using dinosaurs to pull in the crowds.

The story of how they became extinct is one of the most popular displays - although there is plenty more on offer - including speakers like Professors Brian Cox and Alice Roberts.

"We are putting the best people in front of our audiences, to highlight the best science. It's fun and informative, and people from all over the UK and the world are coming to the Science Festival".

– Ashley Kent, Cheltenham Science Festival

The festival runs until Sunday - see the full programme here.

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