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Racing champ Paddy backs refreshers for older drivers

He won at Monte Carlo - now former racing driver Paddy Hopkirk is advising his peers to do refresher driving courses

Older drivers have come under the spotlight in Buckinghamshire, with new figures showing a dramatic increase in the number of people over the age of 65 being involved in accidents.

Now the local council has enlisted the support of one of the World's top rally drivers to help keep senior citizens in the fast lane.

During his racing career Paddy Hopkirk, won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally and numerous World titles. Now 82 years old, he's backing a scheme that encourages mature motorists to get their driving checked by the professionals. Penny Silvester reports.

The interviewees are: Paddy Hopkirk, 1964 Monte Carlo rally winner; Cllr Mark Shaw, Buckinghamshire County Council; and June Howlett, Buckinghamshire County Council road safety officer.

There is helpful information for older drivers at the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Older Drivers Forum.

Drastic cut in sugar intake for Sussex schoolchildren

Sweet success for West Sussex County Council Credit: West Sussex County Council

The amount of sugar in West Sussex primary school meals has been cut significantly over the past 12 months.

A child who eats a primary school meal every day during the academic year now consumes half a kilo less sugar when compared to the autumn 2014 menu.

The reduction has been helped by changes to recipes, as well as new desserts containing 30% less sugar than last year’s.

It's an initiative by West Sussex County Council Public Health, together with the West Sussex School Meals service.

Alongside recipe alterations, the county’s main school meals contractor also rebranded their meals. Following a parent survey, a ‘Food Superheroes’ theme was chosen to help engage with children.

Around 30,000 children eat school meals in primary schools every day across West Sussex.

We’re very proud to have been commended for our work on sugar reduction. We know consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain and related health and dental problems. In West Sussex more than two-thirds of adults and one in three children aged 10-11 are above a healthy weight. That is why we must continue this excellent progress.

– West Sussex County Council


Protest turns sour with smoke bombs and stand-offs

There have been dramatic scenes in London tonight where students from across our region had joined a mass protest over the rising costs of going to university

Police were out in force to try and maintain order as thousands protested over grants and debt. Several arrests have been made for public order offences.

The protest was to highlight changes to higher education - but the issues have been overshadowed by the smoke bombs and standoffs - reminiscent of major student protests five years ago. Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports.

Sussex students - why we're joining mass rally

Thousands of students are gathering in London to protest over the cost of higher education. The demonstration is calling for free education for all. Students are pushing for the the government to halt plans to scrap maintenance grants. They're also opposed to allowing universities with the best teaching to charge fees above the current £9,000 maximum.

Among those joining the mass demonstration, students from the University of Sussex.

Will a degree guarantee you a good job?

A recent survey found nearly 60 per cent of graduates were ending up in non graduate jobs - many low skilled and low paid.

On graduation day there is no shortage of parental pride - but is there now a shortage of suitable degree level jobs to go round? Christine Alsford went to a winter graduation ceremony at the University of Winchester to find out.

Are there enough graduate level jobs to go round? Credit: ITV Meridian

Government announce new education plans

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan today announced the next phase of the Government’s education reform programme focused on tackling underperformance. It will affect thousands of schools right across the Meridian region.

The measures include:

* Consulting on plans to reintroduce formal tests for children aged 7

* Making children who fail to reach national standards in English and Maths retake the assessments they sat at the end of primary school

* Introducing the National Teacher Service - a taskforce of 1,500 "Superteachers" to help struggling schools

* Setting targets for 90 per cent of pupils to sit the "Ebacc" - taking GCSEs in English, Maths, Science, a language and either History or Geography


Mum - son wouldn't cope with tests at age of 7

Mum of three Shirley Belton says her son wouldn't cope with tests at seven. She's not in favour of a return to formal tests for younger children - or the idea of making older pupils resit the tests they take at the end of primary school when they reach secondary if they don't achieve a certain standard.

Mum says son age seven, not ready for formal tests Credit: ITV Meridian

What do pupils think of idea of more tests at 7?

We asked Year 2 pupils what they think of the idea of more testing at school. Here's what they told us.

Would more tests at school be boring - or a challenge? Credit: ITV Meridian

"Tests are fun but I don't want to do any more." said Abbas. "It would be boring. I wouldn't mind doing more writing.

"I would like to do a little bit more playing."

Would pupils like the idea of more maths tests - or more playtime? Credit: ITV Meridian

Matilde said: "My favourite thing at school is maths and Golden Time. We don't have many tests at the moment. I would be happy to have more tests with maths questions. "

Would more testing provide a good challenge to pupils? Credit: ITV Meridian

Tiago told us: "I like maths tests - they are challenging. You have to try your hardest. "I think I would get happy if I had to do more tests."

Is a return to testing at the age of seven a good idea? Credit: ITV Meridian

But Brooke said: "I only like tests a little bit. I wouldn't like to do any more because it's boring. I like playtime, trips and Discovery Time. Those are fun."

Don't label children failures at 7 - headteacher

Will we again see formal tests for children aged 7? Credit: ITV Meridian

The government today announced it is looking at the idea of reintroducing formal tests for children aged 7. So-called SATs or "Standard Assessment Tests" were abolished for children in Year 2 of primary school back in 2004 - schools now rely on teacher assessment instead.

Headteacher of Cottage Grove Primary in Portsmouth, Polly Honeychurch, says that's the way it should stay.

"To say we are going to have to go back to formal testing to me seems like they are not trusting the teachers that they paying to do the job. "

"My teachers are assessing children in lessons every single day so they are not just waiting for the end of the year test to say 'this is what the children have learned'."

"I wouldn't like formal testing to come back for seven year olds. I think the children are far too young and to label a child at the age of seven as 'you have failed' is not helpful."

"Some of my children will not be reaching the required standard at seven for a variety of reasons - it may be because they are new arrivals in the country and don't have enough language acquisition - it may be that they are going through social and emotional issues and they are not yet ready to learn. It doesn't mean they are a failure."

Council appealing against court decision to cancel dad's fine for taking child on holiday in term time

The Isle of Wight Council has started the formal process of appeal to the High Court, for clarification on a matter of law over unauthorised school absences and the fines imposed on parents.

The appeal comes after an Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court decided that a father who had taken his child on holiday during term time had ‘no case to answer’. The man had failed to pay a fine imposed on him for taking his child out of school - it was deemed an 'unauthorised absence'.

Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court Credit: PA

“The recent media attention given to this case shows that there is interest, concern and, above all, uncertainty as to what constitutes ‘regular attendance’ for the purposes of the legislation in question. This is not a question that can be resolved by any local authority.

“The decision made by the magistrates was made on a point of law. The Isle of Wight Council has received clear advice that the magistrates may have failed to interpret and apply the law correctly in making their decision. Where the law created by Parliament is uncertain, the Appeal Courts have the ability to lay down a binding ruling as to the correct interpretation of the law.

"The Isle of Wight Council is of the view that, in light of the advice given, the importance of the issue and the need to obtain clarity, it would be appropriate to appeal the magistrates’ decision in this case in order to obtain a clear binding ruling as to what the law is on this issue. This will benefit parents and local authorities both on the Island and across the country, and may also inspire Parliament to look again at the legislation, which many feel they ought to.”

– Councillor Jonathan Bacon, Council leader and Executive member for children’s services

Jon Platt from the Isle of Wight won his case earlier this month. He had refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his 6-year-old daughter on holiday in term time.

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