The reopening of secondary schools is reported to be delayed in parts of England, with headteachers calling for pupils to be tested for COVID-19 on site.
The Department of Education has confirmed that upon the start of the new academic year next month, schools in England will be allowed to stagger their start dates so pupils can be tested twice, according to The Sunday Times.
The paper reported yesterday that parents have been told lessons in many secondary schools across the country are not expected to fully start until the second week of term.
Education unions have thus been warning that the start of the new academic year will “almost certainly” prompt a rise in COVID cases.
These claims come after the UK government confirmed that carbon dioxide monitors are to be provided to state-funded schools in England to help staff tackle poor ventilation and reduce the spread of the virus.
“The new school year and college terms will almost certainly prompt an uptick in case counts nationally,” said Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union.
“Current levels already match where we were in December 2020 [and so] to counter a significant rise in the R-rate heading back over one, school and college leaders will be looking to see what they can do to ensure on-site learning is safe and sustainable throughout the autumn term.”
Geoff Barton – General Secretary of the ASCL union – also told The Sunday Times: “If you have nine million going back to school, having been mixing through the summer, you can see the need to test them on site.”
It was confirmed in July by the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson that schools could remove measures including bubbles and face masks when they return in September, but The I reports that a recent survey of more than 1,200 senior teaching staff found that many schools are still planning preventative measures.
Nearly one in five schools are reportedly planning to stagger the start or end of the school year throughout the coming term.
Steve Chalke – Chief Executive of Oasis – said: “Headteachers have called for months for a way of opening schools and keeping them open to avoid a third year of academic disruption to children.”
Despite the reports that staggered start times will be introduced, and the first school week could be delayed, Department for Education (DfE) insiders have denied that kids will lose out with more chaos when they return next term.
They said schools can reopen the week before term starts to begin testing.
And a DfE spokesperson added: “Settings may commence testing three working days before the start of term and can stagger the return of pupils across the first week.”
Featured Image – David L. Ryan / Getty
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”