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News round-up 12/8: Charity reports child obesity concerns

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Academies ‘inflating’ grades | Labour sparks immigration row

Childhood obesity

Research from the British Heart Foundation shows children are more likely to have a can of sugary drink per day than to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables, the Guardian reports.

 

Education

The Guardian reports that a “significant number” of teachers at academy schools have said they are being pressured to artificially inflate pupils’ grades. It says figures from the charity Public Concern at Work show an 80% rise in complaints from the education sector over the last 12 months, which has been “boosted by a noticeable increase in calls from teachers at academy schools”.

 

Immigration

Labour was at the centre of a “British jobs for British workers row” yesterday after it claimed that major firms were using cheap migrant labour to undercut local people. An article in the Daily Mail reports that shadow immigration Minister Chris Bryant has made the suggestion that retail giants such as Tesco and Next were deliberately targeting immigrant workers at the expense of British staff.

Mr Bryant is due to make a speech today, with the paper reporting that he will attack “unscrupulous employers” who seem to “deliberately exclude British people.”

However, the article continues by suggesting that both Tesco and Next have denied the claims made in Mr Bryant’s speech, with Next saying that the only reason it employs workers from Poland is because local people refuse to apply for seasonal work.

 

Skills

Top-class vocational qualifications should be called A-levels so they have the prestige they need to rescue the UK from its chronic skills shortage, the head of the CBI argues today.

In an interview with the Independent, John Cridland, Director General of the CBI, said that “many of our business members still see A-levels as the gold standard of the education system – so if we’re looking to put vocational qualifications on a par with academic, why don’t we call them A-levels too?”

The article went on to report that Mr Cridland believed there was a “blind spot” at the Department for Education over vocational qualifications, but that he was “encouraged” by plans announced last month to run a new “tech level” alongside A-levels – offering qualifications in a range of subjects including engineering, IT, accounting and hospitality.

“If we are raising the education leaving age to 18, we need to offer our young people a range of academic and vocational A-levels,” Mr Cridland explained.

Fracking

In an article in the Daily Telegraph prime minister David Cameron writes that safe fracking will cut energy bills and create wealth without ruining the countryside.

Mr Cameron notes that fracking has the real potential to drive energy bills down, and went on to argue that at a time when people were struggling with the cost of living that it was right for the Government to help try and relieve the pressure.

The Prime Minister went on to argue that fracking would create jobs in Britain, and cited the fact that one recent report indicated that 74,000 posts could be supported by a thriving shale-gas industry.

In terms of the impact on communities, Mr Cameron highlighted the fact that companies had agreed to pay £100,000 to every community situated near an exploratory well. Indeed, he went on to confirm that if gas is then extracted, 1 per cent of the revenue – as much as £10m – will go straight back to residents who live near extraction points.

 

Community assets

The Daily Telegraph reports that a hundred pubs have been listed by councils as “assets of community value” in a move that aims to prevent pub closures.  

 

Voluntary prompt payment code

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable is looking at imposing a levy on businesses that fail to pay their suppliers promptly, after a Whitehall push to cajole companies into improving their behaviour voluntarily failed to make enough impact.

The Financial Times reports that Dr Cable has asked his officials to look at whether Britain should introduce a fine for late payments, with the threat of Government intervention coming after months of pressure by Whitehall to get businesses to sign up to the Government’s voluntary prompt payment code.

The paper reports that less than half of FTSE 350 companies have signed up, with just 71 from the FTSE 250 and 72 from the FTSE 100.

The average small business was owed £31,000 in overdue payments in April, amounting to £30.2bn across the economy, according to research by Bacs, the payments body.

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Academies are little 'businesses' and will inevitably employ marketing skills to spin success into their publicity.

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