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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS

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RIGHT-TO-ROAM PLEA BY MINISTER ...
RIGHT-TO-ROAM PLEA BY MINISTER

Rural affairs minister Alun Michael said yesterday that some farmers with 'medieval' attitudes might try to block ramblers using new right-to-roam laws, reported the Financial Times (p4).

Launching draft maps of open country in south east and north west England, Mr Michael said most farmers understood the new access rights and walkers knew about their responsibilities, but there were some farmers who might be obstructive.

The draft maps show proposed right-to-roam access land and are available for inspection, as part of the consultation exercise, in libraries and on the internet. Landowners and farmers have until the end of February to object if they feel their property has been wrongly included.

OUTSIDE PROFESSIONALS TO EASE TEACHER SHORTAGE

The government hopes to avert a forecast shortage of 40,000 teachers by drafting in other professionals, including staff from industry and business, reported the Financial Times (p6).

Outsiders from the private sector, probably with degrees or doctorates, would come on loan or in exchanges. According to education and skills secretary Estelle Morris they would be expected to 'enrich' teaching and help to free teachers for their core duties. Others from universities and colleges would also be recruited so teachers could have more flexible timetables.

Ms Morris told the Social Mareket Foundation that teaching must remodel itself to keep up to date. IT would be used more to teach more online. It could be one of the special turning points in the history and development of the education system. Along with the forthcoming education Bill, the reforms opened the way for much wider use of off-site teachers delivering lessons online to supervised classes.

The government has promised 10,000 extra teachers. But the surprise in Ms Morris's speech was the revelation that even the government believes the teacher shortages will get far worse. By 2006 forecast demand is expected to reach 450,000 compared with 410,000 today in England and Wales.

HACKNEY ACCUSED OF TRYING TO INFLUENCE INQUIRY

Haringey LBC has secretly tried to influence the inquiry into one of Britain's worst cases of child abuse, its chairman said yesterday, reported The Times (p13).

Lord Laming, who chairs the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, said the council has sent him 'a letter that should never have been written...I will not tolerate any covert attempt to influence the way in which the inquiry is conducted'.

The council has been subject to much of the criticism of the inquiry so far, which intends to reform child protection in Britain. Its social workers had closed the case on eight-year-old Victoria the day before she was killed last year after months of beatings and burns.

Haringey has been accused of underspending by£10m on child protection. The council's letter asked Lord laming to tone down criticism of social workers and redress the balance by being more critical of other agencies.

PUPILS COULD LEAVE SCHOOL AT 15

All pupils should take GCSE a year earlier and spend three years instead of two in the sixth form, the government's chief adviser on examinations and the curriculum said yesterday.

David Hargreaves said the move would meet the government's aim of combining breadth and depth and open up more vocational opportunities for pupils.

It could also mean lowering the statutory school-leaving age to 15. As a start, academically able pupils should take both the Key Stage 3 tests and GCSE a year early.

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