Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Leicestershire Police criticised after disciplining schoolboy who flicked elastic band at another boy

A mother has criticised police after two officers were sent to discipline her 12-year-old son for flicking an elastic band at another boy at school.

Angela Brightwell thought teachers had dealt with the minor incident outside the schoolmates two weeks earlier.

Her son told her the band accidentally shot out of his hand and hit a younger boy in the face and he had apologised.

However, Ms Brightwell said her son was left in tears when two officers turned up at his home while he was watching Saturday night TV with his family.

Ms Brightwell, 42, said she opened the front door to find two PCs demanding to see her son.

The schoolboy, who does not want to be named, was then given a dressing-down on the doorstep in view of neighbours and told his behaviour was "bullying" and "not acceptable", said Ms Brightwell.

The police admitted the other boy had not been injured but said he was "traumatised" by what had happened a fortnight earlier.

And after hearing the 12 year-old's version of events the officers left after five minutes and said they would take no further action.

Ms Brightwell said: "I am very angry. I cannot believe the police would investigate something like this - even if he had a mark I still can't believe they would investigate.

"I just want to know why the police were investigating a 12-year-old boy on a Saturday evening. I cannot get over it really. My son is not a bully. I'm really shocked.

"I am horrified they would waste resources on it all."

Ms Brightwell said the rubber band accident happened at the beginning of October outside her son's secondary school in Leicestershire.

He was playing with the elastic when it shot out of his hand and hit a younger boy on the head.

Her son said he immediately ran up to the other lad, who he did not know, to apologise and both were taken into school to be dealt with.

Ms Brightwell said: "My first concern was that the other boy had been badly hurt but they told me that he was fine, just traumatised.

"My son had told me the school had sorted it out. I didn't think it was a big deal, it was an accident, he was playing with it, it flicked out of his hand and accidentally hit the boy.

"He apologised straight away to the boy and thought that was the end of it."

Leicestershire Police said they acted after the younger boy's mother reported the incident to officers.

A force spokeswoman said: "The mother of an 11 year-old boy reported that her son had been flicked in the face with a rubber band by another child.

"Officers attended both families and advice was given. No crime was committed and therefore no investigation was launched."


Romantic poets put rigour back in GCSEs in British exams shake-up

Teenagers must study at least 15 poems, including works by the likes of Keats, Shelley and Byron, for the new English literature exam in a toughening-up of GCSEs.

All pupils will read a series of ‘high-quality, intellectually challenging and substantial whole texts in detail’ as part of reformed qualifications.

Exam boards will set questions on the compositions from five or more different poets as well as 19th- century novels and British fiction or drama post-1914.

Pupils will also need extra lessons to cope with new maths GCSEs and be forced to pay greater attention to spelling and grammar in English language exams due to stricter marking.

Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday heralded a ‘rigorous and robust’ overhaul of core GCSEs that will help match the standards expected in other countries.

Reformed GCSEs in English literature, English language and maths will be taught from September 2015. The Department for Education published new syllabuses yesterday and will announce changes in other core subjects next year.

In English literature, there is a new emphasis on reading ‘whole texts’ to prevent children gaining GCSEs by focusing on ‘extracts’ of poems and novels.

The new requirements mean that teenagers must study at least one play by Shakespeare, at least one 19th-century novel, a selection of poetry since 1789, including representative Romantic poetry, and fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards.

Pupils will need to study a minimum of 300 lines of poetry. Current GCSE requirements are far less specific. They stipulate that students must study poetry, prose and drama including texts from different cultures and traditions, contemporary writers and the English, Welsh or Irish literary heritage and one Shakespeare play.

English language exams will include more marks for accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar – up from 12 to 20 per cent. Marks for spoken language exams will no longer contribute to final grades amid fears over inconsistent marking in schools.

The qualification will also encourage the study of literature for those who do not take English literature GCSEs.

In maths, a ‘much wider and deeper’ range of content will ‘require greater teaching time and greater testing time’, according to the DfE. This will amount to at least one extra maths lesson a week.

Students will need to apply their knowledge and reasoning to develop arguments and solve ‘real-world problems’. This will include financial mathematics.

They must also learn key formulae by heart such as the formula for the area of a triangle. Currently, formulae are given in exams. The changes form part of a major Coalition reform of qualifications sat by 600,000 teenagers in England each year.

Ofqual, the exam regulator, has announced a shake-up of the structure of GCSEs, with a new grading system, less coursework and a greater focus on end-of-course tests – scrapping modular exams.

The traditional A* to G grading structure will be replaced with a nine-point scoring system.

Mr Gove said yesterday: ‘The new GCSEs in English and mathematics set higher expectations. They demand more from all students and provide further challenges for those aiming to achieve top grades.’


Nervous British teachers ban exotic animal expert from showing children reptiles and snakes for "health and safety" reasons

Teachers banned an exotic animal expert from a school after fears were raised over health and safety.

Reptile specialist Rob Louth was due to present a workshop to a group of children during half-term at St George’s Academy in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

But he was stunned when panicking staff rang him five minutes before his presentation began and ordered him to remove the creatures from the school premises.

Mr Louth, who recently won an award for his nationwide animal talks, was forced to quickly show the devastated children the exotic creatures in their travel boxes before taking them out of the school.

The 35-year-old had planned to show a tarantula, lizard, snakes, meerkats and skunks to the excited young carers in his 90 minute workshop on October 23.

A carer’s organisation had booked the school buildings to give the youngsters - who care for their disabled or seriously ill parents - a well-deserved treat.

Mr Louth said: 'It’s health and safety gone mad. I’ve done displays in schools, shopping centres and parks, more or less anywhere.

'I did a national tour of shopping centres with Skoda on a promotional tour with my animals and you can’t get much more of a health and safety nightmare than a shopping centre. But they accepted me and my licences.

'These kids had come from all over for this workshop and I’d been booked to be there for some time.

'The carers group had hired the school to put on a series of workshops for them as a treat.'

He added: 'I was in and had got all the animals there set up ready to go but five minutes before I was due to start I got a phone call saying no reptiles were allowed.

'I spoke to a senior member of staff on the phone and said can they give a reason but she just said no. Then I said well if I can’t show the reptiles I will just show the invertebrates and mammals’ but then she said no animals at all.

'I decided to stay as long as I could and keep the animals in the boxes so the kids could at least see something and I talked to them about the animals.

'But I had to pack the animals away and leave with a group of deserving kids sat at their desks with their cameras out ready. It was ridiculous.The kids were gutted.'

The carer’s organisation had booked Mr Louth to do his hour-and-a-half workshops on Wednesday, October 23 and Thursday, October 24.

But because of the school’s ban, he was forced to walk the children to a local youth centre and do a rushed workshop on the Thursday.

Mr Louth, from Ruskington, Lincolnshire, added: “This is what I do for a living. I am fully insured.  'I’ve got every licence under the sun. I’m even licensed to work with dangerous animals like a cobra or alligator.

'I’m just really disappointed for the kids. At the end of the day they missed out for no real reason.'


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