Advertisements

Tag Archives: social

Keep dancing?

Gemma Atkinson, Alexandra Burke, Joe McFadden, Debbie McGeeImage copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption The fantastic four: Gemma Atkinson, Alexandra Burke, Joe McFadden and Debbie McGee

“It’s a really life-changing thing that we’ve done. It feels like we’ve been altered, in a really good way.”

Joe McFadden is musing on his Strictly experience before he steps on to the dance floor for the last time during the show’s grand final at 18:30 GMT on BBC One on Saturday.

“It’s made me so much braver and more adventurous than I was before,” he says, talking about the 13-week roller coaster that’s taken him from ballroom beginner to debonair dancer.

Adventurous is one word for the daring cantilever move he and professional dance partner Katya Jones executed in the semi-final.

‘Beyond thrilled’

Jones hoisted the former Holby City actor to his feet in a tricky balance during their Argentine Tango which McFadden jokes has seen “doctors’ appointments go up 300%”, because of fans attempting it.

“We’re beyond thrilled,” he beams, speaking ahead of the finalists’ press conference on their last day of rehearsals. “It’s fantastic to still be here. It’s lovely to have that hard work recognised.”

Image copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption Joe McFadden’s gravity-defying move

He’s not the only one of the four finalists to be pinching themselves at getting through – and to feel that the show is life-changing.

Actress and radio host Gemma Atkinson, singer Alexandra Burke and presenter Debbie McGee are also in the final four.

Former X Factor winner Burke recalls that when she found out she was to be on Strictly, she screamed so much she lost her voice – and she was appearing in a show in Cardiff that night.

The singer has perhaps has had to cope with more than most, as her mother Melissa Bell died shortly after it was announced she was appearing on the show.

Image copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption Alexandra gives Debbie “Flexie” McGee a run for her money

“At the time I was going through so much, and then of course, as soon as we started, that was a very hard time for me,” she says.

“But to have this as an amazing distraction, a blessing in disguise, something I’ve been able to focus on and also as well to get the most amazing friendship with Gorka out of it, has been absolutely out of this world.”

Burke says Strictly was her mum’s “favourite show”, and adds: “My mum was just the most amazing woman who gave me so much strength and she still does to this day. Everything I do is for my family, so I think she’d be proud.”

She admits to being “quite emotional” at reaching the final, adding: “My highlight has been meeting Gorka and making a friend.”

‘You’re a team’

Gemma Atkinson, the actress and radio presenter, says: “It’s been a lot more than I expected. I didn’t think it would be so mentally involved – I thought I would just learn to dance.

“Since meeting Aljaz [Skorjanec], and him being my dance partner, I feel like there’s a lot more to it. Every week, we’ve gone out wanting to do more than what you’re physically capable of, not letting him down. You feel like you’re a team. I never expected to be that involved in it.”

Image copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption Gemma and Aljaz danced to Downtown in the Blackpool Tower ballroom

She adds: “Being on Strictly has just been one of the best, most enjoyable experiences of my life. Me and Aljaz were the first couple to dance on the Strictly dance floor of 2017. The pressure was on to start the series with a bang. At the end of the dance, I remember he whispered in my ear – ‘you’ve done it kid, first one down’.

“I’ve never danced in my life. I never did stage school or drama school. Putting on a show every Saturday is new to me. I hope I inspire other women to think, ‘if she can do it, I can do it and all’.”

‘I lost who I was’

And McGee says that her experience has brought her “nothing but happiness”.

“I’ve loved everything about it – mostly because of Giovanni [Pernice, her dance partner],” she explains. “He’s taught me a lot more than just learning to dance. He has nurtured me through such a lot. I couldn’t imagine having done it without having him as a partner.

“After [husband] Paul [Daniels] died, I kind of lost who I was. And I think Strictly has given me my confidence back. I’ll remember my Strictly experience as being a time that brought happiness back into my life.”

Image copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption Debbie and Giovanni did a routine to Memory from Cats in Musicals week

She describes Strictly as “a family” – and that any negative press or social media comments “is not even 1%” of the overall experience.

“Everything else is so positive and happy that it doesn’t affect you much. Everything about Strictly is a happy experience.”

They all say they hope to carry on dancing after the final – even though of course, only one of them can lift the glitterball trophy on Saturday night.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email .

Advertisements

Sales pitch

The Residence John LewisImage copyright Simon Groves
Image caption Guests get to sleep over in a John Lewis store

As more of us shop online, retailers are using quirky events and experiences to lure us back to the High Street. But will it work?

To many, the idea of spending a night in an empty shop will conjure visions of hell. After all, how would you entertain yourself, and wouldn’t it be eerily quiet?

But UK department store John Lewis believes that a good number of us think the opposite, and has been offering the opportunity to customers at its Liverpool, Cambridge and London Oxford Street stores.

In each case, an applicant chosen at random gets to stay the night at “The Residence”, a plush apartment based right in the middle of the shop.

Image copyright Simon Groves
Image caption John Lewis has Residence apartments in its Oxford Street, Liverpool and Cambridge stores

They can bring friends, try out products and clothes, watch films, and go on a private shopping tour. They are also served dinner and breakfast by a concierge.

John Lewis hopes the Residence will create a buzz in its stores, at a time when growing numbers of us are shopping online and shunning the High Street. But outside John Lewis’s Oxford Street store some shoppers are sceptical.

“It just smacks of desperation,” says customer Fiona, “it’s so materialistic it’s sad.”

Another, Shereen, says she finds the idea of sleeping in a shop “cold and impersonal”, although Robin says he would happily give it a go.

Image caption Shopper Shereen finds the idea of sleeping in John Lewis cold and impersonal

“It’s a weird idea but it’s quite fun… I think that sort of thing is good for the High Street.”

From yoga classes to guest lectures, and celebrity appearances to planned cycle rides, retailers around the world are increasingly offering “experiences” on their premises to reel us in and get us spending.

In fact, according to research from Barclaycard Payment Solutions, more than a third of UK retailers now host such events, while 19% plan to start doing so in the next three years.

It comes at a time when online shopping has left High Street sales under pressure, contributing to big brands such as Jaeger going into administration, and American Apparel, Marks & Spencer and Macy’s closing many outlets.

Image copyright John Lewis
Image caption John Lewis now offers exercise classes on the roof of its Oxford Street store

John Lewis wouldn’t let us speak to anyone who’d stayed at its store, but customer experience director Peter Cross says that “thousands” applied for the opportunity.

He also points to a long list of quirky customer experiences now offered in John Lewis stores, including boxing classes, a personal styling service for men, product training workshops, and nail and brow bars.

“I think it comes from the recognition that the role of shops has to change, and they have to be more than a route to sell things,” he says. “Retailers have to think of new reasons why customers might want to come into physical spaces.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption American Apparel is one of a number of big High Street brands to have collapsed in the face of rising online competition

Some believe offering novel experiences in shops drives footfall, encourages people to stay in stores for longer, and builds customer loyalty – all of which lifts sales.

In September, Barclaycard surveyed 250 UK businesses, and found that those who hosted events and provided entertainment saw annual turnover increase by 14% – although it admits it couldn’t definitively prove that the experiences were the cause.

One advocate of the trend is Evans Cycles, the high-end bike seller. It began running group bike rides from its stores this year, and plans to expand the initiative in 2018.

“Cycling can be pretty male dominated, but the rides attracted more women than we expected, and cyclists who were just getting the bug,” says James Backhouse, marketing director at the UK firm.

In addition, more than half of those who took part spent money in the stores straight after the event.

Image copyright Evans Cycles
Image caption Evans Cycles held organised bike rides at 28 stores last year.

“If you have an average looking shop with average products this sort of thing won’t save you,” adds Mr Backhouse.

“But if you are doing everything else well then this will help. Renting space on the High Street is expensive, but the one thing you can’t do online is meet people.”

body-width”>

More stories from the BBC‘s Business Brain series looking at interesting business topics from around the world:

body-width”>

Peter Fadar, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business, Pennsylvania, says that while more shops are putting on events and entertainment, most don’t do it well.

Image copyright JeremyJosselin
Image caption Nike regularly invites celebrities to its stores. In July golfer Rory McIlroy met fans at the Nike Store in London.

“Much of it is in a novelty phase – consumers may be taking the bait but they will tire of it, and a lot of these initiatives won’t work.”

He notes that in the past, shops used to be social hubs at the centre of communities, and modern retailers are trying to recreate that effect. But delivering that sort of intimate customer relationship at scale is “extremely difficult”.

“The retailers who get it right become trusted advisors to their customers about all kinds of things, not just the products. They aren’t blatantly trying to get you to buy.”

Lululemon Athletica, which sells yoga-inspired athletic apparel around the world, believes it has achieved this goal and it has paid off.

Image copyright Lululemon
Image caption You can practise yoga at lululemon stores

Every week, each Lululemon store turns itself into an “instant studio”, offering activities ranging from yoga and meditation, to running clubs and high intensity interval training. Last year net revenues at the Canadian firm increased by 14% to $2.3bn (£1.7bn).

Its chief executive Laurent Potdevin tells the BBC: “We know people want human connection, so are reshaping the retail experience to reflect that in our stores.”

But some have criticised the brand for being too expensive, and questioned the authenticity of its yoga-inspired image.

Some brands may find it easier to offer targeted experiences than others. After all, how many of us would want to “shop and stay” in a bank or a supermarket?

Regardless, physical retailers need to respond to the rise of online shopping if they are to stay relevant, says George Allardice, head of strategy at Barclaycard Payment Solutions.

“Just going to a shop is no longer enough to justify spending more than you would online, or the time and petrol money it costs you to get there. You need to offer more.”

Leading women

Rachel Wang
Image caption Rachel Wang is a trustee for the National Portrait Gallery.

Rachel Wang is a 44-year-old mother of two and runs her own business. She is also on the board of trustees for the National Portrait Gallery.

“Being a trustee is not just about fancy dinners and private viewings. It’s a job which comes with a significant commitment,” she said.

Boards are responsible for taking key decisions and setting out strategies for public organisations across the country, from museums to prisons.

The government is launching a new plan to ensure these boards reflect society.

“Every institution needs diversity on its boards. They need our voices to be part of the conversation and the decision-making process,” said Rachel.

Data published this year shows that 43% of those on boards appointed by the UK government are women and 10% are from ethnic minorities.

This is a significant improvement since the government launched its first diversity action plan in 2013.

But by 2022 it wants to see a 50:50 gender split and 14% from ethnic minorities, in England and Wales.

In Scotland, where the devolved administration is also trying to improve female representation on public boards, the percentage of women is 42%.

The UK government setting up mentoring programmes and trying to raise awareness of opportunities through outreach events and social media to try to achieve its gender balance goal.

When Rachel saw the National Portrait Gallery was looking for a trustee with experience in digital media, she felt she could be a perfect fit.

As co-founder of Chocolate Films, a video production company whose specialisms included museums and galleries, she had plenty of relevant skills.

“I felt confident I had something to offer. But when I looked into it I had my reservations. The people on the board were very high-profile – billionaire investors, university professors, business moguls.”

Ultimately it was her husband who encouraged her to apply and she got the role.

“I’m not a great one for job applications nor job interviews. In fact the last job I applied for was back in the noughties,” she said.

“I run my own business so I don’t have a CV. The learning curve was huge.”

Image copyright Hiscox Insurance
Image caption Natalie Campbell is an entrepreneur and now sits on a number of boards

Natalie Campbell, 34, is an entrepreneur who runs a social innovation agency. She said mentoring could help people understand the application process and opportunities available.

She now sits on a number of boards, including for the Big Lottery Fund, contributing to decisions on how the organisation is run and where money goes.

“Mentoring is a key part of it. But mentoring needs to be before they even start the process, so they know how to start looking for these roles,” she said.

Camilla Poulton, 40, who is a former lawyer, agreed it could be “a bit of a hidden world”.

After taking a career break when she had children, she decided to apply to the Independent Monitoring Board for HMP Pentonville in London, which oversees conditions in the prison.

Her job involves talking to prisoners and staff about how the prison is working to ensure fair and humane treatment.

She found there wasn’t much public information about the roles available and had to look at annual reports to work out what boards did.

“We need to make the work of public appointments more visible to different sorts of candidates,” she said.

Image caption Camilla Poulton helps monitor conditions in HMP Pentonville in London

For Natalie, the most important thing about diversity is it avoids “groupthink”.

“There are times when you need people around the table who can say, ‘This is wrong, there are better ways to do this, we’re forgetting this community.’ New talent, diverse talent helps bring these different perspectives,” she said.

“For me it’s not just about gender or ethnicity or disability. If you have a board which is all-female but they all went to Oxbridge, you’re not getting diversity of thought there either.

“It’s also about socio-economic background. Having people around that table who have those lived experiences means the organisation will make much better decisions.”

While boards have become more diverse, significant disparities still remain in top roles.

43% of all appointments this year were women but when it comes to leadership positions the figure drops to around 30%.

“There are not enough female chairs or chairs from an ethnic minority background or with a disability. If there was going to be another target, a target for chair positions would be great,” said Natalie.

“But to become a chair you need to be around the table first, so it’s a step-by-step process.”

Minister for the Constitution Chris Skidmore, who is responsible for public appointments, said the targets were a “floor aspiration” and recognised “we still have a way to go”.

Mr Skidmore also recognised that the government needed to work “much harder” to improve representation of people with disabilities, but said current data was not yet “sufficiently robust” to set a target.

He said the government would commission a review into the barriers to disabled people taking up public appointment, to report next year.

While some positions are paid, others are voluntary and Natalie acknowledged being on a board is a significant responsibility.

“Yes it takes up time but what you get back is invaluable. The things I get to do I couldn’t pay to do,” she said.

“Boards are not places where you sit around and have meaningless conversations. You’re making decisions about things that make people’s lives better, and that’s what makes it worthwhile.”

Schools told not to dismiss sexual harassment ‘as banter’

Girl on phoneImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Teachers should be aware of the likelihood that that harassment can spread on social media

Sexual harassment or violence at school should never be dismissed as “banter”, new Department for Education guidance to schools and colleges has stressed.

“Sexting” explicit images and videos of under-18s is illegal, it says, and girls are the most likely victims.

Schools still have a duty to act if incidents outside school are reported.

The Women and Equalities Committee described the issuing of the guidance as a “belated, but critical, step in the right direction”.

It adds that more still needs to be done to make sure girls – who are the most likely victims of sexual violence in schools according to the guidance – are “safe and equal” at school.

The guidance, published on the government’s website on Thursday, highlights “best practice” but says it is for individual schools and colleges to develop their own policies and procedures. It has also launched a consultation on changes to statutory guidance – which sets out the legal duty on schools and colleges.

The new advice stresses that educational establishments should be making clear that sexual attacks and harassment “will never be tolerated and is not an inevitable part of growing up”, warning that if it is allowed, then it can “provide an environment that may lead to sexual violence”.

Behaviour such as “grabbing bottoms, breasts and genitalia” is potentially criminal and must not be permitted, it says.

Image copyright BBC Panorama
Image caption Pupils reporting abuse say they don’t feel supported.

The advice says those accused of sexual attacks or misbehaviour also need support and may be victims of abuse and trauma themselves.

Teachers should consider the ages of the pupils involved in deciding whether behaviour is harmful – particularly if there is more than two years between them, if one child is disabled or physically much smaller.

In any case of reported rape, the child accused should be removed from any classes they share with the alleged victim, “in the best interests of both children”. Schools or colleges should do “everything they reasonably can to protect the victim from bullying and harassment as a result of any report they have made”.

“Schools and colleges should also consider the potential impact of social media in facilitating the spreading of rumours and exposing victims’ identities,” the guidance says.

The government says a “whole school approach” should be taken which might include teaching pupils about healthy and respectful relationships, gender stereotyping, self-esteem and prejudice.

Social workers should be alerted if a child has been harmed and rape or assault allegations should be referred to the police. Parents should usually be informed, unless it is considered that this would put pupils at greater risk.

BBC Panorama discovered that reports of sexual offences on school premises in England and Wales increased from 386 in 2013-14 to 922 in 2016-17, according to 31 police forces – including 225 rapes on school grounds over the four years.

In its report last year, the Women and Equalities Committee warned that harassment of girls in English schools was being “accepted as part of daily life” and must be acted upon.

‘Safe places’

Its chairman, Maria Miller, said it was important that the new advice was being well promoted: “It is well over a year since the committee called for the government and schools to make girls’ safety an immediate priority and this is a belated, but critical, step in the right direction.

“The advice addresses in detail important issues that we highlighted in our report, including the need to get support from specialist services and recognising the forms that sexual harassment in schools can take.”

But she said more long-term work was needed “so that future generations of girls are safe and equal at school”.

For the government, Minister for Children Robert Goodwill said schools and colleges “should be safe places”.

“All schools must have an effective child protection policy that addresses a range of issues. To support schools we have published new advice specifically on sexual violence and sexual harassment.

“We are consulting proposed changes to the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance, to ensure it reflects the challenges that schools must be prepared to deal with.”

Parents giving children alcohol too young, researchers say

Filling glasses at the Christmas tableImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some parents give their children alcohol from an early age

Parents could be storing up problems for their children by introducing them to alcohol too young and ordering takeaways too often, researchers warn.

Two universities found that one in six parents gives their children alcohol by the age of 14, when their body and brain are not yet fully developed.

Many parents may believe they are acting responsibly – but that’s not backed up by research, experts said.

Regular takeaways were a risk to the heart, a separate study said.

A team of researchers from St George’s, University of London, surveyed nearly 2,000 nine and 10-year-olds on their diets and found that one in four ate takeaways at least once a week.

This group had higher body fat composition from consuming too many calories, and lower levels of vitamins and minerals than children who ate food cooked at home.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Eating too many takeaway meals increases children’s calorie intake

Continuing on this kind of diet could increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems later in life, the research team warned, saying takeaways should be “actively discouraged”.

When it comes to giving adolescents a taste of alcohol, well-educated parents of white children are the main culprits, research from University College London and Pennsylvania State University, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, suggests.

But very few ethnic minority parents said they allowed early drinking – only 2%.

Using data on 10,000 children from the Millennium Cohort Study, researchers found that light or moderate-drinking parents were just as likely to let their children drink alcohol as heavy-drinking parents.

Prof Jennifer Maggs, lead study author, said: “Parents of socially advantaged children may believe that allowing children to drink will teach them responsible use or may in fact inoculate them against dangerous drinking.

“However, there is little research to support these ideas.”

Previous research has shown that those who start drinking early are more likely to do badly at school, have behaviour issues, and develop alcohol problems in adulthood.

Official medical advice recommends that children don’t drink alcohol until they are at least 15.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Set clear rules for teenagers and booze, experts say

In the survey, 14-year-olds themselves were asked whether they had ever tried more than a few sips of alcohol, with almost half saying yes.

When they were 11, about 14% had done so.

Katherine Brown, chief executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said an alcohol-free childhood was best and this advice may not be getting to parents.

“We need to see better guidance offered to parents via social marketing campaigns and advice from doctors and schools.

“Parents deserve to know they can have a positive impact, and can reduce health harms associated with young people drinking.”

Dr John Larsen, from the charity Drinkaware, said parents and guardians had an important role to play in helping children learn about alcohol.

“While each parent or carer may choose to approach talking to their teenagers about alcohol in different ways, it is helpful to have clear rules and that the conversations are open and honest.”

How to talk to children about alcohol

  • Get the tone right – make it a conversation, not a lecture
  • Get the timing right – don’t wait until they are going out of the door to meet friends
  • Find a hook – like a recent film or TV storyline to start the conversation
  • Be honest – it’s far better to confess to what you did at their age
  • Set rules – teenagers feel safer if there are guidelines and boundaries

Drinkaware has more tips on strategies to prevent underage drinking.

Four Seasons Health Care gains breathing space

Elderly careImage copyright Getty Images

Care home company Four Seasons Health Care has won a reprieve on a major debt repayment which threatened the future of the firm.

The group, which looks after 17,000 elderly and vulnerable residents, had been due to make an interest payment of £26m by Friday.

However, Four Seasons has only £24.8m in cash and is £540.2m in debt.

It said the delay “ensures continuity of care for Four Seasons’ residents” and stability for its employees.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the UK‘s health watchdog, had been forced to step in to ensure that Four Seasons reached an agreement with its biggest creditor, the US fund manager H/2 Capital Partners.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said: “The Care Quality Commission has been consistently clear that people using any adult social care service, their families and carers, should be able to expect that the service will provide good quality care which can be sustained into the future”.

Ms Sutcliffe added: “Through our market oversight function, we will continue to closely track progress with the ongoing restructuring discussions until such time that they are satisfactorily concluded. Our market oversight regulatory responsibility is to advise local authorities if we believe that services are likely to be disrupted as a result of business failure.

“I would like to confirm at this point in time we do not believe that services are likely to be disrupted as a result of business failure.”

Stability

Four Seasons, which employs more than 25,000 people, said it aims to agree a restructuring plan 7 February next year and gain approval for the strategy by 2 April.

The care home was bought by the private equity firm Terra Firma in 2012 for £825m, the majority of which was made up of bond debt which carries regular interest payments.

Terra Firma sold the debt to H/2 Capital Partners and has subsequently offered to hand over the keys of the business to the fund manager.

Robbie Barr, chairman of Four Seasons, said the company is “very pleased to have reached a standstill agreement with H/2”.

He said: “The standstill gives a period of stability for the company and its stakeholders but most importantly for our residents, patients, their families and our employees.”

South Craven School teacher struck off

A PE teacher at South Craven School has been struck off after a misconduct hearing heard how he told a pupil he wanted to “unwrap her” and that he liked “naughty girls”.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership found that 37-year-old Paul Cuthbertson “fell significantly short” of expected professional standards.

He was accused of inappropriate contact with several pupils, as well as with a parent of a student, between 2015 and the beginning of 2016.

He was banned from teaching indefinitely and cannot apply for the order to be lifted until at least 2019.

Cuthbertson, who had been employed by the school since 2006 and coached the girls’ football team, told one girl he “fancied her all through school and had let her get away with things because he liked naughty girls”.

He also told a pupil he wanted to kiss her, and asked her to come to his house in a box so he could “unwrap” her.

He told another girl he was going to “check out the talent in Aldi”.

In comments to the girl’s mother, the panel heard he had used the term “Bradistan” to describe Bradford and told her he was a “man in demand”.

The panel heard he also compared the school’s head to Mr Majeika – a children’s book and television series about a wizard teacher.

Cuthbertson, who was not present at the hearing, admitted some of the allegations against him, but denied sending Facebook messages to a girl, claiming his account had been hacked.

This was dismissed by the panel as “highly unlikely” as he had previously been warned about his behaviour on social media by the school’s safeguarding team.

South Craven headteacher, Andrew Cummings, said Paul Cuthbertson resigned from South Craven School in January 2016 during an investigation into unacceptable professional conduct while employed as a PE teacher.

“The school took action as soon as the allegations came to light and Mr Cuthbertson was immediately suspended,” he said.

“The school supported by safeguarding agencies continued the investigation even though Mr Cuthbertson had resigned and reported their findings to the relevant authorities, which resulted in Mr Cuthbertson’s prohibition from teaching. The welfare and safety of our students is always our primary concern.”

Pervert PE teacher told pupil he’d fancied her all through school

A PE teacher at South Craven School has been struck off after a misconduct hearing heard how he told a pupil he wanted to “unwrap her” and that he liked “naughty girls”.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership found that 37-year-old Paul Cuthbertson “fell significantly short” of expected professional standards.

He was accused of inappropriate contact with several pupils, as well as with a parent of a student, between 2015 and the beginning of 2016.

He was banned from teaching indefinitely and cannot apply for the order to be lifted until at least 2019.

Cuthbertson, who had been employed by the school since 2006 and coached the girls’ football team, told one girl he “fancied her all through school and had let her get away with things because he liked naughty girls”.

He also told a pupil he wanted to kiss her, and asked her to come to his house in a box so he could “unwrap” her.

He told another girl he was going to “check out the talent in Aldi”.

In comments to the girl’s mother, the panel heard he had used the term “Bradistan” to describe Bradford and told her he was a “man in demand”.

The panel heard he also compared the school’s head to Mr Majeika – a children’s book and television series about a wizard teacher.

Cuthbertson, who was not present at the hearing, admitted some of the allegations against him, but denied sending Facebook messages to a girl, claiming his account had been hacked.

This was dismissed by the panel as “highly unlikely” as he had previously been warned about his behaviour on social media by the school’s safeguarding team.

South Craven headteacher, Andrew Cummings, said Paul Cuthbertson resigned from South Craven School in January 2016 during an investigation into unacceptable professional conduct while employed as a PE teacher.

“The school took action as soon as the allegations came to light and Mr Cuthbertson was immediately suspended,” he said.

“The school supported by safeguarding agencies continued the investigation even though Mr Cuthbertson had resigned and reported their findings to the relevant authorities, which resulted in Mr Cuthbertson’s prohibition from teaching. The welfare and safety of our students is always our primary concern.”

Wealthy students tighten grip on university places

Students in librariesImage copyright Getty Images

The most advantaged teens have tightened their grip on university places, pulling further ahead of the least advantaged, Ucas data shows.

Although more poorer students won places at university this year, wealthy students increased at a higher rate.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said he was reforming the sector to encourage equality of opportunity.

The data also shows the number of unconditional offers made to students jumped 40% last year to 51,615.

These are offers made to students on the basis of their predicted grades rather than their actual results.

Although at least one unconditional offer was made to 17.5% of students it is important to remember that students generally make five choices.

This year, unconditional offers accounted for less than 1% of offers made by the largest 140 higher education providers.

Equality measure

Assessing the year-on-year data, the University and College Admissions Service said there had been no progress in equal representation since 2014.

Successive ministers have required universities to do more to increase access for disadvantaged groups.

And Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to put social mobility at the heart of her policies

Ucas is using a new measure of equality that combines social background, ethnicity and gender to examine how well universities are opening their doors to all sections of society.

Statisticians feel it sheds more light on the issue of equality of access because it looks at the interplay of a number of factors.

Details of this backwards step on social mobility come at a time when the chances of getting a place at university have never been higher.

In 2017, a third of 18-year-olds were accepted on to higher education courses in England.

But a detailed look at who these teenagers are shows the most advantaged group increased their entry rate by 1.8% to 53.1% in 2017.

This means over half of 18-year-olds in this top social group got places at university.

Meanwhile, 13.8% of the most disadvantaged group netted places on courses, an increase of 1.2%.

The statistics also show teenagers from the most advantaged group are still nearly 10 times more likely to attend the most competitive universities.

However, the least advantaged students have made some headway, increasing their entry rates to these top institutions by 7.4%.

Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, said: “Although our analysis shows that a record number of disadvantaged young people have entered higher education this year – with the greatest increase at higher-tariff providers – gaps in participation remain wide.”

The Ucas data also again shows that white pupils are less likely to go to university than any other ethnic group.

‘More to do’

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said he was encouraged by the record entry rates for young people going to university, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Today’s figures show that 18-year-olds from disadvantaged areas are now 50% more likely to go university in 2017 than in 2009.

“However, we recognise that there is more to do.

“That’s why we have introduced sweeping reforms, including the new Office for Students, to ensure equality of opportunity.”

Geoff Barton, head of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Schools and colleges across the country are straining every sinew to improve the opportunities for disadvantaged pupils, and indeed all their young people. Significant challenges remain, however.

“In many communities, the impact of unemployment, insecure and low-paid work, and poor quality housing has had a devastating impact on the hopes and aspirations of families.

“In areas where traditional industries have collapsed, many white British families have been badly affected, and it is therefore not surprising that white pupils are proportionally less likely to go to university than other ethnic groups.”

Prof Les Ebdon, director of Fair Access to Higher Education, was encouraged by the increase in disadvantaged students at top universities, but said they were still 5.5 times less likely to attend these institutions than their advantaged peers.

“As a result, people with the potential to excel are missing out on opportunities. This is an unforgivable waste of talent, and universities must continue to press for transformational progress.”

Greening pledges £23m to help poor pupils with talent

ClassroomImage copyright PA
Image caption Children might show early ability that is not later fulfilled

Education Secretary Justine Greening is to announce a £23m fund to support bright children from poorer backgrounds in England whose talent might otherwise be “wasted”.

The aim is to reverse a trend in which bright poor pupils are overtaken in school by less able wealthier children.

It will be part of a relaunched social mobility strategy.

Labour’s Angela Rayner said the plans were “rhetoric” against a background of funding cuts and lower real-terms pay.

Falling behind

The Future Talent Fund, drawn from existing Department for Education budgets, will test new ways of supporting the most able youngsters from deprived areas.

There will be a tendering process for ideas to tackle the problem of poorer youngsters who show great ability when they begin school but who do not fulfil their potential.

Image caption Justine Greening says social mobility remains at the heart of her education plans

This could be about finding ways to engage parents or schemes for mentoring, extra activities or how lessons are delivered.

The education secretary will highlight the importance of a good start in children’s early years, with £50m reallocated to support the opening of nurseries in areas without enough childcare provision.

Ms Greening says that education has to be “at the heart of social mobility”, but the government’s strategy has come under fire.

Earlier this month, the board of the Social Mobility Commission resigned in protest at the lack of progress.

And yesterday, the Office for National Statistics published figures showing wage stagnation, with average wage increases continuing to fall behind inflation.

But Ms Greening will restate that social mobility remains a priority and that the “overarching ambition is to leave no community behind”, in a strategy called Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential.

‘Defining challenge’

“The reality is that in modern Britain, where you start too often decides where you finish,” she will say at a social mobility conference in London.

“This is a defining challenge for us as a nation. We have talent spread evenly across this great country – the problem is that opportunity is not.”

Head teachers’ leader Paul Whiteman says equality remains “out of reach for too many young people“.

But the NAHT leader backed the plans for a more “joined-up” approach, with schools’ efforts to “narrow the gap” being linked to businesses, employers and local community initiatives.

“The issues that underpin inequality reach far beyond the school gates and exist throughout the communities that schools serve,” said Mr Whiteman.

Prof Les Ebdon, director of Fair Access to Higher Education, also backed the plans.

“Talent is found across the country – from council estate to country estate – and ensuring that your postcode doesn’t act as a barrier to your potential must remain a top priority,” he said.

But Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, rejected the government’s promises of social mobility, saying that they were contradicted by their decisions on funding.

“Ministers have slashed funding for Sure Start, cut school budgets by £2.7bn, imposed real-terms cuts on teachers’ pay and abolished the education maintenance allowance which has made it harder for those from disadvantaged backgrounds to stay in education,” she said.