Daily roundup: Disabled athletes, free schools, and children's centres in Sheffield

Neil Puffett
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Research into children's views on disability and the Paralympics, figures show one in four free school applications come from religious groups, and plans to reorganise children's centres in Sheffield, all in the news today.

Researchers in Nottingham found a significant shift in children's views of disabled people following the Paralympics last summer. Image: Alastair Fyfe
Researchers in Nottingham found a significant shift in children's views of disabled people following the Paralympics last summer. Image: Alastair Fyfe

Children have more positive perceptions of disabled people since last summer’s Paralympic Games in London, research has found. A study by Nottingham Trent University questioned pupils in two separate schools before and after the games. Before the games, only 22 per cent of the personality adjectives chosen by pupils to describe Paralympic athlete were positive, but this rose to 92 per cent in 2013. 

More than 100 religious groups have applied to open free schools. The Independent reports that 132 of the 517 applications to open free schools in the past two years have come from faith groups. The figures emerged following a freedom of information request by the British Humanist Society. Faith groups seeking to open their own schools included Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs, and Christians.

Plans to reorganise children’s centres in Sheffield to save £3.5m are to go ahead following a consultation. The Sheffield Star reports that 17 of the current 36 centres will be re-designated as “hub centres”, with the remaining centres becoming “outreach facilities”. Up to 50 jobs are at risk under the plans.

Parents in Essex are being warned about a scam involving fraudsters demanding truancy fines over the phone. The East London and West Essex Guardian reports that parents have been called by someone claiming to be from the authority's education welfare service, demanding credit card details to pay a £340 fine. “At no time would the education welfare service phone a parent demanding payment immediately over the phone,” a spokeswoman for Essex County Council said.

A charity supporting parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) has launched a survey to gauge the potential impact of the government’s Children and Families Bill. Independent Parental Special Education Advice (Ipsea) wants parents to fill in a short survey so it can lobby government on proposed changes to SEN law. Evidence from the survey will form part of the charity’s response to the public reading of the bill.

Westminster Council is spending £85,000 a week to house families in hotels in London, it has emerged. Responding to an investigation by The Metro, the leader of the council’s Labour group accused the authority of “gross financial incompetence”. Paul Dimoldenberg said: “Westminster Council’s hotel bills continue to rise as London’s housing crisis deepens.” In November, housing minister Mark Prisk told the council that its placing of families with children in b&b hotels for more than six weeks was “unlawful and unacceptable”

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