Sturgeon defends part-time return of secondary school pupils

FM says expert advice does not yet support all high school students returning full-time to face-to-face learning.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has defended plans for secondary school pupils to return to school part-time from Monday – despite being told some youngsters could spend less than two hours a week in the classroom.

The First Minister said that despite the fall in coronavirus case numbers, expert advice does not yet support all high school students returning full-time to face-to-face learning.

While all children will be back in primary school from Monday, March 15, secondary school pupils will only receive some in-school education, with a blended approach meaning they will continue to do some of their learning at home until after the Easter break.

Sturgeon insisted: “We would not have been able to say to secondary school pupils everybody can be back full-time from March 15.

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“So it was a choice between some limited in-school provision or no in-school provision at all.”

But Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie told her: “The amount of education for S1 to S3 students seems to vary from one day a week to one hour and 45 minutes for some.”

Pressing her on the issue during a meeting of Holyrood’s Covid-19 Committee, he added: “There’s lots of angry parents out there.”

Rennie went on to claim that “most parents” think the blended learning system will “adversely impact” on the education their children receive

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“Teachers and school leaders are pretty clear there is a diminished educational offer for these two weeks,” he added.

Sturgeon said: “We want to get young people back into school full-time, we achieved that in August and we think that can be achieved again and our aim is for that to be possible after the Easter break.”

But she added that for secondary school pupils, ministers had to decide if the focus should be entirely on S4 to S6 youngsters, who are working towards qualifications, or if younger students should also be able to get some time back in the classroom.

Sturgeon said that even if the time they get in school is “limited”, the government had opted for this approach because of concerns over “not just the educational impact of being out of school 100% of the time, but the wellbeing impact as well, being separated from friends and normal life”.

She added: “We decided to try, even if it was limited, in the period between now and Easter to get young people back into school for some periods and to reacquaint them ahead of the Easter holidays.

“We are trying to get back to the provision of full-time education as quickly as is possible, and to recognise the need to introduce, even if it is partial, and even if it is phased, and even if it is limited, greater degrees of normality for young people from now onwards.”

The plan was also criticised by the Scottish Conservatives in parliament on Tuesday.

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The party’s Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson said: “Last week the First Minister raised the hopes of parents and pupils with her promise of ‘very significant steps’.

“But her words were hollow. Instead of a meaningful return to normal schooling, the reality for many pupils has been just a few hours in the classroom.

“Our young people have suffered greatly over this past year, not only through severe disruption to their education, but the potential impact on their mental health.

“Having been repeatedly failed by the SNP government, they deserve more than half-baked plans which often fail to live up their billing.”

Police issue dispersal call over George Square disorder

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf had earlier called those in attendance "selfish and irresponsible".

Euan Cherry via SNS Group
Celebrations: Thousands of fans attended the city centre.

A dispersal order has been issued by Police Scotland over disorder in Glasgow city centre as thousands of Rangers fans celebrate.

Officers say they will now disperse anyone who has gathered in George Square.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf had earlier called those in attendance “selfish and irresponsible” as he said they were endangering lives due to the ongoing Covid risk.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Due to the level of disorder in George Square, Police Scotland will make use of powers available under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 to disperse those who have chosen to gather.

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“The senior police officer on the ground will give direct instructions to those gathered.”

Thousands of fans took to the city centre following the Ibrox side’s 4-0 win over Aberdeen on Saturday that seen them lift the league trophy for the first time since 2011.

Police earlier confirmed that several arrests had taken place and videos posted online showed scuffles breaking out among the crowds.


Yousaf: ‘Selfish’ Rangers fans are ‘endangering lives’

Thousands of Rangers fans took to Glasgow city centre to celebrate their title win.

Euan Cherry via SNS Group
Rangers fans: 'Endangering lives' with 'Covid risk' celebrations.

Humza Yousaf says Rangers fans congregating in Glasgow city centre to celebrate their Premiership title win are endangering the lives of others

The justice secretary is now in talks with authorities over taking further action against what he calls “selfish and irresponsible behaviour”.

Thousands of fans took to the city centre following the Ibrox side’s 4-0 win over Aberdeen on Saturday that seen them lift the league trophy for the first time since 2011.

But Yousaf says their actions increase the risk of Covid transmission during a ‘crucial and fragile’ stage.

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He said:“I understand the significance of this day for Rangers fans but I am extremely disappointed that supporters have once again ignored Covid regulations and chosen to gather in large numbers in Glasgow.

“The rules are the same for everyone and the evidence is clear – when large numbers of people gather in close proximity, there is an increased risk of transmission.

“We are in a crucial and fragile stage in our fight against the virus, with a new variant and rising infection rates adding to the risks.  

“This selfish and irresponsible behaviour endangers the lives of others – supporters, the police on duty and the wider community.

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“I want to thank the police for incredibly difficult job they are doing keeping our communities safe throughout the pandemic.

“We have already discussed this with Rangers and will liaise with Police Scotland and the football authorities to consider what further action can be taken.”

Police earlier confirmed that arrests had taken place for anti-social behaviour and videos posted online show several scuffles breaking out.

Coronavirus: 413 new cases reported in last 24 hours

There has been 413 new cases of coronavirus reported in Scotland over the last 24 hours....

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Covid: 413 new cases in Scotland.

There has been 413 new cases of coronavirus reported in Scotland over the last 24 hours.

Scottish Government figures released on Saturday also showed there was no new deaths of the virus on Friday.

Of 27,866 new tests for that reported results – 1.6% of these were positive.

Over three million people have now received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and 1,599,519 have received their second dose.

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Sixty-four people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed coronavirus, with three of those in intensive care, in addition, on Friday seven people with the virus had been in intensive care for more than 28 days.

Public Health Scotland said a data issue meant the numbers reported on Friday where artificially low and all data missing from that update has been included in Saturday’s.

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Two women beaten by groups aboard train and at station

Onboard the 8.30pm Glasgow Central to Ayr train service on Thursday a woman was attacked by a group of four females.

British Transport Police via BTP
British Transport Police is appealing for witnesses.

One woman was pulled to the ground before being kicked and punched and another needed hospital treatment in attacks in Ayrshire.

Onboard the 8.30pm Glasgow Central to Ayr train service on Thursday a woman was beaten by a group of four females.

She was pulled to the ground, kicked and punched repeatedly, police said. She was left with injuries to her face and head.

The suspects alighted at Kilwinning railway station while several fellow passengers came to the victim’s aid.

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Later that night, at around 11.20pm, a group of four women assaulted another woman at Ayr railway station. The victim had to be taken to hospital because of her injuries.

British Transport Police detective constable Martin Graham said: “We are urgently appealing for witnesses following these two awful incidents. Thankfully, these incidents are rare, and this type of behaviour will absolutely not be tolerated on the railway.

“We currently are pursuing a positive line of enquiry for both these assaults, however we urge anyone who witnessed either incident or has any information to come forward.”

Witnesses or anyone with information can contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 2100033615.

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Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Charity considers legal action against Home Office over raid

Two men being detained in an enforcement van were eventually released after it was surrounded by protesters.

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Police and protesters surrounded the immigration van in Kenmure Street, Glasgow, on Thursday.

A migrant charity has said it is investigating legal action against the Home Office for “casting aspersions” on two Indian nationals detained in Glasgow as “illegal” immigrants.

Lakhvir Singh and Sumit Sehdev were released from Border Force detention after crowds swarmed around the van in which they were held, preventing it from leaving Kenmure Street in Pollokshields on Thursday.

Demonstrators blocked the vehicle for several hours, with one even lying underneath its axles, before police released the pair on public safety grounds.

Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has blamed the Home Office for its “reckless action”, while First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has attacked its “appalling asylum and immigration policy”.

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Mr Singh and Mr Sehdev, both aged in their 30s and reportedly a mechanic and chef respectively, have lived in the UK for several years and are “part of a community”, said refugee and migrant charity Positive Action in Housing.

The charity’s director Robina Qureshi said: “The Home Office have referred to these men as illegal.

“Well they are wrong, and we are now investigating legal action against the Home Office for casting such aspersions.

“The term illegal in this context is part of the hostile environment. It’s not appropriate to use it for people who have lived in the UK for several years and are part of a community.

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“The men now have legal representation and are in the process of trying to regularise their status.

“The fact that they had no active legal representation before means they were left vulnerable.”

Jelina Berlow Rahman, a lawyer instructed to represent Mr Singh, said he has been in the country since 2008 and “has a right to a private life, a family life”.

She added: “It was evident the number of people who came together, that was his community, that was neighbours, that was his friends – the majority of people knew him.”

Ms Qureshi added: “Dawn raid vans have no place going into communities dragging innocent people from their homes. They are not, categorically not, criminals.”

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman said: “The UK Government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes, often to the most vulnerable people, by removing those with no right to be in the UK.

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“The operation in Glasgow was conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences and the two Indian nationals complied with officers at all times.

“The UK Government continues to tackle illegal migration in all its forms and our New Plan for Immigration will speed up the removal of those who have entered the UK illegally.”

Rangers defeat Aberdeen to complete ‘invincible’ league season

Rangers' 4-0 win at Ibrox was the final match of an undefeated league season.

Rob Casey via SNS Group
Rangers lifted the Premiership trophy at full-time.

Champions Rangers have completed an undefeated Premiership season, beating Aberdeen in their final league match at Ibrox.

Steven Gerrard’s side had secured their first league title in a decade back in March but pursued an ‘invincible’ league season, completing the task on the day they were handed the Premiership trophy.

The win at Ibrox also saw Rangers set a club record, breaking through the 100-point barrier to finish on 102 points, well ahead of runners-up Celtic.

With crowds of supporters outside Ibrox celebrating the title win, Gerrard was keen for his players to focus on the task at hand and hit their final targets of a demanding season.

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He saw them make the perfect start, going ahead after just five minutes. Rangers captain James Tavernier fired in a cross from the right and it hit Aberdeen defender Jack McKenzie and deflected across the face of goal, only for Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis to knock the ball over the line.

The home side remained in control and doubled their lead on 34 minutes. Ryan Kent carried the ball to the byline and played in a low cross and Kemar Roofe was on hand to guide it towards goal, with McKenzie once again getting a touch as the ball went past Lewis and into the net.

Aberdeen made two changes at half-time, with Fraser Hornby and Dean Campbell replacing Callum Hendry and Florian Kamberi. Hornby had the first clear chance of the second half but couldn’t connect fully when he got on the end of a ball in from Ryan Hedges.

The Dons then had another golden opportunity. With Rangers under pressure, Hornby put the ball across for Lewis Ferguson who smacked the ball off the crossbar with the goal gaping.

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Rangers soon put the result beyond doubt, with Roofe scoring his second and his team’s third. After Allan McGregor had saved with his legs, Rangers countered and Hagi found the striker, who side-footed in.

A flurry of substitutions by the home side refreshed their whole attacking line as Rangers remained on the front foot.

Hornby and Niall McGinn had chances for the visitors to try an narrow the gap but neither could beat Allan McGregor.

There was time for one last flourish from Rangers, as substitute Jermain Defoe took possession in the box and remained calm to shift past Aberdeen defenders and pick out a shot past Lewis to make it 4-0 before the title party started in earnest.


Man killed and another in hospital after two-car road crash

The A950 Mintlaw to New Pitsligo road in Aberdeenshire was closed for several hours.

Police Scotland
The road was closed for several hours to allow officers to carry out an investigation of the scene.

A man has died and another was taken to hospital with serious injuries following a car crash in Aberdeenshire.

Emergency services rushed to the incident on the A950 Mintlaw to New Pitsligo road on Friday evening at around 5.50pm following the two-car crash.

One man was pronounced dead at the scene while another seriously injured man was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to be treated.

The road was closed for several hours to allow officers to carry out an investigation of the scene.

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Sergeant Scott Deans, from the North East Road Policing Unit, said: “I am appealing for anyone with further information, or potential dash-cam footage of the incident, to please get in touch.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland through 101, quoting incident number 2744 of May 14.”


Building to be demolished after being devastated by fire

Crews were met with what was described as a 'well-developed' blaze on Glasgow's High Street.

© Google Maps 2020 / Gerard McSheaffrey via Gerard McSheaffrey
223 to 229 High Street will be demolished following fire damage.

Properties on Glasgow’s High Street are to be demolished following the devastating impact of a fire in the building earlier this month.

Members of the city council were informed at a meeting on Thursday that 223 to 229 High Street would be torn down in the interest of public safety.

Nobody was injured as a result of the fire in the early hours of Tuesday, May 4, but police appealed for witnesses to help in their investigation.

Green group councillor Jon Molyneux asked councillor Kenny McLean what fire prevention measures were in place and to provide an update on the recent fire.

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Councillor McLean said: “The requirements for managing and maintaining fire safety measures rest with building owners and occupiers.

“It has since been assessed that the extend of the damage from 223 to 229 High Street is so severe that the council considers the demolition is required in the interest of public safety.

“Currently this does not include the house at 219 High Street which the fire did not reach. Since then, building standards have continued engaging with the owners to push them to take this forward.

© Google Maps 2020
The demolition due to safety concerns does not “currently” include the Old College Bar on High Street.

“There has been good cooperation to date. This includes their agreement to install the current safety exclusion zone along with side security.”

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Councillor Molyneux told the council that it was a “real blow” that demolition was being recommended as the site contributed to what was left of the historic character of the High Street.

He added: “This area was already under threat from unsuitable development before the fire.

“It is even more important that we act now to protect the heritage that’s still there. What more can the city convener do to ensure that buildings that add to the historic character of the area are protected in the future.”

Councillor McLean pointed out that public safety was the council’s priority.

He responded: “We resolve to protect our city’s heritage wherever we can. Obviously, there are difficulties, and we will work with the private owners of the site to do what we can to protect buildings.

“It is an absolute tragedy if a building like this goes on fire. That is way beyond our control. There is not a lot we can do about it. It has suffered a catastrophic incident and is in a dangerous state therefore a demolition is required for public safety.

“If buildings can be saved, we will save them but public safety takes precedence.”

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The site is currently the subject of a proposed city centre development featuring an 11-storey apartment block. The plans required a number of the unlisted buildings in the conservation area to be demolished.

Story by local democracy reporter Catherine Hunter


Man injured after being assaulted in early morning attack

The 44-year-old was taken to hospital following the attack on Saturday morning.

Police Scotland
Attack: Police are appealing for witnesses.

A man has been left injured after being assaulted in the early hours of Saturday morning in Glasgow.

The 44-year-old was on Galloway Street, Springburn, at around 4.30am when the attack took place.

Emergency services attended and the man was taken to hospital where he was treated for his injuries before being released.

Police are now appealing for witnesses.

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A spokesperson for the force said: “We received a report of man having been assaulted on Galloway Street shortly after 4.35am on Saturday.

“The 44-year-old was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary for treatment and has since been released.

“Enquiries are ongoing and any witnesses or anyone with information can call 101.”


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