£1bn school catch-up fund announced

Story detail

The prime minister has pledged £1bn to help school children in Englandaffected by the coronavirus lockdown. Schools have been closed to nearly all pupils since before the Easter break – and it is thought unlikely that most will return until after the summer holidays. Boris Johnson says the funding will mean the most disadvantaged pupils can get access to tutors through a £350m scheme, while primary and secondary schools have been allocated £650m to pay for one-to-one or group tuition. Head teachers say the funds are welcome but have asked for more details. The announcement comes as a report this week suggested most teachers believe their pupils are doing less – or much less work – than would be normal at this time of year, due to the lockdown. The report added that as many as a third of children are not engaging with the work that has been set for them. This comes on top of continuing concerns about how to get schools in England open safely come September.


Meanwhile, a study involving universities and health bodies across the UK has found that people with South Asian backgrounds are the most likely to die from Covid-19 after they have been admitted to hospital. The research looked at almost 35,000 patients at 260 hospitals in Great Britain and found that people of South Asian ethnicity were 20% more likely to die than white people. The study suggest that one of the reasons for this is the high levels of diabetes – both type one and type two – among people from that ethnic group. The scientists say their findings should influence policies for protecting people at work and who gets access to vaccines.


In other news, the Royal College of Nursing is calling on all healthcare employers to “care for those who have been caring” during the coronavirus pandemic. The RCN says those who have been working on the front line may be dealing with exhaustion, anxiety and other psychological problems. It wants to see improved testing for front-line healthcare staff and a commitment that nurses will not be pressured into working if they feel they do not have the right personal protective equipment.


In other Covid-19 news, health officials are working to tackle two outbreaks in England – in Leicester and Cleckheaton. Schools in Northern Ireland are to follow social-distancing of 1m which officials say will mean full classes will be able to attend. In Scotland, new rules on how members of different households can meet uphave come into effect. And in Wales, the first minister is set to announce further changes to the nation’s lockdown rules later on Friday.


And the BBC’s head of statistics has been casting his eye over the UK’s death toll from Covid-19 and comparing it with other countries. You can read his conclusions here.


Around the world


In the US, a passenger on an American Airlines’ flight has been removed after he refused to wear a face covering. Forrner actor Brandon Straka was asked to leave the service from New York to Dallas on Wednesday after he refused to comply with the crew’s request. He says he was ejected after saying there was no federal law which required him to wear a mask. But American Airlines says its policy is that passengers who refused to cover their face will not be allowed to board . Strict new laws for air passengers have been also enacted in Europe – as our video explains.


Elsewhere, the BBC’s Rome correspondent, Mark Lowen, has been back to Lombardy, the Italian region which has borne the brunt of the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The area has been dubbed “the Wuhan of the West” after the Chinese city where the virus originated. You can see Mark’s report here. And speaking of Wuhan, BBC China correspondent John Sudworth has been back to the city and has been speaking to Adam Fleming on the Coronavirus Newscast.


You can get all of the day’s developments as they happen on our live page, plus we have a whole section of the BBC News website dedicated to coronavirus , including explainers to help you understand the outbreak and the latest advice.



Jobs and donations hit hard by Covid-19


As the UK economy continues to take a hit from the coronavirus pandemic, a new study suggests that there are currently around 20 people chasing every job vacancy in poorer parts of the country, with economists saying unemployment could surge this year . According to the Institute for Employment Studies, ex-industrial and inner-city areas have been hardest hit, while in wealthier areas there are five people out of work for every vacancy. The government has responded to the study by saying it has taken “unprecedented action” to support the economy.


One consequence of how lockdown rules have restricted the number of people who can attend funerals is that charitable donations have dropped to a fifth of the usual level. Because fewer people are going to funeral services, less money is being dropped in collection plates. This “ In Memoriam” fundraising usually brings in £1m a year for the British Lung Foundation. And the drop-off in giving comes at a time when many charities are seeing extra demand for their services – or are carrying out vital medical research. You can read the full story here.


Other top stories


Australia Country hit by “stated-based” cyber attack.


NZ Police officer shot dead at routine traffic stop. 


Slavery Bank and Church of England sorry for ties to trade.


US Trump bid to end immigration policy ‘unlawful’.


‘My bike won’t arrive til 2021’


As people across the UK venture further afield for exercise, or return to the workplace while avoiding public transport, bikes are one of the latest items people are struggling to get their hands on. With the six-week school break soon to begin but a ban on foreign travel firmly in place, secondary school teacher Saskia Breet began looking for bikes to buy in mid-May but the hunt soon became “frustrating”. “When I rang various different bike shops around Bristol – some big brands like Trek, and some smaller independent shops – they all just said either ‘it’s completely sold out and we’re not getting any more stock this year’, or ‘we don’t know when we’ll have a new shipment for that particular model’,” she says.  Recent high demand has meant Trek has sold out of the 2020 models of most of its bikes earlier than expected. It has made 2021 models available to pre-order but customer service staff told the BBC: “If you were to place a pre-order now the stock would likely arrive in January.”

  Read full story >    

Alice Evans and Ella Wills

BBC News


What the papers say

Story detail

Images of Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn make it on to the front pages of several papers, following her death on Thursday at the age of 103. The Daily Express says the Queen – who was “very, very sad” to hear the news – led the country in mourning. The Daily Mail’s lead says efforts to tackle coronavirus have had another setback, following the health secretary’s decision to abandon the government’s own tracing app because it will not work on “millions of phones”. The Times reports that ministers have tried to play down the problem, with Matt Hancock saying they will work with Apple and Google to develop a new app. And the Guardian leads on what it says is a “damning review” of Labour’s defeat at the last general election, which warns the party has a long road to recovery. Read our take on the morning papers here.


One thing not to miss

‘We were accused of creating coronavirus’

From elsewhere


Change is coming, but we must work together (The Stage)


Four things UK school systems could learn from Australia (TES)


How could post-lockdown distancing rules change the layout of pubs? (Morning Advertiser)


Friends’ reunion special to start filming in August after coronavirus delays (NME)


Listen up


One of the possibly under-looked consequences of the coronavirus lockdown has been the burgeoning demand for puppies. You and Yours on Radio 4 has been investigating how this has led to a big increase not just in prices, but also puppy thefts. Over on the World Service, Assignment has been examining why people have been attacking 5G mobile mastsduring the pandemic.


Need something different?


While the 2020 Tony Awards – New York’s annual celebration of Broadway theatre – are on hold this year due to the coronavirus, the first Antonyo Awards are happening later. They aim to recognise the best of African-American theatrical talent, which the organisers say doesn’t always get its due. You can also test your knowledge of the week’s news with our quiz.