Archive for ‘World news’

July 11, 2011

Lib Dems criticised over AM fight

 John Dixon and Lord Carlile Lord Carlile (right) said he was ‘appalled’ what had happened to John Dixon The Liberal Democrats should have fought a legal battle to reinstate a Welsh assembly member, says a senior party figure.


Lord Carlile told BBC Radio Wales it appeared the party did not have the money to fight John Dixon’s case.


He was disqualifed as an AM when it emerged he was a member of a public body to which candidates cannot belong.


The Welsh Lib Dems said he paid a high price but his case had little support in the assembly.


The party leadership has already admitted failing to provide candidates with proper support.


North Wales AM Aled Roberts regained his seat when AMs voted to readmit him last week after his was disqualified for the same reason.


Members voted to reinstate Mr Roberts after an investigation found he was misled by out-of-date guidance for election candidates published in Welsh.

Continue reading the main story
I’m very disappointed that my party and his, the Liberal Democrats, appeared not to have the resources to take up the cudgels to fight John Dixon’s case all the way”

End Quote Lord Carlile of Berriew Lib Dem peer But the same report found Mr Dixon had failed to read the relevant regulations as a candidate and the party withdrew its motion to reinstate him.


Mr Dixon, 46, a Cardiff councillor, was elected for the South Wales Central region, but had to stand down because he was still a member of the Care Council for Wales, which regulates social care workers.


His place in the assembly has been taken by Eluned Parrott.


Lord Carlile QC of Berriew is a former Welsh party leader.


The former Montgomeryshire MP said if Mr Dixon had been put to the vote and refused entry to the assembly, his case would have been the subject of a “successful judicial review”.


Speaking on Sunday Supplement on BBC Radio Wales, he said: “I’m appalled by what has happened to John Dixon. What John Dixon did quote, wrong, unquote, was very far from being heinous.


“I believe that if John Dixon had been put to the vote and refused entry to the assembly, it would have been the subject of a successful judicial review.


“And I’m very disappointed that my party and his, the Liberal Democrats, appeared not to have the resources to take up the cudgels to fight John Dixon’s case all the way.”


Asked if his party was broke, and did not have the money to fight the case, Lord Carlile added: “I’m not sure the party’s broke, but taking up the case would have involved the potential expenditure of a few tens of thousands of pounds.


“In my view, it would have been right for that money to be spent to save the political career of a fine candidate, who would have made a good assembly member.”


He added that if the money had been available to “pursue litigation on his behalf”, he believed Mr Dixon “would be back in the assembly”.


A Welsh Liberal Democrats spokesman said: “The Welsh Liberal Democrats approach from the beginning was to do all we could to ensure that the two men could take up their seats.


“Alex Carlile is absolutely right to say that John Dixon would have been an excellent Assembly Member and that he has paid a very high price for what was far from being the most heinous crime committed by a politician in the last few years.


“However, it was clear there was very little support for his case in the assembly.”


Last Tuesday, a report by assembly standards commissioner Gerard Elias QC said Mr Roberts “did everything that he could have reasonably been expected to do in ensuring that he was not a disqualified person for the purpose of nomination or election”.


In a statement, the Commission said “there were mistakes made” in its guidance for candidates.

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July 11, 2011

Bank returns call centres to UK

Santander Santander says it is moving its call centres back to the UK to improve customer satisfaction Santander has said it is bringing all of its call centres back to the UK from India following complaints.


Chief executive Ana Botin told the BBC customers had said it was “the most important factor in terms of the satisfaction with the bank”.


It is taking on 500 staff for new phone centres and has 25 million customers and 1,300 branches in the UK.


The bank acquired Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and parts of Bradford & Bingley in 2008.


Commenting on the call centre move, Ms Botin said: “This is what our customers have told us is the most important factor in terms of the satisfaction with the bank, and we have listened to them and decided to bring all of our retail call centres back from India.”


BBC personal finance correspondent Simon Gompertz said Spanish bank Santander had one of the worst complaints records in the industry last year.


Our correspondent also said there was a trend for banks and other companies to bring call centres back to the UK, although many are now moving administration work to cheaper countries instead.

‘Attrition’

On Tuesday, telecommunications company New Call Telecom announced that it was moving one of its call centres from India to Lancashire, in a move that is expected to bring 100 jobs to the area.


New Call Telecom transferred its business to Mumbai three years ago, but increased costs has prompted it to move to Burnley.


The company highlighted a growing trend in India for prices to increase in real estate, salaries and accommodation.


In September 2010, Santander said it was creating 400 call centre jobs in the UK following rapid growth in its business.


Liverpool got 200 of the call centre jobs, with 100 in both Leicester and Glasgow.

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July 11, 2011

Together at last

9 July 2011 Last updated at 05:46 GMT

For the first time, from old masters to contemporary installations, Wales’ national art collection is being showcased under one roof. But rather than being housed in a brand new building, it will instead occupy part of the existing National Museum in Cardiff.

For Radio 4’s Today programme, BBC arts correspondent Rebecca Jones travelled to Cardiff to take a guided tour, and meet the former Labour Culture Minister Kim Howells, who thinks Welsh art deserves more.

Continue reading the main story To see the enhanced content on this page, you need to have JavaScript enabled and Adobe Flash installed. Wales’ National Museum of Art will open at the National Museum Cardiff from Saturday 9 July 2011.

All images and artwork subject to copyright. Music by KPM Music.

Slideshow production by Paul Kerley, Rebecca Jones and Dan McMillan. Publication date 8 July 2011.

Related:

National Museum Wales

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

More audio slideshows:

When Tracey Emin met John Humphrys

Rural visions of England

The restoration game

Exploring the Bank of England

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July 11, 2011

Mathers family ‘unhappy’ with HET

Joanne and Shane Mathers Joanne Mathers and her son Shane The DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said he has written to the Historical Enquiries Team, calling for a review into the investigation of the murder of Joanne Mathers in Londonderry in 1981.


The mother-of-one was shot dead by the IRA as she collected census forms.


Mr Campbell said her family are unhappy with how the investigation is being handled.


The HET said it does not comment on the specifics of individual cases.


It had launched a fresh investigation into the killing in March after Lowry Mathers made a public appeal for his wife’s case to be reopened.


Mr Campbell said the family had asked him to write to the HET to express their concerns.


“The HET had several meetings with the family and they put forward a series of questions, hoping to get some clarification,” he said.


“They wanted to know if there was any attempt to get exhibits from the time of the shooting.


“They wanted to know were certain people questioned. The answer was no.


“The family said they would be prepared to go on a public platform and appeal for information, they were told ‘we don’t do that’.


“It was a very negative approach on all fronts.”


Mr Campbell said the family also want the HET to ask Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness if he has knowledge that could help identify her killers.


The HET said it works with families on a confidential basis and at the conclusion of the review process, provides a comprehensive report detailing its findings.

July 11, 2011

Data shows university entry gap

 By Sanchia Berg BBC Today programme Cambridge University Cambridge and Oxford Universities are under pressure to boost their intakes of poorer students Just five schools in England sent more pupils to Oxford and Cambridge over three years than nearly 2,000 others combined, researchers have found.


The Sutton Trust charity has published, for the first time, school-by-school data on entry to higher education.


BBC analysis of the data showed that private schools often get more pupils into selective universities than state ones with similar A-level results do.


Universities called for more freedom in offering places to bright state pupils.


The Sutton Trust has combined individual schools’ A-level results with data from the university admissions body Ucas.


Its table shows, by individual school, what percentage of pupils went forward into higher education in general, and what percentage went to a list of 30 universities the charity considers “highly selective”.


Four independent schools – Eton, Westminster, St Paul’s Boys and St Paul’s Girls – and state-funded Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, together sent 946 pupils to Oxford and Cambridge between 2007 and 2009.


By contrast, 2,000 lower-performing schools combined sent a total of 927 students to the two elite universities, the Sutton Trust found.

Continue reading the main story
A bright student is a bright student is a bright student… it doesn’t matter what their school or educational background is, the interview will allow us to pull that out”

End Quote Mike Nicholson Director of undergraduate admissions, Oxford University Many of these schools sent no pupils at all, or on average fewer than one per year.


The BBC used the data to compare schools with similar average A-level points against each other, and found that the figures suggested a gap remained between independent and state schools’ university admissions.


For example, among schools where pupils achieved an average of 801-850 A-level points each (900 is equivalent to three A grades), 26% of the comprehensive school pupils went on to the selective universities, compared with 45% of the independent school pupils.


And for schools with 851-900 A-Level points per student, 50% of independent school pupils got places at the selective universities, while only 32% of comprehensive pupils did.


Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said “stark inequalities” in university entrance were driven primarily by the exam results.


Independent and selective state schools tend to dominate the highest A-level grade scores.


But he added that the data “reveals that university chances can vary dramatically for schools with similar average grades”.


The Trust also noted that pupils from high attaining independent schools put in more applications to highly selective universities than comprehensive school peers with similar grades.

‘Subjects are key’

However, the Russell Group, which represents 20 leading universities, said it was concerned that the Sutton Trust report failed to explain fully the reasons behind the gap.

Graduates at Birmingham University Universities say A-level subject choice is often a factor in place offers

It said a simple A-level point score does not show what subjects were taken, nor exactly what grades were achieved.


Professor Anna Vignoles of the Institute of Education has researched the issue.


She also notes that students with good grades may still not have studied the required subjects for certain courses.


And she adds that a points average might camouflage wide grade variation within an individual school.


But even so, there is still some disparity in acceptances between independent and state schools with similar grades which could not be explained away, she said.


“In our research, not all of that gap disappears even when you account for subject and choice at A-level.”


Mike Nicholson, director of undergraduate admissions at Oxford, said that the university targeted state schools which had little or no history of sending pupils there.


In recent years, state school applications had risen, he added.


During the selection process, the university now flags up candidates with excellent results who are from disadvantaged backgrounds – whether from an under-achieving school, a postcode indicating deprivation, or time spent in the care system.


Such candidates may be fast-tracked to interview.


“A bright student is a bright student is a bright student… it doesn’t matter what their school or educational background is, the interview will allow us to pull that out,” said Mr Nicholson.

‘Damning indictment’

Universities UK, the vice-chancellors’ umbrella body, called on the government to demonstrate a “strong will and commitment” in backing the use of such information – sometimes called “contextual data” – about deprived students’ backgrounds, in university admissions processes.


In its recent White Paper, the government outlined plans to allow universities to offer as many places as they want to students with AAB grades at A-level.


These must “explicitly allow universities to use contextual data in the admissions process”, said UUK president Professor Sir Steve Smith.


“However, we must make sure that efforts to increase the participation rate of disadvantaged students isn’t focused solely on a handful of the most competitive courses and universities,” he added.


The University and College Union said the report showed that an expansion of places for students with AAB grades “would most likely be filled by students from the most privileged backgrounds”.


“This government’s higher education policy seems driven by a desire to reserve places at some institutions for the most privileged,” said UCU general secretary Sally Hunt.


But the Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the report was a “damning indictment” of “Labour’s failure to improve social mobility”.


“Despite all their promises, they left hundreds of thousands of children with little to no chance of getting to the best universities,” he said.


Mr Gibb said the government was tackling the problem by improving schools and targeting funding at the poorest pupils.


But critics, including Labour, argue that the government’s decision to allow universities to charge up to £9,000 per year in tuition fees is likely to put off students from deprived backgrounds.


The fees are paid up front by the government in the form of a loan, which is then paid back after the student graduates and is earning above £21,000 a year.


The Office of Fair Access is due next week to publish the “access agreements” under which universities wanting to charge higher fees commit to targets for recruiting disadvantaged students.

July 11, 2011

£9m raised for East Africa appeal

11 July 2011 Last updated at 11:58 GMT The UK charity appeal to help people affected by severe drought in the Horn of Africa has so far raised £9m.

A group of UK aid agencies launched the fund-raising appeal with a series of TV and radio broadcasts on Friday.

Thousands of families in desperate need of food and water have trekked for days from Somalia to the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya.

The drought is the worst in East Africa for 60 years. The UN described it as a “humanitarian emergency”.

Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee, said the British public had been “remarkably generous, despite many having to tighten their belts”.

But he added that vulnerable people were dying and millions were at risk.

“We need to act fast to prevent more lives being lost,” he said.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal was first broadcast by the BBC on Friday.

Continue reading the main story DEC is an umbrella organisation representing a number of aid agenciesParticipants in the appeal include ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World VisionTo make a donation call 0370 60 60 900 (charged at national rate) or post a donation to PO Box 999 London EC3A 3AAComedian Lenny Henry fronted the BBC TV appeal while broadcaster Kate Adie voiced a radio version. Within 24 hours the total raised passed the £6m mark.

The British public donated more than £1m to individual charities even before the DEC appeal was launched. Save the Children had received £560,000, Oxfam £277,000 and the Red Cross £150,000.

Thousands of destitute people were on the move into Kenya and Ethiopia, Mr Gormley said.

More than 1,400 people a day were arriving in the Dadaab camp, already thought to be the world’s largest with a population of 350,000. A similar number are crossing into Ethiopia.

Many of those reaching the camps are severely malnourished children, some of whom have died soon after arriving.

Continue reading the main story Extended drought is causing a severe food crisis in the Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Weather conditions over the Pacific means the rains have failed for two seasons and are unlikely to return until September. Food shortages are affecting up to 12 million people. The UN has not declared a famine but large areas of the region are now classified as in crisis or emergency, with malnutrition affecting up to 35-40% of children under five. The humanitarian problem is made worse by ongoing conflicts, which means that until July militant groups had only allowed aid organisations limited access to large parts of southern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia. Since the beginning of 2011, around 15,000 Somalis each month have fled into refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia looking for food and water. The refugee camp at Dadaab, in Kenya, has been overwhelmed by 370,000 people. Farmers unable to meet their basic food costs are abandoning their herds. High cereal and fuel prices had already forced them to sell many animals before the drought and their smaller herds are now unprofitable or dying. The refugee problem may have been preventable. However, violent conflict in the region has deterred international investment in long-term development programmes, which may have reduced the effects of the drought. Development aid would focus on reducing deforestation, topsoil erosion and overgrazing and improving water conservation. New roads and infrastructure for markets would help farmers increase their profits. The result of climate conditions, conflict and lack of investment is that 6.7 million people in Kenya and Ethiopia are currently existing on food rations, and relief agencies estimate 2.6 million in Somalia will need assistance a new emergency operation. BACK {current} of {total} NEXT The UK has pledged £38m in food aid to drought-hit Ethiopia – enough to feed 1.3 million people for three months.

The DEC appeal will help people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan, which officially separated from the Republic of Sudan on Saturday.

Aid agencies, including the Kenyan Red Cross, the Somali Red Crescent and Action Aid, are being helped by local groups to access remote areas with food, water and medical treatment.

UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell welcomed the appeal launch.

He said he was lobbying other governments to “do their bit”.

“This situation needs an international response and Britain is calling on the international community to provide the fast, effective relief that Ethiopia needs now in this difficult time,” he said.

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July 11, 2011

Liverpool complete Adam signing

Charlie Adam Adam scored at Anfield last season in a superb captain’s display for Blackpool Liverpool have completed the signing of midfielder Charlie Adam from Blackpool.

The Scot, 25, signed a contract on Thursday after successfully completing a medical, the club’s official website said. The length of the contract or the fee have not yet been disclosed.

“I am absolutely delighted to be here,” Adam told Liverpoolfc.tv.

“It has been a long process but now I can’t wait to get started and hopefully this will be a successful period in my career and in the club’s history.”

He added: “Liverpool is a massive club with terrific players and a terrific manager.

“I see this as the perfect development for me to come here, play with such wonderful players and hopefully help the team to win trophies, because that’s the most important thing.

“I’m delighted to be able to walk out on the same pitch as some of the players here.

“There are good players at the club, top, top players who I want to learn from. I want to become a better player and hopefully bring something to the team.

“Hopefully we can have a successful period because it’s been missing now for a couple of years.

“At the end of the day you get judged on trophies and as a footballer you want to win as many as you can.

Continue reading the main story
Charlie Adam is going to a club with better players and he will get more of the ball. He will be a shrewd signing for Liverpool.

BBC Sport pundit Mark Lawrenson

“This club has had a lot of success over the years, so let’s get back to doing that.”

In the January transfer window the Reds had two bids – the second worth £6.5m – rejected by the Seasiders, who were reportedly holding out for £9m.

But Liverpool reopened talks at the end of the season for a player who had only 12 months left on his contract.

Adam, who was on the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award last season, joined Blackpool from Scottish Premier League club Rangers for £500,000 in 2009.

The Scottish champions will now receive an additional cash windfall as they are due 10% of any sell-on fee.

Adam was close to joining Tottenham before time ran out in the January transfer window earlier this year.

He becomes boss Kenny Dalglish’s second signing since they finished sixth in the Premier League last season.

Another midfielder, Jordan Henderson, arrived from Sunderland in June for a reported £20m.

Roma’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alexander Doni could complete a move to Liverpool in the next 24 hours, according to his agent Ovidio Colucci.

The clubs reached agreement over Doni’s transfer last month but the keeper could not agree personal terms.

“We just have to ratify certain details with Roma,” said Collucci. “If the deal is completed, Doni will join Liverpool on a free transfer and will sign a two-year contract.”

July 11, 2011

The End of Harry Potter?

 Child holds a copy of Harry Potter In 1959 Elvis Presley released an album called 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t be Wrong.


A title (and cover) The Fall parodied for their 2004 greatest hits album, 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t be Wrong.


The implicit message with both was: argumentum ad populum. Which makes me think of Harry Potter.


Not of one of his spells, but as a reason for his fame.


Argumentum ad populum is the term used to describe the situation when we find ourselves being influenced by popular opinion. Call it peer pressure, call it jumping on the bandwagon, or – if you’re Chinese – you might refer to the Three Men Make a Tiger proverb (if two people told you that a tiger was running in the street you wouldn’t believe them, but if a third confirmed the sighting then you would accept it as the truth).

A sequel?

There is no doubt that the original Harry Potter fad benefited from the argumentum ad populum phenomena: children are even more prone to it than adults. My (then) six-year old boy loved the book and everything associated with it.


The wand, the duvet cover, the toys (the Quidditch board with air shoots was good); the backpacks. If he’d got his way his bedroom would have out-purpled Prince’s dressing up box.

J K Rowling with Was this really the end?

But the initial craze doesn’t explain the little wizard’s continued success.


And it is extraordinary. Over 400 million Harry Potter books have been sold, which have been translated into more than 65 languages (including ancient Greek and Gaelic) and led to the most lucrative movie franchise of all time. And then there’s the softer stuff such as getting young boys reading, making Latin cool again and almost single-handedly creating an Oscar-winning special effects industry in Britain.


People knock JK Rowling’s literary talents. Some say her books have crater-like plot holes, others that she ran out of ideas early on, and several have pointed to Dahl, Tolkien and Lewis saying she’s a bit like them, but not as good. Well, she’s got something.


In fact she’s got the one thing that novelists crave more than anything else: the ability to create characters that readers care about.


The turn-out on Thursday night in London’s Trafalgar Square for the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) was testament to that.


Thousands of people, from across the world, gathered over several rainy days to scream their thanks to JK Rowling. Is there another author with that sort of pulling power? She was clearly taken aback.


And in a tearful, highly-emotional state said: “Oh. All right I will write another one then”. She quickly clarified the statement and said she was joking. I’m not so sure.


I don’t think she’ll write another Harry Potter book, I think she’ll write several. The motivation won’t be money; she doesn’t need that, or fame, she didn’t want it in the first place. It will be because she’s a writer. And writers have to write.

‘Shooting ducks’

Of course she could write anything she wants to and might well produce a book that has nothing at all to do with wizards, but that does not exclude her from writing more Potter. Turn it around: why wouldn’t she write more Potter?


She is young. Magic will remain a popular area; it plays to the idea of a higher life force and gives the imagination a chance to escape the prison of reality for an hour or two.


She has some decent universal themes embedded in the stories: David (Harry Potter) versus Goliath (Voldemort), goodies and baddies, sex and death. And the Americans can’t get enough of the pre-War Britain and boarding school thing.

JK Rowling on the “extraordinary” send-off for the Harry Potter films


Her readership wants to know what happens next to the group of characters to which they have developed a romantic attachment.


And I am sure those characters will be ever-present in her head; always popping up to suggest a situation to her, which, I expect, she’ll be jotting down. And the way she has left the story at the moment is perfectly set up for future episodes: two unaccounted for decades, a bunch of assumptions about the characters that she can play with, and a new generation. Irresistible.


The question for me is not will she write more Potter, but how she takes the story forward (or backwards).


So far Harry has aged with each book, closely mirroring the development from child to teenager of many of the readers. If she continues that self-imposed orthodoxy it will mean future books will have to be written with adults as well as children in mind.


That won’t be easy. JK Rowling is a proven writer of children’s books, but not of adult fiction.


Alternatively she could keep Harry and his mates at their present age, after all Bond never aged.


Or she could start all over again with their children. That might risk falling into the trap that Steven Spielberg said he had avoided by not taking on the directing duties for the Potter movies, saying “I purposely didn’t do the Harry Potter movie because for me, that was shooting ducks in a barrel…it’s just a slam dunk.


“It’s just like withdrawing a billion dollars and putting it into your personal bank account. There’s no challenge.”


The challenge for JK Rowling is who does she write for: Potter’s kids or his contemporaries. She could do both.


Or even take the life of one of the other characters and develop it in a new direction, as was the case when the sitcom Frasier was rolled-out of Cheers. Mind you that is not necessarily a formula for success as Friends spin-off Joey proved.


Whatever happens, she is unquestionably talented. I mean, 400,000,000 readers can’t be wrong can they?

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July 11, 2011

Religious teaching ‘under threat’

RE teachers say that religious education is being squeezed out of the school curriculum RE teachers say that religious education is being squeezed out of the school curriculum Religious education in schools is under threat, faith leaders have warned.


Leaders representing Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists said they were “gravely concerned” about the “negative impact” that current government policies were having.


In a letter to the Daily Telegraph they called for RE to be included in the new English Baccalaureate.


The Department for Education (DfE) said the English Baccalaureate “does not stop any school offering RE GCSEs”.


In the letter published in the Telegraph, faith leaders warned that a failure to act would be a “serious flaw” in David Cameron’s Big Society project.


The signatories included the Rev Michael Heaney, president of Churches Together in England, and Farooq Murad, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Undermining RE

They write: “Changes to the role and capacity of local authorities, coupled with the extension of the academies programme, are in danger of undermining the nature and quality of RE.”


“Also, recent policy initiatives in relation to GCSE examinations are already leading to a deterioration in the provision for RE in many secondary schools.”


RE teachers recently warned that religious education could disappear from many secondary schools because of the new English Baccalaureate.


A DfE spokesman said it is compulsory for every student to study RE up to 16, adding that success in RE GCSE “continues to be recognised in the annual GCSE tables, as well as being a valuable qualification in its own right”.


He said: “The English Baccalaureate does not stop any school offering RE GCSEs and we have been clear that pupils should take the GCSEs that are right for them.

Big society

“It is for teachers and parents to help pupils make the right choice. All academies and free schools must offer a broad and balanced curriculum.”


The “Bacc”, which was introduced last December, is a new league table measure which ranks schools according to how many pupils gain grades A*-C in GCSEs in five subject areas: English, maths, a language, science and either geography or history.


A recent survey by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) found that a quarter of the state-funded schools featured in its research were not teaching RE to pupils aged from 14 to 16.


The faith leaders called on the prime minister to do more to develop “a clear strategy” for the subject.


“Failure to work with faith communities, along with their partner academic and professional associations, would represent a serious flaw in the Big Society project,” they write.

July 11, 2011

Murray on home soil for Davis Cup

: Reports on the BBC website, updates on BBC Radio 5 live, also live on British EurosportAndy Murray Murray limbers up at the Braehead Arena Andy Murray faces a man who stopped playing professionally four years ago as Great Britain tackle Luxembourg in the Davis Cup in Glasgow this weekend.


The world number four takes on unranked Laurent Bram at the Braehead Arena after James Ward and Gilles Muller play Friday’s first rubber at 1600 BST.


Bram has lost nine of his 11 Davis Cup singles matches and is now a coach.


Britain will face Belarus or Hungary in a promotion play-off in September if they are victorious this weekend.


After the singles, Murray and his brother Jamie will compete in their first Davis Cup doubles match together when they play Bram and 18-year-old Mike Vermeer on Saturday.


On Sunday afternoon Murray will open against Muller, who is ranked 81 in the world, before Ward and Bram complete the Europe/Africa Group II encounter.


Following his Wimbledon semi-final exit to Rafael Nadal, Murray admitted he was buoyed by involvement in the Davis Cup tie – his first under captain Leon Smith – in front of an enthusiastic Scottish crowd, with all the tickets already sold for the first day’s play.


“I’ve had a great last few days, practised well,” said Murray.


“We went to a tennis club yesterday in Paisley and got really good support, everyone has been really upbeat and positive.


“That’s been great, something you need this time of year. We are halfway through now so you need something to give you motivation and that has helped.


“Whether it’s the best thing for me or not (after Wimbledon), I have no idea, but I have had a good week so far.


“I have always enjoyed playing Davis Cup. It’s just different, it’s a different atmosphere, a different experience and just a different build-up.

Murray unimpressed by ‘shaving’ advice


“I like that, it’s refreshing. You spend the whole year on your own and now you have guys around you.


Murray pulled out of John Lloyd’s last Davis Cup match in charge, a defeat by Lithuania in March 2010, citing his need to prepare properly for the 2010 season and his quest to win a Grand Slam.


But when asked on Thursday about his future plans in the event he said: “I like playing for my country, always have done, and I’ve played well. I’m sure I’ll play more than I have done in the last few years.”


There was one change announced to the British squad with Daniel Evans coming in as the back-up player in place of doubles expert Colin Fleming, who has a foot injury.


Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is in action for holders Serbia against Sweden in the World Group quarter-finals on the indoor courts in Halmstad.


USA play Spain in Texas and Germany face France in Stuttgart, while Argentina’s match against Kazakhstan began a day earlier, Juan Monaco and Juan Martin Del Potro giving their team a 2-0 advantage.

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