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NEWS ROUNDUP: Off-rolling inquiry


01/07/21 | Leeds local news update | A Leeds City Council investigation into the controversial practice of “off-rolling” in the district’s schools is set to restart next week.

Concerns around off-rolling – the practice of schools finding ways to remove troublesome pupils from their registers without a formal exclusion – was heard by an inquiry into the issue in February and March 2020.

But the inquiry was suspended, following the Covid-19 lockdown in March last year, with officers stating it would not recommence until 2021.

A paper set to go before Leeds City Council’s Children and Families Scrutiny Board next week is set to kick the investigation off once more.

Meetings held in 2020 heard how there was a significant increase in the number of parents choosing the home educate pupils in their final years of secondary school or with special educational needs.

Experts were concerned this may be a result of schools encouraging families to home educate their children to avoid the prospect of permanent exclusion – and therefore off-rolling pupils to benefit the school.

It also heard how the number of fixed term exclusions – otherwise known as suspension – had increased dramatically over the years; while internal exclusions – known as isolation – were not measured in many schools, as they were not obliged to provide the data.

A meeting in March 2020 heard evidence that pupils in some Leeds high schools were being put into isolation for forgetting their books, wearing earrings or “eating some Rolos”. Leeds councillors and education experts present said they worried schools in the city could be veering towards “Victorian” values – and that children are being taken out of lessons for “punitive” reasons.

A report set to go before councillors next week stated: “In consultation with the relevant Director and Executive Board Members, the Board is asked to reflect on the information presented within this report and to consider appropriate next steps.

“The views of Members during today’s meeting will then inform terms of reference for the Board’s ongoing inquiry work.”

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, July 7.

(LDRS | Richard Beecham)



A homesick expat has successfully moved an entire pub from England to Germany because he missed the traditional British boozer.

Brit dad-of-two Paul John Moss, 49, has been happily living abroad for 25 years, but desperately missed a "scruffy but cosy English boozer".

When the New Crown Inn in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, was sold to developers to turn into luxury flats, Paul bought everything.

He painstakingly deconstructed the entire venue and shipped it 400 miles to Iserlohn, near the German city of Dortmund, where it was assembled piece by piece.

Pint lover Paul took over everything from the mahogany front bar, signage and beer taps, to the front doors and even the dirty pint glasses.

Almost all he left behind was the walls - and the sticky carpet.

And he finally opened up and pulled his first pint for customers on the 17th of June.

He's selling British classics like fish and chips, steak and ale pie, full English breakfast and a Sunday roast, and even the staff are from the UK.

Property developer Paul, originally from east London, said: "German pubs are nice, but there's just nothing quite like a scruffy but cosy English boozer.

"I guess the idea to set one up here came from selfishness - I missed British pubs so we decided to do something about it.

"It's not something you can put your finger on but there's just such a nice, cosy vibe in an English pub - and we have managed to re-create that authentically here.

"So far it's been a raving success - we've had people giving great feedback and it's been packed every day.

"We're in it for the long run and hope The New Crown will one day become a pillar of the Iserlohn community.

"My wife thinks I'm nuts - all my mates think I'm a hero."

Paul, dad to half-German children Oliver, 21, and Olivia, 18, first had the idea to run a proper British pub in 2019 when he bought a restaurant near their home.

Even after living in Germany for more than 25 years with wife Heike, 50, he said he still craved the cosy British pub vibe that you '"just don't get in European bars".

He searched online for a pub to buy in England and came across the original New Crown, in October 2019

Already closed and set to be transformed into apartments, he put in an offer and flew to England with colleagues to remove all the fixtures and furnishings, and pack them into a shipping container.

Work began rebuilding the pub after the first German lockdown ended in July 2020.

The pub uses the original front bar, front doors, and the original 'The New Crown' pub signage - and they even shipped over the original pint glasses.

After a delayed opening due to Covid-19, The New Crown finally opened its doors last Thursday (17).

It stocks more than 70 beers, including classic British ales such as London Pride, Newcastle Brown Ale and Aberdeenshire-based Brewdog.

The pub is run by British couple Charles Gardner and Fleur Beakin, shareholders in the business, who moved to Germany from the UK to take on the challenge.

Paul, who has a black cab and red phone box in the garden, said the project cost “a tidy six-figure sum”.

He said last weekend their stocks of beer were almost depleted after temperatures of up to 35 degrees saw both British and German pub-lovers rush in for a pint.

Paul said: "The German pubs here are nice, but they all have a similar clean, modern style - I wanted something more scruffy and traditional.

"It's not just imitating an English pub, it really is an English pub - from the beer to the food and all the staff.

"It's completely authentic.

"People have been loving it - there is such a positive atmosphere here whether you're German or English.

"We've been packed every day so far, and with the added benefit of a heatwave, customers nearly drank us dry on our first weekend!

"It has a fantastic vibe and it's been worth the two-year wait."

(SWNS | Amy Reast)



A pair of lovestruck pensioners have embarked on an unlikely whirlwind romance after falling “madly in love” with one and other - at the care home they both live.

Olga Fleming, 80, and John Wood, 90, are both widowed and thought they would “never find love again” after moving into residential care to enjoy their retirements.

However, during lockdown the pair spent almost every waking minute together and ended up falling in love all over again.

John said the whole experience “feels like a dream” while Olga described it as a “breath of fresh air”, gushing that her new beau has “completed” her.

The perfect pair live together at Bupa’s Cottingley Hall care home in Bradford, West Yorks., where staff and residents alike are elated at the romance.

John said: “I never thought I’d find love again, especially not at my age.

“It still feels like a bit of a dream how she makes me smile every time she walks into my room. My defences are completely down.”

Olga added: “It’s like a breath of fresh air, knowing you have a companion that is as madly in love with you as you are them. John has changed my life.

“I feel complete.

“We are each other’s strength and enjoy spending every day together.”

John and Olga first locked eyes a few years ago but didn’t start getting especially close until a year ago, after being encouraged by staff who saw a spark.

Reflecting on their first meeting, Olga said: “When I first noticed John I could tell he was very polite, so I thought I’d like to talk to him and get to know him better.

“I don’t know what I was expecting but falling in love again certain hadn’t crossed my mind.”

John added: “We had so much in common and it was nice to talk to someone on my level. I instantly noticed how intelligent Olga is, and she’s kept my attention ever since.”

John said although the lockdown bound them together that is not the reason they partnered up, instead it was because they simply “fell in love”.

The pair enjoy “typical, mundane” couple things like talking about their pasts, watching television – and especially completing crosswords.

John said: “The best part is having someone there who understands you completely, no questions asked. I’m so lucky to have found that again.”

Olga added: “The most important thing was that we had the same view for the future. We’ve both reached the point where we want to relax and enjoy life.

“We spend every day together, almost all of our time.”

Olga was born and raised in Bradford, where she worked as a hospital medical sectary for 28 years.

John is originally from Staffordshire but relocated to Bradford when he married his previous partner. He was the owner of two residential and nursing care homes.

Both of them were previously married but are now sadly both widowed.

Olga has three sons and four grandchildren, while John had two children: one son and a daughter, who was sadly stillborn. He has two grandsons and one great-granddaughter.

Lorraine Tinker, manager at Bupa’s Cottingley Hall, said: “It is heartwarming to see John and Olga so happy.

“They cannot hide their smiles when they’re together – it’s infectious to be around and brings so much joy to us all.

“There’s a misconception that care homes are about the end of people’s lives.

“As John and Olga show though, we’re here to make sure it’s the beginning of an exciting new chapter.”

(SWNS | Barnaby Kellaway)

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