A headteacher attempted to invoke a UN convention to ban singing Christian hymns at a religiously diverse infant school. A third of students at Poulner Infant School have Christian parents, but humanist head Jo Conner believes singing hymns infringes on the 'human rights' of non-Christian students. All schools must provide an opportunity for wholly- or broadly-inclusive Christian worship to promote spiritual development: however, they may apply for an exemption in particular circumstances. Ms Conner sought an exemption, saying Christian hymns were inappropriate as only a third of students were Christian. The advisory council for Religious Education said any parent had a right to withdraw their child from collective worship, but no withdrawals had been recorded and no parents had complained about worship music. They rejected her application.

A survey by the Church of England has found that younger people are far more likely to pray than older generations. The rising interest in meditation, spirituality and mindfulness has increased the numbers of those who connect with faith. 1/3rd of 18- to 34-year-olds have prayed in the last month, compared to just 25% of people aged over 55. The younger generation is also more likely to have said a prayer at any time. The Archbishop of York said, ‘As Christians, prayer is the bedrock of our faith and deepens our relationship and understanding with God.’ The survey shows that many people still long for that connection with something and someone beyond themselves. At this time of uncertainty when we face many pressing issues, reaching out in prayer to the God who loves us and longs to be known to us can bring peace and transform lives.

Suicide is the biggest killer of people aged under 35 in the UK. ‘However bad you feel, this will pass. You are not alone, things will look different tomorrow.’ That is what Pete would have said to his only child, Jamie, if he had been able to read his suicide note before he died. Jamie was one of 1,621 young people under 35 who took their own lives in 2019. After Pete had struggled to cope with his death for two years, he read about three fathers going through the same thing. Known as the ‘Three Dads’, Andy, Mike and Tim walked 300 miles, in memory of their three daughters, to raise £3,000 for suicide prevention charity Papyrus. They eventually raised over £800,000. Over 200 school children commit suicide every year. They say we are doing nothing to equip young people with understanding and skills that could allow them to save themselves.

Energy bills

01 Sep 2022

Ofgem says a typical household gas and electricity bill will rise to £3,549 a year from October. Save the Children warned the rise could put young people's health at risk, with families unable to afford to heat their homes. Money expert Martin Lewis predicted grave consequences without more state help. Liz Truss has ‘ruled out’ further direct support for everybody to help cover the costs of surging energy bills, and was not considering further support like the £400 payment that all households will receive this winter. Rishi Sunak says the government must provide some direct support to everyone. Ovo Energy has proposed a ten-point plan for the Government to subsidise soaring gas and electricity bills so that the poorest households get the most support. A key proposal is for energy firms to borrow from a government-backed fund to subsidise bills.

Forty schools will use a new virtual messaging tool for pupils to get online help from vetted subject experts in the autumn term to avoid hiring new staff amid a budget crisis. The tool, askOLA, was designed to help pupils study after school but will now be made available during lessons. Over 200 schools are expected to use askOLA by the end of the autumn term, giving 20,000 pupils access during lessons. Pupils connect to an online teaching assistant in less than three minutes, and are coached using a chat box and a virtual whiteboard until they understand. The online teachers start each session by asking the pupil how they are, to assess their mental health and whether they are able to deal with the learning problem.

Children as young as 11 are being violently attacked by teenagers who film the assaults called ‘patterning’. They post the videos across social media to embarrass the victim. One mother got a phone call from her daughter screaming 'Mum, please. They've got me. They've got my hair, it’s falling out. They’re stomping all over me.' In the background she heard 'Kick her again. She's down, kick her again.' Parents believe the police do not respond fast enough, and have taken the matter into their own hands, asking the BBC to show the seriousness of the attacks by the teenagers. Recently parents gathered outside Chorley police station holding large photos of their children to draw public attention to the violence. One mother was told her daughter was one blow away from losing her life. Mothers claim police foot patrols are non-existent, and when they call 999 nothing happens. Gang members also attack members of the public, bars, and businesses.

Merseyside police made 32 arrests, carried out 66 stop and searches, executed 11 warrants, and seized eight vehicles in 24 hours as they cracked down on organised crime after the fatal shooting of Olivia Pratt-Korbel. A total of 202 people have now been arrested. The latest arrests were part of Operation Miller, the force's effort to confront and bring down organised crime in the area. A 31-year-old man was arrested for possession of a lock knife, over £9,000 in cash, a quantity of white powder and cannabis when they searched his home. Another was arrested when they searched his home and found a stolen Rolex watch. Two other men were arrested for stealing a car, dangerous driving, possession of bladed articles, and assaulting police. Officers have also been deployed on major routes in and out of the city targeting suspected criminals.

The UK chancellor Nadhim Zahawi visited the USA for cost-of-living talks during what could be his final week in the job. The two candidates for PM have signalled they will offer more help when elected, though neither has given details. Mr Zahawi insists he has been working tirelessly to come up with proposals for either leadership candidate to bring in more support. The chancellor met banking chiefs in New York to discuss co-operating on financial services, before heading to Washington DC to discuss support for Ukraine, the global economic outlook, and energy security. He said that global pressures must be overcome through global efforts.