News Daily: Grammar schools to grow and middle-aged renting rise

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    Grammar schools back on the agenda

    Image copyright Getty Images

    Theresa May entered Downing Street on a highly controversial mission – to open a new generation of grammar schools – but it was thought to be dead in the water when she lost her majority at last year’s general election. Now, though, the policy has been revived with a £50m pledge to allow existing grammars to open new places or spin-off sites.

    Grammar schools are state secondaries that select pupils via an exam, known as the 11-plus. Why are they so controversial? Well, as Chris Cook, from the BBC’s Newsnight, explains, supporters argue they offer a private-standard education to families who cannot afford fees, but the reality is that it’s children from poorer backgrounds who are most likely to lose out in the selection process.

    Today’s announcement has sparked anger from teaching unions because it’s come at a time when all state schools are crying out for more money. The National Association of Head Teachers said it was wrong to fund “such an elitist policy” when “school budgets are at breaking point”. Education Secretary Damian Hinds has acknowledged that funding pressure, but not offered any short-term prospect of extra funds.

    The government has also dropped a plan to make it easier for religious groups to open more free schools – angering some church leaders – but says it has created a new route for councils to expand faith schools.

    Middle-aged renting soars

    Forty-somethings are now almost twice as likely to be renting their home from a private landlord than 10 years ago, BBC analysis shows. Many are priced out of home ownership, others have become “accidental renters” after a relationship break-up. Experts say the focus on young first-time buyers means older tenants, often with children, risk being ignored, despite the potential impact on their financial security and the stability of family life.

    The BBC is running a dedicated day of coverage on the issue of renting. As part of that, our readers have come up with the main pros and cons of being a tenant, and one of our reporters has experienced first hand just how hard it can be to find a place to rent when you use a wheelchair.

    Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

    Junk food ad ban

    Adverts for food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar could be banned from the entire London bus, Tube and Overground rail network. Mayor Sadiq Khan says his proposal would help tackle the “ticking time bomb” of childhood obesity. Medical chiefs and campaigning chef Jamie Oliver have given him their backing. Amsterdam has already taken a similar step as a part of a wider strategy that seems to be working.

    What makes a Eurovision winner?

    By Clara Guibourg, senior data journalist, BBC News

    Eurovision may have a reputation for being up-tempo and sprinkled with sequins, but the secret to a winning song may actually be its gloom factor. We’ve unpicked the sound waves of every song entered since 2006 to try to answer this burning question: Is there a recipe for a winning Eurovision song? Unexpectedly, perhaps, melancholia sells: in eight of the last 12 contests, winners have been sadder than the average song. Eurovision songs have been consistently getting more melancholy, with this year’s entries a full 30% sadder than in 2006.

    Read the full article

    What the papers say

    The government’s grammar schools boost divides opinion. For the Daily Mirror, it’s a “scandal” that has been “blasted” by union leaders. The education secretary tells the Daily Telegraph it will enable grammars to “widen the net” to include more children from poorer backgrounds, possibly by lowering the pass marks they need to achieve in the entrance exam. The Daily Mail says it’s a “new dawn” that’s “making good on the Tories’ pledge to increase choice for parents”. Elsewhere, the exchange of fire between Israel and Iranian forces in Syria sparks fears of a new conflict in the Middle East. Patrick Wintour, writing in the Guardian, suggests the events reveal “how much has been uncorked by Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal”.

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    Look ahead

    Today Bill granting bereaved parents at least two weeks of paid leave is likely to become law.

    12:25 Britain’s Simon Yates wears the leader’s pink jersey for stage seven of cycling’s Giro d’Italia – no Brit has ever won the race.

    On this day

    1985 A fire at Bradford City’s football stadium claimed 56 lives – the inquiry that followed resulted in new legislation governing safety at UK sports grounds.

    From elsewhere

    The big business of non-profits (Slate)

    This major Northern city has grown almost as fast as London and it’s not the one you think (City Metric)

    Why do human feet keep washing ashore in British Columbia? (Guardian)

    Build 300k homes on Toys ‘R’ Us-style sites, say design gurus (London Evening Standard)

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