Covid Scotland RECAP: Holiday hopes dashed as no countries added to green travel list | Nicola Sturgeon has ‘full confidence’ in exams body | Douglas Ross brands plans for pupil assessments a ‘shambles’ | Anas Sarwar calls for Scottish Covid inquiry into ‘avoidable deaths’

Live updates on Covid-19 from Scotland, the UK, and around the world.

By Gary Flockhart
Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 8:07 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 1:50 pm

Scroll down to see the latest news on the pandemic on Thursday, June 3.

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The latest updates on Covid-19 in Scotland and beyond.

Covid Scotland: The latest updates on Thursday, June 3

Last updated: Thursday, 03 June, 2021, 13:44

  • Nicola Sturgeon insists she has full confidence in the SQA
  • Boris Johnson to chair four-nation coronavirus recovery summit
  • No countries added to green travel list

Young people ignored over process to appeal grades, says Youth Parly member

The only young person on a group charged with creating an alternative to exams has hit out at the new qualification appeals process.

On Tuesday, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said young people will be able to make free, direct appeals to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), after the decision was made last year to cancel exams and rely on teacher-reported grades for final marks.

But reports in recent months have claimed that pupils are being forced to sit exam-style assessments in class.

Ms Somerville said the appeals process would be “symmetrical”, meaning grades could be marked down as well as up – as is the case in other years – and that exceptional circumstances are not being taken into account.

Cameron Garrett, who serves as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, was the only young person who sat on the National Qualifications 2021 group and claims the voice of young people was not heard when the appeals process was being devised.

On Twitter, Mr Garrett said: “As the only young person who sits on @sqanews’s NQ21 group and the only member representing young people, I have not had an equal input into discussions around the appeals process this year at NQ group meetings.

“Young people have been let down and ignored by this process.

“Organisations such as (Children and Young People’s Commissioner) and (SWA: Where’s Our Say?) as well as (Scottish Youth Parliament) have been calling for a no-detriment policy and exceptional circumstances to be taken into consideration as substantive points. Neither have been considered in this process.”

He added: “Young people deserve fairness this year and should be able to have confidence in the system. Neither is currently true.

“Going forward, you’re participation and engagement must improve to ensure young people have at least an equal seat at the decision making table.”

Scottish Youth Parliament vice chair, Liam Fowley, said the process was “not fit for purpose”, adding: “it’s another example of young people being an afterthought.

“We’ve been tirelessly representing young people’s views and experiences for months – only for it to be ignored by the SQA.

“Young people have been let down.”

The new appeals process was attacked across the political spectrum, with Scottish Greens education spokesman, Ross Greer, saying it creates a “perverse gamble” for young people.

Through the new qualifications model, Mr Greer said, teachers would almost certainly send the best evidence of pupils to the SQA, meaning that any subsequent evidence that could be sent as part of an appeal could see their grade dropped further.

Four more arrests over Rangers fans’ title win celebrations

Four more people have been charged in connection with the disorder in Glasgow’s George Square on the day of Rangers’ title win last month.

Thousands of supporters ignored Covid-19 warnings against large gatherings and gathered in the square on Saturday May 15 after the club won their first Scottish Premiership championship since 2011.

Police said that four men, aged 19, 38, 58 and 35, have been arrested and charged in connection with the disorder in the city centre.

They have been released on an undertaking to appear in court at a later date.

A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

Service sector growth at 24-year high after coronavirus restrictions ease

The UK’s services sector recorded its biggest jump in activity for 24 years in May as it was boosted by the reopening of thousands of hospitality and leisure businesses, according to new figures.

The closely-watched IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) recorded a reading of 62.9 for May, up from 61 in April, representing the fastest growth in output for 24 years.

A reading above 50 signals growth.

It was ahead of the predictions by analysts who had forecast a 61.8 reading for the month.

Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit, said: “UK service providers reported the strongest rise in activity for nearly a quarter-century during May as the roll back of pandemic restrictions unleashed pent-up business and consumer spending.

“The latest survey results set the scene for an eye-popping rate of UK GDP growth in the second quarter of 2021, led by the reopening of customer-facing parts of the economy after winter lockdowns.”

The report revealed that services firms recorded a sharp and accelerated rise in new order volumes during May, with the speed of recovery the fastest since October 2013.

he recovery in the UK’s service sector gathered pace in May as it was boosted by the reopening of thousands of hospitality and leisure businesses, according to new figures.

The closely-watched IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) recorded a reading of 62.9 for May, up from 61 in April, representing the fastest growth in output for 24 years.

Any reading above 50 signals growth.

It was ahead of the predictions of analysts who had forecast a 61.8 reading for the month.

Here's everything you need to know about FMQs today as Nicola Sturgeon prepares to face Douglas Ross

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to answer questions from MSPs at Holyrood today.

UK Government ‘open minded’ about extending furlough scheme, Michael Gove says

The UK Government is “open minded” about extending the furlough scheme, a leading member of Boris Johnson’s cabinet has insisted.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will use a four-nations summit with the Prime Minister on Thursday to push for the job retention scheme to continue beyond its current September expiry date.

Now Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has indicated it could be continued.

Asked about the possibility of this, he said: “We are open minded, yes.”

Speaking ahead of the four-nations summit on tackling Covid, Mr Gove said the initiative, which sees the taxpayer pay cash towards workers’ wages, had been a “huge success” that was only possible “thanks to the broad shoulders of the UK Treasury”.

The UK Government minister insisted higher spending as a response to the coronavirus pandemic would continue, as the country as a whole seeks to “build back better”.

The Scottish Government has voiced concerns about a possible return to austerity from the Conservatives at Westminster, but Mr Gove told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We’ll be spending more.

“We’ll be spending more on the NHS, we will be spending more on education, we will be spending more on criminal justice, because in all of these areas it is absolutely vital that we build back better.

“Extra funding for everyone will continue, and it is important we all learn from each other about how that money should be spent.”

Spanish and Greek islands could be added to travel green list

There is growing speculation that popular holiday islands could be added to the Government’s travel green list on Thursday.

Spanish and Greek islands plus Malta are among the destinations which experts believe may be given green status.

That would mean people visiting those locations from the UK will no longer be required to quarantine on their return.

Robert Boyle, former director of strategy at British Airways’ parent company IAG, predicted that a number of summer hotspots will be added to the green tier.

He wrote in a blog post: “It still seems very likely that whilst Spain and Greece will not make it onto the green list, many of their islands will, due to lower case rates and higher vaccinations than on the mainland.”

Mr Boyle added: “Malta, Finland and Slovakia are fairly safe bets, based on high testing rates and low reported cases.”

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