There is widespread criticism in Wednesday’s papers of the government’s decision to drop plans for all primary school children in England to return to class before the autumn.
The Daily Mirror is concerned about what it calls “The Lost Generation”, while the Guardian says Boris Johnson has been urged to draw up an “urgent national plan” to get all pupils back to school from September, or risk an “epidemic of educational poverty”.
The paper’s editorial argues the government’s lack of curiosity about the impact of the pandemic on the next generation “is a bitter disappointment”.
The Sun’s leader column says it “shames this nation” that children are being denied an education, but sympathises with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and blames “militant teaching unions playing politics” for “making his life hell”.
The Daily Telegraph says scientists have called for a “rational” debate about the reopening of schools, after highlighting new figures which show children under the age of 15 are more likely to be hit by lightning than die from coronavirus.
A professor who is a member of the government’s Sage advisory group is quoted as saying the risk to children is “tiny”- and he suggests allowing herd immunity to build naturally in youngsters may be advisable if no vaccine became available.
The paper’s columnist, Allison Pearson, argues it’s a “national scandal” that children will soon be able to go to theme parks, but not to school.
The father of Stephen Lawrence has told the Guardian he’s “pleased” with the anti-racism protests sweeping the country, as black people are still treated as second-class citizens in Britain, and the police are still institutionally racist.
Making reference to the findings of a public inquiry into the murder of his son by a racist gang in London, Neville Lawrence says the authorities “have fallen way, way short. Twenty-one years short.”
The Times and the Daily Mail feature photographs of the statue of the slave trader, Robert Milligan, being removed from London’s Docklands last night.
The Times says Conservative councils are under pressure to assess the appropriateness of monuments in their area, after 130 Labour local authorities said they would hold reviews.
According to the Mail, Milligan’s statue is one of 60 “racist” monuments on a hit list drawn up by protesters, and the paper appears concerned by the developments.
The Times also reports that the prime minister has included zoos on the list of attractions permitted to reopen from Monday after coming under pressure from his father.
Writing in the Sun on Tuesday, Stanley Johnson warned zoos could go out of business because they have had no visitor income since March, and he urged Downing Street to listen to their concerns.
The Times says the matter was due to be debated in the Commons tomorrow, with Tory MPs expected to criticise government inaction.
The Sun has spoken to a British ex-girlfriend of the German man named last week as a suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, who claims he told her he had a “horrible job” to do the next day – the night before the three-year-old went missing in 2007.
Another former British girlfriend of the man is said to have asked him in 2010 if he had abducted Madeleine after noticing he was a dead ringer for photo fits of suspects, and he allegedly replied “Just don’t go there”. The Sun says one of the women has spoken again to police following their latest appeal for information.
A senior executive at Vodafone has told the Financial Times that the UK’s hopes of leading the world in 5G technology would be dealt a “terminal blow” if the government removed the Chinese firm, Huawei, from the country’s telecoms network.
A security review is currently considering whether to exclude Huawei, but Scott Petty warns the UK’s leadership in 5G “will be lost” if mobile operators are forced to spend time and money replacing existing equipment.
He says rather than stripping out Huawei products – potentially costing billions of pounds – efforts should be focused on expanding 5G coverage and investing in the next stage of the technology.
And a number of papers feature an official portrait of the Queen and Prince Philip, released by Buckingham Palace to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s 99th birthday.
The Telegraph says the photograph was taken at Windsor Castle at the start of the month, and notes it’s the first public image of Prince Philip since he was seen leaving hospital on Christmas Eve after being treated for a pre-existing condition.
The Daily Express adds that the duke is “not one to make a fuss” and has chosen to mark his birthday with a lunch with the Queen and video calls with family members.