NEWS DIGEST 15.08.2020: A-level fiasco in the UK and more


Good morning! Today’s News Digest is brought to you via Facebook. British newspaper The Guardian leads today with a piece on ‘looted landmarks’ and claims that iconic European landmarks such as France’s Notre Dame cathedral, the UK’s Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and the St. Mark’s Cathedral were based on architectural designs ‘stolen’ or appropriated from older buildings in west Asia, according to an ‘explosive’ new book by Middle East expert Diana Darke, although some would argue this is merely the export of influences rather than outright copying theft – Looted landmarks: how Notre-Dame, Big Ben and St Mark’s were stolen from the east (The Guardian)

As the anger over downgraded A-Level results in England and Wales’s colleges in light of the pandemic begins to boil over, WalesOnline announced that two out of every five A-Level results for students has been downgraded by at least one grade. Teachers were told to submit the grades they thought each student would have received if they had sat the papers, alongside a rank order of students, which then applied to an algorithm set up by examination boards. This summer’s A-Level exams were cancelled due to the lockdown. The one bit of good news is that A and higher grades have risen this year with 27.9 per cent of students securing the top scores – Two out of every five A Level results downgraded (WalesOnline)

British household goods retailers John Lewis and Partners has announced it will close eight of its stores including its flagship store in Birmingham, the Evening Standard has reported. The retailer attributed the store closures to the financial impact of the UK lockdown hitting customer flows and sales hard. John Lewis has said it will help affected staff find other positions within the company – John Lewis confirms eight store closures including Birmingham flagship (EveningStandard)

Returning back to the A-Levels controversy, there are calls for the government’s education minister Gavin Williamson to resign after he allegedly went against teachers’ advice in deciding the education policy which led to the mass downgrading. Opposition party the Liberal Democrats described Williamson as ‘out of his depth and out of excuses. Ofqual, the exam regulator for England, designed the grades system around schools’ previous results, resulting in nearly 40% of grades assessed by teachers being downgraded by the statistical model. Private schools disproportionately benefited while pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were treated more harshly, prompting the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to publicly intervene – Gavin Williamson under pressure to resign over A-level results ‘fiasco’ (The Guardian)

Two cities in China, where the COVID-19 coronavirus first took root, have reported finding traces of the pathogen on imported frozen chicken products from Brazil and Ecuador, according to a report jointly filed by Australian Associated Press and Yahoo News Australia. A sample taken from the surface of frozen chicken wings imported into the southern city of Shenzhen from Brazil, as well as samples of outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorean shrimp sold in the northwestern city of Xi’an, have tested positive for the virus, local authorities said on Thursday, according to the news article. Coronavirus was also found on packets of frozen shrimp, and there are fears new outbreaks that such contaminated food packaging could lead to new outbreaks – Coronavirus: Alarming find on frozen chicken wings (Yahoo! News)


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