Newspaper headlines: Classroom 'crisis', charities warned, hedgehog decline

Many of Monday's papers look at the squeeze on secondary education in England, ahead of "national offer day" on Tuesday, when pupils and parents find out whether they will have a place at their first-choice school this September.

According to the Daily Telegraph, 84,000 families did not get their preferred choice of secondary school last year, a rise of more than 7,000. Figures released by the Labour Party suggest 300,000 new secondary places will be needed by 2020, the paper says.

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"One in six schools are full", is the headline in the Sun, which says the "classroom crisis" is set to worsen because of "Britain's immigration-fuelled population boom". In its leader column, the paper says "overcrowded classrooms and the challenges of accommodating myriad different languages will nobble attempts to drive up standards".

The Daily Mail agrees, saying the number of children who are "non-native speakers soared by nearly 400% from 51,955 to 190,506 in seven years, stretching teachers' time".

The Daily Mirror, in its editorial, blames the current and previous education secretaries for the shortage of places: "First Michael Gove and now Nicky Morgan cannot escape the wrath of parents furious if a child is denied a place when the Tories have sidelined local authorities."

The Guardian says the government hopes free schools will fill the gaps, but critics argue such academies "do not always open in the areas of greatest need and there may be a struggle to open new schools quickly enough".


Charitable concern

Charities are back in the spotlight again, following the row over Age UK's promotion of energy deals with power giant E.On.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the charities' commissioner Williams Shawcross has told 1,700 organisations to review their commercial tie-ups as a result of the Age UK furore, and that the sector must stop "hounding" people.

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"It cannot be right for vulnerable people, older people, generous people, to be hounded on the telephone, through the letterbox or in the street," the Times says Mr Shawcross will say in a speech on Monday.

The Guardian says Mr Shawcross's warning to charities "follows repeated controversies about the way some charities raise funds, including the use of 'chuggers', paid-for staff who seek to sign people up on the street to bank direct debits".

The Daily Mail says it has been a "disastrous year for some charities", with interventions from the prime minister and a committee of MPs, the latter warning charities "are now looking at their 'last chance' to put their own house in order".


Eye-catching headlines

  • Korean filibuster drones on into sixth day. Opposition politicians in South Korea have managed to hold the floor of the country's parliament for almost a week "with tears, songs and long readings from George Orwell's 1984" in a bid to stall a "controversial anti-terrorism bill", reports the Times. The previous record for the longest filibuster was held by 103 members of Canada's New Democratic Party, who spoke for a measly 58 hours in 2011, the paper reports.
  • I'll sail the Atlantic in a whale - the Sun brings us news of ex-SAS soldier Tom McClean, 73, and his plan to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a 62-ton, 65-foot steel whale called Moby. "It's unlike anything I've ever done before", said Mr McClean, which would appear to be almost the exact definition of understatement.
  • Want to raise a tankard to Her Majesty's birthday? That'll cost you £39, please - the Independent reports on the "eye-watering" prices being charged for the official merchandise being released to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. A single commemorative plate will set you back £89, the paper says. Smashing.
  • Now the good news: we're all in the BBC survivors' club - the Daily Mail reports on how seasoned BBC hacks Frank Gardner, Andrew Marr, Nick Robinson and George Alagiah formed the Survivors' Club, having been through serious illness or injury. The accompanying picture shows the four sharing a toast at a lunch "no licence fees were spent on", according to Robinson. Cheers!
Image copyright Frank Gardner

Papers get ready for Clinton v Trump

UK papers seem pretty convinced that former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party's candidate for president, and that her Republican Party opponent will be billionaire tycoon Donald Trump.

"Hillary shoots down Trump" is new newspaper the New Day's headline. It says Mrs Clinton took against Mr Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again", saying "America has never stopped being great".

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"Hillary takes aim at Trump after South Carolina victory" is the Guardian's take, saying the former senator's victory over Democrat rival Bernie Sanders "raised expectations she will perform well on Super Tuesday and progress smoothly towards an eventual Democratic Party nomination".

The Daily Telegraph believes that Mrs Clinton's margin of victory in South Carolina - gaining 73.5% of the vote - "indicated Mr Sanders had little hope across the South and could face further setbacks" on Super Tuesday (1 March), when 11 states go to the polls to select a candidate.

The Independent believes Mr Sanders was always going to be in a tough battle with Mrs Clinton in South Carolina, as she was "fighting what was effectively her third contest here, having campaigned with husband Bill Clinton in 1992".


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Media captionAuthor Matthew Green and Jenni Russell of the Times review the front pages

Headlines highlight hedgehog haven harm

Most of Monday's papers pick up on a survey carried out for BBC Gardener's World magazine, which suggests fewer of us are seeing hedgehogs in our gardens.

"Almost half of people have never seen a hedgehog in their back yard" reports the Independent, with only 29% of the 2,348 people who took part saying they had seen "the much-loved mammal" in their garden in the past year.

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The Daily Mail reports the hedgehog population was thought to be about 36 million strong in the 1950s, but has declined to less than a million since 2003.

There is hope for the hedgehog though, according to the Guardian, which says "seven out of 10 people said they would be happy to cut holes in their fences" so the creatures can roam free.

And they're also a popular animal, with the Times reporting it's gained twice as many votes than the panda as the creature people questioned most wanted to save. "It was not considered as important to save as the tiger, however", the paper adds.


If you're happy and you know it... you're over 60

Despite the BBC being able to make several series of Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Women, it seems those over 60 and approaching retirement are scientifically proven to be actually quite content.

"Bad backs, arthritis and high blood pressure are no barrier to happiness", says the Times, adding that research carried out by the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL in London, challenges "assumptions that have always linked happiness to good physical health".

The Daily Telegraph tells us that "evidence from the UK's longest-running continuous study of people's day-to-day lives and health suggests that overall wellbeing usually improves during their seventh decade".

Researchers tested volunteers aged 60 to 64 on range of measures, reports the Daily Express, "including feeling cheerful, confident, optimistic, useful and relaxed", before asking them the same questions again aged 69.

The Daily Mail adds a disclaimer to what might otherwise appear to be a good-news story, that while people were "significantly happier at 69", this was "despite most of them developing chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure".

The Times adds that these findings tally with research by the Office for National Statistics, which found the happiest years are between 65 and 75, possibly because "older people have a greater sense of perspective about their setbacks". The Times accompanies its article with a cartoon of an older couple sat at a table with the man telling the woman "I'm ecstatic, but I can't remember why".


Making us click

Daily Telegraph - Leap Year 2016: Why does February have 29 days every four years?

Daily Mail - Back to uni on helicopters, private jets and in flash cars: Rich Kids of London show off their favourite transport as they 'sneer at peasants outside Primark' and clean their shoes with £50 notes

Daily Mirror - Oscars red carpet highlights as Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lawrence and more lead star guests

The Guardian - Brexit would negatively affect lives of millions, official UK report says

The Times - Trump hesitates after support of former Klan leader

The Independent - Incest and necrophilia 'should be legal' according to youth branch of Swedish Liberal People's Party