False claims against schools and teachers are being published on hoax news websites and shared on social media, threatening to ruin careers and reputations.Teachers and parents are growing increasingly concerned over the sites, which allow users to published false stories in a news format which are then being shared thousands of times on other social media sites.In one case a false article claimed that a teacher had sex with a pupil and had taken selfies of the incident after it happened.The story was subsequently shared over 73,000 times on social media and included a picture of the school building.Head teachers at the targeted schools said many parents and pupils had believed the hoax stories.One head teacher said that dealing with the aftermath of a false report took up to 20 hours a week.In another incident false news articles had reported that a teacher from Bridge Learning Campus, Bristol, had kidnapped a pupil.Keziah Featherstone, head of the school, said that children as young as eight had seen and believed the story.She told the Times Educational Supplement (TES) that dealing with the aftermath had required up to 20 hours work a week and that the schools receptionists had been “taking calls from parents and children, who didn’t understand it was a prank.” Head teachers have also had to deal with false news stories claiming schools had been shut due to gas leaks or had been “set on fire”.The growing concern comes after Facebook and other social media networks were criticised for publishing fake news on their platforms, widely thought to have helped Donald Trump win the US presidential election.Andrew Minchin, head of Robert Napier School in Gillingham, Kent, said it was essential that schools responded by acting quickly to tackle false online reports.He said his school had been subject to two hoax news stories; the first, published on Bonfire night, claimed that part of it had been set on fire, while a second article reported the school’s closure due to a burst pipe.Mr Minchin told The Telegraph: “It was crucial that the school addressed the social media hoax news article as it had left some parents misinformed about whether the school was open. “We had to contact parents over a weekend at the end of a half term holiday to ensure that students attended school as normal the following day “These news articles have a very real look to them and in our case reached 50,000 people.”The same story was also published about nearby The Thomas Aveling School in Rochester.Paul Jackson, head teacher at the school, said: “A post was put up on Facebook to say the school was closed for a month due to a gas leak.”We were made aware of it by a parent and we quickly communicated with all parents that this was not true through our own website, Facebook page and emails to all.”To upload a news story on the hoax news websites users fill out an online form which is then published on the site and can be shared instantly to social media.The sites invite users to “create false news and prank your friends” and “share them on social networks!” but both add that “any bullying, racist, homophobic or pornographic jokes are prohibited”.Mr Minchin said: “Our experience shows there is no verification process from the news provider and, as such, they can be malicious in nature. “Our job as teachers is to educate the next generation of students to have the skills to check whether news stories come from reputable news providers and to always question the validity of what they read.” Pupils are sharing false news stories about their schools to thousands of social media usersCredit:Alamy Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Mike Diaper, Executive Director at Sport England said: “Being active is one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age.”Peter Hart, CEO of British Orienteering added: “This is the first time we have adapted many of our introductory activities to work with inactive older adults.“It’s my belief that orienteering can offer older adults a fantastic mix of physical and mental exercise by adapting the challenge to suit their abilities.” British Weightlifting has adapted its training to suit older people Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Although the changes may appear infantilising, they have been greeted with enthusiasm by older people. Reenie Boot, 93, of Welwyn Garden City, said:“I absolutely loved it, so much fun and can’t wait for next time to get moving and laughing”Sport England, which recently launched its Active Ageing fund to tackle inactivity in the over 55s said it was important to keep fit later in life to prevent illness. It is hoped the new sessions boost health and prevent loneliness Credit:Jane Russell Oomph! Wellness, the group behind the project, is now in talks with other national governing bodies to make more sports available to the elderly. Old age is often described as a second childhood, and now sports bodies are tapping into that sense of playfulness in later life to encourage more elderly people to exercise.Although activities like volleyball and weightlifting may not seem obvious hobbies for pensioners, sports groups have rewritten their rules to get more older people involved.In a project funded by Sport England, Volleyball England is now running classes where older people can play from their armchairs, using an inflatable ball, and nets made from bunting.Likewise British Orienteering has altered its trails, so that they pass local landmarks or post boxes, to allow the elderly to take part without venturing too far afield.British Weightlifting is also running modified sessions where pensioners are encouraged to lift water bottles and foam bars to keep up their strength. The project is also hoping to tackle loneliness in the elderly. According to the Campaign To End Loneliness, around 17 per cent of older people see friends, family and neighbours less than once a week, while one in 10 go for a month at a time without seeing any loved ones.A recent survey by the charity found that for two fifths of older people, around 3.9 million, view the television as their main source of company.Gillian Harrison, Technical and Talent Coordinator at Volleyball England commented: “We are always keen for people to join the volleyball family because we know that everyone can get involved and benefit socially and physically – volleyball is the sport for everybody.“Sitting Volleyball is one of the disciplines of volleyball which is already popular and a great chance for players with and without a disability to play together.”
Julian Fellowes showed us the upstairs-downstairs world of an English country house in Downton Abbey.For his latest television project, Fellowes is taking his fascination with the class divide in a more surprising direction: the invention of modern football.The English Game, set in the late 19th century, is billed as “part Etonians, part factory workers, coming together to create the world’s most popular sport”.The six-part Netflix drama will focus on the battle to professionalise the game.“It is not only going to be about football, but about the human drama. They were sitting on a powder keg in the last quarter of the 19th century. What was happening in football was also happening in society,” Fellowes said of the era’s class struggles.Many of the characters will be taken from real life – among them Lord Kinnaird, the Old Etonian who played in nine FA Cup finals and was president of the Football Association for 33 years until his death in 1923; and Fergie Suter, a Glasgwegian stonemason who joined Darwen FC in Lancashire, and became one of England’s first professional players.“We are telling a story about a real game and real people,” Fellowes said. Julian Fellowes at Highclere Castle, the setting for Downton AbbeyCredit:Andrew Crowley Eton College claims credit for the development of English football, noting that the rules of the modern game were based on those developed in public schools. Before the establishment of the Football Association in 1863, there were different rules – even different balls – depending on where games were played and who was taking part.Fellowes said: “As football turned from boys and girls kicking a ball around the street into a proper game, it went through these extraordinary convulsions.“You had the Etonians trying to control it and set the rules, and at the same time it was growing in popularity through the Midlands and the North in recently industrialised communities who were identifying with their local football teams. You had this power struggle.“When it came to paying players, on one hand you had the former public schoolboys thinking it would make the sport vulgar and open it up to bribery. And then you had the working class teams saying, ‘It’s all very well for them because they have all the time in the world to practise. But how can we get our standards up when we have to go out to work?’“It was rather mean-spirited [of Old Etonians] and for a time they exerted control of the game in an unfair way. But gradually the force of the sea became too strong and all that stuff was pushed aside.” Fergus ‘Fergie’ Suter, one of the first professional footballers to play in EnglandCredit:Archive PL/Alamy Fellowes described Lord Kinnaird as a “visionary” figure. “He started out thinking, ‘Eton has got it right and these are the rules and we are gentlemen’. But he came to understand its importance to communities all over Britain.”Fellowes said his interest in football was sparked when his son took him to watch Manchester United play “East Ham or West Ham”.“I am not a fan in the sense of always being on the terraces. But my son took me to see Man United and suddenly I was able to tell that this game was like a ballet,” Fellowes said.“It was so beautifully done, so measured, so skilful that I came away with a completely different feeling about the whole thing. I understood there is an artistry to this, as there is to anything.” A cartoon image of Arthur, Lord Kinnaird, who played in nine FA Cup finalsCredit:Antiqua Print Gallery Ltd/Alamy Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.