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Staffordshire Youth Commission

YOUNGSTERS of Staffordshire – the Police and Crime Commissioner wants YOUR help.

Founded and funded by the Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, the Commission is looking for new members, between the ages of 14-25, following a successful first year.

And if you feel you can make a difference to youth issues, want to be involved in policing and have your say about how crime is tackled, then even better. We might just have the role for you.

The Youth Commission wants volunteers from the Staffordshire policing area who will work with the existing members of the group to take the project forward.

Looking for people who reflect the diverse population of the county, the Youth Commission seeks individuals who are willing to participate in quarterly meetings, develop skills and come up with creative ideas for workshops – while helping tackle some of the issues impacting on young people.

Matthew Ellis, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘The Youth Commission is an important addition to the PCC portfolio.

‘It’s important the needs and the voices of youngsters are serviced by young people themselves.

‘The first year was both rewarding and exciting for our young members. We hope a new intake will add further fresh impetus, bring new ideas and continue the excellent work of our current group.’

The Youth Commission’s first year report identified the biggest challenges for youngsters.

These included knife and gang crime, cyber bullying, drug/alcohol abuse and educating youngsters about police work.

Rose Dowling – director of Leaders Unlocked, which runs the Youth Commission on the PCC’s behalf – is looking forward to welcoming new members.

‘We’re looking for a diverse group of young adults who truly reflect the youth population, including those from marginalised and under-represented groups.

‘This is a unique opportunity for young people to play a leadership role working alongside the PCC and the Police to address pressing problems such as knife crime, hate crime and mental health that affects the lives of so many young people.’

Further endorsement of the Youth Commission was provided by member Imogen Pople.

The 17-year-old said: ‘Being a part of the Youth Commission has benefitted me massively.

‘Not only am I able to work with fun and kind individuals but I’m also given opportunities which help me widen my knowledge and experience.

‘Most importantly it allows me to voice the opinions of those who want change but believe they don’t have the voice or aren’t important enough to bring this change.’

gruffalo at ankerside

SHOPPERS are set to experience the magic of Christmas next weekend, as a Tamworth shopping centre not only welcomes Santa but also Julia Donaldson’s hit picture book character, The Gruffalo to town.

The festive season will officially begin at Ankerside Shopping Centre on Sunday, 26 November with Father Christmas kicking off the festivities with the opening of Santa’s Grotto at 11am.

This will be followed by the arrival of children’s favourite The Gruffalo.  The mystical monster will be meeting with the children of Tamworth at 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.  He’ll be at the town’s Christmas light switch on at 5pm too!

Jeff Wigley, Ankerside Shopping Centre manager, said he is looking forward to seeing everybody get into the seasonal spirit at the centre on Sunday. “We really wanted to do something extra special to officially start the Christmas celebrations this year, so we though a visit from The Gruffalo would be perfect,” he said.

As part of the Christmas-themed event, the local community will also be able to meet Santa himself at his Grotto. “From Sunday, 26 November, he will be coming along to Ankerside every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout December to meet children in the area and find out what is on their wish list.

“Once the centre’s fantastic celebrations finish at 4pm, the excitement will continue at Tamworth’s Christmas light switch on in St Editha’s Square, where The Gruffalo will continue to meet his adoring fans.

“The Gruffalo is extremely popular with children in and around Tamworth, so we’re expecting to have a brilliant day to officially start Christmas and we look forward to seeing our customers having a great time throughout the festivities.

*Santa’s Grotto will be open from 11am to 4pm on Sunday, 26 November and will then be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout December. Additionally, the grotto will be open between Monday 18 December and Christmas Eve. Visitors can meet Santa, open a chocolate gift and receive a photo to take home for £3.50.

a lifetime of thanks by Leah Edgar

COTON GREEN Primary School student, 11-year-old Leah Edgar, has won a Royal British Legion poetry competition for Remembrance Day.

The poem entitled ‘A lifetime of thanks’ will now be read out by Leah as a prayer during the Act of Remembrance on Sunday 12 November at St Editha’s Church.

The Year 6 Pupil from the School on Kipling Rise, Coton Green, completed the poem as part of their learning about Life during World War I and World War II.

As part of their studies they have visited the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, read work by War Poets and imagined life both as a soldier and civilian during the War years.

Below you can see the winning poem and also an exclusive video of Leah.

A lifetime of thanks, by Leah Edgar

THREE Staffordshire charities are set to benefit from the generosity of kind shoppers during the festive season, as a Tamworth shopping centre gears up to welcome the return of its annual Christmas appeal.

From Monday 13 November, Ankerside Shopping Centre will be inviting shoppers to get involved in the centre’s fourteenth Operation Christmas appeal, by donating gifts in support of Acorn Children’s Hospice, Pathways Project and Community Together CIC.

To take part all visitors have to do is simply pop a present into the collection box, which will be located in the mall near H Samuel before Sunday, 14 December.

Jeff Wigley, Ankerside Shopping Centre manager, said he is looking forward to showing his support to three wonderful charities this Christmas. “Throughout the year, Ankerside shoppers and the centre team show amazing generosity with our range of charitable activities, including collections for various organisations, awareness raising and our annual Macmillan fundraising day, so it is really important to us to continue this over the festive period,” he said.

No matter how big or small, donated gifts will go to Acorn Children’s Hospice – a charity that offers care for life limited and life threatened babies, children and young people, and Pathways Project, an organisation that works to support adults, young people and children who are experiencing or affected by domestic abuse. Plus, Community Together CIC who work to support the people of Tamworth through a local drop-in hub featuring everything from a community café to advice gateways to healthy lifestyle promotion and children’s activities.

“This is the first time we have supported three organisations through the Operation Christmas appeal and we’re really pleased for Community Together CIC to join Acorn Children’s Hospice and Pathways Project in this annual campaign,” Jeff added.

“Over the years the people of Tamworth have been extremely generous during the Operation Christmas campaign and we can’t thank them enough for their continued support,” he said. “We look forward to seeing the collection box fill up over the festive period and can’t wait to get them to the charities in time for Christmas.”

The Operation Christmas donation box is currently located in the mall near H Samuel. The box will be in the centre until Thursday 14 December when the gifts will then be split between the three charities and presented to them before Christmas.

three peaks primary ofsted

STAFF and pupils at Three Peaks Primary Academy in Tamworth were celebrating today as Ofsted declared them good in all areas.

The news has come after the Academy’s latest inspection which took place on between 27-28 September.

Inspectors praised the school for its “significant improvements to the quality of education” since joining the Creative Education Trust, and highlighted the school’s strong leadership and effective teaching.

Highlights from the report include:

  • “Senior leaders, in collaboration with staff from Creative Education Trust, have taken effective and decisive action since the school opened to bring about considerable improvements in the quality of teaching and learning. As a result, pupils now receive the good standard of education that they deserve.”
  • “The curriculum is broad and balanced. It provides an increasing number of exciting experiences to capture pupils’ interests and support their personal and social development. Visits to places of interest, school visitors and special events all enhance the curriculum and contribute well to pupils’ progress and wider development.”
  • “Pupils show enjoyment in their work and demonstrate positive attitudes to learning new knowledge and schools. They are not afraid to make mistakes.”
  • “The trust provides effective support to the school and draws on the expertise in other trust schools to share best practice. Teachers value these opportunities to work collaboratively and learn from each other. For example, support from the trust for the early years has been beneficial in improving leadership of the foundation stage.”

As well as this Ofsted announcement, this year also saw a 17% increase in the number of Three Peaks Primary pupils achieving expected levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics – more than double the national rate of improvement.

This judgement also marks an important milestone for the Creative Education Trust. Three quarters of all Creative Education Trust schools are now rated good, having previously been in special measures before joining the network, with further inspections expected this academic year.

Richard Penn-Bourton, Three Peaks Primary Academy Headteacher, told Tamworth Informed: “At Three Peaks Primary, we are determined to make every moment count. We want all children to have the foundations that they need to be successful, happy, confident young people – in an environment that is safe, supportive and encouraging.

It has not been easy to get from inadequate to good, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of staff, in school and across the trust, we have done it.  We remain focussed on achieving the highest standards in all that we do and are well on our way to outstanding.”

Marc Jordan, Creative Education Trust Chief Executive said:  “I am incredibly proud of the changes that the whole school community – teachers, leaders, pupils, the trust, governors, and parents – have brought about. Congratulations to all. It is clear that at Three Peaks Primary, pupils genuinely love learning and teachers genuinely love teaching. I was delighted that Ofsted inspectors saw this too.”

The full Ofsted report is available here: www.threepeaksacademy.org.uk/ofsted-report/

Places are available for September 2018, for more information and to arrange a tour, visit www.threepeaksacademy.org.uk.

Spooky chefs at Ankerside

CHILDREN from in and around Tamworth had a terrific time at a local shopping centre last weekend, as Spooky Chefs came to town for a free day of Halloween-themed fun and games.

On Saturday, 28 October, Ankerside Shopping Centre’s very own ghostly chefs Cruella De Spill and Marco Pierre Fright to get everybody into the spirit of the spooky season with everything from fancy dress and storytelling to gruesome trails and zombie hand making.

Throughout the day, the frightfully fun characters gather groups of Tamworth children to staff Ankerside’s spooky kitchen – learning all about what they’re going to cook up in the chef’s creepy cauldron and going on the hunt for ingredients.

Spooky Chefs Cruella De Spill and Marco Pierre Fright with sisters Nellie and Isla.

Jeff Wigley, Ankerside Shopping Centre manager, said the Spooky Chefs event was a huge hit with local families. “We were so pleased to see so many children enjoying the Halloween-themed activities over the weekend,” he said.

“On Saturday, Cruella De Spill and Marco Pierre Fright met Tamworth’s children – dressing them up as mini chefs and helping them find ingredients to add to the creepy cauldron. Plus, after the trail, guests had the chance to make zombie hands from tasty popcorn.

“Families who came along to our Spooky Chefs event also paid a visit to our very own fancy dress store, Wacky Wardrobe, who opened especially for the Halloween season,” Jeff added.

childcare costs

CHILDREN celebrating their third birthday this autumn should be signed up now for 30 hours’ supported childcare.

Families of almost 4,000 children in Staffordshire took up the offer of 30 hours’ supported childcare for three and four-year-olds when the scheme launched nationally in September.

Now, more childcare places are available from January 1 for children who celebrate their third birthday between September 1 and December 31 2017.

Places are also available for children who are already three or four years old, but haven’t yet been registered.

Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Having 30 hours of childcare funded every week makes a huge difference to families: it either puts money back in their pockets, allows people to go out and work extra hours, or changes their work life balance.”

To be eligible both parents, or the parent in a single-parent family, must earn the equivalent of at least 16 hours a week at the national minimum wage, or living wage.

Parents can check if they qualify and sign up for the scheme at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk but they must do so by December 31.

Mark Sutton said: “At this time of year parents just get busier and busier as it approaches the festive season so I would urge them to register now and then take the code to a childcare provider straight away so everything is sorted for the New Year.”

The 30 hours scheme was rolled out nationally after being trialled in Staffordshire in 2016/17.

Latest figures show that the families of 3,909 children took up the 30 hours’ offer in the county, equating to 4.456 million hours of childcare a year.

Mark Sutton added: “In Staffordshire 96 per cent of pre-school places are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, so parents can be confident this scheme helps them and helps their child get the best possible start before going to school.”

Tamworth Castle Educational Staff

TAMWORTH Castle has been given the seal of approval for the eighth year running as a quality and accredited provider of educational school trips.

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) award the ‘Quality Badge’ to give assurances to schools regarding the safety and quality of off-site and is the only accreditation scheme for all types of LOtC provision; from botanic gardens and farms; through to museums and expeditions overseas – meaning that schools only need to look for one accreditation when planning visits.

In 2016, Tamworth Castle delivered a total of 223 workshops to 206 school visits. Workshops cover a range of topics relevant to the current school curriculum. This includes ‘Meeting the Castle household’ – a workshop where pupils meet the Lady of the castle, her servant and armourer. The children help carry out tasks such as setting the dining table, learn the skills of a squire and how to bow and courtesy to the Lady.

The castle was judged on the total of education packages offered to schools. This includes the range of subjects offered across the key stages, activities offered, capability of staff, progression, pre and post visit information, evaluation, health and safety, equality diversity and inclusion issues, standard of policy and procedure and safeguarding procedures.

The award of the LOtC Quality Badge indicates that the provider understands schools’ needs and can tailor their offer to fit in with both current curriculum requirements and any specific requirements of the school.

The Quality Badge helps to ensure that teachers are making the best possible use of school time and that young people will access good quality educational experiences.

The castle has held the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) award of the Quality Badge since 2011; the current award will now run for two years until 2019.

Cllr Joy Goodall, Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “Tamworth Castle is an absolute gem, and this award is a well-deserved recognition of its value and commitment to children’s learning and education. I am delighted that Tamworth Castle has received this two year Quality Badge, which is a tribute to the huge amount of hard work and dedication which the whole team puts into making the castle so special.”

For more details about school workshops, events and opening times visit: www.tamworthcastle.gov.uk

childcare 30 hours

STAFFORDSHIRE’S work in helping parents get 30 hours a week supported childcare has been seen at first hand by the Government’s top official.

Michelle Dyson, Director of Early Years and Childcare at the Department for Education, met county councillors and officers, before talking to business representatives and visiting nurseries in Staffordshire.

Staffordshire County Council was one of eight authorities which trialled the introduction of 30 hours supported childcare for three and four-year-olds in 2016/17 before the government rolled out the scheme nationally in September.

Mark Sutton, the county council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said:

Staffordshire has always been at the forefront of helping parents claim the pre-school childcare they’re entitled to, while working with providers to increase provision wherever it’s needed.

We’ve found from last year’s trial that the 30 hours’ supported childcare made a huge difference to people’s lives – it put more money in their pockets by either saving on fees, or allowing a parent to go out to work, or it simply made a massive improvement to their work-life balance.

At the same time the feedback from employers was that those benefiting seemed happier and more settled knowing that their childcare was sorted.”

In Staffordshire, the latest figures show the families of 3,909 children have taken up the 30 hours’ offer, equating to 4.456 million hours of childcare in the county a year.

To be eligible both parents, or the parent in a single-parent family, must earn the equivalent of at least 16 hours a week at the national minimum wage, or living wage.

In Staffordshire 96 per cent of pre-school places are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Mark Sutton said:

We have many high quality childcare providers in Staffordshire and I’m thrilled that so many parents have taken up the offer to give their children such a good start in life.”

Eligible parents of three and four-year-olds can carry on registering at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk to secure the 30 hours when the scheme reopens in January. Parents who registered in August but have not yet redeemed their voucher are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

Staffordshire County Council

VULNERABLE children in Staffordshire are very well protected, according to the latest Ofsted inspection of children’s services.

For the second inspection in a row Staffordshire County Council’s services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers are all rated as ‘Good’ in every category, with no areas needing urgent improvement.

The report says: “The senior leadership team, chief executive and elected members have maintained an uncompromising focus on strengthening services for children in Staffordshire.”

The inspection was a pilot for the new Ofsted regime to be introduced for all local authorities in England from early next year.

Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said:

“The new form of inspection focuses on what actually happens to those who need our help and support and I’m delighted to say we’re making a real difference where it matters.

“I’m also pleased that Ofsted recognises the quality of the preventative work with families where there are children at risk of coming into the care system – it’s better for everyone if we can prevent problems escalating and help children stay with their families.”

The report notes much of the success of the Families First service is linked to the sustained investment in staff development and good working conditions.

Mark Sutton added:

“By providing clear management, good training and support, we have a low staff turnover which means we can develop and maintain high standards across the service.

“Most importantly it means children can build up a long term relationship with one social worker who understands their needs and can help them achieve their ambitions.”

Among the findings, Ofsted also praised:

  • Children are placed with carers who meet their needs;
  • Good support for carers;
  • Stability of children’s placements with carers is good;
  • Disabled children benefit from high quality support;
  • Children in care are making progress in education;
  • The quality of adoption work is good.

Staffordshire County Council is one of only two authorities in the West Midlands to be ranked as ‘Good’ and is in the top third of authorities nationally.

Mark Sutton said:

This is an outstanding performance by a team of dedicated professionals, who are working very hard to change people’s lives.”

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