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gunwharfNearly 96 per cent of primary aged children in Medway have been offered one of their preference places at secondary school, new figures show.

Families across Medway will start receiving news of the school their child has been offered for September 2014 on Monday, 3 March, which is National Offer Day.

Parents who applied online and provided an e-mail address will also receive the offer by email after 4pm on the same day.

Of the 2,984 Medway children offered places, nearly 82 per cent have been offered their first preference place, more than 10 per cent have been awarded their second place preference and nearly 3 per cent their third preference.

The school admissions process for Medway is a huge task and involves the council’s Student Services (Admissions) Team processing secondary school applications for 3,421 children in total including 437 out of area children this year.

More than 86 per cent of families used the council’s online application process to submit their preferences.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Cllr Mike O’Brien, said: “Finding out which secondary school your child has been allocated is always a major event for families.

“I am happy that a vast majority of children have been offered one of their preference places.

“I’d like to wish all the children the very best for their future studies and hope they go on to achieve great things during their time at secondary school.”

Barbara Peacock, the Director of Children and Adult Services, added: “I’m pleased that lots of children have gained places at one of their chosen schools.

“In Medway there is a great selection of secondary schools and I wish all children the very best for their years of education ahead of them.”

Gruffalo-press imageThemed activity trails, giant wooden Gruffalo sculptures and a big birthday forest picnic are coming to Bedgebury.

Families in Kent and Sussex are invited into a deep dark wood near their home this year to celebrate The Gruffalo’s 15th anniversary with characters from the world-famous picture books.

From April, visitors can join Mouse on his adventure and explore Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s award-winning tale through activity trails in the Pinetum.

The fun-packed partnership kicks off with The Gruffalo activity trails in Bedgebury and 27 other forests across England, which run through to the end of September. In October, The Gruffalo’s Child activity trails take over and will stay in Bedgebury right through the winter until February 2015. Characters from the stories will lead children through the trees with adventure and intrigue, learning about woods and forests as they go.

From June, a giant wooden sculpture of one of the world’s best-loved monsters himself will be hidden in Bedgebury Pinetum. Another 14 of the 7ft tall sculptures will be hidden in forests across England, for families to track down. The 15 Gruffalos will all be different and are currently being individually-carved in a secret woodland location out of three-ton pieces of timber, each carefully-selected from Forestry Commission sites.

Visitors are also invited to gather in Bedgebury with family and friends on Saturday 7 June to celebrate The Gruffalo’s anniversary with a big birthday forest picnic – inspired by an exciting party pack of forest-inspired picnic ideas, activities and bunting, free to download this Spring from the Forestry Commission’s website http://www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffalo.
Daryl Shute from Magic Light Pictures, the brand building and production company responsible for the award-winning animated Gruffalo films commented:

“The Gruffalo encourages followers to explore the real world with imagination, creativity and a true sense of adventure. With emphasis on learning and the great outdoors, Forestry Commission England is the perfect partner, and we’re delighted to be teaming up with them in this anniversary year to launch these exciting new series of trails across the country.”
“The Gruffalo lives in the natural world so a local forest is the perfect place to set out with Mouse on his journey in search of these magnificent new wooden carvings of one of the nation’s favourite children’s picture book characters.”

Sandra Styles from Bedgebury commented:

“There is no better way to celebrate The Gruffalo than within the deep dark wood and forest that he calls home.

“The Gruffalo is a national treasure and so are our forests and this partnership will really help to bring the story to life and celebrate the anniversary in true Gruffalo style.

“All the activities have been carefully positioned at Forestry Commission sites across the country so you are never more than an hour away from a Gruffalo adventure, and we are very excited to be a part of the celebrations with The Gruffalo activity trails and a sculpture at Bedgebury.”

Details of trails and sculpture locations and the forest birthday picnic party pack are available from http://www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffalo. Sign up online to find out more about the exciting year of forest celebrations.

The Friends of Chernobyl’s Children is a local branch of a charity that helps children from Belarus by giving them a recuperative holiday which allows respite from the poverty and difficult conditions they face at home for a month each year. The charity is based in Cliffe with host families in Cliffe, Cliffe Woods, Allhallows, High Halstow, Medway Towns and Higham. (More information can be found at

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cc.org.uk” target=”_blank”>http://www.focc.org.uk)

This is provided through family placements and the charity meets the full cost of these visits which include optical, dental and health checks as well as lots of tender loving care. It is anticipated that up to twelve children will be able to take up the opportunity this year in Medway. While they are here they undertake a range of activities and visits that they would be unable to do at home.

By extensive fundraising FOCC (Medway) meets the full costs of all the visits. The charity is self-funding and everyone involved gives their time and talents freely – ensuring that all money raised is utilised for the children.

In order to continue with our work we constantly need to raise money. Until now, the cost of the children’s visas for their trips to the UK has been funded by the British Government but last year the funding was withdrawn. The air fares for the children are rising each year and it costs hundreds of pounds to bring each child to the UK.

While appreciating that we are living in austere times, any donation no matter how small will make a huge difference to these children.

We are also looking for an additional Trustee for our Executive committee, if you feel that you could help in this capacity please get in touch. If you would like to find out more or be involved as a helper, fundraiser or host family please contact Di Fitter.
Group Coordinator: Diane Fitter – Tel. 01634 222875 E-mail: dianefitter@btinternet.com

rochdickensOn Friday 7th February – Charles Dickens’ 202nd birthday – members of the Rochester & Chatham Dickens Fellowship attended the first local evening screening of the film “The Invisible Woman”. The film is currently being shown at the Odeon Cinema in Dickens World Leisure Complex, Chatham. The film is based on the book by Claire Tomalin telling the life story of Ellen (Nelly) Turnan. The controversy from a Dickensian scholar’s point of view is a tantalising question: did Charles Dickens have a platonic relationship with the young actress or a love affair? There is also controversy over his separation from his wife, the mother of his ten children – and indeed whether Ellen Turnan had a child by Charles Dickens (or even more than one!). I am sure that Dickens scholars will continue arguing over this for years to come.

Whatever the truth about Ellen Turnan and Charles Dickens, members enjoyed the film and found it well acted and produced. There is local interest in the film: Chatham and Rochester get a mention and part of the story relates to Gad’s Hill Place in Higham. A lesser-known fact is that Ellen (Nelly) Turnan was born on March 3rd 1839 in Maidstone Road, Rochester and baptised later that month in St Nicholas’ Church.

harlequin CD coverThe Rude Mechanical Theatre Company this week release the long-awaited soundtrack album from their 2013 summer production ‘Harlequin Goes to the Moon’. Recorded live by the cast at the company’s Peppe Nappa Studio in Eastbourne during the tour which featured over forty shows covering East and West Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon, “I Want, I Want!” provides a permanent reminder of one of their most successful tours since they started to produce original plays in 2002. Read More

DCMedway Council has been praised by the Prime Minister for some of the best results in Britain for helping families in a groundbreaking government scheme.

Under the project the council will help more than 500 families in a three year period.
The programme in Medway means council workers assist families with the underlying issues which can lead to truancy and anti social behaviour. The scheme also gives advice on developing skills and getting back into work.

The Prime Minister’s comments have been welcomed by Councillor Mike O’Brien, Medway Council’s lead porfolio holder for Children’s Services. Medway Council has worked with 180 families in the last twelve months and more assistance will be given to another 380 over the next two years of the project.

David Cameron praised Medway’s work in implementing the payment-by-results programme. The Prime Minister said: “I am determined that we help people to get on in life including those families where things may be going wrong. For some, that starts with attending school every day, staying out of trouble with the police and taking practical steps towards work, just as other families do. Every month, more and more of the most troubled families are getting help to deal with these issues head-on in Medway . That is good for those families, your community and our country as a whole.”

Cllr O’Brien said: “I am delighted the Prime Minister has recognised the excellent work being done to make Medway a great place to live and work for everyone. It is a tribute to the hard work being done by many council staff to help those in most need. Within three years we will have helped 560 families. ”

Back Camera A free Pregnancy Information evening will be held at Temple Mill Children’s Centre in Strood on Monday, 8 July.

The event will be held in celebration of the 6th birthday of the National Children’s Trust’s Early Pregnancy Evening.

The evenings are run bi-monthly and give advice and information on a wide range of subjects, including reflexology, nutrition, baby massage, water birth, midwifery, health visitors, baby sensory and much more.

The event is free to enter and families who attend will also be given a free goody bag.
For more information contact the centre on 01634 338200

Celebrating 25 Years of Fostering and the Launch of New Offices in Chatham

At our snug little office here at PT we are cocooned from some of the harsh realities that face many others in the world. The sun shines through the windows and nice people call us up to sell their sofa or advertise their skills as a fully apprenticed treacle sculptor.

new 320But even in and around some of the quiet rural and urban roads and cul-de-sacs that we take for granted, there are children facing some real challenges in their young lives. We attended the opening of the new office of Next Step Fostering in Chatham and discovered a large number of people there ready and waiting to do all they could to remove this type of burden from young shoulders. Read More

Saturday 22nd June
• Private readings-£15 for 1/2hr
• Tarot reader-£15 for 1/2hr
• Reflexology
• Aromatherapy
• Various stalls, jewellery, cards and more

We have organised this event to raise money for Stoke community preschool.
Psychic fair will run from 12-5pm with NO entrance fee, followed by an Evening of clairvoyance with Norman Oaks and Guest medium at 7pm, entrance fee of £5 to pay on the door, tea/coffee available 50p with a free cake.
If you wish to hold a stall at the event or would like more information please contact:
Victoria Ells 01634 271448

Peninsula Times says: If you can, please pop along to this event, money raised will help to provide essential equipment for the Community Pre-School children. We owe it to all our children to give them a good start on their school career and Community Pre-Schools do invaluable work to get all of our children on the road to high achievement.

How-To-Catch-a-Star-190A charming show to kick start the Spring break comes to The Brook Theatre, Chatham as part of the Sundays are for Kids programme.
How to Catch a Star is on Sunday, 26 May at 11.30am and 2.30pm.
This is the story of a boy who loved stars very much. Every night he watched stars from his bedroom window and wished he had one of his own. One day he decided he would try to catch a star.
This beautiful show comes to life with an irresistible blend of music, puppetry and storytelling.
Tickets are priced at £6 for adults and £5 for children.
To book phone the box office on 01634 338338 or visit http://www.medwayticketslive.co.uk

Fruit head dollDangerous chemicals that could cause cancer, deformities in unborn babies and infertility in men, have been found in dolls for sale in Gillingham. The fruit-head dolls – featuring, among strawberry, apple, tomato and blackcurrant heads – were subject to a Europe-wide recall notice because they contain Phthalates. The toys fail to comply with the regulations on toy safety. Phthalates are banned in children’s toys and can be dangerous if ingested. The ‘fruit-head’ dolls have been found to contain the chemical phthalates. This is particularly hazardous in toys with small parts. More

lollipopLollipop men and women from all over Medway gathered to mark 60 years of safer road crossings.

The School Crossing Patrol service at Medway Council marked the anniversary with a giant coffee morning at Gun Wharf, Chatham on 15 April, inviting 20 school crossing patrols to join in the celebrations. More

Giant stamps created by children to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee are now on display at The Brook Theatre Art Gallery.

Back in April, more than 40 children took part in a number of library workshops where they were able to dress up and make crowns before posing for Medway artist Wendy Daws who drew their silhouettes for the colourful stamps.

The workshops and exhibition were organised by Medway Arts Development Team and Medway Libraries.

A Right Royal Exhibition is on at The Brook Theatre Art Gallery, Chatham, from 21 May to 22 June, open from 9.30am to 5pm.

(L- R) Cllr Les Wicks, Andre Imich, Christine Humprey, Jane Marriott, Gayna Simmonds, Rose Collinson and Helen Wheatley

Medway has been chosen as one of 20 areas nationally to help shape the future of national policy for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Together with six other authorities in the south east, that form a partnership called the SE7 (South East 7), Medway has been named as a ‘Pathfinder’ area, that will trial new services set out in a government Green Paper on special educational needs and disability policy. More

Primary school pupils in Medway are really going green as they’re learning how to grow their own vegetables and helping to clean up the community.

The youngsters from St Mary’s RC Primary, Greenfield Street, Gillingham, have created their own vegetable garden and are now getting practical lessons in environmental science. More

Sundays are for Kids at The Brook Theatre this autumn with a varied programme of shows to keep them entertained.

Crunch! combines stories and images of apples through the ages, from Adam and Eve to Snow White to Apple Macs. The show mixes songs, juggling, masks and traditional story-telling to tell the tale of the humble apple. Crunch! Sunday, 30 October 2pm Tickets £5 children. £6 adults.

Dazzling cabaret acts and magnificent magicians will delight the whole family when the Kids’ Cabaret of Curiosities rolls into town. Cracking circus acts will leave young theatregoers eyes-wide with wonder. Kids’ Cabaret of Curiosities Sunday, 13 November 1pm and 3pm Tickets £5 children, £6 adults

Sundays are for Kids at The Brook Theatre – Phone the box office on 01634 338338.

Cycle training for children is being offered by Medway Council and Greenacre School Sports Partnership this summer. It’s designed to help improve their skills and roadcraft. More

The team of Henry’s Angels from Henry Schein UK Holdings pitched up at the EllenorLions Hospices More

At last finally a break in the weather, the grass was growing and the eagerly awaited day had finally arrived at 11.00 on the 27 March 2010 More

Baby massage, first aid, arts, sports and leisure are just a few of the courses on offer at the family learning fun day in Rochester this month. More

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