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billyelliotA schoolgirl from Gad’s Hill School, Higham has got her first taste of stardom after landing a role in a hit an internationally award-winning West End musical.

Thirteen year-old Zara Gilhooly started performing in smash-hit Billy Elliot the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre this month as a ballet girl, alongside the central character of Billy in Mrs Wilkinson’s ballet class. Mrs Wilkinson’s ballet girls feature throughout the show as the children’s ensemble, accompanying Billy on his dancing journey.

Zara, from Meopham, said she was “absolutely loving every minute” of the experience.

The talent dancer has been performing from the age of three, joining her current dance school, the Robyn Academy, Gravensend at the age of 10, winning a number of competitions including the prestigious ‘Most Promising Dancer’ trophy at the Beckenham amateur dance festival.

“It was so nerve-wracking waiting to hear if I had got the part,” Zara said.

“I really love dancing and performing and this is just such a good opportunity – I’ve never before performed in the West End and I’d love to make it my career when I leave school.”

When asked what her school friends thought of Zara’s star turn she said: “They think it’s cool and I hope a lot come to see me in it.”

Zara’s Headmaster, Mr David Craggs said: “If Zara doesn’t land a performing arts career, I would be very surprised. It is obvious that Zara has talent. We’re all really proud of her for winning the part in a top London musical. The future looks very bright for Zara.”

Based on the Oscar nominated film, Billy Elliot the Musical is an inspirational story of one boy’s dream to realise his ambitions against the odds. Set in the North East of England against the background of the historic 1984/85 miners’ strike, Billy pursues his passion for dance in secret to avoid disapproval of his struggling family.

Multi award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical had its world premiere at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 31 March 2005 and has now been seen by over 9.5 million people worldwide.

Billy Elliot the Musical features music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, is directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography by Peter Darling. The production features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, the associate director is Julian Webber, costume design is by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch.

LISTINGS INFORMATION BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL

Booking until: Currently booking until 16 May 2015
Theatre: Victoria Palace Theatre, Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5EA
Box Office: 0844 248 5000
Tickets: £20.70 – £68.70 (to include a £1.20 theatre restoration levy)
Performances: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Website: www.billyelliotthemusical.com

• Spring Stroll guided walk around estate followed by roast lunch
• Great Armarda invasion – Tudor living history experience
• ‘Mum’s the word’ secret Morse code Messages for Mother’s Day

There’s plenty happening at Penshurst Place & Gardens at weekends during March with a new event just for adults taking place on 16th March. Take a two hour Spring Stroll with the estate’s General Manager as he guides a group on an escorted walk around the beautiful parkland and grounds at Penshurst Place, and then enjoy a two-course roast lunch afterwards in the Garden Restaurant.

For families there’s the chance to experience Tudor life with the Great Armada invasion on 22nd and 23rd March when a cast of skilled, costumed actors will be at Penshurst Place to give a living history presentation on the preparations by the household ahead of imminent attack by the Spanish fleet.

‘Mum’s the word’ for young visitors with free war-themed family activities available in the Education Room for Mother’s Day on 30th March. As part of the ‘Sir and Soldier’ season, there will plenty of things to occupy children on Mother’s Day including the option to make a Morse-code necklace with hidden secret message for their Mum or to hand-make their own Mother’s Day poetry card in the Education Room. There’s an opportunity to further spoil mothers (and grandmothers, aunts or anyone who deserves a special thank you) to a lovely Mother’s Day lunch in the Garden Restaurant with a special menu. No booking necessary, visitors seated on a first come, first served basis.

MARCH EVENTS – MORE DETAILS

SPRING STROLL & LUNCH – ADULT EVENT: 16TH MARCH

Dust off your walking shoes for a leisurely two hour walk and then reap a tasty reward for your physical exertion.

A brand new walking event for adults to enjoy at Penshurst Place & Gardens on 16th March between 11am and 2pm. Journey across the beautiful estate and learn about its Tudor history on the way. This special Sunday walk is led by Penshurst Place’s General Manager and is followed by a delicious two-course roast lunch in the Garden Restaurant.

Tickets £22 (to include private parking, guided walk, two-course roast lunch and access to the Gardens) www.penshurstplace.com/etickets

THE GREAT ARMADA ADVENTURE: 22ND & 23RD MARCH (12 NOON TO 4PM)

Experience life at Penshurst Place as the militia prepares to ward off the Spanish Armada. Skilled costumed characters bring history alive as they invite visitors to join them in the Staterooms as the Penshurst Place household prepares for invasion.

Normal garden admission prices apply. For more information visit www.penshurstplace.com/whatson

CELEBRATION OF MOTHER’S DAY: 30TH MARCH

With fun craft activities to suit all ages and a special menu in the Garden Restaurant, Penshurst Place will be ‘the place’ for families to celebrate Mother’s Day this year.

Children will be able to treat their Mums to a handmade Mother’s Day poetry card or present her with a hidden Morse code message on a necklace in the Education Room.

Normal garden admission prices apply. For more information visit www.penshurstplace.com/whatson

APRIL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

EASTER HOLIDAY FUN: 5TH – 21ST APRIL

Penshurst Place will have lots of fun craft and trail activities as part of its ‘Sir and Soldier’ themed season of WW1 commemoration events running in April.

Every day during the Easter school holidays, families can join an egg hunt with a twist! Rather than seeking Easter eggs, visitors to Penshurst Place are invited to help hunt down the carrier pigeons with their hidden secret messages, in a fun trail around the playground.

Pigeons played an important communication role during WWW1, and proved an extremely reliable way of sending messages across enemy lines. Using the story of carrier pigeons, children will learn more about the communication methods during the Great War and enjoy a fun trail that will take them on an inspiring educational journey of discovery.

The education room will continue the war-theme with craft activities available from 12 noon each day. Youngsters will be invited to create their very own carrier pigeon or soldier bonnet and enjoy Easter colouring activities.

Normal garden admission prices apply. For more information visit www.penshurstplace.com/whatson

EASTER STORYTELLING: 20TH – 21ST APRIL

The story of Cher Ami, a WW1 carrier pigeon and her friends will be unveiled as part of Penshurst Place’s ‘Sir and Soldier’ themed season of WW1 commemoration events. Families are invited to gather in the medieval buttery at 2pm, 2.45pm and 3.30pm to hear skilled story tellers from Aardvark Productions bring the account of a Great War carrier pigeon to life and explain through tale, the critical communication role these homing birds had throughout World War 1.

Normal garden admission prices apply.
For more information visit www.penshurstplace.com/whatson

Other things to see and do while visiting Penshurst Place and Gardens during March and April:-

• Toy Museum
• House (Sats & Suns only in March, daily from April)
• Woodland Trail
• Adventure Playground
• Garden Restaurant
• Porcupine Pantry
• Gift Shop
• The Gardens: spring flowering bulbs in the Orchard, Nut Garden, Lime Walk and Horse Pond and spring blossom in the Orchard, Nut Garden and Flag Garden

Most events are included in standard admission price unless otherwise stated. Full details of the event calendar for 2014 can be found at www.penshurstplace.com/whatson.

Hazelwood_School_Year_7_PS084 The inventive and award winning Learning Team at The Historic Dockyard Chatham has created two new Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities for Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils – “Missile Mission” and “Depth Charge Destroyers” – thanks to the generous sponsorship of BAE Systems, Electronic Systems, Rochester.

Pupils from Hazelwood School on the Kent / Surrey border were the first to trial one of the two innovative sessions, “Depth Charge Destroyers”. Inspired by The Historic Dockyard’s Second World Destroyer, HMS Cavalier, teams of students competed to construct and test a model destroyer complete with propulsion systems. They then devised a simple release mechanism to deliver a depth charge and the team whose ship survived the challenge of the tow tank wind and wave machine and hit the target won!

Michael Tierney, BAE Systems, Electronic Systems, Rochester Site Executive Lead, commented, “We are proud to be supporting these STEM programmes for children within the Kent and Medway area. It is wonderful to see children experiencing and solving STEM-related problems as well as exploring the possibility of careers in these fields.”

Rebecca Brough, Learning Manager at The Historic Dockyard Chatham said; “We are always looking for new and pioneering ways to engage the thousands of students who visit us here every year and take part in our education programmes. Our partnership with BAE Systems has enabled us to develop these extended 90 minute sessions, offering even better value for money to schools. The sessions are designed to develop pupils’ teamwork and communication skills while extending their technical knowledge of STEM subjects.”

Residents in Medway will still have the cheapest council tax in Kent after councillors approved a budget for 2014/2015.

Councillors last night voted for a 1.99 per cent increase in council tax to combat an unprecedented cut in funding to the council from the government that will see the authority get just £52million this year – a huge 9.6 per cent less than last year.

Despite this, Medway Council has managed to protect frontline services from cuts in the budget for the forthcoming year. We are also freezing increases on car parking charges until 2017 and will provide £200,000 to improve play areas.

Council tax funds more than 140 services for almost 270,000 residents in Medway. These include important services such as weekly bin and recycling collections, adult social care, educational provision and children’s social services, as well as looking after Medway’s roads and parks.

The increase in this year’s council tax equates to a £22.77 increase per year for an average Band D property – the equivalent of 44p a week.

Medway currently has the seventh lowest council tax of all mainland unitary authorities and is, on average, over £100 below the average combined council tax for Kent County Council and Kent district councils.

Funding in the budget will include:

• £2million for highways improvements
• An extra to £450,000 to fix potholes caused by the adverse weather
• Doubling of free Christmas parking for five years
• £200,000 for improvements to children’s play areas
• £30,000 to fund apprenticeships on the Medway Queen
• £100,000 to fight plans for the Thames Estuary airport – a campaign that has all-party support
• An extension on freeze to car parking increases until 2017

Unlike many other authorities, our 16 libraries and 19 children’s centres will face no threat of closure – as the council is committed to keeping these important local resources open.

In fact, the council has also recently provided new community hub style libraries – which also provide a one-stop facility for information on and booking of other council services – for Gillingham, Rochester and Chatham. Strood and Twydall will see new community hubs open in 2015.

Medway Council has only increased its council tax twice in the past four years, and has done this only to secure a balanced budget.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “This has been an extremely tough budget for us against a backdrop of cuts and almost impossible deadlines imposed on us to produce it.

“The small council tax rise is unavoidable if we are to maintain our vital services. “But there are a number of very positive announcements in this budget and we are proud to have avoided cuts to our frontline services.

“While every authority has been hit by Government funding reductions, Medway has been particularly hard hit and we expect that by 2015/16, we will have seen our funding from central government cut by 48 per cent over five years.”

The councils total budget for 2014/15 will be £331 million compared to £348.5 million the year before.

All residents will receive notification in the mail over the next few weeks detailing their council tax and the new charge will start in April.

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.”

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Young carers could be given a new lease of life with technology to put their minds at ease.

Many teenagers have dreams of going to university, however those who look after a loved one often feel that such ambitions are out reach.

Medway Council’s Telecare Service can take some of the worry out of leaving a person in need alone, and allows people to live independently.

An event held on Monday, 17 February gave some young carers living in Medway had a chance to see how the service could potential change their lives.

Young carers together with councillors and representatives from charity Carers First, took a look at the technology available such as sensors to detect falls, whether someone is in bed, whether someone has taken their medication and much more.

Every sensor is programmed to a small Telecare base unit that is linked to a telephone line, which is installed by in-house engineers.

In the event of activation, a trained operator from Medway Control Centre will talk to the client over the Telecare base unit in their home to assess the situation and put the most appropriate response in place, whether that be contacting a family member, neighbour, doctor, mobile warden or emergency services.

Rhiannon Johnson, 15 has been a carer for five years now, and was impressed with the technology.

She said: “This would really benefit me because I could be in my room or be with my friends leading a normal teenage life, and if mum had a fall I would be notified and I wouldn’t be worrying the whole time I was out.”

When an alert is sent to the control centre via sensors in the home, the individual’s primary carer is informed by the Telecare team.

16-year-old Charlotte Liddle has dreams of going to university but is unsure about leaving her mum.

She said: “This technology could help me feel more at ease going to university, knowing that there is a support system in place when I’m not there would be really helpful.

“Before I thought it would be really hard for me to go away and study, but now it seems as though it is possible and my mum will still be supported.”

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Services Cllr David Brake said: “These facilities are most useful and designed to help those in need of support. If young carers know their family members are being looked after and supported it enables them to have more time for themselves doing the things that lots of young people do and take as a matter of course.”

For more information about Telecare visit www.medway.gov.uk/telecare

Please find below a statement from Cllr Mike O’Brien, Lead Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Medway Council, following an Ofsted report for Warren Wood Primary, Rochester.

“We acknowledge what Ofsted has said about the school and had already started making improvements before inspectors visited. Ofsted noted the positive effect a new leadership team of Anne Costidell and executive headteacher, Sian Williams, had already made at Warren Wood.

“It is important to note the hard work done in such a short space of time by the new leadership team to further improve standards at the school. We acknowledge that there is a still a lot of work to be done and that the ineffectiveness of the governing body, which has now been disbanded, led to the school’s current Ofsted criticism.

“The positive aspects picked up by the inspection team will be built on and there is a real determination at the school by its current leadership to drive the school forward from here. Inspectors said the team have already had a positive impact on pupils, staff and parents by putting strategies in place to improve teaching and pupils’ behaviour.

“They also noted in the Early Years Foundation Stage, children make good progress because the teaching is engaging. Inspectors observed the new staff in Reception were using well-structured activities to help children make good progress. The recent well-planned teaching of phonics in the Early Years Foundation Stage prepares children well in their literacy skills, the report said. Pupils say that since the arrival of the new leadership team, they feel happier to come to school and feel safer.

“The majority of parents who completed an online questionnaire believe that behaviour and safety are better now with the new leadership team. Teachers and their assistants are positive about the recent improvements to the school.

“The Ofsted team said that as a result of a new behaviour policy, there has been a sharp improvement in pupils’ behaviour overall.

“Parents opinions have been sought on a wide range of subjects and parents have indicated the current leaders work well with them. Things are changing for the better at the school on a daily basis and expectations are high as the new leadership team is already starting to see the benefits.

“I will not accept bad teaching in our schools and I am confident Warren Wood, under the new leadership, is now heading in the right direction.”

walking bus stop signIt’s all aboard for children in Medway as the number of youngsters using the Walking Bus service doubles. Almost 1,500 youngsters now take part in the project – up from 734 previously – and there are 47 active routes.

The Medway Council scheme is a fun, healthy, and safe way of travelling to school. Powered by good, old-fashioned legwork, the children and volunteers walk in a group along a set route, picking up or dropping off ‘passengers’ at specific ‘bus stops’ on their journey to and from school.

The rise in users was boosted with a ‘Hedgehog Hike’ and ‘Social Netwalk’ event during International Walk to School Month where 17 schools in Medway took part. Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, councillor Phil Filmer, said: “We’re delighted more and more children are taking part in this scheme.

“It’s a great way for children to get to school, helps encourage them to be safe on the road as well as having health and environmental benefits.”

A walking bus can be easy to set up and must have a minimum of two adults per route (often staff or parents); an adult ‘driver’ at the front of the bus to and a ‘conductor’ at the back of the bus, ensuring that a ratio of one adult to every six children is met.

Younger children and babies transported in pushchairs or buggies may join the walking bus if accompanied by their parent or carer.

To find out more about individual schemes in Medway, email travel.safety@medway.gov.uk or visit http://www.kmwalktoschool.co.uk/

In a separate success, Medway Council has now issued 40,000 reflective tags to schoolchildren to help them stay safer on their journeys to and from school. The tags, which can be attached to backpacks, bags or on clothing, helps make children visible in headlights up to 150m sooner and it makes children up to 15 times more visible in daylight. Community wardens have helped deliver the tags, which were funded by the council’s Public Health department.

Archeological remains of the NAMUR, the ship beneath the floorChatham Historic Dockyard Trust has received funding of £150,000 from DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement fund, in support of “Building the Future” – an element of its Command of the Oceans project, shortly due for commencement.

Within the Command of the Oceans project, The Trust faces the challenge of retelling the dockyard’s age of sail story and ensuring that the Namur, the highly significant archaeological ship’s timbers find, becomes a central element of that story. Thanks to this funding, “Building the Future” will allow the Trust to renew interpretation of the ship’s timbers as the centre piece of new age of sail galleries and improving the environmental conditions within the Wheelwrights’ Shop – benefiting visitors, the archaeological find itself and improving energy efficiency. The project will also see the creation of a new, more visible visitor entrance to The Historic Dockyard which will act as an arrival point to the wider Chatham Dockyard & its Defences site incorporating a free to enter initial interpretation and orientation ‘Discovery Zone’ in the Wheelwrights’ Shop with easy access and modern visitor facilities.

Bill Ferris OBE, Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust said; “The announcement of this award effectively completes the major element of our fundraising campaign for what is arguably the most significant single project undertaken by The Trust in pursuit of its own educational charitable purposes since the ‘Wooden Walls’ gallery opened in the late 1980s. Funding from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund 2011-15 will allow work to commence on the wider Command of the Oceans project later in 2014 and we are extremely grateful to the DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund for their continued support of The Historic Dockyard Chatham.”

Figures released today show schools in Medway are narrowing the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and other pupils.

Performance at Key Stage 4 shows that in Medway, there has been an increase in the percentage of disadvantaged pupils gaining 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics, up 1.8 percent to 38.8%.

That closes the gap from 30% in 2012 to 28.5% in 2013.

cllobrien.jpgIn 2013, the overall Medway figure for the percentage of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics) has been maintained at 61%. That means Medway is above the national figure of 60.6%. Lead Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Medway Council, Councillor Mike O’Brien, said: “We have much to celebrate in Medway schools with further evidence of a continuing improvement.

“Figures only show part of the picture and don’t always reflect the hard work being done by teachers and pupils but today we can congratulate all those involved for showing Medway schools are really going places.

“That’s not to say we will take these figures for granted and the hard work will continue.
“But this is fantastic news and I would like to say well done to all our young people who have worked so hard to achieve this with their dedicated and hard-working staff.”

Key facts and figures:
Medway Performance at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5

• The number of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 has increased by 2.3%, from 3168 in 2012 to 3242 in 2013.

• In 2013, the overall Medway figure for the percentage of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics) has been maintained at 61%.

• The number of pupils entered for all English Baccalaureate subjects increased by 68%.

• The percentage of Medway pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects increased from 14.7% in 2012 to 18.6% this year. This represents an improvement of 3.9% and exceeds the 2012 national figure of 18.4%.

• Almost all Medway state funded schools saw an increase in the percentage of pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects.

• Both of the Medway LA maintained secondary schools had successful results.

• The number of pupils at the Howard School at the end of Key Stage 4 increased from 219 in 2012 to 238 in 2013. In the past year, the Howard School maintained it performance level for the number of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics). Their figure of 62% was the same as last year, and exceeded both the corresponding Local Authority and national figure for 2012.

• The Howard School also saw a remarkable increase in the percentage of pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects. Their performance improved from 1% in 2012 to 20% in 2013.

• In 2013, St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive School increased the percentage of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics) to 47%, up one percentage point from the previous year. The percentage of pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects also saw a notable increase from 2% in 2012 to 8% in 2013. The school also showed significant gains at Key Stage 5.

• Robert Napier is the most improved for 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics, with figures increasing from 31% in 2012 to 47% in 2013.

• Medway has reduced the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils. There has been an increase in the percentage of disadvantaged pupils gaining 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics, up 1.8 percent to 38.8%, thereby closing the gap from 30% in 2012 to 28.5% in 2013.

• The percentage of Medway disadvantaged pupils achieving the English Baccalaureate has also increased by 1.6%

David_Leak-apprentice1Confirmation that government will provide funds to buy a site at Chatham Docks for Medway’s new University Technical College (UTC) clears the way for the public to be consulted on proposals for the educational establishment.
The move follows the agreement by Minister for Schools, Lord Nash, that the Department for Education will release the finance for the college.

The consultation begins today ( 20 January 2014), and runs until 3 February. This will allow local people to put forward their views on the UTC and what they think about the suitability of the UTC Trust’s proposals for young people in Medway. They will be able to respond online, by post, by phone and by email (details below).

In addition, a series of events will be held in February where members of the public can turn up and discover more about the UTC, as well as share their views (details also below).

The UTC, which will specialise in engineering and construction, is due to open in September 2015.

It is sponsored by the University of Greenwich, Mid Kent College, Medway Council, BAE Systems, and other local employers and partners.

The UTC will provide a technically rich education for up to 600 students aged between 14 and 19, for 40 weeks of the year. The working day will typically be from 08.30 until 17:00 to reinforce the business approach to the UTC.

Professor Alan Reed, Director of Regional Development at the University of Greenwich and Chair of the UTC Project Steering Group, said:
‘’After exploring numerous options, the UTC Trust is delighted that the Minister has agreed to fund our proposal for the UTC to be sited on the new Chatham Waters development at Chatham Docks, subject to finalising the acquisition with Peel Land and Property and securing detailed planning permission. “Importantly, the £10 million new build will be in close proximity to the University of Greenwich, MidKent College and the Royal School of Military Engineering, thereby providing UTC students with easy access to the specialist facilities in engineering and construction available at these partners’’

Professor Reed added: “An essential part of the development of the UTC is listening to the views of as wide range of people as possible, to ensure that Medway UTC fully meets the needs of local young people, their families, employers and others.

“The consultation provides everyone with a valuable opportunity to provide their views.

“However, this is just the beginning of a dialogue we hope to have with the people of Medway between now and the opening of the UTC in 2015, and beyond.”

Cllr Rodney Chambers, the leader of Medway Council, said: “Medway has a rich history of construction and engineering, and a University Technical College specialising in these subjects will not only continue this tradition, but will also equip a new generation with first class technical skills that will help them pursue careers in these important sectors at all levels.

“The UTC will enable a degree of specialisation before the age of 16 that is currently unavailable, and it will engage and enthuse students. It will also benefit local employers, which in turn will boost the local economy”

The UTC will be situated on a 5,000m2 single site, with all the facilities required to deliver a high quality technical and vocational education.

It will feature state of the art buildings that will combine business and workplace facilities and ethos within an academic environment.

Picture1On Friday (13th December) Gad’s Hill School, Higham held a poignant official unveiling of its Kindergarten, The Jennie Marsh Wing, coinciding with the School’s annual cross country run.

The multi-million pound wing, named in memory of the former Head of Gad’s Kindergarten and Junior School, Jennie Marsh, who passed away in 2009, was opened by the Headmaster David Craggs, pupils and staff past and present and Jennie’s husband and daughters.

Mrs Marsh, who joined the Headmaster in campaigning for pupils to vacate the historic and increasingly fragile 18th century house of Gad’s Hill Place – which the School has used for teaching since the 1920s – died in May 2009, aged 58, after a short battle with cancer, leaving behind her daughters Sallie and Alison and her husband of 37 years, Malcolm, who also taught at the school.

(Photo left to right, back row: Former pupils join Gad’s Hill School Headmaster David Craggs, Alison Marsh, Malcolm Marsh (centre) Alison Marsh, Head of Gad’s Kindergarten and Junior School Fiona McPherson, with current pupils.)

Jennie travelled a long, varied and eventful journey from Zimbabwe, where she was born and raised, to Kent where she settled nearby in Wouldham. She devoted the remaining nine years of her life to the children and community at Gad’s.

During the unveiling ceremony, Headmaster of the school for three to sixteen-year-olds, Mr David Craggs said: “In September 2000 Jennie joined Gad’s as a temporary class teacher. It was soon apparent that she was not only a first rate teacher, but someone who possessed a huge amount of experience and had the qualities required to help drive Gad’s forward over the next few years. Within six months Jennie had become Head of Juniors and Kindergarten and helped to form the school it is today.”

He added: “She was loved by all students and staff, and there are many who feel that she had a profound impact on their lives.”

It was no coincidence that the unveiling ceremony was held on the same day as the School’s annual cross country run as the entire Marsh family – Jennie included – are keen runners.

It was in fact Malcolm, Jennie’s husband, who, alongside the Headmaster, came up with the concept of the run some ten years previously. As a special request, Malcolm – who travelled all the way from his home in South Africa for the special ceremony – Sallie and Alison Marsh were asked to run round the school field with the Kindergarten children, as Jennie would have done while teaching at Gad’s. Malcolm later presented awards to the winners of the Kindergarten, Junior and Senior School race winners.

Headmaster, Mr David Craggs, who took part in the race alongside a number of other staff, said: “While running about in the wet and cold is not to everyone’s taste, making sure our youngsters are fit and healthy is just as important as ensuring they can read and write and perform math’s to a decent level, a belief both Jennie, myself and Malcolm shared.

“Malcolm was especially pleased that so many years on, our pupils still brave the elements in a lesson that that teaches youngsters about the importance of teamwork by encouraging them to run the cross country on behalf of their school house – something his wife believed in. It’s a fantastically fun – although muddy! – outlet for all and we thank the Marsh family for joining us.”

Picture1Kent Wildlife Trust, Half Term Fun – Rock and Fossil Day Leaders: Ray and Wendy Cooper and Diana Franks from Kent Geodiversity with assistance from Victoria Golding. An introduction to looking at rocks and fossils including a touch table, rock and fossil identification and a chance to work with microscopes to make up a collection of microfossils. Also put in your postcode to discover the rock type under your house.

Thursday 31st October 2013, 11.00am – 1.00pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm, Tyland Barn, Maidstone, ME14 3BD. Suitable for ages 4 – 14 year olds. Contact: Dot Hughes Cost: Suggested donation of £3.00, Booking essential by telephoning 01622 662012 or emailing dot.hughes@kentwildlife.org.uk

Contact us
Kent Wildlife Trust
Tyland Barn
Sandling
Maidstone
Kent
ME14 3BD

Phone 01622 662012 Fax 01622 671390 or info@kentwildlife.org.uk

Young Epilepsy has honoured a former war-time student, who left £100,000 to the charity in her Will, by unveiling a commemorative plaque telling her story.

Former student, Mabel White from Sussex, lived on the Young Epilepsy campus between 1940 and 1943, during the Second World War. Mabel had epilepsy due to a childhood head injury and bequeathed the legacy because she felt that the care and education provided by Young Epilepsy St Piers had transformed her life. Read More

This week an email flooded in to our office with a couple of photographs attached. The email was from a lady that lives in Australia, now that’s a big place so to narrow it down a bit, Perth. The lady that sent the email and the photographs is Jean Williams (nee Wall) and she is looking to catch up with class mates from her school days before she and her family emigrated to Australia in 1978. Please have a look at the images and see if you are in them and contact the office on 01634 780041 or email us using office@peninsulatimes.co.uk if you would like to get back in contact with Jean. Click on the image to see a larger version

1946/47 class at the Primary School now the library

1946/47 class at the Primary School now the library


Wainscott school calss of 1952/1953

Wainscott school class of 1952/1953

Teenagers can sign up to the new, online UCAS e-card scheme to receive valuable advice about applying to university and college.

For the first time, the free service will also provide information on graduate employment opportunities as well as tailored details on courses and open days plus fantastic big brand discounts. Read More

Cllr Mike O,Brien

Cllr Mike O,Brien

Letters have today (Friday, 4 October) been sent out to families informing them if their child has been deemed selective after taking the Medway Test last month.

In total, 2,430 children registered to sit the test, with 2,357 children actually sitting it.

Of those children that sat the test, 1,842 are Medway residents and 515 are from out of area.

Nine hundred and eight two children have been assessed as suitable for admission to a Medway Grammar School as a direct result of the test itself.

Six hundred and eighty seven Medway resident children achieved the minimum score. This represents 23 per cent of the total Medway cohort for this year group of 2,962. Read More

Medway Council’s ‘ambition to improve standards for its young people is universally acknowledged by its schools, a letter from Ofsted states.

The schools’ regulator made the comments in a letter to the authority following a focused inspection which included visiting a very small number of the area’s schools.

This inspection, which took place in June, and involved Ofsted going to ten of Medway’s 100 schools, was to ask their opinion of how they work with the council on school improvement. Read More

healthy foodWould you like tips on making family meal times healthier? If you are a parent or carer with children aged 2-4 there are free advice sessions taking place near you from September.

The MEND 2-4 Programme, run by Medway Council’s Public Health Team offers a great chance for local families to learn about healthy lifestyle choices in a fun and creative way.

The course involves children and a parent or carer taking part in a 90-minute session, once a week for 10 weeks. Each session deals with issues that many parents face from fussy eating to temper tantrums.

There is also advice on reading food labels and encouraging children to try new fruit and vegetables, all of which builds a foundation for lifelong healthy living habits. Read More

Medway Council has pledged to continue the very important improvements it is bringing in to its services that look after children in care. The council has vowed to do this after Ofsted inspectors graded Medway’s Looked After Children Services as inadequate. Read More

SONY DSCChatham Historic Dockyard Trust has been awarded the prestigious Sandford Award for Heritage Education for the second time in less than ten years.

The Sandford Award is an independently judged, quality assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the British Isles, focussing on formal, curriculum-linked education opportunities offered to schools by heritage sites. More

Whoops of joy filled the school hall at St John Fisher Catholic School today (Thursday, 22 August), as students ripped open their GCSE exam results. Around 3,000 students received their GCSE results at schools across Medway earlier today. Read More

An open day to discover what exciting courses are available for adult learners takes place next month. More

With students across Medway today opening up their envelopes and eagerly finding out the results they achieved in their A level exams, Medway Council issued the following statement More

Careers advisers from the Exam Results Helpline will be on-hand from 8am on Thursday 15 August (A level results day) to provide valuable careers information and advice to students (and their parents) across the UK who receive higher or lower A level results than expected, and more importantly who don’t know what to do next. More

deaf A dedicated British Sign Language (BSL) student from Ramsgate ‘with a heart of gold’ has been recognised with a prestigious award, and shortlisted for a national accolade.

Elizabeth Mincer, who studies at John Townsend Trust in Margate, was awarded South East Learner of the Year, and shortlisted for national Learner of the Year in the 2013 Signature Annual Awards. More

Road safety st john fisherMore than 200 pupils at St John Fisher RC School have been working on their road safety understanding and abilities. The Year 7 and 8 pupils have been working with Medway Council’s Road Safety Team and Kent Police PCSO Rowan Cornwall on a number of activities and discussions. For many students, starting secondary school provides the first opportunity to independently travel to school. More

Swashbuckling Summer School Holiday Family Fun returns to The Historic Dockyard!

From 27th July until 1st September, it is fun ahoy at The Historic Dockyard Chatham as the popular pirate extravaganza returns. This year, in conjunction with the exhibition Exploring Antarctica: The Final Expeditions of Scott and Shackleton – it takes on an exploration theme! More

The majority of schools that formed part of a group inspection announced by Ofsted last month have had their reports published. Ofsted announced it was sending inspectors to ten schools in Medway in June. It did this as it said it wanted to look at primary school education within Medway. In order to achieve this, they visited a range of schools including secondary academies, primary schools and a pupil referral unit. More

A5 EOD Amber

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