18th Nov, 2017

Make sure you have the right school of thought!

Choosing the right education for your child – whether they are going to first school, middle school or high school can be a stressful experience.

You want to make sure that your child – big or small – is happy there, so they can enjoy the education establishment they are in and want to go to that establishment each day. It’s a simple principle, but if your child is happy and learning is fun (or at least not made to be like too much of a chore), they will take a lot more in and flourish.

A calm and rational approach to the search is essential and can be done with a few simple steps.

Some people wrongly think that attendance at a particular nursery/nursery class or foundation class gives them a guarantee that their child will automatically gain a place at the school where the nursery, nursery class or foundation class is located. This is not the case.

You, as parents or carers, must apply separately for your child to go to the school of your choice.

It is your duty, as parents or carers, to ensure you have obtained all the necessary information and the correct form on which to apply for a school place.

The local authority has to give you, the parents or carers, the chance to state your preferred choice of school you want your child to attend. It does not, however, give you an absolute right to ‘choose’ the school for your child.

It is important for you to find out which first, middle and high schools are in the ‘catchment area’ for your home address. You can do that by logging onto: e-services.worcestershire.gov.uk/SchoolSearch

However, if there is a school that you would like your child to attend that is not in your catchment area, including academy, foundation or voluntary-aided schools, you are perfectly entitled to do that.

It is important to realise though that, even if your child is admitted to a first school or middle school of your preference outside your catchment area, your child will not have the highest priority when it comes to moving them on up to the related middle or high school. If the related middle school or high school is oversubscribed at the time of transfer, your child may have to move in a different direction from other children attending the same first or primary school.

Gaining a place at a school of your choice not in your catchment area also does not mean any younger siblings will automatically gain a place there, if the school is over-subscribed at the time the sibling’s application goes in.

But what are the schools available to my child really like?

When you have found out which schools are in your catchment area, it is, of course, important to find out what they are like.

Online at: e-services.worcestershire.gov.uk/SchoolSearch you will be able to find out plenty of information about the schools in your area, including location and contact details, the headteacher’s name, the age range and gender it caters for, whether it has any religious affiliation and the number of pupils it holds and any specialisms it has.

Other important information available includes details on performance, attainment levels, achievements and absences.

All schools are inspected by Ofsted and seeing the detailed reports on them and how they have been operating will also go some way in helping you make a decision on whether that establishment is right for your child. Ofsted reports can be viewed in detail online at: www.ofsted.gov.uk and on Worcestershire County Council’s ‘School Search’ page.

Most schools these days also have their own individual websites which will give information about what the school is like, what it offers, views from pupils and parents and the latest news on what the school has been up to.

And remember it is not all about classroom education, other factors are important too, such as extra-curricular activities and out-of-school clubs, from drama and music to sports, such as football, rugby, tennis, cricket and gymnastics. Other useful activities offered at some schools include those which teach everyday skills, such as cooking and textiles.

Checking out how the school works with parents and the wider community, along with details of Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) or ‘friends’ groups is also worthwhile when researching schools.

And there is now a relatively new service at www.gov.uk/school-performance-tables which also enables you to compare schools in your area by looking at the performance league tables.

But of course the best way to see what a school is like is to actually visit it and see what it is like. Once you know which schools are available to your child it is important to go and get a feel of it – many of them have open days or opportunities where you can go there, talk to the staff and pupils and see for yourself what it is like.

Time for that all important application......

When putting in the application for your child’s school place, the most important things are to ensure it has been submitted before the closing date and that careful consideration has been given to the method of transport you will use to get your child to that school.

It is really important to apply for your child’s school place as soon as possible. School places are limited and allocated using strict criteria.

Applying online is quick, easy and safe to do. If you change your mind you can go back and update your selection(s) or your preferred ranking of schools at any time up to the closing date.”

The internet has made the whole application process easier, quicker and even more environmentally friendly, as you can now apply for places at most schools online.

In just a couple of clicks, an application can be sent direct to where it needs to be, without delay or the cost and hassle of posting.

The service is also available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, is confidential and secure and amendments can be made to the application right up until the closing date.

As the years have passed, more and more parents have opted to apply online as, not only is it easier to submit an application, but also to track its progress, preventing worry or frustrating phone calls.

The applications page for primary, middle and first schools for September 2018 is open now. The closing date is January 15, 2017.

For those applying for high school places for September 2018, the deadline is even closer and less than two months away. All applications for high schools must be received by October 31, 2017. The offer notification dates will be April 16, 2018, for first and midddle schools and March 1, 2018, for high schools.

During the first half of the autumn term, schools will be hosting open events where parents can see for themselves what those schools that serve their communities are really like.

Details about open events at high schools and middle schools is available on the council’s website: www.worcestershire.gov.uk/schooladmissions – it features a wealth of information including school transport, meals and frequently asked questions that parents have.

Those wanting a hard copy of the application form can obtain them from any first, middle or primary school or from the  Worcestershire Hub, by calling 01905 822700.
For more information or to do your application online for a school place in September 2018, visit: www.worcestershire.gov.uk/schooladmissions

Make sure you find the right nursery or pre-school education for your child

Choosing the right pre-school education for your child can be a stressful experience but it need not be.

You want to make sure that your child is happy there, so they can enjoy the education they are in and want to go to that establishment each day.

It’s a simple principle, but if your child is happy and learning is fun (or at least not made to be like too much of a chore), they will take a lot more in and flourish.

A calm and rational approach to the search is essential and can be done with a few simple steps.

The first thing to do is find a list of nurseries and pre-schools in your area. This can be done by visiting: schoolsfinder.direct.gov.uk.

All nurseries are checked out by Ofsted and seeing the reports on them and how they have been operating will help you make a decision on whether that establishment is right for your child. Ofsted reports can be viewed online at: www.ofsted.gov.uk.

When it comes to nurseries and pre-schools, there are other important things to consider – from the qualifications and experience  the staff have to how your child will be looked after, how regularly you will be informed of their progress, routines and right down to the food they will be given.

Take the time to visit a nursery or pre-school you think might be suitable is a good way of gauging what it is going to be like for your child. Many have open days where you can go along, see it for yourself, speak to the staff and other parents and get a real feel for the place. Add to that the Ofsted reports which, mentioned earlier, are also available online or from the nursery or pre-school and you should have a good overall rounded opinion of each of the places you visit.

There is also free early years education for children.

Children aged three to four

Every child aged three to four is entitled to up to 15 hours of early education per week for 38 weeks of the year free of charge. The 38 weeks are divided into:

  • Spring Term: 11 weeks at 15 hours per week (165 Hours per term)
  • Summer Term: 13 weeks at 15 hours per week (195 hours per term)
  • Autumn Term: 14 weeks at 15 hours per week (210 hours per term)

The full 15 hours of free early education can be accessed over two days, providing your childcare setting offers this. You do not have to take up the full 15 hours. You can use: a minimum of 2.5 hours in one day, a maximum of ten hours in one day and a maximum of 15 hours over one week.

Children aged two

Some two-year-olds are eligible for free early education depending on the household income and other circumstances.

You could apply for 30 hours of childcare for three and four-year-olds

As well as each child being entitled to up to 15 hours of early education per week for 38 weeks of the year – free of charge, some are entitled to an extra 570 hours of free childcare a year to use flexibly, so 1,140 hours in total (30 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year).

You and your partner must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 a week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you’re unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible. You can’t get 30 hours free childcare if you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more.

Visit www.childcarechoices.gov.uk for more information to apply.

More information about choosing a pre-school or nursery and about free early education is all available at the www.direct.gov.uk website and at ylyc.worcestershire.gov.uk/care-and-support/family-support/childcare

Good luck with your search and remember, following a few simple steps should take the stress out of finding the right nursery or pre-school for your child.

Do you know a sports coach who has made a real difference to their students or the community?

THERE are so many different clubs and activities for people of all ages to do – from toddlers through to schoolchildren and adults.

On the sporting side of things nothing would be possible without dedicated, qualified, well-trained and selfless coaches who work hard to help their students and teams improve.

Very often these coaches do not get the recognition they truly deserve.

But now the 20th edition of the UK Coaching Awards are open you have the chance to change all that.

Do you know a coach who goes above and beyond the line of duty? Have they transformed someone’s life or had a significant impact on their local community? Now is the time to show your appreciation for all they do and nominate them for the UK Coaching Awards.

Hosted by UK Coaching, the showpiece annual event is seen as one of the most prestigious within the coaching community and this year will be held at The HAC, City of London on November 30.

The accolades recognise the contribution coaches make in transforming lives across the UK. Previous winners include coaches making a huge difference in their community as well as the greats of sports coaching across a wide variety of sports.

There are a number of categories you can nominate coaches in if you feel they have excelled and shown outstanding commitment in a certain area, or to an individual and/or group over the last 12 months. Here is a list of the sections:

  • Community Coach of the Year
  • Children’s Coach of the Year
  • Disability Coach of the Year
  • Heather Crouch Young Coach of the Year
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Performance Development Coach of the Year
  • High Performance Coach of the Year

There is also the Coaching Chain which recognises contributions made by individual coaches throughout an elite athlete’s life in helping achieve their potential.

The Awards in Support of Coaches recognise those who recruit, develop, educate, qualify, and/or deploy coaches effectively in the UK. Here are the categories for that.

  • Coach Developer of the Year
  • Coaching Culture Organisation of the Year
  • Coaching Intervention of the Year

The closing date for nominations in all categories is September 22. There will then be a judging process carried out by a panel of coaching experts before the shortlists of finalists are announced.

Visit www.ukcoaching.org/coachingawards to find out more and to nominate coaches you feel have gone above and beyond the line of duty.

Waseley Hills High School students get out of the classroom and into the great outdoors

A group of students from Waseley Hills High School are taking part in the John Muir Award project, an environmental award scheme which promotes outdoor learning, nature and caring about the environment we live in.

Last month the students held a Community Conservation Family Day where several of the children’s family and friends went into the school to help clear a large pond area.

At the moment fund-raising is also taking place to replace an old outdoor classroom.

Members of Rubery in Bloom have also lent a helping hand to the project which has been much appreciated by the school and those involved.

Waseley Hills High is also working together with the Rubery in Bloom team as part of a community project and it is good for the children to share their experiences. Any people or businesses who could help with Waseley Hills High School’s projects should call Marie Crowley or SENCO Jim Arnold by calling 0121 453 5211.

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