What’s on: New Learning 4 Everyone programme launched

A record 400 courses, workshops, taster sessions, talks and flexible learning opportunities have been launched by York Learning as part of its adult Learning 4 Everyone programme.

Alongside 3D printing, artisan bread-making, holiday Spanish and seated pilates courses, a range of Saturday night takeaway workshops will be served on how to rustle up tasty Chinese, Indian and Turkish meals.dimsum-basket

Participants will be able to take these home and will have the confidence to cook for family meals or for entertaining friends.

For the first time a series of specialist interest talks has been introduced, delivered by gurus from the world of gardening and archaeology. Topics explored will include big planting for small spaces, giving nature a helping hand and discovering what bones, glass, soil and bricks can tell us about the past.

Also new this year is a collection of 12 different fun and creative workshops or courses to make wedding days more personal. Crafts include preparing wedding flowers, designing contemporary wedding stationary and hairdressing for bride and bridesmaids which can be recreated for a bespoke wedding day by brides-to-be and their friends.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism said: “Learning as an adult can help increase your confidence, health and happiness as well as furthering your career and professional development.

“The success of this growing programme is built on feedback from both our new and loyal learners. Learning 4 Everyone caters for all levels of ability at over 40 different locations, offering a truly city wide approach to adult education.”

As well as popular leisure subjects such as languages, crafts, arts, music, photography, fitness and cookery the programme offers family and workplace learning, apprenticeships and qualifications.

The Learning 4 Everyone programme covers winter, spring and summer 2016. A detailed brochure will be landing on doorsteps of York residents throughout December and early January, which also includes details of adult learning opportunities with other city providers such as York College, Explore York, University of York and the Workers’ Educational Association.

For more information or to book online visit http://www.yortime.org.uk/. Residents can also book by calling York Learning on 01904 552806 or in person at West Offices between 10am and 4pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please note that only online bookings are available over the Christmas period, from 25 December to 3 January 2016.

York schools admission consultation

School childrenAll admissions authorities in the City of York Council area are consulting parents and carers on new policies and the number of places available for the school year starting in September 2017.

The consultation includes all admissions policies and the planned number of places available at each school in the year of entry to primary, junior, secondary school and sixth forms. The views of parents, carers, schools as well as governors, teachers and other interested parties are being sought before the closing date of 15 December 2015.

The fairness and accessibility of information available, application processes, planned admission numbers, admission policies and oversubscription criteria are all currently being consulted on. All comments will be forwarded to the relevant admissions authority for their consideration before agreeing these arrangements
Following consultation, each admissions authority will formally set its admission arrangements by 28 February 2016. These will be published on each admissions authority’s websites by 15 March 2016 after which date objections can be raised to the Schools Adjudicator.

Three Coordinated Admissions Schemes are being consulted on for entry into all Primary (Reception), Junior (Year 3) and Secondary (Year 7) schools. The consultation also includes policies for York’s Community and Voluntary Controlled schools, as well as the 12 Admissions Policies for Academy and Voluntary Aided schools in the city. All documents offered for consultation are in their draft (pre-determined) form.

To respond, please email admissionsconsultation@york.gov.uk or please complete the short online survey at www.york.gov.uk/consultations .

Steps to success event attracts big attendance at Knavesmire

City of York Council’s annual Steps to Success event proved to be a huge success with the event at York Racecourse welcoming over 2000 young people and parents looking for information and advice.

steps to successSteps to Success, held in partnership with York St John University and The University of York, was held on Tuesday 20 October with the aim of providing attendees with information on education and training options, as well as career routes.

The event housed 58 stands at the racecourse providing a wealth of information on Sixth Forms, Colleges, Universities, Apprenticeship Training Providers, Employers and other Support Services.

Running throughout the evening was a rolling programme of presentations including; Options for Key Stage 4 and Beyond, Options for Post 16 Education and Training, Apprenticeships, Progression to Higher Education and Future Job Opportunities.

Anyone parents or young people unable to attend the event who would like a copy of the parents’ guides or more information from the event please contact Beverley Wills on beverley.wills@york.gov.uk or call 01904 553008


York still above average in education performance

A Council report,  being considered next week, confirms that the City’s education system is continuing to  achieve above average performance results.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Exam results at both GCSE and advance level stages show an improvement over the previous year.

OFSTED inspections reveal that, as of 9th October 2015, 89% of York secondary schools are rated “good or outstanding”, 88% of primaries are “good or outstanding” and 100% of our special schools are “good or outstanding”.

This means that overall, of the 64 schools in the city, 89% are good or outstanding.

At most education stages the difference in achievement  between less well off pupils (entitled to pupil premium) and others, has either narrowed or remained constant, although the gap widened in mathematics at Key Stage 2

Detailed performance graphs can be found by clicking here

Walk to school week in York

walking bus 2Thirty one schools and over 9,000 pupils across the city are taking part in the biggest ever Walk to School Week campaign which aims to encourage even more children to walk, cycle or scoot to school.

The school that gets the highest number of pupils walking, cycling or scooting throughout the week will win the coveted Jack Archer award and £300, funded by Age UK.

‘Scoot to School’ day will also take place on Wednesday 14 October. To encourage students to scoot the school with the most pupils who scoot to school on that day will win a Scooter Pod worth £300 donated by CyclePod.

It is recommended that children aged five to sixteen do at least sixty  minutes of physical activity that gets their heart beating faster than usual and they need to do it everyday to burn off calories and prevent them storing up excess fat in the body.

Regular activity is also important for adults and it is recommended that adults make sure they’re active for just 30 minutes each day, or 150 minutes a week.

The scheme is also targeted at families who normally take the car, and encourages them to consider walking or cycling to school instead.

Residents can find out more about changing the way they travel in York at: www.itravelyork.info/

Deadline for York Secondary School applications nears

York HighWith all open days for York secondary schools now completed, parents are reminded that applications for secondary school places for September 2016 should be made before 31 October 2015.

Parents of children currently in Year 6 – the last year of primary school – should apply for a maximum of five schools and one preference should be the catchment school.

Applications can be made online at www.york.gov.uk/schooladmissions

All details and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at www.york.gov.uk/guideforparents. This guide, updated for 2016 admissions, contains information on school admissions and appeals processes as well as information on admissions statistics, oversubscription criteria and other information for parents and carers. Also online are details for service families and information on fair access.

Applicants will be advised of their allocated school on National Offer Day, 1 March 2016.

For more detailed information, please email: education@york.gov.uk or call 01904 551 554.

Parents offered £1,300 in York

School childrenEligible residents could have up to £1,300 spent on helping their school-age child to do even better for this and for the next six academic years if they apply before January 2016.

As the new terms starts, applying for free school meals could not only mean a daily hot lunch if the child wants one, but the Government will give £1,300 every year for each eligible pupil at primary schools and £965 per year per student at secondary schools.

With an estimated 400 children eligible in York but whose parents are not claiming, this could mean that up to £380,000 of Government funding is being missed out on by York pupils and their schools.

The Pupil Premium, as it is known, is paid to the child’s school and is used to help them do even better with their schoolwork. It could mean extra help with homework, uniform vouchers or buying extra books.

The Pupil Premium will be paid whether or not the pupil takes the free meals. If they prefer, they can choose to have them on certain days or even if they prefer to take a packed lunch every day. School meals provide a tasty and nutritious choice of hot or cold lunch every day.

Successful applications made before the school census in January 2016 will mean that the school will get this funding every year for the next six academic years, but applications can be made at any time throughout the school year. Parents or carers can apply through the school or online at www.york.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals.

While all children in school Reception and Years 1 and 2 currently receive free school meals, eligible parents and carers still need to apply for the Pupil Premium to be allocated to their child.

To qualify for free school meals, parents or carers must get one of the following income-related benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit combined with both a household income below £16,190, and not in receipt of any Working Tax Credit
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Guarantee Element of State Pension Credit.

Contributions-based benefits, including contribution-related Job Seekers Allowanceare not qualifying benefits. Parents or carers who have just started to work less than 16 hours a week, or immediately after employment has ceased for a temporary four week ‘run-on’ period only may be eligible.

For more information, to check eligibility or to apply, please go to www.york.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals or contact School Services at West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA or call 01904 551554 or email education@york.gov.uk

York makes grants available for aspiring musicians


York Music Hub is launching its Commissioning Plan and inviting musical organisations in York to apply for funding of up to £2,000 each, and clusters of schools up to £4,000 each, to help support its vision for musical provision in the city.

The commissioning plan seeks to allocate up to £40,000 during the academic year 2015/2016 and commission musical services which help develop sustainable, high quality and diverse musical experiences for local children and young people.

Funding bids should also support the National Plan for Music Education and may reflect the needs and issues identified in research undertaken by York Music Hub in 2012 and York St.John University in 2014.

A wide variety of musical bids are expected which may, for example, develop a range of singing opportunities (particularly for boys), give opportunities for children to become involved in performing and specialist events, commission music specialists or develop opportunities for using music technology.  (more…)

Dringhouses cancern about impact of Academy school plan for Millthorpe

It looks like another 3 schools in York may opt for “Academy” status. Millthorpe secondary school and two of its feeder primaries, Scarcroft and Knavesmire in South Bank, want to “join forces”.

They are currently consulting on their plans on whether to apply for Multi-Academy Trust status.

The decision has potentially big implications for a wide area with many pupils from Dringhouses Primary school feeding into Millthorpe. There are also issues for the Poppleton Road area as well as Bishopthorpe and Copmanthorpe. Local primary schools there are not apparently being invited to participate in the “closer working arrangements”  offered to the Scarcroft and Knavesmire schools.

Millthorpe school catchment area clikc to enlarge

Millthorpe school catchment area clikc to enlarge

The three schools involved would be able to operate free of interference (or support) from the York Council. What practical effect this might have is open to debate. The Council, these days, has little involvement with the day to day running of schools. Staff and governors are firmly in control of most decisions. Revenue funding comes direct to the school from central government while capital, for improvements, is also ring fenced.

The main advantage likely to be promoted is an increased in income for the schools involved. Money, which otherwise would come to the York Council to provide services shared by all schools in the City, would instead be top sliced and given to the Academy to manage.

The Academy would control its admission policy and could change the conditions – and pay – of its staff. It has more influence over its curriculum and may choose to focus exam entrants into vocational subjects – potentially providing impressive pass rates.

While some parents are calling for some sort of popular vote on the Academy plan, it is unclear who would participate in such a ballot.

Arguably children at other – non Academy – schools could suffer.

  • Should their parents have a vote?

Academies rely on taxpayers money to survive.

  • Should each Academy proposal be subject to a popular referendum?

Yet there is something wrong with a decision being taken by a small group of governors some of whom – employees – might be set to benefit financially from a move to Academy status.

It is clear that the York Council cannot veto the introduction of an Academy so little in the way of political accountability is available to objectors.

Originally introduced by the last Labour government, the number of Academy schools has grown over the last 5 years. There are already six Academy schools in York.

They are Archbishop Holgate’s School, Manor C of E Academy Trust, Robert Wilkinson Primary School, Haxby Road Primary Academy, Huntington Primary School and Poppleton Ousebank Primary School. The last two named schools only converted on 1st April 2015.

In one case the Council picked up a bill of £48,000 in accumulated debts when the school became an Academy.

You can judge how well local Academies are perfuming by viewing their OFSTED ratings (click name below). 

School catchment areas/admission policies are an important factor when comparing exam performance

Taxpayers also need some objective and transparent way of making a judgement on whether their interests are being protected.

The head teacher at Millthorpe, Trevor Burton, criticised OFSTED reports 12 months ago. He claimed that the organisations gradings artificially favoured (selective) grammar schools. The impact that any three school Academy arrangement might have on the eligibility of children to participate successfully in the project will no doubt be a key consideration for decision makers.

South Bank schools academy proposals – parents meeting called

Millthorpe secondary school and two of it’s feeder primaries, Scarcroft and Knavesmire in South Bank, want to join forces and form an Academy

Prospective parents of any of the three schools are invited to attend a further formal information evening with Q & A .

It will take place on Tuesday 9 June at 7.00pm in the school hall at Millthorpe School.

Scarcroft School