Every parent wants their child to eat more vegetables, and with concerns about sugar and childhood obesity on the rise, Riverford Organic Farmers are taking action with a new scheme to get children at local schools, nurseries and pre-schools to love the green stuff!
Self-confessed Veg Nerds, Riverford, is delighted to announce that Inwood’s Small School is the first to register for the scheme in the area. They kicked off the partnership – which will also help the primary school to raise funds when parents get vegboxes delivered to their homes – with changing their school kitchen supplier to Riverford.
Mariamah Mount, SENCO said “We are happy to be able to extend our commitment of organic to fresh fruit and veg and dairy products, as we believe in as a school that sustainable, unprocessed and seasonal is best. The flavours and taste are amazing and the children have already noticed the difference!”
Riverford have also supported the school this week with a vegcookery lesson for the children which consisted of an interactive talk about where vegetables come from and why it’s important to eat a balanced diet. The children all washed, chopped, snipped, squeezed and grated fruit, veg and herbs to create tasty and colourful rainbow salads.
Riverford believes that, one of the best things you can do for your children is involve them in preparing family meals. This can be time-consuming and messy, but it’s important, as what you teach them now will build firm foundations for their future attitudes towards healthy eating. Let them wash, chop, grate, smell and touch fruit and vegetables, and talk about where they come from. A vegbox is an ideal way to do this, and we also have loads of hints and tips to help parents encourage children to eat well and get them involved in the kitchen in fun and safe ways.
The Riverford Veg for Schools scheme is open to all schools, pre-schools and nurseries. Find out more at www.riverford.co.uk/veg-for-schools or call customer services on
The independent school, which has 530 pupils in its Senior School and Sixth Form, received particular praise for its pastoral care with the review panel observing “this is a school you quickly feel at home in.”
The school, on Staplegrove Road, Taunton, was recently reviewed by the independent Good Schools Guide – the number one trusted guide to schools in the UK aimed at helping parents in every aspect of choosing the best education for their children.
The review stated: “Of all the school’s greatest hits, pastoral care stands at #1. It’s an inclusive sort of place; a parent told us ‘You’d struggle not to fit in’.”
It went on to say: “Another parent remarked: ‘This is a school which is far more interested in the welfare of every one of its children than it is in looking good to the outside world’.”
It highlighted the Schools broad co-curricular offering and said: “‘This is a school that really values breadth,’ a parent told us. Another: ‘Taunton students ‘have absolutely no understanding of boredom’. All parents agree that when lessons are over there’s masses to do.”
It highlighted sport in particular: “This is a sporting hotspot that takes a characteristically professional approach to maxing out the talents of all students.”
The review said that the School was especially popular with hardworking local entrepreneurs, business people and professionals for a number of whom this is their first experience of private education – a higher proportion than you’ll find at many independent schools.
It praised the School’s results particularly in light of its non-selective approach and a number of subjects were highlighted as strong with well-equipped classrooms. In particular the reviewer wrote: “Design technology blinking brilliant, masses of kit – oscillating spindle sander, inverted trend router, Wizard CNC PLASMAWIZ 44 CNC plasma cutter, you name it.”
It continued: “The music offer is multifarious, everything from chamber music ensembles to big musicals – in recent years, Phantom, Evita, Cats. There are choirs, overseas tours – in short, around 40 public performances a year” and it praised the busy drama department which offers productions for which anyone can audition.
The School’s outstanding guidance in choosing sixth form options, A Level, IB or BTEC, the right subjects and thereafter making university and careers choices also stood out.
Also highlighted is that children can be educated from 0-18 and that the three most senior managers in the Senior School are state educated.
The review stated that the integration with the international school, feeding around 45 different nationalities into the school, makes Taunton “fundamentally different in spirit from schools that look abroad opportunistically to top up ad hoc. ‘The friendships my daughter has made,’ said one parent, ‘have made the world a smaller place.’”
It concluded: “But what makes the school so likeable, so agreeable, is its individuality: kind, hardworking, ambitious, terrific fun, very much its own person – a good fit for everyboy and everygirl.
Headmaster Lee Glaser said: “We are delighted to get such a rave review from the expert panel at the Good Schools Guide who scrutinise schools up and down the country. It reassuringly confirms that all the aspects of education that we strive to offer are clearly evident in our everyday activities. Knowing our pupils really well and tailoring our teaching and learning to each individual is at the centre of what we do.”
Read the full review here.
Visit the School at our Whole School Open Morning on Monday 1st May, 9.30-12.30. Register your interest in attending here. Or if you can’t make it contact the School to book a personal visit.
ISI stands for the Independent Schools Inspectorate and this information should help parents understand the work being done to improve the standard of education throught England.
ISI reports to the Department for Education on the extent to which schools meet statutory requirements. Inspection is for the benefit of the pupils and is intended to help schools recognise and build on their strengths and remedy any weaknesses. Reports are available on the web giving additional information.
PARENT’S GUIDANCE REGARDING AN INSPECTION
Parents can help ensure that the inspection is based on first-hand evidence by completing a confidential pre-inspection questionnaire. Responses are confidential to ISI inspectors and not shared with the school. As soon as schools have been informed of their inspection, they will send parents and pupils the link to the questionnaire and let them know the timeframe for completion. It is understood that it can be difficult to find time for this at short notice, but these questionnaires are a valuable and important part of the process and all parents and pupils are encouraged to participate.
The questionnaires can be used to make known to the inspectors any information you think is important. They are anonymous, so inspectors cannot identify parents or pupils from responses. Individual comments are not shared with the school and remain strictly confidential.
You may complete any or all of the questions (you do not have to answer questions about which you have nothing to say). Inspectors will share with the head the statistical results of the survey: that is the percentages of parents responding positively or otherwise to each question. They will use the responses to help plan the inspection and to report on what they find.
Ahead of the inspection, you can also contact the ISI office confidentially, either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 020 7600 0100. During the inspection you can contact the Reporting Inspector directly by email, using email@example.com in the first instance.
AFTER THE INSPECTION
The findings of the inspection are presented in an inspection report. The report will usually be issued to the school four working (termite) weeks after the week of the inspection.
The school then has a further two working weeks in which to provide a copy to the parents of current pupils, and the report will be made available on the ISI website.
Anyone else who would like a copy of the report can request this directly from the school.
Additional information regarding supporting pupils and concerns about a school can be found by visiting www.isi.net
What Price Is a Good Education?
Education is certainly the greatest gift a child could ever have, but – as all parents know – every present comes with a price tag. Good Schools Guide Advice Consultant Nicky Adams counts the cost of school – both state and independent.
Much like lunches, there is no such thing as a free education, even in the state sector. Of course, parents who choose an independent school for their son or daughter face an even heftier bill. But in both cases, forewarned is forearmed and before applying to a school or college it is always worth researching the costs to make sure that they are affordable. If not, financial help can often be made available.
Although state education itself is free in the UK, there are nearly always additional or optional costs for parents. In fact, a recent survey by Aviva found that parents spend at least £1,600 every year sending a child to state school, which adds up to an eye-watering £22,596 for a whole school career (4-18), then more on top if your child continues into higher or further education. By far the largest cost for working parents of young children is after-school care, but all parents find that other little extras all add up:
Lunches: Unless your family income entitles your child to free school meals, then school lunches for all but infants are either charged for or brought in a box from home. Many schools are now cashless environments, so payment can often be made online upfront for convenience, but the bill is likely to add up to around £400 a year.
Uniform: State schools have made uniform shopping so much easier and cheaper by generally choosing styles and colours stocked by department stores and supermarkets. There may be the odd school-specific item – tie, blazer badge or bag, for example – that comes from a nominated supplier or can be bought from the school itself. The average annual cost of uniform, according to Aviva, is £108, with shoes an extra £78 and sports kit £59. Most schools run excellent second-hand uniform shops. Funding may also be available for families on a low income to help with uniform costs – usually the school can provide information.
Equipment: To help with homework, parents often end up purchasing a few textbooks (spending an average £63) and one in 10 buy their child a tablet. If your son or daughter is sporty or musical, prepare for more outlay – while many schools are happy to lend in the first instance, if your child is serious about his or her chosen pursuit, then a cricket bat or trombone may well appear on the Christmas list.
Trips: This can vary, but trips are optional in most schools and colleges. However, children often feel they are compulsory if they are to avoid missing out – educationally and socially. Aviva calculates that parents of school-age children need to put aside an average of £120 a year per child for school trips.
Transport: Few children these days walk or cycle to school unless they live right on the doorstep, so inevitably there are travel costs, which are compounded if children from the same family attend different schools. If getting to the nearest state school or college incurs an unavoidable cost, then the Local Authority will generally foot the bill, but otherwise parents pay for petrol or a bus pass, costing on average £369 a year.
Parents considering a fee-paying school of course need to pay particular attention to the costs, bearing in mind that independent education is usually a long-term investment. Not only do school fees often increase as the child progresses through the year groups, but nearly all schools review fees on an annual basis too. Fees are usually payable termly in advance but many schools now offer a ‘pay monthly’ scheme and there are often options for parents to pay the fees for a whole year – or multiple years – upfront.
It’s well worth checking carefully just which of the additional costs paid by the parents of state school children are absorbed into independent school fees and which are not. Some – notably uniform and equipment – are likely to be substantially dearer and there can be other unexpected extras too, including:
Deposit: This is payable on accepting the school’s firm of a place and returnable at the end of the child’s time at the school and can be as much as £2,000 in some areas.
Insurance for your child: Including personal effects, medical, dental.
Less popular courses: A charge can be made when only a small number of students want to study a more obscure subject or language.
Special Educational Needs: One-to-one classroom assistance, support or tutoring often attract a charge.
Lunch and snacks: If not included in the fees, they can really add to the annual cost of school.
Keeping up with the Joneses: Important to children, they may feel they need the latest clothing or gadget to stay in with the in-crowd.
Nicky Adams is a consultant for the Good Schools Guide. For more information, go to www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk
Woodland Birds Come Alive with New Interactive Book
Following the success of The Little Book Of Garden Bird Songs, www.finefeatherpress.com has published The Little Book Of Woodland Bird Songs that features twelve songs from some of Britain’s best-loved feathered friends who inhabit the forests and woodlands throughout the UK.
Originally designed for young children, these sound books have turned out to be popular with the whole family and especially among parents and grandparents who have fun learning with their offspring. The solid board pages are chunky enough for the smallest of hands to manage, and include beautifully illustrated information about each featured bird. As well as describing their habitat, feeding habits and physical appearance, there is also a little known fact about each bird – did you know that pheasants occasionally launch territorial attacks on people, animals and even cars? What brings these books to life is the sound bar, which enables you to identify each different bird by its song.
The book has received great acclaim with Chris Evans calling it ’genius’ on his BBC Radio 2 Show; parents and grandparents raved about it with comments on Amazon such as, it’s the sort of book which children have to plead with the adults to let them have a look and, as of this afternoon, my granddaughter was still out in the garden trying to identify various birds and their calls.
At £12.99, “The Little Book Of Woodland Bird Songs” is a real keepsake that will be enjoyed by children and everyone young at heart. It’s suitable for children and grown-ups aged 3 and up.
The twelve birds featured are:
· Long-tailed tit · Great spotted woodpecker · Cuckoo · Nuthatch · Willow warbler · Goldcrest · Buzzard · Jay · Woodpigeon · Coal tit · Pheasant · Tawny owl
TIME TO WIN
Courtesy of Fine Feather Press, a specialist natural history publishing company, have kindly given us books to give away to 6 lucky readers. To be in with a chance of winning a copy simply send us an email with Woodland Birds in the subject, together with your address and telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively please send a postcard to Woodland Birds Competition, Minerva Publications, County Gate, County Way, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 7FJ. Closing date: April 30, 2016. Good Luck!
Knowing what to ask on an open day can be really daunting. Here Nicky Adams of the Good Schools Guide helps us know the best questions to ask.
Autumn is the time when schools throw open their doors to prospective pupils and their parents. Good Schools Guide Advice Consultant Nicky Adams offers some advice on what to look out for as you tour the establishments that could be responsible for your child’s future education.
September and October are high season when it comes to school open days. The summer holidays have quickly become a distant memory and parents’ thoughts turn to the school their child will be starting, or moving on to, a year from now. But which one?
When it comes to their child’s schooling, parents have a greater choice – whether state or independent – than ever before, and it really is impossible to tell all the available options apart without setting foot over a few thresholds. School websites and prospectuses only give half the story, if that. So it’s vital to note down the dates of open days at any school that might be suitable for your child and to visit, absorb and compare, to make sure that you choose the school that will best suit your child and provide what he or she needs to succeed.
Get ahead of the game: Start considering potential future schools for your child well in advance. A year ahead is actually the minimum; give yourself two years to research and you are likely to be able to make a more informed choice. By the time your little one is three years old, his personality is beginning to become established and it will be easier to identify the kind of primary or preparatory school that will suit him – is he quiet or outgoing, hardworking or in need of motivation? Secondary schools are best looked at for the first time when your child is in Year 4 and perhaps again in Year 5, prior to making the final selection, to give ample time to prepare for any entrance assessments, interviews or other hoops he may be asked to jump through prior to being offered a place. Certainly if moving schools at 13+, look as if for 11+ to make sure the access route is well understood. If scholarships are a possibility, check these out in the very early days to make sure your child has plenty of time to gather any evidence of his talent that the school might need to see.
How is the school and the open day advertised? Start your assessment as soon as you notice the dates for the open days in the newspaper or on the school website. How does the school communicate with future families? What’s the school’s ethos and what does it say are its strengths? Browse the website, request the prospectus if there is one, and consider how the school presents itself – then, when you visit, consider whether or not the reality matches up.
Children welcome? Potential pupils are usually very welcome at open days, but depending on your child’s age – or the reason for the move – you may decide you would prefer to visit the school without him or her, perhaps at least in the first instance. Some children can find the hustle and bustle of open days quite overwhelming and if you are considering a long list of schools, you may prefer to shorten it before involving your child. If choosing a school for a senior age child, and certainly for sixth form, your son or daughter’s input will be crucial – the decision should ideally be a joint one if you are hoping for a willing learner.
Keep your eyes and ears open: As you visit, notice…
• Is the open day well-run? If it’s smooth and professional, then the hope is that the whole school will operate along similarly efficient lines; chaotic and badly planned and there could be some concerns for the day-to-day management.
• How the staff treat you and – more importantly – how they treat your child, if he or she is with you. Ideally they will involve you all in the conversation. • How hands-on is the head? Milling around meeting families and answering questions, or shut away in his or her office on open day? How accessible would he or she be if you wanted to discuss an issue with your child at school?
• The attitudes of current pupils – are they positive and motivated, proud of their achievements and of their school? Are they cheerful about school life, their teachers and their peers? Adults may be able to gloss over the negatives, but children are generally much more honest. * The work on display – is it all highly impressive and perfect, or is a range of ability on show? Every child’s achievements should be valued and represented.
• The size of the classes and the staff-to-pupil ratio, to make sure that what you see before you tallies with the prospectus.
• The range of clubs and extra-curricular activities on offer – are pupils encouraged to become rounded individuals, or are academic results the only benchmark? • Arrangements for lunch – cooked meals or bring-your-own? Is healthy eating on the menu?
• Is the school well-maintained and clean? Dust, dirt and broken facilities are hallmarks of a place that is lacking in investment of effort as well as funds.
What is your overall impression? Can you imagine your child spending his or her days here? Do you feel confident in the staff who will care for him or her, will they be motivating, inspirational and kind? Does this place offer the education you want for your child? Try not to focus too closely on the details, but allow yourself to soak up the atmosphere and let your instincts guide you. If you need to visit again, feel free to do so at the next round of open days. After all, your child could be stepping over that same threshold for many school days to come.
Nicky Adams is a regional editor and writer for The Good Schools Guide and also a consultant for the Good Schools Guide Advice Service. For more information, go to www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk and www.gsgexpertschoolsconsultants.co.uk