Explore education

Round & About

adult learning

With many of us having more time on our hands, there’s never been a better time to learn something new

Always wanted to learn a new language or are you looking to boost your career with further skills? Whatever your age or circumstances there’s a course for you.

Are you a parent who wants to get back into learning? Didn’t get the grades first time round and want a fresh start? Need to boost your CV with qualifications in your chosen career or simply want to learn something for fun – whatever your reasons there are a variety of options available.

The Open University has helped thousands get the qualifications they need from their own home but if you’re not sure you want to commit on a long-term basis why not try OpenLearn, the free learning platform.

Courses consist of bite-size learning experiences designed to fit into busy lives. There are more than 900 short courses to choose from, ranging from one to 100 hours of study. Many are adapted from OU modules and allow you to earn a ‘statement of participation’, although not a credit towards a qualification.

OpenLearn aims to break down barriers to education such as access, cost and lack of confidence.

To find out more about the range of courses available visit https://www.open.edu/openlearn/

Activate Learning is an educational group with colleges in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey that can help you make the right choice to suit your needs depending on what’s right for you and your ambitions.

Develop your artistic talents, turn your hobby into a business or advance your career with Activate Learning’s part-time courses for adults whether that’s one of the 400+ leisure courses, professional courses to help further your career or gaining access to further education.

Find out more

For information visit


Adult learners of all ages, and from more than 160 countries worldwide, gather together on Oxford University’s short online courses.

In fact, demand in recent months has been so strong that the University is offering a summer term of online courses for the first time ever.

Summer courses begin in the weeks commencing June 15th and 22nd. Choose from creative writing, psychology, philosophy, social entrepreneurship, archaeology, politics and more, at www.conted.ox.ac.uk/online

Modelled on face-to-face teaching, online courses take place in a virtual learning environment and class sizes are kept small to maximise interaction between students and the tutor.

Additionally, the Continuing Education Department have launched a ‘Curious Minds’ campaign, aimed at keeping brains active during these challenging times. It’s a large collection of free online learning resources, chosen by academic staff of the Department.

‘Curious Minds’ – www.conted.ox.ac.uk/curious-minds – brings the world straight into your home: museum collections, recorded lectures, language learning, music and more. It’s all about staying connected with learning!

The Department for Continuing Education at Oxford University offers more than 1,000 part-time courses each year for adult learners across the globe, including undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Find out more

Education guide: Winter 2020

Round & About

adult learning

Welcome to the first education extra of 2020, we had an impressive array of entries for our story writing competition and they all prove what a talented bunch you are! Congratulations to our two winners and thanks to all who entered. Reading and writing are very good for your mental health and as more schools are focussing on pupils’ overall wellbeing we look at the importance of that and what is being done to improve this as Children’s Mental Health Week will be encouraging you to ‘Find Your Brave’


Wellbeing is becoming as much a part of the curriculum as maths and English. Find out how it can help you and your school

Superheroes would probably feature highly for most children if they were asked who they thought was brave. However, bravery comes in all shapes and sizes as this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is out to prove.

The week from 3rd to 9th February invites schools, youth groups, organisations and individuals to take part with one goal to “Find Your Brave”.

Bravery is about so much more than just fighting evil villains, it can be about fighting your own enemies, sharing worries and not being afraid to ask for help. Perhaps you want to try something new or push yourself outside your comfort zone, build your self confidence, improve your self-esteem and feel good about yourself.

Children’s mental health charity Place2Be which provides counselling and mental health support and training in schools, says bravery is all about finding positive ways to deal with things that may be difficult, overcoming physical and mental challenges and looking after yourself. They believe that children should not have to face mental health problems alone.

Place2Be launched the first Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015 to highlight the importance of children and young people’s mental health. Now in its sixth year, they hope to encourage more people than ever to get involved and spread the word. about the importance of caring for your mental health.

Last year, Place2Be worked with 639 schools in England, Scotland and Wales, reaching 364,080 children and young people. In the same year, more than 300 schools took part in Mental Health Champions programmes, equipping school leaders, teachers and staff with the skills and confidence to support pupils’ mental health. Over 1,600 child counsellors took part in training on various levels, building an ever-growing number who specialise in working with children and young people.

The Mental Health Foundation offers The 5 Ways to Wellbeing, a set of actions which have been proven to improve wellbeing, offering a starting point for schools.


Get to know your classmates, it’s a great support network, get together over activities or just tea and a chat.

Get active

Exercise can be good for your mind as well as your body, whether you cycle, dance, run, swim, jump or walk, it’s a great way to deal with negative thoughts and feelings.

Be mindful

Take time to check in with your thoughts and feelings, you may notice things you’ve missed, try a yoga session or mindfulness, breathing techniques can be a real help especially at exam time.

Keep learning

Lifelong learning is the way to keep the brain healthy, the sense of achievement from learning something new can be great for your mood, or try a quiz or a new skill.

Give to others

Helping others can help reduce your own stress, improve your own emotional wellbeing and even benefit your physical health.

• To find out more about how these charities can help you or your school, visit www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk and


New headmaster of Barfield School in Farnham, Andrew Boyle talks about the importance of pastoral care for pupils

As a new Headmaster, my first half of term has been spent carefully observing and evaluating the many strengths of Barfield School, while also looking for those areas where a fresh pair of eyes might make a difference. One aspect of school life which works beautifully here is the understanding of what outstanding pastoral care looks like.

With research showing that mental health issues are becoming apparent earlier and earlier in children’s lives, is it any wonder that some parents are putting more emphasis on finding a school which places a higher priority on pastoral care and wellbeing?

From your first telephone conversation with the Admissions Registrar, you are immediately making judgements as to the ethos and values of the school and rightly so! However, it is my belief that pastoral care is best measured by ‘that feeling’ you get when you walk in through the front door for the first time.

The cornerstone of a culture of warmth, support and family comes from the people. There is simply no substitute for great staff and certainly no shortcut in the relationships they build with your children. Trust your first impressions, but if you are not sure, take a few moments to look around at the children, as they are always the best ambassadors of a school and its beliefs.

Outstanding pastoral care is not just the responsibility of the named Deputy Head or a policy document to which you refer to when something goes wrong, but it is in fact a commitment from top to bottom, with the understanding that everyone has a significant role to play. Cliche or not, happy children are going to make the most progress and will fulfil their potential in all aspects of school life.

I do not have the pleasure of having children yet, but when I do, top of my wish list will be to watch them skip into school every day, safe in the knowledge that when they do hit a road bump, the people around them know them inside and out.


Our younger readers have proved to be a very talented imaginative bunch if the entries for our short story competition are anything to go by. We received a great variety of stories demonstrating there could well be some future David Walliams’ and J K Rowling’s out there. Well done to all who took part, here are the winning entries…

Keep Dreaming by Bethan Hopton

Bethan’s entry charmed us for the way she showed how small random acts of kindness can make all the difference, often in the most unexpected ways and how dreams can come true

Sam was cycling down a hill when all of a sudden…”STOP”. He looked behind him and saw an elderly man next to a road. “Little boy” he croaked “can you be a dear and help me across the road?” Sam flinched at the world little but he couldn’t help stopping his bike and going over to help the man.

He checked the road to see if there was any traffic. He was used to checking the road as he was twelve. He went out on his own all the time!
They walked across the road really slowly because it took ages for Sam to walk whilst carrying all of the man’s heavy bags. Sam checked his watch. He had been helping the man for almost five minutes and they were barely quarter of the way across the road!

Sam sighed as he thought of the football match he had intended to watch when he got home from school. It would be starting any minute!
“Did you have a good day at school?” the man asked in a suspiciously high voice. ”I guess,” murmured Sam.

Eventually, they got to the end of the road. “Bye,” Sam said and began to climb onto his bike. “Bye,” the old man called after him.
When he got home, Sam slumped onto the sofa and switched on the television. He groaned as he looked at the time. He had missed a whole half an hour of the game.

“Mum” he called ”can I have a drink?” ”Sure” she answered.
The next day at school started normally. Sam met his friends outside the gates and cast a cheeky grin at Ffion, his girlfriend who was standing outside the assembly hall when he got in.

Everybody was sat down when the head teacher entered. ”So,” she said, “we have a special guest today and I’ll let them introduce themselves.” She walked off the stage and an elderly man walked on. Sam instantly realised that the man was the same man that he had helped yesterday and smiled at him. “Hello,” the man said, peeling off a mask, “I am Harry Kane.”

Sam stared at Harry and gasped. He recognised him! “You will be pleased to know that I have chosen Sam Jeffers to be my mascot at our next game because of his kindness to elderlies. I disguised myself as an elderly man yesterday, waiting for someone to help me. Many people ignored me but Sam helped me even though he didn’t seem to particularly want to.”

Beeep! Sam’s alarm clock was beeping. ”Are you awake?” his mum called from downstairs. “Yes” Sam shouted back. He quickly got changed in the uniform that Harry had told him to wear and jumped in the car. They got to the stadium early so that Harry could go over things with him. Sam gasped “It’s amazing!” “I know” whispered Harry “Good luck!”

Turning over a new leaf by Elijah Mayers

Elijah’s use of description, painting pictures through words made it easy to visualise the story he was telling and again showed the value of being kind and thinking of others

Sam was cycling down the hill when all of a sudden, his mother appeared by the roadside with her hands firmly placed on her hips. He knew straight away that something was very wrong. Sam got off the bike and walked sheepishly with his head down towards his mum.

Sam’s mother Simone was a stout overweight woman who always wore clothes two sizes too small. Her face was as round and pale as the moon. Her eyes were cold and blue like the sea. Her black hair was long and thin like liquorice running down to her waist. Simone in her high-pitched voice shrieked at Sam to “Get in the house!!!”.

Sam made his way into the house and went straight into the living-room. The house was a mess and Dad lay spread out on the sofa fast asleep. Sam’s dad was a skinny man with a potbelly who loved to wear string-vests. He had thick Ginger hair covering his entire body, making him look like an orangutan. As he slept, Sam’s dad snored. In fact, he snored so loudly that the glass of water on the table next to him shook and eventually fell on the floor.

Ever since Sam’s dad had been sacked for stealing a pair of pink pyjamas from the warehouse where he worked, all he did was lay around the house snoring like a tractor.

Simone soon followed Sam into the living-room and scream at him “What have you done!!!”. Simone went on to explain that the Headmaster’s office had called her, and they wanted a meeting tomorrow.

“I can’t miss work and your dad is useless, so your grandad will have to go with you,” Simone yelled. A wave of fear spread over Sam and that night, he had a horrible nightmare about being told off by the Headmaster.

The next day, the doorbell rang as Sam was getting dressed for school. It was his grandad Jonas wearing a bright green suit and a blue tie shimmering in the sun. Sam sighed and let him in.

Later at school, the Headmaster’s secretary told them to wait in the Headmaster’s office. Sam was so worried that he started to feel nauseous. A moment later, a tall skinny man entered the room and introduced himself as Mr Pearce the Headmaster.

Mr Pearce explained that in the past, Sam had been in trouble a lot of times for bullying. Sam was known for Kicking, punching and pushing the smaller pupils in the school. Recently, Sam has changed his behaviour and now actually helps the other pupils when they hurt themselves. Mr Pearce went on to say how pleased he was that Sam had turned over a new leaf and made himself a better person. Sam nearly fell off his chair when Mr Pearce told him they had awarded him a commendation.

When Sam got home, he showed Simone the commendation and she was so pleased that she nearly fainted. From that day on, Sam’s mum stopped shrieking at him and started praising him instead.


Pupils at Longacre School can enjoy a welcoming environment to talk in The Bear Hut

Schools are putting more emphasis now on pupils’ mindfulness and mental health, making sure their overall needs are addressed.

One of those which has been working to help children is Longacre School in Shamley Green which has opened a new wellbeing space.
The ‘Bear Hut’, so called after the bear that features in the school’s logo, opened at the start of the September term and is already proving popular.

Funded by Longacre PTA, the Bear Hut provides a safe, quiet, welcoming environment where children can be listened to. It will be used as a space for counselling, speech therapy and occupational therapy with individual children and small groups. Mindfulness Club and art therapy will also take place inside the hut.

The Bear Hut is the brainchild of Longacre’s Head of Art and Head of Years 5 & 6, Tara Pandey. She said: “Research has shown 70% of children and young people who have experienced a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age and that children and young people who experience mental illness are more likely than other people to experience mental illness in adulthood.*

“Creating the right environment for children is about creating the right physical environment as well as the right emotional environment.”
She said she expects it to be used as a place for teachers to meet parents and children together to talk through any issues and to offer reassurance or just share their day.
*according to research by Young Minds


Honey Bees Day Care, Farnham has some advice to develop your child’s healthy eating habits

How your child eats today can have a huge impact on their health, food preferences and dietary habits. The earlier you begin teaching them healthy eating patterns, the more likely they’ll be to take these good habits with them into adolescence and adulthood.
Healthy eating can stabilise children’s energy, balance their moods and prevent illnesses. A balanced diet will also ensure your child gets the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients for growth and mental development.To get all these nutrients, it is important your littles ones start experimenting with a wide variety of foods from an early age – fruit and vegetables, beans, lentils, lean meat, oily fish, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as brown rice and bread.
A great way to get your children to experiment with food is to make it fun:

• get creative in the kitchen and let your child try different flavours and textures of food

• try and put different colours of food on the plate so they get a variety of nutrients, turn it inot a game with the colours

• get them involved in the weekly food shop, learn about where different foods come from

If they won’t try different foods, don’t worry: the majority of children go through phases with their eating, and habits will often change over time.

• Day care and forest school, Honey Bees, based in Bentley, near Farnham offers a full curriculum to get the most out of any child’s time in their care, including gymnastics, yoga and French


The Lime Tree Nursery in Alton is celebrating its top class report

A homely setting and an environment in which children flourish are just two of the reasons why Lime Tree Nursery in Alton has been rated outstanding.

The recent inspection revealed four areas in which Lime Tree was outstanding citing the “rich and stimulating activities” which support development and commented on the “exciting opportunities that skilfully prepares them for their future successes”.

There was also praise for the qualified and experienced staff, with the report saying: “They are always engaging with the children and make this a wonderful environment for the children to flourish.”

The report continues to say: “Children learn impressive new skills during forest school sessions, including how to use tools safely and how to cook food on open fires. The well-resourced outdoor area provides the children with various opportunities for exploration, risk taking and challenge.”

Relationships with parents were also highlighted. The report said: “They liken the nursery to a family and are delighted with their extremely supportive care.”

Lime Tree Children’s Day Nursery is set in a home from home, with an enclosed garden, full of nature to explore and with direct access to Anstey Park. Open for 51 weeks, from 8am – 6pm, taking children from birth to school age.

The nursery also welcomes children back during the school holidays for their first year of school, making the transition to school from nursery much easier.


Find out how ARCh can help

Reading for pleasure can increase self-esteem, reduce symptoms of depression, help build better relationships and reduce anxiety and stress. When immersing yourself in a good book, you can be swept away to a happy world, away from any dilemmas or stresses. Certain books can also help you realise you are not alone, which is often a focus for the healing process; recognising others may be going through similar struggles.

But what happens if you can’t read well? Assisted Reading for Children Oxfordshire (ARCh) has over 300 volunteers visiting primary schools twice a week to read with three children for 30 minutes each. Each volunteer has a box of books and games to engage with each child and they endeavour to find the right book to inspire a love of reading. An ARCh session focuses on the child improving their reading skills, but it’s about so much more; it’s about a special relationship helping that child gain confidence and knowing it’s OK to make mistakes.
The children and their adult volunteers benefit from the connection between reading and mental wellbeing. People who read into old age can reduce memory decline and have fewer physical signs of dementia. By sharing the magic of reading with a child, the volunteers can gain empathy and perspective at a time when their own connections may have reduced and a sense of loneliness may have crept in.

• To share the magic of reading and enhance your wellbeing in 2020 visit www.archoxfordshire.org.uk or call 01869 320380 to find out more. Happy reading!


Former head Gerald Vinestock has useful advice before you head off to a school open day

It’s easy enough to mock open days, but parents can find them useful. It’s important first to realise the school is selling itself and parents are potential customers; parents should forget their own schooldays terror of visits to the Head and ask the questions that matter.

If your Ermintrude is a budding Mozart, don’t reveal that until you have the answer to the question, ‘How important is music in the school?’ You are much more likely to get the answer you need than if you start by revealing that Ermintrude passed Grade 6 clarinet at the age of three.
Keep questions neutral therefore, but make sure you do ask them.

You may be shown round by a pupil – that is a good sign of the school’s confidence in its children – and you will be able to gauge a lot about the relationship between pupils and staff as you go round. You will pick up, even on an open day, something of the atmosphere of the school. That matters even more than exam results, though you should ask about these and where pupils go after leaving.

Classrooms are revealing and you should look at what’s on the walls, but remember that a rather untidy piece of writing pinned up prominently may reveal that here is a teacher who really cares: that particular piece of writing may mark a huge step forward for the pupil, whose confidence has now been boosted by public display of this work.

A visit on an open day can be helpful, but if you are close to choosing a school, a second visit on a normal school day will be even more helpful to enable you to gauge the atmosphere. Not all schools can cope with such individual visits, but it is worth asking, it will be easier to assess what the school is really like on a normal day and to ascertain whether this will be the right place for Ermintrude or Wilfred. Much more important than what gossip may say is whether you feel the school is right for your child. If you have met caring staff and happy children that matters more than local tittle-tattle when you come to make a very important decision.

The most important thing to remember is that however impressive and daunting the Head may be, ask the questions that are important for you and keep them neutral!

Gerald Vinestock was Northern Regional Director for the Independent Schools Information Service (Now ISC). He has recently had published Crib and the Labours of Hercules a children’s book available locally at Blackwell’s. Read more from Gerald Vinestock at www.geraldvinestock.co.uk


Berkshire schools encouraged to enter conservation awards

School children in Berkshire are being invited to do their bit for the environment by taking part in the 2020 Dorothy Morley Conservation Awards in honour of a pioneering campaigner.

The awards are promoted by CPRE Berkshire and recognise the two best school projects promoting environmental conservation with prizes of £1,000 and £500 on offer.

CPRE Berkshire branch secretary Gloria Keene said they were encouraged by young people’s desire to change their local environment.
She said: “By promoting this award scheme throughout the county, we hope that we can help school children feel that they can really make a difference, particularly when news about the climate change emergency might feel overwhelming.

“We believe local action can bring big changes and look forward to hearing about pupils, teachers and parents working together on what we know will be some fantastic projects.”

Past examples of projects include tree planting and waste recycling, partnerships with organisations in towns and villages, promoting organic and local food, creating and developing school gardens and creating and maintaining wildlife friendly community areas.

The award reflects the work of Dorothy Morley who died in 1995 and was a strong campaigner on environmental issues. In addition to the £1,000 first prize and £500 for the runner up, all shortlisted schools are invited to display information about their project at CPRE Berkshire’s July presentation event.

The deadline for schools to register their interest is 31st January. For more information contact Gloria on 0118 930 6756 or email [email protected]

Education guide: Autumn 2019

Round & About

adult learning

With the new school term upon us our education guide this month is full of features focussing on life inside and outside the classroom including our short story writing competition. Children, get your thinking caps on and put pen to paper or finger to keyboard and send us 500 words for your chance to win and have your story published in January


Calling all children aged seven to 13! Write us a short story for the chance to be one of our competition winners

You don’t need to be a child to love Roald Dahl’s fantastic stories or those of latter-day children’s favourite David Walliams… but have you got what it takes to be the next Roald or David or JK Rowling yourself?

Well, we are challenging you to have a go at writing your own story in 500 words. Your story can be about anyone or anything, past, present or future, it can make us laugh, cry or leave us thinking; let your imagination run riot and entertain us!


The Woodland Trust’s free trees for school scheme aims to get children ‘doing their bit’ for the planet

Mixing maths with mud and tree planting with poetry has proved to be a great way to get children excited about the natural environment.

The Woodland Trust’s free trees for schools scheme combines learning with the opportunity to green up school grounds and online
curriculum-linked resources for teachers offer support lesson plans.

Research on behalf of the Woodland Trust found that primary age children who planted trees felt as if they were “doing their bit” to help the environment and remember it for years after.

The Woodland Trust’s schools and community engagement manager Karen Letten said: “We want to see trees becoming a key component of a teacher’s toolkit.

“Planting trees and creating woodland is a great way to connect children with nature. It engages them with the environment, educates them on the care and maintenance of trees and the benefits they bring and provides a stimulating topic that can be linked to many subjects in the school curriculum.

“Mixing maths with mud and planting with poetry is highly recommended!”

The trust’s dedicated educational website Tree Tools for Schools has a wealth of teaching resources and ideas, all fronted by Keith, a giant oak leaf.

There’s an interactive planning tool so children can plot their new woodland, games, quizzes and printable worksheets, all aimed at making lesson planning a doddle. There’s also a section on after care including a simulation showing how the trees will grow over 10 years and the management they will need each season.

Teachers can search the website by key stage or subject, making it easy to teach children about the multiple benefits trees provide for people, wildlife and the environment.

Since the Woodland Trust launched its free trees for schools initiative in 2004, more than five million saplings have been sent out.
There’s a variety of packs to choose from ranging in size from 15 saplings to 420, all containing a mix of native broadleaved trees that are UK sourced and grown to reduce the risk of disease.

A large scale Natural Connections study carried out in 2016 found children who experienced outdoor learning were more engaged, happier and healthier while teachers said outdoor learning had a positive impact on their teaching practice and increased their job satisfaction.

   For more information and to get your free trees, visit www.treetoolsforschools.org.uk


Offering a transformational opportunity to your child at Prior’s Field, Godalming

The opportunity to educate a child, to the best of their abilities, is the ambition of every parent. In the current economic climate, the Independent school sector has never been more aware of the challenge of affordability. The demand for fee assistance and means-tested bursaries has risen considerably and widening access and social mobility was a founding remit of Independent schools’ charitable status and why they were formerly known as public schools.

We live by Admiration, Hope and Love

Our school motto quoted above encapsulates our ethos. Philanthropy was very much at the heart of the vision of Julia Huxley, a pioneer of progressive academic education for women, who founded our school in 1902. Julia had a distinctive family pedigree (the granddaughter of Dr Thomas Arnold, Headmaster of Rugby; niece of Mathew Arnold, the poet and mother to Aldous Huxley, author of ‘A Brave New World’).

They mean what they say about nurturing talent (Good Schools Guide)

Our scholarships and bursary programme signposts the value we place on nurturing individuals to become the best possible version of themselves. The type and number of bursaries and scholarships we offer will vary dependent on the talent each year, be it creative, sporting or academic. Means tested bursaries are available at all main entry points and we work with many feeder schools in the maintained sector to encourage applications from a broad cohort. There are always far more girls seeking bursary help than we can accommodate but we aim to award where we see potential and eagerness to learn and know the opportunity will be truly transformational.

Transformational fully funded Sixth Form awards

Through the school’s own charity, a limited number of Foundation Awards are offered to pupils wishing to enter Sixth Form who have been significantly disadvantaged by life circumstances. Fully-funded Sixth Form places allow girls to continue their education with the support of our boarding community. It is an enormous privilege to watch the transformational impact of a bursary. Bursaries are a springboard from which we hope to see girls engage fully, inspiring others and giving something back to the school.

Come and Visit

As one our bursary girls said as she left last year: “Being at Prior’s Field for the Sixth Form changed my life and I want to help other girls to have the same fantastic opportunity”. Come and find out more at our next Open Day on Saturday 5th October from 10am – 1pm.

   Call 01483 813402 to book your place or find out more at www.priorsfieldschool.com.


Head of Pre-Prep at Westbourne House School Caroline Oglethorpe has some advice on how to give your child sports confidence

As parents, we often worry about our children when they don’t seem to be progressing quite as fast as their peers. Sometimes, when raising children in exactly the same way, it can seem baffling that one of our offspring seems naturally sporty and is riding a bike at three and a half, when the other can’t seem to do it even aged seven. Or perhaps you have a child that seems to hang back while others are playing football.

You know they want to join in but they just don’t have the confidence.

It is good to remember that development in sports is similar to how one might learn to read. Everyone learns at a slightly different pace and this is partly to do with each child’s own physical development, and also where the child is on their sports learning curve.

We support our children at Westbourne House by creating many different opportunities each week to practise and by modelling the skills ourselves in playtimes and lessons. And keeping it fun is hugely important. Ultimately, it is about encouraging children to develop a lifelong love of being active. To this end, we also introduce them to a wide range of sports including kayaking, orienteering, swimming, climbing, dance and ball sports.

You can give your child a huge helping hand by having fun practising sports skills together and you may wish to try the game ideas below from our Head of Sport. The sports confidence your child will gain will enable them to do their best and join in happily when the time comes.

1. Blow up a balloon or two and play a game of keep the balloon up in the air.

2. With any round ball, play ‘happy feet’. You start with a foot on top of the ball, and then hop to replace it with the other foot.

3. Show your child how to make a cup with two hands, as if you were collecting water from a tap. This is the correct way to catch. Start close together and when the ball is caught, take a small step backwards.

4. Make a target out of an open box or saucepan on the floor. How many times you can get balls or paired socks into the target?

   Westbourne House has an open morning on Saturday 28th September. Book your place at www.westbournehourse.org/visit


You can learn as much outside the classroom as you can inside at Under The Canopy Forest School

Learning isn’t just about what goes on in the classroom, Under The Canopy Forest School allows children to learn outside the classroom among nature.

It aims to encourage time spent away from technology and to increase learning and creativity for all. The Forest School approach is more child-led and aims to improve social skills, self-confidence, the development of language, communication and motor skills and to create a better knowledge of the environment.

Children are given freedom to direct their own learning and get involved in a certain amount of “risky play”. Among the activities children can get involved in are building and cooking on a fire, building dens and shelters, hunting for minbeasts, climbing trees and creating a bug hotel, hedgehog shelter and nature art.

The Forest School takes place in a woodland environment near Gerrards Cross and encompasses a woodland, dell and meadow with an array of flora, fauna and wildlife.

In addition to the Forest School, there are family sessions, stay and play for children and their carers, a holiday club, twilight forest school under the canopy, as well as the opportunity to have a child’s party, bespoke events and courses for schools and nurseries as well as events for adults.

   To find out more about all the activities on offer visit www.underthecanopy.org.uk


An independent education can be for everyone with fee assistance

Independent schools believe having a broad social mix of pupils more appropriately reflects our society and is one of the reasons why many have made funding available for families on lower incomes.

Across all Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools, one third of pupils receive some form of fee assistance.

If you are thinking about an independent school for your child but deterred by the cost, a bursary could well be the answer.
But why should you consider an independent school for your child in the first place?

They tend to have smaller class sizes, excellent exam results and a good record of entry to leading universities.

Many give over a significant amount of time to cultural activities and offer a wide variety of sporting opportunities and some will specialise in these areas.

The pupil to teacher ratio also means independent schools can offer a good level of pastoral care and for that of those with special educational needs.

Look at various schools’ websites and visit as soon as possible to find the one that is right for your child’s needs.

Perhaps your child would benefit from boarding – this is a great option if you live further away. Your child will have the chance to enjoy a wider range of activities. Some schools offer weekly boarding whereby your child will go home at the weekend.

“Will my child fit in?” is a common question when it comes to choosing an independent school, but the inclusive environments full of children from diverse backgrounds means the answer to that is yes!

Look at the fee assistance schemes on offer. Bursaries are means tested and offer a great way for children from hard-working families to be able to afford the fees.

Parents or guardians must complete a declaration to establish if the student meets the criteria, the school will then look at what is realistic for each family to afford and sets a fee accordingly.

Some schools will contribute to extras such as uniforms, books and trips.

Almost 45,000 pupils are on means-tested assistance at ISC schools of which there are 1,385 across the country to choose from.

Some schools also offer scholarships for pupils who are strong academically, musically or excel in sport or art.

   For more information about fee assistance visit www.isc.co.uk


Jo Carroll has the answers when it comes to revision – how long for, when to start and how to improve recall

Then I worked in Sixth Form I saw some revision that lacked focus and planning: students staring at textbooks, mind maps produced for one topic and the rest neglected or endless highlighting until books were full of neon.

I worked with these students to organise their study and give structure and purpose to revision. Each student worked in a unique way and needed tailored support, from this grew my business: Study Mentors – a bespoke study support service. As every student is individual, so are their ways of learning, organising and scheduling study and this is where Study Mentors can make the difference.

I work with students who are preparing for GCSEs, A levels, Common Entrance or those searching for a study system that works for public exams. I explore three strands of study:
• Organisation: are students ready to study with organised subject files and a clear knowledge of all subject topics and the examination process;
• Study Methods: do students know what to do when they start and, if not, we explore and experiment with study and revision techniques;
• Timetables: students reflect on which days and times they work best, think about dedicating parts of their day to study and together we plan specific tasks for specific times using timetables.

I check in regularly with students to promote the mentoring and involve parents in all communications so they can provide support too.

   Contact Jo: [email protected] or call 07906 610202.


CJA Educational Consultancy helps parents find the right school for their child and situation

Over the past 10 years competition for places from nursery to sixth form has become something many parents face in London. Depending on whether you live in the correct catchment and there is a good local school, or decide to choose an independent school, there are different entry routes.

Nursery entrance depends on where you live and availability. Some schools have feeder nurseries and may require an entrance assessment for Reception. Many independent schools set entrance requirements from age 7. Maintained schools often focus on English, maths and/or verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

It is always worth considering schools on the outskirts of London, perhaps less well known and it’s worth considering if boarding is an option?

CJA Educational Consultancy can support parents all the way through education, completing projective reports and researching relevant options depending on where a client lives or plans to live.CJA Educational Consultancy’s top tips:

• Register your child for schools well in advance
• Visit nurseries and schools more than once
• Read Ofsted and ISI reports
• Listen to advice given by your current school
• Ask other parents with older children

   For more information visit www.cjaeducationalconsultancy.com


Caversham’s Thameside Primary School honoured with Inside Out award

Happy children learn better – that’s the straightforward belief of innovative educational charity Inside Out.

The programme is designed to improve the wellbeing of primary school children, inspiring them to be happy inside and out and the charity has just handed out its first award to recognise one school’s exceptional commitment to the happiness and wellbeing of its pupils.

Thameside Primary School in Caversham has put this at the heart of its school life and has deservedly been honoured with the award.

Thameside Primary School headteacher Sophie Greenaway said they were incredibly proud to have been given the accolade. She said: “We have seen tangible benefits on the wellbeing, health and learning of our children. The award means a lot of to the whole school community. I am so pleased that Inside Out is now at the heart of our school curriculum.”

The charity is responding to the growing children’s mental health crisis by helping other schools in the Reading and Oxford area to make these practices part of everyday school life.


Choosing the best school for your child will involve talking to friends, searching online, hunting out reviews, checking fees…

Brigid Meadows, Headteacher at Our Lady’s Abingdon Junior School (OLA)suggests the most important people to hear from are the parents of the children already in the school. This is what ours are saying:

“OLA is a wonderful, nurturing school, full of happy children. It’s been delightful to see our shy daughter thrive and develop a love for learning.” – Nursery Parent

“OLA’s greatest asset is not just the education provided (which is fabulous) but the community that has been created around the school.” – Reception Parent

“Oxfordshire offers many excellent junior schools, but OLA stood out for its supportive and family atmosphere, its stress-free approach to learning, and the broad smiles of its pupils.” – Year 3 Parent
The next opportunity for you to find out more about our school for yourself is our open morning on Saturday, 12th October, 10am to 12.30pm.

If you are interested in your son or daughter attending OLA Junior Shool but are concerned about managing financially, OLA offers bursaries to help. These are awarded to pupils likely to gain most from an OLA education and who will contribute fully to the school. There is a range of possibilities to suit a variety of circumstances.

   Details and an application form are available on our website www.olab.org.uk/Bursaries


Newbury College helps you discover the options available to 16 year olds

Some young people may choose to stay at school, but did you know they could earn UCAS points in vocational courses, in the same way as an A Level? One in four students studying a BTEC Level 3 qualification goes on to university, with others gaining employment in their chosen career, but there are other options

Apprenticeships provide an ideal step into a career as well as an opportunity to upskill in an existing career combining work and study. A modern-day apprenticeship can provide up to Master’s Degree qualification without the need to study full-time at university and with significantly less debt.

The government and the employer pay for training costs, and local learning means there are no relocation or accommodation costs. Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of professions, from traditional areas such as engineering, mechanics and health care to accountancy, business administration, and leadership and management. .

The Newbury College website contains information on the progression routes and earning potential of many popular career choices. This is part of the College’s focus on ‘careers not courses’, an initiative which paves the way to the new T Level qualifications, by providing students with employer-led curriculum and meaningful industry placements.

   Search www.newbury-college.ac.uk to discover how they are changing education.


Kickstart your creative future with a 2-year degree or 1-year diploma

SAE is one of the world’s leading creative media institutions, building on a proud tradition of exceptional post-secondary education spanning 50+ campuses in 25+ countries.

SAE Oxford delivers industry-focused 2-year creative media degrees and 1-year diplomas in Game Art and Animation, Audio Production, Digital Film Production, and subject to demand from January 2020 Games Programming, Music Business and Web Development.

Studying for a 2-year degree at SAE Oxford on the well-located Littlemore campus saves students money, time and also gives them more teaching time than other 3-year courses. Small classes mean students benefit from one-to-one support and flourish under professionals’ guidance. Industry experts give talks to students in the SAE Extra masterclasses sharing tips and tricks.

Many graduates have gone on to great success in the world of gaming, audio and film with some gaining national and international recognition.

   To find out if SAE could be the right move for you, apply today at www.sae.edu/gbr

Education guide: Winter 2019

Round & About

adult learning

School days are the happiest days of your life, right? Check out our education guide and find out how you can make them really top class including information on bird watching, how to choose the right school for you, adult education and work experience.


As we enter a new year, Karen Neville teams up with the RSPB to encourage you and the schoolchildren in your family to spot local birds in your garden.

A staggering 6,764,475 birds were spotted during last year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, thanks in no small part to the thousands of schoolchildren who joined in. Youngsters spotted robins, starlings and blue tits among the millions recorded for the annual count.

And now it’s time to do it all over again to see which ones are thriving and which ones need your help to survive.

The house sparrow was the most common bird again in 2018, happy in both urban and suburban areas. Other birds flying high in the surveys included the goldfinch, long-tailed and coal tit while robins were down, largely due to the mild winter which made food more widely available in the countryside meaning the red-breasted bird didn’t have such a need to visit our gardens.

The birdwatch is 40 years old this year and has grown hugely since youngsters were given the opportunity to get involved in a simple winter activity.

From counting the birds in your garden to determine which are the UK’s top 10 most common species, the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch has become one of the most participated in nature events across the country, enjoyed by young and old.

Only a few hundred children were expected to take part when it started in 1979, but thanks to Blue Peter, more than 34,000 surveys were completed and results gathered.

Now schools turn their classes into conservation zones and help track the ups and downs in bird numbers through a variety of fun activities before, during and after the Big Schools Birdwatch which helps youngsters develop an interest in wildlife and the world around them.

Simple survey sheets are a great way to get started, helping you to count the birds with colourful worksheets designed for three age groups – five to seven years, seven to 11 and 11 to 14-year-olds. Focussing on the most common birds likely to be seen, youngsters are invited to record how many of each one they see and to draw any not included as well as recording any unusual features noticed.

Why not feed the birds as you record them and perhaps even entice a few more into your garden or school grounds? The RSPB has a range of recipe ideas that you can make too – pastry maggots, pine cone lardy seed feeders and a suet and nut log are just some of the tasty treats to encourage feathered friends to feel at home!

Games are also a great way for pupils to learn about the birds around them and recognise them as they take part in the count – try matching pairs of pictures with a fun memory game or how about a “top trumps” game comparing your favourite feathered facts?

However you enjoy the Big Schools Birdwatch, your help is essential to ensure the birds in our gardens and school grounds are protected. The Big Garden Birdwatch takes place from 26th to 28th January and you can submit your findings until Friday, 22nd February.

  To take part visit www.rspb.org.uk 


Choosing a school or nursery for your child can be a case of heart versus head…

At The Royal School, we understand choosing the right school for your child will be one of the most important decisions you ever make.

It is a decision that you will take with your head, having completed all the necessary research, but we know that you will really take it with your heart, based on your knowledge of your child and of his or her particular needs at any given time in their education.

There are many factors that a parent needs to consider. When seeking a nursery for your two-year-old, questions around sleep routines, food, toilet training and managing tears and tantrums will be high on the agenda. When seeking a primary or prep school, you will have questions about curriculum, homework, pupil-teacher ratio, friendships, lunches and wrap around care.

When it comes to selecting a senior school, considerations relating to the curriculum, examination results, behaviour management, ethos, class size, extra-curricular provision and the school environment will be on your mind. And when you are looking for a sixth form, you will want to know about university destinations, examination success, opportunities for the development of life skills and careers education. The list goes on…

Here in the south east, parents are blessed with a wide range of excellent schools and nurseries from which to choose and the choice can sometimes feel rather overwhelming, especially when friends and family also add their opinion into the mix. In the end, the decision is easier than you would think. Take time to visit the schools and nurseries in the area. Look beyond the first impression of bricks and mortar – is there a purposeful buzz of activity? Do the children or young people look happy and engaged? Do the teachers appear passionate about their subject? Is the head teacher approachable?

Choosing a school or nursery is rather like choosing a family home; it can all seem incredibly complicated, but ultimately, it is the one that has the right feel that will be the right choice. This is very personal; one size does not fit all!

By Mrs A Lynch, principal of The Royal School and Mrs K Daunter, head of the Junior School.


Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Here are some reasons why learning in later life is beneficial!

Yes, young brains are most adept at learning languages and skills, but the benefits of taking up a new skill after school age are many!

For those who are recently retired or considering a career change, a lack of direction can be demoralising. Embarking on an adult learning course and picking up new skills can be incredibly rewarding, and fun too.

Signing up to a new course, trying out a new sport, learning a new language or experimenting with a new instrument can boost . It’s important to step outside of your comfort zone from time to time and apply yourself to something completely new. Lifelong learning helps you to continually grow and develop as a person and it’s good for your mental ability if you’re always putting your mind to something new.

Adult education courses significantly benefit learners, a survey by the Workers’ Educational Association suggests. According to the survey of 2,000 adult learners, education boosts confidence about finding employment and benefits local communities.

Of course, we’re constantly told that physical exercise is important for keeping our bodies in good condition, but it’s just as important to keep your mind active, too. Taking in new information helps to stimulate your mind, and studies have proven that this can help to reduce a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

You’re never too old to learn, and with advances in technology making e-learning more accessible than ever, there are no excuses for not giving it a go.

   Visit www.wea.org.uk for more ideas and check out the University of the Third Age.


Don’t be shy of taking your first step into the workplace!

Work experience can be a daunting prospect when you’re in Year 10 and more interested in playing on the X-Box or the latest gossip. But it’s more important than just a week off lessons…

It’s a great way to find out whether a certain type of career is for you. You’ll get the chance to learn new skills, make contacts and experience what it’s like working a whole day.

But where do you begin? A good place to start is follow your passions. Try to do something you’re interested in – if, for example, you love animals, contact any zoos or animal sanctuaries. If being on stage or behind the scenes is your thing, try local theatres.

Once you have a general idea start checking out the businesses and companies in your area as well as speaking to your school careers adviser.

And don’t be disheartened if places you contact aren’t able to help; there are plenty of options. Some companies offer structured placements but competition can be tough so make sure you know what you want and how to ‘sell’ yourself. Many places will expect you to complete an application form too so double check your spelling and grammar when doing so.

Having gained a place, hopefully with your chosen employer, put your nerves aside – a tricky one – and remember to make contact ahead of your placement to confirm details such as times, dress code, what to wear etc and a bit of research on them doesn’t do any harm, either.

You’re now ready for your first proper day at work – make the most of it, you never know where it could lead…