Category Archives: Education

Talented Fylde coast teens performing play in Fleetwood twice today after pandemic delays

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A cast of talented young actors who have seen their show delayed three times by the pandemic have finally been able to stage it – and will be on stage this afternoon and this evening.

 

(Left to right) Phoebe Coulon, Emma Binns, Katie Pennington, Beth Cartmell, Charlotte Goodson, Phoebe Mason, Amelia Zubrzycki, Jessica Grimshaw, Alice Hurt

(Left to right) Phoebe Coulon, Emma Binns, Katie Pennington, Beth Cartmell, Charlotte Goodson, Phoebe Mason, Amelia Zubrzycki, Jessica Grimshaw, Alice Hurt

The Cou-Cou Theatre are performing ‘Daisy Pull it Off’, an hilarious parody of wholesome adventure stories about life in a 1920s girls’ English boarding school.

The play is being staged at the Marine Hall, Fleetwood, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm and tickets are still available for both performances on the non-professional production..

Sophie and Nikita Coulon, sisters from Blackpool and founders of Cou-Cou, are thrilled to be finally putting on the play.

Charlotte Goodson and Jessica Grimshaw in Daisy Pulls it Off

Charlotte Goodson and Jessica Grimshaw in Daisy Pulls it Off

Nikita, 33, of Seventh Avenue, South Shore, Blackpool, said: “This production has been in the making for for two years.

“Like many, the pandemic has affected our journey to the stage, but this wonderful cast are ready and raring to finally head into the spotlight!

“This group of teens and young adults have worked extremely hard and faced many challenges over the last two years.

“During that time a couple of members left and we had to re-cast the roles.

“We were supposed to perform it last year, first in April, then the July and then the October.

“At one point we were trying to rehearse over Zoom and it was sometimes tough to believe we could actually put the show on.

“I think when our actors finally saw the props and how things were progressing, it encouraged them and we finally pulled it off!

In the play, energetic Daisy Meredith, a girl from a poor background, is forced to face and overcome snobbish prejudice and schoolgirl pranks from the wealthier girls.

She and her best friend, zany Trixie Martin, search for the missing treasure that could save the fortunes of the exclusive Grangewood School for Young Ladies.

Daisy is played by Charlotte Goodson and Trixie is played by Jessica Grimshaw, while Phoebe Coulon plays Clare Beaumont and Rowan Keane plays both Mr Scoblowski and Mr Thompson.

Rowan is aged 22 and a veteran of local shows, while the rest of the talented cast is aged from 13 to 18.

The play is by Denise Deegan, based on Winifred Norling’s 1939 novel ‘The Testing of Tansy’.

The ticket office is open all day, with wheelchair seats available. Phone (01253) 887693.

Adult tickets cost £10, concessions/Children £8.

 

 

Blackpool offers some of the best chances in country for an outstanding school place

Home | Blackpool Gazette

These figures were calculated by a mortgage brokering firm as secondary school application season nears an end.

 

With secondary school applications for September 2022 closing in three weeks times, on October 31, new data has revealed that pupils across Blackpool have some of the best chances in the country of securing an outstanding primary or secondary school place.

The research from mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages analysed the number of three and ten year olds in each local area against the number of outstanding primary and secondary schools, based on Ofsted’s latest inspection reports.

Blackpool placed fourth in the overall rankings for having the best access to outstanding schools, with 19 outstanding schools (13 primary and 6 secondary) within five miles of the centre of Blackpool catering for 3,277 pupils aged three and ten-year-olds, which equated to 172.5 pupils per outstanding school.

New research places Blackpool fourth in terms of outstanding school places available per pupil.

New research places Blackpool fourth in terms of outstanding school places available per pupil.

Norwich (111.3 pupils per school), Newcastle (144.7) and Liverpool (163.3) completed the top three, whilst on the other end of the scale, Swindon (2,905 pupils per school), Peterborough (1,536) and Bath (1,333) had the most competitive catchment areas.

Nearby Lancaster placed 19th in the rankings, with 9 outstanding schools (7 primary and 2 secondary) within five miles of the centre of the city catering for 2,972 pupils aged three and ten-year-olds (330.2 pupils per school).

More specifically, Blackpool places fourth for outstanding secondary school places and fifth for primary school places.

As well as providing insight for parents on their chances for September 2022, the research also looked at how an outstanding school catchment area can affect homeowners with experts at Zoopla suggesting it can add an extra £29,000 to a property’s value.

Richard Hayes, CEO and Co-Founder of Mojo Mortgages, said: “While the 2021/22 academic year may have only just begun, for the parents of three and ten year olds across the country, thoughts will already be turning to applications for September next year.

“We all want to give our children the access to the best possible education and a place at an outstanding school is an obvious way to maximise chances of doing this. However, it’s clear that the opportunities to secure a place at one of these schools does vary quite drastically across England.

“For those living in the most competitive areas and hoping to use catchment areas as a means of securing a place it’s important to be realistic about your chances of finding a property in the coming months. Whereas for homeowners in these areas thinking about selling in the near future, this could be a prime opportunity to make your home even more attractive to families before it goes to market.”

Applications for September 2022 entry for secondary school places close on Sunday 31st October 2021, while for primary school places you have until Saturday 15 January 2022.

To find out more about the findings, click here.

 

 

Blackpool headteacher replaced after quitting to work full-time in football at FC United of Manchester, the club set up in protest at the Glazer family’s ownership of Man Utd

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Former deputy headteacher and acting head at South Shore Academy, Rebecca Warhurst, has been given the job full-time.

 

She will replace Neil Reynolds, who this year quit to work full-time at FC United of Manchester as head of football and academy principal.

Ruth Coupe, executive principal at the school, in St Annes Road, told parents yesterday Mrs Warhurst would take up the post “with immediate effect”.

She said she “stood out as an exceptional candidate” during a “rigorous selection process”.

Rebecca Warhurst, the new headteacher at South Shore Academy as of Monday, October 11, 2021

Rebecca Warhurst, the new headteacher at South Shore Academy as of Monday, October 11, 2021

“Her extensive experience, passion and commitment to the pupils and to our whole school community, together with her relentless drive to continue to raise standards, will ensure we continue our journey of excellence,” Mrs Coupe said.

FC United of Manchester, which was set up in protest at the Glazer family’s ownership of Man Utd, said Mr Reynolds would “help develop our academy, working with schools and young people across Manchester”.

Mr Reynolds, who started his new job at the start of September after announcing in July he would be leaving South Shore Academy, said: “I knew as soon as I walked through the door at FC United that this is a special club.

“I’ve always wanted to move into football full time, so to do that at FC United really is a dream come true.”

Now a semi-professional club playing in the Northern Premier League Premier Division – the seventh tier of the English football league system – FC United of Manchester was founded in 2005 by Man Utd fans opposed to American businessman Malcolm Glazer’s takeover.

 

 

Blackpool offers some of the best chances in country for an outstanding school place

Home | Blackpool Gazette

These figures were calculated by a mortgage brokering firm as secondary school application season nears an end.

 

With secondary school applications for September 2022 closing in three weeks times, on October 31, new data has revealed that pupils across Blackpool have some of the best chances in the country of securing an outstanding primary or secondary school place.

The research from mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages analysed the number of three and ten year olds in each local area against the number of outstanding primary and secondary schools, based on Ofsted’s latest inspection reports.

Blackpool placed fourth in the overall rankings for having the best access to outstanding schools, with 19 outstanding schools (13 primary and 6 secondary) within five miles of the centre of Blackpool catering for 3,277 pupils aged three and ten-year-olds, which equated to 172.5 pupils per outstanding school.

New research places Blackpool fourth in terms of outstanding school places available per pupil.

New research places Blackpool fourth in terms of outstanding school places available per pupil.

Norwich (111.3 pupils per school), Newcastle (144.7) and Liverpool (163.3) completed the top three, whilst on the other end of the scale, Swindon (2,905 pupils per school), Peterborough (1,536) and Bath (1,333) had the most competitive catchment areas.

Nearby Lancaster placed 19th in the rankings, with 9 outstanding schools (7 primary and 2 secondary) within five miles of the centre of the city catering for 2,972 pupils aged three and ten-year-olds (330.2 pupils per school).

More specifically, Blackpool places fourth for outstanding secondary school places and fifth for primary school places.

As well as providing insight for parents on their chances for September 2022, the research also looked at how an outstanding school catchment area can affect homeowners with experts at Zoopla suggesting it can add an extra £29,000 to a property’s value.

Richard Hayes, CEO and Co-Founder of Mojo Mortgages, said: “While the 2021/22 academic year may have only just begun, for the parents of three and ten year olds across the country, thoughts will already be turning to applications for September next year.

“We all want to give our children the access to the best possible education and a place at an outstanding school is an obvious way to maximise chances of doing this. However, it’s clear that the opportunities to secure a place at one of these schools does vary quite drastically across England.

“For those living in the most competitive areas and hoping to use catchment areas as a means of securing a place it’s important to be realistic about your chances of finding a property in the coming months. Whereas for homeowners in these areas thinking about selling in the near future, this could be a prime opportunity to make your home even more attractive to families before it goes to market.”

Applications for September 2022 entry for secondary school places close on Sunday 31st October 2021, while for primary school places you have until Saturday 15 January 2022.

To find out more about the findings, click here.

 

 

Blackpool Council’s new literacy strategy aims to get the resort reading

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Building up some budding Blackpool bookworms is the aim of the council’s new literacy strategy, which is being launched to encourage resort residents to bury their noses in a book.

 

The challenge, part of a new 10-year literacy strategy, is being launched by Blackpool Council to improve the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of residents across the resort.

It is open to all residents, businesses, employers and employees, and aims to build a positive reading culture through the discovery of reading for pleasure.

Families are being encouraged to read for pleasure for half an hour a day, parents are asked to read to their children or siblings read to each other, and chat to each other about the story.

Statistics showed proficiency in reading skills across the resort started to decline by the time a child reached key stage four at school.

Statistics showed proficiency in reading skills across the resort started to decline by the time a child reached key stage four at school.

Exploring words or using new vocabulary in conversation together is also part of the challenge.

Reading for pleasure is a key part of developing individual literacy skills and can lead to personal development, the council said.

A spokesman for the town hall said: “We want to see more residents reading, whether that is their local newspaper or an online review of a film they are considering watching.

“We want to encourage more of it, so we have introduced a 30 minute reading challenge.

“Attainment in Blackpool shows a picture of some challenges in the Early Years (EYFS) with good performance by the end of primary school and a significant drop-off by the end of secondary school, although this is showing early indicators of improvement.”

Statistics showed that 67.9 per cent of Blackpool youngsters in EYFS – pre-school and reception – achieved a “good level of development,” and 67 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standard for maths, reading and writing by the end of primary school.

However, by the time they reach Year 10, just 47.8 per cent of pupils achieved a nine to four pass in English and maths, significantly lower than the national average of 59.8 per cent.

A nine to five pass rate stood at 26.3 per cent, lower than the national average of 40.1 per cent.

The challenge forms one part of the town’s 10-year education strategy, which was unveiled in October last year and aims to improve prospects for Blackpool pupils.

Other ambitions include to reduce the number of youngsters expelled from schools and improve literacy among adults so they can play their part in teaching their children.

The vision is the result of a joint effort from Blackpool Council and the partners within the Blackpool Education Improvement Board (BEIB).

The literacy strategy also includes a pledge that calls on schools, colleges and businesses in Blackpool to join the campaign to champion literacy.

The aim is to establish a reading culture across Blackpool that pledges that all employers and companies will promote reading for pleasure across all ages.

Figures in 2011 showed Blackpool had a greater proportion of adults that do not have an Entry Level One qualification in English than anywhere else in the North West, and resort residents are statistically less likely to have a qualification in English at Level Two or above compared to elsewhere in the region.

A spokesman continued: “A significant element of this strategy is the notion that “you are never too old to learn,” and so there are also significant key performance indicators related to adult literacy levels.

“We must, therefore, strive to raise the level of adult literacy in Blackpool so that it is at least in-line with national averages.”

 

 

Medical advice reiterated after anti-vacc protest outside Lytham St Annes High School

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Fylde Council’s leader has reiterated the advice of leading medical officers following the anti-vaccine protest outside Fylde’s biggest school on Thursday.

 

Campaigners against the Covid vaccine waved placards bearing their message and in some cases approach pupils as they left at the end of the school day at Lytham St Annes High School in Ansdell.

Fylde Council leader Coun Karen Buckley said of the incident: “While people have the right to peacefully protest and express their views, this demonstration occurred at a very busy time of the day, which posed an additional safety risk to school children and staff, road users and other members of the public.

“Staff at Lytham St Annes High School managed the situation extremely well.

Fylde Council leader Karen Buckley

Fylde Council leader Karen Buckley

Head’s statement after anti-vacc protest outside Lytham St Annes High School

“The UK’s Chief Medical Officers all agree that while Covid-19 is usually mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some.

“They have also agreed that one dose of the vaccine will provide a good level of protection against severe illness and hospitalisation, help to keep children in classrooms and reduce the spread of the virus within schools.”

It is thanks to our loyal readers that we can continue to provide the trusted news, analysis and insight that matters to you. For unlimited access to our unrivalled local reporting, you can take out a subscription here and help support the work of our dedicated team of reporters.

 

 

Blackpool school kids ‘could miss out’ on Scotland trip after minibus theft

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Staining CE Primary School has had to use alternative transport to take the pupils to their swimming lessons

 

Staining CE Primary School had their minibus had their minibus stolen from school premises on September 23
Staining CE Primary School had their minibus had their minibus stolen from school premises on September 23

A primary school near Blackpool has had its minibus stolen meaning pupils are left missing out on ‘integral’ school trips.

Staining CE Primary School had their minibus, donated from Lancashire County Council, stolen from the school premises last Thursday, September 23, at approximately 11pm.

In a letter sent out by the school to parents and carers, headteacher Jennifer Shoulders, explained that the theft could result in the cancellation of some ‘exciting’ trips away – including a residential to Scotland.

“We have absolutely no idea who would want to take the minibus – it is branded with our school logo all over and is therefore quite distinctive,” she said.

“It is such a shame – we have worked hard to be in the unique position of being a primary school with a minibus and we have built an exciting new curriculum around it.”

The school had lots of trips lined up for pupils, including a year 6 residential visit to Lockerbie Manor Activity Centre in Scotland. They had also used the minibus for swimming lessons at Poulton Leisure Centre, ‘adventurous activities and visits’ that could only take place with the transport of the minibus.

Mrs Shoulders wrote: “It is incredibly expensive to use coaches etc. for such frequent experiences and so the minibus has become an integral part of life at Staining. We use the minibus all the time and so now, unfortunately, we are in danger of the children missing out – something we are not willing to let happen.”

The Ford Transit 17 seater minibus was stolen from the school premises on Thursday September 23 at approximately 11pm
The Ford Transit 17 seater minibus was stolen from the school premises on Thursday September 23 at approximately 11pm

Mrs Shoulders assured parents and carers that they ‘will do everything’ they can do get the minibus back, but in the meantime had asked ‘parent volunteers to help shuttle children to local events so the children can still take part.’

The school are looking into ‘how to get a replacement bus (physically and financially) as quickly as possible and with as little disruption to the curriculum as possible.’

Mrs Shoulders wrote: “We are still in shock that someone would do such a thing to a primary school.”

Since the minibus was stolen Bonnie Montgomery, School Business Manager, has started a fundraiser to replace the ‘vital resource’ for the children.

Bonnie said: “This is an integral part of the school life and it is such a shame – we have worked hard to be in the unique position of being a primary school with a minibus and we have built an exciting new curriculum around it. We use the minibus all the time and so now, unfortunately, we are in danger of the children missing out.”

Bonnie told LancsLive that Boundary Primary School on Dinmore Avenue, Blackpool, had “very kindly loaned their bus” for two days this week, so pupils can continue their climbing and swimming lessons.

“The response so far has been good considering it was only set up on Tuesday, we need to start looking at what we need to do going forward.”

You can donate to the fundraiser here.

 

 

 

Mereside Primary Academy in Blackpool and charity URPotential team up to promote LGBTQ+ diversity

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Blackpool primary school intends to fly the rainbow flag for diversity as it begins a year-long mission to promote inclusivity among pupils.

 

Mereside Primary Academy in Langdale Road has embarked on a journey to become the first school in Blackpool to work towards an award to promote diversity in the school.

The Rainbow Flag Award is a quality assurance framework with a focus on positive LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, plus other related identities) inclusion for all schools and colleges, delivered by Central Drive-based charity URPotential.

URPotential is working with Mereside towards the Rainbow Flag Award, to encourage a whole-organisation approach to LGBT+ inclusion, as well as developing ways to challenge and combat LGBT-phobic bullying.

Kayley Miller and Jen Macdonald from Mereside Academy (front), with Jade Holloway, Nina Beavers and Molly Houghton from URPotential. Pic: Mereside Academy

Kayley Miller and Jen Macdonald from Mereside Academy (front), with Jade Holloway, Nina Beavers and Molly Houghton from URPotential. Pic: Mereside Academy

Over the next year, teachers Jen Macdonald and Kayley Miller, newly-trained designated diversity leads, will be leading the project across the academy in a bid to implement positive changes to promote positive LGBT+ inclusion and visibility.

Nina Beavers, LGBTQ+ coordinator at URPotential, explained more about the award and how it benefits Fylde coast pupils.

“We’re seeing more and more younger pupils expressing themselves in terms of sexuality and gender at a younger age,” she said.

“What we found is that teachers want to support them, but aren’t sure how to, so this is how this training has come about. Teachers don’t have the knowledge or skills, and don’t have a lot of experience with LGBT pupils because they aren’t taught about it when they’re at university.

“There are different resources we recommend for primary pupils, and others for secondary pupils. For primary pupils, they might be reading a story book with two penguin dads, as an example.

“While teaching geography, they might be taught about different communities, what flags are there in Great Britain? Maybe teachers could pop a rainbow flag in there and discuss that.

“It’s about promoting diversity and inclusion, it’s about children feeling comfortable in their own skin and feeling free to express themselves and be who they are. We’re helping staff in schools understand how to support these pupils and their families, and help other pupils to understand it.”

John Topping from Fylde Coast Academy Trust, which runs the school, said: “Mereside hopes to become a flagship school in the north west for the award.

“We will aim to work in association with URPotential and use materials from the Proud Trust to promote the core values of the award and involve all stakeholders in the school.

“The award is intended to promote a better understanding of how different people choose to live their lives, promote tolerance and kindness to others and respect for the LGBTQ+ community in particular.”

The Rainbow Flag Award is a programme designed for all Fylde coast schools to take part in.

The next cohort of schools is being enrolled in January 2022.

For more information, email rainbowflagaward@urpotential.co.uk .

 

 

Turf-cutting ceremony signals a new era for Lytham St Annes High School

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Work has begun on rebuilding Fylde’s largest school.

 

Lytham St Annes High School pupils, headteacher Ray Baker, Fylde MP Mark Menzies, Fylde mayor Coun Elaine Silverwood, representatives of the Department for Education and staff from construction firm Wates Group gathered for a turf cutting ceremony at the school in Ansdell to mark the start of the development.

The building will be net-carbon-zero once construction is complete and is one of the first schemes in the Government’s School Rebuilding Programme to reach the construction phase.

Headteacher Ray Baker said: “LSA is a wonderfully happy, vibrant and exciting school. Knowing that we will be able to match our buildings and general environment to our ambition is brilliant.

Lytham St Annes High School pupils and staff with guests at the ceremony

Lytham St Annes High School pupils and staff with guests at the ceremony

Lytham St Annes High School to be demolished as new school plan is approved

“Simple things like improved toilet access, catering facilities and the more efficient use of large spaces will make a great difference.

“We have designed something here that our students will be proud of. It is something that we think the local community can be proud of too.

“The fact that our current building has been able to make the most of our tired surroundings is testament to the behaviour of our children and care of our site team.

“Money that was once reserved for daily maintenance can be reduced and diverted into other aspects of school life.

Modern construction techniques mean the new two-storey school block and sports hall will be ready for pupils in 2023. The building will make use of passive ventilation chimneys, mechanical heat recovery systems and on-site offsetting of energy use through a bisolar roof system.

Mr Menzies said: “I know the excellent leadership and teaching staff will ensure young people in Lytham and St Annes get the most out of this investment.

“This is a school at the heart of the community and with this new building will go from strength to strength offering young people the very best start in life.”

Department for Education’s operations group director general Mike Green and Sir James Wates of Wates Group were among those at the turf cutting ceremony.

Gary Campbell-Dykes, education director at Wates, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Department for Education on this exciting and innovative project.”

The building is one of 100 projects funded by a £2bn investment through the School Rebuilding Programme.

It is thanks to our loyal readers that we can continue to provide the trusted news, analysis and insight that matters to you. For unlimited access to our unrivalled local reporting, you can take out a subscription here and help support the work of our dedicated team of reporters.

 

 

Anti-vax protesters target Lytham St Annes High School

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Protesters holding yellow placards turned up outside Lytham St Annes High School today for an anti-vaccine demonstration.

 

One of the protester's placards

One of the protester’s placards

The group told parents and pupils coming out of the school that children were now being targeted by the Government with the “un-tested ” vaccine and claimed several youngsters had died this week as a result of taking it.

One protester said they were there to “help save lives” and get the message out about the dangers of the vaccine, as this was being suppressed.

But many parents were furious that the protesters were speaking to children as they came out of the school and frightening them with alarming comments – telling girls the vaccine could stop them having children.

The school itself, on Worsley Road in Ansdell, was so concerned about the presence of the protesters that it send out a letter to parents, while police also attended the scene to monitor the situation.

Parent Claire Thomas, 42, said she was incensed after one prostrater approached her 11 year old daughter, Mia, and told her the vaccination might make her infertile.

Claire, a primary school teacher, said: “Mia is in year 7 and has only been in school four weeks.

“This protester went up to her and asked if she wanted babies, because the vaccine could make her infertile.

“It is a good job Mia is sensible and that she phoned me and I could tell her to just ignore it.

“I am all for people having the right to protest and being able to express their opinions, but not to camp outside a school and frighten children.

“They were blocking the pavement with huge placards which was totally unsafe.

“In what way do they think that is acceptable behavior?”

In a letter to parents, head teacher Ray Baker said: “At the end of school today, our students were targeted by a very small number of protesters based on the pavement on Albany Road.

“They were holding signs and some were shouting comments about the Covid19 vaccine.

“We called the police who attended and school provided a very large staff presence, which ensured the vast majority of children were able to pass quietly and safely.

“Some older students chose to engage with the protesters creating some congestion.

“We will continue to keep a high staff presence at the end of the day and work closely with the police but would ask you to reassure your child about the safety of walking home.

“We will contact parents tomorrow if we need to make temporary changes to our procedures at the end of the school day.

“As a school we champion the freedom of opinion, but this protest at the end of a school day, created additional risk to students, other pedestrians and drivers.

“The nature of the protest made it very difficult to engage without causing congestion, so we would ask children to keep moving past any protests quickly to ensure a safe end to the school day, in the event of further protests.

“Please be assured that tomorrow’s letter from the NHS about vaccinations and the consent form will have the relevant and official links and information from the NHS regarding the vaccine.

“I am so sorry that there was such a tense and unpleasant end to the day.”

Mr Baker was not available to comment about the incident.