Hob Moor youngsters leave lasting mark on Centre of Excellence on Ascot Way

Children from York have left a lasting mark on an innovative new building.

Work progressing on Ascot Way centre

The Centre for Excellence will provide disabled children, young people and their families with community and overnight short breaks along with support from a wide range of professionals including clinical psychologists.

Children from the adjacent Hob Moor Primary Academy and Hob Moor Oaks school were asked to help with the construction by laying the first bricks and signing their names on the steel which forms the structure of the building.

The scheme – one of the first of its kind in the country – is a partnership between City of York Council and NHS England. It will enable many children and young people with complex needs to access the help and support they and their families need in York.

The brick laying and steel-signing marks a key stage of the project, which should be completed by summer 2020.

The project is being delivered by Sewell Construction.

Philippa Hughes, Housing Lead for the NHS Learning Disability and Autism Programme in Yorkshire and Humber, said: “The NHS is delighted to support this much needed development in the city of York. It’s heartening to see so many school children contributing to a build which will allow so many of their peers to live full and meaningful lives in their communities.”

Martin Standley, Sewell Construction Project Manager, said: “We feel it’s really important for the children to have as much insight as possible into what’s happening close to their school. This helps feed their curiosity but also helps them understand why it’s so important to stay safe near a building site. 

“Building the Centre of Excellence and redeveloping Lincoln Court is a real honour for Sewell Construction so we knew that the children would be just as proud to get involved and make their mark on the site.”

Richard Ludlow, chief executive of Ebor Academy Trust, which operates the Hob Moor academies, said: “We are fully supportive of City of York Council’s forward thinking plans for this Centre of Excellence and I’m pleased they have allowed our children to be a part of it. True partnership working is always at the heart of successful collaborative ventures.”

Councillor Ian Cuthbertson, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “The Centre of Excellence is a landmark building for York, providing a base where children and young people with complex needs and disabilities can receive help and support from a wide range of professionals within the city.

“I’m delighted that local school children have had the chance to put their mark on the building and to be involved at this point in the construction.”

New parents help Register Office raise £6,000 for York’s special babies

The team at City of York Council’s Register Office has raised £6,000 for the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at York Hospital thanks to the generosity of new parents in the city.

York Register Office 56 Bootham, York YO30 7DA

Parents registering a birth are offered a folder in which to keep their new baby’s birth certificate. The folders are supplied free to the office so that every penny of the donations for them from the public goes towards supporting SCBU’s work with ill or premature babies.

The Register Office team, which also offers a death registration service at York Hospital Bereavement Suite and attends a local Sure Start centre to register births, has raised over £39,000 in the last decade.

Amanda Sykes, York Register Office Manager said: “We are delighted that our partnership with the Special Care Baby Unit is continuing to help ill and premature babies across the city.

“This is only made possible through the generosity of our visitors so I would like to thank everyone who has donated. Through our work we get a glimpse into the brilliant work of the Special Care Baby Unit so to raise over £35,000 in the past decade is amazing.”

Sister Beth Howarth from the Special Care Baby Unit said: “We are unbelievably appreciative of this generous gift and would like to say a massive thank you. Donations of any size allow us to go that extra mile for our families at what can be a difficult time. This wonderful donation will allow us to purchase additional equipment which otherwise would not be able to happen; so thank you.”

£5.6 million to be spent upgrading York schools

The York Council is planning to undertake maintenance work over the next few months at 13 schools in the area.

The largest part of the £5.6 million budget has been allocated to Huntington School which will see £987,000 spent on refurbishing the Science Lab with part of the roof also set to be replaced together with the provision of a new kitchen and improved insulation.

Clifton Primary school will receive £944,000. This will see Roofs, Gutters, Windows and External Doors replaced. The building will be rewired, and old pipework replaced.

Westfield school

The Westfield Primary school will get a £686,000 boost. A section of the building will be re-roofed, the playground resurfaced, and a new fire alarm system fitted.

Other work planned includes

The proposals are being discussed at a Council meeting next week.

York parents fined £1800 following prolonged unauthorised school absences

Three York parents have been handed court fines this month after City of York Council took action following their children’s poor attendance at school.

The prosecution was heard by York Magistrates and followed numerous attempts by the authority and schools to engage the parents to give the children the education to which they are entitled.

In all cases, the parents had failed to provide the schools with acceptable reasons for much of their children’s absence and the schools had therefore marked the absence as unauthorised.

The prosecuted parents had, prior to court, failed to engage with the schools and local authority to support their children’s attendance and had also been issued with a fine as an alternative to prosecution. They had not paid it, prompting the council to prosecute.

All three parents were ordered to pay fines ranging between £131 to £660.

Maxine Squire, Assistant Director of Education and Skills at City of York Council, said: “We want all children to receive a great education and benefit from the rich opportunities and high quality of education that are provided by our schools, and working with families and schools to promote and maintain good attendance is vital in achieving this.

“We will always attempt to engage with parents to avoid further loss of a child’s education before we prosecute. This is used as last resort in order to ensure that children receive the education to which they are entitled.”

Residents encouraged to nominate exceptional young people of York for Shine awards

City of York Council is seeking nominations for incredible young people and inspirational adults ahead of the Lord Mayor of York’s Shine Awards.

The annual awards will be held on 11 February 2020 at Vale of York Academy and will celebrate exceptional young people of all ages, from age five to aged 18.

The Shine Awards honour those who have helped others or contributed to their community or school in a positive way, whether as a volunteer or as an inspiration to others.

Nominations categories include arts, sport, voice and participation, young volunteer and community champion, with potential new categories created, depending on the submissions.

Nominees are also being taken for the Ann Mckeown Award for Excellence and Inspirational Work with children and young people, for adults aged over 18. In memory of Ann McKeown, former York Head Teacher and supporter of the Lord Mayor’s Shine Awards.

Adults submitted for the award may include inspirational teachers, youth workers or volunteers who have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of children and young people.

To receive or submit application forms, please email tim.waudby@york.gov.uk by Friday 20 December 2019. Nominations can also be made through staff or professionals that hold contact details of the young person.

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Janet Looker said: “York’s community is incredibly charitable and inspiring, and I look forward to honouring the young people who have made a real difference to others and the city.

“I would like to encourage residents to nominate someone they know who has had a positive impact on the community, and deserves to be recognised and thanked for their contribution.”

What’s on in York: Fairietold

Acomb Explore Library

October 29th @ 10:00 am – 10:45 am

 £4

Think you know your fairytales? Think again.

Deep in the heart of the forest, you may come across the storytellers. Cross their palm with silver and be transported into a world beyond your own. Things might seem familiar but don’t be deceived – spooky fun lurks around every corner!
Twisting immersive storytelling with puppetry and live folk-music, Hoglets will bring you traditional fairytales retold. Perfect for a spooky family Halloween.

£4 per person. Under 2s free with a paying adult. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Tickets can be bought in person at any Explore York Library or by ringing York Explore 01904 552828, Acomb Explore 01904 552651 or Tang Hall Explore 01904 552655

Deadline for secondary school applications nears

Parents of children currently in Year 6 are reminded that applications for secondary schools places for September 2020 should be made before midnight on Thursday 31 October.

For pupils in Year 6 – the last year of primary school – parents and carers can apply for a maximum of five schools and City of York Council recommends that at least one preference should be the catchment school

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

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

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

“Last year, 91.5% per cent of pupils in the secondary school admission round secured their first preference. Our staff have worked hard to ensure that our schools have enough places for all applicants and we will let students know about their allocated school on National Offer Day on 2 March next year”.

York playgrounds to get overdue refurbishment

…but there is a catch

The York council plans a £250,000 make-over of playgrounds in York. Their plans will be discussed at a meeting next week. The initiative is welcome, but the timetable produced means that improvements in our parks will not be evident until late next year.

Many of York’s playgrounds are poorly maintained with litter, weeds and dog fouling common problems

Standards in many parks and playgrounds have declined in recent years. They have been an easy target for Council expenditure cuts. As a result, it has been left to volunteers to undertake minor refurbishment work while items of broken equipment have often remained unusable for months on end.

The Liberal Democrats – who are now part of the leadership of the Council – advocated for many years that at least one piece of equipment at each major playground should be renewed each year. This would have ensured that there was something novel to engage children’s interest on a regular basis while avoiding the whole-scale decline, and eventual expensive renewal, of complete play areas.  This approach seems set to be abandoned by the new Council leadership.

We agree with the report, which has been written by officials, when it says “Whilst the number and geographical spread of equipped playgrounds is therefore generally good, their play value is more varied. This reflects their age and sporadic local and national investment that has been available”.

The report promises an “audit” of all playgrounds with a view to identifying “urgent investment needs e.g. replacement swings, seats, surfacing repairs”. The budget for this work will be £150,000. The report lists the qualifying play areas but omits some such as the one  in Dickson Park on Tedder Road.

More controversial, is an allocation of £100,000 as a “challenge fund” for larger refurbishment schemes. One feature of these is that matching funding will be expected from parishes or social housing providers. In theory the fund will be available in non parished areas but the examples of fund raising quoted in the report (Poppleton, West Bank Park) refer to typical “Middle England” neighbourhoods where fund raising for new amenities is relatively easy.

It’s potentially bad news for areas like Westfield (the statistically poorest part of the City) which also has a high proportion of under 16’s in its population

The area has suffered badly as a result of recent Council decisions which have seen the removal of open spaces, sports facilities and the multi user games area at Kingsway West and Lowfields.

It seems that it may also be last in the queue for improved play facilities.

Decision session considers ‘uplift’ to foster carers’ fees

City of York Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education will consider plans to provide an increase to York foster carers’ fees at a decision session next week (15 October).

Cllr Ian Cuthbertson will review recommendations made in an independent report into the council’s foster carers’ fee increase, which was commissioned following a decision to cease the uplift in January 2019.

The foster carers’ uplift had been annually linked to any rise in social workers’ salary, but this was ceased so that the funding could be used to provide an enhanced training and support package for foster carers.

The independent report was commissioned following feedback from York Area Foster Carer Association (YAFCA).

The executive member will be asked to consider a number of recommendations in the report, including implementing the fee uplift for foster carers on level one and two of the grading structure in 2019/20, holding an annual conference for foster carers, and also setting out a clear framework for future consultation and communication on decisions relating to the carers.

The decision session takes place on Tuesday 15 October at West Offices from 4pm and is open to members of the public or is available to watch later online from: www.york.gov.uk/webcasts

To find out more about the report, or to attend, visit:

Cllr Ian Cuthbertson, Executive Member for Children, Young people and Education, City of York Council, said: “Foster carers are an essential part of our support for some of York’s most vulnerable children and young people.

“We recognise the important contribution that foster carers make to our city and we are committed to working in partnership with them.”