20 of York’s primary schools are set to take part in Walk to School Week 2021, which runs from 14 to 28 June. This year the event includes activities taking place on Clean Air Day on 17 June.
Locally, around 6,400 students from 20 different schools will get involved. The annual awareness-raising event aims to encourage children and their families to walk, cycle or scoot to and from school, rather than travelling by car. This year the event will have a particular focus on the impact of pollution on our health, encouraging families to make a sustainable change to improve local air quality near schools.
Coinciding with Walk to School Week this year is Clean Air Day on 17 June. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK. The World Health Organisation and the Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today.
Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues*. Clean Air day is being promoted through the council’s hard-hitting campaign, Kick the Habit: which aims to to help tackle this problem in York www.york.gov.uk/engineoff
Residents of all ages can find out more about sustainable travel options by visiting www.itravelyork.info
Despite the challenges of Covid, lockdowns and national restrictions, the Duke of Edinburgh Award is flourishing.
Currently in York there are 661 young people doing Bronze, 323 Silver and 220 Gold participants. Last year 108 young people from across York successfully completing their Award, including over 3000 hours of volunteering in our local communities.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award offers young people an opportunity to get involved in charity and sporting activities, refining their skills and supporting their local communities. The Award is regarded highly and many young people in York choose to enrol at school. This month over 100 young people are starting their Bronze Award at Fulford School.
Over the last year the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) has adapted to the new challenges, and young people are still giving up their time to develop themselves and support their community whilst demonstrating their determination and resilience.
Councillor Keith Orrell, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education said:
The last year has been an enormous challenge for all of us, and to see these young people still continue to work so hard and achieve so much is inspiring.
“This award is a testament to the incredible legacy to the Duke of Edinburgh which has given joy and support to so many young people.
“The awards offer fun, adventure and big challenges to anyone aged 14 to 24, and enhance the offering of activities from our schools and communities. We are proud to be part of this scheme, widely recognised as one of the world’s leading youth achievement schemes, and I applaud all those who’ve pushed their personal boundaries to earn their award.”
“In 2020 all our lives profoundly changed. Schools closed, activities stopped and young people felt isolated. For some, taking part in DofE has been an essential support when their lives have felt like they were crumbling. Over the last year we have been reminded of the value of connecting, communication and community. These incredible young people have chosen to spend their time in our community making a better world.”
When most people associate DofE with expeditions, this is just a small part of the DofE challenge. During the expeditions young people have to independently navigate a route through the countryside then camp and cook for themselves – whatever the weather. To complete their aware they must also have done months of voluntary work, physical activities and built up their skills in a chosen hobby. This combination helps make young people rounded, engaged and dedicated young citizens.
Whilst many of them faced problems where their chosen activities were cut short by covid restrictions, this didn’t stop them rising to the challenge.
Toby Eastaugh, Principal of Vale of York Academy, said:
“The Duke of Edinburgh Award runs in Year 10 and 11 at the Vale of York Academy and is held in high regard among students, staff and parents.
The award allows students to develop resilience, confidence, leadership and above all support their physical and mental well-being.
“Even though the pandemic has halted many things this year, we continue to work without young people on the award and have lots of plans to get students back out of the classroom next summer. As a Principal, it is very pleasing to see our students engaging in the award, a provision which supports our motto ‘Always giving the best”.
Examples of local activities
Alexus had been volunteering at his local library. Once lockdown started he became a really valuable friend and support to his Granddad. He not only tended his garden and helped with cleaning and care, he also taught his Granddad to use new technology so that he could keep in contact with the world at large.
Cyd switched her volunteering to helping an anxious family friend to relax by giving them on-line art tutorials.
Henry was a young leader at his local Scout Group for a year, helping with camps plus activities and badges.
Neve was tap dancing for her physical section. When she could no longer attend classes she continued to practice at home and still danced in a planned show – adapted to be online.
Luke, a keen club squash player could no longer play regularly, so switched to PE with Joe Wickes for his Physical activity.
Numerous young participants took over cooking family meals or doing challenging baking during lockdown for their skills. Many have spent time learning to play a new instrument, or honing their skills on one that they already played. When participants could no longer attend their usual clubs, they enrolled on online courses ranging from money management to robotics to develop a new skill.
Participant Jansen completed his Silver Expedition on the North Yorkshire Moors, developing teamwork and resilience.
Before the Covid restrictions Nicole was able to do her Gold Volunteering at Respite Centre. She assisted in a variety of tasks which included helping with mealtime assistance, accompany them on outings to places of interest, serving meals, supporting with daytime and evening activities.
Two of York’s specialist schools could benefit from a £2.67m investment if plans are approved by City of York Council’s Executive later this month (20 May).
The Executive will be asked to approve plans for capital works at Applefields Special School, which supports secondary aged students, with a wide range of special educational needs; and Danesgate which is home to York’s Pupil Referral Unit and supports young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.
The proposals recognise the continued rise in pupil numbers at Applefields over the last four years and a need to better support the needs of children and young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs at Danesgate.
Members will be asked to approve plans to approve works to adapt existing office and break out space into classrooms at Applefields, ready for the September 2021 intake. The proposals would enable the school to support the increasing number of young people with highly complex needs, such as those with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), autism, and those with the highest level of social and emotional need.
Phase 2 of the project would see the creation of essential administrative space and, if approved, would be completed by September 2022. The total value of the works is approximately £765,000. Remodelling and reorganisation of the site at Danesgate is needed to reflect the changing needs of the children and young people using the centre, with increasing numbers of pupils having communication and interaction needs.
The proposals also recognise the rising number of children and young people who are unable to attend school with their peers due to mental health needs and an increasing need to have more bespoke provision for many students who display anxieties, including specific intervention and break out spaces.
The proposed capital works at Danesgate would see the reconfiguration of the current buildings, to create smaller classrooms and breakout spaces, enabling the centre to meet the varied needs of pupils. The total cost of the proposed works is £1.9m.
Cllr Keith Orrell, the council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said:
We know that the number of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, including those with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs, across the city is continuing to increase. As a city committed to supporting all our residents, it’s important that we ensure that we are able to provide the right support to enable all our children and young people to fulfil their individual potential.
Parents who made written applications will receive a letter confirming their admission arrangements.
Anyone who didn’t receive their first choice of school will also receive written information.
School admissions figures
We’ve provided this year’s and last year’s admission figures as a comparison.
Primary school figures 2021
Primary school figures 2020
Junior school figures 2021
Junior school figures 2020
The total size of the cohort starting school in September 2021 is 1,753 pupils, compared to 1,860 last year.
Nine pupils didn’t get any of their preferences. These were largely made up of parents or carers who did not apply for their child’s catchment school – despite being advised to do so – preferring instead to apply for schools a considerable distance from their home.
Councillor Keith Orrell,Executive Member for Education, Children and Young People, said:
I’m delighted that so many children will be able to attend their first choice of primary school this year. Starting primary school is such an exciting milestone. I wish all those starting a new school in September the very best of luck.
Any parent whose children may be eligible for free school meals – one of a number of benefits that come with applying for the pupil premium – should apply through their online account at www.york.gov.uk/ParentPortal.
Families across the city will have access to a holiday activity programme this Easter.
The programme is being funded through the government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF), which provides healthy food and activities to targeted children.
The Easter sessions, which will be held at a number of schools in York, will be used as pilots, with plans to roll the scheme out to more children during the summer holidays.
Cllr Keith Orrell, City of York Council’s Executive member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “School holidays can be a difficult time for some families, particularly with increased food and childcare costs.
“The Easter break marks the first time York has received HAF funding and I hope that this will be the start of a much bigger programme of targeted, enriching activities and healthy food for children and young people, building on the fantastic work that is already taking place across the city.”
Children and young people who are eligible to take part in the programme will be contacted directly by their school.
Secondary school admission figures for entry in September 2021 reveal that 93 per cent of York children – 1793 – have been allocated their first preference of school.
This is an increase of 4.4 per cent on last year’s figures.
City of York Council’s figures published today (1 March) show that 98.2 per cent of pupils got one of their five preferences, an increase of 1.9 per cent on last year’s figures.
Parents who applied online can find out where their child has been allocated a place by logging into their parent portal account today via www.york.gov.uk/SecondarySchoolAdmissions. Parents who made written applications will receive a letter confirming their admission arrangements. Anyone who didn’t receive their first choice of school will also receive written information.
This year’s admissions figures, compared with last years are outlined below:
34 pupils didn’t get any of their preferences. These were largely made up of parents or carers who did not apply for their catchment school, despite being advised to do so, preferring to apply for schools a considerable distance from their home.
The total size of the cohort starting school in September 2021 is 1921 pupils, compared to 1947 last year.
Councillor Keith Orrell,Executive Member for Education, Children and Young People, said:
“I’m delighted that so many young people will be able to attend their first choice of secondary school this year.
“I know it’s been an incredibly difficult time over the last few months and I hope that knowing their plans for September will help young people start to look to the future.
“I wish all those starting a new school in September the best of luck with the next phase of their learning journey.”
Any parent whose children may be eligible for free school meals – one of a number of benefits that come with applying for the pupil premium – should apply through their online account at www.york.gov.uk/parentportal.
One additional hospital death announced today. It occurred on Thursday
TWENTY THREE additional positive test results announced today. Brings the cumulative number of cases in the City to 11,542.
Rate /100k population figure has reduced to 109.68
The infection rate in York continues to fall more quickly than in other parts of the country
For the first time since 16th December a neighbourhood (South Bank/Dringhouses) in York has recorded fewer than 3 infections.
The area with the highest number of cases in now Osbaldwick
Over 2 million vaccinations have now been completed in the Yorkshire region
There are currently 133 COVID-19 patients being treated by the York Hospital Trust.
15 patients are in intensive care
4967 PCR coronavirus test were conducted during the week ending 8th February.
The positivity rate was 5.2%
1074 lateral flow tests were conducted on 12th February
York families urged to ‘stay safe’ this half term
York’s public health chiefs are urging residents to ‘stay safe’ over the coming week, as children and young people across the city start their half term holidays.
The week will mark a welcome break for many parents and carers who have been home schooling, but also presents extra challenges in keeping children entertained within the lockdown restrictions. The break comes as York’s seven day rate continues to fall:
The latest official “validated” rate of new Covid cases per 100,000 of population for the period 31.1.21 to 6.2.21 was 134.8.
York is currently ranked 25th out of 149 Upper Tier Local Authorities (UTLAs) in England with a rank of 1, indicating the lowest 7 day rate.
As at 8.2.21, the latest 7 day positivity rate in York (Pillar 2 PCR tests only) was 5.4%. The national and regional averages are 7.1% and 7.6% respectively.
As at 10.2.21, 45,596 CYC residents have received the first dose and 1,049 had received both doses.
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:
I know that many parents and carers will be glad of a break this week after their hard work homeschooling over the last half term.
“There are lots of activities that parents can do to keep their children active over the holiday period, but it’s vitally important that we all continue to follow the current national restrictions. The efforts we are all making a real difference, however we still need to keep going.
“With vaccinations continuing to be carried out at pace in York, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we must all keep up our efforts to fight the spread of the virus.”
Thousands of frontline workers are continuing to support York’s efforts against the virus by getting regular symptom free testing.
The city now has three sites offering the testing to residents, workers, students and staff who are eligible. More information about symptom free testing is available online.
York residents aged 70 or over who haven’t yet received their covid-19 vaccination can also now support the city’s fight against covid-19 by arranging a vaccination appointment.
Until now, the NHS asked people not to contact them about their COVID vaccination and wait until they are approached. This remains the case for most people, but local NHS services are encouraging people in priority cohorts 1-4 (over 70s and those on the shielded patient list) to contact the NHS to book their appointment to ensure everyone in this group is offered the vaccine by mid-February.
Eligible residents can book their appointment by contacting the national booking service online. Those who cannot do it online can call a free 119 number, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. The national system allows patients to pick a convenient location and time.
Sharon Stoltz, City of York Council’s Director of Public Health, said:
I would urge anyone aged 70 or over who hasn’t yet had their vaccination to make an appointment through the national booking service.
“The uptake of the vaccine so far in the city has been fantastic and making sure as many York residents as possible are vaccinated is one way we can continue to fight the virus and support our local NHS services.
“If you aren’t in one of the priority groups, please wait to be contacted, everyone will get the chance to book an appointment at the right time.
“We can all work together too by looking out for family and friends, particularly during this cold weather, and following the basic rules of regular hand washing, wearing of face coverings in public spaces when 2 metre social distancing is not possible and isolating at home if you have symptoms or have been asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace or our local contact tracing service.
“Whilst the fall in cases is encouraging we can’t let our guard down yet. There are still more people in hospital than the first peak and sadly we have seen a number of deaths in recent weeks.
“This virus isn’t relenting but our efforts and the incredible vaccine rollout is helping to stop the spread and offer real hope that things will get better. Thank you to everyone for their efforts, let’s keep going.”
The council’s Coronavirus helpline offers support including with food, essentials or someone to speak to. Anyone needing help can call 01904 551550 or email COVID19help@york.gov.uk.
There are lots of school holiday ideas and resources available online. Check out York Mumblerand Little Vikings for local resources.
“At the start of the pandemic staff absence increased significantly with a number of staff not available to work. This was directly linked to coronavirus where staff were displaying symptoms and self isolating and unable to work from home. The sickness absence rates across the council follows the national and local infection rate patterns, as can be seen, with a slight peak in wave 2 October time and then wave three being end of December into January 2021.
There is some confidence though that whilst rates have increased since end of December, they are not near the level we experienced in March / April. There are staff that are self isolating but are able to work fully from home and therefore those will not appear in the figures, also those staff who have tested positive for covid but are well enough to continue to work from home”.
Around 900 staff working in the social care sector are being vaccinated.
The same meeting will hear that there are pressures on some schools. All York schools are still open catering for the children of some critical workers.
The meeting will be told that the number of teaching staff absent since January 5th has fluctuated but has been between 95- 85, with the numbers absent due to being Covid positive being under 10 individual cases on any given date.
“The staffing levels in individual schools have not so far reached a level where schools have been unable to deliver on site provision or their remote learning offer”.
The impact on schools varies according to their size, staffing structure and the physical space within their buildings.
In particular, small primary schools are finding it more difficult to manage high numbers of children on site and to manage the remote learning offer.
During the first week in January, a small number of parents contacted the Council’s education team to highlight problems with accessing school places, each case was worked through and solutions found.