East Surrey

Category Archives: General

Local drama teacher, Ian Brown, has continued to keep children engaged throughout each lockdown by providing online drama classes. Ian, Principal of Helen O’Grady Drama Academy in Croydon and his team have successfully continued to inspire their students throughout the duration of this pandemic, adapting to online delivery to ensure their students still had access to social interaction, positivity and continuity at a time when we have been limited in the activities we can access.

Ian moved his classes online almost immediately, allowing his students to interact and socialise at a time when families were safe at home and schools closed. This was gratefully received by parents and students alike:

‘The online drama classes with their uplifting activities made a positive change to the daily routine. That has proved to be very important for her mental well-being as well. Helen O’Grady Drama Academy gives the children a positive attitude towards life and its possibilities’

Each week the laughter, enjoyment and element of normality to the weekly schedule allows everyone to keep smiling:

‘I would like to say how much I look forward to our online drama classes each week. Especially during these times of lock down. They have given me a sense of purpose and normality and also something to focus on’

Ian and his team love being able to connect with the students each week, hearing their laughter and enjoyment and seeing their beaming smiles! We might not have been able to gather in venue for a while but we have still offered a weekly dose of imagination, socialisation, interaction and FUN!

With a covid-safe return to the classroom set for April, there is no better time to book a free trial! For more information, click here.













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7 Tips to Instil a Love of Math in Your Child

The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted the education of millions of students across the country and progressing in maths has proved to be a particular struggle, according to national and local data.

There are many causes for this decline in mathematics grades, according to Patrick Quinn, a Parenting Expert at Brainly, the world’s largest online learning community used by over 350 million students, parents, and teachers monthly.

Here are seven tips for parents to get their kids excited about math and encourage them to use it on a daily basis:

1 PLAY MATHS GAMES AT HOME: There are many games your child can play that involve maths. Beginning in the early years, students can learn to enjoy maths by playing games such as chess, dominoes, cribbage, checkers, Set, Monopoly, Yahtzee, and backgammon. From there, they can move onto more challenging maths games like Sudoku, which is perfect for middle-schoolers.

2  READ BOOKS THAT INCORPORATE MATHS: More and more schools are starting to integrate diverse subject areas into the curriculum so that students can make clearer connections. But how do you include maths in a history or English class? One way is to read books in which the main characters solve a problem using math or logic. Find examples here.

3 TAKE AN INTEREST IN YOUR KIDS’ MATHS HOMEWORK: Begin each maths homework session by asking your child to explain what they’re supposed to do. By his or her response, you’ll know if they can do the assignment alone or if they need help. If you’re not able to help your child with the maths homework, find an online learning resource that can provide straightforward, step-by-step walkthroughs.

4 FIND OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR CHILD USE MATHS EVERY DAY: Encourage your child to solve problems involving maths outside of school. When you are shopping, travelling and saving to buy a special toy.

5 BUY A CONVERSION CHART: It’s an easy way to engrain the conversion tables of kilometres to miles, grams to ounces, or litres to gallons. They’re skills that don’t come up often but are extremely handy to know.

6 BE AN EXAMPLE: Many adults say they hated maths in school, according to national polls. If you are one of them, be careful that you don’t communicate that attitude to your child. It can cause maths anxiety, which sadly is contagious.

7 POINT OUT THE MATHS IN EVERYDAY LIFE: From working out how many ounces are in a cup while baking a cake to working out how long it will take to visit a relative, you can show your child that maths is everywhere around them. You can also point out the importance of maths in almost every walk of life. These small acknowledgments can make a difference and even get your child excited about maths!

The current pandemic has brought ‘empathy’ into public discourse more than ever before – Kamala Harris walking on to the winning stage with ‘The people have chosen empathy’ as a  backdrop; and Marcus Rashford showing empathy for hungry children and putting this into action with his food poverty campaign.

So it is timely that not-for-profit organisation EmpathyLab have revealed their 2021 Read For Empathy book collection after an expert judging panel weighed up hundreds of publisher submissions to select 50 of the very best contemporary empathy-boosting books for 4-16 year olds.

The aim is for schools, libraries, families and community groups to use the books to help raise a generation with strong empathy skills.

Read for empathy books for children aged 4-11

Picture books
Hello, Friend! Rebecca Cobb, Macmillan Children’s Books
Umbrella Elena Arevalo Melville, Scallywag Press
The Suitcase Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, Nosy Crow
Tibble and Grandpa Wendy Meddour & Daniel Egnéus, Oxford University Press
Felix After the Rain Dunja Jogan, translator Olivia Hellewell, Tiny Owl
Maia and What Matters Tine Mortier & Kaatje Vermeire, translator David Colmer, Book Island
Clean Up! Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola, Puffin
Ride the Wind Nicola Davies & Salvatore Rubbino, Walker Books
Once Upon a Dragon’s Fire Beatrice Blue, Frances Lincoln
The Lost Homework Richard O’Neill & Kirsti Beautyman, Child’s Play
How to Change the World Rashmi Sirdeshpande & Annabel Tempest, Puffin
Rain Before Rainbows Smriti Halls & David Litchfield, Walker Books

Early readers
The Boy in the Jam Jar Joyce Dunbar, illustrator John Shelley, Bloomsbury Education
Too Small Tola Atinuke, illustrator Onyinye Iwu, Walker Books
Five Ways to Make a Friend Gillian Cross, illustrator Sarah Horne, Barrington Stoke

Belonging Street Mandy Coe, Otter-Barry Books
Bright Bursts of Colour Matt Goodfellow, illustrator Aleksei Bitskoff, Bloomsbury Education
Poems Aloud Joseph Coelho & Daniel Gray-Barnett, Wide-Eyed Editions
This Rock, That Rock Dom Conlon & Vivianne Schwarz, Troika Books

Graphic novel
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy Rey Terciero & Bre Indigo, Little Brown

The Space We’re In Katya Balen, illustrator Laura Carlin, Bloomsbury Children’s Books
The Time of Green Magic Hilary McKay, Macmillan Children’s Books
The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates Jenny Pearson, illustrator Rob Biddulph, Usborne
Talking to the Moon S. E. Durrant, Nosy Crow
A Kind of Spark Elle McNicoll, Knights Of Media
Freedom Catherine Johnson, Scholastic
The Star Outside My Window Onjali Q. Raúf, Orion Children’s Books
The Faraway Truth Janae Marks, Chicken House 
Windrush Child Benjamin Zephaniah, Scholastic
The Taylor Turbochaser David Baddiel, HarperCollins 

Read for empathy books for young people aged 12-16

Tin Boy Steve Cole, illustrator Oriol Vidal, Barrington Stoke
The Last Paper Crane Kerry Drewery, illustrator Natsko Seki, Hot Key Books
Eight Pieces of Silva Patrice Lawrence, Hodder Children’s Books
I Was Born for This Alice Oseman, HarperCollins
The Gone Book Helena Close, Little Island Books
And the Stars Were Burning Brightly Danielle Jawando, Simon & Schuster
On the Come Up Angie Thomas, Walker Books
A House Without Walls Elizabeth Laird, Macmillan Children’s Books
Chinglish Sue Cheung, Andersen Press
Scavengers Darren Simpson, Usborne
Boy, Everywhere A. M. Dassu, Old Barn Books

Graphic novel
When Stars Are Scattered Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed, Faber

Short stories
Look Both Ways Jason Reynolds, Knights Of Media

Clouds Cannot Cover Us Jay Hulme, Troika Books
A Hurricane in my Head Matt Abbott, Bloomsbury Education
The Undefeated Kwame Alexander & Kadir Nelson, Andersen Press
The Missing Michael Rosen, Walker Books

Verse novels
Gloves Off Louisa Reid, Guppy Books
Run, Rebel Manjeet Mann, Penguin Books
Clap When You Land Elizabeth Acevedo, Hot Key Books

This year’s Empathy Day is on 10 June – make sure you put it in the diary! To find out more click here.

New employability programme provides support for local job seekers

A new programme has been launched across the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) region to support local people progress to job search readiness or move into paid employment.

The Making a Difference Programme is a three-year European Social Fund match funded programme delivering support to people living in the Coast to Capital region, which includes East Surrey, Sussex, and Croydon.

The programme, which will be delivered by Education Development Trust, has seen the first participants join. Each participant in the programme will receive support from their Making a Difference Employment Coach at regular intervals for up to four months, with the frequency of the intervention and the type of activities undertaken to be determined by agreement with their Employment Coach, tailored to their individual needs.

There are many different activities designed specifically to benefit the participant, from workshops covering CV’s and interview skills, through to taster days with local employers. In addition, there will be regular employment events, such as jobs fairs and roadshows showcasing different sectors, run across the region and open to all.

If you are interested in finding out more about the programme, please contact the Making a Difference team on 01329 559177, or email [email protected]

You can also follow the Making a Difference programme via Twitter at @employ_support and via Facebook @EmploySupport

  • Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 November 2020
  • 9am to 5pm on 21st and 9am to 4pm on 22nd
  • South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex

The South of England Agricultural Society is delighted to announce that its ever-popular Winter Fair will return to the South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex, on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 November 2020.

The Society and it’s Showground have been deemed ‘Good to Go’ by Visit England and so the weekend event, will run from 9am – 5pm on 21st and 9am – 4pm on 22nd November all within government guidelines to ensure the safety of all visitors. With this in mind, certain elements of the Winter Fair will vary to adhere to Covid-19 safety measures. However, firm favourites remain, and the event will offer the perfect opportunity to get the Christmas preparations sorted whilst enjoying a festive family day out.

Visitors can shop till they drop with a plethora of artisan goodies from local, independent traders. For food and drink lovers, there’s mouth-watering gin liqueurs, homemade jams and chutneys, gourmet pies, cheeses, wines and handmade Christmas puddings and chocolates.
For those looking for unique gifts and stocking fillers there’s everything from wooden toys, artwork, jewellery, lovingly produced leather and cashmere fashion, to natural soap, grooming gift sets, stunning home accessories, Christmas decorations and more.

It’s not just about the shopping though; families are sure to enjoy the live music, festive entertainment, and of course the traditional funfair.

For the protection of everyone at the event, tickets to the Winter Fair 2020 will be limited and should be booked here before arrival to ensure entry, and to avoid queues. Tickets are available from seas.org.uk and cost £6.75 for adults and £5.85 for senior citizens/students (inclusive of 10% online discount until 20.11.20). Under 16s go free.

Corinna Keefe writes: Most children have now been out of school for months. And while the summer holidays stretch ahead, it’s still unclear what school will look like in September. Many of us have turned to digital teaching to fill the gap — but online classes are a new experience for children, parents and teachers too. If you’re new to the world of online learning, here are six tips to help your kids get the most out of online courses and activities.

1. Make space for learning
If you’re working from home at the moment, you’ve probably already heard this tip. It’s easier to concentrate when you have a clean, quiet space that is devoted to work. This helps to put you into the right mind-set.

However, it’s not always easy to find space, especially in a busy family home. So if you don’t have enough home office space to accommodate everyone, what can you do instead?

The key is to create a learning atmosphere. Experiment with different ways of signalling that this is ‘school time’. Some children find it easier to focus when they go through the process of putting on school uniform and arranging their school books. Others might prefer visual clues, like setting a clock for the duration of study time, or putting up a sign. In my house, my sister puts a stuffed dinosaur on guard outside her door when she wants to concentrate!

If your child is very active, or likes to learn by doing, then you can try creating a learning space with a warm-up activity. This is when you have a ritual that always signals the start of study time. You could do some deep breathing exercises together or a quick burst of jumping jacks. Younger children might enjoy a ‘study song’ with actions.

Here’s a very simple example, and I apologise in advance because it’s a bit of an earworm!

2. Create your own schedule
Just because children go to school from nine till three, that doesn’t mean they’re sitting at their desks studying all that time. They have breaks. They travel between classrooms. They spend a truly astonishing amount of time getting out their books, sharpening pencils, looking for their coats and squabbling about where to sit.

So you should absolutely not be aiming for a solid 6 hours of learning a day. You also don’t have to stick to standard school hours. If your child is always full of beans in the morning, or likes to read in the evenings, use those natural tendencies.

3. Mix high and low energy activities
On-screen videos and games have an amazing ability to catch, and hold, children’s attention. But one of the difficulties with online learning is that it doesn’t reflect a normal class.

Over the course of a normal lesson, teachers will try to vary the activities on offer. This is especially true for small children, who can usually concentrate for about 15 minutes before they need a change. Back in the classroom, their teacher wouldn’t encourage them to watch a tablet for a few hours. Instead, they’d alternate reading time with outdoor activities, hands-on projects, games and classroom discussion.

The same thing is true for older children and teenagers. Although their attention spans are a bit longer, they still need variety and a mix of high and low energy activities. So they could alternate watching video classes with taking notes, trying practical experiments or building scientific models, getting some exercise between lessons, and explaining what they’ve learnt to someone else.

If this all sounds a bit abstract, try thinking of it in terms of the five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. Ideally, your child should use every one of those senses over the course of the day — for example, listening to an online class, using their hands for a craft activity, reading a book, and tasting or smelling a science experiment in the kitchen. Don’t worry if you don’t take in all five senses every single day; this is just to get you thinking about how to vary activities and keep your kids interested.

4. Avoid screen fatigue
Learning with all five senses is a nice idea; but, in practice, a lot of online learning depends on watching videos and attending video calls. How can you make sure your child is getting the most out of those sessions?

Video classes present several challenges. First of all, there’s no teacher in the room to call your child to attention or keep them on task. Children are also just as vulnerable as adults to ‘Zoom fatigue’, and they may find it difficult to sit up at a screen for long periods of time.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help. Many children find it easier to listen for long periods if they have something to do with their hands: try giving them a Rubik’s cube, a heap of LEGO bricks, or a pencil and paper. While they are doodling or building away, their minds will still be working on the content of the lesson. Older children and teens will also benefit from this trick. If they don’t like the idea of toys, they can take notes or draw mind maps while they listen.

You can also help children by putting their classes into context. For example, if you want to work on reading skills, choose books which are relevant to the summer holidays, your child’s favourite activities or surroundings. Let them learn about science in the context of helping to cook dinner, or watching wildlife in the park.

5. Keep going
Once you’ve found a schedule that works for you and your family, try to stick to it. Most young children like to have a routine or be told the plan for the day. What’s more, consistency and repetition are an important part of learning.

We’ve all met a child who likes to watch the same film over and over again, read the same story every night, or sing the same song until it drives you crazy. One reason for this is that they’re learning. Even if you’re sick of Baby Shark, rest assured that your child is getting something valuable out of it.

If you want to encourage your child to remember or use something they’ve learnt, try to encourage this kind of repetition. Ask them to draw a picture about what they’ve read, explain the lesson to you or tell you a story about it. This works for older kids and teens too: challenge them to explain a new idea to you or make an explainer video about it.

6. Take the pressure off
Finally, don’t forget that we are in the summer holidays! You and your children deserve a break. Don’t worry too much about catching up on missed school time: everybody’s in the same position, after all.
If you’re spending time together and enjoying lots of different activities, then your child will still be learning new skills and taking on new information.

Corinna Keefe is a freelance writer and former teacher specialising in education, technology, digital marketing and online media. Discuss this article with her on Twitter.


Our plan for playgrounds

Following the latest government guidance, we’re preparing for a phased reopening of our play areas and outdoor gyms from the end of next week. We know that these spaces are hugely important to children and families living in Reigate & Banstead and we’re looking forward to welcoming people back safely.

Our Greenspaces team is working hard behind the scenes to assess all 48 of our play areas and outdoor gyms and putting safety measures in place. We’ll start by opening some of our smaller play areas and are hoping to open some of our larger play areas over the coming weeks.

On Friday 10 July, the following play areas and outdoor gyms will reopen:

  • Field Bank, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9EH
  • Flint Close, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9QE
  • Peppiatt Close, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9FR
  • Whittaker Drive North, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9FB
  • Whittaker Drive South, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9TN
  • Common Road Earlswood, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6HG
  • Abinger Drive, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6ST
  • Somerset Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6LS
  • Woodhatch Road, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 7PA
  • South Park Recreation Ground, Whitehall Lane, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 8LZ
  • East Road, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 9EX
  • Battlebridge Recreation Ground, Frenches Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 2JE
  • Subrosa Drive, Merstham, Surrey, RH1 3LY
  • Brook Road, Malmstone Avenue, Merstham, Surrey, RH1 3NE
  • Howards Close Recreation Ground, Walton on the hill, Surrey, KT20 7QF
  • Beecholm Recreation Ground, Osier Way, Banstead, Surrey, SM7 1LL
  • Woodmansterne Recreation Ground, Woodmansterne Street, Banstead, Surrey, SM7 3NL
    Lakers Rise (play area and fitness equipment), Chipstead Way, Woodmansterne, Surrey, SM7 3LQ
  • Chipstead Meads, High Road, Chipstead, Surrey, CR5 3SB
  • Maple Way, Hooley, Surrey, CR5 3RN
  • Hogden Bottom Recreation Ground, Chipstead Lane, Lower Kingswood, Surrey, KT20 6RE
  • Preston Park (play area and Fitness equipment), Preston Manor Road, Tadworth, Surrey, KT20 5FB
  • Kingswood Recreation Ground (play area and Fitness equipment), Buckland Road, Lower Kingswood, Surrey, KT20 7DN
  • Tattenham Way Recreation Ground, Burgh Heath, Surrey, KT20 5NQ

The safety of all those using the facilities is our top priority so we’ll be introducing a range of new measures that all visitors will need to follow:

  • If you or anyone in your household is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please DO NOT visit any of our parks, play areas or outdoor gyms. You must self-isolate and book a test at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
  • Reminders about social distancing will be displayed. Please follow these and encourage your children to do so, too. We ask that only one parent/guardian accompanies their child/children during their visit to the play area.
  • New maximum capacity recommendations will be displayed at the entrance to each play area and on some pieces of equipment. Please respect these capacity recommendations. They are there for your family’s safety and for the safety of other park users.
  • Some pieces of equipment will unfortunately be out of action as social distancing is simply not possible when these are in use. These will be clearly marked.
  • We ask all visitors to continue regularly washing or sanitising their hands before, during, and after their visit to the playground.
  • For the safety of everyone, consumption of food or drink on play equipment or in the playground area is currently prohibited.
  • If you’re visiting one of our outdoor gyms, please follow the one-way system marked around the site. Please follow social distancing measures and continue with regular handwashing.

Cllr Natalie Bramhall, Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services said: “We’re really glad to be able to see these spaces begin to reopen as we know how much they’ve been missed by children in the borough. To make sure we can keep playgrounds open, we need everyone to play their part and stick to these new guidelines when using the spaces. We know this can be difficult with little ones, but we encourage everyone to play as safely and as considerately as possible.”

Please keep an eye on our website and social media feeds for further announcements about the remaining play areas.

For more information on the new guidance, visit www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk/coronavirus. For details about our borough parks and playground, visit https://www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk/playareas

Warlingham Park School has announced that it has been acquired by The Inspired Learning Group, a family of Independent schools and nurseries.

The current Warlingham Park School was founded by Stuart Sexton, former Advisor to the Secretary of State for Education and Science, in September 1986. The Independent preparatory school and nursery was established with the aim of providing primary level children with a curriculum that included an emphasis on design technology and IT and its practical teaching, while maintaining a solid grounding in Maths and English.

Over 30 years later, the school still follows the same educational approach while also developing strengths in the broader curriculum particularly in areas such as Drama and Music. Mr Sexton, who turned 85 in 2019, felt that the time was right to think about the school’s future and its long-term sustainability. The Sexton family have all contributed to its success over the years and wanted to see the school continue to flourish for future generations.

The inspired Learning Group was founded by Mr Amit Mehta in 2014 and has grown into a family of highly successful Preparatory Schools and Nurseries around London and the South East. The Inspired Learning Group are also a small family run organisation who are dedicated to ensuring that their schools retain their individual and unique ethos, identity and values. The news was received very positively by both parents and staff and Mr Mehta has held meetings with both groups to explain the advantages and opportunities now available to Warlingham Park School’s staff and pupils through the Inspired Learning Group.

These include: interschool events, networking, sharing of outstanding practice across the group and professional development opportunities; all of which will combine to further enhance the children’s education and breadth of opportunities.

Mr Sexton said, “This is an exciting opportunity for current pupils and staff and I am happy that The Inspired Learning Group will continue to build on our strengths of developing children into happy, rounded and articulate individuals who are ready to meet the challenges of secondary education”. Headteacher, Sarah Buist, commented, “This is fantastic news and we look forward to building on our current strengths such as our family friendly ethos, high academic achievement and outstanding pastoral care. Being a part of a bigger family will bring its own benefits and secure the school’s future! The ILG ethos is very much in line with our own; such as traditional values, forward thinking and ensuring that all children reach their potential”.

Banstead Prep School pupils are celebrating their success at the inaugural Banstead Young Artist of the Year competition last month.

The competition, launched at the Banstead Art Group Annual Exhibition, invited local school children to submit their own works of art to be exhibited at Banstead Community Hall between 24 and 26 October.

Banstead Art Group members were then encouraged to vote for the pieces that they felt showed the greatest maturity and understanding of artistic techniques. Visitors from the public were also able to vote for their favourite works.

In what was nearly a clean sweep for Banstead Prep School, a number of pupils achieved awards across the age categories. The children all received a certificate, prize ribbon and generous prizes of artist materials provided by local business Pullinger’s Art Supplies as sponsors of the competition.
Prizes in the Age 8-11 category were all awarded to Banstead Prep’s talented young artists; with Plant by Olivia receiving the first prize ribbon, Sunset Bay by Shreya awarded second prize and Kingfisher by Georgie taking third place. Georgie also celebrated particular acclaim from the public vote – which saw 786 votes cast in total – recognising her pastel rendition of one of the nation’s favourite birds.

For more information about Banstead Prep School, click here or call 01737 3636300.