New facilities for Bourton-on-the-Water Primary Academy

There’s been a £0.754 million cash injection into improving a Cotswold school. 

Paul Hodgkinson with children at Bourton Primary School’s Trim Trail

Bourton-on-the-Water Primary Academy will use this much needed funding to expand its core facilities. The school will build a brand new purpose built professional kitchen and extend the existing school hall to provide for more children.

This work will allow the school to create space for a new classroom and create additional places for children in the area as new homes are being built.

John Jones, head teacher of Bourton-on-the-Water Primary Academy, said: “With the expansion of the village and the expectation for the school to increase its intake, it is vital that changes to facilities are made to make sure high quality educational provision.

“This funding has allowed us to develop areas that we could not have done without it.”

Gloucestershire County Council is managing the project alongside the school and developer Speller Metcalfe. The improvements are due to be completed by the summer of 2018.

The money comes from s106 funding from developers as part of planning permission. This can be used in the local area for things like school expansions, community facilities or road improvements.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, local member for Bourton-on-the-Water, said: “ There is a need for extra places at Bourton Primary Academy with the village expanding quickly, so this is excellent news for the local community.

“This section 106 funding will help them to get started on their expansion plans, which is something the school has been wanting to do for a while.”

Cotswold school helps community get physical

The Cotswold School, located in Bourton-on-the-Water, has unveiled new sports equipment which was part funded by Gloucestershire County Council’s ‘Active Together’ scheme.

Paul with staff and students from the school

‘Active Together’ is a grant scheme designed to increase sport and physical activity opportunities for people in the county. Each electoral division in the county has £40,000 available.

County Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach) provided the School with cash from his ‘Active Together’ funds towards their new gym. Money was also provided by the neighbouring county councillor.

Cotswold School, which was recently voted by the Times newspaper as the best comprehensive school in the country, made the application to the county council to further support its role as sports facility provider in the community.

The money helped to replace ageing gymnastics equipment, used by the school as well as local clubs, and to buy moveable dugouts for the school’s outdoor sports pitches. New sports equipment for the netball team, and an outdoor table tennis table were also included in the investment.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, said; “I’m delighted to be able to support the fantastic work that Cotswold School does in the local community.

“This additional funding will mean they can continue to provide high quality facilities for their pupils and local sports clubs, whilst promoting a healthy lifestyle in the county.”

3,000 could lose free school meals under Government plans

Thousands of children in the Cotswolds could lose their right to a free school meal under the Conservative Government’s plans to review the scheme.

PaulSchoolMeals

Universal free school meals offer every infant child a healthy meal at lunchtime, which saves families more than £400 per child per year.

Evidence shows where children have been given a free school dinner, their results improved compared to youngsters who didn’t get one.

These academic improvements were most marked among children from the poorest backgrounds.

There are currently 2,957 children who receive free school meals in the Cotswold district who would lose them if the Government follow through with plans reported in the media recently.

County Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton and Northleach) said: “If this goes ahead, the Government will show it is willing to take an axe to the education budget at the expense of children’s learning.

“By scrapping this policy they would take food off the plates of thousands children across the Cotswolds who now benefit from a free healthy meal at lunchtime. I’ve seen first hand how primary schools like Bourton and North Cerney have made changes to their buildings to accommodate the extra meals. When I served pupils their lunch at North Cerney I was very impressed by the standard of food and the children seemed to love it.

“The Liberal Democrats fought tooth and nail to get this through in Coalition because we want every child to have the best possible start in life and be able to concentrate in class, and all the evidence shows that a healthy meal helps with that.

“Instead of investing in our children, the Government is turning up at the school gate and taking their lunch away. I ask them to think again.”

Council approves new ways to grow local apprenticeships

County Councillors have approved a report that proposes how best to promote and grow apprenticeships across Gloucestershire.

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At a full council meeting council members unanimously agreed recommendations put forward by the Cllr Pau Hodgkinson and the ‘ Apprenticeship task group’. The proposals include doing more to put apprenticeships at the forefront of people’s minds earlier in a young persons’ school career.

To help inform the report, the task group ran a number of focus groups with employers, schools, training providers and young people to discover the challenges facing apprenticeships. Employers across Gloucestershire were also surveyed about their experiences.

The group discovered three key issues facing apprenticeships in the county; the perception of apprenticeships among some teachers, schools, young people and parents does not match reality, young people need high quality career advice and support to develop the skills they need to start their careers in the workplace and employers need to be better informed, supported and encouraged to take on apprentices. The task group then looked into ways to tackle these issues.

The apprenticeship task group was set up following a motion to council in June 2014 led by Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton & Northleach) who has also chaired the cross-party initiative:

“When I proposed last year that we set up a task force to boost the number of apprenticeships locally I didn’t realise just how much we could achieve in a short time. Working cross-party we have seen that there’s a lot of work to be done to get the message out loud and clear that apprenticeships are a brilliant way to enter the world of work.

“Now, we have come up with a set of recommendations which will give employers, schools and young people much more information about how to become an apprentice. Many employers have issues in finding the right people for roles and so getting people equipped with the right skills through apprenticeships is one way to help address this.”

Using their knowledge of apprenticeships in the county the group has also been able to provide valuable advice to the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on its commissioning of an apprenticeship hub.

Since 2010, 15560 apprenticeships have been created in the county.

2,200 people in the Cotswolds help hit apprenticeship goal

Two million apprenticeships have been created in the UK since 2010 with 2,200 people in the Cotswolds getting a vital start in life.

Paul Hodgkinson (right) with successful apprentice Jordan McKenna

Paul Hodgkinson (right) with successful apprentice Jordan McKenna

Prospective MP Paul Hodgkinson said apprenticeships offered by companies such as Renishaw in Wotton under Edge and St James’s Place in Cirencester have performed a crucial role in the local economy.

Cllr Hodgkinson is heading up a task group at the County Council aimed at bossting the number of apprentices across Gloucestershire:

“Apprenticeships are a vital part of building a stronger economy and a fairer society. By ensuring young people are able to earn and learn, we give them the opportunity to get on it life.

“That is why I’m delighted young people in the Cotswolds have benefitted from fantastic training and employment opportunities that apprenticeships offer.

“I’ve seen for myself, by speaking to Jordan McKenna who was an apprentice at Cirencester Housing, the benefit apprenticeships can give to young people and I’m delighted that over a thousand people from our area have been able to take advantage.”

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills Vince Cable MP said:

“Reaching the two millionth apprenticeship in the UK is testament to our commitment to apprenticeships. Apprenticeships give young people the chance to start a career and give businesses the talent to grow.

“This isn’t just about numbers. From space engineering, to TV production, to legal services, apprenticeships are the ticket to a great job and a route employers trust to access the skills they need.”

Schools serve up a success at lunchtime

Schools in the Cotswolds have been praised for dishing up a new initiative to the area’s infants.

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Since September all 5-7 year olds have been eligible for a free meal at lunchtime for the first time.

Now, as part of National School Meals Week, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for the Cotswolds) has thanked schools in the area for making the scheme a success:

“As the second half of the autumn term kicks off, it’s clear that primary schools up and down the Cotswolds have worked hard to make this work.

“All the evidence shows that a hot, healthy meal at lunch time greatly improves the health, behaviour and results of schoolchildren, providing them with their best start in life, enabling every child to fulfil their potential. “I was impressed by the quality of the lunch when I visited Bourton primary school recently – a roast dinner and fruit was the best lunch I’d had in ages!”

Jenny Forde is a governor at North Cerney School and says that she’s been impressed with how smoothly and competently the schools have responded: “It’s great it is to see so many families taking up the free school meal and lovely to see the children all sitting down to eat the same meal much like a family.”

Laura Watts is on the governing team at Sherborne School: “I’m really impressed with how coolly and calmly the local head teachers have gone about providing hot school meals to the very youngest pupils. Ask busy people to get stuff done and they do it, with very little fuss.”

Cllr Hodgkinson, who is also County Councillor for Bourton and Northleach, served up lunches at North Cerney School this week: “The quality of the food was fantastic and I’m glad to have done my bit for School Meals Week and to thank everyone in the school for getting this initiative off the ground.”

Call for County Council to boost apprenticeships

On the back of a record number of apprenticeships across Gloucestershire, the County Council is being urged to go one step further.

Paul Hodgkinson (right) with successful Cirencester apprentice Jordan McKenna

Paul Hodgkinson (right) with successful Cirencester apprentice Jordan McKenna

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Bourton and Northleach) is recommending that the Council should create a cross-party task force, which would work with businesses in the county encouraging them to recruit more apprentices.

The council itself recruited 20 new apprentices, with plans for additional recruitment scheduled for later in the year.

At a full council meeting on Wednesday, 25 June, Cllr Hodgkinson will present a motion calling for a special Task Force to be set up to boost apprenticeship. He will reference recent figures which show that Gloucestershire has benefitted from 15,560 new apprenticeships since 2010.

Cllr Hodgkinson said: “The continued growth of the number of apprentices across Gloucestershire since the Lib Dems came into Government shows our commitment to building a stronger economy in a fairer society.

“In the Cotswolds area alone 1,860 new apprentices have been started. However, more can be done to make sure that this number continues to grow across the county.

“Apprenticeships can be a great alternative to university for people, equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to get a foot in the door with a local employer.

“By bringing county councillors from all parties to talk with employers, apprentices and schools, we can make sure that those young people who want a way to gain a skill have as many opportunities to do so as possible.

“That’s why I am calling for a new task force to really promote apprenticeships across Gloucestershire.”

‘Bin the school waste charges’ campaign kicks off

A campaign kicked off this week to throw Cotswolds primary schools a cash lifeline.

Paul Hodgkinson with Jenny Forde.

Paul Hodgkinson with Jenny Forde.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for the Cotswolds) is calling for primary schools to be included in Cotswold District Council’s waste collection service.

At present, all primary schools are classed as ‘businesses’ and have to pay for their waste to be collected by private contractors.

Cllr Hodgkinson (CDC, Churn Valley) believes the time is right for the Council to be flexible:

“I have previously asked the Leader of the Council to be bold and generous on this issue but it fell on deaf ears. His administration currently doesn’t collect waste from primary schools in the district. However, small rural schools like Chedworth, Southrop and North Cerney pay as much as £1,000 each year for this – when their budgets are very stretched.

“At the moment a school like Temple Guiting has to pay for a private waste lorry to come into the village especially to pick up one or two bins of rubbish. That doesn’t make any sense from a green or cash perspective.

“Given that CDC’s domestic waste lorries literally drive past the schools every time they collect rubbish from residents and could easily pick up their bins, I feel the Council should throw a lifeline to our small schools by including them in waste collections. This would save schools much needed cash.”

Now, Cllr Hodgkinson has joined forces with North Cerney Primary School Governor Jenny Forde by writing to all 44 Cotswolds primary schools asking them to back the campaign. Ms Forde, who lives in Bagendon, feels that schools work hard to make small budgets go a long way:

“Every single penny makes a difference to our children’s education. I think it would stick in most people’s throats if they knew they were paying twice for waste collection – through their council tax and through public money that goes towards our state schools.

“This solution seems like common sense to help our schools out so they can put taxpayer’s money to better use to educating our children.”

Once they have heard from all primary schools in the area, Cllr Hodgkinson will present the responses to a Cotswold District Council meeting with Ms Forde.

New crossing gets thumbs up

Bourton residents have given a warm welcome to a new road crossing along Station Road.

Paul Hodgkinson, Ginie Moss and family at the new crossing

Paul Hodgkinson, Ginie Moss and family at the new crossing

In August, the County Council installed the 24/7 safety feature on one of the village’s busiest roads. It followed on from a mass petition calling for the crossing which was presented to Gloucestershire County Council last year.

A teacher at the Cotswold School – Ginie Moss – gathered 1100 names on the petition and was backed by County Councillor Paul Hodgkinson and Bourton Parish Council.

Now, all the campaigning has paid off. The crossing is in place sooner than expected and is being used by school students, mums and dads and older residents in particular.

Cllr Hodgkinson says its a good example of people working together to make something happen, “This all started with the enthusiasm of Mr and Mrs Moss and their determination to get something done to make the road safer for pedestrians.

“I campaigned with them to get this in place and its a credit to all those who signed the petition, put money into the scheme and lobbied for it that it is now a reality.

“Thanks to the parish council and our local schools for all their support on this.”

Bid to give primary schools a cash lifeline

A call is being made to throw Cotswolds primary schools a cash lifeline.

Matt Fulford (left), Chedworth School Chair of Governors, with Paul Hodgkinson.

Matt Fulford (left), Chedworth School Chair of Governors, with Paul Hodgkinson.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Leader of the Lib Dem Group on Cotswold District Council) has publicly asked for primary schools to be included in the Council’s waste collection service.

At present, all primary schools are classed as ‘businesses’ and have to pay for their waste to be collected by private contractors.

Now, Cllr Hodgkinson believes the time is right for the Council to be flexible:

“I asked the Leader of the Council to be bold and generous. His administration currently doesn’t collect waste from primary schools in the district. However, small rural schools like Chedworth, Temple Guiting and North Cerney pay as much as £1,000 each year for this – when their budgets are very stretched. 

“At the moment a school like Chedworth has to pay for a private waste lorry to come into the village especially to pick up one or two bins of rubbish. That doesn’t make any sense from a green or cash perspective.

“Given that CDC’s domestic waste lorries literally drive past the schools every time they collect rubbish from residents and could easily pick up their bins, I feel the Council Leader should throw a lifeline to our small schools by including them in waste collections. This would save schools much needed cash.”

At this week’s CDC Council Meeting Cllr Hodgkinson received no commitment from the Council Leader to his suggestion but remains undaunted:

“I will continue to push this very reasonable proposal until the Council sees sense.”