Serving up healthy lunches at North Cerney Primary School

A 2013 study, written by the Insitute for Fiscal Studies, the National Centre for Social Research and the Brysom Purdon Social Research, showed that universal free school meals “had a significant positive impact on attainment”, as well as easing the pressure on household budgets.

Packed lunches are less likely to meet nutritional standards, according to a 2010 study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, which found that just 1% of packed lunches met the nutritional standards set for school lunches.

This month saw the 25th National School Meals Week.  Organised jointly by the school meals industry and the Soil Association’s Food For Life campaign, it celebrated all that is great about school food. 14 November was also Roast Dinner Day.

As part of the Silver Jubilee activities, Cllrs Paul Hodgkinson and Jenny Forde were invited to North Cerney Primary School on Wednesday to join the pupils for a roast lunch they themselves prepared.

Speaking at the lunch, Cllr Hodgkinson (Gloucestershire County Council, Bourton and Northleach) said:

“I was delighted to be invited to join the students at North Cerney Primary School for a delicious roast dinner.  Eating a nutritional lunch – either prepared by the school, local caterers or homemade – is shown to be critical for a child’s educational attainment and for tackling the growing challenge of childhood obesity.

“The introduction of free school meals for all children, in reception to year 2, in 2014, highlighted the values of the Liberal Democrats in government – of ensuring that every child has the best possible start in life.”

Cllr Jenny Forde (Cotswold District Council, Chedworth & Churn Valley) remarked:

“It’s no surprise that there’s a direct link between inadequate nutrition and low concentration levels, often the school lunch can be the only sit-down meal that children get. What we put in their bellies is almost as important as what we put in their heads!”

 

Speed gates come to the Churn Valley

Road safety has been an ongoing concern for residents who live along the A435 in the Churn Valley.

key_northcerneygates

In particular the speed of traffic going through North Cerney. There have been regular speed checks by the police and community which show a small but persistent number of drivers exceeding the 40mph limit.

The centre of the village sees pedestrians including school children crossing the road to catch buses, a busy junction into the village and accessing the pub and primary school.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson discussed these issues with North Cerney Parish Council last year and – after meeting Highways on site – agreed to jointly fund a set of 4 gates at either end of the village. These gates are a feature of some other villages in the Cotswolds and the aim is to alert drivers to the fact they’re entering a village environment and a lower speed limit.

The gates have been jointly funded by Paul with the small pot of money he gets each year to fund highways projects, North Cerney Parish Council and Gloucestershire Highways.

The good news is that all 4 gates are now in place.

Further up the A435 heading to Cheltenham, two trial gates have been installed approaching the turning into Rendcomb. The aim of these is once again to slow traffic after numerous complaints about difficulties in exiting the junction there safely. These gates have also been jointly funded with Rendcomb Parish Council.

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.”

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.

PaulSchoolMeals

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.”

‘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.

Cash helps village halls

Three Cotswolds groups have been given County Council cash to kick-start community improvements by sprucing up their buildings.

Paul Hodgkinson with members of the Victoria Hall committee, Bourton

Paul Hodgkinson (front left) with members of the Victoria Hall committee, Bourton

The council set aside £600,000 in its Community Building Improvement Grants scheme to help organisations develop their properties and equipment and so provide better services to support the local community.

Known as ComBI Grants, the money has been given to village halls and buildings in Bourton, Withington and North Cerney.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton & Northleach) said: “These grants recognise all the vital work that the Cotswolds’ community groups are doing locally.

“This initiative supports three buildings in the Cotswolds which are a focal point – the iconic Victoria Rooms in Bourton, the village hall in Withington and the Memorial Hall in North Cerney.

“I’m so pleased that these excellent buildings have got extra cash to help them thrive.”

Earmarked for everything from new flooring to heating systems, the grants were awarded to capital projects that enable community groups to generate additional income or reduce their costs – and make it possible to do more to develop active communities.

Each organisation had to show it was not for private profit, it wanted to use the money for a new project and not a retrospective one, and it had a clear timeline for the improvements.

 

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.” 

 

 

Will you be part of the Big Project?

An appeal to raise funds for one of our local primary schools has been launched.

NorthCerneySchool

L to R: Jane Burr Headteacher of North Cerney School, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Jenny Forde Big Project Leader.

The Big Project is a charity that has been set up to help raise some of the funds required to to build a new classroom/assembly hall at North Cerney primary school.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is backing the project, “We’re fortunate in having two excellent primary schools in our area – at Coberley and North Cerney. In North Cerney, the school has educated generations since 1843 and is currently thriving with 60 children, a committed head, staff and governing body. It really does sit at the heart of the local community.”

Jenny Forde from Bagendon is leading the bid, “Building this new extension requires a budget of £150,000. To realise this the school intends on making a bid to the Local Education Authority this Spring for funding. However, it’s anticipated that only 50% would be available for any one grant so, in our case, that would leave us with a target of £75,000.”

“But time is against us – our deadline is 28th February 2013! You can be a part of that excitement by supporting local children and families with a donation. All contributions of £500 plus will be appear on a plaque in the new building.”

Please contact Jenny Forde at jenniferforde@hotmail.co.uk or 01285 831193 if you’d like to support the Big Project.

New funding gives Hall a boost

A welcome cash initiative from Cotswold District Council has given a Churn Valley landmark building a new lease of life.

Hall Committee Chairwoman Denise Ewbank (left) with Paul Hodgkinson (2nd left) and the Community Payback Team who have been working on the Hall’s renovation

The funding for community projects has allocated £10,000 to the North Cerney Memorial Hall to help with its renovation.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has worked with the Hall’s management committee to get the grant from the Council. The money will be pooled with cash raised from other fundraising events, grants and generous donors to bring the Hall back to its former state for the benefit of local villages:

“The Hall’s committee – along with other local people – has been working like stink to raise money to make the building a really welcoming, warm and attractive venue for everyone to use. It’s got a lot of history and is already looking great with new decoration inside. I know the toilets will be replaced soon and the heating upgraded later in the year so the place is going to look splendid!”

“Along with the excellent village hall at Rendcomb, the Churn Valley will soon have two community buildings which we can use and be proud of.”

Paths, potholes and plastics!

All of the parish councils in the Churn Valley have just held their Annual Parish Meetings and various issues have been raised.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (right) with Cllr John Hughes (Shadow Environment Spokesman) - plastics was a hot topic at the annual parish meetings

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson spoke at each meeting with a report back on what had been happening both locally and CDC-wide in the last 12 months.

Paul said, “It was great to see lots of people at North Cerney, Baunton, Rendcomb, Coberley and Bagendon parish council meetings in the last ten days.”

“Locally, I spoke about littering of verges along the A435 and the Whiteway in particular and how people can call CDC on 01285 623623 to get the are cleared quickly. Also, the state of some roads is appalling! Potholes are an ongoing bugbear and I report them as I see them, but residents can do the same direct to GCC. I can get on the case if they aren’t fixed promptly.”

“People also wanted to know how the Churn Valley Safer Cycle and Walkers Path is developing. I told them about how the existing bridlepath is being brought up to the correct standard and how the route could now be extended to Rendcomb from North Cerney.”

“There was lots of good feedback on the news that CDC will be introducing kerbside hard plastics recycling from the autumn – something I’ve campaigned for vigorously for the last 5 years. The poor decision of CDC’s administration to recommend 24/7 car parking charges across the district was also discussed and there was relief that in the end they had only gone ahead with this in one car park.”

Colesbourne has a parish meeting rather than a council and no date has yet been fixed for their annual meeting.