Four years ago Ellis Holtom, of Stratford-upon-Avon, was born with half a working heart. Later, the Herald featured his condition as a tribute to the work of Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he was treated. Now, to mark Congenital Heart Defect Week his mum, Vicki, updates his story. . .
ALL 326 local planning authorities in England, councils like Stratford-on-Avon District, need a local plan. The core strategy is a component of that local plan. It contains all the local district wide policies that need to be considered when processing planning applications. New development needs to satisfy local needs, helping to realise the hopes and ambitions of its communities and protect them from situations they fear. New homes and places to work should provide then with a healthy lifestyle, a pleasant place to live, good recreational facilities and above all the infrastructure that enhances their quality of life. The buzzword to describe this is ‘sustainable’.
THE poor are paying more than they should be for their energy, according to damning new evidence from Stratford-upon-Avon’s Citizens Advice Bureau. Prepayment meters (PPMs) are costing users in fuel poverty a “disproportionate amount” for what little gas and electricity they can afford, the bureau has found. There are around 7.2 million people on prepayment meters in the UK and several thousand in the district of Stratford. Despite Stratford’s reputation as an affluent area, the bureau is being forced to come to the aid of more and more people living in fuel poverty on an increasingly regular basis.
AN OFFICIAL paving stone commemorating Stratford-upon-Avon’s forgotten war hero for the 100th anniversary of the First World War will be placed in the town, the government has confirmed. Rex Warneford – the first man to single-handedly shoot down a zeppelin - was ignored in the government’s initial plans to recognise Victoria Cross winners because he was born abroad in India. The Herald launched a campaign, together with King Edward VI school, where Rex lived and studied for five years, to get the fighter pilot recognised.
A PARENT of a student at King Edward VI School, in Stratford, thinks children can cheat on the 11-plus exam in Warwickshire because the test can be taken on three separate days.
Amit Matalia, whose son got into the school after taking the test last year, reckons the exam is in danger of being compromised, but the council say the questions are difficult to remember.
This year in Warwickshire the 11-plus will be held on Saturday 6th September, before supplementary test dates a week later on Saturday 13th and Tuesday 16th.
However in Birmingham, if children can’t take the first test on Saturday 6th September, they take it the very next day, on Sunday 7th.
And despite having fewer pupils, hundreds more children in Warwickshire sit the secondary exams than they do in Birmingham.
Last year a total of 2,056 students in Warwickshire sat the test—1,729 took it on the first day and 327 took the same paper on the two later dates.
In Birmingham, approximately 4,700 pupils sat the test and only 25 of these took it on the Sunday.
Mr Matalia wants to know why Warwickshire County Council don’t take the second test a day later like Birmingham.
“I’ve highlighted the fact for a whole year,” he said. “It’s comical. The problem has caused chaos for other areas.”
Competition for high-achieving grammar schools like King Edward VI and Stratford Girls’ Grammar is as intense as ever.
Desperate parents pay tutors to teach their children the best techniques and many get their kids to take more than one test.
Mr Matalia suspects more people are getting their children to sit the secondary tests in Warwickshire after taking first tests elsewhere.
He admits that last year his son sat three 11-plus exams, one in Walsall, one in Birmingham, and one in Warwickshire.
To give his son the best chance, he was prepared to move to wherever his son got in and was pleased when he got into KES.
With so much competition for places, he says holding the same test a week later is dangerous.
He says the question parents are asking themselves is—“If a private school costs £11,000 a year, should I go to the private school, or should I have the same standard of education at a grammar school?”
A spokesperson for Warwickshire County Council said that later test dates were only available if parents can provide evidence of special circumstances, for example religious grounds or medical proof that their child was unwell on the main test date.
The spokesperson defended the decision to let children sit the same test paper a week apart: “The same test paper is used to ensure that the performance of students can be consistently compared.
“The test consists of between 200 and 250 questions to be answered in a total of 90 minutes. The volume and nature of questions make it difficult to remember meaningful content and the papers are specifically designed to test a child’s innate intelligence and ability.”
Despite the council’s claim that test papers are difficult to remember, parents must believe performance in the 11-plus can be helped with teaching.
A private company called KSOL (Key Stages Online) offer 11-plus tutoring across the West Midlands.
For £135 a month, your child can get a two-hour session once a week.
Their Warwickshire sessions are held throughout the year on Wednesday and Friday at Hill Close Gardens in Warwick. They’re already fully booked for this year’s exam.
Each year Warwickshire’s 11-plus is set by the University of Durham’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM).
Dr Susan Stothard, head of assessment development at CEM confirmed that the test sat by pupils in Warwickshire is different to the tests in Birmingham, or Walsall.
“They are all different papers,” she said. “We have a complex test development centre whereby we develop new items each year.”
However, if parents think sample questions could give their child the edge, and are willing to put their kids through a year of tutoring, then they’re likely to believe sitting more than one 11-plus exam could be beneficial too.