Colors: Blue Color

Christmas dinner catastrophes, a spaghetti-covered baby and a dinner which went less than plain sailing are all in the running to win the UK’s best dinner time disaster competition.

To celebrate the launch of its new dining and living room collection, furniture specialist, ScS, is asking people to submit photos and stories of their funniest foodie fails and mealtime mess-ups and has already received a heap of hilarious entries.

The competition will crown the nation’s best dinner time disaster and the lucky winner will receive a new dining table and four chairs.

Simon Nicholson, Furniture Buying Director at ScS, said: “Meal times provide a great opportunity to bring the family together, whether it’s to chat about your day, share a giggle or get something off your chest. But family dinners don’t always go to plan and can result in some hilarious situations and fond family memories!

“We launched our Dinner Time Disasters competition to celebrate quality family time and the hilarious blunders and mishaps that often come with sitting down to enjoy a family meal. We’ve received some fantastic entries so far and can’t wait to see more.”

Magical yuletide markets, grottos, light shows and craft workshops will be on offer at the Treasure Houses of England – a consortium of historic estates including Beaulieu, Blenheim Palace, Burghley, Castle Howard, Chatsworth, Harewood House, Hatfield House, Holkham Hall, Leeds Castle, and Woburn Abbey.

Highlights include:

Beaulieu – Step back in time to 1889 to join the Montagu family, played by costumed actors, as they rehearse a Christmas Day pantomime and visitors are invited to join them on stage. Then join Lady Montagu in the Library for craft activities to make your own Christmas card or sparkling tree decorations. Meet Lord Montagu's cook as she prepares the Christmas feast, see a Christmas tree in every room and enjoy carols and punch by the fire. At the entrance to Beaulieu, take your photo with the life-size gingerbread house before following the magical path lit by fairy lights down to Palace House. The event runs on December 9th -10th and then from December 16th-January 1st. Please note the attraction will be closed on 25th December.

Blenheim Palace – Marvel as Blenheim Palace's Formal gardens are lit up in a rainbow of colour during an unforgettable after-dark festive trail of lights. The lake will be aglow with brightly-lit boats and dancing fountain jets, the arbour will be adorned with fairy lights, and fibre optics will transform the hedgerows – helping to create a magical wonderland. The event runs from November 24 – January 1. Closed 25th December.

Burghley – Food markets with a difference! Come and meet over 30 local suppliers at Burghley's biggest ever 4 day festive celebration of local produce. With handmade cheeses, artisan breads, organic vegetables, luxury sweet treats and rare breed meats. In the Courtyard from 9am to 4pm on Thursday 23rd November - Sunday 26th November. Free admission.

Castle Howard – A host of angels will descend on Castle Howard's grand state rooms to spectacular effect in Angels on High – set to be particularly special during candlelit twilight visits over the weekend of December 16 and 17. Throughout the festive season, 18 November - 23 December, visitors will be treated to live music around the house, seasonal menus, lit fires, indoor markets and Christmas goodies in the shop. For younger visitors, there will also be a Magical Christmas Garden, Audience with Father Christmas, Enchanted Evening with Father Christmas, a soaring Christmas tree and the return of Bompas & Parr's Gingerbread Castle Howard.

Wood Green war memorial is looking fresh ahead of this weekend’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations, thanks to the Armed Forces – with a bit of help from Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen.

Flt Lt Will Brookes – chairman of Armed Forces Spurs – organised a clean-up of the monument, and took 13 other serving troops and veterans from the Navy, Army and RAF along with him.

The group – all from Armed Forces Spurs supporters’ group – travelled from across the country to pitch in alongside midfielder Eriksen, picking up leaves and scrubbing the monument, erected in 1920 to commemorate local soldiers who died in the First World War.

Flt Lt Brookes said:

As a supporters’ group we get to go on the pitch at games, we get to see players, we have the glamour, but we wanted to do something for the local area and get the memorial in shape for Remembrance Day. We wanted to come here and give a fitting tribute to these names on the memorial, of those who gave their lives for their country, and their families.

The Mayor of Haringey, Cllr Stephen Mann, went to meet the troops and show his support as Eriksen and Flt Lt Brookes laid wreaths at the site.

The Mayor – a former Navy serviceman – said of the clean-up:

The fact that these servicemen and women want to volunteer their free time, in between serving our country, speaks volumes about the people they are. It was an honour to meet the troops ahead of Remembrance Day. Their work at the memorial means that we in Wood Green continue to have a fitting tribute, where we can always remember the local heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in war.

The Library of Birmingham’s role in supporting innovation and creativity was praised during a visit by the Government’s arts minister.

During a tour of the iconic venue, John Glen MP, heard how the library is a centre of excellence for literacy, research, creativity and entrepreneurship

Mr Glen visited the library’s Business, Learning and Intellectual Property Centre, which provides support for entrepreneurs and inventors, including free legal advice on how to protect and develop their ideas.

Last month the Library of Birmingham secured funding from Enterprise for Success, which will enable its business support and advice services to be expanded in community libraries across the city.

The arts minister was also shown the Shakespeare Memorial Room, which houses part of the city’s Shakespeare collection – the world’s largest in a public library - before moving onto Archives – which received its National Archive accreditation this week.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism John Glen said: "Libraries are so important to local communities, not only as places for people to access books and technology, but where they can also learn new skills. The Library of Birmingham is a great example of this and I have been very impressed with the services available to support local entrepreneurs and inventors."

Cllr Brigid Jones, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The Library of Birmingham is one the city’s iconic cultural institutions, so this was a great opportunity to show the minister around this world-class library."

Last year the Library of Birmingham welcomed more than 1.6 million visitors through its doors, making it the busiest public library in the UK.

A special school in Oldbury is thrilled to be benefiting from volunteers from Network Rail who have transformed their school grounds.

The Meadows special school, on Dudley Road East, initially contacted Network Rail to ask for donations of sleepers to use in their memorial garden.

Network Rail responded by sending a team of volunteers who have given the school’s memorial garden a complete make-over.

The memorial garden area of the school was previously inaccessible for pupils and families who are wheelchair users and the school council and parents group wanted to improve access so everyone could have the opportunity to remember those pupils and staff that have passed away.

The team from Network Rail, headed up by Allun Edge, Infrastructure Maintenance Protection Coordinator, provided all of their labour on a volunteer basis, and used part of the ‘5 volunteer days’ that they are entitled to each year to support this worthwhile project.

Sixth Form students at the school kept the volunteers fed and watered providing them bacon and sausage sandwiches and gallons of tea and coffee.

Jo Cliffe, Head Teacher at The Meadows said: “We are absolutely stunned by the work that has been done by this wonderful team of volunteers from Network Rail.

“We would like to thank the Network Rail team for everything they have done and want to welcome them back soon for the official opening ceremony.

“When organisations engage with special schools, it is of benefit to our pupils, but also wider society – helping everyone to understand how important it is to accept diversity and celebrate the individual skills that each of us bring.

“Our pupils, families and the staff team at The Meadows are incredibly grateful for the work that has been undertaken and wish to express their heartfelt thanks for all that has been done in their behalf.”

Allun from Network Rail added: “It was a real pleasure for all of us to visit The Meadows, meet the brilliant pupils and help make the memorial garden a special place for them to enjoy. And those bacon sarnies were amazing!”

Work is still under way to get the garden finished. The school hope to raise some money for the centre piece sculpture by the local artist and sculptor, Luke Perry. This piece of artwork has been designed by Luke, along with the bereaved families, to remember the individual pupils in a personalised manner.

KIDS across the country are being encouraged to Be Kind in an effort to curb bullying ahead of the Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying Week (13-17 November).

The Be Kind campaign – which aims to inspire kids to Speak Up, Stand Out and Be Kind – launched by ITV’s This Morning Show, is now being strongly supported by the popular stationery and gifts brand Smiggle.

Kids are being invited to visit their local Smiggle store in the West Midlands from Thursday 9th November to pick up a FREE, limited edition Smiggle #BeKind wrist band, to show their support for the cause.

150,000 bands have been produced by Smiggle and will be available across the country for anyone who wants to show their support. Celebrities appearing on This Morning throughout the week will also be showing their support by wearing a Smiggle #BeKind band.

John Cheston, Managing Director of Smiggle, said: “The happiness of our fans means everything to us – after all, Smiggle is where a smile meets a giggle. We want young people to speak out to a trusted adult if they’re being bullied, stand up if they see bullying taking place and choose kindness.

“We are proud to be working with the team at ITV’s This Morning to support the health and happiness of all young people by standing up against bullying.”

This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby said: “We really want this campaign to help children, their families and even bullies themselves to realise what they are doing. How much better would the world be if everyone was just that bit kinder to each other?”

Co-presenter Philip Schofield added: “I’m 100% behind this campaign. I hope we can save young lives and show the bullies how catastrophic one tweet, one snapchat or one text can be.”

This Morning Editor Martin Frizell said: "This Morning's Be Kind campaign has the power to save lives. Every single time somebody stands up to a bully they are stopping the devastating effects bullying can cause. So many children every day suffer in silence.

"We are grateful to Smiggle for their support. Let's all band together and Be Kind to stop bullying."

People taking part in the campaign are being encouraged to wear their free Smiggle wristbands and upload their photos to social media throughout the week to show their support, using the hashtag #BeKind.*

The UK’s exit from the EU will exacerbate recruitment problems for the veterinary profession, making the placement of vets on the Shortage Occupation List an immediate priority, according to British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in their joint response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s Call for Evidence on the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Recruitment and retention of vets has been a growing concern in the UK. The joint submission points to evidence from recent surveys indicating a current workforce shortage of 11% in small animal practice and an overall deterioration in the ability of practices to hire suitably qualified staff (see notes for editors).

There have been previous calls for the profession to be placed on the Shortage Occupation List, which would reduce restrictions on recruiting veterinary surgeons from abroad, and this will become a necessity post Brexit. Following the exit from the EU, existing shortages will likely worsen, whilst changes in trade could increase the demand for veterinary skills, producing a shortfall in the UK’s capacity to ensure animal health and welfare, food safety and public health.

Currently about half of vets registering each year in the UK are graduates from the EU. If there are no appropriate immigration measures in place when the UK leaves the EU, this EU contribution could decline, leaving a large gap in the veterinary workforce. Research among BVA members has indicated that since the EU referendum, about one fifth are reporting that recruitment has already become harder. Whilst a study commissioned by the RCVS has shown that nearly a third of vets and vet nurses whose nationality is non-UK European are considering a move back home.

Although the veterinary profession is relatively small (around 23,000), it performs a range of roles that are vital to the UK’s economy and maintaining standards in society. Agriculture and food production would suffer from a lack of veterinary input, potentially reducing its livestock outputs worth £12.7bn in 2016, whilst the equine industry and aquaculture would also struggle. The companion animal veterinary market, that has a turnover of £3 billion, could experience significant losses due to workforce shortages.

Veterinary surgeons from the EU make a particularly significant contribution to critical roles in public health with estimates suggesting that 95% of Official Veterinarians working in abattoirs are from overseas and the large majority of these are from the EU. Reducing the veterinary presence in slaughterhouses would increase the risk of food fraud, provide the potential for animal welfare breaches and remove a level of public health reassurance.

While the number of UK veterinary graduates has increased year-on-year from the established veterinary schools, with potentially more schools in the pipeline, it is unlikely that UK universities can meet this increased demand in the short timeframe required. BVA, RCVS and Defra recently launched the Veterinary Capability and Capacity Project (VCCP) to help ensure the veterinary sector can continue to play its role in society.

British Veterinary Association Senior Vice President Gudrun Ravetz said:

“Our members have been reporting problems with recruitment and retention of vets for several years and this situation will only worsen under Brexit unless appropriate measures are in place. Vets are vital to our society. Across the UK vets are needed to certify imports and exports, conduct cutting-edge research, prevent disease outbreaks, ensure food safety in abattoirs and achieve our world leading standards in animal welfare.

“We are setting out a very strong case to add the profession to the Shortage Occupation List now to help us manage the immediate shortfall in critical veterinary roles, while the UK negotiates a longer term immigration policy that must meet the UK’s veterinary workforce needs post-Brexit without creating disproportionate administrative burdens for veterinary businesses.”

Chris Tufnell, RCVS Senior Vice-President and Chair of the College’s Brexit Taskforce, said: “The first of our recently published Brexit Principles is that ‘vital veterinary work continues to get done’. In order to ensure this is met we want the Government to recognise that there are significant current and potential shortages in the profession that can only be mitigated by putting it on the Shortage Occupation List so that animal health and welfare and public health is safeguarded.

“Our ideal outcome is that EU veterinary surgeons currently living and working in the UK are allowed to stay indefinitely and that, in terms of any post-Brexit immigration system, graduates of European schools accredited by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE) are allowed to work here with the minimum of restrictions.”

It's all about Christmas at The Glee this December as the famed Birmingham comedy club celebrates the festive season in style, with top-notch comedy line-ups and a luxurious menu.

Perfect for work parties and seasonal treats, December’s three-course meal has been especially designed to cater for a variety of tastes, and kicks off with a Xmas Starter Plater, featuring a selection of meat and fish pate, roast pepper hummus, olives, caramelised onion chutney, focaccia, flat bread and Gressini.

The main course boasts five mouth-watering choices.

For those looking for a traditional festive meal, look no further than the Individual Three Bird Roast: turkey, duck and corn-fed chicken, wrapped in bacon with a cranberry and sage stuffing, served with a cranberry and red wine jus, gratin potatoes and winter vegetables.

Or if you prefer to save your Christmas dinner for December 25, why not opt for Slow Cooked British Pork Belly glazed with an apricot and thyme sauce, or Cod Loin wrapped in smoked salmon with a lemon and basil sauce? They’re both available as gluten-free options too!

There's also Pulled Turkey Burger, with red cabbage and cranberry slaw, topped with a sage and onion stuffing ball and a pig-in-a-blanket, and served with sweet potato fries, plus veggie and vegan options: Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Fried Halloumi Burger (vegetarian) and Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Fried Tofu Burger (vegan). Both come with red cabbage and cranberry slaw, sage and onion stuffing ball and sweet potato fries.

And if you’re still peckish after that seasonal chow-down, head to the festive Dessert Grotto where you’ll find an enticing selection of cheesecakes, tortes, pastries and fresh fruit.

Meanwhile, on stage, enjoy a cavalcade of outstanding comic talent who’ll ensure you’re well entertained, including award-winning Irish podcaster Jarlath Regan, Canadian Dana Alexander, Aussie artist/ comedian Bec Hill, star of cult C4 hit Almost Royal Ed Gamble, and the ever-excellent Zoe Lyons.

But the fun doesn’t stop once the show’s over as The Glee’s resident DJ will keep the party atmosphere going well into the wee small hours.

Prices for The Glee’s Christmas celebrations begin at just £20 (comedy only)/ £35 (comedy and food), with parties running from Thursday 30 November to Saturday 23 December 2017.

The West Midlands’ longest-running comedy venue, The Glee can be found at The Arcadian Centre, Hurst Street, Birmingham B5 4TD.

Visitors to the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham are invited to meet Santa in his Antarctic Grotto from the 25th November to 23rd December 2017.

All admission tickets to the popular city centre attraction include the chance to meet Santa stationed with his North Pole neighbours - the Gentoo Penguins - in the Chilly Ice Adventure area.

The centre’s family of Gentoo penguins are a firm favourite amongst visitors of all ages and the lovable waddling birds have expanded their numbers this year with the addition of the aquarium’s first ever baby chicks, born in June.

Plus, don’t miss Sea Life’s underwater Christmas tree located in the amazing 360 Ocean Tunnel, and discover how staff make sure all creatures have a very Merry Fish-mas! All this plus meeting Santa and a free gift from the man himself is included within all admission tickets for the perfect festive experience this holiday season.

Amy Langham, General Manager at the attraction said: “We’re honoured to have Santa choose our family attraction to base his North Pole HQ and look forward to welcoming many guests to experience the chilly Ice Adventure and see the cheeky Gentoo penguins when they meet him this Christmas.”

Plus, if you are looking for a fantastic festive gift, how about a unique VIP Feed experience with some of the centre’s most loved creatures? Prices start from just £65 with Molokai, the Giant Green Sea Turtle. For penguin lovers, there’s the opportunity to feed the adorable Gentoo penguins, firm favourites with visitors at the centre. Alternatively, visitors can brave the sharks and give them their tasty lunch time treats.

Every experience makes a great gift and includes priority admission, a Sea Life goody bag and of course the opportunity to meet an Aquarist and learn more about the lives of some of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures. Get those questions answered that have forever been burning in your mind and discover all about the special diets of the sea creatures.

The results are in for the Safer 6 campaign's third week, which had a special focus on Tipton.

From clean-ups and neighbourhood walkabouts, to speed operations, safety checks and talks at schools on knife crime, road safety and fireworks, the week was packed with activity.

A highlight of the week was a skateboarding event at Victoria Park, Tipton, where a wide range of services and organisations promoted safety, crime prevention, health and careers advice to young people.

The Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Ahmadul Haque MBE, deputy council leader Councillor Syeda Khatun and Tipton town lead member Councillor Ann Jarvis all joined in the event.

Sandwell Crime Prevention Panel volunteers spoke to 84 people, giving out 68 'no caller at the door' cards, 45 security torches/whistles, 39 purse bells, 32 security cords, 11 cycle coding kits and eight personal attack alarms. They also advised young people on mobile phone security.

The cannabis information trailer was there too, with officers giving advice on the risks of growing and using drugs.

The many activities in Tipton during the week including the following:

  • Town lead Councillor Ann Jarvis, deputy lead Councillor Bill Cherrington and Councillor Pete Allen joined police and council neighbourhood officers for a speed operation in Toll End Road. More than 200 vehicles were checked, with 10 drivers warned and three speeding tickets issued.
  • Fire crews carried out 86 'Safe and Well' visits, offering advice on anything from vehicle safety and smoke alarms to stopping smoking.
  • Fire crews gave fire, road, firework and bonfire safety advice to children at Wednesbury Oak and Tameside primary schools. They also visited Burberry Court to offer fire safety advice to residents.
  • Police and fire crews supported the Teamworx partnership programme at Malthouse Outdoor Activity Centre, getting young people involved in a range of fun and positive activities.
  • The council's road safety officers gave an assembly at Silvertrees Academy and chatted to parents and children about child car seats and gave 'Be Bright/Be Seen' advice at Summerhill Primary, St Paul's CE Primary and Jubilee Park Academy.
  • Offenders doing unpaid Community Payback cleaned up rubbish and cleared overgrown areas at Upper Church Lane open space, and joined councillors, neighbourhood officers and police cleaning up Fred Perry Walkway.
  • Police talked to pupils at secondary schools and youth groups about the dangers of carrying knives and visited Glebefields Primary and Tipton Green Junior schools to raise awareness about community safety and 'stranger danger'.
  • Council neighbourhood officers and Litterwatch held a litter pick on the Tibbington estate. Tipton Local, the council's anti-social behaviour team and police held a litter pick at Arnhem Way/Discovery Close following reports from a councillor. Litter picks were also held in Tipton Green and Jubilee Park.
  • Council wardens issued two dog mess fines duing the week, including one at Jubilee Park, Tipton. The other was at Harry Mitchell Park, Smethwick.
  • Councillor Bill Cherrington joined a walkabout with police and council neighbourhood officers on the Tibbington estate, chatting to residents about local issues.
  • Public health officers held alcohol awareness session at Tipton Local office, talking about safe drinking and encouraging people to sample non-alcoholic beer and wine.
  • Police, neighbourhood and anti-social behaviour team officers, the community alcohol awareness team and local councillors held a walkabout in Great Bridge, talking to a number of street drinkers and rough sleepers, seizing alcohol and signposting four people to organisations for support.
  • Police held bike security marking and registration sessions at Farmfoods and at the Little Nippers Club at St Mark's Church Hall to help prevent thefts.
  • South Staffs Water held a talk at Tipton Muslim Community Centre, helping people find a cheaper tariff.
  • Trading standards carried out tobacco and alcohol test purchases. Of the five shops visited for alcohol and seven for cigarettes, none sold to the underage volunteer.
  • Police attended a Parenting Pals session at Tipton Christian Church and a community lunch event at Jubilee Community Centre, giving advice on a range of issues.
  • Trading standards and neighbourhood officers visited older residents to provide advice on doorstep security and scams.
Councillor Ann Jarvis, Tipton town lead member, said: "I would like thank everyone who has contributed to this wide-ranging activity in Tipton, all aimed at helping people to feel safer and be more aware of the many services available to them.

"Organisations work closely together all year round and these results are just a snapshot of the ongoing efforts to improve the town."

A leading University of Wolverhampton academic took part in a national campaign to train children to perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

Dr Petula Nurse, the University’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassador and Principal Lecturer in Biomedical Science in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, took part in the recent National Restart a Heart campaign – training over 200 children at a local Wolverhampton school.

Restart a Heart Day is a Europe-wide initiative created by the European Resuscitation Council aimed at raising cardiac arrest awareness. The campaign was launched in 2013 to teach members of the public how to help restart the heart of someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest.

Petula said: "The Restart a Heart awareness day was a great opportunity to show how every child can be a life saver and create awareness of how CPR can save a person's life."

Petula teamed up with other volunteers - David Glover (St John Ambulance), Dr Theresa Thomas (University of Birmingham) and Barry Parkes (Alstom Transport) - and trained 209 children in CPR at St Andrews CE Primary School, Wolverhampton. Pupils were trained in groups and practised on mannequins.

Over 16,000 primary school children across Birmingham and the Black Country were trained on the day.

Chloe Armishaw, Teacher at St Andrews, said: “I am really grateful for all the effort you put into the day and I feel the children really learnt something from the day.”

All children participating received a Restart a Heart certificate of involvement from the British Heart Foundation.

The Half Moon in Kirdford has been brought back to life by its new custodian, Jodie Kidd. Having lived in the local area all her life, Jodie feels passionately about ensuring the pub remains at the heart of the village.

The quintessential Grade II listed building has been transformed into a charming country pub, restaurant and kitchen garden where the local guests are the heartbeat of the pub.

The garden is an important focus, with al fresco dining in the summer enabling guests to enjoy the peace and quiet of the village, and menus reflecting the changing seasons in the kitchen garden.

Jodie Kidd comments, “Honest, organic and home from home are just some of the values we hold close and wish to share with all our guests.”

Half Moon guests can expect flavour and quality to be at the centre of everything our Head Chef serves, with quality British produce enhanced by global flavours inspired by Jodie's travels.

The Half Moon's beverage list is equally important with a range of local real ales, craft lagers and fine Sussex wines for guests to enjoy and Jodie is planning an impressive line-up of events throughout the year from family fun days to glamorous dinner and dance evenings.

Jodie continues, “We are proud to be a pub first and foremost, aspiring to serve quality food and provide great service.”

More than 700 pupils took to the stage to shine in front of over 2,000 family and friends at this year's spectacular schools' Diversity celebration, One World, One People, One Voice.

They wowed the capacity crowd at the Civic Hall on Thursday night (2 November, 2017), performing a wide range of song, dance and drama which showcased the cultures, languages, traditions and faiths found in Wolverhampton.

The annual event, now in its 30th year, involved 705 pupils from 22 schools and groups.

The performers included children from Penn Hall, Wodensfield Primary, Perry Hall Primary Multi Academy Trust, Merridale Primary, Amethyst Trust, Lanesfield Primary, St Michael's CE Primary, Christchurch CE Infants, Bantock Primary, Green Park, Goldthorn Primary, St Andrew's CE Primary, Northwood Park Primary and Villiers Primary, Bilston CE Primary, Stow Heath Primary, Springvale Primary, St Luke's CE Primary, Elston Hall Primary Multi Academy Trust, Loxdale Primary, Trinity CE Primary and The King's C of E schools.

There were also performances by the Wolverhampton Music School String Orchestra, the Diversity Community Choir and the City of Wolverhampton Council's Choir.

Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "I was delighted to be able to attend this wonderful annual event, which showcases what a diverse and multi-cultural City we live in – and just how talented our young people are.

"I would like to congratulate everyone who was involved for their hard work which resulted in a fabulous evening's entertainment which was enjoyed by all, including over 2,000 proud parents in the audience."

Homework is an instrumental part of the national curriculum for both primary and secondary school children, but how do parents help their children when they come unstuck? And how do they ensure their child’s learning continues when they leave the classroom?

New research by home education provider Oxford Home Schooling reveals that 13% of primary school pupils spend five hours or more on homework a week, compared to 39% of those in secondary school and more than half (55%) of sixth form or college students.

With homework playing such a huge role in a child’s education, Dr Nick Smith, principal at Oxford Home Schooling, shares his top tips on how parents can help children with their homework.

Keep up to date with homework policies

Read the news and keep up to date with school policies and standards. It’s important to know what is expected of children when it comes to homework, so you’re able to help in a productive way. Swot up so you’re not left flustered if your child asks a tricky question.

Create a homework-friendly area

Create a calm and relaxing area that will stimulate a child and heighten their willingness to learn. This might be a private study room in the home, a corner of the bedroom or simply a seat at the kitchen table. Whatever the location, ensure your child feels comfortable working in this area.

Shower children with praise and support

It doesn’t matter whether your child is struggling with a certain subject or exceeding expectations, praising their efforts continuously is really important. These positive words will help to shape their learning and progress.

Set a good example

Read a book in front of your child, as well as carrying out general life admin tasks such as studying bills, and keeping things in order. Children are more likely to follow your lead and advice if they see you setting a good example.


Dallaglio RugbyWorks, the charity founded by former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio, celebrated its 8Rocks fundraising gala dinner on Friday 03rd November. The annual event, now in its ninth year, saw the charity raise £606,000 towards its RugbyWorks initiative, which delivers a long-term intensive skills development programme, based on the values of rugby, to 14-17 year olds outside of mainstream education.

The charity was founded by Dallaglio in 2009. Through various annual events, including 8Rocks and the Dallaglio Cycling Slam, the charity has raised close to £10 million in the last nine years. Now working in Pupil Referral Units across the UK in London, Newcastle, the East Midlands, North West, Bristol and South Wales, RugbyWorks provides teenagers with the support, experience and opportunity to help them into sustained education, employment or training.

The dinner was held at Battersea Evolution and attended by celebrity guests including Dallaglio and his family, Andrew Ridgeley and the cast of Jersey Boys who performed for the guests on the night.

Rachel Roxburgh, CEO, said “We are truly delighted with the generosity shown by our supporters and it was encouraging to see the continued dedication after nine years. I would like to thank everybody who attended 8Rocks. We are proud to have raised such a significant amount towards the programme and we look forward to building on this success in the coming months.”

Lawrence Dallaglio said “Once again, I have been blown away by the fantastic support shown by so many. It’s an amazing achievement to raise such a significant amount of money towards our RugbyWorks programme. It just goes to show how many people are as passionate about what we do as I am.”

A shopping trip with a historic twist and a world premiere of a children's classic are among the compelling reasons to head to Chester and Cheshire at Christmas.

The city's medieval Rows – the world's first shopping arcade – will be the focus of The Rows Revealed, a fascinating 90-minute tour now available to the public. The Guild of Chester Tour Guides will unearth archaeological gems within the double-decker shopping galleries, some only accessible with their help, such as the remains of pillars that were once part of the Roman fortress Deva Victrix, now hidden beneath Pret a Manger. Other sites likely to be on the itinerary include the remains of a Roman hypocaust beneath Spudulike, medieval cellars in Corks Out, and Tudor plasterwork and a priest hole in Sofa Warehouse.

Enid Blyton's 'The Secret Seven' will be live on stage for the very first time this Christmas at Storyhouse, Chester's new integrated arts centre. In this new production of the classic children's tale, the intrepid gang are on the trail of strange clues that will lead them straight to the heart of a mystery they must solve by Christmas.