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A student who "had to start from square one" after moving to the UK has said she hopes winning an award "inspires girls from similar backgrounds".

After arriving from Pakistan in 2017, Manchester's Esha Mumtaz had to pass her GCSEs before taking a diploma and working in a care home and a hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her work has seen her honoured in the Association of Colleges' annual awards.

She said she wanted other teenagers to "see they are capable of great things". Naming her Young Student of the Year, the organisation which represents further education institutions said the Stockport College student's "outstanding commitment" made her a worthy winner.

"Esha won the award for her dedication and professionalism during the height of Covid-19 last year," a spokeswoman said. "She travelled two hours by bus to voluntarily work with

Alzheimer's and dementia patients at Trafford General Hospital and was offered paid employment at a care home after impressing in her placement." She added that Ms Mumtaz had to overcome "shyness" after arriving from Pakistan and had made a "significant contribution" to her college and community in a very short space of time, which showed "what can be achieved by students entering a new country and culture from overseas".

The student, who lives in Levenshulme, said on arriving in the UK, she found her school qualifications were not recognised, so has to take her GCSEs before starting a health and social care diploma. She said she had "come from a background where girls do not get many opportunities to study. I am very lucky; my college and my parents are very supportive.

"By winning this award, I want to inspire girls out there, especially the ones that come from a similar place, that you are capable of great things." A Stockport College spokeswoman said since enrolling, Ms Mumtaz had overcome "cultural and language barriers" to make "remarkable progression, in confidence as well as ability".

She said she had been a student ambassador, deputy leader of the equalities council and was now a student governor, who was also setting up a website to connect people with mental health issues with professionals.

The National Deaf Children's Society has responded to reports that face masks will be mandatory in secondary school classrooms when schools return on March 8.

Ian Noon, Head of Policy at the National Deaf Children's Society, said: “With England’s 35,000 deaf pupils close to a return to education, the goalposts on face masks have moved yet again. Public health must take priority, but bringing face masks into classrooms will have a devastating effect on deaf children’s studies, mental health and ability to take part in lessons.

“The Government cannot make an announcement and expect this to be enough. It must move quickly to show exactly how it will guarantee deaf children can still access their lessons.

“We cannot have a situation where thousands of deaf children and young people are unable to understand their teacher, leaving many with little point in even attending class. The future of their education is at stake and the clock has already started.”

There are more than 50,000 deaf children in the UK and with five babies are born deaf every day the National Deaf Children’s Society – which helps them thrive by providing impartial, practical and emotional support, and by challenging governments and society to meet their needs - stands out as the leading charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and their families.

With half-term over, and children expected to start going back to school over the next few weeks, Severn Trent is encouraging teachers and schools to sign up to its successful education sessions as class rooms start to fill again.

The digital sessions are fully educational, and are aimed to teach children all about water, waste and the environment.

Dave Cork, Senior Education Officer said: “We went online with our lessons for schools in October and we’ve been really popular. In the run up to Christmas we’d educated almost 15,000 children across our whole region. When schools shut again in January our new online platform meant we could still help providing content over the web both to the key-worker children still in schools as well as their classmates now schooling from home, educating a further 7,000 children and adults.

“Now, with a date and goal for children to go back into schools, we really want to offer our sessions to all schools across our region again, so we can help educate and inform children all about the importance of water, and why we need to save it, how to look after our sewers and understanding more about the environment we live in.” Severn Trent’s Education Team are usually found delivering interactive workshops in schools across its region, but since the pandemic started, it’s adapted its sessions to be digital, as well as launching Kids Zone.

The educational area of the Severn Trent website is full of entertaining, educational content and worksheets for children and parents to use at home. Dave adds: “Usually we we’d be visiting schools with our education programme, so now our lessons are online schools and children won’t miss out. The sessions have been designed to be fun, interactive, and educational and with us hosting them live in real-time, so we’re also able to answer any questions and fully interact with the children.

“They really are a fun, safe way for us to deliver our workshops in a style that’s suitable for everyone! And the best thing is no fancy equipment is needed, and you don’t need to worry how good your Zoom or Teams skills are. We provide teachers with a unique link for each session to share with whichever children want to watch a particular session. All you need is a web browser and an internet connection and a mouse or finger to click the link. It really is that simple!”

Some of the feedback from teachers who have had the sessions include: “Excellent session, very informative with a great mix of videos and chat. This will definitely help to support children learning about the water cycle later in the year too!” “Really useful and interesting session! Brilliant that a tour of the sewers were included. Really interactive and a good variation with the songs and characters. Thank you so much, we would love to book again in the future!”

And from children themselves: “Love it and it was basically the best live stream ever!” “Really enjoyed the session! Great demonstrations and loved the videos!” “This was amazing I will definitely recommend this session it was very inspirational and helped me understand what to put down the toilet it was very good for children and also fun!” “This was a fun session and i really enjoyed watching the video clips. I enjoyed learning about how to help keep water clean and how to look after our sewage.”

Wales-based educational resources provider Daydream Education has made a selection of its downloadable study tools available for free to support home education during lockdown. It has also issued a set of tips to help parents ensure their children get the most out of home study.

The Bridgend-based company was founded 25 years ago by Chris Malcom after he identified a need for quality educational posters in school classrooms. Its posters are now in over 90 percent of UK secondary schools and are used widely internationally as well. With schools closed, however, the company’s customer base has shifted as it experiences a surge in demand from parents who are keen to support their children with their home-based learning.

As well as posters, Daydream Education produces its range of Pocket Posters revision guides, which present all the information from their posters in book form and come with a free digital app which includes assessment activities and reporting. To help teachers, parents and children with their homebased learning, Daydream has released a range of free resources, which can be downloaded from its website.

Chris Malcom, MD of Daydream Education, said: “Our posters are designed to present all the essential information needed by pupils in an eye-catching and memorable way. They’ve been a teachers’ favourite for many years, but now more and more parents are recognising the benefits of using these at home.

“Students studying at home are also benefitting from our revision guides and the accompanying digital resources and tests, which help to ensure they continue to progress at a good pace while studying at home. Home study can be stressful for both parents and children and we hope that by providing a selection of free resources via our website, we’ll be able to help them through this challenging time.”

5 home education study tips from Chris Malcom are:

·         Decide on a specific location for home study and stick with it. Having a designated area for study – even if it’s a corner of the living room – can help your child get into the right mind-set as soon as they sit down.

·         Remove as many distractions as possible – switch the TV off, discourage mobile phone use while studying, and if possible, make sure younger children stay in another room.

·         Break your child’s study period into blocks of 20 minutes, allowing breaks of 10-15 minutes in between. These short, sharp sessions, known as spaced learning, have been shown to be the best for maintaining concentration and retaining information.

·         Make sure your child has access to the resources they need to help them when they get stuck. Our free online resources can help here.

·         At the end of a session, do a quick-fire assessment to check understanding of the topic covered. Our free digital resources available when you purchase our Pocket Poster Revision Guides include quick-fire assessment activities, which can be used to test your child’s levels of understanding and keep track of their progress.

Birmingham teenager Niall Quinney is an apprentice carpenter, following in his granddad’s footsteps to establish a career working with timber. The 18-year-old from Sheldon joined Persimmon Homes Central in May 2019 and will soon complete his NVQ Level 2 Carpentry and Joinery apprenticeship.

He said: “I attend Solihull College one day a week, the rest of the time I’m out on site. I’m at Paragon Park in Coventry at the moment, which is my third development. I’m really enjoying the work and learning lots of new skills from everyone here.”

Elliot O’Sullivan, Site Manager at Paragon Park and Niall’s line manager said: “We’ve been able to give Niall the opportunity to work on a wide range of carpentry jobs including working with timber framing, trusses, 1st and 2nd fix, and he’s done really well.”

Elliot himself is a former apprentice so knows the benefits of the scheme: “When I was 17 I was an apprentice bricklayer, so I know how successful an apprenticeship is at steering a young person in the right direct. That has certainly worked for Niall who soon will be able to choose which area of carpentry he focuses on.

“He’s been a really good apprentice for Persimmon; he’s got on and done the job and any tasks I have set him has completed to a good standard.”

On his days at college Niall studies the knowledge, skills and behaviours as set out within the apprenticeship standard, which include: health, safety & welfare; use of hand tools and power tools; measuring, marking out, fitting, cutting and splicing; and forming joints such as dovetail, comb and mortice and tenon. When he’s not at work he enjoys playing and watching football and is a Birmingham City fan.

Niall added: “I hope one day to have my own business in the trade, so the skills I learn today will be really useful to me in the future.”

The Sapphire Community group have announced their initiative to lower unemployment rates among youth with the expansion of their Employability Academy. The academy is helps young people to build their confidence and skills and supports them into jobs, education and training. 

Sapphire is working with two colleges to help give young people a chance to succeed. We have successfully trained over 150 young people in the past 12 months. SEA aims to provide personal development and career opportunities to disadvantaged young people and their families, particularly those who are NEET or who have been stigmatised by negative experiences.

A representative from the Sapphire community Group said: “The Sapphire Foundation is here to tell you that you are good enough! And that there is nothing you cannot achieve if you are willing to go the extra mile to achieve the unattainable today.”

The programme also aims to support young people from similar backgrounds who already have a passion for a particular cause and who need additional support to turn their personal passions into building their own business. The Programme will consist of: Training, Recruitment, Education, Skills Development, Accreditation Courses, Workshops and Summer School.

Donations are welcomed as they look to continue inspiring, motivating, and empowering young people.