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Couple sought in sex assault appeal

4.48pm - 30th July 2014

A WOMAN was pulled into a wooded area in Harlow and sexually assaulted by a man she had met earlier the same day. 
Police want to speak to a couple who may be able to help with their investigation after the woman, who is in her 40s and from the Harlow area, was attacked in Harlow Town Park at about 4.30pm on Sunday (July 27). 
A police spokesman said the man pulled her into a big wooded area of the park and sexually assaulted her. She shouted at him and ran away. 
The woman reported the incident to police and is now being looked after by Essex Police's Sexual Offences Investigation Team. 
Detective Inspector Terry Balding said: "After the incident the victim ran off down the path towards School Lane. 
"The man then pulled up in his silver car and asked her to get in but the victim shouted at him and walked off along First Avenue. 
"She saw a white man and woman, who she thinks were in their 50s, who may have seen or heard their exchange. 
"I would really like them to contact my team as they may be able to help with information into the investigation." 
The man and woman or anyone with any information should ring the West Sexual Offences Investigation Team on Essex Police 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Rebranding spending "could be better spent on patients"

4.24pm - 30th July 2014

NORTH Essex Partnership Trust, which provides mental health services across north Essex - including Epping Forest and Harlow - has spent about 60,000 on a re-branding exercise which includes a new logo. 
Responding to a public question about the re-branding at today's public board meeting and a comment that it was felt the money "could be better spent on patients", trust chief executive Andrew Geldard said: "I think the board is supportive of the piece of work which we have done over a period of time."

Man robbed of mobile phone

8.07am - 30th July 2014

A MAN and his partner were threatened by two men who snatched a mobile phone as the couple walked along First Avenue - near Burnt Mill Academy - Harlow. 
The men took a white IPhone from the 20-year-old Harlow man and tried to punch him but did not make contact. They then ran off. 
The Arriva 510 Stansted bus had just gone past so passengers may have seen something suspicious.
One of the robbers was white, aged about 17 or 18, about 5ft 11ins tall and had dark brown short hair and was wearing a white Adidas T shirt with a big, black logo on the front and light grey jogging bottoms. 
The other man was white, the same age, about 5ft 10ins tall, slim with short, light brown hair, acne and freckles and was wearing a dark grey hooded top which was zipped up the middle. 
Anyone with any information about the incident, which happened shortly before 1am yesterday (Tuesday), should ring Harlow Police Station on Essex Police 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Volunteer nominated for national award

12.26pm - 24th July 2014

A VOLUNTEER from Roydon who helps run a sight loss support group in Harlow has been nominated for a national award. 
Mandy Smith is in the running for the 'Chairman's award for volunteering' as part of the Macular Society's Awards for Excellence. 
The nomination recognises her hard work and dedication in her role leading the charity's local support group. 
Age-related macular degeneration affects the central vision and is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK. More people are affected as the population ages. 
The Macular Society has 300 support groups across the UK, all aiming to increase the confidence and independence of people affected by central vision loss. 
Mrs Smith, who is affected by Macular Degeneration, said: "I am pleasantly surprised and I thank whoever was so kind as to nominate me. My involvement in the group is a pleasure and members are very supportive of each other which is reward in itself. 
"When you receive the news you have macular disease and Charles Bonnet Syndrome it is scary and a bit daunting. At meetings it is a pleasure to see group members supporting each other through the treatment and even looking forward to meeting at clinic the next morning." 
Ann Watson, a member of the group which nominated Mrs Smith, said: "Mandy has been untiring in her efforts to make sure all of the group members have access to all of the information they need about their condition. 
"She is great at dealing with queries, and has found some very interesting people to give talks at the group meetings. Even though she herself suffers with major sight problems, she remains full of beans and this positively reflects on everyone. 
"The meetings have given a new lease of life to many sufferers of sight loss." 
Mrs Smith's nomination will now be handed over to the judges who will decide on the overall winners and present the awards at the society's annual London conference on September 27.

Open gardens raise 6,400 for hospice

3.44pm - 23rd July 2014

THE 20th annual Harlow Open Gardens Weekend raised 6,400 for St Clare Hospice. 
Hundreds of people visited 29 gardens in Harlow, Church Langley and Hastingwood during the two-day event which was organised by the Harlow Friends of St Clare in aid of the Hastingwood-based charity.
Open Gardens stalwart Ann Gould, who organised the first event in 1994, said: "Every year has been a success and as the years have passed the money collected has grown and grown. 
"This year there were 28 gardens on show and one allotment. 
"The weather was very bad at times but despite the rain visitors kept coming to the garden enjoying the plants and homemade cakes, teas, coffees and ploughman's lunches. 
"At some gardens people ate their meals in the rain with umbrellas up, or were invited into the gardener's house to eat." 
Many of those who opened their gardens also organised live music, gift stalls and plant sales, served refreshments and held raffles to boost funds.
The weekend raised 5,658 with Barclays Bank giving 750 match funding.

Four schools announce new 'super team'

3.52pm - 21st July 2014

A NEW team has been unveiled to be in charge of four Harlow primary schools from September. 
The team will be headed by Helena Mills, headteacher of Burnt Mill Academy and chief executive of the Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust which has responsibility for Freshwaters, Roydon, Little Parndon and Cooks Spinney primaries, all feeder schools of Burnt Mill. 
The new structure sees Paul Jackson as executive headteacher of all four primaries, while each school will have its own head of school - Marios Solomonides, promoted from deputy headteacher to head of school at Freshwaters; Stuart Pope, promoted from deputy headteacher to head of school at Cooks Spinney; Sophie Laing, moving from her role as assistant headteacher at Burnt Mill Academy to head of school at Little Parndon; and Gill Doyle who remains head of school at Roydon.

Council welcomes Science Hub decision

3.01pm - 21st July 2014

HARLOW Council has welcomed the decision of the Board of Public Health England that Harlow is to be recommended as the location for its state-of-the-art national Science Hub. 
PHE has been considering for some time the options for relocating its facilities from Porton, Whitechapel and Colindale. 
The PHE Board has decided to recommend to Government that the facilities and support services are relocated to Harlow to create a world class Science Hub at the former GlaxoSmithKline campus. 
The Department of Health and HM Treasury will now assess the options and the recommendation. It is anticipated a decision could be made by the end of September. 
The proposal is to provide a modern campus and facilities for the nation's public health science retaining and attracting the world's best scientists and researchers. 
The proposal includes building new laboratory facilities with some activities moving to Harlow from mid-2018. 
Harlow Council leader Jon Clempner said: "This is an extremely positive development for Harlow as it will increase the number of high quality science and research jobs in the town. 
"Harlow is a science-led town and this will add to that status and contribute to the Enterprise Zone developments in the town. 
"A new Science Hub links perfectly with MedTech and will increase the attractiveness of the town for businesses in the science and health sector." 
He added: "We want the world's best scientists and researchers to work here in Harlow but we also want to improve the higher education offer in the town and the educational opportunities for local people. "Having a state-of-the-art science hub in Harlow will help to do just that." 
Harlow Council's regeneration and enterprise portfolio holder Tony Durcan said: "This announcement is the culmination of a huge amount of work over a long period and recognises Harlow as a place in which to invest. 
"At the centre of the London Cambridge Corridor, Harlow is an ideal place for investment and I am sure PHE moving to Harlow will attract private sector firms to the town. 
"The council is doing all that it can to support investment in Harlow. It is also supporting local people to enable them to acquire the skills and education necessary for them to take the opportunities that are being created."

Award for Kier Harlow

1.56pm - 21st July 2014

REPAIRS and maintenance provider Kier Harlow has won two gold awards in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Occupational Health & Safety Awards 2014. 
Kier Harlow has received a merit in the British Safety Council's International Safety Awards. 
The awards benchmark Kier Harlow's health and safety performance and recognise its continuous drive for the highest standards of health and safety while carrying out repairs and maintenance to 10,000-plus council properties in the region. 
Set up as a joint venture partnership between Harlow Council and Kier, Kier Harlow has been rewarded for its professional approach to preventing accidents, which includes carrying out regular health and safety briefings and training. 
RoSPA's awards manager David Rawlins said: "The RoSPA Awards encourage the raising of occupational health & safety standards across the board. 
"Organisations that gain recognition for their health and safety management systems, such as Kier Harlow, contribute to a collective raising of the bar for other organisations to aspire to, and we offer them our congratulations." 
Kier regional operations manager John Phillips said: "To receive both a RoSPA and BSC award is a great achievement. They demonstrate our employees' dedication to continuously improving our health and safety practices and to maintaining the highest standards possible. 
"The safety of employees, residents and members of the public has been, and always will be, of the utmost importance to Kier." 
Kier Group has won 13 RoSPA awards this year.

Labour hopeful becomes academy director

1.54pm - 21st July 2014

PARLIAMENTARY hopeful Suzy Stride has become a director of the Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust, joining forces with chief executive Helena Mills. 
Ms Stride, Harlow's Labour candidate for next May's general election and whose day job is with the charity City Gateway where she works in education with young people from difficult backgrounds, said: "I am incredibly passionate about tapping into the potential which is in all young people whatever their background, which is why it is fantastic to work in education. 
"I was also involved in a policy review looking at engaging youngsters in politics. There is a definite aspirations gap in Harlow; young people are just not aiming high enough. So I launched my aspirations campaign and set about sharing my own story of how I went from state school education to Cambridge University." 
She added: "I am from the East End and that didn't stop me. I believe state school education sets you up for life rather than holds you back. Anything tough you go through simply builds resilience. The next Alan Sugar will come from this kind of area, not from Eton. 
"I was lucky in that I had a very dynamic headteacher but when she left there were no other teachers encouraging me to aim for the top universities. "I did not have an easy journey getting to Cambridge, I had to fight for it. 
"There is potential in everyone, in every community and every school. It's about tapping into that potential and that's what Helena is fantastic at. She is very aspirational and ambitious for the children, which is absolutely right. 
"This is about me coming alongside what is already going on here and using my experience, skills and connections to enhance it. If every school was like Burnt Mill, the world would be a better place. Children here are getting a fantastic education." 
Ms Stride has already started working with Burnt Mill Academy taking girls through their paces in a football session as well as holding assemblies on equality and aspirations. 
She also plans to offer help and advice to students when they make their applications to universities. 
Ms Stride, whose role with the BMAT is unpaid, said: "It's really, really exciting to be working with the Trust. Even if I was not a parliamentary candidate this is what I would want to be doing." 
Miss Mills said: "I am delighted to have Suzy Stride on board with the Trust. She stands for the same values as us and believes every single child deserves the very best education and the most exciting opportunities regardless of their background. 
"We are on a mission to provide a world-class education and Suzy is fighting for the same things for Harlow's young people."

Woman trapped after car hits house

1.19pm - 18th July 2014

FIREFIGHTERS were called to free a woman trapped in her car after it hit a house in Denby Grange, Harlow. 
Two Harlow fire crews were called out at midday and took about 15 minutes to free the woman who was given oxygen therapy by firefighters until paramedics arrived.

School records best ever SATS results

8.40am - 18th July 2014

A HARLOW primary school is celebrating its best ever SATs results - boosting its score by 30 per cent since forming a partnership with a secondary school. 
Staff, pupils and parents at Freshwaters Primary Academy joined the Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust at the start of the academic year. 
Pupils are expected to have reached level four by the end of Year 6. The school this week recorded 83 per cent of children having reached that level in their reading, writing and maths. 
For the first time, 41 per cent of pupils also exceeded that by achieving level five in reading while a couple of pupils managed to score level six - a standard expected of children a year older. 
Last year just 59 per cent reached their target in reading, 56 per cent in writing and 56 per cent in maths.
Head of School Marios Solomonides said: "Children are generally expected to improve by two levels but we have seen lots of our pupils make accelerated progress up three levels during their time at Freshwaters. 
"We have achieved this leap in achievement by putting excellent teachers in front of our Year 6 pupils. They have really focused on each individual child. That is the BMAT way, to look at each child and to identify as early as possible when and where they may need help to achieve their best. 
"There's no secret to it, it was about looking at what they needed to learn and then teaching them it. If a child did not know something, we looked at whether it was because they had not been taught it or that they needed to be taught it in a different way to help them to understand. 
"There is nothing different about our children; this was not just a particularly bright group. It has been about our expectations being higher and we have full belief we will achieve like this again next year." 
The school is not content with just getting it right with Year 6 and now wants to transfer those teaching methods to the rest of the school. 
Mr Solomonides said: "Our challenge now is to apply those principles we have learnt with all other year groups. 
"It is not just our Year 6 teachers who got our pupils to this level. It is about everyone within our community having an impact on the children, from learning support assistants to catering staff and parents. 
"Our children have to feel happy, positive and cared for to achieve and that's the responsibility of our whole school community. It has been lovely to see staff from across the school showing an interest in how the Year 6 group did, whether they taught them or not. That, to me, shows everyone feels a part of what we are doing, even if they do not sit in a classroom with the children."

Two arrested over 'drug-related' death

3.07pm - 15th July 2014

TWO people have been arrested following the 'drug-related' death of a woman in Harlow. 
Nicola Miles, 47, was found seriously ill in a residential property in Brockles Mead shortly before 11pm on Monday, June 30. 
The local woman died a few days later at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow. 
Officers are awaiting the results of toxicology tests after a post-mortem examination was unable to reveal a cause of death. 
These test results are due back in September. 
An inquest into the death of Nicola Miles was opened and adjourned. Police had been looking to arrest a man and a woman in connection with the drugs-related death. 
On Monday evening a 30-year-old man from Harlow and a 30-year-old woman, of no fixed address, were arrested in Harlow town centre on suspicion of manslaughter. 
They are being questioned by detectives at a police station in Essex.

Accuro named Charity of the Year

1.52pm - 15th July 2014

HASTINGWOOD-based charity Accuro (Care Services) has won the Heart Essex Radio Charity of the Year for 2014. 
The award, which is specifically for Accuro's Community Gardening Project, was presented at the Heart Essex Charity Award Ceremony held at Colchester United Football Club. 
The project was chosen because it "makes a real difference in your area, your community and to the lives of others''. 
The Community Gardening Project is based in the Saffron Walden area and has only been operating for two years. 
The project provides a range of opportunities for adults with a disability to participate in a range of horticultural-based activities, the most important of which is a community gardening service.
This is a gardening maintenance service offered free to local residents who are unable to maintain their own gardens owing to factors such as age or illness. 
Sue Atack, Accuro's Adult Services co-ordinator stressed the potential development for the important project that is improving the quality of lives of both the project's members (adults with a disability) and of the people whose gardens are being maintained. 
She said: "Currently we are maintaining 15 local gardens but unfortunately demand for the service is now outstripping what we are able to provide and the waiting list for this service seems set to continue to grow unless we can secure some additional funding. 
"The project is currently in the process of moving to a new base at Elder Street, Howletts End, Wimbish, and this will further increase the potential for future development providing we can obtain more support for it such as that currently generously provided by the Lloyds Bank Foundation." 
Speaking of his involvement as a member of the project, Michael Romanis-Geer said: "It is hard work but fun and it's really great being able to help other people." 
In addition to providing the maintenance service, the Accuro Community Gardening Project also engages in a number of community-based activities that have included working with Newport Grammar School on the design and development of a sensory garden. 
It also provides a wide range of other activities including opportunities for members to grow and sell plants. Indeed they can regularly be seen selling some of their products on Saffron Walden Market.
Accuro CEO Arthur Steward said: "We are very pleased to have received this award which is not just recognition of the efforts of the Accuro staff involved in establishing and delivering this project but, and more importantly, recognises the very valuable contribution that our members with a disability are making to their local community." 
Accuro is a locally-based charity established 30 years ago this year by local parents of children with a disability who were keen to see a better future for their children. 
The charity has grown steadily over the years and now provides a range of services for local children, young people and adults with a disability and their families. 
Accuro greatly appreciates the support it receives from the local communities in which it operates and welcomes offers of support and assistance from local groups and individuals. 
To find out more about the services offered by Accuro and ways in which you might consider supporting the vibrant and valuable local charity visit the Accuro website at www.accuro.org.uk, email enquiries@accuro.org.uk or ring 01279 433667.

Paddling pools ready for summer

1.18pm - 15th July 2014

HARLOW Council is reminding families that a fun day out can be enjoyed at one of the town's paddling pools. 
The town has five council-run paddling pools - at Bush Fair, Norman Booth, Staple Tye, Sumners and the Town Park - as well as the splash park at Potter Street.
 The pools at Sumners and the Town Park open on Saturday (July 19) with the others and the splash park opening on Wednesday, July 23. 
All will stay open until Sunday, August 31. 
The pools are free to use and are open seven days a week from 10am to 6pm dependent on weather conditions. 
Although there is an attendant on site to maintain the pool during opening hours all children must be accompanied and supervised by an adult. 
Harlow Council youth and community portfolio holder Emma Toal said: "Harlow's paddling pools and the splash park are a great way of keeping the kids entertained and cool during the summer holidays, and the best thing is they are free to use for all. 
"We know they're much loved by local families and, if the hot weather is here to stay - which we hope it is, the paddling pools and splash park will help to make everyone's summer an enjoyable one." 
The pools sometimes close temporarily for maintenance or if broken glass is found so residents are advised to check the council's website at www.harlow.gov.uk/paddling-pools for the latest information.
Residents are asked not to take bikes or dogs into the pool area and use the litter bins provided or take their litter home.

Students help with charity's community day

11.28am - 11th July 2014

HASTINGWOOD-based charity Accuro welcomed Passmores Academy students during its Community Day. 
As one of their nominated house charities, the Passmores students helped Accuro in three ways. 
The week kicked off with a sponsored walk for the charity which provides a broad range of support and activities for children, young people and adults with a disability. 
The walk was followed by a 1,500 leaflet drop in the surrounding area telling everyone about the many ways in which the community can volunteer with Accuro and encourage people to consider whether they may be able to provide Shared Care support to a child with a disability. 
Finally on Thursday, June 19, a group of eager students descended on the charity's Hastingwood head office. 
Armed with nothing more than boundless enthusiasm, tea and cake, they knuckled down to making a huge stock of visual aids which the charity circulates to children and adults who have communication difficulties. 
Accuro's community co-ordinator Janice Schooling said: "We were delighted to be approached by Sheila Sumsion, of Passmores Academy, who worked with us to schedule a range of activities where the students could make a real contribution to their house charity whilst also having fun." 
Accuro's services range from Shared Care, Parenting Support and Play and Holiday Schemes across west Essex, youth groups in Harlow (ASD), Loughton, Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow, through to an Adult Friendship Scheme and Community Gardening Project. 
Further details of the work the charity does, and all future Accuro fundraising events, can be seen on the charity's website www.accuro.org.uk
For more details email the charity at enquiries@accuro.org.uk or ring 01279 433117.

Teenager robbed on cycle path

3.22pm - 9th July 2014

A 17-YEAR-OLD Harlow boy was hit on the head and robbed of cash on the cycle path between Southern Way and Pynest Road, Harlow. 
Police say the attack happened at 9.35pm on Friday, June 27. The boy was helped by a male passer-by who police want to speak to. 
He is described as white, aged about 60, of medium build with short grey hair. 
This person or anyone with any other information should ring PC Louise Howell at Harlow CID on 101.

Council prepares for strike day

9.19am - 8th July 2014

HARLOW Council is warning that services could be affected on Thursday (July 10) by national strike action - but widespread disruption to council services is not expected. 
Public sector union members have voted in favour of strike action, in a dispute over pay. 
Plans are being made to ensure the impact on residents is kept to a minimum. Information on the impact will be shared on the council's website and social media channels on Thursday. 
Residents are encouraged to use of the council website - www.harlow.gov.uk - to make payments, find information, apply for services or to report issues. 
Street cleaning, housing repairs, grass cutting, waste and recycling collections are not expected to be affected as they are provided by contractors and partner organisations. 
Council leader Jon Clempner said: "Council staff up and down the country are planning to strike as part of a national pay dispute. 
"We are making preparations and we will try to minimise the strike's impact as best we can, but some services could be affected."

Town to mark war centenary

9.19am - 8th July 2014

HARLOW Council is working with a number of individual residents and groups, including churches, schools, art groups, the museum and the Royal British Legion to mark the centenary of the First World War in August. 
Harlow Council wants to ensure the community is able to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as those who came home, along with the contribution of women and different ethnic minorities. 
A working group is promoting and co-ordinating local events and is interested in hearing from relatives of members of the armed forces from the First World War and anyone else with memories from that period. Email the council at contact@harlow.gov.uk 
The council can give small grants to local organisations to assist with projects related to the first World War centenary. An application form can be downloaded at www.harlow.gov.uk/ww1 
Work is underway to identify the names and last resting place of those who did not come back. 
These will be recorded in a special illustrated book based on the original research by Arthur Graham and on a war memorials and war graves map in Harlow. 
Two of the town's war memorials, in Potter Street and Great Parndon, are being refurbished and restored and others are being cleaned. 
Events will be held at Harlow Playhouse and in the Gibberd Gallery during the autumn, along with a memorial weekend at the Royal British Legion Club. 
The Potter Street war memorial will be re-dedicated at a service at 11am on Monday, August 4, on the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. All are welcome. 
The council will be publishing further activities at www.harlow.gov.uk/events and is encouraging the community to let it know of any similar events taking place to mark the centenary. 
For more information on the First World War Centenary visit www.1914.org.uk

Young gardener wows show judges

9.17am - 8th July 2014

BURNT Mill Academy student Penny Walker, 15, was the youngest person selected to display her creative design at the RHS Flower Show Birmingham at BBC Gardeners World Live 2014. 
Penny, from Takeley, earned a bronze medal for her design which incorporated Birmingham's many motorways and canals to look like a map made from flowers. 
She said: "My mum and grandma are really into gardening so I get my interest from them and always watch the Chelsea Flower Show on TV. 
"My favourite subjects at school are art and technology so this enabled me to bring all of those aspects together. 
"I was really hoping they would pick me to display at the show, but I thought maybe I might be too young.
"There were only 20 of us picked from 100 applicants and I was the only child selected." 
Penny spent several months growing her plants for the show and had four days to put the display in place before judging.
She said: "I think the older people were a little surprised I was in the same category as them but they were impressed someone as young as me could produce what I did." 
Penny's mum Elizabeth said: "Penny received lots of positive feedback from the judges and encouragement and advice from all sorts of people to help her to do even better next time and pursue her chosen career."

New headteacher for Cooks Spinney

8.49am - 4th July 2014

A NEW headteacher has been appointed to Cooks Spinney School in Harlow. 
Stuart Pope, whose daughter Jessica is in Year 1, said: "I want my daughter to have an outstanding primary education. There's no better way of achieving that than making it happen myself." 
The school has seen many changes over recent years, successfully coming out of special measures in 2010, combining the infants and juniors into a primary in 2012 and then converting to an academy.

Enterprise opportunity for young people

8.46am - 4th July 2014

HARLOW Council is again working in partnership with The Prince's Trust to offer a free opportunity to young people looking to go self-employed or start a business. 
They can take part in The Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme which will help create future entrepreneurs. 
Aimed at 18 to 30-year-olds who are either unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours per week, the programme offers training, mentoring and potential access to finance to allow individuals to explore and decide if self-employment or setting up a business is right for them. 
It also helps guide them through the steps of taking their business ideas and making them a reality, and provides them with skills and knowledge necessary to succeed.
Liberty Chinoda, 28, from Harlow, aspired to set up his own hair and cosmetics business but after looking at everything that was involved he needed the confidence to know it was right for him and support in taking the final steps towards setting it up. 
He attended the course and received mentoring through The Prince's Trust which led him to taking on a lease at Bush Fair Service Bays and opening Wave Hair & Cosmetics in May.
Liberty said: "I've wanted to set up my own business for a while but wasn't sure if it was right for me. The Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme gave me the confidence and encouragement to know that it was what I wanted to do and that I can do it. 
"The support I received from my mentor was exactly what I needed and has helped me along every step to opening up my own business." 
Harlow Council regeneration and enterprise portfolio holder Tony Durcan said: "The Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme is an excellent opportunity for our young people. 
"The job market is still tough and becoming self-employed or setting up a business presents a range of opportunities allowing young people to be their own boss, do something they are interested in and passionate about, whilst making money." 
For more information, and for details about the next course in Harlow which runs from July 15-18 visit www.harlow.gov.uk/princes-trust-ep

Burnt Mill students to take GCSEs early

8.43am - 4th July 2014

STUDENTS at Burnt Mill Academy will start collecting GCSEs from the age of 13. 
A new structure will see lessons extended from the current 60 minutes each to 100 minutes to give students the opportunity to complete GCSE courses in one year. 
The move will ensure students not only get to focus on their core subjects but that they can enrich their education with qualifications in subjects including Latin and classical studies. 
From September, Year 9 and 10 students will work to the new-look timetable choosing two GCSE subjects to study throughout the year. 
By the end of Year 9 they will secure GCSE grades and then choose a further two to study in Year 10.
Assistant headteacher Paul Williams said the changes are being made to ensure Burnt Mill students can take the options they love without having to drop more core subjects such as geography and history. 
He said: "Nationally there is a big emphasis on students getting qualifications in subjects which will give them a good start in life. 
"This way we can encourage them to take those subjects they want to give them a real breadth and variety without having to make a decision to drop a core subject such as modern foreign languages to study dance. 
"We feel these subjects can be as useful in securing future careers for our young adults, building their confidence and personalities. This puts our students in a strong position if they have those qualifications in the bag when they leave at 16. 
"The new curriculum structure creates more time. It will enable students to complete their option GCSEs in just one year. By the time the traditional exam season arrives for them in Year 11, they will already have six qualifications under their belts. 
"We have researched this type of structure at other schools. The evidence shows it is a real success to sit exams each year." 
Students, with advice from their teachers and families, may decide to take what they consider to be the more difficult subjects in Year 9 to get them out of the way or leave them until they are older and feel more prepared. 
The school feels the new structure enables them to come up with a plan which works for the individual child. 
Mr Williams said: "This is the right time to make these changes as our teaching and learning are outstanding. We can adapt to the challenges it may bring now that quality is in place." 
Headteacher Helena Mills said: "This change enables us to offer subjects not generally offered at other state schools, such as ancient history. 
"This curriculum will ensure Burnt Mill students leave with the most prestigious subjects at GCSE. It also means our students will have enjoyed a broad and balanced curriculum enabling them to compete for places at all the top universities nationally and internationally. 
"A lot of hard work has gone into planning this curriculum and we know our students will thrive as a result of it." Year 7 and 8 will continue with the existing lesson structure because younger students benefit from the shorter sessions, the school said.

Council seeks views over services

4.37pm - 3rd July 2014

HARLOW Council is asking residents for their views on what services they think the council should fund and provide. 
Harlow Council continues to face difficult financial challenges due to continued reduced grants from the Government. 
Since 2011 the council's Government grant which funds nearly half (46 per cent) of the council's services has reduced by nearly 50 per cent and this will continue with an expected further reduction of 16 per cent in 2015-16 and ten per cent in 2016-17. 
The council has to save 5.3m over the next four years. In 2015-16 the council will need to save 1.3m.
Both of these figures are based on Harlow Council's share of council tax increasing by 1.5 per cent a year. 
Surveys have been sent out to a random sample of 2,000 households however the consultation, which runs until August 29, is open to everyone and residents can take part online via the Harlow Council website at www.harlow.gov.uk/budget
Paper copies of the survey are available from the Civic Centre or by ringing Contact Harlow on 01279 446655.
The survey includes funding choices for more than 20 services Harlow Council provides or pays for directly. 
The council provides both discretionary services (services the council is not legally obliged to provide) and statutory services (services the council has to provide by law). 
There are also questions on council tax levels and what residents' priorities are for making Harlow a better place to live. 
Council leader Jon Clempner said: "In the last two years the council has done well to minimise the impact on services but we want to be clear and open with residents about the financial challenges we face in balancing budgets now and in the future. 
"As a council you can't continue to have your grants reduced without any impact on services and we want to know what is important for our residents. 
"This is the start of an ongoing conversation with residents about the decisions we will need to take. 
"When looking at our budget choices I believe the fairest thing to do is to give everyone the opportunity to have their say and take part. 
"No decisions are ever taken lightly and the results of this consultation will help inform our budget proposals for 2015-16 and beyond." 
He added: "We know there may be some services where people want us to spend more but doing that means we will have to save money by reducing or stopping services elsewhere." 
The results of the consultation will be published with the council's budget proposals for 2015-16 announced in early 2015. 
Residents can also join in the conversation on Twitter (until the end of August) by suggesting council savings and priorities using the hastag #Harlowbudgetchoices

Students prepare for Ghana trip

9.26am - 3rd July 2014

A GROUP of Year 11 students from Burnt Mill Academy, Harlow, are preparing for the adventure of a lifetime when they head to Accra, Ghana, later this month. 
As part of their preparations, the group visited Wales where they climbed Mount Snowdon. 
Ghana expedition school co-ordinator Andrew Scott said: "The team-building exercise to climb Mount Snowdon was part of our fundraising plan. More importantly, it was designed as a group bonding exercise to build group cohesion, promote fitness and endurance, as well as encourage perseverance."
The 11-day Ghana trip will see the students enjoy adventure weekends in the Cape Coast and Volta Region, take a short hike through Kakum national rainforest, visit Cape Coast Castle which famously held thousands of African slaves, visit a monkey sanctuary, climb Mount Afadjato, dine at a restaurant built over a crocodile lake and take part in a community project. 
Mr Scott said: "At Christ The King Primary, a lack of Government funding has resulted in poor classroom conditions with broken floors and flimsy walls. Our children have volunteered to work in the classrooms as well as help to concrete classroom floors where many of the young children take their naps." 
Dennis Dogbe, country co-ordinator in Ghana, said: "Everyone is so happy to welcome Burnt Mill students and staff to our community. The children cannot wait!"

Funding package for Enterprise Zone

9.24am - 3rd July 2014

A 5M funding package which paves the way for the start of construction work on a world class state-of-the-art data centre campus and business park in Harlow Enterprise Zone, has been agreed as part of a public-private sector partnership. 
The announcement was made by Local Growth Minister Kris Hopkins MP. 
The minister, responsible for Enterprise Zones, was in Harlow to find out more about the project and meet with Harlow Enterprise Zone Board members Harlow Enterprise Zone is split over two sites - Templefields and London Road.
The 5m funding will help transform the former Nortel head offices on the London Road site. 
The financial package is made up of a 2.5m loan from Homes & Communities Agency's Local Infrastructure Fund matched by a loan from Harlow Council.
The money enables the implementation of infrastructure works on the 20-acre site and will be backed up by major investment from the private sector to be announced later this year. 
This funding combined with an injection of private finance will see the demolition of some unusable buildings, the refurbishment of others and bring in new power and telecommunications supplies. 
The funding will then clear the way for the large-scale investment of private money to see the creation of a new data centre campus and business park. 
Construction work will start towards the end of the year.
Local Growth Minister Kris Hopkins said: "This country is internationally renowned for its expertise in life sciences and biotechnology and the Government is determined to support these important sectors everywhere possible. 
"Enterprise Zones are proving to be great news for these sectors by bringing complementary companies together in an environment where they can work closely with each other and thrive.
"This investment in Harlow is showing that our long term economic plan to secure a better future by spreading businesses, jobs and skills across the country is working." 
John Keddie, vice-chairman of Harlow Enterprise Zone Board, said: "The Enterprise Zone is now making great progress and we will see significant activity on the site over the next year, with a new road connection starting in November. 
"This new announcement of infrastructure funding will start the transformation of the Nortel site, once at the vanguard of innovation with the invention of fibre optic cable. 
"We also look forward to welcoming Anglia Ruskin University's Med Tech Campus to the Enterprise Zone since this will provide a strong interface between business innovation and academic expertise." 
Harlow Council resources and enterprise portfolio holder Tony Durcan said: "HCA's money matched by a loan from Harlow Council gives the private sector confidence in the future of the Enterprise Zone. 
"Not only does it pave the way for the start of construction work on the site it also clears the way for major investment from the private sector which will help create new jobs and new opportunities for local people." 
Essex County Council and Anglia Ruskin University are finalising details of a funding package to enable the development of a new Medical Technology Innovation Centre at the Zone's London Road site. 
The innovation centre would be the location for start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs as well as international companies in the initial stages of locating to the MedTech Campus. 
Essex County Council economic growth and infrastructure cabinet member Kevin Bentley said: "Essex County Council has pumped 6m into supporting the Enterprise Zone in infrastructure investment, including major road improvements in Harlow. 
"Our specialist highways and Invest Essex teams have given support to unlock other financial bids that have secured in the region of 13m. 
"We are continuing to work with businesses and education providers in Harlow to make sure the local population has the skills needed by the businesses we are hoping to attract. 
"We are also taking a strategic look at housing in the region to make sure we have everything in place to attract companies that will bring high quality and sustainable jobs to Harlow 
"We are in final discussions with Anglia Ruskin University on the funding package that will support the delivery of the MedTech innovation centre. 
"The opening of the innovation centre would be the first presence on the Enterprise Zone of the MedTech Campus which will deliver high-skilled jobs in Harlow and make a significant contribution to the economy of Essex."

Midnight Walk set to raise 50,000

8.18am - 2nd July 2014

THE St Clare Hospice Midnight Walk looks set to raise 50,000 thanks to the 600-strong crowd which turned out for this year's event which had an 80s theme. 
Walkers set off from the Water Gardens car park in Harlow to follow either a 5km or 10km circuit through the town. 
St Clare director of fundraising Elizabeth Palfreman said: "Once again our Midnight Walkers did the Hospice proud, signing up in their droves and helping raise thousands of pounds of vital funding so we can continue providing our incredible care to local families. 
"We would like to say a huge thank you to each and every person who took part, as well as our army of volunteers and marshals who helped ensure the night was such a success, and the many local businesses who supported us. It was a truly wonderful night." 
Every Midnight Walker was presented with a goody bag before they set off and a medal when they crossed the finish line.
First back were Chloe Hammond, 17, and Jamie Dalgliesh, 23, who ran the 5km route in 33 minutes.
They were followed by their friend Christine Ford, 16, who walked the same distance in 49 minutes. Jamie is the daughter of St Clare nurse Anne Dalgliesh, while Chloe is the daughter of Hospice at Home nursing assistant Sandra Hammond. 
A 50,000 total would be enough to cover the cost of running the hospice's Inpatient Unit for two weeks.

Schools bring in 'executive headteacher' 

9.37pm - 29th June 2014

A PRIMARY expert has been drafted in to improve standards at four Harlow schools. 
The Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust (BMAT) has brought in Paul Jackson to oversee Freshwaters, Roydon, Little Parndon and Cooks Spinney primary schools as executive headteacher. 
Each school will still have its own leader with the new title of 'head of school'. 
Mr Jackson will help the Trust with its mission to bring the primary schools up to and beyond the Ofsted-rated 'Outstanding' standard. 
He will take up his post in September initially on a year-long secondment from his role as headteacher of Gallions Primary School, in Newham, east London. 
He said: "I started at Gallions when it was a brand new school 15 years ago. It was a challenging area with 95 per cent social housing, high level of value crime and a high level of unemployment. 
"I joined when we were faced with challenging behaviour, challenging attitudes to learning and no parental involvement. 
"In 2012 the school was named the seventh most improved in the UK and the most improved school in London - making an improvement of 61 per cent points in just three years. That was achieved through pure determination and clear vision, offering a rich educational experience based around the creative arts." 
Mr Jackson will work closely with BMAT chief executive and Burnt Mill headteacher Helena Mills. 
He said: "Of course I want children to be able to read and write to the very best of their ability but I also want them to stand out in a crowd, to be confident and very employable in the future. 
"We will be offering our children a wide range of experiences, getting them out whenever we can to the theatre, galleries, museums, into London and further afield and inviting visitors in to work with them." 
Mr Jackson is keen for best practise in each of his primaries to be shared among the family of schools, reassuring his teams: "My role is going to be very much about getting some stability and listening to the strengths which already exist, building on these strengths and sharing them. It won't be about going in and making sweeping changes, but every minute we waste is a minute of our children's education wasted and that's not acceptable. 
"We want to provide the very best for our children; the best teachers, the best facilities and the best curriculum so they can become world-class. It is a big ask, but we have no choice but to achieve it."
Father-of-two Mr Jackson added: "The idea of having a secondary school linked to its feeder primaries and to watch children from the age of three right through their educational journey is really exciting.
"It will enable us to provide an even smoother transition from primary to secondary; working in true partnership and not just at the end of Year 6 but throughout a child's primary school years. 
"I believe this is a model which will be replicated in the future." 
Of his unique new role, he said: "This feels like the natural next step for me; the next challenge. I'm really excited about working with enthusiastic heads of schools; passionate people who can make a real difference. 
"I can't wait to work with the staff to drive the schools forward and to have an impact on children from similar working class backgrounds to my own."

Woman charged over burglary 

8.40am - 1st July 2014

A WOMAN was due to appear in court yesterday (Monday) charged with a burglary at a woman's home in Harlow. 
The break-in happened when a woman and a boy entered a flat near Broadfield shortly after 3pm on Friday claiming to be relatives of the homeowner. 
A handbag and mobile telephone were later stolen. 
A 16-year-old boy was arrested at his home in Harlow on Friday evening in connection with the burglary. He is on police bail until Saturday, September 19, pending further enquiries. 
Unemployed Sarah Lodge, 35, of no fixed address, was arrested on Kitson Way, Harlow, on Saturday and has been charged with one count of burglary. 
She was being detained in police custody prior to her appearance at Chelmsford Magistrates Court.

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