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New school building on target for new term

New sixth form centre should be complete for next term in September

A brand new state-of-the-art sixth form centre is on schedule to open in Berkshire for the start of the new school year in September. T

The project to construct the building at Garth Hill College in Bracknell has cost more than £6 million. It will have capacity for 400 students. Education officials are hoping it will help to ease the pressure on school places in the local area.

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More academies - change for the better?

Every failing school across the South East will be forced to become an academy under new rules proposed by the government today. At the moment there has to be local consultation before conversion but that will be scrapped.

It means 16 schools in Kent graded as "inadequate" by Ofsted will be targeted - plus another four in Medway and seven across Sussex. Another seven on the Isle of Wight will be handed over to sponsors to improve their performance - plus a further five in Reading and three in Oxfordshire. So-called "coasting schools" where pupils may do well - but don't make as much progress as they should will also be targeted.

Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports

South's failing schools to be turned into academies

Failing schools across the South will be forced to turn into academies under new rules announced by the government.

Up to a thousand primary and secondary schools nationwide could be taken out of local government control if the new bill goes ahead. Critics say the proposals are undemocratic. Eastbrook Primary at Southwick in Sussex became an academy two years ago. Since then, results have improved dramatically. Here's what the headteacher Julia Sherlock had to say.

New help for teenagers in Reading to deal with stress and depression

Advice booklet for teenagers Credit: Reading Borough Council

Secondary school children in Reading are being given a booklet to help them learn about mental health issues. The pocket sized book offers tips and advice on dealing with things like exam stress, depression and body image issues.

A BOOKLET outlining help and advice for mental health issues is being given to every secondary school pupil in the Borough. It's been funded by Public Health and is being distributed via secondary schools and is also available online at www.readingyouth.com.

Advice offered on stress, anxiety and exam nerves Credit: Reading Borough Council

Lead Councillor for Children's Services, Jan Gavin said

"This booklet has been issued in time for the exam season, but young people - in common with the rest of us - can suffer from stress and other mental health issues at any time. It has been produced with the input of young people and gives genuinely helpful advice on what to do and where to get help if you are a young person with questions about mental health."

To accompany the booklet, a special text number and email service is available until the end of the school summer term for young people to contact if they have any questions or concerns about mental health. Queries will be answered within 48 hours by a specialist in young people's health and wellbeing. Text 07537 414757 or email wellbeing@reading.gov.uk.

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Parents' fury as packed lunches are banned

There's been an outcry from parents after a school in Hampshire banned packed lunches.

The new lunch policy at the King's Furlong Infant School in Basingstoke comes after the government announcement last year that all infant school children can have a free school meal every day - to make sure all pupils have a nutritionally balanced lunch.

But parents fear their children won't eat it and will go hungry. Andrew Pate reports

Rochester pays homage to its famous author

He's Rochester's most famous resident, and this weekend author Charles Dickens is being remembered along with his famous characters and novels. The Dickens Festival attracts thousands of people each year. Andrea Thomas spoke to Medway Council's events manager Carl Madjitey and Steve Martin from the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship. Oh, and a rather risque group of enthusiasts!

Oxford to have first female Vice Chancellor in 800 years

Students and staff at Oxford University have hailed the nomination of its first female Vice-Chancellor as a momentous event in Oxford's history.

Professor Louise Richardson will become the first woman to hold the university's most senior office since records began 800 years ago.

The 56-year-old is currently the principal and vice-chancellor of St Andrews University in Scotland. Professor Richardson says she hopes her nomination would inspire current and potential female undergraduates.

Professor Richardson said of her nomination: ‘Oxford is one of the world’s great universities. I feel enormously privileged to be given the opportunity to lead this remarkable institution during an exciting time for higher education.

I am very much looking forward to working with talented, experienced, and dedicated colleagues to advance Oxford’s pre-eminent global position in research, scholarship, and teaching.’

Subject to the approval of Congregation, the University’s parliament, Professor Richardson will succeed the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, at the beginning of next year.

Louise Richardson is married with three children.

Posties in new move to combat rural crime

Postal staff will help tackle rural crime Credit: ITV Meridian

Postal staff in parts of rural Hampshire are trialling a scheme to help combat rural crime. Mail Watch involves hundreds of postal delivery staff reporting anything they see which is suspicious. They say it won't make them snoopers - or special constables - they are just doing what they can to help.

As well as reporting their concerns, postal staff will be asked to respond to direct pleas for information from officers - sent via text message. Royal Mail deny that workers are stepping in to make up for police cuts - or that the scheme might put postal workers at risk. Christine Alsford reports.

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