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Imaginarium inspires imaginations at RAF base

The Imaginarium at RAF Leeming. Credit: ITV News

Lights, splashes of colour, and lots of imagination aare brightening the lives of service families in North Yorkshire.

At RAF Leeming, near Bedale, they've created a special room where children can escape the challenges of military life.

The Imaginarium is the first of its kind in the Air Force and it is billed as a space where imaginations can run wild and friendships blossom.

Thomas Hayley and his mother, Tracy, enjoying the Imaginarium. Credit: ITV News

It's really stressful being a military kid, if your parents are away of your Mum or Dad is away, or just even moving camp so often, so we wanted to provide something that is a really calming and relaxing space where parents can bring them."

– Becki Taylor, Community Development Officer, RAF Leeming

As well as boasting a huge interactive screen, there are themed areas and lights for young children or those with additional needs to relax.

There is also space to hold singing and dancing groups.

It has been funded by charity events and a donation from the RAF Benevolent Fund,

We have a lot of time spent in readiness to deploy on operations all around the world and that is really stressful for the families and children, so to give them a place like this, the Imaginarium to come and break out do something very exciting but in a safe, cosseted environment, is really really important."

– Group Captain David Bradshaw, Station Commander

Parents taken to court over term-time holidays

Parents of two Middlesbrough school pupils have been hit with court fines over unauthorised term-time holidays.

One couple were found guilty of failing to secure the regular attendance of their child at Acklam Grange School following a trial at Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

Both defendants were found guilty and were each fined £55 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £40. The pair were also jointly ordered to pay prosecution costs of £530.

In a separate case dealt with by Teesside magistrates another couple with pupils at Acklam Grange were fined £200 with £80 costs and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge for a similar offence.

A spokesman for Middlesbrough Council says the cases highlight the risks of taking children out of school during term time.

So far this academic year 193 penalty notices have been issued to parents in Middlesbrough over unauthorised leave of absence, with a further 16 due to be issued this week.

Penalty notices are £60 if paid within 21 days, rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days.

While the vast majority of parents are responsible, there remains a significant minority who take their children out of school for holidays during term time. This authority takes the issue of attendance extremely seriously because the importance of education in the life of every child cannot be overstated. There is strong evidence that missing time at school has a significant impact on a child’s chances of achieving good qualifications and future employability. In exceptional circumstances requests for absence during term time will be considered, and enforcement measures are only used as a last resort. However, parents who break the law in this way - and harm their children’s prospects in the process - can expect to be dealt with severely.”

– Richenda Broad, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Director for Wellbeing, Care and Learning

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Wallsend school closed on Monday for Powergrid work

Hadrian Park Primary School, in Wallsend, will be closed to all staff and pupils on Monday, April 20, to allow Northern Powergrid to complete essential work.

The power supply to the local area, including the school, will be disconnected between the hours of 9am and 4pm.

Normal school hours will resume on Tuesday, April 21.

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£3 million to help disadvantaged students

More than £3 million has been allocated to students in the North East to allow those from under-represented groups to do a master’s degree.

The Postgraduate Support Scheme was launched last year, aimed at supporting those unable to pursue further study through issues such as financial barriers or family responsibilities.

Eligible students in the region will be able to receive a £10,000 postgraduate scholarship award.

Northumbria University will give the highest number of postgraduate scholarship awards, allocating £775,000 to 155 students.

“At Northumbria we are making a significant investment to help grow and diversify our postgraduate community with the availability of 155 bursaries.

“We know that funding remains one of the biggest concerns for students; however, studies show that a master’s degree can boost earning potential by over £200,000.

“These bursaries, along with Northumbria’s new postgraduate loan scheme, mean that even more students will have the opportunity to take their career to the next level.”

– Adam Dunlop, Marketing Director at Northumbria University

Children in tears as Durham Free School closes

Durham Free School Credit: ITV News

Durham Free School has closed today, after a campaign to keep it open ended in failure.

Less than two years after opening, Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan ordered that the school be shut despite a passionate campaign by parents to keep it open with many saying it had transformed their children's lives.

In January, the government said it was terminating Durham Free School's funding agreement after inspectors rated the school inadequate.

Students, staff and parents of The Durham Free School have today marked the school’s closure with a service of thanksgiving.

The school has told ITV Tyne Tees that many of the children were in tears during the service which included readings, prayers written by students, a choir performance and the presentation of awards.

Our time at The Durham Free School ended with a sense of celebration for all that the children have achieved and thankfulness for the undying commitment of staff to care for the children and the continued support of parents and other supporters. It has been an incredibly traumatic time for our staff who have suffered personal abuse from a local MP and had their livelihoods threatened. They have been the consummate professionals throughout, behaving in an exemplary manner and always in the best interests of the children. It is a sad day."

– Acting headteacher Julian Eisner

We put up a fantastic fight and we can all walk out with our heads held very high. We all did our best and we can all be proud of what The Durham Free School has taught us."

– Dave Lewin, parent

Full steam ahead for Rail Academy

Inside the new Rail Academy. Credit: Newcastle College

A £5m Rail Academy officially opens in Gateshead today, as part of Newcastle College.

The Rail Academy is the first of its kind in the country and it is hoped that it will help to secure the future of rail engineering in the North East.

The industry has a rapidly ageing workforce and it's hoped the Academy will train the railway engineers of the future.

The Academy was designed to respond to the Government's ambitious plans to create a 'truly world-class rail network' by pledging to make what it describes as 'the biggest investment in rail infrastructure for the last 150 years.

The purpose built facility contains a number of real working environments which can train technicians and engineers in a variety of situations and enable students to work in realistic operational scenarios.

The Academy has been developed in conjunction with the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE) and key rail employers such as Network Rail.

Network Rail fully supports Newcastle College’s vision to develop the next generation of railway engineers and welcomes the College’s investment. We believe this facility will contribute to the capacity of skilled workers required to deliver the significant investment which we are carrying out to meet continued increasing demand for rail services''.

– Jackie Judge, Workforce Development Manager, Network Rail
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