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Children 'being left unsafe' in Sunderland, says Ofsted

A shocking report into children's services in Sunderland has criticised widespread failures and poor leadership.

File photo Credit: PA

The report by Ofsted has said that children are being left unsafe.

Among the areas ruled inadequate are:

  • Child protection
  • Adoption
  • Children in care

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has written to the Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, calling for action to be taken as soon as possible.

Big Sing for North East schools

More than three thousand pupils from nearly sixty schools have been performing in this year's Big Sing at the Sage Gateshead.

Joining in the Big Sing at the Sage Gateshead Credit: North News and Pictures

The Big Sing (for 7-16 year olds) and The Big Sing for Mini Singers (for 4-7 year olds) have become annual music events.

Credit: North News and Pictures

This year the music included Our House by Madness, True Colours by Cindy Lauper and We Are The Champions by Queen.

Credit: North News and Pictures


Scheme to encourage reading in hospital

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A scheme designed to encourage reading among children and parents in hospital has been launched in Middlesbrough.

More than 3,000 free reading packs will be handed out to new mums and children who are patients at the James Cook University Hospital.

The project was developed by the National Literacy Trust and the council.

School forced to apologise for telling boy, 6, to remove his hearing aid to 'look smart'

A school has been forced to apologise after telling a six-year-old boy to remove his hearing aid for an official photograph.

The parents of Alfie Durant, who attends Pallister Park Primary, in Middlesbrough, were shocked when he returned home with his school photo that pictured him without the aid.

Alfie, who suffers hearing loss in both ears, told his parents that he had been told to take it off to look smart.

Mother Kerri telephoned the school and was told staff thought she would have wanted the hearing aid taken off for the photo.

She told the Evening Gazette: "He told me the school told him to take it off for the photo so he would look smart.

I feel my son has been discriminated against because of his disability and would like people to know how he is treated."

– Kerri Durant, Alfie's mother
Street view of Pallister Park Primary Credit: Google Maps

Chris Wain, head teacher at the "outstanding" rated school, said it does its very best to ensure parents are always happy with the photos the children take home.

"There was obviously no intent to cause any offence by either any member of our staff or the photographer, and we have already apologised to Alfie's mum for any upset caused," she said.

She went on to say they would be sure to keep Alfie's hearing aid in place for next year's photos.

Special assembly for primary school teacher

A special assembly is taking place this lunchtime to pay tribute to a primary school teacher who died last week.

36 year old Wadud Abdul died during a family half-term trip to a Durham beauty spot on Thursday to celebrate his 36th birthday.

Mr Abdul taught at the Hadrian School in Benwell, where teachers and children are having a special service to remember him.


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

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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