MIke & Viv Penn and their recent award

There’s a lovely write up on the front page of this week’s North Liverpool Champion newspaper all about Mike and Viv Penn being nominated for and indeed winning a BBC North West Christmas Star award.

I’ve known Mike for many a year and count him as a friend so I’m delighted that he and Viv have won such a prestigious award for their efforts on behalf of those who are less fortunate. What’s more this award follows one they were given by Rotary quite recently.

I first got to know Mike when we were both governors of Green Park Primary School many years ago and it quickly became apparent to me that Mike was at heart a volunteer who just wanted to help people and his community. As a team Viv and Mike have established a great facility for people with disabilities and what a Christmas present for them to be handed a BBC North West Christmas Star.

Every community has people like Viv and Mike doing their bit to make things better but when when you know them and you have a personal insight into their work it makes you so pleased that they have been recognised for their efforts.

Well done Mike and Viv, we are all so proud of you.

Green Park Primary School – Swimming against the tide?

A few days ago I was contacted by parents of children at this highly regarded School in Maghull. My own daughter (Jen) went there and I was a Governor for over 20 years until about 6 years ago.

My recollection is that the School has only ever had 3 Head Teachers and that includes the present one. Uniquely the School also stands side by side with a Catholic Primary School (St. John Bosco) indeed they share what you could call a common site.

The issue raised with me as a Borough and indeed Town Councillor for the ward in which the School sits was the reduction in the school day from 3.30pm back to 3.15 or 3pm.

The concerns are two fold – firstly, this goes against the present tide of schools increasing the hours of their school days and secondly the potential congestion outside the two schools at going home time if both are pouring out children within minutes of each other. Presently there’s 20 minutes between the two schools finishing time but under the alternative proposals there could be 10 or just 5 minutes depending on whether Green Park plumps for 3pm or 3.15pm.

Under the close at 3pm proposal the School day could lose 15 minutes teaching time but under the now second alternative (3.15) no teaching time would be lost. The lunch time would be reduced under both proposals to create room for manoeuvre. I would add that the School is saying it wants to make the move so that it can open up opportunities for after school clubs etc.

I do worry about the congestion if the Schools end up with leaving times that are too close.

I also hear the worries of some parents about the teaching time matter. Some folk clearly think that the time should not change and any time created by shortening the lunch period should be used for additional teaching. But at the same time teachers can only do so much because they are not getting long holidays with nothing to do as the national press may suggest at times. I have teachers in my family and I know what long hours they put in.

So Green Park finds itself looking to reduce its school day at the very same time that the Education Secretary, the rather odd and hard to like Michael Gove, is talking about doing just the opposite. The timing is clearly unfortunate!

I do hope this is all sorted out quickly and with the wider School community on board as I said in an interview with Radio Merseyside earlier today.

I can just hear the comments of Sir Humphrey echoing in the background and saying of the proposed change ‘that’s very brave Minister’.

Maghull – Green Lane tree down

rsz_green_ln_tree_23_05_2013

This huge tree came down around 4.15pm last Thursday afternoon, so I am told and it seems from chatting to a resident living nearby that rotted roots may have been the cause.

It was one of those trees that looked fine, indeed I must have walked under it hundreds of times over the years right back to when I took my daughter to Green Park School. The tree was much older than anyone reading this posting and it is rather sad to see it down.

Fortunately no one was hurt although a property in Green Link seems to have suffered some damage.