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Issue:- 22 July 2009

HRH The Duke of York visits Southport to open Legion Break Centre

HRH The Duke of York attended an official Royal opening of Byng House in Merseyside.  His Royal Highness met with guests and staff at The Royal British Legion Break Centre, as well as being taken on a tour of the building and its improved facilities, before unveiling a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

Byng House, 1 of 4 Royal British Legion Poppy Break Centres, offering free holidays to serving and ex-serving men, women and their families, was closed in 2007 and reopened in January 2009 following an extensive refurbishment and re-build. Sunday 19 July marked the official opening of the facility.

After sharing his own ex-service stories with guests, including his experiences of the Falklands conflict with an ex-serving member of the forces, His Royal Highness addressed attendees of the event during the unveiling of the plaque. He said:- “It is a great pleasure to be here today and to get the opportunity to come and recognise the work the Legion does. It is extremely important that people around the country realise that the Armed Forces today still need the help of the Legion when they return from war. The work the Legion does today is absolutely vital and these break centres are just fantastic.”

Byng House, which is situated on the Promenade, originally opened in 1976 and provides 1 or 2 week breaks for serving and ex-serving men, women and their dependants. The 36 room centre allows for up to 68 guests at a time with improved facilities such as a games room, hairdressing salon, spa bathroom, library, licensed bar, garden and conservatory. Internet access is also available and organised events and activities are co-coordinated in-house, which include bingo and raffles, evening entertainment and 3 free outings per week. The building has also been adapted to meet necessary access requirements.

Poppy Breaks at Byng House are available to the serving and ex-serving communities living in and around the North West, Wales and the West Midlands.


THE 1st Youth Commission report, capturing the views of the nation's 10 to 25 year olds on government plans to raise the participation age to 18, finds young people critical of an exam heavy curriculum. 

The commission established by independent education foundation Edge and supported by the Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families, found that while 58% of young people are in favour of raising the participation age to 18 (31%), changes need to be made to ensure the education system brings out the best in students.

According to the report, the current emphasis on testing is not the best measure of educational success – 78% of young people say too much pressure and importance is placed on exam results. 42% say they would prefer a mix of exams, coursework and practical evaluation to express their talents while assessment through coursework is the preferred method for 20%.

As well as a fairer assessment model, there are other conditions attached to young people’s support for the raise in participation age planned for 2013 including academic, practical and vocational learning. The main change that would influence their decision to stay in education until 18 is more choice about what they learn (32%), followed by a greater say in how they learn (18%). 

And while currently the majority of young people’s time is spent in the classroom, having offsite learning experiences is important for 64% who said they learn best outside the classroom, for example educational visits. 51% cite social trips or social experiences as the most enjoyable aspect of their education, including going to the theatre to bring literacy to life.

The young people polled also recognise they have different learning styles – and many are calling for more practical learning as a result. 50% say they want more practical and creative strands to their education and 48% state they learn best practically.  And although young people call for more practical and vocational learning, 80% would still like their learning path to result in a place at university in order to achieve their goals.

Rose Dowling from the Edge Learner Forum who conducted the research said:- “The Government’s plan to increase the participation age is widely recognised to be a good idea but it’s vital that those extra two years in education are of benefit to all young people and that no one is left behind. The feedback from some young people is that many of them have already been turned off education and they are seriously concerned about more of the same. Their message adds volume to Edge’s call for a revolution in education to make sure every young person’s talents, whatever they happen to be, are recognised and nurtured.

We’ve seen that practical and vocational learning motivates young people, so there needs to be more choice in both what and how they learn. Students should have access to many paths to success, including Diplomas, apprenticeships and traditional academic study.”

The Youth Commission sets out a series of solutions to the problems raised within the report and how the Edge Learner Forum intends to take them forward:-

1) Overhaul careers advice

2) Make the most of the power of teachers

3) Promote pride in vocational learning

4) More practical options, more flexibility

5) Use financial support to raise success

6) Raising the Participation age has to be done with young people, not to them

Further information including a full copy of the Youth Commission can be found at:-

People are also invited to have their say on the recommendations.

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