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Issue:- 27 September  2012

Schools in Southport get chance to implement inspirational changes

IN a new nationwide competition pupils and teachers in Southport are being asked to come up with inspiring ideas to improve their school. The prize for winning schools is funding to help turn these ideas into reality.

The competition, called:- ‘The School We'd Like’, is being organised by the leading insurer of schools, Zurich Municipal, and The Guardian Teacher Network. It is designed to encourage students and teachers to work together and develop one key idea that will improve quality of life in their school now.

It is open to all schools across Great Britain, and will be judged in three categories: Primary schools, Secondary schools and Special schools. The prize; £5,000 for the winning school in each category; could make a big difference at a time when school budgets are more squeezed than ever before.

There are no barriers to the kinds of changes schools can suggest, but they should have a positive impact on school life. For one school this might mean new sports facilities to help find gold medallists of the future, or more books in the library. For others, the idea could be a chef-designed school breakfast menu, or an anti-bullying campaign.

Inspiration can come from anywhere and ultimately, it is up to the school community to choose the idea that would mean the most for their own school.

Paul Tombs, Head of Education at Zurich Municipal, said:- “We know that teachers and pupils have some fantastic ideas about how to make their schools a better place in which to work and learn. However today’s education environment is undergoing significant change and not all schools have sufficient funds to make the kinds of changes they’d like. As well as innovative and inspirational ideas, our panel of judges will be looking for evidence that pupils have benefited from entering the awards, learning important skills like project management and collaborative working.”

Wendy Berliner, Head of Education for Guardian Professional, said:- "We never cease to be impressed here with the good practice suggestions that are shared each day by our teacher members. We know that when teachers combine with their students to come up with ideas to make their schools even better, we are going to see some amazing ideas. We can't wait to see what they come up with!".

Regional semi-finals will be held in February 2013, with finalists asked to present to a panel of judges in March 2013. The closing date for entries is Monday 17 December 2012.

For terms and conditions, entry details and criteria, visit the Guardian Teacher Network by clicking on here. 

Consultation over Citizens Support Scheme

LIVERPOOL City Council is asking for views on proposals for a new scheme to replace crisis loans and community care grants.  The Government is transferring the responsibility for what is currently known as the Discretionary Social Fundfrom the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to local authorities from April 2013. It will be known as the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme.

The city council will be putting in place arrangements to assist people with essential living costs in a crisis or to help them with the costs of setting up or maintaining their home. These will replace the arrangements that currently are provided by DWP Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants.

As with the existing scheme help will only available in certain circumstances, based on as assessment of need, income and savings.  Where possible the city council is proposing to make awards in the form of goods or services rather than cash.

In 2010/11 there were a total of 52,000 applications; 40,000 for crisis loans and 11,500 for community care grants and around £6.2 million was allocated.

The new scheme will be cash limited as the amount of money given to the city council by the Government will be substantially less, totalling around £3.5 million.  The council is asking for people’s views on how it administers the new scheme, including the eligibility criteria, how funds are awarded and the review/appeal mechanism.

Under the draft policy, the city council is proposing that those eligible are aged over 16 and will include families under exceptional pressure, homeless people/rough sleepers, people fleeing domestic violence and those who are chronically or terminally ill.  Awards will be made for people including those needing food, heating, essential furniture and redecoration.

Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for Finance, Councillor Paul Brant, said:- “The Government is significantly cutting the amount of money available to us for people who are in crisis.  We want to make sure that it is a fair system which enables us to help the people who need support the most.  We are consulting to find out people’s views and make sure we take this in to account when bringing forward final proposals.”

A copy of the draft policy and a consultation questionnaire can be found at:- and is open until 9 November 2012.They are also available from all of the City’s libraries and One Stop Shops and by calling Liverpool Direct on:- 0151 233 3009. 

The Council is also currently consulting on options for the new Council Tax Support scheme which is the replacement for Council tax benefit. It can be found at:-

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