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Issue:- 6 November  2012


CAN you write a poem or short story for a book being produced for Operation Shoebox UK, a charitable organisation which supports British servicemen and women based overseas, particularly in Afghanistan?

The book is the idea of Operations Director Ian Whiteway, who in 2005, set up the scheme sending parcels to troops.  Ian said:- "With the help of United Press we are putting together a book, funds from which will go directly to help our forces. We are looking for poems and short stories from people all over the UK. You don't have to be directly connected to the services and your entry does not have to be on a military subject."

Operation Shoebox UK is an entirely voluntary organisation, with a UK wide network of over 40 regional co-ordinators, they have over 22,000 supporters all making and helping to provide goodie boxes to be shipped out to Afghanistan.

"The boxes contain treats and gifts the troops could never get out there. It is a huge morale boost to our boys and girls, the general public probably don't even realise how amazing it is to receive a shoebox from a stranger, someone who cares enough to take the time to make up a shoebox." said Ian, Operations Director at the organisation.

The competition will be split into categories and judged by a professional panel; winning entries will be published in the book, due out in time for Christmas 2013.

The competition is open to all UK residents and the categories are:- under 12's; under 18's; over 18's. 3 prizes of £100 for the categories have been kindly donated.

The winner of each age group will receive the following:- Under 12's £100 for Argos; under 18's £100 for Primark and over 18's £100 for Marks and Spencer.

Full terms and conditions with details of how to enter can be found on:- or:-  If you want to enter now you can email your short story or poem (any length) to:- Please put "Shoebox Book" at the top of your entry and you must specify which category you are entering for:- under 12's; under 18's; over 18's. Or post your entry to United Press, Admail 3735, London, EC1B 1JB. You must include your full name and postal address including postcode. The closing date is 28 February 2013.

Centre for excluded pupils praised

LIVERPOOL'S secondary education centre for challenging pupils has received a glowing report from OFSTED.  The centre in Netherley has up to 56 students, most aged between 11 and 14 -who are at risk of, or have been, excluded. It was inspected by the education watchdog just three months after it opened on the former site of Hope Special School, and has been rated as 'good' overall, with some outstanding features.  It marks a huge turnaround for the pupil referral unit, which was placed in special measures in 2008 following a damning inspection, which prompted a complete re-organisation of the service.

During the most recent inspection, OFSTED noted that:-

Despite students arriving with high levels of absence and poor behaviour, they make good or outstanding progress.

Progress in reading, writing and mathematics improves "rapidly", as do attitudes to learning.

Behaviour is good and "often outstanding" with students having "high social and moral standards"

The report says that most students make such good progress, they quickly return to mainstream education or move on to other schools.

Councillor Jane Corbett, Cabinet member for education, said:- "This is a fantastic report which clearly demonstrates the amazing work that is being done to support some of our most challenging young people and get them back in to mainstream education. It is all too easy to write off young people who are behaving badly or who have poor attendance, but the success of the Secondary Education Centre shows that you can make a major difference and get students back on track.  Congratulations to all the staff for their hard work and commitment to making a massive difference to our young people."

The leadership and management of the centre is praised for being good or outstanding, and it also notes the collaboration with mainstream schools, as well as the investment in the new site by the City Council. 

Headteacher Debbie Buxton – described as inspirational by inspectors said:- "This is a huge vote of confidence in the whole team.  I am absolutely delighted for all of the staff, who work so hard to win the trust of students and help them achieve their potential."

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