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News Report Page 7 of 18
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News reports located on this page = 3.

Santa's Grotto is officially open

IT'S the most wonderful time of the year and Santa's Grotto is officially open at Dobbies Garden Centre, in Southport. 1 of the most exciting experiences of the festive period, Santa's Grotto is open until Christmas Eve, on 24 December 2019. Families are invited to come along and explore the enchanting setting of Santa's Workshop, meet Santa himself and receive a special present in time for Christmas Day. As well as Santa's Grotto, Dobbies has a number of festive experiences for the whole family to enjoy, including a special Breakfast or Tea with Santa and a delicious Christmas Afternoon Tea. For those who can't wait until the big day to tuck into their turkey, Dobbies has also launched an exclusive Christmas menu in the restaurant, with everything from pigs in blankets and pork and sage stuffing, to Christmas pudding with brandy cream. Tickets for Santa's Grotto are selling out fast so Dobbies are urging people to book soon to avoid disappointment.  Tickets cost ₤11.99 and include a visit to Santa's Grotto and a gift from 1 of the following brands:- Lego, Playmobil, Bigjigs, WOW Toys, Ravens Burger, Baker Taylor or GALT.

Tech Titan Microsoft Partners with Hugh Baird College

Hugh Baird College students and John Billington, Head of Services and Nicky Bowen, E-Learning and Training Officer, with the Microsoft Showcase College plaque.

HUGH Baird College has been chosen by technology titan Microsoft as the 1st College in Merseyside, and 1 of only 16 Colleges in the UK, to become a Showcase College. Microsoft Showcase Colleges are a global network of Colleges:- 'engaged in innovative change to improve teaching and learning and support the economic vitality of the locality they serve.' Hugh Baird College Head of Services, John Billington, said:- "It's a fantastic achievement for Hugh Baird College to receive this accolade. As a Microsoft Showcase College, our students, staff and community will benefit from billions of pounds of research and knowledge that we would have otherwise not have had access to. We all know that technology is constantly changing and we have to keep up with it if we are to provide the skills our learners deserve and the support our staff need. I'd like to personally thank Microsoft for selecting our College, their support has been outstanding and has enabled us to further achieve our vision of being at the forefront of innovation with exceptional teaching and learning."

As a Microsoft Showcase College, Hugh Baird College will be enabled to focus on personalised learning for students through:- the use of 1 to 1 devices and Office 365 Education, Teams, Office Mix, OneNote, Sway, Skype and more. The College will also share ideas with other Showcase Colleges and host educational events designed to inspire young people about the potential technology has to transform their career potential.  Nicky Bowen, Hugh Baird College E-Learning and Training Officer, commented:- "It is vital for our students to be equipped with the knowledge and practical experience of using the latest technology available on the market. Almost all careers now require you to be literate in using digital skills and we are here to give our students the best opportunity to progress in their lives once they complete their studies with us at Hugh Baird College."

The College offers blended learning; using online or digital support on courses, a team of Digital Champions to help staff develop their own digital skills, and Microsoft training. Increasing numbers of staff across the College are also gaining Microsoft Innovative Educator badges through an innovative course that helps teachers learn how to best apply technology in education.  Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft, added that:- "Microsoft Showcase Colleges are shining examples of those applying purpose driven innovation in a variety of ways to build connection, motivate students and to create community in and out of education. These Colleges are truly transforming learning and providing more personalised education to students, empowering them to achieve more."

Holly Lodge's hard work bears fruit

A West Derby School, described as:- "1 of the best kept secrets in Liverpool" has been praised by inspectors for its recent improvements and has achieved an overall "good" rating. Holly Lodge Girls' College, on Mill Lane, was rated as:- "requires improvement" by Ofsted at its last inspection in May 2017, but now inspectors have rated the School "good" in all areas. The improved and developed curriculum, which allows pupils to build on previous knowledge as well as revisiting their prior learning, was singled out for praise, as was the improved attainment in exams along with high attendance levels and punctuality. The report notes:- "Pupils enjoy coming to Holly Lodge. They feel safe and well cared for. Pupils value the support they receive from their teachers."  It also continues:- "Teachers have high expectations of pupils. They help pupils to aim high by using examples of successful women in history."

Holly Lodge, which is non-selective on academic and religious grounds, also encourages pupils to get involved in activities outside of the classroom, with personal development high on the agenda. There's an emphasis on activities that foster the students' ambitions, including networking and mentoring with professional women and strong careers advice. The School has also successfully secured public School bursaries for students to board in 6th form. The School is led by head teacher Andy Keen who was deputy head at Holly Lodge for 12 years before becoming head in September 2016.

Head teacher Andy Keen said:- "This is great news for Holly Lodge and I'm very pleased for the teachers, pupils and parents who have made this achievement possible. It's important to remember, though, that the improvements we have made were not made for Ofsted; we did it for the girls. We're confident the changes we have made have been done properly so that they're sustainable and we will keep reaping their benefits. We have ensured that the students are supported and we have also made sure that we've developed and valued our excellent, hardworking staff. I'm very happy that Ofsted picked up that the pupils enjoy coming to School. I'm also pleased that they recognised how important pride and ambition are at Holly Lodge and how we do our very best to instil in the girls that they should feel pride and ambition for themselves. Holly Lodge is 1 of the best kept secrets in Liverpool and our next big challenge is getting people to understand how good we are."

Cabinet member for education, employment and skills Cllr Barbara Murray said:- "I am delighted that the hard work of teachers and pupils at Holly Lodge has been recognised by Ofsted. Inspectors fully acknowledged that Andrew and his team grasped the previous inspection as an opportunity to begin a programme of improvements that is already having a noted effect across the School. Pupils have risen to the challenges that the School is now setting them. Holly Lodge has already travelled a long way on this journey and I am very confident that it will continue."

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