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NETBALL KNOWHOW

In netball, England are current Commonwealth gold medallists, and the popularity amongst girls is growing hugely. But what of us mothers, busy working or child juggling. Can we become ballers too? Beverley Turner says yes.

 

Netball.

I could think up some florid sentence to describe the benefits of netball, but – quite simply – I just bloody love it. And you will too. It all started four of five years ago, bored of the gym, tired of running but keen to keep a perky bottom, I tagged along with another school mum to a local leisure centre and a ‘Back to Netball’ session – part of an England Netball initiative running since 2010, which has seen over 60,000 women get back on court. Like most women, I played at school, but that was nearly 27 (f**k!) years ago. How hard could it be to catch and throw a ball? It transpired that the ball action was the easy bit. Sprinting up and down a full-size court while using my brain was the challenge. I came off red-faced, exhausted, elated and utterly determined to make this a weekly activity.

Commitment

For that last few years nothing gets in the way of my netball. In psychology terms, it’s a classic ‘flow activity’ – a pastime that is so engaging and absorbing that you forget all your worries and give yourself a very healthy mental break from any outside stress. Whilst running, swimming or pumping weights, it can be hard to switch off the to-do list in your head. But if you’re going to let your team mates down or get a ball in the side of your head, it’s surprising how concentrated you can be!

And netball is the UK’s largest growing sport. There was a 44% increase in participation at grass roots level in the last year, with nearly 30,000 players pounding the courts across England. Mothers supporting their school-age daughters now have a chance to play themselves at numerous courts across the country – knowing how hard it can be to shoot, must make for better side-line coaching.

Where to play

In West London we are spoilt for choice with teams and leagues available pretty much every day of the week. Kathryn Riley runs the Chiswick House Gardens-based Will to Win set-up where mums can be found on Thursday mornings working off a week’s worth of gin and tonics. “The appeal lies in women of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels playing together and having fun,” she says, “We employ fully-qualified coaches to take drills as well as oversee games.”  Like me, most of the women have played as youngsters so there’s also a nostalgic element to the game. “It keeps us all young!” says Kathryn. At the recent tournament they hosted, the Will to Win team saw more than 40 women gather on a beautiful summer’s evening to battle it out for victory. It was an inspiring scene: incredibly busy women who juggle kids, work and other commitments, yet who make time to get out and keep fit. By the end of the evening, everyone was smiling.

So it’s about time we women got to share in the magic that blokes and their weekly five-a-side footy teams have known for years: team sport is the very best exercise for both body – and mind. I’ll see you there.

Want to know more?

If you’re feeling a little intimidated, unfit or not sure if netball is for you, why not try walking netball.
Walking netball is a slower version of the game; it is netball, but at a walking pace. The game has been designed so that anyone can play it regardless of age or fitness level.
From those who have dropped out of the sport they love due to serious injury, to those who believed they had hung up their netball trainers many years ago, it really is for everyone.

For more information about netball and walking netball sessions across London for women and children, please visit www.willtowin.co.uk

 Above: Bev Turner and her sister-in-law

THE GOAT CHELSEA – A REVIEW BY THE EALING MUMMY

The Goat Chelsea has a different approach to a relaxing Sunday pub lunch. Friend of City Kids, The Ealing Mummy, went to investigate.

The Goat Chelsea is a great place to go for a relaxed Sunday Lunch. Not only do they offer a lovely contemporary Italian inspired menu, but they have entertainment for the kids at their Kids Club Sunday from 12-3pm. So, you might actually be able to enjoy your meal without the usual interruptions that you would normally expect with kids! There is no extra charge for the entertainment, but I suggest that you book a table to avoid disappointment, as it is very popular.

The entertainer is based in a private dinning room on the lower ground floor of the restaurant, which is great because that way you don’t feel as if your child is disturbing other diners who may not have children. On this particular Sunday my Daughter was entertained by Froggle Parties Professionals. The friendly man was dressed as Train Conductor and performed an array of magic tricks and jokes. She enjoyed it so much we had to convince her to come back upstairs and have her lunch! She also left with some party bag gifts and a candy cane that the entertainer modeled from balloons especially for her!

They offer a great children’s menu which definitely suited my little one’s taste buds. She decided on the chicken goujons coated in panko breadcrumbs with broccoli and fries and to finish with chocolate brownies and gelato.

I was impressed with the overall menu and decided to go with the truffled macaroni and cheese to start with. I went for a Devon crab salad for my main. I finished with a delicious sticky toffee pudding and vanilla gelato. I also sampled one of their cocktails which was inspired by the Chelsea Flower show, it was fantastic in both taste and presentation.

I would thoroughly recommend The Goat to families. I also noticed they have highchairs available and baby changing facilities too. It’s the perfect place to go if you want a leisurely lunch with the kids. The staff made us feel very welcome and could not do enough for us.

You can read more musings from The Ealing Mummy over on her blog:

www.theealingmummy.com

MOTHER’S DAY AT AMPLEFORTH

Mother’s Day: a Day in the Life of a Housemistress

by Victoria Anglim

Being a Houseparent to the 70 girls who live in St Bede’s, one of Ampleforth’s longest standing houses, is a huge privilege – particularly on Mother’s Day.

Ampleforth is a co-educational school and first admitted girls in 2001. For the sixteen years that I have been at Ampleforth, I’ve been a Housemistress to girls for nearly eleven years, having previously lived in a boys house.

Our Benedictine ethos at Ampleforth means creating a sense of community and providing individual care for the children we look after, which is why many parents choose to send their children here. This strong focus on pastoral care is particularly prevalent in our boarding houses and at certain times of the year when children inevitably think of their families. 

As a Houseparent you are often the central link for a child between school and home. As a parent myself to Oscar (16) and Erin (14), I know that teenagers need a sense of balance and stability as they develop as a person and strive academically and on the sports field, theatre or music room.  One of our former pupils talked about their experience of school and said ‘everyone gets the chance to do what they do best,’ which pretty much sums up our approach to the children in our care.

Design as a subject is very strong here at Ampleforth and ahead of Mother’s Day, we organise a craft club where the children can make gifts and cards for their mothers, which Matron then posts.

Any Sunday at Ampleforth involves Mass, Sunday lunch, calls home and a chance to enjoy some of the 70 extra-curricular activities we have on offer in the 2,200 acres of North Yorkshire countryside we live in.  It’s also a long-standing tradition that, on Mother’s Day weekend, myself and another Housemistress join our houses for a large celebratory Sunday lunch, creating a positive family-like atmosphere, which the girls tend to love as it means they can get together with their friends. We also try and keep Aoife our much loved house pet (she is an Irish wolfhound) well away from the table!

We are always vigilant about helping pupils settle in and watch out for homesickness, which can sometimes strike at the weekend. We put on a range of social activities at weekends which get everyone involved and keep the children busy. On Mother’s Day this year, we are holding a charity colour run and have encouraged those who celebrate Mother’s Day to invite their parents to come down and watch them take part – and parents can take children out before or after the event.

So, Mother’s Day will be a day where we come together as a large family – however near or far our own might be.

 

 

BLOG FROM ST BENEDICT’S

Learning for earning, or learning to think? Education needs breadth and depth

By Andrew Johnson, St Benedict’s School Headmaster

 

It’s sometimes said that education is what is left when you have forgotten what you were taught.

Einstein himself used this quote, to make the point that the core value of education is not in the subjects taught, but in the learning of mental skills – the ability to think well.

The purpose of education is too often assumed to be for securing work and safeguarding the economy – learning for earning. Of course we need to equip pupils to take their place in the world, and to find the kind of employment that best suits their talents, but the present generation of 18 year-olds faces different challenges which demand a different approach.

Firstly, the future of work is more uncertain now than it’s ever been. Our children will be employed in jobs that haven’t even evolved yet, and it’s unlikely that they’ll stay within one area of work, or one career. Artificial intelligence is increasing exponentially, and many jobs which are familiar to us now, in many walks of life, may soon be performed by computers. An Oxford study recently predicted that more than 40% of occupations could be threatened by automation over the next two decades. To succeed in this new employment landscape, dominated by artificial intelligence, it’s surely real, human intelligence we will need: emotional intelligence, adaptability, and the ability to respond positively to change.

Then there is the creeping threat of fake news. In this post truth era of ‘alternative facts’, we must help our children to make good judgements and to have the ability to distinguish clearly between what is true and what is false. It is vital that we help them to interpret what they see on the internet, and not to accept everything at face value– to be sceptical, and assess the evidence. The consequences of living in a society which has little regard for the importance of truth are hard to contemplate and education has a big part to play in arming our young people against forgery and lies.

Stellar exam results are great, but on their own they can do little to prepare our children for these realities. Good study skills and the acquisition of knowledge certainly have their place, but they are really only the beginning. It’s ironic that, as technology improves, and occupies an ever increasing part of our lives, it is human qualities which will matter more and more, since it’s these which set us apart from clever machines.  Imagination, empathy, kindness, compassion, perseverance, curiosity – these are the qualities that remain when you’ve forgotten what you learned for those exams.

So it is vital that, as well as teaching the curriculum, we help our children to develop these qualities; to be self-starters – independent learners, creative thinkers, team-workers and effective communicators. They will need to be versatile and adaptable in an uncertain world.

So how do we develop children fully, so that they can have these essential qualities? In the classroom, we need to go beyond the syllabus and encourage debate, independent research, curiosity and a love of learning for its own sake.

Co-curricular opportunities have an enormous part to play, and their place in education is essential, not subsidiary. In music and drama, it takes self-discipline and independence to practise an instrument, or to learn the lines of a play. Having a role in a school production or concert and performing will develop confidence and self-belief.

In sport, when you’re 4-0 down with 10 minutes to go, it takes gritty determination to keep going to the end; and if you can encourage your team-mates along the way, so much the better.

Then there’s outdoor adventure activities, taking young people out of their comfort zones, teaching them map reading, survival skills and team work. My own sons still talk about their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Gold expedition as one of the best things they ever did when they were at school – 4 days of navigating their way around the mountains of North Wales in horizontal rain and icy gales can teach us a lot about perseverance and pulling together.

Young people need to find their leadership potential; to be proactive, and not passive. A school which encourages its pupils to be adaptable, open to change and to other people, is actually going to enable them to lead rewarding, fulfilling lives. Einstein’s message should be loud and clear: think to learn, but above all, learn to think.

 

 

 

A VIEW FROM AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

The importance of teaching students ‘international mindedness’

Diane Hren, Head of School at ACS Hillingdon International School

In an ever-changing world and increasingly global workplace, the importance of young people being internationally-minded and aware of global issues is more relevant than ever before. Living in such an interconnected world requires a generation of problem solvers and creative thinkers who can understand challenges from a range of cultural perspectives.

International schools are perfectly positioned to help students widen their horizons. A classroom with peers and teachers from all over the world offers students the unique opportunity to explore curriculum subjects from multiple viewpoints, challenging perceptions and broadening their understanding across complex subjects.

ACS Hillingdon International School, one of three ACS International Schools in the UK, has students enrolled from over 50 nationalities. For its 570 students, aged 4 to 18, being educated in this hugely diverse international community, combined with receiving an international education, develops a global mindset and helps forge that all important international mindedness and understanding.

An international education

Qualifications and learning programmes that extend beyond national boundaries have to be central to an international education. At ACS Hillingdon, we offer highly regarded, world-renowned, International and US programmes, including the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), Advanced Placement (AP) courses, a US High School Diploma and an Honours programme.

Studying these globally recognised qualifications means our students are well prepared to go on to attend the university of their choice, in the UK or anywhere in the world. UK University admissions officers cited the IBDP as the best preparation for University, compared to A Levels, according to research conducted on behalf of ACS. Admissions officers believe that the IBDP develops essential aptitudes needed to thrive at university, such as independent inquiry, open-mindedness and self-management skills.

We believe that a well-rounded and balanced school life is key to developing confident and happy individuals. ACS Hillingdon has an exciting and dynamic mix of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and we help each student realise his/her potential in everything they do.

Developing global citizens

In 2015, ACS Hillingdon became the first school in Europe to be awarded International Certification status from the Council of International Schools (CIS), recognising its provision of high quality international education.

An ACS International Schools alumni survey revealed that 78 per cent of respondents believed that attending an international school meant they had the confidence to live and work anywhere in the world and 84 per cent said they had greater tolerance and respect for other cultures.

 “Attending an international school broadened my horizons; it helped me realise that there were many things within my grasp beyond what I had previously considered.” –  ACS alumni.

Through an international education and exposure to a multicultural mix of students at an international school, students emerge from education as well-rounded, culturally aware individuals, who respect others and can think independently and critically. While many students are expatriates, it is local, UK families who are joining in ever-increasing numbers as awareness of the life-long benefits of an international education can give grows.

To find out more about how ACS Hillingdon can enrich your child’s education or to register for an Open Morning visit www.acs-schools.com/opendays.

Hillingdon Graduations 2016

BUBBLE

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A couple of times a year, the Business Design Centre in Islington plays host to Bubble London, a unique and carefully curated baby and children’s fashion, accessories and homewares trade show.

British and international brands showcase their SS and AW collections and buyers get to have a good nose at what’s coming up. It’s a great opportunity for the press, like me, to seek out new and upcoming brands and it’s where I’ve met the women behind fledgling companies Little Wardrobe London, Panda & Ping, Ace & Me, Where’s That Bear and many more.

From a consumer’s perspective, much of what you see in the shops or online will have first been spotted by buyers at shows like Bubble. In a couple of months I’ll be making my way back to Islington to find out what’s going to be hot next summer, plus Bubble Bump will launch, an area dedicated to maternity and nursery brands.

I’ve met some inspiring people in the last couple of years who have built businesses from scratch, changed direction following children or deserted highly paid city jobs to pursue a dream. Each has a chance to shine, and is well supported by the show’s PR Shosh Kazab of Fuse Communications. She’s a pocket rocket of enthusiasm, knowledge and a passionate supporter of the show’s exhibitors as well as the retailers and press who attend. I look forward to seeing her again in June (if we can’t sneak in a coffee/cocktail/chat about Bloodline before then).

Watch this space for an insight into my discoveries later this year.

www.bubblelondon.com

#discoverbubble

bubble open web

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Our new-look website

The launch of our new-look website gives us the opportunity to share the news, views and opinions of the many people we meet while working on City Kids.

Our Guest Blog will introduce you to personalities who all have an interest in kids stuff, be it fashion, education or parenting. They may be international superstars, A-listers from the blogosphere, or London mums embarking on a new project.

All will have a story to tell.

Watch this space…