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Free science fair for all the family returns to Memorial Gardens, Crawley this Saturday

Serious science will once again combine with family fun when STEM in the Park returns to Crawley later this month.

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The free event, in the Memorial Gardens on 18th May, is part of the eighth annual Crawley STEMfest and will bring the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to life for hundreds of young people and their parents

Hands-on workshops, demonstrations and interactive displays will be staged by scientists and engineers from local companies, national institutions and universities and colleges, making families aware of the many training and career opportunities available locally with STEM employers.

Local company Thales will give an interactive drone-flying display, there will be demonstrations of CAD and 3D printing by Weald Technology and the East Sussex Reptile and Amphibian Society (ESRAS) will help young people gain confidence by handing boa constrictors and other large reptiles. Kingston University’s Lab in a Lorry will enable young people to take a close look at serious science.

Crawley College will also be running a host of interactive, family-friendly activities as it opens its doors for STEM at the College, which runs from 11am to 4pm on 18th May.

Crawley STEMfest 2019 takes place in schools and colleges and in the community throughout May and June, and culminates in the eighth Big Bang Fair South East, at the South of England Showground on 26th and 27th June, attended by 12,000 students from across the region.

The events are organised by STEM Sussex, the STEM outreach department of the University of Brighton, in partnership with Crawley Borough Council and Crawley College. Gatwick Airport are headline sponsors of Crawley STEMfest and the Big Bang Fair South East.

STEM Sussex Operations Manager Jo McKinney-Green said: “STEM in the Park is a unique opportunity to demonstrate to families in a fun setting how many STEM training and career opportunities there are locally. It’s a great way of inspiring young people and their parents to think about STEM-related careers.”

Vicki Illingworth, Principal at Crawley College, said:

“We have a long association with STEMfest and STEM in the Park, and this year we’re excited to be taking it a step further as we aim to really showcase the subject – as well as our facilities at the college. STEM subjects give students so many amazing opportunities and inspire young people to push the boundaries of their imagination.”

STEM in the Park takes place on 18th May, from 11am to 4pm, and admission is free. To keep up to date, follow us on Twitter at @CrawleySTEMfest,#STEMfest.

Education

‘Reckless’ National Education Union attacks West Sussex Council over schools reopening

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The National Education Union has spoken out saying they have been frustrated by the ‘reckless’ approach they say West Sussex County Council has taken towards the safety of its members on the matter of schools re-opening more widely.

Joint NEU West Sussex Branch Secretary Ann Seuret said:

“It is disappointing that the local authority has referred to a ‘phased re-opening’ because schools have been open throughout the lockdown, where our members have been working on the front line, providing a vital service for vulnerable children and those of key-workers whilst they protect us from this awful disease.”

They say that contrary to the views expressed by some politicians in the county, The National Education Union is consulting on a wider re-opening of schools and is using a detailed checklist endorsed by the other education unions, which follows the structure of the government’s own guidance, to do so. They add that every school needs to consult in good time to fulfil its statutory obligations, and many are only at the beginning of that process.

It has now been confirmed to the NEU that many schools in West Sussex will NOT open more widely on June 1st despite the council claiming that they will. This follows widespread concern from heads in West Sussex wanting reassurances from government.

NEU Regional Officer, James Ellis said:

“The National Education Union wants children to return to school as soon as possible, but only when it is safe. Our five tests set out some reasonable criteria by which to measure this, and they have not been met. We still do not know the rate of infection (the R rate) in the county, or whether or not children are less likely than adults to pass on the infection. Schools are not able to keep children two metres apart, and this is acknowledged in the government guidance. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has concluded that there is no evidence that age affects the likelihood of being infected with Covid19, so we cannot understand why children are not required to social distance. Whilst testing has been increased nationally, our members are not confident that the ability yet exists across West Sussex to isolate cases and successfully contact, track, and trace them. This system just isn’t ready yet, and so we believe West Sussex County Council is acting too hastily. This stands in marked contrast to other councils who are taking a more cautious approach to only open more widely when the scientific data shows it is safe to do so. Despite this recklessness many West Sussex schools are sensibly deciding that 1st June is too soon.”

Primary schools in West Sussex which have already confirmed they will not yet open more widely on June 1st include:

  • all schools run by The University of Brighton Academies Trust: Lindfield, Blackthorns, Holmbush, Pound Hill, Desmond Anderson, and it’s secondary: Burgess Hill Academy
  • all schools run by The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT): Broadfield Primary Academy, Hilltop Primary School, Portfield Primary Academy, Seal Primary Academy, Seymour Primary School, Tangmere Primary Academy, The Bewbush Academy, The Mill Primary Academy, The Oaks Primary School,  and it’s secondaries: Chichester High School,  Thomas Bennett Community College and The Academy, Selsey,
  • Southgate Primary School


In addition, Headteachers at Crawley Secondary Schools: Ifield Community College, Holy Trinity School, St Wilfrid’s, Oriel High School Hazelwick and The Gatwick School
– have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement.

In it they said:

“As a group of secondary Headteachers of the schools in Crawley we have unanimously agreed that no students will be in school (other than those for childcare) any earlier than 15th June… We have come to this position in order to act responsibly for the welfare of the school and local community.”

NEU West Sussex Joint Branch Secretary and Health and Safety Officer, Anne Barker said:

“For the National Education Union it is not about an arbitrary date, but uppermost in our considerations is the safety of our members, the children in their care, and their families. The statutory obligations of employers to meaningfully consult on risk assessments is clear.

This means there has to be enough time to explain the issues to our members, time for them to consider and make informed responses, and time for employers to take into account their response before making a final decision.

We are ready to do that on the basis of our five tests and our checklist, but schools must let go of this arbitrary June 1st date. Mr Ellis added, “If schools do push ahead to open more widely on June 1st we will advise members that we do not believe it is safe for them to attend work and that we are not satisfied that the employer has met their obligations under the Health & Safety at Work Act. Any member subjected to a detriment as a consequence of not attending work will be vigorously defended by our union.”

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