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News Teachers ‘make learning fun’

TEACHERSat a Maidstone school have been praised for their out- standing talents in bringing out the best in pupils. The comments from an Ofsted in- spector follow a visit to St Michael’s C of E Infant School, who gave the school an outstanding mark, for the third time in a row. The leaders and managers of the Douglas Road school were praised for their “relentless focus” on im- proving teaching, which ensured that even students entering with

below average grades leftwell pre- pared for their next school. The inspector’s report said al-

most all of the teaching observed during the inspection was out- standing and none was less than good. The glowing report on the small,

four-class, infant school, continues: “Pupils have a great start to their education because learning is fun as a result of expert teaching. This rapid rate of progress continues throughout Key Stage 1 so that, by

the end of Year 2, pupils’ attain- ment in reading and mathematics is significantly higher than seen na- tionally in reading and mathemat- ics and above average in writing.” In one class, the inspector noted: “Pupils were so engrossed that, when they were offered play time, almost all chose to carry on writing. This shows how much they enjoy their learning andwant to dowell. “Pupils behave extremelywell in lessons and around the school. They are friendly, have excellent

manners and are polite and re- spectful to adults and each other.” The school’s executive head teacher Mrs Lorna Priddle was de- scribed by the inspector as “inspi- rational” with high expectations, which led to continuous improve- ment. She said: “This is our third out- standing Ofsted in seven years. It is particularly pleasing as this has been given to us under the much stricter criteria of the framework in- troduced in September 2013.”

Temporary housing cost soars Retail village made smaller

THE cost of providing temporary accommodation for families in Maidstone has quadrupled in the last five years. The annual bill now stands at £440,447 – up from £111,894 in 2008- 09. The figures were revealed by Maidstone Council’s head of hous- ing, John Littlemore, in response to a Freedom of Information request. The Green Party’s Stuart Jeffery, prospective parliamentary candi- date for Maidstone and theWeald, who made the request, said he was shocked by the four-fold increase. Hespent a night on the street rais- ing money for the winter shelter in

Maidstone and carried out a couple of shifts there, adding: “This gave me an insight into how difficult it can be.” Healso criticised the Government decision to end the localwelfare as- sistance fund which offers emer- gency loans to those in crisis. He said: “Maidstone is not pro-

viding enough affordable accom- modation and the Government is cutting support for people who need it most.” Last year, KCC received 6,700 ap-

peals for help from the scheme. It needs to discuss the options for con- tinuing the scheme and the cost.

TWEAKS to the £85m plan for Newnham Court have not brought a change of heart from Maidstone Town Centre Management. Chairman Bill Moss said the

group remained vehemently op- posed to the plan, in spite of Land Securities’ latest move to cut the size of its independent retailing terrace by 25%. The terrace – part of the overall

Waitrose, Debenhams and garden centre development – had at- tracted criticism from the group and Boxley Parish Council. The sales area will be reduced by 6,000sqm – down to 17,918sqm

– has been accommodated by re- moving mezzanine floors But Mr Moss said the potential remained for these retail units to be extended upwards. The applicant says it has tried to respond to concerns about the ap- plication by agreeing to a “no poaching” paper preventing it from enticing high street traders out of town. It has pledged to pro- vide a bus link into town if ru- mours about the pulling of the park and ride at Eclipse Park prove true. This would be funded from the £1m it has offered to- wards town centre improvements.

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