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8 Sep 2020 SST Maidstone opens doors to founding cohort of students Valley Invicta Academies Trust’s (VIAT) brand new School of Science and Technology Maidstone (SST) opened its doors for the first time, this morning (8 September), to the founding cohort of 192 Year 7 students.
The school was formally handed over to the Trust in May, marking the end of the 18-month construction project, led by BAM, and a six-year plan for VIAT to build a new school.
The state-of-the-art building has 11 Science rooms, six Computer Studies suites, along with specialist Music, Drama and Design Technology provision.
VIAT Chief Executive, Julie Derrick, said: “Seeing our brand new school open for students today was an absolutely fantastic experience for us all. Today is the culmination of six years of hard work and dedication, and I am confident that students, parents and staff will now reap the benefits. This is a hugely exciting time for the Trust and we feel incredibly fortunate to have this fantastic extension to our main VIAT campus. I hope every single one of our founding cohort of students feel welcome and as excited as we are. I have no doubt that our Headteacher, Van Beales, and her outstanding team, will do a fantastic job in moving the school forward in the coming weeks, months and years.”
VIAT Chief Operating Officer, Richard Hayden, said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to see students start to use this amazing new school. The vision has always been to create something unique for the local community and I am confident that we have done exactly that. The school will be an incredible facility and resource, not only for the students, but also for staff and stakeholders, moving forward.”
SST Headteacher, Van Beales said: “Today is an exciting and significant day for all of us. I feel privileged to be leading such a wonderful school and I am grateful for the support we have had from our parents so far. We are delighted to welcome our students for the first time today. As our founding cohort, they will always be an important part of the history of the school, and the Trust, and my team and I can’t wait to get to know them all and create a supportive, creative, enthusiastic, happy school community together.”
A formal opening for the school will take place in November 2020.
23 Jun 2020 Valley Park formally recognised as a Dementia Friendly School Valley Park School is very proud to confirm it has been formally recognised as a Dementia Friendly school and awarded the Dementia Friends Badge.
The award was given by Dementia Friendly Kent after students formed ‘the Decaf’ with the help of their teachers. Decaf is a Sixth Form group whose aim is to provide regular in-house events to support those within the local area who live with dementia.
So far Decaf has held two very successful events, with over 40 people living with dementia, and their carers, attending. Due to the last event being cancelled as a result of the current COVID-19 situation, care packages were created and have been delivered to those who previously attended. The boxes included poems written by students, and hand-made felt flowers and ceramics, as well as tea, shortbread and hand cream.
According to the Alzheimer's Society, there are over 850,000 people in the UK with dementia. One in 14 people over 65 will develop dementia, and the condition affects 1 in 6 people over 80. The number of people with dementia is increasing because people are living longer. It is a common misconception that it only effects the older generation, as children as young as 5 years old can also be impacted.
The Health and Social Care course offered at Valley Park, at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5, teaches about living with dementia, and all students become trained as Dementia Friends through a Dementia Champion and have the opportunity to speak and have questions answered by a person living with Dementia.
Headteacher of Valley Park School, Margaret Hutchinson, said: “The community response to Decaf has been incredible, with heartfelt thanks being sent in for all our efforts and much praise for the students involved in the initiative. I’m very proud to say that all staff have now been trained as Dementia Friends and, as a school, we are delighted that we've been recognised as Dementia Friendly and awarded the Dementia Friends Badge. Well done to everyone involved!”
18 Jun 2020 Stay Fabulous Hello
I hope that you are all well and coping in these unpredictable and surreal times that we currently find ourselves in. I wanted to share with you how I have been managing during lockdown.
I have to admit, initially I found it really hard to do any painting at all. I usually find most of my inspiration comes from places I go and people I meet and how they make me feel. As I wasn’t going anywhere at all, I was really struggling. Like a lot of people, my thoughts have been all over the place and my emotions too, they have been up and sometimes very down. I’ve had to dig deep to find my inspiration and to express myself artistically.
My art is my therapy, it has always helped me through the most difficult times in my life and there have been plenty!!!! When I paint, I go into my own world completely. Firstly, I always put on very loud music, then once I start painting, I am lost. Sometimes when I’m painting, I do all of my thinking and try to resolve the issues that have been bothering me. I can work things out and make decisions, I can think things through and end up feeling really positive and uplifted when I’ve finished. Then there are other times when I’m sad or confused and I completely shut off. I shut out the world around me and completely stop thinking, using painting as my escape from the realities of life.
When I’m not painting as part of my job - I am a full member of MFPA and paint cards for them to sell - I mostly have no idea at all what I am about to paint, I just let it happen. Obviously there have been times when I spend hours painting and then hours looking at it, only to paint all over it and start again. I never know what will appear but the important thing is to keep going, to keep being creative and expressing ourselves, especially at times like we are living in at the moment. Painting for me is, my life, my thoughts, my expression, it’s my mood, it’s my passion. If I’m happy I may paint bright and big and bold or swirling colours of joy. If I’m sad I can sometimes paint in dark and gentle colours softly, often with more attention to detail. Of course, both styles of painting can also happen in reverse, that’s the beauty of art and painting, each time is unique. Everyone sees something different when they look at your art work. When you look at your own work, only you can know every thought and emotion that has gone into it.
Please keep using your imagination, whatever your art, whatever your style. Use your emotions to express yourself creatively, however you’re feeling, it’s you and it’s so important!!!!
Stay safe and stay fabulous!!!
Alison Lapper MBE
4 Jun 2020 Creative Boost In the last few years, the UK’s creative industries have grown by 7.1%, around 50% faster than the UK economy as a whole, generating £101.5 billion. Arts and culture alone contributed £10.8 billion and had a growth rate of 19.5% over three years, outperforming many other sectors such as manufacturing, civil engineering, construction and legal and accounting sectors.
On a broader note, a report by the World Economic Forum, ranked creativity in the top 3 most in demand skills for employees. Indeed, the other highest-ranking skills, critical thinking and complex problem solving are also intrinsically linked to creativity and innovation.
Students today are frequently bombarded with messages that they must prepare themselves for job roles which may not yet even be invented.
“Young people are growing up in a global environment that is increasingly complex and increasingly permeated by technology. They will face challenges that can only be overcome by deep knowledge and understanding allied to the interdisciplinary and collaborative skills that are characterised by creative thinking.”
Durham Commission on Creativity in Education.
Creativity is a necessity for human survival and is essential for every business and organisation regardless of its core focus. It is found at the heart of innovation in all sectors. American economist, Richard Florida, in The Rise of The Creative Class, noted that a ‘super creative core’ of people were transforming business and industry. Creativity makes organisations more competitive and therefore individual creativity is an asset that no organisation can be without. What is more, human creativity and problem solving cannot be automated. They are skills which are future- and recession-proof and it is these attributes which will help young people to navigate the ever changing and fast paced professional world they will enter.
Clearly, creativity is important, but research suggests that although we are all born creative, sadly this is a human capacity which frequently diminishes over time. Creativity is like a muscle which if used regularly, increases in strength and power. As a teacher who highly values creativity, I have seen time and time again, that students who work hard to develop their creative skills, can and do. Here are some top tips on how to flex your creative muscles:
A good way to innovate is to take something that exists and ask a series of ‘what if...?’ questions to twist, modify or recombine an existing idea with others, in order to create something new. Steve Jobs did not ‘invent’ the smartphone from scratch, he took the idea of the mobile phone which existed at the time and asked how it could be made even better.
The most creative people surround themselves with creative collaborators, people that they can bounce ideas around with. Different people have different backgrounds, experience and knowledge. By using these different perspectives, ideas and understanding, new light can be shed on old problems and new exciting innovations can be given life.
Turn off your phone
Often your best ideas will be when your mind is elsewhere. Simple everyday tasks like going for a walk or taking a shower allow your mind to wander freeing up your subconscious to work on solving creative problems. Set aside a chunk of time everyday where you give your mind a break from your phone, email and TV. Giving your mind a regular time slot for creative thinking allows you to capitalise on the wanderings and musings of your subconscious.
Mrs C Hambley
Lead Teacher of Art and Photography