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Edition 31 • January/February 2012


The local magazine for families with children 0-12 years

Covering: Altrincham, Trafford, Salford, Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Didsbury, Stockport, Cheadle, Bramhall, and surrounding areas.


In this issue >What’s in a nursery? >Pre-preps and education >Are we there yet? Travelling with kids

“The overall effectiveness of the Early Years Foundation Stage provision is outstanding” Outstanding Inspection Report - ISI, May 2011


Please call for a personal tour 0161 794 1463

Bridgewater School, Drywood Hall, Worsley, Manchester. M28 2WQ

Locally speaking

Inclusion in our locally speaking section is always FREE get in touch:

“Outstanding” OFSTED for Schools Out at their Cloverlea Club

Welcome Happy 2012! Why is it that the days drag when you’re young but fly when you’re older? Do you suppose it’s just because we’re now having to move our creaking joints more slowly that it makes everything around us seem to happen more quickly? Last year passed in a blur of school runs, kids activities, birthdays, half terms and Christmas parties – with very little time to stop and take stock of the important stuff, like truly appreciating friends and family and being grateful for all that we actually have. So for us, 2012 is going to be about TIME. More quality time spent with our husbands, more fun time spent with the kids and more “me” time to recharge the ageing batteries. And we hope that whatever you decide 2012 is going to be about for you and your family – that it brings you fulfilment and happiness.

SGS pupil crowned North West Young Chef Regional Winner 2011 by celebrity chef James Martin

Bring on the year!

Caryl Hall

In a recent unannounced Ofsted inspection, the overall effectiveness of School’s Out at Cloverlea Primary School in Timperley was found to be outstanding and exemplary in every area. Altrincham’s School’s Out organisation provides childcare for over 500 local children aged 3-11 before and after school and during school holidays. The Inspector reported: “Children settle exceptionally well and are enthusiastic to learn in this warm, inspiring and wellorganised environment, which staff have worked hard to make accessible to all

Jayne Keep

In this issue 02: 05: 13: 14:

Locally speaking Nurseries, Pre-preps & Education Parenting Travel

Next issue: March/April 2012 Circulation: 25,000 copies of Families Manchester are available through nurseries, schools, libraries, selected shops and other points throughout Greater Manchester. If you would like free copies for your organisation, please let us know. Contact details: Families Manchester, PO Box 581, Macclesfield, SK10 9FN Tel: 01625 801 801 Editorial: Advertising/artwork: Events, diary dates, out & about: Cover photograph by: teneight, Fence House, 84 Buxton Road, Macclesfield SK10 1JS. Tel: 01625 500 488

children. The children are highly motivated to make their own choices and so make excellent progress. School’s Out makes fantastic links with parents and other providers, and staff ensure the unique needs of every child are met.” The School’s Out group is part of Elmscot Ltd, which also includes the highly regarded and award-winning Elmscot and Woodlands nursery schools in Timperley, as well as their newest acquisition of Hale Day Nursery. School’s Out operates at seven local schools: Altrincham Preparatory School, Bollin Primary School, Bowdon C of E School, Cloverlea Primary School, Heyes Lane Infant & Junior Schools, Navigation Primary School, Well Green Primary School and of course at Cloverlea Primary School. This is the fourth setting of the Elmscot group to be awarded Ofsted’s elusive ‘Outstanding’ kite mark, ensuring that families in the Altrincham, Timperley, Bowdon and Hale area have access to the best quality childcare in the UK.

16: Parents’ place 18: Parties 20: What’s on

Design: Through Creative, The Old School, Byron Street, Macclesfield SK11 7QA. Tel: 01625 500 939 Print: Bishops Printers, Walton Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO6 1TR Tel: 023 9233 4900 Families Manchester is part of the Families group, established in 1990 and headed by Families South West. All franchised magazines in the group are independently owned and operated under license. We take every care preparing the magazine, but the publishers and distributors can’t be held responsible for the claims of advertisers, the accuracy of the contents nor for any consequences.

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Stockport Grammar School pupil, Jaina Mistry (14) of Stalybridge, has beaten off competition from 10 other local students to be named the Red Tractor Beef and Lamb Mmmake it with Mince Challenge Regional Winner 2011 for the North West. Jaina was awarded the Regional Winner title by James Martin after wowing the judges with her innovative Meatball Curry with Salad and Naan.

Points were scored for originality, nutrition and presentation. She won an iPod Touch plus £200 in vouchers. Fellow students from Stockport Grammar, Ed Robinson (14) and Katy Bacon (15) were also highly commended by James Martin. Jaina is now up against five other Regional Winners in the race to be crowned the overall National Champion. Speaking about Jaina’s win, James Martin said, “The standard of entries this year was extremely high and Jaina has done exceptionally well to be named Regional Winner. Her recipe was innovative, nutritious and well presented – but most importantly, it tasted great! It was clear that everyone worked really hard, so choosing the National Champion is going to be a really tough choice. “It’s now more important than ever before to inspire young people to cook properly and this Challenge is a perfect platform for them to learn about food, cooking and nutrition. I hope that Jaina’s success will encourage more young people from the local area to get cooking and to try out new and different recipes.”

Locally speaking High demand means new classes for Once Upon A Wartime – a new FREE 2012 for Little Kickers in Didsbury & Sale exhibition at the Imperial War Museum

Little Kickers football classes (for 18 months – 7 years) is delighted that children are voting with their feet and that new classes are opening to allow more children to experience the Little Kickers difference. Says director Alex: “Little Kickers has been running classes locally for over 3 years and I am delighted that some of the children that started then are still with us and will be until they are seven, proving we are doing something right. We know that parents appreciate our “play not push” attitude as well as the high quality of the coaching, small class sizes and the high child to coach ratio which allows children to work independently with the coaches to increase their confidence once they are 2½ years old. Little Kickers successfully combines the teaching of softer social skills in a noncompetitive environment which means that a child’s love for football can grow and develop at their own pace. There is a place for every child at Little Kickers.

In Didsbury we are delighted to be opening our second venue at Barlow High School for 18 months upwards. The Little Kicks class from 18 months is a lot of fun with coaches getting children to enjoy playing and interacting with each other and with their footballs. In Sale, Little Kickers is expanding into Walton Park 5 a side centre to allow the 3½ -7 year olds the space they need to learn new skills and start to understand the basics of match play. Shin pads, boots and mud are the order of the day but the fun stays the same.” New classes start on Saturday 7 January and can be booked by calling 0161 442 5713 or by requesting a space online at New customers can enjoy 7 weeks for the price of 6 by signing up in January and quoting “Families magazine”. Trial classes are always available. Spaces at Little Kickers existing venues at Bowdon, Altrincham, Cheadle Heath, Bramhall, Cavendish Road, Didsbury and Sale can also be reserved for January.

Thrilling tales of loyalty, separation, excitement, survival and identity are brought to life in this major exhibition for both children and adults alike. Some of the best loved children’s stories about war are illuminated at IWM North in Manchester, part of Imperial War Museums, through interactive activities and unique objects from conflict. The free exhibition, specially created by IWM, is filled with all the drama of five acclaimed novels: War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, Carrie's War by Nina Bawden, The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall,

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier and Little Soldier by Bernard Ashley. Explore these perilous stories alongside the history of real life conflicts from 1914 to the present day - all through the eyes of fictional children. A tail fin from a German incendiary bomb, a First World War training horse, evacuee labels and aircraft recognition cards are just some of the objects from IWM’s Collections that reveal the reality behind each of these children's tales. From 1914 to the present day, the stories are set in their historical context. Personal objects belonging to each author reveal the truth behind the stories. See the silver sword paperknife that belonged to Ian Serraillier and the painting of Topthorn the horse from Michael Morpurgo’s kitchen that inspired War Horse. Early manuscripts, sketches, photographs and recorded author interviews expose the inspiration for each novel. Once Upon A Wartime opens at IWM North on 11 February 2012 and runs until 2 September 2012. Grab a trail pack to help families fully explore the exhibition, then pick up a range of children’s books from the Museum shop. Get creative with free reading and storytelling activities for families on offer from February to August. For more information visit

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Exclusive offer for Families Manchester readers Sign up for Little Kickers classes in January, and enjoy 7 weeks for the price of 6. Quote FAMILIES MAGAZINE when booking. Trial classes always available 0161 422 5713

bo ok no in rm gs a m l fe ad e e s fo in r Ja n/ Fe b

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Leading Nanny agency throughout Cheshire and North West • A range of full and part-time childcare services including, nannies, live in/out, babysitting, maternity nannies, emergency care, mothers help, housekeepers & special needs nannies. • All candidates are thoroughly vetted, interviewed and reference checked • Home visits, to enable us to fully understand your requirements

Tel: 01925 768188 or 07766 290802 Email:

Achieving the difference... | Families Manchester 3

Locally speaking Molly visits local children

Children at Elmscot Day Nursery, Timperley, recently shared a lovely experience meeting Molly the Donkey when she came to visit. Molly is one of many donkeys from The Elisabeth Svendsen Trust, a UK based charity dedicated to providing riding therapy with donkeys to children with special needs and disabilities. Elmscot supports the charity by ‘adopting’ a donkey, and the Trust kindly

bring Molly to nursery to meet the children there. She was of course loved by all of the children who enjoyed stroking her fluffy tummy and soft nose - although Molly the Donkey was more interested in posing for the camera! Elmscot Day Nursery is part of an award-winning local group of Day Nurseries, including the new Hale Day Nursery and Nursery School on Bankhall Lane, where Molly’s next visit is likely to be.

There’s no Business like Show Business! Starlight Performing Arts Academy in Hazel Grove is now auditioning for the following: • Children aged 5-12 to take part in their forthcoming show Disney's Cinderella Kids • Band Members – Drummer, Keyboard Player, Guitarist, Bassist, Singer (all ages and abilities welcome, leading to paid gigs)

• Girlband and Boyband members (singers & dancers, full training given) • Teenagers - singers, dancers and actors to be trained professionally to perform in a troupe (leading to paid work) For more information, please contact Helen on 0161 439 8009 or 07515 397715 or via email on

Make it a happy new year from bananalane with free postage just enter FAM2012 at checkout.

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Quick and easy fundraising Are you on the committee of a local School PTA, sports club, hospital, church, scouts, or other fundraising group? Peel2Save has recently been launched right across the Families Manchester magazine area and is a brilliant way for any good cause to raise money at a local community level. The handy credit-card sized Peel2Save card folds out to reveal 64 sticker coupons containing fantastic offers & discounts, worth well over £300, from local businesses. The cards are given on Sale or Return to local charities, sports clubs, churches, PTA groups etc who sell them for £10 each. £5 of this goes directly to their fundraising activity so it’s an easy

way to boost revenue whilst giving donors something of genuine value. Adrian Battersby of Peel2Save Altrincham said: “Whether it’s for a new school computer, sports equipment or coach trip for the scouts, this is a great opportunity for local groups to raise funds easily – we just need to know who they are so that we can help, so please get in contact!” Call Adrian on 07889 178487 to find out how Peel2Save could help your group raise more money, more quickly, and more easily.

A fresh new nursery arrives in Sale kidsunlimited day nurseries are getting ready to welcome the local residents and businesses of Sale during their ‘Meet the Manager’ event on Friday 20 January 2012. The event, which is being held at its sister nursery, kidsunlimited Timperley nursery on Deansgate Lane, will allow prospective parents to view the facilities within a kidsunlimited setting, to meet the new Nursery Manager and some of the team, and ask any childcare questions that they might have. The purpose-built nursery situated on the Marsland Road opposite Sale Grammar

School will officially open in March 2012, providing specifically designed areas for babies, toddlers and pre-school children. The nursery, the first of its kind in the Sale area, has already attracted much interest from local parents looking for a purpose-built facility offering an all-inclusive service. kidsunlimited is a nationwide children’s daycare provider with over 25 years’ experience. They offer young children boundless opportunities to learn through imagination, creativity and play, while offering parents the peace of mind that comes from knowing their children couldn’t be better cared for.

It’s never too soon to start recycling

So say the children at Holyrood Day Nursery in Altrincham following their recent visit to Fresh Start Waste Service – a Manchester based recycling company. The nursery is currently working towards their silver ECO schools award and has been encouraging the children to actively participate in the recycling process. The inquisitive children in the preschool room at the nursery wanted to take this a step further by finding out what happened to the waste materials after the lorry had collected them. Never one to leave a question unanswered, Sam the nursery manager and the staff team arranged for the eager 3 and 4 year olds

to visit to a local recycling plant to provide answers to their questions. Fresh Start Waste Services based in Swinton were happy to enlist the help of the mini recyclers and fully embraced their interest in the process. This was a fantastic opportunity and the children were given a full tour of the plant as well as goody bags to take home! A great time was had by all participating in the hands on learning experience and the children particularly enjoyed sitting in the lorry and wearing Hard hats and high Vis vests. Sam the nursery manager felt that this was a great foundation for recycling awareness for the children. Holyrood actively encourage children to be involved in the recycling of waste materials and imbed these principles in all aspects of nursery life. The trip to the recycling plant reinforced these values and gave the children the opportunity to see what happens to their recycling.

Nurseries, Pre-preps & Education What’s in a nursery?

So, your little one’s growing up and it’s time to start thinking about nurseries. Day nurseries, nursery schools, preschools – nurseries come in all shapes and sizes and navigating your way through them can be daunting. Whether you’re going back to work or just want your child to benefit from all that nursery has to offer, here is our guide to finding the best, and right, nursery for you. Studies have shown that children who attend nurseries can be more confident and often go on to do better at school. A good nursery will prepare your child for those first few nerve-wracking weeks at school, plus most children thrive on the stimulation at nursery. Another advantage is the year-round care they offer, and you know your child is being looked after by qualified

staff who won’t become ill and need time off work – at least not all at the same time! Day nurseries Open usually 8am-6pm, day nurseries are a good option for working parents as many will take babies from 3 months. The day follows structured activities interspersed with naps, meals and outdoorplay. Day nurseries offer continuity of care and your child doesn’t have to stay all day – many day nurseries will do half days or you can collect early. Nursery schools Nursery schools are often more formal in the way they structure sessions. They usually take children from 2½-3 years and provide a grounding for starting school, teaching letters, shapes, numbers and sometimes even early-stage reading. Nursery schools give children the opportunity to make friends of the same age as most require children to do either 5 morning or 5 afternoon sessions, so the same children will be there everyday. They are often smaller scale with a personal touch, too, but perhaps are not so convenient for working families. Nursery classes in schools The first step in ‘real’ school life, these can be excellent for children who are ready for school and structured, educational play. They are convenient if you already have siblings at the school,

but again sessions are often only 3 hours long which may not be practical. Nursery classes in independent schools are more likely to offer full school-day sessions but nursery classes attached to state schools are free! It’s important to remember that a school nursery place does not automatically guarantee a place in reception. Pre-schools and playgroups Playgroups usually take children from 2½yrs, offering short sessions to ‘ease’ your child out of the home and into a more sociable learning environment where they can play, learn and have fun. Playgroups have a varied mix of toys, games, singing, story-time, arts and crafts and usually an outdoor area. Parents are encouraged to be active members of the playgroup and their small-scale settings are less daunting for shy children. They are also excellent value for money as they tend to be notfor-profit and are sometimes staffed by volunteers, with parents staying to help out. Montessori nurseries and Steiner schools Montessori teaching is based on a method which fosters and guides children’s inbuilt curiosity for learning. In a Montessori nursery it is the children themselves, who choose from the range of activities offered. Using sensory materials to provide intellectual, physical and psychological

stimuli, Montessori schools aim to develop the child’s whole personality. The aim of Steiner schools is to foster imagination and creativity; they don't introduce formal education before the age of six, concentrating on creative play rather than the ‘three Rs’. Both these options can be great, but might not prepare a child who is going on to a particularly academic school (with entrance exams perhaps) but they do offer a more holistic approach to learning. Workplace nurseries Much sought-after, workplace nurseries provide full or part-time childcare, but think about the location. If your journey to work is an hour long your toddler may not appreciate the trip home at 6pm and a nursery around the corner from home might be a better idea. SureStart Children’s Centres A number of Centres offer affordable, flexible childcare for up to 10 hours a day. Worth considering! Nursery Checklist Once you’ve found a nursery, go and have a look. Go back again if you’re still not sure. A good nursery will welcome a visit and might even let your child join in. By watching the other children you’ll get a good idea of whether it's the right environment for your child. | Families Manchester 5

Nurseries, Pre-preps & Education How to find the right nursery – a parent’s guide: • Start early! “It sounds ridiculous, but I put my bump down for nursery when I was pregnant,” says Camille, mother of one. “OK, I wasted a few registration fees, but at least I got a place at the nursery I really wanted.” • Near or far? Think about the time it takes to get to nursery. There’s a lot to be said for a nursery around the corner from home, and it helps bring down your carbon footprint. • Does the nursery have a welcoming, happy, cheerful atmosphere? Some nurseries offer cosy, home-like environments whereas others have more room to run around in. A childfriendly outdoor space can be a real draw when choosing a nursery, especially for lively boys. Also, check basic things like security, cleanliness and equipment. • “Looks aren’t everything,” says Kate, mother of 3. “If a nursery is a bit shabby it could still be fantastic in terms of quality of care. And perfect, pristine equipment is not being used!” • Watch the staff. Look at their ages – the younger staff may have energy but the older ones have experience and

usually more patience. “My preference is always an owner-run nursery,” says Marianna, mum of 2. “It’s their own business and they’ll really care about it.” Are the carers interacting with the children or are they just chatting to each other? Look at staff turnover and ask if the nursery ever uses agency staff. • Consider your child’s routine. “My little one sleeps 1-3pm,” says Alice, a first-time mum, “so afternoon nursery is no good for me.” Many parents also want a nursery that provides all meals – but do consider what your child is being fed and where it is cooked! • What does the nursery offer? How are the sessions structured? Look for a mix of fun along with quieter activities. Are there additional classes such as French and ballet? Do they take the older children on outings? How much is your child learning in preparation for school? Do you want them to learn letters and numbers? • “I wish someone had told me about nurseries that feed into schools,” complains Lissy. “I wanted my daughter to go to a school where she needed to pass an assessment, but the nursery I

sent her to didn’t prepare her and when she was asked to write her name at the assessment she burst into tears!” 3 to 5 year olds are taught according to a framework set out by the Government’s Early Years Foundation Stage but some nurseries will go far beyond this academically. On the other hand, some parents will run a mile from a nursery that hothouses such young children. “I wanted a nursery for Annabel where her key worker would chat to me every day and tell me what she had been up to. Some nurseries I looked around seemed too busy to do that,” says Sarah. Read the latest OFSTED report - a great way for detailed info on everything from quality of care and education to cleanliness and opportunities for play. Although all nurseries follow OFSTED guidelines, there’s room for interpretation! How flexible will the nursery be if you need to swap a day or add an afternoon? You’ll soon discover how useful this can be. The best way to choose a nursery is gut instinct. Look at whether the children are relaxed, happy, stimulated and engaged. “If it clicks, it’s probably right,” says Jo.

Nursery Grants explained Nursery fees vary greatly, depending on location, demand and what is offered. They start at around £100 a week and go up to 4 times that, but there are ways to get help with the costs: • Nursery Education Grant – all 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early-education a week for 38 weeks of the year. This applies until they reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday), and can be applied

flexibly over a minimum of three days. Free early education places are available at a range of early years settings including nursery schools and classes, children’s centres, day nurseries, play groups and pre-schools and childminders. Your child will be eligible for the Nursery Education Grant from the term after their third birthday. If you choose a nursery which costs more than the funding or use the nursery for more hours the grant will be offset against your bill.

• Your employer may provide subsidised onsite childcare, or offer Childcare Vouchers as a portion of your salary. Download a guide at or find out more about Childcare Vouchers at Check if your nursery will accept Childcare Vouchers.

• The Preschool Alliance • SureStart has information about childcare options, tax credits and free nursery places, plus links to the Children’s Information Service • Try your local council’s Family Information Service:

• OFSTED • For more articles on choosing a nursery, early learning, independent or chain of nurseries, childminder versus nursery, tree nurseries, Montessori education and more visit Remember, if you don’t want to read about nurseries in Scotland then make sure you log in: this way you’ll only see results in your area!

More Information • Find out about the Early Years Foundation Stage at Download a list of registered childcarers in your area. • For local nurseries and links to Ofsted reports go to • The National Day Nurseries Association provides information for parents. Search for NDNA member nurseries at

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• You may be able to recoup some of your childcare costs through the tax credit scheme, depending on the number of hours you work and your household income. To find out if you are eligible go to or MoneyTaxAndBenefits/ TaxCredits.

Nurseries, Pre-preps & Education Use your Childcare Vouchers at Super Camps If you’re one of the millions of working parents, you’ll probably not only be worried about the rising cost of living but also the cost of childcare. Childcare Vouchers are not surprisingly becoming the most popular benefits employers can offer working parents as they save on tax. These can be used to pay for childcare at Super Camps’ camps

and courses for ages 4 - 14, which are all Ofsted registered. Super Camps also offer an Early Booking Rate which runs from 3 January to 11 March 2012. You can save up to £40 per week or up to £8 per day per child (site dependent). You can book all your days for Easter and summer and use the Flexi-Change facility if you need to move these dates around later on.

There are other discounts available during the year but this works out to be the biggest saving. “We were planning our childcare for the year. I paid for four days at Super Camps during the summer with my Childcare Vouchers using the Early Booking rate and saved £32 off the standard rate. The provider runs from 8am – 6pm so this works out at about

£2.68 per hour for childcare.” Super Camps Parent, summer 2011 Corporate Discounts are also available, so if you work for an organisation where there are parents looking for childcare, call the customer service team on 01235 832222 to discuss your requirements.

Ice Science – activities using ice at home to expand a child’s learning (Cool Science!) by Victoria Murray, Early Years Specialist at kidsunlimited nurseries

The best early learning activities can be found around the home, including within your freezer! Ice is a fantastic tool for encouraging children to observe changes and begin to question how and why things happen. Here a few simple and fun ideas that you can try at home with your child.

In winter, we often see roads and pavements being ‘salted’ to prevent (or melt) ice. This because adding salt to ice will lower the freezing point of the ice, effectively causing it to melt. Children are fascinated by this process and here are two fun activities you can try at home.

first? Have your child sprinkle salt onto one of the ice cubes. The cube with the salt will begin to melt more quickly than the unsalted ice. This activity will encourage your child to talk about the changes they can see happening and why they might be happening.

Melting Ice Cube Races Place 2 identical ice cubes into two separate trays/containers; explain that we are going to have a melting race! You are going to put salt on one of the ice cubes – which one does your child think will melt

Trapped! Ask your child to choose several small toys and explain that you are going to trap them in ice and the child will have to save them! Fill a container (this could be an ice cube tray, a margarine tub, a rubber glove, etc)

with water and ask your child to put their toys inside, and place this into your freezer. Once frozen, remove the ice from its container and put it on a tray. Challenge your child to think of different ways to free their toy from the ice – What will help the ice melt/break? What will make the ice melt/break fastest? What do we have at home that we could use? This activity will encourage your child to observe changes and explore the effects of different actions on materials. | Families Manchester 7

Nurseries, Pre-preps & Education Winter Wanders and Map-Making by Julie Singleton EYP and Director of Childcare with the Elmscot childcare group

Advertise in Families Manchester Call Jayne on: 01625 801801 or email

Being outdoors in winter is an exciting time for children as there are so many new learning opportunities to explore. Snow, frost and ice are fascinating and children love to investigate what happens to their environment during these chilly months. Why not turn this into a shared learning experience and take a walk to discover the wonders of winter, making a map to help you find your way back to the same place on another day to see what has changed. Just a walk to the local park is an ideal opportunity to make discoveries about the world around us: looking at the frosty patterns, the berries on the shrubs, footprints in snow and the icy puddles. So wrap up warm in your winter clothing and off you go! What you need: • Warm clothing • Camera and a method of printing photos • Large sheet of paper – the back of an old roll of wallpaper is ideal • Glue • Pencils

Focus on phonics A recent report has been published with MPs claiming that the focus on phonics in schools will turn reading for children into a “dull exercise”. They are concerned that children will be turned off reading by the Government’s new literacy drive and the Coalition policies that have been designed to make schools use back-to-basics teaching methods. In order to improve literacy in England, the Government want primary schools to use synthetic phonics, with children sitting a ‘phonics test’ after only one year at school. However, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Education is claiming in its report that too much emphasis on this method could affect pupils’ learning and lead to a decline in literacy. They also claim they are joined in this opinion by the education establishment. According to the latest figures, around 16 per cent of

On your way, look out for and point out items of interest to your child. Describing what you can see and why it looks different in the winter i.e. a garden may be covered in snow, a tree where all the leaves have fallen off or a shrub that has berries on - remember to explain to your child that many berries can be harmful and not to eat them! Along the way encourage your child to take photographs of the items of interest that can be used to make a map on your return, such as a friend’s house on the way, a big tree, a local shop, a post box or road sign. When you get home, print the photographs and talk to your child about what you saw first on your walk, and what came next, placing the photographs in order onto a large sheet of paper. Write below what direction you walked in when you got to the landmark. Once you have finished you should have a map which will help you return to the same spot the same way. Why not go out again to test to see if your map is right! EYFS Areas of Learning covered in this adventure: all of them! Communication, Language and Literacy; Creativity, Knowledge and Understanding of the World; Problem Solving, Reasoning & Numeracy; Physical; Personal, Social and Emotional.

Checks for two-year-olds children leave primary school without being able to read to an acceptable level, with one-in-10 boys having only the reading skills of a seven-year-old. “Literacy is the key to the curriculum,” said Fabian Hamilton, Labour MP and chairman of the Parliamentary group. “Pursuing phonics without considering whether pupils can comprehend what they’re reading, and without paying any attention to whether children enjoy reading, will switch children off. Learning to read – especially a complex language like English – cannot be reduced to a mechanical process.” However, Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, has rejected the group’s conclusions, saying “High-quality evidence from across the world shows that the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics is the best way to teach basic reading skills, and especially those aged five to seven.”

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Under new Government plans to spot children who are failing to develop properly, all two-year-olds will be given a compulsory “progress check”. Two-year-olds in England will be assessed to discover whether they can use certain basic words, respond to familiar sounds, communicate their wants and socialise with others, as part of an Early Years Foundation Stage framework setting out to identify struggling children.

All parents will be given a written report of their child’s abilities in these key areas, with Ministers claiming that this will help to identify any early developmental problems. They are concerned that too many children are starting school without the necessary basic social and language skills, and Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat Minister for Children, said “the importance of the early years – as a foundation for life and for future attainment and success – cannot be overestimated. That’s why it’s vital we have the right framework to support high quality early years education.” However, Richard House, senior lecturer in psychotherapy at Roehampton University, says “Children are so diverse that to even begin constructing some generalised view of how they should be developing at a certain age is fraught with danger.” He goes on to state that the move risked defining children as “failures” at a young age.

Nurseries, Pre-preps & Education Bridgewater School – where individuals count

With an ‘Outstanding’ inspection and excellent A level and GCSE results, Bridgewater is marking its 60th Anniversary Year. By offering places for students aged three to 18, Bridgewater School provides a level of continuity that supports children in a unique way. Lasting relationships extend from pupils, parents and staff to create a strong sense of community and family that focus on the individual. The recent Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) who visited Bridgewater in May of 2011 found that at Bridgewater: “Pupils’ personal development is outstanding”. It also noted that: “Excellent relationships exist amongst pupils and between staff and pupils”. Classroom experiences are enriched with extra-curricular visits to places of cultural and historical importance. Students are encouraged to develop an active lifestyle and pursue talents with sport, music, drama

clubs and societies, as well as involvement with Duke of Edinburgh and World Challenge. Language exchange visits and outdoor activity breaks also support student’s personal development and help to create the confident and responsible students that Bridgewater is renowned for, and were evident when the 6th form students visited Borneo. An Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) unit has provided a spacious, purpose-built area for the Kindergarten and Reception classes, described as “outstanding” by the ISI Inspection Report. Other recent additions include a new Independent Learning Centre – home to a bright and modern library and a newly refurbished IT suite. The continued development ensures new buildings and facilities are suitable for the growing number of pupils attending Bridgewater School. A balanced education at Bridgewater helps students to achieve not just during their school years but well beyond. The skills they attain at Bridgewater help them to succeed throughout their lives. The ISI commented “Pupils are confident, articulate and sensitive to each other’s needs.” The report also stressed: “Good teaching contributes to the pupil’s achievements, as do their own positive, aspirational attitudes.” | Families Manchester 9

Nurseries, Pre-preps & Education Celebrating 525 Years of Outstanding Education

January 2012 marks the beginning of an important anniversary for the oldest school in the North of England, as Stockport Grammar School celebrates 525 years since its foundation by Sir Edmond Shaa, Mayor of London and Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company. A year of festivities opens with a Gala Concert, in collaboration with Chorale and Cheshire Sinfonia, at the Royal Northern College of Music on the 25th February. SGS has never rested on its laurels and the conclusion of the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate that ‘the pupils’ overall achievement and their learning, attitudes and skills are outstanding” was a welcome start to the 524th year. Excellent pastoral guidance and over a hundred clubs and activities make school life a happy and exciting experience for girls and boys from 3 to 18 years. The school continues to invest in superb facilities, with the construction of a new £4 million teaching block well underway. A separate Junior School and Nursery on the same site provides younger children with a caring and stimulating environment in which to learn, whilst enjoying the benefits of strong links with the Senior School. SGS is easy to reach with extensive school bus routes, including a new service from Sale, Altrincham and Hale, and close proximity to two railway stations. Meanstested bursaries are available at 11+ and 16+, and music scholarships at 11+. Parents and children are warmly invited to Open Events and regular school day visits throughout the year.

Withington Girls’ School is confirmed as the best school in the north of England

The 121-year-old school for girls aged 7 – 18yrs stands seventh in the table of the country’s top 100 independent schools published by the Sunday Times – the only representative of the north in the national top 30. Seventh place – based on an exceptional 2011 pass rate of 97.2 per cent at A*– B grades at A-level and 97.1 per cent at A* and A grades at GCSE – puts Withington ahead of many of the most famous and expensive independent schools in the country.

Sue Marks, who became Withington’s 10th headmistress last summer, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be recognised once again as the top school in the North. “The tables reflect primarily the high ability of our students and the excellence of our teachers. What the tables don't tell you, but our glowing inspection report does, is that our extra-curricular programme is very wide ranging and stimulating and that our pastoral care is outstanding too.” Earlier this year the Sutton Trust named Withington the country’s second most successful school for placing sixth formers in the UK's 30 most highly selective universities; more than 9 out of 10 of Withington Upper Sixth leavers have gone on to one of these prestigious universities over the past three years. And Withington pupils don’t just scale outstanding academic peaks: the School’s World Challenge team climbed Mt Kilimanjaro during the summer and in

December a dozen sixth formers undertook projects at a village school in The Gambia. By contrast, Withington’s spectacular fashion show sees girls strut their glamorous stuff for charity. Last year the event raised more than £7,000 – just one of many exciting activities from sport, music and drama to Model United Nations and Young Enterprise relished by happy and engaged girls with a sense of purpose and a belief that they can succeed in whatever they do in life. True to the wishes of its founders, the School remains relatively small (550 in the Senior School and 90 in the Junior School), affording girls individual attention throughout – and the single site enables Junior girls to be taught by Senior School specialist staff across the sciences, modern languages, music and PE, ensuring allround educational development starts at an early stage.

A happy and energetic independent primary school

Moor Allerton Preparatory School in Didsbury provides a small and nurturing environment for children entering Early Years. Their Foundation stage, which covers the education of children from three to five, is split over two small nursery classes and two reception classes. The classes have fully qualified and experienced teachers and teaching assistants. Early years children learn music, dance and

PE from specialist staff, in line with the rest of school. They carefully monitor each child’s progress, develop their enthusiasm for learning and knowledge and encourage them to become confident and successful learners. In the nursery classes the children follow a carefully planned educational programme. This is done mostly through structured play and with more formal activities when appropriate. They stress the importance of developing children’s personal and social skills at this age and also encourage early reading and writing skills, as well as basic mathematical concepts. The childrens’ interest in the outside world is nurtured, enabling them to develop creatively and physically through a range of activities and experiences.

There is a natural progression as the slightly older children continue to build on and refine the skills and concepts introduced them to earlier. As they deepen their understanding, their confidence grows. They begin to concentrate for longer and become more independent. Most pupils will have moved beyond the Early Learning Goals before the end of Reception and will be ready to progress to Key Stage 1. There is close collaboration between these classes to make sure progression is maintained. Assessments for both Nursery and Reception places begins early in 2012. Their Open Day on Wednesday, 1st February 2012 is an ideal opportunity to you to see what Moor Allerton has to offer. Please call them today on 0161 445 4521 to make an appointment.

More schoolchildren have ‘special needs’ A new report shows that the number of children diagnosed with special needs has risen by 10 per cent in the past five years, amid concerns that schools are “playing the system” to disguise poor exam results. According to the Department for Education, around 1.7m schoolchildren in England, which is more than 1 in 5, have been diagnosed with special educational needs and suffer from behavioural

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problems, learning difficulties or physical disabilities. A report published this winter by the Department concluded that both boys and children from the most deprived backgrounds were more likely to be classified special needs than any other group. The study also underlined the link between special needs and poor examination results, with only one-fifth of children with special needs leaving school with five good GCSEs. But Ofsted

is concerned that up to half of children were wrongly labelled ‘special needs’ as a way to mask inadequate teaching, and that “higher expectations of all children” would lead to an actual drop in the number being diagnosed. As a result, the Government has proposed an overhaul of the system, with Ministers trialling the reforms in a number of locations.

Nurseries, Pre-preps & Education Boys go single sex New figures show that more and more parents are sending their sons to boys-only prep schools with the intention of giving them a competitive and sporty education. In fact, 72 per cent of boys’ schools have seen pupil numbers rise since last year, according to a survey by the

Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS). The findings also found that just 14 per cent of boys’ schools have recorded a decrease in pupil numbers. However, it also noted a drop in numbers at girls’ schools, with 56 per cent of schools reporting that attendances had dropped in the past year compared with only a third who recorded an increase. 324 schools were

A fine start at Bury Grammar

For young children joining The Bury Grammar Schools Cygnets Pre School (3-4years) or Reception (4-5) their learning journey could not be more exciting. Every aspect of a child’s development is carefully nurtured by a highly qualified and dedicated staff led by teachers and early years experts.

Every parent knows that children learn best through play but this takes on a much wider dimension when that play is supported by a whole host of resources to be found both within the custom designed Kindergarten and in the outdoor play area to which the children have access all the time. ‘The child chooses’ is the dominant theme as learning is carefully tailored to each individual boy and girl. Because many children love to be outdoors there are as many exciting activities in the outdoor area as inside. Cleverly devised focused activities ensure that the children are enriching their understanding of the world about them and developing their abilities as natural problem solvers.

surveyed, with the results showing that parents were looking to guarantee their sons an “interesting and challenging” education, the IAPS said. Having high numbers of male teachers and excellent sporting and extra-curricular activities could also have played a part in attracting parents, according to the report. The results of the report were published at the IAPS annual Children’s progress at this stage is phenomenal and parents share in the excitement of witnessing it as the staff ensure that they are kept fully informed and also have opportunities to join the children at key points throughout the year. In the words of one of the parents: “Our son loves Cygnets. He enjoys seeing his friends and loves the friendliness of the staff and the routine. He especially likes the ‘wellie walk’.” The BGS Pre School and Reception is just the beginning of an exciting and fulfilling educational journey that takes the pupils through an exceptional academic education enhanced by many extra-curricular activities to young adulthood. At every stage they will be encouraged to be independent thinkers and outstanding communicators;

conference where David Hanson, chief executive of IAPS, said: “This growth has been achieved by our schools providing world-class education. We are aware of the economic challenges parents face and the sacrifices they make but parents know that investing in education is the best investment you will ever make.”

qualities which take them on to top universities and fine careers. Parents seeking entry for their children are warmly invited to contact the schools to arrange a visit on any working day. Visit for more information or call the schools who will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the admissions process at all stages. | Families Manchester 11

Parenting Why empowering your kids makes for a happier home life

‘Go and brush your teeth! Now! Why haven’t you done it yet??’ ‘I’m going to ask you twice only, then the naughty step… OK… no bike, no TV!’. Sound familiar? And as you walk out of the room, do you wonder why it has to be such a battle? But put yourself in your children’s shoes – imagine being told to do the same simple thing every day of your life, wouldn’t you prefer just to be trusted to get on with it? It’s so easy to get caught in a cycle where everything feels as if it becomes a power battle – asking them to do a simple everyday task such as brushing their teeth, they don’t do it when asked, followed by escalating threats and confrontation; without even meaning it, the morning’s off to a bad start. And unfortunately this can also start a cycle – you expect confrontation next time and so on; it’s exhausting and upsetting for everyone. For recurring situations of confrontation think about what’s behind their behaviour: • Is your response stronger or more punitive than perhaps the situation deserves? • Are they upset, confused or fearful and so unable to take on board the message or to learn? • Are they really doing it to annoy you? Or are they looking for respect and an opportunity to be trusted to make some of their own choices? • Do you really need to be involved in every small detail? Might a ‘you are trusted’ message be more effective in moving towards getting things done?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before next time • Is this important? Whose problem is it, mine or theirs? • Does it have to be done now? • Have I made it clear what I want them to do and why? • With an older child, talking through the problem and what might help develops their problem-solving skills and independence. • Can I offer limited choice instead? ‘WHEN you have done…, THEN you can have/do…’, ‘Would you like THIS ONE or THAT…?’ • Am I too wound up to notice when they are responding or behaving well, and do I remember to praise these small improvements? Often if we step back, take a breath and calm down, we can see other options which avoid confrontation. They have an opportunity to learn to be more capable and to make better choices the next time. Time and encouragement at these moments requires astonishing levels of self-control by parents, but can make interactions so much more constructive. Children learn to be more co-operative as they feel respected.

Trusting your child involves taking a risk as a parent. I remember being allowed to sit on the counter as a child of five and paint the kitchen wall. I can still remember how much effort I put in when painting around the white light switch in a dark petrol green colour. I felt competent and trusted. No doubt my parents had to tidy up the edges, but I didn’t see that part. I was not being over-managed, I was shown what to do and allowed to get on with it. So I did my best.

‘The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realisation that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.’ Sloan Wilson Of course you need to have some non-negotiables about areas such as safety, sleep, eating, family rules etc which are backed up with constructive consequences, but keep these to a minimum where possible. Then you can

move into more expansive areas; imagine your older children organizing a birthday celebration for you (give them a budget and prepare to be surprised!), or making dinner one evening, or the young ones packing their own luggage for a trip to Granny’s, or perhaps gathering nice things for an afternoon picnic. They’re likely to put heart and soul into the job and OK things can get quirky, but maybe that is part of the fun. Giving your child choices, even limited ‘This-one-or-that-one’ choices makes them feel trusted and capable. Feeling valued, they don’t need the power battles to say ‘Get off my back, I can do it!’ And when they make mistakes, or things don’t quite work out we can only admire them for having tried and encourage them to try another approach. You can contact Dr Clare Bailey from Parenting Matters about individual consultations held by phone or face-to-face, by calling 01494 677575 or by going to Parenting Matters also run courses you can do from home (or work) in small groups using an interactive web-based, coach-led presentation. | Families Manchester 13

Travel Are we nearly there yet?

Ben Hatch, author of Are We nearly There Yet?, his wife Dinah and their two children Phoebe (3) and Charlie (1) spent 5 months touring Britain’s family-friendly attractions. In the course of 8000 miles they reviewed 900 attractions, slept in tents, mobile homes, castles, hotels, and, once, in their car. They were attacked by bats, had confrontations with puff adders, Nazis and Billie Piper’s pyjamas. Here, Ben offers up a few highlights and learnings: • Not owning a sat-nav today is like being a 14th century sailor and trying to round the Cape without a nautical chart. We bought one halfway through our trip. Put it this way, if I’d a choice – brakes or sat-nav? – I’d gladly drill a hole in the driver’s footwell and use my feet to slow down. • It’s unwise to allow Dinah, my wife, who has a raging cheloniaphobia (fear of tortoises and any creatures that look like tortoises), to wander untended through Birdworld in Farnham. I’m also aware now, that afterwards telling her, as she hyperventilates into a bag, “I’m sorry, I thought Tortoise Hill was just a description of what the hill looked like. Not a description of what lived on the hill,” cuts little ice. • In Welly Boot Land at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre, after handling ducklings and feeding wild fowl (“There’s some for you swan. And you goose. No, you've had yours heron”) it isn’t a good idea to take your eyes off your children. There’s an artificial stream running through the play-park that our children attempted, fully clothed, to swim up like salmons running to their native breeding grounds.

• At the Jorvik Viking Centre in York it’s possible, through responding to a series of questions about your hair colour, and also, somewhat baffling, your sandwich filling of choice, to see how much Viking blood you possess. • After almost being blown up a field of live ordnance inside a Military Zone, near Otterburn, we’ve learnt to be careful taking the kids for nature wees and to look out for signs saying: “Warning: This may explode and kill you.” • It’s easy stealing lunch from hotel breakfast buffets. Secretive initially we’d pilfer odd rolls when waitresses backs were turned. A few weeks in, feral, we were snatching camembert triangles, bacon, sausages and yoghurts then asking for napkins to wrap it all up in. • You can impersonate David Blaine on the A719 between Dunure and Croy in Scotland. Here there’s an optical illusion created by the surrounding landscape which means that if you put your car in neutral and release the brake it appears to slowly roll up hill. Known as the Electric Brae (brae meaning slope), the spot is marked by a stone cairn inscribed with an explanation that you needn’t trouble your awe-struck family with. • On long journeys don’t oversell destinations as we did visiting the Wensleydale Cheese Visitor Centre. On the strength of a Yorkshire Tourist Board leaflet featuring Wallace and Gromit sticking their thumbs up, we rashly promised life-size models of the cartoon characters wandering around. However, the only thing Wallace and Gromit related was a chalk outline of them on the café’s specials board. We’d driven two hours to a working

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cheese factory to show the kids the processes milling and tipping and for them to learn how Wensleydale cheese did in the last Nantwich International Cheese festival. At the The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, we learned that the great children’s writer kept on his writing desk a model of a hurricane plane in recognition of the one he flew in World War 2, a paperknife of his father’s and the thighbone he had removed by a surgeon who later remarked it was the biggest he’d ever seen, it all helpfully making the loose orange peel, crumpet crumbs and broken monkey nut casing on my desk at home seem mildly more excusable to my wife. Cheap in-car dvd players are inadvisable. Ours kept disconnecting from the cigarette lighter and returning the film to the beginning every time my wife scratched her leg in the passenger seat. Consequently despite watching Finding Nemo 10 times our kids are still unaware Nemo was eventually reunited with his father. Mother Shipton’s Cave in North Yorkshire, is where a 17th century prophetess lived, predicted both the Great Fire of London and the advent of email. I now never to listen to my wife on health matters. In a serviced apartment in Leeds she advised me a pain in my side was trapped wind and I should “cycle in the air” to alleviate it. I was eventually rushed (after she and the kids had finished watching Nina and Neurones on cbeebies) to the A & E department of St James Hospital, Leeds where a kidney stone was diagnosed. Thanks, love. At Shakespeare’s Birthplace Museum in Stratford-upon-Avon we learnt that when period costumed performers suddenly jump out of nowhere and start launching into performances of Shakespeare plays, these actors will

happily pose for snaps and also pretend not to mind having their tights wiped with the luminous orange residue from your son’s Hip Organic spaghetti bolognaise. You can have fun in the Scottish Central Highlands at Doune Castle, used in the filming of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, shouting from the ramparts on our best John Cleese voices: “I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and you father smelled of elderberries.” At Chester Zoo, home to 7000 animals, while the kids enjoyed the lions, we actually had more fun watching a schoolgirl from Rainhill getting wedged in the Marmot Mania tunnel because of her overlarge sandwich bag, prompting mournful shouts from the darkness to her concerned/highly amused friends, “Get Mrs Harris – I’m stook.” Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry presents kids in its braintaxing Xperiment Gallery with the opportunity to dress up, and to lift a mini with their little finger, while in the café next door my wife and I very much enjoyed listening to a competitive father informing his bored-looking daughter that if she could spell beef bourguignon then she could have a £3.95 kids portion. If all distractions in the car fail, turn up Classic FM to max volume and kid yourself you aren’t muffling the kids’ din with an even louder one, but that you’re educating them about Haydn.

Backed by an unlikely combination of Mumsnet, John Cleese and Sophie Kinsella, Are We Nearly There Yet? 8000 Misguided Miles Round Britain is available from all good bookshops and from Amazon for £5.

Jayne Keep says: “A very witty book that you can’t help but connect with. As Ben and his wife Dinah take their two toddlers on a 8000 mile road trip around Britain in order to write a guidebook, we follow their rather amusing progress. The book is all about family relationships; love, death and mishaps along the way interwoven with comedy and family friendly attraction reviews. A slightly odd combination but it really works. Highly recommended!”

Travel All aboard for summer 2012 It’s the depths of winter, so every family’s thoughts naturally turn to where they will be this summer. Joanna Moorhead has lots of ideas. The Alps in August

Switzerland isn’t just for skiing: in fact, the Alps can be one of the loveliest places in Europe for a summer holiday en famille. As well as beautiful weather, there’s a wealth of sporty things to do for both smaller children and teenagers. Chilly Powder runs its Morzine chalet hotel through the summer as well as the winter, offering the same attractions (professionally-cooked food, childcare etc) and with the emphasis on comfortable living alongside a wealth of outdoor pursuits. Morzine is an eight-hour drive from Calais, or fly to Geneva and hire a car; the chalet has 17 bedrooms and there’s even a hot tub in the garden. Perfect for: sporty families with children in different age ranges. Midsummer prices: from around £120 per adult per night, discount for children, half-board. Website: Away from the crowds in Norfolk

Hideaway in Robin Hood’s forest What child wouldn’t be excited to be holidaying in the centre of the wood made famous by the legendary Robin Hood? And what parent wouldn’t be happy to join them, now Forest Holidays are extending their venues to this one? The new lodges, which open this spring, will be set in the middle of 3,300 acres of forest, and include basic cabins to de luxe ‘golden oak plus’ cabins with their own hot tub. Loads to do for all ages – Sherwood Forest has a glorious labyrinth of cycle trails, plus farm parks, arts and craft centres and play areas. Perfect for: active families in search of a change from Center Parcs (and more of a bargain). Midsummer prices: From around £30 per person per night. Website:

Camping meets boutique hotel

Molly Dishwasher isn’t just an unusual name for a holiday experience – it’s an unusual experience, too. You stay in a shepherd’s hut nestled among acres of meadows and woodland in deepest Sussex. A comfy double for you, bunk beds for the children, all squeezed into a small but beautiful space with oodles of special little touches. Young children adore staying somewhere different, and they love pulling their parents into their adventures – which is what makes Molly Dishwasher such a hit. Plus breakfast included, a BBQ and food on hand, and loads of places to explore in the area including Drusilla’s Zoo, Battle Abbey, Hever Castle and endless beaches. Perfect for: families with small children who want a pint-sized adventure without having to travel too far. Midsummer prices: Around £20 per person per night. Website: Affordable luxury – and abroad too

Further afield...

Poppyland Cottages If you love Cornwall and Devon, but are frustrated by the prices and the crowds, why not head instead for Norfolk? Cottage prices for midsummer are cheaper, it will take you less time to get there and it’s much easier to get to and from the beaches and other attractions because the roads are far less clogged. For a comfortable, child-friendly cottage look on the Recommended Family Holidays website under the ‘East of England’ tab. Poppyland Cottages, for example, have a range of properties dotted around a series of beautiful villages, and within easy reach of lovely Blue Flag beaches – and everything on the website has been checked for family-friendliness. Great pubs for lunches and suppers out, too – and Norfolk is also a very good option for families who love cycling. Perfect for: Families with young children wanting to get away from the crowds. Midsummer prices: from around £21 per person, per night. Website:

Pamper yourself in Devon The word ‘barton’ means ‘a small country estate’ in Devon, so head for Libbear Barton and what you’ll be buying is a slice of laid-back country high life, half an hour from the nearest beach. Libbear Barton is a 40-acre farm with four properties: the Georgian farmhouse (sleeping up to 14) and three cottages. Rent one if you’re holidaying with your immediate family, or rent two or even all of them if you’re bringing your extended clan or another family or families along (the maximum number of guests, if you take all the properties, is 39). The whole place is kitted out with underfives in mind, so you won’t need to worry about cramming the car with clobber – even buggies are provided. You won’t need to leave the farm every day, because there’s plenty to do there – an adventure playground, indoor swimming pool, woodland and meadows, a fishing lake, games room and loads and loads of play space. For those days when you do want to venture out, north Devon is teeming with family-friendly things to do, and the beautiful beach at Bude is only 15 miles away. Perfect for: groups of families holidaying together. Midsummer prices: from £36 per person per night, based on full occupancy in July/August. More details:

Glamping is the way to go: much more reasonable prices than villas or hotels, and a wide range of family-friendly sites. And what’s new on the glamping block for 2012 is an ever-widening range of top-notch accommodation: for 2012, Select Camp has a new range of what it’s calling its ‘lodge suites’ featuring a canopy bed, free-standing oval bath, fully-equipped kitchen, shower and toilet – and a separate junior lodge tent next to the main suite. Select Camp also has four new sites, three in Italy and one in Spain – and coming soon, a brand new website which should make browsing and booking a lot easier too. Perfect for: Budget-conscious, adventurous families. Midsummer prices: from around £24 per person, per night. Website:

Logis la Cabane, Poitou Charente, SW France If you’re looking for something more exotic, has a choice of hotels in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Africa, as well as Europe – all recommended by real families who’ve stayed in them., meanwhile, can help you craft the family holiday of a lifetime whether it’s somewhere far-flung like Thailand or Nepal that you’re after, or luxury in the Med. have wonderful family-friendly resorts in Corsica, Turkey, Portugal, Sardinia and Greece – ideal destinations if you don’t want a long flight. | Families Manchester 15

Parents’ place Beating the Bollington Chill

by Jayne Keep I found myself in a real dilemma over Winter coats for 2011/12. As a family we spend a lot of time outdoors regardless of the weather so I wanted to find coats that would keep the kids warm, dry and moan free (or is that too much to ask from a coat??). After much research and opinion asking I placed an order with Polarn O. Pyret for their ‘Child Winter Coat’ for Lily (5) and Izzy (3). Ordering clothing for girls without checking their opinion first is always a risky business but it appears I got it right. The bright colours really appealed to them. These extra tough coats are wind and waterproof, yet breathable and

flexible. Lily, found hers warm, comfortable and not all restrictive to play in. The cuffs feature thumb holes which both girls loved, although Izzy did find a little fiddly to put on alone. The cuffs are also adjustable, not only to keep out wind and rain but also to grip a slightly long sleeve which was great for us as I bought slightly larger sizes in the hope we could get two Winters out of them, which with the quality I am sure we will. The hood is fully removable and is a fabulous shape that fits nicely so it stays up despite the wind. Reflectors feature on the back of the coat, on the sleeves and on the hood for 360 degree visibility. As well as keeping the girls safe on the walk to school they found it most amusing to watch each other glow! From a mum point of view I find these coats easy to keep clean; my lot seem to get particularly dirty and I have been able to easily wipe marks away, or to throw them in the machine for a good wash without losing any colour or shape. The Child Winter Coat is available from in ages 1½ years through to 12 years. In red, blue or pink. RRP £79.

Design Directions offers a one room to whole property scheme. We can be involved at a variety of levels - creating sample boards, drawing-up furniture layouts, sourcing all the products and tradesmen - all within your budget. Leaving you with the tools you need to turn your dream into reality.

JJenni Nolan 07880 07 795875 07 No12 152 155 Barlowmoor Road West Didsbury Manchester M20 2UT

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Mums in business

Lorna Carroll Party Sashes Galore

Tell us a bit about yourself. I’m 37, have been married to Steve for 10 years and have two beautiful children Olivia, 7 and Luke, 6 who attend St Philips RC School in Salford. This is my first year in business and Party Sashes Galore is going from strength to strength. I produce unique, personalised sashes, banners and ribbons for any occasion. How did you get started? In my previous job I was travelling some distance to get to and from work and with the school runs I was finding that the actual working hours were rather short and restricted. I decided to give it go and set up on my own where the working day would be far more flexible and cut out the travelling completely. I made a decision to start a company using skills that I already had and more importantly in an industry that I enjoyed. What does the future hold for the business? I hope to continue to build the business into an established brand and branch out into other exciting areas of personalised products in the future.

What is the best bit about what you do? The flexibility of working from home is fantastic! I can pop the washing machine on whilst downloading orders and work in the comfort of my own surroundings. I am in charge of the day and set my own targets. I love to see the look on my customers faces when they get a product designed especially for them. It really adds that something special to a gift, party or event. Any bad bits? Initially I thought that I may be a little lonely working on my own as I am a bit of a chatter box! But the day races by and I am speaking to interesting customers helping design their personalised products and before I know it I am at the school gate again. How do you fit work around family life? My working day can fit perfectly around the family life. I work producing personalised sashes, banners and ribbons during the hours of the school day and can happily meet deadlines of next day deliveries and make it back to school for the end of the day. I have not been late yet!! The children happily (for the time being) come with me to the post office to send parcels and then we go about the after school activities that they have always attended. As it is an online business I can continue to fulfil orders into the evenings and weekends if I need to. What advice would you give to other mums looking to work for themselves? Go for it! It is the best decision I have made both on a professional and personal level. If you have an idea or a passion, follow it through. It’s amazing how work can actually be fun if it is something you enjoy. It’s also nice to know your hard work is benefitting YOU and not some big wig business people who spend all day on the golf course!

Parents’ place Fun Unisex Fashion from Flamingos and Dominoes

by Jayne Keep Freelance designer and Mum Helen is behind the Flamingos and Dominos brand. When she was expecting baby

number one she found the unisex clothing for newborns on the high street to be bland and boring so she set about designing unisex fashion with some fun. I personally loved the designs as soon as I looked on her website (; the designs are quite retro and colourful without being overly bright and garish. Helen sent me one of her Zebra print long sleeve tops to try on Isabella (3) who loved it. Older sister Lily (5) was a tad miffed that the tops are only available for ages 0-4 years. The material is lovely and soft and washes well. This top will be a keeper to hand down to little brother Logan when he is older.

Call to protect children from the health risks of mobile phones

A new report recently published by UK charity MobileWise warns that children’s health is being jeopardised

by the failure of Government and phone companies to respond to the growing body of evidence linking mobile phone use with health hazards. The new report Mobile phone health risks: the case for action to protect children brings together, for the first time, more than 200 peer-reviewed studies from a range of research institutions that link mobiles to serious health problems. Endorsed by a number of eminent doctors and scientists, the report highlights the growing and substantial body of evidence that has been obscured in the debate over these risks. Find the report at EMRresourcepage and read simple tips to protect your family at

Yummy Mummy Week 2012

Running from Saturday 10 March to Sunday 18 March (Mother’s Day), this week is all about mums doing something yummy by hosting their own fundraising events and spending

quality time with their children, family and friends. All the money raised will help CLIC Sargent continue to provide clinical, practical and emotional support for children and young people with cancer. You can hold any event you can think of - no matter how much it raises, every penny counts! The most popular events are afternoon teas and cake sales, pamper parties, nearly new sales anything goes! It can be as simple as inviting your mum and friends to come round for a coffee morning for a small donation, or as extravagant as getting together with the girls to organise a Yummy Mummy party because you all deserve some fun! For more information, go to

Mummy Fever – events for mummies As mummies we often see adverts for baby fairs and expos – many of us will have attended them. Mummy Fever events are like these but with a twist... these events are all about mummies – whether that is making life easier for us or just making us feel better about ourselves. All events are family friendly, their goal being to create Mummy-focused events which have enough to occupy the little ones. They are launching a number of Mummy Fever events during 2012 and would love for you to join them. Date: Friday 17th February 2012 Venue: Theatre Clwyd, Mold, Flintshire Time: 10.30-13.30 (Set up 10.00 and close at 14.00) Trade stands: £30 (includes full promotional package)

Entry prices: Adults £2.00 (in advance), £3.00 (on the day); Under 5’s Free; Concesssions £1.50 Date: Saturday 3rd March 2012 Venue: Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre, Portway (at the junction with Selstead Road), Wythenshawe, M22 1QW Time: 10.00-13.00 (Set up 09.00) Trade stands: £30 (includes full promotional package) Entry prices: Adults £2.00 (in advance), £3.00 (on the day); Under 5’s Free; Concesssions £1.50 For more information, call Charlotte on 07762 798 008 or email Or go to

Logan LOVES Littlelife by Jayne Keep I never had a need to use a set of reins or similar on the girls as they were never ‘runners’. Logan (18 months) is another matter so I was very pleased to receive an Animal Toddler Daysack (complete with safety rein) from Littlelife to try out. Logan really enjoys filling his bag for a trip out, usually with a mini board book, a toy car or two and some snacks. The bag is big enough to carry a few bits and bobs and still be compact and light enough for a

toddler to carry. The shoulder straps are comfy and padded, plus the chest strap keeps the bag firmly in place. The fun ladybird design is bright and colourful which appeals to Logan and his big sister Izzy (3) who would happily claim it as her own. For me as mum the biggest appeal is the removable safety rein so I know I can hang on to him if need be. Logan is not very tolerant of restraint so this subtle strap works well for him. The only downside is that I don’t feel as secure with the strap as opposed to reins when walking by a busy road until he is a little older and more steady on his feet. The Littlelife Animal Toddler Daysack comes in a wide range of designs. Suitable from 6 months to 3 years. For more information visit | Families Manchester 17

Parties Imagine you’re ... a Princess

Imagine opening the door on your birthday to find Rapunzel on your front step. That’s what happened to 6 year old Lily Allen from Bramhope. She had a visit from the latest Disney princess thanks to the wonderful Make a Wish Entertainment. “I wanted to give Lily a party that was different and personal,” says Sally Allen, Lily’s mum. “I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect party. The 10 children were mesmerized for an hour and a half. I forgot they were in the house!”

The Rapunzel party is the latest magical celebration from the imagination of Suzanne Kaye Vaughan of Make a Wish Entertainment. She and her team transform into the character your child wants at their party. Be it Belle and her Beast, or Buzz Lightyear and Jessie, Alice and the Mad Hatter, Make a Wish Entertainment will make those wishes come true. “With the Rapunzel party, we can bring along Flynn to carry out some combat training with any boy guests,” explains Suzanne from Make a Wish. “It’s about using our imagination to create a magical party.” And Lily believes there was some magic at her party that day. She made flowers with Rapunzel, played games and shared her birthday with her Disney heroine and her friends. “As far as Lily is concerned, Rapunzel came to her house,” says Sally. “I wanted to cry because she was completely in awe of her. Giving her that experience was truly magic.” Take a look at the full range of Make a Wish Character Parties at 01924 281365.

Once Upon A Critter Deluxe Animal Encounter Parties & Visits For children who love all creatures great ‘n’ small Animal Encounters • Action Packed Games Craft Activities • Themed Decor & much more

07575 971375

18 Families Manchester |

Welcome to Party Sashes Galore

Personalise and create exclusive sashes and banners to announce your exciting occasion and stunning unique ribbons to make a statement with your gift. Party Sashes Galore are UK specialists in making your party or event a memorable one. They’re there to help you personalise for ANY occasion and provide a stunning range of superb quality custom made satin sashes, banners and ribbons JUST FOR YOU to create a lasting impression. Why not become a designer and create a funky, stylish, quirky, professional or corporate feel to your event? With Party Sashes Galore you can create that perfect finishing touch for every occasion. You can customise your ribbons using their personalisation tool and see what your ribbon will look like before buying. Change ribbon colours, text and images until you are happy with your design. Party Sashes Galore allows you to personalise your ribbons to offer maximum impact for your announcements, celebrations and promotional events. Make your personalised announcement in style! Contact Lorna on 0161 798 6245 or email

Parties Great news for all parents of animal mad children If you have a child who is potty about ponies or raves about reptiles and would like either a pony party or animal encounter with a difference, then Once Upon A Pony & Co./Once Upon A Critter may just have the answer. From pretty ponies to creepy critters there is something for everyone and parties/visits come under the following categories - Pony Party, Creepy Critter or General Animal Encounters and content is themed accordingly. Whilst available for ‘Meet & Greet’ style

parties/visits where children get the chance to interact, learn all about and hold some of the animals, Once Upon A Pony & Co./ Once Upon A Critter specialize in creating deluxe parties/visits which combine a fantastic animal encounter experience with a great range of action packed games and/or crafts rolling several entertainment options into one bumper fun package. Your venue can also be transformed into the perfect party backdrop with jungle explorer style theme and photo shoot backdrop for animal encounters or

pretty fabric bunting, bay trees, floral garlands, bubble machine etc for pony parties (unless you have a budding cowboy then the western style is for you!) All parties/visits are tailored to suit individual personal requirements, and are hosted by a qualified early years practitioner so you can rest assured that an attentive fun approach is given to every booking. For more information on the range of services available visit and or call 07575 971375.

Party fun with Kiddiewinks

by Jayne Keep

For Isabella’s 3rd birthday party I chose to shy away from the task of entertaining tots and called on Nuala from Kiddiewinks to do the job, and what a job she did. I had meet Nuala previously at some social events and found her so fun and full of energy that I was confident she would be a brilliant entertainer and I was right. The party was a real whirlwind of activity to a soundtrack of lively music. The children followed Nula’s lead with a huge variety of toys including pom-poms, hoola-hoops, bouncy dogs, musical instruments, magic wands, monkeys and more. The variety of games was amazing

as she worked in the traditional stuff like pass the parcel and music bumps with pretend play and tricks. All of the children had a wonderful time and Izzy loved every minute of her special day. As a mum I found Kiddiewinks lovely to work with; Nuala spoke to me in depth before the party so she knew what Izzy would enjoy. We were provided with invitations and personalised thank you cards which took a job off my list. Plus Nuala even supplied presents for the party games. Highly recommended! For more information on the full range of Kiddiewinks parties call 0161 432 3624 or visit | Families Manchester 19

What’s on Activities Fri 13 & Sat 14 Jan Manchester Art Gallery Mini Art Club 10.15 – 11.15am / 11.30am – 12.30pm Free Sensory play for you and your baby/toddler with a different theme each month. Booking essential (from one week before the event) 0161 235 8888 /

Sat 14 & Sun 15 Jan Manchester Art Gallery Imagine Weekend 12 noon – 4pm Free drop-in creative play for all ages. Experiment and play with the material of the month. 0161 235 8888 /

Sun 15 Jan Peel Moat/Target Fitness Leisure Centre, Heaton Moor Kids Car Boot & Swap Shop 10am – 12pm. Table costs £10 Entrance 50p 07748 601248 /

Sat 21 Jan

Sat 28 Jan

Tues 31 Jan

Tottington Library Tottington Wildlife Group (Twigs) Learn about wildlife and your local environment! Ages 8 – 13. Younger children can attend with their parents. £1 per child. 2 – 3.30pm Booking essential: 01204 883 889

Manchester Museum Big Saturday: Bug Art 11am-4pm Make your own bug art inspired by the Museum’s bug collection. Most activities are free and drop-in but some may need to be booked on the day and may cost up to £1.50. All ages. 0161 235 8888 /

People’s History Museum The Little PHM – Mr Ordinary’s Prize 11am – 12 noon £1 per child, adults free Under 5s, Booking essential 0161 838 9190 /

Sat 21 & Sun 22 Jan East Lancashire Railway, Bury Winter Steam gala An all steam timetable, promising a nostalgic and memorable experience for enthusiasts and newcomers alike. 10am – 5pm 0161 764 7790 /

Sun 22, Fri 27 & Sun 29 Jan Imperial War Museum What a Performance: Instruments of Song Klezmer, Greek and east European melodies performed by Manchester duo The Deli Babies to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. 12.15 and 3.15pm. Ideal for all ages

Hollingworth Lake Visitor Centre, Rochdale RSPB Stall & Big Garden Birdwatch 11am – 4pm Find out everything you wanted to know about birds and the best places to hear and see them. Then have a go at spotting some birds as part of the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch at 2.00pm. 01706 373421 /

Sun 29 Jan The Lowry Free Family Sunday Discover free fun art and drama activities in the Galleries inspired by the current exhibitions. Ages 5 – 12. 11am – 3pm 0843 208 6005 /

electric go karts home cooked food winter heating excellent party options available


Stockport Air Raid Shelters Explorer Tour Evening Tour of Stockport Air Raid Shelters, including areas not seen on the public tour. You will be given the opportunity to see the extent of Stockport’s Air Raid preparations 7.00pm Age 10+ and adults Booking essential 0161 474 1940 /

Sat 4 Feb Manchester Art Gallery Family Art Club 1 – 3pm Spend quality time together as a family and learn new art skills. FREE – but arrive early as places are limited 0161 235 8888 /

Sun 5 Feb

Children's Indoor Play Centre

• • • •

Wed 1 Feb

Fri 10 & Sat 11 Feb

Mon-Fri 9:30am-7pm Sat & Sun 9:30am-6pm


Weekly Activities: Toddler Mornings - Wed & Thur 10-11:30 am Baby Boppers - Mondays 1:45-2:30pm

Please bring this coupon for 1 FREE child’s ENTRY for 90 minutes playtime (Mon-Fri term time only). Offer expires 31 March 2012.

1 minute from the Trafford Centre

0161 872 9434 The North-West's Premier Climbing Venue. • • • •

The Kingsway School (lower site), Cheadle Kids Car Boot & Swap Shop 10am – 12pm, Table costs £10 Entrance 50p 07748 601248 /

Birthday Parties Kids Clubs Family Taster Sessions Groups welcome

Quote FAMILIES to get 10% off any booking with this advert.

0161 230 7006,, 20 Families Manchester |

Manchester Art Gallery Mini Art Club 10.15 – 11.15am / 11.30am – 12.30pm Free Sensory play for you and your baby/toddler with a different theme each month. Booking essential (from one week before the event) 0161 235 8888 /

Sat 11 Feb Glo Family, Cheadle Valentines Craft Workshop 1pm 0844 504 7465 /

Sat 11 & Sun 12 Feb Manchester Art Gallery Imagine Weekend 12 noon – 4pm Free drop-in creative play for all ages. Experiment and play with the material of the month. 0161 235 8888 /

These listings are for guidance only – please check before you go To include your upcoming event in our listings, email

Churnet Valley Railway Day out with Thomas Pre-booking essential 01538 758491 /

Bijou Club, Manchester M3 7NJ Baby Loves Disco Valentines Party 6 months to 7 years (must be accompanied by an adult) 2pm – 5pm

Sat 11 – Sat 18 Feb

Mon 13 Feb

Touchstones, Rochdale Holiday Quiz Free event suitable for age 5 – 12. Drop in during normal opening hours.

Glo Family, Cheadle Valentines Craft Workshop 12 noon - 1pm 0844 504 7465 /

Sat 11 – Sun 19 Feb People’s History Museum Radical Craft Table 10 am – 5pm Free family friendly activity suitable for all ages. Booking not required. 0161 838 9190 / Tatton Park Scarecrow Festival Visit Tatton’s Scarecrow Festival in the Gardens and at the Farm this spring halfterm. Over 30 scarecrows will be resident in the Gardens. Find the farmyard scarecrows and have a go at making your own. Closed Monday. Normal opening times and prices apply. 01625 374400 /

Sun 12 Feb Ramsbottom Civic Hall Ramsbottom farmers’ market A vibrant market featuring more than 25 stalls bringing together farmers and producers from all over the North West. A vast array of foods and handmade crafts are available. 0161 253 5111 / Sale High School Kids Car Boot & Swap Shop 10am – 12pm, Table costs £10 Entrance 50p 07748 601248 /

Mon 13 – Fri 17 Feb Glo Family, Cheadle Valentines Movie Week 2pm Includes a heart shaped treat! 0844 504 7465 / The Lowry (The Studio) Art Zone: The Big Top 11am – 12.30 Roll up, roll up and join us to create the greatest show on earth by making a magnificent mobile inspired by the colourful sights and sounds of the circus. Limited places available. 0843 208 6005 /

Tues 14 Feb Glo Family, Cheadle Toddler Time Valentines Day Party 10am Valentines Make & Bake Workshop 1pm 0844 504 7465 / People’s History Museum Living History – Pauly’s War Learn more about life during The Blitz 1.15 – 2pm, Free Family friendly activity for 7+, No booking required. 0161 838 9190 /

Tues 14 & Wed 15 Feb Tatton Park Deer Feed and Trailer Ride Take a trailer ride with the rangers to watch the daily deer feed. Get a close look at hundreds of deer feeding in their beautiful natural setting. 9.30am to 10.30am. £5 adult, £3 child 01625 374400 /

Tues 14 – Thurs 16 Feb The Lowry (The Studio) Drama Zone: Billy Goats, Wolves & Bears Create a story using some classic animal characters from children’s stories in this fun session for the whole family. Packed full of drama games and role play, see if you can create a brand new story. Limited places available. 11am – 12.30pm 0843 208 6005 / Hatworks, Stockport Fun with Feathers Have fun with feathers and see if this craft session tickles your fancy! 10.30am – 12.00 and 1.00pm – 2.30pm Ages 5 – 11 Limited places – booking essential 0161 355 7770 /

Tues 14 – Fri 17 Feb Manchester Art Gallery Surprise! Surprise! 1.00pm - 3.00pm Watch unexpected patterns appear as you explore surfaces and textures around the gallery with magic rubbings. Then play with paints in our studio to transform your patterns into beautiful pictures to take home. Suitable for all ages. Free, drop in family event. Sign in from 12:30pm 0161 235 8888 /

Wed 15 Feb Glo Family, Cheadle Mum & Baby Yoga – FREE TASTER 9.30 – 10.15am 0844 504 7465 /

What’s on George H Carnall Leisure Centre, Kingsway Park M41 7FJ Go Kiddy Karts Multi Activity Fun Day 10am – 4pm £6.00 entry per child covers all activities (under 3 free) Adults pay per ride, no entry fee No need to book, Ages 3 - 14 Go Karts, BodyZorbs, Dance Mats, Inflatables, Trampolines, Giant Games, Whizz Wheels, Holistic therapies for adults 07956 557653 / People’s History Museum Poster Power Get creative with printing 1.30 – 3.30pm Free event for all ages. No booking required. 0161 838 9190 / Bury Transport Museum Craft Workshop 11am – 3pm Standard museum admission plus £1.00 per child. 0161 763 7949 / burytransportmuseum Churnet Valley Railway Day out with Thomas Pre-booking essential 01538 758491 / Stockport Air Raid Shelters Children’s Explorer Tovur Exciting children’s version of the ever popular Explorer Tours. Brave the darkened tunnels as you go back in time and experience the life of a child during the war. 6.45pm – 8.00pm Age 7+ (must be accompanied by an adult) Booking essential 0161 474 1940 / | Families Manchester 21

What’s on Advertise in Families Manchester Call Jayne on: 01625 801801 or email

Thurs 16 Feb

Sat 18 & Sun 19 Feb

Glo Family, Cheadle Valentines Craft Workshop – hosted by The Creation Station 10 – 11am 0844 504 7465 /

Churnet Valley Railway Day out with Thomas Pre-booking essential 01538 758491 /

Fri 17 Feb

Mon 20 – Fri 24 Feb

Longfield Suite, Prestwich Town Centre National Festival Circus 12 noon – 4pm 0161 253 7227

The Lowry (The Studio) Art Zone: The Big Top 11am – 12.30 Roll up, roll up and join us to create the greatest show on earth by making a magnificent mobile inspired by the colourful sights and sounds of the circus. Limited places available. 0843 208 6005 /

Touchstones, Rochdale What did the Romans Laugh At? 2 – 3.30pm Free, but booking required. For ages 10-16. Unaccompanied children must bring a completed parental consent form issued on booking. 01706 924492 /

Sat 18 Feb Tottington Library Tottington Wildlife Group (Twigs) Learn about wildlife and your local environment! Ages 8 - 13. Younger children can attend with their parents. £1 per child. 2 – 3.30pm Booking essential: 01204 883889

22 Families Manchester |

Tues 21 – Thurs 23 Feb The Lowry (The Studio) Drama Zone: Billy Goats, Wolves & Bears Create a story using some classic animal characters from children’s stories in this fun session for the whole family. Packed full of drama games and role play, see if you can create a brand new story. Limited places available. 11am – 12.30pm 0843 208 6005 /

These listings are for guidance only – please check before you go To include your upcoming event in our listings, email

From Sat 25 Feb throughout the year

Tues 10 – Sun 15 Jan

Lyme Park Lyme, the End of a Golden Era Ever visited a country house and wanted the freedom to explore, play the piano, take part in a theatrical, dress up or have tea on the lawn? During 2012 you can. Look out for Edwardian Apprentice activities throughout the year. 11am – 5pm 01663 762023 /

The Lowry Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Keith Jack, the hugely popular runner-up who finished just a hair’s breadth behind winner Lee Mead in hit BBC series Any Dream Will Do, takes on the title role, having won the hearts of the nation with his sparkling charisma and sensational singing voice. 0843 208 6000 /

Sun 26 Feb

Sun 15 Jan

The Lowry Free Family Sunday Discover free fun art and drama activities in the Galleries inspired by the current exhibitions. Ages 5 – 12. 11am – 3pm 0843 208 6005 /

Middleton Arena, Rochdale Goldilocks and The Three Bears 07725 620 228 /

People’s History Museum Clarion Cycling Club and Family Friendly Rides Free guided family cycle rides from Bolton and Stockport, both arriving at the museum. The Clarion Cycling Club will arrive on their penny farthings and vintage cycles. Explore the museum displays of Clarion material from their collections, followed by a guided family cycle ride with the club riders to the Working Class Movement Library where they will treat you to a Clarion tea! Suitable for all ages. See website for meeting information. 0161 838 9190 /

Tues 28 Feb People’s History Museum The Little PHM – Beeing Special Especially for little ones 11am – 12 noon £1 per child, adults free Fun interactive story session with puppets, song, dance and a craft activity for under 5s. Booking essential. 0161 838 9190 /

Sat 21 Jan Stockport Plaza Chinese New Year Extravaganza Featuring internationally acclaimed acrobat troupes from Chengdu, China – the home of the panda. The ‘costumed’ acrobatic pandas and the mighty dragon dance add charm and dynamics to the show, which is packed full of fun and excitement and is perfect for all ages! 0161 477 7779 /

Tue 24 Jan - Sat 28 Jan The Lowry Beauty and the Beast A towering gothic fairytale performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet. 0843 208 6000 /

What’s on

Wed 25 Jan

Sun 29 Jan

The Lowry Beauty and the Beast ballet repertoire workshop A chance to improve your ballet technique and learn extracts from David Bintley’s magical production of Beauty and the Beast. There will be a small sharing at the end of each class to parents. An opportunity not to be missed! 4.15-6.00pm Intermediate / Advanced (14+)* £18.00 *or equivalent level Application forms at or contact Jenny Murphy at

The Lowry Red Riding Hood’s Magic Purse A classic story told with a difference. Find out how Red Riding Hood’s Magic Purse saves the day in this delightful show told using rod-glove puppets, shadow theatre, original music and songs. Ages 3 – 7

Wed 25 Jan – Sat 10 Mar

Tue 31 Jan

Palace Theatre, Manchester Oliver! Starring Neil Morrissey as Fagin. Bringing vividly to life Dicken’s timeless characters with its ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more. 0844 871 3019 /

The Lowry Beauty and the Beast ballet repertoire workshop A chance to improve your ballet technique and learn extracts from David Bintley’s magical production of Beauty and the Beast. There will be a small sharing at the end of each class to parents. An opportunity not to be missed! 4.00-5.00pm Grade 2-3 (Approx age 8-10)* £12.00, 5.15-6.30pm Grade 4-5/ Inter foundation (Approx age 11-13)* £15.00 *or equivalent level Application forms at or contact Jenny Murphy at

Sat 28 Jan Bury Met Hulluba Lulu Entertaining, hilarious and poignant, this beautiful show from Thingumajig features exquisite puppetry, live music and songs. For ages 5+. 0161 761 2216 / Bolton Octagon The Wind in the Willows All of your favourite characters will bring the classic story of The Wind in the Willows to life; mess about in boats, adventure and escapades - not to be missed! Age 4+ 01204 520661 /

Beowulf – The Dragon Slayer Told with beautifully carved wooden puppets, this is the classic story of Beowulf, who crosses land and sea to find adventure and fame, meets monsters and a dragon. Age 7+ 0843 208 6000 /

Sat 4 Feb Bury Met A Bird in your Ear Wizards, witches and magical animals join boys and girls like you on crazy quests and wacky adventures. This insight into the world of the modern child's imagination - from helpful gazelles to dragon poo - is a treat for the whole family. Ages 3 - 11. 0161 761 2216 /

Family Shows Fri 13 – Sun 15 Jan & Wed 18 – Sun 22 Jan Waterside Arts Centre, Sale Cinderella A traditional pantomime with a modern twist for all the family. 0161 912 5616 /

Joseph at The Lowry | Families Manchester 23

What’s on Waterside Arts Centre, Sale The Emperor’s New Clothes Hilarious happenings, fantastic fooling, giggle until your tummy hurts! The Emperor’s New Clothes is performed with puppets, masks and original music. Age 3+ 0161 912 5616 /

Sat 4 & Sun 5 Feb Stockport Plaza Chinese New Year Extravaganza Featuring internationally acclaimed acrobat troupes from Chengdu, China – the home of the panda. The ‘costumed’ acrobatic pandas and the mighty dragon dance add charm and dynamics to the show, which is packed full of fun and excitement and perfect for all ages! 0161 477 7779 /

Sat 11 Feb Bolton Octagon The Lion’s Kingdom The Lion wants to invite you to celebrate with him. He’s about to be made King of the Lion Kingdom. Come to the party in the Jungle! He’s got many friends that he’d like you to meet. Take part in the fun journey as the tale unfolds – puppets, water and surprises galore! Ages 3 - 8. 01204 520661 /

Sun 12 Feb Stockport Plaza Sesame Street Live - Elmo Makes Music Your family’s favourite Sesame Street friends are taking to the stage to share their love of music. “Big Bird “tweets”, Oscar the Grouch’s stomping trash can lids, Cookie Monster’s crumbling cookie jars and more become instruments of beautiful music and noisy fun! 0161 477 7779 /

Tues 14 Feb Waterside Arts Centre, Sale The Owl and the Pussycat Enjoy this absurd hogwash of nonsense featuring silly songs, babbling puppets and smaller than life characters. Puppetry, live music and beautiful storytelling for 3-7 year olds and their families. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special Family Club session before the performance from 12.30pm – 2.30pm. 0161 912 5616 / Bury Met Red Riding Hood Horse + Bamboo present a gorgeously rendered re-telling of the classic girl-and-the-wolf tale. Ideal age 4+. 0161 761 2216 /

24 Families Manchester |

Wed 15 & Thurs 16 Feb

Mon 20 – Wed 22 Feb

Manchester Opera House Peppa Pig Peppa and George are up to fun and games on a day out on Grandad Dog’s boat. Help them, with Pedro Pony, Polly Parrot and Zoe Zebra to follow the clues and find their treasure as they all enjoy a day of adventure. 0844 871 3018 /

Manchester Opera House George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl’s amazing story about a young boy who makes a marvellous new medicine to cure his Grandmother of her terrifying temper. When she drinks his special new potion incredible things start to happen. 0844 871 3018 /

Thurs 16 Feb

Tues 21 – Sat 25 Feb

Bury Met The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark An irresistible blend of live music, puppetry and storytelling. Come join us – it’s going to be a hoot! Ages 3-7. 0161 761 2216 / Waterside Arts Centre, Sale Vampirates Based on the award-winning novels by Justin Somper. Age 9+ 0161 912 5616 /

Fri 17 – Sun 19 Feb The Lowry Chinese State Circus Marvel as the world’s greatest acrobats join forces with the undisputed masters of martial arts, stretching the limits of human achievement. 0843 208 6000 /

The Lowry The King and I One of the greatest musicals of all time and this production is a lavish, grand scale spectacle. With giant gold Buddhas, sumptuous costumes, a chorus of adorable children, acrobatic dancers and live music this beautiful production guarantees standing ovations. 0843 208 6000 /

Sat 25 Feb Waterside Arts Centre, Sale Muttnik – the first dog in space You can teach an old dog new tricks! A refreshing slant on what happened to Laika, the dog sent into space aboard the Russian Sputnik 2 rocket in 1957. Told with dance, music and puppetry, this enchanting tale feeds the imagination and is suitable for age 3+. 0161 912 5616 /

Families Manchester Issue 31 Jan-Feb 2012  

Families Manchester magazine for January and February 2012