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Birmingham, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield

Are you smarter than a 10-year-old? Ordinary people, extraordinary lives Find a new club or class

Tuition Plus

‘Helping students achieve their true potential’

Harborne and Solihull Fun-filled, motivating music courses for children aged 4- 12. www.thestringsclub.org 0779933 2562

Join us this September! www.familiesbirmingham.co.uk

Professional Tutoring Literacy & Numeracy for ages 5 to 11 First lesson free Harvest Fields Centre Sutton Coldfield B75 5TJ Tel: 07592 556 452

Email: info@tuition-plus.co.uk www.tuition-plus.co.uk


Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company presents

27 November to 4 January By Charles Dickens Adapted by Bryony Lavery Music and lyrics by Jason Carr

Charles Dickens’ much-loved Christmas classic bursts onto The REP stage to provide the perfect festive treat. Registered in England 295910 Charity No.223660

Tickets £7 to £35

(Concessions & family prices available)

Box Office:

0121 236 4455 Online:

birmingham-rep.co.uk Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EP.

XMas Carol Advert.indd 3

06/08/2013 14:08

Maths & English tuition centre For 5 to 14 year olds of all abilities t Courses mapped to the National Curriculum. t Adapts to the individual needs of your child. t Convenient for families - Open 7 days a week. t Award-winning tuition - voted Education Investor Supplementary Education Provider of the Year.

Free trial session - book today!

“Explore Learning members’ improvement in maths was 30% higher than that of the comparison group after controlling for gender, age, year group and special educational needs.” Independent Efficacy Study by the Institute of Education at Reading University (2013). See www.explorelearning.co.uk/efficacy.


0121 306 9455

or book online at www.explorelearning.co.uk 2

Issue 17

are s c ild her ! h C uc pted Vo acce




ello and welcome to the Autumn issue of Families Birmingham, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield.

It’s back to school time and, as children begin to gear up for some hard work, we challenge parents to see if they are smarter than a 10-year-old. Our quiz is designed by 11 plus specialists KSOL and their questions are aimed at Grammar school hopefuls. Parents should find them easy, right? See page 15. All work and no play would make for a dull life, so we also offer you plenty of ideas for some fantastic clubs and classes – from dance, drama and music to swimming, football, rugby and martial arts. See our feature on page 8. Watch out for some great theatre shows coming up this Autumn too – the Imperial Ice Stars Sleeping Beauty on Ice and Scrooge the Musical at the New Alexandra Theatre, and Our House for tiny tots at The Rep, or Yumm and Blue Moon at the mac birmingham. There is lots going on for Halloween – look at our What’s On section – and you can think, too, about planning ahead for great Christmas shows. We also have 4 sets of family tickets up for grabs to see Sleeping Beauty on Ice, Scrooge the Musical, Peppa Pig and Miracle on 34th Street. See the competition on page 26.

Wendy Flynn , Editor

Families Birmingham, Solihull & Sutton Coldfield Front page picture by photo artist Abby Wilkes. Abby won the West Midlands Master Photographer Award for her work with children three years in a row. She specialises in photographing children and families, creating art from life’s special moments. Contact Abby for more information: 07966 867306. www.abbywilkes.com

Next Issue:

Advertisers: book now for our November/ December Christmas issue. Call 0758 352 6056 or e-mail editor@familiesbirmingham.co.uk before Friday, October 4. Design: www.MattWaltonDesign.co.uk Print: Warners Midlands PLC, Manor Lane, Bourne, Lincs. PE10 9PH

Copyright Families Birmingham, Solihull & Sutton Coldfield, Sept. 2013-08-13 We take care preparing this magazine but the publisher and distributors cannot be held responsible for the claims of advertisers, nor for the accuracy of the contents nor its consequence.

4 8 12 13 14

News Choosing clubs and classes Learning music is a smart move Reading Eggs Are you smarter than a 10year-old?


15 Ten things to know about choosing a school

16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 26 28

Ready to learn every day Giving your child a head start


St George’s School Edgbaston Potty training Cost-saving tips for mums-to-be Wifi – feel the force Pocket money


Halloween Christmas shows What’s on


11 + Tuition

Intensive courses for all children in Year 5 in preparation for: King Edward Grammar Schools, Queen Mary’s Grammar School Queen Mary’s High School Sutton Cold�ield Grammar School All other Selective School examinations Tel: 0121 661 6330 www.advantage11plus.com Issue 17




The Big Family Drawing Factory


on’t miss the Barber Big Family Drawing Factory on October 20. It’s a FREE fun day for families, where you will get tips on how to draw portraits of each other and you will also be able to take home an original piece of art by artist Ruth Radcliffe for just £1.

The Big Family Drawing Factory is part of the UK-wide Big Draw festival encouraging an interest in drawing and art. Last year the Barber won an award for their innovative and theatrical Drawing Factory event for adults, which included a painted factory backdrop, industrial props and soundtracks, and a shop floor of amateur and professional artists in boiler suits busily producing drawings. This year’s Family Drawing Factory promises to be just as fun and engaging. It’s on from 11am3pm and you can just drop in. The Barber Institute, Edgbaston, runs regular Sunday classes in painting, sculpture and drawing for children aged 4-8 and from 8 upwards. Classes cost £5 per session and must be booked in advance. Call 0121 414 2261 or education@barber. org.uk Places go fast, so early booking is recommended.

Puddles of fun on welly walk Now that Autumn is here, It’s time for the Woodland Welly Walk at Packwood House and Gardens, Solihull. There are puddles of fun to be had, and there is mud, glorious mud! Don those wellies and let your children run wild in the woodlands. Pick up a child friendly map and a ‘Doodle your dream day’ sheet, and head off on a journey together through ‘a Woodland Dream ‘. Along the walk children get stuck in to activities like den building, tree trunk hopping, building a tower of wood

It takes the biscuit! Parents are unwittingly packing their children’s school lunchboxes with biscuits that are laden with SALT. We expect biscuits to have sugar in them, but several popular brands are also laced with hidden salt, which can be just as much a risk to health. The daily intake of salt recommended for a child is just 3g. Yet, in just one serving of Cadbury’s 16g digestive biscuit, they consume 0.24g – even more than they would get in a 20g serving of Butterkist salted popcorn 0.2g. Researchers also found huge variations in the amount of salt between brands of the same biscuit with some having more than double the salt content. If you want to limit salt intake, examples of biscuits that are low in salt include Jammie Dodgers, Tesco Bourbon Creams, and Waitrose Essential Nice Biscuits.

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and seeing what inventive minds can create from natural resources. Families can take part in the walk at any point during the day within Packwood House’s opening times. Visitors can pick up a Woodland Dream Map from Visitor Reception. The welly walk and guiding map are free (and visiting the property is free too if you are a National Trust member). Remember, the welly walk does guarantee the opportunity to get muddy and messy, so be prepared and wear wellies.



Sleeping Beauty in Birmingham


ou are spoilt for choice if you want to catch up with Sleeping Beauty this Autumn.

The Imperial Ice Stars are returning to the UK with a spectacular production of Sleeping Beauty on Ice featuring a 26-strong cast of Olympic, World, European and National Championship skaters. Set to the music of Tchaikovsky, it is a show suitable for all ages, with high speed lifts and throws, awe-inspiring aerial gymnastics, still skating and fire effects. It’s on at the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, between October 8-12. Meanwhile, at the Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty is also on stage between October 8-12 – demonstrating that Sleeping Beauty is as engaging now as she was when she first fell asleep over 100 years ago! Despite her reputation for slumbering, Sleeping Beauty is clearly no celebrity slouch. She rounds off a trio of shows in Birmingham with Disney on Ice Dare to Dream. Here she will be appearing along with a host of fairytale characters in a show celebrating 75 years of Disney Princess stories. That’s on at the NIA between Oct 23 and Nov 3.

Why we should all walk to school Beat the traffic and get you and your kids
out in the fresh air during International Walk to School Month this October. Each year, primary school children from across the UK join forces with over 40 countries worldwide to celebrate the benefits of walking to school and this October is no different. The month-long activity encourages pupils to walk to school at least once a week. Many parents know that walking is actually quicker and less stressful than taking the car and they value the opportunity to spend quality time with their children. It also increases air quality with fewer cars on the streets and strengthens communities, where children and parents are seen in the streets! Stop moaning about the traffic … start clearing it! www.livingstreets.org.uk


Drama Classes

Est 17 years

6-17 years Birmingham Central,

Sutton Coldfield, Yardley, Solihull, Tamworth and Lichfield

Taught By Theatre Professionals 20 centres across the Midlands Re-enrolling throughout September 2013 at the following venues : Birmingham Central, Sutton Coldfield, Yardley, Solihull, Tamworth and Lichfield To arrange an individual free trial or for further details email us at classactdrama@aol.com or call us on 0121-244-3214 or visit us at

Issue 17




Ordinary people can lead extraordinary lives!


o you like spending time with children? Can you stay calm when a child is distressed or losing their temper? Could you cope with a child who is testing boundaries and pushing you to the limit?

If you answered yes to the above questions, YOU are the type of person Advanced Foster Care is looking for. The organisation is now recruiting foster carers in Birmingham, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield. Laura Blain, of Advanced Fostering, says: “Our Foster Carers are amazing! They’re ordinary people like you and me but they do an extraordinary job. Our carers truly make a difference to the lives of young people by offering them a loving home, a listening ear and someone who cares. “Children often come into care through no fault of their own, and need us to help them for all different reasons. That’s why we provide many different types of fostering placements; from mainstream and sibling fostering to therapeutic fostering and fostering children with disabilities. Don’t worry, we’ll provide you with the training you would need to help any child.” As fostering can be a full time job – a way of life - you might not be able to work as well as foster, but this need not be a bar to becoming a foster carer as

the organisation supports carers with an average allowance of £34, 000 a year. Laura adds: “Deciding to foster is a big decision; we know it’s a scary thought and that you’re probably worried about the ‘what ifs’. We’re here 24/7, 365 days a year; we’re only ever at the end of a phone or if you need to see us we’re just around the corner, ready to help out with anything you need.” Foster Carer’s come from all walks of life; married, single, living together, divorced, have or don’t have kids, all with one thing in common – they want to make a positive difference to children’s lives. As long as you have a spare bedroom and are over 21 (there’s no upper age limit to fostering) you could become a Foster Carer with Advanced Foster Care. Laura says: “Whether you’re new to fostering or thinking of changing to the Advanced Foster Care team, we will support and train you and offer you career development which could lead to obtaining a foundation degree. If you’d love to help children who need it the most, our specialist team of experts will invest in you and provide unrivalled support.” Get in touch today and the Advanced Fostering team will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Call on 0800 644 6230, email foster@ advancedfostercare.co.uk or visit their website www.advancedfostercare.co.uk

Mischief and Mayhem on Friday the 13th Make a date with mischief and mayhem on Roald Dahl Day on Friday, September 13. This year Roald Dahl Day celebrates all the tricksy characters that fill his books, including George and his mayhemic medicine, those foulsome Witches and Matilda and her parent-scaring tricks. After all, no birthday celebration is complete without a

Cartoons © Quentin Blake


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little bit of mischief! There are lots of ways to join in the fun. To find out more about Roald Dahl and his characters, plan your costume for Dahlicious Dress Up Day on 27 September or throw your own Roald Dahl party see www.roalddahlday.info, and help Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity raise money for seriously ill and disabled children.



New Children’s Laureate


alorie Blackman, the bestselling author of the award-winning Noughts & Crosses teen series, has been crowned the Waterstones Children’s Laureate for 2013–2015.

As part of her role she will call on teachers and parents to spend at least ten minutes per day sharing a book with their pupils and children in a bid to get more children reading more, as well as working to make reading ‘irresistible’ for teenagers. ‘I am honoured to have been chosen as the eighth Children’s Laureate,’ she says. ‘Stories have inspired me and taught me to aspire. I hope to instill in every child I meet my love and enthusiasm for reading and stories.’

Bah Humbug … to all who hate Christmas You can begin the countdown to Christmas from the October half term as Scrooge the Musical comes to the New Alexandra Theatre for five days (Oct 28-Nov 2). A heart-warming midterm treat is in store for all the family with stunning sets and costumes and specially-created illusions by magician Paul Kieve who helped create the magic effects in the Harry Potter movies. Closer to Christmas don’t miss

Birmingham Rep Theatre’s brand new family production of A Christmas Carol (Nov 27-Jan 4). London’s meanest miser is on stage once again as the clock strikes midnight and his world is turned upside down when he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an all-time family favourite and is a fab festive treat.

h c a o c e Theatre Arts g a t S

Stretch Your Child’s Imagination In Three Directions At Once The original, largest and still the best part-time performing arts schools in the world. Nurturing and developing young peoples’ potential through dance, drama and singing.

Stagecoach Edgbaston Saturday classes at Edgbaston High School for Girls for children and young people aged 4 to 18

Call: 01926 651159 email: edgbaston@stagecoach.co.uk www.stagecoach.co.uk/edgbaston




Issue 17


Clubs and Classes


Football, drama, gym or a


ootball or ballet, drama or Brownies - how do you know what, and how much, out-of-school activity is right for your child?

Not long after your son or daughter disappears through the classroom door for the first time, the choice becomes bewildering. Their schoolbags come home stuffed with leaflets from this or that organisation promising all manner of benefits from enrolling in their classes. You may find yourself feeling guilty if you don’t sign up to everything.



Clubs & Classes


1-to-1 drum tuition, City Centre location Rock School grades 1-8. Ages 4 upwards. Tel: 0121 503 5849 MARTIAL www.timtandlerdrumschool.co.uk ARTS





Boxing, Karate, Kickboxing, Self Defence

classes for all ages and abilities VISIT www.combatsportscentre.co.uk to book a FREE trial lesson

Ballet, Tap and Jazz age 2 ½ + Branches in Yardley and Shirley Telephone: 0121 744 1422 www.dubarrieschoolofdance.co.uk


Harborne Dance School


Ballroom, Latin, Freestyle Adults and Children

1-to-1 drum tuition, City Centre location M I N G H A M Rock School grades 1-8. Ages 4 upwards. Tel: 0121 503 5849 www.birminghamdrumschool.co.uk

Tel: Wendy on 07515 878772



FootieBugs with Lee Hendrie

Youth Theatre Group, Age 4+

Professional football classes 3-9 years

Garretts Green Lane, Sheldon, B26 2SA

Telephone: 0121 722 3761

Tel: 0121 777 7792



Nicholson School Of Dance Ballet & pointe, Classical dance fusion, RAD. Age 4+ Moseley & City centre (BOA)

Tel: 0121 449 4304



Primary Plus-The Inspiring Tuition Service 11+, SATs, Literacy & Numeracy support from 7 years

Solihull Young Dancers

In the heart of the Jewellery Quarter

Ballet and Tap Dancing Classes from age 2 ½ + Tel: Kate on 07722 732678


SPOTLIGHT STAGE SCHOOL Dance/Drama/Singing/Gymnastics Exams, Shows & Competitions North Solihull. 0121-242-3904 www.spotlightstageschool.co.uk

Tel: 0845 206 8658



Fun and creative yoga classes From walking age to 12 Tel: 0845 863 0682 Email: nidhi@yogabugs.com www.yogabugs.com

TO ADVERTISE HERE CALL 0758 352 6056 8

Issue 17

Please take a deep breath and relax. Extracurricular activities are not essential; many children do perfectly well without them. However, they are fun and there are many benefits from a few well-chosen groups, clubs or classes. With the best will in the world, school cannot teach all the skills you might consider essential for modern life. Swimming lessons, for example, or cycling proficiency are crucial for safety. In addition, carefully selected activities can bring numerous other benefits that could help your child now and in the future. They will get a huge confidence boost from participating in an enjoyable activity they are successful at. A shy child, for example, may flourish in a dance class. As well as learning new skills, more subtle benefits include fostering a sense of community, increasing self-sufficiency and allowing a child – particularly one in a large family – something they feel is their own. Club time can also allow one-to-one time for other children. While these advantages are very real, care must be exercised when choosing activities. Too many and the wrong ones will only leave everyone fed up and exhausted. The easy choices are the ones your children are desperate to do. Although beware of signing up for something just because your son or daughter’s best friend is doing it, this may not be a good enough reason.


! FAVOURITE SONG RECORD YOUR R TA PS PO A TO BE EVER WANTED FOR THE DAY? es in brand new Children’s parti io recording stud Call 0121 212 9642


Only £99

Clubs and Classes


art ..... or all of them? Ask yourself if your child gets something from the activity they don’t get elsewhere and if it complements what’s already going on. For example, an active youngster who is already in the football team might be better balancing their activities with music or drama than adding another sport. Equally a child timid in the classroom may get great gains from being in a choir if it boosts their confidence. A more tricky area is an activity you’d like your child to do when they’d rather spend their after-school time at home relaxing. Only you can tell if they are genuinely exhausted by a day’s education or not. However, do take their views into account as there really is no point in forcing a child into something they hate. And some school stages are more taxing than others. After-school activities affect the whole family. No one wants to spend all their time ferrying children from one activity to another while dinner still needs to be prepared and other children become resentful. So only commit to out-of-school activities that fit comfortably into the schedule and budget. When you do decide on a class or club – take some time to check it out. Find out how long it has been running, do other parents recommend it, are the staff CRB checked?

Rugby-based, fun activity classes for kids aged 3 to 5 years old.

By Ellen Arnison

While extra classes keep your children entertained and active, it’s also important that they have some unstructured time – even that they are allowed to feel bored. If they bounce from one organised thing to the next, they’ll never learn the important skill of amusing themselves.

CLASSES IN THE SOLIHULL AREA Fun football classes for ages 2yrs – 6yrs. Birthday parties.

TELEPHONE: 0121 744 9730 07775 610322




Classes in Birmingham and Solihull


Learn to draw! Make sculpture! Paint portraits! Fantastic & fun workshops for kids! Storytelling, drama, family days and other events for all ages Family guides to the galleries always available

07807 297 511


For more information, pick up our PEXIWX *EQMPMIW *MVWX PIE¾IX SV ZMWMX www.barber.org.uk 0121 414 7333 The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TS

Issue 17 Barber-FF-Advert-August2013-01.indd 1


01/08/2013 16:36

Clubs and Classes


Art plays a part


lbert Einstein said that imagination was more important than knowledge – and he certainly had a point. The ability to imagine, invent and create marks out an original thinker from a pedestrian plodder. We all have the ability to be creative, especially if it is nurtured from an early age. By encouraging children to explore and experiment from childhood, we can give them the tools to develop their imagination and creativity. Of course they don’t see it like that – they are just having fun - but their play is laying the foundations for creative thinking skills. The award-winning Creation Station art classes for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers in Sutton Coldfield and Streetly are based on the idea that creative play is both fun and educational. Of course, it is not just fun for children – the parents (or childminders) have fun too and as an added bonus they don’t have to clean up the mess! Debbie, mum to Annabel and a childminder, discovered Creation Station and was hooked. She says: “You wouldn’t be able to give babies and toddlers this level and variety of creativity at home. Because it’s all been set up and pre-planned at the Creation Station it covers so many of the learning needs, and with all the clearing up taken care of too, it’s just a really enjoyable shared time together.” Award winning art and craft classes:

baby discovery little explorers family fun 5 – 16 months


Creation Station Sutton Coldfield runs classes at the Holy Trinity RC Church Hall in Sutton Coldfield, Streetly Scout Hall and Bit End Pavillion, Whittington. They also run holiday sessions for older children and arty parties for all ages. Call 0844 854 9089 or e-mail sue@thecreationstation.co.uk

1 - 5 years

sessions for 1-11 year olds

Venues in Sutton Coldfield, Streetly & Whittington

arty party

a totally different party experience with invites,party bags,certificates

Discover more – call Sue 0844 854 9089 Email:sue@thecreationstation.co.uk www.thecreationstation.co.uk

Kick your way to fitness Martial arts expert and Sensei Antonio Santorelli has just started a high-energy ladies only kickboxing, fitness and self defence class. As mums with busy schedules ferry children around to sports classes and afer-school activities, they often forget to take time out for themselves. The new class offers a cardio workout which helps develop fitness and the exercise relieves stress. It might be time for mums to snatch back some time to themselves once a week and look after their own well-being too! The class is held at 12pm every Saturday at Lordswood Girls School, Harborne. The new class for ladies is one of a range of classes for all age groups currently running at the Antonio Santorelli Black Belt Academy. They also offer classes for 4 to 6 year olds; 7 to 11 year olds; and for ages 12 plus on weekdays and during the weekends. Call Antonio on 07818 052 978 for further information.

In the spotlight! Two children from Spotlight Stage School are performing in the UK tour of Disney’s The Lion King. Sophia Tejero, 11, and Nicole Manumbre, 10, beat off thousands of other hopefuls from across the country to play the role of Nala. The Lion King production is playing at the Birmingham Hippodrome until the end of September and the girls will then go off on tour to Edinburgh and Plymouth. Both girls train at Castle Bromwich and Kingshurst based Spotlight Stage School, and principal Vicky

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Richards is delighted by their success. “There are only 6 girls chosen from across the UK to go on tour, so for 2 of them to be selected from Spotlight is amazing and testament to how talented and hard-working these girls are. It is a massive responsibility at such a young age but I know they will be fantastic!”. Spotlight stage school offers lessons in dance, drama, singing and gymnastics for boys and girls age 2 and a half to 18 years. For more info call 0121-242-3904 / 07775-631316, email vicky@spotlightstageschool.co.uk

Clubs and Classes


Can a 9-year-old be a DIY expert? Over half the UK’s adults admit they don’t have a clue when it comes to DIY. But given half the chance your 9-year-old could probably show you how it is done. B&Q have skilled up more than 20,000 children at their weekend Kids Can Do It workshops for 7-11 year-olds – and girls are just as keen as boys to get stuck in. The children learn

sawing, drilling, glueing, and work with nails and screws making things from scratch, under the watchful guidance of DIY experts. They also get to take home their work – be it a mug holder, or a bird box or a magazine holder. The Kids Can Do It workshops are being held at B&Q’s Erdington, Wednesbury and Coventry stores this Autumn. To find out more log on to

B-boys breath-taking dance moves Girls have always loved dance, but the success of dance groups like Diversity has sparked an interest in dance among boys who like hip hop music and the physical nature of B-boying Breakin’ dance which originated on the streets of New York.

as top rock, footwork, freezes and power moves, all danced to funky hip hop tunes. If you would like to know more about the breakin (b-boying) classes please call Planet Dance Studios on 0121 709 3412.

Planet Dance studios in Solihull are now offering classes in Breakin’ for boys and girls. The classes includes moves such

www.diy.com/kidsclasses or call 0845 600 5428. Psst, parents attend too, so you might even pick up tips yourself!

Confidence Building Drama Classes for Children

Dance, Drama and Singing Classes for children 5-15 every Saturday from Big Arena, based in Sutton Coldfield. To find out more and to book your child’s FREE taster please call today. 0121 427 3770 / 07738 952 062 www.bigarenadrama.com

Better maths scores Have you ever wondered if outside school support makes any difference to your child’s achievement? As you part with your hard-earned cash, do you wonder if their results would be the same even if they had no help? An independent study, carried out by the University of Reading on behalf of tuition group Explore Learning, found it really does make a difference. The study tested 1,539 Explore members compared to a control group of children who did not

attend Explore, and found that: “Explore Learning members’ improvement in maths was 30% higher than that of the comparison group.” The study also found that parents believe outside school support built confidence so children were more ready to put up their hand to ask for help, and it also encouraged them to be more independent and less reluctant to try without assistance. To read the full report, visit www.explorelearning.co.uk/efficacy

Buggyfit Mums in Kings Norton are invited to Walkers Heath Park on Tuesdays for some FREE Buggyfit classes. The classes are being offered as part of Birmingham’s Active Parks pilot and run on Tuesday lunchtimes between 12.45 and 1.45pm. There is no need to book. Just drop along to the meeting point by Walkers Heath Allotments. Text Sarah on 07913 773379 for more info.

Dizzyrs Dance

Solihull Karate Academy Karate instruction in the Midlands area for children aged 4 and over by 4 times British Champion Greg Hegarty. For more information 07909


www.solihullkarate.co.uk solihullkarate@hotmail.co.uk

Various ages welcome Based in Highgate, Birmingham. 01527 870889 or 0773 4651192 www.dizzydancers.org Issue 17




Learning music is a smart move


his September thousands of children across the West Midlands will be picking up their first musical instrument, and thousands of parents and siblings will endure some cacophonous sounds as learners get to grips with their instrument.

Yet, there is no doubt that learning to play music is a smart move. Putting up with the sounds of music practice – be it guitar, drums, piano, bass, cello or violin – is a small price to pay for the benefits to your child. The recognised spin-offs include not just better musical ability, but improved cognitive skills, greater creativity, greater willpower, and better social skills. Don’t worry if your child prefers rock bands to orchestral music because the benefits are the same whether they learn to play a classical instrument or opt for a modern electric guitar or drums. Gary Seeney from Birmingham Music School suggests 10 reasons why learning an instrument is a good idea:

It’s fun

Learning to play music is fun!

It’s social

Learning music helps with social skills. You make new friends learning to play an instrument in a small group, or playing in a band or an orchestra.

It’s creative

It boosts listening skills and sharpens concentration

When you are learning to play an instrument you need to listen carefully and learn how to hear when you are playing a wrong note. So music boosts a child’s listening skills. Playing in a group requires even more concentration because they listen not only to themselves but to others to play in harmony.

It can increase maths performance There is evidence that learning to play music opens new pathways in the brain, and there is a well-documented connection between music and maths skills. A study of 6,000 students in the US found those who learnt to play an instrument outperformed their peers.

It can improve reading skills

Studies have also shown that students who received musical training have superior cognitive reading skills compared to classmates who did not have music lessons. It is believed that there is an overlap in the way individuals interpret music and language so practicing one improves the other.

It increases self discipline

When it comes to learning an instrument practice makes perfect … and that requires willpower and self control. Studies have shown that when you develop willpower in one area of your life, it has a knock-on effect on others. A child who practices the guitar for 30 minutes a day will have the self discipline to get their homework done.

You can write your own songs. It is possible - even after learning the simplest three chords. Bob Dylan has written several well-known songs using only a few chords. You don’t have to be Mozart – just be prepared to learn and have a go.

It teaches performance skills and reduces stage fright

Music is shared and performed. For example at Birmingham Music School we hold regular classroom concerts – and have an annual Christmas concert where students perform live on stage to family and friends. Hearing an audience applaud a performance is a great confidence builder.

It opens doors

Birmingham Music School Guitar, Drums, Keyboards, Vocals, Bass Fully Trained Yamaha Teachers CRB Checked Yamaha Teaching System Accredited Exams Grade 1-8 Instruments Provided Play & Read Music & Have Fun Free Trial Lesson Call: 0121-439-5488



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Passing accredited Yamaha music grades has helped some of our students get places in independent schools. All our music exams are accredited to GCSE and A level – the higher grades carry UCAS points.

It makes you happy

Music can relieve stress and make children happier. Birmingham Music School is an established Yamaha Music School based in the Jewellery Quarter, which teaches guitar, drums, keyboard, vocals and bass. It focuses on modern day music and instruments. Pupils learn to read music and achieve accredited and recognised music grades. New classes in all instruments are starting in September, and free trial lessons are available. Birmingham Music School also runs FREE Yamaha Music Roadshows for schools playing at key stage 2 assemblies and encourage children’s interest in live music. There are 3 different shows – Electric Guitar, Keyboard and Drums – and children participate in the performance. For further information on lessons or for Music Roadshows call 0121 439 5488.



Learn to read with Reading Eggs


eading Eggs is the award-winning online reading programme for children aged 3-13. Children love working and playing on the computer and the Reading Eggs programme is all about bringing out the best in each child using unique worlds of interactive reading and writing activities. Proven reading results • Over 90% of parents have noticed an improvement in their child’s reading ability since using Reading Eggs

• Detailed assessment reports show and recognize progress

• The lessons content and format are based on solid scientific research

• Suitable for children aged 3 - 13

• Has a core reading curriculum of phonics and sight words supporting what children learn at school • Uses skills and strategies essential for sustained reading success • The programme is used by over 2 million children worldwide (and counting!) • Reading Eggs has been developed by expert educators with over 20 years’ experience

Why children love Reading Eggs • There are over 512 interactive games, motivating rewards and songs • It makes reading fun – children want to learn • The programme supplies one-on-one lessons that match your child’s ability

From 26th August to 30th September your child can join thousands of children across the UK taking part in the Reading Eggs Great Literacy Challenge – a nationwide effort to inspire children to read! This FREE event will give your child 5 weeks FREE access* to Reading Eggs – the online reading programme that teaches children aged 3-13 the literacy skills needed for lifetime reading success. Sign up for your FREE trial* today and see for yourself how your child’s reading improves by using Reading Eggs. Simply register your child at www.readingeggs.co.uk/cow. *Free trial only available for new customers who register at www.readingeggs.co.uk/cow. Article by Reading Eggs.

Pulling the right strings Amy Cunningham, founder of Harborne and Solihull-based business, The Strings Club Ltd, has beaten hundreds of small businesses to be shortlisted in the national Nectar Business Small Business Awards 2013. The Strings Club is just weeks away from finding out if it will win the Start-up of the Year category, which is judged by a panel of experts including leading businesswoman and star of BBC1’s The Apprentice, Karren Brady. If successful, The Strings Club will win £2,000 cash, 50,000 Nectar points and the prestigious title. What’s more Amy will be invited to the Nectar Business Round Table event, which will take place in September, where she will meet and get business advice from lead judge Karren Brady. The Strings Club offers motivating instrumental courses for children aged 4-12. Over the past year it has grown from a one-off course into a successful business and now boasts over 100 budding strings players, eleven members of staff and a variety of term-time courses and holiday camps in numerous locations including Harborne and Solihull. If Amy wins, she is looking forward to first hand business advice from the likes of Karren Brady. She says the £2,000 prize money and 50,000 Nectar points will be used towards purchasing more instruments for their Strings Club Hire Scheme for students. “And to pay for someone to assist me in the office so I can have a lunch break.“ - Good Luck Amy!

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Issue 17




Are you smarter than a 10-year-old?


his month thousands of 10-year-olds across the West Midlands will sit for exams to win a coveted place at one of the grammar schools in Birmingham, Warwickshire and Walsall. Here, 11 plus specialists KSOL – Key Stages Online – challenge you to a quiz featuring the type of questions the children might encounter. Can you score full marks? Answers can be found below. 1) Sophie is reading a book containing 144 pages. She has read 56 of the book so far. How many pages does she have left to read? 2) Laura has £15. Can she afford to buy 3 books at £4.50 each? If so, how much change will she have left? 3) What is 2.4 x 3.7 ? 4) Find 75% of 88 5) Convert 1 to a decimal. 5

6) What do the interior angles in a triangle add up to? Circle your answer. a) 90º b) 110º c) 120º d) 180º e) 360º 7) Find the synonym for the word given from the list of options a to d. Remember synonym means the same or similar meaning.Circle your answer. Transparent a) opaque b) clear c) unclear d) cover

11+ Tuition

8) Find the antonym for the word given from the list of options a to d. Remember antonym means the opposite meaning. Circle your answer. Definite a) unsure b) sure c) specific d) exact 9) Choose the correct spelling for each word by circling the correct answer. a) extrordinary b) extraordinary c) exterordinary d) extraordinery a) reccomend c) recommend

b) reccommend d) recammend

a) neccessary c) nacassary

b) nesessary d) necessary

10) Choose the correct homophone from the words below and circle the correct option. (There / Their / They’re) are lots of things (to / two / too) do when you are on holiday.

11) Circle the sentence that has the correct spelling and punctuation: a) Do you want to go to the beach. b) Do you want to go to the beech? c) Do you want to go to the beach? d) Do you want to go too the beach? 12) Circle the odd word out in the list of words below: Miniature, Petite, Diminutive, Ample, Minute 13) Look at the picture on the left and decide which piece is missing from the options a to d. Circle your answer.

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14) Find which one of the four options A to D, should take the place of the question mark in order to complete the series. Circle your answer.

0121 733 6558 www.ksol.co.uk 14  Issue 17

Quiz answers 10) There are lots of things to do when you are on holiday. 11) c) Do you want to go to the beach? 12) Ample 13) A 14) C

o off t

0.2 9) b) extraordinary d) 180º c) recommend b) clear d) necessary a) unsure

£5ta0l price!

5) 6) 7) 8)


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Choosing schools 10 things to know


f your child is starting school next September or making the move to ‘big school’ – now is the time to start your research. The Autumn term is key for school open days and you should visit because nothing beats getting ‘a feel’ for a school. Joanna Moorhead highlights 10 things you need to know: • Make your own mind up. It’s amazing how many parents never even look round a school because of what they’ve heard.

for. But think too about what the school offers that might be harder to pick up at home. We’re a family of journalists, where literacy is easier for us as parents; so I’m glad my girls went to a school that specialised in maths and science, even though these weren’t their strongest subjects. • Look at the school’s league tables, but don’t pin everything on them. Read the Ofsted report too and pay particular attention to how the school has done over time. If it’s had a dip, are there signs of improvement or suggestions that it could turn round? • Where do pupils go on to from this school? You want to see at least some youngsters doing well academically and aiming for good courses at top universities.

• Listen to your child’s feelings as well as your own, particularly for secondary school.

PS - Remember that, at the end of the day, parents make more difference to a child’s future than a school does. Even if your child doesn’t get into your first choice of school (and one in seven didn’t last year) your attitude to that could be a much bigger factor in what happens next for your child than the school itself. Have confidence, first and foremost, in your child. And believe that, together, you will work things out if and when you come up against problems.

• Use open days wisely. If you can, go to a daytime visit because you’ll see it in working mode. • Nothing advertises a school like its pupils. Do they seem happy? Are they polite? If you have time, hang around in the area at home time. Are they well-behaved? • How about the staff – do they seem happy and fulfilled working there? Take opportunities to chat to them. • Listen to your instincts. If a school doesn’t feel right, move on. You don’t have to explain yourself or your reasons for doing so to anyone else (although you do, of course, need to discuss it with your child if your instincts are different). • Don’t get bogged down in the detail: what you’re aiming to get is a sense of the school. Does it feel happy, productive, calm? Is there a sense of order and caring? These things matter more than the nitty-gritty.


• Think about your child’s talents and interests and ponder carefully whether they’ll be catered

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Issue 17




Is your child ready to learn? Some deceptively obvious advice for parents


he National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) and the charity Family Action have launched a joint Ready to Learn Every Day campaign aimed at helping parents to support their children’s learning. Families magazine talked to NAHT President Bernadette Hunter about the campaign and why their advice is relevant to all parents.

Research shows that children are best placed to succeed in school when parents are actively involved in their education. But that is not all about helping out when they get stuck with homework. In fact, preparing children to be ready for learning can be far more basic – like making sure they know how to take turns and to listen; that they go to bed on time; have breakfast before going to school; and turn up on time, having remembered their pencil case, PE kit and homework. The first NAHT and Family Action Ready to Learn Every Day guide covers these sorts of issues: bedtimes, family routines, organisation, behaviour, communicating with your child and spending time with them. Common sense – yes. Obvious ….? Well, yes, but deceptively so. You don’t have to dig very deep to realise that the advice is relevant for all parents. Modern life is certainly hectic. With many of us working long hours, and constantly pressed for time, even those with the very best of intentions can forget the basics. An HR manager shame-facedly admitted to me that, when her child started school, the teacher called her aside and told her her daughter was falling asleep in class because she was so tired. Bernadette is not surprised. “Not all parents realise how much sleep their child actually needs (under 5s need 15 hours and older primary school children should have 10 hours.). And not all

parents realise that if you allow your child to watch TV or play on the computer before going to bed, they will have trouble going to sleep. She stresses the importance of talking and listening to children and spending time with them. Again, self-evident – but think about it for a moment! How many of us harried parents will recognise situations in which we have been checking e-mails or texts as our child was speaking to us? I’d hazard a guess most of us have been there. And many of us (however good we are as parents) would probably admit to having allowed a child to watch TV rather than play with them because we were simply too tired? But as Bernadette explains, there is more active learning in traditional games than in passive viewing. “Sometimes parents find it difficult to find the time to sit down and play with their children – it is easier to put something on the TV than to play the traditional type of games. But when you play a traditional board game, as well as being fun, children are learning to co-operate when they play, to take turns and to understand rules. They are picking up lots of key skills – speaking, listening and concentrating.” Ironically, while we are living in an age of 24/7 communication instant messaging, Skyping and TV on demand - these very same tools are taking their toll on communication at home. Family meal times, where children learned to talk and to listen, are waning, and traditional board games are giving way to solo computer games and screen time. The first of the four Ready to Learn Every Day guides urges parents to set aside time for talking without being interrupted by TV, radio, phones or computer; time where we REALLY do listen to our children, talk to them about their day, and tell them about ours. It also suggests that we share books or play games in a quiet environment away from the TV, and that we play games like jigsaws and board games that encourage concentration.

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16  Issue 17



Learn to Read in 5 Weeks – for FREE!

The guide also asks parents to support children by establishing set family routines for bedtimes, mealtimes and homework and recommends having a regular time for a family meal. “It doesn’t have to be every day, but even just at weekends where everyone has a meal together and talks as a family,” says Bernadette. With busy lifestyles and a culture of TV dinners, Bernadette fears we risk losing these communication skills which were passed down from generation to generation. “What we are seeing now are some young parents who have never experienced eating together as a family,” she says. The guide talks, too, about good manners – encouraging children to say please and thank you and not interrupting others when they are speaking. If at home we agree on realistic rules for behaviour and stick to them, children will also understand they need to stick to rules at school. Bernadette readily says some of the advice – like bedtimes - might seem obvious, but she adds: “We know from talking to parents that they can really welcome this advice. The Ready to Learn Every Day series of leaflets are about giving parents the confidence to set the boundaries for their children.” Perhaps it is good news for those of us who feel daunted by hothousing and tiger parenting. The crucial factors in determining our children’s success in school and beyond could well be the time we spend talking to and playing with them, and the ground-rules and routines we establish for them at home. It could be that simple! The Ready to Learn Every Day guide can be downloaded from www. family-action.org.uk/naht This leaflet will be followed by a guide for parents to develop children’s speaking and listening skills. Later in the year there will be a parents’ guide to helping with schoolwork; and a final parents’ guide in the Summer Term about helping children with transitions – from one class to another, and moving on to secondary school.

From 26 August to 30 September your child can join thousands of children across the UK taking part in the Reading Eggs Great Literacy Challenge – a nationwide effort to inspire children to read! This FREE event will give your child 5 WEEKS FREE* access to Reading Eggs – the online reading programme that teaches children aged 3 – 13 the literacy skills needed for lifetime reading success. Sign up for your FREE trial* today and see for yourself how your child’s reading improves by using Reading Eggs. Whats more, for every new sign up Reading Eggs will donate £1 to our charity partner Tommy’s!


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The multi-award winning online reading programme! Issue 17




How you can help your child get a head start


cademic Excellence was founded by Natalie Jones to help all children make the most of their potential by providing affordable outside school support. Here Natalie’s team of tutors – all qualified teachers – offer some tips to parents about helping their children get off to a good start. We all face many problems in life, but as a child something that may seem so simple to you as an adult can seem soul destroying. Settling into a new school or even simply moving up a year at school can be a huge hurdle. How can you help? Easy!! Listen and support!

At school Some children find it difficult to talk about how they are feeling. They don’t want to be the child who never gets 10/10 with their spellings or the one who stays in at break-time to complete their work because they didn’t quite get it! • Be curious - ask your child what they have done at school and at break! • Don’t accept ‘I haven’t done anything’ or ‘I can’t remember’. • Speak to the teacher, they want the best for your child, just like you. Children remember the lessons they have been enthused by, for example, beginning to learn about fractions by making cakes and decorating ¼ of them with pink icing. Children enjoy practical activities that have an impact on real life.

At home How much time do you spend with your child supporting them with their homework? Or do you simply just check it is completed and in the school bag ready for the morning mayhem? We all want our children to do well! We all love being the proud mums and dad when our child receives recognition for something good. It’s not so nice when we hear of children not ‘reaching their potential’ or simply ‘coasting’. Success can begin at home. • Ensure you have a set time/ or place that your child completes their homework, with an adult present to support them where required. • Make time to listen to them read or read alternate pages with them, talk about what is happening in the story. • Practice times tables / mental maths in the car on the way to school. • Let your child work out the change in the shop when out shopping. • Have a family diary whereby you all make an entry (this could become a lovely memory book for the future). Academic Excellence provide all sorts of academic support to pupils – maths, English, sciences and languages. They work with children of all ages and abilities from the gifted and talented pupils aiming for scholarships and bursaries at independent schools, or grammar school places, to pupils who want support to boost their SATS grades or GCSE results. Tuition fees cost around £15 an hour, but depending on circumstances, pupils can be eligible for up to 80 per cent reduction. Academic Excellence have a base at Edgbaston and offer outreach support at centres in Quinton, Erdington, Solihull and Chelmsley Wood. To find out more call Natalie on 0121 454 2858.


Issue 17

St George’s School


A powerful force in education

An individual approach to education

St George’s School


Give your child the very best start in life with an education at St George’s School, Edgbaston. A fully co-educational independent day school and nursery, offering a caring and friendly community for children from 4 months of age to18 years. �


t George’s School, Edgbaston, is rapidly becoming one of the most sought after schools in the region for parents choosing an independent education for their children. Sir Bob Dowling, Headmaster since spring 2010, has recently announced his retirement to take effect at the end of the current school year. Sir Bob has successfully established an important spirit of kinship amongst the school’s students and staff. He has created an environment where each individual feels supported and safe to develop at their own pace, to achieve their potential. Success rates in public examinations have never been higher. Sir Bob has been appointed Vice Chairman of the School Board of Trustees. Working closely with Professor Karl George MBE (Chairman), they will act as important custodians of the great legacy of this school. A powerful force in education, they will uphold the moral Christian values of St George’s and ensure it remains an environment where all children feel secure, where they will learn matters of importance beyond the formal curriculum. Sir Bob’s main focus as a Trustee will be working with the new Headmaster and staff, to ensure the needs of students remain at the heart of the mission and journey of the school. The recently appointed new Headmaster, Mr. Gary Neal, promises to take the school to the next level of its strategic development as a centre of educational and social excellence. With Gary’s passion for ensuring all students achieve their potential, he is ideally suited to address the demands and expectations of the new curriculum, the abandonment of coursework alongside an increased emphasis on extended end of year examinations. St George’s is a thriving co-educational school situated on the Calthorpe Estate, in Edgbaston.The school was founded in 1999 when two schools, each with a history of over a century in education, merged to form the current St George’s. The school offers continuity of education from its nursery facilities at four months of age through the junior and senior schools and on to the thriving and successful sixth form. Article by St George’s School, Edgbaston

Small classes with a creative and constructive learning ethos Outstanding support for children with dyslexia Speech therapy available within the school 11+ tuition Extensive extra-curricular and enrichment activities Wide choice of GCSE and A-level subjects Excellent exam results

“You’re not just a number... you’re someone at St George’s.” Dominic, Lower Sixth

WHOLE SCHOOL OPEN MORNING Saturday 5th October 10.00 am - 12 noon

Tel: 0121 625 0398 31, Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 1RX Email: admissions@sgse.co.uk

www.sgse.co.uk Issue 17




Potty training tips Time to start?

Simple Steps to Potty Success

Not sure if your little one is ready to start potty training? Research shows that around the age of two is the best time. In fact, nappies could be ‘masking’ that your child is ready. Look for the clues…… Can your child communicate with you? Does he/she have good physical skills, such as being able to walk and climb stairs? Can he/she take direction, like being shown how to wash hands? If you answer yes to these and your little one is around two or more then don’t be afraid – go for it!

Don’t put off taking the nappy off Although it can be tempting to wait for a holiday to start potty training, you will reap the benefits if you start when your child is ready (research shows it can take longer if you wait too long).

1. Before you start potty training, begin teaching the routine of going to the toilet. Take your child into the bathroom with you to ‘practice’ everything from turning on the light to waving off the poo, washing hands and closing the door. 2. Start to change your child’s nappy in the bathroom to help show that poo and wee belong there. 3. Stop using nappies and nappy-style training pants and put your little one in grown-up’ pants (you can pop in a Dry Like Me pad to catch accidents). 4. Talk to your child about where the potty or toilet is and what he/she should do. 5. Pop your child on the potty or toilet 20 minutes after food and drink. Do this in the bathroom when you can. 6. Accidents are a key part of learning. When your child has little accidents, remember that they will be starting to understand and react to what’s happening. This awareness is key to making real progress, so try not to use a product that makes it difficult for them to realize they have had an accident. 7. We know that potty training can be a stressful time, but try not to get too tense. It can help if you turn any anger or frustration towards the accidental poo or wee! “What a naughty poo!” 8. Keep early trips out short and take a potty in a carrier bag. Make sure you talk about where the potty is and what your child should do. 9. Ignore the ‘potty Olympics’ – don’t compare your child’s progress with others. Potty training takes on average 4 – 6 months. Focus on what you and your child are doing well and build from there. 10. If things don’t appear to be working, don’t give up altogether - just go back a stage, and keep praising.

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6 Balaclava Road, B14 7SG Tel: 0121 444 0808

20  Issue 17

23-25 Grange Road, B14 7RN Tel: 0121 444 0515

Day Nursery Schools Quality Pre-School Education and Care • Ages 3 months to 5 years • Small group sizes • Open 7.30am to 6.00pm • Mature qualified staff • Home cooked meals • Ofsted approved 106 Wake Green Road Moseley, B13 9PZ. Tel: 0121-449-3673

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Cost-saving tips for mums-to-be


ew mums are in for a shock when it comes to the cost of raising a baby, according to a new report – First Baby in Breadline Britain.

The biggest shock for many is the cost of childcare – with almost one in five mums in the West Midlands saying it was the expenditure they were least prepared for. But some mums say they were caught unaware with the extra costs needed to keep the house warm for the baby, and others were surprised by the cost of formula milk. Many expressed regret for spending too much on a range of baby items from prams, nappy bins, baby clothes, branded nappies to breast pumps. Sixteen per cent of mums in the Midlands – the highest proportion of anywhere in England - resorted to overdrafts, credit cards or loans to stay afloat. The report, by Family Action charity and Lloyds ‘Money for life’ programme, reveals

that, with the benefit of hindsight, new mums have plenty of sage advice for expectant mums. Having learned from their mistakes, their tops tips for mums-to-be are:

Save and budget in the months before the birth

Plan a budget of all income, bills and expenses and work out how much you’ll need to get by, and where you might be able to cut back.

Sarah Porretta, Head of Lloyds Banking Group’s Money for Life programme said: “As this report shows, while having your first baby is an incredibly exciting time for families, it can put a big strain on budgets and brings with it a number of emotional pressures.“ Family Action is a charity which supports vulnerable and disadvantaged families.

Take more advantage of hand-medowns

Don’t buy new if you can buy hand-medowns. Babies are too young to remember or care and they outgrow their clothes and baby paraphernalia quickly.

Form a buying group with other parents to make savings

Bulk-buy things like nappies, shampoo, toothpaste and even perishable goods.

Sell your clutter on eBay

Whether it’s unwanted presents or your children’s outgrown toys, this is a great way of earning a bit of extra money.


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Contact Carolyn for aon FREE information pack on Simply call us 08000 194518 07789 916278 or email: carolynrose121@gmail.com or go to www.sallysnannies.co.uk Issue 17




Wireless technology: can you feel the force?


an you remember a life before mobiles and texting? I often let my five-year-old son play games on my mobile. That’s normal, isn’t it? There is wifi in most schools and there are phone masts on top of the tower block where my son’s schoolfriend lives. In the past, community activists campaigned against such things. Today, they are simply part of the landscape. But surely this technology wouldn’t be allowed if it wasn’t proven to be safe, would it? As the more powerful G4 network is being rolled out across the nation, I think it’s wise to at least question the safety of wireless technology. Especially in light of the recent roll call of unethical activity in once trusted institutions: banking (once a paragon of respectability); SirJimmy Savile (OBE no less); abuse in care homes; corporate tax avoidance (one rule for the rich, another for the poor); Rupert Murdoch’s News International debacle; and prestigious medical journals losing credibility due to industry funding that skews research in drug corporations’ favour. An exeditor of a reputable medical journal has estimated this accounts for at least two thirds of trials published in major journals. bit.ly/ QuPaRg Blimey! Is nothing sacred anymore?

OK, so here is a little basic info

Electromagneticradiation (EMR) is basically microwave radiation. Small doses, of course, will not kill you. (In fact, I would say microwave ovens are lifesaving at stress o’clock when the kids are famished and you resort to heating up a frozen ready meal!) But do we want this kind of invisible energy in our homes all the time? WiFi and cordless phones, we often forget, are all EMR-emitting devices too. The fact is that telecommunications industry-funded research says that EMR poses less danger than independent scientists say it does. Plus, the effects of EMR on children, whose skulls are thinner and whose brains are still developing, is still not fully researched or understood. In 2011, the World Health Organisation classified EMR from mobile phones as “possibly carcinogenic” and, according to a Daily Telegraph report in October 2012, a link between heavy mobile use (up to six hours a working day over 12 years) and brain tumours, was upheld in an Italian court (an employee was suing his employer). The Telegraph has also reported a link found with hyperactivity and poor memory in adult offspring of pregnant mice exposed to cellphone radiation by researchers at Yale University. OK, so let’s not panic – but let’s not ignore the issue either. Whilst the scientific debate continues, when it comes to erring on the side of precaution, I’m with Edmund Burke who said: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” It’s like insurance, you don’t need it till you find it’s too late. Simple tips to keep your family safe (just in case it isn’t) · Always turn your wifi router off at night (just a switch). · Never put your mobile close to your baby’s head, nor let them use

22  Issue 17

By Helena Foss

it as a toy. Think twice about whether your cordless baby monitor is necessary or place it as far as possible from baby. These devices also emit EMR, they work with wifi after all. · Carry your phone in your bag, not your pocket. Manufacturer’s small print warns users to keep mobiles away from the body, even though advertising campaigns show the opposite. · The NHS advises children and teenagers to text or make short, essential calls only. The further away from the body/ears the better. · Do not let your teenager sleep next to their phone at night (and especially not keep it under their pillow for secret texting). (See the NHS leaflet on familiesonline.co.uk/radiation). · Do not use your phone as an alarm clock next to your head. · Go back to a corded phone. No re-wiring is required, simply buy two Ethernet boxes to plug in computers and laptops to your regular electricity socket. Radiation from cordless (DECT) phones is intense, and in some cases higher than a mobile phone (models/ devices vary in intensity, check SAR levels).



Pocket money falls as purse strings tighten The results of the latest quarterly Pocket Money Index (PMI) have indicated that pocket money has decreased for children aged 3 to 13. The PMI, which reveals the habits of families across the UK, has identified that average pocket money now stands at ÂŁ3.74 per week, compared to ÂŁ3.81 last quarter. The Index data is compiled by pocket money website, Roosterbank.com, from a sample of 1000 parents. Six to nine-year-olds have lost the most, with average pocket money for this age group down from ÂŁ3.48 to ÂŁ3.15. The data shows that even the Tooth Fairy has tightened her pockets - the amount given per tooth has decreased by 14.7% (from ÂŁ1.70 per tooth to ÂŁ1.45). Day to day jobs have also seen reduced pay, with hoovering dropping 20% to an average ÂŁ1.08 each time and gardening down 8% (ÂŁ3.23 to ÂŁ2.96). It also appears mum and dad have strayed away from stashing cash down the sofa. The average amount found around the house has shrunk by 69% to just ÂŁ0.82 (from ÂŁ2.67). Roosterbank suggests the decrease in pocket money could be attributed to the uncertainty in fuel prices, and the financial pressure of summer holiday spending.

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Issue 17 23




What’s on Halloween

ational Trust properties Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House are getting ghoulish this October half term and inviting you to come and discover the spooky stories that lie within their historic walls.

Hunt for hidden creepy creatures inside the house, visit the Halloween scarecrows in the grounds or sample some ghastly gastronomy, from ghost biscuits to fairy cakes, in the restaurant. Halloween Family Fun Days will run from Saturday 26 – Sunday 3 November from 11am – 3.30pm and spooky trails and takehome activities will cost £2. (Please note that Packwood House will be closed on Monday 28 October.) For more Halloween fun – make your own broomsticks, Autumn collage, ghostly gaslight event at Blists Hill, plague and pestilence, wicked terror trails, - see our what’s on pages.

Fun facts & fables about Halloween Halloween is short for All Hallows Eve – the evening before All Hallows or All Saints Day.

into mirrors while walking downstairs at midnight on Halloween (don’t try this either, you might trip!)

Halloween has it roots in the Celtic Samhain (pronounced sow-in) which means summer’s end.

The world record for the largest ever pumpkin is held by American farmer Ron Wallace whose prize-winning pumpkin in 2012 weighed in at over a tonne!

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During the pre-Halloween celebration of Samhain, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long, hard, winter. Often druid priests would throw cattle bones into the flame and bone-fire became bonfire. Black and orange colours are associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance, along with brown and gold, which represent harvest and Autumn. Black is a symbol of death and darkness as summer ends. The First Jack O’ Lanterns were often made of turnips Scottish girls believed they would see the face of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire at Halloween (danger alert - don’t try this at home). Other girls believed they would see their boyfriend’s faces if they looked

Trick or treating is believed to have its roots in ‘souling’ where children knocked on their neighbours homes asking for ‘soul cake’ and offered prayers for the family’s deceased relatives. In Lancashire, people lit and carried candles between 11pm and midnight on Halloween. If the candle stayed lit, they believed they would be safe for the year, but if it blew out, they considered it a bad omen. Traditional Halloween games still played today include bob apple (where apples are placed in water) and snap apple (where apples are hung by a string). Children try to bite the apple without using their hands, which, if you have ever tried it, you will know, is not as easy as it sounds. Happy Halloween


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Issue 17 25

Christmas Shows


The early Christmas robin …


he last time I was taking my daughter to the theatre I left buying the tickets rather late. We had planned it months in advance after spotting it on the schedule, but it kept slipping my mind to book, the result being that we ended up right at the back of the Theatre.

We still enjoyed the show – very much in fact - but from now on I’m planning to book well in advance. I know it is September and I do loathe seeing Christmas promotions in the shops before Halloween is done and dusted - but this is different. The early Christmas robin definitely grabs the best seats. As there are some cracking shows on offer this Christmas, I thought I would give you a quick round up so you too can plan ahead. If you end up in the back row, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Tom’s Midnight Garden Tom has always been told it’s impossible to travel back in time, but when the grandfather clock in the hallway chimes thirteen times, Tom is transported to a secret garden from the past. Here he meets Hatty and together these two new friends enjoy fantastic adventures in a magical wonderland. But with each new journey through time, strange things begin to happen – and Tom must solve the mystery of the midnight garden! On at The Old Rep Theatre. Nov 13-Feb 1. Tickets: £12-18. Family of 4 £56. To book: 0121 245 4455 | email: tickets@ birmingham-rep.co.uk

The Nutcracker

What more could a young girl ask for at Christmas than for all her dreams to come true? Having crept downstairs at midnight to play with her new Nutcracker doll, Clara is swept up in a fantasy of toy soldiers, giant rats, snow fairies, magic and mystery. After saving her beloved Nutcracker from the King of the Rats, she is whisked away to an enchanted land and dances the night away in his arms, meeting a host of strange and exotic characters, before she is finally transformed into a beautiful ballerina. Get swept up in the excitement of Christmas with one of the most famous classical ballets of all time. On at Birmingham Hippodrome from Nov 22 to Dec 12. Tickets: £16-£50. Book online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com or call 0844 338 5000.

The Snow Dragon

The night of the Snow Dragon approaches… Billy has everything a young goat could need – and more besides. On New Year’s Eve, Billy’s parents tell him about the legendary Snow Dragon, who will bring him even more goodies during the night. But when Billy bumps into some wolves in the woods, New Year’s Day seems a long way off. Find out how Billy escapes – and whether the Snow Dragon will bring him a present. Has Billy been naughty or nice? Storytelling, comedy and songs create a magical, mysterious world for everyone aged 3 and up. On at mac birmingham, Foyle Studio from Nov 26 - Sun Dec 8. Tickets £9 (£1 discount for Families readers with code Elf3.) To Book: 0121 446 3232 or online at www.macarts.co.uk

Win family theatre tickets The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, has four fantastic family shows in its Autumn programme – and we have a family ticket to give away for each show. • Sleeping Beauty on Ice - starring ITV’s Dancing on Ice favourite Olga Sharutenko and the Imperial Ice Stars. (Tues 8-Sat 12 Oct) • Scrooge the Musical – an ideal half-term treat and a chance to see the much-loved characters of Bob Cratchit, TinyTim, the Ghosts of past, present and future and Ebeneezer Scrooge. (Mon 28 Oct – Sat 2 Nov) • Peppa Pig’s Big Splash – a brand new Peppa Pig show for all her young fans. The nursery roof is leaking and Peppa and her friends need to fix it – quick! (Tues 12 & Wed 13 Nov)

26  Issue 17

• Miracle on 34th Street – an enchanting Christmas show for all those who believe in the magic of Christmas (Thu 5 – Sat 7 Dec) To book tickets log on to www.atgtickets.com (bkg fee) For your chance to win a family ticket to one of the 4 shows log on to www.familiesbirmingham.co.uk and answer this simple question: How many family tickets can be won? a. 0

b. 3

c. 2

d. 4

When entering, please state in order of preference the shows you would like to attend. The tickets are for the following shows: Sleeping Beauty on Ice, Tues, Oct 8 at 7.30pm; Scrooge the Musical, Mon, Oct 28 at 7.30pm; Peppa Pig, Tues, Nov 12, at 10am; and Miracle on 34th Street on Thurs, Dec 5 at 7.30pm

Christmas Shows


… gets the best seats A Christmas Carol

Miracle on 34th Street

On a cold, bleak, biting Christmas Eve seven years after the death of his business partner Jacob Marley, London’s meanest miser Ebenezer Scrooge is his usual grumpy old self. Scrooge hates Christmas, calling it ‘humbug!’, his only act of seasonal generosity is to offer his poor overworked clerk Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off.

One of the most popular Christmas films of all time comes to the stage in this dazzling new production. Kris Kringle takes on the cynics. A whitebearded gentleman claiming to be the real Santa Claus brings about a genuine Miracle on 34th Street, spreading a wave of love throughout New York City. This heart-rending tale is one for all the family and promises to get you in the mood for the festive season.

But as the clock strikes midnight his world will be turned upside down. Three ghosts are visiting him to offer visions of a happy past, a harsh present and a horrific future. Can they convince Scrooge to change his wicked ways in time for Christmas? Birmingham Rep’s brand-new production of Charles Dickens’ most loved Christmas tale provides a spooky and epic theatrical treat for all the family (age recommendation 7plus). On at The House at the Rep Theatre. From November 27 – January 4. Tickets £7-£35. Family tickets available. Book online at www.birmingham-rep.co.uk or call 0121 236 4455.

Hansel & Gretel In the middle of a snow-covered forest sits a tiny cottage unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Its roof is made of gingerbread, the walls are made of chocolate cake, the door is made of boiled sweets and the windows of clear sugar glaze. But what’s inside? This Christmas follow Hansel and Gretel into the frozen forest… and find out. An enchanting show transforming the theatre into a magical winter woodland. On at mac birmingham from Tue – Sat, Dec 3-14. Tickets £10£13.50. (£1 discount for Families readers with code ELF3.) Age 5plus. Book online at www.macarts.co.uk or call 0121 446 3232

On at New Alexandra Theatre from Dec 5-7. Tickets: £28-£39. Tickets: £11.50 Book online at www.atgtickets.com

What the Ladybird Heard Two crafty robbers, one tiny ladybird, and a whole farmyard of fun. Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len have a cunning plan to steal the farmer’s fine prize cow, but the tiniest, quietest creature of all has a plan of her own…. Join the woolly sheep, the hairy hog, the fat red hen and the dainty dog in this Christmas show for children based on the book by Julia Donaldson. Expect live music, plenty of audience participation and one or two surprises. On at the Town Hall, Birmingham, from Dec 20 to Jan 10. Tickets: £11.50 Book online at www.thsh.co.uk or call 0121 345 0600

The Snowman When a young boy’s snowman comes to life on Christmas Eve the two set off on a night-time quest for adventure. They meet dancing penguins, reindeer and crowds of the Snowman’s friends, but will they escape evil Jack Frost and get back home for Christmas morning? Based on Raymond Brigg’s much-loved book and featuring Howard Blake’s classic song Walking In The Air, this enchanting live show has thrilled audiences throughout the world since first appearing on our stage in 1993. Be a part of the magic. On at The House at the Rep Theatre from Jan 8-18. Tickets £7.50£35. Book online at www.birmingham-rep.co.uk or call 0121 236 4455. Issue 17


Parenting What’s On


Theatre & Shows The Lion King

Musical version of Disney’s story Venue: Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham, B5 4TB Date: to Sept 28 Age: recommended for 6 and over. Children under 3 not permitted in auditorium. Time: Eve at 7.30pm and Sat and Sun matinee at 2.30pn Tickets: £25-£60

Big Red Bath

It’s the end of the day and Ben and Bella are in the Big Red Bath. Splish! Splosh! Splash! Bubbles burst and bubbles rise! It’s so exciting that a frothy feast of animals jump right in to join in the fun. Come with us on a bubbly, barmy bath time adventure around the world and home again. This new and vibrant adaptation of the popular children’s book will enthral the very young, with fabulous puppetry and music. Date: Nov 1 Venue: Solihull Arts Complex, Homer Road, Solihull Time: 1 and 3pm Age: 3 plus Tickets: £6 To Book: 0121 704 6962

A Cat in Paris (Une vie de chat)

Screen Juniors. PG. Dino is a pet cat that leads a double life. By day he lives with Zoe, a little mute girl whose mother, Jeanne, is a detective in the Parisian police force. But at night he sneaks out the window to work with Nico - a slinky cat burglar with a big heart. The cat’s two worlds collide when young Zoe decides to follow Dino on his nocturnal adventures and falls into the hands of Victor Costa, a blustery gangster planning the theft of a rare statue. Now cat and cat burglar must team up to save Zoe. Venue: mac birmingham, Cannon Hill Park Date: Sept 7 Time: 2pm Tickets: £3 To Book: 0121 446 3232

The Laughing Sole – Comedy Club for Kids

A family-friendly launch show for a regular comedy club aimed at children aged five and over. Younger children welcome too. Venue: MAC Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park Date: Sept 29 Time: 2pm Tickets: £6 To Book: 0121 446 3232

Birmingham Royal Ballet – Sleeping Beauty

On her christening day Princess Aurora is cursed by the wicked fairy Carabosse: one day the Princess will prick her finger on a spindle and die. But the kind Lilac Fairy tempers the curse so the Princess will instead fall asleep for 100 years. A classical score by Tchaikovsky and original choreography by Marius Petipa, Venue: Birmingham Hippodrome Date: Oct 8-12 Time: Eve 7.30pm; Wed and Fri matinee 2pm and Sat 2.30pm Tickets: £16-£49

Jesus Christ Superstar Venue: NIA, Birmingham Date: Oct 3 Tickets: £36-£72 To Book: 0844 338 8000

Sleeping Beauty on Ice

Imperial ice stars perform Sleeping Beauty on Ice Venue: Alexandra Theatre, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DS Date: Oct 8-12 Time: Eve at 7.30pm; Wed, Thur and Sat matinee 2pm Tickets: £16.90-£37.90

War Horse

Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the Cavalry and shipped to France. Joey sets off on a journey to find Joey and bring him home. Venue: Birmingham Hippodrome Date: Oct 16-Nov 9 Time: 7.30pm; Sat matinee 2.30pm Wed matinee 2pm and Thurs Oct 31 Tickets: £20-£55 Age: Recommended age 10 and over. Under 5s not permitted. To Book: 0844 338 5000

Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo

Live entertainment, learning and daring … watch from a safe distance of dare to get up close with this Dinosaur show Venue: Town Hall, Victoria Square, B3 3DQ Date: Oct 29 Time: 11.30am and 2pm Recommended age: 3plus Tickets: £12.50 and £15 To Book: 0121 345 0600

28  Issue 17

Starring Andy Day and his comedy partner Mike James. Playing in their fun pad, the duo find a door locked years ago by great, great grandfather Wally Brum. Inside the locked door they find his workshop and time machine .. Venue: Solihull Arts Complex, Homer Road Date: October 19 Time: 2pm Age: 3 plus and their families Tickets: £10 To Book: 0121 704 6962

Open House

E=MC2; Tombeaux and Still Life at Penguin Café

A trio of contrasting ballets Venue: Birmingham Hippodrome Date: Oct 3-5 Time: Eve: 7.30pm; Fri matinee 2pm and Sat at 2.30pm Tickets: £15-£47

Andy and Mike’s Tick Tock Time Machine

You and your toddler (ideal for ages to 2 years) are invited to discover Our House – the kitchen, living room and bathroom. Interactive performance, music, and puppets. Very informal. Venue: The Door, Birmingham Rep, Centenary Square, B1 3AH Date: Oct 22-30 Times: 10.30am; 11.30am; 1.30pm and2.30pm Tickets: £4. Family discounts available. To Book: 0121 236 4455

Tell Tale Hearts – Yumm

A dance theatre performance for the very young up to the age of 8/ Venue: mac birmingham Date: Oct 27 Time: 11.30am (best for under 4s) and 2.30pm (best for over 4s) Tickets: £7 To Book: 0121 446 3232

Scrooge – the Musical

The record-braking London Palladium production Scrooge is on tour and in Birmingham Venue: Alexandra Theatre, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DS Date: Oct 28-Nov 2 Time: Even 7.30pm and Wed/Sat matinee at 2.30pm Tickets: £12.90-£41.40

Three Billy Pigs

The story of three little pigs whose homes are put to the test by a misunderstood wolf who has a little bit of a problem. And who is the grumpy person who lives under the bridge? The Three Billy Pigs is the new show from Noisy Oyster for children of 3 years and over. The show blends two classic fairy tales The Three Little Pigs and The Three Billy Goats Gruff with beautifully crafted puppets, light hearted story telling, live music and a little bit of eco-awareness in a pig stylie. Venue: Symphony Hall Café Bar Date: Oct 29 Times: 12.45 and 3.30pm Recommended for ages 3+ FREE EVENT

Ballet Theatre UK – The Nutcracker

A ballet for young and old Venue: Solihull Arts Complex, Homer Road, Solihull Date: Oct 30 Time: 2.30pm and 7.30pm Tickets: £17.50 and child £12

Disney on Ice – Dare to Dream

Classic meets contemporary in Disney On Ice Dare to Dream! Join your favourite Disney Princesses in a celebration of 75


What’s Parenting On

Christmas at

Mr Big Plays Jazz Watch and listen to the story of Mr Big as the lonely Gorilla finds fun and a new life by learning to play the piano. Live screen illustrations by author and illustrator Ed Vere and live jazz music. Bring a pad and pencil and learn and join in with Ed. Venue: Town Hall, Victoria Square, B3 3DQ Date: October 30 Time: 11am and 1.30pm Tickets: £10 To Book: 0121 345 0600 years of Disney Princess stories Venue: NIA, King Edward Street, Birmingham Date: Oct 23-Nov 3 Tickets: £16.50-£42.75 Tickets: 0844 338 8000

James Campbell Comedy 4 Kids

New International Encounter (NIE)present:

Imagine you’re a sausage. You are in a frying pan, happily sizzling away with other, like-minded sausages. Then one of them starts to tell you about tomato ketchup. You refuse to believe your friend’s stories but later you find yourself being dipped head first into that tangy, tomatoey joy. And then you realise that yes – ketchup is true. Watching James Campbell is a bit like that. But there aren’t any sausages involved. Or ketchup. Venue: Town Hall, Victoria Square, B3 3DQ Date: Oct 30 Time: 7pm Tickets: £7.50 To Book: 0121 345 0600

Dance Theatre: Once in a Blue Moon

It’s the moon’s birthday! We are having a party and you are invited... But during the party the moon disappears. Join the travellers on their search for clues to the moons whereabouts, as they journey through strange lands and meet some curious characters along the way. Venue: mac birmingham Date: Oct 31 Time: 11.30am and 2.30pm Tickets: £7 Age: 3-6 To Book: 0121 446 3232

Hansel And Gretel Tue 3 - Sat 14 Dec | Age 5+

Achieving sell out success in Bristol’s Tobacco Factory, NIE’s adaptation of this classic fairytale is full of live music, mischief and bad endings for witches

"Everyone is held in the spell of this genuinely enchanting show" Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

Hairy McClary and Friends

Featuring many of the characters from the books like Hercules Morse, as big as a Horse - Bottomley Potts, covered in spots – Schnitzel von Krumm, with the very low tum and Scarface Claw – the toughest tomcat in town. With music, singing and several of your favourite Hairy Maclary stories, this show is a must for the whole family. Venue: mac birmingham, Cannon Hill Park Date: Nov 3 and 4 Time: Sun 2 and 4pm; Monday 10.30am and 4pm Tickets: £10 and £8.00 To Book: 0121 446 3232

Fiddler on the Roof

A family production by St Alphege musical society. Fiddler on the Roof. Date: Nov 5-9 Venue: Solihull Arts Complex, Homer Road, Time: Eve at 7.30pm and Sat Matinee at 2.30pm Tickets: £13 and £15 To Book: 0121 704 6962

Emil and the Detective

The scene of the crime is a slow train to Berlin. It’s where young Emil, travelling alone, falls asleep and is robbed of all his money. The chief suspect is the man in the bowler hat, but how to catch the thief? It calls for quick wits, a cool head and some clever detection work. Venue: mac birmingham, Cannon Hill Park Date: Oct 12-14 Time: Sat 2 and 7pm; Sun 11am and 2.30pm and Mon 10.30am and 1.30pm Tickets: £10; child £7 To Book: 0121 446 3232

Tall Stories present:

The Snow Dragon Tue 26 Nov – Sun 8 Dec | Age 3+ Story-telling, comedy and songs from the company that brought you The Gruffalo

"If you are a kid, if you have kids, if you ever were a kid, go and see The Snow Dragon." Three Weeks

£1 off tickets* with this code: Elf3 *excludes family tickets, subject to availability

Sales and Info: 0121 446 3232 www.macarts.co.uk Cannon Hill Park | Birmingham | B12 9QH Registered company no: 718349 Registered charity no: 528979

Issue 17 29

Parenting What’s On Out & About Birmingham Rep – Backstage Tours

See what goes on behind the curtains at the Rep. Visit the wig room, wardrobe room, workshops and wings. See the dressing rooms, and maybe rub shoulders with an actor or two. Venue: Birmingham Rep Date: Saturdays in Oct and Nov Time: 11am Tickets: £5 and £3 To Book: 0121 236 4455

Dorridge Day

Chinese Moon Festival

Celebrate Chinese Moon Festival at the Barber. Music, short films, make Year of the Snake sculptures; sample delicious authentic moon cakes and plum wine, and take part in a themed gallery tour. Plenty to do for all the family! Venue: Barber Institute, University of Birmingham, B15 2TS Date: Thurs, Sept 19 Time: 6.30pm-9pm £5; £3 children. Booking essential. Call 0121 414 2261 or e-mail: education@barber.org.uk

Fun in the Park

Fun, family day organised by Round Table with funds going to charity. Wild West theme. Games, stalls, re-enactors Venue: Dorridge Park, B93 8LJ Date: Sept 8 Time: 12-4pm

Family fun event with stalls, dance, music, dog show, games and classic cars Venue: Tudor Grange Park, Solihull Date: Sept 22 Time: 11am-5pm

Worlds Apart Day

Grab a sneak preview of the hottest 2014 bikes and meet some of the biggest names in cycling. Try out the latest road and mountain bikes on the outdoor demo tracks, watch the best freestyle BMX pros, MTB dirt jumpers and trials riders in action or try out a top-of-the-range racing bike on the new elite road bike track. Venue: NEC, Birmingham Date: Sept 27-29 Tickets: Adults £13; children £1 when bought with adult ticket. Under 5’s free

Celebrating 400 years of history and culture. Sharing stories of Aston Hall and the Taj Mahal. Craft activities, re-enactors, music, performance and fun. Venue: Aston Hall, Trinity Road, Aston, B6 6JD Date: Either Sept 14 or 15. To be confirmed. Time: FREE EVENT

Honey show, Autumn Event and Apple Day

Visit the award-winning community gardens – Martineau Gardens, 27 Priory Road, Edgbaston – Honey Show, Sept 14 and 15; Autum Event, Sept 29 and Apple Day, Oct 19. FREE ENTRY to Honey show and Apple day. Autumn event: £3 adults and £1 child.

Solihull Classic Car Show

Solihull’s answer to Top Gear. Aston Martin, Morgan, Bentley and Mercedes Venue: Mell Square, Solihull Date: Sept 14 Time: 10am-5pm

Cycle Show

A Place in the Sun Live

See all the best holiday destinations and properties. You can even take a screen test to appear in the next A Place in the Sun Live. Venue: NEC, Date: Sept 27-29 Tickets: £10

Memory Walk

A sponsored 3 or 5 mile walk through a scenic route in Cannon Hill Park with money going to the Alzheimers’ society. Organised by local volunteers. Event includes balloon launch, fete stalls and music with live band and DJ. Venue: Cannon Hill Park Date: Sept 28 Time: 11am-3pm. To register for walk: www.memorywalk.org.uk/birmingham

Moseley Arts Market

A showcase for local artistic talent and artists from further afield. Original artworks, traditional and contemporary crafts, and handmade jewellery. Everything sold on stand is produced by the stallholder. Venue: Stalls along St Mary’s Row and Alcester Road, Moseley Date: Sept 28 Time: 9am-3pm

www.familiesbirmingham.co.uk Autumn Collage

Have fun making an Autumn collage with Birmingham Park Rangers. Venue: Handsworth Park, Holly Road. Meet by bridge near Boat House Café Date: Oct 5 Time: 12-3pm Book online. www.birmingham.gov.uk/ranger-events

Big Brum History Buz – Tolkiens and Tudors

Hop on the open-topped Big Brum Buz and visit Sarehole Mill and Blakesley Hall Venue: pick up Victoria Square. For timetable see www.birmingham-tours.co.uk Date: Oct 6 Tickets: £5 adult. Children free and entry to sights free.

Down on the Farm

Family-friendly look around the farm with Birmingham Park Rangers Venue: Sheldon Country Park, Ragley Drive, Birmingham, B26 3TU Date: Oct 12 Time: 2-3pm

Solihull CC Cyclo Cross Race

Cycling races for competitors from 6 to 60plus racing over grass and in woodland. Races last no more than an hour – or 1030mins for younger competitors. Part of West Midlands Cyclo Cross League. Venue: Elmdon Park, B91 2PP Date: Oct 20 Time: 10.15am-3pm

The Big Draw Pockets of Plenty

Angelica Sprocket has pockets galore, whatever do you think she keeps in them? An art week inspired by the Big Draw and Quentin Blake’s imaginative book, which sees Angelica pull weird and wonderful objects from her pockets. The studio space at the Herbert Art Gallery will be filled with pockets for children to open and reveal an object from the collection, which will then inspire the art work for that day. Each day families will use different materials and drawing techniques. Leave your art work on our huge cabinet of curiosities display wall that will show an eclectic mix of objects just like Angelica’s pockets. Venue: Herbert Art Gallery, Jordan Well, Coventry, CV1 5QP Date: Oct 28-31 Half Term drop in event. Children must be accompanied by an adult. .

Gore and Grime

Horrible history is set to disgust and delight with a Halloween gore and grime trail for half term Venue: Black Country Living Museum, Dudley Date: Oct 25-Nov 3 Time: 10am-5pm until Oct 31. Tickets: Adults from £13.95; children from £7.45 and 0-4 years free. To Book: www.bclm.com/booking Also Trick or Treat Halloween Night, Oct 31.Must be pre-booked. Booking opens Sept 2. www.bclm.co.uk

Autumn play writing workshops

The Big Family Drawing Factory

A fabulously fun day for all the family to come and draw together! Ruth Radcliffe will be giving you tips on how to draw portraits of each other, and you can take home an original artwork made by Ruth herself for just £1! Venue: Barber Institute, University of Birmingham, B15 2TS Date: Sun, Oct 20 Time: 11am-3pm FREE EVENT. No need to book – drop in any time.

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For young people aged 12-16 with a passion for history and creative writing. Award winning playwright Lorna French will use historical artefacts to inspire young people in developing character, scene and setting. Venue: Birmingham Museum, Chamberlain Square Date: Oct 26, Nov 9, 23 and Dec 7 Time: 1-4pm Ten places available at each workshop. Call 0121 303 1966 for more information and to book.

Supersonic Kids Gig

Singer, storyteller and serial belly laugher, Richard Dawson introduces families to the wonders of experimental music with his playful guitar style, soaring voice and original songs from lost stories and people’s histories. Venue: Symphony Hall Café Bar Date: Oct 26 Time 2pm Recommended for ages under 7 Also – Oct 26 at 10.30am. Musical Picnic with inventive Jazz artist Soweto Kinch. FREE EVENTS

Survival Dens, Autumn Watch Hibernation, Haunting Halloween and Ghastly Ghosts Warwickshire Wildlife’s Halloween Half Term workshops. Survival Dens (could you survive in the wild?) Oct 28, age 4 plus. Parents must accompany under 7s. Autumn Watch (Autumn walk, search for berries, bark rubbing) Oct 29, all ages. Hedgehog and Hibernation (Make hedgehog mask), Oct 30, ages 2-4. Halloween Horror (spooky games, make a lantern. Come in fancy dress) Oct 31, ages 4 plus. Ghastly ghosts, Nov 1, ages 2-4. Venue: Parkridge Centre, Brueton Park, Solihull, B91 3EN Cost: £4.50 or £4 To Book: 0121 704 0768

Trick or Treat Night

Halloween trick or treat and spooky fun for all the family at Avoncroft Venue: Avoncroft Museum, Stoke Heath, Bromsgrove Date: Sat and Sun Oct 26 and 27 and Halloween – Oct 31 Booking essential. To Book call 01527 831363 Also – daily from Oct 29- Oct 31. Trick or Treat Halloween activities.

Ghostly Gaslight at Blists Hill Be brave, dress up in your most scary costume and go along to Blists Hill Victorian Town when the streets, shops and houses will be transformed into eerie places filled with ghosts, ghouls and monsters. The buildings will be illuminated in spectacular style and fireworks will light the night sky. Venue: Blists Hill, Telford, TF7 5DU Date: Sat, Oct 26 Time: 6pm Tickets: £9.50 adult; £6.25 child and family £29.

Autumn Collage

Make a picture from natural materials led by Birmingham Park Rangers Venue: Plantsbrook Park, Eachelhurst Road, B24 0QL Date: Oct 28 Time: 10.30am-12pm and 1.30pm-3pm Booking essential. To book: www.birmingham.gov.uk/ranger-events

Musical Picnic – Midweek Explorer

Hosted by jazz singer Sara Colman especially for the under 5s and their families Venue: Symnphony Hall Café Bar Date: Oct 28 Time: 10.30am And Macamu – a collective of musicians and puppeteers who specialise in children’s music – Oct 28 at 1.30pm FREE EVENT

Circus Skills Workshop

Circus, magic and performance workshop. Junior jesters can learn juggling, platespinning, Diablo, tightrope walking and magic. Date: Oct 29 Venue: Solihull Arts Complex, Homer Road, Solihull Time: 10am-12pm for ages 5-7 and 1-3pm

What’s Parenting On

www.familiesbirmingham.co.uk for ages 8-12 Tickets: £7.50 To Book: 0121 704 6962

Plague and Pestilence – Half term fun

Plague is rumoured at Blakesley Hall! See the plague infested hall in disarray! Dress in your scariest costume. Fun creative make and take drop-in activities for families. Tuesday 29th October - Make a catch the eyeball; Wednesday 30th October - Make a leaf art bookmark; Thursday 31st October - Make a disguise; Friday 1st November - Make an origami mummy stick puppet Venue: Blakesley Hall, B25 8RN Dates: Oct 29-Nov 1 Time: 12-3pm Tickets: £1 per child. Drop in. No need to book.


Make a traditional broomsticks from natural materials. Led by Birmingham Park Rangers. Venue: Sutton Park, Park Road, B74 2YT. Meet at visitor centre. Date: Oct 30 Time: 10.30am-12pm and 1.30-3pm Booking essential. To book: www.birmingham.gov.uk/ranger-events

Family Ghost Hunt

Join Dr Chris Upton for the annual Ghost Walk around Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter. Venue: Museum of Jewellery Quarter, 75 Vyse Street, B18 6HA Date: Oct 30 Time: 2pm Tickets: £5.00 per person - booking essential. Call 0121 554 3598 to book places now!

Wicked Workshop and Terror Trail

Dress up in your scariest costume for a chance to win a prize; take part in some creepy craft activities and follow a terror trail. Venue: Elmdon Park, B92 9EY. Meet by carpark at Tanhouse Farm Road Date: Oct 30 Time: 11am-1pm Cost: £1 per child

Groovy Ghosts

A children’s Halloween boat trip with Dudley Canal Trust. Glow in the dark puppets; light show in underground tunnel, family friendly fun Venue: Dudley Canal Trust Date: Oct 30

Time: every half hour between 4.30 and 6.30pm. Trip lasts one hour Tickets: £7.55 Booking essential. Call 0121 557 6265

Shirley Halloween Trail

A fun halloween trail along Shirley High Street. Find some treats along the way, then on to library for a craft activity, squash and cake. Venue: Shirley High Street. Starting point tbc. Date: Oct 31 Time: 11am-1pm

Halloween Horrors

Spooky fun and craft activities Venue: Woodgate Valley Country Park. Visitor Centre, Clapgate Lane, B32 3DS Date: Oct 31 Time: 1-3pm Book online. www.birmingham.gov.uk/ranger-events

Blists Hill Fireworks

See the Victorian village illuminated by gaslight as it would have been in the 19th century. The town’s shops, cottages and workshops will be open for visitors to enter and talk to the ‘resident’ Victorians, dressed in the costume of the day, who will answer questions about life in the late 1800s. Visitors will be able to enter Blists Hill at 6pm on the evening of the fireworks event. Venue: Blists Hill, Telford, TF7 5DU Time: From 6pm Tickets. Prices: Adult £9.50; Child (3-15) £6.25; Family (2+2) £29.00. MUST BE PRE-BOOKED. On sale now. Call 01952 433424.

Broomsticks for Wizards and Witches

Calling all budding witches and wizards. It’s the biggest night of the year so prepare to go trick or treating in style by making a brand new broom. Venue: Licky Hills Country Park, Warren Lane, Rednal, B45 8ER. Meet at Visitor Centre Date: Oct 31 Time: 10.30am-2.30pm Booking essential. To book: www.birmingham.gov.uk/ranger-events

Haunting Halloween

No Bangs Fireworks

Venue: Avoncroft Museum, Stoke Heath, Bromsgrove Date: Nov 5

Are you scared of the dark? There are creatures and monsters that could jump out at any time, and our resident witch, Smelly Nelly, will be lurking about! Come along in your most frightening fancy dress for a chance to win a competition, listen to some spooky stories as you walk round the park and take part in a creepy craft activity. Venue: Brueton Park, Solihull, B 91 3HA Date: Oct 31 Time: 5.30pm; 5.50pm; 6.10pm; 6.30pm; 6.50pm, Tickets: Pre-booking is essential - £3 per adult, £2 per child. Call: 0121 704 8000. Book early as event sells out quickly! Meet by the car park.

Solihull Fireworks

Family-orientated fireworks organised by the Round Table for charity. Venue: Tudor Grange Park, B91 3LU Date: Nov 2 Time: gates open 5.30 and event starts at 6.30

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11+ Tuition for Year 4 www.ksol.co.uk

0121 733 6558

Ensure your child has the right 11+ foundations “From speaking to parents at KSOL, I understand and share a passion for helping their children achieve 11+ success.

Getting the foundations right is essential!

We believe in giving parents and children the right educational support at the right time”.

Call us today on 0121 733 6558 to find out about our Back to School Offers Lisa Educational Adviser at KSOL







TUE 12 & WED 13 NOV

0844 871 3011

GROUPS 10+ 0844 871 3031 www.atgtickets.com/birmingham (bkg fees)



(bkg fees)