Families Bedfordshire Sep-Oct 2013

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Issue No.6 September–October 2013

Back to school special

How to prepare your child for school

Clubs & Classes feature

14,000 copies to parents with children aged 0-12 across Bedfordshire

EDITOR’S WELCOME Hello and welcome to the September/October issue!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer and that you and your families have had a chance to recharge your batteries over the holiday.

It’s time to go back to school and in this issue we are looking at that all important first day of school, plus what parents ought to consider when thinking about which secondary school is right for their child.

Also, we have our first ever Clubs & Classes feature, with lots of interesting thoughts about how to choose which class for your kids. Finally, we are increasing our distribution from this issue to 14,000 copies, so welcome to all our new readers.

If you would like to get in touch please drop me a line at editor@familiesbedfordshire.co.uk or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FamiliesBeds. Best wishes,


P.S. Our November/December issue will include a Christmas gift guide, plus lots of local What’s On, including pantomimes!

Copy deadline is Friday 4 October.

Competition winners: Congratulations to the Mead Open Farm winners who were C Kingham, K Brammet, M Richards, Z Smith, S Masih and E Dawson. Congratulations to L Clayton, the winner of our Snozone MK competition.


News & Information Clubs & Classes feature Education: Back to School feature Secondary School feature Schools Open Day listings Education News & Reviews Health What’s On: in September & October

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Editor: Judith Dow editor@familiesbedfordshire.co.uk; www.FamiliesBedfordshire.co.uk Mob: 07889 894431 or phone: 01727 373929; Twitter: @familiesbeds Part of the Families® magazines group, established 1990. All franchised magazines in the group are independently owned & operated under license. www.FamiliesOnline.co.uk Design: Cath Ranzetta

Photo credits: Front cover: Darren Harbar Photography p5 © Quentin Blake; p6 © elisabetta figus – Fotolia.com; © sonya etchison – Fotolia.com; p7 © Max Topchii – Fotolia.com; p8 © kolett – Fotolia.com; p9 © Dunnesstores; © kolett – Fotolia.com; p10 © Jacek Chabraszewski – Fotolia.com; © Bedford Girls' School; p12 © Beechwood Park School; p14 © Bedfordshire Walking Festival; © Forest of Marston Vale; © Keech Hospice; p15 © Stotfold Mill; p16 © Wrest Park. Families Bedfordshire is printed by The Manson Group (01727 848440) on paper sourced from sustainable forests and the inks used are vegetable based. Distribution: We are printing 14,000 copies which will be distributed to selected points in Bedfordshire. For further distribution information please contact: editor@familiesbedfordshire.co.uk.

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. “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.

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NEWS & INFORMATION Tom Tag Remembering everything they need to take to school and bring home again is a daily challenge for most children. Tom Tag is a new invention by two mums that helps children to be more organised and independent.

Woodworks returns to Marston Vale

The Forest of Marston Vale is once again holding its festival of trees, woodlands, crafts, countryside and music at Woodworks on the weekend of 7–8 September.

Having lost two of my son’s jumpers in as many weeks meant that I could instantly see the value in Tom Tag, a colourful daily checklist that clips to a school bag and is practical and fun to use. Picture cues identify the items a child needs to remember to take with them so it’s even suitable for non-readers and those with additional needs. Each pack contains six colourful button holders, one for each day of the school week, plus an extra tag to list the items a child needs every day.

Featuring loud and dusty chainsaw carving, working dogs and horses, basket making, turners, archery, pyrography, furious ferret racing and Vikings! Plus two days of diverse, engaging and entertaining folk roots music.

Included in the pack is a generous supply of blank buttons along with a set of picture stickers for a wide range of school items and activities. This was a hit with my five year old son who said that he ‘liked the pictures and their colours’, plus he also enjoyed putting it all together at the start. The product also attracted the attention of a number of mums on the school run who wanted to take a closer look. Overall, a good, practical and useful product not just for children, but also for their parents!

More details: tel 01234 767037 or email: info@marstonvale.org; www.marstonvale.org/woodworks

More info: www.orkidideas.com Tom Tags cost £9.99 per pack. READER OFFER: Families Bedfordshire readers who buy before 31 October 2013 using code FAM10 will receive 10% off every pack.

£7.50 adults; £4 concessions and children 10–16. Children under 10 are free. Plus, for those who travel by train, with a ticket to Millbrook Station valid on the day of travel, there is £1 off the show entry price.



New Online System to Revolutionise School PTAs PTAsocial is a new online system designed to help PTAs (parent teacher associations) organise events, manage volunteers and keep in touch. It offers a means to post volunteering or social opportunities – from school fairs and cake sales to drinks at a local pub – that parents can sign up to as and when they are able. Schools can register online for an account at www.ptasocial.com and be up and running, filling their summer fair rotas, within 24 hours. The PTA Chair emails parents and committee members an ‘invitation to join’. Approved users can then log into the system on any internet browser on any device.

frustrations of many parents. ‘I was just too busy to go to PTA meetings but didn’t want to miss out on doing a little bit. This system allows you to volunteer as much or as little as you want.’ Any Bedfordshire schools who might be interested in trialling the system, please contact Tes via www.ptasocial.com.

Tes Macpherson, a busy mum of three, designed the system after experiencing the


It’ll soon be that time of year, as the annual Luton Hoo Walled Garden Pumpkin and Apple Gala draws closer. This year it’s on Saturday 12 October, and it remains a seasonal celebration of everything pumpkin and apple-related. Apple tasting and identification, Morris dancing, a pumpkin shy, decorated pumpkins


for Halloween, plus childrens’ activities will all be taking place on the day. So plenty for all the family to enjoy.

Adults £7; children £3 or family tickets for up four members cost £15. More info: www.lhwg.org.uk/Pumpkins



NEWS & INFORMATION Children’s Allergy Clinic in Milton Keynes

Bedfordshire franchise opportunity at Musical Minis

Looking for a change of direction or career? An opportunity to re-license the Bedford franchise at Musical Minis has now arisen. Musical Minis have been running weekly classes and working with nurseries and children’s centres for over 10 years, and are now on the lookout for outgoing, lively people with good organisational skills and experience of working with young children, to continue their presence in the area. If you are interested, please visit www.musicalminis.co.uk to learn more or phone 020 8868 0001 or email their Head Office at enquiries@musicalminis.co.uk.

by Dr David Cremonesini, Consultant Paediatrician

Clinics held at BMI The Saxon Clinic, Milton Keynes and Hinchingbrooke Hospital

Dr David sees all general problems and allergies: Immunotherapy for difficult hay fever Skin prick testing for eczema/asthma Food allergy testing/advice/ adrenaline pens Phone: 01487 814256 www.kidsallergy.co.uk

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, with the month-long activity encouraging 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

Nation al Poe try Day by Joanna Parry

Mark this 3 October with a nationwide celebration of poetry. Poetry is for everyone, everywhere, from assemblies, bus queues, cafés, greengrocers, hospitals and ice rinks to waiting rooms, yacht clubs and zoos. This year’s theme is water, with Coleridge’s great phrase ‘Water, water, everywhere’ as inspiration. Check out the website for a myriad of poems on the subject, together with ideas on how to turn the theme of water into lines of poetry. Participants this year are challenged to smuggle poetry into the most unlikely places, not just in libraries and classrooms but on fishing boats and ferries, via postcards, mobile phones and announcements on station platforms. Find out more at: www.nationalpoetryday.co.uk.

National writing competition: Bedford runner up

Hannah Cox from Great Barford Lower School fought off tough competition from children all over the country with her story, The Magic Encyclopedia, the tale of a girl who finds an old encyclopedia that magically transports her on an adventure around the world.

get creative and give writing a try. Carey Ann Dodah, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning, was blown away by the quality of entries. She says: ‘The standard of stories we received this year was incredible. We had more children enter than ever before showing what a creative bunch of children we have in the UK. We’re proud to run the prestigious competition and want to congratulate everyone who took part.’

This year’s task was to write a 500-word story with the theme ‘Around the World’. The aim of the competition was to encourage children to

To book a free trial session at Explore Learning, Sainsbury’s, Clapham Road, Bedford, phone 01234 365905.

A nine year old from Bedford has been named a Runner Up in Explore Learning’s National Young Writers’ Award.




COMPETITION, NEWS & INFORMATION WIN one of five Thomas & Friends™ feature length DVDs King of the Railway There’s a surprise in store on the Island of Sodor! Join Thomas, Percy and James as they meet new engine friend Stephen and are entrusted with an important new job from a special visitor.

Families Bedfordshire has five copies to give away of this must-see Thomas & Friends CG animated DVD special, King of the Railway. You will be introduced to exciting and diverse new characters as well as historic new destinations, so climb aboard for a thrilling ride!

COMPETITION QUESTION: What is the name of Thomas’ new engine friend in the film? a) Harry b) George c) Stephen Enter online by Monday 23 September 2013 at: www.familiesbedfordshire.co.uk/competitions

Learn to read with Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is the award-winning online reading programme that teaches children aged three to 13 the literacy skills needed for lifetime reading success. 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 • The lessons’ content and format are based on solid scientific research • 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 two 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-to-one lessons that match your child’s ability • Detailed assessment reports show and recognise progress 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 five weeks free access* to Reading Eggs. Simply register your child at www.readingeggs.co.uk/pig. *Free trial only available for new customers who register at www.readingeggs.co.uk/pig.




Museum Open

MARCH TO OCTOBER Tues - Sat 11am to 4pm (Closed Good Friday)

Last admission 3.45pm

An inspiring story set in extraordinary times


Find us

t. 01234 270303 e. curator@bunyanmeeting.co.uk www.bunyanmeeting.co.uk/museum

John Bunyan Museum, Bunyan Meeting, Mill Street, Bedford MK40 3EU

Roald Dahl Day

Make a date with mischief and mayhem on Roald Dahl Day on 13 September. 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 little bit of mischief! There are lots of ways to join in the fun: sign up for Puffin Virtually Live on 13 September 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. For ideas see www.roalddahlday.info, and help Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity raise money for seriously ill and disabled children.

Celebrate 60 years of incredible care at this year’s St John’s Hospice Black Tie and Tiara Ball which takes place on Saturday 16 November 2013 at Park Inn, Bedford. So polish your tiara, dress to impress, and join in for a Sue Ryder charity birthday evening of glitz and glamour! Tickets are £50 per person with a non refundable deposit of £25. To book a table contact Jessica on 01767 642422 or email: Jessica.wilson@suerydercare.org.

The Big Draw

The largest drawing festival in the world returns throughout the month of October, taking place in 20 countries across the globe and offering 1,400 events in the UK alone. The Big Draw connects people of all ages with museum and gallery collections and urban and rural spaces in new and enjoyable ways, offering unlimited scope for those who love to draw and those who think they can’t. Why not hold a Big Draw event in your school or local library? Get inspired and find out how to organise your own event, plus discover what events are taking place near you at: www.campaignfordrawing.org/bigdraw.



CLUBS & CLASSES FOOTBALL OR BALLET – 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 choices become bewildering. Their school bags 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. Please take a deep breath and relax... Extracurricular activities are not essential; many children do perfectly well without them. However, there are some 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, and 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-toone 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. Ask yourself if your child gets something from the activity that they don’t get elsewhere and whether 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.



by Ellen Arnison

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-ofschool activities that fit comfortably into the schedule and budget. It may transpire that your time and money can be better spent on family activities at home. 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 Disclosure or CRB checked? 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. Liat Hughes Joshi, author of Raising Children: The Primary Years, told website Parentdish: ‘If you decide to do none at all, you won’t be short-changing her if her after-school activity consists of nothing more than a TV programme, a snack and some good, old-fashioned playing.’


CLUBS & CLASSES SEN (special educational needs) activities

Children with special educational needs can benefit hugely from well chosen extracurricular activities. Even with the best educational support, SEN children can often feel ‘less’ than their peers. They may be aware of their difficulties and differences and this can have a profound effect on their confidence. Therefore an activity they can participate in successfully is a huge boost to their self-esteem. For example a dyslexic child, for whom school is a struggle, may blossom as a leading light in the dance troupe. Equally there are other more educational and developmental benefits that make extracurricular activities important. Dyspraxic youngsters, for instance, can find their coordination improves while doing karate or trampolining. Clubs can be important social outlets for SEN children, perhaps giving them a chance to meet others facing similar challenges. The school or local authority will be able to advise about SEN groups in your area. Check out the Families Bedfordshire directory of Clubs & Classes online: www.familiesonline.co.uk/LOCATIONS/ Bedfordshire/Directory/Clubs-Classes.

Le t your 4–8 ye ar old e x plore t he f an t as t ic Pe rf or m Fai r y t ale Fore s t This term, Perform children in Bedfordshire will be exploring the magical and wonderfully exciting Fairytale Forest, meeting many of the well loved characters from the classic fairytales and countless cool new friends like the Funky Fairy.

Perform’s Principal Lucy Quick says, ‘Fairytale Forest is the most exciting theme yet. Not only are Fairytales amazingly dramatic stories, but according to child psychologists, when children deal with dramatic situations through drama, it equips them to deal with reallife situations so much better.’ As well as promising ‘the best fun of the week’, Perform specialises in helping children develop the four Cs: confidence, communication, coordination and concentration. Any interested 4–8 year old can try out the classes by attending a free trial session at St Leonard’s Church Hall, Leighton Road, Heath and Reach LU7 on Tuesdays at 4pm or 5pm. READER OFFER: Families Bedfordshire readers can also receive a 10% discount off Perform’s Heath and Reach classes when booking a block of sessions and mentioning the advertisement on the front page of this magazine. For more info and to book, phone 0845 400 1315 or go to www.perform.org.uk.





How do you prepare your child for their first day at a new school? asks Joanna Moorhead

The summer before my eldest daughter started at primary school, a rather wonderful thing happened. We were having work done on our house, and by chance a friend mentioned that a friend of hers was looking for a house sitter. It suited us perfectly to move out of our home for a few months, to escape the builders’ dust, so we did just that. And our temporary home, as it happened, was next door to the primary school at which Rosie would start in September.

This, it seems to me, is the number one best way to get your child ready for primary school: as much as you can, show rather than tell. Try to be around the school sometimes as the children arrive or as they’re leaving for home; if you have friends with children already there, ask to go along with them sometimes for the drop-off or the pick-up. Give your child every opportunity you can to imbibe the sense that school is an exciting and interesting place to be.

We moved in May, so from then until the end of July she and I would watch, each morning, as the children walked and ran and scootered past our door, in their grey and purple uniforms. They looked happy and excited; they were meeting their friends, having fun. The street would then go quiet until about 10.30am when we’d hear them again in the playground; and then again after lunch, until at 3.30pm they’d all stream out again, and head back home with their mummies and the occasional daddy.

Every child, and every parent, gets a bit nervous before their child starts at a new school. Even after 17 years of being a parent with

I’m sure I talked to Rosie about what it would be like in reception class, and I’m sure I taught her to open her lunch box and get her own shoes on and off and all the other things you’re advised to do before your child’s first day at school; but the truth is that nothing prepared her for school as much as those weeks of simply living next door to it. The experience normalised what was going to be a huge change in her life: it showed her, better than any words from me could, that school was where children went when they were old enough. Watching those happy-looking kids skipping past our door, hearing them calling to their friends and generally picking up a sense that school was fun and exciting, was the best possible way of introducing her to her new life. In time my three younger daughters followed their big sister to that same school, and they – like Rosie – all took it in their stride. They, of course, were well-used to the primary school by then: unlike Rosie, they would be there every morning and every afternoon, dropping off or collecting a big sister or sisters. They would pick up on the excitement and happiness of school by osmosis, seeing their sisters and their friends as they bounced up alongside their buggy – and they’d be drinking it all in.




EDUCATION: STARTING A NEW SCHOOL & VIEWS How S ma r t i s y our M e t er ? by Tom Barwood

I have succumbed to having a free energy meter installed. We watch it like hawks, cheering when it goes green and going on a witch hunt when it goes red and to date the worst ‘offenders’ are the kettle, hairdryer and toaster.

children in school, I’m feeling a bit worried about my youngest daughter’s move to secondary school in September. The fact that I’ve done school starts many, many times before doesn’t alter the fact that this is a first for Catriona, and because it’s a first for Catriona it’s a first for me too. But what I now know is how important it is for me to be confident, and to be positive, about the move. Of course I have mixed feelings: of course I’m a bit worried about how she’ll cope in new surroundings, about whether she’ll find it easy to make new friends, about whether she’ll like the school food and about whether she’ll settle down to the work. And when she wants to talk about those fears – because, of course, she has them too and it’s important not to deny our children’s feelings – I do. But I always remember to talk to her as well about how exciting this new start is going to be: because every beginning is a bit scary and involves risks – but our lives move on and grow and become whole because we embrace them and we’re brave about them.

Whilst the engineer was here I commented that it would be helpful to have smart meters for other things in life such as calorie consumption and useage if you were trying to lose weight, whereupon he pulled out his iPhone and showed me an app for doing precisely that. Clever eh? We seem to be caught up in a mania for measuring things, and as someone who is training to be a Schools Inspector, I can see the benefit of using statistics to make sure that all groups are progressing as well as each other. However we have to contrast this with the assertion that ‘not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted’. So how do we as parents ensure that we keep our eye on what really matters? In all my many dealings with parents, and being one myself, there is always a consistent theme which comes out which is, at the end of the day, most parents just want their children to be happy. This includes being academically successful, relatively ambitious, sociable and generally up for stuff. One of the important ideals on the scale of my parental smart meter is a sense of adventure. I would like my children (and others too) to have an adventurous approach to life, to be curious, questioning and wondering. Too often I think that a sense of adventure is confused with being reckless or addicted to dangerous activities. So how do you test for a sense of adventure in children? Well, I would like to think it will come from how much of a gleam they have in their eye, how much muck they have on their knees, the level of excitement in their voice and the type of questions I am asked. As to a definition of adventure, then I can only proffer one potential suggestion in this celebrity obsessed age of ours and it is this – it is the opposite of television! So to children and adults alike, I say boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before.

Children worry when we worry, and they’re confident when we’re confident. So if you’ve got a child starting school this autumn, the number one thing to do is find the confidence in yourself: empathise with your child, but empathise with the fact that her world is opening up and becoming more exciting as well as with the fact that there will be wobbles. Try not to worry too much about the problems: believe in your own, and believe in your child’s, ability to deal with these as they come along. Don’t even, for a minute, bother about things like maths and English and reading: no, honestly, I mean it. Those things are for further down the line: all you have to think about, this September, is delivering a child to school with a song in his or her heart. Do that, and everything else will be easy.


Tom Barwood is Director of La Petite Ecole Française (www.lpef.co.uk) and Senior course provider of LikeMinds Consulting (www.likemindslearning.co.uk). He is also a governor at a lower school in Bedford.



EDUCATION: SECONDARY SCHOOL FEATURE Which secondary school is right for my child? Joanna Moorhead on the 20 things you need to know when choosing ‘big school’

1. Make your own mind up It’s amazing how many parents never even look round a school because of what they’ve heard. A school that doesn’t suit another family could be just right for yours. 2. Listen to your child’s feelings as well as your own Choosing his or her primary was down to just you and your partner; but your 10 or 11-year-old deserves a say. 3. Use open days wisely If you can, go to a daytime visit (especially to a school that seems a strong contender) because you’ll see it in working mode. 4. 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? 5. Take opportunities to chat to the staff Do they seem happy and fulfilled working there? 6. 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).

9. Pay attention to what’s on the walls – and not just the artwork. What are children being warned about, or encouraged to do? Are there any school visits being advertised? What clubs seem to be thriving? 10. 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? 11. 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. 12. Go to the head teacher’s talk and take your notebook This is an important part of the event: not only do you need to pick up on the head’s attitude and values and what matters most to him or her, but you also need to pay special attention to anything that’s said about the entrance criteria. Understanding that is the crucial next stage. 13. If you like a school, do your homework about whether your child fits its entrance requirements. However much you love the school, and however much you think your child would thrive there, you’ll only get a place if you fulfil the criteria. Read the school’s entrance policy through very, very carefully. If you don’t fulfil the requirements, could you change something so you do? If not, move on: there’s no point in wasting a choice or railing against something you can’t change.

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



14. You’re bound to talk to other parents and you want to talk to other parents, but don’t get pulled along by their tide. Do your own research and develop your own views: knowledge is power. 15. Keep telling yourself (because it’s true!) that there is no perfect school. Every school has strengths and weaknesses. There’s more than one school that can be right for your child. 16. When the time comes to fill in the forms allow yourself lots of time and do it extremely carefully. There may be supplementary forms, and there may be complicated arrangements


EDUCATION: OPEN DAY LISTINGS for giving them in (especially if you’re applying to faith schools). If you ďŹ nd it all too confusing, talk to your child’s primary teacher or primary head, or call the education department at your local authority.

19. Don’t underestimate how much hard work an appeal can be or how emotionally draining. That’s not to say don’t do it: just be prepared.

As Fiona Clements, Head of Year 7 and Transmission, Bedford Girls’ School advises, ‘Whether your daughter or son is starting school for the very ďŹ rst time or moving to a new one, you should always make sure you have copies of all the information you’d like the new establishment to receive about your child. There’s often an assumption that information is automatically shared by schools and this isn’t always the case. The new, or ďŹ rst, school will request, from nursery, preschool or a previous place of learning, what they feel is particularly pertinent but that information might not be what you think is most relevant.

20. Remember that... at the end of the day, parents make more dierence to a child’s future than a school does. Even if your child doesn’t get into your ďŹ rst 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 conďŹ dence, ďŹ rst and foremost, in your child. And believe that, together, you will work things out if and when you come up against problems.

‘I would advise all parents to ask as many questions as they like and feel comfortable with at any stage and to never feel that they’re doing so excessively.’ 17. Have a plan of action for what you’ll do if you don’t get the school you’re hoping for. Just having that plan will make you feel more relaxed. 18. Remember that there’s a lot of movement in the ďŹ rst few weeks after places are allocated, and many children get in from waiting lists.

Independent Schools: Open Days & Weeks September–October

JUNIOR SCHOOL INFORMATION EVENING Wednesday 18 September, 6.45pm for a 7pm start ACTION DAY Thursday 26 September Bedford Modern, Manton Lane, Bedford Tel: 01234 332500 or email: admissions@bedmod.co.uk More info: www.bedmod.co.uk

OPEN MORNING Saturday 5 October, 10am Bedford School, De Parys Avenue, Bedford Tel: 01234 362200 or email: admissions@bedfordschool.org.uk More info: www.bedfordschool.org.uk

OPEN WEEK Monday 7 October–Friday 11 October, every morning from 9am–noon Polam School, 43–45 Lansdowne Road, Bedford Tel: 01234 261864 or email: admissions@polamschool.co.uk More info: www.polamschool.co.uk

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OPEN MORNING Saturday 12 October, 10am–1pm Bedford Girls’ School, Cardington Road, Bedford Tel: 01234 361918 or email: admissions@bedfordgirlsschool.co.uk More info: www.bedfordgirlsschool.co.uk OPEN MORNING Saturday 12 October, 10am–noon Rushmoor School, 58–60 Shakespeare Road, Bedford Tel: 01234 352031 or email: admissions@rushmoorschool.co.uk More info: www.rushmoorschool.co.uk

OPEN MORNING Friday 18 October, 9.30am–noon Beechwood Park School, Markyate Tel: 01582 840333 or email: admissions@beechwoodpark.herts.sch.uk More info: www.beechwoodpark.net




Hi kids, parents, grandparents, teachers – and book lovers everywhere! I’m Ed and here is my Autumn book selection for you to enjoy. The books are all available online from Ed’s Reading Room at www.edontheweb.com. Ed’s Reading Room is an exciting free online book and story club for primary children in homes and schools.

FOR AGES 5:7 YEARS Short John Silver by Chris Inns and Dave Woods (Orchard £4.99) ED SAYS: ‘The story of Short John Silver tells us what happened to this famous pirate before he grew up! Short John Silver needs the help of Captain Poopdeck and his crew of scoundrel pirates to help him find Treasure Island and he promises they can all share the buried treasure. After their adventures sailing the Seven Seas they are eager to get their hands on their reward. But things aren’t always what they seem! ‘This is a very funny tale on the high seas with super illustrations throughout – ideal for young readers on their own or reading together.’ Catch that Bat! by Adam Frost (Bloomsbury £4.99) ED SAYS: ‘Tom and Sophie love living on a houseboat with their parents who both work with animals. In their latest adventure they learn a lot about nocturnal creatures that prowl and swoop while most humans are sleeping. They particularly become involved with a young bat who is in danger. Will Tom and Sophie’s moonlight vigil help to reunite the young bat with its family? ‘This is a fantastic story that gives detailed information about working with animals. It is full of zoological facts and is great fun for boys and girls alike.’

FOR AGES 7+ YEARS The Thunder Omen by Caroline Lawrence (Orion £4.99)


It is common that most children start their new school term with fresh notebooks and a crisp new uniform, but it is just as important to ensure they are equipped with the most vital tools needed for a successful year ahead; a good grip on the core subjects of maths and English and the learning skills required for academic progression. At your local study centre, Kumon offers individualised maths and English study programmes tailored to all ages and abilities. Established for over 50 years, the programmes enable children to develop their study skills and confidently tackle advanced work. Through daily study of the Kumon programmes, your child will develop the ability to learn for themselves so they do not become dependent on – or limited by – the skills and knowledge of others. Your child will then be able to apply these skills to all subjects and outside of school too. The new school year is an ideal time to take advantage of a free assessment and enrol your child at one of the six local Kumon centres in Bedfordshire, to ensure they gain maximum benefit from the year of learning ahead. For more info call 0800 854 714 or visit www.kumon.co.uk

Beechwood Park celebrates its ISI results Beechwood Park school in Markyate is celebrating the results of its recent Independent Schools Inspectorate (‘ISI’) inspection. The Early Years Foundation Stage provision is described as ‘outstanding’ and the preparatory school praised for offering: • a high quality of curricular and extracurricular provision • excellence in the learning environment, the children’s achievements and the standard of pastoral care • a safe and welcoming environment • an excellent boarding experience which boarders thoroughly enjoy • a high level of parental satisfaction. Housed in a historic mansion, this is a co-educational, day and flexi-boarding school, which is holding its next Open Morning on Friday 18 October. For more information or to attend tel 01582 840333 or see www.beechwoodpark.net

ED SAYS: ‘It is the midwinter festival of Saturnalia. Threptus, the young apprentice of the soothsayer Floridius, is enjoying the feasting and fun. However, along with the celebrations, pantomimes and general mayhem, disaster is threatened by the thunder omen. Will Threptus be able to help Floridius overcome his latest dilemma? With Floridius and the sacred chickens, Threptus’ life in Ostia is always chaotic. ‘This is an exciting mystery full of historical facts about ancient Rome that will delight young readers.’




Jeans for Genes Day by Joanna Parry

Wear your jeans on Jeans for Genes Day on 20 September and help change lives. In aid of Genetic Disorders UK, Jeans for Genes Day aims to change the world for children with genetic disorders, so get your school together and raise money by wearing your jeans and donating £1. Individually, genetic disorders are rare but together they affect one in 25 children born in the UK – that’s more than 30,000 babies each year. Their associated health problems mean that genetic disorders are the biggest cause of death of children aged 14 years and under. You can also support the cause by buying British-based childrenswear brand Little Punk London’s specially designed short or longsleeved t-shirt for sizes 0–9 years, with all the proceeds going to Genetic Disorders UK.

ASTHMA: some helpful tips

by Dr David Cremonesini, Consultant Paediatrician, BMI The Saxon Clinic, Milton Keynes With the start of the new school year, it’s vital

3. Do you have an asthma plan?

autumn there is a sharp rise in children rushed

your child is breathless and when to seek help.

reason for this is viral infections they are

reality less then 10% do. See your doctor for one.

admissions for asthma could be prevented by

4. How is your child’s control?

that your child’s asthma is well-controlled. In

to hospital for their asthma and the main

catching at school. We know 75% of hospital

giving children the right support to handle

their condition.

1. Is your child taking their treatment?

It’s vital that everyone with asthma deemed serious enough to have a preventer (steroid

inhaler, purple or brown usually) must take it

every day, usually twice a day. Children must

These are vital to tell you what to do when

All sufferers of asthma should have one but in

Really, we want all children to have good

control which means no nightly cough, no

limitation with exercise, needing the blue inhaler maximum twice a week and not missing school.

See a doctor early as they may need the

‘preventer’ treatment to increase. If this does

take this even when they’re well as it helps

not work then ask for a referral to hospital.

their own, are they? It’s important to check

pets? Is it a dusty damp house? Control is

them to stay well. If your child is taking it on and support them during those hectic morn-

ings getting ready for school. Even teenagers need support.

2. Is your child taking it properly?

All children (and ideally adults) must take their

Also think about an allergy – are there any

worse in spring and summer. Children should

be tested and if the test is positive for animals,

that doesn't necessarily mean that the animal

is making it worse but ask yourself: is my child

wheezy/itchy/sneezy when they stroke your

pet? How is their asthma when on holiday and

preventer with a spacer, ideally a blue mouth-

not a pet in sight? You will need clues before

blows out the medicine so quickly it will hit


piece one after four years old. The inhaler

the back of the throat if the child takes it di-

rectly in the mouth. It’s the same for the blue

inhaler, ventolin. If your child is adamant that they won’t take it, have the honest conversa-

For more information on fundraising and to buy the t-shirt (RRP £25) go to: www.jeansforgenesday.org.


tion to confirm this and see your doctor to get an alternative inhaler, namely a turbohaler which they might prefer.

giving them their marching orders (the pet of Good asthma control is the key. Children are

still dying from asthma and many deaths are preventable.

See www.asthma.org.uk for more information. For allergy tests and asthma assessment see


Managing a child’s eczema

With one in five children in the UK suffering from eczema, for thousands of parents it’s often an upsetting and frustrating condition they have to manage on a daily basis. National Eczema Week is in September (14–22) and skin care experts E45 have shared their top tips and expert advice on how parents can best manage their child’s eczema: 1. Apply leave-on emollient all over the body 2–3 times a day 2. Use gentle downward strokes in the direction of the hair growth when applying emollients 3. Use soap substitutes when washing and bathing such as an emollient bath oil, or emollient wash.


Using emollients for washing and moisturising are key to eczema management as not only do they replace lost moisture from the skin but also form a protective barrier. For more information see: www.e45.com NHS Choices – Atopic eczema. Available from: www.nhs.uk/conditions/eczema-(atopic)/Pages/Introduction.aspx National Eczema Society – Emollients. Available from: www.eczema.org/basic-treatment




Please always phone before setting out in case details have changed since press deadline or if we got it wrong. Please send events to be listed to: editor@familiesbedfordshire.co.uk


MONSTER CREEPY CRAWLIES EXHIBITION 29 March–3 November Stockwood Discovery Centre, London Road, Luton Discover a world of giant animatronic bugs in this interactive exhibition featuring human-sized models. £3.95 adult; £2.95 child/concs/ Culture Card; £12 family of 4 (2 adults max); £15 family of 6 (3 adults max). JOHN BUNYAN EXHIBITION 16 July–14 September John Bunyan Museum, Mill Street, Bedford To mark the 15th anniversary of the new museum a free exhibition, celebrating the vibrant new display of the life and works of John Bunyan. Includes family friendly activities and the chance to draw your own object to join the exhibition. More info, tel: 01234 270303 www.bunyanmeeting.co.uk TODDLER TIME Friday 6 September, 10–11am Wardown Park Museum, Old Bedford Road, Luton Fun and creative activities for ages 3–5. £3. To book, tel: 01582 546722 FESTIVAL OF FLIGHT 7–8 September Shuttleworth Collection, Shuttleworth (Old Warden) Aerodrome, North Biggleswade Model flying weekend: end of season fly-in! Adults in advance £9; children free. www.modelair.info www.shuttleworth.org

(traditional or speciality) & bread (hand-made or machine-made); children: cupcake making & decorating. More info, email: events@stotfoldmill.com or tel 01462 734541 www.stotfoldmill.com BABY TIME Monday 9 September, 10–11am Stockwood Discovery Centre, London Road, Luton Sensory play for babies and young toddlers ages 0–2 years. £3. To book, tel: 01582 548600 BEDFORDSHIRE WALKING FESTIVAL 7–15 September Various family friendly walks, listed in date order below. www.bedswalkfest.co.uk

BIGGLESWADE WALK Saturday 7 September, 10am Begins at Bigggleswade, in Dan Albone Car Park (Sainsburys) Three-hour informative family walk led by RSPB staff and volunteers, walking along Biggleswade Common and the River Ivel. Children may have spotter sheets to see how much wildlife they can see along the way. Free, limited parking. Booking not required. www.bedswalkfest.co.uk

TRI FOR LIFE Sunday 8 September Woburn Abbey, Woburn Park Three-part challenge will see participants take on a tough 400m swim, challenging 20k cycle and end with a 5k run to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. More info: www.triforlife.co.uk

WOODWORKS! Saturday 7 September, 11am–6.30pm Sunday 8 September, 11am–5pm The Forest Centre & Millennium Country Park, Forest of Marston Vale, Bedford Celebrating woodlands through crafts, skills and music. Adults £7.50, Children (10–16) and Concessions £4, under-10s free. £1 discount on entrance for those with a valid ticket on the day to Millbrook Station. www.marstonvale.org/woodworks DUNSTABLE DOWNS WALK Thursday 12 September, 11am Starts at Chilterns Gateway Visitor Centre, Whipsnade Road, Dunstable One hour pushchair walk along the top of the Downs. Led by a member of the National Trust Visitor Experience Team. Car park charge. Free for National Trust members. Toilets and refreshments available. www.bedswalkfest.co.uk

SANDY WALK Friday 13 September, 2.30pm Begins at the Tourist Information SAINTS FESTIVAL Centre, Sandy 7 September, 12 noon–4pm Approx 2–3 miles along Sandy’s Saints Community Centre, river meadows and the village of 83–85 Solway Road North, Luton Beeston. Free. Booking required from Sandy TIC, SPONSORED DOG WALK THE GREAT STOTFOLD tel: 01767 682728 8 September, starts 11am BAKE OFF Begins at Chiltern Gateway Centre, www.bedswalkfest.co.uk Sunday 8 September, 12.30–5pm Whipsnade Road, Dunstable Stotfold Mill, Mill Lane, Stotfold PRIORY COUNTRY PARK WALK In aid of Appledown Rescue & Visitors will judge the best in each Friday 13 September, 7.30pm Rehoming Kennels. section and prizes will be awarded to Sponsorship forms can be Begins at Priory Country Park the winners for the following Visitor Centre, off Barkers Lane, obtained from Appledown Kennels categories: adults – cakes Bedford or Chiltern Gateway Centre Shop.



Family event to discover the fascinating world of bats. Children under 16 must be accompanied by adults. Limited to 20 people. Booking essential. Tel: 01234 211182 www.bedswalkfest.co.uk BEDFORDSHIRE STEAM & COUNTRY FAYRE 13–15 September, gates open at 9am Old Warden Park, near Biggleswade Steam, tractors, heavy horses, flying displays, working crafts, vintage vehicles, plus crafts and food. Adults £12; children £5 (5–16 years). All ages £10 on Friday. Free parking. www.bseps.org.uk STAR WALK Saturday 14 September, 10.30pm Begins at Barnfield College, Luton 10-mile Star Walk in aid of Keech Hospices. More info or to register (£15 registration fee), phone the events team: 01582 707940 or email: events@keech.org.uk www.keech.org.uk/starwalk

CELEBRATE ROALD DAHL’S BIRTHDAY Saturday 14 & Saturday 21 September, various times Various Luton Libraries Lots of whizzpopping fun and games for ages 5+. Free, drop-in. www.lutonlibraries.co.uk CLOPHILL WALK Saturday 14 September, 10.30am Begins at Clophill Village Hall car park Landscape history walk of approximately four miles. www.bedswalkfest.co.uk POSTMAN PAT LIVE @ IT’S SHOWTIME! Saturday 14 September, 1pm Grove Theatre, Grove Park, Court Drive, Dunstable


See Postman Pat and his friends live on stage. For 3–6 year olds. www.grovetheatre.co.uk BROMHAM MILL WALK Sunday 15 September, 1pm Starts at Bromham Mill, Bridge End, Bromham Two Mills Treasure Hunt walk from Bromham to Stevington. Bring the family and a GPS to help find the treasure on this five mile circular walk. Free parking, and refreshments available at Bromham Mill. www.bedswalkfest.co.uk DUNSTABLE WALK Sunday 15 September, 2pm Starts at Chilterns Gateway Centre, Whipsnade Road, Dunstable Downs Tell Dunstable’s story as part of a grand procession and create a giant moving sculpture. Car park charge unless National Trust members. Refreshments and toilets available. www.bedswalkfest.co.uk TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY Thursday 19 September, 3.30–4.15pm Luton Central Library, St Georges Square, Luton Lots of swashbuckling pirate activities for ages 5+. Free, drop in. YO HO HO @ PIRATE DAY FUN! Thursday 19 September Snakes and Ladders, Blackburn Road, Houghton Regis, Dunstable Follow the Pirate Trail to earn bountiful booty, plus grown ups come free when accompanied by a child in pirate fancy dress. Get a voucher from Facebook: www.facebook.com/ snakesandladdersdunstable. More info, tel: 01582 660111 www.snakes-and-ladders.co.uk TODDLER TIME Friday 20 September, 10–11am & 12–1pm Stockwood Discovery Centre, London Road, Luton Fun and creative activities for ages 3–5. £3. To book, tel: 01582 548600 ALZHEIMER’S SOCIETY: MEMORY WALK Sunday 22 September, 11am (registration from 10am) Begins at the Visitor Centre,

Priory Country Park, Bedford Shorter route of 1.5 miles and longer 8-mile route. Family entertainment and raffle to support the local Alzheimer’s Society. Also cakes, face painting, games and music. www.memorywalk.org.uk/ bedford CHILDREN’S SHORT STORY COMPETITION Sunday 22 September, 1.30–5pm Stotfold Mill, Mill Lane, Stotfold The winning entries from both sections of the Children’s Story Competition will be on display, so you can vote for the People’s Choice of the best overall story. Plus, some creative work produced in the Summer Krafty Kids Workshops will also be on show. Free event. To book please contact: events@stotfoldmill.com or tel: 01462 73454 www.stotfoldmill.com FLYING DAY: SHUTTLEWORTH UNCOVERED 22 September, gates open 9am; flying starts 2pm Shuttleworth Collection, Shuttleworth (Old Warden) Aerodrome, North Biggleswade Get up close and personal to the famous aeroplanes and talk to the pilots who fly them! Adult In Advance Ticket Price, £20; Children free. www.shuttleworth.org DUNSTABLE & DISTRICT NCT NEARLY NEW SALE Saturday 28 September, 11.15am–12.30pm Watling Lower School, Bull Pond Lane, Dunstable Top quality baby and children’s clothes, toys and equipment at bargain prices. Free parking on Bullpond Lane. Admission £1 per adult (in aid of NCT Charity). For more details contact: nnsdunstable@gmail.com www.nct.org.uk/nns ALL MANOR OF THINGS Saturday 28 September, 1–5pm Willington Stables and Parish Church, Church End, Willington An afternoon of family fun with games, re-enactments, displays and activities exploring life on a medieval manor. Teas available in the church.




NORTH BEDS NCT NEARLY NEW SALE Saturday 5 October, 11.45am (11.30am with NCT membership) Bedford Athletics Stadium, Barkers Lane Nearly new quality toys, books, baby and children’s clothes, linens, nursery equipment, prams and pushchairs. Entry £1. GRANDPARENTS COME FREE! Sunday 6 October Snakes and Ladders, Blackburn Road, Houghton Regis, Dunstable To celebrate Grandparents Day, grandparents come free with a voucher. Come and watch your favourite little people having a blast. Get a voucher from Facebook from 1 October: www.facebook.com/ snakesandladdersdunstable. Tel: 01582 660 111 www.snakes-and-ladders.co.uk FLYING DAY Sunday 6 October, gates open 9am; flying starts 2pm Shuttleworth Collection, Shuttleworth (Old Warden) Aerodrome, North Biggleswade Event subject to weather, availability and serviceability. Adult In Advance Ticket Price £20; Children free. www.shuttleworth.org PUMPKIN & APPLE GALA Saturday 12 October, 10am–4pm Luton Hoo Walled Garden, Luton Hoo, Luton Apple identification and tasting, children’s activities, pumpkin shy and more! £7 adults, £3 children, £15 family ticket (up to 4 family members). www.lhwg.org.uk/Pumpkins STOTFOLD MILL WORKING STEAM WEEKEND 12–13 October, 10.30am–5pm Stotfold Mill, Mill Lane, Stotfold

A unique collection of steam driven machinery on display, including ploughing and threshing demonstrations. The mill will be open and grinding flour, so visitors can view the whole process from threshing the corn to seeing the millstones in action, and grinding grain into flour. Adults £3, senior citizens £1.50, children £1.50; under 5s free. www.stotfoldmill.com CLASSIC VEHICLE SHOW & AUTOJUMBLE Sunday 13 October Shuttleworth Collection, Shuttleworth (Old Warden) Aerodrome, North Biggleswade Classic vehicle show. Adults £8, children under 16 free. www.classicmotorshows.co.uk www.shuttleworth.org OXJAM BEDFORD Saturday 19 October Music events across Bedford to support Oxfam. www.oxjambedfordtakeover.co.uk FREAKY FORTNIGHT 19 October–1 November Mead Open Farm, Stanbridge Road, Billington Visit the Haunted Castle, jump aboard the Ghostly Pirate Ship for storytime, take a ride on the Phantom Trailer Ride, solve Dracula’s Fangtastic Trail to earn a treat or carve your own pumpkin (additional charge applies). Also see half term details for Halloween Fancy Dress competition. www.meadopenfarm.co.uk APPLE DAY Sunday 20 October Bromham Mill, Bridge End, Bromham www.friendsofbromhammill.org.uk CHILDREN’S NIGHT AT THE MILL Friday 25 October, 4–6pm Stotfold Mill, Mill Lane, Stotfold A special chance for children, accompanied by adults, to see the Mill lit up at night, with stories and poems about mills, followed by seasonal games with prizes. The winning stories from the Summer Story Competition will also be read. Adults £3, children £2, includes entry to games, fruit juice & cakes. To book please contact: events@stotfoldmill.com or tel: 01462 734541 www.stotfoldmill.com




HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR 26 October–3 November, from 9.30 am; 29 October–1 November, late night opening & firework finale, depending on the weather Thurleigh Open Farm, Cross End, Thurleigh Take the Scary Tractor Trailer ride through the Wacky Woods, brave the ghost train, shoot monsters in the Maize Maze or get creative in the deadly dungeon. Plus pumpkin carving! Tel: 01234 771597 www.thurleighfarmcentre.co.uk FREAKY FORTNIGHT 26 October–1 November Mead Open Farm, Stanbridge Road, Billington See previous entry (19 October); in addition enter the Halloween Fancy Dress competition at 5pm. www.meadopenfarm.co.uk

APPLE DAY Monday 28 October, from 10am; sessions at 10am, 11am, 1pm & 2pm The Forest Centre & Millennium Country Park, Forest of Marston Vale, Bedford Celebrate National Apple Day with apple themed crafts and apple tasting. £2.50 per child. Tel: 01234 767037 or email: info@marstonvale.org www.marstonvale.org

GHOSTS & GHOULS MYSTERY TRAIL 28 October–1 November, 11am–4pm Wrest Park, Silsoe Creepy ghosts & ghouls trail at Wrest Park! Price includes entry to event, house & grounds. Adult £8.80, child £5.30, concession £7.90, family £22.90, members free. Tel: 01525 860000 www.english-heritage.org.uk/ wrestpark

KIDS’ HALLOWEEN DISCO Wednesday 30 October, 4.30–6.30pm The Forest Centre & Millennium Country Park, Forest of Marston Vale, Bedford A fancy dress event with a prize for the best dressed. £10 per child includes food box. Advanced booking essential. Tel: 01234 767037 or email: info@marstonvale.org www.marstonvale.org

FAMILY FUN WEDNESDAY Wednesday 30 October, 12–5pm Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes Special days for children in the school holidays. The whole family can enjoy activities including craft and spy workshops, children's guided tours, trails, quizzes and handling collections. Visit once paying full admission (under-12s

are free) and then use your Annual Season Ticket to Bletchley Park to return week after week during the school holidays. www.bletchleypark.org

CAPTAIN CALAMITY’S ADVENTURES IN STORYLAND Wednesday 30 October, 2–3pm & 4–5pm Luton Library Theatre, St Georges Square, Luton

Captain Calamity presents an all new three-man show. Follow his adventures through story land as he spreads cheer, solves problems and uses his special powers of magic, song, dance, balloons and bubbles to make your childhood dreams and wishes come true. £10; £8 concessions. www.lutonculture.com/ luton-library-theatre

TREASURE ISLAND Wednesday 30 October, 2.30pm Grove Theatre, Grove Park, Court Drive, Dunstable Here be a swashbuckling, showstopping, sail-flapping, handclapping, toe-tapping, barnacle busting family fun twist on Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventures on the high seas! For ages 5+. www.grovetheatre.co.uk

KRAFTY KIDS @ CRAFTS EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS Tuesday 29 October, 1–3 pm Stotfold Mill, Mill Lane, Stotfold Suitable for children aged 5–10, £2 per child. To book please contact: events@stotfoldmill.com or tel: 01462 734541 www.stotfoldmill.com