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Times Tables To Be Tested By Age 11. Starts This Summer!

January 05, 2016 Read more


Every pupil in England will be tested on their times tables before leaving primary school, under government plans.


Pupils aged 11 will be expected to know their tables up to 12x12, and will be tested using an "on-screen check".

The checks will be piloted to about 3,000 pupils in 80 primary schools this summer, before being rolled out across the country in 2017.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said maths was a non-negotiable aspect of a good education.

The "on-screen check" examination will involve children completing multiplication challenges against the clock, which will be scored instantly.

The Department for Education says it is the first use of on-screen technology in National Curriculum tests.

Teacher scrutiny

Ms Morgan has also said teachers will be judged by the results of the tests: "Since 2010, we've seen record numbers of 11 year olds start secondary school with a good grasp of the three Rs. But some continue to struggle.

"That is why, as part of our commitment to extend opportunity and deliver educational excellence everywhere we are introducing a new check to ensure that all pupils know their times tables by age 11.

"They will help teachers recognise those pupils at risk of falling behind and allow us to target those areas where children aren't being given a fair shot to succeed."

In 2015, 80% of Year 6 pupils achieved Level 4 in maths, reading and writing, up from 78% last year.

But Labour says standards are being threatened by a shortage of teachers, and in the past some teaching unions have warned additional tests can place unwelcome pressure on teachers and pupils.


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Meet Michelle, the mum behind the cape of Supermum Oxfordshire.

January 05, 2016 Read more

A social media addiction, a supportive husband and copious amounts of chocolate is the winning formula for the mum behind the cape of Supermum Oxfordshire. Meet Michelle, and hear how she finds running a business with two small children.

How did you get started with Supermum Oxfordshire?

I had my first child, and not wanting to return to my role with the Thames Valley Police I started a small business to allow me to work from home. It was really flexible but scary at first too. I needed to market my business but there just aren’t that many opportunities that are affordable for someone with a business in those early stages. I stumbled across Supermum Surrey, which is a network for mum-run businesses in Surrey and I thought it was a brilliant concept. I started talking with the business founder and it became clear there was an opportunity to create a similar network in my local area of Witney, Oxfordshire. It just seemed the ideal next step for me and my career.

What do you love about your work?

I feel proud when I receive positive feedback from members of Supermum Oxfordshire, because it really is for the business members that I put in the hours that I do. I enjoy working from home and being my own boss, as well as the feeling I get when people ask me what I do for a living. It’s so great that I can work flexibly around my kids, not only for the daily work life balance, but also because I never have to miss out on their milestones.

What sort of businesses do you work with?

Obviously, the main focus of Supermum UK is to give affordable advertising to hard working mum-run businesses, so the very nature of that mission means I work with lots of talented and busy mums. It’s not an exclusive network for mums though and we have established local businesses on our books, as well as busy dads working with us too. The businesses who we help, range in size from independent bricks and mortar shops, to a cake making mum who bakes around her job and her children. The local element to the website means that I’m working solely on businesses in Oxfordshire and allows me to really get to know the members and their strengths.

What is your top tip for mums thinking about starting a business?

I think the most important thing is to do research before you actually start a business. It’s great to be enthusiastic and have a passion for your new business idea, but if three people on your street do the same thing you’re going to find it harder – not impossible – but harder to make a name for yourself. It’s crucial to understand your unique selling point, your USP. For example, if you are thinking about becoming a dog walker, have a think about what could you offer that is different to other people doing it already. Have a look for dog walkers in your area to do some research on services and prices before you do anything else.

If you do some simple research you might find that there is a dog walker in your area, but what you were thinking of offering, say a transport service that picks up dogs and takes them to the woods for long walks, is very different to the current business offering just a local walk in the park. Whether you’re a one woman band or a medium sized business, a USP is really the first step in understanding how to market your business to the local area.

What is challenging about your work?

Running your own business has lots of positives, but it can be a bit like riding a rollercoaster at times, with ups and downs along the way. I’m very lucky to have a supportive husband who actually runs his own local business - so we share a lot of the same highs and lows! He is my biggest supporter and also a daily source of inspiration, which is what you need sometimes. Other than the unpredictable nature of running a business, the other downside is the lack of security that you feel compared to when you are working for someone else. Being self employed is still my preference, but it is a major consideration for anyone thinking about starting up on their own.

How do you balance your work with being a mum?

My children aren’t yet school-age so life can be pretty hectic. I do have some regular childcare, so that gives me the focused time I need, but I often find myself getting drawn into my email and social media accounts at all hours, because I’m always on my phone and like to reply to people or deal with questions as quickly as I can.  What’s great about working for yourself though is that you balance everything the way you want to. If I need to take my daughter to a birthday party or take the dog out for a walk, I can plan my work around those activities and switch off when I need to. I’d describe my family life as organised chaos, but I am a conscientious planner so I think that’s what allows me to run this business and raise two small children at the same time.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Exercise. Yes, most people don’t list exercise as a pastime they enjoy but I love it. I’ll always make time for running, spinning and circuit training, on top of my daily dog walking. To counteract all the hours of exercise, I do eat a fair bit of chocolate and it’s definitely something I like to indulge in at the end of a long day. Other than that, my children take up the rest of my waking hours and we visit parks and soft play centres to have fun as a family whenever we get the chance. 


Michelle lives in Witney, Oxfordshire with her husband, daughter and son. She is the hard-working mum behind Supermum Oxfordshire and supports businesses from all over the county. If you’re interested in local advertising take a look at the Bronze, Silver and Gold packages as well as one-off advertising slots on Alternatively, get in touch with Michelle directly via email or phone 07969 677760.


For updates on local businesses, exclusive special offers, local events and the latest news from Supermum Oxfordshire, join in the conversations on Facebook and Twitter.


Written by Zoe Greenall

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'Cheapest' Supermarket Revealed - The Result May Surprise You!

January 04, 2016 Read more

A year-long study has crowned Waitrose as the best supermarket to purchase own brand goods.

Tesco and Asda came rock bottom in the study by consumer watchdog Which?.

More than 160 supermarket products in 2015 were tested to name the best food, drink, cleaning products, batteries and sunscreens.

The study saw discount supermarket Aldi come second in the annual 'best buy' league.

Read more: How I cut my supermarket shopping bill in half



Almost 50% of own brand products from Waitrose were worthy of a Which? best buy award throughout the year.


Runner up: Aldi came second for the quality of its own brand goods



More than 40% of Aldi's products also passed the test.

Read more: The 25p discount supermarket with plans to roll out across the country

The results are in...

  1. Waitrose
  2. Aldi
  3. Sainsbury's
  4. Lidl
  5. Co-op
  6. Morrisons
  7. Asda
  8. Tesco

The tests revealed 44 supermarket own-brand best buys in 2015 - from washing powder to whiskey and smoked salmon to champagne.

Read more: 'How I cut my shopping bill from £100 to £20 a week, with help from some body builders'

Sainsburys and M&S both had at least a third of their products tested in 2015 named as best buys.

Lidl and Sainsburys were the only supermarkets to gain best buy awards for food, drink and household products.

Tesco: The supermarket giant came rock bottom


In 2014 Morrisons topped the best buy table, but in 2015 only a woeful 20 per cent of its tested products were rated best buys.

Read more: 7 cheap ways to eat well in 2016

But Tesco and Asda fared worse, gaining only one best buy each from 19 and 20 products tested respectively in 2015.

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Post-Christmas Recycling!

January 03, 2016 Read more

If you are anything like me, you can't wait to take down the tree and the decs after Christmas. If you want to do your bit for the environment in 2016 take a look at the post christmas waste and recycling services on offer from your local council


Oxford Cty Council

West Oxfordshire District Council


South Oxfordshire District Council

Vale of White Horse District Council

Cherwell District Council:


With the Christmas and New Year celebrations now over, residents will be taking down festive lights and tidying away decorations.

For those who have had a real Christmas tree, Cherwell District Council will take it away free of charge when placed in the brown bin. If it is over 6ft tall cut it in half and place it next to the bin for crews to collect. It must be stripped of all decorations and lighting.

Broken fairy lights will also be collected if placed in a carrier bag on top of any colour bin.

The trees will be used to create compost for agricultural fields while the lights will be stripped down and turned into new electrical items – including brand new fairy lights ready for next Christmas.

Both services are provided free of charge.

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Life As A Stay At Home Parent – A Dad’s Perspective.

December 30, 2015 Read more

Now technically I’m not a stay at home dad, although my working hours work in such a way that pretty much determine that I am.

I work full time doing split shifts so I am at home between 9am and 3pm. I always thought that stay at home parents had it easy bumbling around all day having fun playing games with their child, going to the zoo, park etc… Oh how wrong I was!

I used to go to work for my final stint only 3 hours or so and when I got back in sometimes the house used to be a mess. I was that typical bloke ‘look at the state of this place’ and ‘what have you been doing not to clean up?’ This did upset my wife from time to time and for some awful reason I had no sympathy. I can imagine that some family households also operate like this.

Then came the time when Stacey’s business started to do well and she had to go out and do her work away from the family home leaving me with Eleni which I thought would be a doddle.

Yes I get to spend time with my daughter, but when she is ill or just generally difficult, believe me it’s like working 4 jobs at once & let’s not forget the shitty nappies, cooking, endless washing up, endless cleaning up, endless bathing – I think you get the picture – endless everything. Days out to be fair are great, but what you don’t think about before setting off all jolly and excited is the constant danger and fearlessness of your kid. OK, yes a trip to the park is great. Your child gets to have a bit of freedom but then you realise she is heading straight towards a gaggle of geese & sprint after her like Usain Bolt before they nibble her face thinking it’s a loaf of bread! You just don’t factor in these moments! 

I now have an appreciation for anyone that is either a stay at home mum, dad or single parent. Juggling anything around parenting is hard. Your focus is always on your child & yes your partner may work a 9 to 5, but that doesn’t stop them from mucking in doing the washing or vacuuming. If they moan just ask them to swap for a week & that will shut them up (as I’m writing this my daughter has just written all over the couch 

Parenting is the hardest but most rewarding job of all. The thing that I’ve learnt the most by being a stay at home dad is that the housework is not important in the grand scheme of things. Just relax, enjoy the exclusive time you have because your babies are only small for a short amount of time.

Hope you enjoyed reading


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Best and Worst Performing Primary Schools in East Surrey

December 29, 2015 Read more

Results from this summer's Key Stage 2 exams have shown that more Year 6 pupils in East Surrey have achieved the national average in reading, writing and maths.

The figures, released by the Department of Education, show that in Surrey, five out of six pupils met the expected standard.

  • NOT MAKING THE MARK: Marden Lodge Primary School that is now an academy

Last year 81 per cent of students obtained a Level 4 grade and above in the three subjects, but this year another 2 per cent joined the ranks to surpass the national average of 80 per cent.

Linda Kemeny, county council cabinet member for schools, skills and educational achievement, said: "We want to unlock every child's potential and ensuring they get the best possible education is at the core of this."


Top 5 performing schools (% of pupils who achieved Level 4 and above at Key Stage 2)


1. Audley Primary School, Caterham, 100%

2. St Stephen's C of E Primary School, South Godstone, 100%

3. St John's Primary School, Redhill, 100%

4. Manorfield Primary and Nursery School, Horley, 97%

5. Walton-On-The-Hill Primary School, Tadworth, 97%


Bottom 5 performing schools (% of pupils who achieved Level 4 and above at Key Stage 2

5. Hamsey Green Primary School, Warlingham, 70%

4. Furzefield Primary School, Merstham, 69%

3. St John's C of E Primary School, Caterham, 67%

2. St Matthew's C of E Primary School, Redhill, 64%

1. Marden Lodge Primary School, Caterham 46%

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Grandparents Who Babysit Are Less Likely to Develop Alzheimer’s

December 18, 2015 Read more

These findings have come as great news to grandparents and parents alike.


Most grandparents will already know that the addition of grandchildren to the family add a source of much joy and love. It has however now been scientifically shown that grandparents who babysit their grandkids have a reduced chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The study which was published by the journal of the North American Menopause Society followed 120 grandparents in Australia and found that those that babysat one day each week scored higher on a range of cognitive tests.

They did however find that too much babysitting led to poor results. Those that babysat for five days per week or more struggled with the tests, so before you call mom and dad to ask them to babysit more, remember it is everything in moderation

A wider body of research shows that regal interaction of any type with other human beings leads to a happier state of mind. Many grandparents who babysit once or a few times each week report increased levels of life satisfaction which is linked to the increased feeling of purpose and more importantly, the receiving of love.


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20 Signs That You Are A Mum!

December 17, 2015 Read more

A study has revealed the 20 telltale signs that indicate someone is a mother.

A poll of 2,000 British mothers found other common traits included panicking about a late night and finding larger pants more comfortable.

The study also found the average mum completed up to 59 jobs a day – and 27 per cent fear the question 'What's for dinner?'. 

And while a fifth of mums enjoy planning family meal times, four in 10 find it difficult to know what to cook. 

Which ones from the list below can you relate to?

1. Rushing around

2. Constantly looking tired

3. Always thinking about food and what to cook

4. Go out shopping and only return with stuff for the children

5. Always leave the house with three bags

6. Permanently have bags Under your eyes

7. Cry at everything related to children

8. Always go to bed by 9pm

9. Look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards

10. No longer celebrate your own achievements on Facebook – just those of your child

11. Prefer big knickers 

12. Panic about having late nights 

13. Your work colleagues seem so young 

14. Ignore fashion 

15. Get drunk on just one glass of wine 

16. Suddenly want to buy a people carrier 

17. Can get up early with a hangover 

18. Look forward to weekly food shop 

19.Love discussing toilet habits 

20.Rely on daytime TV for tips on motherhood

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Five things to do with your kids this Christmas break

December 16, 2015 Read more

We’re all feeling frazzled. Thankfully, it’s the end of term for the kids. They’re enjoying little parties and chocolate every morning courtesy of the advent calendar, whilst we’ve been manically searching for that present at the top of their list.  It must mean Christmas is on the way.

What we often don’t think about -when we’re searching online or rushing about the shops, is what we’re going to do for the rest of the days in the Christmas holidays. We focus so much on that one day; finding the Christmas tree, filling up stockings, deciding what to cook and picking up ‘essentials’ (like Ferraro Rocher and Bailey’s), that we forget about the precious time with our family and the opportunities to make memories.

So here’s a list of five things you can do, when you’re not clearing away wrapping paper or checking whether the turkey is cooked:

1. See a local show. Pantomimes are selling out fast but there are lots of different shows to see at this time of the year that will entertain children and adults alike. The Kenton Theatre in Henley-on-Thames is showing Jack in the Beanstalk and at the time of writing has a few tickets still available. They also have performances of Beauty and the Beast from the Children’s Theatre and Arabian Nights performed by The Acorn Music Theatre Company over the Christmas period. Check here for a list of local theatres from The List and if you’re a fan of Sam Bailey (of X-Factor fame) it might be worth the trip to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre for Dick Whittington.

2. Wrap up warm and get outside. You could help Santa find his reindeer at Waterperry Gardens and finish with a Christmas treat in the teashop, or just a take a treasure bag out to the woods to collect leaves for a wintery arts session.

3.Visit Santa in his grotto. Yes, we know there are too many Santas. It’s a wonder the children don’t cotton on to all these different men in red suits popping up all over the shop, but whilst they believe it’s the most magical part of Christmas and not to be missed. Here’s a list of some of the local grottos. We think this one looks great in Millets Farm Centre but it’s only there until Christmas Eve so get your skates on!

4. Watch the festive animation of Stick Man. If you’ve got young kids you’ll have enjoyed the Julia Donaldson stories of Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo’s Child in previous years. This Christmas Day at 4.45pm don’t miss Stick Man on BBC1 for half hour of peace. It’s repeated at 4.15pm on New Year’s Eve too if it goes down well! If you’ve got older children then it’s definitely time for a Christmas classic film like Home Alone 2 : Lost in New York (Channel 4 at 5.45pm) or something they’ve watched a million times like Toy Story (7.30pm BBC3). For the big kids there’s a Bond film on at 8.45pm ITV2 so everyone’s happy.

5. Bake. Just when you think that everyone’s tummies are too full for any more food, a little snack or a little nibble makes an appearance. Bake some Christmas biscuits or buy a DIY Gingerbread House Kit if you’re feeling creative.

Most of all, whatever you do, remember that Christmas is more than just presents and food and glitter. Whether you visit church, have a different faith or are not religious at all, the one thing that resonates is the time spent with those special to you. We know it’s hard work being a mum, but definitely take a moment to be thankful – even if it is at 4am when you’re rudely awoken by the stocking monsters!

Written by Zoe Greenall

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Things Every Expectant Mother Should Know!

December 14, 2015 Read more

Day 3 postpartum. EVERY woman should know about day 3 postpartum! You'll hopefully be recovering from labour well and settling in to a new life with your precious little bundle and BAM! You're inconsolably crying at an episode of Masterchef. "Because he made such wonderful food and he looks so tense and..I don't know ok! I don't know why I'm fucking crying at Masterchef!"

Baby blues. That's why. That bastard day 3 postpartum.
The baby blues are not helped much by the invention that is the baby bath. They're such cute little things! A lickle miniature bath for your waterbaby to splash about in and get squeaky clean after endless poonami's and spew ups through the day. But what you don't know about baby baths is they were invented to destroy your soul. You'll fill it up with lots of bubbles from your special baby bedtime bath range (to help them sleep, OH PLEASE GOD LET THEM SLEEP!) and then you'll realise you can't move the damn thing. You'll manage to do your best heavy weight lifting impression and hobble through to the next room with it only to find that you've lost half its contents (which are now spilled through the entire house) in the desperate struggle. You'll then hear your husband, who has been conveniently missing throughout the manual labour, slip and fall with cries of 'that BASTARD baby bath!!' For the fifth time that week. 
You will soon become fluent in another language. The language of your child. You'll be expected to analyse the face of the adult that your child is gobbledegooking away to, recognise a moment of desperate confusion and awkwardness, and quickly jump in to interpret exactly what has just been said.
You may sometimes have to lie about what your child has just burbled about
"Avvvvva wooooed (I've pooed)
"What did she say?"
"Oh...she said I love you"
That type of thing. 
But like it or not, your job will be Mum - Interpreter.
You'll be so busy interpreting and spending every second with your little cherub that they'll fill every crevice of your life. Knowing this you'll be desperately careful not to come across as 'that mum' who speaks of nothing but her kids all day every day. But the temptation to tell every one in the entire world that your baby just rolled over ALL BY HIMSELF will be far too strong and the internal battle of being 'that mum' and bragging about your mini genius will cause this information to blurt out at the most irrelevant times, to practical strangers. Like the postman. 
People will unfriend you on Facebook. pictures.
You'd give up your left lung for a moments peace. Seriously, you can't remember the last time you went for a wee without two round eyes peering at you and poking your face. But the minute someone offers to take them off your hands you'll become all defensive and obsessive 
"WHAT!? Of course I don't need a break! They're my CHILD! I've got this covered Thankyou very much!"
If you do let someone take them for a while you will instantly miss them as soon as the door clicks shut. 
Netflix won't be for Dexter, American Horror Story or OITNB anymore. No. It will be Paw Patrol, SpongeBob and fricking Caillou.
You will gain disgusting habits. You'll scrape your child's leftovers straight in to your mouth, even ramming that chip you found on the floor in to your mush. Anything to avoid actually walking to the bin. A task that is too tiresome to bare.
Your child's snotty nose will be wiped clean with the sleeve of your cardigan, and you'll smell their bum approximately every half hour just to check for a whiff of crap. 
You'll find trumps cute.
You will despise yourself for pre baby days when you took for granted the time you actually had to shower. Because now showers are impossible. A hot cup of tea/coffee will also be something you'll wish you'd savoured. What used to be a café latte will now have turned in to luke warm instant coffee microwaved thrice.
It will take longer to prepare to leave your house than the length of the whole trip you are planning to leave for. There will be several attempts to leave but you'll be forced to retreat back in to the house for a multitude of reasons. But mainly faeces. 
You will find that your husband/partner that you once loved beyond belief is now at times the most utterly annoying, decrepit little thing you ever laid eyes on. Where as you used to smile goggly eyed at his backside when he turned his back to leave the room, you will now aggressively flip him the bird 50 times in a row whilst mouthing "fuuuccckkk offff."
But you're in this together, even though he does disappear at bath time and nappy changes, which is why you do these things behind his back. 
You may become a hypochondriac rushing to the doctors for the smallest thing. 'She's got a rash!! Yes we need to be seen immediately!'
Only to be told that no, it's not meningitis, it's dry skin. No, one ear isn't bigger than the other, and yes, it's perfectly normal for your child to have that type of bowel movement'
All your google searches will now start with "why is my baby....?" and you'll have a semi nervous breakdown each time you have to clip your baby's nails. 
But in all this you will not realise how each stage gets more difficult in different ways.  You will be too busy being knee deep in crap, telling them 'no! We don't eat the potpourri,' and praying for them to sleep but immediately prodding them when they sleep longer than usual.
But most of all, you will be too busy laughing more than you've ever laughed in your life, loving more than you've ever loved, and being prouder than you could ever imagine.
Because every moment of despair, desperation, tears and tantrums is completely and undeniably worth it.

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