Sto­ry­tellers pick up their prizes for tales of Christ­mas

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

BUD­DING lit­tle au­thors took part in an an­nual story writ­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

The Ro­tary Clubs of Amer­sham, Che­sham and Great Mis­senden or­gan­ise a Christ­mas story com­pe­ti­tion each year for all the first, com­bined and ju­nior schools in their catch­ment ar­eas.

The prize giv­ing cer­e­mony was held last month in Great Mis­senden, be­cause Great Mis­senden Ro­tary Club is the lead club for this event.

Some 139 sto­ries were sub­mit­ted from 11 lo­cal schools, with seven schools hav­ing win­ning en­tries.

All 16 of the win­ners were present on the evening, with rel­a­tives and teach­ers, to re­ceive their prizes of a cer­tifi­cate, book to­ken and a free gold ticket en­try to the Roald Dahl Mu­seum and Story Cen­tre.

Each story was read by Nick Gal­lant, a well­known lo­cal man who is a pro­fes­sional trom­bon­ist in West End shows.

He has played with the BBC Big Band, Shirley Bassey and Jools Hol­land to men­tion a few.

He is also in full-time min­istry as a chil­dren and youth worker, has his own graphic de­signer busi­ness and also helps to run Pele­gos, a re­treat or­gan­i­sa­tion, with his wife.

The prizes pre­sented by pres­i­dents the lo­cal clubs.

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A coun­cil spokesman said that while ini­tial ap­pli­ca­tions had ex­ceeded the num­ber of places avail­able, those fig­ures in­cluded chil­dren from out­side of the county.

This meant it was not a short­fall as all Bucks chil­dren were able to get a sec­ondary school place.

Fig­ures pub­lished on Na­tional Of­fer Day (March 1) re­vealed 76.95% of young­sters were al­lo­cated their first choice sec­ondary school, up nearly three per cent on last year’s fig­ures.

In all, there were 5,895 ap­pli­ca­tions from res­i­dents for places, com­pared with 5,813 the year be­fore.

A small num­ber were not al­lo­cated a pre­ferred school at this stage, but the coun­cil’s ad­mis­sions and trans­port team will con­tinue to work closely with those fam­i­lies af­fected.

The news came on the day some pa­pers re­ported a 1,983 school place short­fall in the county.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures, ob­tained by spe­cial­ist law firm Simp­son Mil­lar un­der a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion (FOI) re­quest, BCC re­ceived 8,030 ap­pli­ca­tions for a sec­ondary school place but had only 6,047 school places avail­able.

But the FOI re­quest did not make it clear how many of th­ese failed ap­pli­cants were from out­side of the county or how many af­fected chil­dren were from Bucks.

Cab­i­net mem­ber for education and skills Zahir Mo­hammed said he was very con­cerned about the pub­li­ca­tion of in­cor­rect data, but said 1,361 out-ofarea ap­pli­ca­tions were re­fused in the first round.

He said: “Th­ese fig­ures re­sult from a mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of data pro­vided to an FOI re­quest.

“We have in ex­cess of 6,000 sec­ondary school places avail­able in the county this year and fewer than 5,900 res­i­dents seek­ing a place. We ac­tu­ally ac­com­mo­dated more than 790 nonBuck­ing­hamshire chil­dren whilst 563 Buck­ing­hamshire chil­dren suc­cess­fully ap­plied for schools out­side the county.

“As de­ci­sions from par­ents are re­ceived, any places that are re­fused will be re-of­fered to chil­dren on the wait­ing lists in later al­lo­ca­tion rounds.

“Ap­pli­ca­tions from out of county hope­fuls did in­crease by about 570, such is the at­trac­tion of a Bucks education.

“We had to refuse 1,361 out-of-area ap­pli­ca­tions in the first round but would hope over time more can be of­fered.

“How­ever, we would, of course, ex­pect their own bor­ough or county coun­cil to find a place for those chil­dren if this does not hap­pen.

“Over­all, this is fan­tas­tic news.

“Not only has the first choice school pref­er­ence of­fers in­creased, but cru­cially we also have the places avail­able for all our own chil­dren.”

The win­ners of the Christ­mas story com­pe­ti­tion 2015 with Nick Gal­lant

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