web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Education"

10 free events in NoVA to get your child excited about reading

Westlake Legal Group kids-reading-on-floor-story-time-feature 10 free events in NoVA to get your child excited about reading Things to Do Reading Workshops reading manassas loudoun county Learning. kids family friendly events Family Features Family fairfax Events Education arlington alexandria
© WavebreakMediaMicro / stock.adobe.com

The New Year is upon us and it seems that everyone and their mother has a book suggestion. 

You may be wondering, what books should your kids be reading? Sure, they’ve probably read a good stack for school this year. But if you’re looking for ways to get them more interested, excited or confident in reading, here are 10 local events to attend this month.

Ukulele Storytime
Wednesday, Jan. 15, 10:30-11 a.m.
What’s better than getting to listen to a story with your kids? Getting to hear music to go along with it, of course! Let your child listen to a few stories while live music is played by the Northern Virginia Ukulele Society musicians. From infants to 5-year-olds, this story time will have them singing, laughing, clapping and learning along at Fairfax County Library. // Burke Centre Library: 5935 Freds Oak Road, Burke; free

Barnes & Noble Story Time: Baby & Me
Friday, Jan. 17, 11 a.m.
Most little movers or stroller riders aren’t quite old enough to sit for an entire story time, but luckily, this one is designed just for them. Every Friday at the Tysons Corner Center Barnes & Noble, local families can bring their babies to enjoy interactive activities and board books for all. // Barnes & Noble at Tysons Corner Center: 7851 Tysons Corner Center, McLean; free

Barnes & Noble Storytime: Nobody Hugs a Cactus
Saturday, Jan. 18, 11 a.m.
With hands-on activities and an intimate story time with local residents, even the littlest Northern Virginians can learn from a story about the prickliest cactus in the entire world. With lessons on the reality of loneliness for kids, as well as how to make friends and accept one another, this story will be sure to inspire you and your children while being a fun morning outing in January. // Barnes & Noble at Fair Lakes Promenade: 12193 Fair Lakes Promenade Drive, Fairfax; free

Seniors & Kids Pajama Story Time
Jan. 21, 6:30-7 p.m.
Everyone loves a good story before bed, and this intergenerational program brings together the love of reading to all ages through read-aloud stories, songs, rhymes and activities. Families are encouraged to participate together, borrow books they want to read and wear their favorite pajamas to the local library. // Arlington Central Library: 1015 N. Quincy St., Arlington; free

Stories to Grow On
Wednesday, Jan. 22, 11-11:45 a.m.
Meant for children up to age 5, this story time is not to “sit still and listen.” Through language development, large motor skills and social growth, little attendees will get to move, act, sing, dance and play while listening to a chosen story. Plus, yoga and take-home crafts are often themed with the story to help with all-around learning. // Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library: 717 Queen St., Alexandria; free

Paws to Read
Wednesday, Jan. 22, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Having open ears to listen while you read, especially when they’re patient while you learn, is priceless. Let your child practice reading out loud to local therapy dogs, and not only will they get in their much-needed practice times, they’ll get puppy hugs and kisses too. This event is meant for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. // Shirlington Branch Library: 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington; free

Reading Buddies in Loudoun County
Thursday, Jan. 23, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Learning to read doesn’t always mean your child is going to love to read (It’s a tough process, remember?). Let your child, from preschool through second grade, pair up with a local teen in order to learn to build their reading confidence and develop a better relationship with the activity. This one-on-one reading time will be beneficial to all. // Brambleton Library: 22850 Brambleton Plaza, Bambleton; free

Barnes & Noble Storytime: How to Catch a Dragon
Saturday, Jan. 25, 11 a.m.
In honor of the Lunar New Year, the Manassas Barnes & Noble location will be hosting a silly story time for kids, where they will learn how the dragon will avoid trap after trap in order to be fully trained, and they will get to try it for themselves! Hear the story and let your little ones get past the paper lanterns, red envelopes, fireworks and more. Plus, color your very own paper lantern to take home in time for the holiday. // Barnes & Noble at Westgate Plaza: 8117 Sudley Road, Manassas; free

Spanish Circle Time / El Circulo de Cuentos en Español
Monday, Jan. 27, 11-11:45 a.m.
Whether your child’s first language is Spanish or they’re in the process of learning, Spanish Circle Time with Ms. Roxana, also known as Señora Roxana, allows local little ones of all ages to hear story time in Spanish, from beloved classic kids’ books to those that may have never been heard of before. // Bull Run Regional Library: 8051 Ashton Ave., Manassas; free

Reading Tails: Read to Animals at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter
Sunday, Feb. 9, 4-5:30 p.m.
Help your child learn to love to read and help local shelter pets at this 90-minute program hosted by Fairfax County Animal Shelter. Local children of all reading ages are welcome to participate in Reading Tails, where they will get a tour of the shelter with behind-the-scenes areas and adoption facilities, as well as 30 minutes to read aloud to the shelter dogs and cats before they settle in for bed. Small flashlights and cozy blankets are provided. // Fairfax County Animal Shelter: 4500 W. Ox Road, Fairfax; free

For more family-friendly events (especially the free ones!) sent straight to your inbox, subscribe to our weekly Family e-newsletter. 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Here’s how to help your kids have a successful second semester

Westlake Legal Group private-school-students Here’s how to help your kids have a successful second semester Students second semester parenting middle school high school Family elementary school Education
©Rawpixel.com/adobe.stock.com

From the Publishers of Northern Virginia Magazine // Written by Jess Feldman and Jennifer Zeleski

The holiday break is a great time for kids to relax with their family, either at home or under a warm sun on vacation, following a semester of hard work in the classroom. And while one to three weeks away may not seem like a very long time, it is just long enough for young children and teens alike to sway from their typical academic routines.

Plus, the celebrations have officially diminished and the reality of a new year is setting in, leaving kids both excited and nervous for what lies ahead. Whether you’re hoping to ignite your child’s motivation or are interested in maintaining healthy habits as an entire family, here’s everything you need to know before leading your kids into 2020.

How to Avoid the Second-Semester Slump

From setting reading goals to finishing up those final few college applications, here are a handful of ways to keep your kids motivated for the rest of the school year.

Goal setting is an essential part of academic success. Students of all ages can benefit from learning the importance of focusing, measuring progress and sticking to deadlines. Here are some essential tools to help you set realistic goals with your kids of all ages.

Elementary School

Ages 4 to 7
Maybe your growing child has already learned how to read more than a few pages at a time, or is impressing family members with their extensive vocabulary. Maybe they’ve even exceeded expectations on progress reports, and gone further than counting their fingers.

Whatever they might have accomplished this year, there is still more to to learn during the remainder of the school year, and to prepare for the next grade ahead.

Pre-K through first grade can be a real transition period for your child. There are lots of big changes happening, from adjusting their half-day kindergarten schedules to full-day first grade, to getting them used to hopping on and off the bus.

To keep young students engaged in laying the foundation of their educational journey, be sure to check in with a few of the following:

    • What are the goals their teacher(s) are hoping they will accomplish prior to the end of the year?
    • Is your child continuing to practice their reading and writing skills each day?
    • Is your child getting enough physical exercise and playtime?

The first will ensure that your child is keeping up with the pace of their daily subjects and engaging in their activities. Setting simple goals, such as drawing, coloring or writing for 10 to 15 minutes each day after dinner, or setting a reading goal each month (say, one book per day), can help your child retain lessons through memory and practice.

When it comes to physical activity goals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a minimum of one hour of physical activity for children. Not only will setting this physical goal help your child understand how to move, adapt and control their body, it will also continue to teach them the importance of playing, communicating and spending time away from electronic devices.

Elementary and Middle School

Ages 8 to 13
Late elementary school lessons and early middle school classes are yet another time of transition for your child, but with a higher emphasis on curriculum and challenging coursework. Goals should become bigger, but still attainable.

To continue to keep your child engaged, check in with the following:

    • Are they continuing to grow at the desired pace of the teacher, without feeling overwhelmed?
    • How are their personal goals adapting over time?
    • Do they have other interests that could benefit from goal setting?

For late elementary-aged students, focus on setting goals such as reading one book per genre in their school’s library, or making and sticking to a plan to stay organized (Let’s not lose those glasses again!). Remember to establish small goals that help create better habits.Setting bigger goals, such as spending time volunteering or joining a school club, and maintaining that commitment, should be introduced to encourage and teach them how to serve others, as well as how lessons can reach beyond the classroom.

It is also important to note that goals should take place in sports and extracurricular activities as well. As your child grows within their sport or activity, help them identify goals that aren’t simply “winning a game” or “attending practice.”

Aside from a potential boost on their report card, setting goals for your child’s extracurricular activites will help them develop a broader perspective of how their behavior and motivation affect their overall development.

High School

Ages 14 to 18
It’s important to remember that with high school classes and schedules, your child’s goals will probably look quite different, but they are even more important now than they have been before.

Although your influence on your child’s goal setting is now a bit more hands-off, check in with the following:

    • What bigger goals can your child work on to benefit them in the future of their educational journey?
    • Are they obtaining their goals in a healthy, realistic manner?
    • What’s next? College? A gap year? Vocational training?

Bigger goals, such as maintaining high grades can be stressful, but are still attainable. Help your child break the bigger goals into smaller pieces by setting aside a dedicated amount of time each day for them to study or practice a certain subject, assisting them in seeking extra help when they need it, and keeping the lines of communication open about potential challenges or obstacles along the way.

Other goals should include maintaining a regular sleep schedule to ensure proper rest, having time set aside to hang out with friends and thinking about their college plans.
If your child is in the process of applying for college, be sure to set realistic goals on submitting applications on time, getting recommendation letters and doing extra research on the schools they are interested in attending.

Westlake Legal Group backpack Here’s how to help your kids have a successful second semester Students second semester parenting middle school high school Family elementary school Education
adobe.stock.com

By the Numbers

  • About 56.6 million students are currently enrolled in elementary, middle and high schools across the United States, according to National Center for Education Statistics. (5.8 million students in private school, of that number)
  • 3.7 million students are expected to graduate from high school during the 2019-2020 school year, including 300,000 from private schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • According to a 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews, those who wrote down their goals were 33% more likely to be successful in achieving them than those who formulate outcomes in their heads.

3 Ways to Increase Motivation

By inspiring ideas in the home, you’ll inspire results in the classroom too.

Set Goals
Teaching goal setting when kids are young impacts general learning and self-evaluation. When children have the chance to set parameters for themselves, they feel a sense of responsibility to that desired ambition, whatever it may be. This year, make an effort to write down personal goals with your child on a regular basis.

Develop Your Child’s Strengths
While teachers work to develop all essential learning skills, it’s important to take the time to encourage your child to practice whatever subject they enjoy the most at home. Even if they didn’t ace that science test, they may have written a poem that received a standing ovation in English class. In addition to that assigned practice test, get them a notebook and set aside time to write, ultimately developing their interest into a passion outside of school.

Have Consistent, Meaningful Conversations
If becoming intrinsically motivated is practiced from a young age, then the general completion of tasks throughout one’s life becomes a lot easier. Studies show that having meaningful, one-on-one conversations with your child can be crucial for tapping into intrinsic motivation. By asking children how a certain event made them feel, you are encouraging them to think deeper and, in turn, care more, both at home with your family and in the classroom with their peers.

This post originally appeared in our January 2020 issue. Want more education news, tips and profiles? Subscribe to our Education e-newsletter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Here’s how to help your kids have a successful second semester

Westlake Legal Group private-school-students Here’s how to help your kids have a successful second semester Students second semester parenting middle school high school Family elementary school Education
©Rawpixel.com/adobe.stock.com

From the Publishers of Northern Virginia Magazine // Written by Jess Feldman and Jennifer Zeleski

The holiday break is a great time for kids to relax with their family, either at home or under a warm sun on vacation, following a semester of hard work in the classroom. And while one to three weeks away may not seem like a very long time, it is just long enough for young children and teens alike to sway from their typical academic routines.

Plus, the celebrations have officially diminished and the reality of a new year is setting in, leaving kids both excited and nervous for what lies ahead. Whether you’re hoping to ignite your child’s motivation or are interested in maintaining healthy habits as an entire family, here’s everything you need to know before leading your kids into 2020.

How to Avoid the Second-Semester Slump

From setting reading goals to finishing up those final few college applications, here are a handful of ways to keep your kids motivated for the rest of the school year.

Goal setting is an essential part of academic success. Students of all ages can benefit from learning the importance of focusing, measuring progress and sticking to deadlines. Here are some essential tools to help you set realistic goals with your kids of all ages.

Elementary School

Ages 4 to 7
Maybe your growing child has already learned how to read more than a few pages at a time, or is impressing family members with their extensive vocabulary. Maybe they’ve even exceeded expectations on progress reports, and gone further than counting their fingers.

Whatever they might have accomplished this year, there is still more to to learn during the remainder of the school year, and to prepare for the next grade ahead.

Pre-K through first grade can be a real transition period for your child. There are lots of big changes happening, from adjusting their half-day kindergarten schedules to full-day first grade, to getting them used to hopping on and off the bus.

To keep young students engaged in laying the foundation of their educational journey, be sure to check in with a few of the following:

    • What are the goals their teacher(s) are hoping they will accomplish prior to the end of the year?
    • Is your child continuing to practice their reading and writing skills each day?
    • Is your child getting enough physical exercise and playtime?

The first will ensure that your child is keeping up with the pace of their daily subjects and engaging in their activities. Setting simple goals, such as drawing, coloring or writing for 10 to 15 minutes each day after dinner, or setting a reading goal each month (say, one book per day), can help your child retain lessons through memory and practice.

When it comes to physical activity goals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a minimum of one hour of physical activity for children. Not only will setting this physical goal help your child understand how to move, adapt and control their body, it will also continue to teach them the importance of playing, communicating and spending time away from electronic devices.

Elementary and Middle School

Ages 8 to 13
Late elementary school lessons and early middle school classes are yet another time of transition for your child, but with a higher emphasis on curriculum and challenging coursework. Goals should become bigger, but still attainable.

To continue to keep your child engaged, check in with the following:

    • Are they continuing to grow at the desired pace of the teacher, without feeling overwhelmed?
    • How are their personal goals adapting over time?
    • Do they have other interests that could benefit from goal setting?

For late elementary-aged students, focus on setting goals such as reading one book per genre in their school’s library, or making and sticking to a plan to stay organized (Let’s not lose those glasses again!). Remember to establish small goals that help create better habits.Setting bigger goals, such as spending time volunteering or joining a school club, and maintaining that commitment, should be introduced to encourage and teach them how to serve others, as well as how lessons can reach beyond the classroom.

It is also important to note that goals should take place in sports and extracurricular activities as well. As your child grows within their sport or activity, help them identify goals that aren’t simply “winning a game” or “attending practice.”

Aside from a potential boost on their report card, setting goals for your child’s extracurricular activites will help them develop a broader perspective of how their behavior and motivation affect their overall development.

High School

Ages 14 to 18
It’s important to remember that with high school classes and schedules, your child’s goals will probably look quite different, but they are even more important now than they have been before.

Although your influence on your child’s goal setting is now a bit more hands-off, check in with the following:

    • What bigger goals can your child work on to benefit them in the future of their educational journey?
    • Are they obtaining their goals in a healthy, realistic manner?
    • What’s next? College? A gap year? Vocational training?

Bigger goals, such as maintaining high grades can be stressful, but are still attainable. Help your child break the bigger goals into smaller pieces by setting aside a dedicated amount of time each day for them to study or practice a certain subject, assisting them in seeking extra help when they need it, and keeping the lines of communication open about potential challenges or obstacles along the way.

Other goals should include maintaining a regular sleep schedule to ensure proper rest, having time set aside to hang out with friends and thinking about their college plans.
If your child is in the process of applying for college, be sure to set realistic goals on submitting applications on time, getting recommendation letters and doing extra research on the schools they are interested in attending.

Westlake Legal Group backpack Here’s how to help your kids have a successful second semester Students second semester parenting middle school high school Family elementary school Education
adobe.stock.com

By the Numbers

  • About 56.6 million students are currently enrolled in elementary, middle and high schools across the United States, according to National Center for Education Statistics. (5.8 million students in private school, of that number)
  • 3.7 million students are expected to graduate from high school during the 2019-2020 school year, including 300,000 from private schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • According to a 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews, those who wrote down their goals were 33% more likely to be successful in achieving them than those who formulate outcomes in their heads.

3 Ways to Increase Motivation

By inspiring ideas in the home, you’ll inspire results in the classroom too.

Set Goals
Teaching goal setting when kids are young impacts general learning and self-evaluation. When children have the chance to set parameters for themselves, they feel a sense of responsibility to that desired ambition, whatever it may be. This year, make an effort to write down personal goals with your child on a regular basis.

Develop Your Child’s Strengths
While teachers work to develop all essential learning skills, it’s important to take the time to encourage your child to practice whatever subject they enjoy the most at home. Even if they didn’t ace that science test, they may have written a poem that received a standing ovation in English class. In addition to that assigned practice test, get them a notebook and set aside time to write, ultimately developing their interest into a passion outside of school.

Have Consistent, Meaningful Conversations
If becoming intrinsically motivated is practiced from a young age, then the general completion of tasks throughout one’s life becomes a lot easier. Studies show that having meaningful, one-on-one conversations with your child can be crucial for tapping into intrinsic motivation. By asking children how a certain event made them feel, you are encouraging them to think deeper and, in turn, care more, both at home with your family and in the classroom with their peers.

This post originally appeared in our January 2020 issue. Want more education news, tips and profiles? Subscribe to our Education e-newsletter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Solar power is (potentially) coming to 87 Fairfax County schools

Westlake Legal Group solar-panels-for-fairfax-county-public-schools-hrui Solar power is (potentially) coming to 87 Fairfax County schools solar power Solar Energy school news public school News & Updates fairfax county public schools Fairfax County fairfax environmentally friendly environment Education News Education Climate Change
© hrui / stock.adobe.com

As students around the world—including those in school right outside of the nation’s capital—have marched with Greta Thunberg over climate change during the 2019-2020 school year, Fairfax County has been reaching environmental goals of its own. 

On Dec. 10, 2019, Fairfax County Public Schools made the largest solar purchase power agreement (PPA) initiative by a municipality in Virginia to date when multiple partnerships were announced with solar power providers across the region. This deal would expand the use of solar energy to 87 public schools in Fairfax County, leading to significant environmental benefits, according to a recent press release

From local school policy updates to free educational events, stay up to date by subscribing to our weekly Education newsletter. 

The contracts allow roof-mounted and canopy/carport-mounted solar installations at 113 sites across Fairfax County with the help of Sigora Solar/Standard Solar, BrightSuite (a subsidiary of Dominion Energy)/Sun Tribe Solar and Ipsun Solar/SunLight General Capital. 

The contracts estimate 1.73 million megawatt hours could be provided to county facilities, equivalent to the amount of energy used by 213,680 homes in one year, and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, comparable to the emissions of 260,155 passenger vehicles over the course of one year. 

“Fairfax County is excited to take a major step toward a more sustainable energy future,” said Bryan Hill, Fairfax County Executive in the recent Fairfax County press release.

According to superintendent Scott S. Brabrand, the school system is hoping the initiative will continue to cut down on energy costs across the board, saving up to an estimated $60 million that can be redistributed back to classroom investments. 

Our solar investment will also become an amazing learning lab for our students to reinforce the value and sustainability of solar energy,” said Brabrand in the school system’s announcement

Sun Tribe Solar, one of the now-contracted providers to Fairfax County Public Schools, based out of Charlottesville, believes initiatives like this one also signify a growing demand for solar power in Northern Virginia. 

“Nearly every week, we hear from a local government or school system looking for solar solutions, and Fairfax County’s ambitious plan here is a reminder that Virginia’s solar market is growing rapidly. We’re excited to work with the first-class team across the county to make a positive impact on every community,” said Taylor Brown, Chief Technical Officer for Sun Tribe Solar. 

Participating energy companies have also made the PPAs rideable, meaning neighboring jurisdictions can also take advantage of the competitive rates and reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions in the future. 

For students, this might not seem like the sizable step they’re marching for, but it is a start for a new generation of students. 

Back in 1977, Fairfax County Public Schools was one of the first systems in the country to install solar equipment and implement solar power in its schools when it opened Terraset Elementary School. Now, 87 more schools across the county could be seeing those same benefits for years to come. 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Rachel Wolf: Where education reform has succeeded – and where it has failed

Rachel Wolf is a partner in Public First. She had co-charge of the 2019 Conservative Manifesto. She was an education and innovation adviser at Number 10 during David Cameron’s premiership and was founding director of the New Schools Network.

A while ago my company did two in-depth projects looking at the attitude and understanding of parents with children at primary and secondary school. Most of the people we talked to were “C1 C2 D” – in other words, the people who just voted Conservative. These terms can seem a bit meaningless (and the difference between a C1 and a D is very large) so here are a a few examples: one of the men was a joiner and another drove a van; quite a few of the women had part-time administration jobs in local small businesses and a couple worked in shops.

(If this sounds sexist it is not meant to – it is just a fact that women with children from these backgrounds tend to work part time and get jobs to fit.)

I have been very involved in school reform for the past decade – including founding and running the main Free School organisation, New Schools Network. The conversations were an eye-opening measure of where we had succeeded and where, to date, we had failed.

Three discussions summed it up.

The first was with a group of enraged parents in Yorkshire. Their school was in special measures and there were no local alternatives. They had been told their school was a failure, that their children’s futures were probably blighted, but that they could do nothing. No one else seemed to be fixing the problem either. This is exactly what the academy programme was designed to address – it has worked brilliantly in some parts of the country, but we still struggle to get enough people to take over schools and turn them round in others – primarily outside of the South East and our major cities.

This is why Ofsted has just published a report on ‘stuck schools’ (those that have remained poor despite continued interventions and new leadership) with a proposal to do more to support them. Academies have not, at least yet, worked everywhere.

But it was noticeable that many of those stuck schools blamed parental disengagement (Ofsted made clear they couldn’t verify if this were true). I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with a school leader where the parents weren’t considered inadequate in some way – either too disengaged or too nagging.

Of course some schools must cope with suffering children with very troubled families. But most parents are not troubled, and in the case of the Yorkshire school they were neither disaffected or disengaged. They were impotent.

The second group was in London. It was a different world. Many of the parents fell over themselves to talk enthusiastically about particular schools. London schools have moved from being among the worst in my childhood to being the best in the country. A huge proportion of the schools that consistently get kids from very disadvantaged backgrounds (often from ethnic minorities) into elite universities are in London.

Free Schools, the project I was involved in during the coalition years, are one reason for this triumph, indeed what was striking about the London groups was how many parents could name individual free schools. Many of the best schools in the country are now Free Schools. But a lot of those – probably too many – are in London.

The third discussion was in the East Midlands. The parents we spoke to didn’t have children at terrible schools. But they weren’t particularly good either. All the schools were quite similar in standards and approach.

Those parents weren’t miserable – they didn’t know anyone who sent their kids to schools that were markedly different (private schools are another, foreign, world for these groups and are irrelevant in their mind). The primary parents dutifully did all the homework the school suggested. They were competent and loving – like almost every parent in the country. But we knew, looking at the data, that the children at these schools could be doing much, much, better.

These are the parents we have, in my view, most consistently failed in the last decade, and where we continue to have the least to say. We’ve done some important things – the children in those schools, for example, will be taught to read using better and more effective methods than a decade ago. But we haven’t empowered the parents to demand more for their children. The NHS has been on a ten year drive to help people take charge of their own health – including developing their own exercise programmes and detailed nutrition guides for children. We need the same in education. What should your children know? How do you hold your school to account? What is happening to pupils in other parts of the country?

Nor have we given them alternatives. The very original plan for Free Schools – which was to deliver new schools and therefore offer real choice– was supposed to help these areas and these parents. Instead, they focused on areas with population growth (mostly London and the South East).

In this next five years, I really hope that this quiet majority of parents and pupils are the focus of our new Conservative government. As I said in my last column, we have to remember – as we so often fail to do in education – that most people are neither part of the elite nor in troubled families. We should measure our success in the next five years not only on whether we help the most disadvantaged, but on how much better things are for most families in most areas of the country and opportunities that all children have to succeed.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Neil O’Brien: Stormzy, “niggas”, “bitches” – and scholarships. Do we really want to fund racial groups?

Neil O’Brien is MP for Harborough.

When I was a teenager I smuggled a package into my parents home.I hid it in the back of a cupboard, and gradually consumed the contents when I was sure that no one was looking. But it wasn’t a bag of drugs.  It was a copy of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, borrowed from Huddersfield public library.

I hid it because I would have been acutely embarrassed to be caught not just reading, but with clear evidence of having visited a library. Let me scratch the record at this point.  This column is not about to descend into an awful hard luck story about how I lived in a hole in the road, ate gravel as a treat and so on.

In fact, I went to an averagely performing comprehensive school in an averagely prosperous town. But even from this average background, I could feel the gravitational pull of the powerful anti-education culture which screws up the chances of so many working class kids.

It wasn’t just that trying hard was uncool and library visits embarassing.  Expectations were low. My careers teacher at school (also the remedial teacher) asked how many GCSEs I thought I’d get a C in.  When I said all of them, he implied I was cocky.

I don’t know where this culture came from.  Maybe it’s a mutant version of the Victorian public school cult of effortless achievement.  Maybe as Mike Emmerich says, it’s something to do with the low-skill nature of Britain’s early industrialisation, or a leftover of a time when unskilled men could walk straight into a decent job in a factory.

What I do know is that the anti-education culture held back people I knew: particularly white working class boys (and black) whom it gripped most strongly.

And I do mean culture, not money or class. Poorer Indian pupils on free school meals are as likely to pass their English and Maths GCSEs as black pupils who are not.  (Only nine per cent of white boys on free school meals go.)

Poorer Black and Asian girls who are eligible for Free School Meals are more likely to go to university than white and black boys who are not.

Culture and aspiration really matter, and there were two important rows about them last week. Strangely, both involved the rapper Stormzy, who was asked to do a Bible reading on BBC 1 on Christmas day.

The first started when a leading Headteacher, Katharine Birbalsingh, criticised Stormzy’s lyrics for being racist, sexist and glamorising violence. She talked about the negative effects this had on inner city pupils and suggested some more positive black role models.

Twitter-land erupted in rage. One tweeted: “This woman shouldn’t be allowed around children”. Another: “How can a “headmistress” be so uneducated?” One left wing academic asked: “So you want to ban Shakespeare?”

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. Despite his constant use of the n-word and frequent references to women as “bitches”, Stormzy has become something of a go-to figure when establishment organisations reach for “relevance”.

Earlier this year the charity “Youth Music” extolled “the benefits of students exchanging Mozart for Stormzy as part of a re-imagined music curriculum”. Indeed, why have Mozart when you can have gems like:

“We a bunch of bad niggas (bad niggas)
/

So is Jennifer with them bad bitches (bad bitches)/


Like we pour up man, we got cash nigga/


Like I get money, fuck what you have nigga.”

Stormzy is just one person.  But young black (and white) men are being fed a toxic cocktail of such messages from multiple sources, telling them they need to prove themselves with violence, that normal work is for losers, and normalising disrespect for women. Birbalsingh is surely right to want different role models, and to say that twenty years ago this stuff wouldn’t have been considered normal.  The reaction against any criticism of it is scary.

And there’s something really creepy about the idea that there are particular groups for whom “higher” culture isn’t appropriate, who should instead be served up something more “relevant” to them instead.It’s the soft bigotry of low expectations.

The second row was sort of a mirror image.

It was about trying to raise aspirations – through scholarships for particular ethnic groups. It was revealed that Dulwich College in London and Winchester College in Hampshire had declined a bequest totalling more than £1 million to support the fees of white working class boys from Bryan Thwaites, a prominent scientist and academic who himself attended both schools on scholarships.

Sir Bryan defended his proposed grant by citing none other than… Stormzy, who established a Cambridge University scholarship scheme solely for black British students earlier this year. Through the Stormzy Scholarships, black students can get up to a £18,000 grant.

Such programmes are increasingly widespread: Oxford recently announced new Arlan Hamilton scholarships for Black undergraduates.  UCL has scholarships for black and minority ethnic (BME) postgraduate research students. The Bank of England also has scholarships for African Caribbean students.

Let me be clear: Stormzy and others are trying to do a good thing.  I’m glad he is spending his money on encouraging black kids to apply to Cambridge. There is still a lot of racism out there and generally black people are worse off in lots of ways than white.

But there are some massive questions here. Commenting on the case, Trevor Phillips noted that there would be nothing illegal about scholarships for poor white pupils:

“This is not what we intended when we drafted the equality laws. As one of the authors of the [Equality] Act, and having encountered this situation before, I can see that the schools’ lawyers read the Act as though it were a law constructed purely to favour people of colour. It is not; it is designed to ensure equality, and in this specific case, the disadvantaged, under-represented group happens to be white.”

But do we want to go down a route of ringfenced funding for racial groups, be they black or white? Collecting statistics on people’s self-identified racial background is one thing.  Having ringfenced funding for one racial group is quite another, and leads into a minefield.

Last year, 44 per cent of Black African background pupils got five good GCSEs, but only 40 per cent of those from a Pakistani background.  On what basis should the latter be refused a scholarship only open to someone with slightly different skin colour? What proportion of your grandparents have to be of a particular ethnicity to count as “mixed race” and be eligible for a scholarship?

Apartheid South Africa had cruel racist laws to assign people to racial groups on the basis of things like “hair colour”, “facial features” and “eating and drinking habits”.  Could future court cases turn on such creepy arguments?

In the US, “affirmative action” has gone much further and has indeed led to court cases and legislation to control it. Issues have included discrimination against Asians who have then sued, problems with higher drop-out rates among favoured groups, arguments that it ends up helping richer members of favoured groups over poorer members of non-favoured, and arguments that it undermines members of favoured groups who would have succeeded anyway without the affirmative action.

Most leading UK universities rightly do quite a lot to “aim off” for students’ backgrounds. If you get top grades despite attending a school where few do so, you are more likely to get let in.  They look in detail at individuals’ backgrounds.

I think this fundamentally different to quotas or ringfenced grants: looking through people’s current disadvantages to assess their future potential as individuals is different to treating people as members of groups. Above all, if we want more people from some disadvantaged groups to be able to go to university, the main thing we need to do is to raise their achievement at school, which is why we need to put rocket boosters under our school reforms.

In the 2020s we should get more interested in the culture facing young people and who gets held up as a role model.  We must avoid sliding into US style quota-ism. We must do more to help people climb the ladder, but not be afraid to try and change parts of our culture that keep them down.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Virginia parents pay more for infant child care than for public college tuition

Westlake Legal Group learning-toys Virginia parents pay more for infant child care than for public college tuition pre-K parenting News & Updates kids family news Family Features Family Education day care children Child Care child
Photo by Vanessa Bucceri

First, let’s state the obvious: Child care is expensive. The not so obvious? In America, child care is unaffordable in all 50 states and in DC, according to Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA), an organization that aims to provide every family access to high-quality, affordable child care across the nation.

In its 13th annual, recently released study, “The U.S. and The High Price of Child Care: An Examination of a Broken System,” CCAoA found that across all states, the price of center-based care exceeds 27% of median household income for single working parents, especially families of color, and in the state of Virginia, the annual price of center-based infant care is $14,560, which is 13.7% of the median income.

Specifically for DC, the average annual price of full-time, center-based child care in 2018 was $24,081 for an infant, $23,017 for a toddler and $18,980 for a 4-year-old. Median income for a single-parent family is $25,670, meaning the annual care of an infant in a center is 93.8% of the median income. For a married-couple family, median income is $173,340 and infant care in a center is 13.9% of this median income.

But the study also found that families living in the suburbs, including in Northern Virginia, are paying similar child care prices to those living in DC.

3 local families share their real-life finances with us

Compared to the average annual cost of tuition and fees at a Virginia public, four-year college or university ($13,490), child care annually costs 7.93% more than college tuition.

Broken down even further, single parents in Virginia pay 48.2% of their income for center-based infant child care, and the annual price of center-based child care for two children costs a married couple living at or below the federal poverty line over 100% of their annual household income. 

To see the full study, as well as more in-depth details on the methodology and findings, click here.

For more family content, subscribe to our weekly Family e-newsletter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Northern Virginia school news to know before 2020 begins

Westlake Legal Group students-in-school-education-news-feature Northern Virginia school news to know before 2020 begins schools public schools public school news prince william county News & Updates high schools fairfax Education News Education arlington alexandria
Photo by neONBRAND

The start of a new year (although not technically a new school year) holds changes for both local students and parents. Here are the changes coming to Northern Virginia public schools in 2020 you need to know before your kids head back to school after winter break.

Arlington Public Schools

On Dec. 19, Arlington Public Schools announced the appointment of Arron Gregory, the new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer of Arlington Public Schools. Gregory comes from Trotwood, Ohio, where he held a similar position at Trotwood-Madison City School District. When he assumes his role on Thursday, Jan. 16, he will bring over 18 years of experience in education to lead the development and implementation of a strategic plan to advance diversity, equality and inclusion across all APS schools and departments.

On Dec. 20, the Arlington Public School Board adopted fees for summer school 2020. Fees for secondary summer school will remain the same as the prior year, but the full fee for “Make Up and Strengthening” courses will rise to $150. Strengthening courses for elementary students will continue to benefit students who are performing below grade level in mathematics and reading. Registration for summer school courses will continue to be on a recommendation basis by school employees.

Fairfax County Public Schools

On Dec. 13, 12 recently elected members of the Fairfax County School Board took their oaths of office for their four-year terms, which will officially start on Wednesday, Jan. 1. The elected members include Abhar Omeish, Karen Keys-Gamarra and Rachna Sizemore Heizer. District-specific board members included Megan McLaughlin, Braddock District; Melanie Meren, Hunter Mill District; Elaine Tholen, Dranesville District; Tamara Derenak Kaufax, Lee District; Ricardy Anderson, Mason District; Karen Corbett Sanders, Mount Vernon District; Karl Frisch, Providence District; Laura Jane Cohen, Springfield District; and Stella Pekarsky, Sully District.

On Dec. 20, Fairfax County Public Schools announced its proposed fiscal year 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Program, which will require more than $1 billion for the five-year plan. Due to inconsistent growth in certain areas over others throughout the county, FCPS has identified capital projects including school renovations, additions and modular additions where needed. Funds that were previously approved in the 2019 School Bond Referendum cover $500 million of the plan, which is set to fund one new elementary school, the relocation of a modular addition, construction of three new high school additions and renovations to five local high schools and two middle schools. The school board is set to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 7, addressing the unfunded $573 million needed to complete the Capital Improvement Program.

Loudoun County Public Schools

In December 2019, it was announced that Growth and Opportunity in Virginia (GO Virginia) would award a $2.4 million grant to Loudoun Education Foundation for the creation of a Virginia K-12 Computer Science Pipeline Program in Loudoun County Public Schools. The funding will propel a two-year project that integrates computer science and computational skills from kindergarten through 12th grade, with hopes of providing local students the opportunity to build a strong educational foundation in the growing industry (especially in the Northern Virginia area). The grant has the bandwidth to fund professional development of local educators, create a database of curriculum in computer science and related fields, as well as integrate computer science-inspired lessons into other topics, such as general math, science, technology and other STEM-related subjects.

LPCS will host its third annual Mental Health and Wellness Conference on Saturday, Jan. 11, at Independence High School. The conference is meant to offer local parents and students the chance to discuss and better understand mental health topics, such as anxiety, stress, resilience and the current programs that LCPS offers for mental health preservation and education. There will be a screening of the independent film LIKE, followed by a presentation by Dr. Edward Spector (a psychologist who specializes in compulsive technology use) who will offer practical ideas on how to help students and parents limit the amount of time and the impacts of technology on daily lives, interpersonal relationships, communication and more. There will also be three breakout sessions during the conference, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. To register, visit the Loudoun County Public Schools website.

Prince William Public Schools

On Dec. 18, Prince William Public Schools’ newest School Board members took their oaths of office and will begin their four-year terms on Wednesday, Jan. 1. Four people of the eight-person board will remain to represent their districts, including Lillie G. Jessie of Occoquan, Diane L. Raulston of Neabsco, Justin D. Wilk of Potomac (and Vice Chairman) and Loree Y. Williams of Woodbridge. Also returning will be Chairman At-Large Dr. Barbur Lateef. New members include Adele Jackson of Brentsville, Jennifer Wall of Gainesville and Lisa Zargapur of Coles. A new vice chairman of the board will be elected at the Wednesday, Jan. 8 meeting.

For more local education coverage, subscribe to our Education newsletter. 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Local franchise Woofie’s launches academy for aspiring groomers

Westlake Legal Group fluffy-puppy-getting-nails-cut Local franchise Woofie’s launches academy for aspiring groomers woofie's academy Woofie's pets pet groomers pet care local business jobs grooming franchise Education dogs curriculum Animals
Photo courtesy of Woofie’s

In any industry, having proper training and experience is an essential step toward a successful career. And now, thanks to Woofie’s—the NoVA-based franchise that combines pet sitting, dog walking and mobile spa services into one entity—those interested in joining the pet care field have an opportunity to follow a direct path of accelerated training to a stable job with Woofie’s Academy

Officially launched in November, the program offers three levels of certifications labeled as groom tech, pet groomer and pet stylist for aspiring groomers in the field. Once students complete all three levels, graduates from Woofie’s Academy will be offered a position with the Woofie’s team at one of the company’s various NoVA locations. 

“This is a dream that has finally come true,” co-founder and co-owner Amy Reed said in a press release. “Proper training is vital to any trade; and to be able to give our groomers the skills to succeed will only heighten our level of service for our communities we serve.”

Want more pet content sent straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter. 

Westlake Legal Group dog-being-bathed Local franchise Woofie’s launches academy for aspiring groomers woofie's academy Woofie's pets pet groomers pet care local business jobs grooming franchise Education dogs curriculum Animals
Photo courtesy of Woofie’s

The Woofie’s team partnered with the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, which has been offering extensive online and in-person courses in the United States for nearly 30 years, to curate an in-depth, individualized curriculum. 

All students of Woofie’s Academy will receive practical, tuition-paid, hands-on learning, ultimately better preparing them for the industry as a whole. From breed-specific haircuts to hydrosurge baths, the majority of the programming will take place within a mobile environment in an effort to acclimate students to the popular trend in pet care services. 

As Woofie’s has a partnership with local animal shelters in the area, students will have the opportunity to practice the skills they learn by grooming dogs from rescue groups and shelters as well. 

Woofie’s Academy is currently accepting applications. For those who are accepted, materials are offered online in a take-home format or at Woofie’s corporate offices in Ashburn, and hands-on training occurs within mobile pet spas. For more information, visit woofies.com/woofies-academy.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

David Skelton: How Johnson can cement the Tory position in the North

David Skelton is the author of Little Platoons: How a revived One Nation can empower England’s forgotten towns and redraw the political map. He founded Renewal, dedicated to broadening Tory appeal.

In many ways, I’m still pinching myself after the results in the North East last Thursday. My home town of Consett, once blood-red seats like Blyth Valley, and the heart of Tony Blair’s leadership in Sedgefield all voted Tory.

Places that saw being Labour as being part of their cultural, as well as their political identity, emphatically turned their back on Corbyn’s Labour. Friends and members of my family who once almost used “Tory” as a swear word started saying positive things about Boris Johnson a few months ago and could barely hide their distaste for Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of politics.

For years, Labour had been drifting away from their once core vote, taking these voters for granted and ignoring the region. Now they are reaping what they sowed and the North East has excellent MPs who will fight hard for the region, like Rick Holden in Consett and Dehenna Davison in Bishop Auckland.

 Now we have to make sure that what could be a temporary realignment in the North East becomes a permanent and lasting political transformation.

Labour’s heartland voters have been drifting away from them for years, knowing that the party had long ago stopped embodying their values or even sharing their concerns. It was the Brexit vote that crystallised this. The referendum was the first time in a generation that voters in places like Consett and Blyth had been able to make their voices heard on the national scale. The response of the party that was founded to ensure working class representation was to snobbishly dismiss the vote and call for a re-run. Little wonder that voters responded to Labour’s sneering disdain with a clear rejection in many North Eastern seats that Labour once saw as their fiefdoms.

The challenge now is to ensure that this wasn’t a one off loaning of votes and instead turns the North East blue for a generation or more. As I set out in my recent book, Little Platoons, our goal should be to bring about fundamental economic transformation to towns that have been long forgotten and ignored by politicians of both parties. The mission of the Government, once Brexit is achieved, must be to tackle the regional imbalances that means the City of London has GVA per head of £300,000 and County Durham has one of £16,000.

If we can be seen to have delivered this profound change for the better then we can not only hold on to the seats we’ve gained, but also gain newly marginal North Eastern seats such as Wansbeck, Stockton North and Sunderland Central are brought into play as well.

It’s heartening that the Government has already committed to big infrastructure spending in the North East and they should not be half-hearted in their ambition. Northern towns were amongst the biggest sufferers from the catastrophic Beeching cuts and subsequent cuts to transport. This meant towns like Consett and Stanley, with substantial populations, have had to rely on over-priced buses (it costs over a fiver return to get from Consett to Durham) and often poorly serviced roads. The government should ensure that North Eastern towns are no longer treated as an afterthought when it comes to transport links and should consider ambitious plans to use rail and light rail to link up the towns of the North East.

Many of the towns in the North East that voted Tory are also still suffering from many of the economic and social consequences of de-industrialisation. Skilled, dignified work that people were proud of was often replaced with low skilled, insecure work. We should look to re-industrialise some forgotten towns and bring about an economic revival with an ambitious industrial strategy that encourages and incentivises industrial investment. This should include declaring those towns that have been stagnating the most in recent decades as “prosperity hubs” and allowing them to do whatever it takes, including through the tax system, to encourage industrial investment and become specialist hubs for various industries.

These towns should also be at the centre of a vocational education revolution, with schools and colleges working with employers to deliver a robust education based on skill and vocation. Employer-partnered vocational centres of excellence should also be based in these Northern towns. For example, a centre for advanced engineering could be established in Sunderland, in partnership with Nissan.

Finally, the Government should take measures to improve the vibrancy of Northern town centres, many of which have become scattered with charity shops, bookmakers, and discount outlets. The focus on out-of-town retail and business parks should be reversed and measures taken to ensure that town centres again become community hubs, as well as places to shop, work and run a business.

Labour has abandoned the patriotic and communitarian values of the North Eastern voters who once made up the party’s core vote, in favour of an urban hipster socialism. And Labour’s reaction to their defeat last Thursday suggests that they are disinclined to learn lessons. This creates a real opportunity for the Conservatives to make the most of diminished loyalty to Labour throughout the North East and to turn the region blue for many years to come. The kind of measures I’ve suggested should be accompanied by pro-worker policies, such as a higher minimum wage and lifting the National Insurance threshold.

We successfully campaigned as the ‘workers’ party’, and gained a clear majority of working-class voters. Now we must govern as the workers’ party. In doing so we can bring about economic and political transformation to a long-ignored part of the country.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com