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Council to open free BMX track over Easter

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temporary BMX track web

A free BMX track is to open in Portsmouth for the Easter holidays. The track, opposite the Blue Lagoon in Hilsea, will be open 11am–4pm every day from Friday 25 March to Thursday 7 April.

Set up by Portsmouth City Council, it will be suitable for all ages and abilities. Free bikes will be available for beginners, and instructors and safety kit will be provided.

The track is a temporary one, designed as a trial for a proposed permanent track on the site. There will be a range of portable ramps that can be moved around to keep the track exciting and challenging. Ramp types will include flat bank, driveway, quarter pipes, roll in and fly off.

The Leader of the Council, Cllr Donna Jones, said: "This is a great free facility for people to use over the Easter break. I'm really pleased we've been able to provide it. It will also be a useful trial for the idea of a permanent track. We're committed to developing facilities across Portsmouth, which is why we're looking at the potential for a BMX track in the north of the city. In a survey we did earlier this year, 78% of people said they or a member of their family would use a track, and 91% said it would be good for the area."

A scheme for a permanent track would need planning permission.

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Portsmouth High School & Mary Rose Museum – Partners in Education

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Partners Board web

Portsmouth High School and the Mary Rose Museum, in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, have a long-standing relationship which encompasses teachers, pupils, parents and the Museum Team. This special relationship has been formalised as part of the Mary Rose Partners in Education programme.

Portsmouth High School and the Mary Rose Museum work together in a number of ways. Both junior and senior schools visit as part of their history topics and the Mary Rose provides artefacts and replica items for use in school. Last year a team from the school took part in the annual Museum Takeover Day using the collection to create their own history lessons. Several girls have completed work experience placements giving them an insight into the heritage sector at the world class Mary Rose Museum.

Careers, training and employability skills are key areas of the Mary Rose Museum programme. To celebrate the new link, the latest exciting event was held on Friday 11 March. Portsmouth High School has begun a new careers initiative with ‘Ask the Expert’ working lunches to help showcase different jobs and opportunities. Sixth formers had the opportunity to meet Mary Rose staff including PHS alumna, Clare Barnes (Learning Officer), Mary Kinoulty (Head of Learning) and Helen Bonser-Wilton (Chief Executive). Over lunch the discussion was wide-ranging, taking in subjects including transferable skills versus subject knowledge, job satisfaction, professionalism, body language and balancing life and work.

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Sammy Davies, Head of Careers, said “It was a great privilege to hold the inaugural working lunch at the Mary Rose Museum. Hearing the real world experiences of women in business complements our school careers provision and adds a new voice to the discussion.”

Sayeeda Nur, 16, said: “A really inspirational event where I’ve learnt how to be a woman in the workplace.”

Helen Bonser-Wilton, Mary Rose Trust Chief Executive said: “I think its important young people hear first-hand experiences from business leaders both to inspire them and show the realities of working life. I have no doubt the girls will be future leaders in their chosen fields.”

Mary Kinoulty and Clare Barnes have also represented the Mary Rose Museum at Careers Evenings and Mock Interview Days. The team has enabled Sixth Formers to take part in work experience during the school holidays. Clare said: “Over the years High School girls have made a fantastic contribution to the museum while enhancing their CVs and personal statements. As a former pupil who has made their career in Portsmouth, it’s great to be able to share the experience with them.” Last year Georgie Peck, 17, completed a work experience placement which included the National Kids in Museums Teen Twitter Takeover Day. She said: "It was such a great experience to be a part of and it was lovely that lots of other museums were taking part as well. I now have something I can show from my week here which will be useful in the future. I'm really proud of our work.”

JamesMolly (Intern), James (Visitor Services Manager) Georgie (Work experience)
and Clare (Learning Officer) at the end of Teen Twitter Takeover Day 2015

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Portsmouth learning service rated 'GOOD' by Ofsted

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OFSTED has rated the Portsmouth City Council Community Learning Service 'GOOD' after a full inspection in February.

The service offers a high quality adult and family learning experience for all residents of Portsmouth.

The varied programme acknowledges that for some, learning supports leisure, and for some it builds capacity, enabling them to return to work or more formal learning. It will also provide learners the opportunity to take a greater role in their community or to support their children's learning.

Inspectors said The Learning Place, in Derby Road, where many of the courses take place, was well resourced and provided an inclusive and safe learning environment.

The report also praised the service's tutors for the support they offer to learners and their good use of learning technology to make lessons more enjoyable. They also appreciated the decisive and successful action taken by managers, the good partnerships with employers, local schools and the community recognising the programme's ability to build self-confidence and skills.

Cllr Luke Stubbs, cabinet member for community learning, said: "We are delighted that Ofsted has recognised the strength of this service and the hard work that goes in to provide high quality courses and support.
"We're particularly pleased that the report recognises our partnership work with many organisations in Portsmouth and the ability of the tutors and managers to support learners so that they can continue to make good progress in their learning."

Alan Cufley, the director at the city council with responsibility for the service said: "The benefits of adult and family learning are well documented. Participating in high quality learning opportunities not only helps those individuals who take part but also their families, communities and wider society.

"Our learners can take away new life skills, qualifications and become more employable. There are also social and well-being benefits, something of great importance to more vulnerable adults, when people are just learning purely for enjoyment, pleasure and personal fulfilment."

For more information and availability of places, visit the Learn Portsmouth website, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 02392 621 860.

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Edward King exhibition shows Portsmouth's past in paint

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Edward King

A series of paintings depicting Portsmouth during the Blitz are at the heart of a new display at Portsmouth Museum opening on Thursday 24 March.

Distinguished artist Edward King was living in the city during the Second World War and documented the aftermath of air raids in his paintings. The new display, Edward King: a life in art, brings together around 70 paintings, including the Blitz series, as well as photographs, archival material and objects from Portsmouth’s museum collections.

Many of the buildings recorded by King were demolished for safety reasons in the post-war redevelopment of the city. The exhibition also features King's paintings of the houseboats at Milton Locks and the grounds at St James' Hospital where he stayed from 1926 until his death in 1951.

Born in 1862, King trained at the Slade School of Art with Walter Sickert and was friends with many well-known artists including James McNeill Whistler and John Atkinson Grimshaw. He exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy and is said to have influenced the young Vincent Van Gogh who admired King's 'striking, powerful virile drawing'.

King's impressionistic style is evident in his series of Blitz paintings and complements the forms and colour of the demolished brickwork.

As a young man King was a prolific artist whose illustrations appeared in Punch magazine and the Illustrated London News. In 1925, just as his work was gaining wider recognition, he suffered a breakdown after the death of his wife and became a patient at St James' Hospital where he was encouraged to continue painting to help with his recovery.

Cllr Linda Symes, Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Sport, said: "This unique collection is a fascinating combination of fine art and local history. King captured an important piece of Portsmouth's history, the devastation caused by the Blitz, which ultimately shaped the city as we know it today. I hope people take the opportunity to admire his work and see how our city once was."

The collection will be on display until spring 2017. Portsmouth Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm. Admission is free.

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Soundsational Performances at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Soundsational Image 1 web

More than 250 young singers, dancers and musicians took to the Guildhall stage on Wednesday (9 March) for a night of music and entertainment. Soundsational, was produced by Portsmouth Music Hub, and brought together students, aged from 11 to 18, from nine local Schools, Colleges and Academies.

There was a wide range of acts on offer for the hundreds of families and members of public who filled the Guildhall. Portsmouth Music Hub's own Rock Band performed tracks from Coldplay and The Beatles, and in a tribute to David Bowie they played his legendary hit Starman. South Downs College danced and sang to Cy Coleman's The Rhythm of Life, and Charter Academy's Swing Band took the audience back to the Big Band era with In the Mood and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

The evening included performances from St. Edmund's Catholic School, Highbury College, Admiral Lord Nelson School, Portsmouth Academy for Girls, Springfield School and Portsmouth College. The night included an unforgettable performance from Lionel Bart's musical Oliver, with Trafalgar School students singing and dancing to Oom Pah Pah!

Soundsational Image 2 web

The concert came to an end with more than 150 students filling the stage for a Massed Choir performance of Bob Marley's One Love and Take That's Rule the World.

Sue Beckett, CEO of Portsmouth Music Hub said after the concert: "It's been a stunning night. With the support of Portsmouth Guildhall we've been able to give hundreds of young people the chance to experience live performance in one of the biggest and most exciting venues. Seeing the dedication, the commitment, a few nerves but plenty of talent from so many young people has been has been truly inspirational."

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