Fen' diary

PUBLISHED: 12:19 05 May 2006 | UPDATED: 21:51 28 May 2010

NOTING that an Ofsted report had criticised a Fenland school for failing to provide the statutory level of RE instruction to its pupils, a colleague inquired of Cambridgeshire County Council if the school might face a prosecution. Hardly, came the expecte

NOTING that an Ofsted report had criticised a Fenland school for failing to provide the statutory level of RE instruction to its pupils, a colleague inquired of Cambridgeshire County Council if the school might face a prosecution.

Hardly, came the expected reply, since schools today had much more independence than they used to on how they provide the RE curriculum. And he added: "The local education authority can offer help and advice, but we cannot compel a school to provide RE."

Since RE is a statutory requirement, but the county council cannot compel a school to implement it effectively, and the Government is hardly likely to take school governors to court, it does suggest a "statutory requirement" is a little meaningless.

A county council spokesman pontificated that "there is a great deal of flexibility in how schools provide and teach RE" but I rather lost heart when he later suggested RE could be incorporated in a variety of ways, such as through NVQ courses.

As if . . .

ANY misconception of Wisbech as an unattractive place to live or visit, has surely been dispelled for ever by the latest house prices information.

It seems the town has outshone the rest of East Anglia, with house prices rocketing by some 129 per cent in the past five years, compared with an average of 85 per cent elsewhere in the region.

Average house price in Wisbech is now £146,099, a glorious rejoinder to those doubting the efficacy of the town's rejuvenation.

GOOD to see the Fens getting a step up into the world of the seriously rich with the emergency of John Shropshire into the newly-published East Anglian Rich List.

Mr Shropshire, 51, is a director of GS Shropshire, better known locally for its trading name of G's Marketing, of March. The business was founded in 1952 with farms in Spain and the UK, and a booming market, the Sunday Times guides estimates the business to be worth £80million with a further £2million for other family assets.

BRAKESPEARE, if you are able to imagine, once had an enviable physique that the ravages of a disparate lifestyle have, sadly, left few reminders.

So he was gratified to learn of the health improvement charter now being trumpeted by Fenland District Council as part of its updated customer care policy.

Fenland Council, it seems, wants to make people "aware, and be responsible for, the factors that help towards a healthy and safe lifestyle".

Commendable, indeed, and who could argue with their splendid initiative to promote healthy walks in each of the four Fenland towns.

But surely to goodness, the promise to "answer requests for advice on healthy lifestyle issues within three working days," is moving too far towards some sort of nanny state.

GOOD news, I see, for WS Atkins Ltd which has just won a 10-year contract with Cambridgeshire County Council worth up to £25million a year.

The company beat off stiff competition to secure the highways services contract from the county and pulls together most of the existing highways contracts.

It seems Atkins is the company of the moment for I discovered this week that if you had bought £1,000 worth of WS Atkins shares on 1 October 2002, that stake would be worth more than £17,300 today.

A MINOR admonishment to those cheery souls baking cakes for the open day and scarecrow event at Christchurch on June 10/11.

"We would like to have a cake stall and would be grateful to receive donations of cakes," begins an article in this month's parish newsletter.

But, says the cake stall quartermaster: "These should be wrapped and labelled appropriately and not previously frozen." Quite so.

A FRIGHTENING evening activity for those attending Thomas Eaton School in Wimblington crossed my path this week.

It seems parents are to be invited to a six-week "keeping up with the children in numeracy" course, an activity that is sure to have to have one or two mums and dads hunting desperately for an excuse not to attend.

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