Wednesday, 21 February 2018
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Autumn 2017

School-gate chat for autumn...

NI Business Charter on Literacy and Numeracy

Northern Ireland’s key business bodies have pledged to work together to help improve literacy and numeracy across Northern Ireland. The Charter, which aims to improve the literacy and numeracy of primary school children here, was developed in a partnership which includes: Business in the Community, the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors and the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce.

Gillian McKee, Deputy Managing Director, Business in the Community explains: “Young people who leave school with poor levels of literacy and numeracy tend to struggle to find employment and the negative effects can last a lifetime. Despite the work that we, and other business organisations have carried out to improve business education links, and ensure that children leave school ready for the world of work, youth unemployment here remains higher at 13.3 per cent, compared with a 10 per cent average across the UK. By working in partnership, we hope to achieve a goal of 90 per cent of children leaving primary school in Northern Ireland with Level 4 skills in literacy and numeracy, rising to 95 per cent by 2025.” To get involved or find out more visit

Nature Resistant Kids

A new initiative has been launched to transform cotton-wool-kids into free-range children. Research by children's natural personal care brand Professor Scrubbington’s, reveals it is our lack of tolerance of dirty children, or parental ‘hygiene hysteria’, that is breeding a generation divorced from nature. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of parents surveyed would rather keep their children indoors than deal with the clean-up process afterwards and 41 per cent admit restricting their kids’ messy play to only a few times a month or less. Worryingly, 12 per cent of parents admit never allowing their child to enjoy outdoor messy play. Sadly, this is in stark contrast to what kids want. An overwhelming 78 per cent of children wish they could spend more time exploring outdoors. Chris Packham, celebrity adventurer and nature activist says: "Our natural instinct as humans is to explore the outside world and be adventurous. Yet our growing distaste for getting grubby has meant that a child in nature is fast becoming an endangered species.” In a bid to get families better connected to nature and each other, Professor Scrubbington's has teamed up with The Bushcraft Company - which provide outdoor learning experiences for children - to create a factsheet on how to nurture their children through nature from home. Download from

Homegrown Kids TV

A groundbreaking new children’s television series ‘Pablo’, created and produced by Belfast company Paper Owl Films, will feature – for the first time – a child with autism in the starring role. It is also the first ever TV programme with an all-autistic core cast. Magic crayons, animated friends and a wonderful imagination... these are the tools that five-and-a-half-year-old Pablo uses to turn life’s little challenges into big adventures. To help him handle situations which make him feel anxious, such as going to the supermarket, Pablo enters into an animated art world, the world of his imagination, where he is able to explore things that confuse him. Every episode of Pablo is grounded in the real-life experiences of autistic children, with autistic young writers and contributors helping to bring ideas and perspectives to life in an honest and humorous way. Pablo will air on CBeebies and RTEjr on Monday October 2.

The Trouble With Tech

Parents across the country have named gadgets and tech as the number one cause of arguments at home, according to new research from insurer Protect Your Bubble. When asked about the three top causes of arguments with children at home, almost one third (30%) named gadgets and other technology. Around a quarter (28%) suggested bedtimes, 19% suggested homework and 18% noted household chores. Arguments over technology typically stemmed from children staying up too late using gadgets, tech being used at the table, gadgets being shared with siblings, or children not looking after their tech properly.

October 6 is World Smile Day initiated by Harvey Ball who created the Smiley Face in 1963. The message of World Smile Day is “Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile.”

Number Facts

3 out of 4. The number of office workers who believe traditional 9-to-5 working
will not exist within 5 years time.

1.5 hours. The average amount of time parents engage in screen time each day compared to the time spent reading with their children (25 mins).

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