Information from government

datapic It is a great step forward to see the government’s new data portal finally go live.

The site seeks to aggregate information and data from a variety of sources, that can be searched by category and keyword.

There is a growing master list of datasets or you can search by common tags,  just as you can a weblog, to find resources and subjects you are interested in.

For example, search for data on children, of which there are currently 305 datasets available, then use the tags and subsets to look for average class sizes. This reveals a wealth of published information from a variety existing sources.

This example produced information from the school census published by the Office of National Statistics. Not only class sizes, but a range of other analysis too.

The number of children known to be eligible for free school meals for example, as a percentage of all registered children.

2005  17%

2006  16.1%

2007  15.9%

As a marker for an improving economy – this is perhaps not a great indicator, but as evidence of a continued need for school meals and persistent drive on nutrition information – it’s better.

Looking for data to produce a report, or argue for a new service? The resource that is is a first stopping point.

Children in Poverty

Children in Poverty


The target to halve child poverty by 2010 is unlikely to be met. Latest figures, as shown in Children and Young People Now,12- 18 Jan, show that around 2.9 million children are living in poverty before housing costs are taken into account, which is 650,000 short of the target.

Much of our work (SmithMartin Partnership LLP) is related to families and helping to raise aspirations. It’s about a realisation of how difficult it is to help children and parents back into activities and back to having fun.

As an example, if children don’t have the right footwear for activity sessions, it’s much easier for parents to say, ‘No thanks we can’t get to the kids active group after school’.

It’s like a snowball of needs that just can’t be stopped from rolling right down the hill.

Programmes that work directly with families, eg. Newcastle City Council on supporting teenage fathers are having a real benefit.

Let’s hope that grass roots methods can create a raft of support that can actually deliver, and be shown to really lift children out of poverty.

Home Access – technology for children


‘Home Access is the new Government programme which will help to ensure that more children in England have access to technology at home to support learning. Eligible low-income families (eligibility is based on the criteria for free school meals) with learners in Years 3 to 9 will be able to apply for a grant to buy a computer and internet package’.

It is intended that this new government initiative will benefit at least 270,000 households in the UK.

The packages offered to families also include assistive technology, to make sure access by young learners on-line is at its most effective.

Parents and carers can review information on the Becta website here. (Becta is the organisation dedicated to the innovative use of technology in education).

Schools who wish to actively participate in the programme can find Home Access information here.

Detailed information for parents, carers and organisations who wish to support the Home Access programme can be found here.

Funding for children trips and holidays

bucketPicHappy Days is a UK charity that provides funds to offer the opportunity for children from three to seventeen years of age, with learning, mobility or chronic illness needs, to undertake trips and holidays.

You can visit the Happy Days web site here and find out more about the work of this charity.

The applications for funding and the types of activity that can be funded are found here.

Community funding available

nationalChurchesTrustlogoDo you have an active church in your community that could benefit from funding to develop both accessibility and increased levels of service from the premises?

In 2010 the National Churches Trust has both repair and community grants available for applications that meet their criteria.

For community grants the funds approved can be from £2,500 to £25,000.

You can review the Trust funding criteria and download an application form on the trust site here.

SmithMartin LLP – helping communities change their landscape.

Memories are made of this…


We really liked this site – MemoryNet .

Devised in partnership with the community of Cullercoats in the North East of England and Tyne and Wear Museums, the site captures the oral histories of a number of residents.

Their contributions focus on a variety of topics from childhood to local music, wartime and the workplace.

We particularly liked the simple and clear layout and the variety of recordings available from each contributor.

It started us thinking about projects for schools and other community based centres. Why not have a ‘memory’ site or oral history of your own, with contributions on themes of your choice from across the ages, genders and cultures that make up your locality.

With digital technology available the contribution of young people might be a particularly strong focus – giving their contrasting view of an area or community that they don’t yet remember changing.

It would be a great way to focus your community’s engagement with your setting or Centre.

Let us know if you would like to explore this idea?

You can visit the memorynet site here.

Dolphin extends new book promotion

Great books – DolphinBookSellers have extended their successful children’s book promotion for the New Year.

The Dolphin is offering 25 high quality children’s books for just £95 delivered.

This is a great way to get to know us. We are happy to research any theme you would like to explore in children’s books and make up a list of your selection. Just ask us?

Apart from adding a specific theme to your library, get some great thank you gifts for staff, volunteers or parents and carers.

See the Dolphinbooksellers web site for more details.

Changethinking from SmithMartin

Welcome to our new partnership weblog.

Our aim is to feature stories and information, opportunities for new resources and ideas and just to keep our clients, new and old, informed about our activities.

We hope by subscribing to our weblog that we will become a source of ideas and creativity for your setting, project or community business…

…and you can tell us what you think, or would like to see us feature too by commenting on our posts.