Agenda item


To receive petitions, comments and questions from the public.


The Chair invited the following public participants to provide a verbal overview to support their grant applications:


·       Suzy Brandes – Cambridge Russian School

·       Vicki O’Brien and Lucy Xia – Roman Way Supporters


Audio recording – 17 minutes 47 seconds


The Chair invited Ms Suzy Brandes from the Cambridge Russian School to provide a presentation in support of their grant application. Ms Brandes thanked the Chair and advised that:


·       County Councillors Fiona Hill and Steve Jarvis had assisted with the application and had provided funding from their Locality Budgets.

·       The School had received funding from Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire Councils to provide support for Ukrainian children who could not attend other schools.

·       The scheme was initially run free-of-charge, but this was not sustainable long term.

·       A couple of families from the Royston area had recently joined and therefore this application for funding was submitted.

·       In summertime meet ups were possible in Royston, or the surrounding areas, however opportunities were limited in the winter months.

·       The Old School House had been identified and agreed at cost price for hires, but funding was required to cover the cost of this.

·       The application amount was to match the funding for courses provided from other Councils, as well as to run social meet ups for attendees.


Ms Brandes advised that Ms Alina Bila had attended the meeting alongside her as she and her family attended the classes. Ms Bila spoke in Ukrainian, and a translation was provided by Ms Brandes, and it was advised that:


·       The classes were important to help children to adapt.

·       At home in Ukraine children had families and friends they could interact with, but these options were limited in the UK and the opportunity to play with likeminded children, with a similar experience, helped make children feel more comfortable.

·       For adults the meet ups were important so they can share their experiences of living in the UK, including working and learning the language.


The following Members asked questions:


·       Councillor Tony Hunter

·       Councillor Ruth Brown


In response to questions, Ms Brandes advised that:


·       There were around four or five families from Royston area using the scheme. They could not always attend every session but it as important the venue was in place so that people had the option.

·       There was a similar group running, but these meet ups were in the daytime, which were often difficult to attend for those people who were working.

·       English language support was provided at the evening sessions.

·       The application was to cover the cost of these evening sessions, as well as the attendance of one family at classes at the School.

·       The Old School House was a suitable venue and the staff had been extremely supportive.


The Chair invited Miss Vicki O’Brien and Ms Lucy Xia from Roman Way Supporters to provide a presentation in support of their grant application.


Councillor Jean Green noted that she was a governor at the school and therefore would not take part in the debate or vote on this item but would remain in the room.


Miss O’Brien and Ms Xia thanked the Chair and advised that:


·       They represented the PTA of the school, which had around 20 active members, and was registered as a charity in 2019.

·       The association worked with teachers to increasing fundraising to improve facilities at the school, examples of the fundraising conducted included Hawaiian Disco, Christmas Fair, sweet sales, and second-hand clothing sales.

·       Money raised had so far funded a new book scheme and a bike and scooter shed at the school.

·       Remaining funds raised had gone toward the Woodland Area, which would be an outdoor learning resource and classroom. It was hoped the official opening would take place on 5 May 2023, as it was to be named the Queen Elizabeth II Nature Garden.

·       The PTA had identified that several students in the current cohort lived in disadvantaged areas or had no access to outdoor space at home and therefore this would benefit them.

·       The site already hosted the Woodland Club and had a wide mixture of children attend from years 1 to 4 and it was providing an outlet for those who struggle in a classroom environment. It was hoped this funding would expand the offer.

·       Several subjects could be taught in the area, including science and nature, maths and music.

·       However, the initial focus would be on English skills, with a number of children entering nursery with a below expected English standard and 10% of students having English as a second language.

·       The experience provided helped to develop confidence, building social, physical and mental skills, and motivation to learn.

·       The site could be offered out to other community groups in the area, for example cubs, scouts and guides, and specific sessions could be run offering different community benefits, outside of the school environment.

·       Funding had previously been received from County Councillors Fiona Hill and Steve Jarvis, as well as money raised by the PTA and other charitable donations, and this had funded prep work for the site, a black board, bark for paths and a mural at the entrance to the site.

·       Additional funding from the Council would help to fund further wooden structures for learning and play, tree chairs for sitting and English specific resources, to aide with learning.

·       Generally there was a need to invest further funds to increase the usability of the area and make it suitable for whole class teaching.


The following Members asked questions:


·       Councillor Tony Hunter

·       Councillor Ruth Brown


In response to questions, Miss O’Brien and Ms Xia advised that:


·       There was one student with a physical disability who was able to use the site currently and therefore no further consideration had been given to accessibility at this stage, but this would be reviewed as required.

·       The general thought was that rules should be inclusive and apply to all students, not just limit the actions of those with a disability. This meant monitoring the ground situation, ensure rules were in place for all children to ensure safety and make the area work for all children.

·       Where there were additional needs, these children would be supported to become involved.

·       Wilding of the area had not been considered at this stage, but the possibilities for the site were endless for teachers.


The Chair thanked the participants for their presentations and advised that the Committee would vote on the applications under the next item.