Category Archives: Children

Every Child Outdoors

Local MP Mark Reckless was delighted to join children from Bligh Junior School in Strood this morning as part of the RSPB’s Every Child Outdoors campaign.

The RSPB, the Field Studies Council and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust believe that every child should have regular contact with nature, whether in their school grounds, local environment, further afield, or with family and friends.

Mark was keen to see for himself how the campaign has successfully managed to engage children in learning about the rich diversity of the natural world. Activities included bug sweeping, pond dipping and much more.

Speaking after the event, Mark said:

“I very much enjoyed my visit to Northward Hill with the children. I believe it will an extremely valuable experience, which will enable our children both to enjoy the beauty of nature and to apply the knowledge they have been learning on showing an appreciation and respect for their local enviroment and wildlife.”

Mark Reckless On Academies

Michael Gove Accepts Invitation To Open Strood Academy

Mark Reckless MP is delighted that, during education questions yesterday in the House of Commons, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, accepted his invitation to open Strood Academy when construction is completed in 2012.

Mark, who attended the Turning of the Sod ceremony at Strood Academy on Thursday 17th March alongside fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, asked the Education Secretary:

On Thursday, I saw the beginning of construction for Strood academy in my constituency. Does the Secretary of State appreciate the extent to which confirmation of that investment is appreciated in the local community, and would he visit my constituency to open the academy when construction is completed next year?

To which Michael Gove responded:

My hon. Friend makes a good point, and I should be delighted to accept his generous invitation.

Mark Reckless MP Supports Charter To Improve Mental Health Services For Children With Autism

Mark Reckless and Hollie RyanMark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood and Hollie Ryan, a National Autistic Society (NAS) Young Campaigner from Chatham, both attended the parliamentary launch of the NAS’s You Need To Know charter, which aims to improve the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) system. Currently only a third of parents of children with autism believe CAMHS has improved the mental health of their child.

At the event, held in Parliament on 10th March, Hollie along with the rest of the Young Campaigners Group, who all have autism and have all used CAMHS services, held a special screening of their film ‘Open Your Mind’, which they created about their experiences. They also unveiled their 12 point charter to improve the system for other children with autism, that included the following:

  • The environment should… not have ticking clocks – Many people with autism are extremely sensitive to sights, smells, noises or sensations. Ticking clocks, whirling fans and fluorescent light bulbs can be incredibly distracting and distressing for people with autism
  • CAMHS professionals should… understand autism and that everyone is different – “You’re not ‘autistic’, you’re on the ‘autistic spectrum’ … think of it like a number line … not a hundred different numbers, like a thousand different numbers”
  • CAMHS should work with education – “My secondary school at the moment is everything I might possibly need… I don’t have to leave school to go to all these appointments. I don’t have to get to know loads of difference professionals. I can just go to one place and it’s there whenever I need it.”

Mark Reckless MP says,

“It was a privilege to meet these intelligent and talented teenagers from the Young Campaigners Group. They’ve worked extremely hard and overcome many difficulties to be able to produce their charter and film.

Many of the points they have put forward are simple to put into practice, and some require little or no cost, and I will campaign locally to help our local CAMHS services to take these ideas on board”.

Hollie Ryan, 15, Young Campaigner, says,

“Having had a bad experience with CAMHS, I felt very strongly about improving the service, as I wouldn’t want any other young people to go through what I did. For me, one of the most important things is that the CAMHS professionals should understand that everyone is different, and different things work for different people. On many occasions it has been assumed that I should act in a certain way because I have Asperger syndrome, when really I am totally different to every other young person, because I am me. A little understanding goes a very long way”.

Mark Lever, chief executive, NAS, says,

“The work of the Young Campaigners Group is so vital in helping to turn things around for children and young people with autism and mental health problems. With the right support at the right time, children with autism can have good mental health just as anyone else can – and the Young Campaigners Group aim to make this a reality.”

To help the Young Campaigners with their cause, the NAS is calling on supporters to ask their local authority to pledge to use the charter to improve support from CAMHS for children with autism in their area. You can email those who are responsible for CAMHS in your local area by visiting the following page on our website

Mark Reckless MP Backs Peter Jones’ Tenner Tycoon Campaign


Mark Reckless MP has announced his support for a scheme that sees school kids encouraged to start a business with just £10 each, in the biggest ever Tenner Tycoon challenge.

The Rochester and Strood MP is backing the landmark scheme, called Tenner Tycoon, which will see the campaigning charity Enterprise UK loan hundreds of thousands of pounds to young people across the UK to encourage them to start up their own businesses.

Participants in Tenner Tycoon will receive £10 and be challenged to make as much profit and social good as they can in a month.

Speaking of the scheme, Mark Reckless said:

“Tenner Tycoon is an innovative scheme which gives our young people in Rochester and Strood the chance to showcase their skills and ingenuity whilst gaining practical business experience. The programme’s relevance and importance has never been as great as it is this year – the year that aims to kick-start the ‘entrepreneurial decade’.

“Having visited a number of schools recently I know that there are many young people in this constituency with the potential to succeed. We need to support initiatives like Tenner Tycoon that aim to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and therefore ensure the future prosperity of Medway and the UK as a whole.”

This year, the challenge is to also ‘give something back’ and participants are encouraged to donate some of their profits to charity. The scheme, supported by the Peter Jones Foundation, has been a huge success since it launched in 2007. Previous winners have made their money in diverse ways such as fashion shows, cookery books and concerts.


For more information please contact:

Jessica De Pree

0207 199 2205 or 07811 381445

Rosie Walkinton

0207 199 2206 or 07973 570967

Notes for editors:

About Tenner Tycoon

Enterprise UK’s ‘Tenner Tycoon’ campaign is the UK’s nationwide competition that generates excitement and enthusiasm about enterprise in school children.

Formerly known as ‘Make Your Mark with a Tenner’, the scheme will see Enterprise UK loan £400,000 to 40,000 young people across the UK to encourage them to start up their own businesses.

Each participant will receive £10 and is challenged to ‘make a profit, make a difference and give back’.

The campaign is generously supported by Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Peter Jones, Big Lottery Fund and Michael and Xochi Birch, founders of the social networking site Bebo.

For further information please visit:

Mark Reckless MP Welcomes Green Light For Hundred Of Hoo Academy Status

Dr Gary Holden

Congratulations to Dr Gary Holden of Sir Joseph Williamson's Maths School

Mark Reckless MP has welcomed the announcement from Lord Hill of Oareford that the government has agreed to release funding for the feasibility phase of a new Academy to replace The Hundred of Hoo Comprehensive School.

The funding will allow the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, which is also converting to an Academy from April,  to develop plans to establish an Academy that will cater for pupils aged 11-18 which will specialise in Media and the Performing Arts.

The Academy should open in existing buildings at Hundred of Hoo in September 2011.

Commenting on the news, Mark Reckless said:

“I am absolutely delighted that a school which was in special measures as recently as April 2009 has been turned around in such a short space of time.

I would like to congratulate Dr Gary Holden of Sir Joseph Williamson’s Maths School along with Medway Council for achieving such an outstanding turnaround.

I would also like to congratulate all of the students and parents who stuck by the school and worked really hard to make this happen.

The Hundred of Hoo school will now benefit from the increased funding, freedoms and flexibility that Academy status brings. The school will have the freedom to manage its own budget and set its own priorities away from the National Curriculum. Students will be given the best opportunity to reach high levels of personal and academic achievement.

I really am pleased for the students who currently attend the school or who are planning on attending in coming years. Thanks to local efforts and hard work, the Hoo Peninsula will now have a first rate school to be proud of and I welcome this news.

Well done to all concerned!”

Talking Tots’ Welcome Mark Reckless MP

Mark Reckless at Talking TotsThe Talking Tots’ group in Strood welcomed MP Mark Reckless to one of its classes on Monday 14th Feb, to raise money for ICAN, a charity that helps children who struggle to communicate.

He took part in their usual programme of activities, as well as participating in various extra songs for the ChatterBox Challenge event, including ‘Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes’ and the ‘Hokey Cokey’.

More than 2,000 Talking Tots pre-schoolers in 150 centres in the UK took part in an extra 10 minutes of action songs and rhymes for I CAN’s 10th Chatterbox Challenge.

Talking Tots, the programme designed to develop children’s speech and language skills is fully supporting the Communication Trusts’ ‘Hello’ campaign with various activities, as they share the vision of giving every child the opportunity to be confident communications.

The Chatterbox Challenge, Talking Tots’ first activity for the year was an ideal charity choice. “Good communication skills are vital for children to enjoy their childhood. They need to be able to communicate confidently in order to socialise and make friends, learn and participate in class when they start school and this vital skill will stay with them for life,” said Lisa Houghton, co-founder of talking Tots. “Raising money for a charity that is dedicated to giving every child the opportunity to be confident communicators is a great fit for us at Talking Tots,” continued Lisa.

Mark Reckless at Talking TotsChildren were sponsored to participate in action songs and rhymes including I CAN’s featured song, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Children from Talking Tots classes in Gravesend and Strood joined in the charity fundraiser with excitement.

Claire Hitchcock, Talking Tots leader for the North Kent area said, “Our children were fantastic and we were pleased to see our local MP joining in with our songs. They and their parents enjoyed doing their bit for I CAN.”

Talking Tots classes will be raising further funds for ICAN when they attempt to break the world record for performing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. The event will take place in St George’s Church Hall in Gravesend on Tuesday 1st March. You can find out more about Talking Tots by visiting

For more information please call Claire Hitchcock on 07754 866592