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BACKGROUND
The Eden Valley School, Four Elms Road, Edenbridge, Kent is a small rural Community Secondary Comprehensive School, offering education for children from Year 7 to Year 11 (11 - 16years). The School has the capacity to educate 600 children, but currently has 238. A large number of children will be leaving Year 11 in July 2002, and only 33 known pupils are entering Year 7 in September 2002 as a first choice placement. (However it should be noted that several grammar schools are over subscribed and it is therefore likely that additional children will commence in September 2002, thereby increasing the Year 7 intake). The School and its facilities provide a range of community services in a rural area that experiences social exclusion and educational deprivation.
The School has a budget deficit of £350,000 that has accumulated over a number of years, and has been increased due to government changes in funding for school children.

Eden Valley Parents
Action Groups
Ideas for A Marketing and Action plan
For

The Eden Valley School

5th March 2002

Fax: 01342 850443

Email: steveandval@marshall1477
.fsnet.co.uk


Tel: 01342 850609

In November 2001 the Eden Valley School had an OfSTED Inspection, the result of which placed the School in special measures from the beginning of January 2002.

(The School Inspection Act 1996 defines a school in Special Measures as: "failing or likely to fail to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education" Inspectors judge a school to be in need of special measures based on the extent to which some or all of the following characteristics are evident at the school:

  • educational standards achieved
  • pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
  • quality of education provided
  • the management and efficiency of the school

It should be noted that when a school is placed in special measures, the LEA draws up an action plan to submit to OfSTED and the Secretary of State setting out how the school will be turned around. Under new proposals introduced by the Education Bill 2001, it would also invite proposals from external partners - including successful schools, other public sector bodies and the private and voluntary sectors - to help turn the school around. The Secretary of State will have a reserve power to require the involvement of an external partner, if that should be necessary.

In addition, where a governing body is part of the problem at a weak or failing school, the Government will take powers to ensure that it can be replaced with an Interim Executive Board. When the school has been turned around, the Interim Executive Board will be disbanded and a new governing body formed).

The main findings for Eden Valley School being that the ability of the School to continue providing a sufficiently broad and balanced curriculum is in jeopardy because of:

  • falling pupil numbers
  • the mounting budget difficulties
  • the need to provide for a wide range of pupil ability and motivation

As a result of the special measures the LEA decided that the education needs of the pupils were not being met and made a decision to propose closure of the School.

As a result of this decision we formed the EDEN VALLEY PARENTS' ACTION GROUP (EVPAG) which strongly supports the imaginative and exciting innovative idea of the "Edenbridge Vision". This is also supported by Sevenoaks District Council, local businesses and organisations, (see Appendix 2) and our local MP, the Rt.Hon. Sir John Stanley. We have been active in contacting the Secretary of State for Education, the Department of Education and Skills, the local press and Radio Kent.

We sent out a Petition to all School parents, and elsewhere in Edenbridge and surrounding areas. Vouchers were also placed in a free local newspaper for people to signify their support for the School, and vote against closure. The latter had to be sent directly to the LEA. In just 3 weeks we received over 1500 signatures to the Petition. Those signing were in agreement that:-

  • insufficient time was allowed to realise the school's new potential for increasing pupil numbers
  • the school's reputation is improving and parents of primary school pupils are showing more interest in sending their children to the school
  • the school serves not only Edenbridge Town but the surrounding isolated rural communities
  • the nearest schools are 7-10 miles away. The transport system is inadequate; some parents will not be able to access the schools for parent consultations/functions so easily, particularly if they rely on public transport
  • children being brothers and sisters in the school may be split up, as placement may be to non co-educational schools
  • children with special educational needs at the school may well be adversely affected by a change of school
  • KCC must find constructive alternatives to closure e.g Edenbridge Town Council's idea of a Vocational College
  • children in the community and the new regime must be given a fair and reasonable chance to make an impact and succeed
GEOGRAPHICAL AND SOCIAL FACTS

The Eden Valley School is situated to the North of Edenbridge Town, a small Town (village), on the Kent/Surrey border and within 5 miles of the West Sussex border. The School is recognised as a small secondary Community school. The nearest secondary school is Oxted School. There are 23 pupils from the Oxted area, currently on the School roll.

There are 16 Primary Schools located within a 5 mile radius of the School (not including special schools), (see Appendix 1) and 127 within a 10 mile radius. In KCC's "Directorate Plan Summary for 2000-2001" it is reported that there were 106 secondary schools in Kent; 41% being Community Schools, and 15% having less than 600 pupils, as of Spring 2000.

The Town has a population of approximately 8,000 persons. It has close links with Community projects. Several new houses are being built in the Town. Edenbridge has pockets of social deprivation within its area. It has limited public transport networks; there is a decline in local service provision, and we believe not all the parents have their own means of transport. The KCC's Document "Kent Countryside 2000 - Understanding Rural Change: Supporting the Vision of Kent" identifies that traffic levels are increasing across the county as a whole, and rural road safety is a growing concern. (17% of rural households in Kent do not own a car). Traffic flows on minor roads are increasing (eg predicted traffic growth for the B2042 Ide Hill Road is expected to be 8% by 2005 - one of the possible routes to the proposed Sevenoaks Schools).

Eden Valley School is the smallest secondary school in Kent and statutory guidance advises a presumption against closure of rural schools. A Paper entitled "Our Countryside: The Future, A Fair Deal for Rural England" published by the Government with a view to protecting rural communities, includes some safeguards against closure of rural schools "as closure will have effects well beyond the schooling of the community's children". The Secretary of State has provided increased funding and access to the Internet for rural schools.

It is profoundly important that the Eden Valley School retains its secondary education.

The "Edenbridge Vision" is strongly supported by the community (as seen by the 1500 signatures in response to the EVPAG's recent Petition).

MARKETING

PREFACE

The Education Bill was introduced to Parliament on 22nd November 2001. Its key theme is innovation: freeing schools to try new ideas, to excel and to work with other schools to lead change in secondary education. Eden Valley School is already partnered with Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls as an innovative Pilot Scheme; as well as Chiddingstone Primary School, and other community organisations as part of the Eden Valley Project. We hope this will continue. The Pilot period usually lasts up to 3 years, and the new Education Bill states that there is a possibility of extending the pilot period for up to a further 3 years, with the consent of Parliament.

The Government recognise that in innovating new models in the delivery of education and other services it increasingly raises standards in schools, and brings together a range of services for the benefit of all. The Bill will help to create a framework, which encourages these new developments.

OUR VISION STATEMENT

OUR VISION, therefore, is to explore the exciting and imaginative new, and "innovative" Edenbridge Town Council idea of the "Edenbridge Vision" to provide a community, vocational College at Eden Valley School. Thus creating opportunities for secondary school children and offering them an education that can realise their potential, and raise educational standards for every child. The impact of such a College will also have the great advantage of addressing the needs of all age groups who live in Edenbridge and the surrounding rural areas, providing both holistic and diverse opportunities for lifelong learning.

There are very few vocational colleges that can provide apprenticeship as well as technical training, and therefore this will have the advantage of encouraging secondary school children from the local villages, Towns, and from neighbouring counties. We also see the impact of the Community College raising the roll of secondary school children, and the vocational input from local industry and businesses will provide opportunities for a sixth form to be reinstated. This will give pupils an opportunity to gain advanced levels of education, as well as a broader curriculum for both GCSEs and vocational qualifications, giving wider options of choices.

Our vision of establishing a viable secondary school education at The Eden Valley School, with the provision of vocational as well as educational opportunities for pupil self improvement, and job training opportunities, and promotion of social inclusion will also, in our view, address the problems of disenchanted, disaffected children and young adults. The result of which will hopefully decrease the amount of vandalism and crime within the Town and surrounding areas.

We will strive to work effectively to meet this challenge together with other partners, such as Sevenoaks District Council, Edenbridge Town Council, local businessmen, other organisations and multi-agencies, in achieving a School and Centre of Excellence. We have already commenced discussions with West Kent College who has shown an interest in the "Edenbridge Vision" project, and John Surtees a prominent, local businessman who has connections with other businesses that we hope can provide apprenticeships and training expertise. We will also work closely with all the Parents, the Teaching Staff, governing body and the LEA.

Our aim is to reach a target of 450 children on the roll at Eden Valley School within the next five years.

MISSION STATEMENT

Our priority is to find solutions to turning round the special measures placed on the school by addressing the immediate problem of falling pupil numbers. We aim to raise numbers of pupils entering The Eden Valley School substantially within the next 12 - 24 months, and beyond. We intend to lobby the LEA into keeping the current budget frozen whilst we further investigate and, hopefully implement, the imaginative "Vision" of the Community/Vocational College that will provide opportunities for every child.

We shall carry out an Action Plan inter alia to raise primary school parents' awareness of the School's strengths, and its anticipated viable future with the implementation of the Edenbridge Community College.
We will:-

  • market the School initially to Primary Schools within a five mile radius of the School (see Appendix 1), including schools in Surrey and West Sussex, then later to other schools within a ten mile radius (assuming any permission necessary is given)
  • be working in partnership with local businesses, industry and other organisations in promoting the "Edenbridge Vision", in terms of organising vocational training for the current and future pupils of the School
  • strive to lobby the LEA into continuing the Pilot period (that we understand normally lasts up to 3 years; and may be allowed to be extended a further 3 years)
  • work together with multi -agencies to provide a School of Excellence
  • make the School more attractive for new Teachers
  • work to improve areas of the School that need decorating
We aim to change people's perception about Eden Valley School and reduce biased attitudes and barriers so that parents will review their first choice secondary school, and by successful marketing of the School, and promoting the vocational opportunities for teenagers (by endorsing the Community College "Vision"), to encourage secondary school parents choosing other Schools, to bring their children to Eden Valley School.
WHAT IS A VOCATIONAL COLLEGE, AND THE "EDENBRIDGE VISION"?

Central Government have introduced vocational qualifications, in the form of Vocational GCSE's and Modern Apprenticeships, in order to provide more job opportunities for young adults, and to train children who are turned off by academic study.

The "Edenbridge Vision" proposes an integrated educational and community facility by working with partners to expand learning opportunities, provide a range of services and promote citizenship and community participation.

There is scope at Eden Valley School to use the site in such a way that it can become a thriving community college, and lifelong learning and family centre, by joining-up services and facilities of the School with the Astor Youth Centre, and by providing a range of new or improved services. It would be an attractive resource for the surrounding villages. The main aims of the College are:-

  • to increase educational achievement for young people and adults by providing access to wider vocational, social and recreational opportunities
  • to provide a wider and more enriching curriculum by developing links with further and higher education
  • to have a more holistic approach to the needs of young people, their families and the wider community
  • to provide additional services that would not otherwise be available to the locality
The "Edenbridge Vision" has a commitment to continued secondary and post-sixteen education by providing:-
  • additional specialist courses
  • a range of vocational GCSEs - including art & design, business, engineering, health and social care, information and communications technology etc
  • easy access to further education
  • exploration of the use of Information Communication Technology to deliver the required curriculum subject areas from other education establishments
  • to open this provision to a wider catchment area, to include young people from Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells and East Grinstead, for example, who are not able at present to benefit from this type of vocational education
  • after school and homework clubs will also be introduced
  • a vocational education centre to include apprenticeship courses and schemes, work experience schemes, and further education options in partnership with West Kent College
  • voluntary sector facilities e.g. VSU Youth in Action initiatives; and refurbished youth facilities e.g. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and Personal Achievement Awards
IDENTIFYING STRENGTHS AND SETTING TARGETS

STRENGTHS

  • The Eden Valley Parents' Action Group has been formed, independent of the PTA, to preserve Eden Valley School's secondary school education for current and future pupils AND to work in partnership with multi-agencies to broaden the educational curriculum and to assist the formulation of the "Edenbridge Vision"
  • Six other Councils, several businesses, community groups and organisations have already given their written support for the initial general concept of the "Edenbridge Vision" (see Appendix 2)
  • 1500 people signed a petition saying they wanted the School to remain open (150 of whom were Edenbridge Primary School parents who our member was told feel the choice of local secondary education should be available)
  • The high quality acting Head Teacher and a core of dedicated experienced staff have been working exceptionally hard to save the school from decline - this has been identified by the current parents, KCC, the LEA, the governing body, the OfSTED Inspection Officer, Edenbridge Town Council and the Sevenoaks District Council
  • The Eden Valley School has received support from the LEA and a high level of support from Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls
  • The School has undertaken an imaginative partnership project with the literacy and numeracy programmes provided by Chiddingstone Primary School
  • The management of the School has improved
  • Results of pupils awarded 5 or more GCSE grades A* to C rose to 27% in 2001; an increase for the third year in succession, and 2% above the Government's minimal requirement for all schools by 2006
  • The School has a new Information Technology Suite, a Social Inclusion Centre and improved site security
  • Discipline within the School is much improved, and the Eden Valley Project, through the Sevenoaks District Council Community Safety Partnership, has addressed the level of truanting and social dysfunction
  • The School provides various extra curricular activities, such as after school clubs
  • The Edenbridge Air Training Cadets Centre, and the Astor Youth Centre, are in the grounds of the School
  • The School is used in the evenings for adult educational, music and exercise classes; and "Stagecoach" use the school to teach local children skills in acting, singing and dancing
  • The Government are committed to encouraging innovative ideas to raise standards, and to give schools the freedom and incentive to enable every pupil's talents to be developed in full. They are committed to investing in schools, supported by businesses and the wider community
  • The Government is committed to saving rural schools, and in investing funds for the provision of new technology, including the internet and the National Grid for Learning to provide learning resources for all schools, particularly small schools
  • The Edenbridge Town Council and Sevenoaks District Council fully support the School and want it to remain open
  • Local parish churches support the School and want the School to remain open
  • Local businesses and community organisations want the School to remain open
  • West Kent College is supportive and wants to help
TARGETS TO BE ACHIEVED BY US AND OTHER AGENCIES
"MEETING THE CHALLENGE TOGETHER"
  • The School has not, in general, been marketed well - one of our aims is to market the School more extensively and increase pupil numbers
  • The number of pupils is down from 298 in 1998, (including Years 12 and 13, that was discontinued two years ago) to 228 at the beginning of the year 2001-2. There are low pupil numbers starting Year 7 in September 2002 - OUR AIM is to increase pupil admissions to 450 over the next 5 years
  • Parents at Edenbridge Primary School are reluctant to send their children to the School because, despite improved standards, they are unsure as to the future of the School - OUR AIM is to market the School, promoting the "Edenbridge Vision", and to work in partnership with local businesses and industry. By increasing pupil numbers we will be able to assure parents that there IS A FUTURE AT EDEN VALLEY SCHOOL
  • The School has had a poor image, but a bad reputation takes time to turn around. Consequently, some primary school parents have not chosen the School in the past - we hope to change attitudes of parents to send their children to the School and will promote the good work carried out by the teachers in raising GCSE grades
  • Primary School parents have been misinformed; some lack interest in the School - we will ensure that by speaking to Primary School parents; giving presentations, providing information leaflets etc., that all parents will be informed about the good results at Eden Valley, and the exciting educational prospects that the "Edenbridge Vision" will provide for secondary school children and post-16 year olds
  • Some primary school parents are under a misapprehension in terms of school transportation costs - we will seek clarification about transport costs with the LEA and provide clear information for the parents and the implications of the costs
  • Some people do not know the School exists - we will strive to publicise the School by advertising and good marketing to inform these people, especially those living outside the Edenbridge area. We will inform the seventeen Primary Schools within a 5 mile radius of the School (see Appendix 1)
  • The School building is not well situated as it is not on the main road (Station Road - B2026) through Edenbridge, and it's main entrance is in Four Elms Road - we will look at ways to ensure proper signs depicting the School's Name can be placed at the entrance, and at the corner of the junction of both roads
  • There is a large School information/notice board facing Station Road, but is set back a few metres and therefore is not seen easily itself when traffic passes the School on the main road - we aim to improve this sign, so that it can be seen more easily from the main road
  • Some areas of the School still need decorating and improving and can "put off" prospective parents - we will aim to improve these areas
  • The School building is capable of accommodating 600 pupils, therefore some rooms are not being used - we will seek ways of making full use of the rooms by making them available to the Community, such as for vocational training purposes, and for other organisations
  • The School has a large number of statemented and Special Educational Needs children - we aim to ensure that children with special educational needs will be catered for so that they can realise their full potential, to build confidence and self-esteem. To provide facilities for vocational training, to build on the skills they need to make a success of their lives
  • The school is failing to recruit and retain a sufficient number of teachers in some of the subject areas because of the uncertainty of the School's future - we aim to make the School attractive for new teachers by good marketing and raising funds for information and communication technology
  • Staff have maintained standards for the minority of higher-attaining pupils but have not been able to solve the problems created by the low-attaining pupils who are disenchanted and disaffected - we aim to support children who are disenchanted and disaffected by providing a broader curriculum for all children to access youth clubs schemes and eg. the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Provide support mentors and input from health and social services, within the remit of the "Edenbridge Vision". In this way we also aim to reduce the crime rate in the Town
  • Some of last year's pupils did not achieve a GCSE pass grade in at least one GCSE subject - by providing a broader curriculum of education, especially in Vocational GCSE's, and by encouraging additional Teacher recruitment we aim to see that all children who take GCSE's pass in at least one subject
  • The budget is overspent by over £350,000. (However, the LEA announced at the Public Consultation that this had been frozen for the last 2/3 years) - we aim to lobby the LEA to keep the budget frozen whilst we explore the implementation of the "Edenbridge Vision"
ACTION PLAN

PREFACE

We will continue to encourage the LEA to withdraw their proposal for closure so that secondary education can be maintained for the current pupils whilst the idea of the "Edenbridge Vision" is researched, appropriate funding obtained and implementation takes place.

We will strive to improve the pupil school roll sufficiently to make the School a viable proposition, and to maintain secondary school education in the Edenbridge area.

We will keep the Department of Education up to date with our proposal of alternative, and innovative projects to enable the School's special measures to be turned around within the next 24 months.

We will work with the Acting Head Teacher in fulfilling her action plan requirements in response to the special measures.

We will support and promote the "Edenbridge Vision" of a Community "Education Centre" by working in partnership with the Town Council and Sevenoaks District Council, West Kent College, local businesses, industry and other community organisations. The additional college on the School site will make use of the excess, and currently unused room spaces in the School.

We hope to raise funds, with the help of the PTA, by purchasing more information and communication technology equipment, especially on-line educational sites, giving interaction with other schools. This will overcome any short-term problems of national teacher shortages, and assist with the School's educational development for providing a broader curriculum.

HOW WE ARE GOING TO IMPLEMENT ACTION
  • Appoint members of the Group to act as Marketing and Publicity "delegates" who will visit schools, (see Appendix 1) businesses, and local organisations, (see Appendix 2)
  • Place information literature about the School in public places
  • Conduct a promotional campaign, e.g. provide presentations and newsletters, e.g. for Head Teachers of Primary Schools located within a 5 mile radius and others; and set up an exhibition if appropriate in a Town building in the Town
  • Carry out a research survey of all Primary School parents within a 5 mile radius of the School (see Appendix 1), to find out in more detail reasons why parents either send or do not send their children to Eden Valley School; to measure the response and re-evaluate the situation and take further action accordingly
  • Work with local businessman JOHN SURTEES in ascertaining the Businesses to be approached (see Appendix 2)
  • Provide regular press news releases and web-site information (including enlisting the help of the Teachers to provide articles of interest)
  • Make use of Edenbridgetown.com web-site, and consider producing a web-site for Eden Valley School
  • Organise special fund raising events, perhaps with the PTA
  • Make use of the well known Eden Valley School Steel Band as a marketing tool
  • Continue holding EVPAG meetings on a regular basis to evaluate the efforts which will be minuted and circulated to interested parties
SPECIFIC GROUPS EVPAG WILL TARGET
  • parents of primary school children within a 5 mile radius of the School (see Appendix 1) - for the immediate need to raise pupil numbers (later increasing our information to areas within a 10 mile radius of the School)
  • all schools within a 10 mile radius when the "Edenbridge Vision" has been formed
  • local businesses (see Appendix 2)
  • estate agents AND new residents moving into the area
  • local organisations (see Appendix 2)
  • local churches
  • West Kent College
  • volunteer groups inc. the Edenbridge & District Residents Association
  • other Councils (see Appendix 2)
  • public in general
  • health care organisations with links to children
  • social services with links to children
  • other multi-agencies eg. Career's Offices, CAB, Job Centres
  • libraries and information centres
(Appendix 1)

LIST OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS SITUATED WITHIN FIVE MILES OF THE EDEN VALLEY SCHOOL

Name of school Address Telephone number

  • Edenbridge Primary School High Street, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 5AB 01732 863787
  • Four Elms Primary School Bough Beech Road, Four ElmsKent TN8 6NE 01732 700274
  • Crockham Hill Primary School Crockham Hill, Edenbridge,KentTN8 6RP 01732 866374
  • Hever Church of England Voluntary School Hever Road, Hever, EdenbridgeKent TN8 7NH 01732 862304
  • Holland Junior School Holland Road, Hurst Green, OxtedSurrey RH8 9BQ 01883 715801
  • Chiddingstone Church of England School Chiddingstone, Edenbridge, KentTN8 7AH 01892 870339
  • Lingfield Primary School Vicarage Road, Lingfield, SurreyRH7 6HA 01342 832626
  • Ide Hill Church of England Primary School Ide Hill, Sevenoaks, KentTN14 6JT 01732 750389
  • Dormansland Primary School Dormansland, Lingfield, SurreyRH7 6RD 01342 832359
  • Churchill Church of England Voluntary School Rysted Lane, Westerham, KentTN16 1EZ 01959 562197
  • St Stephen's Church of England Primary School Hunters Chase, South GodstoneSurrey RN9 8HR 01342 892219
  • St Mary's Church of England Junior School Silkham Road Oxted SurreyRH8 0NP 01883 712817
  • Blackwell Primary School Blackwell Farm Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 3JL 01342 323906
  • Baldwins Hill Primary School Lowdells Lane, Baldwins HillEast Grinstead, West SussexRH19 2AP 01342 321572
  • St Mary C of E Primary School, East Grinstead Windmill Lane, East GrinsteadWest Sussex, RH19 2DS 01342 323858
  • Felbridge Primary School Crawley Down Road, FelbridgeEast Grinstead, Wsst SussexRH19 2NT 01342 323413



    SPECIAL SCHOOL
  • Valence School Westerham, Kent, TN16 1QN 01959 562156
(Appendix 2)
THE EDENBRIDGE VISION

Written support for the initial general concept has come direct to the Town Council from the following:

Other Councils

Brasted PC Chiddingstone PC
Dormansland PC (Surrey) East Grinstead TC (West Sussex)
Hever PC Limpsfield PC (Surrey)

East Grinstead has noted a growing trend of parents choosing to send children out of town even as far as Chailey (East Sussex) because of the size of Sackville (said to be full) and the character of Imberhorne. The Surrey parishes report concern about the vastness of Oxted and lack of any good alternative to an 'academic' school.

Community Groups
Brownings Badminton Club Edenbridge Chamber of Commerce
Edenbridge Rotary Club Edenbridge Sports Association
Edenbridge Town Forum Edenbridge & District Community Link
Edenbridge & District Ladies Probus Edenbridge & District Probus
Edenbridge & Westerham CAB Forge Singers
Great Stone Bridge Trust Mummers and WAA Drama Group
SPACE (Support for Parents & Children in Edenbridge)

Businesses and Industry
3663 - First for Foodservice Alfred Coker & Sons Ltd
Baco Metal Centres Beechcroft Precision
Capscade Builders Ltd CARE (Cottage and Rural Enterprises Ltd)
Capital Springs & Pressings Ltd Chevertons of Edenbridge Ltd
Co-op Group (CWS) Ltd Day Lewis Opticians
Eaton-Williams Group Eden Litho Reproduction Ltd
Edenbridge Metals Ltd Fi-Glass developments Ltd
Fine Frames Ltd Hards Architects Haxted Motors Ltd
Hiero Graphics Ibbett Mosely
John Surtees Ltd N & A Kerman
Kiloheat gmbh Komfort Office Environment
Lawtronics Ltd Leighs (Edenbridge) Ltd
Martin Owens Solicitors S R Mercer Groundworks Ltd
Surekill Pest Control Services Whitmores of Edenbridge

Within the above are representatives of all sectors of our commercial/industrial base - farming, print, electronics, professionals, the motor trade and engineering, retailing, building etc.

In addition some 60 parents at Edenbridge Primary School and other individuals are also supportive of the Vision package.


Eden Valley Parents' Action Group - 5th March 2002

 
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