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Lockdown Part 3 – What our parents say

Within a week of entering 2021 the nation was put on lockdown once more. With minimal notice, plans had to be cancelled, businesses and schools were closed, parents hoped their home IT was up to the challenge and school staff aged a few years overnight.

Within a day, Hopelands Preparatory School teachers moved their lessons online and the virtual timetable, which had been developed to strengthen pupils’ resilience and continue their passion for learning, was implemented. The virtual timetable mirrors the school day and runs from 8.30-3.30. Every subject continues to be taught including art, DT, dance, French, PE, and music. The children attend the lessons, interact with their form teachers, see their friends, ask questions, and receive feedback on their work. We know that home schooling can be both uninspiring and isolating, so having this interaction with teachers and peers is key to continuing the successful relationship the pupils have with our school. To date we have had an outstanding high engagement rate with our pupils through the virtual learning which we are incredibly proud of.

There are 10-minute breaks between each lesson as well as the longer morning and afternoon breaks and time for a healthy lunch. Children are encouraged to move away from the screen, run around outside or play with their siblings or toys.

Parents have both embraced and supported the timetable and have been instrumental in encouraging their children to carry on their love of learning. We have listened and acknowledged their feedback as it is important for us to understand how we can further support our families through these difficult times.

 

  • ‘I am amazed and grateful for how well the online learning appears to be working and a credit to all those involved in accomplishing this.  Thank you.  Our son is certainly more comfortable with the experience this time round, if still a little reluctant to open his camera!  Tomorrow morning’s music session might sort that out as he presents his violin and a short piece of music!’

 

  • ‘We have been blown away by how brilliant you have all been this term, and prior to this lockdown. It is evident there has been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes preparing for a possible lockdown, but to roll out a full online timetable for all 6 classes with 24 hours’ notice is incredible! The communication has been fantastic, both from you all in the office, but also from all the teachers keeping us updated with lesson plans. We were very impressed with how the class teacher adjusted her teaching plans considering feedback from some of the parents, adapting content and providing resources such that classes could be carried out off-line if that was the parents’ preference. She has also been brilliant these last two days managing on-line teaching and 4 students in class. We are reminded, yet again, how pleased we are that we decided to send our child to Hopelands…. as before in the previous lockdown, the ‘I can, I will, I do’ attitude shines through.’

 

  • ‘We are so deeply grateful for the day we stepped into the Head Teachers office: two confused worried parents, too frightened to make the change to Prep School. “Well, what are you waiting for?!” you asked us quite firmly! It was just the shake we needed. Our daughter is flying at grammar school and we are so grateful for the excellent quality of teaching our youngest child is receiving at Hopelands. So, thank you one and all.

 

  • ‘Just wanted to say what a fantastic job you and the rest of the staff are doing. The Government really did spring it on everyone this time, but it has been incredibly smooth and well organised. Both my children really enjoyed the school experience yesterday, so thank you’

 

  • ‘We just wanted to say how pleased and impressed we are with the provision of teaching during the lockdown. It’s great to see how well the children and teachers can work together remotely.’

 

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Choosing a Primary School for your child during lockdown

Choosing the right primary school for your child is one of the hardest decisions for any family and made even more difficult during a national lockdown. At such a young age, you are deciding the next 7 years of your child’s school life. Everybody has a different set of criteria in terms of what they are looking for in a school. However, most families want to ensure their child achieves the following:

  • Happiness
  • Academic Excellence
  • Creativity
  • Confidence
  • Resilience

and most importantly to instil a love of learning that leads to academic success.

In normal times you can visit different schools and see the children in the classroom environment. As soon as you enter a school, your instincts will tell you, if you have a good feeling about it. However, due to Covid, schools are currently closed to external visitors, which makes choosing much more difficult. There are other ways which can help with your decision:

  1. Contact the school to arrange a virtual meeting with the Head Teacher. At Hopelands Preparatory School we are happy to organise meetings via Microsoft Teams with our Head, the appropriate class teacher, and the parents. At these meeting you can discuss your needs and hopes for your child. Ask questions, how does the school support high or low achievers, is there a parent / pupil survey which you can look at, where do children normally go to secondary school afterwards, is there morning and/or after school provision etc.
  2. Study the schools’ website. Is there information on there about the school’s ethos and values? If so, do you agree with them? Read their latest OFSTED/ISI report. Does the school have regular newsletters, it may be useful to have a look through recent ones as this will give you an insight into daily school life. Are the children’s achievements celebrated frequently? Check out the school calendar, is it filled with different trips and excursions? All these will enrich a child’s learning.
  3. Find out if the school offers extracurricular clubs. If a school has a wide variety of both lunchtime and after school clubs this can really add to a child’s school experience, and is a sign of committed and passionate teachers, who will want to go the extra mile to support your child’s educational journey.

Schools have been, and continue, to be working above and beyond during the pandemic. At Hopelands we are following our timetable online with every subject being delivered including art, PE, music, and dance. Our children have yet again risen to the challenge of virtual learning. They have all engaged and it is clear to see that their in-school training on Teams has been highly beneficial. Their focus, concentration and resilience has been apparent, and we are very proud of them.

If you wish to find out more please call 01453 822164 between 8.30-3.30 or email scompton@hopelands.org.uk to find out more.

 

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Christmas Message from Mrs Bradburn

This year I have been astounded with our children’s resilience, strength, and determination. They have not only readily adapted to life during a pandemic, they have also risen and exceeded the challenge of staying positive and focused on both their academic studies and future aspirations. They impress and inspire me every day.

As we end the Autumn term, I would like to share some of the highlights with you:

Reception have been busy settling into school and getting to know their new teachers and friends. They had a virtual visit from the local fire service, made ‘superpower’ vegetables, evil pea soup and learnt about our amazing world and space. They even had a spaceship land in our classroom and tried some freeze-dried astronaut food.

Class 2 have had a fantastic start to the year getting to know their new teacher, Miss Cook. A particular highlight for me was watching the children’s ideas come to life in DT where they designed their own superhero capes for their teddies. The children were careful with their needlework and produced some great work of which they were proud!

This term has been a steep step up for Year 3, and I must say they have all risen to the challenge. They have been learning how to survive the Stone Age when building replica axes; discovered their bearings by creating their own magnetic compasses; explored the local geology and bedrock of Stonehouse during the rock walk and started to develop essential (and lifelong) coding and multimedia skills.

Y4 have risen to many creative and academic challenges this term from the Roman invasion, creating their own haikus, tankas and cinquains. In DT, they have carefully planned, designed, and finally constructed individual ‘Toy Theatres’ for a live performance of ‘The Owl & The Pussycat’ by Edward Lear. The project was complex from the very start, however Y4 greeted every lesson with enthusiasm and a determination to succeed and they should be very proud of their achievements. A paper and card theatre can be bought from Amazon, but no shop bought construction can match the imagination and vitality of the hugely successful Y4 work!

This term, Year 5 have enjoyed learning about the crime and punishment in history in all its grizzly glory! Learning about the planets and constellations in science has been fascinating for all, especially discovering how big and messy the craters created by meteorites can be when they hit earth. They have also enjoyed the ‘Christmas’ activities with Mrs Elmore and creating fragmented horses in art. And of course, the best thing of all was ‘Barvember’ in maths!

This term, Year 6 have enjoyed making practical face masks in DT, creating mountain formations out of cake in geography, experiencing what it would have been like to live during an air raid in history and dissected pigs’ hearts in science. In ICT they have learned how to use code to create their own challenging point scoring games. As well as this, they have even had time to rescue Miss Porter from her worst nightmare – a huge spider stuck in her hair!

Last, but not least, we end this term with an immense sense of pride as a we have recently been ranked 35th Top Independent Prep School in the country (Sunday Times 2020). What an achievement for a small prep school like ours.

As you can see, it has been a busy and successful term for your children, and I hope you agree that Hopelands remains true to its ethos in that it is a very special place where children are able to grow in a safe and nurturing environment.

As a small school, we have fortunately not been as affected by Covid-19 as some of the larger schools in the country. This has meant that your children’s education has not been compromised by the continuous disruptions the pandemic has created. I am very pleased that at Hopelands we have not had to return to online learning during the autumn term as all lessons could be delivered in school. The very few children who have had to isolate have received online lessons and we will of course continue with this for as long as is necessary. I am hopeful however that the positive trend continues. I thank you for the support you have shown to the school in this unpredictable time.

Finally, the festive season is on the doorstep. Christmas is such a special time of year, the opportunity to spend time with our families and taking time to reflect on and appreciate all that we are thankful for. I obviously want to wish all our families a wonderful Christmas break with lots of time for family fun, food and festivities. I always feel privileged that I get to spend part of the Christmas period with young children, for surely, Christmas is the perfect time of year for being around young people. The pure joy, innocence, and magic of Christmas for children is simply infectious.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year, and I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year to kick-start the spring term.

Mrs Bradburn

Head Teacher

 

 

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9 Tips to Achieve 11 Plus Success

To say that 2020 has been a challenging year for many would be an understatement. Lockdown, furlough, hand washing, and social distancing has become part of everyday life. It has been an unprecedented time for us, and for many children it must seem as if the world has turned upside down. School life changed; holidays cancelled and visits to grandparents restricted.

At Hopelands Preparatory School, due to our small class sizes, we were able to open our doors to ALL pupils from early June. With the Covid-19 measures in place the children quickly adapted. Their resilience and perseverance shone through and deserves praise and recognition. It was a joy to see their happiness and enthusiasm at being back with their peers and teaching staff.

Last year we celebrated an 88% pass rate to Gloucestershire Grammar Schools. A fantastic achievement which we are very proud of, especially as we are a non-selective school. This is achieved through the individual attention and ongoing encouragement by our specialist teaching staff to all the pupils. Key to Hopelands is to instil a nurturing and personal environment which allows children to feel safe, grow and succeed.

This year the Grammar School Test is taking place on the 17th October 2020. Although this can be an anxious time for both children and their families, it is also a time of great excitement. Here are top tips from our teaching staff who have had the privilege to watch many pupils go through this experience and achieve success:

  1. Ensure a good routine the week before, plenty of sleep for your child with healthy meals.
  2. Confidence is key, instil in your child the confidence that they can do this. They have spent many months learning, reading, preparing and boy, are they ready!
  3. Start the day with a healthy breakfast. A banana or healthy snack on the way is a good way to keep their blood sugar levels up, which aids concentration.
  4. Arrive in good time, have two adults in the car if possible. Traffic can be busy on the day and parking can be tricky. Having the option of an adult taking the child to the exam whilst the other parks the car can reduce stress levels.
  5. Check your child has everything they need for the test, i.e. a magic pencil and a rubber. A break time snack, bottle of water and a couple of tissues are also good.
  6. If they have a digital watch, turn any alarms off. Emphasise the need for your child to calculate their timings during the test. Listen to the instructor in the room!
  7. Start every question afresh, if you struggle on one, move on and do not dwell on it. Every question is a new opportunity. Never give up!
  8. Track answers, double check that they are in the correct spaces. The answer sheets can be tricky to fill in.
  9. Prepare your child to cope with any distractions within the exam room. They must stay focussed and keep their concentration.

Afterwards……. celebrate!

Whether your child feels they have done well in the test or had a complete disaster, their commitment, time and determination deserve huge recognition. At Hopelands Preparatory School our knowledgeable and experienced teaching staff ensure that the pupils are ready for this test.

Year 6 Pupils leave Hopelands as resilient, focussed, and excited learners. Sitting the 11+ is just one part of this process, in the words of Malcolm X “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

To find out more about how Hopelands can support your child’s educational journey, please contact Mrs Sam Compton on 01453 822164 or scompton@hopelands.org.uk.

 

 

 

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We are open!

Since the 23rd March, together with the rest of the UK, we have been in lockdown. The once busy corridors filled with laughter and happy children were only allowed to be open to the children of key workers. Whilst virtual learning has been successful, it doesn’t beat the face to face contact, so we were thrilled last week when the Government announced that as long as the classes do not exceed 15, we were allowed to open our doors to all the year groups. Seeing the pure excitement as the children lined up, following the social distancing rules, it was clear how happy they were to be back at school. This has only been made possible due to our long standing commitment to keeping class sizes small.

Class size is defined as the number of pupils in a class with one teacher. The average class size for primary schools is 27.1 pupils. However, the 2017 Government figures revealed that there were over half a million primary school pupils in classes of 31-35 children. In addition, 39,088 primary children were in classes of 36 or more pupils, and of these, 16,571 children in classes with 40 or more pupils.

At Hopelands Preparatory School we keep our classes small – at an average of just 12 pupils per class. Being a small, happy school, we are dedicated in enabling all our children to achieve their full potential.

Here are 7 reasons why your child could benefit from smaller class sizes.

  1. More attention from the teacher
    The fewer pupils there are in a class, the more time and attention the teacher can give each one. A teacher will have more opportunity to get to know their pupils, observe how they work and help them improve on their weaknesses. All our teachers get to know each child personally and make a positive contribution to their development. This is not so easy in larger classes as any specific weaknesses or lack of confidence can go unnoticed for a longer period.
  2. Better academic results
    Research has been carried out that links smaller class sizes to achieving greater academic results. Here at Hopelands we seek out the innate talents in each child and provide additional assistance and encouragement where needed. In the last 2 years we have had an average of 95% of our pupils go on to one of the many excellent local Grammar Schools. For a non-selective school, we believe that this says a great deal about the quality of our teaching and learning.
  3. Quieter classes
    The more children in a class, the noisier it becomes. For some children this can be a real distraction and can lead to many disruptions of the lesson being taught. We believe a lesson should be focused on learning and ensuring the children understand what is being taught rather than becoming distracted.
  4. Pupil confidence
    With smaller class sizes pupils feel more confident to put their hand up and ask questions. They feel more at ease contributing their own ideas and feel less intimidated if they do not understand something. This helps strengthen a teacher and pupil relationship and the pupil becomes more engaged in the learning. In larger class sizes, it is easier to ‘hide’ behind the other pupils which could lead to not being able to understand the lesson or they could become bored which can lead to disruptive behaviour.
  5. Social benefits
    Being at school is not just about how well you achieve academically. It is also about learning positive social skills. At Hopelands we work to build resilience, this is achieved through our secure environment which promotes positive attitudes in every child, so they feel able to take risks and become more confident. We also believe in respect; manners are very important to us and each child is taught to be respectful and courteous to each other and staff. All of this will translate positively into the workplace later in life.
  6. Tailored instruction
    With larger class sizes it can be incredibly difficult for a teacher to keep all the pupils fully engaged as their range of abilities could be extreme. With smaller class sizes a teacher will be able to tailor the way they teach to suit the abilities of all the individuals in the class and not just those who need the most help. At Hopelands when we identify an extra learning need, we have the facilities to break into smaller groups to be able to focus on a specific area.
  7. Being able to teach!
    Behind every teacher sits a mountain of administration work. Lesson planning, marking work, sourcing educational events and numerous administration tasks. Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching. In larger class sizes, the actual teaching can become sidelined for all their other non-teaching tasks. The benefits of having a smaller class size enables the teacher to spend more time focused on doing the job they signed up for – being able to teach!
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The Benefits of Small Class Sizes

Choosing which school for your child is an incredibly important decision and can seem daunting. There are many questions to ask including:

  • Will they receive an excellent education?
  • Will they be encouraged to be creative?
  • Will they learn resilience and how to get along with their peers?
  • Will they have fun?
  • Will they have opportunities to explore music and dance in extracurricular activities?
  • Will they be happy?

There are many areas to consider and compare when making the decision, one of these is the size of the classes.

Class size is defined as the number of pupils in a class with one teacher. The average class size for primary schools is 27.1 pupils. However, the 2017 Government figures revealed that there were over half a million primary school pupils in classes of 31-35 children. In addition, 39,088 primary children were in classes of 36 or more pupils, and of these, 16,571 children in classes with 40 or more pupils.

At Hopelands Preparatory School we keep our classes small – at an average of just 12 pupils per class. Being a small, happy primary school, we are dedicated in enabling all our children to achieve their full potential.

Here are 7 reasons why your child could benefit from smaller class sizes.

  1. More attention from the teacher

The fewer pupils there are in a class, the more time and attention the teacher can give each one. A teacher will have more opportunity to get to know their pupils, observe how they work and help them improve on their weaknesses. All our teachers get to know each child personally and make a positive contribution to their development. This is not so easy in larger classes as any specific weaknesses or lack of confidence can go unnoticed for a longer period.

  1. Better academic results

Research has been carried out that links smaller class sizes to achieving greater academic results. Here at Hopelands School we seek out the innate talents in each child and provide additional assistance and encouragement where needed. In the last 2 years we have had an average of 95% of our pupils go on to one of the many excellent local Grammar Schools. For a non-selective independent school, we believe that this says a great deal about the quality of our teaching and learning.

  1. Quieter classes

The more children in a class, the noisier it becomes. For some children this can be a real distraction and can lead to many disruptions of the lesson being taught. We believe a lesson should be focused on learning and ensuring the children understand what is being taught rather than becoming distracted.

  1. Pupil confidence

With smaller class sizes pupils feel more confident to put their hand up and ask questions. They feel more at ease contributing their own ideas and feel less intimidated if they do not understand something. This helps strengthen a teacher and pupil relationship and the pupil becomes more engaged in the learning. In larger class sizes, it is easier to ‘hide’ behind the other pupils which could lead to not being able to understand the lesson or they could become bored which can lead to disruptive behaviour.

  1. Social benefits

Being at school is not just about how well you achieve academically. It is also about learning positive social skills. At Hopelands School we work to build resilience, this is achieved through our secure environment which promotes positive attitudes in every child, so they feel able to take risks and become more confident. We also believe in respect; manners are very important to us and each child is taught to be respectful and courteous to each other and staff. All of this will translate positively into the workplace later in life.

  1. Tailored instruction

With larger class sizes it can be incredibly difficult for a teacher to keep all the pupils fully engaged as their range of abilities could be extreme. With smaller class sizes a teacher will be able to tailor the way they teach to suit the abilities of all the individuals in the class and not just those who need the most help. At Hopelands Preparatory School, when we identify an extra learning need, we have the facilities to break into smaller groups to be able to focus on a specific area.

  1. Being able to teach!

Behind every teacher sits a mountain of administration work. Lesson planning, marking work, sourcing educational events and numerous administration tasks. Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching. In larger class sizes, the actual teaching can become sidelined for all their other non-teaching tasks. The benefits of having a smaller class size enables the teacher to spend more time focused on doing the job they signed up for – being able to teach!

 

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A day in lockdown at Hopelands

We are in week 5 of virtual learning at Hopelands Preparatory School and after late nights for teachers who were busy exploring the world of Microsoft Teams, school life has started to settle down. Children are adapting and embracing this new way of learning.

Although all year groups are following the online timetable, each class has modified it to ensure the sessions apply to their children’s strengths and learning needs. Here is a typical day for our 7-8-year-old pupils in Year 3.

8.45 Morning registration & presentations

Pupils log onto the system and mark themselves in. They see their teacher and class friends and wave with a smile and a hello.

Pupils are given the opportunity to do a presentation to the rest of their class. They take turns to write a PowerPoint on a subject/hobby and upload it which enables everyone to see it. This is a great way for them to practise their presentation and communication skills and further develop their self-confidence. Today’s was on the exciting event of chickens hatching. The presentation was brought to life with plenty of pictures of eggs ‘rocking and rolling’, resulting in fluffy chickens. Pupils are invited to ask questions and discuss in more detail.

Afterwards the class has a general catch up where they share how they are feeling. In these unprecedented times it is more important than ever to enable interaction and discussions which support positive mental health.

9.30 – 12.30 Lessons

Subjects covered, on different days are Maths, English and Science, and the lessons are split into mixed ability groups. The teacher sets the work and the pupils are encouraged to share ideas and ask questions to each other within their groups. The teacher spends time with each of the groups, listening to them read to each other and discuss thoughts. Towards the end they all come together to share what they have learnt.

13.00 – 16.00 1:1s

The afternoon is spent on 1:1s. Every pupil has 30 minutes each with the teacher every 2 days. Work is reviewed together to check their understanding. The teacher will also listen to them read. Marking is done with them in real-time, the teacher reads their uploaded work and then directs the pupil to edit and review it. Marking together has been immensely beneficial to both the teacher and the pupil. For pupils not on a 1:1 they can choose how they spend this time. This can be catching up on work from the morning, reading, playing sport, doing a creative activity or having fun with their families.

It’s a busy day for our teachers but at the heart of all this is the children so we asked them what they thought of it.

What do the children think?

‘I am really enjoying the virtual learning particularly the Science experiments as they are a mixture of work and fun. My favourite one so far is testing daisies in different coloured water to see if they change colour in different temperatures. I’m hoping the blue wins…’

I love the online teaching.  The lessons are great although some of the work is hard and I definitely enjoy the interaction. We all get a chance to put our ideas forward and I really enjoy the early morning presentations. I love seeing and interacting with my friends and my teacher. I feel “happy and cheerful and good” about the online classes. I really enjoy that we can go into our own groups and really like the one to ones and being able to talk to the teacher and ask questions.’

And behind every child is a family who is helping and supporting. Here are some of their views:

What do parents think?

‘The family has enjoyed being back in the classroom and I have enjoyed experiencing the class interaction and dynamics first-hand. I must confess, there has been an improvement in my learning and understanding of the key subjects. How times have changed…’

‘Our IT skills have improved enormously during the past three weeks and we have experienced working in virtual groups and navigating our way round Microsoft Office. The teachers have helped enormously by providing clear instructions and adapting the procedures regularly to help facilitate the process.’

‘The Y3 children are supported by the 1:1 teacher and student sessions. These events take place periodically and allow for valuable time to discuss the day’s events and help to keep the children focused and motivated.’

‘Overall, we are finding the process enjoyable and manageable.’

‘As a parent, these daily lessons have made an amazing difference to my child’s attitude and outlook. Before they started, they were very low in self-confidence and we had a lot of tears and upset. However, she is now back to her usual self and going from strength to strength!  Being able to interact with friends has been wonderful and she has found the work the teacher has set incredibly inspiring and has wanted to do more things outside of class as well. Like everyone we have our good days and bad days, but the lessons really help to keep a structure and balance in these uncertain days. I can’t really express how thankful I am to Hopelands, and her teacher in particular, for putting these lessons together – they have really helped and made her so much happier and self-confident it’s been a joy to see.’

To find out more about Hopelands Preparatory School call us on 01453 822164 or email scompton@hopelands.org.uk

 

 

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How Hopelands are keeping children happy and learning in lockdown.

With the world seemingly turned upside down and many life events put on hold, the one thing that has not stopped is education. Children are still learning. Parents are frantically learning too. Pythagoras, fronted adverbials and PE with Joe, whilst working from home, cooking, cleaning and generally trying to keep sane! How we are all missing school and its community.

To keep providing the education, and support both our children and their families, Hopelands Preparatory School is operating a virtual learning timetable which runs from 8.45-12.30. The children attend the lessons, interact with their form teachers, see their friends, ask questions and receive feedback on their work. We know that home schooling can be both uninspiring and isolating, so having this interaction with their teachers and peers is key to continuing the successful relationship the pupils have with school. To date we have 100% attendance with our pupils through this virtual learning – this is an outstanding engagement rate that we are incredibly proud of.

Children’s progress is consistently monitored so that any gaps can be quickly identified and worked on. Children thrive on structure and security, therefore having this timetable in place helps them remain focused, motivated and fully engaged. Parents have both embraced and supported the timetable:

“What an excellent maths lesson today. Brilliant. It’s all falling into place and I’m getting more confident at leaving my child to it.”

In the afternoon, several different activities have been suggested which the children can do either on their own or with their families. For example, this week Reception class were set the task of making shapes out of nature and we received some fantastic pictures.

All our staff have gone above and beyond. Easter holidays were spent learning and testing new technology, planning lessons and working out a new virtual timetable which will strengthen pupils’ resilience and continue their passion for learning. We are truly grateful and incredibly proud of everyone’s hard work and dedication.

As you can see, we may not currently be able to open the doors to everyone, but we are very much working harder than ever. Please call us if you wish to find out more, email: admin@hopelands.org.uk and call 01453 822164.

 

 

 

 

 

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