Children and young people in Kent will be given free bus travel and offered discounted leisure centre passes as businesses, organisations and members of the community unite with Kent County Council to launch a programme of fun activities and learning opportunities for the school summer holidays.
The summer activities are part of Reconnect: Kent Children and Young People, which was launched by KCC in March and will run until August 2022. Reconnect is a community-led initiative designed to support Kent’s children and young people to reconnect with the activities and interests they enjoyed before the COVID-19 pandemic, help them catch up with learning they may have missed and, along the way, discover new interests and activities.
Bus operators and leisure centres have become the latest in a long line of businesses, organisations, and facilities to offer their support to the Reconnect programme.
To help them travel to the events on offer during the summer holidays, every young person in school Years 6 to 13 will receive a free bus pass, which can be used on Stagecoach and Arriva buses, as well as on other services KCC subsidises, between Thursday, July 22 and Tuesday, August 31.The pass can be used as many times as necessary during that period, but journeys must begin and end in the local authority area of Kent (the area covered by KCC not Medway Council). Pupils in Years 6 to 13 will receive their Reconnect bus pass from their school by the end of term. Children and young people aged 11 to 18 who are not in school – for example because they are college students or are educated at home – are still entitled to a free bus pass. Click here to find out how to obtain one.
A number of Kent leisure centres are offering children and young people a six-week pass for £25, or £10 if they are in receipt of benefits-related Free School Meals. Parents or carers can buy the pass for their child or children direct from the leisure centre they wish to use this summer. There is no limit on the number of times that children and young people can use their pass during the summer holidays. Each leisure centre’s offer will be different and full details of what is available at each participating leisure centre will be available on their website. A list of participating leisure centres can be found on the Reconnect pages on KCC’s website and this will be added to as more centres pledge their support.
In addition to the free bus travel and discounted leisure centre passes, a wide range of organisations, businesses and groups have come together to support Kent’s children and young people by offering both enjoyable academic opportunities and fun recreational activities including gymnastics, tennis, American Flag Football, workshops on mental health, climate change and other important issues, and much more. There are also virtual fitness classes and weekly well-being sessions that children and young people can take part in at home. Details of all available opportunities can be found on the new Reconnect pages on KCC’s website.
Sue Chandler, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services, said: “I would really like to thank the Kent community for stepping up and uniting under the Reconnect banner to support our children and young people throughout the summer and beyond.
“I am very pleased that we have been able to work closely with our existing partners, as well as many organisations we have not collaborated with previously, to provide some fantastic offers for children and young people during the school holidays.
“The leisure centres and bus companies have really shown their support for Reconnect this summer, ensuring children and young people will be able to travel to activities for free and make use of the different sports and leisure activities at a discounted price, so I would like to offer a special thanks to them.
“We know from speaking to children and young people that getting out and about, trying new things and socialising with friends are some of the things they are most looking forward to doing after the pandemic. We are pleased that by coming together with other members of the Kent community we will be able to help them achieve this.”
The exciting and innovative package of summer learning opportunities, put together by KCC, is designed to help children and young people catch up on any missed learning and to start the new school year in September with confidence.
Shellina Prendergast, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “We’ve teamed up with education providers, some of whom are Kent-based, to offer some fun and interesting ways for children and young people to catch up on learning missed or get a head start ready for their return to school in September.
“Our summer learning offer is not about KCC saying pupils should spend their whole summer holiday in front of a screen studying. Reconnect is a programme of choice and our summer learning offer gives children and young people the freedom to choose to spend time brushing up on subjects they might be feeling less confident about or getting a head start on their return to school, and in ways that are both enjoyable and accessible.”
The summer learning offer includes:
- Free access for GCSE and A-Level students to a library of more than 2,000 podcasts about the subjects they’ll be studying from September. We’ve teamed up with Audiopi, which brings to life a wide range of subjects in podcast format – and they’re broken down into short 10-12-minute episodes so students can tune in whether they’re at home or on the move, fitting seamlessly around their lives.
- Free daily live maths and English lessons, fitness blast classes and Wellbeing Wednesday activities brought to children and young people by Invicta National Academy throughout the summer holidays. Available to all schoolchildren, KS1 to KS4, parents can pick and choose classes that fit with their child’s needs. Classes are 45 minutes long and run from Monday, July 26 to Friday, August 27. Booking is open now.
- Help with spelling those tricky words via the award-winning Sir Linkalot app, which is available for parents/carers to download for free this summer. The Sir Linkalot app helps children of all ages spell any tricky word, all the way from ‘was’ to ‘onomatopoeia’ and is a gamechanger for those with dyslexia.
- The chance for students to take a virtual trip to six destinations across world and immerse themselves in the experiences of different cultures and perspectives. The immersive and interactive journey gives children and young people the chance to connect with inspiring human stories from around the world, that model resilience, problem-solving, teamwork and other critical skills. This incredible learning experience is available to all Kent children and young people, giving them free access to the award-winning resources of Lyfta through their Reconnect through Connection journeys on their computer or iPad. Some pupils will already be registered with Lyfta as they use it in school; those who aren’t can request log in details via the Reconnect page on KCC’s website.
- The Summer Reading Challenge 2021, called Wild World Heroes, is a celebration of nature and action for the environment, being run in partnership with conservation organisation WWF UK. Children aged 4 to 11 can either visit their local library to take part, or join in digitally, and are challenged to read six books, eBooks, eAudio or eMagazines while learning about the natural world and being inspired to stand up for the future of planet Earth.
Information about all activities and opportunities being offered as part of the Reconnect: Kent Children and Young People programme is available on Kent County Council’s website – www.kent.gov.uk/reconnect
New activities, information and participating leisure centres will be added to the website as they become available.
Parents and carers can also keep up to date with new activities, offers and events on the Reconnect Facebook page. They can sign up to receive the Reconnect newsletter via both the webpage and Facebook.
Notes to journalists:
- Read the previous Reconnect media release, about KCC committing £10m to the programme, here: https://kccmediahub.net/kent-county-council-commits-10m-to-reconnect-programme-to-provide-opportunities-for-children-and-young-people-following-covid-19-pandemic745
- The Reconnect What’s On guide can be found here: https://local.kent.gov.uk/kb5/kent/directory/whats_on.page
- Find out about opportunities to Reconnect with Learning here: https://www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/schools/reconnect/reconnect-activities-and-events/reconnect-with-education
Leisure centres participating in the £25/10 six-week pass offer so far are listed below; others will be added to the Reconnect page on the website as they commit to take part.
- Ashford – Stour Centre and the Julie Rose Stadium (use of gym only for 12 years and over)
- Canterbury – Kingsmead Leisure Centre
- Cranbrook – The Weald Sport Centre
- Deal – Tides Leisure Centre
- Herne Bay – Herons Leisure Centre and Bay Sports Arena
- Larkfield Leisure Centre
- Maidstone Leisure Centre
- Margate – Hartsdown Leisure Centre
- Meopham Fitness and Tennis Centre
- New Romney – Marsh Academy Leisure Centre
- Ramsgate Leisure Centre
- Sandwich Leisure Centre
- Sheerness – Sheppey Leisure Complex
- Sittingbourne – Swallows Leisure Centre
- Tenterden Leisure Centre
- Tonbridge – Putlands Sports and Leisure Centre
- Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre
- Whitstable Pools & Fitness Centre
Please contact your chosen centre to find out what activities they have on offer.