3rd February 2023
Well, what a few weeks! Christmas certainly feels a million miles away now and we have packed in a huge amount to the first four weeks of spring term – not least a visit from Ofsted at Hope which, although expected to some degree, is always a challenging and draining process. The report will be out in due course (probably another few weeks) and I will communicate more on the outcomes then but I would like to openly thank all the staff at both schools who, as soon as the call came, were united and willing to go the extra mile so that we could be as prepared as possible come 8am on inspection morning.
Alongside fitting in all the regular weekly curriculum work, forest schools and sports – each class took part in an age-appropriate NSPCC online assembly last week. They were introduced to Buddy, the NSPCC mascot, and given very clear messages about speaking out to stay safe. Hopefully, they all felt empowered afterwards and confident to know who they could speak out to (a trusted adult) or how to access NSPCC support if necessary. We will have new posters made by the children popping up in both schools with the important message and NSPCC phone number 0800 1111. As I walked through classrooms as the assemblies were taking place, I could hear pupils in unison whispering the line ‘I have the right to speak out and stay safe...’ and then louder – telling their classmates - ‘You have the right to speak out and stay safe’ and then the decibels really went up and both schools were shouting ‘We all have the right to speak out and stay safe’. Powerful stuff! Our Year 5’s and 6’s from both schools benefitted from an in-person workshop with an NSPCC representative where they were able to explore scenarios in more detail, talk about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis for some and consider people, places and things that make them feel safe.
We all had a brilliant morning on Friday with the visit from international badminton player, Jenny Wallwork. You might see a few achy limbed teachers walking round each school next week as we were all put through our paces with a great HIIT workout in an attempt to keep up with our brilliant pupils! Special mention to Miss Archer who did each and every session with all the classes. Jenny then delivered an assembly where she wowed us with the speed she could send a shuttlecock flying across the hall (did you know they can travel up to 300km per hour!?) and talked about what it took to be the very best at something. Her motto is "Your attitude is your altitude; it determines how high you fly." She was certainly very inspiring and I hope that lots of our children will take that message on board and roll with it to push themselves in their lessons and beyond. A massive thank you to all who raised sponsor money for this worthwhile event – a portion goes to the Sports for Schools charity to support athletes and then our federation will keep the rest to purchase new sports equipment, which is very much needed!
Check out the website to find out a bit more about Sports for Schools. https://sportsforschools.org/. We’ll definitely use them again.
Here's to a productive, happy and healthy last couple of weeks before the half-term break.
Mrs W ☺
23rd September 2022
As I reflect on the first three weeks of a new academic year, I do so with a huge sense of pride in our school communities. As a federation staff team, our September INSET days were a blur of paediatric first aid training, getting to grips with a new federation behaviour policy, dance and gymnastics CPD for teaching staff and GDPR support for the office team. This was finished off with a most superb staff ‘self-care’ forest schools session with Ruth Dixon, which allowed the whole federation team to stop and consider their own wellbeing and priorities for the term ahead. I cannot thank Ruth enough for planning such a thought provoking and chilled morning for us all where we got the chance to be ourselves – no team hierarchy – and delve into some deep thinking about our own roles in life linked to Carl Jung’s 12 common architypes http://www.treeoflifecounseling.life/essays/the_12_common_archetypes.html Fascinating stuff! It made me realise just how important Ruth and the Forest school ethos is to our Valley Federation and how it allows our children the space to be themselves; it is a huge part in our spiritual, moral, social and cultural curriculum offering and I am proud to promote it and push for its continued implementation for all year groups.
The first three weeks of term have seen many activities already take place. Children have settled well into new classroom environments and teachers continue to assess accurate starting points for individual pupils in order to plan for their progression moving forwards. Watch this space for ‘Tapestry’ in Swallows and Puffins class - an easy-to-use and secure online learning journal helping staff and families celebrate their children’s learning and development. This is all part of our push to communicate more effectively with parents and carers about children’s’ learning and promote a greater awareness with our families about the curriculum opportunities we offer and the ways in which learning can be supported at home.
The beginning of term saw the challenging national and world news of HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s death and the need to consider carefully how to respond to this as a school community and support our pupils at an age-appropriate level in acknowledgement and reflection of both the historical significance and national sadness of the event. A big thank you to Mr Corker who chose some really appropriate songs to sing at Hope during an initial assembly about the subject and to Reverend Simon Cocksedge at Edale for leading collective worship so sensitively for our pupils. The following websites are very useful if this news has been particularly challenging for your child or if it has given rise to anxieties and upsets due to personal bereavements https://www.winstonswish.org/talk-to-children-about-death-of-queen/ https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/blogs/2022/talking-to-kids-about-the-queens-death
This blog can certainly be a joint Federation one with lots of shared learning experiences happening last week. Our new Hope TA, Mrs Miller, was given the grand tour of Edale site on Monday morning - a little step in the exciting direction of staff being employed by the Federation rather than an individual school; enabling us the flexibility of offering the best provision, at the right site at the right time. Mrs Miller is an experienced SEN TA, having previously worked in an enhanced resource and has practiced as a speech and language therapist. The vision: to become communication friendly schools and Mrs Miller’s appointment will certainly help that become a reality.
Tuesday saw our Federation Faith Day with the Andrew’s minibus doing the journey up and down Edale Road to deposit Hope Year 1’s and 2’s at Edale for a ‘Special Places’ day and return with Edale’s Year 3, 4 and 5’s to Hope for a focus on charity and wisdom. Interviews were taking place at Edale site for a new teaching assistant, to start in September. For the Hope children who happened to be there, they were quite baffled that I arrived down at Edale; a setting they are not used to seeing me at and we had a lovely chat about me having more than one ‘special place’.
Our Hawks, Owls and Eagles children joined forces again on Wednesday afternoon, with Mrs Baker accompanying the Eagles to Hope for an afternoon of coding workshops. We are very lucky to have created links with a lady called Rhiannon Mogridge, currently working towards a PhD at Sheffield University. As part of her course, she needs to complete some community and school based work and has chosen our schools. Watch out for a coding club, which she is keen to run in the Autumn term! The children worked on scratch and online projects and really impressed Rhiannon with their computing capabilities. Check out https://scratch.mit.edu/parents for more information about coding and how children can be accessing it from home.
As I sit in my Hope office, I can hear children coming and going between school and the field as they all get a turn at making Hope Primary’s well-dressing. What an amazing tradition! I can’t wait to see the finished design and am excited to say that Reverend Louise Petheram will be coming to Hope school on Friday morning to bless the well for us.
Here’s to a happy week ahead!
Well, another week has whizzed by as we close in on the first half of the summer term. My last blog referenced the upcoming SATs for Year 6 and can I say the children were quite incredible. They coped with the formality of the process really, really well. Our Year 2’s have begun their standardised tests this week – code named ‘Secret Agent Tasks’, and they have been equally superb in attitude and effort and will complete the remaining papers next week.
As I begin to consider the practicalities of new staffing arrangements for September and ways to enhance the learning environments to their maximum, our staff WhatsApp group has been awash with ideas to develop our playground and create additional learning spaces to complement our beautiful (but small), old school building. We were rather inspired by https://www.timesandstar.co.uk/news/20145911.beckstone-primary-school-harrington-open-new-outdoor-classroom/ … in the short term, you might see the odd tent popping up to house some phonics activities on a rainy day!
I had my first meeting with the FOHS team last week and we have agreed that the fundraising drive will be towards updating and refurbishing the Puffin classroom and resources to support our youngest children. The recent sponsored read raised over £300, which is brilliant – thank you! Mr Corker has agreed to put on a KS2 concert on the evening of Friday the 15th of July (save the date!) and all proceeds from ticket sales will go towards this project. Many thanks for the weekly contributions for Fitness Friday. Already, we have bought some gardening equipment and seeds for the Puffins as well as resources to enhance craft club and some new tennis balls which actually bounce!
We’re looking forward to a day of red, white and blue on Monday to honour the Queen’s jubilee...you may be surprised to see a special guest arrive at 8.45am! Pictures to follow next week...
Have yourselves a lovely weekend. I will leave you with a picture of our brilliant children having a great time at playtime playing an old favourite!
Friday 6th May 2022
I can’t believe two weeks has whizzed by since I embarked on my first day of Headship. I am thoroughly enjoying the role and am so excited for the future. This is the beginning of a regular blog, one week dedicated to Hope and the following week dedicated to Edale, which may cover a whole host of thoughts and topics so feel free to follow and keep up with them at your leisure.
At the forefront of my thinking this week is ensuring we are all set to deliver SATs to our Year 6’s next week. Everyone has their own view point on such standardised assessments. Love them or hate them, I am committed to ensure that they are a positive experience for our children and not a hugely stressful one for our staff! Hopefully, the children will see them as an opportunity to show what they know and can do. It’s a great opportunity for teachers to support positive mindset strategies that will help children as they move onto secondary school. For children who find such tests overwhelming, the right room with the right people can make all the difference and hopefully this will be the case for our mighty Hawks next week. I often find the following website useful for parents and they have tips on supporting your child through SATS week
I have just finished a lovely sing-along celebration assembly with Mr Corker and the KS2 pupils from Hope and Edale. The children have been reminded of our Federation’s three golden rules: listen well, be kind and show respect. Teachers will nominate pupils to be celebrated each week with these rules in mind. The children are currently learning the words to two songs – a thoughtful and reflective one based on the current war situation in Ukraine https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-61042355 and a motivational one which links well to our PSHE themes called Beautiful by Anne Marie Anne-Marie - Beautiful [Official Lyric Video]
It would be great to have families humming these tunes and learning lyrics together so that when we all come together at the end of term for a summer celebration, we can power them out!