I hope you all had a wonderful half-term break and you are refreshed for the weeks ahead. The spring term is always a busy one but I am thrilled with just how much we have achieved since Christmas, in the way of School Improvement.
I hope you all had a wonderful half-term break and you are refreshed for the weeks ahead. The spring term is always a busy one but I am thrilled with just how much we have achieved since Christmas, in the way of School Improvement.
It has been a couple of weeks since my last blog post and so much has been achieved in school since. Speak to any member of our wonderful staff team and they will tell you just how hard we work to give our children absolutely everything we can – often going beyond the call of duty. As I always say to the children in collective worship – how much you get out depends upon how much you opt in – take the opportunities which are are offered to you and never look back! Seizing the opportunity is the theme for this week’s blog.
Some opportunities don’t come around too often – I think we can all lament some of the key things that we turned down in our childhood or maybe in adulthood. Maybe some of us can reflect on some of the things that we never had the opportunity to take part in also. You only have to look to what’s happening in politics to illustrate this! Whatever side of the Brexit debate you were on, the United Kingdom left the European Union on 31st January (only a few weeks ago) and however reticent one may or may not be about leaving the ‘bloc,’ we now have to see this for what it is!
I was thrilled that so many home-adults and child representatives came into school a few weeks ago, to see how we are now teaching maths (Learning Lens Week). A central plank of our school vision is about supporting families and working closely with them in the best interests of every child. We completely understand that getting time away from work for some parents is tricky and this is why we extended the invitation to close family friends of your child and extended family members – we wanted to make sure that the opportunity was accessible to all. We also gave plenty of notice of this date. A fantastic 83 children had a representative, out of a total 124 children. Thank you so much for joining us – the feedback has been most helpful in shaping where we go next with Maths in school and also in measuring the impact of our work. Power Maths is unbelievably different but we are hoping it will lead to a turnaround in attitudes towards maths across the school.
Our Morning Mile is another example of an opportunity that seems to be bearing fruit for the children who partake in it. Only a few weeks in, I have set our Parliament Ministers for Education on the case – trying to capture what they think of it and also what impact it is having on them in school. Norma (Turtles) magnificently remarked that she hasn’t been late in coming to school since the Morning Mile was introduced – she has wanted to get here on time every day this term in order to take part! Miss Bains has remarked privately, that her children seem more focused earlier in the morning and more ready to learn! Mrs Weston has remarked that it is nice to chat with the children about non-school things before the bell and to develop even closer relationships with the children – she can then get down to work much more urgently when her class enter the building! I will be really keen to hear if any children are feeling mentally better as a result of the Mile. Mental well-being is just as important as physical and I am hoping that some of you can tell me how the exercise is helping you feel better.
Regarding physical and mental well-being, I am going to be keenly awaiting how many of you sign up for lunchtime sport with Miss Knowles, with Rosie or with Nathan and Mitchell. You may not know but myself and our Sports Premium Governor, Mrs Mailer, have to monitor this on a regular basis – to check that the provision is having an impact. I had a really useful meeting with Mrs Thorne and our sports coaches last week, to map out how we can structure lunchtimes more efficiently and how we can maximise time for physical activity. Miss Knowles is going to be putting some activity boxes together this week and it will mean that, moving forward, a timetable of independent activities will be on offer at lunch also. I suspect Miss Knowles may want to train some of the children as mini-sports leaders also, to help with the organising of these activities from time to time. Again, exercise really does play a big part in how you are feeling and it gives you something to do, ensuring you are ready for work once the bell rings at 1 pm.
On Wednesday and Thursday last week, two seperate meetings were held about the forthcoming residential trips that we have set up for children in Year 3 or 4 AND children in Year 6. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Year 3 parent who reminded us that we had yet held a meeting – it was a complete oversight on our part, we are usually more organised with these things! The helpful nudge prompted us to put this week’s meeting in place. This year, Seahorses have had the chance to go to Whitemoor Lakes and our Year 6 children have had the opportunity to attend Beau Manor in Leicestershire. Our staff are giving up time with their own families in order to provide the Coton children with the best possible opportunity themselves. I can quite easily ‘drone on’ about why we offer these opportunties until the cows come home – not every school is so abundantly clear about their rationale behind what they offer. Indeed, not every school provides this type of opportunity either. I will never tire of reaffirming why we planned these residentials, and how they match with our curriculum intent. We want the children to receive a ‘character education’ as much as one which is focused on academia: Independence, resilience, the courage to try new things, the ability to overcome tricky situations, a chance to take up a new skill that they wouldn’t normally, the ability to work in a team and with people who they wouldn’t normally and for each of them to have greater confidence and belief in themselves. As regards the meetings, we completely understand that some parents were not able to make it out of work to attend and for this reason, we have put the necessary information and paperwork issued to one side. We will send it home with your child so you don’t miss out. If you have any questions or you wish to pass on any information pertaining to your own child, please don’t hesitate to speak with us in confidence.
A number of Key Stage 2 children received word about another opportunity this week – those who found out that they had been invited to ‘call-backs’ for this year’s Key Stage 2 production, The Wizard of Oz. If your child did not receive a call-back slip, please support them not to worry. I was so unbelievably proud of each and every one of them a few weeks back – the performances were very strong! Whilst I won’t mention names, there were a number of children who displayed a real enthusiasm for the production in auditions this year, who in previous years have not necessarily. I must reiterate what I said to the children in school – if your child hasn’t received a slip it does not mean that your child is missing out on getting a part. Every child is issued with a part in our production as you know! And there are many, many parts!!!! Some parts have already been cast from the initial set of auditions and there was no need to invite some children back. Equally, let us remember one of the reasons for holding the process in the first place – the art of auditions and competition is a true part of real-life; coping with disappointments and the yearning to achieve even better in the future. This can be healthy and it drives us to greater heights as we ‘grow.’ We will announce which part your child has as soon as we are able and then the work begins!
Mrs Mott was really pleased to have yet another child who came up and asked about starting musical instrument tuition this week. We have always had a number of peripatetic music teachers in our school, over many years. However, in recent years, the uptake for music tuition has not been as we’d hoped! In fact, despite demonstrations in assembly and regular contact with the children – many of our children have not took up the chance to learn. Thank you to Jeffrey (Seahorses) who has hopefully started a new trend! I started learning to play the piano when I was 7 and as a result, I developed so many skills as I was growing up! If your child wishes to learn an instrument, please ask them to speak to the school office and we can get the relevant information to your child.
This week I am going to be keeping a close eye on your manners around school! Mrs Farmer tells me that you are all using really good manners when you collect a dinner from the hatch at lunchtime however, I wish you to pay close attention to general etiquette in the hall whilst sitting down actually eating. Mrs Cresswell was in the school hall over the lunch period last week and she was looking for children who were using their knife and fork correctly and for children who were closing their mouths when they were chewing. Sitting correctly whilst at the table is also an important skill. Every lunchtime you should be eating as if you are expecting the Queen to arrive!!!! I’m going to keeping an eye out and looking at those children who I can reward this week! Let’s keep our standards high – I know you can do it!
Speaking of the Queen, did you see the cryptic message sent out this week? We are currently in discussions with a London based company about enhancing our education on the role of parliament in school. We have some very exciting plans and I look forward to sharing these with you in the coming weeks! I have also been in touch with the local MP, Heather Wheeler. Don’t forget to read the blog, see the Facebook site, look for email alerts, check your school bag for letters and check for text messages – you really don’t want to miss out on what we have planned!
On Tuesday this week, there is another opportunity for parents and carers to join me for Cuppa and Cake. This takes place in the school hall at 9 am and I will be updating you all on our improvement priorities in school. I was really encouraged with the turnout a few weeks ago for the afternoon leg of this event – I know some of my ‘regular attendees’ are only available to attend the morning leg – hence another date in the diary! On Wednesday, our Safeguarding Link Governors are in school once again – to carry out one of our regular health and safety walks. Years 3 and 4 have a William Allitt Modern Foreign Languages teacher in school for the second time on Wednesday afternoon – teaching the children the 2nd part of their German lesson. On Thursday we have our Golden Dove Awards from 2:45 pm in the school hall – letters will be issued to the children on Monday as your teachers were carefully choosing the winners last week! Finally, why not take up the opportunity to join us in church this Friday! Miss Bains and the Seahorses are leading our Valentines Day assembly from 2:30 pm. We look forward to welcoming you!
Before I leave you this week, a massive well done to the Seahorses for being the best attended class! They have earned an extra 5 minutes of playtime this week so well done to them! A big well done to the children who were rewarded with a special mention for Perseverance last week also. Don’t forget that your teachers have written a copy of your certificate for the display in reception – all of our visitors can see who achieved an award last week.
Have a fabulous week everybody! PEACE be with you!
This week’s Blog Box Question: Where is our Golden Dove Ceremony taking place this week?
I’ve had lots of discussions with the children this week, all about making the right choices – whether that be as a ‘learner’ in the classroom, as a ‘friend’ on the playground or as one of our school ambassadors. As you all know, a key part of our school vision and our curriculum intent is about supporting the children to make independent choices of their own as they grow through our school. One of the benefits to living in a free society is very much having the space to take decisions for ourselves and to take whatever steps we wish to – it is only right that we prepare our children for this before they leave us. However, as a result of the steps we take we also have to be prepared to take responsibility for whatever happens as a result! Somebody very wise once said; “Responsibility is accepting that you are both the cause and the solution!” This is the theme for this week’s blog.
I have enjoyed many proud moments as Headteacher of our school in the last 4 1/2 years and last Wednesday was right up there! You’ll all be aware that Key Stage 2 took part in Young Voices at the Genting Arena in Birmingham and we took 41 children along. The day itself is a pretty long one – and it includes an incredibly late night for the children and the staff themselves. I for one, didn’t get home until 10:50 pm! It also means lots of organisation and much time set aside for practice – whether that is at home or at school. Our children were superbly behaved all day and it filled me with immense personal pride, watching them from where they were seated – joining in with gusto. Sometimes, we are all guilty of getting ‘lost’ in these events and not taking a moment to think about why we take part in them. Sometimes it can be quite easy to think that we do these things because we always have done so or because other schools do them and we want to be part of the crowd. However, it all comes down to what our intentions are as a school and the skills and attributes that we aim to foster in our children. There is always a method in our madness – you should know that by now!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas break and you are feeling refreshed for the new term. I have chatted to many of you on the yard this week but if I haven’t managed to catch you – Happy New Year!
A new year affords every one of us a chance of a fresh start. An injection of energy. A renewed focus. An affirmation of the values we hold dear. In school this week we have spent a great amount of time, reaffirming our expectations and getting the children back into a routine, especially after a hectic Christmas season in school. We have a busy term ahead and the staff team are ready to build on the improvements we made last term.
This week, our nation goes to the polling station once again – to have a say about the direction in which they want our country to go. We’ve had lots of discussions in school this year, about Brexit and the differing perspectives on the matter. In fact, when we held our own elections for school Prime Minister in September, the topic of Brexit wasn’t too far away! Whether you are a Boris Johnson fan, you find yourself agreeing with the views of Jeremy Corbyn, or you prefer some of the other public figures like Jo Swinson, Nigel Farage, it is always important to exercise your right to have a say and make the most of our democracy! Having a democracy is a precious commodity and it is one of the many things that makes our country great! After all, not every country in the world shares the British Values that we hold dear. Rest assured, this week’s blog is not a party political broadcast but it is a chance to reflect on the many ways that we continually involve the children in everything that we do, how we intend to prepare our children for the real world and how we continually seek their views. ‘Pupil Voice’ has been a strong theme in school over the last few weeks!
Let’s start with our Viking Wow Day of Wednesday last! What fabulous costumes! I was thrilled with the amount of effort that had gone in; you all very much looked the part. When I popped into the classroom on Wednesday morning, it looked like the Seahorses had all gone back in time, like the school had been invaded!!! Thank you so much, parents, for your support in this. I particularly liked the Viking shields! Thank you also to Miss Bains! We are really trying to explore innovative ways of enhancing our curriculum diet and last Wednesday was very much part of this effort. We are keen to consider the impact that these days are having on the children – our school vision is all about ‘enjoyment’ and ‘awe and wonder.’ It is important that whatever we do, it has a lasting impact on the children. We collected some super comments from the children! Please see below for a sample of them;
“….It was really fun making shelters! I loved it when we went into Viking battle!”
“Before Viking Day, I didn’t think i’d be that keen! When it came to it, I loved it. Especially making the shelters out of the branches! It made be feel more confident about the topic!”
Our Year 1 and 2 children got dressed up this week too! They had a special topic themed day of their own centered around the Victorians! Again, what wonderful costumes! I know some parents have had a very interesting week – dressing one child as a Viking and then dressing a 2nd child as a Victorian. We really appreciate the effort that has gone in parents – as I say; it really does enhance the learning that has been going on in the classroom this term! And how polite were the children – when Headmaster Mr Smith walked into the hall, the children all stood up on cue! Just remember parents – Victorian children were seen and not heard! Except for when we ask for their feedback of course – we’ll try and get some comments from them over the next few days! Thank you to Miss Newton and Mrs Butler for putting a wonderful WOW Day together!
Mrs Weston collected some pupil voice of her own a few weeks ago, on our new teaching approach, Power Maths. She also got some views on our TT Rockstars program. As you should all know by now, Maths is one of our main areas for improvement in school this year and we wanted to see what the children thought about it! We’ve had lots of positive comments about just how much more accessible it has made maths lessons for the children and how much better is makes them feel – learning all together. Your teachers have also been using the pre-teaching concept during other parts of the school day. This concept has been so essential to help children of all abilities keep up in the actual Maths lessons themselves. Given the impact of Power Maths so far, from January we are rolling the resources out for every other year group to start using! Our School Improvement Partner, Mrs Hodgson Walker, was very encouraged with how it seemed to be helping the children, when she visited a few weeks ago. Most notably, Mrs Butler’s Year 1 maths class – who have only been using the materials for 4 short weeks!
I was thrilled by just how much our children were engaged in Ocean Rescue Week, a few weeks ago. There has been so much in the media about the impact of sea pollution on some of world’s most vulnerable sea creatures – our children really enjoyed building on what they already knew! A number of reading books about the topic enhanced the children’s learning in school also. We’ve had a busy week trying to collate all of the feedback that not only the children provided but also you, our parents! Some of you remarked on just how much the children had been talking about single use plastic at home over the week, and also some of the ways how you seek to do your bit for the environment. So that we can showcase the impact this week had on the children, the teachers have just produced some wonderful displays of the work created during Ocean Rescue Week. They are in the library area and it is really clear that the week ‘struck a chord’ with the children! On a side note, I am pleased to see lots of examples of quality writing as part of our displays.
Continuing my theme of giving people a voice – thank you parents for completing our annual parent questionnaire a few weeks ago. Your feedback means a great deal for us, we strive to continually improve. No one school is completely perfect and it is important that we keep moving forward and not get into a comfortable habit of ‘sitting back’ and resting on our laurels! That being said, we had some super feedback. Out of 67 completed questionnaires from a total …… Please see the feedback below:
Last week, our staff team were busy looking at how we can develop our PSHE curriculum next term. We joined up with another local school for some training on a new teaching framework, including how we can facilitate the new Relationships & Sex Education curriculum expectations. This week, our staff will be receiving some training in how to use our Purple Mash computing software. All of our children are familiar with Purple Mash and we are going to be looking at how we can build on what they know, as they progress through our school. Mrs Smith, on her return to work from Maternity Leave, will be leading on this work.
Have you been selected for a Golden Dove Award this term? On Friday this week, from 2:45 pm, we have our half-termly awards ceremony. It will be interesting to see if the winning recipients have already had a Golden Dove Award, since we introduced them 18 months ago. Parents – you will receive a letter if your child is getting an award and this will include an invite to the assembly taking place at the end of this week.
In music lessons this term, our children have had highly specialist teaching from Derbyshire Music Partnership. The whole school witnessed the wonderful Year 1 and 2 Singing Stars concert a few weeks ago, the culmination of a term’s worth of lessons delivered by Clare Mott. Miss Bains’ Seahorses have been learning to play the African drums each week this term too. They have been developing their understanding of rhythmic patterns whilst developing their skills in composing, listening and appraising. I had a crafty look at how they were getting on, a week or so ago. At present, the Seahorses are busy preparing a special performance, which will take place on Tuesday 28th January @ 1:15 pm. Parents and carers of Year 3 and 4 children are welcome to attend this. I will be uploading a list of other dates for the new term in the coming days – including our Learning Lens sessions taking place in January!
There are lots of events happening in school over the next couple of weeks, as our school builds up to the Christmas break. As a Christian school, celebrating the birth of Christ is important and there is no finer way of doing this than attending one of the following:
In addition to the above, we have our Christmas Lunch on Wednesday this week. This is for children and staff only but a number of key visitors will be in attendance. We always try to invite ‘special people’ who have helped and supported our school throughout the year! The children are welcome to come into school wearing a Christmas jumper (with the rest of their uniform), in return for a £1 donation to the Save the Children Charity.
I just wanted to point you (and the children) to our attendance assembly in a few weeks time. On Thursday 19th December, I will be handing out badges to those children who have had a full attendance this term (and some badges to those who had a 100% attendance for the whole of the last school year!) Sometimes, absence is unavoidable and we understand this! Bugs and germs spread quite quickly in a school environment and if you are ill, to prevent the spread of these bugs, it is better that you recover at home. However, sometimes a day in school when you have a little ‘sniffle’ can be much better for your overall health and mental well-being. Resilience is a big part of this! Odd days off school here and there can often have more disruption to your child’s learning and also to their relationships with members of their class. I sent home a letter to some of you this past week because either your attendance had dropped below what the government determines as ‘persistent absence’ or because you were getting close to this figure. If you are unsure of all the things that we do to encourage a good attendance and to prevent disruption to your child’s learning through poor attendance, please see our abridged policy under the attendance tab on the website. This week’s winning attendance award went to the Seahorses with 98.2%! An extra 5 minutes of playtime goes to you!
I can now formally announce that the process for recruiting a new parent governor has concluded. I am pleased to announce that Mr Thompson (Frankie’s Dad) will join our team from January, subject to approval from the governing body. Mr Thompson will bring valuable expertise in human resources and a wider school community viewpoint. Two traits which governors identified from their annual skills audit. Mr Thompson will also bring an educational perspective. Being a parent governor is a really challenging role – being able to separate ones individual views as a parent, from those as a school stakeholder overall are tricky. I remain convinced that Mr Thompson will be an excellent addition – thank you!
Finally, well done to Mrs Weston’s Turtles! Class of the week for last week and it has been a real pleasure to see you leading the way, in spite of just how disruptive and fragmented things can get at this time of year. I would urge all of you to remember what we talked about in Friday’s special mentions assembly. ‘Excellence’ is about doing the right thing in every circumstance! Being our ‘Coton School best!’ This includes; manners, completing your homework, coming into collective worship smartly, doing your bit to keep our school clean and tidy and lending a hand when you can!
This week’s Blog Box question is: What date is the Year 3 and 4 music concert happening after Christmas?
Last week in school, I was very much on a mission! It is that point in the school year where school improvement work is well underway and we are looking at the early signs of impact on the things we have put in place since September. However, it is also a very curious time of year! In the run-up to Christmas things can get quite fragmented if we let them, this can happen when we’ve had a busy few days also! However busy we are, it is important that we don’t lose our focus and that everybody continues to rise to the high expectations that our school has of them. And I am talking about everybody connected with our school.
More local flooding to contend with this week, and it took us all by surprise! Even after the last episode about 6 weeks ago! Thank you to all parents and relatives for managing to get to their child a little earlier than normal last Thursday – we were really concerned that many of you wouldn’t be able to get back into the village if we left pick-up until the normal time. Interestingly, I think this past week’s flooding was far worse than last time. All routes into the village were affected and the village itself was submerged (the brook went over on Thursday evening.) Thursday evening/Friday morning presented me with a really difficult decision, whether to close the school. I drove around all the major routes into Coton at 6 am on Friday morning and most of the water had subsided. I could see that our staff and families would be able to safely get into school and so I was pleased that we could open as normal, and that there wouldn’t be any further disruption to your learning. These decisions are always tricky and there are so many things to consider when taking a big decision like closing the school. Hopefully you will all agree that we got this one right.
Firstly, I’d like to thank all parents, staff and children for their warm wishes over the last few weeks. The birth of my first child came a little sooner than we all anticipated but we are so glad he is here now! For those who are not up to speed – Elliot arrived 3 1/2 weeks early! Thank you too, for the many cards and gifts that we have received; your generosity means a great deal. It was a real pleasure to be back in school last week and I hope you all had a fabulous half-term break. I cannot believe just how much we achieved last half term! So many vital steps were taken that will make such a massive difference to our school’s long term future! This term, I will be looking to see the emerging signs of impact.
Well, what an exciting week we’ve had! The rains came…. and then they came again – but it couldn’t wash away our spirits! It was all a bit surreal on Tuesday afternoon last week, when we had to ask your parents to pick you up a little bit early, due to the flooding! I have never seen anything like the floods that I saw in the surrounding villages of Rosliston and Walton this past week. I was out on a safeguarding course with another Headteacher but Mrs Weston kept me in the loop all the way through it. The truth is, storms do come and go. Rain storms are pretty inconvenient for sure! Wet hair, wet shoes, we do our PE lessons inside and the roads are always gridlocked but it is all about how we respond to these storms that counts! Courage, resilience and tenacity will always see us through – however inconvenient or unexpected something is. However challenging a situation is for us all! This is my theme for this week’s blog.