Lest we forget!

I’d like to start this week’s blog by paying my respects to all of our armed forces and war veterans who work so hard to keep our country safe and enforce the rule of law across the world. Yesterday, our whole school came together to observe a 2 minute silence as a mark of respect to all who risk their life and also those men and women who are no longer with us as a result of serving for our country.  I visited the National Memorial Arboretum last Sunday and I was taken aback by how many people were there to pay their respects – I purchased a poppy cloth for our alter in school.  We will leave this on for a few weeks so that we can all continue to keep our service men and women in our thoughts.  We will also continue to sell poppies into next week so that we can raise money for the Royal British Legion.  On before of our whole school, I just want to say, thank you!

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It has been a very busy week in school, with lots of exciting things happening. I was  truly amazed on Wednesday this week – we had 86 adults who attended our Grandparents lunch!  This is a remarkable response and it was a real pleasure to welcome so many family members into our school.  I must thank Mrs Farmer and the kitchen team for their hard work – the food was delicious and the ladies were here bright and early on Wednesday morning in preparation.  Don’t forget that we have a Mother’s Day Lunch and a Father’s Day lunch coming up later in the year too.

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On Tuesday this week, Mrs Cresswell was very busy analysing your responses from the latest parent questionnaire, issued at parents’ evening. We were really pleased with the feedback we received but rest assured we won’t be resting on our laurels. We are all committed to the idea of ‘continuous improvement’, we recognise that our school is a pretty special place but there are many things that we can do even better.  In November 2011 our school received a ‘good’ rating by Ofsted and since then, nationally, we have seen standards and expectations rise sharply.  Everything that we do and every decision that we take is solely focused on the two core functions of a successful school.  One being; ensuring that our children are happy, healthy and safe and the second being good rates of pupil progress for all children. This is regardless of their ability, background or social and emotional learning need.  On occasions we have to make tough decisions which are not necessarily popular with everyone but they are the right decisions for the good of the children and our school as a whole, in what is a very different educational landscape to 5 years ago. We’d like to thank you for your feedback, it will be most useful to us moving forward.  I would also like to thank everybody connected with our school for their continued work and drive to make Coton school an amazing place to be.  We are improving all the time and I am proud of what we have achieved this year already.  The results from our survey are summarised below:

We had 92 responses.

98% of responses said their children enjoy coming to our school

100% of responses felt that we worked hard to keep them safe in school

98% of responses felt the behaviour in our school was good

74% of responses felt that we had effective strategies for dealing with ‘bullying’

(21% didn’t feel well placed to comment as they had never had this concern)

92% of responses felt that we responded to any issues, questions or concerns that have been risen (5% of responses didn’t feel well placed to comment as they had never had to raise a concern)

96% of responses felt that the school was well led and managed

95% of responses felt that the website gave them the information they needed

82% of responses knew what the school was working hard to improve this year

85% of responses felt that their child received appropriate homework for their age

100% of responses felt that their child was well taught

96% of responses would recommend this school to another parent.

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Next week is another busy week in school as it will be Anti-Bullying Week. A few weeks ago, the children signed a copy of the school’s Anti-Bullying Charter for their classrooms.  I will be focusing on Anti-Bullying during this week’s collective worship and on Tuesday, Ms Challinor will be focusing on online bullying.  On Tuesday also, don’t forget that I have a Cuppa and Cake session from 9 until 10 – all parents are welcome.  We will be discussing our school’s new vision – our ‘PEACE’ pledge – and how you can best support this moving forward.  On Tuesday afternoon at 2:15, I have a prospective parents’ meeting for any children who wish to start Reception in September 2017.  Year 3 and 4 have an interesting morning planned on Wednesday next week – they will be visiting a huge primary school in the centre of Burton and making some new friends in the process.  Anglesey Primary Academy is a multi-faith school of almost 700 pupils and many of the children speak more than one language – this will be a very enriching experience for all concerned.  On Thursday, both Mrs Smith and Mrs Dyke are visiting Ladycross Infants School to gather some good ideas that can be brought back into our school.  On Friday, we have our rewards assembly as usual and also privilege time for the children too.

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At rewards assembly this coming Friday, please keep a close eye out for our canvass art table! We will be asking all parents who attend to give us a painted finger-print for our PEACE canvass that will be displayed in the hall very shortly.  All classes have done a ‘PEACE canvass’ to promote our new school vision but we wanted to involve everybody in the process.  Remember ‘PEACE’ stands for the 5 key things that we promote through everything that we do in school: perseverance, enjoyment, awe and wonder, compassion and excellence. As with every vision, it should be integral to everything that goes on in school and every stakeholder should play their part.  Leading by example – I have been having a think about what our school already does to match with our ‘PEACE’ pledge.

Perseverance –We encourage all children to have a go, even when things get tough. We reward effort in our Friday assembly, as well as academic success.  Our Privilege Point System ensures that every child’s hard work is recognised to motivate them so they keep going.

Enjoyment – We make school an enjoyable place because teachers have strong relationships with all pupils. Where we can, we make learning interactive so they don’t have to sit listening for long periods.  We offer a wide range of after-school clubs too.

Awe and Wonder – We involve the children in projects and enriching experiences. Last year Class 4 performed at the Brewhouse Theatre, the whole of Key Stage 2 took part in Young Voices as part of a choir of over 9000 children!  Last year also, Years 3 and 4 learned to play a brass musical instrument.

Compassion – We raise money for many charities in school. We take part in Children in Need Day, Comic Relief and some children initiate their own fundraising opportunities for charities like RSPCA, St Giles or Cancer Research.  All of the staff are caring and easy to talk to when things get tough. Through collective worship – we reflect on society and think about people who are less fortunate.  We recently collected food donations for Burton’s food bank.

Excellence – As Headteacher, I dedicate a large portion of time focusing on learning and teaching in our school – regularly visiting classrooms and talking to children about their work and working with subject leaders. I identify professional development opportunities for all staff including visits to other successful schools so we can learn from them. I look at pupils’ work on a regular basis and our school improvement plan has measurable attainment and progress targets. As a staff team, we hold high expectations – encouraging children to correct misconceptions identified in marking and we move learning forward by writing ‘Now’ sentences on their work for them to respond to.  We deploy quality sports coaches and professionals to work with the children at break times and after school. We remain committed to whole school improvement – never standing still.

I am sure there are many more things that we do, it will be interesting to see what you all think on Tuesday at the Cuppa and Cake session.

Before I leave you for another week I’d just like to thank our ‘Ground Force Team’ who gave up their precious time this morning to trim bushes, weed borders and cut back trees on our school site. I was the designated tea and coffee maker to ensure they were kept suitably fuelled.  They all did an amazing job in what were very wet and muddy conditions.  Many of our helpers brought tools and machinery with them too.  It is a real pleasure to be the Headteacher of a school with so many supportive and helpful community members.  On behalf of the children and staff – a big thank you for all that you did!

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This week’s blog box question: How many adults attended our Grandparent lunch?

“It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it!”

I hope you all had a great half-term holiday and the extra day off due to the INSET day on Monday. We have had a super start to the new term, it’s like we’ve never been away!

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First of all, I’d like to thank all parents for attending Parents’ Evening on either Wednesday or Thursday this week. I was really pleased by the turn-out. I spent some time chatting with parents and the two things that were commented on the most were how much work the children have done this year – there is an excellent quantity of work in all books already – and the feedback we are providing through our marking.  It was really good to have positive feedback about this as we have worked very hard over the last few months.  In many books, it is great to see the children responding with their purple pen also – it is a good way to check that they have understood what they have been learning and it provides that extra challenge also. In a recent study, Sutton Trust found that marking and feedback, if done precisely and in timely fashion, made the biggest impact on pupil attainment overall.  It was found to increase a child’s learning by an extra nine months within an academic year. Professor Steve Higgins, from Durham University referred to the Bananarama principle -” it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it” that counts.  In some classrooms, we have introduced the concept of ‘live marking’ also.  This can be equally effective and I know that in the Early Years it is a useful strategy to ensure that all children instantly understand how well they are doing and what they can do better.  ‘Live marking’ is when teachers or classroom adults give feedback immediately within the lesson and reshape learning accordingly.  This is a big part of our school improvement agenda this year – so I look forward to seeing the results as the year progresses.

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Also at Parents’ Evening this week we asked you to fill in our parent feedback questionnaire. I was really pleased with the responses that you gave and we will be collating the results very shortly and sharing them with you.  If you took one home with you, we would ask that you kindly return it on Monday.  Our school is improving all the time and it is always good to welcome any feedback whether it is positive or developmental.  As with the business sector, continuous improvement is essential in order to drive standards. We are a school that is always looking to continually improve what we do and feedback is an essential part of this process.  We acknowledge that we don’t always get everything right but we are not afraid to reflect and make the necessary changes to suit the best interests of all children and the school as a whole. If you are in any doubt as to what we are working on as a school this year, please look at the board in the reception area and read our School Improvement Plan.  If you have any questions, we’d be delighted to talk to you.

At our INSET day this week, governors and teaching staff came together to think honestly about how effective our school is and what we need to do in the future to make sure that we continue to achieve its core functions: keeping our children happy, healthy and safe and ensuring that every child makes the amount of academic progress that they should – in line with their potential. We drafted out some key words for a new school vision and the children spent some time thinking about these in collective worship on Tuesday. These new words will go on to underpin everything that we do – from our classroom room practice, extra-curricular and enrichment activities and also our school policies and procedures.  Our five key words are:

Perseverance

Enjoyment

Awe and Wonder

Compassion

Excellence

Keep your eyes peeled around school as these words will be represented with a dove symbol, the letters of all these words can be arranged to form the word ‘PEACE’ – a dove being the symbol of peace. We always begin collective worship with the phrase – ‘peace be with you’, and we felt this would serve as a good reminder to everybody connected with our school.  This vision will be communicated vibrantly around school and on our website very soon. It is important that we all understand what this means and what our role in this vision is.  I will be hosting another Cuppa and Cake session for parents on Tuesday 15th November @ 9:00am until 10:00am where I will be asking parents what these words mean to them.  It would be great to see you, feel free to bring little ones too – we can arrange for some play equipment to be on hand should they need it!

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The Hardworking Hazels went on their trip today to the Derby Museum & Art Gallery in Derby. They have been learning all about Derby and its location.  Being situated on the border of Leicester, Derbyshire and Staffordshire –we are in a very handy location – close to many different towns and villages.  The children had a great time learning outside of school and I know that Miss Forrest was very pleased by the way in which they represented our school.  Thank you to Mrs Harris and Mrs Thorne for going along too. Children in Key Stage 1 and the Early Years also went out this week, on an Autumn walk.  It is a great time of year where the leaves are falling from the trees and Mrs Dyke felt a walk would inspire the children to write some quality descriptive writing. I really look forward to seeing the results.

A big congratulations must go to the children who were in gardening club last summer term. Mrs Evitts got in contact with Blue Peter about acquiring a green badge for them as a result of their commitment to the environment and gardening within our school.  It was great to see some children wearing their badge with pride this morning and Mrs Evitts was very proud of them.  Obtaining a Blue Peter badge is still a huge honour and generations of children have gone on to achieve great things as a result.  Blue Peter badge winners are entitled to obtain free access into many attractions up and down the county – museum, theme parks, zoos etc.  Well done and thank you once again for representing our school brilliantly.

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Prime Minister, Mark Howard, for donating some unwanted reading books this week also. Mrs Smith is going to be looking at guided reading over the next few weeks and we will be investing in some new resources to meet the demands of the new reading curriculum.

Next week is a very busy week in school. On Monday, I will be working with Danny Brown (our Pupil Premium Link Governor) on our Pupil Premium Strategy going forward. Once we have done this, we will be uploading it to our website. In the afternoon, I will be working with Mrs Dyke and we will be devising an action plan for our SEND provision this forthcoming year. I will be working with Mrs Weston and Mrs Smith to look through our English and Maths subject action plans on Wednesday too. Mrs Weston will be having a ‘good peep’ at the childrens’ maths work this week too.  She will be looking to see how much progress the children are making and how they are doing with their purple polishing work in lessons.  On Wednesday, we have a Grandparents’ lunch – we look forward to welcoming family members into school once again. We are expecting 79 Grandparents (or relatives) in school this time around and I’m sure it will be a great occasion.   The timings for this are on the ‘General Announcements’ section of the website.

Don’t forget to purchase your poppy for our act of Remembrance on Friday. Unfortunately, I won’t be in school that day but our school will be coming together to observe a 2 minute silence to think about all of those men and women who have lost their lives in conflicts and wars across the world.  Poppies are on sale in Reception and some children from Hardworking Hazels will be coming around classes every day this week.

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Next week will be an interesting week in the news too with the election for a new President of the United States. Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be chosen by the American people.  Whatever your views on the candidates, and the election campaign itself – once again we must celebrate an active democracy in action.  Polls indicate that it will be a very close result so it will be interesting to see the outcome on Wednesday.  The nearest thing that we have in school, closely resembling a democracy, is our School Parliament.  Unfortunately, we were not able to meet this week so we will be finding time to have a meeting at some point next week.  We will be talking about writing a School Parliament termly blog and also Anti-Bullying Week which is coming up soon.

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Before I sign off for another week I just have a few reminders. Don’t forget to complete your ballot paper for the forthcoming parent governor election and post it in the red box in our reception area.  We have 3 parents who are standing for election and all the ballot papers need to be in by midday on Tuesday 8th November. Also, I would just like to direct you to our ‘dates for your diary’ section on our website.  We are adding dates all of the time – so please keep your eyes peeled for what is coming up.  Also, you will see from the ‘general announcements’ section of our website that we have registered our participation in some local sporting events with other schools.  If your child expresses an interest in any of them, we will be sending a letter home nearer the time.

This week’s blog box question is: What are our 5 special words that begin with each letter of ‘PEACE’?

Have a superb weekend – time to wrap up warm I think! The weather is turning!

The ‘Coton’ standard

This week has been a great week in school and, following on from last week’s blog, our focus on the things that matter, has ensured that normal service has resumed! Last week, I felt that some children were a little ‘off-par’ and in need of a half term break.  However, this week I have seen a renewed focus from all children in school – It really is turning out to be a great half-term of hard work. Whether it’s lining up for dinner, using good manners, responding to marking or coming into collective worship – we have been back on form – ‘The Coton Standard!’

Click here to continue reading… “The ‘Coton’ standard”

Things which make the difference!

This week I have been focussing on the little things that make a huge difference. Clearly – if we can get the simple things right and focus our energy on the things which are going to have the most impact on the children first and foremost, we won’t go far wrong. I am very proud of all that we provide for our children at Coton school – from the variety of after-school clubs on offer each evening, the promotion of competitive sport at lunchtime through our Inter School Sports League, the opportunity to play a musical instrument, our democratically elected School Parliament and our open door policy and working relationships with parents. However, above all of this, there are two main characteristics of a successful school – First things first – we want our children to be happy, healthy and safe at all times and secondly, we want to make sure that every child is making progress in their learning, as a result of quality first teaching – where children are given the ‘correct diet’ to succeed, regardless of their individual ability or their emotional and social need.

Click here to continue reading… “Things which make the difference!”

Busy bees!

Friday is upon on us once more and it is time for another weekly round-up of the latest happenings in school. It has been a very busy week and all staff have been working hard in the background on things that will make our school even better.  Unfortunately, I have been out for 3 days this week and so I haven’t been able to get onto the playground in the morning as much as I usually do – but rest assured, I have been beavering away in the background.

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Yesterday, Ms Challinor and I attended the teacher training course for this year’s Young Voices and I can’t wait to begin rehearsals for the big concert.  This year, there is a good variety of songs and the actions complement the words really well.  Over the next few weeks we will be starting to think about how we are going to prepare the children for the big day within school.  As usual – there are lots and lots of words to learn but for me personally, I am just really pleased that we are able to offer our children the chance to be part of a choir consisting of up to 8000 people, under the lights of the Genting Arena.

Click here to continue reading… “Busy bees!”

Together as one – improving all the time!

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The theme for this week’s blog is ‘togetherness.’ We have had a super start to the new school year and there is a real feeling of optimism around the place at the moment as we continue our agenda of continuous improvement.  We have made several changes this September because we are passionate about getting things right and doing the best that we can. There are many things that make our school so unbelievably special but we are all very busy, working hard behind the scenes to become even better. It is amazing what you can achieve when you have a common goal.

Click here to continue reading… “Together as one – improving all the time!”

Back in full swing!

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We have only been back at school for two weeks but already there is so much going on and the place is a hive of activity. After school clubs started this week, and we have seen a great uptake as always. We have really tried to offer a broader range this term and the children have responded well to the choices offered. Miss Popple had 19 children for hockey last night – which was an amazing response. We have our eyes set on entering a competition with some other schools later on this year and I know Miss Popple will make sure they are all ready to compete. Dance club starts with Michaela Goodhead on Monday, there are still a few spaces left so make sure you get your form in before Monday evening to avoid missing out. I started our school choir this week and I really hope that we can work towards putting on a performance in the very near future, make sure your child gets signed up if they haven’t done so already.

Click here to continue reading… “Back in full swing!”