“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!’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A new year, a new start!

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There has been a lovely feel around school this week for our first week back. Our school has been full of focus and I have been really pleased with how children have settled into their new classes.  A new year always brings renewed energy, enthusiasm and a fresh approach and this week our school has certainly had that in spades!

On Wednesday afternoon, I was delighted to get an invite to go onto the school field and see a special performance from the Eager Elms. They had been learning about performance poetry and the author’s use of personification; I was amazed by their performances. The children had worked brilliantly to portray the poems using a range of performance techniques.  Nikita was great at using his voice in different ways!  I know that the Eager Elms were extremely honoured to be the first class to use our ‘Coton Coliseum.’   For those of you who are not aware, during the school holidays a team of volunteers from Jaguar Land Rover came into school to construct a mini stage/performance space with some audience benches.   Moving forward classes will be able to use it to develop their confidence in speaking and performing to groups of people, it will also be used as a mini-outdoor learning space.  I must take this time to thank Mr Evans, one of our governors, for all his help in getting the team together and Mrs Evans for the bacon rolls!  It certainly kept the team suitably fuelled to get through the day.

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It’s suddenly gone very quiet!

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The lights have been turned off, the trays have been cleared and the classrooms have that bare feel about them – it must be the end of the school year! As I sit here writing this, having just said goodbye to Mrs Cresswell for the next few weeks at least, not a single person is in sight and I am left to reflect on a very eventful year in our school.  I can’t believe that my first year as Headteacher of our school is at an end – so many highlights and so many challenges to face, but I have loved every minute of it, striving to ensure that every child in our school gets the very best every single day.

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