8th April 2022
Spring Term update from Mrs Gunning
8 April 2022
It has been lovely to return to a bit of normality this term. I am so glad to be back in school full time following my absence and it feels fantastic to be back to the warmth and joy that is Beckfoot Priestthorpe. We have whole school assemblies back, including singing assembly, and it does the heart good to hear each individual child singing as one combined voice every day. The children are also back to normal playtimes and lunchtimes and not confined to playing only in their own year group. Parents are back in the playground and able to attend meetings and have a conversation with their child’s class teacher. It has been so long that we have had to try hard to remember what things were like before all the restrictions!
I am writing to update you on developments in school this term and to let you know how we are making improvements so that as a school we can be better tomorrow than we are today. We strive every day to do the best we can for all your children and that includes looking for ways to improve how we work. Sorry that this is so long but a lot happens in a term, and we have a great deal more planned moving forward.
I met with a group of parents recently to talk about Apps, newsletters, opportunities to come into school and they all felt strongly about losing Class Dojo and that it was an eye into the classroom which they no longer had. We have spent some time looking at other Apps, but it will take some time to find and setup, so we have decided to reinstate Class Dojo for the summer term as a trial. There will be certain rules and restrictions added this time which we will send out when we come back, but we have been working hard in school to get it updated and ready to relaunch. Look out for an email when we return after the holiday.
The parent email will still be used for contacting class teachers rather than using the messaging function in Class Dojo.
Parents evening has taken place face to face this week which has been wonderful. It is so much better to talk in person and the staff were very positive about having the opportunity to chat with you all. We will look at other ways to welcome you into school over the summer term and beyond.
A termly newsletter from me was also discussed so that you are kept up to date with developments. We are constantly reviewing practice and conducting research to improve what we do each day and are committed to becoming a remarkable school where no child is left behind. The Trust values of Enjoy Learn Succeed are at the heart of all we do at Priestthorpe, and we are highly ambitious for all your children.
To improve the teaching of Phonics across school we have introduced a new scheme called Read Write Inc. This is a scheme used in other Trust primary schools and has proven success. It is a systematic, progressive programme and has already been implemented in Reception and KS1. All staff have had training from the provider, and we will begin to implement catch up for children in KS2 after the Easter holidays. We held information sessions for parents in KS1 and we will be adding our approach to the website in the coming weeks. Please do talk to the children about their phonics sessions and share the books that come home as they are part of the whole package and support the children’s progress.
Collaborating with other primary schools is a really positive aspect of being in a multi academy trust. The headteachers and other staff have opportunities to meet and share good practice and work on priorities together. As a collection of primary schools, we have invested in Ark Maths Mastery which is a comprehensive maths scheme to support excellent teaching in maths. We have full staff training scheduled in June and the program will be fully implemented in September. We have already started using it in Reception, Year 3 and Year 5 and the staff and children are really enjoying it.
In a small setting such as ours there are a limited number of leaders and therefore everyone wears many hats compared to in a larger primary school. We knew that to become a remarkable school we needed to increase our leadership capacity, so we have advertised for a second deputy headteacher. We appointed on Monday of this week and the successful candidate will join us in September. This is going to help us secure rapid improvements and support us on our journey.
We have been very busy re-writing our curriculum for September so that every subject has specific knowledge goals for each week. There will be changes to some topics, class texts to support this and knowledge organisers to help you with the learning at home. We will continue to encourage home school projects so that you can be involved in your children’s learning. The variety of work that comes in from home is excellent and it is displayed in classrooms and then in corridors once the topic ends. They brighten our school, showcase amazing creativity and are always commented on by visitors.
Next half term the whole school will be learning about different monarchs as we lead up to the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Elizabeth II is the longest serving British monarch, and we plan to mark the occasion and finish off the half term’s learning with street parties in the playground. Look out for your invite! The younger children will learn about Elizabeth II and how life was different in 1952 and the older children will learn about key monarchs such as Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VIII and William the Conqueror.
In the final half term, we will move to our new curriculum so that the staff and children become used to the new ways of working and get a head start on September. You will receive parent letters as usual so that you know what your children are learning in school.
After the break we will be implementing the Trust’s Graduated Attendance Strategy. This sets out clear guidelines for when letters are sent out to warn about poor attendance and at what point parents will be called in to a panel meeting to discuss concerns. We will be carefully tracking the attendance of target children and informing the parents of this. We may also look to reinstate the attendance award each week too.
Finally, I want to thank you for you cooperation and support this term and wish you all a very happy Easter break. We look forward to welcoming you all back after the holiday and working with you as we enter the final term of this academic year. Details of staffing for next year will come out to parents immediately after the Spring Bank holiday.