Monday, 13 November 2017

INSET: Carefully Crafted Lessons

Now we have 'done away' with groups we need to get even better at crafting lessons and task design to ensure stretch for high attainers and scaffolding for others. Teachers should be thinking precisely about every example we use and every question set for pupils. This ensures slow but steady progression, by varying just one component of the questions at a time. Pupil work time should be regularly punctuated by teacher-led discussion and examples, so frequently ‘reels the kite back in’ after letting children run with it in their own work. We used an example from Wroxham School in Potters Bar:

In the example lessons, students are given the input as a whole class 
Children then self-select the task they feel best suits their confidence with the content. 
If they feel the challenge they picked was too hard or too easy, they are free to go back and pick another one. 
Children were taught to challenge themselves but also not feel ashamed of picking the easier challenge if they want to. 
They can work through all 3 challenges during the lesson if they wish so can build confidence during a lesson.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

INSET: No Child Left Behind!

One of big themes this year is about progress and leaving no child behind. Our INSET was focussed on classroom strategies that allow equal and equitable opportunties for all children to learn. The cartoon below illustrates the message well.

To highlight this principle in our school, one of the actions we felt necessary was a big change to the way we group children in lessons. Talking to our children, there is a perception of the 'red' table that we feel is not justified or serving any purpose in a truly equal and equitable education system. This can have implications for children's self-esteem and can lead to a focus on the group rather than the individual. Here are some of our comments:
Flexible seating allows pupils to work with different children in the class which encourages them to work independently and cooperatively with a variety of personalities.
Having a concept explained by a peer is extremely powerful and equally; articulating methods to others embed concepts more thoroughly.
Flexible seating allows the teacher to accurately target the pupils who need it in response to on-going assessment.
Coloured grouping cultivates an ethos of fixed mind-sets.  The children know where they stand in the class – there is very little movement or opportunities for them to go beyond these groupings.  Their tasks and activities are set for their table; however, there is no real personalised challenge.  This puts a ceiling on children's learning.
Grouping children by presumed ability rests on the assumption that teachers know exactly what each child will achieve in a lesson. In reality this is rare, as completing tasks does not always equate with achievement.
Children may be sat next to the same child/ren year after year or may be kept on a table to make up the numbers.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Parent Feedback: Clubs and After School Provision

In the final bit of feedback from earlier in the term, we asked parents about after school clubs and provision in general for before and after school. Admittedly, it wasn't a greatly worded question as some have taken this to mean the variety of clubs and others the aspect of child care as is clear below. This is a tricky one - we don't have space or funding to offer a great deal more than we already do. I'd hope in the future that we were able to provide some sort of facility for before and after school care for working parents but there would be a cost involved.

In comparison to other schools clubs are fairly poor
All sport related. How about more creative clubs such as cooking or art?
Don’t need
More variety to encourage different sports
Always something for everyone
Not needed by me
Would be interested in before and after school clubs
After school clubs – fantastic
We would really like a breakfast and after school club
After school club would be useful for me
We would welcome and after school club
Greater variety for sports – more drumming or even arts and crafts
Poor choice in comparison to some other schools
Would like greater variety ie a science or art based club
We wouldn’t use these if available
No need at the moment
My child does not participate
These would not be something we would use
I would like to see more clubs aimed at girls
I’d love one to exist for wrap around care

There is no breakfast club which is a bit annoying

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Parent Feedback: Information Sharing

We asked parents about the quantity and quality of the information we share. The responses were generally positive but there are always a few things that we don't seem to be able to get right for some people!

I really appreciate a sentence or two at pick up about how the day has gone. The feedback at parent’s evening seemed to make more sense at the last one with explanations of levels
Pretty good but consistency with behaviour monitoring isn’t great
I miss old fashioned letters home rather than emails. Maybe more regular updates on individual progress
I find the level and quality very good and I am confident I would be updated if I needed to know
I am happy
Much more interested in the qualitative information we get
More on Facebook – great to see regular updates on activities
All good
Have found a few things out by default rather than officially
Quality and quantity is very good
We feel able to ask the teacher if we need more information
Happy – we know we can always ask if we need more
The school is very informative
All good though the new lack of levels is unhelpful
Would like more about reading and levels
All good
Would like to receive more information

This improved last year so hopefully will continue

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Parent Feedback: Spelling

Here is a collection of comments made by parents about spelling. Some really interesting and perceptive comments that we'll take on board. I totally agree that spellings learnt for a test that aren't applied is not the best way of teaching and learning spelling!

I believe the spellings are only learnt for the test
Happy with this
Spelling is improving
Improvement in basic words rather than just learning words for a test and forgetting them
Tests cause anxiety. A week isn’t enough to consolidate a pattern
It’s annoying when they practise a word and are not tested
Very good
All good
Difficult initially but we’ve got into a good routine now
Learning 6 spellings a week is adequate for now
Good but not always a happy activity
More relevant spelling in context rather than a random mix of words
Like having a separate sheet
Grateful for the little sheet
Hard to encourage our child to practice
Seems to enjoy the act of writing rather than the accuracy
Always happy to do it
I like the way they are grouped into certain sounds
Really pleased with the spellings but I’m unsure how well my child is doing
Some of the words aren’t written clear enough to understand or copy
Feedback on test scores would be appreciated
I never know when my child has spellings
Could children have a notebook to practise their spellings instead of sheets that get lost?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Feedback: Homework

Collated below are the reponses from the parental survey carried out in September. These are the comments recieved regarding homework. There was a sense of negativity about the home learning projects rather than homework in itself as you can see. While the projects are entirely optional, there is clearly an element of expectation and pressure to complete that is causing undo stress for parents and pupils. We will try and consider how we move forward bearing this in mind. 

Disappointed when it isn’t marked and not valued
We don’t do projects anymore as no feedback is given
We don’t like holiday homework as it’s a struggle to complete
Homework is too long and children lose concentration
I support homework and reward at home but my child thrives off the school rewards a lot more
I think it is suitable for the age
I find the level of weekly homework good but the projects are difficult to complete in the holidays
We didn’t complete the holiday homework
I have mixed feelings – the opportunity to practise skills learnt in the lesson is good but the holiday homework is too long.
I think homework in the holidays is unfair
I think homework should be minimal to allow time for extra curricular activities
Sometimes feel the home learning projects are too much as they need a break
It would be better if the children were allowed to have a break at half term
We understand the need for homework but don’t always get time to do it
I am happy with the amount of homework given at the moment
At present it feels like a lot of homework – I want my child to enjoy it rather than being a chore
I would prefer something a bit more challenging – the reading books are outdated
Maybe a little more time would be very helpful
Largely disagree with homework in primary school as it takes away from family time and other activities
After 6 hours at school, I am a believer in children having down time
The projects are good but too much at half term and the kids just need a break
Weekly homework is great but the projects are a struggle
I do have real issues with projects as the children need to have a break
Sometimes feel projects are too much for holidays

Friday, 27 October 2017

Governor Vacancy

We are looking to appoint a parent governor.  We want to strengthen our skill-base and are particularly interested to recruit somebody with experience in financial awareness e.g. budget responsibility and / or data interpretation.   

What is the workload?
The governors meet seven times a year, made up of a short planning meeting in September followed by a meeting once every half term.  Governors are expected to prepare for the meetings by reading the papers before the meeting.  Meetings are currently 6:30 – 8:30 on a Wednesday at school.

Governors are encouraged to make school visits, but it is recognised that some governors cannot make visits during the school day.

What does a governor do?  (Source: School Governor One Stop Shop)
Governors do not manage a school day-to-day, but are required to oversee its long-term development.
Ultimately, all governor responsibilities come back to this task and can be split into three core roles:

Is there support?
There is a school-based induction programme and the school buys into further training, free to the individual governor.

Further Information:  Please contact Mr Adams (Headteacher) or Su Brakewell (Chair of Governors – via the office).