2016 - 2017 Head Teacher's Blogs

20/7/17

New Beginnings

The end of every school year contains a degree of sadness. We say goodbye to children we have seen grow from four year olds, on their first day at school, to the point they are now; ready to set off on their next adventure. We say goodbye to staff too, who leave to begin a new phase in their lives. Each child in school says goodbye to their current teacher, ready to build new relationships and friendships in their next class. We sometimes say goodbye to whole families, who set off to continue making memories somewhere new. 

It is easy to focus on what has been, what is past and now seems to be gone. We all remember the memories we have made during this school year; during our entire time at The Grange School. Those memories are usually happy memories and in remembering, we celebrate all that we, as a community, have achieved. Those memories may be tinged with sadness at leaving, but they are happy memories that will always be with us.

But, this time of year is also filled with hope, with excitement and with enthusiasm for what lies ahead of us. Each child in the school is excited about the opportunities our fabulous school will offer them next year. They may be planning on trying a new extra-curricular club. They may have a target in mind to improve their learning. They may be excited about the new friends they will make. Each adult that is moving on will be dreaming about their future, hoping that it will be as successful as their time here at The Grange. Each family that is moving somewhere new will have their hopes and dreams  for their new future. 

Our Y6 pupils will have many hopes and dreams about their futures. They will be excited about the range of opportunities that will be open to them at secondary school; they will hope to be more independent; they may dream of their future successes. We all hope they will be happy and successful throughout their lives.

So, this time of year is a time of new beginnings. The Grange School has undergone many exciting changes this year and I am certain there will be many more to come. Schools are constantly evolving - we are always trying to improve the range of opportunities we offer; the learning experiences we give to the children and the standards we attain. Now is a time to hope, to dream and to embrace what is still to come.

Everyone here at The Grange School would like to thank you for your support throughout this year and wish you a very relaxing summer holiday. The entire staff is excited about our new beginning in September and we can't wait to welcome you all back, to continue our adventure together. 

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6/7/17

Welcome...

Wow! What a Transition Day that was. Everyone was welcomed to their new class and, for the first time ever, we invited parents to be a part of it.

This morning the children settled quickly and calmly into their new classrooms. Reception children settled so quickly, you'd have thought they'd been in our school for years. As I visited each classroom today, I was struck by how hard everyone was working and how much fun they were having.

Year 6 were solving challenging mathematical problems and creating silhouettes. They were also running a relay race that resulted in them sequencing a text. Their teachers were impressed that they rose to every challenge set to them. I was impressed with how they already looked like Year 6 children. They also enjoyed creating selfies for their teacher. 

Year 5 children should be exhausted! They completed a very active 'Minute Maths Challenge' and then practised their athletic skills during a PE lesson. They solved some very complicated maths problems and were excellent at talking about their work.  

Year 4 children spent some time getting to know each other and learned interesting facts about their classmates. Someone in Y4 has a tarantula, someone has snakes and someone met Prince Charles! They then used their fabulous imaginations to decide which animal they would like to be - there were some interesting choices! They also created their passport to Year 4 and we were impressed with their work. 

Year 3 children took part in magical maths with a set of playing cards and were extremely well-behaved when I visited their classrooms. They enjoyed playing at lunchtime with their old friends and their new classmates. 

Year 2 children had great fun with chalk circles and proved they were amazing mathematicians. We were all very impressed with how grown-up they were. They decided that they had instantly turned into Year 2 children overnight and we all agreed with them. 

Year 1 children spent some time getting to know their new teachers; Miss Banks and our new teacher Miss Harrison. They enjoyed listening to and sharing stories and I was very impressed with how beautifully they sat and listened. They enjoyed learning about pirates through lots of fun activities and we were all very impressed at how well they all coped with not being able to use their new classrooms yet. Very grown-up attitudes. 

New Reception children had a whale of a time! They climbed, ran, made sandwiches, painted, built, made dens, made picture frames, found treasure and made music! When parents arrived this afternoon, they had a great time showing their parents all the fun learning activities they'd been involved in. They then enjoyed a shady picnic with their families and new teachers. I'm thinking that they're probably all fast asleep now!

Nursery children had fun in small groups today and also had their parents stay with them. I was very impressed with their ball-rolling skills - especially when they were able to vary the speed with which they rolled the ball. 

We also had some of our existing Year 6 children with us, as they had already completed their transition days in Warwickshire schools. They were amazing - they made paper aeroplanes with Reception children, helped them find their way around, helped out in Year 1, set up the Book Fair and did a fabulous job as ambassadors, guiding parents around the school this afternoon. We were very proud of them. Some of them even managed to sneak into the sandpit and play with spades and diggers! 

Children, parents and school staff had huge, happy smiles on their faces all day. I'm told that the dads who found the mud kitchen were especially happy! We were also happy when Mr Billingham arrived with a second truck full of tyres and a friend who donated three tractor tyres to us. Thank you. Our plans for improving outdoor learning and play for children across the school are really taking shape now - thank you to everyone in the community who has supported us. We're still collecting, so if you think you have anything we'd like; please ask us. I keep taking breaks from blog-writing to check on a couple of boats I'm watching on ebay!

We ended the day with our final Book Fair of the year and I'd like to thank Mrs O'Farrell and Mrs Batten, who have worked tirelessly all year, running each Book Fair we've held. We really appreciate their support. What was especially lovely today was the number of parents who told us that they'd love to volunteer to help out in school next year. We've always got lots of roles for volunteers - on a regular basis or occasionally throughout the year. If you'd like to get involved then please let the office staff know or email me at head@thegrange.northants-ecl.gov.uk. We're still looking for volunteers for our PTA which will be formed in September - again, if you're interested, then please let us know. Thank you to those who have already expressed an interest.

The entire staff agreed that today was fabulous - they all still had a spring in their steps this evening. We're hoping that you agree that today was special and we are looking forward to the remaining events this term. Make sure to check tomorrow's Gazette for details.

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30/6/17

Together Everyone Achieves More

How amazing was Symphony 2017? We chose the name because 'symphony' can be defined as the coming together of a range of harmonious elements. How true this proved to be. 

The Summer Show involves more hard work and needs more energy than anything else during the school year. We have many trials and tribulations: routines being forgotten, elusive costumes and props that simply cannot be found, lost scripts, the annual battle with the running order, erratic volume levels on soundtracks, flickering films, forgotten lines, nerves, dances that start on the wrong foot, the endless checking of the cast list for the programme (we're terrified of missing a child off the list!), costume changes that just can't be fitted into the gap between items..... The list is endless.

Yesterday, we had what was probably the worst rehearsal ever. The run behind the back curtain wasn't clear and took a long time to be cleared. The lights weren't working properly and the photographers initially struggled to take their photographs. Mrs Hunt's images and sounds simply would not work with the projector, despite all her hard work and the fact it was running perfectly on the Macbook. The alternative software was missing and took a long time to re-organise. Staff were unable to communicate with each other without physically running from room to room. 4 floors + 8 flights of stairs + long corridors that run the length of the building = 38 floors climbed and nearly 20,000 steps on my Fitbit yesterday! And I was sitting down watching all afternoon! It was poor Miss Nicholas who was the runner; collecting children and bringing them to the stage - how she does it, we do not know. The gap between pieces was too long and children struggled to get into the wings on time. The troublesome trolls' wigs just would not stay in place. Costumes were wrong, went missing and at 1:45pm, we decided that we had to start again, from the top. We had last minute shopping expeditions into the town centre to replace missing costume items. We sent out an SOS call for clothes pegs and a missing baton. It was 5:15pm before we'd seen the whole show. We (the children and staff) felt, at times, frustrated, tired, dejected and worried that this time, it wouldn't be alright on the night. 

But, in addition to all this, we smiled a lot. We felt happiness that we were, once again, celebrating how fantastic our school is. We enjoyed each others' company; being in a more informal setting and having time to really chat with the children. We marvelled at the resilience of the children, who patiently continued to rehearse despite the technical difficulties. We loved being able to eat together informally, as one large, mixed group - something that is almost impossible in school. We enjoyed the cakes and chocolates that you, our supportive parents, had sent with us to keep us going. We were thrilled to watch our children behaving beautifully - being polite and kind to one another. We loved hearing the praise our children received from the theatre staff, who said they'd never had such a well-behaved school as ours. We joked and played together. We laughed a great deal. We cried tears of pure emotion as the children's pieces moved us. We were all determined to get it right. We hugged and sighed with relief when once again, our amazing children showed one of the reasons why our school is so special. We thought we'd burst with pride when the children ensured that it truly was alright on the night. This morning we were touched when you offered, and did, help us to unload the vans (thank you so much). We became emotional reading your social media comments on what the show means to you. We loved receiving your emails and cards. 

And throughout it all, we all felt one overwhelming emotion - pride; in our amazing children obviously, but in the team spirit that is evident everywhere throughout our entire school community. The Summer Show is a huge team effort and without everyone playing their part in the team, it simply could not happen. Yesterday and today we revelled in the feeling that we are all - children, parents, staff and governors - one big team. Here at The Grange, you are all proving that together we can do so much. 

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24/6/17

In Full Swing...

End of year events are in full swing now, although it's still difficult to believe we've almost reached the end of another academic year. How does the time fly by so quickly? We still have lots we want to achieve before the end of the term, even though we're also busy making plans for the next academic year.

Rehearsals for Symphony 2017 are in full flow and the children have worked incredibly hard. Tickets are still available from The Deco box office and we're lucky in that the view from every seat in this theatre is superb. We've cut the number of full rehearsal days down from 15 to 7 this year and the children are responding to the challenge. Groups have worked hard all year in order that their pieces are performance-ready next week and it's now a case of making sure that it all fits together seamlessly! The enthusiasm, energy and behaviour of the children has been exemplary and I congratulate each and every one of them. The children who are not participating in the show have continued to work with enthusiasm, remaining fully engaged in lessons and also behaving in an exemplary way. Thank you all for being so fabulous. Costumes and props have been sourced and provided and I would like to thank all our families for their continued support in helping us whenever we need it. Lastly, I would like to thank our fabulous staff team, who have worked tirelessly this week - either in rehearsals, classrooms, offices or the grounds, ensuring that school continues with the same high standards as always. Add to this, temperatures in excess of 30 degrees and I think you'll agree that it's been a tiring week for everyone. I hope that you all; staff, children and parents, are having a relaxing weekend. 

In addition to the Summer Show, we're also busy organising Sports Day, Transfer Day, Open Afternoon, Meet the Teacher, Book Fair, Reception Home visits, Stay & Play sessions, Y6 Leavers' events and an afternoon tea to say goodbye to Mrs Yates. Plus, we're writing your child's annual report which you'll receive before the end of term. Please check The Gazette for details on all these events. 

Finally, I'd like to wish our Ballroom Competition Team the very best of luck tonight at the Derngate, where they are taking part in the Dancing Schools UK final. Mrs Wagg and I will be there, along with all your families, cheering you on! Good luck and have fun!

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15/6/17

Attendance Matters

School attendance is important

Here at The Grange School, we want every child to have every opportunity to reach their full potential. In order to make the most of these opportunities, children need to be in school all day, every day.

There is a strong link between good school attendance and achieving good results. Children who miss school frequently, will fall behind in their work. This will affect their future prospects.

Your responsibilities as a parent 

Parents and carers have a duty to ensure their child has a suitable education either by regular attendance at a school or by home-schooling. 

Parental support is critical in ensuring that children achieve in education.

What the law says

Parents have a legal responsibility to ensure that children of compulsory school age receive a full-time education 'suitable to their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs that they may have either by regular school attendance at school or otherwise'. Section 7 Education Act 1996.

Parents whose children are on a school register and fail to ensure the regular school attendance of their children, may be guilty of an offence under Section 444 or 444(1a) of the Education Act 1996. The council may issue a penalty notice or take other statutory action through the courts to secure regular school attendance.

Absence from school

Unauthorised absence - this is when children are absent from school without the authority of the Head Teacher. The following will be categorised as unauthorised absence:

. birthday treats

. day trips

. shopping

. hairdresser visits

. over-sleeping

. taking a long weekend off

. holidays in term time

. taking the rest of the day off before or after a medical appointment

Authorised absence - there are very few reasons why absence may be authorised and in all cases we ask that you contact us and explain the reason why your child is absent. If you need to take your child out of school in exceptional circumstances, please contact the school and we will explain our procedures for requesting this absence.

We are currently seeing an unprecedented number of absences, due to a variety of reasons, including holidays. Holidays in term time are not authorised. We appreciate that holidays are considerably less expensive during termtime, but please consider the effect that this period of absence has on your child:

 

Days absent in an academic year

Absence %

Overall %

1

0.5%

99.5%

5

2.5%

97.5%

10

5%

95%

20

10%

90%

30

15%

85%

Our attendance target for each child is 96%. Once attendance is at or below 95%, we work with you to improve your child's attendance. We also measure whole class attendance and school attendance. These are currently below 96%, which needs to improve please. Reception class attendance last week was below 90% in both classes. 

We appreciate that all children are ill sometimes and very occasionally, they should be kept off school. However, this should only happen when your child is simply too unwell to be in school or has a contagious condition. Coughs and colds are not a reason to stay at home. If you are in any doubt, please ask our advice. Please also be assured that if your child becomes too unwell during the school day, we will always contact you. 

We appreciate the support you give to us and we are asking you to support us in improving your child's attendance figures, if this is required. If your child's attendance is below 96%, you will shortly receive an attendance report. Please think about the reasons why your child's attendance has been unacceptable this year and how this can be improved. If you need any support to do this, please do not hesitate to contact myself, Mrs Wagg or Mrs Hennessy. 

As always, your support is very much appreciated.

Vicki Masters

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9/6/17

A Sense of Community

'Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.'

(Helen Keller)

This week in school, we've been thinking about belonging to a community. 

We helped the community of Daventry to celebrate the Women's Cycle Tour setting off from our town centre. We had a fabulous time, waving our flags and making lots of noise, cheering and chanting. The Daventry Express said we were definitely the most vocal people there! Despite being very excited, we all behaved brilliantly and we had people phoning the school to congratulate us on our excellent behaviour. Special congratulations to our Nursery children, who walked into town and back without a single complaint. Many thanks to all the family members that helped us to supervise the children - without your support, this couldn't have happened. 

We're also making our community safer by learning to scoot sensibly and safely. We've got lots of new scooters and helmets and we've begun our Scooterability lessons. We'll be continuing with this for the remainder of the Summer Term. We're very grateful to Daventry District Council for their grant of £500 to help us with this project. We've also contributed £500 from the money our community raised at the Easter Fete. 

Year 6 children have been teaching us all about how our community is a democracy. They've learned what this means and how the democratic electoral system works. This week they've learned about the manifestos of each of the main political parties and decided which they agree with. They've written political speeches to try to persuade their peers to vote for them in the leadership competition. They've spoken at rallies in classrooms across the school and have canvassed support outside our very own polling station. Having encouraged everyone to vote - for the sake of their community - they conducted an exit poll of voters as they left the polling station. Year 6 children made their predictions and were excited about whether their own results would match those nationally. They then compared the results of our election with the national General Election. We are really impressed with how much Year 6 children have learned about democracy in our community.

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26/5/17

Delighted and Honoured

Hopefully you'll have received your copy of this week's Gazette and read Peter Banks' announcement concerning the new, permanent Head Teacher of The Grange School. I am thrilled and delighted to have been offered the position, after a rigorous interview process yesterday, involving five of the school's governors. 

Since the start of my secondment as Acting Head Teacher, I have enjoyed every second of my time in the role. Along with the fabulous staff team, we have ensured that the children are engaged in an exciting, fun curriculum that allows them all to reach their true potential. The smiles on the children's faces during Science Week, World Book Day or when they discover that a time machine has landed on their playground, are fabulous to see. Seeing your children race across the playground towards me, desperate to tell me what they've been learning is guaranteed to put a smile on my face too. One of my favourite times of the week is when I attend Family Assembly on Friday mornings and join you in celebrating your children's successes. We have continued to make sure that we offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities, in both the Arts and Sport and we'll soon be in rehearsals for this year's summer show. 

Last night, we held our first school disco for a while, which was a massive success, both in terms of how happy it made the children and as a fundraiser for the school. Thank you for your support. We have our next disco planned for September, but before then, we'll be joining you at the Cycle Race and inviting you to our Family Picnic. On Induction Day (when your children spend the day with their new teachers) we'll be holding an Open Afternoon, where you will be able to work alongside your child and their new teacher. This will also be the date of the final Book Fair of the academic year.

The staff have been making improvements to how we teach maths and English and we are looking forward to seeing the results of this work. We know that your children have been working extremely hard and are making excellent progress. We will be sharing annual school reports with you in July, but if you would like to discuss your child's progress before this, please make an appointment to come in and see us. We really enjoy seeing you around school and Mrs Wagg and myself love our morning chats with you and your toddlers! If you would like to become more involved with the school and could volunteer to listen to some of our children read each week, please let us know. We will very soon be setting up our PTA, so if you volunteered to join in, we'll be in contact soon.

As part of my interview process, I was asked to present my vision for the school and how I would move the school from 'good' to 'outstanding'. I have lots of ideas - and the energy and enthusiasm to implement these. The whole team is excited to continue what we've started in the last few months and we look forward to working in partnership with you, to make your child's time at The Grange School even better. 

I am truly honoured to have been appointed as Head Teacher of our fabulous school and will continue to do my very best to ensure that each and every child achieves his/her potential. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and to remind you that I'm always available to talk to you should you need to. I'd also like to wish you a very happy, warm and sunny half term holiday. Have fun!

Vicki Masters

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17/5/17

We Need To Talk

What's the one simple thing that we can all do to hugely improve our children's attainment and progress throughout school and beyond?

It's simple - talk!

Research shows us that good language and communication skills play a crucial role in influencing how successful our children will be at school and in life.

Language is the one tool we all need for thinking and learning. We use it to ask questions, voice our opinions, express our ideas and describe what we have learned about the world. Through communication we build relationships and resolve conflicts. Babies and toddlers begin to develop the language and communication skills that will affect how ready they are for school at age 4; how well they attain at age 7 and 11, how likely they are to achieve good GCSE grades. 

So what can we do to help?

Nursery staff are trained to develop language skills and to help your children to talk about the world around them.

You can help your Nursery-aged children by talking to them on their journey to and from Nursery: point out and name the things you see around you; name the colours of objects; use early mathematical words like big, small, long, short, wide, near, far to describe the things you see; sing songs and nursery rhymes or have a favourite nursery rhymes CD in the car. You can also encourage them to talk in short sentences. 

Early Years staff are trained to help develop your children's speaking and listening skills.

You can help your Reception children by sharing books with them every day; read to them and listen to them read; ask them about the characters in the book or ask them to tell you what has happened. Continue to sing songs with them and encourage them to join in with songs on their favourite TV programmes. Model whole sentences for them and encourage them to also speak in whole sentences. 

Key Stage 1 staff are trained to develop children's communication skills - not just speaking but also, listening. 

You can help your Key Stage 1 children by always asking them about their day and listening to what they tell you; ask them more questions linked to what they have told you; encourage them to have conversations with their brothers and sisters and help them to follow the rules of conversation - listening to others, taking it in turns to speak and using 'inside' voices. You can also continue to encourage them to speak in whole sentences.

Lower Key Stage 2 staff are trained to help children to express their ideas in words.

You can help your Lower Key Stage 2 children by asking them 'why do you think' and 'how do you know' questions; encourage them to justify their opinions with some evidence. Don't be afraid to ask them questions that you don't know the answer to - there are no wrong answers to questions that start with 'why do you think'. You could also teach them a new word each day. They'll love to show you how they can use their new words!

Upper Key Stage 2 staff are trained to help children communicate effectively in a range of situations.

You can help your Upper Key Stage 2 children by encouraging them to speak in a range of different situations. You could ask them to tell you their views on a news topic and then ask them to explain how they think someone else might feel about the same issue. Children love to have an opinion, but it's crucial that you listen as hard as they talk!

Good language and communication skills are vital if a child is to succeed in life and you have the most important role to play in their language development. We will be focusing on developing speech, language and communication skills across the curriculum in the coming year and if you would like any ideas on how to support your children further, please do not hesitate to contact us for ideas and resources.

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11/5/17

Dear Y2 Pupils

Dear Year 2 children,

You'll know that Year 6 have been busy taking their tests this week and we're very proud of how hard they've worked. Well done to them all! We also know that you've been working super-hard all year and that your teachers are currently assessing your work for your end of Key Stage 1 results. As part of that assessment, you'll also be taking some tests.

Like everything we do as part of our learning, these tests are important. Trying your hardest in these tests is the right thing to do because you know that at The Grange, we believe it’s important to try our very best in everything we do. But, these tests are a snapshot of your time here at The Grange. They’ll test how well you can read, write, spell, reason, calculate and solve problems during one week in May. That’s one week out of the 266 weeks that you’ll be at primary school - a couple of days out of the 1330 days you’ll spend here. They’ll tell us something about your ability in reading, spelling, writing and maths. But there’s lots of things they won’t tell us.
These tests won’t tell us how great you are at helping your friends when they fall over in the playground. They won't tell us how brilliantly you explained the events of the Titanic sinking.They won’t tell us how excited you were during Science Week or how amazing you looked dressed up as a book character on World Book Day. The results won’t reflect how hard you tried in that race at Sports Day last year or how proud you looked when you won that DoJo certificate. They won’t tell us anything about how hard you try in Maths lessons or how your confidence has grown in PE lessons. These tests won’t tell us how nervous you felt the first time you stepped out onto the stage at the theatre for our Summer Show or how excited you were on that residential visit to Sheringham. They won't describe the huge smile on your face when you showed off your learning at our Families Assemblies. They won’t tell us that you’re kind, caring, fun, sensible and polite. They won’t tell us what a fantastic friend you are.

These tests, and the results, will not tell us the whole story of you and your time in Key Stage 1. It’s important that you remember that. What they will tell us is important and I know that you’ll all try your very hardest to make sure that you are the very best you can be. Be fabulous! You are all shining stars and we are always very proud of you.

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4/5/17

Dear Y6 Pupils,

Dear Year 6 children,

Next week is Key Stage 2 SATs week and we’re so proud of the way that you’ve prepared for these tests. We know that you’ve worked hard, both in school and at home, to revise everything you’ve learned. We know that you’ll try your very best when taking the tests next week.

Like everything we do as part of our learning, these tests are important. Trying your hardest in these tests is the right thing to do because you know that at The Grange, we believe it’s important to try our very best in everything we do. But, these tests are a snapshot of your time here at The Grange. They’ll test how well you can read, write, spell, reason, calculate and solve problems during one week in May. That’s one week out of the 266 weeks that you’ll be at primary school - 4 days out of the 1330 days you’ll spend here. They’ll tell us something about your ability in reading, spelling, writing and maths. But there’s lots of things they won’t tell us.

These tests won’t tell us how great you are at football or tennis, hockey or swimming. They won’t tell us how pleased you were when you finally remembered the order of the planets. They won’t tell us how excited you were during Science Week or how amazing you looked dressed up as a book character on World Book Day. The results won’t reflect how hard you tried to climb the climbing wall on the playground or how thrilled you were when you won that DoJo certificate. They won’t remind us of how helpful you are in the lunch halls, at the Easter Fete or on the Key Stage 1 playground. They won’t tell us anything about how hard you try in Art lessons or how your confidence has grown in Music lessons. These tests won’t tell us how nervous you felt the first time you stepped out onto the stage at the theatre for our Summer Show or how excited you were on that residential visit to Sheringham, or Kingswood or France. They won’t tell us that you’re kind, caring, responsible, resilient and trustworthy. They won’t tell us what a fantastic friend you are.

 These tests, and the results, will not tell us the whole story of you and your time at The Grange. It’s important that you remember that. What they will tell us is important and I know that you’ll all try your very hardest to make sure that you are the very best you can be next week. Be fabulous! You are all shining stars and we are always very proud of you.

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4/5/17

A plea - or two ...

We are hoping to form a PTA Committee for The Grange School, to further extend the range of exciting activities we offer our children and families, and to raise funds for the school. As a staff, we have made lots of plans for the coming few months but really want to involve all of you too. At this stage, all we need you to do is to let us know if you are interested in joining us. Please see tomorrow's Gazette (paper or electronic copy), where there will be a form for you to return to let us know you'd like to help. We really appreciate your support.

You may also be aware that the government introduced 'The Pupil Premium Grant' in April 2011 and schools are allocated additional funding into their school budget. The premium provides funding specifically for children from families who have registered and meet the criteria. The purpose of the grant into schools is to raise achievement and improve outcomes for these children. Here at The Grange School, we use the money to provide a wide range of activities and experiences to raise standards and improve outcomes, including issuing you with a £100 voucher each year (for each child) to spend on a range of different products and experiences within school.

It is vital that we, as a school, receive the funding we are eligible to receive. But, in common with most schools, it is likely that a number of parents/carers whose children attend our school fail to claim the Pupil Premium. This is especially true in Reception and Key Stage 1. Our catering team provides an excellent range of healthy lunch options that are enjoyed daily by a significant number of our pupils. Your child may well be able to access these free of charge. Even if you don’t want your child to make use of the free school meals, please still apply for the funding if you think you may be eligible, as your child will benefit from the funding in other ways.

We know that in the past, some of you have felt that KS1 children do not benefit from the £100 voucher. We have worked hard to make sure that we offer your children lots of experiences such as trips and visits, and you will be able to use your voucher to pay for these. We also have a range of products, including uniform and Book Fair books, that can be purchased with your voucher. We also have plans to extend the range of uses for your voucher.

So, here is my second plea to you all……

If you believe that you may be entitled to claim for your children and do not already do so, please make a claim. If
your circumstances change at any point - even if only for a short while - please make a claim.

If you think that you meet the criteria listed below, you may be eligible, so please speak to our office staff or Mrs Hennessy, who will be able to advise you on how to apply for Pupil Premium Funding. Alternatively, please visit http://www3.northamptonshire.gov.uk/councilservices/children-families-education/schools-and-education/Pages/pupil-premium.aspx and complete the form to apply. It’s a 10 minute job that could make a significant difference to your child and our school.

Income support

Income-based jobseekers’ allowance

Income-related employment and support allowance

 Support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

The guaranteed element of state pension credit

Child tax credit, provided that you are not also entitled to working tax credit and have an annual gross income of £16,190 or less

Universal credit

 As always, thank you for all you do to support your child and our school. We appreciate all the support you give us. 

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21/4/17

Welcome to the Summer term

Welcome to the Summer Term! This first term of summer is always incredibly busy and this year is no exception. Please check today's Gazette for details of events to come. In addition, children in Year 2 and Year 6 will be taking their statutory assessment tests and you will have received plenty of information from your child's teacher about this. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to come in and ask.

Our first event of the new term is a Book Fair which will be held on Monday 24th April 2017 from 3:15pm to 4:45pm, in the KS2 Hall. As always, books will be priced at £1.25 each and we have ordered a huge number of exciting new titles. We really look forward to seeing you all there. Remember, if you are in receipt of a Pupil Premium voucher, your child can use this to purchase books.

If you feel you may be entitled to a £100 voucher, please visit the website http://www3.northamptonshire.gov.uk/councilservices/children-families-education/schools-and-education/Pages/pupil-premium.aspx or contact the school office. It is important to the school that anyone who is eligible for Pupil Premium, is registered to receive it, as the school receives a large amount of additional funding based on these numbers. Please see this week's Gazette for more information on this or contact us for further information. 

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31/3/17

Happy Easter

How quickly the weeks fly by! I can't believe that another term is already over and that when we return, it will be the Summer Term. I've loved every second of my first term as Acting Head Teacher and I can't wait for the next term to begin! Well, maybe after a bit of a rest! The staff have been working hard to plan lots of exciting activities for Term 5 and this week's newsletter will give you an idea of the dates of these. You should also have received your termly overviews, which will give you more information. 

I'd like to thank you all for the support you've given to the school over the last six weeks. We've raised an enormous amount of money; both for the school and for charity - thank you. We have celebrated British Science Week with a fabulous week of fun, science activities. Staff have visited Spain and Italy to learn more about education and children have visited the Space Centre and Daventry Country Park. Our dancers have danced in public and we've celebrated World Book Day by dressing up as our favourite book characters. Red Nose Day was great fun and we enjoyed opening our doors to you on Open Morning and for the Easter Fete. We celebrated the success of all our pupils at Presentation Assemblies and have loved welcoming you to celebrate our successes with us in our Family Assemblies, every Friday morning. You've been learning alongside the children and our Family / Parent Learning sessions have proved very popular. We'll be offering more courses very soon - thank you for supporting these. 

The children have been as delightful as ever; myself and Mrs Wagg have enjoyed being with them in classrooms, on the playground and around school. We love how they tell us, with huge smiles on their faces, how excited they are about their learning. 

Should you need to contact the school urgently during the holidays, please use the 'Contact Us' form on this website and we'll respond as quickly as we can. Everyone at The Grange would like to wish you a happy Easter and we look forward to welcoming you back to school on April 19th.

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15/3/17

Always Question. Always Wonder.

We're half way through British Science Week and it's clear that the children never want it to end! The week started with the staff donning their lab coats and before a single child had entered the building, there was excitement in the air. We thought we were excited about British Science Week but we hadn't predicted the level of awe and wonder we'd see in the children. To say they are excited by Science Week would be an understatement!

The week started with a science assembly, with Mrs Wagg demonstrating sound to the children. The children were already buzzing with excitement by 9:30 on Monday morning. That buzz and excitement hasn't gone away. Practical science activities are taking place everywhere we look. Nursery children have been recreating animal markings by carefully cutting and sticking paper. They all had such fun learning about slime by touching and feeling it and even got the chance to make their own slime and bubbles. Our Twitter/Facebook feed shows that the Nursery children also had an amazing time exploring foam; ending up elbow-deep in it! They have also been making the most of the sunlight by exploring shadows and have been working alongside their friends in Reception to discover what is inside a balloon. Reception children have been super excited while working with balloons and had great fun making their cars move by using balloon-power. Today they very proudly told us that it's 'air' inside the balloon. We were really impressed by the scientific vocabulary our EYFS children are using to explain why the petals on the flowers are changing colour. One of our favourite moments of Science Week so far was when a girl from one of our Reception classes was jumping up and down with excitement, shouting "I'm learning about Science". (Keep reading to find out what's happening in KS1 and KS2).

Year 1 have sorted materials, been out in the school grounds collecting natural materials to make nature crowns and have proudly modelled these for our Twitter / Facebook audience. They have learned all about Albert Einstein and produced some very impressive writing about him. They were helped by the fact that their teachers had dressed up as Einstein (one of them even arrived at Staff Meeting complete with wig and moustache!). The children have been experimenting with different coloured water and have been very carefully measuring their water out. They were amazed at the results of their water investigations. We know that the children in Year 1 don't want Science Week to end, as they tell us at every possible opportunity! 

Year 2 children discovered a volcano on Monday morning and have since made their own volcanoes; investigating how to create more lava and make their volcano erupt for longer. Their faces were delightful when they watched a volcano erupting in their own classroom! Again, we have been really impressed by their use of scientific language. Year 2 children have also been investigating colour and predicted which Skittles would lose their colour first. They had to work out how they had some blue colouring when they hadn't used blue skittles! Linked to their theme work, Year 2 children have also been working out exactly how big dinosaurs were and have been exploring scientific ideas about how the dinosaurs became extinct. Ask them to explain their theories to you.

Year 3 children are learning about life this week and have researched healthy foods. They have also investigated how water is transported around a plant and demonstrated this by being 'human plants'. They've been learning the scientific skill of prediction and especially enjoyed creating superheroes who can make their own food - just like green plants can. (Keep reading to find out what the older children have been learning). 

Year 4 are learning all about electricity this week and have designed their own explorers' torches. They really enjoyed creating electrical circuits and worked hard to make the lightbulbs shine and the buzzers buzz! Their smiles were as bright as the lightbulbs! Year 5 children have been learning about forces this week and have taken part in a range of exciting activities. They used the large parachute to explore air resistance and had great fun making and testing their helicopters. 5SC's classroom became a transport workshop, where the children were identifying the variables they could control to try to make their vehicle move the furthest. They've also been learning about how friction slows down a moving object. 5CC have been learning that sometimes things go wrong for scientists and that investigations often have to be repeated - very valuable knowledge to every scientist. Our three Year 6 classes have been conducting a different experiment each day. They've flipped their learning in 6RD; conducting the experiment during school hours and then using their time at home to find out the scientific theory behind their discoveries. They've really enjoyed sharing this knowledge with each other. They've made 'blood' smoothies and have explored the concept of water displacement. Today they've been investigating chemical reactions and will share their theories about these tomorrow. Also, tomorrow Year 6 children will be working alongside teachers from Parker Eact to explore electricity and particle theory!

It is fabulous to be a part of such an exciting week at The Grange and seeing the children's awe and wonder at their discoveries is the best feeling ever. Everyone is enjoying the buzz of excitement that is obvious in every corner of the school this week. The children's faces are covered in huge smiles and their questions and conversations fill the classrooms, corridors and playgrounds. What an exciting place our school is!

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8/3/17

Exciting Times!

We've had some exciting lessons taking place in school and we hope you enjoyed being part of those lessons during our Open Morning on Tuesday. It was lovely to see parents, carers and grandparents measuring angles, designing spacecraft to keep an egg astronaut safe and joining in with Mathematic Athletics. Lots of you learned about Jewish festivals from our visitor, Jo Elijah and I'm told that all the sweets in the fractions lesson were eaten at the right time! I was even persuaded, by your children and grandchildren, to send home some golden Head Teacher's Award stickers for particularly successful parents and grandparents. Congratulations to those of you who received them!

We know that for some of you, Open Mornings can be difficult to attend and so we're working hard to plan events at different times of the day. Before the end of the school year, we'll be holding an Open Afternoon, when you can visit to see what your children get up to after lunch! Dates will follow soon - check the newsletter, this website, Twitter and Facebook for details. 

As you know, we've been working hard on the improvements you suggested on the last Parent Voice survey. Each week, on the newsletter, we're updating you as to what we're doing to further improve the school experience for you and your children. At our staff meeting this week, the staff were working hard to plan a range of exciting learning opportunities for upcoming themes. We'll let you know about these in plenty of time for you to prepare for them. We're starting next week, by celebrating British Science Week, with lots of practical science activities in a fun-filled week. Ask your child to tell you all about it. 

The teachers are working hard, planning trips out of school for all the children. Again, we'll give you plenty of notice about when these will take place. 

We've also been thinking about fun activities outside of lessons, that you and your children can enjoy. We're thrilled to be able to share with you the events that will be coming soon, before the end of this academic year:

. Family Picnic to celebrate National Picnic Week

. Book Fair

. Family Assemblies

. All-inclusive Sports Day; with lots of activities for everyone

. Children's disco - date and details to follow soon

We're all so excited by the events that we're planning, that we've even started planning WOW events, trips, experiences and family events for the next school year (2017 - 2018). These include:

. Family Pantomime Outing

. School Discos

. Bedtime Stories event for EYFS and KS1 children

. After Dark Stories event for KS2 children 

... and many, many more. 

Finally, because we know that life is really busy sometimes, we will be including Family Competitions on our newsletters, that you can work on together, as a family, at a time that suits you. These will be fun activities for the whole family to complete together and there will be a prize for the winning family each time. Our first Family Competition launches on this week's newsletter, with a Book Character Quiz. Have fun completing this together over the next couple of weeks. 

We know that you can't always be here with us, so remember, our Twitter and Facebook feeds are a fabulous way to stay in touch with what we're doing throughout the day.

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3/3/17

Come to our Open Morning.

Our next Open Morning is on Tuesday 7th March 2017. You are all invited to come in and spend time with your children from 9:30 - 11:00.

During the morning, we will also be hosting an Information Fair; featuring a range of useful information to help you support your child. Our caterers, TnS will be providing you with samples of their delicious school meals. 

Our curriculum focus for the morning will provide you with information to help you to support your child's reading. We will have our usual freebies for you to take away and our staff will be on hand to offer further advice and support.

In addition, we will be displaying a selection of high-quality reading books, all available for you to purchase, for your children, for only £1.25 each. 

We appreciate the support you give to the school during events such as this and we look forward to welcoming you on Tuesday morning. 

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28/2/17

We're listening.

You said that we could support you further by offering a range of Parent Information Sessions at different times of the day. We are hosting two MyMaths for Parents sessions, to provide you with practical help and advice on using MyMaths at home. These sessions will take place on:

Wednesday 22nd March - 3:15 - 4:15pm   and    Thursday 23rd March 2017 - 2:15 - 3:15pm.

Please complete the reply slip on this week's newsletter, to book your place. If these sessions are over-subscribed, we will offer further sessions in the coming months.

We will also be offering further information sessions to you, on a range of subjects, over the remainder of the school year. Please check the Gazette each week for details.

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23/2/17

We're listening.

You said that we could support you further by offering a range of Parent Information Sessions at different times of the day. We are hosting two MyMaths for Parents sessions, to provide you with practical help and advice on using MyMaths at home. These sessions will take place on:

Wednesday 22nd March - 3:15 - 4:15pm   and    Thursday 23rd March 2017 - 2:15 - 3:15pm.

Please complete the reply slip on this week's newsletter, to book your place. If these sessions are over-subscribed, we will offer further sessions in the coming months.

We will also be offering further information sessions to you, on a range of subjects, over the remainder of the school year. Please check the Gazette each week for details.

 

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We're Listening.

Thank you all so much for completing the Parent Surveys during the recent Parents' Evenings. We had 200 completed surveys which is phenomenal!

The overwhelming majority of responses were positive, with 93.5% of responses being 'Strongly agree' or 'Agree'. Only 2.8% of responses were 'Strongly Disagree' or 'Disagree'.

98% of you told us that your children feel happy and safe at the school.

96% of you would recommend our school to another parent.

98% of you feel your child is making good progress at our school and 92% of you feel that we give you enough valuable information about this. The majority of you are also happy with the homework the children receive (92%).

98% of you feel that your child is well looked after at our school and 90% of you feel that we make sure our pupils are well-behaved. 

95% of you feel that the school is well-led and well-managed and 92% of you feel that we respond well to any concerns that you raise. 

We're really pleased with these figures and with the wide range of lovely, positive comments you wrote on your surveys. You listed so many things that you feel we do well.

BUT.....

You know that we're always trying to improve the learning experiences and opportunities we offer every child and so, you know that we'll be focusing on further improving the areas that you suggested we needed to refine. So we've already been busy compiling an action plan to further develop the following areas:

Communication with parents

Many of you felt that we did this well, but others felt that we could improve further; especially with giving you notice of school events. We've already begun to explore all the different ways in which we can communicate with you, to ensure that everyone always receives the information needed. 

We've also begun to think about the range of information events that we offer to parents. We'll be extending the range of these in the coming terms. 

Homework and SATs preparation

Although the majority of you were happy with these areas, some of you have asked us to look at these areas again and so we have compiled a list of actions that we think will improve the homework experience for families. We're giving a great deal of thought to how we help you to support your children in preparation for SATs and will be making changes to our current provision. 

Sports and Extra-Curricular Clubs

Again, many of you were happy with our extra-curricular and sport provision; being especially pleased with the wide range of extra-curricular clubs we offer. However, a few of you gave us some ideas for ways in which we could improve things further and so, we're looking at both of these areas on our action plan.

Behaviour Management

Although 98% of you told us that your child feels happy and safe in school, we received a few comments about instances of inappropriate behaviour and how we deal with these. We've begun to review our procedures and policies and will be working with everyone in our school community to improve this further. We've already worked with the children (during assembly) on how we can all improve our own behaviour around school and on the playground. I'm thrilled to report that the Lunchtime Supervisors immediately reported that children were trying hard to be respectful of others. We will of course, be continuing this work and we'll let you know about it via all our communication channels.

Parents' access to school

Whilst many of you felt that we're readily available to talk to whenever you need to, a few of you expressed some concerns about the timings of some school events. Obviously, we appreciate that different parents prefer different times of the day to communicate with us and so we've already begun to think about how we can offer a wider range of parent /family activities at different times of the day and evening.

We'd like to remind you of how you can make sure that you can speak to a member of staff whenever you need to:

General - you can telephone or call at the Main Office at any time to request an appointment to see a member of staff. We always try our hardest to speak to you on the same day, but when this isn't possible we'll always explain why and offer you the opportunity to speak to another member of our staff team.

Start of day - during the morning drop-off, KS1 and KS2 teachers receive the statutory time (PPA time) required to allow them to plan, prepare and resource lessons and assess your children's performance in school. Our support staff are busy at this time, greeting the children and taking the register. The children have work to complete as soon as they enter the classroom and we appreciate your support in encouraging them to independently begin the school day. Because of this, we kindly ask that you drop the children off at the cloakroom door (the cloakrooms can become very crowded with both parents and children) and communicate with the class teacher through written notes please. If you need to tell us something more urgent, then please telephone or call at the Main Office and we'll ensure that the information is passed on immediately, or that you can talk to another member of staff. 

End of day - This is our 'Open Door' time and teachers are available to talk to you at this time. Because of the wide range of clubs we offer, some staff will be running a club after school on particular days. Please check the clubs timetable for this information. Class teachers also use this time to telephone you if they have any concerns about your child. 

In order to keep our children safe, we cannot unlock the external doors until 3:15pm, so we appreciate you remaining outside until this time. Some of you told us that if classes are not prompt at leaving, it can hinder you collecting other children. We will ensure that lessons will finish in time for the children to leave at 3:15pm. 

In addition to this, myself and Mrs Wagg are always more than happy to talk to you should you need to. Please do not hesitate to contact us via the Main Office, by telephone or by emailing:

head@thegrange.northants-ecl.gov.uk.

We are all already enjoying this term and will provide you with regular updates of how we're improving things for you and your children. 

Vicki Masters - Acting Head Teacher

Staverton Rd, Daventry, Northants, NN11 4HW 01327 705785 head@thegrange.northants-ecl.gov.uk

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