2017 - 2018 Head Teacher's Blogs

 
24/6/18
Something Scary ...
 
Today, I heard something really scary! Are you ready for this?
 
I heard that there are only 19 school days left this year! Not quite 4 weeks. That can't be right, surely? It can't possibly be the end of the school year, can it? 
 
Today was so busy at school that I didn't have time to check this 'fact' out. But it kept popping into my head, throughout the day. It dominated my thoughts as I was driving home. So I checked and guess what... it's correct!
 
19 days! Just 19 days! Only 19 days of this school year left! 
 
Immediately, of course, my brain started racing with all the things we still have to do this year:
. the Sheringham residential
. an inter-school football match
. KS2 Family Assembly
. Family Learning - Fun in the Garden
. Owls Drop-In session
. Nursery Stay and Play sessions
. two intra-school cricket tournaments
. a Nursery trip to the Country Park
. introducing the Summer Reading Challenge
. a Book Fair
. reports out to parents
. Transfer Day
. Open Afternoon
. Meet the teacher session
. Sports Day
. Presentation Assemblies ....
 
Did I forget anything? Oh yes, just the little matter of the Summer Show to fit in there somewhere. 
 
There feels like there is so much we still want to do this year. At the beginning of this year, we set out to make some big changes to our school. We have evaluated so many aspects of our school this year and made lots of changes, all with the intention of improving our offer to our families and raising standards in our school. We are starting to see these changes paying dividends and we'll be sharing news of our successes soon. But there's still so much we want to do! 
 
We're currently working on making the curriculum even more exciting for our children. We're making sure that our library remains attractive and inviting to our pupils and makes them desperate to read. We're currently extending the range of extra-curricular clubs we offer our children. We're still working hard to ensure that every child's books are neat and well-presented. We're constantly looking at ways in which we can identify the needs of children and fill any gaps they have in their understanding. We're always thinking about ways in which we can challenge all our pupils, in every lesson. We're reviewing our homework policies and the way in which we structure swimming lessons; we're evaluating the best ways of organising classrooms in order to maximise engagement; we're analysing our pupil performance data, looking for patterns and trends and making sure that we make the changes we need, in response to the data.
 
All to ensure that our school provides the very best of opportunities to every child in our school. To ensure that every child reaches their true potential - be it sporting, academic, creative, scientific, mathematical or pastoral. As always, we simply want our children to dream, believe and achieve.
 
Now, if only we had more than 19 days left in this year! 

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2/6/18

We're still listening - our library.

We've been working hard to improve our library over the last few months and we wanted to find out whether our work was having an impact on attitudes to reading. We recently ran a survey, asking the children to let us know what they think about our library, the books and the environment. Of course, what we were really trying to find out is whether our school library encourages the children to read and what more we can do to make this happen. The findings are further down this page. 
 
Because of the answers the children gave us, we will:
 
. continue to stock up on the books they want to read, It is crucial that we are able to source these books as inexpensively as possible. The survey data shows us that children want more books from authors we already have. In such a large school, if we are to excite the children about reading, it is vital that we have multiple copies of books they want to read. You've been fabulous at donating your children's finished books; please continue to do so and encourage your family and friends to do the same. We'll continue to source books in more cost effective ways to ensure that there are always plenty of exciting books in our library. 
 
. think about why some children haven't been inspired to read a banned book or a themed book. We've already looked through their suggestions and will be using their ideas for future displays in the cage and on the themed display. We've already begun to work on something a little different to encourage reluctant readers. 
 
. make sure that we have books to suit every child. Some children find reading more challenging and can get discouraged really easily. We've already begun to purchase books aimed at older readers who may find reading challenging at the minute. If you know that your child doesn't seem to have the stamina for a thick novel, please encourage them to come and talk to myself or Mrs Wagg. We've got some secret tips to share with these children specifically. 
 
. continue to insist that children visit the library at least once every week with their class teachers. We're working on ensuring that we teach the children how to use a library properly, as well as trying to inspire them to read something new. 
 
. publicise both our library and the public library to encourage families to visit together. Remember, the library is open every afternoon after school for you to visit with your child. Please try to find time to visit with them sometimes. 
 
. evaluate the books that children experience as a whole class. We've already started to work on making our curriculum a book-based curriculum, where every theme will have work that is centred around a book (or books). We're sure that this will help our already-exciting curriculum become even more exciting and it will hopefully encourage children to read books they wouldn't normally choose. 
 
It is crucial that our children read a wide range of different types of books and the National Curriculum demands this of children. We need to work together to ensure that our children meet the expected standards and read a wide range of different books: fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, poetry and playscripts. Thank you for the support you've given us with this initiative so far and we're looking forward to continuing to work with you to excite all our children further. There are many, many ways in which you can help - listening to readers, supporting children in the library, tidying and organising the library shelves (a never-ending task!), visiting the public library with us, encouraging your friends to donate books to us. All this in addition to listening to your own child read every day, talking to them about books and visiting our school library with them sometimes. If you feel you could help us in any way, please get in touch with myself or Mrs Wagg. 

 

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23/5/18

Dear Year 2 pupils
 
Dear Year 2 children,
You're already half way through your 'real' tests, as I heard them called today. I know that your teachers have told you that every piece of work you do is 'real'. They're right! These tests help your teachers to assess what you have learned this year, but so does every single piece of work you complete in school. We know that you've learned so much this year and that these tests won't show us all of that. We also know that you always try your best with every single piece of 'real' work you do. We're proud of you for your fabulous attitude towards your work. So keep working hard, believing in yourselves and showing us just how fabulous you are.

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11/5/18

A message to Year 6 children, from everyone at The Grange

Dear Year 6 children,

Next week is Key Stage 2 SATs week. We’re all very proud of how hard you’ve worked; not just in preparation for these tests, but throughout your time here at The Grange. The government tells us that your work next week, during SATs week, will tell us what, and how much, you’ve learned during your time at primary school. The government tells us that these tests are important and they’re right - like everything we do as part of our learning, these tests areimportant.

But here’s something just as important.

We know that you've learned so much more than what a subordinate clause is, how to calculate with written methods of division and how to infer meaning, with evidence from the text. 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 and just a few hours from the 7315 hours you’ll have spent learning. They’ll tell us something about what you’ve learned in reading, spelling, writing and maths. But that’s not all that primary school is about. You’ve learned so much more than that.

You’ve learned about the world we live in and you’ve imagined a better world for future generations.

You’ve learned about prejudice and discrimination and how to be tolerant, considerate and respectful.

You’ve learned about shadows and darkness in science lessons and how to fill the world with colour through art.

You’ve learned how to win and how to lose.

You’ve learned the joy of losing yourself in a book and how to read a map, to ensure you don’t stay lost for long.

You’ve learned how to count and how to make sure that people can count on you.

You’ve learned to dance like no-one is watching and to sing as though no-one can hear you.

You've learned about important people in the past and that you are important - in the present; in the future; always.

You’ve learned to dream. You’ve learned to believe. You’ve learned to achieve.

These tests, and the results, are important, but they will not tell us everything you’ve learned during your time at The Grange. It’s important that you remember that. We know that you’ll all try your very hardest to make sure that you are the very best you can be next week. You are all amazing and we are always very proud of you. Be fabulous!

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10/3/18

It's about more than just neat books....

Post Ofsted, we’re busy working hard on achieving the improvements that Ofsted have outlined for us. Our School Development Plan contains the following objective: ‘leaders should ensure that teachers have high expectations of pupils’ presentation of their work’. We’re working hard on this. When you’ve visited school lately, you’ll have seen our ‘Turning over a new leaf’ board, which celebrates the successes of individual pupils who are really rising to the challenge of improving the quality of their presentation. If you follow us on social media, you’ll have seen regular posts showing smiling children holding up improved work. We’re proud of how hard the children are working on this. 

Recent monitoring shows that we need to continue to work hard to speed up this improvement in presentation and handwriting standards. We’ll be continuing to focus on this in the coming months. So why is it so important, especially in this age of technology?

. Many studies suggest that the act of writing by hand is good for brain development, 

. More areas of the brain are engaged when writing by hand,

. Research suggests that writing by hand increases the brain’s ability to retain information,

. It takes longer to write, rather than type, which increases the brain’s time to process information,

. Some studies have suggested that students are more imaginative when writing by hand,

. The British education system is generally based around hand-written exams.

We favour a mix of technology and hand-produced work in school and so the teaching of neat handwriting and good presentation is vitally important. Handwriting and presentation aren’t the same thing. Some of us can present work well, even if the handwriting isn’t where it should be yet. Some of us have very neat handwriting, but also have curled page corners, smudges and wonky lines under our dates! We need to work on all these things. 

What can you do to help your child? 

. Encourage them to hold their pen / pencil correctly. The poster below should help. From Tuesday there will be copies of this in our Parent Resource area. please come and take one to use at home. 

. Value what they do and praise them for it 

. Praise any tiny improvements, especially in those children who find this difficult

. Encourage them to practise at home

. Encourage them to show us their work

 

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26/2/18

Only 26% of 10 year olds 'like reading'!

Shocking isn’t it? Yet, 2014 research from The Reading Agency found that UK children often have less than positive attitudes towards reading. Only 37% of children reported reading for pleasure every day (2011).

So why is reading for pleasure so important?

We want The Grange School to buck this trend. So what have we been doing to make reading cool?

. Our library has had a revamp, making it a much more exciting place to be

. The library is open for reading only, every lunchtime (we’ve created a Quiet Play Room for those who love board games)

. We’ve bought lots and lots of books and have asked the children to tell us what they’d like to see in their library

. Each term, we’re featuring an author and / or a theme and we’re making sure that we have multiple copies of books that will be popular

. We ban books and lock them away in a cage! Once they’re freed, the children are keen to read them. They’ve even been known to break books out of the cage!

. We’re celebrating Book Week with a range of exciting events and activities

. We’ve provided resources to help you to support your child’s reading. You’ll find these in our Parent Resource Area

So, what else can we do and how can you continue to support your child’s reading? 

. Encourage your child to read for pleasure every day - they don’t have to always read aloud

. Talk to your child about their reading. Ask them to describe the setting or to tell you 5 things about the main character

. Visit our school library with your child. You’re welcome to visit between 3:15 and 3:30 (Mon - Thur)

. Visit Daventry library with your child - they’d love to see you

. Volunteer your time to come in and help us to encourage the children to read for pleasure. If you can spare an hour, we’d love for you to spend it with us

. Set a great example - get caught reading. We have a hugely successful staff lending library, where staff swap books regularly. We’ll soon be setting up a lending library for parents

. Join in with the buzz - check Facebook and Twitter regularly and let us know what you think. We currently want you to share the name of your favourite childhood book. 

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8/2/18

My kids know more about the Internet than I do!

Your children will use the internet throughout their lifetime. They've already begun to use it and, between us, we need to teach them to use it healthily and safely. This week we ran Online Safety for Parents sessions, as part of Safer Internet Week. Parents that attended were shocked by the information shared with them and commented 'every parent should attend this session'. 

The internet is a great thing ...

 

 

But...

 

 

The reality, here in Northamptonshire...

The reality...

 

 

 Some facts...

. 4.7 million werbsites currently show some pornographic content

. the average age of a child who first views pornography online is 11 years

. one third of children will have seen explicit images online by the age of 10

. 48% of secondary age children have talked to strangers through social media

. 25% of children will experience cyber-bullying

. 50% of children say they've heard something nasty whilst online

Do you know how to deal with these issues? After half term, our next FREE Family Learning course - Online Safety for Parents- begins. Please contact Mrs Winterbourn to sign up. Next term, we will also be repeating our Online Safety for Parents event. Please try to come along. 

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26/1/18

Our Recent Ofsted Inspection

We are delighted to be able to share the results of our recent Ofsted inspection with you. Every child will receive a copy of this letter and the full report this afternoon. You can access the full report through the Ofsted website - this will be available from 31/1/18. You’ll be aware that we were visited by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI), for a short inspection. This was a very successful and positive process, whereby the school maintained its overall effectiveness grade of good. We were particularly pleased that the findings and the outcome of the inspection matched our own evaluation of the school’s current position. The staff described it as ‘exciting’ and ‘energising’. 

Over the last two years, the school has experienced a dip in its attainment and progress data. You may have seen the latest league tables (see below). This data represents KS2 results in May 2017 and data from 2016 also fell short of the high standards we set ourselves. We have analysed the reasons for this and we are working tirelessly as a whole school community to improve this. We appreciate the support that you give us and the role you play in this improvement process. If you wish to discuss any of these results or our plans for further improvement, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

The inspection report confirmed what we already know about our school. 

The HMI was able to identify areas for improvement within our school, which were in complete agreement with those we had already identified. These areas for improvement are summarised below:

- use assessment information to plan for the needs of all pupils

- develop phonics skills further

- improve the quality of presentation in books

- further develop the role of subject leaders

- continue our staff development programme in EYFS

Since September 2017, these areas have been addressed on our school development plan and we’ve already begun to make progress towards these improvements. It was gratifying that rapid improvements, since September, were recognised in both our Ofsted report and our recent Local Authority School Review.

In  addition to confirming the areas we need to develop further, our inspection also confirmed what we are doing well. Again, these are described in detail in the full report, but again, I’ve summarised these below:

 

- pupils are enthusiastic about school and are supportive of one another. They are kind and polite and are able to talk about their learning and demonstrate what they have learned.

 

- parents are very positive about the work of the school and know that we will deal with concerns quickly and effectively. Parents know that their children are happy and safe in school.

 

- leaders have quickly identified the school’s areas for development and have put a comprehensive plan in place to bring about change


- senior leaders have ensured that subject leaders have taken greater responsibility for their subjects and are now playing a greater role in making improvements

 

- recent data from 2017 - 2018 indicated that standards are already improving across the school

 

- the inspector noted that improvements have been made in assessment, which we will continue to develop further

 

- staff feel well-supported by the senior leadership team and know that professional development is helping them to improve their practice

 

- safeguarding practices are thorough and robust, with the well-being team having a good understanding of individual cases and pupils’ needs and tenacity in ensuring that our families receive appropriate support

 

- the quality of provision in EYFS has significantly improved since September 2017

 

- governors are ambitious, reflective and supportive and are taking an active role in raising standards; challenging senior leaders appropriately

 

We feel that the process of inspection was just and fair and the outcome was exactly the outcome that we would have chosen for ourselves. The judgements made reflect our own evaluation of the school, its standards and the ethos of our community. The HMI has recommended a full Section 5 inspection within 2 years and we are delighted with this outcome. We look forward to welcoming Ofsted again in the future to show the improvements we have, and will continue, to make. 

As the inspection report outlines, the school is undergoing a period of substantial change. The positive impact of some of these changes is evident around school, but other changes will take longer to evidence. Rest assured we are, and will continue to, work tirelessly to bring about these positive changes in order to continue to raise standards across the entire school. Every member of our school community has a vital role to play in that process and I would like to thank you, the staff, governors and our community volunteers for their support, hard work and enthusiasm.

Most importantly of all, I’d like to thank our pupils for the excellent behaviour, hard work and exemplary attitudes towards learning they show each and every day. They are the reason we choose to do our job and we are determined to continue to help them to be the very best they can be. 

If you wish to discuss anything with me, at any time, please don’t hesitate to contact me via the school office, telephone or email. Alternatively, stop and chat while I’m out and about at either end of the day.

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18/1/18

Busy Busy Busy 

I'm not quite sure how we've ended up being two thirds of the way through January when it feels as if we've only just returned to school. Frighteningly, there are now only three full weeks of school left before the half term holiday! It's already been a busy term and there's plenty more to come! We've been thinking about our newsletter and we're going to trial a new format. From now on, we'll be publishing a monthly newsletter, packed full of all the information you need. In addition to this, we'll regularly update you with dates for the diary, using Twitter, Facebook, Parentmail and this blog. We'll be asking for your opinions on this, so please give us any feedback that you have. 

To make sure that you're all aware of the key dates for this term, we've included them all on yesterday's newsletter. Remember, you have complete access to our Parent Planner calendar at http://www.thegrange.northants.sch.uk/index.php/news-dates/news-dates#year=2018&month=1&day=20&view=month. We put events on here as soon as we possibly can; sometimes marking them 'provisional', in order to give you as much notice as possible. These 'provisional' dates are subject to change (although we try hard not to change them), so please check regularly. 

JANUARY EVENTS

22/1/18         15:30 - Governors' Finance and Personnel meeting

                    17:00 - Governors' Meeting

23/1/18         14:00 - Tuesday Tots (0-5) *** every Tuesday in term-time ***

                    15:30 - FROGS (PTA) Meeting

24/1/18         15:30 - Y6 SATs Meeting

25/1/18         09:30 - Family Learning - Healthy Eating  *** every Thursday this term ***

                    13:30 - Sports Hall Athletics Event

26/1/18         09:00 - Family Assembly - Y4

                    14:30 - Lost Property Amnesty - Come and Collect Your Lost Property!

FEBRUARY EVENTS

2/2/18           09:00 - Family Assembly - Y3

6/2/18           09:30 - 10:30 - Online Safety for Parents Event

                    14:00 - 15:00 - Online Safety for Parents Event (repeated session)

                    17:00 - 18:00 - Online Safety for Parents Event (repeated session)

                    12:00 - Daventry District Swimming Gala

8/2/18           13:00 - Y4,5,6 Girls' Tag Rugby Event

9/2/18           09:00 - Family Assembly - Y2

                    15:15 - School Closes for Half Term Holidays

19/2/18         08:50 - School Re-Opens

                   13:15 - Family Learning - Online Safety for Parents  *** every Monday this term ***

22/2/18        14:00 - Sport for All Event

                   14:00 - Governors' Policies Committee Meeting

23/2/18         09:00 - Family Assembly - Y1

26/2/18         09:00 - Scouting Assemblies

27/2/18         13:00 - Y3 & Y4 Badminton Event

                    15:30 - 18:00 - Y2 & Y6 Parents' Evenings

28/2/18         14:00 - Governors' Health & Safety Meeting

                    15:00 - Governors' Finance and Personnel Meeting

MARCH EVENTS

1/3/18           World Book Day - Dress Up Day

                    13:00 - Tag Rugby Event

                    14:00 - 17:00 - Book Fair

2/3/18           09:00 - Family Assembly - EYFS

5/3/18 - 9/3/18    Kingswood Residential trip - Y4 & Y5

8/3/18           12:00 - Cross Country Event

                    15:30 - 18:30   Y2 & Y6 Parents' Evening

12/3/18 - 16/3/18   Science Week

12/13/18       17:00 - Governors' Meeting

13/3/18         09:00 - Governor Monitoring - Pupil Premium Provision

                    10:00 - Governors' Learning & Achievement Committee Meeting

20/3/18         15:30 - Y3 & Y4 Hockey Festival 

28/3/18         09:15 - KS1 Presentation Assembly

                    14:30 - KS2 Presentation Assembly

 

KEEP THE DATE!

Show Day - Wednesday 11th July 2018

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15/12/17

Help us to gain extra funding for your school 

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 extended the range of products, including uniform and Book Fair books, that can be purchased with your voucher.

If you believe that you may be entitled to claim for your children and do not already do so, please make a claim. IT IS VITAL THAT YOU MAKE THIS CLAIM BEFORE FRIDAY 12th JANUARY 2018, so that we can receive additional funding in next year’s budget.  If your circumstances change at any point - even if only for a short while - please make a claim. Please also ensure that you have claimed for all of your children.

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. We’re happy to help you to complete the form. 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.

This is a 10 minute job that could make a significant difference to your child and our school.

  • Income Support

  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance

  • Child Tax Credit Only (with income up to £16,190) with no element of Working Tax Credit

  • National Asylum Seekers Support

  • Guarantee Element of the State Pension Credit

  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related)

Universal Credit

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17/11/17

WOW! WOW! WOW! A week in the life of The Grange 

A week in the life of The Grange School:

. Enabling Enterprise Challenge Day

. Careers talk by a professional footballer

. Football training with a professional footballer

. Formation of our PTA committee

. Careers talk by a police officer

. Careers talk by a professional chef

. Diwali talk

. Y6 children trained as Young Sports Leaders

. Intergalactic Trade Fair

. Marathon Challenge

. Firefighters assembly

. Fire engine visit

. Careers talk on working abroad

. Careers talk by a Strategic Economic Development Officer

. Careers talk on opportunities in sport

. Assembly with professional author

. Creative writing workshops with a professional author

. Ice-Cream Alchemy with Gallones

. Careers talk by a town planner

. Bedtime Stories event

. Y6 agile learning spaces cause a bit of a stir on Twitter

. Children in Need Spotacular

. 38 extra-curricular clubs

. Football match visit to Northampton Town Football Club

. Ballroom dancers come third in Strictly Schools competition at the Derngate

Phew! How amazing to be part of such exciting, energetic week in school. Next week, the fun continues. Don't forget to check this website, the newsletter, Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with all the fun. 

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2/11/17

We're still listening. Your views still matter.

You'll remember that earlier in 2017, you told us what you thought about a range of subjects. We analysed the results fully and published your views. But what was equally important to us was the things you felt we could improve on. We are always striving to make our school the very best it can be and so we've worked hard to make further improvements in the following areas:

Communication with parents - we've worked hard to improve communication with you all. There are now more ways in which we communicate with you - newsletter, Parentmail, Twitter, Facebook, electronic newsletter, website, this blog, Class Dojo as well as face to face and telephone conversations. We also re-designed our end of year school report to give you a fuller picture of the whole child and we've added additional parents evening events such as the 'Welcome to Year ...' meetings. We've added regular Open Morning and Open Afternoons, including an Open Afternoon on Transfer Day back in July. We've continued to host our very popular Family Assemblies and have extended the range of these. We've also got a host of further parent events planned; including Online Safety for Parents and SATs information evenings. 

We've also tried hard to ensure that we vary the timings of events to try to ensure that you can all attend a few events each year. We offer more than one time-slot on many events and have ensured that Parents Evenings are sometimes a little later in the day, as you suggested.

We are working hard to ensure that our newsletter is informative each week and contains advance notice of events. We have also committed to ensuring that our School Calendar (on the website) is packed with all the information you could need. In addition to this, we're in the process of creating a brand new school website, which will have all information more easily accessible to you all. We're also committed to being around to chat with you whenever it suits you and we're happy to be contacted by telephone or email if getting into school is difficult for you. 

Sports and Extra-Curricular Clubs - we have continued to provide an extensive range of extra curricular activities and there's so much choice now that the children complain about not being able to attend two at the same time! We have extended our provision to include a wider range of new opportunities for children. You told us that we needed to offer more opportunities for the youngest children and so we now have activities suitable for them; both at lunchtimes and after school. We've worked hard to make sure that we offer sporting activities, Arts opportunities, plus a range of new opportunities to appeal to a range of tastes.

We also employed a full-time sports coach (Mr Bloxham) to ensure that our fabulous PE team has the capacity to offer an even wider range of sporting opportunities and activities. Mr Bloxham also works on the playground at lunchtimes, creating opportunities for children to engage in physical activity throughout the day and to compete against themselves and each other. Our sporting teams have enjoyed huge success in tournaments against local schools and we're very proud of all our competitors. We have also established a link with Northampton Town Football Club and Mr O works with us on Mondays, improving our PE teaching and teaching the children of the importance of Maths and English; especially if they're planning a career as a professional footballer! We've also established a link with a local Cricket Club and will be offering specific cricket-themed activities later in the year. Football Fitness have extended the range of activities they offer after school and we're looking into the possibility of offering holiday clubs too.

In fact, we've got so much on offer, we've increased the number of staff we have on the playgrounds, with dedicated play workers playing alongside the children every day. The Year 6 children have just been given the opportunity to apply to become Young Sports Leaders and will begin their training within the next couple of weeks. 

Now we'd like to hear from you again.

Ofsted collect the views of parents using Parent View; an online tool that they then use during the inspection process. The questionnaire is simple and very similar to the one we asked you to complete last year. Ofsted are clear that this tool should not be used for complaints and provide information on how to communicate this type of information. As always, we would urge you to talk to us immediately about any concerns you have and we hope you've noticed that we deal with every issue brought to our attention, quickly and efficiently.

We'd like you to tell us your views, using the Parent View tool. You can update your views annually, so we'll be encouraging you to complete this questionnaire every November. We'll publish regular reminders, so that new parents can have their voice heard too, throughout the year.

You can access Parent view at any time, by clicking here

At our upcoming Parents' Evenings, we'll be on hand with a bank of iPads and hope that you'll stop and give us your views, via Parent View. All you'll need is an email address and if you don't have one, we'll be on hand to very quickly set you up with a gmail account. Senior Leaders and Governors will be on hand to chat to you about your views and provide you with any information you need. 

Please spare 10 minutes to continue to make your voice heard. 

As always, we appreciate your support and value your input. 

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19/10/17

Joyous

This week we had a visitor in school, who asked to see me before he left. He told me how much he'd enjoyed his time in the school. He spoke of how engaging, polite and friendly the children were. He talked to me about the helpfulness of the staff and how he could feel the excitement and enthusiasm around school. He said that the smiles on the faces of everyone proved that our school is filled with happiness. He told me he'd been thinking of the right word to describe how our school feels.

He'd decided that word was 'joyous'.

 As the half term holiday approaches, I've been reflecting on our first term of this academic year. Looking back on the first seven weeks of this year, I've decided that our visitor was right. The smiles on the faces around school prove that our school is filled with happiness.

The staff of the school would like to thank you for your support during the last seven weeks and wish you a happy half term holiday. Stay safe, have fun and come back ready for lots more smiles next term. 

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14/10/17

Assessment for Learning

One of the things we're working hard to improve this year, is how we use assessment to help the children attain highly and make progress more quickly. We've reviewed our Assessment for Learning policy, which you can read in full by following the links in the Information sidebar of this website. Here are the headlines of the changes we've made.

Assessment for Learning - Principles and Practice

1. Assessment is at the heart of teaching and learning.
a. Assessment provides evidence to guide future teaching and learning.
b. Assessment provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate and review their own progress.

2. Assessment is fair. 
a. Assessment is inclusive of all abilities.

3. Assessment is honest. 
a. Assessment outcomes are conveyed in an open, honest and transparent way to assist pupils with their learning. 
b. Assessment judgements are moderated by experienced professionals to ensure their accuracy.

4. Assessment is ambitious. 
a. Assessment places achievement in context against national standards. 
b. Assessment defines, through objective criteria, a pathway of progress and development for every child. 
c. Assessment objectives set high expectations for learners.

5. Assessment is appropriate. 
a. The purpose of any assessment process should be clearly stated. 
b. Conclusions regarding pupil achievement are valid when the assessment method is appropriate (to age, to the task and to the desired feedback information). 
c. Assessment should draw on a wide range of evidence to provide a complete picture of student achievement. 
d. Assessment should demand no more procedures or records than are practically required to allow pupils, their parents and teachers to plan future learning.

6. Assessment is consistent. 
a. Judgements are formed according to common principles.
b. The results are readily understandable by third parties. 
c. A school’s results are capable of comparison with other schools, both locally and nationally.

7. Assessment outcomes provide meaningful and understandable information for: 
a. pupils in developing their learning; 
b. parents in supporting children with their learning; 
c. teachers in planning teaching and learning;
d. learning support assistants, to move learning forward 
e. school leaders and governors in planning and allocating resources; 
f. government and agents of government.

We have a comprehensive and detailed assessment calendar, which you can read in full in our full policy.

But where has marking gone?

Here at The Grange School, we know that feedback is crucial in moving learning forward. We value the importance of feedback and insist that it is an integral part of every learning opportunity. Feedback takes the form of:

. verbal feedback throughout learning experiences
. high quality conversations
. self-marking
. peer marking
. self-evaluation against success criteria checklists
. peer evaluation against success criteria checklists

We believe that written feedback (marking) over-scaffolds children’s work; demotivating them and promoting too much dependence upon the teacher. Previous practice has shown us that often, where marking is concerned, it is the teachers who work harder than the children!

In our school, there is an assumption, which is valued and upheld at all times, that all children can work independently given the correct prior input. We know that children need to think for themselves, as this increases the chances of knowledge being retained in the long term memory. We aim to increase independence in learning and so the school has adopted the following process and principles, which it applies to the marking of children’s work .

. Teachers only provide written feedback if they are working with the child in the lesson, and it is accompanied by high-quality verbal feedback. This is completed at the time the learning is taking place and never without the child present.

. Learning opportunities include time for self-checking, which promotes independent learning behaviours.

. Teachers and support staff evaluate all outcomes and identify what went well in a piece of work and what children need to do next, in order to move on. This then directly feeds into the following learning experience. This is recorded by annotating planning. Teachers may choose to keep any additional records / means of recording this information to suit their own preferred methods.

. Subsequent learning experiences begin with the teacher/ support staff modelling how to bring about the improvements identified from analysis of the previous outcomes. This will often involve using ‘real’ work from the children’s previous learning experience. This may not be the same for all children - differentiation is key.

. Children will also be taught to self-mark and peer-mark their work. This will always be valued by school staff as another opportunity for learning and children will be taught how to complete these and given appropriate time to do so.

Having introduced our new system in September, we're already seeing positive impact from it. Obviously, we'll keep reviewing our policy and practice to make sure that we are the very best we can possibly be. We'll communicate any changes with you. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this further, please pop in for a chat.

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5/10/17

Every Day Matters

Every single day of your child's schooling matters! 

Regular attendance at school goes hand in hand with good academic achievement. Your child must attend school for 190 days each year. This is a legal requirement from the age of 5. The only exception to this is when there are legitimate reasons for your child’s absence. Not all illnesses need your child to be absent from school, a cold for example, and if you need advice, please ask. Please be assured that if your child is too unwell for school, we will always contact you. Last year, children missed too many school days due to minor illnesses - we'd like your support to help us improve this.

This then leaves 175 non-school days each year. These days are when shopping, holidays, family time, visits and appointments should take place.

 

 

 

Our whole school attendance last year fell below the national average of all other primary schools. This is not good enough and we are doing everything in our power to improve attendance this year. 

Please be aware that, as communicated to you previously, we will be following Northamptonshire County Council policy and referring any unauthorised absence (including term-time holidays) of longer than 10 sessions (5 days) to the Educational Inclusion Partnership Team. This team will consider taking further action and I am reminding you that the outcome of this could be a Penalty Notice, payable directly to the Local Authority. 

The penalty notice is £120 per parent/carer for each child. This must be paid within 28 days. If the fine is paid within 21 days, this is reduced to £60 per adult per child. 

I realise that the vast majority of parents do not take family holidays in term time as they recognise the significant impact this can have on their child's education. As a parent (and someone who can only take holidays outside of term time), I truly appreciate the difficulties in only being able to travel during school holiday periods. However, it is vital that we work together to ensure that all children are in school for the full 190 days each year. 

Thank you for your support with this matter.

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30/9/17

Values Matter

As you will know, we are working closely this year with Eddie Odhiambo and Northampton Town Football Club on a number of initiatives. Eddie is helping us to run a number of programmes in school, including delivering additional PE lessons and leading various reading groups around school. He is also helping us to deliver our assembly programme based on 'Respect'. The children are enjoying learning about Walter Tull, as part of our work for Black History Month, which takes place during October. They are enjoying learning about not only his football career, but also the part he played in World War I. The children are able to talk knowledgeably about respect and how to respect other people and property.

Alongside our work around Walter Tull, we have taken the opportunity to streamline our school values, so that we can all engage with them more easily. We have kept the best of our existing values and integrated them with the Premier League Primary Stars values for school-aged children. We have also ensured that our staff values mirror these, so that we are all living according to the same ethos. Our new values are outlined below. We'd be grateful if you would discuss them with your child from time to time. As always, your support is very much appreciated.

Be connected

. Treat everyone with respect, kindness and compassion

. Get involved; be part of the team

. Be a part of the whole community; children, parents, staff, governors, community members

. Smile - it’s contagious!

Be fair

. Be transparent and say what you are thinking, but with kindness

. Listen as much as you speak

. Be consistent

. Show your appreciation and say ‘Thank you’ and ‘Well done’ often

Be ambitious

. Learn something new every day

. Take risks

. Remember that failure means you haven’t been successful yet

. Challenge yourself and each other

Be inspired & inspiring

. Be confident and believe in yourself

. Encourage confidence and self-belief in others

. Strive to be the very best that you can be

. Strive to make our school the very best it can be

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21/9/17

Help us to help your child

You may 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 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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13/9/17

The 5 minute routine that makes a MASSIVE difference.

I'm a busy parent and I remember how difficult it was sometimes to find the time to help my son with his homework. After a day at school, neither of us really wanted to sit down and start work all over again. We wanted to play together and have fun, rather than battling over reading - which was far from his favourite subject! If only there was a way to spend just 5 minutes a day making a HUGE difference to his reading. 

Does that sound familiar? Well, we can help! 

Reading whole words is what advanced readers do. Using phonics is an important strategy when learning to read, but advanced readers rarely have to stop and sound out a word. Why not? Because they just recognise words; simply by looking at them. This is a vital skill, even for those who are still learning to read, as it speeds up our reading and stops us losing interest. 

In order to read independently, your child needs to be able to instantly recognise approximately 95% of the words in the text. In order to be able to read fluently, your child needs to be able to read words by sight. In order to understand what they are reading, your child needs to read independently, with fluency and at a reasonable speed. 

Phonics is important BUT so is reading words by sight! All children, from Reception to Year 6 have words they are expected to be able to read (and spell). I've put the links to these at the bottom of this page. 

Now, here's the best bit. It takes 5 minutes a day. That's it. Just 5 minutes each day practising reading words by sight will make a considerable difference to your child's ability to read fluently, independently and with understanding. Your child's confidence will increase as they learn to read more and reading will become a more enjoyable activity for them. Before long, they'll be independently reading, meaning they can get on with the rest of their reading homework with more independence. 

It can also be fun. The internet is filled with games, activities and ideas for how to make the 5 minutes of daily practice a fun and enjoyable activity - for both of you! We're always happy to help you to support your child, so if you'd like some ideas or resources to help you with this, then please come and talk to us. We'll be sending home a range of activities, over the course of the year, to help you to ensure that your child practices every day. As always, we appreciate your support - please make sure that your child learns to read independently, fluently and with understanding - all it takes is 5 minutes of your time. 

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7/9/17

Smiles Everywhere

Welcome back! What a fabulous first few days we've had, back at school. In Nursery, children begin on a staggered start; beginning in small groups on different days, allowing them the time to settle in and really get to know the staff. I was in there today for a music session and the children were smiling and laughing as they played their instruments and sang.

Our new Reception children have settled in brilliantly. They've made us smile by how quickly they've taken to their new setting. They love the new EYFS environment; both indoors and out. There are lots of smiles and laughter as they learn by following their own interests. I saw two boys building their own trim trail from wood and they were beaming as they realised their structure was about to collapse. A valuable science lesson, especially when they worked out how to make it more secure. 

Year 1 children have moved into a new part of the school and now have their own outside learning area too. We'll be developing this further over the coming months, although we've already seen lots of smiles whilst the children have been learning outside. Year 1 children love their soft play area too!

Year 2 children have been beaming everywhere: in the library, in the IT Suite, in their maths lesson and on the playground. They especially love the new boat - which has proved a huge hit with children of all ages. It's lovely to see the children playing creatively at playtime and I've already been taken to Poland, Ireland and Dinosaurland. (Keep reading to find out more).

Year 3 children have enjoyed starting to learn about the Stone Age. They were full of smiles playing with hoops and scooters on the playground too. They enjoyed it when we took the Lego and Top Trumps cards out to our new Quiet Zone on the playground.

Year 4 children have been superstars and two of them have already visited me and been awarded a golden Head Teacher's Award. They're really enjoying learning about Ancient Egypt.

In Year 5, the children were greeted in classrooms that look like the rainforest. They were certainly smiling when I visited their classrooms and they were using the iPads. This made them very happy. They've enjoyed playing on our newly marked front playground. It's lovely to see the smiles on their faces as they're sharing the new games with their friends from all year groups. It's been lovely to watch the children playing together, all over the school grounds.

Year 6 children came back to classrooms they'd never seen before. We've been busy, thinking about what learning spaces for independent learners should look like. Gone are 30 tables and 30 chairs in each of the year 6 classrooms. In their place are sofas, cushions, rugs, lap trays, comfortable chairs, circular tables and large oval tables for group work. We're still waiting for our standing tables to be delivered - we're sure the children's smiles will be even bigger when they arrive. Year 6 children absolutely love their new classrooms and are responding well to choosing the most effective ways to learn. 

The staff are beaming too! They worked so hard over the summer holidays; making the learning environments, and school grounds, attractive and stimulating for the children. Their reward has been the delight that the children are taking in being back at school. School feels exciting and happy - the smiles from everyone is proof of that. We look forward to welcoming you into school next week - please check the newsletter, Twitter/Facebook feed or Parent calendar for information on meeting times. We can't wait to see your smiles too!

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

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