2018 - 2019 Head Teacher's Blogs

 Online Safety Update 26/6/2019

It is rare for a week to go by without a child reporting an online safety concern to us. These are almost always concerning something that has happened outside of school. Our broadband system features extensive filters that help us to keep children safe by monitoring their searches and alerting us when these are deemed inappropriate and restricting access to any inappropriate sites. We have the technical expertise of a national internet provider, our IT support company and our extremely knowledgeable IT technician, Sue Hasney. 
 
But what can you as parents do to help us protect your children online?
 
 
Internetmatters (https://www.internetmatters.org/) provides parents, schools and organisations with a host of information, advice and support to help them keep children safe in a rapidly changing world. 
 
You too, have a wide range of technical expertise and internet controls available to you. Visit https://www.internetmatters.org/ or download the guides we've shared here.
 
If you have any concerns, or require further advice and support in keeping your children safe online, please do not hesitate to contact Elaine (mrs.wagg@thegrangeschooldaventry.net), Janice (mrs.hennessy@thegrangeschooldaventry.net) or myself (head@thegrange.northants-ecl.gov.uk). We'll be more than happy to support you. 

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Dream Believe Achieve  The Grange School Curriculum   22/6/19

You may be aware that Ofsted have recently announced a new Inspection Schedule to be implemented from September 2019. We are thrilled that the new schedule places an emphasis on the entire curriculum and the whole child, something that we have always valued enormously. Along with schools all over the country, we are reviewing our curriculum in line with the new inspection schedule. As part of this piece of school improvement work, we are required to communicate our curriculum intent. This information is also available on the Curriculum section of this website. We will provide you with further information as we work through our curriculum review. 

Curriculum Context and Rationale

Our curriculum is designed to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum, whilst embedding the fundamental British values in our children; creating responsible citizens. We also firmly believe that all skills and knowledge are equally important and we encourage children to develop all the skills required for modern life; across the entire curriculum. Our units have a cross-curricular focus, with one main theme identified and all learning objectives are incorporated within this. Whilst there are some elements that have to be taught discretely, we aim to teach as much as possible through a cross-curricular vehicle, in order to make all learning meaningful.

Our curriculum recognises that our school community is changing, in line with changes seen nationally. There is greater cultural diversity within our school community, with increasing numbers of children with English as an additional language and our curriculum recognises and celebrates this.

Wellbeing is a significant factor in a child’s ability to learn and our school community is subject to a great many societal pressures. We pride ourselves on the wellbeing support that we give to our children and families and our curriculum actively teaches children to maintain their wellbeing, whilst educating on how their actions contribute to the well-being of others.

Our curriculum offer includes enhanced provision for any child deemed to belong to a vulnerable group. Nationally recognised vulnerabilities such as deprivation, English as an additional language and special educational needs are explicitly addressed and, in addition, school leaders also identify vulnerabilities specific to our current circumstances. These may be specific to one cohort and will change from year to year, but the curriculum is constantly reviewed in order to be used as a tool to address any barriers to learning faced by these children.

 Principles and Purpose of our curriculum

          . to develop in children the inner confidence and resilience to be happy, safe and successful

. for children to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully access the national curriculum and subsequent education

. to create lifelong learners who understand the purpose and value of their learning

. to promote the value of learning to our community, involving parents, governors and members of the local community and beyond

. to ensure that children understand and demonstrate the fundamental British values; displaying these in daily life

. to enable children to gain the necessary skills and understanding to be an active citizen who contributes effectively to global, multicultural communities

Entitlement  

Every child is recognised as a unique individual and we celebrate differences within our school community. We value all positive skills and attributes and encourage children to demonstrate skills beyond those that are purely academic. We recognise and celebrate all the attributes required to be successful citizens. We encourage and pursue an enjoyment of learning, an understanding that learning is challenging and the resilience to overcome these challenges. We also ensure that our curriculum provides opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurialism.

The school has a range of ‘offers’ that strive to ensure equality of opportunity for all. These offers detail how the school adapts and modifies provision in order that all children access learning opportunities equally. The school will, and does, positively discriminate to ensure that equality of opportunity exists within our community.

Our curriculum map outlines the learning entitlement of each year group within the school and parents are given a more detailed overview for each unit of work. In addition, the school provides parents with the appropriate national curriculum objectives for their child each year, outlining the education each and every child is entitled to each year.

Enrichment

Our curriculum aims to enrich the learning and the lives of our children. As a school, we firmly believe that children need to ‘experience’ in order to effectively acquire knowledge and understanding. Our curriculum is founded on this principle. We use interesting contexts and memorable experiences as an aid to knowledge acquisition, understanding and retention of knowledge. We take every opportunity to ‘experience’ in order to enrich and enhance and these activities are planned as part of the children’s curriculum entitlement. All children are equally entitled to these opportunities, which can take many forms including using the local community and local area, school trips, residential visits, visitors to the school, outdoor learning and the use of artefacts. We call these WOW! experiences but we are very clear that these are not optional extras - there are the foundation upon which our curriculum is built.

Our Entitlement to Enrichment map outlines these opportunities. 

Breadth and balance

.  our curriculum provides opportunities to gain and retain knowledge and skills in all areas of a broad and balanced national curriculum

. our curriculum provides opportunities for children to  demonstrate their understanding of a range of different cultures

.  our curriculum provides opportunities for children to apply their deep subject knowledge in innovative ways

.  our curriculum provides opportunities for children to learn appropriate and sophisticated vocabulary to communicate what they know

.  our curriculum provides opportunities for children to develop and demonstrate their creativity and critical thinking skills

.  our curriculum provides opportunities for children to solve problems and acquire a deeper understanding by reasoning

Implementation

Our teaching narratives are based on the Cornerstones Curriculum, in order to ensure that there is consistently high quality teaching and learning across the entire school. Our curriculum, and associated teaching narrative:

           . enables children to see clear links between different aspects of their learning, having ensured that those links are clear and evident

           . enables children to learn within a coherent and progressive framework

           . enables children to study a curriculum that excites, promotes and sustains their interests

           . encourages, enables and fosters children’s natural curiosity

           . enables children to learn in a range of meaningful ways, contexts and environments, through an 
 emphasis on experiences

           . enables children to reflect on and evaluate their learning

           . enables children to engage, develop, innovate and express their knowledge and understanding

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Review of Behaviour Policy  11/6/2019

We regularly review our policies to ensure that we are offering your children the very best education we can. We know that children in our school behave well, as we are often complimented on this. We have recently reviewed our Behaviour Policy and have consulted with your children on this. Children have had the opportunity to tell us what they think and how we should categorise different behaviours. They have also had some input into the consequences of each of these behaviours.

Attached to this email is our new Behaviour Policy, for your information. Our Behaviour Lead, Mrs Kirsty Elliott has worked alongside staff and children to streamline and simplify our behaviour management systems in school. We wanted to ensure that we have absolute consistency across school and that any adult can recognise appropriate behaviour, reward exceptional behaviour and ensure that there are consequences to inappropriate behaviour choices. We want to ensure that all behaviours are dealt with in the same way by all members of staff.

The policy explains our 5 point scale system, where behaviours are categorised within a 5 point scale. Some behaviours are expected and will be recognised. Children who behave consistently well and demonstrate expected behaviours will be recognised for this. Some behaviours are inappropriate and will be dealt with by school staff. Alongside these behaviours, are corresponding consequences - also on a 5 point scale. There are a range of consequences for each level on the scale, including both sanctions and support. We are very clear that any child making inappropriate behaviour choices should be supported to modify their behaviour. These scales will form the core of our new policy and procedures.

In addition, we have reviewed the system whereby children can be sent to see myself or Elaine Wagg at 3pm each day. Each class can nominate a Superhero - a child who has excelled and gone beyond the expected on that particular day. We look forward to celebrating with our superheroes.

Please take your time to familiarise yourself with this policy and please do not hesitate to contact myself (head@thegrange.northants-ecl.gov.uk) or Kirsty (mrs.elliott@thegrangeschooldaventry.net) should you have any questions.

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Dear Year 6 children   12th May 2019

Dear Year 6 children,

This 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 are important.

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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5 minutes to make a difference   April 6th 2019
 

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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Oh no! Not maths!  March 24th 2019
A recent study from Cambridge University found that 1 in 10 children suffer from maths anxiety. Researchers interviewed children aged 8 to 13 and 10% described negative emotions ranging from 'despair' to 'rage'. Now, maths happens most days in school.
 
Can you imagine feeling negative emotions on a daily basis?
 
Can you imagine feeling anxious every day? Feeling despair every day? Feeling rage every day? Apprehensive? Tense? Frustrated? Imagine sitting in class waiting for the lesson you dread. Imagine the feeling of butterflies in your stomach. Imagine feeling your heart racing. Imagine struggling to catch your breath.
 
None of us would want to be in that position, but you may remember similar feelings from your own school days.  If you're female, it's more likely that you'll think you weren't very good at maths. 
There are some simple things you can do at home, to support us in our work to reduce maths anxiety,
 
1 - Let children know that it's ok to make mistakes.
 
2 - Praise hard work and 'having a go', rather than praising correct answers. 
 
3 - Ask your child to explain how they might tackle a maths problem. Let them talk it through. 
 
4 - Don't share your own feelings of maths anxiety with them. 
 
5 - Play memory games, as they help with retaining mathematical facts. 
 
6 - Make maths fun! 

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Random Acts of Kindness   March 14th 2019

Have you ever spoken to someone and received no reply? Have you ever held a door open for someone and had them pass by without thanking you? Have you ever let someone into the traffic in front of you and not received a wave of thanks?

I know that this will have happened to each and every one of you. It happens to one of us every day. It makes us feel miserable, irritated or annoyed. At that moment, it affects our day.

At Christmas, some of the staff completed their own random acts of kindness advent calendar. We enjoyed completing the tasks each day and showing others kindness. What we realised during December was that it felt great. Even if we received no thanks for our actions, it made us feel good. In fact, the point of it was that we wouldn’t receive thanks but be rewarded simply by knowing that we had been kind.

Research shows that helping others can be beneficial to our own mental health. It can reduce stress, improve our emotional wellbeing and even benefit our physical health. Research suggests that kindness and giving act like a natural anti-depressant because they release serotonin in the brain. Serotonin plays an important part in learning, memory, mood, sleep, health and digestion. It provides children (and adults) with a heightened sense of well-being, increases energy and gives wonderful feelings of positivity and self worth.

We displayed our advent calendars around school and the children enjoyed asking us about them and talking to us about the acts of kindness. Some of them joined in with carrying out their own acts of kindness around school. Still, children visit my office sometimes to tell me about how they have spontaneously helped someone in our school community.

As part of our National Curriculum, we teach the children that Christians give something up for lent. We are proud of the range of beliefs and faiths we have in our school community and we celebrate the values that are common to all faiths in our school. We know that kindness is something we all believe in. So we’ve made it a focus for the next month in school.

Some staff have their own acts of kindness charts and these are displayed around school. These are not displayed so that everyone knows we’ve been kind but so that the children will again engage with these. We will, once again, be encouraging the children to engage in random acts of kindness around school. If you’d like to join in, please ask us for a copy of our kindness charts for adults. You can find suggestions for children by clicking on the links below:   

https://www.muminthemadhouse.com/110-acts-of-kindness-for-children/.

Please talk to your child about how to safely engage in these random acts of kindness.

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Do one thing every day that scares you - 4/3/2019
 
What have you done today that scared you? Something that made you a little apprehensive. Something that made you a little nervous. Something that made you take a deep breath before you began. Something that you would have preferred to avoid. 
 
This thought came to me this evening as I was posting photos from our Kingswood residential. Our children in the Peak District were challenging themselves today. It may have been by waving goodbye this morning. It could have been as they unpacked their clothes in their new home for the next five days. It may have been as they stepped into a harness, whilst looking up at the high ropes course. It could have been as they inched along that rope, metres above ground. 
 
Back in school, our children were also doing things that scared them. We have a theatre group in residence this week, to help us celebrate World Book Day, and Kate has been leading drama workshops. For some children, performing in front of their classmates will have made them nervous. Other children will have been apprehensive as they moved to a new level in the reading scheme or tackled a more challenging maths problem. For others it may have been joining in with that game on the playground, speaking to a new friend or answering a question in class. For a few children, today was their first day at our school, which may have made them nervous this morning. 
 
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The Point of Play  
 
Handwriting is important. Even in an increasingly technological world, there are still lots of reasons why your child needs to develop fluent, joined handwriting. Even though your child may record in school on an ipad sometimes, the bulk of their work is handwritten. Not just in primary school, but throughout their education. It's important that they learn to write neatly, but quickly, and without it feeling uncomfortable. This is why we teach the children joined-up writing. But, not everyone finds neat handwriting easy - or quick! But there's something you can do to help.
 
One of our areas to develop is in the children's presentation of their work. Children work each day on improving their handwriting and here's how you can help us to support your child further.
 
Play is crucial. It develops many, many skills and it helps children to develop the skills needed to pick up and hold a pencil; the skills needed to write fluently. So encourage your children to build, paint, thread, sort and organise. Give them sand or flour or play dough and let them use a range of tools. Find ways in which older children can manipulate small items. Join them in games of Jenga or doing a jigsaw. Ask them to make models from Knex, Lego or Meccano. Encourage them to build models from junk. Let them play with nuts and bolts and paperclips. Every one of these activities (and those pictured in the gallery to the right) will help your child to develop the strength and control they need to write neatly. 
 
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Small daily improvements - September 2018
 
Every day, every member of our school community experiences academic success. Like today, when a child who finds reading more challenging read aloud to four adults and left us all with huge smiles on our faces.
 
Every success is important, be it adding the full stop at the end of every sentence, remembering which way around a '5' is written or finally catching the ball in PE. As educators, it's our job to recognise these successes, celebrate them and then work out the next steps for each and every child to help them to more success. 
 
Challenge 2 on this year's School Development Plan is focused on further developing our use of assessment. We'll be continuing the staff training we began last year, working with an assessment expert, who will bring fresh ideas to our work. We've also begun to look at the ways in which we share assessment on your child with you and we will be providing you with even more information over the course of the year. Our first Parents' Evenings will take place either side of the October half term holiday, giving you the first insight into how your child is achieving this year.
 
If you would like to discuss our assessment of your child's achievements at any time, please do not hesitate to contact your child's class teacher. Myself and Elaine Wagg are also happy to meet with you, or chat on the phone, at any time. Please do not hesitate to contact us. 
 
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'The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement' - Helmut Schmidt
 
Every Monday on our Weekly Briefing for staff, we have an inspirational or motivational quote. Tomorrow, the quote above is on this week's staff briefing. 
 
Last year, every member of our school community worked hard to improve standards in our school. There are many, many ways to measure success and we use them all to ensure that we are constantly giving our children the best primary education we can. We use statistical measures; we observe lessons; we scrutinise children's books; we talk to the children, the parents, the staff, the governors and the community. We work closely with the Local Authority to ensure that standards in our school are constantly improving. Throughout last year, we shared our successes with you and we will continue to do so throughout this year, 
 
This process of school improvement requires everyone to play their part and so, over the coming weeks, we will be sharing this year's improvement objectives with you.
 
Challenge 1 - Leadership
 
We are continuing to strengthen leadership in our school by further developing skills in our staff that allow them to lead their subjects areas effectively.
 
Our English and Maths Leads (Caroline Colledge & Becky Duncton respectively) now have time each week to monitor standards in their subjects and improve provision in these areas.
 
The same is true for our Early Years Lead (Louise Harris), who is busy further developing provision for not only our Reception children, but for pre-school children from birth.
 
We've made some huge changes to Special Educational Needs Leadership and provision in the school this year. As a qualified SENDCo, I will be sharing the role with Janet Hunt, who is embarking upon her training to gain the national qualification. We will be working closely together to further improve our provision and practices. Within our support staff, we are creating specialists - staff who have an increased knowledge and understanding of a range of needs - who will support staff and children across the school. We have also set up our new CSI Team (they absolutely love the name!), which is focusing on improving communication in children of all ages. This team, lead by Elaine Wagg, also works hard to improve provision for children with sensory impairment.
 
Our PE leads now also have regular time each week in which to complete the mammoth task of ensuring that our children access high-quality sports provision, both within the curriculum and in addition to the school day.
 
All other subject leads will also been given regular time, each term, to focus on improving their subject areas each term. 
 
In addition to this, we have set up Phase Leaders to implement and monitor further improvements across the school, ensuring that we have consistency in everything we do:
 
EYFS Phase Leader (Nursery & Reception) - Mrs Louise Harris
KS1 Phase Leader (Years 1 & 2) - Mrs Janet Hunt
Lower KS2 Phase Leader (Years 3 & 4) - Mrs Caroline Colledge
Upper KS2 Phase Leader (Years 5 & 6) - Mrs Becky Duncton
 
Our governing body is also continuing to develop its leadership skills and will update you of its work throughout the year. 
 
In addition to all of this, Elaine and myself are continuing to work closely with the local education authority to further raise standards. Last year, we very successfully began this process and we are certain that our improvements will continue this year. We would, as always, like to thank you for the support you give us in our work and would like to remind you that you are welcome to come and chat to use at any time. 
 
Vicki

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Welcome Back …

We have had a fabulous start to the new term. Children all settled very quickly, including our new 2 year olds in our Seedlings Nursery Provision. The children seem to have all grown over the summer and all look very smart in their new school uniforms - thank you for your support with this; we really appreciate it. We have welcomed some new children into our school and we are receiving requests for places every day. We are excited about this new school year and can’t wait to share it with you all.

Last year was a huge year for our school and saw many changes taking place. We will update you regularly throughout this year with changes we are making and the impact of these. We are working hard every single day to constantly improve our school and raise standards further. You, as parents and carers, play a vital role in that and we look forward to working closely with you again this year.

At the start of each new year, there is always so much information to give you and much of it will be included in this newsletter. But, please make sure you check our Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates on a daily basis. As always, we are more than happy to talk to you at the end of every school day. Myself and Mrs Wagg are usually out and about in the mornings too.

Thank you for your continued support. If you ever have any concerns, please do come and speak to us at the first opportunity.

Vicki 

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

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