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If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.

Earlier this week, the government published its latest response to the review of assessment in primary schools. The full report can be downloaded here. In primary education, we are used to constant change. We have experienced numerous changes in the assessment system since SATs were first introduced in 1990 for all seven year olds. The response paper has recommended that SATs for seven year olds be scrapped by 2023 and that the methodology for assessing writing in Y6 be changed this year. It also recommends the introduction of a times tables test in Y4. The check will be introduced in the 2019 to 2020 academic year. As we do with all changes, we will look at them and adapt our practice accordingly. We have to comply with the accountability agenda without compromising our broad and balanced curriculum offer. For some pupils in some schools, Y6 has become a ‘preparation for SATs’ year. This is not the case at our school. We do prepare the children, but it is important that their last year at primary school is full of rich experiences and opportunities. For instance, during this last week they have enjoyed our celebration of Roald Dahl day (see the picture that accompanies this blog!); they have left school to become evacuees at Stockport Air Raid Shelters and then next week they will be going to Robinwood to experience their residential adventure holiday. Professor John Hattie is a researcher in education. He is Professor of Education and Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He has conducted extensive research into what works in education and has become one of the most influential academics in education today. In his work, Hattie analyses the effects of numerous strategies and approaches on pupil achievement. His analysis has some surprising findings. What he does believe, however, is this: “What does matter is teachers having a mind frame in which they see it as their role to evaluate their effect on learning.” This seems an obvious statement but to do it successfully is not so easy. Teachers and other school staff need to see themselves as learners. Constant evaluation of their teaching and its effectiveness is key. It is too easy to collect a bank of teaching resources and approaches and stick to ‘what you know’. Those of you who have had a number of children go through our school will know that this is not our approach. We are always researching and looking for answers to that important question of how to improve children’s learning. In our School Development Plan this year, we are looking at how we can improve the range and quality of what we are calling ‘pupil products’. These are the outcomes of learning. Of course, many of these products will be in the children’s books but we also want to consider how we will use technology and the range of products of learning that are not written down. It will be an exciting challenge to develop this research with our staff and with our pupils. We will look to share this work with you on a daily and weekly basis through our twitter feed @unsworthprimary and through this website. It's only fair to...

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That September feeling

That September feeling

The first week in September is a special time in school. The wider school staff have worked hard over the summer to make sure school is shiny and new for our children returning this week. On Wednesday morning our classrooms were ready to receive our children for another school year. It is always lovely to see everyone arrive on the playground on the first morning of the school year. Our children looked very smart in their brand new uniforms and were excited to start in their new classes. Our Reception class have settled in very well.  In our first whole-school assembly, we spoke about our school motto, our five core values and our golden rules. As usual, the children were able to talk about these things with confidence and understanding. It’s a great pleasure to listen to their wise words.  As the week progressed, the children agreed their class rules and reward systems. They also decide on the types of sanctions they think are fair if they make poor choices. They really do understand how their good behaviour contributes to their learning.  As the week ended, the children started to use their new exercise books. These have been personalised with our school motto and have shiny new covers which the children love! They take a lot of pride in producing their personal best work in their ‘learning windows’.  We are looking forward to another successful year for our children and our school.  It's only fair to...

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The things we’ve done..and the things we will do.

The things we’ve done..and the things we will do.

As the Easter break starts we can reflect on the fact that we are now two thirds of the way through the academic year. Our Reception class are now settled and confident in school and our Y6 pupils are approaching some big changes and challenges ahead. During this last week we held our progress evenings with parents and carers from Y1 to Y6. During the meetings, we asked parents to complete an Ofsted-style questionnaire in order to seek views on a range of issues. We have analysed the results and we are delighted with the overwhelming support we have received. If you would like to read the report then you can find it here.  Questionnaire Results March 2017. During this term, we have worked hard to provide the children with a range of memorable experiences. We have increased the sporting activities for our pupils which culminated in our pupils taking part in the Greater Manchester School Games. We have also enjoyed hearing about their achievements in football, rugby, netball and cross country. Many of our Y5 and Y6 pupils have achieved their level 1 and 2 Bikeability awards after improving their cycling skills on the road. Our Y4 pupils continue with their weekly swimming lessons and will do so until the end of the year, when it is our aim that every one of them will be able to swim. In addition to sport, we have also planned opportunities for the children to develop their skills in other areas of the curriculum. Our choir continues to work with Miss Geelan and we are planning an event involving the Halle later next term; many of our children are enjoying learning to play instruments with Miss Geelan and with tutors from Fiddler Music and Bury Music Service. In February, we enjoyed great feedback from our parents when we held our Great Unsworth Exhibition. During the weeks before the exhibition, we worked to develop the children’s design and technology skills as inventors. They proved to be both skilful and creative. We were pleased, this term, to be awarded the E-Safety Award in recognition of our work with the children. This week we asked Bury Teaching School Alliance colleagues to conduct a safeguarding review in our school. The aim was to test our procedures, our policies and our staff knowledge of the whole safeguarding arena. During the process children were asked about how the school helps them to keep safe. They were clear that they felt safe in school, knew that they had people to speak to and that they understood the issues around bullying and e-safety. During the summer term, we will continue to provide the children with a broad curriculum experience. We will also be planning a number of end of year trips for them to enjoy. During the term there will be a number of class assemblies culminating in a very emotional final assembly from our Y6 class. In the meantime, enjoy your Easter break-we will see you again in a few weeks. It's only fair to...

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A busy half term

A busy half term

  We have reached the end of the first half term of the school year. What a busy time we have had. On Thursday evening, the governing body met for their Autumn term meeting. We were able to welcome our new parent governor, Mr Cooper, and we were able to discuss the start we have made to the school year and the priorities contained in our School Development Plan. If you would like to know more about our governors and their role then you can follow the link below:   Our School Governors Earlier in the week, we held our Parents’ Progress Meetings. Three of our governors attended the sessions to ask parents their views on the progress of their child and the information on progress provided by the school. Our staff governor, Mrs Channon, also asked our new YR parents their views on our transition processes as children enter our school, during the Welcome Assembly a few weeks ago. It is our intention to issue a report on what parents think and any actions arising from those views. We have also asked two of our senior leaders, Mrs Ali and Ms Sinclair to conduct a parent survey on homework as part of a review of our approach in this area. They will communicate views on this once all the responses have been analysed. Our children have settled well into their new classes and are working hard. We continue to welcome many visitors into our school who attend the raining courses we run. When visiting teachers and school leaders visit our classrooms, they always comment on the engagement and independence of our children as learners and the outstanding behaviour they see. On a number of occasions this half term, I have had ‘learning conversations’ with individual pupils. This involves them showing me their books and talking to me about their learning challenges. I am always so impressed with the pride they show and their understanding of the learning process. This is also reflected in the comments we receive from our visitors. The children have also had the opportunity to enjoy a range of activities beyond the classroom. We have welcomed our partners, QFirst Sports into school to increase the range of sports and PE activities on offer to our children in lessons and as extra-curricular clubs; our own teaching staff have also been involved in leading extra-curricular clubs and activities such as football, netball, tag rugby and table tennis. We also had a great day playing (and exercising!) on scooters. A number of classes have also been out of school on trips and visits including our Y6 adventure holiday to Robinwood. School trips and visits to places in our locality enrich the children’s learning. First hand experiences are memorable and more meaningful to children. We are grateful to the PTA who work hard to raise funds to subsidise the costs of these trips by providing the transport, which can be costly. The parents of three of our classes have been invited to see their class assembly and we have all enjoyed seeing how all children do their best to participate in these. Across this half term, we have worked with the children to think carefully about our new ‘core values’. Last year we held a vote to select five...

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Back to school

Back to school

Welcome back to school, everybody! It is always a pleasure to see the children on the first morning back-proud in their new school uniforms and ready for the challenges of the new school year. Our new Reception Class children have arrived and have settled in beautifully. This year we have introduced a new app called Tapestry which we will use to document the activities and learning of our new class. This will be accessible to parents and carers and there is a facility to comment back. This, together with our Twitter feed and our website, means that our school community has never been as well informed as to what is happening across the school day. Prior to the children starting, our staff attended a couple of training days in order to prepare for the coming year and to re-visit our core values and principles. We reminded ourselves of the meaning of our school motto, Together We Build Understanding, and what this means to our children. We know how important quality teaching and learning is for a young person’s future, but we also discussed the importance of their well-being and happiness. It is interesting that happiness and friendship were two of the values which received most votes in our recent poll. This year we will use the five core values, as selected by our school community, as our assembly themes-happiness, respect, honesty, friendship and learning. It has also been a pleasure to welcome back some of our Y6 leavers this week. Many of them have visited after school to show us their new uniforms, their homework journals and to tell us how they have settled into their new schools. They understand the importance of our values and know they will always be part of our community and are happy to pop in and chat. On Tuesday 20th September, we will be officially welcoming our new pupils into school during our Welcome Assembly. Any child new to the school, including all of our Reception Class, will be welcomed by our Y6 pupils. All parents and carers of pupils new to school are invited to attend. The assembly starts at 9:10am. On behalf of the staff and governors, I would like to thank you for your on-going support. I have always felt that it is a privilege to be part of our community and I hope you will continue to feel the same way too as we move forward this year. It's only fair to...

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Goodbye, Y6

Goodbye, Y6

Every year, at this time, we wonder at how quickly the school year passes. For those of us who work in the school, this is a regular occurrence. For our children it can be both an exciting and a difficult time. Some children look forward to the adventure of a new class whilst others worry about the change. For our Y6 pupils this week is the start of a momentous change in their lives; the step from primary to secondary education. On Monday morning, they will be inviting their family members into school to see their final assembly. They have been working hard with their teacher, Ms Sinclair, in order to plan what they want to express as they leave our school. It is always a very emotional experience for everyone and one where all the adults in their lives, both at home and in school, feel incredible pride when they see who they have become as young people. We hope that as they leave the school this week and as they develop in the next few years into young adults, that they carry with them the values we have promoted in partnership with our families. If you speak with any one of them you notice how able they are to articulate what it means to be part of the Unsworth community. They can talk about ‘Together We Build Understanding’ and what it means to them. They can talk about our core values, recently selected through a democratic vote. They have been successful in terms of their academic achievement this year but their qualities as people and the values they hold and demonstrate every day will stay with them in their future. It is that which gives us the most satisfaction. Someone once said that to achieve excellence you should:   “Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.”   Taking safe risks, caring deeply, dreaming about possibilities and having high expectations of yourself and others is what we are all about. Our wonderful Y6 pupils are equipped to move on to the next part of their lives and we wish them well. Good luck, Y6, we will miss you! It's only fair to...

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