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Ensuring Quality

During our Monday assembly last week, the children watched a clip of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. It was interesting to listen to the responses of the children after they listened to the speech. Whilst some of the older children knew who he was and what he stood for, some of our younger pupils could understand how he felt as he spoke and how the crowd responded to him. Throughout the rest of the week, the children found out about his life and his non-violent fight for civil rights. Our children really do think deeply about things and enjoy responding to the issues we share in our assemblies.

The Resources Sub-Committee of governors met on Thursday evening. It is the responsibility of this sub-committee to consider issues connected with finance, personnel and the school building and grounds. We looked at our current budget position and discussed our preparation towards our internal audit inspection which will take place at the end of this month. The auditor from the local authority will spend the day in school checking our organisational procedures to make sure we are working as efficiently as possible.

On Friday I attended the Bury Headteachers’ termly meeting with the officers from the local authority. At this meeting it was confirmed that all school budgets will suffer further cuts in this next financial year. It will be the job of the governors and the leadership team to ensure that this does not impact on the quality of teaching and learning in our school. As ever, we will endeavour to think creatively about how we use our funding to achieve the very best we can for our pupils.

In this week’s leadership team we conducted a book scrutiny as part of our on-going self evaluation work. This involves collecting a sample of children’s books across all classes across a range of subjects. We look at the quality of the work and the opportunities the children have had for challenge in their learning. We also look at how teachers and teaching assistants help children to move on to the next steps in their learning through their marking. Each teacher receives feedback after the scrutiny. It was a real pleasure to see the effort being put into their work by the children. If you would like more information about marking and feedback go to the Curriculum tab above then click Assessment > Marking and Feedback.

 

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What a performance

Last week began with our whole school assembly. We found out all about Louis Braille and his ingenious system of reading and writing for blind people. During the week some of the children found some examples of Braille at home and brought them in to show me. It is always a pleasure when the children show such an interest and follow up their learning at home.
On Thursday our Y1 pupils entertained us with their class assembly. They have been reading and writing stories in their literacy lessons and the whole school and their visitors really enjoyed the telling of their class story. It was beautifully done and every child stood up and said their line. Parents supported by providing some great costumes and helping the children to practise and learn their lines. We all really enjoyed watching their confident performances.
On Thursday evening the School Improvement Committee of the governors met for their termly meeting. This committee meets each term to work with myself to make strategic decisions about the school. It is their responsibility to look at issues connected with the curriculum, with inclusion and with the community.
During the meeting we looked at the new National Curriculum and our progress towards its implementation in September 2014. We also discussed issues connected with national changes in the way schools and local authorities provide for children with disabilities and Special Educational Needs and how this may affect our school and our children. The governors were also told about the visits that our children have experienced over the last term to enhance their learning.
The Governing Body consists of 13 members of our school and local community who volunteer their time to work with myself to lead the school. We hold regular meetings and work in sub committees to make decisions about a whole range of things from personnel issues to how to spend our funding and look after our school building. Our main purpose is to evaluate and improve the quality of teaching and learning in our school. We will be providing more information on the work of the Governing Body on our website in coming weeks.

 

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Back to School

I have very much enjoyed getting back to normal, spending the whole week at Unsworth. I led two assemblies this week, one on Monday when I introduced the theme of the week and our Well Done assembly on Thursday. This week we have been thinking about Epiphany and the Three Kings. We found out that Epiphany means ‘making known’ and it marks the time when the Three Kings arrived at the stable to see Jesus. In Well Done Assembly two children from each class were chosen to share their best work with the school. They are so proud when they stand at the front of the hall and hear their teacher telling everyone why they deserve the award. We also give out our Well Done trophy and lunchtime certificate at the assembly. This award is given to a child who is chosen by the Midday Supervisors because of excellent behaviour at lunchtime. When a child wins the award, they do so for their whole class and together they decide on a small ‘treat’ which may be something like an extra playtime. It promotes a team spirit amongst classmates and a recognition for children who always behave well. Each Thursday, after school, the Leadership Team meet to discuss teaching and learning and actions we need to take as a result of our constant self-evaluation. Each year we write a School Development Plan which identifies a small number of priority areas for us to focus on over the coming academic year. This year our priority areas were very much influenced by the Ofsted inspection report we received in July. As you know, we are aiming to regain our outstanding status by raising pupil achievement in writing. Currently,100% of our children make expected progress in writing which is higher than the national picture but to be outstanding more of our children need to make ‘better than expected’ progress in writing. The percentage of children making this needs to be higher than the national percentage for us to be judged as outstanding. Our figures in reading and mathematics exceed the national. At the Leadership Team meeting on Thursday we reviewed our action plans and the progress we are making with our School Development Plan. Mr Rhodes and I also began our termly pupil progress meetings with each teacher to look at the end of Autumn term assessment data. At these meetings we look at the progress being made by every child and review the approaches and interventions in our teaching. Our monthly newsletter has been sent out for January and in it you will see the new themes the children will be learning about this term. Take a look at the class pages for more information. Mrs. Hutchinson and Mr. Rhodes have worked hard to develop our communication with you this year through our website. This month we are hoping to develop our feedback feature where you will get the opportunity to respond to blogs etc. I would be very interested in knowing which aspects of school life you would like me to explain in my blog. Obviously, this will only be general issues. As always, if you have any specific concerns I am very happy to meet with you in school.   [whohit]headteacher7[/whohit]

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Singing with Snow White

Our countdown to Christmas continued last week with two amazing performances from our Key Stage 2 children. Their Snow White pantomime was a triumph with every person in Y6 getting up on stage and delivering a line. Some children really pushed themselves and there were many brilliant performances. The singing from Y3, Y4 and Y5 was of such high quality that it was a perfect accompaniment to the actors on the stage. Well done, everyone, you made us so proud!

Last week also saw the start of our whole-school enquiry in which we are researching how Christians use the arts to express their beliefs. Each class is taking an aspect of the Christmas story and looking at how it has been expressed in paintings, music or other art forms. The children are really enjoying the topic and have created some wonderful pieces of art. This Thursday we will be holding our celebratory event when each class will present their work to the rest of the school. I have been very impressed with the quality of work I have seen and the thoughtful responses the children give when considering their enquiry questions.

This week we will be holding our Christmas parties. The children in YR, Y1 and Y2 welcomed Father Christmas into school on Monday. They enjoyed meeting him and speculating on where he had parked his reindeers! The rest of the school will enjoy their parties on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday evening our choral group will be joining children from our music collaborative partners to sing at Bury Parish Church in aid of Bury Hospice. It is a lovely occasion and the children enjoy working with children from other schools. The group also visited Spurr House last week to sing for the residents there. Everyone who heard them sing reported how wonderful they were.

School will break up early on Friday. I will be spending my last day at Higher Lane Primary School on Wednesday this week. I have enjoyed working with the Higher Lane community and it has been a learning experience for me to work in a different setting alongside another experienced Headteacher. I am very much looking forward to returning full-time to Unsworth in January. As the term comes to an end I would like to send you best wishes on behalf of everyone at school and to thank you for your continued support.

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Shepherds and Sprouts

What a wonderful time we had last week. The children in YR, Y1 and Y2 performed in two evening performances of ‘A Shepherd’s Delight’. Every child did their best to show off their talents on the stage and it was a pleasure to watch their faces as they recognised their adults in the audience! It is not easy to stand up on stage in front of a large audience but every child managed to do so and thoroughly enjoyed it. Through these performances and their class assemblies the children grow in confidence and enjoy being part of our school community.

This week the children in Y3,Y4, Y5 and Y6 will be performing in their pantomime ‘Snow White’. We watched the dress rehearsal on Monday and were impressed by both individual and group performances. The singing from Y3 and Y4 was very special. We will be welcoming parents and carers to watch the shows on Tuesday and Wednesday evening at 7.30pm.

On Thursday last week we held our Christmas lunch. Whilst there are quite a few left-over sprouts at the end of lunchtime, the children really enjoy the fun we have together in the hall. As each class enters the hall, Mrs. Channon plays all the Christmas tunes and the children have to ‘sing for their dinner’. The whole staff serve the children whilst wearing their best Christmas hats. Thanks must go to Mrs Walsh, our cook, and her team for all of their hard work on the day.

As the week came to an end, the staff turned their thoughts to planning our whole-school enquiry theme which started this week. The overall enquiry has been planned by our Humanities Task Team. Each class is enquiring into how beliefs around Christmas are expressed through the arts. The theme will last for two weeks and will culminate in a special service in the final week in which the children will exhibit their art work and learning about the theme. The children will be encouraged to think about the meaning of Christmas and the ways in which people express their beliefs through the arts. We hope to share some of the work completed by the children through the class pages on our website over the next two weeks.

 

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Christmas is coming!

As November comes to an end, all thoughts in a primary school turn to Christmas. This week, the children in Reception Class, Y1 and Y2 have been working hard rehearsing their Nativity play, Shepherd’s Delight. They have been learning the words to the songs and practising their moves. It is no easy task to make sure that all 94 children have their moment on the stage but we are looking forward to the two performances on Monday and Tuesday evening this week.

The children in the juniors are also starting to work towards their performances next week. It has been a tradition at our school for Y6 to take the acting roles in our Christmas pantomime each year. They have their parts for Snow White and they will be brilliantly supported by the children in Y3, Y4 and Y5 in singing.
For all four performances, all children will be dressed up and we thank you for your support in helping us to do that. The evening performances are magical and the children are so thrilled when they perform well in front of their families. As Headteacher of our school I always feel so proud of the efforts of the children and the hard work of the staff when I watch from the wings. I can’t wait!
In our staff meeting this week we reviewed our term so far. This year we have introduced quite a few new approaches including the increased use of e-learning such as My Maths and Bug Club. We have also been working to review our curriculum and homework approach with the implementation of the new National Curriculum around the corner. Obviously, during a period of change it is very important that we reflect on and evaluate our work. This may result in some modifications and further changes as September approaches. We will keep you informed along the way and will find opportunities to ask your opinion when we can.
The week ended with the arrival of our Christmas tree which was dressed ready for switch on this week. The school has been decorated and we are looking forward to sharing the festivities with you over the next few weeks.

 

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Assembly Themes

In assemblies this week we have been learning about the Sikh Guru Nanak. We watched a short film for children from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00w5lnd

The children discussed their learning from his teachings about equality.

Both our assembly calendar and our RE (Religious Education) curriculum aim to develop the social, moral, spiritual and cultural development of our pupils. Religious education (RE) is a statutory part of the primary curriculum for schools. However, there is no legal requirement about the way RE is taught, or what is taught within it.  Instead, it is the responsibility of local authorities (LAs) to agree an RE syllabus. We follow the guidelines provided within the Bury Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) document.

Earlier this month Ofsted published a report on the quality of teaching in RE entitled Religious education: realising the potential. If you would like to read the report here is the link to the Ofsted site http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/religious-education-realising-potential

In our Humanities Task Team, led by Mrs. Ali, we discussed the report. We are undertaking a review of our RE provision which will involve a series of lesson observations, looking at the quality of work in children’s books and analysis of assessment data. Across a typical year in school we will write a ‘position paper’ on at least three different curriculum areas to ensure that we continue to monitor the quality of pupil achievement, the quality of teaching and the quality of leadership and management of the subject.

One of my main tasks as Headteacher is to monitor the quality of teaching and learning across the whole school. This week I held pupil progress meetings with each teacher in the school. During these meetings we look specifically at the most recent assessments carried out by the teacher and discuss the actions they may need to carry out to ensure progress for every pupil. This week the focus was on reading and writing. Following these meetings teachers may alter their teaching in some way, alter the children’s groupings or focus or add additional interventions for particular groups or individuals. I have enjoyed these discussions and I was impressed with the quality of the preparation and knowledge the staff brought to the meetings. This was also reflected in the feedback parents gave from the parents’ progress meetings held just before half term.

 

Our week ended with a wonderful assembly led by our Y4 class. We were entertained by their assembly about Diwali and in particular, by their celebratory dancing. The whole school enjoyed it enormously, especially the twist at the end which saw all staff taking part in the dance routine! A little bird told me that in their second run-through, the class insisted their parents join in…so sorry I missed it!

 

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Remembering

Last week began with an assembly for Remembrance. The children found out about the meaning of the red poppy and listened to the sound of the bugle playing ‘The last post’. It is very moving to witness very young children conducting a silence and doing their best to understand the concept of Remembrance.

During the week our School Effectiveness Partner, from the Local Authority, visited the school on two occasions. His role is to hold the school to account in its work with children and to offer advice and support. He met with Mr. Rhodes to look at our assessment outcomes for 2013 and to look at our development plans for 2013-2014. He also met some members of the Governing Body to look specifically at the work I conduct as Headteacher and help set my objectives for the coming year.

The Attainment and Progress Sub-committee of the Governors met on Thursday to monitor progress in our priority area of writing. We also looked at how the school is using funding it has received from the ‘Pupil Premium’. See our Ofsted Inspection Report and information about Pupil Premium under the Key Information tab. I also met with the other Primary Headteachers from the Whitefield and Unsworth Cluster and we discussed a range of local and national issues affecting our schools.

It was very satisfying to see some wonderful examples of our children’s work during Well Done Assembly this week. Once a fortnight, two or three children are chosen from each class to show their work. Over the course of the year, every child will be chosen for something in which they have done their ‘personal best’. The children come to the front of the hall and show their work whilst the member of staff, who nominated them, tells everybody why they have been chosen. They receive a sticker and a well done postcard and their name is written in the well done book. There is always a very positive atmosphere in the hall during this assembly as everybody learns together how to celebrate someone else’s achievements.

 

If you are interested in the Pupil Premium, The Oxford University Press hosts some useful resources on its website, including the report ‘The pupil premium: making it work in your school’ https://global.oup.com/education/content/primary/key-issues/pupil-premium/?region=uk  . The website helps schools identify needs and deploy the pupil premium effectively.

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Behind the scenes

Welcome to my first blog following the launch of our new website this term.  Our teachers have been blogging for some weeks now in order to share with you their day to day experiences with the children.  In my blog I intend to share with you a ‘behind the scenes’ view of life at school and the aspects of it that you may not be aware of in order to give you a greater understanding of our approach to teaching and learning and possible future developments.

Our first week back after half term was a busy one.  Monday morning began with my usual assembly with the children.  Each Monday I meet with the children and we think about our weekly assembly theme.  This week we were learning about the festival of Diwali and its meaning.  During Monday assembly we also celebrate the children’s achievements out of school and they bring their trophies, medals and certificates to share with their peers.  We also find out which of our teams accumulated the most house points over the last week.

On Tuesday we had a very hectic morning whilst the photographer took individual and class photos – never an easy task with over two hundred photos to take and the birthday photos for the school calendar!  Nevertheless, we managed it and I hope you will be very pleased with the results.

On Thursday Y2 led the whole school assembly and their parents joined us to hear all about their latest enquiry theme all about London.  The children performed really well and you can read more about their theme on the Y2 class page.

If you take a look at the Key Information tab under Enquiry Curriculum you will find an explanation of our enquiry curriculum.  On Mondays, after school, the staff meet for their weekly development meeting.  Last week they met in their departmental groups to discuss our writing curriculum.  We are preparing for a new National Curriculum which has to be implemented in September, 2014. It is our aim to develop an enquiry-based curriculum which emphasises the basic skills, incorporates the requirements of the new National Curriculum but also develops enthusiastic and independent learners.  We are hoping that you will be able to use our new website to get more directly involved with your child’s learning.

Click here to download the new National Curriculum

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