Such a Busy, Productive Time!
We have had an incredibly busy week in school. There is so much going on behind the scenes, in order to ensure that school runs as smoothly as possible. in fact, despite Covid-19 taking up so much of my time each day operational matters and improvements that you would expect in the autumn term, still continue apace. This week for example, we have had a fantastic maths staff meeting - led by Mr Turner in which he outlined the way that teachers can insure that their teaching incorporates the content that children have missed in the summer term. We spent a long time looking at the DFE's new 'Ready to Progress' criteria, that will ensure that there is consistency for pupils as the progress from one year group to the next.
Mr Turner is also leading our Catch- Up Programme, and work will continue on our plans for this as we move towards half term. We are currently considering several models, but the final plans are likely to include some small group interventions, and 1:1 tuition, all delivered by our teachers to those children that have been assessed to be most in need of catch up support, following lockdown. The Government funding is coming in 3 waves, and so we hope to support as many individual children as possible across the course of this academic year.
On Monday night, we had some fantastic training from Mrs Smith around some of the recent changes that she has made to our Art Curriculum. We have been gradually overhauling each of our non-core curriculum areas, to ensure that they match the needs of our children, and also our ASPIRE values perfectly. Our new art curriculum has a carefully planned progression built in for each of the key areas that we teach at Thomas Harding (drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, textiles and printing.) In line with our aspiration and success values, we also now teach about the work and achievements of key artists through history, in each of those key disciplines. Probably the highlight of the meeting for all though, was when she asked us all to ACTUALLY do some drawing! Imagine a room full of teachers, drawing - we impressed ourselves with our growth mindsets I can tell you! We left the meeting with a far greater appreciation for the children and the resilience they need to be successful.
Hasn't it been a very strange start to the term and school year? At a time when we should all be pulling together more than ever, it feels as though we are being held apart by the Covid-19 restrictions. Thankfully, we were able to rectify this somewhat, this week when we were fortunate enough to welcome some parents into the playground for a socially distanced coffee morning. We started this event, last year for the new year 3 parents, and we had incredibly warm and positive feedback from many parents, who welcomed the opportunity to meet up and discuss the transition arrangements over a cup of tea or coffee! This year, we felt it appropriate to extend this opportunity to all year groups, so we held a coffee morning for each year group on separate days across the week. This was also an excellent opportunity to showcase our new 'Aspire and Grow together' garden project, which many parents had heard so much about through their children!
When we sent out the coffee morning invitation, we also sent out a survey, asking parents about transition, home-school communication and how their child had settled back into school this term.
It was lovely to have such overwhelmingly positive responses, with all parents who responded, reporting that there was good communication between school and home. It was also hugely reassuring, that although the responses indicated a strong level of fear around the reopening of schools, and the possibility of a second wave of the virus, everyone reported feeling that the school's response to Covid-19 had been strong and robust. All felt happy that their child was safe in school. A significant number of parents also thanked us for listening to their opinions, and allowing parents to have a voice in our plans - which is something we absolutely pride ourselves on! There were a few areas that were raised, that we obviously need to work on, for example: parents would like a clear stationery list to be provided, lists of reading books for each year group and the calendar clearly needs to be updated more frequently! These are all in hand, and we will be acting on them this term. A huge thank you to all parents who attended, or who completed and returned the survey.
As you will be aware, we have changed our lunch supplier this term, due to the huge and ongoing concerns that we had last year around the reliability and quality of our previous supplier. There has been a number of teething problems as we have adapted to the new system. These issues were anticipated but actually impossible to mitigate for prior to opening. One example of this, is that our new supplier does not support prior ordering of the food. Over time, the ordering becomes more accurate as the supplier learns the ordering needs of the children in our school. Of course, this means we needed contingency plans for the first days, in case any food ran out! Thankfully, this did not happen, and as the days have gone by, our ordering system has become ever more accurate. We have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food and we have seen a huge increase in the number of children having school hot dinners!