Friday 12th May
I realise that the proposal to change the school week has led to lots of discussion. I am very pleased with my photo in the Cambs Times – it is quite old and I look young!
A parent handed me a list of questions yesterday which I am delighted to answer. The parent obviously thought carefully about the proposal and has kindly agreed that I can share on our website.
Q Will there be a crèche for the meeting on the 23rd May?
A There will be a crèche for the 2.30 pm meeting, if parents require one for the 6.30 pm meeting then please let me know and I will organise.
About the Proposal
Q How do other schools manage PPA time?
A PPA is a statutory obligation, so all schools have to implement it. Schools do so in a number of ways – supply teachers, sports coaches, teaching assistants. A number of schools have implemented a 4½ day week for pupils, including schools in Cambridge and Peterborough.
Q Is the change driven by budget/increase in number of classes per year?
A Absolutely not! I can understand why parents may think this, particularly with stories in the news about education cuts. Westwood is a large school and schools are funded per pupil. In addition to this we manage our budget very well. This proposal is driven by one thing only. The school’s commitment to continue to improve the education your child receives. If implemented it will actually cost the school – teaching assistants, including part-time, will be asked to work Friday afternoons and there will be an increase in hours for catering and lunchtime staff to cover the staggered lunch time.
Q Are the teachers on board with this proposal?
A Teachers and teaching support staff are being consulted formally and I will be able to share their views at the meetings on the 23rd May. Informal discussions with staff indicate they are very supportive of the proposal and believe it will have a real impact on teaching and learning.
Q Will this proposal mean class time currently lost to PPA will stop or is this additional to current levels?
A PPA in its current format will end. The children will still receive a broad and balanced curriculum and receive their entitlement of PE, music and art, but they will be taught by class teachers. Our art lead, Miss Allen, will continue to support art in years 3 – 6, however class teachers will have responsibility for the class.
Q Will you ensure that it is mandatory for teachers and teaching assistants to stay for the full PPA time (until 3.15 pm)?
A Yes, but this is something I know I will not have to ‘police’. I was very disappointed to read comments on social medial about “teachers having afternoons off”. You only have to drive by Westwood at 7 o’clock in the morning or 6 o’clock at night to see how hard my staff work. As I write this 8 members of staff, teachers and teaching assistants are preparing to give up their weekend to take year 4 to Kingswood. There are no overtime payments for this! Westwood organises residentials at the weekend as the cost to parents is so much cheaper than in the week and we do not want children penalised because of cost. With summer camps, Easter camps, family learning days, read around the campfire etc. the school is virtually open 52 weeks a year.
Q Can the proposal be implemented by the school or does it need higher authority to approve?
A The governors of the school will make the decision. That’s why it is so important that parents share their views with governors through the questionnaire that will be sent out following the meeting and through discussions with our named governors, Natasha Hardy and Rebecca Amps, who can be contacted through the school office either by telephone or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) As a local authority school we have a duty to consult with the local authority, however the decision remains that of the school governors.
Q The 15 minutes lost from lunchtime for year 1 – 6 doesn’t sound like a lot but I am wondering if dawdlers or slow eaters will have less social / exercise time which could be detrimental to their learning (and disruptive for class). Has this been considered / will it factor into the restructure of teaching time?
A We believe that the proposal will help our dawdlers or slow eaters. All children will go into first seating. Children will not have to queue, and therefore playtime should be longer. There will be less children in the hall but the same amount of lunchtime staff and therefore they will be able to support children more effectively. Many, many children find an hour too long – our colouring club, nest and library are full to overflowing. We work very hard to ensure our classrooms are social environments. The best part of the day shouldn’t be lunchtime. We are teaching children to collaborate, discuss, compete and this supports social skills. PE and sport supports the school’s aims and we will ensure that the children’s entitlement to these important aspects of the curriculum continues.
Assuming implementation of the proposal
Q How will you measure if this change has been effective?
A The proposal is to support the improvement of teaching and learning. Monitoring of this is continuous. We do this through lesson observations, ‘drop-ins’ into classrooms by members of the senior leadership team, work scrutinies, discussions with pupils and staff and, of course, data analysis. Teaching in this school is good – very good, we are going for outstanding – it’s what your child deserves! Ultimately the school is judged by OFSTED. The school was last inspected in December 2014 and as a good school we are expecting an inspection during the academic year 2017-2018. If the proposal is implemented we are confident that we can justify our reasoning and show results.
Q Would there be parent input into this assessment?
A Parent questionnaires, given out yearly, include questions concerning quality of teaching and learning – progress of pupils. This is an excellent vehicle to gauge parents’ views as they are completed at parents evenings and the vast majority of parents attend. If the proposal is implemented, a specific questionnaire about the school week will be circulated at the end of the spring term 2018.
Q What time scale would you give it before assessing the change?
A We would expect to see an almost immediate impact in the classroom. Our already trained teaching assistants, will have a greater understanding of learning intentions and expected outcomes and thus will work to an even greater effect. The long term effect will be in the data analysis, at the end of the year.
Q What is the plan if the change isn’t as effective as hoped? (e.g. additional PPA still needed, or not financially viable to continue)
A I was very very aware that in the first instance this proposal was going to be controversial and I would not have suggested it if I did not believe that it would significantly enhance the education of our children. Those of you who know me well, hopefully know that, although I am not always popular, my commitment to your children is steadfast and this is shared by my staff. I am fully committed to making this work. Additional PPA is not an option. Children progress when taught by teachers they know. My staff will do what they do now – work longer – until the job is done. As previously stated the school manages its budget well. I cannot envisage a time when it is not financially viable. However schools communities evolve, educational thinking evolves, if changes need to be made parents will be consulted as always.
Q Drop off / pick up times – how will these work for dual site parents?
A Very much as it does now. When we changed Maple Site hours from 3.00 pm to 3.15 pm, some felt that this would be an issue, however there hasn’t been any problems. Our year 5 and 6 pupils are let out independently at the end of the day (unless parents state otherwise) and staff remain on the playground until all pupils are collected at the end of the day. In the mornings classrooms will open at 8.30 am and register is at 8.45 am, so there is plenty of time to drop off on both sites and the early start may well support our working parents.
Childcare on a Friday
Q Who will be looking after the children?
A The ultimate responsibility for the children will stay with myself. A number of lunchtime supervisors have expressed an interest in this role. All lunchtime supervisors receive regular training on child protection and positive play as well as first aid. Some lunchtime supervisors are already supporting the school day through our very popular “Time to Move Programme”. If the proposal is implemented, once staff are in place, we will ensure that play leader training takes place.
Q What will they be doing during this time?
A This is a ‘club’, a chill out time – art activities, sporting activities, opportunity to use ICT. Children can do homework if they want to. It will be dependent on the children’s interests.
Q Will the child care be run on just one site?
A Ideally yes, as this would make collection easier, however the final decision will be made when we have numbers. Yes, medications will be transferred.
Q Will there be segregation of years?
A No – we want to develop a family atmosphere – the older children and younger children gain a lot from being together and this is why we mixed the year groups over two sites. Primary schools run from 4 to 11, why should your children miss out because the school is a split site? However, the children will choose their activity and it might well be that at times they segregate themselves according to age and interest, e.g. football.
Q Offered to ‘working parents’ – how are you going to assess this?
A Friday Club will be offered to any parent that requires it. My assumption is that working parents
will require it. Please note my answer to the question below; we do need to ensure that there is a
distinction between Friday club and school.
Q How flexible will childcare be? Will booking be weekly / termly in advance?
A We will expect parents to book termly. That does not mean we expect parents to use it every
week, however it is imperative that staff are in place to run the club, and this can only be achieved
if we know in advance. It would impact on the education of your children if staff had to be taken
from planning meetings as there had been an influx of children to Friday club.
Q How much will childcare cost? When will this be due to you?
A There are two reasons the school is asking for payment for Friday club.
As part of the parent questionnaire that will be circulated following the meeting on the 23rd, parents will be asked about payment for Friday club. If the majority have strong views on this issue, I feel sure the governors will take this into consideration. The cost is dependent on the number of pupils that, on average, sign up to use the club. The school has no overheads - building, lights, heating resources are all here. We only need to cover staffing. I do not want, as yet, to put a figure on the cost, but it will not be above £3.50 a session and the likelihood is, it will be considerably less. Parents will be expected to pay in advance, but as always the school will discuss individual needs.
Q Will there be a discount for siblings?
A No – the staff costs remain the same, however I am expecting the cost to be minimum.
Q Will childcare vouchers be accepted?
A This is something I know little about. If needed we can investigate.
Q What will you do if a child is not picked up on time but no payment for childcare made, and how will this differ for persistent offenders?
A The school is very aware that sometimes things happen, stuck in traffic, cars break down etc. This can happen whether the school closes at 1.30 pm or 3.15 pm. Procedures are in place for this and will continue. If a parent contacts the school to say they are running late, we hold on to the child. If a parent is late and does not contact the school, then we hold onto the child and use the emergency contact numbers held by the school. Persistent offenders are very rare and the school works closely with individual parents to understand issues.
Q What plans do you have for the deficit /excess monies resulting from the childcare?
A As previously stated the school will not make a profit from a school club. Parents will be charged the bare minimum to cover the cost.
I do hope that these questions and answers have helped you understand in more detail the thinking behind the proposal. I am more than happy to answer any further questions, either in writing or through a private meeting.
Thank you, as always, for your continued support.
22nd February 2017
Well we are half way through the year and I thought I would remind you of some of the successes Westwood Primary school have experienced this year: Our new build is well and truly established and our foundation children now have a purpose built outside area (a little less muddy than last year). At the beginning of the year we introduced a new uniform for our reception which included polo shirts and tracksuit bottoms. We also presented every child with a jumper with their name on it. The fundraising for outdoor coats was a great success and thank you for your support. Our year 5s are firmly established on our Maple site and this, we feel, has been a great success. The year 5s have risen in stature as the eldest on the site. The year 5 house captains do a sterling job and all Year 5s can be relied on to support their younger peers.
The school has enjoyed a number of sporting successes this year. Neale Wade Academy has organised many sporting events for the local primary schools and Westwood has attended the majority - we did particularly well in the cross county and the football. Our links with Neale Wade remain very strong and Miss Jackman our Year 6 lead has attended a number of meetings with Neale Wade staff to support transition. Visits to Neale Wade for some children, will begin this term and Year 6 have the careers convention to look forward to on 15th March 2017.
Our two choirs go from strength to strength, under the direction of Mrs Greenwood and Mr Abey. We have performed at community events, including the Mayor’s Christmas Service and Voice in a Million is fast approaching.
Our links with parents continues to be a real strength of the school and it is a pleasure to see so many of you at our weekly assemblies. Family learning activities continue to be well supported and this term we are opening them up to pre-school parents. We enjoy a very good relationship with our neighbouring pre-school, with Mrs Bidwell sitting on our governing body and myself being part of the management committee for Maple Grove Pre-school. This works towards ensuring smooth transition into school for our youngest pupils.
This year we continue to develop our curriculum. Mrs Grant and Mrs Lansdell Hill are taking part in a cluster project concerned with developing enquiry based learning in Key stage 1, and years 2 and years 5 have been trialling a new maths scheme, based on the Singapore method of maths – this is to be introduced to all years in the summer term.
One of the highlights of the year so far for me has to be the read around the campfire. One of the school’s priorities this year is to support a love of reading for our children. In an era of testing and outcomes for children, it is important that we continue to encourage them to see the joy we can get from books – to read for pleasure. With this in mind I do hope that our Read before Bed evening will be just as successful and I look forward to seeing many of you there.
Governors and senior leaders are beginning to think about organisation for next year. Building work is expected to begin on our Oak site in November - 4 new classrooms are to be built and the offices and kitchen are to be refurbished. The cloakrooms are also going to be updated and FINALLY every class will have their own cloakroom. This will make such a difference to our children’s well-being. As many of you know the years 3 and 4 cloakrooms are a little like Bermuda triangles - with 90 children sharing the space it is inevitable. Whilst the building works is going on the school will lose the Oak nest, as this will be needed for a classroom, however this is only an interim measure and the lunchtime club will take place in our art room.
I look forward to seeing you at parents evening on Tuesday 28th February and Thursday 2nd March on our Oak site, parent questionnaires will be given out on these evenings to gauge your views.
As always thank you for your continued support.
The new term is nearly upon us and we are looking forward to welcoming the children back to school. The summer break has been a busy time for the school. On Maple Site building work has continued and we will be opening with 4 new classrooms for our Year 5; a new senior leaders’ office for myself and other members of the senior leadership team; a refurbished front office and a purpose built Nest, for lunchtimes and breakfast club. On Oak site, a path has been added to allow easy access from both sites and an Art room has been established in the small hall. There is still lots to do and teachers and support staff will be busy moving furniture and setting up classrooms on the 1st and 2nd September. School starts for pupils on Tuesday 6th September, with Years 1 to 6 attending full time and a stay and play day for our Reception.
We are welcoming a number of new staff this year and open mornings for each year group will be organised for early in the term, to give parents an opportunity to meet class teachers, see the new classrooms and hear about the curriculum. Dates for the term will go out with the first school newsletter.
Just to clarify the school day –
On Maple Site doors will open at 8:35, and children will come straight in from the playground. On the first morning teachers will be in the playground to ensure everyone knows where they are going, however as a rule of thumb Year 1 classrooms are at the front of the school, and the children will enter through their class doors. Year 5 will enter either through their classroom door or the year 5 corridor door and the reception pupils will be escorted around the back of the school, where they will be met by their teachers. DON’T WORRY STAFF WILL BE THERE TO HELP.
We are hoping that all children will be in school for 8:45 and the register will closed for Year 5 at 8:45 and our Reception / Year 1 Pupils, 9am. At the end of the day the children will be dismissed at 3:10. If you are picking up from both sites, pick up from Maple first. Foundation and Year 1 pupils will only be handed over to an adult named on contact list. Year 5 pupils are dismissed independently, unless parents inform the class teacher otherwise.
Oak Site, as Maple, doors open at 8:35. Year 2 and Year 6 pupils walk down the side of the school (by the cycle sheds) to enter the school. Year 2 will come through the side door and year 6 will enter through doors in their classrooms. Year 2 teachers / TAs will be monitoring the path every morning and will be available for a quick chat with parents. Year 4 pupils enter through the main entrance and Year 3 come in through the Year 3 door, at the edge of the playground by the cycle shed. All children are expected to be in school by 8:45 am and the register is called for years 3, 4 and 6 at 8:45 and Year 2 at 9.am. The school ends at 3:15. Please do not worry – we will not allow younger pupils in Years 2 and 3 to leave the school if an adult is not present.
And Finally Uniform – the school strongly encourages all children to wear uniform. It supports a feeling of belonging to the school and it ensures that children’s “best clothes” are not ruined. In all year groups, but in particular in Foundation the children are exploring the world around them and their clothes and shoes will get dirty – paint, mud, sand, pen - to name just a few stains. The school makes no apology for this – this is your child’s place of work and learning can be dirty work.
To support parents and to help with the washing, we decided to change the uniform slightly for our youngest pupils. We felt that blue t - shirts would hide the stains a little more and jogging bottoms / legging could be bought very cheaply, however if you would like to put your child in traditional uniform – then that is absolutely fine with us – we just ask you to understand that it will come home dirty. I do hope that has made the school’s positon clear.
Looking forward seeing you on Tuesday 6th September
4th May 2016
Thank you to all who took the time to comment when completing parent questionnaires. The results have been shared with you and I am sure you will agree the statistics are very positive however there are some comments that I would like to respond to:
The question concerning homework generated the most comments. Some parents feel we set too much and some that we set too little. The government expects schools to set homework and sets guidelines which we adhere to. The children appear to enjoy Mathletics and the after school clubs are very popular, however teachers do need to ensure that Mathletics is accessible for all children and that feedback is given. Spelling homework is less popular and we will be reviewing this. The aim of Topic homework is to provide a vehicle for parents and children to work together and it remains voluntary. The project homework must capture the children’s imagination and the senior leadership team is in the process of reviewing the school’s curriculum for September 2016. Project homework will be part of this review.
It is very pleasing to note that 98% of respondents recorded that their children feel safe at school, and only 5% felt that the school did not deal effectively with bullying. 5% is too many children! As a parent myself I am very aware of the impact bullying can have on our children and we hope to make it clear to pupils and parents that we will tackle all types of bullying, both inside and outside of the school gates. I strongly believe that we are preparing children for life and that our pupils will meet people who will try to bully them long after they leave Westwood. We must prepare our children by ensuring that they are resilient and self confident. The school’s anti-bullying policy supports this by admonishing perpetrators and empowering victims. I am quite happy to discuss our policy through a parents evening or with individuals. It does sadden me to note that a very small minority of parents continue to comment on the school’s policy on social media sites, particularly as the school will not comment in a public forum.
Communication between home and school generated some comments. I recognise that there have been some teething problems and I do hope you are now seeing some improvement. I know that the Foundation Link books have been greatly appreciated.
It is pleasing to note that only 2% of respondents felt that the school did not ensure children behave well. The school prides itself on its inclusive ethos. However we endeavour to ensure that the behaviour of an individual does not impact negatively on the learning or well-being of others . That said, we are aware that some children face challenging times, due to a number of issues beyond their control, such as concerns about transition, bereavement, family upheaval. In these circumstances we work with parents and children to provide a “safe place” and draw up individual behaviour plans which reward and reinforce positive behaviour, whilst we are supporting the child's emotional well-being . I am very happy to discuss the thinking behind this in more detail.
A school split over two sites has some positives, not least the amount of space it generates for our children. However it does generate some challenges. Assemblies take place on Oak site because of space restrictions and because we can use the stage. A risk assessment has been completed to ensure the children safely cross the road. I strongly believe that the blending of the key stages across the sites will be of great benefit to our children and I know the Year 5 pupils are looking forward to their new purpose built classrooms.
Thank you one again for taking the time to complete the questionnaires. This is your school and your views matter. I can, as always, be contacted through the school office and as one parent commented – we respond quickly to emails.
A great end to the term with an excellent turn out on for Parents' evening. I do hope our Key stage 2 parents enjoyed getting to know Maple Site. Thank you to all who completed questionnaires. The office are busing analysing the results and these will be shared with you early next term. I do hope that you found the target sheets useful, feedback from parents would be welcomed
The Easter holidays will be a busy time for the school. The office will be open every morning, except Bank holidays, and many of our Year 6 pupils will be at school in the second week, preparing for SATS., and of course the building work continues.
Wishing you all a Happy Easter , let's hope the weather is kind to us
The Summer term begins on Monday April 11th, with a staff training day and the children are back on Tuesday 12th April
17th March 2016
As we draw to the end of the Spring term it is a good time to think about how far we have come this year. Westwood Primary school is well established and , even though we are over two sites we feel like one school. It has been a very exciting term for the children , - our World Book Week gave the pupils an opportunity to work together over the two sites , Voice in a Million for our choir was a wonderful experience, our Reception began their assemblies, and this week we have enjoyed the brilliant Year 4 Production of Robin Hood - thank you to all involved.
in addition to this the building work continues . I am very aware of the disruption that this has caused, to parents , staff and children, however the builders are progressing well and it is expected to be completed, on Maple site, for the new academic year, and over the Easter break they are working on the Foundation outdoor area.
Senior leaders are in the process of redesigning parts of the curriculum to support our aim to continue to raise standards and we will of course keep you fully informed . This will include bringing the times of the day on both sites into line, and looking at mixing key stages across both sites. Governors and staff have looked at the school aims and we will be sharing them with you in the summer term.
Our year 2 and Year 6 pupils will be taking the Interim statutory assessments in May , in light of the changes to the national curriculum in 2014, An information evening for parents will take place on Wednesday 13th April. There s lots of information for parents on this site to support understanding of the changes.
I am very much looking forward to seeing you all at parents eveing next week. All appointments will be on our Maple Site, with Year 6 pupils on hand to guide parents. A Parent questionnaire will be distributed at parents' evening, asking for your views of the school .
Thank you for your continued support
15th October 2015
This week we have continued to encourage the children to work across both sites . Year 6 pupils are taking it in turns to help the younger children on our Maple site , during lunchtime and our Infants have been enjoying going to Oak site for assembles. This week a Year 5 class use maple site's hall for PE.
Our Reception have settled well and are enjoying staying all day. it is a real pleasure to visit them in their classrooms. I realise that they come home very dirty and at times wet, however we make no apologies for this - the children are exploring , creating and learning.
Many of you know we are part of the Fenland Teaching School Alliance. As a part of this alliance we work with other schools in the area offering and receiving support. We also play our part in developing teachers in training. This term we have Miss Lee and Miss Page working alongside Mrs. Talbolt and Mrs. Crosskill "learning their trade". We very much enjoy being part of this professional development and feel the children benefit from the enthusiasm and commitment these teachers show, however of course the class teachers remain responsible for their class.
Just a reminder about behaviour - the school works very hard with parents to support positive behaviour. I am aware that many of you know that there was a serious incident of unacceptable behaviour this week,. Be assured the incident was dealt with quickly and effectively. I really do thank you for your support in this matter. If you have any concerns please see me through the Oak office .
Looking forward to seeing lots of you at the Family Learning festival next Saturday 17th October.
Four weeks into term and all is well! I have really enjoyed the class assemblies this term and it is great to see our younger children from the Maple Site coming over to perform on our stage . They set a very high standard. The Reception are in all day from this week , and they have settled well. Some of our Year 6 pupils are kindly giving up their lunchtimes to help out in the Maple hall and in the playground and this is greatly appreciated.
After school clubs start this week - I do believe there is something for everyone. Please ensure that if your child signs up for a club he/ she attends regularly and the office staff are informed promptly if you child cannot attend. It can be very time consuming and even worrying when a child doesn't show up for a club and we are ringing round trying to find out where that child is.
Finally I just want to take the time to reiterate the school's policy on attendance. Regular, prompt attendance is a vital factor when seeking success at school. The school curriculum is very full; children do not have time to catch up! Children who are absent a lot find it difficult to maintain friendships with their peers and fail to make relationships with staff. This perpetuates the problems - they don't come so they don't want to come. The government has made it very clear that it supports full attendance at school for every child and this year has raised the bar- a child is now identified as a persistent absentee is his/ her attendance drops below 90%. If your child 's attendance drops below 90% you will receive a letter from myself, informing you that attendance is being monitored . Of course children should not be at school if they are ill and at times children are ill, the school will of course exercise some common sense! Please, please note Westwood school does not authorize term time holidays unless EXCEPTIONAL circumstances. I do understand the arguments about cost and I also understand that some holidays are a experience of a life time and children learn so much by going to different countries, however I also see the impact absenteeism can have on the child that misses the same two weeks in September every year and has to step into a class that has already settled .
A great big thank you to all parents and friends who have signed up for reading buddies - Miss Cliss will be in touch
The end of a very good week and the Year 6s have set off to Caythorpe for the weekend - lets hope the weather holds out for them.
This week years 1 to 6 enjoyed a live performance of Alice in Wonderland over on the oak site. This experience was then used as a stimuli for writing and displays of children's work are being put up in the corridors as I type. Our Year 2s have had a visit to "Westwood forest", our little wooded area on the oak site.. The children sat on the story telling circle to listen and tell stories.
Our reception intake have settled well and teachers and support staff have been busy participating in home visits. They will be staying for lunch next week, how exciting.
I am very pleased that a number of parents have shown an interest in the parent governor vacancies. Being a governor is challenging , but very rewarding, so please see Mrs. Tansley , the clerk to the governors, if you would like more information .
Have a lovely weekend and I hope to see many of you at the Friends of Westwood meeting on out Maple site on Monday at 3:30pm
Tuesday 1st September.
It has been a very busy summer for staff and governors this year. Lots of work has gone on to ensure that the school is ready for the children on Thursday 3rd September. Our Maple site has been painted, new signs have been installed and a new library has been sited in the glass room. The site is open to parents and friends after school on Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th September.
We have also been busy on our Oak site , with new carpets in Class 8, a brand new fence and new playground markings .
We are very much looking forward to welcoming the children back this week .Our reception have two taster sessions an our Year 3s will becoming to our Oak site for breakfast on Thursday 3rd September. there is , as always, a busy term ahead of us and I am looking forward to working alongside you all.