Head's Blog

Update 28th May

It has been so lovely to complete a term where COVID has not loomed quite as large and school life seems to be returning to normal. That is not to say we are underestimating any potential risk and it looks very much as though ‘bubbles’ and staggered starts etc will be with us until at least the end of this academic year.

COVID regulations

Staff continue to test twice weekly and will continue to do so over the holidays. I really hope you will all be able to get out and about a bit more and even get away next week! Please do, however, be vigilant for any symptoms and test if you are in any doubt. In the very unfortunate event of any member of your immediate family testing positive over the holidays, please do inform me. This is particularly relevant until Monday when a confirmed case would have implications for your child’s bubble.

Looking ahead to next term, we are going to try to normalise things as much as we can but, like yourselves no doubt, we are waiting for confirmation of how far things can ease after June 21st. The local authority have notified us today that we should organise end of year events with caution and inform a Local Resilience Forum to ensure we do not breach regulations or incur a fine! Their advice is as follows:

“It is expected that the guidance for 21 June will be circulated no more than 7 days in advance of any relaxation in restrictions, therefore events planned for the latter part of June and July will need to consider this uncertainty.”

As such, we are not sure whether we will be able to hold Sports Days at this stage but will hopefully be able to at least organise some sort of ‘bubble only’ event towards the end of term. If parent spectators are allowed, we will try to give you as much notice as possible.

A whole school end of year performance will not be possible primarily because singing indoors, without social distancing, is still not allowed. We will however, try to organise some sort of Year 5 and 6 performance outside so the Year 6 children at least get the opportunity to take part in what has traditionally been a ‘rite of passage’ at Yardley. Similarly, we are also hoping that the Year 6 leavers celebrations can be as normal as possible.

In other words, we will do all that we can to ensure the end of year is as normal as possible but please bear with us as there may be last minute arrangements or adjustments!

Boys’ Reading

You may recall in my last email that I explained we are looking into the gap between boys and girls attainment in reading. This is a national issue but also replicated to a certain extent in our school. The trial of our boys’ Reading and Writing Club is going really well and the boys’ excitement and enthusiasm has been amazing. To give us the fullest picture of boys’ reading behaviours, if you have boys that attend our school, we would really appreciate it if you could complete the survey below:

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=1H5lr2x-AkuoGAJeI3gMRFzzVWRvSMhAmRWujldDFutUN0MwUEVHMFpCVzRKNFhHR0VPODVOOVdOQi4u

We are not checking up on you and it will be anonymous! We are just trying to get as clear a picture of boys reading habits as we can so we can ensure any plans we put in place are appropriately targeted.

Supporting Anxious Children: Parent Presentation

As you are all aware, as a school, we place a huge importance on developing children’s social and emotional wellbeing as well  as academic ability. The charity Making Me, who have supported us with the Feelings Flowers and Shields of Resilience, have offered to hold a Zoom based session for parents on how to support an anxious child at home. As a parent myself, I know that on many occasions, I would have loved some advice and support with this. The session will be hosted by us but Liz Fordham, who many of you met at our initial parent sessions, would deliver a 30/40 minute presentation; there would be an opportunity to ask questions at the end. It would be in the evening around 7pm. So I can gauge interest, if this is something that you would like to attend, please could you drop me a line.

As always, please come back to me if you have any questions or comments about any of the above.

Have a lovely half-term and enjoy the sunshine and warmer weather at last! We will see you all back on Monday June 7th.

A few updates!

I cannot believe how quickly the weeks fly by and that we are already a significant way through this term. The school is a lovely place to be and it really does feel like our community is beginning to return to normal. Our routines and structures are certainly not what they were during pre-COVID times but we are getting there! We are very much looking forward to future ‘wider’ events such as trips and residentials and are delighted that the government have confirmed that these can go ahead as part of the further easing of restrictions on May 17th. Our residentials for the next academic year have now been scheduled and you will receive details of these very shortly.

Catch Up

Our catch up plans are now well under way and we are very grateful for your support with this. You will now have been contacted if your child needs any aspects of catch up. Please rest assured that we are keeping an eye on the academic and emotional progress of all children. We will contact you if your child needs any additional support or interventions over the next few weeks.

School Timings

Please could I remind you about the start times for our different classes. These are as follows:

  • Class 4 : 8.30am
  • Class 3: 8.40am
  • Class 2: 8.50am
  • Class 1: 9.00am

There are a number of children arriving a little late, particularly for our earlier 8.30 and 8.40 starts. I do know that most of these times are earlier than previously but, for all children, our learning starts straight away. Registration occurs as the children complete their first task of the day; just 5 minutes missed can make a difference!

Attendance

Whilst it is lovely that we are all able to see friends and family again, please could I also remind you about attendance. I really do understand how difficult it is to reschedule previously postponed trips and that you all need to see friends and family, after such a long time. The unauthorised absence rate is, however, creeping up and, as a school, we are monitored on this, particularly by Ofsted! Please bear this in mind when organising trips or holidays.

Global Curriculum

The start to our term has seen a re-launch of our Global Curriculum and the children are very enthusiastic about it. You may recall at the very beginning of our curriculum journey, we talked about widening children’s perspectives and equipping them with the skills for lifelong learning and occupations in an interconnected world. In many of my recent assemblies, we have looked at the meaning of the word ‘global’ and how this may look in school. The children have been amazing in their responses about equality, taking responsibility for their actions, looking after our environment etc. Many aspects of this are linked to the children’s current topic learning but we would also like to encourage the children to adopt positive global attitudes in wider school life.

We have been thinking long and hard about what makes a good global citizen and, more importantly, what this looks like from a child’s point of view. To complement our existing SMART values (self-confident, aspirational, motivated, resilient, team player) we have, as a school, agreed the values we would like to instil in our children in a global context. These are to:

  • Take responsibility for their actions
  • Respect and value diversity
  • Recognise that they can make a contribution to the wider community at a range of levels.
  • Be aware of the wider world and how it works
  • Understand equality and fairness.

We have designed a badge to recognise any child’s contribution to these. I have shared this with the children in my assemblies. We will look to award these at termly special assemblies but are also encouraging the children to write to myself (in an age appropriate way) to persuade me that they deserve a global badge and why!

Boys’ Reading and Writing

Another aspect of learning we have been looking at is boys’ reading and writing. Nationally, and indeed within our school, there is a gap between the achievement in reading and writing for boys as opposed to girls. We have surveyed all the boys in school about their reading and writing preferences, perceived barriers to learning and the subject matter they would like to read or write about. We are going to ask you to complete a similar survey about boys’ reading and writing at home…watch out for the link over the next couple of days.

We are going to trial a boys only reading and writing club at lunchtimes which is very much targeted to their interests; those taking part in the trial have already been notified. We will let you know how we get on and when, and if, we can ‘roll it out’ to other boys. Please rest assured that the girls have not been forgotten! We are looking to provide similar opportunities for them but really do need to try and redress the balance in literacy at the moment.

It has been so lovely to write to you all about issues other than COVID! As usual, please come back to me if you have any questions or concerns.