The pace of educational change certainly has not slowed down! It seems that every day there is a new initiative announced. We shall take every proposal one step at a time and consider what is best for our children before we proceed.
At the moment we are embedding a new assessment system devised by the Chipping Norton Partnership of Schools, which replaces the old ‘levels’ which were discontinued last year by the government. We now track children’s progress against a set of objectives for their particular year group and at the end of the year we report whether children are working below, at or above age related expectations. We use a range of tests and tasks to establish how children are progressing and where the gaps are, these include end of unit and year tests, reading and spelling tests as well as on-going assessment by the teachers.
Assessment is against the new National Curriculum where expectation has been raised considerably. To illustrate the point, the old Level 5, which indicated a child was working above expectations, now represents the expected level. This means that a child will need to demonstrate mastery in a more advanced curriculum to attain the ‘exceeding’ band.
Mrs Peters will be hosting an information session on the new assessment process, including the new SATs arrangements for KS1 and KS2, next term.
The builders are working really hard to have the three new classrooms completed for September. The new foundation stage classroom should be ready by May then work will start on KS2.
This is a standing item on our governing body meeting agendas. Oxfordshire is actively encouraging all schools to convert, but primary academies are still in the minority. It will be something we will be revisiting, however, with the school expansion, now is not the right time for more change!
Our new budget for 2016-17 will be tight and every penny will be accounted for. Our numbers are good, and we will be expanding the Reception class from September. The new Reception Class will have two teachers and a Nursery Nurse and there will be a separate Nursery Class for our part time children.
We will be employing a new teacher from September who will be taking Y3 as Mrs Nixon will be moving to Reception.
Access Plan and Equalities
Every year, the school has to report on its access plan, demonstrating how we are aiming to improve accessibility for members of the school community with additional or special requirements.
The school is very fortunate in its design, making physical access around the building good. However, we also have to consider access to information and the curriculum. Should any parent request it, we would be able to reproduce publications in other formats. Through ParentMail we are able to circulate information and newsletters direct to parents/carers in electronic format quicker and more reliably than through pupil post. Our website also allows people to increase the size of the type if necessary. All important documents and policies are on the website for easy access.
We ensure that all our children have equal access to the curriculum, by adapting our teaching when necessary to meet individual need. We have, for example, taken additional staff on visits and residentials to give specific children individual support.
This year we have continued to be mindful of accessibility when designing the new classrooms – they will all be fully accessible. The access plan can be viewed through the school website under ‘policies’. You will also find our Equalities Scheme in the same place.
Opportunities for our Gifted and Talented pupils are provided through Chipping Norton School, where different groups meet to target their area of specialism, and by working in groups on relevant activities with visiting specialists or staff. This term there has been Gifted & Talented workshops for Art and English. Chipping Norton school also run courses for keen mathematicians, writers and scientists which are eagerly attended by our children. A team of our best mathematicians came third in last year’s maths competition hosted by BGN in Banbury. Team sports provide an arena where our children who are gifted in sport can compete with their peers. The school usually does very well – our trophy cabinet is bursting at the seams! This term we have got through to the Oxfordshire County Schools’ Netball Tournament where we are representing West Oxfordshire.
Attendance: children love coming to Hooky school! Attendance is brilliant (97% last term). Thank you for your support and encouragement to ensure your children come to school every day and on time.
The new curriculum is now being followed by all classes (this is the first year for Y2 and Y6) and children are responding well to the new challenges of a more demanding programme. We have increased the opportunities for cooking (although it is a struggle without dedicated cooking facilities for children), children are learning to code (we took part in the Hour of Code) and are learning their times tables, getting to grips with grammar, spelling rules, phonics, French etc. Although we are rigorous in our teaching of basic skills, it is really important that children receive a rich curriculum with opportunities to try new things. So we have had lots of visits and special days (Fairtrade, Viking, Romans for example) and we make sure children get as much hands-on experience as possible, working with potters, artists, museum curators, story-tellers, authors, to bring their learning to life.
A survey of the children last year confirmed that they overwhelmingly feel that our new ‘Big Question’ curriculum makes learning more enjoyable and they learn more as well.
Mrs Nixon has been leading on global learning this year with very thought provoking collective worship taking one of our ‘Owl values’ each month as a focus. This month the focus is Equality. The values are based on our Christian foundation and British values such as tolerance, respect for democracy and individual beliefs. She led training on the global curriculum for 16 schools. This was extremely well received by the schools and her report has resulted in The Institute of Education requesting a visit to see how we incorporate global issues into our curriculum.
Every school is given additional funding for children in receipt of Free School Meals, Looked After Children and children with parents in the Armed Forces. In some schools this can be a considerable amount and can make a real difference to the school provision. We have very few children who fall into these categories, but we spend the funding carefully to ensure those children reach their potential. You can see a summary of that on the school website.
The government supports the promotion of sport and PE in schools through an additional grant. This year, after a review of our provision, we have employed Karl Wade, who is a qualified secondary school PE teacher as well as a coach, to deliver some of our PE lessons. Teachers have also received training by observing him teach. Talking to the children and watching the lessons, he has increased expectation and enjoyment in PE. We also have more sports clubs than ever which are very popular, including a new Change4Life club. There are some requests from children that we can’t answer like snow-boarding or horse riding, unfortunately!
Mrs Voce is aiming for the Silver Sportsmark this year.
School website: www.hook-norton.oxon.sch.uk
You will find all our policies, newsletters, photographs, survey results, Head Teacher’s blog, curriculum guides and lots of other information about the school.
If there are any other school matters which you think might be of interest to parents, or if you have concerns or queries, please let me know.
Thank you for your support, as always.