Welcome to the blog for Bernards Heath Infant School Governors.
Last week I had the privilege of visiting our new school-run Breakfast Club, to get a behind-the-scenes view on how it’s going, and see the reaction of the children.
When the children first arrive, they self-register by finding their own name card, while they are formally signed in by their parent or carer. Then it’s straight off for breakfast – a choice of cereals (with either semi-skimmed or soya milk) and toast, plus juice, milk or water to drink. There was also fruit on offer and I spotted some toasted waffles being enjoyed too. As the Breakfast Club is still new, the team are still trying out different options to find out what is most popular with the children – apparently raspberries were a real winner, but bananas and blueberries have proved a little less popular!
After breakfast, it’s playtime, and there were lots of options available for the children to get involved with. On the day I visited the children could choose from Lego, trains, drawing, card-making, mini toys and a book corner, but there’s always something different to keep it interesting. By chance, I happened to visit on a Thursday, one of their busiest days with around 30 children attending, and yet despite the numbers, all the children were playing calmly and happily. There was no running, no loud voices, no drama…..I wish I knew their secret! Of course, having the right staff ratio is important, and Breakfast Club has one member of staff for every 8 children, and has scaled up as numbers have grown since the beginning of term. The Club is run by Miss Flanagan (one of our Teaching Assistants) and other members of the school team, they know the children, and the children know them, which was demonstrated in the relaxed, caring atmosphere.
At the end of playtime, Miss Flanagan rang a bell and hush descended, before the children started tidying all the toys away. Five minutes later it was all done, and the children settled down for a story. Then class by class the children collected their coats and bags and lined up to go to their classes, just before the school bell rang.
I really enjoyed my hour at breakfast club – although it is still new, it ran like clockwork, with no sense that the team are still finding their feet. And most importantly, I witnessed 30 happy children. I asked a number of them whether they enjoyed Breakfast Club and all of them were really enthusiastic. Here’s some of their favourite things about the Club…..
“I like playing with the Lego and trains”
“It’s lots of fun”
“I like drawing”
“I can choose what I want for breakfast”
Thanks to Miss Flanagan and her team for their warm welcome last Thursday, and I look forward to seeing Breakfast Club going from strength to strength!
Over the 2016/2017 academic year we have been reviewing our school vision, values and aims. These are published at the front of our Parent and Staff Handbooks and were written with the aim of ensuring all stakeholders know what we are striving for at Bernards Heath.
The process of updating this has been led by the Governing Body. They have worked with staff and children to find the right words to accurately describe the vision at Bernards Heath. We have also discussed whether this is more of an ethos statement as it is not necessarily something we are working towards in the long term but describes what we strive for every day. It is what influences the way we speak, to and about children, to each other and also embodies our expectations for our whole school community.
We wanted to ensure the statement was not too long, wordy or too easy to forget. These are the words that shape our education and curriculum and we want everyone to be able to easily recall what we believe and what we value.
Please read on; as always, your feedback is welcome…
At Bernards Heath Infant and Nursery School we share our days with children who are just starting to find their place in the world. Our school is a happy, safe learning environment that actively promotes curiosity, challenge and creativity.
We are proud of our school and the strong relationships we have with our families. We celebrate kindness, respect and individuality as we strive to be the best versions of ourselves.
Our children develop enquiring minds and the skills needed for lifelong learning through an active and engaging curriculum.
This morning voting closed for the Parent Governor Election. School Councillors from Year 1 and 2 helped Mrs Rimmer open all the envelopes. Ms Pearlman and Mrs Carr our Chair and Deputy Chair of Governors were in attendance and sorted the ballot papers ready to count. Mrs Rimmer talked to the children about how to effectively count the ballot papers and it was decided a good idea was to group them into piles of 10. The vote was close and our successful candidate won by 2 votes. The children talked about why it was important to double check the counting to make sure the person with the most votes was elected. The children are familiar with the process of electing School Council members and understood that parents were voting for the person they wanted to help Mrs Rimmer and the rest of the Governors lead our school.
Congratulations to Sarah Pike our new Parent Governor!
Thank you to School Council for helping with the big count.
Opening the envelopes being very careful not to put any ballot papers in the rubbish bin.
Counting the ballot papers into piles of 10.
As part of Governors’ Day on Wednesday this week two of us met with school councillors to talk to them about road safety and parking around our school. It is a subject that we know many grown-ups have concerns about locally and we wanted to get the children’s input into how to address the issue best.
The current School Council at Bernards Heath is made up of a mix of children who walk, scoot and drive to school. Over half of the children also had an older sibling at the Junior School and we talked about how their brothers and sisters are dropped off there before their grown-ups bring them to school.
All children were aware of the dangers of busy roads, like Sandridge Road, and also spoke about how it is necessary to find somewhere safe to cross a road and to always do so with a grown-up. Some of the children talked about how it can sometimes be difficult to cross either Seymour Road, or the roads leading to our Upper Culver Road gate, due to cars being parked where they want to cross. They suggested that there should be more double yellow lines, or zigzags, to tell grown-ups not to park there.
Around our school are various posters drawn by children telling grown-ups to park considerably and to help us keep our children safe. The children felt that some grown-ups who park and drive near our school think that what the posters say is “not true” and that they ignore them. One of them suggested that they might talk to their grown up about the posters the next time that they walked past them together. They also suggested that PCSO Russo (our local PCSO) might tell grown-ups that they should listen to what the posters say. Many of the children were concerned that when cars park half on the road and half on the pavement they might get hurt if someone opened a car door when they walked or scooted past.
Many of the children scoot to school and the spoke proudly of how they wear their helmets when scooting and don’t go too fast. They also talked about how important it is to scoot close to their grown-ups. As a group they were keen that we should make some new posters reminding children about how to scoot safely and we could ask Mr Desborough to put them up so that people can see them when they go in and out of the school gates.
As a school, governors and staff we will continue to work with parents, carers, local residents and our PCSO to keep our children safe and minimise inconvenience to those who live and work nearby. We ask all of you to park considerately, ensuring that you are not blocking resident’s drives or parking close to corners to prevent pedestrians from crossing safely. We also advise you not to park partially on the pavement, as this can make it particularly difficult for pedestrians with prams and pushchairs.
If you ever have any concerns about parking or road safety then please do not hesitate to get in touch with the school to discuss further.
Mrs Carr and Mrs Rahman
Last month at Bernards Heath we had our JARV with our “HIP” (Hertforshire Improvement Partner). The HIP’s job is to work with schools to monitor standards across the school as well as tracke progress against our objectives and ensure we have the right priorities and the right approach. The annual visit is always a packed day. This time, our HIP carried out learning walks with English and Maths leaders, sat in on lessons, reviewed children’s learning in their books and talked to the children and staff. There is a lot to see and discuss in a day! Our Chair of Governors then joined the senior leadership team to receive feedback.
The report makes for great reading and the HIP’s comments were a ringing endorsement of what he had seen. He went as far as to call our school “a stunning environment for young children to learn in” and “What you’ve got here is gold dust, I’d like to say its typical but its not”. The report noted good progress against our priorities since the November 2016 OFSTED report, with phonics teaching well supported by the English leader and “very strong” teaching of the technical aspects of English. Teaching as a whole was described as “consistently good and some is outstanding” and recent changes that have been made, such as to the guided reading timetable and in training Teaching Assistants to support children in choosing books, also received positive comments. Staff’s behaviour management was described as “skilled and highly consistent” and the children’s excellent attitude to learning, high standards of behaviour and ability to discuss and appraise their learning with each other were all remarked upon. The report concludes that personal development, behaviour and welfare at the school are outstanding.
Obviously the governors are delighted to see everyone’s hard work recognised, but the real value of the HIP is the continued involvement in the school’s planning and development with an external expert with knowledge of other schools across Hertfordshire. We will continue to work with our HIP to improve our school even further and benefit from his input as to where to focus our efforts. In the meantime though, the governors wish to extend our congratulations to all the staff for creating a learning environment that has drawn such strong praise.
As Governors, we have been sharing our views of what makes Bernards Heath Infant and Nursery School special; we have been talking about our aims and our values. The Governors were keen to seek the children’s views too, so two Governors met with School Council in December. It was wonderful to hear the children speak so positively about their school. When asked to describe how they feel at school the children used the words “happy”, “awesome”, “safe”,” excited”, and “proud”. They explained how the teachers made learning fun and interesting. The children talked with enthusiasm and pride about their learning and told us about their ‘Learning Heroes’, they explained to us that they don’t give up and they keep practising. Science, cooking, looking at books in the library and playing were some of their favourite things to do at school. Their respect for one another came across clearly, they said they expected to be treated kindly and that Bernards Heath was a very friendly school. We heard that “If people weren’t nice it would be the worst school, but it’s not like that at all…It’s the best school in the universe!”
Mrs Secker and Mrs Young
Monday 18th July saw the full Bernards Heath Governing Body arrive in school for the second Governor Day of the school year. Governors are regular visitors to school, but with all our meetings taking place in the evenings we don’t always get to experience the school full of children going about a normal school day.
The main aim for the day is for Governors to immerse ourselves in the school and have the opportunity to see in practice some of the things that we hear and talk about in our meetings. Mrs Rimmer and Miss Wolfson had devised individual timetables for each Governor which allowed us to spend some time concentrating on our allocated Governor roles (SEN, Pupil Premium, SMSC etc) and to spend time in classes, observing lessons and meeting children and staff.
Governors saw initiatives like Smart Moves and WellComm in action, joined in with Five-a-Day, took part in Outdoor Learning, hunted for mini-beasts in the new Wild Garden and walked the perimeter with Mr Desborough. They also discussed pupil progress with members of the Senior Leadership Team and observed a year group handover meeting with teaching staff. As a Full Governing Body we also got time together to review progress on this year’s School Development Plan and talk about future plans.
For Governors one of the highlights of the day is always joining the children in the hall for lunch. As on previous visits, we were all very impressed at the quality of the food served by Mrs Banahan and really enjoyed our apple crumble and ice cream. As we sat with the children they once again blew us away with their questions all about who we were and why we were in school. Seeing such happy and confident children chatting away to visitors to school like this makes us incredibly proud of the children in the school.
Huge thanks to Mrs Rimmer, Miss Woolfson and all the staff and children at school for making us so welcome today and sharing their learning with us.
Having heard lots about the LIV Choir visit to Bernards Heath I was delighted to be given the opportunity to come into school on the Friday morning to see the choir perform to the whole school, and wow, what an experience it was!
As the children filled the hall there was a real sense of anticipation, helped by the African music that was playing at the time. The choir walked in and you could hear the buzz as the children all noticed their bright and colourful traditional African dress, and most intriguingly the wellies that all the boys in the choir were wearing on their feet.
As soon as the choir started tapping out a beat on their wellies and then singing the children all became absolutely spellbound by what was being performed. Never before have I seen over 300 children so quiet or still! Even all the staff were transfixed.
After performing two songs the choir returned to the hall and performed one of the songs again, but this time whilst teaching us all how to do the accompanying dance. The children’s enthusiasm (and all that practice they get from five-a-day) was infectious and it wasn’t long before the whole school was clapping, swaying and tapping our feet.
It honestly felt like a real priviledge to be involved in such a performance and the bringing together of the two cultures in the school hall was magical. Miss Passey’s passion in bringing together the two schools has to be commended as the whole LIV choir visit has given the children such a fantastic opportunity to learn about a contrasting culture.
As I left school later that morning I walked past the outdoor Reception space and was thrilled to see a group of children using their CIP time to re-enact the choir’s performance. They had created a stage area, put on their outdoor learning wellies and also set up seating for an audience who were applauding them as they put on a very enthuiastic version of the Gumboot dance. If you ever wanted to see a perfect example of children learning from experiences and taking those experiences back into their play then this had to be it!
Ever wondered what the Governors at Bernards Heath Infant and Nursery School actually do?
As school leaders we provide strategic leadership, challenge the school and support the work of the Senior Leadership Team as well as the whole school staff.
This new blog will give you an insight into the role we play in school development, work done behind the scenes as well as giving the Governors’ perspective on some of the events that happen at the school.
If you see anything in the blog that you would like to know more about, please feel free to contact one of the Governors in person (a number of Governors are parents) or through the Governors’ e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more general information about the Governing body, please visit the school website.
Hello, welcome to our new blog! The Bernards Heath Infant School Board of Governors will be posting soon…