Head Teacher's Blog
My second year as Head Teacher has taught me so much, mostly that every day there is a new way the children at Bernards Heath can make me proud!
The ethos at school is one where expectations are high, it is the norm to hear staff and children talk about ‘doing their best’ and ‘feeling proud’ of their achievements. Effort is encouraged and we are always glad to hear about new learning at school, at home and in after school clubs; it is particularly impressive when children play their instruments and sing in assembly and this year we have been treated to ukulele, cello and guitar to name a few! The opportunities in clubs have met a wide variety of interests and have taught children new skills and built confidence and self esteem. A big thank you to the staff who run these clubs and give up their time.
One of our main focus points on the School Development Plan has been to raise the percentage of Year 1 children meeting the expectation in the statutory Phonics Screening. There has been a huge amount of work done by the entire staff and I would like to thank them for their unwavering support, energy and commitment to giving our children the best learning experiences. I am proud that our 81% target has been exceeded and 88% of our Year 1 cohort reached the expectation this year – our highest ever! In meeting this whole school objective we have not lost the ‘love of reading.’ The love of reading will continue over the summer; look at the ‘Learning Together’ page on our website for ideas about how you can continue to support reading and sign up to take part in the library reading challenge.
The curriculum at school is something many parents have commented on in report reply slips. There have been so many additional experiences including visits, visitors, performances, assemblies, curriculum weeks and complete classroom transformations that wouldn’t happen without the creativity and energy of our staff. They are an incredible bunch of people who put children and their wellbeing and learning first. They work incredibly hard and the reports they have written about your children and the way they talk about every child at pupil progress meetings demonstrates what a good understanding they have of every child as an individual.
We know that we are sharing our days with children who are still forming their view of the world and are learning how best to make an impact. Responsibility is key. We have had a year of uncertainty in the wider world and our children have picked up on this and been keen to take action. The ‘Help Refugees Committee’ have organised fundraisers and rallied support from across the school resulting in over £2000 being raised to help vulnerable children and families. It blows my mind that children who are six and seven years old have a level of emotional intelligence and social responsibility and can articulate that so clearly in the actions they take. The School Council and Play Leaders are other examples where children have given up their time and put their personal and social skills to excellent use. Our playground is a busy and happy place for children to play. They tell us they feel safe and that they love their school.
There is a huge amount that happens ‘behind the scenes’ I would like to thank the Governors for their support and challenge and Mrs Kilpatrick at the Junior School for the excellent communication we share. Miss Woolfson and Miss Kearns have a daily impact and are an inspirational pair with the highest expectations for themselves and others. Our admin team is exceptional! They answer in excess of a million questions each day and manage to keep calm and smile at all who encounter them!
One of the things I am most proud of is our communication with parents. We truly value our partnerships with parents and continue to be committed to working together to best support children. The outcome we see as a result of this is happy, confident and independent learners. Thank you for volunteering, giving us feedback both positive and constructive, taking on board suggestions, attending meetings about how to have an even bigger impact on learning at home and clapping loudly at every event we invite you to! We really couldn’t be as successful as we are without your support and your children benefit enormously from this.
As we look forward to September and welcoming new families to school we have already started thinking about our priorities; we are planning to further develop our learning environments to enhance independence and further promote early reading and writing. We are also planning to develop staff curriculum teams to look at how we can further challenge children outside the core areas of learning.
First though… a holiday! I wish you a safe, happy and adventurous 6 weeks and look forward to seeing you in September!
No less than three times in one week!
We have been treated to three fabulous performances of the Year 2 play this week. In a change to the traditional Leavers Assembly the whole cohort worked together to tell the story of Eddie, a penguin who goes on a mission to save the world from global warming! The change of plan came about when the children were asked what they wanted to do for their Leavers Assembly they talked about how much they had enjoyed the Christmas production, singing, acting and playing instruments. After checking with teachers and parents it was a done deal and the decision was made.
Audiences were wowed by confident performers who sung, danced and narrated their story to a very high standard. We were so proud of the way the children introduced their characters, played their instruments, worked together and so obviously enjoyed themselves every time they got on the stage.
Feedback from parents was great, they told us how proud they felt of how far the children had come since they first performed with us in their Christmas play back in 2014. They also said: “It was good to go out on a high!” the performance was “Uplifting” and “A good opportunity for the children to show what they can do.” There were lots of comments about how well the children worked together and helped and supported each other.
A big round of applause for our professional performers who did not let a technical hitch with the music or a costume malfunction spoil the show. A big thank you to staff who directed the play, made costumes, sets and programmes, led the dancers and musicians and encouraged our children to do their very best!
Sports Day was a massive success! Thank you to all the staff who worked hard to organise such great events and to parents for making the time to come and watch. The real stars of the day were of course the children…
Clarence and Verulam started the events with an egg and spoon race where Verulam Class’ eggs looked like they may have been glued into place (Mr Wilson and Mrs Randall have assured us they weren’t!) Following that was an impressive obstacle race which involved getting a cup of water from one end of the field to the other, climbing over stepping stones and crawling under tables!
Next up were Heath and Heartwood, they exchanged the baton with skill and gave each other a well rehearsed high five during the hurdles. They too tackled the daring obstacle race with the winning team collecting 900ml of water between them.
All in attendance could not fail to notice the sheer joy on the faces on the children as they did their best in each event. When it came to the skipping race we saw a wide variety of techniques as the smiles turned to looks of pure concentration and determination. The crowd of spectators did a great job of encouraging and applauding our youngest athletes.
The afternoon involved a change of venue as we moved to the Heath. Year 1 and 2 had the opportunity to really gather speed as they sprinted from one cone to the other. Parents cheered whilst some got comfy on chairs and blankets. The expectations were raised for Year 1 and 2 and the afternoon finished with competitive sprints where 1st, 2nd and 3rd badges were awarded. Children were learning to win and lose and we were impressed with the incredible atmosphere of team spirit and good sportsmanship. One of our favourite quotes of the day came from a child in Year 1 who fell mid race, got up and ran for the finish line. It was all a bit overwhelming at the end of the race but when we chatted later she explained that she had thought of the Lion King when she had fallen, and in particular the bit where Simba got bumped on the head by the baboon and was told “Don’t worry about it, it’s in the past!” We were particularly impressed with this positive attitude and how it impacted on others who might have been feeling a bit disappointed about not winning their race.
Sports Day not only gave children the chance to show off what they can do physically, they also got the chance to stretch their personal, social and emotional muscles, building resilience and celebrating their best efforts whatever the outcome. We are all very proud.
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.
The school hall was awash with blue and yellow during our weekly ‘Proud Assembly’ today. The children were asked to wear blue and yellow and bring a £1.00 donation to support the education centre at the museum. We are looking forward to using the museum when it opens and learning more about the city we live in. The event corresponded with ‘Alban Day’ and Miss Poole talked about this in assembly. There is an Alban Pilgrimage in town on Saturday which starts at 11.00am which is part of the Alban Weekend celebrations.
We did it! With everyone’s support we have so far raised over £2,000 for an incredible charity.
A HUGE thank you for joining us on the walk, donating your money, donating food for our sleep out, collecting cardboard, reading our Y2’s Newsletter and most importantly, for supporting the children to understand how they can make a difference to the lives of others. We are incredibly proud of the children and will continue to work with them to increase their understanding and find other ways to support people just like them.
On your marks, get set…GO!
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.
On Friday we said goodbye to the Bernards Heath chicks. We felt a bit sad because we have all enjoyed watching them hatch and grow. The short process has taught us lots and Year 1 have become chick experts. Their instructions for how to care for the chicks were of excellent quality because they used their first hand knowledge and experience of what the chicks really needed.
Friday afternoon was spent making a run for the chicks who had really outgrown their brooding box. It was great to see how much their wings had grown and how big and strong their legs had become. Cheep, the appropriately named first hatched, led the way as the chicks stretched their legs in a run created with big bricks by Churchill Class.
We wish the chicks every happiness in their new home and look forward to hearing about how they are getting on!
The chicks had a lovely sleepover at Miss Passey’s house at the weekend and have come back to school bigger and fluffier than they were when they left on Friday. They have moved from the incubator to the brooding box and have been keeping warm under their special light.
The chicks have had lots of visitors and have enjoyed the warmth of snuggling up in small and careful hands. The children have shown us how safe they can be and have been thinking about what the chicks might need next… perhaps somewhere to get some exercise!?!