Extreme Reading , New Technology and Kenya!

We are certainly in the swing of things here as we approach the end to our first half term back in school. I have been inundated with pictures of our children reading in some very unusual places. One of our school improvement priorities is to enhance the love of reading and extend the amount we read as a school. Our task is to have our picture taken as we are reading in an unusual place. We have had many smiles over some of the pictures-you are very welcome to have a look at them for yourselves in our school hall! The requirements of the new SATs are that the children answer comprehension questions in full answers, quoting detailed evidence from the text. We found, last year, that the new test papers were long and many children did not complete the paper. This is one of the reasons for  focusing on building stamina to read longer pieces of text and to infer and deduce key information. A love of reading always helps this process and I would urge you to visit the local library and invest in books that your children will love to read-and want to keeping reading! We have specific ‘class reads’ that the children love and ‘Author Study’ is embedded throughout school-beginning at an early stage in Pre-School. We are delighted that our Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar results were well above Lancashire and National Average, as this was a school improvement priority last year and it has certainly worked! Our Year 1 phonics screening check is also consistently well above National Average, which proves that reading and phonics are taught very well in the infants. Thank you to all who sign the daily reading diaries. It is wonderful to see so many children being presented with reading certificates in assembly.

Last week, the new lights were fitted in Parlick Class and they have made such a difference to the classroom. We are very grateful to Mr Griffiths, who has donated these to us. Mr Gilmour has had a new CTouch computer screen fitted in the Year 2 classroom and he has now set up a bird watching area at the window! The children are delighted with their new classroom and so are we! The Pacman frog seems to have settled in well and he is keeping an excellent check on classroom noise levels! We decided that we need to continue our quest for modern resources and we thank the PTFA (and all of you) for funding a new projector screen for our school hall.  The new screen will be much clearer for children to see.

We are still collecting our Harvest foods to give to the hungry. This forms part of our ‘Year of Mercy’ whole school initiative. We thank you for your gifts so far. We have been invited to visit Our Lady’s Catholic High School next Tuesday for a Year of Mercy Liturgy with other Catholic Primary Schools. Our focus is ‘Comfort the Sick’ and this will be reflected upon in school. Keeping in with a food theme, our new school dinner menus are ready. Mrs Keenan  (the school cook) and I have carefully considered all responses to the survey and we have added some extra meals/replaced some and I am pleased to see that Cottage Pie is now on the menu! The meat products all come from a local butcher and we offer the choice of two main meals, with a jacket potato as an extra option. We now give the juniors adult sized plates and they can always have seconds -and thirds if they are very hungry! The salad bar is freshly prepared daily with a variety of fruits, vegetables and pasta. The children can help themselves to this as it is always well stocked. We continue to work on more dinner options in the future as we add to the facilities in the kitchen. Thank you very much for your feedback and opinions. They are always welcome and acted upon.

Our classrooms are looking great and the children are working incredibly hard. I am very proud of them all. Yesterday, some of our older children were fabulous ambassadors of our wonderful school as they showed new parents and families around. It was great to see so many visitors! The children did a fantastic job and parents commented how sensible and enthusiastic our children were. I thank them all for this. Our Year 6 class also represented our school well, when they went to Longridge High School and joined forces with other Primary Schools to learn about keeping safe. Each year, we visit the school for ‘Safety Town’ -an initiative run by the police. I have been told to keep an eye out for pictures of our children enjoying the day in the local papers!

I am always humbled to see the older children leading the younger children in lunchtime clubs. The lunchtime clubs have been created and organised by the junior children, who also run them. I have posted some pictures to show you what fun is being had in our Chess Club, Dance Club, Construction Club and Colouring Club. Well done to all of you-you are fantastic role models for our infants.

On Monday, we had a visitor from CAFOD, who came to talk to us about Harvest. We have decided to wear something colourful (1 item of clothing with our school uniform) to help us remember those less fortunate than ourselves. We will be doing this on the same day as our Macmillan Coffee Morning Cake Sale Concert, which is at 9.30am next Thursday in the School Hall. You are all warmly welcome. The children in every class have been preparing for this musical event and we look forward to the debut of the glockenspiel players. The choir will be performing, as will the school band and various instrumentalists.

On a final note, we now have our links with a school in Kenya. I have received a list of children’s names from the Shalom Academy and we are going to write to the children there to explain what school life is like here. We will be supporting the children, who’s schooling is very different to ours, by sending them old stationary and  resources. These resources will make a huge difference to the children there. Many cannot afford to go to school and they are taught in mud huts. We can easily forget how lucky we are and this adventure will help us to support others who don’t have access to the most basic things we often take for granted. A book about our school and Shalom Academy is going to be created by Andrew Whelan, who is an author in his own right and a publicist. This will include children’s work, pictures of our school and much more. Andrew is our link between both schools and is currently directing the building of a new school, fit for purpose, for the children in Kenya. Remarkable!