13 January 2020
Hello and welcome to the start of a new decade at BcL.
The start of a new year brings a feeling of HOPE and it is for this reason that the Christian value of HOPE is our focus for this first term of the 2020s. As I write, the fires in Australia continue to burn bringing such devastation and sadness to many people and animals in that glorious country. It has been gratifying to see how people have used their fame to raise money for the cause; the likes of Shane Warne, the cricketer, who raised around £500,000 by auctioning his ‘baggy green’ cap for the charities over there. Others like Lewis Hamilton, Chris Hemsworth and Pink have also donated and publicised the need to help communities rebuild. However, vitally, it is the brave people across that nation who are working now and will be working in the future towards rebuilding the many villages and towns. They all need our prayers of HOPE in the years ahead.
Communities thrive when everyone helps one another and I’m proud to lead a school, alongside the churches and businesses of Blyton, Laughton and surrounding villages that is part of a lovely Lincolnshire village community. My HOPE for the future of BcL is that we continue to build a school which provides the very best education for our children and for the community it serves.
On behalf of all the team, I hope 2020 brings you peace, happiness and that it is full of HOPE for the future for our neighbours and those many miles away.
9th December 2019
From the first day of advent, there is always a buzz of excitement in school. Trees and decorations begin to be displayed gradually and rehearsals are already underway for the FS/KS1 performance. Children at both sites congregate together daily around the advent wreath (thank you, Mrs Patterson) to reflect on the birth of Jesus and the events leading up to it. Across both sites this week, children will be working together to create companies and make gifts to sell at the Christmas Fair on Friday.
In school we enjoy the many opportunities for you to be involved in school life during this period and despite there being no expectation at all that you attend all events, it would be wrong of us not to invite you; being part of your child’s education at primary is so important as that reduces significantly by secondary school.
On that note, thank you to everyone for completing the recent surveys. It is not a legal requirement to ask for parental/carer views but I see it as excellent practice to do so. The Heads Together meetings have not been a success (as far as the number of attendees) so a survey is another good option to collect a greater number of thoughts. I see it as an opportunity to not only share the many positive aspects of the school but perhaps get those things off your chest that have been niggling away. Keep the surveys coming if you haven't had the chance to do so already. In the next week I will send a detailed response to the survey, sharing the many successes and responding to the areas where you think we could improve. It is clear from your comments that so many improvements have been made in my three and a half years here and I wish to thank every member of staff for their brilliant support and hard work during that time. I’ve never know a team who cared more for the children in their care and I see this behind the scenes every single day.
23 September 2019
Last week I was sorting through a few old boxes and found assembly books from a few years ago. I love old books and was intrigued to see they were used by Mr Solomon, the Headteacher of the school a number of years ago. Many of you may remember him and perhaps were even taught by him.
Whilst flicking through I noticed that he had dated some of the stories in the book so I decided to read the same story to the KS2 children that he had done exactly twenty-five years before. It was about Michaelangelo the artist and sculptor and its message was one of recognising talents and skills.
During a week when many selections were made for school responsibilities it was important that as educators we recognised that all children have their own skills. Michaelangelo’s father didn't want him to venture into a career in art as he didn't see a future in it. But, when others were impressed by his talent, his father changed his mind and allowed his son to flourish.
We always aim to provide a balanced curriculum for the children but it is always a pleasure to see clear talent shining through whether that is in leadership, sport, acting, singing or any subject we teach.
We care for our school and care for each other and that includes encouraging the skills and abilities of all.
I hope you have a good week.
9th September 2019
It has been wonderful to return to the welcoming arms of the school this past week and meet and greet all of the children after the summer break. I have seen so many smiling faces and the ‘Good morning, Mr Duke’ welcome has echoed across the school. We are so lucky to teach such warm, polite and friendly children. A number of children have visited me already to share their learning and nothing makes me more proud.
I led worship at both sites on Wednesday and shared two books. The Big Little Thing by Beatrice Alemagna—a book about happiness—linked with the biblical story of The Lost Sheep. With children new to Willow it is important that our older children look after them—keep them in the flock to ensure their transition to Blyton brings them happiness.
At Laughton, I read the very amusing story Can Cat and Bird be Friends? by Coll Muir. The message of the story is how we make friends by finding things we like to do together and we linked this to playing games in the playground.
Welcome back everyone; I can’t wait to see how the children progress this year as learners and as friends. It’s going to be an exciting year full of experiences to create memories.
1st July 2019
After a couple of nights’ sleep I am just about recovering from the Year 6 residential to York last week. The trip is a highlight of the year and this year was no different as we enjoyed trips to the Minster, the Jorvik Centre, The Dig, The Railway Museum, The Castle Museum and Eden Camp. The children were a delight and a pleasure to spend time with.
The proudest moment for me was the visit to Eden Camp. The children showed such respect as we walked through the old prisoner of war camp, reading and viewing the information and attractions. Thank you to all the children for making me so proud and to Mrs Wright for giving up her own time to support them.
Have a good week.
17 June 2019
We are attempting something ambitious this term: an OUTDOOR summer production - BACK IN TIME FOR THREE.
Rehearsals are now well under way and I have been so impressed by the quality of acting by everyone.
Our three leads: Emma, Caitlin and Zarna have been a joy to work with in the last few weeks and (being an ancient gent) I am amazed how they can remember their lines so quickly!
A quick synopsis:
The school has lost its Christian Values.
Clues have been left in the school log books by a time-travelling character from H.G.Wells’ ‘The Time Machine’. The clues are found by three friends, Marty, Ally and Rose, who are determined to find the Values again and discover a portal into the past left by the visitor. Their adventure takes them back in time to key events in history where they meet important figures who changed history—and a few others you may recognise!
Will they find our Values again? Will their friendship be tested? Will any other time travellers make an appearance? We are so excited!
23 April 2019
I hope you have had a wonderful Easter break with your friends and families.
Holidays often bring enduring images to remember and look back on fondly. I was lucky enough to visit Edinburgh with my family and enjoy one of Britain’s most stunning cities. I have many images from that week that will stay with me.
Sadly, it was with great emotion that I viewed the scenes from Paris a week ago as the iconic Notre Dame was alight. I’m sure, like me, that you thought that the whole cathedral was at risk of being destroyed, but we have to give thanks to the fire service there for ensuring the main structure remained stable, which will enable this incredible building to be restored. This photograph was one of the most enduring images that will stay with me.
As I write, I am hearing about the appalling news from Sri Lanka where over three hundred people have died in attacks on the country. Many citizens were in church at the time, worshipping on Easter Sunday.
Our Christian Value for this term is Compassion and, for us as a school, I will be asking the children to show their compassion for both the people of Paris and Sri Lanka.
18 March 2019
It is important as educators that we never stop learning.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend an educational conference in Manchester. It may not be everybody’s dream of a perfect weekend, but for me it was a chance to hear and see new ideas from some inspiring educators, with the aim of developing them back in school.
I attended three workshops which I believed would impact on BcL. Firstly, I saw a headteacher from London, Clare Sealy, talk about how children acquire knowledge and it made me think how we could further develop our own book-based curriculum.
Secondly, I saw a teacher show how song lyrics and instrumental music could be used to develop reading skills. This is certainly an area we could build on to engage reluctant readers and further develop a passion for music.
The final workshop was led by a teacher from the North East who demonstrated how comics can be used to develop reading skills. This was certainly up my tree!
In the upcoming weeks we have two schools visiting us to learn. They are interested in our book-based curriculum and want to come and talk to me about what we have implemented. I have also been asked to lead a workshop at a conference in Liverpool in two weeks time about picture books and their link to writing.
We can only improve the education we provide for our children if we continue to learn and I am more than happy to share the good practice we have in place too.
25 February 2019
It is extraordinary how time seems to fly by even quicker during the holidays than in school time. As I write, it’s Sunday morning, it’s misty outside and there’s the usual excited thoughts of the term ahead floating around. A week ago I was moving house and thinking how to fill the days ahead, now, we’re ready for the start of term four.
As well as packing boxes, sorting boxes and settling into a home, the week has given me the opportunity to consider our Christian Value for this term: Thankfulness. Throughout the term we will be making links to this value through the Bible and picture books and to get things started I’ve reflected on why I’m thankful in the role that I have.
As headteacher of Blyton cum Laughton Church of England Primary School I’m thankful for:
· the children who make every single day a joy
· every member of the team who gel together so well to ensure our children have a happy experience in school and, with great passion, take on board new ideas to move the school forward
· the parents and carers who work with us to help their children
· the governing body who support and challenge in equal measure
· God and his guidance as we work together to educate
· Barnsley FC for playing awesome football and looking for promotion!
Saying thank you is easy. Let’s hear ‘Thank you’ many times this term.
4th February 2019
Throughout the year your collective support at fundraising events has been nothing short of incredible. In these well publicised times of funding shortages in school, we are stretched to provide some of the experiences that children deserve so every event that is organised has a two-fold aim. Firstly, we want to create a range of opportunities for children and their families to spend special time together in school, and secondly, to raise money in order to impact on the journey children have through our school.
With these two aims in mind, I met with the Friends of the School committee on Friday to discuss ideas put forward by the group and any additional ideas we have as a school. I am delighted with the variety of projects which will be funded.
Your fundraising will cover:
· £125 each site for robust ‘board’ games for break-time, e.g Jenga/Connect 4
· £500 towards a Science/History/Maths visitor/experience
· £513 (approx.) AED defibrillator for the Blyton site. (We are having one fitted at Laughton soon) This could save lives.
· £750 towards a much needed reading scheme for readers moving from KS1 to KS2
· £250 for a cooker and utensils for cookery club and cooking sessions
· £500 to increase outdoor construction resources in EYFS
· It was also agreed that £500 will be put towards an author visit (Summer or Autumn term)
During my time at BcL suggestions have been put forward previously for a ‘trim-trail’ at one or either site. Ideally we would love to construct them for the children but their cost is surprising high. For each individual item the cost can be around £2000 and this does not include installation. Therefore, for a reasonable trail to be completed you may be looking at £10 000. This would not include the large scale elements which can cost £5000—£10 000 each.
A small trim-trail would take approximately three years of fund-raising.
We will continue to look for opportunities to develop this area through external bids.
17th December 2018
Over the course of the last few weeks we have shown what a strong community spirit we have around the school; people collaborating to ensure that children have fantastic experiences and funds can be raised to benefit their school journey.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Parklands Primary School in Leeds. It is located in the lowest 10% of the most deprived areas of the country and led by Headteacher, Chris Dyson. In education, it is vitally important to look outside of our own bubble, to collaborate and learn from each other. I had heard so much about the school and after spending a few hours there, I have many ideas to share with staff and to implement in order to continue to move the school forward.
However, what touched me most was hearing about one particular community event led by the school which embodies the true meaning of Christmas. Every Christmas Eve ‘Eve’, Chris opens his school to the community. Children and their families, many who cannot afford a Christmas dinner, are provided with one from the school kitchen. If his busy schedule allows, Father Christmas visits accompanied by his reindeer and children receive presents which have often been donated by companies wishing to get involved for the children. I was so lucky to meet the fantastic children and staff there.
Schools are so central to a community and we are proud to be at the centre of yours. On behalf of everyone at BcL, may I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas and a joyful New Year.
10th December 2018
I am so proud to be the Headteacher of Blyton cum Laughton Church of England Primary School. The children are fantastic and I enjoy working with the super team we have in school. As Ben Parker—Peter Parker’s uncle—once said to his superhero nephew, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Now, as much as I would love to be compared to Spiderman, do appreciate I’ve got 30 years on him and am slightly (!?) less agile. The quote means a lot to me though because on a daily basis I reflect on the responsibility of leading a school. Decisions around the curriculum, safeguarding and teaching and learning are ultimately mine but I do encourage staff to contribute widely to the running of the school. My Senior Leadership Team (Mrs Batey, Mrs Briscoe and Miss Pennington) are so important too and I value their words and experience.
But, perhaps the point when I feel the most responsibility is when I am teaching. I love being in the classroom and it is important that I am part of the teaching team—we are not called ‘head’ teachers for nothing. Friday’s sessions with Fig (Literacy/RE and PSHE) are always so thought provoking and rewarding. This week we read ‘Cinderella of the Nile’ by Beverley Naidoo and discussed links to the Disney version, as well as to slavery. In school, it is great to have the responsibility to teach children about the issues in the world today, that may have existed for many thousands of years, through the medium of picture books.
19th November 2018
Mrs Thornalley has made the difficult decision to stand down as Chair of Governors at the school. From a personal perspective she has been invaluable to me in ensuring the important decisions we needed to make around premises and safeguarding were agreed in the first few days of my headship. She has helped steer us through two successful inspections and continued to be a regular visitor to the school. Publically, I would like to thank her hugely for such incredible support and dedication to the children of BcL and I am so pleased she will continue as a governor.
At last week’s meeting, Mr James Parman was voted in as our new Chair and I look forward to working with him to continue moving the school forward.
Miss Pennington has also taken on the role of Staff Governor due to Mrs Batey’s tenure in post coming to an end. Again, a huge thank you on behalf of the staff and children for Mrs Batey’s superb contributions to the governing body over the last few years. I am sure Miss Pennington will represent our great team of staff superbly.
17th October 2018
I have mentioned before in the newsletter that I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the two BBC series’, ‘Back in Time for Tea’ and ‘Back in Time for Dinner’. The Ellis family from Bradford were involved in the most recent series in which their home was transformed to showcase the fashions, technology, pastimes and foods of different decades of the twentieth century.
Over the summer I contacted Lesley Ellis, the mum, to see whether she would be interested in coming in to school and talking to KS2 children about their experience on the programme. Not only did she reply within minutes, but she also asked whether it would be okay for her oldest daughter, Caitlin, to also come along too. Caitlin also took part in the programme and is currently at university in the area. I was obviously delighted and over the last couple of days I have confirmed the date of their visit, which will be on the afternoon of the 28th November.
In the run up to the visit, we will show a couple of episodes to introduce the family to the children.
In the meantime, we will hold a Back in Time Day on the 28th November when your children can come dressed in clothes from the past.
8th October 2018
Harvest Festival is always well supported and Friday was no different. It’s wonderful to see so many of you attending the service and we are thankful to you all for giving so generously. The produce will be shared with a local charity.
The singing was beautiful and a special mention to our children from Olive, Fir and Ivy. They sang exceptionally and looked so fantastic in their harvest hats.
Thank you to the team for preparing the children for the festival and to the BcL Mini-Police for helping people to enter the church.
PS In other news: Jodie Whittaker nailed it!
17th September 2018
Good afternoon everyone—
Last week was the first full week back in school and my first opportunity to teach in Willow and Fig this term. As a Headteacher I believe strongly that teaching should still be part of your skillset, after all, you are the head teacher; teaching is in your blood and any chance you have to get back into class should be taken. It also allows me the opportunity to view first hand, what respectful citizens we have in our school.
I was reminded last week of the devastating events of seventeen years ago when the World Trade Centre in New York was destroyed. I watched the harrowing documentaries again last week and had similar feelings to when I first witnessed the scenes from that day. I was only three days into my teaching career, still finding my feet—a bit like Bambi on ice to be honest—when, the following day I had to try and make some sense of the events. Children will always ask questions, in fact we encourage them to always ask questions, but nothing can quite prepare you for answering questions from innocent mouths. It was a tough day for a new teacher but prepared me for atrocities since which have again required me to make sense of meaningless acts.
Thankfully, these occasions are rare, but it is important that we provide the opportunity for children to think about people who need our thoughts and prayers. Our children are incredibly thoughtful and respectful of others and it is important that we fully embed not only our new Reading Curriculum, but the new statutory RE Curriculum which provides plentiful opportunities to learn about so many religions and to understand that they are all essentially based on peace and friendship. Having been back in Fig today, learning about Hindu Worship, I left the room confident that the world is in respectful and peaceful hands.
10th September 2018
Welcome back, everyone—
After what has been the hottest Summer I can remember we have returned to the warmth of the children, the team and you, our parents and carers. We have been delighted to see the familiar smiling faces in our classrooms and playgrounds.
A huge thank you again to you all for ensuring the children arrived in school looking very smart in uniform and ready for the term ahead.
After two successful years at the school, I am determined to ensure we build on the changes that have been made and continue to provide the best possible education for your children. We have planned many events for the year—some old chestnuts and some new and look forward to inviting you in on many occasions to share your child’s journey. Our biggest change this year is significant. Having created a curriculum which uses reading as the inspiration, we will, with much excitement, be celebrating high quality picture books and children’s novels on a daily basis. Reading is the core of learning and it is paramount we place it at the centre of everything we do. I personally collect and read children’s books regularly and I can’t wait to share those I’ve recently discovered with the children in the coming months. I have arranged a workshop for all parents to attend on the 17th September to explain more of the thinking behind the change.
On a personal note, the start of the new school year has been a difficult one for me. I would like to thank the whole team for their support and for ensuring the first week ran smoothly. They are a great team.
On behalf of the team, we look forward to sharing this year’s journey with you and your children.
8th June 2018
Good afternoon, everyone—
Lincoln Cathedral is a stunning building to spend a few hours and on Wednesday, Mrs Batey, Mrs Patterson, the Bishop’s Visitor, Mrs Clarke, and I had the pleasure of accompanying our Year 6 children there for the Church Schools’ Festival. The day is a mixture of preparing for the afternoon’s worship and taking part in a series of activities. The volunteers who lead the activities are so passionate about their craft and we enjoyed learning about bee-keeping and birds of prey. Thank you to the children for being so respectful throughout worship and for behaving so impeccably.
25th May 2018
As we end the fifth school term of the year, and look ahead to a few days with friends and family, we are already looking forward to the many events we have organised in Term 6.
Sports Day will now be held on the morning of the 12th July at Gainsborough Trinity Football Ground. This is an exciting prospect for us and hopefully will begin a long partnership between the club and the school. Thank you again to Mr Lyner for helping us to organise the date. I met with Mr Johnson this week to plan the KS2 competitive events that will take place. These will include sprint and long distance runs, as well as throwing and jumping events. Before that, the whole school will take part in a range of races. It will be great to see you all there raising the roof with your support. We also hope to provide refreshments during the morning and have discussed a family picnic/packed lunch for that day after the races rather than having to sprint back to school for hot dinners. Due to the rescheduling, this day is our only option—so let’s hope the weather is kind.
As you may have seen on Twitter, we have organised a World Cup Week starting on the 25th June. Many activities are planned for the week, including a World Cup Street Party at each site scheduled for 1.30 on Tuesday 26th June; parents and carers are invited to attend this event. We would also like your ideas for the celebration. Is there anything your child could create with you at home to display? Each class will be exploring one of the countries participating at the tournament and will be asked to wear that countries flag colours on the 26th –we’ll keep you posted!
PS: The date was set for that week because we should have 6pts in the bag by then and positivity should be flowing!
27th April 2018
Who would have thought that boiling a few vegetables in order to dye cloth would cause so much excitement? Children in Willow have had a ball this week trying to work out what colour the cloth would become linked with their science topic.
I was equally thrilled to see Fir and Ivy children practising their throwing techniques on Wednesday with Mr Johnson. It looked like a scene from The Greatest Showman with children holding hoops up to aim through. Fortunately no tigers were present!
I also had a fantastic time in ’The Maths Cave’ (named by George Waldron I believe) with Clover providing mathematical challenges on Thursday. Seeing such a wide variety of learning and enthusiasm is a real perk of the job; it’s been a good week.
A few bits of news:
In the coming weeks the school will have an Instagram account for those of you who use that App. This will be linked with the Twitter account.
We are currently putting in a bid for a multi-use games area (MUGA) for the Blyton site. Part of the bid will also create a trim-trail at Laughton. The MUGA will include football goals, a basketball court, tennis court and hockey pitch. It could also be used for cricket and athletic activities. With any bid, we wait for a decision to be made by others, so let’s hope someone is looking down on us.
Thank you to parents for organising a range of fundraising events over the term. We are currently looking at buying a banner for the school (for events like ‘Young Voices’) and sports jackets for our teams to wear when they go out to events.
20th April 2018
Welcome back, everyone— we hope you had some lovely family time over Easter.
This term is always a busy one with all aspects of school life on show and hopefully plenty of warm weather to help us on the way; things have certainly improved at the end of the week! Summer is a time for us to celebrate the achievements of children academically, through sport, art and performance.
It’s Open Churches Festival from the 19th to 21st May. Children will be creating artwork to display that week. We are also looking for children to be able to sing on the morning of the 20th so please keep a space in your diary for a short performance as it is so important that we support the local churches and we would be delighted if your child could attend.
We are looking forward to sports days later in the term. This year we will also hold a competitive event for those children who wish to take part. Opportunities to participate in competitive sports is an expectation in the National Curriculum and provides that chance for those who excel in sport to flourish. We will confirm the dates and venues for these events as soon as we can.
After hard work from parents, the area at the bottom of the field at Blyton is ready to be developed into an outdoor learning space. My understanding is that many years ago hard work was put into developing the space but unfortunately it has been neglected over time. We will involve children in order to gather their ideas and look to work alongside you to get cracking on the area. I am so excited by the possibilities and look forward to pushing ahead with its development.
19th January 2018
As parents and teachers, I know that we enjoy moments when children make us so proud; it is one of the great pleasures of being both a parent and a teacher.
Over the last few weeks, either side of the festive season, the children in Fig have been thinking about what it means to ‘follow’, first of all in relation to who they may follow (for example, pop groups or football teams) and then linking this idea with the reasons people may follow and have faith in Jesus, particularly in problematic times. The children learned about Martin Luther King Jnr and perhaps the lesser know, Harriet Tubman; both incredibly inspiring figures in the Civil Rights movement. Since Christmas, we have been thinking about discrimination in PSHE but heavily linked this to prior learning in Religious Education.
Tackling the subject of discrimination is so important. Helping children to understand the difficulties people face in life because of their religion, ethnicity, colour, sexuality and gender is not only an expectation within the National Curriculum but vital for the future. Occasionally, children can find it difficult to hide their giggles at words linked to the subject of sexuality, for example, but in the last two weeks children in Fig have been so mature in their listening, their responses and their writing. They have made me a proud headteacher.
In the week that the USA celebrated Martin Luther King Junior Day, we heard the news that Cyrille Regis had died. As a young football-loving lad from Barnsley with only Winston Campbell (our lively striker) as a role model ‘of colour’, I grew up appreciating what a fantastic footballer Cyrille was to be playing in the First Division for WBA. (We never got close to the 1st Div in those days!) What I didn't realise was how he, along with many players of colour at the time, played a sport they loved whilst being racially abused on a weekly basis. It wasn’t uncommon for Cyrille, Brendan Batson, John Barnes and others to have bananas thrown onto the pitch in their direction.
This reminder of times like those experienced by black footballers is why it is so important that we talk about discrimination with children. With the mature attitudes demonstrated by Fig children recently, I am sure they have the chance of growing up in a fairer, equal society.
Have a good weekend, everyone.
12th January 2018
A belated Happy New Year and welcome back to you all. We are already into the swing of things this term and children have started to explore this term’s theme: Survival. Teachers have been organising experiences linked to the theme and I have been delighted to see the quality of learning so far.
This term is an important next step for the school as we begin to develop the new curriculum for the 2018/19 academic year. One of my aims when I arrived at the school was to create a curriculum which is not only stimulating for the children, but one in which parents and carers can become involved. The wonderful picture books, which will be the stimulus each term, will be shared with you so that you can, if you wish, acquire them to support your child’s learning. I met with Mrs Batey, Mrs Briscoe and Miss Pennington earlier this week to begin planning the curriculum and we spent a fantastic few hours looking at wonderful picture books and discussing how the National expectations could thread through them. I have shared the first draft with governors and I hope to share the completed draft curriculum on the website by Easter.
I met with the Friends of the School this week to review the very successful Christmas Fayre and to begin to plan events for the rest of the year. As well as the Summer Fayre, we are hoping to organise a Chocolate Bingo event and a BcL Got Talent/X Factor style competition. It is vital that more parents can support in some capacity before and during the events so please contact the Friends… or the school if you can spare any time in the future; your time would be much appreciated.
We are close to our 10000th website visit! Amazing! The class pages have now been updated with information about the new term if you have a few minutes to explore. Have a lovely weekend.
19th December 2017
It has been so lovely to see so many of you enjoying our festive events this year. The hard work of the children and staff during Industry Week certainly paid off as those stalls themselves raised around £250 for the school. Thank you again to the Friends of the School for helping to organise the event and for running Secret Santa, the raffle and tombola. The final figure raised was £1115. Incredible. In the first instance, those funds will help towards creating playground markings at Laughton and buying a new sound system for both sites.
I have spoken to a number of parents recently who are very keen to be involved in events in the future and, on behalf of the children, I cannot thank you enough for your time and support.
Yesterday we held our Carol Service at St. Martin’s Church Blyton and our Christmas Lunch at both sites. Guests, including Mrs Clarke, the Bishop’s Visitor, were invited to the lunch at Blyton and children enjoyed chatting away to them about life in school and no doubt their wishes for the coming days. Today, we ended the term with Christmas Book and a Bite. This is such a busy time of year but we like it that way as we value the time we have together during Advent.
I am lucky to work with a fantastic team who are dedicated to ensuring our amazing children receive the best possible education and enjoy their time in school. As a very enjoyable term comes to an end, I would like to thank them publicly for their superb work and support.
Have a peaceful and joyful Christmas.
8th December 2017
One of the hashtags we use on Twitter is #BcLTeamwork. This is added when our school community has worked together to help/support/create for the benefit of our 149 children. Over the course of the last year or so teams have worked together to:
· contribute tyres and soil for our raised beds (to be completed Spring 2018)
· paint sheds, tyres and furniture for the outdoor areas
· start the new Friends of the School association and organised fundraising and community events
· ensure governors are included fully in school life and hold leaders to account for the success of the school
· complete bids to improve the quality of IT and areas of the school
· work with other schools to develop exciting projects for the children
· organise BcL500 and Industry Week to celebrate our amazing creative children
· make the school environments exciting, inspiring and celebratory for children
· discuss the progress of children in pupil progress meetings and parent consultation evenings
· increase the number of in school and after school sporting opportunities
· discuss the school and how we can move it forward in ‘Head’s Together’ meetings
There are many other examples. Like the local churches or the post office, the school is a focal point of the community and ideas like ‘book swap’ (soon to be seen at the Laughton site in the form of a Book Swap Buggy) and donating ink cartridges (please do donate) are ideas that have come from the community and help to build a stronger team and benefit everybody. Especially the children.
1st December 2017
Christmas certainly seems to start earlier and earlier. The excitement usually starts for me when I can buy the Christmas Radio Times or when I first hear children singing Christmas carols. I personally love this time of year and being in school through December is wonderful, especially when I see the children in Olive, Fir and Ivy rehearsing for the year’s Nativity story. There are many opportunities for you to be part of this festive time too, with the Christmas Fayre, A Christmas Book and a Bite and the Carol Service. We look forward to seeing you all there with us.
I’m also looking forward to seeing ‘Secret Santa’ in action next week as children choose gifts for their family members—don’t forget to ask the children to design a gift tag for their gift.
We will be beginning Advent soon, so it is almost time to put up the tree at each site and prepare for the weeks ahead.
Have a lovely weekend and keep an eye out for those around you who may find the cold conditions difficult.
Hope to see you next week at Head’s Together 2.
PS. One member of the team decorated
their house weeks ago...answers on a
10th November 2017
Today, the children of the school held a minute’s silence for those who have given their lives for their country. I read to them the powerful Wilfred Owen poem, ’Dulce et decorum est’:
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Lest We Forget.
3rd November 2017
So, just who is Joanna? Did she find the medal belonging to her Grandfather? Did she find out what happened to her parents? What about the door children at Laughton found? What was behind it?
The children and staff have been buzzing this week with the discoveries made in the churches of Laughton and Blyton by Rev Mark. Starting the term with a visit to each church certainly caught us all by surprise but it was worth it to see the children’s faces and to see their imaginations running free this week.
Visiting classrooms is a pleasure and this week has been no exception. Please have a look at the writing the children produced when you attend the Parent Consultation Evenings next week. I look forward to seeing you there.
Have a lovely (and safe!) weekend.
6th October 2017
Good afternoon everyone, I hope you have all had a great week.
Children in Clover class annually get the opportunity to visit Lincolnshire Showground and take part in a range of workshops led by Lincoln College. The workshops provide an insight into the potential occupations and trades that the children may eventually choose as a career. They look at building structures, try plastering and many other intriguing tasks. The children had a great day—one child said on return, “Best day ever!”
It is important as a school that we give our pupils as many opportunities as possible to experience ‘real-life’ situations to prepare them for the years ahead. Maybe a ‘Careers Day’ in school would be a good idea? Parents/carers coming in to talk about their occupations? Food for thought.
Have a lovely weekend everyone.
22nd September 2017
Following a very successful Summer Fayre (in which I remember getting absolutely drenched) we can now begin to show you the rewards for your generosity. Parcels of varying sizes have been flying into school in recent days and children at the Laughton site have been enjoying the new playground equipment. Amongst the hoops, balls and balance boards stands a brand new ‘Connect 4’ which the children have been relishing. At the Blyton site, a new ‘four-height’ basketball net has arrived and will be available soon, as will a host of other games.
We are already hard at work planning school visits for the year. The Year 6 trip will be an overnight stay but not to London—we hope to provide further information soon. Traditionally, an adventure trip for Y4/5 takes place and that will continue—again the destination will be confirmed as soon as we can.
This year, more than any other, budgets for primary schools are incredibly tight. We do wish to provide many experiences for the children in order to inspire their learning but without your generous contributions these may not be possible. Unfortunately, we are only able to contribute a limited percentage of the total cost for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your understanding with this matter.
15th September 2017
One of the greatest pleasures of being a Headteacher is welcoming new children to the school and seeing them flourish as time passes by. From those early nervous steps into school, through discovering every area of the building, to learning how to count and read, the journey is a fascinating one. It is why teachers and teaching assistants choose to teach. Within two weeks, Olive class have settled into their new surrounding wonderfully well and (from the photographs here) are clearly enjoying themselves. Their journey has well and truly started and I’m sure it will only seem like minutes until they are stepping foot into secondary school!
Occasional sad moments of Headship relate to a journey coming to an end. Mrs Marriott has worked at the school for many years and is a highly skilled and highly valued member of the team. She has decided, after years of total dedication to the lives of the children, to take a step away for a while and spend quality time with her family. We totally respect her decision—family always comes first—but we are also so sad to be losing her. She is adored by the children and I’m sure they will miss her greatly, as will we all.
On behalf of the governing body, staff, parents and children, may I thank you Rachel for your outstanding work in the school over many years; so many children have benefited from your kindness, knowledge and care as they have travelled on their journey through school.
Don’t be a stranger—you are welcome back anytime—and we hope to see you often, whether it is to help us out or attend events.
8th September 2017
I do hope you have all had a lovely holiday and found enough sunshine to enjoy. I have been hearing about the children’s summer adventures and was reminded again how it felt to be a child during those six weeks; I recall many an enjoyable hour playing Subbuteo or attempting to perfect a cover drive in front of the garage wicket!
May I say a huge THANK YOU to you all for ensuring the children arrived in school in new uniform. The children look fantastic and there have been many comments heard of how smart they look in the blue and jade. The children also look great in their PE kits too– white shirts aplenty!
I am thoroughly looking forward to my second year as Headteacher at Blyton cum Laughton. Ending the first year with a successful SIAMS inspection followed by our superb Key Stage 2 SATs results was reward for the hard work and dedication of every member of the school community. We are lucky to work with the most fantastic group of children and we will continue to work hard to provide the best education for them.
We made a number of major changes last year—many too behind the scenes—and we will build on those changes this coming year. One will be consistent manageable homework; it should certainly not dominate home-life but it is an important link between home and school.
On behalf of the team, we look forward to seeing you in school at the many events we have planned and working with you to ensure every child enjoys their journey.
This year has flown by and I find myself at the end of my first year of my journey at this wonderful school. There have been many memories, none more so than two from this week. More of that later.
First, I want to take this moment to thank you all for making me feel so welcome this year. It has been an extremely rewarding year and one that has given me much food for thought for how we can work together to continue improving the school. There are times when decisions I have made have not been to everyone’s taste. Though we try, we will never please everyone I know that, but every decision made is done so carefully and with the children at its heart. I hope that in my first year you have seen enough improvements to see that we are on a positive journey forward. Thank you for approaching me with your praise and your concerns.
So memory number 1: There wasn't a dry eye in the house as Olive class presented their class assembly this week. The children were wonderful delivering a lovely performance with smiles everywhere. There were plenty of smiles in the audience too alongside the tears of pride and joy. The gifts to Miss Pennington, Mrs Wood and Mrs Taylor were so generous and ended a touching celebration of a wonderful year for the boys and girls of Olive class as they start their journey at our school.
Memory number 2: Mrs Batey, Miss Fisher and I had the privilege of taking Clover class to York on Wednesday. The weather was beautiful and the visits to York Minster and the Railway Museum were informative and very good fun. During the visit we had the opportunity to go into the crypt under the Minster and reflect in candlelight. It was beautiful and I’m sure the three of us reflected on the journey the children have been on since many of them first stepped into the school in Reception. The boys and girls are coming towards the end of their journey at our school and we wish them every success in the future. We’re proud of them.
What a busy week we have had! Following our SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican & Methodist Schools) on Monday we all travelled up to TGA for Sports Day on Tuesday. Wasn’t it wonderful to see the smiles of the children as they prepared for the races ahead? We had to keep a rapid pace ourselves too to ensure all of the races were completed before the expected downfall. A huge thank you to you all for coming to support your children on the day—I hope you enjoyed yourselves—and to the school staff for preparing their children so well.
We were all proud of the children for their sportsmanship and team spirit. I was particularly delighted to see Olive class in their first sport’s day having a lovely time and I know Miss Pennington, Mrs Wood and Mrs Taylor were so PROUD of them.
Sport is about competition as well as enjoyment so we will look at how we can ensure that those children who thrive on competition have the opportunity to compete further next year, as well as continuing to provide a wide range of fun events for children to accumulate points in their house teams. We will also look at potential venues for such events.
Here are our 2017/18 Classes:
Olive (Rec) : Miss Pennington - class size 22
Fir (Y1): Mrs Holt—class size 20
Ivy (Y2): Mrs Briscoe—class size 21
Willow (Y3/4): Mrs Fernandez—class size 25
Fig (Y4/5): Mrs Geraghty—class size 25
Clover (Y5/6): Mrs Batey—class size 28.
23rd June 2017
When God poured his Holy Spirit into the disciples they felt the power to go out and change the world for God, for good. Next week, like the disciples, our children and staff have to be ready and open for change too.
On Monday, we have our Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools visit and on Tuesday, the children will be taking part in our Sports Day at TGA. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, the children will be moving up to their new classes for two days.
It’s a nervous yet exciting time for the children as they learn which classroom they will be based in from September and which teacher they will have; it’s a time of change. Due to Mrs Fernandez’ recuperation, I will have the pleasure of spending time with our current Ivy class. We will have a lovely couple of days.
As you are aware, Mrs Casey has suffered with a virus for some time. During this period she has made the difficult decision to leave the school for personal reasons. She is still hoping to return before the summer break and see the children again. We have worked quickly to ensure that we have a new teacher in place for September and I am delighted to inform you that Mrs Geraghty will be teaching in Fig class until Easter. Mrs Geraghty will be attending the second of the move up days and is looking forward to meeting the children again following her recent visit.
Have a lovely weekend.
16th June 2017
On Monday the focus of worship was inspiring female figures. I also linked these women, where possible, with democracy (one of our British Values) to demonstrate the impact women have had on influencing past and present generations. I shared photographs of a number of significant women in history:
You may recognise the names of some or all of those on the list. However, do you know how they have been so influential and inspiring to girls and women around the world? Do you know which ones have had an impact on democracy? I wonder if you had the opportunity to meet one of them, which would it be? Why?
Do you have any truly inspirational female figures who you look up to?
One quote summed up the worship:
“I believe in the power of the voice of women.” Malala Yousafzai
On another positive note, we have received the report from our recent Diocesan visit. Mr Kinsey: “I very much enjoyed my time spent touring both sites, and seeing the rapid progress, that has clearly been achieved with the development of the Christian character of the school.”
Thank you to everyone. Mr Duke
9th June 2017
A buzz word at the moment in Education is ‘resilience’ and, specifically, how we can build resilience in children. You know by now that I enjoy the odd bit of sport and while twittering (?!) through twitter last night, I came across a superb example of resilience:
The Italian football manager of Crotone, Davide Nicola, promised in April that, if his side escaped relegation, he would cycle from Crotone (lower part of the Italian boot) to Turin (upper part of the boot): 1300km.
At the time, his team had only 14pts after 29 games. Nine games were left and they were 8 points behind the team above them. They had to next play Juventus, Inter Milan, Lazio, Torino and Sampdoria—all giants of the Italian game. Unusually for football these days, the Directors didn't sack him, despite this predicament.
Times had been tough. After the promotion season the team sold all the main players and had to play their games 1000km away as their ground wasn't ready.
Unbelievably, Crotone then went through an astonishing streak; they collected more points than anybody—even more than Juventus!
In the last game, Crotone needed to win and Empoli lose. With 75 minutes gone, Crotone were leading Lazio 3-1. Empoli were drawing. Crotone would be relegated.
Fifteen minutes later, Empoli had conceded two goals and lost 2-1.
Crotone won and avoided relegation.
This weekend, Davide Nicola will start the cycle journey. The last stage will be in Vigone where he used to live. In that town, 3 years ago, his 14 year old son died.
Davide Nicola will not only demonstrate resilience, but grace in the deepest sorrow.
This week has been one of many extreme emotions and thought for others.
Like many of you, I watched the news unfolding on Monday of the horrendous incident in Manchester. News teams tried to piece together the facts as eye-witnesses came forward in the early hours to share their experience. I followed the events unable to sleep for a number of hours—absolutely horrified by the scenes. I, like many of you, gave my child an extra squeeze the following morning. The days that have passed have been filled with conversation about Manchester and the incredible community spirit and strength displayed by everyone involved.
It is part of our responsibility in school to support children through reflection and we provided them with an opportunity to pray and think of those who lost their lives, who are injured in hospital and for the families left behind. We also gave thought and thanks to the emergency services and staff of the arena for their bravery.
On Thursday, we joined the country in holding a minute’s silence and the children responded with such respect.
In contrast, it was my daughter’s birthday this week; the other end of the spectrum of emotion. Amidst smiles, laughter, and a seemingly endless stream of cakes, came the time to open presents and cards. After opening a number of gifts from relations and friends, she held in front of her a cube-shaped present. It was perfume. Her first perfume. By Ariana Grande. In silence we all looked around at each other as if opening this gift—perhaps presents in general—seemed somehow inappropriate. But actually, the silence and the looks reminded us all of the importance of family and loved ones and how fortunate we are.
The second extra squeeze of the week.
19th May 2017
Many centuries ago, in a northern playground -amongst the flat caps and ferrets—I remember racing out at break-time to congregate around the boiler house with many other children. Within seconds, we took out our fistful of stickers and began trading 1980s style!
Panini football stickers.
A chorus of “Got! Got! Got! Swap! Got! Got! Swap!”
I can remember the excitement now as a sticker I didn't possess, but which would fill my team of Ipswich Town or Liverpool or maybe the Italy 1982 World Cup Squad, appeared in front of my eager eyes.
Around Autumn, children would be swinging string and cracking conkers. Children (with incredible imaginations!) would boast that their conker was a 356-er or a 728-er. Discussions over how best to cultivate the perfect conker would dominate dinner-time (Vinegar? Baking in the oven?) before another round of the Barnsley Conker Championship began.
Over the years, playground trends come and go and (in most cases) inevitably lead to a school ban due to eventual squabbling. Fast forward to 2017 and ‘Fidget Spinners’ are the latest craze. You may have read that these have also been banned in many schools across the country. I have a very simple view of crazes like this: we need to trust the children that they will use them to relax and play with them sensibly. This does not open the door to toys at playtime at all—but, in this case, if children use them with maturity they can play a part at break-time...until the next craze comes along of course.
Now—whatever did happen to Antonio Conte?
5th May 2017
The Open Church Weekend is only a week away and I hope you have the chance to visit and support the churches in the local area. The theme ‘Find Your Past’ is an exciting one as many of us enjoy looking back in to the past and thinking about what life might have been like. Looking back in to your family history is more popular these days with the fabulous ‘Who do you think you are?’ on our screens. A relative of mine looked back into our family history a few years ago and found that the family had moved about ten miles in the last 400 years! By moving to Lincolnshire I feel a bit like the family Christopher Columbus!
I mentioned the school log books earlier in the year and I thought it would be fun to share some of the extracts from the books with you; they are an intriguing read. So what was happening at this time of year in the past…?
May 4th 1883: School visited each day by the Vicar—a reading lesson given by him. Average attendance for the week 48.3.
May 4th 1888—Diocesan inspection took place on Thursday morning 3rd of May so the registers not marked. Visited by the Vicar and Rev Gurnhill.
May 4th –8th 1903: Measles reported in the families of Cobb and Cave. All the children ordered to keep away from school till further notice.
May 3rd 1933: The SAO visited the school this morning and his attention was drawn to the ease of Gilbert Pye, who appears to be illegally employed. J Sampson has the mumps. The medical officers have been notified of the ease of infectious disease.
May 6th 1937: Ascension Day—the school was closed for both sessions.
21st April 2017
Welcome back to school everyone. I do hope you all had a peaceful and relaxing Easter break. We all arrived back on Tuesday ready for a busy term (as did the nation’s politicians after the recent news!) and looking forward to the learning ahead.
Creation is our Christian Value this term and children may be reflecting on many Bible stories, including: The Creation Story, The Calming of the Storm, The Parable of the Sower and The Story of the Mustard Seed, as the term progresses. It feels appropriate to mention at this point our team of willing volunteers who helped to create a warm outdoor environment at both sites during and after the holiday—including the planting of flowers and herbs and the development of a reflection garden.
An event which is very important to us in school is the Open Church Festival weekend. On May 13th we are hoping that many of our Key Stage 2 children will be able to attend Blyton church on the day to open the event with some singing; Mrs Marriott is already gearing herself up for some rehearsals in the forthcoming weeks.
In the lead up the event, children will be creating some artwork or writing based on the theme ‘Find Your Past’ which you will be able to see displayed in the church during the weekend.
24th March 2017
Today is Red Nose Day and children and staff have enjoyed coming to school dressed in ‘something red’ and donating to a most worthwhile cause. As you know we (you) do contribute to many charities throughout the year and we are always grateful for your kindness and consideration.
I’m of that age where I can remember the first Red Nose Day about 30 years ago and the excitement it caused in secondary school dressing up for charity for the first time is a memory I just about grasp hold of! This was the time before supermarkets stocked up with fancy dress costumes to take advantage of the ‘World Book Days’ of course and children always relied on parents to help them dress up. I recall dressing in red and turning up in my Liverpool Football Club kit pretending to be Kenny Dalglish (without the accent or even the talent he possessed in his little toe). I also remember my friend Brian dressing as some form of tomato. Unfortunately, it was a soggy day in Yorkshire and he ended up looking more like tomato soup by the end of the day.
For all your generous contributions, thank you. I’ll no doubt be sat on the settee tonight watching Comic Relief with the usual mix of emotions as the BBC superbly interweave powerful films of children needing our help along with the excellent ‘comic relief’. Being a big fan of James Corden and Carpool Karaoke, I can’t wait to see the ‘Take That’ version. (Children: Take That were a group from the 1990s who were like ‘The 1975’ but didn't play instruments!)
17 March 2017
Hello everyone— I hope you’ve had a good week.
I had the pleasure of accompanying our Chair of Governors, Mrs Thornalley, to the Diocese Annual Conference on Wednesday. This was an opportunity to meet other headteachers and governors from schools around Lincolnshire as well listen to one of the most inspiring speakers I’ve ever seen and heard.
Firstly, we listened intently to Bishop Nicholas of Grantham sharing the Diocese vision for Lincolnshire schools. Then, Sir John Jones was introduced.
Sir John Jones was formerly a secondary headteacher from Liverpool who was knighted for his services to Education in 2002. He shared experiences from his time in school as well as inspiring us all with his views on education and how we should set the highest expectations for all pupils, regardless of background or ‘ability’. He cleverly used images and film to inspire and make us think about how schools should, in turn, inspire children.
There were numerous quotable lines and stories from his session but I was drawn to one particular aspect. He stated that the sole purpose of a school is to:-
A) To see the person (for who they are)
B) To develop the person
C) To celebrate the person.
As a team around each child (parents, governors and staff), I think that if we concentrate on these three aims, then our children will enjoy a successful journey through Blyton cum Laughton School.
10 March 2017
Last week the KS1 pupils had a fantastic visit to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. You will be able to read about the trip in this week's newsletter. I am delighted by the behaviour of our children (and adults!) and I know they all had a wonderful time despite the wet weather. Photos of their visit can be found on the class pages.
Please join us on Monday between 9.00 and 10.15 to enjoy mathematics with your child. There will be games, activities and resources for you to try and, as usual, enjoy a mug and a munch!
Also on Monday, between 4.00 and 5.30pm, both sites are open to you to visit your child’s class and learn about the maths curriculum in an informal way. You are welcome to look through your child’s work and ask any questions you have about maths. Learn about the resources we use to support learning and have a go yourself. Your child is also welcome too. Please come along.
Children are allowed to wear red on the 24th March to raise money for Comic Relief. This could be an entire outfit or just a red bow or red sock. (The only red football kit allowed is Barnsley’s—just joking!) Red Noses are now on sale in school , £1 each.
3 March 2017
I had the pleasure of meeting with the school council last week to talk about their next project.
As the year has progressed we have given groups of children more and more responsibility. On our website, each group have their own page (still a work in progress admittedly) but this ensures we celebrate and share their value in school.
I have been delighted with the impact of the Carbon Ambassadors this year. The number of rooms in the school which are now saving electricity has increased dramatically and this is down to the constant (and it is often constant!) reminders from the children leading the area. Although I was out of school towards the end of last week, I am told that all rooms at Blyton achieved a ‘20’. This means that during any inspection visit (break times and dinner times usually) all lights were off and screens closed down. The leadership office did achieve ‘20’ but this may have been because I was in Grantham at the time! Still, credit where it’s due!
An important date for your diary: Saturday May 13th
I met with the wardens of Blyton church on Wednesday to talk about the Open Church Festival; many of you will be familiar with this event. As a church school we have traditionally supported the festival and, as the (relatively) new head at the school, I feel it is our duty to continue dedicating our support. In preparation for a display in the church, children will be creating artwork and/or writing based on the theme ‘FIND YOUR PAST’.
We would also like children to attend at the beginning of the event that morning to sing a number of songs/hymns. We will be sending a letter out shortly to ask for their participation. As a parent I do understand the modern day weekend demands, but, with notice, I hope we can create a wonderful choir of young voices!
Thank you in anticipation.
As the term ends and children scamper out of school for a few days of fun and relaxation (parents and carers too I hope!) I'm looking through a catalogue of resources full of things that could be purchased for the school. Having spoken to the school council a few weeks ago and asked staff for their ideas, it is time to prioritise a few things.
As the Spring term moves on and the Summer term approaches, I hope you'll see further changes to the two sites. This will mainly be in the playground areas - and particularly at Laughton where we hope to create some new playground markings. This will enable children to play with further stimulus for their imagination as well as providing active learning opportunities for teachers to ponder. The playground needs colour and the children need to be stimulated to play with fun in mind.
We are also looking at improving play equipment and early in the next term we hope to have a few new resources available for our children.
It is time for me to scamper off too.
From the staff and governors, may I wish you a happy and fun half term.
Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all had a joyful and peaceful Christmas and escaped the multitude of germs that appear to have been flying around!
My blog this week is in the form of a poem, inspired by our wonderful Young Voices choir and the concert at Sheffield Arena.
Voices chattering over the hum,
Eager performers with nerves swimming,
Awaiting: a stadium to be filled
with children to sing together.
Led in chorus through fragmented lights,
Initial timid voices increase in volume,
As confidence grows - filling the theatre
with beautiful sound.
Maliswe inspires a chorus of African approval,
Drenched in yellow, pink and blue,
A harmonic sea of movement creating
a warm blanket of togetherness.
As my previous post highlighted, the weeks leading to Christmas in school are extremely busy and we are so excited by the final few days of term. They are an opportunity to share all that is wonderful about our school with the community and we are delighted to open the doors to you all. It is during these hectic times that we may miss acts of great kindness amongst the rehearsals and preparations. Not this week.
This week we have been inspired and moved by the kindness of a child in school and in recognition we have created a new certificate to present at Friday's Celebration Worship: the Special Recognition Award. I was describing this award to Mrs Thornalley, our Chair of Governors, today and felt the perfect explanation was that our 'Shining Light' is the Blue Peter badge of the school and the Special Recognition Award is that rarely presented golden badge.
On Friday we will show our appreciation to the recipient of the award and I know already that others have been inspired by the action of that one individual.
Talk of Blue Peter took me back thirty (odd) years to watching Simon Groom, Sarah Greene, Peter Duncan, their dog, Goldie, and many tortoises on that famous set. (I was always more Blue Peter than Magpie, in the same way I was more Saturday Swapshop than Tiswas!) In fact, I remember as a nine year old boy being convinced I would win a badge after entering a Blue Peter competition to design a poster for the Natural History Museum. I spent days designing and colouring a highly detailed poster including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops and Brontosaurus only to be utterly stunned that, come the day of the presentation, I did not appear to be on the white-washed BBC set being presented with my first Blue Peter badge but sat at home (probably drinking a can of Quattro and eating a Wham bar) watching the winners gleeful smile holding up what can only be described as a foot. Well, a Tyrannosaur's foot. But still a foot! I'm over it though. Honestly!
Witnessing the acts of kindness of our first winner of the Special Recognition Award this week, I think __________ may have taken the news a little more graciously!
We care for our school and we really do care for each other.
It is a very busy time.
My first Advent in a Church of England School and I could not be more proud of the children, the teachers, teaching assistants and all members of our wonderful team.
It is a very busy time.
As well as ensuring children continue to receive a balanced education, we spend time around the Advent wreath reflecting and considering the Christmas story, rehearsing the Nativity for performances to come and organising Christmas Industry Week and the Christmas Fayre. Children are also practising hymns to sing and putting up the class Christmas Tree.
It is a very busy time.
We have parents, grandparents and carers visiting for 'Christmas Book and a Bite', for our weekly Celebration Worship and the forthcoming visit to Blyton church.We are working with Reverend Mark and Reverend Ruth to ensure the Church plays an important role in school life. Our governors are visiting regularly to ensure we are working together as a team to continue moving the school forward.
It is a very busy time.
We are working with the 'Friends of the School' to plan events together. We are inviting authors to present prizes at the first ever 'BcL 500 Words' presentation evening.
It is a very busy time...
...but worth every second.
Thank you to everyone for everything you are doing at this most important time.
Although we are still in November I have been thinking ahead to December - perhaps the busiest time of the year in school. We have all the events relating to Advent, the Blyton cum Laughton 500 words presentation evening, the pantomimes, Christmas jumper day and (I'm so excited) the Laughton Nativity. (If they sing 'Little Donkey' - I will be in bits!)
In a few week's time (w/b 12th December) it will be Christmas Industry Week at the school. The children will work together as a business to create a product to sell at the Christmas Fayre. It is during these weeks that we see skills of children, that perhaps have been undiscovered to this point, coming to the fore. Children take on a variety of responsibilities - we see them becoming leaders, listeners, graphic designers, product designers, health and safety officers, marketing specialists, television producers and lyricists, amongst other things.
Weeks like Christmas Industry Week are so important; yes, we will still be concentrating on the key skills of literacy and mathematics (there are plentiful opportunities to do so) and we will still be thinking about our place in the world, but we will also be working as a team to produce a product of which we can be proud. Each business will be looking to make a profit and when they do, they know that each one of them played a part in the success.
We hope that if you are available after the service at Blyton school, you can attend the Christmas Fayre and share in the success of the children.
As we all know, Armistice Day is a day to remember those who fought the two World Wars as well as the many conflicts across the globe in the last one hundred years.
This can be a difficult concept for young children to understand so it is important for primary schools to find a way of involving children so that they will spend some time during the day thinking of the brave men and women who fought for their country. We often read stories set during the First World War and time is usually given to creating poppies in an artistic way; this year was no different. However, we also decided that children on both sites should pay their respects out of school: at the war memorial in Blyton and within the churchyard at Laughton. At both services the children responded superbly, listening intently to the words of Clover class and Reverand Briscoe and saying the Lord's Prayer at Laughton. The sun shone, the doves and pigeons shared their thoughts and parents stood proudly looking on.
Seeing our children from Laughton holding each other's hands in a giant circle was very touching and I'm sure that memory will live with us.
Thank you to everyone who attended and to Reverand Briscoe for his words.
Lest we forget.
Sometimes life really does take you by surprise and we are not always prepared.
I often have a chat with Mr Woodcock when I arrive at school in the morning, but the content of the conversation this week was surprising to say the least.
"Mr Duke, I think you need to come and see this."
Mr Woodcock had been checking the perimeter fencing and came across three objects amongst the trees and bushes at the far end of the field. I ventured across with him (reminder to self: have a pair of wellies handy!) and was absolutely flabbergasted by what I saw. Initially thoughts were that these could be giant eggs, but then my mind raced and ideas rebounded around like a squash ball. Aliens? Alien transport? (Superman arrived in an egg shaped vessel) If these were eggs, where was 'mother'?
After contacting the Natural History Museum, the police and the council, I awaited a reply.
Having heard that there were more unusual objects in the area, I raced to Laughton to find another similar object in the field. I was shocked!
A couple of hours later, Professor Trope from the museum rang back and was extremely helpful. I then had to interrupt worship to explain the situation to the children and staff before doing the same at Laughton. I was shaking!
As you would expect from our wonderful children, they have taken the events in their stride and have become experts in aliens, UFOs and eggs! We will keep monitoring the objects and hope that wherever they came from and whatever they are, that all ends well.
I wonder what next week has in store! I'll make sure I bring my wellies.
So here we are, almost at the end of the first term of the school year. Time has raced along and after a few weeks of working extremely hard, I'm sure the children and staff are ready for a little break before we start again. Thank you to everyone who has made the first term an extremely enjoyable one.
I started the term by picking up the balls from the floor and began to juggle all areas of school life.
One of the balls we had to pick up was the one labelled 'parental involvement'. Our main aim was to share the message that we are a school looking to involve all members of the school community. From the parental surveys that have been returned there is acknowledgement of that, however, we need to keep on this positive path to ensure every child in our school has the opportunity to succeed. I hope, as parents, you have found every member of staff approachable and supportive and I pledge to you that this will continue into the future. For those who expressed ideas in detail for areas we can improve, please do contact the school and come in to see me.
I am delighted that the school is working with the Friends of Blyton cum Laughton again - a second ball if you will - and I'm sure this will be a partnership which will be extremely productive. A school needs a strong parent group, particularly in times when school budgets face such challenging pressures. Thank you to those who have put their names forward to help.
Other balls we are juggling include 'school premises', 'school lunches', 'school policies' and 'reward systems', amongst others. There is always another ball to add and there should be. If, however, we let them fall to the floor, the school would stagnate and I want to lead a forward thinking, ambitious school based on a strong Christian Values which is inclusive and provides challenge to all pupils. Anything less would be unacceptable.
I see similarities between a Headteacher with that of a juggler; on any given day we are juggling a number of balls in the air, trying to keep them off the ground in the hope that every single one will reach its destination before being propelled higher, creating further challenge. On some days the number of balls seems to be into double figures, and it is on those days that I rely on such a strong team to help me. I could not have asked for more from my team.
PS: The first week back is going to be an exciting one for the children - but I will say no more...for now...(it doesn't involve jugglers!)
There are many places in the world to sit and ponder; some people choose a lake to sit by, others the peak of a mountain. I had the wonderful fortune of visiting India a few years ago,which had the most incredible impact on me both emotionally and spiritually. I remember walking slowly through an archway, along with many other eager and excited people from all over the world, leading into beautiful gardens, when suddenly, there in a burst of bright sunlight, appeared one of the most stunningly beautiful buildings. The Taj Mahal. Awe and wonder.
Few words were spoken as we walked down the long stretch of manicured gardens closer to the monument. I sat and pondered on the stunningly white stone. Silenced in thought. Questions relating to our place in the world flew delicately around my mind. Big questions. Those questions we may not have a definitive answer for.
It is a memory that will live with me forever.
For children, that opportunity to sit and ponder (and play) comes in some of the more obscure places: a pitched tent; a den under the bed; a sandpit.
I had a conversation with a child at Laughton this week in the sandpit, amongst the cars and spades and toys, playing cops and robbers and discussing dinosaurs. When, out of the blue, the boy asked, "Will humans always live on Earth because dinosaurs died?"
In school we often like to have the answers at our disposal, but sometimes it doesn't matter if we can't answer. But it gave us time to sit and ponder (and play) and my mind flicked back to that day in India.
This week's blog is a MARVELLOUS MACMILLAN THANK YOU!
The thank you is for all the wonderful parents, grandparents, carers, brothers and sisters who were able to attend the coffee events on Friday. We should never take for granted attendance to these events, but to see so many people enjoying a delicious cake, a cuppa and a chat was lovely. I would also like to thank the staff (and our Chair of Governors) across both sites who put in a lot of hard work to get the school ready for the event. Finally, I'd like to thank the children for bringing in so many cakes and for being such wonderful hosts to their visitors.
The king (well, Mrs Hinch!) has been in the counting house counting all the money...pennies have been counted...
...the final amount raised was over £300!
THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Caring for our school...caring for each other.
On your visits to school you may see this saying displayed here and there; it is becoming increasingly present. It has also become my mantra, if you like, since I first arrived at the school and began to decide what needed to stay and what needed to go. The children are fully aware that I am passionate about ensuring what we provide for them to read, to write with, to explore, investigate and play with, should be of the highest quality and most importantly - cared for. I have talked at length about emptying the bookshelves of over 2500 books which were either old or extremely tired looking and made it clear that we are and will replace them with new, beautiful books that make you want to pick them up and read.
That, in a nutshell, is a way that we can show the children that we not only care for the school, but that we care for each other.
With that in mind...
Mrs Batey and I had the absolute privilege of interviewing six children for the role of librarians at the Blyton site this week. This was their first experience of an 'interview' situation and we could not have been more impressed by, not only their thoughtful answers, but how much they CARE. They care about how the library will look; they care about the quality of books we have; they care so much about how they would be able to help every child entering the library select the right book. They care enough to give up their break-times to keep the most important room in the school functioning. They care about books and the celebration of books.
Perhaps what pleased me more than anything was how they felt when receiving the librarian badge. They were proud...because they care.
Our children are very special - they care for the school and they care about each other.
16th September 2016
Life in school as a Head teacher is often very busy with opportunities to inspire appearing limited due to the day to day management of a school. However, one of the pleasures of the role is receiving a knock on the door from a child who is eager to show learning they are proud of. These kinds of interruptions are always welcome as they are a constant reminder of why we chose the profession in the first place. Too often press focus on education concentrates on the negative: the statutory tests; pay and conditions or the non-authorisation of term-time holidays. We don’t see enough examples of children and their learning or achievements or of teachers putting in the extra miles to ensure every child succeeds.
A teacher’s day rarely ends at 4.30. Many spend the evenings marking, planning or creating resources. There is a very strong argument that I support: that if you have entered the profession for the right reason - for the children and the children alone - then the long termly hours are part and parcel of a successful teacher’s career. The strongest teachers I have ever worked with were extremely dedicated in term time and strong team members with a wonderful work ethic, because they knew that the difference they were making in school needed almost complete focus. They spent hours in the evening making sure that things were just right for the learning in the morning. Holidays were then, for the most part, holidays.
So, it is when you receive the knock on the door - and a child called Grace is standing there with a beautifully written story - a story she has written on her own – at home - that we realise why we applied for that teaching course in the first place and that our dedication and time has been rewarded.
It is when a child called Georgia knocks on the door, having written a poem about love – at home - based on some inspirational teaching, that we realise why we applied for that teaching course in the first place and that our dedication and time has been rewarded.
It is also when you receive a knock on the door, and a Reception child has made a handprint that she is so proud of – and her smile tells a million stories – that we realise why we applied for that teaching course in the first place and that, yes, our dedication and time has been rewarded.
Life in school as a Head teacher is often busy but with endless opportunities to be inspired.
9th September 2016
What a super first week of term!
The sun has shone and smiles have been wide spread from staff to parents to our most valuable members of the school community: the children. It has been a delight to get to know so many new faces this week.
We are currently embedding a range of new strategies to ensure the education our children receive is high quality. One of these is the introduction of pink and green marking which should help you as parents to identify the areas where your child is succeeding and where they need to improve. Pink is for 'tickled pink' or 'pleased' and green, 'growing green' - an area to think about a little bit more. Look out for it next time you visit school.
Children always surprise me with how comfortably they seem to start the year; they do take it in their stride. I know our children in reception find the days long to begin with, but I am a big believer in introducing them to the realities of school life and they have done wonderfully well this week; well done to Miss Pennington and Mrs Wood for helping them to settle so quickly.
Teachers and children alike are beginning to explore the term's theme - Time Travellers. This will form part of our learning and will inspire writing, reading and mathematics as the term progresses. As a fan of Back to the Future and Doctor Who I can't help getting a little excited myself. Mrs Holt's classroom appears to have become an extension of NASA as a giant rocket has appeared! I hope we don't lose any children in outer space!
I feel incredibly lucky to be Head teacher of Blyton cum Laughton school and never more so than when receiving the first drawn picture from a pupil. I may need to create a gallery in my office!
I look forward to seeing you all on the 14th September for our 'Meet and Greet'.