Well, it’s time for the first Headteacher blog of the new academic year and we already have so much to tell you all! The school year has begun at the usual top notch speed and we can’t quite believe that the sounds of chime bars and every bell that has EVER been made will soon be heard from the school hall as Christmas production rehearsals begin! The Christmas period is always a very special time in school and we look forward to sharing many events with our families in the coming weeks. Please all make sure that you have the date for our Christmas fair in your diaries. This will take place on Saturday 2nd December from 12pm to 2.30pm and as always will be organised by our amazing PTA body. Our PTA really is fantastic and support school in so many ways. This can be hard work though and I am sure that they would appreciate any additional time or support you may be able to offer over the year. It is a great way to meet other parents in school too!
As you will be aware, a letter came home to all parents on Friday regarding the new co-headship arrangement between Mrs Finley and I. Noctua Teaching School Alliance continues to go from strength to strength and as a result is bringing fantastic expertise and opportunities to further develop our practice into school. As a direct result of our school to school support work, and other Noctua projects, the teaching school has generated nearly £100,000 for the Tranmere Park budget that we wouldn’t otherwise have had. The arrangement since 2014, when the Teaching School was established, has been for Mrs Finley to be in school as Headteacher for three days each week and I have taken on the headship role for the other two days. As the teaching school continues to grow this arrangement will now shift to a co-headship with Mrs Finley being in school to ‘top and tail’ the week on Mondays and Fridays. I will be the Headteacher on the other three days each week. Mrs Finley and I have worked very closely together for many many years (too many to admit!) and it will very much be a case of ‘business as usual’ in school for children, parents and staff. Either Mrs Finley or I will continue to be available on the school playground each morning should you wish to speak to us or we can obviously be contacted through the usual methods of telephone, email or an appointment in person.
We have another busy year ahead planned for Tranmere Park and I would like to share with you some of the key things we will be working on as a school.
As some of you may remember we asked for parental feedback through a questionnaire in the spring term last year regarding a number of current practices in school. The feedback we received told us that most parents were very happy with methods of communication generally and that school shares information regularly regarding pupil progress and next steps in learning. The one area that some parents felt could be further improved was information sent home regarding exactly what children will be learning in school. This seemed to be particularly the case for topic work. As a result of this we spent time looking into different methods of sharing this information and how other successful school have developed this aspect of their practice. This is where the concept of the ‘Knowledge Organiser’ came from. The Knowledge Organiser will replace the old ‘Parent Bulletins’ and very clearly state the key information and facts that the children will be aiming to feel confident with by the end of each topic. This very specific information will mean that parents can support this learning at home should they wish to. The Knowledge Organisers for each phase in school will be put on the website for each new topic. They are also being stuck into the children’s topic books as a point of reference and so please do have a look for them this week during your parent consultation slots (books will be available to view in classrooms).
In terms of general communication to parents I would also just like to mention our new ‘Parent Directory’. This was placed on the school website at the beginning of the school year and is the ‘go to’ place to find out any basic key information about school or your child’s year group. There are things contained in here from a list of staff members and their roles and responsibilities to exactly what your child needs in their pencil case! Again this was developed from direct feedback from our parent body and we hope that you find it useful.
The second key development area on our School Development Plan this year is to embed a ‘Concrete Pictorial Abstract’ approach to solving maths problems for the children. Concrete Pictorial Abstract is a three step approach that has been found to be highly effective in teaching maths concepts. The first step is called the concrete stage. It is known as the “doing” stage and involves physically manipulating objects or equipment to solve a maths problem. The pictorial stage is the next step. It is known as the “seeing” stage and involves using images to represent objects to solve a given problem. The final step in this approach is called the abstract stage. It is known as the “symbolic” stage and involves using only numbers and symbols to solve a maths problem. The benefits of this system are that children continue to learn through a multi-sensory approach, helping children to make more meaningful connections in their understanding before moving on to the next stage. Again, examples of this new approach can be seen in your child’s maths book or often on the class pages on the school website.
The final development area I would like to tell you about is the continuation of the development of a whole class reading approach. This new approach to the teaching of reading was introduced last academic year and we feel that it has begun to have very positive impact in school. We intend to further embed this work this year. The whole class teaching of reading approach has replaced the old ‘guided reading’ model that we previously had in school. Instead the class will look at a piece of text together (this can vary in length and complexity) and the teacher will model, through questioning and discussion with the pupils, how to draw information from the text and express opinion. The questions and discussions vary in their complexity and can be anything from the retrieval of a basic piece of information to giving an opinion regarding the author’s choice of phrasing to create an effect. All children from year one to year six now have a specific ‘reading journal’ book where they are recording their whole class reading work. Again – have a look for this during your parent consultation slot this week.
As you can see, we have a lot planned for the year ahead and I am sure that you will hear much more about our school development priorities as the year continues.
Mrs Finley and I both look forward to seeing you all for parent consultation evenings this week and we hope that you are just as proud as we are of the way the children have settled back into the new academic year. We both look forward to seeing you at many of our Christmas events in the coming weeks also.