Headteacher’s Blog 20/11/15

I did mean to update my blog just after half term but, as usual, busy school life has taken over and unbelievably we’re now into the 3rd week of the half term and Christmas is almost upon us!

We’ve had a really positive start to the school year with lots of changes to assessment and the curriculum to embed, as well as one additional class to settle in and the most children we’ve ever had in school. No wonder the weeks are whizzing past!

As I’ve told you about before, with the Government abolishing the system of levels that all schools have used since the advent of the National Curriculum, Tranmere Park, along with all other Aireborough Learning Partnership Schools, have designed our own bespoke assessment system to track pupil progress. The first half term of the school year has been all about informing parents about our new system through an information evening and promoting the new ‘Assessment’ tab on the website as somewhere parents can go to find out more (incidentally, if you haven’t looked at the ‘Assessment’ tab, please do, as there’s lots of information there!). As well as spreading the word with parents, we’ve also been making sure that our teachers have had the relevant training to feel fully confident in applying judgements about children’s progress using a new system.

In addition to the new assessment changes, we also wanted to make sure that the ‘Growth Mindsets’ approach introduced in school last year was sustained and so have made changes to our Pupil Mentoring system, with a new ‘Learning Attitudes’ section – information is also available on the website under the ‘Assessment’ tab!

Teachers have been thinking about the new ‘mastery’ approach to teaching which involves ensuring all pupils have ‘mastered’ the objectives for their current year group and a very different approach to differentiation in lessons.

We had a ‘Safeguarding’ audit early in the Autumn term carried out by Leeds City Council which was very positive and our recent parent survey, carried out during the parent-teacher consultation events, looking at how safe children felt in school told us that the vast majority of parents felt their children felt safe and happy in school which was very pleasing. The results of this survey will be up on the website soon.

Headteachers of 4 partner schools assisted me with lesson observation, pupil interviews and book scrutiny in October, all of which confirmed my judgement that the quality of teaching and learning at Tranmere Park remains outstanding with the very large majority of evidence confirming this assertion.

For Harvest festival, we donated a huge amount of food collected from your very generous donations to the foodbank in Otley. Later in October, we held a ‘Democracy’ week to coincide with School Council elections to allow children to understand the democratic processes behind electing a government. A new pupil council has been established, to work alongside the school Council, Sports Council and Fairtrade Council. This is the ‘Rights Respecting Schools Council’ who are tasked with ensuring that children’s voices are heard in all our wok and that children’s rights are known and understood by the whole school community. For Armistice Day, for the very first time, our children were involved in the service at the Cenotaph in Guiseley and I hear the children did us proud.

Mr Beech has taken delivery of 2 new sets of iPads which now means that EYFS, KS1, Y3/4 and Y5/6 all have access to a team set of mobile devices. Excitingly, we were also one of 10 schools nationally who were selected from thousands of entrants to have a learning space in school redesigned and decorated by Dulux. The project is actually a research project led by SSAT which will measure how pupil levels of engagement improve when a bespoke learning environment is created. We are really excited to have our IT suite updated!

Finally, it was tremendously satisfying to finally reach an aspirational target set for us by our Governors 5 years ago which was for our outcomes to be within the top 10% of schools nationally. We’ve been moving towards this for the last 4 years with top 18%, 15% and last year top 12% but were actually within the top 10% at last for our Summer 2015 outcomes! We were thrilled that in some aspects, such as Y1 phonics, we were within the top 5% of schools! Well done everyone!