Happy New year to you all. It’s been great to see the rested and sometimes tanned faces of the children, back with energy and enthusiasm on Thursday and settled in on Friday. There’s been lots of talk about families, good times and exciting new things to play with or do amongst children and a sense among staff that whilst Christmas isn’t really time “off” that it’s a great time for reconnecting with friends and family and having a change.
Staff met on Wednesday to welcome our new colleagues, begin induction meetings and explore elements of teaching and learning and preparation for another new Inspection framework which comes into force this January.
You’ll be pleased to know that the Inspection focus is on Educational Quality alongside Compliance. Although it is still possible that we might have either Educational Quality or Compliance separately, it is most likely that we will get a combined Inspection with one day’s notice called Educational Quality with Focussed Compliance. (EQ + FC) We are keen to test our systems in readiness for this and we’re planning a survey of parents to help us understand where our development should focus next. More details will follow on that topic. Inspectors explore pupils’ achievements and pupils’ personal development and we look forward to sharing with them all that St Michael’s offers in both those areas.
We reviewed our medication policy last term and are in the final stages of refining it with parental input. If any parent would like to cast an eye over our new policy and let us have feedback we would be pleased to hear from you. Please contact my secretary Helen on firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week I start weekly coffee meetings with parent reps. This is an opportunity for parents to chat informally and offer perspectives on the school, perhaps things that delight them, sometimes frustrations or areas to refine. Reps are invited to encourage items for exploration from the whole class they represent and minutes are produced which deal with each point raised. Just prior to meeting each year group parents, I also have lunch with form captains and vice captains and hear their views on what it’s like to be in their year.
I usually have excellent pointers for things to focus on and many developments have taken place as a direct result of feedback.
As a result of feedback about lost property and borrowing in changing rooms, we installed cameras on the doors leading out of the rooms and eliminated almost at once the borrowing of kit.
Parents suggested benches by the tennis courts and we installed them (eventually!)
Parents had concerns about the quality and amount of swimming the school offered and we set up the very successful Swim School whose staff also deliver curriculum swimming , which has been increased.
The car park was potholed and dark and this was a topic of much feedback. It was resurfaced.
These are just a few of the examples of items brought to the top of the development list as a result of engaging with parents.
What these coffee mornings are not about is teaching and learning. Our open door policy, our leadership structure and our parent evening system are the channels for raising any issue of concern about children’s progress and I know my colleagues go out of their way to engage with parents who raise any concern.
I look forward to listening, supporting and setting new items for development with your help over this term.
You will notice, if you have been into the Prep school that we have created a new reception area in part of the lobby. This change has been planned since September but sadly our swanky bespoke furniture wasn’t ready to install over the holiday. The rationale for this is to enable staff engaging with parents and children to be seen and on hand and to create a calmer environment with less interruption for those with less outward facing roles.
I have enjoyed listening to the children’s plans for their New Year’s Resolutions and encouraged them to think about focussing on one thing to do that will be of most benefit to others in their families, their class or perhaps even in the wider world. Olivia in Pre-Prep is helping mum with her younger brother, Eva said she planned to make her bed every day, whilst up in Prep Annabel suggested trying to turn off lights to save energy and Josh said he would revise a lot so he could do really well in his CE. Other good suggestions included giving away toys to children who didn’t have any (perhaps a great one for after Christmas when the cupboard is bursting) and trying to overcome fear of the dark.
I helped the children to think about how they could help themselves to keep their resolutions and suggested that they
- tell their friends, so friends could remind and support them
- give themselves small targets to build into a bigger one like keeping their resolution for one week at a time and rewarding themselves if they do
- have a sticker or tick chart to mark off successful days
- and perhaps most importantly, to think about the odd day where they fail to keep their resolution as a setback to move past rather than time to give up altogether
I look forward to seeing some of you at the many events happening this term. If you haven’t already, please do download the calendar app to your phones so that you can keep up to date and save into your calendar what is relevant to your family. It has filters and all sorts and should change your life!