I was fortunate enough to attend a school council meeting run by Hr. Hicks. The children were articulate, enthusiastic and clearly enjoyed the responsibility of their roles representing their fellow students.
The meeting was conducted in a very organised way with every child from every year group able to contribute and make suggestions. The topics covered varied from the use of fidget spinners in school time through to the Race for Life and Dojo rewards.
I was extremely impressed with all the children’s professional conduct during the meeting and their valuable input, it is clear to me that the school council members bring to the meeting the concerns and opinions of their year groups so that all student views are represented, listened to and actioned upon. A school council to be very proud of!
My only feedback as a parent governor was that the school council have had so many successes and make such a difference, it would be great to celebrate those successes perhaps on the website on their own page.
Finally (and technically in July) I attended the Year 6 Bugsy Malone performance and was completely blown away by the incredible performances, who knew we had so much talent in Year 6!
From the main lead actors and actresses right through to the supporting cast and chorus, the backstage team and lighting crew, the whole production was professional, fun, entertaining and awe inspiring. The teachers, teaching assistants and everyone who worked so hard to make this happen should be incredibly proud.
As these Year 6 students progress on to their secondary school careers they will be a real asset to their new schools and will be sorely missed by Even Swindon Primary School.
I would like to wish all the Year 6 students the very best for their successful futures that surely await them.
I was invited by Mrs. Lowe to observe the Year 6 SATS. We looked at where the unopened test papers were kept and how secure they were to ensure no one saw them before it was time to take the tests. They were kept in a locked cupboard and were opened just before the children took the test.
I watched the teaching staff being briefed on what support they could and could not give the children during the exam, and then sat in and observed the children doing one of the exam papers. The children all seemed relaxed yet focused, which was good to see, they all looked comfortable and well prepared for the exams.
I then looked at where the completed exam papers were stored and how they were packaged to be sent off for external marking.
I was impressed how ably run and well prepared everyone was for the SATS and hope the children get the best results possible.
Ann-Marie Scott (Parent Governor)
I came into the school to sit in on the Safeguarding and Child Protection Quality and Assurance visit, which was carried out by an Independent Safeguarding Consultant.
We started the visit with a tour of the school looking to ensure that all the policies and procedures that the governors have adopted were being used properly and that all children in the school were safe and secure. With the tour completed, we then worked through a 20-page document that detailed all of legislation and best practice guidelines that the school has to follow. I was really pleased that Mrs L
owe and her team are clearly on top of things and they had all the paperwork to hand to provide evidence that they met each of the requirements.
The outcome of the audit was that the school meet all of the government and local authority standards in terms of safeguarding and child protection, the staff and volunteers in the school are properly recruited and trained, children have an understanding of safeguarding issues and the school deals effectively with any child protection issues that arise.
There were a few recommendations for the school to improve their performance, mainly ideas from other schools where they have tried new ways to get safeguarding messages across to visitors and staff.
I was really pleased to see how much time and effort is put into safeguarding and child protection, and how well the records are kept. It is clear that Mrs Lowe and her team work extremely hard to protect the pupils, and parents can be very confident that their child is safe at Even Swindon.
As Part of my responsibility as Special Needs governor I went to the SRP(Special Resource Provision for Speech and Language) before the holiday. On entering the classroom the children were playing Pirates in their Pirate Ship. Pirates are their current topic. When I pretended to be frightened the Pirate Captain took off His Pirate hat and said He was only a boy, and I was not forced to walk the plank.
The purpose of my visit was to meet with the teaching staff and Lyn Frith from the Borough Council. Lyn came to monitor the performance of the SRP and what it provided and to check that
it was value for money from the Boroughs perspective .We discussed the SRP Provision including the Outreach provision. Pupil progress was at the heart of the discussion. It was shown that pupils in the SRP make good progress, many being at or above the National Standards. Lyn Frith from the Borough was pleased with the progress made by our pupils and our provision.
I returned to the SRP after the holiday and enjoyed a morning shared between KS1 and KS2. The morning started with everybody doing physical exercise, all of us (including me) pretending to be trees. The wind must have been strong judging by our activity. This was followed by two pupils in KS2 performing on stage for the rest of the class. The class including me had a game which was educational fun to introduce their maths lesson on subtraction. I then observed a one to one session on the production of speech sounds. Later I joined the Speech Therapist at a language session looking at pictures and saying what could be seen and inferred in the pictures. After break I joined KS1 who were doing practical subtraction before following up their Pirate theme counting their treasure. Just before lunch I rejoined KS2 working on Rhythm and Rhyme completing lines of poetry from selected words presented visually in pictures and the written word. Finally after a very enjoyable morning watching children enjoy their learning and I offer my congratulations to the staff of the SRP for their excellent work.
The objectives of this review were to understand:
- processes associated with Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
- how CPD works in practise.
- potential areas for improvement.
Three following groups were invited to an interview with me:
- Pupil Services Manager, responsible for administering courses and apprenticeships.
- Teachers (3 staff; 2 having been through the Newly Qualified Teacher programme last year, and 1 longer serving).
During a working lunch with Alison, which was the first school dinner I’ve eaten for several decades (and I don’t remember them being nearly so tasty), I gained an understanding of the main CPD processes in place; Alison then left and the interviews commenced. I spent around 20 minutes with each group where I introduced myself and the purpose of the Review, and asked a series of open questions to gain an understanding of the way CPD worked in practise, the experiences of those involved, and where Even Swindon Primary could make improvements or further expand good practise within the School.
The Teachers and TAs share common motivations to engage with the CPD processes. These are to establish themselves as fully competent professionals, to learn and adapt as teaching techniques and demands changed, and to provide opportunities to expand and grow their careers. The overall aim was clearly stated as being to provide the best possible education to pupils.
I observed a willing and constructive engagement of staff and management towards CPD in order to improve all aspects of teaching and school life. CPD happens formally in the following ways:
- Personnel Management Review (PMR) processes to identify development needs and desires.
- Involvement in research work-groups, which are aligned to the School Improvement Plan.
- Training, both internal and external. This includes the apprenticeship scheme.
- Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) programme.
- Teacher Training Days, which are focussed on new techniques and initiatives.
- Daily (morning) briefings, which provide ‘real-time’ updates on initiatives and opportunities.
- Mentor reviews and peer group feedback.
- Extended on the job experience, such as assignment to temporary leadership roles.
- Direct management advice and support, where needed.
All groups were clear that the School had made some very positive and welcome improvements over recent years in the area of CPD and personnel management in general. Although there are a few areas where further improvements could be made the overriding view was that ‘it is good here!’ and the ethos in practise from top to bottom is for everyone to help and support each other which in turn helps everyone improve. Techniques routinely used are lesson observations and feedback coupled with personal reflection.
The Apprenticeship scheme is currently used to support Training Assistants (TAs) to gain the necessary Level 2 NVQ, and beyond. The scheme involves one evening each week at Swindon College, work based activity to practise and develop evidence of skills acquired, on the job visits from college assessors, and many hours of personal study. This is a significant, albeit necessary, undertaking which I observed to be particularly demanding for those also with family commitments. I was impressed with the commitment shown by the staff in face of the difficulty of keeping so many plates spinning at once. An option which is to be considered for future apprenticeships is to extend the overall period of the NVQ course in order to reduce the intensity of the study work.
The Teachers provided a glowing appraisal of the NQT programme. The programme is run by the Swindon Teaching School (a part of the White Horse Federation) and comprises of teachers from across Swindon who are in their first year of teaching. Over the course of the year they jointly undertake intensive training to ensure they are well prepared for the classroom, and dealing with common teaching pupil and parent issues. Even Swindon Primary was seen to be fully engaged with the programme. The learning gained and relationships formed between peers and with their mentors appeared to be strong and supportive and continues beyond the NQT year.
Ongoing Teachers look to furt
CPD for non teaching staff (catering, IT, etc.) consists of attendance on specialist courses and at select trade events, as well as the mandated training for e.g. child protection and health and safety. The School has plans to review CPD processes and opportunities in non teaching areas, including the further use of apprenticeships.
A key means of obtaining input for CPD is embedded within the PMR process, through capturing gaps in individual skills knowledge or experience, and identifying personal development preferences. There are historical differences between the way PMR is used with Teachers, and those with TAs, and activity is under way to share best practise.
All individuals I met were open, constructive and committed to delivering the best possible teaching at Even Swindon Primary. They all engaged with CPD and understood the synergy between their own development and the overall success of the School.
In summary my main findings from this review were:
- CPD is actively practised andembedded as a way of life within the School.
- There are many examples of successes by individuals and teams gained through engagement with CPD.
- Work is under way to further share and extend initiatives and best practice across all departments and staff.
- The School values of Believe, Achieve, Inspire were in full evidence.
I visited school on Monday 5 December and attended morning assembly for years 4, 5 and 6 which Alison took. The theme was ‘Peace’. Alison asked the children how school in general could be a more peaceful place, the children were asked to discuss with the person next to them and were then asked for their ideas / thoughts. There was good
- her build their knowledge skills and techniques through the range of CPD opportunities available, including gaining experience of working with different year groups, taking on different or additional responsibilities, and in undertaking leadership roles.Training Assistant Apprentices (4 staff; with a spread in level of training and qualification).
engagement and some good answers and ideas were fed back and captured.
They were then asked, could there be a day in the future where there would no more wars in the world. Some hoped one day if could happen.
The children were then told about World Peace Day which occurs on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, specifically to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. A short film was then shown to the children.
I then spent about an hour with Carol Chard, who talked me through her role of giving 1to1 support to children with social and emotional needs. I then observed a meeting she had with one of the children.
Finally on my visit, I spend some time with Sarah Grey and she talked through her role and the social groups she runs. Unfortunately all of the children were watching the nativity play so was unable to see the group in action. Sarah did explain she will be having a new group of children in the new year and suggested a catch up session before half term in February.
I attended the Year 3 Carols by candlelight, which was a lovely evening and I must say the soloists who play instruments on the night were all fantastic.
I also attended the Carol Service at St Augustine’s (years 4, 5 and 6) on Tuesday 12 December which again was a lovely service. I must say, I opted out of doing a reading this time round but all the readers including David did a brilliant job – I can rememb
er from the previous year how nerve-racking it can be to read aloud in front of so many! As always, the children behaved impeccably.
I would say the children had a good understanding of why Peace is so important in school but also that there should be Peace and Harmony across all countries of the World.
We would like to introduce our Governors. This month, meet our Vice Chair of Governors David Corlett.
My name is David Corlett and I have lived in Swindon for the last 11 years. I am the Nightshift Operations Manager at the B&Q Distribution Centre in Stratton and have worked there since 2011. I am married to Tanya and we have 2 sons, Daniel, currently in year 4, and Peter, who subject to placement application approval, will hopefully be starting at Even Swindon in September 2017.
I attended the carol s
ervice today at St. Augustine’s. All of year 4, 5 and 6 attended and we had over 230 pupils, teachers, parents and governors and the church was full to capacity. The pupils waited patiently whilst we rearranged the seating and once all were in place, there was silence. It was an excellent service and several people read out sections of the nativity story, including Mrs Lowe, 2 parents, myself, 2 pupils and Rev Gibbons. The 2 pupils who had a reading in the service gave me a few minutes together with Mrs Lowe, once back at the school. First up was Alex, although he has not had much performing experience previously, I thought he had done a fantastic job and read his words clearly and with confidence. Next up was Olivia, through the conversation she explained that although she has lots of experience in performing, she did not get the chance to do a lot of speaking parts. Her interests surround ballet and dance as a whole and she has been dancing since a very early age and is a very focused individual and knows what she wants.
Although I did not have an opportunity to see the Year 2 nativity play that took place on Tuesday 6th December I managed to meet up with a few of the cast. Macaulay – Joseph, Phoebe – Mary, Max and Sid – Kings. Both of the Kings had really enjoyed the experience even though they had been the only 2 for the evening show, they had clubbed together to prompt each other through the show. They were both very enthusiastic about the performance and when asked if they would like to do more of the same they both said a resounding YES! Then I spoke to Joseph, he had also enjoyed the chance to perform and had, he assured me, remembered all his words. Mary had commented that her role was easy as she only had 2 sentences, however she said that it was difficult as she had to stand centre stage all the way through the show. She told me that she was an excellent singer and had been star of the day for her singing previously. She also mentioned that she had really wanted to be Mary, and as there were 2 pupils who wanted the same role, they had drawn pencils and she had drawn the long one and had been really happy. As a group they were really enthused to be involved and looked forward to the next show and any further chances of performing.
Although this is my first role as a school governor, I have no doubt that working together with such a fantastic team of both teachers and Governors and pupils, we can together push forwards with the school motto ‘BELIEVE, ACHIEVE, INSPIRE’.
As part of the schools learning about British values I participated in two events which demonstrated a working understanding of democracy….
First, a meeting with the school council. The school council is made up of representatives from all Yr 1 – Yr 6 classes. When asked about their selection the children explained that they had been nominated as candidates and that where there had been more candidates than vacancies an election had taken place to elect the representative. Council members represent the opinions of their classes, discuss and debate the issues of the day and draw up appropriate action plans. Votes are taken when required. Council decisions are taken back to classes by their members, announced in school assemblies and appear in the school newsletter. Council members thought the system was fair and that it worked well. It demonstrated good democratic practice, ‘one of the British values we were learning about’.
Oversight is provided by Mr Hicks & Miss Dickson and the council meeting began with a recap of the council decision to support BBC Children in Need by holding a sponsored pyjama day. The main agenda item was the Poppy appeal. Council members were shown a selection of items for sale that had been provided by the Royal British Legion. It was decided that these items would be sold during morning and lunchtime breaks. The council agreed a timetable and list of volunteer salespeople with Yr 1 and Yr 2 pupils working with Yr 3,4 & 5. Council was reminded that the next major task would be the Christmas box appeal and members were reminded that they should report back to their classes and volunteers sought to talk about this in assembly.
The second event I attend
ed was an informal meeting with Jake, the Head Boy; Matilde, the Head Girl; Ethan, the Deputy Head Boy; Celeste, the Deputy Head Girl; and Mrs Lowe. We talked about the process by which these senior leadership positions are filled, as one remarked, ‘it begins with wanting it’ as the process is neither short nor easy. Each applicant writes a letter of application explains why they want the position, shortlisted candidates are interviewed by the Head and Deputy Headteachers, and the outgoing Head Boy and Head Girl; ‘it was tough’ one said.
Responsibilities include helping with Monday and Friday assemblies (personally speaking, I have on more than one occasion appreciated them being there for my Monday morning assembly). They help with school disciplin
e by promoting good behaviour and help run school campaigns by speaking in assemblies and writing articles for the family newsletter. They told me that this term they have spoken on ‘healthy lifestyle tips’ talking about consumption of snacks and sugar and what is a ‘healthy lunch box’.
I was extremely impressed with the confidence shown by all the children during these two visits. They all spoke well and contributed positively to the discussions and activities, and showed a working understanding of democracy.