As we approach the end of what has been a very challenging academic year, I want to take the time to celebrate the many positives which show the growing strength of Horsmonden Primary Academy.
Primary Years Programme
Back in September, we made a carefully considered, strategic change to our curriculum and are now extremely proud of how it has developed and evolved over the past nine months. We became a Candidate School* for the Primary Years Programme in order to pursue authorisation as an International Baccalaureate World School. If successful, we will be part of an international group of schools that all share a common philosophy – a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education for all children. The Primary Years Programme Framework uses inquiry based learning to help children deepen their understanding of the world, make connections between concepts and develop their own lines of inquiry.
Our journey began in September when the whole staff team embraced the framework and used it to transform their teaching. Thanks to our shared vision of developing inquiring, knowledgeable, caring individuals, combined with teaching an inquiry-based curriculum, children and teachers are now excited by their learning and strive to inquire and work collaboratively at every opportunity. Teachers are taking more risks in the classroom, leading to more purposeful, meaningful and exhilarating learning opportunities for children. Hopefully, you’ve all been keeping an eye on our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/horsmondenprimary/ to see what this looks like in the classroom. If you haven’t already done so, please take a look – there is so much to be celebrated and it allows you to see the PYP in action!
Learner Profile Attributes
As part of us using the PYP Framework, there are 10 key attributes that we are working to develop in all children and staff. These learner profile attributes are: thinker, inquirer, caring, balanced, principled, knowledgeable, reflective, open-minded, risk taker and communicator. We feel that when all of these attributes are developed fully, children and staff will be well rounded learners and have the personal skills required to be successful in their learning.
They will continue to be built on next year and will form part of our Horsmonden Hero Award issued in our celebration assemblies. I am very much looking forward to getting the whole school back together again in the hall for assembly!
Since joining Leigh Academies Trust, we have benefited from support in all areas of school life, some of which are visible and some behind the scenes.
The Estates Team has replaced our leaking roof, re-plumbed the entire site, ensured the school is safe and compliant and has supported us tremendously throughout the pandemic with enhanced cleaning regimes and procedures. All this while keeping on top of the school grounds, making sure everything is well maintained both inside and out. The next area for development is repainting and re-carpeting some of the tired looking areas in school and developing a wild outdoor area for a forest school. As part of the forest school area development, we will be reintroducing a pond to Horsmonden School! I am hopeful that the new area will be ready during the Autumn Term.
The IT Team has replaced our server, improved our WiFi, created a brand new website https://horsmondenprimaryacademy.org.uk/ and furnished us with over 60 Chromebooks for use in the classrooms. Starting in September we will begin the rollout of a further 60 Chromebooks as well as 30 iPads. Having this many devices at our fingertips will help enhance our digital skills and enable children to access technology daily. This is key in our developing world and will help children and staff stay up to date with the latest software, websites and tools for learning.
I appreciate that some of you may never want to hear these words again after two national lockdowns of homeschooling, but we will be using Google Classroom to support our blended learning strategy of a combination of online and face to face learning opportunities. Every child will continue to have access to their virtual Google Classroom where homework will be set by teachers as well as some in class learning tasks. It’s important that children continue to develop their digital skills alongside the more conventional classroom based skills to ensure that they achieve the best outcomes.
Off Site Education
As soon as we were able to, following the easing of national Covid-19 restrictions, we resumed our enhanced programme of off site education. This involved 3 classes going on class trips.
Year 6 took part in 2 outdoor, adventure days at Bewl Water and Go Ape, Bedgebury. Activities included raft building, challenge course, low ropes, outdoor escape room and high ropes challenge course. All of these required the children to be open-minded, communicators, risk-takers and caring: all examples of the learner profile attributes at work. Children were encouraged to give everything a go and challenge themselves to try something new. I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 days out with Year 6, they were a joy to spend time with and they were a credit to the school and their parents. A full description of their days as well as photos can be found on the academy website https://horsmondenprimaryacademy.org.uk/latest-news/
Year 5 enjoyed a day at Kent Life where they took part in a World War II evacuee experience workshop, learning about what it would have been like to be sent away from their family as well as what it was like waiting to be chosen by a family to house them. They had a great time meeting, feeding and stroking some of the animals. They particularly enjoyed meeting Bert and Ernie, two african pygmy goats. All children were impeccably behaved and represented the school brilliantly.
Year 4 had an exciting end to the year by visiting Bedgebury Pinetum yesterday, to support their inquiry into sharing the planet with other species. Here the children were able to see creatures in their natural habitats and learn about ways to preserve all natural environments for future biodiversity. Year 4 benefitted from the hands-on experience of being outside and enjoying the sunshine, whilst having fun learning with their class. The play area was also a big hit at the end of the day. It was a chance to relax and enjoy a treat with their friends.
Pictures from both the Year 4 and Year 5 trips can be viewed on Facebook.
As we look forward to the next academic year, I am hopeful that our full schedule of off-site education will resume, including day trips for all and overnight residentials for the oldest children.
Although I know many parents were disappointed not to be included in this year’s Sports Day, it was lovely to see some of you peering over the fence to catch a glimpse of your little ones racing! All children took part and tried their best in their races. What was lovely to see was the way the older children were cheering on the younger children as well as the way the whole school got behind anyone who stumbled or floundered, giving them the strength they needed to cross the line. It was a fantastic day and featured a real mix of races including the usual running races and relays but also the Year 6 led races such as: dizzy javelin, obstacle race and hurdles.
Even though everyone tried their best and showed their team spirit, there can only be one winner and this year the house that won overall was Farrah (yellow). Well done to everyone in Farrah for your winning performances on the day!
I am absolutely thrilled to be reconnecting with the Horsmonden community once again following a period of keeping our distance and Covid restrictions.
Year 5 have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Horsmonden Community Garden to plant and nurture their seeds. It’s such a lovely space for us all to share and I look forward to continuing and building upon our involvement in the next academic year.
I am thrilled to be contributing to the Horsmonden Parish Magazine to share all of the wonderful things that are happening here at school with the wider Horsmonden community. It’s important for us to celebrate our progress this year, show the village what’s happening in school and how we’re moving forwards and shaping our future.
Starting in September, providing restrictions continue to be lifted on our return to school, I will be encouraging our participation once again in the regular Horsmonden events such as: Harvest, Remembrance, Christmas Carol Service at St Margaret’s, May Day, Summer Festival to name a few. I will hopefully also be able to welcome volunteers back into school and resume our weekly assemblies led by our friends from St Margaret’s.
I want to end by saying thank you to all the parents and staff for their support, hard work and resilience over the last 18 months. It has been such a trying time for us all both personally and professionally. Staff and parents have worked hard together throughout to ensure that the children continue to learn and make progress during 2 periods of schools being closed. This is testament to our shared drive and determination to ensure that we do our best for the children of Horsmonden. Let’s hope that we’re over the worst and that the new academic year 2021-2022 will be a full year in school where we can build on progress made this year with the PYP, Learner Profile Attributes, digital strategy, off-site education, engagement with the community and on top of all that ensure children are happy, safe and having fun while learning.
I hope you all have a lovely summer and I look forward to seeing everyone back on Wednesday 1st September.
*Only schools authorized by the IB Organisation can offer any of its four academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme, or the Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted. For further information about the IB and its programmes, visit www.ibo.org