The new term and new year has started well with new members of staff and new children all settling in well. The ethos of the school shines through helping new additions to the Horsmonden family to feel at home and part of the team.
Since September, I have welcomed 20 new children to Horsmonden and walking round the classrooms it’s as though they’ve always been here. Behaviour for learning is a key strength of the school meaning our clear expectations of behaviour and attitudes towards learning are noticed by newcomers straight away. This does not happen by accident. We all work hard to ensure behaviour in school is the best it can be and any exceptions to this are dealt with swiftly.
In my last update I mentioned that one of the key strengths identified by many parents through the Christmas Coffee Morning ‘2 stars and a wish’ was our ethos. Parents commented on the welcoming, family, nurturing feel of the school as a whole. This is something every visitor also comments on, so our ethos is clearly a selling point of the school and is evident in everything we do here. In addition to this, relationships between staff and children were highlighted as a strength.
Without our strong ethos, behaviour for learning would not be as strong as it is and I am pleased that this area of strength is noticed by staff, parents and visitors alike.
Christmas Coffee Morning ‘Wishes’ Feedback
Below is a summary of parent wishes and action we’re taking:
As mentioned in my last update, feedback from parents was that the class newsletters are not as informative as we thought nor do they provide timely updates. After talking to teachers, we are going to change the way we keep parents up to date with class information. Arriving soon will be individual class whiteboards for teachers to give a weekly update regarding subjects covered in class as well as any notices for the week. Parents can view the whiteboard when dropping off and a photo can easily be shared by class reps to keep everyone in the loop.
I am aware that our full offer of educational visits has not resumed to pre covid levels. So far, the following trips are planned or have already taken place:
Year 2 – Horsmonden village walk
Year 3 – Trip to Thakeman building site
Year 4 – Trip to Temper Temper and local village walk
Year 3 and 4 joint trip – British Museum
Year 5 – Adventurous activity day at Bewl Water
Year 6 – Residential trip to PGL Windmill Hill
Having said that, I agree that we can do better and offer children more out of school educational experiences. By the end of the academic year, every class will have been on at least one trip, but hopefully 2.
So far this year, Years 3 and 4 have both used the Forest School with Year 1 and 2 planning to use it over the next two terms. This will leave the Summer terms free for Reception, Year 5 and Year 6 Forest School.
As mentioned in my last update, one of the projects starting soon is the redevelopment of the old swimming pool. Once this has been cleared, made safe and redesigned, it will become an allotment area, adding to our provision of outdoor learning.
Assessments of children’s learning
All children are assessed through an ongoing process as part of routine classroom practice in all subjects. Assessment of a child’s ability in specific subjects is measured in a variety of ways including: questioning, written work, discussion, tests and assessment activities. Teachers are responsible for assessing the children in their class to ensure all children make progress from their starting points.
At the Parent Consultation meetings in November, your child’s class teacher will have told you whether your child is at the level expected for the year, above or below. This is to ensure that you understand how well your child is doing and how best to support or extend them at home.
There are 3 formal occasions when we communicate this information with you: Parent Consultations in November and March, as well as end of year reports.
Having said this, if at any point you are concerned about how well your child is progressing, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s class teacher. Following this, and only if necessary, an appointment may be made with our SENCo, Mrs Kerr. If further information is needed after this meeting, Mrs Kerr would then arrange for assessments to be carried out by the relevant people.
Reading and phonics
Children read daily in school as part of their phonics/spelling lessons and/or comprehension lessons. It is vital that children read a range of texts, not just their school reading book. Teachers hear children read as part of daily lessons, but may not hear them read their home reading book as often. Their reading progress is tracked by teachers through assessing their understanding of comprehension, inference and ability to decode new words. These skills cannot be assessed by a child reading their home reader alone. The skills of reading the words in their book need to be assessed alongside their reading in lessons and their ability to understand and infer meaning from reading a text.
We rely on parents reading regularly at home to support their child in decoding new words while teachers focus mainly on stretching their decoding skills and reading for meaning and inference.
I acknowledge that we could do more to promote a passion for reading and work on that has already started with the introduction of the Christmas Reading Challenge. Further challenges/incentives are in the pipeline and will be communicated with parents soon.
A great suggestion from a couple of parents was about us holding parent workshops to help parents understand the curriculum, key terminology and resources used in school. I will take this on board and write with further information about upcoming workshops in due course.
Thank you to all the parents who shared their wishes with me either in person or through their class rep. I am committed to making Horsmonden Primary Academy the best it can be for your children and I always value your feedback.
Parent Partnership Afternoon and Coffee Morning
Our next Parent Partnership Afternoon will be on Tuesday 7th February between 1:30pm and 3:00pm. This will give parents an opportunity to see their child’s work and find out more about their learning this term. Rather than having a separate coffee morning this term, Mrs Mcleish and I will be available in the school hall to speak to should you wish to ask any questions or make any comments about anything related to your child’s time at Horsmonden.
Please see below for diary dates
Monday 23rd January
Year 6 Bake Sale (after school) in aid of their legacy project
Tuesday 7th February
Parent Partnership Afternoon, drop in 1:30-3pm
Wednesday 8th February
FoHPS Valentines Disco, 3:20-5pm
Thursday 9th February
End of term 3 for children
Friday 10th February
Inset day for staff
Monday 20th February
Start of term 4
Friday 10th March
FoHPS Break the Rules Day
Monday 13th March
Friday 17th March
Fabulous Females Afternoon, drop in between 1:30-3pm
Friday 31st March
FoHPS Easter Egg Hunt
End of term 4
Monday 17th April
Inset day for staff
Tuesday 18th April
Start of term 5 for children
Monday 1st May
Bank holiday – school closed
Friday 26th May
End of term 5
Monday 5th June
Start of term 6
Friday 9th – 16th June
Year 6 Bikeability
Saturday 10th June
FoHPS Summer Fair, 12-4pm
Friday 16th June
Marvellous Males Afternoon, drop in between 1:30-3pm
Monday 19th – 23rd June
Year 6 residential – PGL
Thursday 29th June
Year 5 activity day at Bewl Water
Wednesday 12th July
FoHPS end of year disco, 3:30-5pm
Friday 21st July
End of term 6