Newsletter 16 – 16th January 2015

Dear Parents

Water Aid Day Following our Collective Worship theme on “Water of Life”, the children have decided to hold a non-uniform day to try to raise money to buy water pumps for villages where people have to walk miles each day to get water. The pumps cost £15 each and our hope is that we can supply about 10 pumps. So, on Tuesday 10th February, children are invited (if they wish to) to come to school dressed in a “Water themed” outfit – this might simply be blue clothing, or might be a costume depicting something to do with water. Each child who comes to school in non-uniform clothing should bring £1 into school – this will bring the children very close to their target. It is always heart-warming to see the enthusiasm with which the children aim to make our world a better place for those less fortunate than themselves.

Parking and dropping off outside the staff car park We are having complaints again about parents who are stopping and/or parking in Chitham Close in such a way as to cause serious inconvenience to our neighbours and to our staff. We do understand that it is busy in the front of our school at drop off and pick up times, but please be aware that children should not be dropped off at the staff entrance if you are coming in by car. One of our neighbours has had £200 of damage done when a car door was flung open and hit her car during school drop off time. Access for people living in the Close is severely compromised, with people struggling to get out to work (and emergency vehicles would not be able to get in either) and our staff are having to sit in their cars waiting to enter the car park whilst cars of parents are blocking the entrance.  I was shocked to hear that one of our parents was aggressive and confrontational towards one of our elderly neighbours. We ask you very kindly to consider the feelings of those who live in the Close, and of our own staff who are trying to get into work. Please drop children at the front gate, unless you are walking into school. The Chitham Close area is far too small and dangerous a space to be used as a dropping off point.

External Assessments All children at maintained schools in the UK have to take part in external assessments of attainment and progress as part of our accountability to the tax payer and to future generations.

In Y6, the children have to write Maths and English tests that are both set and marked externally. These are very formal tests and we will be doing test preparation towards these over the coming months since the way of working is different to anything our children have experienced up to this point – silent, unassisted and time constrained.

We do not want children to be concerned about these assessments – there is no need for them to be stressed about them, nor for them to do any extra work at home towards them. Once we get into the test week, (week commencing Monday May 11th), the children will enjoy the challenge and other fun things that we do in that week. It is very important that parents do not make children anxious about SATS by worrying about the outcome.   In response to some requests from both parents and children, past papers might be sent home occasionally but we are very clear that there is no requirement or need for children to complete these unless they particularly wish to do so.

In Y2, the “SATS” are not externally marked and are based on teacher assessment of the child over a period of time. There are little checks of slightly more formal assessment that can be used if the teacher wishes.  Our work is moderated both through cluster workshops (with our surrounding schools) and by external moderators from County. The results are reported to the Government and used to judge our school.

In Y1 children are tested on their ability to decode words using phonics. In principle we are opposed to testing of young children and this test in particular makes very little sense since the children will be tested on nonsense words (as well as real words). Many very good readers do not read phonetically anymore (as adults, we rarely read phonetically) and so they may get the nonsense words wrong (if the word is “Kigh” they may read it as “King” since this makes more sense). In addition, at this young age some children, especially boys, have not yet reached a reading readiness and might show up with low scores, but in future as they mature,  they may become  good readers. Nevertheless, we have to comply with the law and will have to test these children in the summer term. Again, we aim to make the process as easy and fun as possible for our children.  All our children do well in all these assessments and this is the main evidence used by Ofsted for our Outstanding grading.

Gardening Club will run from 3pm until 4pm on Mondays from after February half term until October half term. It is free of charge. In Gardening Club the children sow and care for vegetable plants in the raised beds, they also tend flowers and the willow structures around the school.  For safety we limit the total number of children in the club to 12 and have an adult to child ratio of 1:3. We normally ask parents of those attending to help (this involves a DBS check, but you do not need any specialist knowledge).  Children in the Foundation Stage must be accompanied by an adult. If your child would like to join Gardening Club, please complete a slip (available from the school office) and return it by Friday 6th February to the school office.  Children whose parent can help will get priority on places. If we have sufficient helpers and more children who wish to join we will allocate places to those children on a first come-first served basis up to the maximum. My very sincere thanks to Mrs Read for all her work, creativity and enthusiasm for this popular club.

Pantomime – Sherlock Holmes and the Strange Case of Mother Goose will be performed in the Great Cheverell Pavilion on 29th, 30th, 31st January 2015 (Curtain up at 7.45pm). Tickets £5 can be obtained from the Post Office or Martin Walker Estate Agents. All profits go to Wiltshire Air Ambulance and other charities.

Best Wishes

Mercedes Henning

PFA News 

Logo Competition – the children know what they need to do! Entries should be in school by Monday 9th February and the winner will be announced on Friday 13th February.

There will be a second hand uniform sale on the last Friday of the month (Friday 30th January) – please bring any clean uniform which is in good condition that your child has outgrown into school for the sale.

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Permission Slip for Gardening Club 

I give permission for my child to take part in the club on Mondays, commencing Monday 23rd February from 3pm – 4pm. I understand that they will be using a variety of gardening tools and natural materials under the supervision of an adult and that they may be working in slippery conditions. I understand that places are allocated on a first come-first served basis if I am not able to come each week to help.

Child’s name and year group: …………………………………………………..

I am/am not able to come to help (please delete as appropriate)

Signature of parent:…………………………………………………………       Phone number:…………………………………………

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