Great learning, great fun

This past week or so has been full of great learning, some of which I have had the pleasure to experience first hand.  You may be aware that I have been working with the children to develop their writing skills using the Five Sentence Challenge, for younger writers and the 100 word challenge for our older writers.

Both offer a fantastic prompt that the children write in response to, but completely independently and without limits. This provides a wonderful creative opportunity and allows children to become authors. Once again this week I have been delighted by the children’s response and the writing that they have produced. Please do head along to our class blogs from westwoodblogs.org and leave a comment for our brilliant writers. Having an audience for your writing makes such a difference. Here are some children from Clover and Thistle Class explaining what they enjoy about their writing.

Class topics are also engaging the children with fascinating learning as well as visits from sports stars, roman archaeologists and we have even started to think about our songs for Christmas. I do enjoy Term 2 – it is always so magical and a great time to be in school. You can catch up with all of our weekly news via my podcast, Westwood Talk, which I record every weekend as a round up of the week’s events. The latest episode is here for you to listen again.

Term 2 hits the ground running…

Welcome back to another exciting term at our school and, although incredibly busy, it is always so magical and the perfect time to be working in a school. I have started the term by recording another podcast episode to round up the week, as there is always so much taking place at our school. You can listen to that using the player below and if you ever miss any of the podcast episodes, you can head to  http://radio.westwoodwithiford.org/talk-archive.html I do hope that they are useful and informative and please do email me if you have any questions on westwoodtalk@westwoodwithiford.org.

Have a great week everyone!

Term 1 draws to a close…

If you prefer your news and updates in a more auditory form then this may interest you, a brand new podcast that I plan to record regularly to keep you up to date with everything that is happening at our school. Visit radio.westwoodwithiford.org/talk for more information and head to our Soundcloud Page to subscribe to the podcast or download it to listen offline.

If you prefer your news in traditional text then here’s my latest blog post…

As we arrive at the end of our first term together in this academic year, I do feel that it has been incredibly enjoyable, full of fun and with so much exciting learning having taken place.

Our Harvest assembly was, once again, so very well supported and with many, many generous donations from our fantastic community. It is always such a pleasure to lead and to watch the children perform and join in, celebrating one of our main festivals in the year. Once again, our donations have gone straight to Storehouse Foodbank in Trowbridge, who were delighted, so thank you all so much.

You will be aware that we also held a sleepover for Miranda Meldrum, an ex-pupil of ours and resident of Westwood. Miranda very sadly suffered a brain haemorrhage earlier in the year and now suffers from locked-in syndrome. I am absolutely delighted to annouce that we have so far taken over £563 which will go towards much needed support to aid Miranda’s recovery. Thank you all so much.

Recently, the children had a wonderful time dancing to the mixing and top tunes of DJ Stuart at our Autumn disco. It is always such a fun (and quite energetic!) night and makes for a very quiet Friday assembly the morning after! Thank you to everyone who helped to organise it and run it on the night, our fantastic FoWs were on top form as always!

To complete this round up of the term, it has been so wonderful to see so much fantastic learning taking place in all of our classes on a daily basis. There is evidence of the children’s hard work on the walls and also on the class blogs – westwoodblogs.org.  I would encourage you to subscribe to your child’s class blog – just an email address is required – so that you keep up to date with everything that is going on in school. Also, please do leave comments on the blog posts. Creating an audience for the children to showcase their achievements is so important and we are continuing to succeed with this on a wider scale, but your comments are so important to support children in their learning and to inspire them. You can also follow our day to day learning and activities on Twitter. We are @wwischool and a page is now on the school website to help you get started: http://www.westwoodwithiford.org/twitter.html I must also mention that for those of you who like to keep up to date with everything that is happening at our school but enjoy your news in audio form, I have been inspired by our broadcasters and will be starting a brand new Podcast called Westwood Talk. As head teacher I am extremely proud of our school and I am looking forward to sharing this with you, the community and the world. You will find me on radio.westwoodwithiford.org/talk.

So, as we approach the end of Term 1, I am thrilled that our reception children have settled so brilliantly and all of our classes are working so well together. There is, of course, much to look forward to, as Term 2 brings with it the excitement of Christmas, Performances and so much more great learning.

Can I wish you all a wonderful half term and a lovely, restful family time.

Sleepover for Miranda

Last night was a special evening for Westwood school as we held our first sleepover for a very long time but this time it was for an incredibly important reason. The story of Miranda Meldrum, an ex pupil of our school and member of our community, has significantly affected us all and we all agreed that we wanted to do something to raise much needed funds to support her care and recovery and to enable her to have the resources that she needs.

Miranda is a talented singer with an effervescent personality who became very poorly after suffering a brain haemorrhage  in April which has left her with Locked-in Syndrome. We were delighted to hear that Miranda is starting to show progress in her recovery and so it seemed a perfect opportunity to bring everyone together to raise money to help Miranda, with Mrs Hannam and Mrs Tyler orchestrating a brilliantly organised event.

45 beautifully behaved children arrived at school with their overnight things and had a wonderful evening together, with the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities. To begin, we all congregated outside around a Mrs Tyler fire, complete with marshmallows, popcorn and the atmosphere was set. Mr Bennett turned Lotus class into a games room where children could play darts, style hair, play table football and even make pom poms from wool. Or maybe all you wanted was to relax in the converted classroom to dorms for a chat and chill out –  the freedom of the school was ours and by bedtime everyone had enjoyed themselves and settled well, with all of us getting a reasonable amount of sleep!

Breakfast was a sumptuous affair, with cereals, waffles and toast served in the hall and before long it was time to head home and back to our families. I must thank the children as their behaviour really was exemplary. Not that I am surprised as it is what we see every day but even out of school hours everyone got on so well and had a wonderful time.

To the staff too I must give an enormous thank you. Not only for giving up their Friday night and Saturday morning, or for sleeping on the floor (!) but for the way in which they always organise and work so hard to give the children incredible experiences. Mrs Hannam, Mrs Tyler, Mrs Rosier, Mr Bennett, Mrs Wyartt, Mrs Sage, Mrs Bennett and also Mrs Smith, thank you all so much for everything you did to make the evening such a special occasion.

Of course, I recorded our fun with some photos. Not only for us to enjoy, but also for Miranda to enjoy too. We have raised an enormous amount of money, all of which will go straight to supporting Miranda, so from us all we hope that you get well soon.

Science week, maths day and more…

Hello again everyone! I have so much to report back on; it really has been a busy and fun time in school.

Last week we had THE most exciting science week, with the children being given all manner of wonderful opportunities to experiment and investigate with science. With a whole trolley of amazing hands-on science experiments from @Bristol to take into classrooms, along with carefully planned lessons from the teachers, it was a pleasure to wander around school each day, talking to children and listening to them enthuse about their learning. You will probably have heard from your children already about our day with Jules Howard too! Jules is a world renowned zoologist who presents for the BBC and came into school to give our children the most magical day learning about fossils with over 1600 examples of his own to share! Every single person that I have spoken to (adults included!) has said how incredible the day was and the huge amount of new information that they all had learned. Jules captivated every class he worked with and even gave up some time in his busy day to be interviewed by our broadcasters for Westwood Radio. I would like to give a huge thank you to Mrs Tyler who organised, resourced and planned a completely engaging and fascinating week for us all, including lunchtime and after school club experiences. Once again, science week was one to remember!  I would also like to thank the teaching staff for planning wonderful lessons and also the children who were a pleasure to work with. Next year’s science week is already being considered…

This week we have enjoyed another brilliant maths day too, keeping the enjoyment of the curriculum in full momentum. From board games to money work and making videos on place value to even a whole school beetle drive (!), everyone has, once again really immersed themselves in their learning to have a fun and informative day. My thanks to Mr Bennett for his organisation and for leading the beetle drive with such professionalism. What a great session we all had! It is days and weeks like these that bring the curriculum to life so well, making each day such a joy.

Thank you so much to those of you who have taken the time to comment on your children’s work on their class blog, giving them the audience that they so richly deserve for their efforts. I am delighted that our blogs are constantly filled with so much quality content. Please do visit them, subscribe to them and continue to comment. An audience provides the very best inspiration and motivation for the children and a few minutes to leave a comment does make such a difference. To help you with this I have created a page on our website for parents and children to use, including how-to videos, which I hope will help you get started. Please visit http://www.westwoodwithiford.org/blogging which is under the Parent Info tab of our website.  

Please continue to listen to our fabulous broadcasters on Westwood Radio, it really is going from strength to strength. We would love you to join in our shows too, so if you are able, please listen every Friday at 2.30pm and get in touch with the show via email: radio@westwoodwithiford.org, text: 078600 17404 or tweet us on Twitter @wwipradio. You can include #westwoodradio in any tweet, too and we will see it. To listen, you can click on the link on the homepage of our website, press play on the player on our radio website, radio.westwoodwithiford.org or listen via the TuneIn App, so if you are out and about you can still listen in!

Finally a couple of quick mentions. Please don’t forget to join us for Harvest assembly next Friday 13th October in place of celebration assembly. Also, Tea with the Head will return at the end of term on Wednesday 18th October, so do stop by for cake and a chat. It’s always good to see you all.

Have a super weekend

Learning, Blogs and Radio

Another week comes to an end and with so much wonderful learning taking place throughout the school it is so good to see the children engaged and enjoying their brand new topics and the teachers have worked very hard to ensure that the walls are already filled with super work.

As well as the learning in class, children have also been developing new skills out of the classroom and if you see anyone riding their bikes responsibly, safely and sensibly around the village and community, that is because our older children have been learning the skills of the road through their Wiltshire council Bikeability course! Well done to everyone for their fantastic listening skills and for being a credit to our school. Our younger children are also now well equipped to walk out and about in the community, having worked with our Wiltshire Road Safety Officer this week, practising the Green Cross Code to cross roads safely and to look out for cars and vehicles. Well done to everyone for listening so well and don’t forget to show off your new skills and knowledge to your parents! Next week is Science week so look out for photos, reports and excited children who are all learning some really amazing Science throughout the week…

Please don’t forget that next Thursday 28th September from 9.30am – 12pm is our Open Morning and a chance to see the school in action. If you know of anyone who has a child starting school in September 2018 then they are most welcome to come along and talk to us. I would be delighted to show potential new families around and introduce them to our wonderful children and staff.

Another date to look out for is next Friday 29th September when I will be hosting a Coffee (and tea of course!) and cake morning for MacMillan. As you may know, this is a charity that is very close to my heart and, as I have discovered, many other peoples too. The coffee morning will take place straight after celebration assembly in the Meadow and everyone is welcome to join me; it would be lovely to see you and if you are willing to donate any cakes that would be fantastic, thank you so much.

I am delighted that our blogs are up and running again with so much quality content. Please do visit them, subscribe to them and comment on the children’s work. An audience provides the very best inspiration and motivation for the children to aim higher and a few minutes to leave a comment would make such a difference. To help you with this I have created a page on our website for parents and children to use, including how-to videos, which I hope will help you get started. Please visit http://www.westwoodwithiford.org/blogging which is under the Parent Info tab of our website.  

A starting point for reading our blogs is our central landing page at westwoodblogs.org or you can visit our school website and follow the links from the Blogs & Radio drop down menu.  We have become a truly international presence on the web, so feel free to join in the fun!

I am sure you will have noticed how our radio station, Westwood Radio, is going from strength to strength. We think we are the only primary school in the country to broadcast LIVE every week, with high quality shows put together and presented by our talented broadcasters, ranging from Year 3 to Year 6. What we have achieved so far is quite staggering and I am so proud. We would love you to join in our shows though, so if you are able, please listen every Friday at 2.30pm and get in touch with the show via email: radio@westwoodwithiford.org, text: 078600 17404 or tweet us on Twitter @wwipradio. You can include #westwoodradio in any tweet, too and we will see it. To listen, you can click on the link on the homepage of our website, press play on the player on our radio website, radio.westwoodwithiford.org or listen via the TuneIn App, so if you are out and about you can still listen in! We always read out messages from the school community and our listener base is growing by the week. As a school we continue to be as innovative as we can, providing our children with opportunities which, we hope, they will remember for a long time.

I was delighted to welcome back Russell Prue today, an experienced broadcaster who is a top professional in education radio. Russell installed our radio station and trained our children almost a year ago and continues to support our work hugely. He returned today to train our latest group of broadcasters and to take part in our show, so if you weren’t able to catch it, you can always listen again to any of our shows at https://soundcloud.com/westwoodradio. There is a full report and photos over on our Radio Blog.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Supporting creative writing

Last week seems to have flown by and already we are at the beginning of week 3 with a distinctly autumnal chill in the air.

Despite only a week having passed, there is a lot to celebrate and so much great learning is taking place in all classes, with new topics having been introduced to excited children!

One of the areas of learning we are focusing on this year is writing, particularly using creative writing to inspire our children to become authors, using all of the skills that we are using in class every day to write on our class blogs. For this we are using the brilliant 100 word challenge and 5 sentence challenge, which your children may have come home and told you about.  This is a very clever idea which engages children through writing in response to a prompt but gives them complete independence and opportunity to be creative. You can find out more about these learning opportunities at 100wc.net and fivesc.net In addition to helping them to become more confident and expressive writers, children may also be selected for the weekly showcase from hundreds of pieces of writing submitted from around the world!

As an opportunity to develop global links and foster an audience this is wonderful and gives children great confidence and pride to know that their writing is being read by someone from elsewhere in the world. Of course, the audience doesn’t always have to be global and we would LOVE it if parents and members of our community commented on the children’s writing also. If this is something you have not tried before, fear not! Here is a poster explaining some of the terms you may have heard your child discussing (please click on it for a bigger version) and I have also produced a video for parents as a step by step guide to leaving comments on children’s work and it would be great to increase the participation of our community in the work the children are producing on their blogs. I do hope you find these tools useful and I will be holding a blogging evening for parents soon or you are most welcome to come and see me if you need any further assistance.

Good luck and thank you!

Blog- poster