Happy New Year and Welcome Back

Hello again and welcome back to a brand new year and another new term! Already, in the six days that we have been back Thistle Class have been on a wonderful school trip to We the Curious and everyone has been hard at work in class learning about their brand new topic on World War 2.

This term is particularly short and we have a lot to pack in!  Do keep up to date with what is going on in school through our blogs – they are constantly being updated and provide an excellent window into our world, giving you an insight into the teaching and learning that takes place on a daily basis. We would love to see some of your comments, if you can – it gives the children a wonderful audience for their learning and is a lovely way for us to interact with you in school. Don’t forget we also have a very active school Twitter account @wwischool which we use regularly and I would like to try and use this an an extra line of communication, so please follow us if you are a Twitter user.

This term we will discover the outcome of our school bid for Tesco funding to enhance our outdoor play provision and I shall be excited to be able to report back on that and develop it further in due course. Also this term, please join us for our Ocarina Day assembly which is on Thursday 25th January at 2.30 on the school hall. Children will be performing live in their classes and as a school. With Maths Day and the Bath Forum Dance festival to look forward to as well, this term is already looking VERY exciting!

As before the Christmas break, I am planning to record my weekly electronic newsletter podcast – Westwood Talk. This is a round up of the week’s excitement, news from around the classes and everything that is taking place at our school. You can listen to the latest episode below or head to http://radio.westwoodwithiford.org/talk-archive.html to catch up on any you may have missed. Here’s to another productive and successful term together.

Christmas Celebrations!

What a way to end the term ready for Christmas! Yesterday we spent the most magical morning at St Mary’s church in Westwood where we held one of our favourite events of the season, our Christingle service. We were delighted to be welcomed back by Reverend Joanna to celebrate this very special occasion, with each child having made their own Christingle to light.

After a chilly walk down to the church in the December morning air everyone settled quickly into the warm church, full of history and atmosphere, for a super service which included readings of the story of Christingle from the children and some traditional and favourite Christmas songs played beautifully by Mr King on the church organ. With such superb acoustics, the children wounded just incredible as they filled the church with their singing and we all took a moment to reflect when we lit our Christingles and the church was filled with light.

I managed to record the service for you to listen to, so I hope you do get a sense of the wonderful atmosphere and enjoy our children singing beautifully. Just press play to enjoy and here are some photos of the occasion too.

Today saw the end of a long, busy, yet exciting and productive term, culminating with our traditional Carols around the Tree assembly. I was thrilled to see so many people, who once again had packed themselves into our hall with standing room only!. For a small village school, we are so lucky to have a wonderful community who are incredibly supportive, so thank you so much for coming. With traditional Christmas songs and carols, readings, dance and even live music from all of our talented children, I do hope that you enjoyed the service as much as I did, it was an absolute pleasure to lead it and to enjoy the lead in to Christmas together. My thanks to Dave King for accompanying us on the piano once again and providing the most festive atmosphere. Please have a look at the photos from today’s assembly below.

It was so lovely to share Tea and mince pies with the Head after school with you all too and to see in Christmas together. I am very proud of our school community and it is always such a pleasure to spend time with you all.

All that remains now is for me to thank you all for your tremendous support throughout this term. May I take this opportunity to wish you a restful Christmas, full of fun and enjoyment and I hope that Father Christmas brings you what you have asked for…

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International Christmas Around the World

This week we went global at Westwood with Iford School with an international day focused completely on Christmas around the World. After the success of Clover class link up with Room 104 of Georgetown Elementary school on Wednesday, sharing Christmas traditions and wishes face to face, Thursday was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to learn about how other countries celebrate Christmas.

All of the children throughout the school were put into groups and spent a session together with each teacher learning about how Christmas is celebrated in Germany, Scandinavia, China and Iceland. What was so lovely was that our school family worked so wonderfully together, supporting each other and enjoying the opportunity to work with friends that were both older and younger. The teachers all planned a super day for everyone that was enormous fun and so informative. My huge thanks to the staff for another brilliantly planned day and to the children for their outstanding behaviour and sense of fun. We all agreed this is something we would do again soon!

Here are some photos I was able to take of the children working together on International Day:

The most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas is always such a magical time of the year in school and never more so than when our children from Thistle and Clover class perform their Christmas nativity play.  This year it was a Tale of Two Birthdays, a wonderfully traditional story of Christmas.

Having worked so hard for the past few weeks everyone gave their absolute best and put on a show that was just perfect. The hall was filled with the sound of beautiful singing as the children sang their hearts out, with fantastic performances from everyone and lines delivered superbly, ensuring that every one of us who attended a performance was able to enjoy a fabulous half hour of school production perfection.

I must thank Mrs Hannam, Miss Williams, Mrs Rosier and their teaching assistants for all working so incredibly hard to help the children to be performance ready. It takes a lot of planning and preparation and I am lucky to work with such a wonderful team – all lovely people who work together so brilliantly. Thank you also to our parent community who, once again, supported us and the children so strongly, providing a receptive and grateful audience. It was, as always, so good to have so many people there. Thank you.

Here are the photos I took from this week’s performances:

Christmas begins!

Christmas has now well and truly started at our school with the decorations adorning corridors, classrooms looking colourful and bright and the traditional Advent assembly with just me, the children and a few candles last Friday morning. Magical. It is such a special time of year to work in a school, particularly one where everyone works together so wonderfully well to make each and every occasion just brilliant.

Saturday saw just that, with our amazing Friends of Westwood School, guided by Lee and Gemi putting on yet another showcase event that brought together the entire community and village of Westwood in the most beautiful atmosphere. Having transformed the school on Friday, each area looked so festive and welcoming that it is no wonder people were queueing at the door from 2pm to get in and see the vast array of stalls, crafts  and games on offer. Father Christmas even made a special appearance for the afternoon and set up the perfect grotto in my office. I think I preferred it that way to when I walked in this morning and I might have to change it back!

From racing Santas to the ever popular Tombola, with a widely stocked Christmas Cafe in the meadow to children’s arts, face painting and lucky dip in Thistle class. The children from Orchid class even set up their own stalls again in Clover class, all planned and organised in their own time. Every corner of the school was alive with Christmas joy and it made for such an enjoyable afternoon.

Throughout the fair our fabulous broadcasters also took turns to host a full length Christmas radio show, playing everyone’s favourite songs, children’s wishes for Christmas, interviews and generally had fun taking over the studio for the afternoon! They all did the most amazing job and I am so proud of their ability to keep a show going live on air to the world for that length of time.

Of course, our enormous thanks must go to our brilliant FoWs for their hard work, commitment and dedication to putting on such a super event. I must thank, in particular, Lee and Gemi and also Francesca, who procured some truly stunning prizes for the raffles. Thank you all so very much for your efforts and for giving up so much time to support our school. We raised a staggering £1132 on Saturday and that is just tremendous.

Here are some photos I managed to take of the festivities on the day and also our Christmas Fair radio show to listen again, complete with festive tunes. Enjoy!

Westwood Radio visits BBC Wiltshire

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What a day for our young Westwood Radio broadcasters and for all of us at Westwood with Iford School! We had been invited by the head of station sound to join him in the studio to record some very special voice overs for the festive period that is almost upon us. i can’t say too much at this time but will let you know more as soon as I am able! As you can see, we were all SO excited about visiting a real radio station that broadcasts to 80,000 people a day!

On arrival we were straight into one of the actual radio studios used by the presenters and immediately behind the microphones for everyone to have a go at recording some lines that Nj, the sound engineer, had prepared for us. Without any nerves and with complete professionalism, the children were an immense credit to our school, spending well over an hour recording voice overs for BBC Wiltshire and all with complete and perfect radio etiquette.

With a quick bit of lunch it was then on to a tour of the station and what a wonderful surprise we had. Graham Seaman was live on air with his lunchtime show and invited us to join him live in the studio for a chat. Yes, live to 80,000 people! As I knew and expected, the children conducted themselves as brilliantly and confidently as they do in our studio at school and were so at ease behind the microphone I was immensely proud of all of them. Talia even got to cue up the next song after our interview before we said our huge thanks and goodbyes to Graham and continued with the tour. You can listen again to our radio apperarance at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05l5g56 from 29:01.

With so many excellent questions from the children and a wealth of knowledge shared by Nj, the time raced by and before we knew it, we were back on the bus and listening to the remainder of Graham’s show on our way home.

This was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities for us all and is such a positive reminder of the doors that  education radio broadcasting can open to our children. this was certainly yet another day to be proud of everyone and I thank them for the most wonderful day. I hope you remember it for many years to come.

Here are some photos of our day.

We also recorded a very special podcast of our experience too!

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.