Leaver’s Assembly

I don’t normally post in the school holidays but I thought you may like to look over the photos I took of our leavers assembly in the last week of term. My apologies for the delay. For those of you who are moving onto pastures new, good luck and we all wish you every success in your new school.

Thank you all for another really wonderful year and I will look forward to doing it all again in September. In them meantime, here are the memories of an emotional day in which we said goodbye to some very special friends…

Exciting writing!

At the beginning of this year we had the pleasure and inspiration of a visit from Julia Skinner, creator of the 100 word and 5 sentence challenges. I have followed Julia on Twitter for a number of years now and have used her writing strategies in class, both in my time as a teacher and still now when I work in class with our fabulous children. After a day with Julia visiting each class, every member of staff has used her strategies this year to enhance their teaching and to give the children the opportunity to be the best writers they can possibly be.

What has always been so apparent is that given a creative, inspiring or thought provoking prompt, children will take their writing to places that we may not normally experience. You see, the 100 word challenge and 5 sentence challenge have no boundaries. No limitations. The children are given a prompt, be it a picture or a few words and they can write descriptively with passion, focusing solely on the one stimulus, giving it their very own spin. This, I have found for children, is liberating and allows them to be completely free in their writing, producing top quality content that they are proud of.

Then of course you add in the power of the blog and children’s writing is taken to a whole new level as suddenly they experience an audience for their work. An international audience of educators, children and peers from around the globe who are all interested in what they have written, complementing them on their writing and even suggesting ways to improve through comments on their blog posts. For our children this has been so empowering and so exciting, to know that somewhere, someone has enjoyed what they have produced and has taken the time to say so. Of course, teh children have also been able to comment on each other’s writing and that of other children around the worl on their blogs and so we have started to develop a network of opportunity that inspires, motivates and engages children to write for a purpose.

I am incredibly proud of what our children have produced this year. Some have even made it to the prestigious showcase – picked by teachers from hundreds of entries as some of the best. A fantastic achievement. Having had such a successful first year working with the challenges, I am very excited for next year as we will be using 5 sentence and 100 word challenges extensively to inspire children to be the best they can possibly be in their writing, harnessing that creativity, whilst at the same time enhancing the harder to learn areas such as grammar, punctuation and spelling. I am delighted to be collaborating with Julia to produce a scheme of work over the summer that will enable us to do just this and will look forward to teaching it in the new academic year.

In the meantime, here are some of those that really matter, our amazing children, talking about what they have enjoyed this year about the 5 sentence challenge and 100 word challenge. If you would like to have a look for yourself, visit https://fivesc.net or https://100wc.net. It really is a fantastic idea that has produced some outstanding writing from our children this year and I am so grateful to Julia for her inspiration.

Summer Fair 2017

It’s been a very busy time of things lately, hence my lack of posts. However, I just had to write about our Summer Fair, which took place yesterday, Saturday 7th July and what an afternoon we had!

With stunning weather, many of our wonderful FoWs were on site at school early to transform our field into a brilliant village school fair that was full of activities for everyone to enjoy, so that from 2pm , it was difficult for the visiting community to know where to begin!

Our summer fair had everything – the ever popular silent auction and raffle, both full of the most incredible prizes donated and sourced by our FoWs. Or maybe the Tombola was more your stall of choice, which clearly it must have been, as by 4pm it had been cleared out and a huge success once again! Around the field we had refreshments, ice creams, Mrs Tyler getting soaked in the stocks, beauty treatments, a craft stall, chances to win prizes, hook a duck, children applying fun tattoos, cake decorating, children’s craft making and even a crockery smash. That’s all before you add in our fantastic bouncy castles, which were busy all afternoon long, and static displays from our fire service and a classic car.

The arena made a welcome return, providing live entertainment all afternoon from our extremely talented children. With a performance from Orchid class of their superb routine that they performed at the Bath Forum and also two dances from Westwood Dance Club, everyone was able to marvel at the talent of our wonderful children. I must thank Karen Hobson for organising these and also for hosting another fantastic tug of war, which again provided superb entertainment and a lot of fun.

We also saw the return of our Westwood with Iford School country dancing group. Children from Reception to Year 5 took part in four technically tricky dances but performed them with outstanding energy and it was a joy to see. Then later in the afternoon our older children danced their maypole routines and were just brilliant. I could not have been more proud of all of our children, they really were a credit to our school and I thank them all for their efforts yesterday.

By 5pm everyone the afternoon was drawing to a close with the best time had by all. So much fun and laughter had filled our school field, with many, many people enjoying themselves and I was incredibly proud that the school had been the focal point of yet another, very special community event.  Of course, these events take an incredible amount of organisation and I must say an enormous thank you to Lee and Gemi Davies, who have masterminded the event, ensuring stalls were staffed, activities took place and that it all ran as smoothly as it did. Also to Tony Down and ALL of our magnificent Friends of Westwood School who have given their time, energy and commitment, making the event the spectacular success that it was, with so much money raised for the school. I am not sure yet of the exact final figure, but it is a LOT and I will report back when I know more. I am so grateful and appreciative to you all for all that you do for our school and for our children, providing them with resources and experiences that enrich their lives. We are very lucky to have you and it has shown, once again, that the school and village community of Westwood really is an amazing place to work.

Have a well deserved rest today everyone. Here are some photos of the afternoon:

A visit from a real poet!

Today we were all treated to a day of inspiring and engaging writing as James Carter, a professional poet and writer visited our school for the day and what a fantastic opportunity it was! Working in every class to develop the children’s poetry skills, language and creative writing, James spent time focusing on the use of detailed, immersive vocabulary and brought the very best out of each of our wonderful children, who were all so enthused by his presence in the classroom. Bringing tremendous energy and the perfect approach to bring the best from our children, everyone had a brilliant day and we closed our experience with James leading a super assembly for the school and parents, who took time to join us for the end of the day. Our thanks to James for giving us such a fantastic day and to Mrs Hannam for organising another wonderful Westwood experience.

James kindly agreed to be interviewed for Westwood Radio and you can listen to the full interview here, as well as on the live show on Friday afternoon. Plus, I just had to take some photos of our children performing their poems that they had worked so hard to write. Well done everyone!

James’ website is www.jamecarterpoet.co.uk where you can read his fantastic poems and find out more of how he inspires others.

Father’s Friday 2017

What a wonderful day we had on Friday! After the enormous success and delight of Mother’s Monday earlier in the year we welcomed our dads, grandads, uncles and special male members of our family into school on Friday to share the children’s learning and to taker part in another fun day at Westwood School for our annual, and ever popular, Father’s Friday.

Beginning with one of the most packed celebration assemblies I think I’ve ever seen, it was a real pleasure to be able to share many successes with so many parents and friends of the school. Then, as always, our visitors were invited to go into class to sit with their children to find out what a day at school involves. It was super to see everyone taking a full part in the learning, supporting their children, playing football and running around the field at playtime and even joining us for lunch in the hall.  So many dads and members of our school community were so generous in giving up their time to join us, I cannot thank you all enough for making the day so special.

For those children who are broadcasters and had their dads in school, 2.30pm was an opportunity to take them into the studio to take part in our live broadcast. A brilliant time was had by all – so much fun and even an interview with our visitors live on air made for the sort of afternoon that makes working in a school such a delight. You can listen again to the show here. I highly recommend it!

Also, here are some images that captured a wonderful day. Thank you everyone for coming.

A great first week

Here we are already at the end of our first week back into the new and final term of the year. It seems hard to believe that the calendar says June already and we will soon be saying goodbye to some dear friends in Year 6.

However, this week has got the term off to a flying start. Firstly though, I must thank and congratulate the wonderful organisers of the Westwood Scarecrow Trail who all worked tirelessly to put together the most fantastic event during half term.  People came from far and wide to take part and with 595 maps sold, the trail had its biggest turnout ever. With a pop up cafe running for two days over the bank holiday too, the funds raised from the event amount to a completely staggering £2133, which will be shared between Westwood nursery and our school. Thank you all so much for coming tot take part and an enormous thank you from us all to everyone who helped to organise such a brilliant event.

In school, or rather out of school, Orchid class have enjoyed a fascinating trip to the Royal Mint this week. They were able to see how coins were struck and even had their photograph taken standing next to £1,000,000! It was lovely to hear about their experience and they were all buzzing! Clover class, too have been learning off site, with a visit to Downside Nursery, the entry point for their new topic on plants. They loved the experience and chose and brought back some plants which have now been potted and look beautiful! Throughout the school there has been some fabulous learning taking place and I have even had the pleasure to teach all of our children this week and see it first hand. With Father’s Friday and International day, as well as the Orchid £5 challenge to look forward to next week, our term will just keep getting better and better, with so much to look forward to.

If you are able, please tune into a very special Westwood Radio show on Monday. Our broadcasters have been personally invited to collaborate on a live radio show with Russell Prue from the West of England ICT Conference in Bristol. The show will focus on online safety and we are on air from 1.30pm. You can listen in all the usual places, including a link from our website, westwoodwithiford.org and using our player on radio.westwoodwithiford.org. Please text and email in for a shout out as it is going to be such an exciting day!

Scarecrow Trail 2017

For the last few weeks on Westwood Radio we have been advertising this year’s Scarecrow Trail and the children even had the opportunity to interview Lilly Webb and Bryony Green, which we included in one of our live shows:

What we have been learning is that, once again this year, the Scarecrow Trail committee have worked incredibly hard to put together another fantastic event. Well, today I got to experience it first hand again as, along with my family, we all decided to make the most of a very pleasant afternoon and head for Westwood to have a go. After last year’s trail we were all excited as the quality and challenge of the scarecrows was high and a huge amount of fun to  guess. Plus this year we decided to get involved and make a scarecrow of our own, but no clues as to which one!!

After the obligatory ice cream and maps purchase from the village shop we were off and running with a couple of quick scarecrows in the bag. Again, the signposting from the scarecrow team was superb with clear numbering and a range of truly fantastic scarecrows to make up the family film theme. Plus, the entries allowed something for everyone to guess – from 5 years old to 65 years old and made for an extremely pleasant walk through the beautiful village of Westwood, taking in some breathtaking countryside and meeting so many lovely people. The scarecrow team had established a pop-up cafe in the park next to the nursery too, so a stop off there for a drink, cake and a chat whilst we guessed our next scarecrow made for a lovely addition to our stroll.

After just under three hours we were finished with map submitted and a thoroughly enjoyable and wonderful family afternoon of fun in Westwood Village. Huge thanks to the entire scarecrow team for another fantastic trail and wonderfully organised event. With over 100 maps sold in just one day, this looks to be a busy week ahead and rightly so as so much work from the scarecrow team and the scarecrow builders has gone into making the event such a well established success and one which many people will hopefully come to Westwood to take part in. Looking forward to next year’s already!

Without spoilers, here are a couple of views you may see along the way…

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