Author Archives: Mr Rockey

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

Welcome Back!

Hello again and welcome back to another exciting academic year which, I am sure will prove to be just as successful, rewarding and fun as the last four! It is amazing to think that this year I will be going into my fifth year of headship here at Westwood School and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every minute. With a fantastic school community, wonderful children and such dedicated staff, I do feel that we are lucky to be able to work under such pleasant and enjoyable circumstances.

If you are joining our school this year, a very warm welcome to you and thank you for choosing us to look after your most precious gifts of all, your children. We do try our very best to nurture them, support them and develop every single one of their many skills, talents and abilities in the time that they are with us, so I very much look forward to accompanying you on your journey with your child through school life.

I try to write regularly on this blog as I like to think of it as a window into life at our school. There are so many activities and special moments that occur each day, this will, I hope give you an insight into our day to day lives. This may be through photos, text or even audio, so please do check back regularly to see what busy things we have been doing.

In the meantime, I hope that you all had the most wonderful summer and do join me for celebration assembly on Friday when we can all enjoy the achievements of our children.

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.