Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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.

Thistle and Clover Class get dramatic!

This morning Thistle and Clover class have been enjoying some drama during their learning time. Faye visited us to work with both classes and a huge amount of fun was had by everyone as they pretended to be a variety of characters, exploring their creative skills.

Here are some photos of the children having a fantastic time. Do please ask them what they were enjoying!:

Westwood Radio visits the BBC

This week I had to get a blog post down as it has been incredibly exciting for us in school. On Monday our incredible broadcasting team we’re invited to visit BBC Wiltshire and to take part live in Marie Lennon’s morning show, which was just brilliant!

Emma Colman, who works for the Marie Lennon show on BBC Wiltshire 9am – 12pm weekdays, learned of our children’s success with their radio broadcasting and visited us in October to interview some of the children. Emma was even interviewed for one of their shows whilst she was here! Having had their piece played out live on air following Emma’s visit, the children were then invited to the BBC Wiltshire studios in Swindon on Monday where they took part in a live show with Marie, explaining what they enjoy about their radio station and how they are able to connect with their audience in the community and beyond. Of course, we all had to ask how Marie plays the jingles and fades the microphones in to see how it compared with our studio back at school. What was fascinating to watch was how the children were so engaged and interested in the technicalities and running of a professional radio station and Emma and Marie were just so lovely, answering all of our questions and making us so welcome.

Showing the same level of confidence, respect and professionalism that they do every week on air, the children were superb and a real credit to the school. They also got to meet some of the other presenters and the brilliant team behind every BBC Wiltshire programme. It was certainly an experience and a day to remember for our budding presenters and our huge thanks to Emma, Marie and the team at BBC Wiltshire for giving us such a wonderful day.

Here are some photos and clips of our magical day:

Another reason to feel proud

No doubt that you will have seen in the news and on social media this week that the organisation of the SATs from the highest level has been less than what we may have hoped!

In school however, the atmosphere, planning, preparation and commitment from everyone has been superb. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Mrs Tyler and Mrs Robertson for their compassion and for ensuring that, in a time of some uncertainty and potential stress, the children were as happy and positive as ever. With a wonderful breakfast club to come in to every morning, plenty of upbeat tunes to listen to and their friends around them, the children were given every opportunity to take this week as it came. This is, of course, how it should be.  Their commitment was, of course, outstanding. Their smiles, ever prevalent. Their attitude, exemplary.

Well done everyone for a really great week, I could not be more proud of you all and I know that every single person will have given their absolute best, as that is how you all are. Now, please, have some fun…

 

A great start to the term!

It’s been such a busy start to the term that I haven’t been able to sit down and write about it! With so much great learning taking place throughout the school and children engaged and excited, it is lovely to see them being so enthusiastic.

Already in Thistle and Clover Class there have been celebrations of Chinese New Year, culminating in a wonderful dragon dance, which all of the children enjoyed taking part in. If you would like to see for yourself, you can, it’s here: http://clover.westwoodblogs.org/chinese-new-year/. Now we have classroom learning environments adorned with red and gold and it all looks fantastic!

In Lotus class and Orchid class, new IPC topics have been the focus for attention, with lots of excitement around the entry points. Entry points are the ‘WOW’ moment to introduce a brand new topic, without letting the children know what they will be learning. We have found that this approach engages them very quickly and hooks their interest, resulting in a very rich and valuable educational experience. Lotus class this term are learning all about Egypt – you can see their entry point, as well as a lot of brilliant writing and even some French, on their blog: lotus.westwoodblogs.org. Orchid class will be focusing on a unit of work called ‘Switched on’. This will involve looking at how things work and experimenting with their own ideas. Their first impressions, as well as some super diary entries and much more can be found at their blog: orchid.westwoodblogs.org.

With World Book Day this Thursday, everyone is looking to find that magical costume to wear of their favourite character. Don’t forget to bring the book it is from as well. I am sure the teachers will want to share some of the stories throughout the day! Let’s hope the good weather continues for our cyclists too, although that may be too much to ask…