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.

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.