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Newsletter #3 Round-up

The weeks are fairly flying by here at Westwood School and with only two weeks left until half term there is so much to both reflect on and look forward to.

We recently opened our doors to prospective new parents at our school open morning and, once again we were delighted to welcome some new faces to look around school and enjoying seeing our wonderful children at work. Such was its success, we are holding a second open morning in Term 2 on Tuesday 22nd November from 9am-12pm. If you know of anyone who has children starting school next September, please let them know, particularly if they missed the first open morning.

Our children have had many exciting oportunities recently to enhance their learning, both in and out of the classroom. Year 6 marvelled at their day to the Wiltshire festival of engineering and manufacturing where a very hands-on, practical and fascinating day was had by all. So many happy faces returned and with so many free resources packed into their goodie bags, including an LED torch they made themselves! For more on this wonderful day, please visit orchid.westwoodblogs.org and read about the fun they had.

Thistle and Clover class have also had the opportunity to welcome visitors and to go on an off site trip, learning more about the people who help us for their topic. Last week they were lucky enough to be visited by a Paramedic team from Great Western Ambulance Service, complete with fully stocked, all bells and whistles primed, ambulance. A morning of fun learning, great questions and fun in an ambulance ensured that everyone learnt so much from the opportunity. Both classes have also been to Trowbridge Fire Station this week to learn all about the fire service. With the opportunity to  go in a fire engine and work the actual hose, excitement was at very high levels and some real quality learning experienced by all of our children.  Furthermore, next week Thistle and Clover class will be welcoming a Vet and Wiltshire Air Ambulance to talk to them. What a fun term they are having! Thistle.westwoodblogs.org is where you will find some terrific videos of the fire station trip.

Our Friends of Westwood School are back with the same brilliant enthusiasm and commitment to our school, having held their AGM this week. With so many new members and offers of help, I know that this is going to be another fantastic year for fun activities, family and community get togethers and some super fundraising opportunities. My sincere thanks to everyone who continues to support our school in such an amazing way, we really do value your support so much.

I would also like to thank so many of you who came along last Friday to my Tea with the Head for Macmillan Cancer. As always, you were all so generous with your cake and financial donations and we raised a magnificent £61 for a worthwhile cause. This year from two of these events we have raised £125 which will allow more people to benefit from the incredible support that they provide to families. Thank you so much.

Can I please remind you that you are most welcome to join us for our Harvest assembly next Friday at 9.15am in the hall. This will be our usual seasonal celebration, with poems and sings from the children. Can I also please ask that children bring any donations in next Thursday or Friday. These will then be boxed up and delivered to Storehouse, Trowbridge who are always so grateful.

I am very excited to tell you that we now have our radio station in school and we will be broadcasting to the school this Friday for the first time! After a day’s training, our broadcasters are now ready to take over and run the show themselves, so do watch out for their recording, which will be online from Friday night. Our new Westwood Radio website is also now live at radio.westwoodwithiford.org. All of our archived shows, as well as our latest shows are there, along with photos and ways to contact the show. We will be going live to the world in the near future, so please look out for how you can interact with us and listen live at home. This is a wonderful, innovative opportunity for us and  encourages excellent speaking and listening skills and confidence building, whilst establishing strong links with our community through interviews and guests. Every single member of our school community will take part and the facility will allow us to provide fantastic cross curricular learning opportunities too.

Finally, we continue to create a large audience for our children’s brilliant work through the use of our class blogs. So much inspiring writing has been posted recently, along with reports, photos, videos and a real insight into what we are doing here at school. Please visit westwoodblogs.org as a starting point and then browse all of our blogs and their content. Do please also follow us on twitter, either at school @wwischool or our new radio twitter handle is @wwipradio. We are trying to interact, promote and celebrate as much as possible through as many channels and your support and input makes such a difference, so if you have a few minutes, please do leave a comment on some children’s work. It does mean so much to them.

I hope you all have a really lovely weekend.

Time for a round up…

Time is fairly racing by, with only two weeks left of this term. It has been a busy couple of weeks, with a lot of exciting learning taking place and some new and different activities for the children to enjoy.

Last week, the children in Thistle class spent an enthralling morning in the company of James Smith, an ex-head teacher and talented story teller. With the use of instruments, bags of enthusiasm and a great attention span, the children were treated to a morning of stories. Not only were they captivated by James telling them stories, but they also had the opportunity to take part and become immersed in them as well. The sound from the hall as I sat in my office was one of excitement and engagement and certainly a session that sounded fun to be a part of.

This week, Clover class have also had the wonderful experience of listening to Emma Purkiss tell them Greek Myths, again in keeping with their ‘The Stories People Tell’ unit of work from our International Primary Curriculum. With her wealth of knowledge and experience, Emma was able to teach the children all about stories that they possibly would not have heard before. I have been thrilled with the impact that the IPC has had on the children’s learning at our school. The staff have carefully chosen topics that have engaged and inspired the children throughout the year and it has been a pleasure to share the learning with the children and to listen to them talk about it as I walk around the school.

Earlier this week I had first hand evidence of this during a lovely afternoon in Lotus class who, prior to a fabulous visit to the Ashmolean museum yesterday to end their ‘Egypt’ topic, worked hard to share their learning during an entire afternoon of planning, scripting and presenting for the camera. With no research, it was clear to see how much the children had learnt from their topic and they all showed super confidence when talking about their knowledge and understanding of their chosen theme. I have uploaded their video below, do have a look and share the amazing impact that their learning has had on them and if you have a moment, do leave them a comment.

On the subject of blogs, all of our school blogs continue to receive vast numbers of visits. Between them all, we are now topping a combined 15000 visits (and growing, as I type!) My blog alone, which started as a window into life at our wonderful school is now beyond 5000 visits, so thank you if you have been one of them.The use of computing in balance with the core skills of teaching and learning has encouraged all learners to share their thirst for knowledge with a world audience, quite literally through Google Hangouts and Mystery Skype – check out the post below. That audience has also been key for ensuring that children remain inspired and enthused. I would ask that, as a parent community, if you could take some time to subscribe and leave comments on our blogs it would ensure that you know all about the fascinating days in school that the children experience, which are vastly different to how I remember them from my school days and will provide a platform on which to involve you all fully in the day to day life at Westwood.  A starting point is westwoodblogs.org, or follow the links from the school home page. All comments are securely moderated and we love them, so please join in!

I must take a moment to thank our fantastic Friends of Westwood School once again for another great disco. With £133 profit raised and Stuart on the decks with his usual brand of top tunes and enthusiasm to keep the children dancing and spirited, our FoWs ensured that another good night was had by all. Thank you to everyone who helped and took time on the night to look after the children.

I am thrilled to say that, after much investigation and planning, we are now in a position to offer a breakfast club, details of which you will have already received. This is something that has been on our agenda for a long time and I hope that it will provide the service and opportunity that has been requested, adding another string to the Westwood bow, so to speak!

Lastly, thank you for supporting today’s sponsored skip through your donations to the worthwhile cause of the British Heart Foundation, whilst having fun and keeping fit at the same time. I hope that the children all had a super day.

Best wishes for a restful weekend.

The last newsletter of the year!

Well, what a year we have had and I find it truly hard to believe that we have arrived at this, the final edition of our Newsletter for the academic year. My first year as Head teacher of Westwood with Iford School could not have been made more welcoming or enjoyable and I am thankful for such a committed, involved and supportive parent community that we have at our school. I have quickly learnt that Westwood is all about community and working together and I feel that, as a school, we have done that very successfully this year and have moved forward significantly in many ways. Your questionnaires have been well received and will form the basis for our discussions as we move into next year. I believe that any school should always be striving to improve and provide the most engaging and stimulating environment in which children can learn and that its relationship with parents is fundamental to its success.

I have so many thank yous and also some goodbyes to include in this edition, which is always sad. After 11 years, Rachel Heard will be leaving us to undertake the next stage of her professional career, a PGCE. Rachel has given so much to the school, often going above and beyond her role and I am sure that everyone will join me in wishing her all the very best. Rachel will, undoubtedly, make an excellent teacher and will all miss her presence at our school. Thank you, Rachel, for all you have done for us. Rachel has kindly donated a beautiful hand made sign and arch for the entrance to our wild area, a place where she has often spent time with groups of children. I think it is a wonderful way to be able to remember her and we will be able to enjoy it for many years to come. Thank you Rachel, that was so kind of you.

I would also like to thank Phillippa Lowton and Jo Batten, our outgoing chair and secretary of the Friends of Westwood. I know that between them they have given many, many hours to raising funds for the school through a broad spectrum of events, in order for our children to benefit. In my first year I have worked very closely with FoWs and I have seen how committed they all our to giving our children the best, so thank you Philly and Jo for your commitment to our cause! This of course, culminated in the final event last Saturday, when the Friends all joined together to paint our school hall. It looks really super and a lot of hard work clearly went into the day. Thank you to everyone who was involved, we all appreciate your efforts very much.

Finally in our goodbyes, I would like to congratulate our Year 6 leavers, Issy Armstrong, Leah Bennett, Tom Caston, Flo Cooke, Lauren Fear, Sophie Fear, Jasmine Green, Harry Hazell, Alfie Neathey, Thomas Scott, Ekin Seet and Rumi Wijesena, not only for their brilliant success in their SATs this year, but also for the hard work, commitment and personality they have given to our school. We will miss you all and I know that you will go on to become excellent students at St Laurence. Good luck everyone and please come back to see us sometime! Just as a reminder, our leaver’s assembly is next Wednesday 23rd July at 9.15am. Everyone is, of course, welcome. After the success of our induction day, I also know that the rest of our children are now excited about moving up to their new class, or indeed moving year group and staying with their teacher. I would like to wish everyone all the very best as they move forward in their educational journey.

This week we have been thrilled, excited and entertained with Lotus and Orchid classes performances of Pirates of the Curry Bean.  So much hard work, time and commitment has gone into producing these shows and I was incredibly proud of the children and the staff for what they have been able to put together and achieve. We all laughed, clapped, cheered and had such a good time. Thank you everyone!

With entertainment in mind, tomorrow is the Westwood Church Fete, so if you are available, our choir and dancers will be performing at the event. Thank you for giving up some of your Saturday afternoon to perform and represent the school and thank you to Karen Hobson for, once again, organising the choir and dance group.

You may have seen the letter I sent out earlier in the week about a meeting I will be hoolding on Monday 21st July at 6.30pm in the school hall. From September, the children will have the opportunity to develop their digital literacy skills and creative writing through computing and  blogging and Monday’s meeting will be a chance to find out what it is, how we approach it and how you can help at home. It would be lovely to see as many of you there as possible, as blogging offers an excellent window into the learning that takes place at school and you can encourage the children’s writing by being the wider audience. More will be revealed on Monday! If you would like to have a look at our class blogs, they can be found from the school home page by navigating to the School Blogs page or going to www.westwoodwithiford.org/school-blogs. I will be adding videos shortly, explaining how to add comments and how you can take part.

Next week, please look out for a letter about our Westwood Summer Reading Challenge and our Mathletics Challenge. For our reading challenge, the children will all be able to borrow up to 5 books each for the summer holiday and certificates will be awarded for those children who write a review about their book or books, either online, on a blog or written and returned to their teacher. More on this and the mathletics challenge next week. Can I please ask, though, that overdue books are returned asap. There are a number outstanding and if you receive a reminder, could you please bring it back so that others may borrow it. Thank you.

All that remains is for me to say a HUGE thank you to everyone – the staff, children, governors and parents –  for making this year so much fun, so enjoyable and so successful. I am already looking ahead to next year and  wish you all a restful, relaxing and enjoyable family summer together.

 

Another Friday already…

Another two weeks have flown by and with only one newsletter left before we break up for our summer holidays, it gives me time to reflect on what a successful and enjoyable year we have had. Watching the children having such fun, some of them for the last time, at our school disco was a joy and a reminder of how much they have matured and progressed this year. We will certainly miss our Year 6 children very much.

On Tuesday we had our first History day, in recognition of the centenary of the First World War. Each class took a sensitive and age appropriate look at what life was like 100 years ago and I know that the children found this fascinating. Once again, the staff worked hard to make it an engaging experience for them. You also know that it is late in the academic year when we start to welcome our very newest children to school. Over the past few weeks it has been super to welcome our Reception children for September and we look forward to seeing them in school looking smart in their uniform.

You may have noticed that a survey came home recently for school uniform polo shirts. I will be closing this next Friday 11th July so that I can let the parent community know the results well before the end of term in preparation for purchasing for September.

As I write this, I can also hear the Year 5 and 6 children practising for their performance of ‘Pirates of the Curry Bean’, which sounds both hilarious and toe-tapping at the same time. I am really looking forward to the performances, both of which will be on the dates list and website. Don’t miss this musical extravaganza! Today our KS1 and Early Years children have also had the chance to take part in a cluster multi skills festival. We have been lucky, this year, to have had the opportunity to take part in events such as these and I know that the children have benefited so much from the experience.

With dates in mind and this being a particularly busy time of year for all of us, can I make you aware of our Leaver’s Assembly which will be at 9.15am on Wednesday 23rd July in the school hall; a last chance to say goodbye to our fabulous Year children from Westwood school. I will also be holding my last Tea with the Head for this year (plus cake!) in the Meadow on Friday 18th July after school. Please come along for a chat, it is always so good to see you all.

On Monday 14th July we are offering an optional parents evening. This is for parents who feel that they have something to discuss that isn’t addressed in their child’s school report, which you will receive next Friday 11th July. As our end of year reports are so comprehensive, I would hope that they contain all of the information you need to summarise your child’s end of year achievements and progress. However, if you do feel that you have something to discuss that isn’t covered within it, please speak to your child’s class teacher on the morning of Monday 14th July and they will arrange a time to see you that evening between 3.30 and 5pm.

As a school, we have been actively blogging recently. I have worked with all of KS2 and I will be working with KS1 next week. Blogging is an excellent way to develop literacy skills and to have your writing read by a wider audience. I would ask you to take a look at the children’s work and to leave a comment, if you have time, as there is nothing like response to writing to boost a child’s confidence. You can find their amazing work at westwoodlotusclass.schoolblogs.org and westwoodorchidclass.schoolblogs.org. Please have a look and encourage your child to comment on their friend’s work. We have already had a visit from some teachers in America!

Can I wish you all a very pleasant weekend.

 

Another week gone by…

Here we are again at the end of yet another week. My apologies for the lack of postings this week, it has been incredibly busy in school and I haven’t had time to blog my way through the week! Yesterday we all enjoyed Clover class assembly with a lot of hard work from the children to share their learning. Then, last night, we all had the chance to dance to some well chosen tunes from Stuart at the disco, which, as always, was a lot of fun.  So here is my latest newsletter piece. I do hope you all have a lovely weekend. Don’t forget next week is Sport Relief – I’ve dusted down my headband and runnign sockas already…

Newsletter No. 13

After a very busy couple of weeks in school it seems no time at all since I was writing to you last and already we are halfway through this short term.

Recently we have been treated to a series of class assemblies, with clear evidence of how committed the children have been to their learning in their respective classes and, more importantly, how much they have been enjoying it. I have also very much enjoyed spending  more  time teaching in classes recently and have experienced first hand the children’s desire to challenge themselves and develop their knowledge, skills and understanding.

With this in mind, we are always looking to maximise the children’s potential and to give them the best possible opportunities. I would ask that, during the course of the week and if you don’t already, you could spend some time supporting your child’s learning at home. Not only will this encourage them to work independently, but it can make a huge difference to their development. By reading with them at least three times a week and spending a few minutes each day to focus on their homework, you will be supporting the teaching and learning that the children are experiencing in school each day. If you have any questions or would like any guidance, please do not hesitate to put a note in your child’s HASP book.

Our school library is well on the way to being ready for use by the community. Books are being catalogued on a daily basis and once this is complete, your child will be issued with a lending card to enable them to borrow from the full range of fiction and non-fiction books in our library. I am very excited by this and will of course write to you with opening times and procedures for borrowing books when we are at that stage. This is all, of course, possible thanks to the hard work and fundraising efforts of our Friends of Westwood School, who have kindly donated the funds to enable us to computerise our books stock and to purchase further books to offer the children an exciting and engaging range of books. The school council will be bringing ideas discussed in their classes for books to buy for our library to our next council meeting. Watch this space!

Can I also mention attendance in this issue of the newsletter. Whilst I fully understand that illness can never be helped, can I stress the importance of your child attending school at all other times. The government minimum expectation is for all children to have a 95% attendance rate. Currently, this has risen to 28% of children in the school who are below this threshold and we really need to improve. Your child will learn most effectively if they are in school every day.

A small reminder for before and after school supervision of your children please! As a small school we are not able to spend time in the mornings on the playground and the staff are always busy preparing for an exciting day in the classroom. Therefore, can you please ensure that your children are supervised before and after school, when we have seen them out and whilst they are on the school site, as their safety is always paramount.

Two upcoming dates for your diary are Mother’s Monday on Monday 31st March and our Easter Assembly on Friday 4th April at 9.10am. More information will follow for both of these events next week in a separate letter, but if you would like to plan ahead, Mother’s Monday will be an open invite for mums and significant females in our school community to join your children for as little or as much of the day’s learning as you would like to; you are also very welcome to stay for lunch!

Finally, I am so pleased that our school meals have been such a success. With more children taking them up each week and having sampled them myself, they are a welcome addition to our school day. If you would like your child to have a hot meal, please enquire at the office.

Have a lovely weekend everyone

 

And here is the news…

It’s newsletter time again and i thought I’d post my latest piece in case you haven’t had the chance to read it yet and you find yourself here.  I can’t believe it’s the end of the first week again already, but with another great celebration assembly this morning you know it must be nearly the weekend. Well done to those children who were rewarded for their hard work and to everyone who has come back with the same level of commitment and determination to be the best learner they can be. I’m looking forward to this term.

Newsletter No. 12

Welcome back to the second half of our Spring term and I am pleased to say this it does feel a little more Spring like than of late. I do hope that you all had a very pleasant half term with your children.

We are straight back into exciting topics and learning opportunities with the children. Already this week, Lotus class and Orchid class have visited Trowbridge to listen to Michelle Paver; an author; talk and inspire them with their reading and writing. Also this week, Thistle and Clover class have been on a school visit to learn more about their dinosaur topic, which was VERY exciting. Not only that, we have already had an informative and well presented class assembly and we’ve only been back for five days!

Now that we have school meals back at Westwood, they have been very well received with clean plates and happy children. A range of tasty dinners and desserts has meant that our numbers are healthy and lunchtimes have been a sociable occasion, which is something I always looked to do when I arrived, so I am thrilled that it is working so well. Don’t forget, if you would like your child to have a hot dinner, please can you ensure that your order arrives with the office by the Thursday before the week you would like to order them. Thank you.

Can I also say thank you for responding so positively to the letter I wrote before half term about the HASP books in your child’s reading folder. It makes a difference to our time in the mornings if you can leave a note in the HASP book for issues which aren’t urgent, in which case, of course, you are very welcome to talk to myself or the teachers if you feel that it is something we need to know immediately. However, I would hope that most items can be detailed in the HASP books for teachers to respond to, which of course they will.

As a staff we have focused a lot of our time on talking about ways in which we can encourage the children to develop their reading and writing skills, in school, but also at home. Over the next couple of terms we will be concentrating heavily on reading and writing within school and I will be arranging parent meetings to discuss ways in which you can support your child at home, as I believe that an effective home and school partnership will give our children the best possible chance to maximise their potential. In the first instance, can I ask that, where possible, you set some time aside to sit and read with your child, preferably at least three times a week and to use the reading log to record your experiences. Your child will also bring home their homework and they would benefit greatly from some time with you to support them with their writing. By working with your child in this way, you will be both supporting the learning that takes place every day and modelling the fact that learning is fun! Thank you for your continued support.

With this in mind, please remember that Read for my School: http://www.readformyschool.co.uk/ is still going for KS2 children. This is an ideal opportunity to sign up, read free new books and even write a review if they were particularly enjoyable. For the younger (and older) readers, can I also suggest Oxford Owl: http://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/reading-owl/find-a-book/library-page. Both are great online resources.

I hope you have a lovely  term and please keep checking the website for up to date events that will be taking place. We will also continue to communicate with you regularly and we always welcome feedback so that we can improve as a school.