Biscuits with the Boss

In support of the teachers this week, I have spent quite a lot of time in online meetings. Minimal interaction with the pupils unfortunately, but as I will explain later, I intend to rectify that from next week.

Two hours on Monday were spent putting third year student teachers through mock interviews as they begin searching for their first teaching posts. It is going to be very strange for them as current lockdown restrictions mean that the interviews (in the early stages) will probably be via ‘zoom’. The three candidates who ‘volunteered’ all did very well and had clearly done their homework. I would have appointed all three! I hope they found it valuable; I know I did as this was the first time I had interviewed someone via video call. Should I need to do it for real in the future, I have picked up some valuable feedback.

I have spent a few hours watching DfE webinars on Lateral Flow Tests for school staff. I am now officially the LFT Administrator and LFT Coordinator. I was very disappointed when I found these positions did not come with a badge. The testing of pupils and staff in schools has been in the news a lot this week, particularly in secondary schools where the government have called a halt to the repeated testing of students. The primary school aspect of these tests does not include pupils and is just for staff who would self-administer them at home. You won’t now hear me refer to these tests again in communication home but I thought I would share with you the fact that there are plans to roll these out to primary schools over the coming weeks.

We received the lovely news on Monday that we have retained our Music Mark award for another two years. I am really grateful to Miss McGurk for all her hard work in coordinating the music provision across the school. Not only the lessons the pupils have as part of the curriculum but also the extensive extra-curricular provision. I mentioned Miss McGurk’s incredibly inventive lockdown lesson for the Year 5s last week but I know, like all of us, she can’t wait to get back to teaching pupils face to face again and being able to have choir practices again.

Our Music Mark certificate – Well done Miss McGurk

On Wednesday, my screen time was NAHT based. I had a meeting with the current National Vice President to talk through the Association’s work in Hertfordshire, including the current ‘headaches’ for leaders across the county. One of my key roles at the moment is to provide support for the teaching team. Not that this isn’t important at other times but when staff are having to adapt and teach in a completely different way, with classes of 60 pupils and probably a similar number of parents, they certainly feel the pressure. This is why the supportive and appreciative emails and twitter posts from parents are so important and why all of them are shared.

Thank you to those who have provided me with feedback this week about our home learning provision. You know we are a school which will always reflect upon our practice and there are aspects we are already looking to tweak. There will be a parent questionnaire coming home shortly to gather even more data, as well as one for pupils to complete in school. I think the one piece of feedback I would give parents at this stage would be to remind you of the message I gave at the start of the term which was that learning is layered. Pupils don’t always get things right and fully understood after the first lesson or even the second; it takes time. Usually, parents don’t get to see this level of detail but find out at the termly consultation evenings how successful their child has been. I have no doubt this will still be the case and given time, pupils will make progress.

Once again there have been some amazing examples of work being submitted by pupils across the whole school and across a range of subjects. Teachers take great delight in messaging me, asking me to drop into the (digital) classroom to see the work which has been submitted. I also get direct notifications (around 600 per day) every time work has been submitted or feedback given and so can (and do) take a look at any time.

Year 3 have been doing a lot of work on perimeter in maths. Jude, in the critical worker group, was a whizz at calculating the perimeters of regular quadrilaterals and then later in the week showed similar aptitude for more complex shapes. Pupils have also begun the process of creating their own picture books having finished looking at the class book, Grendel.

In Year 4, one of my highlights was Isla N’s Everest video which explored what you would need if you wanted to climb the mountain. Inayah also highlighted her creative ability by presenting her work in the form of a flick book. I also happened to be near the Year 4 critical worker pod when Liam was reading his extended writing out to the rest of the group and was impressed with what I heard.

Year 5s have been historians, looking at artefacts from the Ancient Greeks. They have been tasked with seeing what can be inferred from the images about what life was like for this civilisation. I look forward to reading some more of their thoughts.

In Year 6, I was impressed with the quality of some of the gothic writing as well as the mood boards and explanations in art. Daya’s mood board was particularly impressive (below) but I also enjoyed listening and reading the justifications and explanations for the images, colours and shapes chosen. Nisa’s video explanation was a particularly good example.

Daya’s impressive mood board

Where I have been impressed, I do try and post on the class feed, a digital Headteacher’s Award for the pupils to print out. If I don’t get to post it but reference it in my feedback, feel free to use image below to share and celebrate with your child.

I’ve been awarding so many of these

I mentioned earlier how my engagement with the pupils has been limited this week due to a series of online meetings. From next week, I will be starting a new initiative called, ‘Biscuits with the Boss’. This is a virtual version of Hot Chocolate Friday which I used to host when the school was fully open. Pupils will receive an invite to join me for an informal chat via Google Meet where they can tell me what they have been doing, what they are enjoying and anything else that comes to mind; it doesn’t even need to be about school! My only request is that they come with a biscuit so we can enjoy some food together! It gives me an excuse to have a biscuit – I’ll get Mrs Cook to order me some nice ones! Three sets of invites have been sent out for next week to the pupils’ Gmail addresses – please do look out for them. I will continue to do this each week whilst we are in lockdown. If your child is desperate to take part, please do let me know – send me an email to consult@ and I’ll do my best to get the invite out sooner rather than later. It is important that pupils don’t worry about these short chats; if they receive an invite and don’t want to take part or can’t, that’s absolutely fine, I won’t be offended.

Look out for the invite and don’t forget your biscuit!

That’s it from me. There is information coming home shortly regarding pupils on the reading scheme which we hope will help families. The letter will also contain information on work submission deadlines based on feedback we have received, as well as the parent survey.

Fingers crossed the weather we have right now (as I look out from my office) stays with us over the weekend. We have had enough rain for a while. If that is the case, we might even be able to get on the field soon.

Have a good weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills
Headteacher

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