Filed under: Headteacher
67 replies were received, and I am taken aback by the positivity in the responses. I think this is the most positive set of questionnaire responses I have seen; so thank you to all who responded.
The percentages are as follows; where there has been an individual concern raised about which I was unaware, either Mrs. Machin or I shall contact the parent to see how or if we can help. I have made a few comments at the end where a more general reply is merited.
I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate my invitation to any Hey with Zion parent/ carer to come and have tour of the school with me. It is such a huge compliment for a parent to entrust their child to a school, I am very happy indeed to show you around so that you may see how it functions on the inside. If you would like such a tour, please contact Mrs. Hodkinson at reception and she will book a 30 minute appointment for you.
My child is happy to come to school. 99% agreed
My child feels safe at this school. 100%
My child makes good progress at this school. 100%
My child is well looked after at this school. 100%
My child is taught well at this school. 100%
My child received appropriate homework for their age. 99%
This school makes sure its pupils are well behaved. 99%
This school deals effectively with bullying. 99%
This school is well led and managed. 100%
This school responds well to any concerns I raise. 99%
I receive valuable information from the school about my child’s progress. 100%
My child feels safe travelling to school. 97%
Comments about the best things about Hey with Zion included:
“My son comes home a happy boy every day.”
“Fab teaching. Welcoming.”
“Every child is treated as an individual and is helped with their weaknesses and their strengths.”
“Golden code, ethos and values.”
“Children taught and behave well, even outside school.”
“My daughter loves it here.”
“My child feels safe and valued.”
“Children feel happy and want to come to school.”
“The Christian ethos.”
“The community feel. Inclusion. Extra-curricular provision and learning opportunities (non-academic). Quality of teaching provision.”
“The school has a strong ethos of excellence and community. The balance is perfect- strong encouragement for the children to achieve without undue pressure or an over emphasis on grades- I believe the school want children to succeed and achieve their individual potential, and respect all forms of intelligence rather than pure academic.. I am also incredibly encouraged by the increase in extra curricular options for children… I also feel the school is very much committed to the holistic wellbeing of the children and genuinely care about each child in your care.”
“Opportunity to do GCSE Maths.”
“My child enjoys being at school.”
“Children have a very good relationship with and respect for teachers.”
“The atmosphere of giving and kindness from the teachers. I think a great variety of activities is offered.”
“It’s a great school with a very high standard of education.”
“There are some brilliant teachers who really care about the children.”
“They challenge the children and give fantastic opportunities.”
“Whenever you are struggling, with anything, there is always somebody to help you.”
“My child is happy and feels safe. I like the blog and how if a parent comments, you respond and take the comment on board. I like the encouragement of children on the blog, too.”
“I like the prayer song you do before snack time. We always do it at home now.”
“Nice teachers and they’re easy to approach when you have an issue with something.”
“Approachable staff, very friendly. The website, blog and newsletters that keep parents informed. The learning curriculums and homework which is set, always suitable with clear instructions and deadline dates. Links with the church.”
“The staff are very caring towards my child.”
“All members of staff I have spoken to have been very friendly and are easy to approach if I have any issues.”
“Tapestry and the blog are great for keeping parents informed.”
“Friendships made and sustained.”
“Helpfulness from teachers and willingness to listen.”
“The staff and the support they give students. The extra curricular activities available.”
Things parents would like to see improved, and my responses:
Good Work Assembly being difficult for a working mum to attend.
I agree that this must be frustrating (and I appreciate the very understanding tone of the parent who wrote this.) I do want parents to be able to share their children’s joy at their achievements- it is particularly important for a child also to know that their parent has witnessed their achievement. I suggest- and I would very much like parents to comment (perhaps via the comment facility at the foot of this?) as to whether they see this as a good idea- I hold a termly evening good work assembly for parents who have been unable to attend the weekly daytime assembly. Teachers have been asked to publicise via their class blog the names of any children who win “Star Of The Week” or who are up on a Thursday afternoon to show their good work. I shall trial this term having an evening (5.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m.) good work assembly on Thursday 15th December 2016. Parents who wish their children to be included will be asked to inform Mrs Hodkinson of the date when their child was in Thursday’s Good Work Assembly. I cannot make this a weekly event, so Thursday afternoon will remain the more timely moment, but this may go some way to make a child know their achievements are properly recognized. A proper letter outlining the mechanics of how it will work will go out early in November.
Fix The Water Fountain Near Year Four
Yes. Miss Farrar has been trying to do so for a few weeks. We do try to fix rather than replace. The inner valve which releases the water is broken but it is very old and those parts are hard to come by (1978 original school feature). The man in the last shop Miss Farrar tried looked at it with curiosity and said he had not seen such a part for twenty years. If the correct parts cannot be sourced within a couple of weeks we shall buy a full new water fountain.
Class blogs- more detail
A number of parents have commented on improvements in communication from school over the last year or two, and I think the school blog has been very instrumental in this. We are developing this with class blogs and I think parents will see greater consistency in output over the coming year. There have been and still are some technical issues with inputting photographs, which have impeded some teachers through no fault of their own. I know how Tapestry has been very appreciated by Foundation Stage parents, and the idea is that our school blog has the linked purposes of keeping parents informed about whole school events, also about their own child’s education, and via the introduction of the comment facility I am hoping to facilitate an increased dialogue between home and school which also will increase home conversation about school and ideally provide extra reading and writing time for the child. That’s the plan!
The Trim Trail can be muddy
I agree. We have increased supervision of Trim Trail use during playtimes to improve safety; I am aware that the floor surface near the Trim Trail was put down a few years ago and I shall be conducting a health and safety audit of the whole school during the first week after half term. If I thought it was unsafe, the Trim Trail would be shut down, but I do not consider it unsafe. At some stage, the floor will need replacing; how soon it needs to be replaced will be assessed very shortly.
More playground equipment
I do think this is important. I note that so many of the positive comments about school in the questionnaire are not about the very good attainment graphs, but about whether or not the children are happy (which I know leads to good attainment and progress). £150 has been given as a budget for the midday supervisors to spend over the coming weeks, and I shall be asking our governors to come into school one day in November with a specific focus on our school ethos and how the children play is part of that.
For a while we have wanted to improve our playground. Our playtimes are much better since we began to stagger them, reducing crowdedness and we left remarking/ redesigning the playground until the new classroom was finished (15 months ago) then we waited again until the sinking corner was fixed last summer. Now is a good time to sort it out. My own personal inclination is to avoid clutter, but have new markings and possibly something like permanent netball posts at the end of a freshly marked court; but I have asked our school council to come up with their own thoughts. A couple of thousand pounds has been set aside for improving the playground.
The dinner hall is too noisy
It can be, but is certainly better than it used to be now that we stagger lunchtimes. The problem is not poor behaviour at all- it is just what happens when a lot of children are in a room with a hard floor, and I have no intention of imposing silence during meals. For the last months or so, a number of staff have been trying to find time to eat lunch with the children. Below is my blog from 15th October last year in the aftermath of a school dinner inspection, since when the numbers in the hall simultaneously have reduced, and there is increased staff attendance at meal times:
We had an inspection of our school meals on 5th October, by a representative from L.A.C.E. (Lead Association for Catering in Education). He was very complimentary, and I would like to share some of his comments with you:
“The food served is of a high standard… the same can be said of the dining experience.”
“… the pupils stated that the meals were consistently appealing, hot and delicious.”
“All the pupils interviewed confirmed that the service and dining room staff were consistently kind and helpful.”
“Kitchen staff actively encourage pupils to take and try the foods on offer. Both kitchen and dining room staff praise any effort to try new food.”
“Hey with Zion provides the majority of its pupils with a relaxed, sociable dining experience.”
“I found pupils to be exceptionally well supported by the dining room team.”
“This is a high quality service. It is in the interests of both parents and pupils to support us and use it.”
Of course it is not all advertising gloss- he also noted that for the older pupils, it can become a noisy environment: “not a result of rowdy or poor behaviour, simply a consequence of normal conversation by a large number of people within a “hard surface” area.”
I am currently looking into ways of addressing that, and perhaps we may introduce on duty teachers eating lunch with the children. Overwhelmingly, the report was a very pleasing endorsement of our kitchen service and midday supervision team- and of course, as ever, the manner, enthusiasm and positivity of our fabulous children.
I should say that one parent spoke of her child being anxious about one particular meal which she does not like. I do understand that this can become a significant thing for the child and I have asked her teacher to intervene to make sure she is always able to have a warm alternative, not just a sandwich.
Foundation Stage> Key Stage One transition can be quite significant for a child (and parent):
We do have transition days when the children meet their new teacher but I accept that there is perhaps more that needs to be covered, including for example what door the child is to use to enter school. I also take on board the comment that whereas Foundation Stage parents new to school meet the teachers, when there is a new member of staff, it would be appreciated by parents if they could meet that member of staff to whom they are entrusting their most precious asset- their child. This will be arranged next time we appoint any new member of staff; also when the new classes are announced in the summer, I shall arrange an open afternoon where parents may come and meet their new child’s teacher if they wish.
My primary response is that they very much are individualised. I have a personal aversion to computer-generated school reports which can give an appearance of remarkable detail but which are really dressed up banks of statements which some schools draw on from specialised software. I have always written personal comments for children and require teachers at Hey with Zion to do the same. Realistically, given the calculation that a typical summer report contains 1200 words or more, a teacher with a class of 30 will be writing 36000 words (some write more) and stock phrases do tend to come out, particularly in the foundation subjects, and even in English and Maths, there are different children of broadly similar capability all attempting to achieve mastery of the same curriculum, so some overlap in words is understandable and I think excusable. The reports here, though, are not computer generated, they are written by your child’s teacher.
More fundraising should happen:
I am currently happy with our fundraising programme. A couple of years ago parents asked (in a questionnaire response) for more notice of fund raising and each July we now tell parents of the fund raising projects for the year ahead- one a term. Our current list is below and I am content with that as being an appropriate means of fulfilling our mission statement to do the best we can for ourselves and others. If, of course, significant numbers of parents thought differently, I would have to discuss this with governors.
For The Love of Learning- fund raising to continue the education of the children in Gambia whose education we sponsor. This is a commitment we entered two years ago, and if we were to withdraw, it would involve the withdrawal from school of our sponsored pupils.
One fund raising day where each of the different houses will raise money for one of the following:
P.A.C.E. (cerebral palsy)
One fund raising day where the funds raised will be split equally between Cancer Research UK and Dr. Kershaw’s Hospice.
Safety on the roads:
I appreciate very much your comments about traffic on the roads near school. As parents recognise, my authority is minimal beyond the school gates, but school has passed on your concerns to the council. One of the knock on effects of us requesting extra vigilance from the council with regard to traffic around school is that the problem of traffic then relocates to a little further afield: I have had parents commenting to me for example about traffic on Beckett Street. The ideal would be that there were fewer cars coming to and from school. Miss Daley is working with the council on a walk to school initiative where we are incentivising children to walk at least once per week, winning badges if they maintain that for a full month. The first awards will be due out soon after half term. I shall ensure a letter is also sent to parents to make sure it is properly publicised. I know this won’t on its own solve the traffic problem, but it will at least make a small contribution, and the exercise should also have health benefits.
May I thank you all again for your responses. I have said many times that I value your input and I know that we do a lot better for your children with your support. The staff and I know that we don’t always get it right but we love this school and do try to do the best we can for your children. Thanks for your kind words and help!