Parent questionnaire results and response
October 24, 2016, 3:35 pm
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.”

“Playtime buddies”

“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.


Individualised reports:

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.

Autumn Term:

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.

Spring term:

One fund raising day where each of the different houses will raise money for one of the following:

P.A.C.E. (cerebral palsy)

Mountain Rescue

Epilepsy U.K.



Summer term:

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!

World Food Week
October 19, 2016, 11:06 am
Filed under: Headteacher

Hey with Zion is delighted to be taking part in World Food Week, the first week after half term. A menu with an international feel has been created to introduce children to foods they may not have tried before, and we encourage parents of children who have packed lunches  to consider school meals for their children over the winter months.

There is a fund raising aspect to World Food Week nationally, but we are not joining in that aspect of it. Parents have asked me previously to provide plenty of notice of fund raising activities and so our fund raising for each year ahead is decided in July.

To that end, on 16th November we shall be having our “For The Love Of Learning” fund raising day, where we shall be raising money for the education of children in Gambia whose education we sponsor. We shall be allowing Hey with Zion children to come to school in their own clothes for the day, perhaps in the colours of the Gambian flag, and to bring a pound (or more) each if they wish to contribute.


The Gambian Flag:


By way of reminder, our fund raising for the rest of the year is planned to be…

Spring term:

One fund raising day where each of the different houses will raise money for one of the following:

P.A.C.E. (cerebral palsy)

Mountain Rescue

Epilepsy U.K.



Summer term:

One fund raising day where the funds raised will be split equally between Cancer Research UK and Dr. Kershaw’s Hospice.

NSPCC/ O2 Online safety workshop for parents
October 18, 2016, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Headteacher

Will you join us and help keep all children safe online?

O2 and the NSPCC have joined forces in a mission to help all children and their families in the UK stay safe online. They are currently offering schools the opportunity to host one of their workshops which are completely free to attend and will be delivered by trained NSPCC staff and volunteers.

Online safety workshops for parents

We will be hosting our free online safety workshop for parents in our school hall at 2 p.m. on 2nd November 2016  and would like to invite all parents to join us for this informative event.

The hour-long workshop is a great opportunity to gain skills and knowledge to understand the internet and technology as children do – from online games and cyber bullying, through to setting up privacy settings and controls – and to help you have the right conversations with your children.

We do hope that you will be able to attend.

Many thanks

Half Price Roller City vouchers
October 17, 2016, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Headteacher

Hey with Zion has been donated approximately 100 vouchers allowing half price access to Roller City, Rochdale Royale, Platting Lane Rochdale OL11 2LS. Any parents wishing to take advantage of these vouchers may ask either me or Mrs. Hodkinson in reception. The vouchers will be given out on a first come, first served basis.


Headteacher’s report to parents
October 14, 2016, 11:51 am
Filed under: Headteacher

Headteacher’s report to parents

I hope your child is settling in well to the new school year and is enjoying the challenge of life in the new class.

At this stage of the year I think it’s worth giving you my own perspective on the school- in response to a previous parents’ questionnaire I was asked specifically to do this- and I ask you, please, to complete the questionnaire coming home with your child shortly and return it to me by half term so that I can compare views and make amendments as I think right. My report is in headings- Standards, Subject Development, Ethos and Structures for ease of reference.


Academic standards are, I think, as high at Hey with Zion as they have ever been. On account of our recent years of SATs scores we have been regraded as “Five Star” from the school comparison website,, and the graphs below, of attainment in the tested subjects, show how our pupils are performing very well indeed.

Reading (% reaching national expectations) 

Graph 1


Graph 2

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

Graph 3


“Scaled Scores”- a different measure- show the same kind of pattern:


Graph 4


Graph 5

At Key Stage One, the outcomes also were well ahead of the national norm, as they were, too, in Foundation Stage.

We know full well that this can only happen if everybody is pulling in the same direction, and I do think that is one of the major strengths of this school: I do feel that staff and parents very strongly here have shared general values and that is the main reason why the graphs above look so good. I do think we have great staff, but I also think we have great pupils and great parents too and I thank you for your support in all items such as completing the questionnaires, approaching me of a morning when there are issues to discuss (and trusting me to deal with them effectively), supporting your children with their homework and above all sending them to school with such positive attitudes.

Subject Development

The graphs above just refer to English and Maths, and while they are undeniably fundamental to what a primary school is all about, the other subjects, too, are important. We gained a gold award last year from the Historical Association for our History improvements and a silver Primary Quality Mark for Science for our work with the Association for Science Education. Over the coming year, I am not wanting us to collect any more such awards- I think we have made a lot of good developments and this year, for me, it is more about making sure we do not lose the improvements we have made and develop gradually the gains we have made.

Our Science will develop with Miss Morton’s collaboration with the Ogden Trust, our Computing must develop with our recent major investment in laptops, ipads and robots, I want to make sure we are getting the most benefit possible from our new library, Spanish will receive a slightly sharpened focus and Miss Ogden is currently undertaking a review of our Geography provision for more significant development further down the line. Other things will happen with other subjects,


As a school with a church foundation, I think it is important that the school accepts its faith basis and is true to its mission statement that “Within the love of God, we strive to do the best we can for ourselves and others.” Christians, Muslims and people of no faith I think will all accept that to do the best for oneself and for others is just the hallmark of a decent person, and the attitudes we instil to our children at this age in many cases stay with them forever, and therefore are arguably even more important than the academic side of schooling.

Now that Canon Richard has retired, Denise Elstub will become for us the “face” of St. John’s Church, and Reverend Lindsay at Zion Methodist Church will also continue as before, so I do not expect any significant change in the faith aspect of Hey with Zion. We shall still visit the churches, such as we did for the Harvest Festival and for example our choir will sing at the Zion Christmas Fair.

Charity work remains at least a termly duty for us, and our fundraising this year will be as follows:

Autumn Term: 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.

Spring term: One fund raising day where each of the different houses will raise money for one of the following: P.A.C.E. (cerebral palsy), Mountain Rescue, Epilepsy U.K., Diabetes, N.S.P.C.C.

Summer term: One fund raising day where the funds raised will be split equally between Cancer Research UK and Dr. Kershaw’s Hospice

The ethos of a school I think also includes extra curricular provision, as I want our children to look upon school as a place of opportunities and to learn to take advantage of opportunities, broadening their experiences and working in new contexts. I have striven to increase the amount of activities which we have on offer (our current menu of activities is on the tab at the top of our blog- and I think we now have a pretty good list. It has been helped, certainly, by our new link with Oldham Athletic F.C., who now provide after school activities on Fridays. All of the teachers who are no longer in the first year of their job will be volunteering to run at least one activity over the year, and I am very grateful to them and to parents and governors who organise clubs. I am currently auditing the take up of these activities to see where there are imbalances- e.g. there are currently more boys than girls participating by a ratio of approximately 3:2, and in sports related activities the ratio is 2:1 so I shall need to address that later in the year. We are planning to introduce hockey in KS2, for example, after half term as it is a relatively gender neutral sport, and we shall be visited by Olympic gold medallist Nicola White, in the hope that she will enthuse greater take up of sports by girls.


As is usual, some refurbishment work took place over the summer- windows, flooring, painting and lighting, also the repair of the corner of the playground which had sunk. A plan for this year is to discuss with our pupils what they would like us to do with the playground. I think the old lines need to be removed and something put in their place- maybe another netball court and perhaps some netball posts, maybe something else. The playground needs some work but we have deliberately left it until the new Year Six classroom had been built and the sinking corner repaired. Now we can do it. We have been pledged a significant amount of money by the council to sort our electrics over the coming twelve months, which we shall ensure takes place when the children are not in lessons, and so we expect that this time next year the inside of our school will be a brighter place with modern lighting everywhere and hopefully some new interactive whiteboards.

Still in the “Structures” heading… there is a lot of pressure on school places currently and one or two of our classes are now more than full i.e. we have 41 in a year group. This happens when the council requires us to accept more pupils than is our number due to special circumstances. I reiterate that I have no desire to increase our school numbers, especially given the already extremely busy traffic situation on Rowland Way and nearby. Likewise, while there is talk in the press from time to time about academies, at the moment I do not see any reason why Hey with Zion should need to become an academy. For all it is my job to keep informed about developments, I think our children are well served by us being a school and any decision ever made should reflect what is in the interests of the children in this community, now and in the future.

Grammar for Writing
October 12, 2016, 4:29 pm
Filed under: Headteacher

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I wrote in June about Hey with Zion being invited to join a grammar for writing research project, exploring the effectiveness and impact of explicit teaching of grammar in the context of writing, with a particular focus on Year Six pupils.

Hey with Zion has been placed in the “control group” i.e. we shall not initially receive the input, but shall have our assessments compared against those schools which do. Hey with Zion will receive outcomes in the form of INSET for teachers and resources for the children starting in July 2017.

I think it is ever so important that Hey with Zion, as a school, looks closely at research developments to make sure we are astute in choosing the most effective (not always the most fashionable) methods in developing our pupils; always bearing in mind of course that research describes effects in other contexts, and we are concerned with what works best here.

Another publication from the Education Endowment Foundation (2014) had the following findings- you may find them interesting.

What Makes Great Teaching 2014

The two factors with the strongest evidence of improving pupil attainment are:

  • teachers’ content knowledge, including their ability to understand how students think about a subject and identify common misconceptions
  • quality of instruction, which includes using strategies like effective questioning and the use of assessment

Specific practices which have good evidence of improving attainment include:

  • challenging students to identify the reason why an activity is taking place in the lesson
  • asking a large number of questions and checking the responses of all students
  • spacing-out study or practice on a given topic, with gaps in between for forgetting
  • making students take tests or generate answers, even before they have been taught the material

Common practices which are not supported by evidence include:

  • using praise lavishly
  • allowing learners to discover key ideas by themselves
  • grouping students by ability
  • presenting information to students based on their “preferred learning style”

My own view- it’s not rocket science, but it is hard work… and I’m delighted with the teachers we have.

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Key Stage One performance data
October 7, 2016, 12:37 pm
Filed under: Headteacher

More statistics have arrived in school today, this time about our end of year outcomes for Key Stage One. I am very pleased with them as, at the time of our last Ofsted inspection (March 2013), the school’s own interpretation of the report was that we were then better than good at Foundation Stage and Key Stage Two, but less than good at Key Stage One.

Key Stage One outcomes have since risen year on year, led by Mrs. Machin and as I have said before, with fabulous support from our parents. The outcome is that our attainment (these data refer to last summer’s Year Two pupils), both in terms of percentages reaching and exceeding national expectations, is in the top 8% of the country; progress was measured as in the top 33%/ 23% depending on the choice of measure.

To achieve such very good progress on the back of already very high Foundation Stage outcomes means that we should, realistically, be looking to ever climbing standards higher up the school too.

The statistics at Key Stage Two (below) told a similar tale- attainment in the top 4% / 8% depending on the measure, progress extremely high too.

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Football results
October 6, 2016, 8:45 pm
Filed under: Headteacher

Hey with Zion was eliminated from the Kids’ Cup today despite a rousing 2-0 victory over Hodge Clough in their final group game. There were some excellent performances, lethal finishing by Vincent Arthurs (2) and Joe McDonald, and a goal of beauty from Taylor McConnell after a Zachary Worthington cross, but the greater power of an older Oasis team won the group.


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Olympic Gold Medalist at Hey with Zion
October 3, 2016, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Headteacher

Nicola White, gold medal winner in Team GB’s hockey team at the Rio Olympics, will be visiting Hey with Zion on 11th November and meet with our pupils. We are hoping she will have tales to tell which will inspire our children to personal heights.


England u-20s v Netherlands
October 3, 2016, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Headteacher

Hey with Zion has been given 25 complimentary tickets for Wednesday’s international football match between England u-20s and Netherlands, 7 p.m. kick off at Boundary Park, Oldham.

Any parents wanting some of these tickets should approach me before or after school today or tomorrow.

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