Head’s Blog

Blog  – 22nd September 2017

We have had a lot of new pupils join this week which is great news and I hope you have a wonderful time at Flora Gardens.

You might have heard about Marcus Hutchins who helped shut down the cyber-attack virus that threatened the NHS computer system earlier this year. The detail seized upon by the press was that this young man had failed his GCSE IT when at school. This is part of what is becoming a sub-genre of the narrative around exams, where details of famously successful people who failed their exams are published, seemingly with the aim of making anxious students feel better. Examples range from Jeremy Clarkson’s twitter boast last summer: ‘If your A level results aren’t joyous take comfort from the fact I got a C and two Us. And I have a Mercedes Benz’ to the revelation that Robbie Williams failed all his exams ‘really badly.’ And then there’s the ubiquitous – but untrue – tale of Einstein failing maths at school.

Any teacher will tell you that schools nowadays are acutely aware of the need to promote the message that achievement in exams is only one part of the skillset young people need to acquire if they are to prepare for success in the world of work and adulthood.

Nevertheless, for good or ill, we have a system of end-loaded public examinations in this country.  There is a real danger that, by trying to reassure students – in simplistic, clickbait terms – that there is more to life than exams, we run the risk of diminishing the efforts of young people and of marginalising their achievements. The exams for which children study throughout their education, revised for and sweated over are important. Let’s not denigrate their hard work and commitment –nor, indeed, that of their teachers – by insisting that they mean very little.

 

I had the pleasure of meeting Oliver Knight, the new Head at Phoenix this week. He visited to talk about the whole scale changes that he has made since taking over as Head this term; a completely new Senior Leadership Team, 19 new teachers and the behaviour of pupils very high up on the agenda. Clearly improving academic results is in his sights as well. This was a follow up from the secondary transfer talks that we had at the school on Tuesday. I know that it can be a worrying time sorting out your child’s secondary school and my advice is to visit the schools, speak with the children – they know what the school is like – and ask the questions that you want to the Head teachers. Phoenix is running open mornings every Friday and leaflets are available in the school office. As a parent I never went on hear-say or rumours; it is so important to visit the schools and have a look at them yourself. We are planning on holding a session to guide you on filling in the forms for secondary transfer and details will follow in the next week or so.


 

Blog – 15th September 2017
Having been involved in Education for over 25 years, I have been a witness to many 1000’s of children moving onto the next stage of their learning, be that transition from EYFs to KS1, KS1 to KS2, the move from primary to secondary school and of course the move from secondary school to University or work. I was sure that I had seen and witnessed it all, but how poorly prepared I was when that final stage of transition, A levels to University, took place with my daughter last weekend!
It seems like only yesterday that I was bringing her home from hospital, seeing her take her first steps, teething, talking (and she hasn’t stopped since she uttered her first words), riding her bike, etc. I remember fondly the school plays and sports days, I remember (not so fondly) the SATs days and examination results days that seem ever increasing with ever changing goal posts.
It is only now that I really look back at the amazing times we have had and the joy that all children bring us as parents. If I could have my time again I would appreciate those times more, I would do more to support her and I would do even more to appreciate the wonderful gift that our children should be to us all.

It reminded me to re-read the poem by C Day-Lewis:
Walking Away

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away
Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.
That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.
I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.
To take my mind off my daughter going to University, I travelled down to Nethercott on Sunday to visit the Y6’s and Y5’s on their residential stay with Farms for City Children. What a fantastic time the children are having and to see the enjoyment, discovery and learning taking place early was very special. A massive thanks to Mrs Brand, Mr Finney, Mr Jones and Miss Woodcock for taking this trip. 6.30 starts each morning, hard graft on the farm and 10pm nights – that is commitment for you! I am sure plenty of pictures and stories will return with the Farmers on Friday.


Blog – 8th September 2017

A very warm welcome to our new families that have joined us and welcome back to those returning. I hope that you all had a fantastic summer break.
On Wednesday, over 70 volunteers from L’Oréal spent the day decorating our playgrounds, building us benches and painting some of our classrooms. I am sure you will agree that they have done an amazing job and the murals have really brightened up our wonderful grounds.

We have put together a schedule of events, which will be emailed to parents and can also be found on the school website. We will always remind you of upcoming events nearer the time and will be sure to let you know should any of the dates change!

One thing to note is that our assembly days will be changing, as of Monday next week.  Singing assembly will now take place on a Monday morning just after 9.00am and ‘a thought for the week’/achievement assembly(superstar certificates presented) will be on Tuesday mornings, also just after 9.00am. I hope to see many of you there throughout the year.

 


Blog – 14th July 2017

Back in June, Y6 split themselves into political parties, decided their manifesto’s and presented their ideas to the school in an assembly. All our pupils voted for the Y6 party that they want to run the school for the day.

FAITH (Futuristic Aspirations In Teaching Human) – won the vote and so Mia, Keira, Renee, Lila, Samaan and Siham have taken control of the school for the day – teaching fun lessons, organising competitions and leading an assembly. The Senior Leadership Team for the day chose what pupils would have for lunch and decided that today would be own clothes day!  They have done a fantastic job. Well done FAITH!

FAITH’s Blog

Last Friday, Flora Gardens had an amazing Sports Day. Diamond House won with 503 House points!  Thanks to Mr Finney for organising it and all the parents who came and supported us.The next big event is the Summer Fete, which was a big success last year. This year is sure to be as amazing. A special thanks to Miss Kelly who is wonderful organisers.

DRESS CODE

The dress code for this year is carnival.  Wear feathers and glitter – anything that you think expresses a carnival.

I would love to say again how amazing Year 6 have done in their SATs.

We, FAITH, are extremely proud of Flora Gardens for working hard this term.

See you tomorrow at the Summer Fete!


Blog – 7th July 2017

Thank you to all who ran and attended the Eid celebration last Friday. It is the first time we have held such an event and it was wonderfully attended by the community. Over £700 was raised for the PTA and they will be ploughing those funds into the school on projects that enhance the opportunities for our pupils.

The next big event is the Summer Fete on Saturday 15th July (next Saturday) – I hope to see you all there supporting one of the final events of the year. It is promising to be bigger and better than last year!

SATs

We all know how important SATs are – to the Government at least. Flora Gardens is about far more than just academic results; it is about community, respect, honesty and family. We aim to deliver multi-cultural learning experiences for every individual that are innovative, creative, purposeful and fun. And it will remain so as long as I am Head.

I received a text at 1.23am from Miss Woodcock on Tuesday morning with our SATs results. I used to wait up until the wee hours on New Year’s Eve and sometimes my birthday, but now it’s for the SATs results! What fun…there were lots of tweets about the results and connected bits:

“BIG boundary shift in reading, and 2 of mine missed it by one mark each. Grrr.” said one contributor.

“Looking at everyone else who has posted, our results look rubbish. Then again, I felt the same last year and we were above national in maths, reading and combined, so there is hope I guess…” said another.

And my favourite:

“If the government really felt strongly about teacher workload, they would stop releasing KS2 SATs results at midnight on a week day!”

So how did we do in Y6?

Since the start of the academic year, there has been:

·      26% improvement in Reading

·      33% improvement in GPS

·      41% improvement in Writing

·      22% improvement in Maths

Reading:                                              78% up from 56%

Grammar, punctuation and spelling: 85% up from 84%

Writing:                                               78% up from 76%

Mathematics:                                       74% 

 

Greater depth is significantly up in all areas which is great news because this was an area that Ofsted were interested in. All the children have done us proud in what remains a test about the school and not the children. Perhaps one day we will have a fairly and appropriately funded education system that allows children to be children and not statistical data!

In Y2 results were up 4% on last year in Reading and Writing and a massive 7% in Writing. In Y1 – Phonics we have seen a 5% improvement from last year and finally in Reception we are up significantly in each area. This is a Good school, with Outstanding features! Well done to all the children and a big thank you to all the staff for their incredible hard work that continues to improve the outcomes for our children.

But it’s not about Government targets, its’s about the extended curriculum. Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the Wigmore Hall end of year performance, celebrating our partnership with Wigmore Hall and the Tri-Borough Music Hub. The pupils played, and led, the famous Heath Quartet and performed with gusto, energy and accuracy. Many a wet eye was witnessed in the audience and what an amazing opportunity for our pupils to perform at such a great venue. Thanks again to the staff that have made this possible.

Finally, I am in my office preparing for Sports Day today. Mr Finney has been running around since 7am getting everything ready and I am sure we are going to witness stiff competition between the Houses as they try to close in on the Champion House Cup but also fair play and sportsmanship. I will report on the outcomes next week.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Blog – 30th June 2017

“There is a river flowing now very fast.

It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.

They will try to hold on to the shore.

They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination.

The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves.

For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time for the lone wolf is over.

Gather yourselves!

Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.

All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder

Hopi Nation

Oraibi, Arizona


Deputy Head’s Blog – 23rd June 2017

We are living in exponential times.

 This week was Science and Maths week at Flora Gardens and we chose to have a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects based around the theme of change.  These subjects are incredibly relevant as they help people make sense of the rapidly changing world around them.  STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators – all of which are crucial for our future.

Did you know…?

  • The amount of technical information is doubling every 2 years. For university students that means that half of what they learn in their first year will be outdated by their third year.
  • There are predictions that by 2049, a standard home computer will have computational abilities that will exceed that of the entire human species.
  • There are estimates that today’s learners will have between 10 and 14 jobs before the age of 38.
  • The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not even exist in 2004!
  • We are currently preparing pupils for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t yet been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

According to the UK Commission for Employment & Skills, 43% of STEM vacancies are hard to fill because children, especially girls, are not going on to study these subjects at university. We therefore have a responsibility as primary educators to expose children to these subjects and spark a curiosity in our pupils that lasts beyond the primary school stage.

Our children this week have explored mathematical theories, identified problems then solved those problems, explored engineering through building bridges that stand and can hold weight – all while working together as part of a team and reshaping their current understanding of the world around them.  These skills and strategies will help our children to learn new things, adapt to an ever changing world and stay curious.

We were very pleased that so many parents (71!) turned up to our open morning on Wednesday and we hope you all enjoyed the session.  There was bridge building, egg parachutes, maths games, bee magnets and chemistry all taking place.  Well done to our pupils for a fantastic STEM week (despite the scorching heat!) and a sincere thank you to the staff who made the week possible.

In other news, Year 2 went to visit the seaside at Littlehampton on Tuesday.  Everybody had a fantastic time and managed to keep cool – especially Mrs Asserati and Mr Naismith who both got drenched by the children…and by each other.  A most sincere thank you to the pupils who made this event possible!!

Finally, on behalf of the Flora Gardens community, “Eid Mubarak” to our friends and families who are celebrating Eid Al-Fitr this weekend.


Blog – 16th June 2017

It’s all about…Carnival

carnival – /ˈkɑːnɪv(ə)l/
noun: 1. An annual festival, typically during the week before Lent in Roman Catholic countries, involving processions, music, dancing, and the use of masquerade – e.g. “the culmination of the week-long carnival”
synonyms: festival, fiesta, fete, gala, jamboree, holiday, celebration, party

When and where are the world’s biggest carnivals?

January

Carnival, Trinidad and Tobago

They love to party in Port of Spain – and no event here is bigger than carnival.

The advent of Lent has been celebrated in Port of Spain by the whole island since 1833. Originally, it involved masked balls for the French Plantation owners.

At the parade you can still see some of the traditional Mas characters like the Dragon Mas, The Sebucan (looks like an English Maypole complete with Morris Dancers), Dame Lorraine and the Midnight Robber with his cape.

If you’re bendy, you can try limbo or watch the traditional stick fighting. You’ll also see musicians go head to head in a battle of the bands to be crowned the Calypso Monarch (that’s a big deal).

February

Rio Carnival, Brazil

The daddy of all the carnivals; this one sets the standard. February is when summer is at its peak in Brazil, so expect it to be hot hot hot. A good thing, then, that most of the dancers’ costumes are skimpy bits of bejewelled material.

The whole city has parties popping up all over the place – but the Rio Carnival Parade, with its fiercely contested Samba competitions, is the undisputed highlight.

You can find out more about Carnivals here:

http://www.lastminute.com/blog/the-worlds-biggest-carnivals/

July 15th

Flora Gardens, Hammersmith!!!

Bigger and better than last year – the weather has been ordered! We will be using the new amphitheatre as our centre of the Carnival with performances throughout the day. Cake baking competition, House Gardening competition, inflatables, soak the teacher, face painting, BBQ, traditional food from across our community, and endless games to play.

I can’t wait for another fun packed day and look forward to seeing you all there.

Have a good weekend.


Blog – 9th June 2017

It’s all about…the election
This week, Y6 split themselves into political parties, decided their manifesto’s and presented their ideas to the school in an assembly on Tuesday.

On Thursday, all our pupils voted for the Y6 party that they want to run the school for the day. The four Y6 parties and their pledges were:
1. Balloon
Some changes and improvements to the school – especially the toilets, an increase in sports and own clothes! Not to mention “prank the teacher day.”
2. FAITH (Futuristic Aspirations In Teaching Human)
Improve results and have fun whilst doing so.
3. Flash
To have fun! Fun learning, sports tournaments and art. Water balloon battles at lunchtime, pizza and sauces for lunch followed by jelly and ice-cream.
4. Tournamaters

Lots of tournaments, votes on the day for various activities i.e. the pupils will choose what happens!

All pupils voted and learnt a bit about the process that was taking place in the country as a whole. The process allowed us to cove the political literacy components of the curriculum around the UK. It also supports speaking and listening components of the English language curriculum.
Specifically our pupils learnt to:
 Explore the general election process through role-play
 Understand key terms such as constituencies, candidates, polling stations, political parties, manifestoes, and coalitions
 Consider different areas of policy and set priorities
 Discover different methods of campaigning
 Practice their communication skills by writing and delivering a campaign speech

And our winners are: FAITH (breakdown of results in newsletter)

Staying with the election – this is a clear article about what the result of the general election is likely to mean for schools – all good news I think.
https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/if-election-result-means-one-thing-education-its-plans-new-grammar

A hung parliament probably means that changes to the funding formula and the reintroduction of Grammar Schools will all be on the back burner. Perhaps we will have a period of stability in education now…?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


Blog – 26th May 2017

This is The Place – by Tony “Longfella” Walsh

This is the place

In the north-west of England. It’s ace, it’s the best

And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands

Set the whole planet shaking.

Our inventions are legends. There’s nowt we can’t make, and so we make brilliant music

We make brilliant bands

We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands

And we make things from steel

And we make things from cotton

And we make people laugh, take the mick sommat rotten

And we make you at home

And we make you feel welcome and we make summat happen

And we can’t seem to help it

And if you’re looking from history, then yeah we’ve a wealth

But the Manchester way is to make it yourself.

And make us a record, a new number one

And make us a brew while you’re up, love, go on

And make us feel proud that you’re winning the league

And make us sing louder and make us believe that this is the place that has helped shape the world

And this is the place where a Manchester girl named Emmeline Pankhurst from the streets of Moss Side led a suffragette city with sisterhood pride

And this is the place with appliance of science, we’re on it, atomic, we struck with defiance, and in the face of a challenge, we always stand tall, Mancunians, in union, delivered it all

Such as housing and libraries and health, education and unions and co-ops and first railway stations

So we’re sorry, bear with us, we invented commuters. But we hope you forgive us, we invented computers.

And this is the place Henry Royce strolled with Rolls, and we’ve rocked and we’ve rolled with our own northern soul

And so this is the place to do business then dance, where go-getters and goal-setters know they’ve a chance

And this is the place where we first played as kids. And me mum, lived and died here, she loved it, she did.

And this is the place where our folks came to work, where they struggled in puddles, they hurt in the dirt and they built us a city, they built us these towns and they coughed on the cobbles to the deafening sound to the steaming machines and the screaming of slaves, they were scheming for greatness, they dreamed to their graves.

And they left us a spirit. They left us a vibe. The Mancunian way to survive and to thrive and to work and to build, to connect, and create and greater ― Manchester’s greatness is keeping it great.

And so this is the place now with kids of our own. Some are born here, some drawn here, but all call it home.

And they’ve covered the cobbles, but they’ll never defeat, all the dreamers and schemers who still teem through these streets

Because this is a place that has been through some hard times: oppressions, recessions, depressions, and dark times.

But we keep fighting back with greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, northern wit, and greater Manchester’s lyrics

And these hard times again, in these streets of our city, but we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity.

Because this is a place where we stand strong together, with a smile on our face, greater Manchester forever

And we’ve got this place where a team with a dream can get funding and something to help with a scheme.

Because this is a place that understands your grand plans. We don’t do “no can do” we just stress “yes we can”

Forever Manchester’s a charity for people round here, you can fundraise, donate, you can be a volunteer. You can live local, give local, we can honestly say, we do charity different, that Mancunian way

And we fund local kids, and we fund local teams. We support local dreamers to work for their dreams. We support local groups and the great work they do. So can you help us help local people like you?

Because this is the place in our hearts, in our homes, because this is the place that’s a part of our bones

Because greater Manchester gives us such strength from the fact that this is the place, we should give something back

Always remember, never forget, forever Manchester.


Blog – 19th May 2017

Spread the word…

 Flora Gardens is a Good School with Outstanding Features!

 Early Years provision

“The Nursery and Reception classes give the children a nurturing and caring start to their schooling.”

“The early years provision is well led.”

“The quality of teaching is consistently good. Adults throughout the early years provision give children activities that promote their skills well. For example, in one very well-planned task, children in the Reception class were shown a film of an ‘alien’ that had purportedly visited their classroom at night. Children were excited by the activity, and this stimulated them to write at a high level.”

Quality of teaching, learning and assessment

“Teaching is consistently good and results in good outcomes for pupils.”

“Pupils who read aloud to an inspector showed that they can master unfamiliar words by using effective phonics skills. Pupils are able to read with expression and can talk about books they enjoy reading.”

“Adults’ feedback, both written and oral, enables pupils to learn well.”

Outcomes for Pupils

“Outcomes are good because pupils throughout the school make good progress in their learning.”

“Pupils’ outcomes have been on a rising trend. Published information about pupils’ performance shows that the progress of Year 6 pupils in reading, writing and mathematics was weak in 2015, predating the appointment of the new leadership team…”

“Pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities receive the right support for their needs, and make progress in line with others.”

Leadership and Management

“The headteacher, ably supported by his senior leadership team, has improved all areas of the school’s work since the previous inspection.”

“Leaders have acted swiftly to tackle the actions for improvement identified in the previous inspection report. They rightly prioritised raising the quality of teaching.”

“Leaders and governors make wise use of the additional government funding for disadvantaged pupils and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.”

“Staff show, in their responses to the Ofsted online survey, that they back their leaders strongly. Almost all of those who worked at the school at the time of the previous inspection say that the school has improved a great deal. A typical comment from one member of staff is, ‘Staff feel supported and listened to. Everyone really does work as a team.’ “

Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare

“Pupils are confident, extremely polite and thoughtful towards others. Many pupils enquired whether the inspectors were enjoying their visit, and they were really interested in holding a dialogue with their visitors.”

“Pupils told inspectors that they understand the concept of bullying and are therefore sure that there is no bullying at their school. Young children get on extremely well with older pupils.”

“The school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is outstanding.”

“The behaviour of pupils is outstanding.”


 

Mr Finney’s Blog – 12th May 2017

In 2015, I arrived at Flora Gardens Primary School as the Physical Education Coordinator and still remember the warm, welcoming smiles that the pupils greeted me with.  That year, we had such lovely weather in the summer term which allowed us to spend a lot of time outdoors in our wonderful grounds for PE lessons.  At this stage, we only had 2 after school clubs running, with only 30 pupils signed up for the extended programme.

Fast forward two years to 2017 and look at us now!  We have 15 after school clubs a week with a wide range of activities including all different sports, computer coding and arts and crafts, as well as the very popular homework club.  I think it is fair to say that Flora Gardens now offers a broad, balanced and engaging extra curricular opportunity for all of our pupils.  I am so pleased that we are on course to achieve the target set at the start of the year, to have 70% of pupils participating in an extra curricular club by the end of the year.  This would not have been possible without the Sports Premium Funding we receive, as this has really catapulted the growth of our PE and after school clubs provision.

Last academic year, our pupils took part in three local sports competitions.  The Sports Premium Funding we received has allowed us to attend four competitions so far this year, with 5 still to come this term.  I have organised a borough-wide Year 5/6 dodgeball tournament, which will be held at Ark Burlington Danes Academy on 5th July. I have also entered our pupils into tennis and basketball competitions, which will take place in the coming weeks.

Our kwik cricket teams will also be vying for semi-final places, which we narrowly missed out on last year.  So far, from the hard work that our pupils have been putting in at cricket club on Thursdays and Fridays, our opponents will have their work cut out to beat us!

Finally, the annual Flora Gardens Sports Day has been scheduled for Friday 7th July in Ravenscourt Park and parents are invited to come along and watch or join in, as we continue to teach our pupils that we can keep fit whilst enjoying a some healthy competition!

 


Blog – 5th May 2017

 It has been a wonderful return after Easter and as usual a very hectic start to the term…

I must let you know that I am very concerned about the use of social media and the conversations that some of the children are having with each other in ‘groups’.  Whilst the internet opens up tremendous learning opportunities it also presents great dangers.  Do we know what our children are doing and do they know who they are talking to?  Even at 18, I do not allow my daughter on her phone after she goes to bed – it must be left downstairs so that she gets the rest and sleep children need.  I regularly check her internet activity to make sure she is safe.  As parents we have a responsibility to check what our children are doing online, be that on a computer, tablet or mobile phone.  The issue this week surrounded the app “Musical.ly” and there was some quite appalling language used by some of our pupils.

The age restrictions are very clear for these apps:

  • Musical’ly                                  13 years +
  • Facebook                                   13 years +
  • Snapchat                                   13 years +
  • YouTube                                    13 years +
  • Instagram                                  13 years +
  • Facebook Messenger               13 years +
  • WhatsApp                                  16 years +

These seem to be the most popular apps used and clearly no children at Flora Gardens should be using them.  I am in contact with the police about the language used as is expected from me as Head.

Moving forward we will be offering more classes after school for parents on the use of social media and the dangers of being online. Please be vigilant and let’s keep our children safe.


Year 5 Gardens Blog – 28th April 2017

Pupils in Y5G wrote individual blogs and they have been combined to create our very first whole class blog!

 For the past week at Flora Gardens, I have been having a blast!  On Monday we found out we had the highest attendance for the week out of the whole school. In English lessons we put ourselves in the role of St. George, writing a diary entry.  In Maths we were learning to use protractors – at first I was unsure, but now I am fine with it, after support from my teacher.  In PE we learnt about catching and focusing on the ball. In Music, I learnt both of my parts on the recorder and guitar. I attending Drama Club which was one of the best ones yet.  In fact, this whole week has been one of the best!  Keep up the good work Flora Gardens.

My favourite subject at the moment is Science as we are learning about space.  Y5F and Y5G had a competition set by our teachers to create 3D models of our Solar System. All those who participated won 2 House points.  Ms Graham judged the competition and the winners have just been announced. They are Jasmin, Lacey, Lucas and Mkali, who all received 5 House points.  Well done to the winners.

As you may know, the last two days have been very important for Flora Gardens, as we had some special visitors who go by the name of Ofsted.  My friends and I spoke to one of the Inspectors and she asked us a few questions about the school.  The Ofsted Inspector was very nice to us.  In 3 weeks we will be able to find out how the inspection went, we feel really hopeful about the results.  In assembly this morning, Mr Naismith announced that he is very proud of all the pupils for welcoming Ofsted.

We hope you have a lovely weekend and make sure you have a cup of tea and put your feet up


Blog – 31st March 2017

A sad day when article 50 was signed this week marking the start of Breggsit, but we continue to welcome and celebrate our diverse and wonderful community at Flora Gardens.

Having just led the Final Assembly eggs-travganza I am egg-static about the performance and progress of our pupils here at Flora Gardens. Ruby House are the eggheads at the moment but with one term left there are plenty of points still to achieve. As you can see my plan to revamp the front of the school has hatched and I think it makes a real difference to the outward face of the school whilst providing more privacy in the playground.

It has been an eggsplosive term – Y6 Play in a Day at the Bush Theatre, the Life Bus in school this week, Chamber Challenge, “What’s the buzz” in Y1 and Y2 and their visit to The Hive in Kew Gardens, the drama workshops, the Easter Fair, an alien in the Y1 classroom, Stig of the Dumb in Y2 and the Gingerbread man in Reception and the Y1 classroom! Reception have visited the Fire Station, we celebrated World Book Day and Comic Relief, raising vital funds for charities. There are many other activities that I have missed off and it all goes to show, with no eggsaggeration, what an eggceptional place Flora Gardens is!

Next term will be truly eggceptional! SATS – I know all our Y2 and Y6 pupils will pass their eggsams, the Summer Fete – the theme is “Carnival” this year plus a whole plethora of learning and fun activities. We hope to have a talent show eggs-factor. I hope to see as many of you as possible in school and celebrating this wonderful institution. It is rumoured visits from the following will take place in the summer term:

Kim Kardeggian – she cracked the internet.
Lady EgGa – has beautiful plumage.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – the EggsTerminator.
Megg Ryan – actress and good egg.
Jack and Megg White – White Stripes.
Yolky Ono – artist.
Ellen DeGGeneres – funny egg.
The Eggles – rock out in Eggshell California.
Eggy Pop – punk rock star with a lust for eggs.
Humpty Dumpty – he really was an egg!

I hope everybunny has a restful Easter beak!


Blog – 24th March 2017

It’s all about…Compromise

“It’s not always rainbows and butterflies. It’s compromise that moves us along.”

We had a scheduled visit from the safeguarding officer for Hammersmith and Fulham on Tuesday.  I have never felt so proud of our pupils and how they spoke about our school.  Ibrahim Y2, Joshua Y3, Aaliyah Y4, Lucas Y5 and Jasmin Y5 were full of praise for the school, the journey we have taken and all spoke with authority and intelligence.  It was very moving to hear first-hand how the pupils feel about Flora Gardens; it fills me with great pride.

I am sure that we all share the horror, sadness and disgust following Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Westminster.  Thoughts are with the victims and their families of this senseless act.  Although not much is known about the motivation of the attack, we do know that it was terrorism and so there are ways that as a school we have and will be approaching it.

Conversations and conjecture will be taking place in and out of school amongst the pupils and people of all ages.

We have:

  • Brought the topic up with pupils, including an assembly for KS2, in an age-appropriate way.  This attack goes against the values of the UK and that of our school.  We need to ensure the school is the safest space to talk, debate and learn about significant political and news events, including horrendous acts like the one that took place on Wednesday.
  • Reassured pupils (particularly with the younger pupils). The chance of being harmed by a terrorist attack is still very, very low.  There will also be a heightened police presence over the course of the next few days and weeks.  This is a result of the ongoing efforts to protect people rather than a reaction to intelligence or a specific known risk.
  • If the attack does turn out to be Islamist, we all know how far away this kind of act is from Islam and is absolutely not an accurate reflection of what Islam teaches.

Our thoughts are with the victims and their families of this senseless act.

A Reminder

All children are due in school by 8.55am to line up and enter the building with their teacher.  After the door closes, all pupils must go to the main entrance and sign in there.  They will then receive a late pass and go straight to their class.  It is very important that at this point teachers are allowed to teach and there should only be parents in the school at the office or if they have a prior arranged meeting.  Please do not go down the school corridor – it disrupts learning time and is a safeguarding issue.  Teachers are available from 8.45am in the playground to discuss any aspects regarding your child and more time will be made available at a convenient time to both you and the teacher, should this be required.  Thank you for helping us with this.

Finally, as I write this, all pupils are going into assembly to celebrate Red Nose Day and we have a full day of Comic Relief.  The Y6’s are at The Bush Theatre, you really should visit this amazing place, to write, prepare and perform a “Play in a Day”.  I am sure it will be a wonderful experience for them.

And that’s one of the best things about Flora Gardens – life goes on and our community and family atmosphere are still very strong.

 


Blog – 17th March 2017

It’s all about…St. Patrick

On March 17, everyone’s a little Irish.  Even though St. Patrick’s Day is only a public holiday in a few places – the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland, Labrador and Montserrat – Irishness is celebrated around the world.  Here are 7 fun facts about St. Patrick’s Day to help you channel your inner Irishman or Irishwoman.

 1. ONCE UPON A TIME
St. Patrick is one of the most famous patron saints of Ireland:  According to the legend, he brought Christianity to the island, made the shamrock fashionable and freed Ireland from snakes. The holiday marks St. Patrick’s death and has been observed as a religious holiday in Ireland for over 1500 years.

2. CHEERS TO THE OFFICIAL HOLIDAY!
Ireland only officially started celebrating the day in 1903.  Since the Emerald Isle is mainly Catholic and St. Patrick’s Day usually falls on Lent, it used to be a quiet and religious holiday – until the 1960s, when a law allowed pubs to open on St. Paddy’s Day.  (Never call it St. Patty’s Day!)

3. THE PATRON SAINT FORMERLY KNOWN AS MAEWYN
St. Patrick is not actually an Irishman named Patrick: Born Maewyn Succat, the Irish patron saint was actually British. According to the legend, he was sold into slavery in Ireland when he was a teenager, became religious, escaped back to England, became an ordained priest named Patrick and started converting all of the Irish Celtic pagans to Christianity.

4. THE FREEING OF THE SNAKES
According to the legend, St. Patrick freed Ireland from snakes.  According to biologists, there were never any actual snakes in Ireland.  The diplomatic explanation is that the snakes are a metaphor for paganism that was forced out by St. Patrick.

5. GOING GREEN
It’s green as far as the eye can see – from hair to clothes and even food.  We’re not talking spinach here but bagels, pancakes, and even beer – if you can put green food colouring in it, it will be served on St. Patrick’s Day. But the colouring fun doesn’t stop there: rivers, monuments and even ski resorts have all been turned green to commemorate the occasion.

6. CHEERS!
During St. Patrick’s Day, the worldwide consumption of Guinness almost triples – from 5.5 million pints on a regular day to 13 million pints.  That’s 150 pints per second! Cheers!

7. NOM NOM NOM
Boiled bacon and cabbage is a classic dish that goes extremely well with all that beer – even though the dish was “invented” by Irish immigrants in New York. This might explain why in the US, over 26 billion pounds of pork and over two billion pounds of cabbage are produced during the holiday.

I hope you have a wonderful St Patrick’s Day and a restful weekend.

 


Blog – 10th March 2017

It’s all about…being unique.

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you. “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologised to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

We all have our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. We may think, from time to time, like the cracked pot that we are inefficient in certain areas of our life, but flaws are a blessing in disguise and make us unique.


Blog – 3rd March 2017

It’s all about…Healthy Schools

I received the news this week that we have been awarded the Healthy Schools Bronze award! The logo will be appearing on our letterhead, which is becoming rather crowded with all our awards and links, very soon. To achieve this award plenty of work has been undertaken by Ms Owolabi and Mr Finney. Many thanks to them both.

To achieve a Bronze award, a school needs to review its practice in promoting health and wellbeing.  Detailed information and evidence was provided through:

  1. Leadership, management and managing change
  2. Policy development
  3. Learning and teaching, curriculum planning and resourcing
  4. School ethos, culture, environment and SMSC development
  5. Provision of support services for children and young people
  6. Staff continuing professional development (CPD), health and wellbeing
  7. Partnerships with parents/carers, local communities, external agencies and volunteers to support pupil health and wellbeing

You can read more about Healthy Schools here: http://www.healthyschools.london.gov.uk

Education secretary unveils £415 million ‘Healthy Pupils Capital Programme’ for schools to invest in promoting healthier lifestyles. Schools are to get £415 million from the soft drinks industry levy to help pupils benefit from healthier, more active lifestyles, Justine Greening has announced.

The education secretary said primary, secondary and sixth form colleges will be able to use the money – dubbed the Healthy Pupils Capital Programme – to pay for sports facilities, after school activities and healthy eating.

They will also be able to use the funding to improve facilities for pupils with physical conditions or to support young people dealing with mental health issues.

Ms Greening said “Schools can really help our children get a healthy start in life from exercise and sport, and also from knowing what a healthy diet means. It’s not only good for them while they’re in education, but the health and wellbeing benefits can last a lifetime.”

The money will be raised by the levy on sugary drinks, which was first announced by the government in the 2016 budget.  It will be available to schools in 2018-19 and more details on how the fund will be distributed will be published later this year. The government said the funding would not fall below £415 million irrespective of how much money the levy raises.

When combined with funding for the PE and sports premium, breakfast club and universal infant free school meals, the government said its investment in promoting healthier lifestyles for young people totals over £1.3 billion. Now they just need to fund the rest of education correctly!


Blog – 24th February 2017

It’s all about….Knowing we are doing the right things

There was a young woman who took great pride in the growth and care of the flowers in her flower garden. She had been raised by her grandmother who taught her to love and care for flowers as she herself had done. So, like her grandmother, her flower garden was second to none.

One day while looking through a flower catalogue she often ordered from, a picture of a plant immediately caught her eye. She had never seen blooms on a flower like that before. “I have to have it,” she said to herself, and she immediately ordered it.

When it arrived, she already had a place prepared to plant it. She planted it at the base of a stone wall at the back of her yard. It grew vigorously, with beautiful green leaves all over it, but there were no blooms. Day after day she continued to cultivate it, water it, feed it, and she even spoke to it – attempting to coax it to bloom. But, it was to no avail.

One morning weeks later, as she stood before the vine, she contemplated how disappointed she was that her plant had not bloomed. She was giving considerable thought to cutting it down and planting something else in its place.

It was at this point that her neighbour, whose garden joined hers, called over to her. “Thank you so much! You can’t imagine how much I have enjoyed the blooms of that vine you planted.” The young woman walked through the gate into her neighbour’s yard, and sure enough, she saw that on the other side of the wall the vine was filled with blooms.

There were indeed the most beautiful blooms she had ever seen. The vine had crept through the crevices and it had not flowered on her side of the fence, it had flowered luxuriantly on the other side.

Just because you cannot see the good results of your labour, it does not mean that it bares no fruit.


Deputy Head’s Blog – 10th February 2017

Hello everyone.  Mr Naismith has kindly decided to let me have a turn at writing the blog as I have been so thrilled with the learning activities over the last half term.

We have had a fantastically busy start to the year! We kicked it off with a bang as Year 5 visited KidZania as the award for having the highest attendance in the Autumn term. Pupils reported that they had a super time and that they were going to keep up their high attendance to try to win the next attendance prize as well…look out other classes!

Year 1 and 2 visited The Hive in Kew Gardens and put on a spectacular culminating performance for parents alongside musicians from Wigmore Hall.  We got a great turnout of parents and carers for the wonderful ‘What’s the Buzz’ event and at one point I may have even had a tear in my eye.  I can assuredly say that our Key Stage 1 classes know more about bees than any other in the country!

Year 6 had the opportunity to visit the world famous Royal Albert Hall where they participated in a workshop and got to try out a variety of instruments. There are many more exciting educational trips and activities planned for the second part of spring term, including a workshop with MBots (moving robots) on the first Monday back for Key Stage 2.

It was so encouraging to see such great support for the PTA meeting this morning with around 15 parents attending. Miss Kelly left the meeting feeling very excited and brimming with ideas for the rest of the academic year!  The date of Thursday 9th March has now been set for the ever popular annual School Disco. ‘Mini Disco’, for Nursery and Reception, will be from 3.30 – 4.30pm and the main event, designed for KS1 and KS2, will run from 5.00 – 7.00pm. As always, your support and ideas are much appreciated. More information will follow shortly.

Today we say a very sad ‘bon voyage’ to Ms Muir, as she sets off on travels of Europe and the US before heading home to New Zealand to get married. Not only has she done a tremendous job during her time with us, but she has also made a real impact on her class and all of the staff at Flora Gardens. We wish her safe travels and every happiness for the future.

I wish you all a restful half term break and we all look forward to seeing you on Monday 20th February at 8.45am in the playground!

Ms Graham


 

Blog – 3rd February 2017

It’s all about.…Funding

Headteachers in Hammersmith and Fulham are concerned about the changes to the funding of our schools. We are united in our concerns for the education system and we are not alone in these concerns.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jan/17/cuts-headteachers-schools-funding-crisis

We are in the middle of a perfect storm. To put it simply, schools have faced the following challenges, amongst many others:

1.A National Funding Formula that proposes a 3% cut across all schools in Hammersmith & Fulham

2. Increasing costs in terms of staffing because of:

– Unfunded rising salary costs which we have little control over including years of unfunded inflationary pay awards (approximately 1% year on year)

– An increase in National Insurance from April 2015 adding further increases of approximately 2% to salary costs.

– An increase in the employers’ contribution rate for the Teachers’ Pension scheme of 2% (14% to 16%) since September 2014.

3. Cuts to funding grants other than per pupil funding, including the Education Support Grant.

4. A reduction in the effectiveness of external support previously provided by local authorities, with schools being increasingly forced to provide it with limited and reducing funding instead.

5. Teacher training reorganisation has left a confusing mess which has discouraged new teachers and means there are simply not enough coming into the profession.

6. Teacher recruitment and retention concerns are putting additional pressures on budgets as recruitment agencies demand increased prices for subjects with a shortage of teachers and excessive signing on fees for full-time staff placed on contracts.

These issues are made even more difficult in Hammersmith and Fulham because of the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing which make teacher recruitment and retention exceptionally difficult.

We also have a school age population growing above the national rate which means that because of the time-lag in funding, our schools’ budgets are put under additional pressure.

The combined effect of reduced income and increased costs has resulted in a real time reduction in overall funding of around 8-9% since 2013/14.  With further increases in employer pension contributions (for both teacher and local government schemes) and the Apprenticeship Levy, this funding gap is set to increase to 12-13% within the next two years.

Education is potentially at crisis point. We need your support to call on the government not to cut school budgets further.  Children’s education is too important to be put at risk by cutting funding.


Blog – 27th January 2017

The extended curriculum (extra-curricular activities) or the ‘Co-curricular’ as we call it, is a vital part of the education the pupils receive at Flora Gardens. Next week we have Y6 going to the Royal Albert Hall and we recently did very well at the netball tournament. This week, Mr Finney and Mr Hakl, took 18 pupils from KS2 to Ark Burlington Danes Academy for an indoor athletics tournament. Over 300 pupils from 20 primary schools took part in the sporting event.  Every individual involved tried so hard and the behaviour of our pupils was noted by the organisers as being immaculate!

A special mention must go to Vinnie Martin (Y6) who won the javelin event, with two massive throws over 20 metres. Our team’s success didn’t stop there as Nizar, Hassan, Amin and Lucas triumphed in the 4×1 lap relay.

Congratulations to all those who represented Flora Gardens; you have done your school proud!


On Friday 3rd of February, staff and students at Flora Gardens, as well as schools all over the country, will be having fun with Maths and fundraising for NSPCC!

NSPCC is the leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse. NSPCC provide services for children and their families to help understand child abuse and the impact it has on a child’s life.

On Friday 3rd February, pupils will be participating in a variety of fun number-based activities to help raise money for the NSPCC charity. For a minimum £1 donation, pupils are encouraged to “dress up for digits”, football jumpers, polka dots, stripes, squares. Anything that encourages us to count and think mathematically! If pupils are unable to find anything they think would fit this theme, they may then wear something green to support Emerald House’s charity day.

For any further information regarding NSPCC and their Number Day go to www.nspcc.org.uk and search for “2017 Number Day”.


Blog – 20th January 2017

It’s all about…The Black Dot

One day, a teacher entered his classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They all waited anxiously at their desks for the exam to begin.

The teacher handed out the exams with the text facing down, as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked the students to turn over the papers.

To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions – just a black dot in the centre of the paper. The teacher, seeing the expression on everyone’s faces, told them the following: “I want you to write about what you see there.” The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task.

At the end of the class, the teacher took all the exams, and started reading each one of them out loud in front of all the students.

All of them, with no exception, defined the black dot, trying to explain its position in the centre of the sheet. After all had been read, the classroom silent, the teacher started to explain:

“I’m not going to grade you on this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same thing happens in our lives. However, we insist on focusing only on the black dot – the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend. The dark spots are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they are the ones that pollute our minds. Take your eyes away from the black dots in your lives. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you. Be happy and live a life filled with love!”

 


Blog – 13th January 2017

I was thinking about making a resolution and found inspiration in an article on the BBC website.

Keeping a diary helps boost children’s writing skills, according to research from the National Literacy Trust. Children’s author Jacqueline Wilson agrees diary writing “increases your fluency and helps you become more comfortable at expressing yourself”.

The Tracy Beaker author says she herself wrote a diary from the age of seven or eight and continued through her childhood and into her teens. She backed a campaign for children to be given diaries this Christmas or indeed in the New Year.

Ms Wilson told BBC Breakfast she thinks writing a diary has a massive advantage over social media when it comes to expressing innermost thoughts and feelings. The point is, diaries are “not for sharing”, she argued. “You don’t care how many people like it. It’s just for you. You can write anything you want down.  A diary entry could be an account of your day, what you really feel about people you absolutely love, or people you don’t like, your hopes and ambitions”.  And if you are really into sport you can use the diary for detailed accounts of matches you have watched, she suggested.

Tracy Beaker is partly written in diary form and Ms Wilson says she still uses her teenage diaries as a source of inspiration in some of her writing… even though “they are terribly embarrassing to look back on… you care so passionately about things.”

Some reasons to write a diary include:

  • Some people have their diaries published and become famous!
    Anne Frank, Adrian Mole, etc!
  • It creates a lasting record of events.
  • It stimulates your mind.
  • It can be an outlet for emotions.
  • It is fun and helps your writing!

Have a lovely weekend!

 


Blog – 21st December 2016

We reach the end of yet another very busy and successful term. I am sure you will join me in thanking the staff for the fantastic work they have done this term in guiding and supporting your children.

Highlights this term include the first Nativity play that we have held for a number of years. It was fantastic to see so many parents attending and supporting this event. Yesterday we held our Christmas Concert and it was truly remarkable. When Y3 sang Little Donkey it was quite emotional. The work that Miss Nicklen has done with our music this term is a great credit to her and keeps music at the heart of our school.

The Nethercott trip for our Y5 and Y6 pupils was fantastic and a completely different experience to any that the children usually have. We have booked next year for February 2018 and I know the uptake will be very high. The school has visited Leeds Castle, held a very successful Christmas Fete, celebrated National Poetry Day, had a wonderful International Day and evening Quiz, experienced young enterprise through Stride, performed at the Town Hall and a myriad of culminating events. It really has been a full on term!

We continue to work with St Mary’s University and have trained four teachers this term. This is a wonderful way to address our recruitment needs, should they arise. Regarding staffing, Mr Frape is leaving us at the end of the term and has been replaced by Miss Swann, a teacher of 11 years experience. I am sure you will all make her feel very welcome. Thank you to Mr Frape for his efforts this term and we wish him all the best in his career.

The final assembly is promising to be a memorable one with our first House Christmas Song competition as part of the Assembly – as I write I can hear the House rehearsing and I am sure competition will be strong.

It was very sad to hear yesterday morning of the Christmas market incident in Berlin; all our thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy. It reminds me of one of the great stories that came out of the Great War that demonstrates that all our differences can be set aside, especially at this time of the year. It also underlines the aspirations of Flora Gardens that we all come together as a community, celebrate and embrace our differences in a tolerant and understanding manner.

During the first Christmas of the war, something unique happened in some parts of the front line. Both sides on the Western Front agreed to put down their weapons. This became known as the Christmas Truce. The British High Command, which led the British troops, did not agree with this truce and warned the soldiers not to go ahead with it. They even suggested that the Germans were planning an attack on Christmas Eve. However, they were ignored and no guns were fired on Christmas Day 1914.

On Christmas Eve, soldiers from both sides met in no man’s land. They sang Christmas carols, like ‘Silent Night’ (‘Stille Nacht’ in German). There was even a burial service for dead soldiers where the bodies of German and British soldiers were buried next to each other.

Men from both sides gave gifts to each other, mostly food. The Germans gave sausages to the British and the British gave the Germans chocolates. On Christmas Day, a football match was played between German and British troops on the Western Front. This was started by a British soldier kicking a football out of his trench. The Germans then joined in. It was reported that Germany won the match 3-2.

I would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas holiday and a peaceful and happy New Year.

 


Blog – 9th December 2016

The Seven Wonders of the World

A group of school children were asked to list what they thought were the present “Seven Wonders Of The World.” Though there were some disagreements, the following received the most votes:

  1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids
  2. Taj Mahal
  3. Grand Canyon
  4. Panama Canal
  5. Empire State Building
  6. Peter’s Basilica
  7. Great Wall of China

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student had not finished her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The little girl replied, “Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there are so many.” The teacher said, “Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help.” The girl hesitated, then read, “I think the “Seven Wonders Of The World” are:

  1. To see
  2. To hear
  3. To touch
  4. To taste
  5. To feel
  6. To laugh
  7. To love

The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The things we overlook as simple and ordinary and that we take for granted are truly wondrous. A gentle reminder – that the most precious things in life cannot be built by hand or bought by man.

 


Blog – 2nd December 2016

It’s all about…..Fidel.

Fidel Castro’s passing is truly an end of an era; he played a major part in modern history. In recent years we have lost many people that shaped the world as we know it: Nelson Mandela, Malcom Fraser, Hugo Chávez and Shimon Perez.

While many Cubans undoubtedly detested Castro, others genuinely loved him. They saw him as a David who could stand up to the Goliath of America, who successfully spat in the “Yanqui” eye. For them Castro was Cuba and Cuba was Castro.

In the pre-revolutionary period (before 1959) education in Cuba was compulsory from the ages of 6-14. School attendance was, however, extremely low; between 1942-1943 roughly 666,000 children out of 1 million children were not attending school. This had an enormous effect on literacy rates – the 1953 census showed that only 61.49% could actually read. The changes that Fidel Castro oversaw showed that in 2000, 97% of Cubans aged 15-24 were literate. Indeed, the youth illiteracy rate in Cuba is now close to zero.

These figures are quite stunning considering given the fact that Cuba has a relatively poor economy and the long-term and continuous blockade on trade. For 40 years education was the top priority of the Cuban government, this is shown by the fact that Cuba spent twice as much of public expenditure on education than its wealthier neighbour. Perhaps this is a reason that the USA voted for Donald Trump! The current spend on Cuban education is 13.6% of their GNP. The teacher to pupil ratio is 12:1, which is half of the Latin American ratio. The UK government currently spends only 5.5% of its GDP on education and the recent and continued austerity is leading to continued cuts for our schools across the UK.

How do literacy rates compare with the UK? The OECD study of basic skills ranks England lowest in the developed world for literacy, and second lowest for numeracy. We knew that our schools might struggle to compete with the likes of Singapore and South Korea, but this puts the problem in a whole new perspective. The report also found that England has three times more low-skilled people among those aged 16-19 than the best-performing countries like Finland, Japan, Korea and the Netherlands. One in ten of all English university graduates have low literacy and numeracy skills.

No doubt the increased testing that recent UK governments have introduced will address this trend…

I hope you have a great weekend.

 


Blog – 25th November 2016

It’s all about…Entitlement

I’m not allowed a dog at home. I always had a dog when I was growing up – Paddy, a Border Collie, – and loved every minute of caring, walking, playing and the company he provided. There was the time, when I was running with him and he sat down, refusing to budge, because he was tired. I had to carry him 3 miles home. I lost my temper with him that day, but learnt that whatever I did he wasn’t going to move! I’m not allowed a dog at home because my wife doesn’t like dogs. I think my daughter has missed out in that area because she never got to experience that special relationship with an animal. I know there are things that I have stopped my daughter doing, that my wife would have allowed, because of my experiences. When I think about it now it fills me with regret. As parents we need to expose our children to as many experiences as possible, so that they can decide how to live their lives when we are not here, so that they can grow.

There is a growing problem in our culture today and it has a name:  Entitlement.  This self-indulgent, self-centered attitude is creeping into our homes, our schools, our businesses and our government.  According to parents and authors of the book, The Entitlement Trap, Richard and Linda Eyre, entitlement refers to the growing trend in children (and adults) to think that they can have, should have, and deserve to have whatever they want, whatever their friends have – and that they should have it now and not have to earn it or give up anything for it. An attitude of entitlement is characterised by a lack of gratitude and personal responsibility which leads to a lack of satisfaction and an overarching propensity to blame others for our troubles.  It is also characterised by an inability to delay gratification which fosters laziness.

Ever met that mum at the park that wouldn’t say the word ‘no’ to her child for fear of hurting his or her self-esteem?  Not all families are this extreme but this general attitude of indulgence has resulted in parents giving children too much and demanding too little of children today. Some parents are defending their children against their teachers and coaches rather than backing the teachers and coaches up.  There is a blurring line between what is a want and a need.  Everyone gets a trophy whether their team wins or loses.  Add to this that we are now busier than ever – there is a tendency to give things instead of time.

Who is to blame?

It is true that we live in a culture that promotes instant gratification.  But it is well-meaning parents that are the foremost nurturers of entitlement attitudes.  When we (out of a desire to bless our children) go beyond satisfying all of our children’s needs and start satisfying all of their wants as well – we are spoiling them in more ways than we know.  Children learn to expect their wants and needs to be met.  They also learn to expect others to make sacrifices for them rather than being self-reliant..

Well-meaning educators have also played a part in fostering entitlement attitudes in children in the interest of preserving and maintaining their self-esteem.  By promoting unconditional self-regard, children end up feeling good about themselves no matter what they are doing which results in young people confusing esteem, which should be earned, with respect, which recognises the basic human worth of an individual.  When this distinction is not made, children learn that there is no relationship between how they behave and how they should feel about themselves. This results in the shocking lack of humility associated with an attitude of entitlement.

I had a fantastic couple of days in Nethercott this week and witnessed first-hand the amazing effect that Farms for City Children have on our pupils. I had an enlightening conversation with Catherine (Farm School Manager) and Mike (Farm Manager) about how children, their parents, teachers and health and safety have changed dramatically over the last few years. It’s such a shame that these changes reduce real opportunities to learn, grow and experience life. Getting dirty, growing up, taking risks, trust and trying new things are key ingredients in education; let’s not stop them with bureaucracy, our own fears and entitlement.

I read this fantastic blog about entitlement – worth a few minutes of your time.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-welch/5-signs-kids-are-struggling-with-entitlement_b_4747335.html

Thanks to Mrs Brand, Ms Woodcock, Ms Muir and Mr Finney for giving your all over the last week to provide an amazing opportunity for our Y5 and Y6 pupils – I know it’s incredibly hard work, enjoyable as well, but so very tiring. I hope you, especially, and all readers have a lovely weekend.

 


Blog – 18th November 2016

It’s all about….Attendance!

Each year there are only 190 school days and 380 registration sessions. This means there are 175 days (weekends & school holidays) for shopping, birthday treats, non-urgent medical, dental appointments, holidays, etc.

At present the attendance at Flora Gardens is 95%. The target for Flora Gardens is 96.5%.  This is beginning to become worrying and is likely to have a negative effect on social and academic progress. The Home-School Agreement requires all parents to:

  • See that your child comes to school and is collected each day from school on time.
  • Ensure that your child will not take holidays in term time.

There is also a legal requirement for you to send your child to school.

The following table outlines the effect of missing school:

at

Absence during term-time also has a large effect on the social aspects of school. If your child returns to school after a term-time holiday, they may find that friendship groups have changed, children are sitting with different friends, teams may have been picked or parts allocated for an assembly or end of topic performance. You may have missed important letters regarding a trip or special days in school. Children may find it hard to readjust.

I would also ask that you are sensible when keeping children off school because of illness. Obviously, if a child has vomiting or diarrhea, they cannot return to school for a minimum of 24 hours. Likewise, if they have an infection or temperature, they should stay at home. However, please do not worry about sending your child into school when they have a cold; just make sure they have a packet of tissues in their pocket!

 


Blog – 11th November 2016

It’s all about….. School trips!

I had the pleasure of attending the School Travel Awards on Thursday. Flora Gardens were invited to attend having made the final five from hundreds of entries. Mrs Brand entered Y6 into the running for the award when entries were being taken back in the summer. The class were asked to write about their experiences of the residential to Nethercott, which operates Farms for City Children, and provided her own commentary on how the trip benefited pupils. It certainly struck a chord with the judging panel which was impressed with the way the trip was fully-led by school staff, how inclusive the trip was and how much evaluation took place afterwards. In the end, Flora was just pipped to the post and came a very close second. At the award ceremony, attended by Miss Woodcock, Mrs Brand and myself, we were flattered by the wonderful and public praise heaped on the children, the school and the staff. The next group of ‘farmers’ depart next Friday for this year’s trip and I know they will have an amazing time and lots of adventures.

I have led many trips in the UK and abroad, mainly for sport, but also for academic retreats and outward bound type activities. Often school trips are seen as a jolly for staff with responsibility for the children passed onto centre staff. At Flora, the staff are fully involved in our trips and take responsibility for the children 24/7. They give this time freely and willingly because they know the amazing benefits it has for our pupils. Residential trips have enormous relevance to life and make better citizens.

Aldous Huxley said, “We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves.  The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone.  Embrace, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain.  By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy solitude.  From family to nation, every human being is a society of island universes.” Residential trips provide the best opportunities for teamwork, social bonding and learning.  The strength in any team comes from the family spirit created by the isolated and individual parts.  The strength comes from standing shoulder to shoulder with the person next to you and saying with your actions “we will not stop trying to improve.”

The opportunity to learn, make friends for life and experience different lifestyles is a singular opportunity for most of our pupils. Flora Gardens proves that residential trips are not just for private school where the pupils are privileged. Nethercott is the living reality that education at Flora Gardens is about far more than SATs, tests and academic results.

Thank you to all the parents that attended our Remembrance service today – the children were impeccable in observing the 2 minutes silence and remembering the sacrifices that have been made, and continue to be made, for our freedom.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

 


Blog – 4th November 2016

It’s all about….Money

Half term seems so far away now with such a lot squeezed into one week! The Y3’s have won a competition to visit Leeds Castle later this term to take part in a very special Beatrix Potter celebration day– it is a wonderful opportunity and you can read about it here:

CLICK HERE

It is very exciting and I am looking forward to hearing all about the visit.

There is a great article on the BBC website today about funding for schools. There is no doubt that school funding is very tight, with real costs spiralling whilst income remains frozen. There has been an ongoing discussion about fairer funding for schools and we wait to see what happens; unfortunately that will not happen until 2018 so until then it’s a bit of fingers crossed. What I do know is that our finances are incredibly tight but we are keeping our heads above water. There have been no cuts to the opportunities we offer the children, indeed:

  • We are running more clubs after school than ever before
  • Our extended day until 6pm is new and is here to stay
  • From January more clubs will be offered, including drama club
  • Music is a vital and core activity in the school and our partnership with Wigmore Hall is a fantastic project
  • Our sports provision is brilliant and our pupils have an additional hour of high quality PE with a specialist teacher.

You can read the article on school funding here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37860682

Every little bit helps so anything that you can do to further support the school and the PTA through connections and contacts are very welcome!

Thank you for your support and have a great weekend.


Blog – 21st October 2016

It’s all about….the pupils

We had the pleasure of the Local Authority visiting the school to check on our progress. The visit was resolutely positive and they confirmed that we have successfully dealt with the issues that Ofsted brought up when they visited in March 2015!

I am delighted to let you know that this visit was robust, professional and without preconceived ideas. It means that if we continue on the path we are on, then when Ofsted revisit us, we are most likely to move out of ‘Requires Improvement’.

The staff have worked tirelessly with the children to achieve this result and I am very proud of all their efforts. It is, of course, the pupils that make the difference and they were a great credit to you and the school.

Headlines:

  • The trajectory of improvement is strong.
  • A key strength is leadership and management.
  • Data is robust.
  • Pupils are making good progress, which is a reflection on the teaching they are receiving.
  • Children are engaged and motivated to learn.
  • Pupils’ behaviour and manners are very good.
  • A Y6 pupil is very likely to be an author – her writing was so inspirational.
  • Music lesson…. “I don’t want to leave, it is that good.”
  • Sport and music are great strengths.

Well done to all.

I would like to thank our wonderful Chair of the FGPTA, Miss Kelly, for all of the time and effort that was put in to organising the hugely successful International Day celebrations. Thank you also to everyone who came and generously brought a dish. I am sure you agree that it was a very enjoyable evening for all. I hope to see more of you at our next PTA event.

I hope you have a restful half term.

 


Blog- 14th October 2016

It’s all about Early Years…

As the first half term comes to an end, it is time for one of our regular visits from the Local Authority, where they visit the school and see how we are doing. This week we had our Early Years visit and here is some of the feedback we received –

Nursery:

 Children are welcomed warmly at the start of the day, ensuring a smooth transition between home and school

 Good relationships have been formed by staff with the children and their parents

 The class teacher is engaging and has a lovely manner with the children

 Children are happy and settled and show high levels of engagement

 Children understand classroom rules, routines, and the expectations for behaviour

 TAs lead carpet sessions at the start of the day as well as adult led activities  The outdoor area is inviting and thoughtfully set up, reflecting current themes.

Reception:

 The TA was well deployed supporting an activity

 Children confidently talked about their learning and were proud of their work

 The intended learning was clear and was supported by the adult led activities

 The outdoor area was inviting and thoughtfully set up, reflecting current themes. Effective questioning by the adult in the outdoor area encouraged children to problem solve and come up with their own ideas.

We are all really pleased with this assessment of our Early Years and received a few tips that will make the experience even better and allow us to achieve the “Outstanding” grade. Well done to all the EYFS pupils, staff and parents. The Local Authority will return next week to look at the rest of school and I will be sure to share their findings with you after half term.

This evening is the PTA International Celebration with quiz – it’s not too late to attend! Pop in or call the school and ask for Miss Kelly who will save you a ticket to purchase on the door.

Have a great weekend!


Blog – 7th October 2016

It’s all about rigour…..True words from a fellow Head.

I was at a meeting the other day and we were discussing the moderation process. There are several schools that had been moderated in writing and they have shared their experiences. The over-arching theme was that the moderators had been rigorous in their use of the writing framework’s tick list. The DfE would be proud. Best fits were out. Triple evidenced tick boxes were in.

We began to talk about the rigour of the new curriculum. It’s really rigorous. Teachers need to rigorously teach it. The rigorousness of the children’s ability to write proper depends on it. Teachers being unable to talk to children without commenting that the last child who answered a question did so whilst using a cracking modal verb followed by a coordinating conjunction is the current educational de rigueur.

Primary English education is very, VERY rigorous.

Except it isn’t.

It’s tedious.

Churning out lessons like they’re literary shopping lists is not the way to create a literate society. Parroting the exemplification framework, rather than talking like a human, is neither good nor rigorous teaching.

Rigorous English teaching is a holistic art. It requires you to blend the technicalities of the English language with the much harder job of capturing imaginations. You have to ignite passions, acknowledge tentative attempts, unpick glorious failures and celebrate style.

You can’t do this if you are an assessment framework slave. Sometimes you have to feel success, not identify it. That’s the magic of teaching. Reading a child’s work and not quite being able to put your finger on why it’s astounding. How often has a slightly misplaced word, or even an incorrectly spelt one, actually got across an idea or a feeling better than anything else you’ve ever read? I’ve lost count of the number of times the ‘teacher’ in me thought he hasn’t quite used that right while the ‘human’ in me has countered that with but my word, he’s nailed it; I know exactly what he means. Being able to appreciate when wrongs make a right and then sharing that with the child is how you evolve writers.

Of course you need to teach punctuation, grammar and spelling. You can’t be a consciously good writer if you don’t have an understanding of the basic rudiments of how the written word works. Teachers’ subject knowledge has to be exceptional. But not at the expense of their instincts.

We’ve survived the first year. We’ve got the hindsight of what happened as well as the foresight of what’s coming. We know what the moderators are after. We know that children were not allowed to be judged ‘expected’ because a tick list, not a professional teacher who knows their class inside out, deemed it so. Professional teachers will now be in danger of being reduced to teach to the tick-list more than ever because, at the end of the year, we’ve all got to show progress. And that progress will be linked to how many more children ticked more boxes than last year.

The potential for dry evidence creating is greater than ever. Children could spend more time copying out final drafts of old (and corrected) writing in order to show that now, and in this book, they can use the progressive form appropriately. Teachers may be told to abandon creative ideas in order to churn out standards baiting paragraph openers – or whatever openers are called nowadays. Literary sparks, that fly off the page, could be snuffed out as teachers shine a light on a mixed tense malfunction. This could be the landscape of teaching English this year.

Why?

Because the framework is rigorous and the moderators use it rigorously.

 


Blog – 23rd September 2016

Three weeks into term and I am delighted to be able to report how well everyone has settled in. There is a real calm but sense of purpose around the school as we get on with our work in educating our pupils.

Our After School Service is running very well with good numbers. This really has given working and busy parents the reassurance that their child will be looked after in the caring, family environment that is Flora Gardens. If you would like a place, either regular or ad hoc then please let Ms Elven know in the office.

In next week’s newsletter our English leader, Ms Woodcock, will write a short note about how we are teaching spellings this year. I hope you will find it useful but remember the more you do at home with your child the better. I was reading with interest the article about reading from Michael Morpurgo – you will remember that last year the Y6’s read War Horse and also went to the theatre to watch the play in central London. In short, he is verbalising what many of us feel about the direction of travel for education – “Too much testing in schools risks killing the joy of reading for children”.  He suggests that parents should read to their children every night and that there should be more “story time, half an hour at the end of each day in school.”  We are certainly increasing the amount of reading we do with the pupils of Flora Gardens and our reading initiatives are really taking off, please continue to help your child find the joy in reading – it makes all the difference in the world! You can read the full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37422429

Finally, we had a few visitors in this week and it was lovely to hear all of them, quite independently, tell me how polite, respectful and helpful the pupils they met were. Well done all – manners cost nothing!

Have a great weekend.

 


Blog – 16th September 2016

The last Sunday of the holidays…..

I don’t know which of the Athenian Stoics it was who said you shouldn’t wish your life away, but it was obviously one who had never been left on his own with a full yapping zoo of offspring for the weekend while his wife went swanning off up the M1 enjoying herself (well, OK, visiting her mother in the knee-replacement hospital). As every parent knows, there’s nothing like a sustained bout of childcare to make the days longer.

Still, I did get off to a decent enough start, thanks to my ingenious idea of putting the central-heating clock forward to discourage anyone who might have harboured thoughts of waking me up early enough to watch the street lamps go out. And the first bit of the morning passed peaceably enough with the said offspring sprawled on the rug wired up to their Nintendo home lobotomy kits. But there came the inevitable moment – some point after we’d spent an hour and 33 minutes hanging about in town while the eldest decided on just the right inappropriate sticker for his new skateboard but before the first complaint at lunch about everything being too brown – when I was eventually faced up to whatever law of time and space (and I’m sure there must be one) decrees that the will to think up fresh entertainments for unreceptive young minds shrinks in inverse proportion to the growing absence of a second responsible adult.

At this stage, swimming seemed like an answer. I don’t really like swimming, which to my mind is too closely related to drowning to count as an entirely relaxing activity. But it does represent a chunk of time. Not including an hour or so in the water with the little one hanging round my neck, I figured this should work out at five minutes to drive to the pool, a further 20 minutes to pay the woman and to shout at everyone to hurry up and get undressed and stop messing about, 10 minutes to inflate the inflatables including dizzy spell, plus a couple of minutes’ stoppage time to send one of them out to ask the woman if she’s got change for a twenty for the lockers. As it turned out, we scored a bonus seven minutes for having to get dressed again and retrace our steps through the car park in search of lost trunks.

I don’t propose to dwell too much on the fine print of how time doesn’t invariably fly during the leisurely course of a weekend. Suffice to say, we had a moment during our Sunday roast when the non-materialisation of gravy was noted and the word ‘chewy’ was used in an uncomplimentary way. Someone wondered when Mum would be back. I had a short exchange of views with the eldest over her design and technology homework, in particular to point out that her shrugging insistence on Terence Conran being the founder of Ikea was actually more than just a matter of opinion. I sent the others to feed the ducks but they came back pining for their consoles, both now unplugged in favour of colouring books, jigsaws and other quiet games devoid of charm and interest. I held out until the boredom transformed itself from a low, wailing lament into an expression of demand for snacks and drinks.

I had plenty to do, of course, my wife having left detailed instructions on how to carve a pattern into the day of rest using only the timeworn tools of household drudgery. In addition to cooking and mopping up after the children, the bathroom had to be scrubbed, and the upstairs hoovering done and a ton of washing. There was a list of the secret places where everything was kept, including items of school uniform and dinner tickets for morning. I slaved over a hot ironing board listening to the football on the radio, occasionally breaking up fights over whose turn something was, and wondering what kind of a world it would be if everybody left their shirts inside out with all the buttons fastened. My wife did come home eventually, flushed with freedom, gleefully waking all the children whom I had just managed to get to bed. The good news, she said, is that her mum will be home this weekend, so she’ll be going up to see her again. I’m already counting the minutes.

 


Blog – 20th July 2016

It’s all about….the pupils!
One of the great strengths and successes of Flora Gardens has to be the amount that is going on and the effect that it is having on educating the whole child. The academic education has improved dramatically in the last 12 months, with Early Years being above National Average in ‘Good Level of Development’, Phonics being above National Average and improving 5% on last year. Year 2 SATs all at 73% pass rate – with Reading improving by 24%, Maths up 25% and Reading up a whopping 60%!
Depending on exactly how the DfE decide to count our Y6 pupils… Reading is up 33%, Writing up 64%, SPAG hit a high at 88% (National Average being 72%), Maths also at 88% – 18% above National Average and our combined scores at 54%, just above the National Average.
These results are not due to chance, luck or coincidence. These results are down to the incredibly hard work the teachers have put in, the training and appointment of these teachers, the work that the parents have done at home with the pupils, but most importantly they are down to you, our fantastic pupils who have worked incredibly hard this year. Congratulations to you all!
Whilst we celebrate our improvement as a school, the job isn’t done yet. As Head of Flora Gardens I am looking for better results next year, continued hard work and for us to be held up as an example of how dedication and determination can take a school to the top.
As I have said before, education is not just about results, it’s about far more. It’s about enriching lives, giving opportunities that may not be available otherwise. It’s about possibilities – what ifs, preparing for the future, opening up opportunities for the future. And here at Flora it’s about community – celebrating our diverse backgrounds, beliefs and religions in a compassionate and open minded way. Respect, learning and tolerance are the cornerstones of Flora Gardens.
The School fete on Saturday made a profit of just under £2000! But it wasn’t about the money; it was about the community, celebrating the year and everyone having a good time. Next year we will build on the success of the fete with more parental involvement, more community involvement and with you, the pupils, at the centre of the organising committee.
The Y6’s have led by example this year – and what a year they have had. The leaver’s prom last night, their production of Cinderella Rockafella last week, the War Horse visit and meeting Michael Morpurgo, the Nethercott City Farms residential – an amazing life experience, setting up Stride enterprise stalls – with 5 girls winning £400 for the school and their trip to parliament. The Sky Studios trip where they created their own news reports on E-Safety, their increasingly mature interactions with staff, leading by example and growing up. Y6, you leave Flora Gardens ready for your next move along the education ladder. You are a credit to your school, your families and your teachers. Please do not be strangers, come back and say hello – you are all very welcome.
It is a pleasure to be Head of this great school, thank you for your continued support.
I hope you all have a wonderful and restful summer holiday.
A S Naismith
Head


 

Blog – 8th July 2016

It’s all about….figures!

The whole school had a fantastic day at Ravenscourt Park yesterday for our annual Sports Day. Our pupils showed their competitive sides and displayed exceptional effort. Our pupils also showed incredible sportsmanship and many extra House points were awarded for being a good friend. Thank you to Mr Finney for organising this highly enjoyable event for our pupils, parents and staff. Here are the results:

Points 112 114 85 92
Rec & KS1 Diamond Emerald Ruby Sapphire

 

Points 327 158 294 212
KS2 Diamond Emerald Ruby Sapphire

 

Overall Points 439 272 379 304
Diamond Emerald Ruby Sapphire

 

Year 6 SATs results – hard work pays off!

Year 6 graph

NA – National Average


 

Blog – 1st July 2016

It’s all about…. In or Out or Not Out

It all happened so quickly and to just about everyone’s surprise. When it happened 48% looked at it and said “IN”, 52% looked at and said “OUT”. For a while it brought paralysis to everyone, nobody could believe what had happened; why the decision to take the risk was taken and what would happen next. Most of us turned to the big silver screen to see what it was telling us. As we watched the replays the view was split, it was touch and go, IN or OUT? The final angle gave the answer we were looking for, he had just managed to ground his bat and the decision was “NOT OUT”. I am, of course, referring to the trip to Lords on Tuesday to watch the cricket and take part in some cricket training. The pupils enjoyed watching the cricket and replays of decisions on the big screen and I hope that you enjoy some of the photographs that are within this newsletter.

I’ve talked about cricket and sport reasonably often in this blog because it is important to me, it enriches the lives of our pupils and, along with music, enhances the education for life that Flora Gardens provides. The extended day, increasing clubs from 3 per week to 12 per week this year (16 next year) is part of the extended and enriched education offered at Flora Gardens. The “open to everyone” breakfast club continues to grow and from September our extended day to 6.00pm will open; I do hope that parents use these opportunities to enhance the children’s extended education opportunities and  that it eases the pressure of child minders for those that have work commitments.

The IN or OUT theme was prevalent earlier in the week after one of the biggest upsets in footballing history – Belgium beating Hungary! I note this because I had the Hungarians in the sweepstake, oh well at least I didn’t have England. It fills me with amazement how every two years the “English public” somehow convince themselves that the England Football team will be challenging for the World Cup or European Cup. The excitement builds up, England are world class, nobody will stop them and then, every time without fail, a few abstract performances take place and an early ride home for the overpaid, underperforming ‘professionals’ occurs. Never mind, I’m sure in two years time the “English public” will be more realistic….

I’ll stick with the ‘professionals’ line of thought now. The teachers at this school are professional; they put the pupils first and conduct themselves as role models, demanding the highest attainment from pupils whilst demonstrating the “Flora Way” – caring, supportive, approachable, flexible and diligent. The results in Phonics (Y1), SATs (Y2) and writing SATs (Y6) demonstrate how far we have come in such a short time. Unlike the England Football team, at Flora we don’t listen to hype but concentrate on delivering the best we can to all pupils. Our results this year are a great improvement but if you want to be the best you must keep looking at what you do, change things that can be improved and never settle for good enough, nor rest on past successes – onwards, upwards and continued change is the path that we will follow in order to achieve our vision for the pupils at Flora Gardens.

OK, I have to mention it.

There will undoubtedly be effects on the education system, just as there will be in every sector.”

So said Malcolm Trobe, Interim General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

It worries me deeply. Whatever happens this school will remain a school that reflects its community, which treats people equally, regardless of where they come from or what they believe or their status. We welcome all people with open arms and a lurch to the right will not change that at Flora Gardens under my Headship.

Have a great weekend.

 


 

 

Blog – 24th June 2016

It’s all about…Celebrations and Cricket

I was told on Monday that the Y6 girls, Habon, Ilaf, Maliha, Molly and Ruweyda, who took part in Stride (a competition where they design a product, pitch the idea to the ‘Dragons’ and then sell their product), won £400 for the school! Massive congratulations to you all and the staff that took them. A visit to a book shop to pick your prizes will take place very soon.

A couple of weeks ago our boys and girls took part in the Borough cricket tournaments for the first time in many years. The boys had a very tough group and, although they pushed two teams very close, just failed to win. However, after receiving instructions about how to represent the school, Mr Finney reported how pleased he was to be commended by the organisers on the behaviour and courtesy of the boys – well done! The girls were tremendous winning two of their four games and just missing out on the semi-finals. I’m sure they will improve on this next year.

I’m reading a book called “Stiff Upper Lips and Baggy Green Caps” by Simon Briggs at the moment. It’s a cricket book that looks at the best moments of Ashes Cricket with a comical edge.  This link shows “the ball of the Century”, bowled by Shane Warne to Mike Gatting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y1hI2Tt8F8

It led to this great quote by then captain of England, Graham Gooch, “If it had been a cheese roll, it would never have got past hi.m”

The Y1’s did extremely well in their Phonics with 82% achieving the pass mark from last year – once again this year’s pass mark is yet to be published by the Government…

And talking of all things SATs, I was sent this wonderful poem about the Y6 tests:

Michel Rosen

Writing at the Expected Level
If you can write and make sense
remember,  it’s not enough
If you can write and make people laugh
remember, it’s not enough
If you can write and make people cry
remember, it’s not enough
If you can write and make people desperate to know what happens next,
remember, it’s not enough
If you can write and make people feel good,
remember, it’s not enough
If you can write and make people think and wonder,
remember, it’s not enough
If you can write and make people want to be where you went,
remember, it’s not enough
If you can write and make people want to be some of the people
you’ve written about
remember, it’s not enough
If you can write and make people want to read more and more and more
remember, it’s not enough
But:
if you can write something
that no one is particularly interested in,
no one is desperate to read more and more,
no one laughed or cried or wanted to be where you went
or wanted to know what happened next,
no one wondered about what you had written,
yet,
you included commas, semi-colons, colons,
expanded noun phrases, fronted adverbials, and
embedded relative clauses
over and over and over again
that’s enough.

Michael’s Blog is well worth a read: http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk

Have a good weekend.


 

Blog – 17th June 2016
The school staff and the FGPTA have been working very hard preparing for our Summer Fete which is on Saturday 16th July – it’s going to be fantastic! The pupils have been busy planning their performances and rehearsals are now underway. Year 6 have been preparing their “Stride Stalls” – you will remember earlier in the year when they produced business plans and sold their goods to parents and pupils. They came up with some amazing business ideas and they are looking forward to putting their newly acquired entrepreneurial skills to practice once again.

Here’s some exciting news for you – the Metropolitan Police have just confirmed that they will be sending the mounted horse division to the school for our Summer Fete, fitting in perfectly with our Wild West theme. I’m sure this will be a fabulous spectacle. There will also be many more fun activities for both children and adults to enjoy, including a tombola, beat the goalie, lucky dip, raffle (with amazing prizes!), a cake stall, BBQ, live music, face painting, a bouncy castle and Go-Karting. We really are pulling out all the stops to make this day as special as possible!

Year 1 have been working really hard on their Phonics this week and I am sure we will be delighted with the results, well done to all!

 


 

 

Blog – 10th June 2016

It’s all about…..Year 2

A water shortage was reported on the South Coast this week. This was largely due to the attempted drowning of the Head by a number of Y2 pupils and Miss Curtin, whilst happily minding his own business and paddling in the sea at Littlehampton. The said attempted drowning resulted in half the’ la Manche’ (English Channel) being swallowed and driven back to London. I am told a video is available upon request…The Y2s visited Littlehampton for their summer day out and had a fantastic day on the beach, burying each other, swimming, drowning the Head, avoiding swooping sea gulls and their ‘bombs’, collecting shells, and enjoying the wonderful weather. Thank you to the staff and parents that made this possible.

The Y2 SATs standardised scores eventually were published right at the end of last week. You would think that the required scores would be published before the SATs, but no, far too obvious for the DfE! Anyway, I shouldn’t let them cloud our great news; the fact that 74% of the children earned the appropriate mark in their English and Maths! Congratulations Y2 – progress indeed! This represents a significant increase from last year and is a great indicator that the school is making progress. Let me be clear, we are happy with 74% this year but are setting our aspirations higher for all our pupils and with the great work that is going on, a permanent teaching staff and stable leadership, we are getting there! The work done by Miss Curtin, Mrs O’Brien, and numerous other adults in Y2 is worthy of public praise – well done and thank you!

 


 

 

Blog – 27th May 2016

I hope you are looking forward to a lovely half term. Unfortunately mine has already been taken over with my gardening duties….

Cats are portrayed as affectionate, fluffy purr balls – ideal companions for people with no time for human co-dependents.

Living where I do, I know this to be a fallacy.  The cats that hang around my street are self-serving little thugs with scant regard for the existence of human beings.  They behave like unruly youths loitering outside SPAR, drinking cider and swearing at passers-by.

When I leave the window open, I sometimes find them in my kitchen, scavenging for food.  They don’t seem to be bothered when I chase them away.  They are defiant.  Even the RSPCA are worried, they are launching a country wide neutering clinic to prevent a cat plague.

The cat problem produces an almost sectarian response from the British public.  The “Today” programme ran a show entitled “Are there too many cats in our cities?”  This caused fur to fly with angry pussy-lovers battling it out with those who thought that cats should be culled.  One listener complained that her cat was visibly upset by the item.

I am somewhat of an expert on the cat problem, thanks to a disastrous error of judgement in the re-design of my garden last summer.  The aim was to create an oasis of calm – a Zen enclosed area – using gravel (great for dispersing chi), with fragrant herbs.  After two weeks of back breaking physical labour, I raked out the final bag, then sat back and proudly surveyed the elegant space I had created.

Within seconds, a fat ginger tomcat appeared.  He gasped with delight at the sea of gravel, parked his quivering haunches next to my new lavender bush and – the horror – did his business.  It never occurred to me that gravel = cat litter.  In my quest for a Zen garden I had created a feline toilet.

Whereas before my garden was occasionally visited by a couple of stray cats, there were now at least 12 regulars.  It was like a youth club. The ideal place to spray, fight, play and all with en-suite facilities.

At first I tried to do something about it.  I found that not only was the cat-love business an enormous industry, but so is the cat-hatred society.

I set myself to the task and became the equivalent of a 40 year old version of those old ladies that threaten you with a steak knife if you kicked your football onto their lawn.  After a few weeks of failure I invested in a water pistol that I kept by the door.  I knew they were too quick for me, but it made me feel better.

Still they came, mainly at night.  Each morning I would inspect the damage – easy to judge by the concentration of flies.  When my daughter woke up at 4am, I would settle her down and then go on patrol with my water pistol.  I seriously considered building a “hide” like on safari.

The weather has been on my side though. The colder it got the less need there was to open the back door.  The water in my Super Soaker XP270 has stagnated, and even the cats themselves are too disgusted by the state of the gravel, it now looks like a giant bowl of Alpen, to do their business there.  This half-term will bring tough decisions.  An electric fence? A Jack Russell? Perhaps more back-breaking labour putting down a patio.

I hope you all have a wonderful half-term.

 


 

Blog – 20th May 2016

“There’s more to life than books you know, but not much more” – Smiths fans will recognise Morrissey’s line from ‘Handsome Devil’. He was absolutely right. According to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, reading for pleasure is a strong factor in determining future social mobility. It was also found to be the most important indicator of the future success of the child. Crucially, the research distinguished between reading for its own sake and reading as a result of external persuasion or for a specific purpose. Recent PISA data shows that reading for enjoyment is associated with reading proficiency: a crucial difference between students who perform well in the PISA reading assessment and those who perform poorly lies in whether they read daily for enjoyment, rather than in how much time they spend reading. On average, students who read daily for enjoyment score the equivalent of one-and-a-half years of schooling better than those who do not.

All of this suggests that young people who read for pleasure are predisposed, not only to reading but to learning in general – which would probably explain the increased social mobility findings.

The message is clear: we need to encourage young people to read for pleasure. But this is easier said than done. Statistics show a decline in the number of school students who read for pleasure. It is an ever-present challenge for parents and teachers to come up with reading materials that are interesting and relevant for young people.

I was more disturbed by the report about the books that cause mental illness. At first I thought it was a double-bluff to get children reading – nothing makes people want to read something more than banning it – but, a headteacher in Gloucester has urged pupils not to read Harry Potter claiming sadly it causes mental illness. The head also said other fantasy titles such as Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games and Terry Pratchett books encourage ‘difficult behaviour’. He told parents to steer clear of JK Rowling’s ‘frightening’ books and that they should read classics like Dickens, Keats, Shelley and Shakespeare.

This is a preposterous notion: even a smattering of Dickens’ prose or Shakespeare’s drama would give us enough violence, gore and dark psychosis to make Katniss shiver. What Dickens, Shakespeare, Rowling and Pratchett have in common is that they can all tell damn good stories and that is what gets us all –children and adults – reading. And, furthermore, reading is what will, above all, develop children’s literacy skills.

So, I can just about put up with the Department for Education telling me that I must never end a sentence with an exclamation mark if I haven’t used ‘What’ or  ‘How’ to begin it but I certainly won’t contemplate banning books that children love to read! (See what I just did, Mr Gibb?)

 


 

 

Blog – 13th May 2016

A (borrowed) review of Y6 SATs….

There’s always the chance that you’ll get a visitor on the day of a test. If you do, it will most likely be someone who has come to observe you administer the papers. Not to judge your integrity, they just get a kick out of observing heightened security measures. Watch how their breathing quickens as you reveal the safe key from the secret compartment in your shoe! See how they quiver with excitement as you complete the retina scan in order to release the papers from their titanium cell. Hear how they squeal and giggle with pleasure as you slice off the top of the plastic bag and pull out the untouched papers. It is a bit creepy but, if they don’t say that they’re coming back the next day, then you’re doing it wrong.

As soon as the reading paper had been completed news began to spread about the nature of the reading material. The bar had been raised. The opening paragraph was appropriate in word length for 15 year-olds only. Every child cried at some point during the test. Nobody finished it. The texts were elitist and suitable for white middle class English children born in 1823.

The Maths Reasoning paper had been going well up until page 18. From then on in it all got rather strange. Pupils were faced with a box at the bottom of a blank page that said ‘This page is blank’.  When they turned over to get to the next question they were faced with another blank page. However, this time the box at the bottom read ‘Is this page blank’. Gradually more and more hands went up to ask for help and the adults administering the test had no choice but to pause the test and hold an impromptu meeting in the corner of the room. The only conclusion that could be made was that this was a new type of cross-curricular test that the government had decided to spring on schools without warning. The administrators turned to the children and said that they should treat the text in the box like a punctuation and grammar question. So, all the children began dutifully adding a question mark to the writing in the box, in order for it to be grammatically correct: Is this page blank? Satisfied, the administrators re-started the test and instructed the children to continue. To everyone’s dismay the next page was also blank. In the box at the bottom of this page read the words: ‘Blank page this is.’ Everyone looked at each other, not knowing quite what to do. Finally, someone suggested that if you read it out loud, it sounded a bit like the sort of thing Yoda from Star Wars would say. This didn’t really help but a few children decided to draw a Yoda anyway just to be sure.

A funny old year for SATs!

Have a great weekend.

 


 

Blog – 6th May 2016

“Stop clubbing baby seals.” And with a comma added you get this:

seal

I had a very surreal happening this week! A teacher told me “I have had to ban XXX from using semicolons.”

“Why?” I asked.

“He uses them all the time and it’s all to do with the SATs test that requires pupils to have a ‘checklist’ of punctuation that is needed to achieve the required level.”

It feels a great shame when schools have to teach to a checklist rather than looking after the individual whole education of a child. My wife, also a Headteacher, chief examiner for A Level English and former Head of English, was astounded by the requirements of primary school children in terms of literacy, punctuation and grammar. Her view, like mine, is that we should be teaching pupils to love literacy and love learning, not forcing children to jump through hoops that keep moving and turn children off learning.

I do see the importance of grammar and punctuation – you only need to look at these examples to see how misuse leads to misunderstandings!

Enjoy.

gr

 


 

Blog – 29th April 2016

Not so long ago, my daughter trailed into the sitting room and thrust her iPod Touch into my hands.

“What is it now?” I demanded wearily. “Do you want me to update it or reboot it or pay for more apps involving panicky little men pursued by angry monkeys? Because, really, you spend far too much time –”

And then I caught sight of her pale face and noticed her air of despondency. “Please take it away,” she said. “It’s making me anxious. If I’m on it for too long, I feel really sad. I don’t know why, but I do.”

This week we completed our annual ICT safety audit. We looked at how the pupils at Flora Gardens use the internet. Key findings were:

  • A high percentage of pupils use the internet for more than 3 hours a day.
  • A high number of children use social media, for example Facebook. It is illegal to use most social media sites/apps under the age of 13…
  • A number of pupils take and send pictures of themselves over the internet.

I think it’s worth a reminder that it is important to monitor the usage of this wonderful resource and remind children about the dangers and how to stay safe online. I found the below article on this and it is well worth a read.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/children/10010478/Computer-kids-Does-your-child-need-a-digital-detox.html

On another note, I am delighted that the school and PTA will be holding our New Summer Fete on Saturday 16th July – please keep this date free! All children will be taking part in a display based around our theme of “The Wild West”. More information will follow in the coming weeks.

I hope you all have a restful Bank Holiday.


 

 

Blog – 22nd April 2016

I received a phone call on Friday from my daughter – she’s just turned 18. She said that she had had her tongue pierced, or rather she said “Dad I’ve hath my tong pierceds”.

She said there was nothing I could do because she is 18 now.

My reaction was one of anger but also concern but I held my tongue. Running through my mind were questions: Will it get infected? How will it look? Will it affect her ability to get through university and get a job?

All concerns that are important.

Turning 18 gives you more freedom that you can use or abuse. And technically she is correct, there is nothing I can do. As you get older you tend to learn how and when to “hold your tongue”. When not to say what you really want to.

We hold our tongue so that we do not offend.  We hold our tongue because if we don’t it leads to repercussions. It can lead to bullying, upset and hurt. It can lead us into places we don’t want to go – a slip of the tongue at the wrong time can be vile.

The message we have been working on in school is hold your tongue. Think before you speak. Will what you say hurt, will it be overheard and cause you problems?

By the way my daughter was wrong about what I could do.  A lemon-grass curry on Saturday night soon had her tongue burning and by Sunday she had removed the offending item. Another example of by not saying anything, by controlling my tongue success is achieved.


 

Blog – 15th April 2016

Welcome back! I hope that you have had a wonderful break.

Last term we began working on our new mission statement. I met with parents, governors, staff and pupils who all gave their much valued input. And so here it is,  Flora Garden’s new mission statement. I hope you will all agree that it really does reflect Flora.

Mission Statement

‘Our school is about far more than just academic results; it is about community, respect, honesty and family. We aim to deliver multi-cultural learning experiences for every individual that are innovative, creative, purposeful and fun. Set in our unique spacious green grounds that give pupils outstanding opportunities to explore, flourish and succeed. At Flora Gardens every pupil comes first and we aim to inspire them to fulfil their potential in each stage of their life’.

Objectives

  1. To recognise individual accomplishments enabling children to flourish and achieve their full potential – nothing is impossible if you believe you can achieve it.
  2. We provide a cross-curricular inclusive approach to learning with high expectations to ensure all our pupils are happy, confident, collaborative learners.
  3. To celebrate success and achievements.
  4. To value, recognise and encourage contributions of parents and families.
  5. To respect all cultures and beliefs regardless of background, religion or race.

 

Blog – 24th March 2016

The end of our second term is nigh! We had an egg-cellent final assembly celebrating all those with 100% attendance, the eggs-traordinary Y6 work based on Michael Rosen’s poetry and Amaan’s eggs-plosive insight into who is right – Mrs Brand or himself… The video is on our Twitter site and well worth a watch. The whole school came together to reaffirm our community spirit and tolerance of our differences as we remembered the events in Belgium earlier in the week. The pupils of this school set the example for those much older than themselves on how tolerance, community and multiculturalism should be celebrated. Well done and thank you.

Our mile-a-day eggs-ercise has been very successful and we will continue this after Easter; I hope the children keep this up over the break. The Y6’s are still on the lookout for the person that has been poaching their chocolates and I am sure they are hatching a plan to catch the culprit. On a totally unrelated note, the Chair of Governors has been in school a great deal recently…. Thank you for your awards for the children with the firmest handshakes – book tokens going to Aaron (Y5), Jasmin (Y4A) and Millie (Y2) – please let us know what books you choose.

We had a cracking visit from an Ofsted inspector who has confirmed our progress, whilst also identifying further areas that we can improve – something, at Flora, that we are all committed to achieve.  After Easter I will be hatching a plan to make sure that our improvements continue at a pace.  Finally, Ruby House were shell-shocked to see Diamond House overtake them as the leading House – all to compete for next term.

 

I do hope everybunny has a wonderful holiday. I know we are all fried but looking forward to an egg-static summer term!


 

Blog – 18th March 2016

An action packed week yet again! On Thursday we were fortunate to have one of our Reception parents, Bobby, and pupil Saoirse, playing the Bodhran in celebration of St Patrick’s Day. The assembly was fantastic and the rendition of ‘Danny Boy’ brought tears to many eyes. Well done everyone and a big thank you for joining as a community to once again help to celebrate a different country/culture’s important day. The concept of celebrating all cultures and beliefs is fundamental to Flora Gardens as a community school and the vast majority of pupils and parents are very supportive of this key facet of life at Flora. I do believe that it is vital that as adults, teachers and parents, we model understanding of different cultures and continue to join together to celebrate all aspects of our community.

This morning we held our Sports Relief assembly – I was delighted to see so many Liverpool shirts in the school; evidence of culture and learning at Flora Gardens! There were a plethora of supporting events held throughout the day in order to raise funds for this important charity. The staff netball match is the culminating event this afternoon and all spectators are welcome – 3.35pm until about 4.15pm. The cold weather is concerning my hamstrings but a full and proper warm-up should allow a rare appearance from me as the female staff take on the male staff for bragging rights (and of course charity)!
Finally, the term is coming rapidly to a close and I extend my invitation to all parents and family to join our final assembly on Thursday where the House competition update will be announced. Tea and coffee will be available after assembly.

 

Wishing you all a lovely weekend


 

Blog – 11th March 2016

There was some wonderful singing this morning from the whole school – “You raise me up” – arranged beautifully by Mr Smith and really did lift the whole school up. I think the end of term assembly will include this and some of the other songs we have learnt this year.

More great news this week to report with the FGPTA achieving charitable status. This is quite a gruelling process and now allows us to access further funds from external sources and continues professionalising our PTA. Thank you to Jemima and her team for the dedicated work on this and all the other aspects the PTA does. The vast majority of the PTA committee come from the upper school and it would be great to have more parents involved from Nursery, Reception, Y1, Y2 & Y3; please consider this – your help is needed!

Monday is Pi Day – please help your child remember as many digits after the decimal point as possible – Monday’s assembly will be a “Pi Off”… competition is likely to be fierce!

Finally, a thank you to all the parents and grandparents that attended the Mother’s Day lunch, it is always nice to have parents attending the school. We had some very positive feedback!

 


Blog – 4th March 2016

Homework was one of the key areas of development that Ofsted brought up with us 12 months ago and we have made great progress with this; once again I would like to thank those parents involved with our external advisor, Peter Campling, for the time you gave.

We have revamped our homework policy, which you can find on the policy page of the school website. On Wednesday, as part of our staff meeting, we discussed in detail the ways in which the school can provide appropriately differentiated homework and offer more support through after school clubs. We will be reporting back on this to parents by the end of this term.

Homework links will be posted on the school website, and here you will be able to find the work for your child as it is set and we will continue to stick work in the books in addition. You will notice that as well as minimum tasks there are additional tasks, which you may choose to do with your child as additional learning.

 


Blog – 26th February 2016

This week we were celebrating World Thinking Day and many classes took part in the challenges that were set. The focus this year was making meaningful connections that make our lives better, whether to the people closest to us, to a place we care about or to a friend on the other side of the world. Currently, there are more than 100 million children of primary school age not in school. More than 1 in 4 adults worldwide cannot read or write, and two-thirds of these are women. A single year of primary school increases the wages people earn later in life by 5-15% for boys and even more for girls.

The five challenges this year were:

  • Connect with me – Find out more about yourself
  • Connect with friends – Learn more about your friends
  • Connect with WAGGGS – Learn about World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts
  • Connect with the World – Outside activities
  • Connect with 10 million – Tell everyone what you have done!

Resources are available at: https://www.wagggs.org/en/resources/world-thinking-day-activity-pack-2016-connect/

I think it is well worth looking at these and trying some at home.

I do hope you have a wonderful weekend.

 


Blog – 12th February 2016

Another busy half term comes to a close! It has been a productive one, with many highlights and increased communications with parents regarding the attainment of children. SATs will soon be upon us, so it is important to have a good rest, but also do a little work every day so that all children reach their potential come May and June.

I was one of the “dragons” for the Y5 Gardens ‘Dragons’ Den’ on Wednesday, although my other dragons were far more fierce than me! Some wonderful ideas were presented but the winner was the Coke and Mentos propelled car…very exciting! Culminating visits for next half term are well planned and I am also hoping to have the revised reports produced before Easter. The marking and homework reports were positive, but both are key areas for development next half term. Your feedback is always most welcome.
I am told that the school disco was a great success and enjoyed by all; thank you to our wonderful PTA for organising this.

I would like to share with you a story from the excellent Jatakas collection:

The Penny Wise Monkey
Once upon a time, there lived the King of a big and affluent country. The King was quite fond of travelling. Usually, he didn’t like to visit his own country; instead he went to other countries. One day, he assembled his army to move out for a holiday to some distant country. The King and his soldiers walked for the whole morning in the forest. After this, they went into the camp to take some rest. The horses were also tired, so they were fed with peas. One of the Monkeys, who lived in the forest, was keeping a track of the things done by the King’s men from a distance. When he saw peas offered to the horses, he jumped down from the tree at once to get some of them. He quickly gobbled some peas, also filling his mouth and hands with them. Then, he went up the tree and sat down to eat the peas. As and when, he sat there to eat peas; one pea fell from his hand to the ground. The greedy monkey dropped all the peas he had in his hands and ran down to look for the lost pea at once. Unluckily, he could not find that one pea. He climbed up the tree again and sat at rest. He was looking very sad. He said to himself, “To get one pea, I threw away what I had”. The King was watching the monkey from the camp and said to himself, “I would not be like this stupid monkey, who lost much to gain a little. I will go back to my own country and enjoy what I have”. Thus, the King and his army marched back to their own country. Moral: Value the things you have.

I hope you have a wonderful break.

 


 

 

Blog – 5th February 2016 

We’ve had a very creative week here at Flora Gardens. On Monday and Wednesday Year 4 visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, on Tuesday and Wednesday we received a return visit from children’s author Mary Evan. The pupils had such a great time in her assembly and class workshops. Friday morning we had the pleasure of working with the extremely talented musicians from the Royal Albert Hall. It was really great, thank you to everyone involved.

It’s the time of the year were we start looking more closely at attendance, which currently stands at 95.5% for all year groups. Our target for the year is 96% so we are just falling short as we approach the half way stage. Congratulations to Year 4A who are currently at 97.7%. Please remember that continued education is vital to the academic progress of pupils and minor ailments shouldn’t keep your child off school. I am confident that with your support we can reach our target. Please make sure your child attends every day.

And finally, I am delighted to say that Mr Finney is running the London Marathon for a children’s cancer charity and we will be holding a number of fundraising activities before 24th April. I do hope that as a community we can support him through sponsorship as he aims for a finish time of 3 ½ hours.

Here is the link for his sponsorship page – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ConnorFinney

 


Blog – 29th January 2016

We had such a lovely singing assembly today in which the Flora Gardens’ anthem was sung for the first time, and Houses were judged. Diamond House won for their performance, but it really was nice to see the school coming together with our shared vision and combining the unique qualities of each House. Well done to all! The Mission statement is also entering the final stages of development. Staff have shortlisted 5 versions, all reflecting the values of the Houses and how the children see the school. I think you really have to be in the school, seeing the children at work and play, to understand the shared vision we all have.

Please remember that parents are always welcome at music assembly on Fridays at 9.10am.

The Emerald House cake sale yesterday was tremendously well supported and raised  £217.00 for the NSPCC. it was a great effort by all involved, thank you!

I am looking forward to meeting with parents of Y2 and Y6 next week to discuss the progress of their child and their next steps. Whilst half-term is an opportunity to recharge batteries, it is important that some time is given over to reading and other academic work so that we can continue to fill in any gaps that exist. Working together, the pupils will make their best even better.

 

Flora Anthem

Flora Gardens, we stand tall.

Flora Gardens, we are for all!

We try so hard to do the best we can.

Flora Gardens, we are aiming high!

 


Blog – 22nd January 2016

The cold weather at the beginning of the week made me start looking forward to the summer term. Not just in terms of the weather, but also our exciting plans to revamp the school summer fete. The idea is to hold a summer festival on Saturday 16th July 2016. The festival will include a number of performances from our pupils, stalls selling goods and food, fun games, a BBQ, an art exhibit of art work by our pupils, live music etc. We are also considering developing on the work that our pupils did on business enterprise with Stride, with pupils selling their own products so it should be really fantastic!

One of the ideas behind moving to a festival on a Saturday is to engage with the local community and bring them into the school; it is important for community schools to do this. Having our parents working with the school is a vital component for us and we call this group the FGPTA (Flora Gardens Parent Teacher Association). With the FGPTA, we will be asking you about what else you would like to see included at the festival. We are constantly looking for new parents to join as it is representative of our current pupils. If you are interested in joining the FGPTA, or being involved our summer festival, then please contact Jemima on 07958 357 334.

 


Blog – 15th January 2016

Thank you to the parents who have offered to work with the school on reporting to parents and the mission statement. I realise that time is under pressure, but there are still some places available for more parents to be involved in both of these important meetings. Dates and times are as follows:

– Reporting to Parents meeting: Tuesday 19th January at 8am in Head’s office
– Mission Statement meeting:  Wednesday 20th January at 9am in Head’s office

Rather than going around and around, please let my PA know if you would like to be involved in these meetings as soon as possible. You can email my PA, Miss O’Donnell, at pa@floragardens.lbhf.sch.uk.

I saw our girls’ football team play last Friday and, whilst they came second, it was fantastic to see their determination and endeavour – I am sure results will soon begin to improve; it’s worth remembering that at the beginning of the year they were absolute beginners. Parents are invited to watch these matches on a Friday afternoon, details later in the newsletter, please take advantage of these golden years. Staying with enrichment to the academic education, training has taken place and preparations are underway for our ‘Chamber Tots’ musical workshops that our heroes in Reception and Nursery will soon be taking part in. This will culminate in a performance on 23rd May to which all parents and relatives are invited – details to follow.

On Monday 1st February and Wednesday 3rd February we are holding initial parent meetings for Y6 and Y5, if you did not receive a letter about this then please see your child’s class teacher. These meetings will give every parent the opportunity to sit down with their child’s teacher, and myself in the case of Y6, to hear about progress and receive personalised advice on how best to support their child at home. If the feedback from this is positive, we will be looking to do this across the school in the next few terms.

Today, starman Tim Peake continues his space oddity with his first ‘spacewalk’. We will attempt to show it at school if there is a live broadcast; otherwise it is on TV tonight. Tim Peake exemplifies Emerald House’s motto, ‘Anything is possible’.

Finally, I read with interest on the BBC website that “School grades are linked to where you live”. The suggestion is that here in London we are better off than our Northern friends. At a time when the Government is suggesting changes, with a reduction to the finances to schools in London, this is very worrying. The additional costs of living in London and the difficulties in recruiting staff because of that must continue to be reflected in the funding that schools receive. I am sure we will be dancing in the street with the knowledge that our relationship with St Mary’s University Twickenham is becoming stronger and thus recruitment and staff training at Flora Gardens is in a strong position. The article can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-35282236

Have a great weekend – I will be spending mine listening to the fabulous tones of David Bowie, Ashes to Ashes.


Blog – 8th January 2016

A very Happy New Year to you all. In 1997 Nelson Mandela wrote:

“The new year (for us all) must be one in which each and every one of us shares the responsibilities for building on the foundation that has been laid.”

This seems particularly apt for Flora Gardens as we enter 2016. I have always believed that education is like a three legged stool; one leg being the teaching at the school, another being the pupil and the third being you, the parents. If one leg is not working then the stool will not work. I am confident that the teaching is in place to enable all children to excel at Flora. On the whole, the pupils work hard and try their best, but we must both remind them to work hard and persevere. I think with continued support from you, as a parent, that the pupils’ education will flourish. Help with reading, writing and maths is fundamental to our pupils’ progress and we are looking at ways that we can work closer with you to support the learning that goes on at school. With your vigilance in this area, I am sure the children will be outstanding this year.

As part of us working collaboratively with you, we are revising the report system to parents regarding pupils’ progress and would like to put together a working group of a maximum of 8 parents to work with myself and members of the Senior Leadership Team.  If you’re interested, please contact my PA, Miss O’Donnell, as soon as possible.  Meetings will be arranged as best fit with those that volunteer.  If oversubscribed with people wishing to be on this working group, names will be drawn out of a hat.

Additionally, we have begun the work to revise our mission statement and I would like to work with a similar sized group, made up of different parents who will work with the school on developing this. The staff and the school council have begun this process. Again, please contact my PA if you are interested – Pa@floragardens.lbhf.sch.uk.

 Miss Dattani, our additional adult in Year 4 Autumn, who has been with the school for over 2 years, informed me just before Christmas that she is going to take a year out to travel around the world! I am sure you will join me in thanking her for her tremendous work and wishing her a wonderful time. Miss Dattani will be leaving us next Friday, 15th January.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

 


Blog – 11th December 2015

It is with great sadness and regret that I have received Mr Etan’s resignation from his position at the school and I have accepted this resignation with immediate effect.

Mr Etan has resigned due to unforeseen family matters, which require his full and urgent attention. In circumstances such as these, I believe accepting the resignation immediately is the only compassionate thing we can do and I am sure yours and the schools’ thoughts and support will continue to be with Mr Etan.

I will be writing an end of term letter towards the end of next week, but note the points below.

  • On Thursday 17th December we have our Christmas concerts
    – KS1 concert is at 9.10am
    -KS2 concert is at 5.00pm

Hopefully you will have your tickets already.

  • On Friday 18th December all classes will have their Christmas parties in the morning.
  • The parties will be followed by a whole school assembly at 11.00am – parents are invited to attend.
  • Pupils will finish school and need to be collected at 1.30pm.

I would like to wish you all a fantastic break and a very happy New Year. I look forward to seeing you at 8.45am on Wednesday 6th January 2016.

 


Blog – 4th December 2015

It’s been a busy week at Flora Gardens. Today we had a review from the Local Authority. They said some really positive things about the progress we have made. We have some way to go but they have confirmed that we are on the right track.
The mural in the Year 1 outdoor learning space is now complete. We are so pleased with it, we hope to have Positive Arts back in the near future to work their magic and create some more wonderful murals around the school.
What a fantastic House assembly we had this morning. The pupils are really engaging with the system and it is already having a positive impact. I am very much looking forward to the House competitions and charity events that are coming up in the New Year.
I have just popped into the hall and the PTA are setting up for the Christmas Bazaar. I would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication to Flora Gardens.
Next week you will receive an end of term letter, in which I will update you further on the feedback from the review and the plans for the New Year.
Enjoy your weekend!

 


Blog – 27th November 2015

There has been a real buzz around school this week with so much going on. There is no doubt about the progress the school is continuing to make on the education side of the school but as I have said before, schools should be about far more than just academic achievement. The rubber mulch area was opened by Aaron on Monday and at last the children have a place to run around and play on. The Nursery and Reception learning areas are having a revamp with more activities available for the children through chalk walls, new equipment and planting areas. The wall at the back of Y1 has had our graffiti artists begin working on a mural to really liven up that area and extend the learning opportunities. Hidden within the mural are letters, words and numbers which will be a great challenge for the pupils to discover. A bid for £10,000 has gone in to the National Lottery for a “Tyre Park and climbing wall” to be installed in the Key Stage 1 playground. All these developments allow for social learning, enjoyment and fun; key elements in a rounded education.
The House system is starting to have a positive effect around school – behaviour remains very good and pupils are desperate to earn House points. On Monday we will be holding an extended assembly during which the four Houses will be presenting their coat of arms, ethos and telling us all about their priorities. The House system really is “their family at school” and I know as we build towards the end of term the competition for leading House will intensify!
Wishing you all a great weekend.

 


Blog – 20th November 2015

The most important thing this week is an appeal! A group of Y6 pupils need jam jars and other glass containers with lids – if you have any please send or bring them into the main reception area, thank you.

Work on the mulch area was completed this afternoon and the children will be able to use it from Monday. Benches around three of the tress have been ordered to provide a reading or social area and the walls will be softened with planting and decoration over the next few months. I hope you are as happy with this development as I am. Aaron was drawn out of a hat during Friday’s assembly and he will be performing the “cutting of the ribbon” on Monday at 9.30, immediately after assembly – you are all most welcome to attend.

I received an email this week titled “every school should have one”. The email talked about staff at schools that have been ‘part of the furniture’ for a long time, know the workings of the school, the history, go about their job in a professional manner and are always found putting the interest of the pupils and school first. Typically these people are the ‘go-to’ people if you need information or a job done. As I read this email I was taken aback by the truth in front of me; Flora does not have one of these members of staff!

Now let me clarify that. Typically I arrive at work between 6.15 and 6.45 and the first thing I am greeted with is a smile and a slice of toast. The heating is on, the lights are on and the school is ready for its daily business. Mr Moges has done some of this but there is an all knowing presence behind him. About 8am another one turns up; she goes to the office, greets everyone, knows everyone by name, including parents, aunts, uncles and of course every pupil. She is the ‘Face of Flora”. At break and lunchtime these two creatures are still doing their job of greeting, looking after children/staff/parents, making sure that all is safe and ensuring that the school is running smoothly. No Flora does not have one of these beings but at least two – Mrs O’Brien and Mrs Hobman – where would we be without you? I wonder how often you get thanked by the people whose lives you ease, support and find solutions for? Every one of us that comes into contact with these fabulous ladies should take the time to say thank you; it really is very easy to do. I am delighted that they will be joining Aaron in opening our rubber mulch area on Monday. Of course by mentioning two I run the risk of leaving out other members of staff and apologise for that – the team at Flora really is very special – THANK YOU!

Have a wonderful weekend.

 


Blog – 13th November 2015

Another quite amazing week in the life of Flora Gardens!! Today the children and staff are all dressed for bed – Mr Walker and Mr Etan look particularly impressive. All for a great cause, that being Children in Need. There are plenty of examples of how the money raised helps children and I was particularly taken by this one:

“Five-year-old Joe has Barth Syndrome, which weakens his muscles, including his heart. Aged just two and a half years old, he spent a record breaking 251 days being kept alive by an artificial heart until a suitable donor was found. Two years after his transplant, he’s still very fragile. But thanks to your donations, mum Rachel regularly gets a break while a nurse called Andy entertains and looks after Joe. Andy’s role at the Jessie May Trust in Bristol is funded by a grant from BBC Children in Need, made possible by your donations”.

You can see his full story at this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02bx5qv

date:Our Assembly on Armistice Day was very moving and was made by a wonderful reading of John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” by Y6 pupil Maliha. The pupils observed the two minutes silence impeccably and it was lovely to see the Reception and Nursery classes with their hand made poppies. Thank you to all those that attended. We have also had Assemblies raising awareness of the effect that bullying can have on pupils in preparation for Anti-Bullying week, which starts on Monday. This follows on from the safeguarding workshops and assembly in KS2 that took place last week.

We were joined by Peter Campling who met with lots of parents regarding homework and marking. Thank you for all that took part in those meetings; actions will be implemented once his report is received. On Monday I am expecting the final part of the work on the rubber mulch area to be completed. This will provide a much needed play area suitable all the year round for everyone at the school. I have received some great suggestions for this area, please keep them coming in.

Enjoy the weekend.

 


Blog – 6th November 2015

Our Open mornings have begun – the pupils have been wonderful in showing potential new parents around; please pass on the word about the progress the school has and is making.

So much to report on this week! The House system was launched using our “sorting hat” and the pupils have been eagerly earning House points. As expected, the staff are as competitive as the pupils in wanting their House to be the best! I am very much looking forward to the staff MasterChef House competition.

Building work has begun on the Canopy for EYFS and also on the “rubber mulch” area. Completion should be by 18th November! Any suggestions on how we can enhance the area would be most welcome.

I was told off for not mentioning New Zealand Rugby in one of my previous blogs, congratulations to them for taking out the World Cup, although Australia were splendid! Mr Finney is looking at introducing a tag rugby club after Christmas on tieback of the World Cup and I am sure that will be very popular.

In our internal lesson observations, 85% of lessons were rated as Good or better last half term and we are working tirelessly to build on that in the run up to Christmas. The Local Authority are visiting us for another review on 4th December, I will write to you with their findings. This will be our fifth inspection in under a year and I am confident that the school community will continue to stick together to achieve the best outcomes for our pupils.

A man called Robert Fulghum wrote a book called “All I really need to know I learnt at kindergarten”.  He said, amongst other things, “warm milk and cookies are good for you, share everything, play fair, clean up after your own mess and when you go out into the world watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together”, an excellent idea and something that we would all do well to take on board.  Think about it, everything you need to know is in there somewhere.  Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap; or if governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up after their own mess.  And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

 


Blog – 23rd October 2015

The end of the first half term has come around quickly and, looking at the progress reports for each class, we have had a good start to the year.

It was brilliant to hear about all the end of topic activities and the children all seemed excited about their different visits and trips. Talking of which, the Year 5’s and Year 6’s have returned safely from Nethercott, older, wiser and certainly very tired; I look forward to hearing their stories. A massive thanks to Miss Woodcock, Mrs Brand, Miss Welsh and Mr Etan for giving up so freely of their time – it is this level of commitment to the children at Flora Gardens that makes us different from other schools, we really do go the extra mile.

We have a number of open mornings for future parents and pupils coming up on Thursday 5th November, Saturday 7th November, Tuesday 10th November, Saturday 12th December and we are hoping some of our current parents and pupils can help us show these prospective parents how wonderful our school is. If you are able to attend, even if it’s just to serve coffee, we would really appreciate your help. Please let Miss O’Donnell or Miss Elven know if you would like to help.

I must remind parents of Year 6 pupils that the secondary school applications close on 31st October, so please remember to submit your applications as soon as possible.

Thank you for your support of the school and I hope you have a restful half term.


Blog – 16th October 2015

I watched with interest the World Cup Rugby match between England and Uruguay and was impressed with the English in their 60-3 demolition of the South Americans. Yet the atmosphere was subdued, largely because it was “a dead rubber”, England were already out of the Rugby World Cup.  Hard to believe if you had read or listened to the hype around England and their chances prior to the tournament and prior to the matches v Wales and Australia! But we should be used to that in this country; hype and talking up English teams (in all sports) and individuals in competitions has become prevalent, a “desire to prove we are patriotic” by getting behind ‘our boys’ (usually it is boys but this is beginning to change at last) is part of our new-found culture since the awarding of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The facts, however, are quite simple. The RFU is by far the largest and richest Rugby organisation in the world. The player base in England is larger than any other country and yet the players are unable to perform when required. The population of Australia is roughly a third of the UK and therefore on any sporting model the UK should do three times better than the Aussies. BUT there is a culture that exists in Australia that wants to win, that wants to be successful and that does not make excuses.  It is far to easy to blame the weather, injuries or external factors in sport but what the Aussies do, and the Welsh Rugby team under Warren Gatland, is look at themselves. They maximise their ability. They work hard to reduce the ‘chance’ factors and they take responsibility for all they do. They don’t believe the hype, they are down to earth, and they usually win.

Will the Welsh or Australians win the World Cup? I hope so but who knows. The point is that if we take responsibility, if we refuse to make excuses, if we work as hard as we can with what we have got, all of us will succeed.

There is a wonderful book by Richard Beard “Manly Pursuit’s – how to beat the Australians” which is both entertaining and delves into this fascinating area. You can find it at: http://www.richardbeard.info/tag/manly-pursuits/. I strongly recommend this light and amusing read as we watch the Rugby World Cup, without the pre-tournament favourites!

One week to go before half term – work hard and rest well.

 


Blog – 9th October 2015

On Thursday we celebrated National Poetry day, Ms Graham read a poem in Assembly called “Playing with Stars” and next week we will be celebrating Book Week. Coincidentally, last Thursday, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and children’s author and comedian David Walliams launched a campaign to make English pupils the most literate in Europe within five years. International surveys show that nine and ten year olds in England are currently ranked sixth.

The Department for Education is working with the charity 4Children to equip parents and teachers with activities and resources to help develop pre-school children’s language skills with the aim of getting more children reading before they start school.

Nicky Morgan also called on leading publishers to give schools access to classic novels by great English authors including Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte.

David Walliams said: “At the heart of this campaign is a very simple shared ambition – to get more children reading. Few things can compete with the joy of getting stuck into a good book and I believe that is something no child should miss out on.”

Whilst this is a laudable aim, one of the things I’ve learned through teaching for a long time is that the most effective way to encourage young people to read is to ensure that they have access to books about subjects and themes that interest, inspire and are relevant to them. It is also important not to exclude young people by offering a diet of literature that fails to acknowledge social and cultural differences. I was interested, for example, in a BBC news story last week where a 14-year-old boy, who was born with a disability, called on the UK’s publishers to include more disabled characters in children’s books, and asked why the villains of children’s stories are so often “deformed”.

Simply insisting that children to read ‘the classics’ will go little way towards encouraging reluctant readers. It is more important that teachers and parents make it clear that we value a wide range of literature. Diversity is key.

Here’s a link to an interesting article: http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2014/oct/14/what-are-the-bestbooks-on-diversity-for-children-and-teenagers

 


Blog – 2nd October 2015

Great news this week, the first part of our redevelopments of the site is due to get underway during half term, with the canopy structure put in to place outside the Nursery. This will allow internal and external play to merge in all weathers. Following on from that, the solution for the grass at the front of the school is progressing and I am expecting all of the grass and mud in that area to be replaced with a rubber mulch around the October half term time.  I do get the feeling this is progressing when the council ask me what colour I would like it to be! I am looking forward to sharing plans with you on the remaining developments on the outdoor areas later in the academic year.

On another area, thank you to the parents who spoke to me about E-safety. Our settings and securities are being reviewed and updated to make sure the children stay safe.

The fire drill went quite smoothly this week but we will be repeating it at some point to get it even sharper.

Mrs Aboiralor will not be in school for a while and we wish her a speedy recovery. In the meantime, we welcome Ms Barker to the Nursery.

Have a great weekend.

 


Blog – 25th September 2015

 It’s been another really busy week at Flora, many thanks to the parents for attending the parents evening on Wednesday and thank you for your feedback on how we are doing; this remains vital for the continued improvement of the school. I know you will join me in a heartfelt thanks to the staff who gave freely of their time to see you.

I am delighted to be able to announce that we are full in Year 1, being oversubscribed is a great indicator of how good this school is. On Friday we held a Macmillan coffee morning in the staffroom, where we raised money for a great cause. Thank you to Miss Elven for organising this.

I have now interviewed and appointed the 4 Heads of Houses, who will be driving our House system. I will be announcing these in assembly on Monday morning. The pupils will be given their Houses during the sorting assembly on 2nd November. I do hope that as many of you as possible can attend this.

I am delighted to let you know that Mr Hans has been accepted onto a university course to become a qualified teacher and he will be leaving us today. Whilst this is a loss to the school, I am sure you will join me in wishing him all the best with his studies and his future career. Miss Matoshi has been appointed to replace Mr Hans and so we welcome her to the Flora Gardens team.

Finally, I am pleased that the extended school day offer is now available in an accessible format and I am looking forward to the clubs starting next week. Our new choir, Flora Gardens Singer, is open to Key Stage 2 pupils and rehearsals will be Friday mornings before school. You will be receiving more information on this in a letter home.

Have a lovely weekend.

 


Blog – 18th September 2015

Amongst other rumours this week I heard the one about how the Y4’s were to be joined into one class. Try as I may I cannot find the source but it reminds me of one of my favourite stories…

Once upon a time, it happened in a forest that a hare was resting under a tree. He had an intuition of doom and thought, “What would happen to me, if the earth will break? “. Suddenly, he heard a weird striking sound. He said, “It’s happened, the earth is breaking up”. He jumped up and ran madly without even observing the direction.

When he was running through the forest, a hare saw him and asked, “What happened? Where are you going in such a hurry?“ The Hare cried,” The earth is breaking up. You better run too”. The second hare ran so fast that he overtook the first hare. As they were passing the forest, both of them shouted to other hares, “The earth is breaking up! The earth is breaking up!” Very soon, thousands of hares were running through the forest.

On seeing hares running through the forest, the other animals too got frightened. The news spread from mouth to mouth and soon, everyone came to know that the earth was breaking up. It didn’t take much time before all the animals joined the race. All creatures, whether reptiles or birds, insects or four-footed animals, everyone was trying to escape and their cries of fear created chaos all around.

A lion standing on a hill saw all the animals running and thought, ”What is the matter?“ He ran down the hill rapidly and positioned himself in front of the crowd. He shouted at them, “Stop! Stop!” The powerful presence of the lion curtailed the rising wave of fright among the animals. A parrot yelled, “The earth is breaking up,” alighting on a rock near him. The Lion asked,” Who said it?“ The parrot replied, “I heard it from the monkeys”.

When the monkeys were asked, they replied that they had heard it from the tigers. When the tigers were asked, it was found that they were informed by the elephants. The elephants told that the buffaloes formed their source. Finally, when the hares arrived the first hare came forward.

The lion asked the hare, “What made you think that the earth is breaking up?” The hare, wavering in fear answered, “Your Majesty, I heard it cracking with my own ears.” The lion investigated the matter and explored the sound that the hare had heard. Ultimately, he came to know that the sound had been caused by a large coconut falling from a tree. The coconut fell on a pile of rocks causing a minor landslide.

The Lion said to all the animals, “Go back to your homes. The earth is absolutely safe. Next time onwards, check a rumour before acting on it”.

School playgrounds are a breeding place for the fantastic – unfortunately not just in the children’s play; it’s too easy in schools for rumours to start, passing from parent to parent and “becoming fact”. That is the reason I have an open door policy – if you are not sure, if you have a question/concern/heard something – come and talk with me! The staff are accessible before school every day – just ask – please don’t believe everything you hear.

Just to confirm: No, Y4 are not being joined into one class; School journey has run for 20 years, is fantastically safe and our procedures follow LA advice and are completely legal; Mrs Hobman is not retiring; Steven Naismith (Everton Footballer who scored a hat-trick vs Chelsea last week) is NOT my brother and YES the school really is a brilliant place to be educated at and to work!

Have a wonderful weekend!

 


Blog – 11th September 2015

As our first full week comes to an end, I am delighted that everyone has settled in so quickly. The new table tennis tables are getting tremendous usage by both pupils and staff. I am told that there will be House competitions using this new equipment and I am looking forward to seeing this taking place.

As I sit in my office, the beautiful sound of the pupils singing in assembly is drifting through the door. This is a reflection of the calm and purposeful atmosphere that is percolating throughout the school. Finally, we have been inundated with people wishing to join the school, which is a great testament to the progress that we are continuing to make.

My first drop in session for parents is on Tuesday 15th September at 3pm. If you are unable to make this session then please arrange to see me at a time that suits you.

 


Blog – 10th July 2015

Whilst everyone is tired as the term draws to an end, we were all reinvigorated during the moving up day on Thursday and very much looking forward to September with the arrival of our new teachers and pupils. The end of an academic year is the right time to look back and reflect upon all the successes that one has had and to consider what more could be done next year. I hope you find the reports being sent home a true reflection of your child and that you find the time to discuss it with them so that they can continue to flourish next year. We are so very lucky in this country to have universal access to education. As we begin to move towards the holiday, I hope that we can spare a thought for all those elsewhere in the world who would give anything in order to attend school.

Only 1.5% separates each class’s attendance and therefore any class can still win the trip to ‘Kidszania’ on Monday 20th July; the winners will be announced in next Friday’s assembly and it is very important for the winners to return the permission slips on the Monday morning.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 


Blog – 3rd July 2015

With just under 3 weeks to go until the end of term, there has been plenty of action this week in the school. We are quickly building towards a number of events celebrating the year at Flora Gardens. Staff are busy writing reports and preparing material for next year. All the new teachers that are starting in September have been in this week and are back on Thursday for Moving Up day. This is a great opportunity for you to meet and talk with your child’s teacher for next year and I hope it will reassure you about the progress that was highlighted in the recent HMI letter.

Another chance for parents to come into the school is the Year 6 leavers’ assembly on Monday 20th July at 9.10am and the Year 6 leavers’ party at 2pm. We also have our talent show, ‘Flora Factor’, on Wednesday 15th July at 9.10– 10.40am and the end of year assembly on Tuesday 21st July at 9.10am.

We have been busy planning for next year and my end of year letter will have more detail about open days, parent meetings, assessment procedures, reporting to parents and opportunities for you to learn how you can help your child academically at home. I do hope to see as many of you as possible towards the end of term.

On Monday 20th July, the class with the highest attendance will be attending ‘Kidszania’, along with all of the children across the school who have 100% attendance for the year.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

 


Blog – 26nd June 2015
As another busy week comes to an end at Flora Gardens, it is great to see the Year 6 pupils putting together the foundations of our House system, which will be launched in the autumn term. I expect the House system to become one of the corner stones of the school and the Year 6’s can be proud of the foundations that they are creating.
Thank you for the many communications that I am receiving in person, by email and by letter from you; your comments and suggestions are most welcome. It is always helpful to have your name and contact details on your suggestions so I can feedback to you as quickly as possible.
I am delighted to let you know that the LEA are coming to the school on Friday 3rd July to look at the rapid progress that we have made since March and that has been recorded as fact by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI), following the Ofsted visit in March. I am yet to receive the formal letter from HMI but will send it out as soon as it arrives. With all of the external visits to the school that we have had (this is the fourth since February), the common theme is what a wonderful cohort of children we have; the Flora Gardens community is very strong. I am, however, reminded of President Barack Obamas’ quote about education. He said, ‘Just weighing a pig doesn’t fatten it, you can weigh it all the time but it is not making the hogs fatter.’ The point being, if all we do is check on progress then we can lose sight of actually improving the educational outcomes for the pupils. For me, education is about far more than levels and steps, it is about community, honesty, integrity and producing well rounded individuals that are confident, highly educated, multi skilled and ready for their next step in life. This is the gold standard that we continue to strive for at Flora Gardens for every single one of our pupils and the staff and governors are in place to deliver this.
The applications received for ‘Head for the day’ are of a very high quality and the winners will be announced next week.
I hope you have a great weekend. Thank you for your continued support.


 

 

Blog – 19th June 2015

On Wednesday we had our visit from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate who are delighted with the progress that the school has made since the Ofsted inspection; adding that we have made more progress in 5 weeks than most schools make in 12 weeks. I will send you the letter from the Inspector once I have received it in the next few weeks. Of course, we will continue to work hard to take the school to Outstanding before our next inspection, which will be within 2 years. Thank you to all those involved in the process and once again, your children and the staff are a great credit to Flora Gardens.

Many applications have been received for the ‘Head for the Day’ competition and the winner will be announced in the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to working with the successful applicant.

For convenience, numbers for breakfast club are no longer limited and whilst notice is useful, you are no longer required to book in advance. Breakfast club runs from 8 – 9 every morning and costs £1.50 a day; this can be paid on the door. I will be revamping breakfast club from September, with hot food available. The menu will be sent out soon.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

 


 Blog – 12th June 2015

Thursday was a fantastic day to hold our annual sports day and your support as parents was much appreciated by pupils and staff alike. There were notable performances in KS1 from George and Megan and in KS2 from Aurel and Tayia. Congratulations to all who took part and tried really hard, the results can be found later in the newsletter.

Following on from the organisation of sports day, our intention is to introduce a house system next year, where all pupils will be part of a house and will remain in that house for their time at Flora Gardens. This will allow for more competitions in English, drama, music and charity weeks, as well as sport. The house system will be the corner stone of our rewards policy, where pupils can earn points for their house for effort, attainment and perseverance. I will be working with the school council this term and next, to finalise the shape of the house system and I look forward to sharing this with you in the future.

Following our Ofsted visit in March, I was contacted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate and informed that we will be revisited on Wednesday 17th June, for just one day. I am really looking forward to showing off the progress we have made and the plans we have for continuous improvement to the inspector. I will of course update you on the results of the visit as soon as they are available.

Thank you for your continued support, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

 


Blog – 5th June 2015

The world of sport has been rocked this week with rumours of bribery and corruption all over the news. No, I’m not talking about Sepp Blatter, but the increasingly competitive behaviour from our pupils as they prepare for sports day next week! I do hope to see as many of you there as possible – supporting the children in a demonstration of how sports should be conducted.

Staying on the sports theme, the school council and I  have begun working together to choose the best surface for the sports pitch that will hopefully be installed in the school soon.

Year 4 had a fantastic trip to the zoo, enjoying their prize for the highest attendance for last term. An equally stunning reward will be going to the class with the highest attendance this half term.

Finally, we were moderated this week and I am delighted to say that the progress made since our Ofsted visit in March was commented on. As always, please contact me if you wish to discuss any of the changes that are taking place.

Have a good weekend!


 

 Blog – 22nd May 2015

‘O this learning, what a thing it is!’

On Wednesday, Suhair and Aisha came to my office and taught one of our governors and I how to create an algebraic equation by solving problems through identifying a pattern. The pair of us were taken aback by their knowledge and ability to pass the knowledge on. This acts as a good reminder that learning should never cease, regardless of our stage in life.

I hope you received my letter regarding the changes to staff after half term. These changes are the continuation of our drive for improvement in the education that the school makes.

I am looking forward to the final half term of the year, with Flora Factor, sports day and the Year 6 production. I hope to see as many of you as possible supporting these events.

I wish you all a restful half term break.

A S Naismith


Blog – 15th May 2015

Congratulation to all of Year 6, who worked incredibly hard in their SATS this week. The school and I are very proud of their efforts and the way they have conducted themselves thoughout the exams.  What ever the results, the pupils can reflect that they did their very best and I know they will continue to flourish in their future education. I am looking forward to joining them in the park this afternoon to celebrate the end of the tests with them.

The new PE staff started this week and we welcome Mr Finney and Mr Peter. Their Rounders/Cricket club will be starting after half term, please book your space with Mrs Hobman in the school office.

Thank you to those parents who turned up on Monday for the Ofsted feedback session and thank you to the PTA for their continued support and fundraising for the school; it is fantastic to see so much parental support in the school.

Next week I will write to you confirming tweaks to the staffing structure after half term.

Have a great weekend!


Blog – 8th May 2015

Another busy week at Flora! It is always sad when a member of staff moves on. Due to personal reasons, Mrs Van Lith has left us this week. We thank her and wish her all the best for the future. Miss Cenac will be leading Y3A until May half term. I am delighted to tell you that Miss Muir will be joining the class after half term and will be staying with them next year.

On the sports front, we have been able to appoint two teachers, who are starting on Tuesday next week. Mr Peter will be continuing the Football club on Thursdays and will be starting a Rounders/Cricket club, free of charge, on Tuesday’s. We have the capacity to run two separate clubs for KS1 and KS2. Please contact Mrs Hobman in the school office for more information.

I saw and agree very much with a comment on the report from Amanda Nevill, Chief Executive of the BFI. She says, “…. Talent is everywhere, but opportunity often isn’t, and the richness and depth of future success, creatively and economically, depends on us winkling out that talent no matter where it is.”

And therein lies the challenge for schools. How do we ensure that pupils have opportunities to develop creatively in a system that seems designed – in its focus on high-stakes testing and league tables for schools – to thwart them? In my job I’m reminded every day of the capacity young people have to contribute to social debate and to think intelligently and creatively about solutions to local and global challenges. Meeting today with the School Council underlines the wonderful creativity that exists at Flora Gardens. Thank you to Anis and Kemi. The truth is that creativity gives expression to a person’s thoughts, whether it be in writing a play or developing new software and the battle to retain it in the heart of schools is one that we have to keep fighting in my view.

I hope you all have a fantastic week


Blog – 1st May 2015

It is wonderful sitting in my office on Thursday afternoon, with the sun shining, watching the Year 2’s playing in the playground; George’s hoola hoop skills are something to behold! It is great to see so many happy children!

I am so pleased that the Governors have backed my request to introduce Halal meat into the school; I know it is something that the children and the vast majority of you have been wishing to see. I am hoping that the kitchen will be able to start this service on Tuesday, but it will definitely begin next week by Wednesday at the latest.

I said last week that I expect to be able to announce that we are fully staffed for next year, I can confirm this. A very thorough interview process has seen three staff appointed last week, meaning that from September we will have a full complement of permanent staff. The advantage of this is that the children get consistent teaching over a sustained period of time and the Leadership Group can work with the stable staff to improve the outcomes and education for all classes. I am sure in the next few weeks there will be interviews with our new staff and you will be able to meet all the teachers at our “move up morning” which will be held in June – date to be announced next week.

It was fantastic to see that Y5 and Y3 Spring had 100% attendance last week – the Zoo trip is still a prize that can be won by any class, so keep up that fantastic effort.

I am looking at improvements to the grounds and facilities at the school and am currently receiving quotes for an Astroturf Sports area and an Amphitheatre in the sunken garden – providing a reading area at lunch time and also a place to teach externally and to hold plays. I am aiming to make the front and rear playgrounds soft play areas making them safer and incorporating activity markings. In all likelihood these will be phased in and I will produce the plans and phasing as soon as possible in the front of the school.

The communication TV’s in the school are now operational and have rolling information about the school, events that are taking place, identifying staff and Governors and their roles within the school. Any suggestions that you would like to see included on this please let Jeanette Elven, Business Manager, know and we will try to incorporate your ideas.

Twitter: @floragardensw6 now has 12 followers – follow us for instant news and pictures lets get to 25 by next week!

 I wrote to you with our photograph policy, if you do not want your child’s picture appearing in school publications or social media, please return the form as soon as possible or let the office know.

I hope you agree that we have made so many strides forward at Flora and with your continued support, will continue to do so. We operate an open door policy – please take advantage of this and let me know how we are doing or any concerns that you have.


Blog – 24th April 2015

Welcome back to the Summer term. I hope you all had a lovely Easter break.

We are now on Twitter! You can follow us @floragardensw6

Ofsted played a major part towards the end of last term and I have now put together the interim leadership team to take the school forward. I am delighted that Ms Vass is now Acting Deputy Head and Ms Stephens is now Acting Assistant Head. Ms Woodcock and Ms Nightingale make up the leadership group and I know they will continue to do a fantastic job this term.

This week we have continued interviewing staff and I expect to confirm in next week’s blog, that the school is fully staffed, with permanent teachers, for September 2015.

It was wonderful to go into Year 3 on Tuesday and hear about the excellent project that they have been working on, ‘Where do we live?’, focusing on their local area. I was particularly impressed with Lacey’s information on Hammersmith Bridge!

Attendance continued to improve throughout the last term and Year 3 Autumn celebrated the highest attendance in the school with a special lunch just before Easter. The year group with the highest attendance this term will be taken on a day trip, just before May half term, to London Zoo.

Please remember that my parent drop-in sessions continue on Tuesday mornings between 8.00-9.30am and if you wish to hear more about the rapid progress we are making in response to the Inspection, please come along to the meeting on Monday 11th May in the main hall.

Flora Gardens is a Good School with Outstanding Features! Click HERE to see our Ofsted report

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