Blog – 14th September 2018
Welcome back to a new year and my first Blog!
Monday 1.35pm Thought for the week
Friday 9.00am Value awards and singing Assembly
I have moved Assemblies from a Monday morning to improve the education for the children, because in the morning they are at their freshest and this is when Maths and English are taught. It means that on a Monday at 1.35pm the main assembly – thought for the week – will take place.
I have received feedback, disappointingly not directly to me, that this causes some difficulties for some parents to attend. This is especially relevant when a child has been awarded the ‘Value Award’ for the week. To mitigate this, ‘Value Awards’ will be given to the pupils on the following Friday morning assembly, thus making it easier for parents to attend.
Don’t believe everything you read—or everything you hear. Unverified but plausible-sounding rumours have been the basis for violent death and destruction throughout history, whether or not the stories had anything to do with the truth. In their book A Colorful History of Popular Delusions, Robert Bartholomew and Peter Hassall describe rumours as “stories of perceived importance that lack substantiating evidence.” They also note that the sociologist, Tamotsu Shibutani describes rumours as “improvised news,” which tends to spread when the demand for information exceeds supply.
As I said in my start of term letter last week, I have an open door system so that the school runs smoothly and listens to your thoughts. If it is a minor issue, see your child’s class teacher so that it can be passed on to me. If more serious, see me or make an appointment but remember that discussing issues with others that are not running the school does not address the issue and often leads to false ‘truths’.
Here’s an example of one of the most interesting rumours with real-life results from Bartholomew and Hassall’s book.
KING LOUIS XV WAS KIDNAPPING CHILDREN.
In 1750, children began disappearing from the streets of Paris. No one seemed to know why, and worried parents began rioting in the streets. In the midst of the panic, a rumour broke out that King Louis XV had become a leper and was kidnapping children so that he could bathe in their blood (at the time, bathing in the blood of children was thought by some to be an effective leprosy cure).
The rumour did have a tiny kernel of truth: Authorities were taking children away, but not to the king’s palace. A recently enacted series of ordinances designed to clear the streets of “undesirables” had led some policemen—who were paid per arrest—to overstep their authority and take any children they found on the streets to houses of detention. Fortunately, most were eventually reunited with their parents, and rumours of the king’s gruesome bathing rituals were put to rest.
Have a peaceful weekend.
Blog – 13th July 2018
“This one’s from the hip” – Lloyd Cole and the Commotions.
Tuesday was the day of publication of KS2 results. Well done to all the Y6 staff who have done everything possible to keep pupils calm throughout. More importantly, well done to all the staff in achieving great results and for predicting the percentages all the way back in September.
I do not know of one Primary Head that agrees with the SATs tests. Let me clarify that; there is nothing wrong with the tests or testing children but the part that is ridiculous is the way more than six years of schooling is reduced to four days of tests and then given such disproportionate weight. Instead, they should form just one part of a more balanced accountability system where teacher judgement and professionalism is trusted.
Furthermore, the public use of “National Standards” where by each school is judged against the ‘National Average’ is one of the most inadequate and inaccurate measures possible. How can you legitimately compare a school with the highest level of deprivation, the highest level of EAL pupils, a mobility rate higher than 30% in a year with white, middle class enclaves?
I am proud of Flora Gardens. I am proud of all my staff at Flora Gardens. I know the education we offer is outstanding. I am proud of our results this year and if anyone cares to look at the narrative of our pupils, the results stand up to any amount of scrutiny. But league tables and National Averages give figures which tell us next to nothing.
The Education Act 1902, also known as the Balfour Act, was brought in after the failure of the British forces in the Boer War. Why? Because the government wanted order and control so that when the country went to war again the soldiers would be disciplined. The consequences saw millions of pointless deaths in WW1, where on a blow of a whistle young men went over the top of the trenches. Education, schools and teachers have always been Government scapegoats for the ills in society and this continues today.
The Conservatives’ Education strategy is a shambles and Labour are yet to produce anything that is understandable or defined. The answer is put money into education, into the social welfare system, into the health service and let the professionals do our jobs. Stop comparing apples with pears.
Until then, at Flora Gardens, we will deliver an outstanding education, despite 30% cuts in funding from 4 years ago. We will teach our values, we will teach maths, English, and a broad curriculum that our children love. They will leave us with a love of learning and be happy, rounded children who achieve their personal best.
Well done to all our children. Government, league tables, National Averages – you are inadequate.
Look forward to seeing you all at the Summer Fete tomorrow.
Blog – 29th June 2018
I am delighted to announce that we are starting a partnership with local organisation, West London Zone for Children and Young People, in September. A West London Zone ‘Link Worker’ will be based in the school, and will get to know and work with 40 children and their families. The Link Worker will plan and organise activities for them that they will most benefit from, delivered by a range of dedicated delivery partners. We are really looking forward to getting started with them!
It’s impossible to escape the Football World Cup at the moment, although now that England has lost a game the news time might reduce….
I thought I would put together eight of the funniest World Cup moments, which can be enjoyed by even those who don’t like football.
- The time Gary Lineker relapsed back to Nursery
You know Gary Lineker. The silky smooth BBC host with the silver fox hair, the Ronseal tan and cheeky selection of one-liners? Yeah, him. He once pooped himself on the football pitch during World Cup 1990. Seriously.
You’ll never be able to look at him the same way again.
- Diana Ross and the greatest penalty kick of all time
No matter how many times you watch it, it’s never not funny.
Diana Ross was a central part of the USA’s spectacular opening ceremony for World Cup ’94. The US was ready to show the world that they understood “soccer” and that they were ready to join the FIFA party. It was all going really well, until Ross took part in a staged penalty kick that would end with an exploding set of goal posts. All Ross needed to do was tap the ball forwards a couple of yards. That’s all you needed to do, Diana! She missed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAKsGT9-XB0
Although to be fair to Ross, it was still better than Waddle’s effort in 1990.
- He must have a foot like a traction engine!
England didn’t qualify for the 1994 World Cup. So we went one better. We made Alan Partridge the World Cup correspondent. He taught Adrian Chiles everything he knows.
Without question the finest commentator of his generation (“Eat that! That was liquid football”), we’d love him to bring back his soccer-meter (“That’s my colour coding, not FIFA’s”) for 2018.
- And the Oscar goes to… Rivaldo
Every anti-football fan claims that footballers are despicable cheats and pretty pathetic when it comes to anything physical. Rivaldo proved them all right at World Cup 2002, when he gave an Oscar-deserving performance in a semi-final against Turkey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiW0IPrv1Ro
Oh my eyes! My eyes!
- Zaire rip up the rulebook
Anyone who has ever struggled with the football rulebook – could someone explain the offside rule for us just one more time? – can sympathise with Zaire’s novel approach to giving away a free-kick in 1974. Defender Mwepu Ilunga just went and walloped it one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s247cS3-iKQ
Ilunga later claimed that his actions were a protest against money-grabbing from the team’s authorities. Yeah right, Ilunga. We believe you.
6. Chris Waddle’s haircut
1990 was a rare tournament for England fans. It was a tournament where you could be proud of the team. Gazza was bursting into the football world with incredible skill and flair. Lineker was banging in goals for laughs. And David Platt’s last-minute winner against Belgium was truly glorious stuff.
However, there’s always one person who lets the side down. We can forgive Chris Waddle for fluffing that penalty against the Germans. But we can never forgive the mullet. Shameful stuff.
- Scotland are going to win the World Cup!
In 1978, England didn’t make the World Cup, but Scotland did. And they were a wee bit cocky about it. So cocky in fact that ‘comedian’ Andy Cameron made the song ‘Ally’s Army’ and declared: “We’ll really shake them up when we win the World Cup, because Scotland are the greatest team.”
Scotland lost 3-1 to Peru, drew with Iran and were knocked out at the group stage. Oh, dear.
- There’s a dog on the pitch! They think it’s all over!
Jimmy Greaves was one of England’s greatest ever strikers, but he missed out on playing in the 1966 World Cup final because of injury. So instead of a glorious victory, his most memorable World Cup moment involves him chasing a dog.
In the 1962 match, Greaves proved himself to be a bit of a dog whisperer and captured a stray pooch that had made its way onto the pitch. The dog peed on Greaves’s shirt, and he had to play with the stink for the rest of the game.
The legend goes that Brazilian star Garrincha actually ended up taking the four-legged friend home with him as a pet. Greaves’s nickname in Brazil to this day is ‘Garrincha’s dog catcher’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPUMFGbOLQw
Have a great weekend.
Blog – 22nd June 2018
Having asked for your suggestions about apologies that we should receive I have enjoyed reading through your suggestions. The highlights (my thoughts in italics) for me, were:
You, (I’m talking to YOU) should apologise for not making your Blog more funny. And I’ve checked two times. TWO!
(I’m sorry. No, really – if you’d have checked three times and been let down I’d probably have cried!)
“Pepsi should apologise for wanting to “be” Coke.” (The lawyers for Pepsi will be wanting to note the quotations marks. Please!)
John Grisham should apologise for writing the same story over and over and over and over and over and over- and making millions from it. (I imagine he shares an apartment with Joe Eszterhas, and they keep daring each other to sell the same plot one more time, while howling with laughter, and play-fighting by hurling huge handfuls of money back and forth. Maybe Patricia Cornwell comes round occasionally.)
And I think this was from a member of staff:
I would very much like to apologise: for being such an unpleasant, misanthropic person. Oh, and I hate you. (I know who you are by looking at your IP address).
Thank you for those contributions. However, people I don’t know have now started sending me their dreams. Yes, I am scared. One nameless person heaped the following on me – I’ve edited it, for clarity.
“It was happening during my marathon snooze button pushing… about four times, each time altering slightly… marshmallow-happy-land with my bed being outside… when I was living at Curt’s but it isn’t… this really cool brown and orange 70’s carpet… my friend Ryan from Regina, but I don’t realise that until much later… like those weird Calvin Klein ads with the wood panelling… now I am in the hallway… they are becoming coated with some sort of Limestone powder that is seeping from their pores… Just then a European woman… and said, “Yeah, like mucklucks”… having to move their cold bodies out of my house… And that is when I got up for real.” (Now there’s a man you’d be happy to have his finger on the nuclear button, eh?)
Keep them coming!
Blog – 15th June 2018
Eid Mubarak! I do hope that everyone enjoys the celebrations and I look forward to welcoming you all to our Eid celebration next Thursday, 21st June from 4 – 6pm.
The work has continued on the new fencing and running track which is due to be completed by the middle of next week; I think it has made a real difference to the openness of the site. We have further works planned for the summer – two structures will be built in a classroom, one being a bank and the other a School shop. The idea is to bring real life Maths to our children. Every House point will have a monetary value attached to it. Pupils will ‘pay’ their House points into the bank and save for items that they would like from the School shop. We will run some units of work about banking and money with an aim of preparing our pupils for the next step in their lives. I am really looking forward to the opening of both the shop and the bank. Interviews for the Bank manager, assistant Bank manager and tellers will be taking place soon. There will be an art competition to sign the House points ‘cash’ in the next few weeks. Very exciting!
I must take this opportunity to remind all users of the site that we have a “no mobile phones policy”. Please put your phones away when on the site and don’t be surprised if you are asked to put it away by staff. Thank you for your help on this and supporting our safeguarding measures.
Next week we are starting some work on our new School video. Pupils that have returned their permission slips for use of images will be involved in this project that will show just how fantastic Flora Gardens now is. If you haven’t returned your slip regarding GDPR please do so by Monday morning (further copies available from the office).
I had a very strange dream earlier in the week. I woke up with a list of random people that I was convinced should apologise to me and the wider world:
Reflexive Pronoun Abusers should apologise: For believing that saying ‘yourself’ instead of ‘you’ is polite or formal or anything except bad grammar. Donald Trump is bad enough, but you people are really asking for it.
The Entire French Film Industry should apologise: For Monsieur Hulot. Unreservedly.
Every Descendent of Christopher Columbus should apologise: For their ancestor starting the process that led inexorably to the birth of Country and Western music.
Please send me your suggestions of apologies that we should receive…
I look forward to happy reading and hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Mr Finney’s PE Blog – 8th June 2018
It has been a very busy week for sport. On Tuesday, 10 Y5/6 boys went to the annual Kwik Cricket tournament, where we were drawn in a very hard group with only the top team from each group going through to the semi-finals.
The boys beat Good Shepherd (a very strong outfit) and Fulham Bilingual, narrowly losing to St Peter’s.
Special mention to Ali in Y6 who got a hat trick of run outs with some outstanding fielding.
On Wednesday the girls went to the same tournament, and they were within 10 runs in 2 games of progressing into the semi-finals.
Special mention to Megan in Y6 who fielded fantastically and got 2 run outs.
Yesterday I then took 16 Y5/6 boys and girls to the district athletics tournament at the Linford Christie Stadium. Our B team finished in 11th place and our A team FINISHED 2nd!!!! Every pupil tried their absolute best and I couldn’t be prouder of them as a team.
What was really refreshing to see, was that when any of them struggled all of their teammates got behind them and cheered them on. We even had 2 of our boys helping a boy from Melcombe Primary School by running the last 100 metres of a race with him.
This just shows that we have the best pupils in the world; pupils that I am forever proud to teach.
Special individual mentions must go to Lucas (Mo Farah) & Megan for winning the 600m & 75m races by a considerable distance.
Blog – 18th May 2018
Penguin, Reindeer and Fox were great friends. One day, Penguin and Reindeer found a load of fruit, and decided to keep it a secret. On the way, they met Fox, who seeing them so happy, asked them why. They told him they couldn’t say, because it was a secret, but Fox asked them to trust him, so they told him about the fruit.
When they arrived at the village, Fox forgot about his promise, and told everyone. When Penguin and Reindeer returned to the place where they had found the fruit, the animals of the village had already been there and eaten it all.
That same day, Penguin and Reindeer found another place full of food, and the same thing happened again with Fox. Angered by these betrayals, they decided to teach Fox a lesson. The next day they told Fox that they had found a lake so full of fish that no effort was needed to catch them. Fox again told everyone in the village about this. The following day, Fox came by, covered in cuts and bruises. After telling all the animals about the lake full of fish, everyone, including even the polar bears, had gone there. But, not finding anything, they felt deceived, and had given Fox a good beating.
Fox learned that keeping people’s trust is very important, and that to get it in the first place you have to earn it with loyalty and always keeping your word.
Penguin and Reindeer devised another trick for Fox but, as he was no longer a bigmouth, he did not betray them, and Penguin and Reindeer regained their faith in Fox, thus forgiving him.
Blog – 11th May 2018
A letter to Year 6 from Mr Naismith and the Year 6 teaching team.
The week beginning 14th May is an important week in your educational journey when you will sit your SATs for maths, reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation. We know how hard you have worked and that you will try your absolute best in every test but there is something very important you must know:
The SATs do not assess all of what makes each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and mark them do not know each of you the way that we do and certainly not the way your families do.
They do not know that some of you speak two languages or that you love to sing or draw. They have not seen your natural talent for playing sports or playing a musical instrument. They do not know that your friends can count on you to be there for them; that your laughter can brighten up our classroom or that your face turns red when you feel shy. They do not know that you wonder about your future, or that you are so patient and caring towards your classmates. They do not know that you are kind, trustworthy and thoughtful and that every day you try to be your very best.
The results that you will receive from the tests will give a snapshot of your academic abilities in English and mathematics under test conditions but they will not tell you everything about all your learning and achievements throughout primary school or how much more growth you will make in your learning after the tests and in secondary school. There are many ways of being smart. You are smart! So while you are preparing for the tests, in the midst of it all, remember that we think you are great and there is no way to ‘test’ all of the amazing and awesome things that make you – YOU!
‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all’
Sleep, Rest, Believe!
Blog – 4th May 2018
It’s a good news Friday!
As Head I am delighted that Hammersmith and Fulham has remained under Labour control with an increased majority. This allows for continuity in policies that support the education system and opens the door for increased opportunities for Flora Gardens and our children over the next few years. I am expecting some real progress now on the development of the school as we continue to grow in numbers and confidence. Congratulations to one of our Governors, Alex Sanderson, who was elected in the Addison Ward.
More good news greeted me this morning when it was announced that the Department for Education is removing the unnecessary and confusing system that designates a school as failing. A common sense system that “will be based on the progress made by pupils, and is likely to resemble the floor standard rather than the coasting measure, identifying a smaller group of schools more in need of help.” All great as long as the starting points are taken into account and not a National standard that all schools are expected to attain. The full article can be read here: https://www.tes.com/news/hinds-replace-confusing-floor-standards-and-coasting-school-measures We will wait for the details and will be involved in the consultation the DfE is undertaking.
The third bit of great news today was that following Flora Gardens achieving the Gold quality mark for our Sport by the Youth Sports Trust (one of only 25 Schools in England), we have been short listed for the Community Education Awards – The Outstanding Sports Award! This award is open to all schools including primary, junior and secondary schools, academies and PRUs.
Sports provide a way for all students to maintain physical fitness, build confidence and develop teamwork skills. Sport provides a positive opportunity and outlet for young people’s growth and development. Exercise is now recognised as not only being important in improving both the physical and emotional well-being of school children, but their social development too. Sport can be a powerful tool for educational establishments to use. It can have a positive impact on young people in areas such as attendance and behaviour as well as helping to raise self-esteem and improve confidence.
You can read more about the awards here: https://www.communityeducationawards.co.uk
Have a lovely, long weekend and I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.
Blog -27th April 2018
“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 pupils 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, pupils 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 pupils 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.
Blog – 20th April 2018
Welcome back to what will be a very exciting summer term. So many events to look forward to: Sports Day, This Girl Can, KS1 drama workshop, KS2 dance workshop, Y1-Y6 visiting Barnes Children’s Literacy Festival, Y6 Junior Citizen Scheme, Stride Enterprise for Y6, London Zoo trip, Emerald House fundraising day, Parent’s Day Lunch (2nd May), Y2 Seaside visit, The Chamber Ensemble performing at Wigmore Hall, Y6 end of primary school musical performance, the PTA Eid celebration and The Summer Fete – Saturday 7th July and the theme this year is “A day at the beach”. I do hope to welcome as many of you as possible at these wonderful events – all details will be provided prior to the events.
A little reminder
It is very unusual at Flora Gardens for behaviour within the school grounds to fall below an acceptable standard. Unfortunately, in the last 6 months there have been two occasions that I have been forced to use the right I have to ban people from the school site under Section 547 of the Education Act 1996. All pupils and staff have the right to be treated with respect on the premises and I will act to protect my staff and pupils where required. Thank you to other parents that supported staff this week in maintaining a civil atmosphere in the playground.
I do understand that there are times when, as parents, we become frustrated with events that happen. I also know from personal experience that sometimes our children do not tell us everything about an occurrence at school. That is why staff are available to talk with you on a daily basis and I have an open door policy. The lines of communication are very important to us at Flora Gardens and I do act on information I receive from parents.
Finally, we are redesigning our curriculum at the moment and embedding the 5 values of the school into it. I’m looking forward to sharing this exciting curriculum with you all towards the end of the term, ready for a September launch.
Have a lovely weekend.
Blog – 29th March 2018
As we reach the end of the term I thought I would share some things that I have learnt from my own children over the last few years. As that paragon of fatherhood Homer Simpson once told his brood, “Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family.”
1. A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2,000 sq.ft. house 4 inches deep.
2. If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.
3. A 3-year-old’s voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.
4. If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound girl, who is wearing Batman underwear and a superman cape. **It is strong enough, however, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20×20 ft. room.
5. You should not throw cricket balls up when the ceiling fan is on. When using the ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a cricket ball a long way.
6. The glass in windows, even double glazed, doesn’t stop a cricket ball hit by a ceiling fan.
7. When you hear the toilet flush and the words “Uh-oh”, it’s already too late.
8. Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke… lots of it.
9. A six-year-old can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 34 year old man says it only happens in the movies. A magnifying glass can start a fire even on an overcast day.
10. Certain Lego’s will pass through the digestive tract of a four-year-old.
11. PlayDoh and Microwave should never be used in the same sentence.
12. Super glue is forever.
13. No matter how many jelly cubes you put in a bath, you still can’t walk on water.
14. Bath plug holes do not like dissolved Jelly cubes.
15. VCR’s do not eject jam sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.
16. Black bin bags do not make good parachutes.
17. Marbles in petrol tanks make lots of noise when driving.
18. You probably do not want to know what that odour is.
19. Always look in the oven before you turn it on. Plastic toys do not like ovens.
20. The fire department in Sutton has a 5-minute response time.
21. The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earth worms dizzy. It will, however, make cats dizzy! Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.
We only learn by being adventurous!
Have a wonderful Easter holiday.
Blog – 23rd March 2018
Today is Sport Relief and it was so great to see all the children and staff taking part. Activities today included:
• How long can you keep the ball on the racket?
• Beanbag accuracy throw
• Assault course (timed)
• Beat the goalie
• Keepy uppie challenge
• How many Keepy uppies did Mr Finney manage?
We are set up online to raise money for Sport Relief. Please feel free to donate by following this link: https://my.sportrelief.com/sponsor/fgps2018
The Sport Relief website has lots of resources and ideas on it – well worth looking at:
Sport is more than a kickabout in the park. It creates communities, improves health and wellbeing, saves lives and brings about social change the world over. The Sport Relief website https://www.sportrelief.com/schools provides lots of information and learning resources to help understand how the money raised this Sport Relief will make a difference.
At Easter we say goodbye to Mrs Dunkley who is leaving us to work nearer her home. We wish her all the best in her new position.
Please don’t forget our end of term assembly is next Thursday at 11.00am, in which many certificates will be presented to pupils. All parents are invited to attend.
Pupils across the school have spent some time today creating artwork for our values displays that will be in the hall.
Blog – 16th March 2018
It was fantastic to watch the boy’s football team play in the quarter final of the Mayor’s Cup on Monday. Whilst they came second in the game, it is a major achievement and the first time in a very long time that we have competed against the other local teams so well.
Success is down to a myriad of reasons but the main one is about maximising your potential, be that on the sports field or in life. Trying to succinctly write about what it takes to maximise your potential in a few lines is difficult but here is my effort. Firstly, you have to be the best you can be, and then maintain that standard. I think one of the greatest strengths people can have is to be curious about the world, how it works and why people do what they do. It is not about goal setting or “life plans” it is more important to immerse yourself in your passions, your job, your school work, and then allow the outcomes to evolve. More time should be spent rehearsing what has to be done in order to be successful, than setting life plans and personal progressions.
In sport I have never been able to predict what teams will do during a game, and coaches that think they can are either very gifted or kidding themselves. I usually know what teams can do but can never be sure they can reproduce it in the competitive environment of the game, or indeed a competitive environment of exams. You can never be sure about how you will do in a competition but a thorough knowledge of their past record and behaviours will help.
What I think is true is that your preparation and thoroughness give you the best chance of success. That means reviewing decisions, changing your mind and changing your policy if required. Mostly, if you pay attention to thoroughness you will perform close to your potential. Certainly if you don’t have good people, well trained, working together and being resilient you will struggle.
I find it difficult to see how people can be extremely certain about things, and this is what I believe makes me argumentative. Metaphysical certainty (such as belief in a God) really puzzles me, yet I can see the attraction to arguments for some great design. Mostly though, I suppose all we can hope for is to do the best possible job with the gifts we are given, and to make a difference to those around us, that improves their lives.
Pi Day on Wednesday was fantastic, so many children reciting Pi to great lengths but the winner, Dwell in Year 4, who managed to get to an incredible 135 decimal places! Amazing and well done to all. Below is the feedback we received from David who ran Maths workshops throughout the day:
Many thanks for the welcome you and all the staff at Flora Gardens gave to me yesterday. As I said then it is a real pleasure to visit a school where there is such a wonderful atmosphere of calm and positive purpose.
From the moment I arrived at 7.30am until I left at 4.15pm nothing was too much trouble, help from admin to kitchen staff, from teachers to those many parents who attended throughout the day. The children were attentive, listening with interest to all that went on yet fully able to speak up when asking questions. They particularly impressed me when probably half a dozen were able to recite pi to more than 75 decimal places in the school competition with the winner reciting 135. Phenomenal!!
Thank you so much for letting me witness such a caring and professional school.
Blog – 9th March 2018
What a week! I had a great visit to Laches Wood on Wednesday and Thursday – so wonderful to see the children (and staff) taking part in adventurous activities. It reminded me of the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you are 11 and 3/4. The link is here:
How many have you done and how many have your children done?
Ms Graham’s Blog
Thursday 8th March was International Women’s Day which is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality. This event has been observed annually since the early 1900’s and many people today may wonder if such an event is still needed.
When it first began, women were demanding that they be given the right to vote – which they received in Britain in 1918 but just last year in Saudi Arabia – to hold public office and to be given equal employment rights as men. The number of female cabinet ministers has at least tripled between 1994 and 2014 – but remains low compared to men, at only 17 per cent. Today, when only a fifth of parliamentary seats are held by women and only 19 heads of state out of a possible 196 are women – only seven more women than 20 years ago – there is much progress still to be made.
International Women’s Day being so close to Mother’s Day on Sunday 11th March, prompted me to think about how important mothers are as leaders in our lives and as our first role models. After all, role models don’t have to be famous or perfect. The best role models are just regular people that we observe every day – caring for others, communicating respectfully, being responsible, standing up for what they believe in and inspiring others. Our mothers do these things for us every day.
As the well-known proverb says, “A mother is the first and best teacher to a child.” So on Sunday, why not take the opportunity to let your mother know about the lessons you have learned from her and why she is such a wonderful role model for you.
Blog – 23rd February 2018
World Book Day is upon us (now in its 21st year) which can only mean one thing – an army of Mildred Hubbles, Harry Potters, Gruffalos and Grinches streaming through the school gates for a day of literature-based fun. I know book-lovers will be as imaginative as ever when it comes to the all-important costume. I salute all the parents who make it through the seven stages of World Book Day costume crisis (link here:
www.telegraph.co.uk/books/news/world-book-day-costumes-parents-7-stages-crisis/ ) and deliver their children to school looking brilliant. Not to mention the adults, who I am sure will tackle the brief with even more gusto than some of the children.
Evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures.
In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.
As an educator and a parent, one crucial practice I desire in my pupils and children is that reading becomes as pervasive and uncontrollable a habit as nail biting or tapping their pen. I want pupils and children to read for the same reason George Leigh Mallory climbed Everest: Because it is there.
- Pupils who read independently become better readers, score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas, and have greater content knowledge than those who do not.
- The more primary-aged pupils read outside of school, the higher they scored on reading achievement tests.
- Multiple studies support that even a small amount of independent reading increases primary pupil’s reading comprehension, vocabulary growth, spelling facility, understanding of grammar, and knowledge of the world.
One key factor in the positive influence of this reading seems to be that it is voluntary — pupils seek out books and participate of their own volition.
Early exposure to reading appears to pay off in that it creates an expectation in children that reading is an essential part of their daily lives, thus the families of pre-readers in preschool, nursery, and early reception must be encouraged to expose them to reading through story time at the library or reading as a daily habit in the home.
Every child will receive a book token this World Book Day – I look forward to hearing the children at Flora reading to me from their new books.
Have a relaxing weekend.
Blog – 9th February 2018
I had the pleasure of attending the Y3 and Y4 indoor athletics tournament on Thursday. Eighteen pupils represented the school with great integrity and vigour. This follows on from both the boys and girls teams beating John Betts last Friday at Football in the Mayor’s Cup, with the boys reaching the knockout stages. Well done to all involved and wonderful to see our sporting prowess and reputation growing rapidly.
It has been a busy half term with trips to Somerset House for Ice Skating, The Wetlands Centre, St. Paul’s Catherdral, The Science Museum, The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, as well as many sports competitions. There will be many more trips next half-term and there is also an exciting trip up for grabs for the class with the highest attendance.
Y6 and Y2 are closing in on their SATs and I know that there will be plenty of preparation between now and May when the tests take place. Keep the hard work going.
As we all get tired and are still suffering the dark nights and mornings, it is worth a quick reminder about the behaviour we all model to the children. Education is like a three-legged stool – you the parents, us the teachers and of course the pupils. If one is not working with the others then the whole thing collapses. Behaviour in the playground should match our values – Trust, Respect, Adventure, Fulfilment and Choosing the Right Attitude. Our website clearly states my expectations of appropriate behaviour.
I have had to write to a number of parents regarding attendance. Our target is 97% attendance across the school; unfortunately we are not hitting that level at present. Look at the effect different levels of attendance has on children’s’ education and therefore their future opportunities:
|Effects of non-attendance|
|Attendance during school year||Equates to days absent||Which is approximately||Which means the number of lessons missed|
|94%||10 Days||2 Weeks||50 Lessons|
|90%||19 Days||4 Weeks||100 Lessons|
|85%||29 Days||6 Weeks||150 Lessons|
|80%||38 Days||8 Weeks||200 Lessons|
|75%||48 Days||10 Weeks||250 Lessons|
|70%||57 Days||11.5 Weeks||290 Lessons|
|65%||67 Days||13.5 Weeks||340 Lessons|
So, half a year to go and I am really looking forward to a fantastic second half of this academic year. Let’s get the attendance back where it should be.
I hope you all have a lovely half term.
Blog – 2nd February 2018
It’s all about saying, “No”.
Age limits for social media are in place for a reason, so it is worth checking what your children are doing.
For Twitter and Facebook the minimum age requirement is a hard and fast 13. It’s the same number on Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat and Secret, too. Curiously, the minimum age on LinkedIn is 14. On WhatsApp it’s 16, and on Vine it’s 17.
However, if you follow ‘Very British Problems’ on Facebook or Twitter, you might have seen a list of typically British euphemisms or, as they put it, ‘Phrases that mean nothing will happen’: Leave it with me / I’ll have a word / I’ll see what I can find / Consider it done / I’ll make some calls / I’ll think about it / Certainly a possibility / Let’s come back to that / Good idea / Maybe / It’s on my list / Might see you down there / I’ll look into it.
Amusing though this list is, I think it’s actually a comment on how difficult we often find it to say ‘no’ to things. In many cases not saying ‘no’ can become a major source of stress and anxiety in our lives. We place the satisfaction of others ahead of ours. We stop living our own lives to live theirs.
Why do we do this? Sometimes we simply want to be helpful, but more often we say ‘yes’ to avoid confrontation or because we think it will make the other person like us more; or we fear we’ll be rejected if we say ‘no’, or we believe we will miss out on opportunities in the future. Other times, we say ‘yes’ because we feel guilty. And this tendency to try to please everyone all the time is made manifestly worse by our ever-connected social and digital lives – all it takes is one beep, ding, ping, alert, or ringtone to bring us yet another request that we feel we need to say ‘yes’ to. So, while clearly we can’t say ‘no’ to everything, learning to say ‘no’ to things that we don’t believe are right or want to do or that we know will distract us or leave us making Very British excuses, is a very powerful skill.
• Be very clear about your commitments, knowing yourself and acting with integrity. Sort out your priorities and personal interests.
- Value your time. Saying ‘no’ to some things allows you to say ‘yes’ to other things that are more interesting for you. If you show people you value your work, time and priorities, they will respect you.
- If a friendship changes after a refusal, it wasn’t a sincere friendship. Don’t let people blackmail you.
- When you are saying ‘no’ to someone, be polite but firm. Show that you respect their feelings and opinions. Establish realistic limits from the beginning.
- Don’t make excuses or the situation will be repeated constantly. You don’t even have to explain anything. You are the owner of your time.
- Before agreeing to something, consider the implications. How long it will take? How will it affect your studies, family or personal life? What other projects are going to be sacrificed?
Learning to say ‘no’ is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. It will reduce workload and anxiety levels, and it will find you time to do what you really care about.
Blog – 26th January 2018
Fulfilment – the final value at Flora Gardens
“To take pride in each other’s successes and, with a sense of fun, seek worthwhile and absorbing challenges.”
Aristotle, Buddha, the Stoics… the greatest minds in history struggled with the idea of fulfilment. And now, somehow, at Flora Gardens we are supposed to find it. Where is it? What does it look like? How will you know you have it?
The word ‘fulfilment’ is everywhere. It’s become the Holy Grail of the past decade. We all want to be fulfilled. Full-filled. To feel full. Satiated, gratified. In French, a word for ‘full’ is ‘complet’. Complete. Whole. It sits in diametric opposition to a lot of the language that we hear from people who are unhappy at work: “I feel empty.” “This is meaningless.” “I feel deflated.” They talk about the sense that a part of them is missing and unexpressed. No wonder fulfilment sounds like a delicious goal to be chased.
“An inevitable though often-ignored dimension of the quest for ‘wholeness’ is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of.” – Parker Palmer
How do you deal with uncertainty? What are your coping mechanisms, positive and negative? What parts of yourself are you over-using, and what do you hide? And what could you start doing to bring your whole self to the table, in life and in work?
“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfilment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
I had a conversation with a friend last week. We were doing an exercise together, creating a picture of her future, and halfway through a sentence she stopped.“Do you ever get so inspired, it feels like your chest is about to pop?” I knew the feeling well. That deep completeness that almost takes your breath away. There’s a rush of energy, and your belly fills with butterflies, and your throat tightens, almost as though your torso is so full that you have to hold something in. Full-filled. Even by an idea. Nobody can sustain this level of fullness, of course – nor is it likely we’d want to. Even for a short period of time, it’s overwhelming. But it’s a beautiful way to guide your journey. Find the moments of fullness. Observe them happening; chase them down.
When have you felt this bursting fullness in the past? Where can you notice it now, in your daily life? What’s happening, what are you doing, and who are you being, when it arises?
“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible.” – George Bernard Shaw
Another common interpretation of fulfilment is to fulfil your capacity and your potential. For Aristotle, it was a sense of eudaimonia: the state of having been all that you could possibly have been in your life. In any single moment, our capacity and potential are changing, growing, expanding with every experience. So we can’t know if we’ve reached this kind of fulfilment until the end of our lives, when the total can be examined and summed up.
A more useful angle on this as we move through life might be to see fulfilment as a feeling of being ‘well used’. That sensation of flopping onto the couch at the end of a busy, enjoyable day, weary and happy. The feeling of tired pride when you’ve seen a challenging project through to its end. The exhausted, buzzy feeling after a long run. Used up and satisfied.
What gives you that feeling of being well used? How can you seek it out more regularly, both inside and outside of your work? Contribute to yourself, fully and unapologetically, and watch the effects spill out into the lives of others.
Maybe fulfilment isn’t a Holy Grail – a single, tangible, objective reality. Maybe when we talk about fulfilment, we’re each talking about something slightly different. But what that means, ultimately, is that when it comes to your own fulfilment, you get to make it up. You get to define, create, and achieve the version of it that speaks to you at the deepest level. But without choosing what it means for you, how it feels, what it looks like, you’re unlikely to find it.
What does fulfilment mean for you, and how can you start seeking it out in your day to day?
Blog – 19th January 2018
This week we looked at the third value – Adventure. This follows on from Choose your attitude and Respect. The fourth value is Trust. At Flora Gardens we want to build a community where openness, honesty and compassion are at the heart of all we do.
Trust is a vital value in any society.
Ernest Hemmingway said “The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them”.
Trust is valuable. It affects everything. Being trusted by others is one of the things you must have to go far in life and to achieve your greatest success. Trust isn’t a quick thing you can gain. It is something earned over a period of time, after consistently being honest, always acting with integrity, never lying or misleading. It is how you act. It is who you are.
If you want to be a person other people trust, take a look at your actions, the decisions you make on a daily basis.
Here are 9 traits of trustworthy people. Do you have them? Can people trust you?
- They are authentic.
People want to be around others that are real, meaning they are authentic and have high character. Authentic people are not trying to be above anyone else. They are likeable, humble and easy to talk to.
2. They are consistent.
Everyone has a bad day. But people want to see consistent, positive behaviour in the people they trust. Affirmative actions and smart decisions make a difference in the eyes of others.
- They have integrity.
People want other people around them that stand up for what is right in life, even when no one is watching.
- They are compassionate.
Trustworthy people put themselves in other people’s shoes. They are always thinking of others, feeling for others—it’s not all about them.
- They are kind.
People build up trust when they look out for others, when they are there for them when they need someone most, not just when everything is going OK.
- They are resourceful.
Trusted people are always learning and growing. They are constant students. They always know there is room to get better, and because of that, they know ways to help inspire and support others—and they give and share those resources.
7. They are connectors.
They look for ways to align like-minded people, and they connect people who have the knowledge or experience to help them get what they want.
8. They are humble.
Trustworthy people want to get others out there first, before themselves. They realise that the efforts of the team really make things happen, versus what they can individually accomplish.
- They are available.
They are there for people, available to others to support them always. They go out of their way to make time for others.
Trust is not an abstract, theoretical, idealistic goal forever beyond our reach. Trust—or a lack of it—is inherent in every action that we take and affects everything that we do. Trust is the cement that binds relationships, keeping spouses together, business deals intact and political systems stable. Without trust, marriages fail, voters become apathetic and organisations flounder. Without trust, no person or company can ever hope for excellence.
The truth is, trust must be carefully constructed, vigorously nurtured and constantly reinforced. Although it takes a long time to develop, it can be destroyed by a single action. And once lost, it is exceptionally difficult to re-establish.
I trust you will all have a wonderful weekend!
Blog – 12th January 2018
The two values we have discussed with everyone at Flora Gardens are:
- Choose your Attitude
The third value that we will look at in more detail in January is “Adventure”. Our goal is for us all to choose to be curious, to take risks and to create our own paths. The flower that represents this value is the dandelion. Dandelions symbolise courage (the name comes from ‘lion’s tooth) and freedom. They grow on every continent of the world and fluffy seeds are dispersed by floating on the wind. The leaves can be eaten, turned into wine or a coffee substitute and have medicinal properties. Being adventurous, taking calculated risks challenges us all to do more, try more and to grow. It develops creativity a key ingredient in all our lives.
In a small Italian town, hundreds of years ago, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a loan-shark. The loan-shark was a very old man that just so happened to like the business owner’s daughter.
He decided to offer the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him. However, the catch was that we would only wipe out the debt if he could marry the businessman’s daughter. Needless to say, this proposal was met with a look of disgust.
The loan-shark said that he would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one grey.
The daughter would then have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was white, the debt would be wiped, but the loan-shark would then marry her. If it was grey, the debt would also be wiped, but the daughter wouldn’t have to marry the loan-shark.
Standing on a pebble strewn path in the businessman’s garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles. Whilst he was picking them up, the daughter noticed that he’d picked up two white pebbles and placed them both into the bag. He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one.
The daughter naturally had three choices as to what she could have done:
- Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag.
- Take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan-shark for cheating.
- Pick a pebble from the bag fully well knowing it was white and sacrifice herself for her father’s freedom.
She drew out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it ‘accidentally’ dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles. She said to the loan-shark;
“Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”
The pebble left in the bag is obviously white, and seeing as the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was grey, and clear her father’s debt.
It’s always possible to overcome a tough situation through out of the box thinking, and not give in to the only options you think you have to pick from.
Have a wonderful and adventurous weekend!
Blog – 20th December 2017
A thought for the holiday…
A mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets to a performance by the great Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski. When the evening arrived, they found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on the stage. Soon the mother found a friend to talk to, and the boy slipped away.
At eight o’clock, the lights in the auditorium began to dim, the spotlights came on, and only then did they notice the boy – up on the piano bench, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” His mother gasped in shock and embarassment but, before she could retrieve her son, the master himself appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard.
He whispered gently to the boy, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side and improvised a delightful obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized with their blended and beautiful music.
In all our lives, we receive helping hands – some we notice, some we don’t. Equally we ourselves have countless opportunites to provide helping hands – sometimes we would like our assistance to be noticed, sometimes we don’t. Little of what we all achieve is without learning from others and without support from others and what we receive we should hand out.
Blog – 8th December 2017
“What you want
Baby, I got it
What you need
Do you know I got it
All I’m askin’
Is for a little respect when you get home.”
You will remember the first core value at Flora Gardens is “Choose your Attitude.” I am delighted that most people are taking it on board and acting on it! This week Mrs Asserati led assembly on all the values. We have linked them to flowers and Choose your Attitude is linked to Wisteria. Wisteria is known for its beauty and for climbing to great heights with a supportive structure. A very hardy plant – can grow in even the poorest quality soil – and fast growing. Wisteria can become immensely strong.
The second core value at Flora Gardens is RESPECT.
The goal is “To create an environment where people feel valued and flourish.” The flower associated with Respect is the Forget-me-not. Firstly because we should never forget to show each other respect but also because they symbolise caring for others, loyalty and connections between people that last through time. They are humble plants and grow wildly but need regular watering to thrive.
After the Christmas break we will be launching our values reward system where children can earn House points and special badges for each of the values. The school council will be deciding the criteria for the award of these special badges and I am looking forward to presenting them in Assemblies in the future. I wonder who will be the first to gain all 5 badges?
I know as parents we all talk to our children about respect and now it should be slightly easier with it being a core value at Flora Gardens. Please take some time with your child to talk about respect and choosing your attitude.
Once upon a time, there was a small town. There lived a man by himself who couldn’t see. He was blind. Yet, he carried a lighted lamp with him whenever he went out at night.
One night as he was coming home after having a dinner outside, he came across a group of young travellers. They saw that he was blind, yet carrying a lighted lamp. They started passing comments on him and made fun of him. One of them asked him, “Hey Man! You are blind and can’t see anything! Why do you carry the lamp then?!”
The blind man replied, “Yes, unfortunately, I am blind and I can’t see anything but a lighted lamp which I am carrying is for the people like you who can see. You may not see the blind man coming and end up pushing me. That is why I carry a lighted lamp”.
The group of travellers felt ashamed and apologized for their behaviour.
We should all think before judging others. Always be polite, respectful and learn to see things from others point of view.
Have a lovely weekend.
Blog – 1st December 2017
“This is a School where we discover a love for learning and build values that last.”
Two weeks ago I said that we have been looking at our school values and the vision for what we want Flora Gardens to be about. This work is continuing and the five values have now been chosen through a process of INSET training with all staff and a project group. I will be sharing these values over the next few weeks and we will be sharing these with the pupils in assemblies. Superstars will refer to the core values, House points will be awarded when we witness the core values and badges of achievement will be awarded when a value is embedded in an individual.
The overriding vision is of where we want to be, what we want to be known as and what we want all children that come through our school, all staff that work here, all parents that have children through the school and all Governors understand is: “This is a School where we discover a love for learning and build values that last.”
I hope that these values are lasting; that they are taken on and part of each individuals makeup when they finish their journey at Flora Gardens; be that children, staff, parents or Governors. Insisting on values, putting them up on the walls will not achieve the goal; we must all model, believe and live these values. We must remind each other when transgressions occur and take a moment to reflect on our behaviours that may have not adhered to the values. It is easy to be defensive, to snap back at someone when they give us a message we do not like but if we want to be better, reflection is vital.
A man and his son were going through the forest hills. Suddenly, the boy fell down on the trail and screamed with a pain, “AHH!” Surprisingly, he heard the same voice from the mountain, “AHH!” Curiously, the boy shouted, “Who is this?” But the voice replied the same, “Who is this?” He got angry, and shouted again, “You are stupid!” And again the voice replied the same, “You are stupid!”
Annoyed by this, the boy asked his father, “Father, what is going on? Who is this?” The Father replied, “Son, pay attention.” The father shouted, “You are very nice.” And the voice responded the same, “You are very nice!” The father again shouted, “Thank you.” And the voice again responded the same, “Thank you!” The son was very surprised but he still could not understand what was happening.
The father explained, “Son, people call it resonance, but this is the truth of the life. The life is a reflection of your actions. What you will give to others, you will receive the same in return.”
Blog – 24th November 2017
I am really pleased to let you know that our choir will be performing in the LBHF Chrsitmas Festival at the Town Hall on Tuesday 12th December – what an exciting time! Please do come along and join in the festivities.
This date has clashed with the date that we originally set for the Early Years and KS1 Nativity, and as many parents have children in both key stages, we have decided to bring the Nativity forward one day to Monday 11th December at 2.30pm. Hopefully this makes it easier for you so you don’t have to chose between the two events.
Save the date: Parents and carers are invited to attend parent-teacher meetings on Wednesday 13th December. Class teachers will soon be giving out letters with slips where you can select appropriate time slots to meet. We hope you find these information sessions very helpful in supporting your children’s learning.
The KS2 end of year concert, which will include musical performances from the choir and lots more, has now been set for Friday 15th December at 2.30pm. Pupils will be wearing Christmas jumpers on that day in support of the charity Text Santa.
Please let’s keep an eye on attendance. I have met with several parents recently where attendance is causing me concern – pupils should not be kept off school because of minor ailments. We all get colds every now and then but keeping busy and on task will help take their mind off it.
I hope you all have a great weekend
Blog – 17th November 2017
“Often people know the price of things, but not the value… If we do not have value, we have no life” – Satish Kumar.
Satish Kumar is former monk and long-term peace and environment activist. Satish Kumar has been quietly setting the Global Agenda for change for over 50 years. He was just nine when he left his family home to join the wandering Jains and 18 when he decided he could achieve more back in the world, campaigning for land reform in India and working to turn Gandhi’s vision of a renewed India and a peaceful world into reality. In 1973 Satish settled in the United Kingdom, taking up the post of editor of Resurgence magazine, a position he has held ever since, making him the UK’s longest-serving editor of the same magazine.
This week we have been considering our values. The staff had a training evening about values – where the school is now and where we would like to be in the future. A project group worked for two days looking in detail about the values we have and the ones we want to have. We have begun a process of re-writing our curriculum (hopefully to be launched in September 2018); a curriculum that represents our values and has them as gold threads through all that we do. This is important in a post Ofsted school that is determined to get even better; our aim is to be Outstanding in all we do. Over the next few weeks we will be launching our values with the pupils and staff at the school and I truly hope that as a vital part of our community you, the parents, will also think about the values and embed them in your children.
The first value is “choose your attitude”. When we are stuck in a traffic jam and we honk the horn or hit the dash board we are choosing that action, that value. We all know it won’t do anything to disperse the traffic in front of us, yet we still do it from time to time. How about choosing not to get frustrated, to think about using the time to relax, meditate on something. When we are finding something difficult do we walk away or do we choose an attitude of perseverance? We have choices in how we react to others and situations. When someone in our community says to another “choose your attitude” let’s take 30 seconds to think about how we want to be and let’s choose an attitude of positivity and support.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Choosing your attitude feeds the wolf that we all want to be and want to be with.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
Blog – 10th November 2017
Thank you to Sean, Jasmin, Irma and Ignacio for reading so well in our Remembrance Day assembly this morning. Ignacio gave a beautiful rendition of In Flanders Fields in Spanish.
In Flanders Fields is a war poem in the form of a rondeau, written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. In Flanders Fields was first published on December 8 of that year in the London magazine Punch. Today, it is one of the most popular and most quoted poems from the war.
In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Amoungst Flanders Fields
By Dafina Aliu, Y4
In Flanders Fields where memories glow,
Millions and millions of poppies grow.
Your torches we shall hold high,
Even further than the sky.
May you have a great, long sleep,
Though your memories we shall keep.
For your death we shall mark,
With the most beautiful lark.
We always had faith,
For you are safe.
In our hearts,
Amoungst Flanders Fields.
Blog – 3rd November 2017
Last year, I entered a competition on behalf of the school and the great news is that we have been informed that we have won! Better news is the amazing prize….
A 5 day, 4 night all paid (except transport) residential to an activity centre in Laches Wood, Wolverhampton for 50 pupils in Upper KS2! The company is called ENTRUST.
Search & Rescue Problem Solving
Cannock Chase Exploration Day
High Ropes Caching/GPS Navigation
The dates of the trip are Monday 5th March to Friday 9th March 2018.
More details will be provided next week but in the meantime this is the website: www.entrustoutdoors.co.uk I recommend watching the video on the website so you can see the incredible opportunities that Entrust provide.
I do hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
Blog – 20th October 2017
Half term is now upon us – but how will you use it? Why do we have half terms? Some universities have reading weeks, others just push through, with short terms (Oxford and Cambridge still have three 8 week terms, which sounds great, until you realise the volume of work that you have to fit into those 8 weeks!).
The first key thing for half term is to recuperate. I deliberately say recuperate, not just rest, because the purpose is to get back to 100%, ready for the challenges of the remainder of the term and the year. Although it is tempting to lie in bed until midday, the best recuperation will bring a reasonable schedule (not too late to bed, not too late up in the morning), good nutrition, and getting some exercise. In other words, the best chance of being as healthy as possible.
The second key thing for half term is to spend time with people who matter. Whether that is family or friends is not that important, but spending quality time with the right people is the best way to get your equilibrium right. Try to ask questions, and be sociable.
Third, do something that is just fun. Laugh at yourself and laugh with others. Climb a tree, play a board game, sing a song. We can be terribly serious at times, and you should never underestimate the power of a bit of laughter. Not laughing AT others, but laughing out of joy. Then, use your time well. Catch up, if you need to catch up. Get ahead, is there some work that you could catch up on, read a book! It is only 7 school weeks until Christmas. Time is moving fast, so start your planning now. Tackle a couple of areas that you find hard, and see if you can really make a difference to your lessons after half term.
Finally, whatever else you do, do something kind every day. How easy is it to say something cutting to someone else? To walk past and ignore someone who needs your help? Do something kind. You will help that person, and you will help yourself, and kindness encourages kindness, so you will actually help everyone. Make the most of your half term.
Thank you for your support this half term as always and enjoy the break.
Blog – 13th October 2017
12 months ago we set about writing our new mission statement. Pupils, parents, staff and governors all had input into the statement and this is what we settled on:
At Flora Gardens every pupil comes first and we aim to inspire them to fulfil their potential in each stage of their life. Our school is about far more than academic results: it is about community, respect, honesty and family. We deliver multi-cultural learning experiences for every individual that are innovative, creative, purposeful and fun, set in our unique, spacious green grounds that give children outstanding opportunities to explore, flourish and succeed.
You will, no doubt, remember the amount of times that I have stressed that education is about far more than the SATs results; it’s about educating the whole child. Imagine my delight when Amanda Spielman, HM Chief Inspector of Education, made the following statements this week:
“A good curriculum should lead to good results,” she says.
“However, good examination results in and of themselves don’t always mean that the pupil received rich and full knowledge from the curriculum.”
“In the worst cases, teaching to the test, rather than teaching the full curriculum, leaves a pupil with a hollowed-out and flimsy understanding.”
…..she is encouraging schools in England to focus less on drilling pupils through past papers and more on widening their knowledge and horizons.
“The regular taking of test papers does little to increase a child’s ability to comprehend,” she says.
“A much better use of time is to teach and help children to read and read more.”
Very encouraging! The full article is here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41580550
Have a good weekend.
Blog – 6th October 2017
Open Day season is upon us and I found this really good article on the BBC website about what to look for: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41469041 It is never too early to visit schools and going more than once really gives you good knowledge of a place. Certainly Y6 and Y5, but if your child is in Y4 it is worth thinking about because the end of their Primary education will arrive all too soon!
When your child is visiting another school during the school day, we use the code J. This means that the child is absent but attending an interview. Our system records this as attending an approved educational activity; because it is an approved education activity it means that your child is still able to achieve 100% attendance for the year if they have not missed any other days of school. I ask that we are provided with information before the event so that we can use the correct code.
|Statistical Meaning||Approved Educational Activity|
|Legal Meaning||Attending approved educational activity|
|Physical Meaning||Out for whole session|
|DCSF Definition||Interviews with prospective employers, or another educational establishment.|
I hope this clarifies the position.
Testing for gossip
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”
“Hold on a minute”, Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”
“That’s right”, Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
“No”, the man said, “Actually I just heard about it and …”
“All right”, said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”
“No, on the contrary.”
“So”, Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”
“No, not really.”
“Well”, concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”
Primary playgrounds are notorious places of gossip. That is why I have an open door policy – if you are not sure about something or you hear things that concern you – please come and see me. I can give you the truth and make our community environment honest and pleasurable whilst diminishing the angst we all have as parents. Here is an article about “Playground Politics for Parents.”
I hope you have a lovely weekend.
Blog – 29th September 2017
On Thursday we celebrated National Poetry Day and the theme this year was “freedom”. National Poetry Day is an annual celebration that inspires people throughout the UK to enjoy, discover and share poems. Everyone is invited to join in, whether by organising events, displays, competitions or by simply posting favourite lines of poetry on social media, using #nationalpoetryday.
National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by the charity Forward Arts Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience. The Day enjoys the support of the BBC, Arts Council England, the Royal Mail and leading literary and cultural organisations, alongside booksellers, publishers, libraries and schools.
At Flora Gardens all classes took part in NPD with some tremendous readings in a special assembly. Some of the highlights for me were:
Reception, Nursery and Year 1 performances of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Humpty Dumpty and I’m a little Teapot. The winner was of course Poetry, followed by Miss Earley’s performance of I’m a Little Teapot!
The other winners, and collecting 15 House Points each are:
- Best performance of someone else’s poem: Hanna Y6F and Amal Y4
- For perseverance: Kaspian Y6F
- Best overall performance: Shuayb Y5
- Best own poem: Sara Y5
Congratulations to all that took part, not only in assembly, but also in class throughout the week.
Trees By Sara – Year 5
Trees are big,
Trees are brown
Trees make leaves fall to the ground
If I ever saw a tree so old,
It would smell like grubby mould
Sometimes trees like to change their hair,
Or have new branches in a pair
Trees are big, brown, grubby and leafy
But trees are old and wise!
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:
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!
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.
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!
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%
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.
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
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?
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).
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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:
- Leadership, management and managing change
- Policy development
- Learning and teaching, curriculum planning and resourcing
- School ethos, culture, environment and SMSC development
- Provision of support services for children and young people
- Staff continuing professional development (CPD), health and wellbeing
- Partnerships with parents/carers, local communities, external agencies and volunteers to support pupil health and wellbeing
You can read more about Healthy Schools here: https://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!
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.
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:
- Egypt’s Great Pyramids
- Taj Mahal
- Grand Canyon
- Panama Canal
- Empire State Building
- Peter’s Basilica
- 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:
- To see
- To hear
- To touch
- To taste
- To feel
- To laugh
- 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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
- 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 –
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.
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.
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.
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: https://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
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:
|Rec & KS1||Diamond||Emerald||Ruby||Sapphire|
Year 6 SATs results – hard work pays off!
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:
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
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,
you included commas, semi-colons, colons,
expanded noun phrases, fronted adverbials, and
embedded relative clauses
over and over and over again
Michael’s Blog is well worth a read: https://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:
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!
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.
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.
‘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’.
- To recognise individual accomplishments enabling children to flourish and achieve their full potential – nothing is impossible if you believe you can achieve it.
- We provide a cross-curricular inclusive approach to learning with high expectations to ensure all our pupils are happy, confident, collaborative learners.
- To celebrate success and achievements.
- To value, recognise and encourage contributions of parents and families.
- 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 – https://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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: https://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: https://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: https://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: https://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 – let’s 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.