Welcome to our Governor blog. Our hope is to give you an insight into what the Governing Body actually do. Our Governors are a very friendly group of volunteers who give up their own time to both support and to challenge the school . We are all very proud of, but not complacent about, the school.
As Governors we become involved with a variety of issues including curriculum, finance, pupil welfare, public relations, building/grounds maintenance and staff appointments. However, our most important role is to monitor the welfare and education of the pupils. We achieve this not only through our regular meetings but also by a calendar of monitoring visits to the school.
Chair of Governors
Tuesday 12th December
I had the pleasure of visiting the school on a guided Learning walk last week. I attended their Collective Worship and then visited Windmills, Smugglers and Rother Class where I observed parts of their morning lessons. Viking and Oxney classes were both enjoying Learning Enrichment Days and were not in school.
I observed pupils participating in their phonics lessons in small groups. Flashcards were used to begin, then high frequency words were worked through using the technique of segmenting or blending and finally a run-through of common exception words. All exercises were worked through at a fast pace to encourage learning through repetition and at speed. Mrs Frost explained that all phonics sessions involved an activity or game to re-enforce learning and to help the children who learn skills in different ways.
Pupils from Year 1 and 2 were involved in a range of activities. Year 2 were having an ICT lesson on coding. In Smugglers’ classroom, two pupils were undertaking a maths assessment guided by a teaching assistant. Mrs Frost stated that it was necessary to carry out assessment for children this age in very small groups to assess pupils accurately and effectively.
Two other small groups were working on sentence construction and punctuation. Following reminders and guidance from the class teacher about when to use full stops and capital letters, the groups began work. One group were working well independently and pupils were on task. The other group were being supported by the class teacher and working together to construct a sentence using cards with words on them.
I questioned some Year 6 pupils about their work during their reading comprehension. They understood the task and were working well through the questions. It was a Christmas themed comprehension and they reported that it was interesting and quite enjoyable. I asked them what they would do if they became stuck on a question or if they didn’t understand part of the text. They responded that they would not just sit there and waste time, but they would talk to their peers, use a dictionary, an iPad or ask a teaching assistant or the class teacher for help.
There were three aspects of the visit that left a lasting impact:
- pupils were working in small groups and receiving targeted learning and attention according to their individual and specific needs. This was evident in every class visited;
- the standard of pupil behaviour was observed to be excellent in all the classes.
- I was particularly struck by the happiness and level of engagement of all pupils across the range of classes visited.
Many thanks to Mrs Frost, the staff and the pupils for sharing their morning with me.
On Wednesday 19th July I had the pleasure of attending the Leavers’ Service in Wittersham Church. A very moving and emotional service for the families involved but also very upbeat and celebratory at the same time. The service started with the leavers dancing, skipping and clapping down the aisle through all the pupils, staff and community.
Songs, all chosen by the leavers, were sung, then a montage of the leavers activities over the past year were shown on a screen. Presentation of cups, shields and various awards were presented by Mrs Frost. Rev’d Darkins presented bibles to the leavers on behalf of the governors. The service concluded with squash, biscuits and cakes for the leavers. It was obvious that the Christian Values are firmly embedded, which will stand them in good stead for their future education and indeed life in general. Wishing them all good luck for the future!
Mrs. S Mash
PCC Foundation Governor
The Wittersham School Trust Deed
Being a Church of England School our School will have a Trust Deed. As I searched for full details of the School’s Trust Deed I came across this information on a board in Wittersham Church.
‘The Free School of Wittersham was foundedAD1820 by the Reverend William Cornwallis and Mary his wife in memory of their grandson James Cornwallis Trimmer for the benefit of all boys above seven years old the children of labourers resident in the Parish: who are entitled to five years instruction therein and four more at the night school, as stated in the deed of endowment.
The said founders give 18A 0R 13P of marshland situate near Smallhythe and known by the name of the sixteeneres for this purpose: the rents to be administered by five trustees: viz the Rectors of Wittersham, Biddenden and Beckley, and the two churchwardens of Wittersham: who are requiredx to relet the land by tender once in twenty one years at least. And to give public notice thereof as directed in the said deed: and the said deed or a copy of it is required to be read in the church by the Minister every year after evening prayers on Whit Sunday.
Four fifths of the yearly rent are to be paid to the Master and one fifth to be reserved for scots and other expenses.
A public examination is to take place about or before midsummer when the accounts are to be settled and the rewards given to the boys as directed in the deed.
The Master must be a sound member of the Church of England and the children are required to attend Divine Service with him at the Parish Church, and are to be further instructed according to the Founders directions – Non of the Trustees, nor the Minister of the Parish nor any person who has received parish relief shall be elected Master.
Should any of the regulations made in the said deed not be complied with, the inhabitants are required to make complaint to the Archbishop of Canterbury who is empowered to remedy all abuses.
The original deed is lodge in the iron chest of the Parish of Wittersham; it is also enrolled in the Court of Chancery and copies of it are lodged with the Rectors of Biddenden and Beckley and with the School Master.’
The original deed is not still held in the Church however, the Diocese of Canterbury have a typed transcript of the School Deed and also An Original Trust Deed dated 26th June 1874 between Reverend Edward Sladen and the Vicar and Churchwardens of Wittersham.
Experience Easter 2017
It was a great delight to welcome Key Stage 2 children to ‘Experience Easter’ which was held in the churchyard on March 30th. The children moved round five “stations as they relive the Easter story from Gethsemane to the empty tomb.
They started by hearing how Jesus was unjustly accused and then held a stone as they prayed for all people who are wrongly accused –then they put their stones in the circle of prayer around a tree.
Next they moved to another part of “Gethsemane” and here one of our Governors related the next part of the story which was followed with the children putting ribbons on a tree. These prayer ribbons can be seen each day from the school field.
The third station representing the courtyard where Peter denied Jesus was led by our Chair of Governors. The focus was a lit brazier into which we all put a twig representing our misdemeanours and accepting that they have gone and that we are forgiven.
The fourth station was the crucifixion and after the story the children each made their own crosses from natural materials. It is a wonderful sight to see all the different crosses they made and to hear their conversations and their deep spiritually.
Finally we visited the empty tomb and planted seeds, seeds that looked dead but that we know will spring into life, a wonderful symbol of the resurrection. The children each took their seeds in their pots home to care for.
The morning finished with squash and hot cross buns in the church and each child received a book entitled the “Real Cool Easter Story”
Revd. Judy Darkins
Learning Walk – Christian Distinctiveness
We asked members of the school council ‘Where in our school will you see the Christian values and evidence of our Christian Distinctiveness’? They then led us around the school highlighting the evidence and en route made a photographic record.
Front of the school
The children pointed to the weather vane cross on top of the old schoolhouse and on the wall outside the front door to the reception area. We discussed what the cross represents and one pupil responded ‘it represents Jesus’. The children then continued to make connections with the cross and this particular time of year as we were now in Lent and Easter was approaching. Another pupil highlighted the fact that ‘We are very close to the Church’. A particularly wonderful comment made by one pupil was ‘ God is everywhere so you don’t always need to see things’.
As we entered the school building and into the reception area the children drew our attention to several items: –
The main display in this area is a large board above the reception seats. This was a display of ‘thank you’ cards from members of the community who had received harvest boxes. The children explained how the school makes up harvest boxes and delivers them throughout the local community.
A wooden carved picture – of a cross made up of clasping hands. When questioned about the carving the children gave the following responses as to it’s meaning: ‘friendship’, ‘love’ and ‘we can touch God’.
A Prayer Tree – the children explained how this was used and we read some of the prayers that had been written by the pupils and hung on the branches. We asked them about a particular time they had written a prayer for the tree and one pupil remarked ‘to send best wishes to the Year 6 leavers’.
Prayer Pegs – a pupil explained that these could be written on with the name of a person that a pupil might wish to pray for or have prayers said for that person and that you then placed on the tree in the Spirituality garden. Two of the pupils said that they had placed pegs on this tree.
The children showed us the individual prayer tables for Rother and Oxney classes. Each class had decided what important objects their table should feature – Bibles, candles, flowers and a prayer cushion were some of the items chosen.
We asked the children about the purpose of the prayer tables. One answer was: ‘to reflect on our day or to think’. The prayer tables could be used by individual children at break time, lunchtime or at the beginning or end of the day. They are also used during class collective worship.
Prayers could be written on post-it notes and pinned to the table or there was also a box for private prayers. Examples of prayers on the notes were ‘Help and Support me through my SATS’, ‘Bless my family’, ‘Help my dad quit smoking’.
Silver Prayer Station (in the corridor)
This was a beautiful prayer table for all pupils to use. It featured a silver mirror to look in and a collection of silver objects to pick up, hold and ponder while reflecting or praying at the prayer table. One pupil said ‘ There’s a mirror so that you can look at your reflection and reflect on God’.
Playground – Christian Values Board
Outside in the playground there was a whiteboard attached to the wall displaying the Christian values – Love, Kindness, Respect Self-worth/Perseverance. The children told us this gave them an opportunity to nominate pupils who they thought had displayed particular Christian values during break times. We noticed there were no names on the board, but we were informed by the children that it is usually full of names.
We were then taken to the Spirituality Garden. This was tucked in quieter corner around the other side of the school building. As we approached there were four junior girls seated in the wooden arbour of the garden. They said: ‘We were talking and reflecting on how to deal with people who might be nasty’. On the walls inside the arbour were prayers children had composed and staff had laminated to protect them from the elements.
On the wall was a dove mosaic – A pupil remarked that it ‘Symbolised the Holy Spirit’
One pupil commented that the garden was also ‘showing kindness and love to nature and to God’s creatures as food had been left out for the birds’.
There was a large prayer tree, covered in prayer pegs for people for whom the children wished to pray.
The garden was very peaceful and seemed a quiet sanctuary for the children to retreat to if they wanted to be thoughtful, calm and reflective.
The children were very keen to show us around the school and explaining the variety of ways in which the school clearly evidences its Christian distinctiveness. It was very obvious by their comments that they both value and make use of these special places in which they have the opportunity to share their thoughts reflecting on God, on themselves, and in thinking of others. It was a joy to hear their comments.
Deborah Bennett and John Collins
We met with a group of 9 pupils, representing all classes, and asked them the following questions relating to their knowledge and understanding of the Christian distinctiveness of the school.
Below are direct quotes from these pupils.
Are there times in school when you are able to reflect- think quietly?
‘When we go outside to sit in the quiet area’ (Yr1)
‘We reflect at Worship and when we go to the Church’ (Yr2)
‘At our Prayer Tables’ (Yr6)
‘At the end of our day’ (Yr4)
Are there special times in the school when you are given a chance to pray?
‘We say a special prayer before we go to lunch’ (Yr5)
‘We always say a special prayer before we leave school’ (Yr4)
‘Before lunch and on Thursdays during our class worship as well as at the end of everyday’ (Yr6)
‘In the mornings when we are in the Hall’ (Yr2)
‘When we go to the Church ‘ (Yr1)
‘At special services in the Church – Christmas and Easter’ (Yr5)
‘At our Harvest Festival’ (Yr. 4)
Can you pray in different ways in our school?
‘We hold our hands together or rest in our laps’ (Yr5)
‘We can put them on the table as long as we are still’ (Yr1)
‘It helps so that you can think of God’ (Yr2)
‘You can pray anywhere’ (Yr4)
‘At our Prayer Table’ (Yr6)
‘My favourite place is in the garden’ (Yr4)
‘Fresh air in the garden helps me reflect and helps anyone who struggles to reflect’ (Yr1)
Do you like these times? Do you find them helpful?
‘I like to pray in school because sometimes when it’s quiet it gets rid of some thoughts in your head’ (Yr5)
‘You can reflect on bad and good things’ (Yr2)
‘Sharing with God what’s difficult for you so you don’t worry about it’ (Yr6)
‘When it’s quiet I feel calm and relaxed’ (Yr4)
Why do you think that we have collective worship very day in school?
‘To think about God’ (Yr2)
‘For particular themes like Lent now ‘ (Yr4)
‘To start the day fresh, a new beginning’ (Yr6)
‘To reflect on the candle and God’ (Yr4)
‘To think about Jesus and how he brought light to the world’ (Yr5)
‘The candle stands for the Light of God’ (Yr1)
What do you enjoy/not enjoy about worship?
‘I like all the stories from the Bible and every month Revd. Judy gives us more detail’ (Yr6)
‘On Fridays as part of our worship we have gold awards which celebrate what pupils have achieved. These show our Christian values’ (Yr4)
‘Our Christian values’ (Yr1)
‘I enjoy our singing’ (Yr2)
‘It’s a lovely way to begin our day before our lessons’ (Yr5)
‘We are all together’ (Yr1)
Do you ever have visitors in worship? What is this like?
‘We had someone giving out Rotary awards which makes us proud of the school and what the school has done to help pupils’ (Yr5)
‘We had a Remembrance service with the British Legion and they carried a flag’ (Yr4)
‘There was a war veteran who shared his experiences and showed us his medals’ (Yr6)
‘Some vicars come in and act a Bible Story and sometimes pupils get involved as disciples’ (Yr1)
‘Last year we had two women from Africa talk to us about a charity’ (Yr4)
Can you tell me an important message from one of your worship times?
‘Don’t take things for granted, sometimes we take our senses for granted’ (Yr4)
‘The Prodigal Son that was about forgiveness- which is one of our values’ (Yr6)
‘Johnny Appleseed about seeds falling in different places (the Yr. 1 pupil then said all the sorts of places the seeds dropped) and this was about perseverance ‘(Yr. 4)
‘What makes friendship important and what good friends do ‘(Yr2)
Do you sometimes go to church for worship? When do you go to church? What is worship like in church?
‘We go every month’ (Yr4)
‘It is more spiritual in church. You are in God’s house and he is looking over us especially’ (Yr6)
‘We go for Harvest Festival and beforehand we go to practice our poems for the Festival’ (Yr4)
‘It’s a very peaceful place which helps us to reflect (Yr4)
‘We did our nativity in the church’ (Yr2)
‘I like going to the church because it’s quiet and old’ (Yr1)
‘A special service when the Year 6 leave’ (Yr5)
‘At special times like the Harvest Festival’ (Yr6)
‘It gives us ideas, helps to motivate us’ (Yr6)
‘It gives us a better understanding of the Bible stories- more ideas reflecting on God’ (Yr5)
‘We learnt and do the Finger Blessing’ (Yr4)
The group then showed us this and explained the meaning of the Holy Trinity.
‘It’s a quiet and old place ‘(Yr2)
How does the vicar help in our school?
‘She gives us a better understanding of the Bible stories by acting them out in Open Book’ (Yr5)
‘She leads the worship when we go to the church’ (Yr4)
‘She gives us ideas on what tom put on our Prayer Tables’ (Yr. 6)
‘She taught us the Finger Blessing’ (Yr4)
‘She comes into the school a lot’ (Yr1)
‘She organised the visit of the women from Africa’ (Yr4)
‘She shows us what other countries do’ (Yr5)
‘She gives us ideas on how to reflect to God’ (Yr6)
Does the school take part in events in the village? Do you raise money for charities in school and why do you think this is important?
‘We give out harvest boxes’ (Yr5)
‘The church had a Big Breakfast which raised money for the school”(Yr5)
‘We did choir singing in the village hall (Yr4)
‘We made up boxes at Christmas for Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child’ (Yr6) These go everywhere – Liberia, Rwanda, Romania and to refugee children.
‘We raise money for Red Nose Day and Children in Need’ (Yr5)
‘We raised money for the African Charity (Yr4)
‘We’re sponsoring an Olympic athlete who is coming into the school’ (Yr5)
‘Helping charities shows our Christian values by helping others in need’ (Yr6)
‘It means we are thinking of others (Yr1)
‘So that when you leave the school you carry the values with you for life’ (Yr5)
It was very evident to us from the very articulate, thoughtful and insightful responses to our questions that the pupils not only understood the importance of the Christian values, but that they put them into practice in a meaningful way during their day-to-day school life.
The pupils’ answers demonstrated that they derived great worth and pride from being part of Wittersham School because of its Christian values and distinctiveness as a Church school. It was clear that the Christian ethos has a very significant and positive impact on the pupils and this was something both beneficial to them now and indeed would be for their future lives.
Deborah Bennett and John Collins
I had the pleasure of joining Smugglers class for their Class Worship on Thursday 9th February.
The children were seated facing their Prayer Table and the lighted candle and Miss Broad greeted them with “The Lord be with you” they responding, “And also with you”. She then read the Bible story of Jesus choosing his disciples. This then led into an engaging Q&A session, the children providing some very thoughtful responses to the meaning of the word Disciple and to why Jesus chose such a wide range of personalities. They then considered how they chose their own friends, linking this to the school’s Christian values. There were some very interesting answers to the questions and it was evident that they not only knew the values but also understood how these impact on their daily lives, both within school and beyond.
Miss Broad then led them in singing ‘Lord of the Dance’. She sang the verses, delightfully I must say, and they sang the chorus with increasing gusto.
A lovely prayer, written and read by a pupil, then followed. After a few minutes of silent reflection the candle was blown out and the children quietly turned around to begin their lessons.
It was a privilege to witness how the children were totally focused and engaged in their worship, clearly valuing and enjoying it. It was a truly wonderful way to begin their school day emphasising, as it most certainly did, the distinctiveness of the Christian ethos of the school.
Thank you Smugglers class for letting me join you for your worship.
Chair of Governors
Wittersham School children were in very good voice for their annual Christingle Service celebrating Christ as the Light of the world. Holding their Christingle oranges the children very appropriately sang “This little light of mine” as they moved to their places around the church, then fell silent as their candles were lit, and a great circle of over 100 candles lit up the gloom of a winter February afternoon. “In the light, shadows disappear; see clearly in the light” was the message, and part of the chorus of their next hymn, and it was lovely to see and hear their confidence and enjoyment of the service.
A Wriggly Nativity
The school hall was at maximum capacity on Tuesday afternoon for the Windmill and Smuggler Class Christmas production. The cast comprised of the children from three different year groups, yet every single child had an important part to play in what was an impressive feat of organisation and entertainment.
In addition to the core cast of Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men; there were announcers, narrators, inn-keepers (and their wives), a menagerie of animals and a constellation of stars.
The Nativity story was carefully told and enacted by all cast members with enthusiasm and gusto. The performance was punctuated with a collection of lively songs of which different year groups took ownership. No stage nerves from the participants were at all apparent; indeed, it was clear that everyone involved seemed to be having the time of their life. The joy and clarity of the children’s performance suggested that all had a sound understanding of the Christmas story and its meaning.
The production finished to a resounding applause from a most appreciative audience. Mrs Frost praised the children on a wonderful performance and remarked how they never fail to impress us and fill us with pride.
Congratulations to all the children of Windmill and Smuggler Class and all the hard work of the staff involved.
2015/16 SCHOOL YEAR
As we come to the end of a school year it is a good time to look back on the year and to look forward to the next.
The only appropriate word to begin the look back is `WOW’! What a wonderful way to the end the year by both retaining our GOOD Ofsted judgement and by our Year 6 pupils achieving outstanding SATS results. The Government had warned in advance that due to the changes and ‘toughening up’ of the tests this year that results would go down and that they shouldn’t be compared to previous years. This certainly wasn’t the case for our pupils who achieved 89.5% for the combined tests against a National average of 53%. They have certainly ‘done themselves and the school proud’. These fantastic results are the result of their hard work, determination, perseverance and self-belief. Of course, they have had the benefit of outstanding teaching and support of the teaching assistants! Hearty congratulations to all – pupils and staff, a job very well done!
Although it would be remiss not to highlight the KS2 results it is also very important to recognise that changes have brought about rapid pupil progress and raised attainment in Early Years and, together with strategies put in place for KS1, we can be very confident that we will see accelerated progress next year. We also very much look forward to our two new teachers who will be joining us in September who will be able to build on the very solid foundations laid down by our two temporary teachers. I am very grateful to both of them and wish them all the very best as they move on to other schools.
I did write early in the year advising you that based on the 2015 results our GOOD judgement was vulnerable. In that letter I also said that with the appointment of Mrs Frost governors had every confidence that the right strategies would be put in place to address the school weaknesses. Our confidence in her has proved absolutely correct. Her outstanding leadership has most certainly been responsible for the rapid progress made across the entire school since last September. Her vision, drive, determination and ambition for our pupils and the school have brought the school to the position it is now in. With the stability and very strong foundations she has brought to the school I am absolutely confident that we will see the school continuing to move from strength to strength.
Mrs Frost would be the first to state that what has been achieved in the school has not been done singlehandedly but is the result of the tremendous hard work and team spirit so evident within the school community. I would wish to put on record governors heartfelt thanks to all staff, teaching and non-teaching, who have been responsible for this significant turnaround in the school’s fortunes. There are also many others, the WSA and numerous volunteers who have worked tirelessly, often behind the scenes, in supporting the school in so many ways. As has been said many times before there really is a true sense of community both within the school and as part of the wider local community.
Wittersham does not exist so that we get a good Ofsted report, as welcome as it most certainly is, it is just a by-product of the school’s desire and determination to give pupils an excellent primary education through a broad and interesting curriculum. We want to ensure that when they leave here at the end of Year 6, they have achieved the best they possibly can to give them the very best base when moving on in to secondary school and to the rest of their education. We also want them to be happy and to enjoy their learning. Reading through the weekly newsletters it is obvious to see that our pupils benefit from a wide range of extra-curricular and enrichment activities way beyond the confines of the prescribed National Curriculum. Whether this is through an ever expanding range of sporting activities, lunchtime and after school clubs or visits outside of the classroom, all ensure that, ‘ On a Voyage of Discovery, together we learn, grown and achieve’, isn’t just a strapline but is very evident through the daily life of the school. Although learning and teaching are at the heart of the school it offers so much more than that.
It is also important to both recognise and to give me an opportunity to put on record my personal gratitude to my fellow governors for their continuing commitment and hard work in support of the school. In this academic year they have made 25 formal monitoring visits and 30 learning walks. All of these are followed up by written reports. They have attended 6 full governing body meetings and an additional 10 committee meetings. Many have also taken part in training opportunities. This all ensures our statutory responsibility to hold the school to account for the educational attainment of our pupils. This represents a significant time commitment for, what is, a voluntary role. Why do we do it? We do it because we wish to support the school in whatever way we can but also, despite the heavy demands, it is real privilege to come into the school and to witness and celebrate the welcoming, happy and safe community that the school most certainly is. It truly is a place in which Christian values pervade all aspects of school life, not least with the ways in which the links with the Church have been significantly widened and strengthened this year.
This, I accept, is already a lengthy letter and I could easily go on since this has been an incredibly busy and successful year. Nonetheless I will leave it here and to take the opportunity to wish the Year 6 pupils moving on to their new schools every best wish for the future and to hope that all of you have a very pleasant summer and that the sun continues to shine as it has, most certainly shone on the school this year
Chair of Governors
The Queen’s 90th Birthday – Tea Party Celebration
Friday 10th June
The whole village seemed to come together to toast the Queen on this sunny Friday afternoon. The Union Jacks were flying and a sea of red, white and blue filled Wittersham School hall as staff, pupils and villagers gathered together. What better way to celebrate our monarch than to partake in a delicious spread of tea and cake, kindly made and donated by members of the Wittersham community.
We began proceedings by standing and singing a rousing rendition of the National Anthem. An overhead projector was there to help those who hadn’t quite managed to learn the second verse. Tea, cake and excited chatter than filled the room. It was then the children’s turn to have their treats and we were invited to join them outside while they had a picnic afternoon tea and played in the sunshine.
This was a delightful event that had been organised to precision as befitting any Royal occasion. It was very well supported by members from the whole community. The children displayed exemplary behaviour throughout and as always, were excellent ambassadors for their school. In all this was a wonderful celebration of our Queen the very best of Britishness.
The following week the children were presented with commemorative coins by John Rivers, on behalf of the Parish Council, who had generously funded these gifts. The children seemed amazed and thrilled with the beautiful gold coins and I am sure they will be cherished keepsakes in the years to come.
Tuesday 24 May 2016
What a lovely privilege to visit the School in the role of Governor and witness at first hand the astonishing talents of some of the pupils.
I was invited to attend a pupil presentation by a team of five, which had been selected to go on a Leadership training course. They were to bring back to the school some ideas for school improvement (their words) and lead their peers in the chosen tasks.
The course is ongoing and is part of a national programme.
The team had concocted a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation and displayed the results of their learning in a very persuasive and cogent fashion. It was easy to see that they had worked co-operatively and effectively in achieving the objects of their research. They had obviously enjoyed taking part in the course, knew what was going to happen next and how they could possibly develop their ideas.
It was brilliant.
On the last Tuesday of the term I had the pleasure of being asked to contribute to delivering ‘Experience Easter’ adapted from the Passion narrative in Mark’s gospel.
On a sunny morning the churchyard had been transformed with representations of the Gardens of Gethsemane, the courtyard of the High Priest’s palace where Peter denied Jesus, Golgotha (the place of the skull) where Jesus was crucified and the tomb in which his body was laid.
Across the morning Reverend Judy led each upper year class on a journey, which followed the story of Jesus leading to his crucifixion and ultimate resurrection. At each place on this journey the children were told the Bible story and participated through a variety of activities which concluded with the opportunity to reflect on and identify with the feelings associated with that part of the Passion.
At the end of the journey the children were treated to a drink and hot cross bun.
There is no doubt that this was both a delightful and thought provoking way to engage children fully in the true meaning and significance of Easter. The children’s’ behaviour, without exception, was exemplary and at each part of the journey they were fully engaged and absorbed and there were many excellent responses to questions.
Thanks must go to Reverend Judy for organizing this wonderful experience and to members of the St. John the Baptist community, and those from other local churches, who helped either behind the scenes in setting it all up or in delivering the story.
The whole experience again emphasises the very important and strong links that our school has with our local Church from which our pupils most clearly benefit.
Pupil Progress Meeting
At the start of the year, with the new requirement to track the learning of pupils against national expectations, Mrs Frost introduced the ‘Target Tracker’ software to the school. Governors attended the staff development day to receive training on this new system and, in line with our monitoring responsibility; we now receive termly reports on pupil progress. We receive group summaries based on the year group rather than on individual pupils as used by the teachers. They are able to tell where each pupil is working in relation to the expectation for their age and what they need to learn next in order to make progress.
Class teachers input the data based on termly and moderated pupil assessments. The package can then generate a whole range of charts and data but the most important thing, as with any data, is how this information is actually used to both monitor and advance pupil progress. To this end I observed one of the termly pupil progress meetings attended by Mrs Frost, the class teacher and Mrs Double, the school SENCO.
The meeting certainly showed me that a robust and strategic process has been implemented in the school. The data is sharply focused on individual pupils, identifying both their attainment and progress. The conversation which then follows results in specific actions that are then put in place to ‘plug the gaps’ for each pupil, or group of pupils where this is applicable. From this the class teacher puts in place a Provision Map which clearly identifies the wide range of teaching and learning strategies to accelerate the progress not only for the low achievers but also to challenge the high achievers. In line with the termly data the effectiveness of these strategies is addressed in order to see if new or additional ones are needed.
Analysis of the Term 1 and Term 2 data for this particular year group very clearly showed that adoption of this new software, coupled with the framework put in place, had resulted in the rapid progress that the pupils had made over the two terms.
Overall I was extremely impressed with what the software can do but ,much more importantly, the way that the teachers have wholeheartedly adopted and adapted to the new system and in all the hard work, which they are putting in to ensure that the needs of each individual pupil are being met. This new framework for is most certainly having a significant impact on accelerating pupil progress.
We are delighted that School Collective Worship is being held in the church every second Monday of the month. Our first one last Monday had the theme “The light of the World”. Pupils from Year 6 read the Bible reading, wrote and read the prayer and acted as the crucifer. We had a small choir of pupils, selected from across the year groups, who led our singing brilliantly. We explored Holman Hunt’s picture of the Light of the World and the children responded with some very profound ideas. At the end we had reflection time and then sang “Shine Jesus shine”. After the blessing we went back to school taking the church candles we had used with us to light during the rest of our week’s collective worship.
How wonderful it is that the good relationship between School and Church just grows and grows.
Revd. Judy Darkins
Sunday 20th December 2015
Live Nativity at Hope Farm
It is often remarked in performing circles that one should never work with children and animals. In this event there were both of these groups in fairly large numbers, but the result was an utter joy and delight for all concerned.
As we settled down on our straw bales Rev. Judy led proceedings, re-telling the Christmas story while man and beast, side by side, played the iconic roles. First the Angel appeared to Mary, followed by Mary and Joseph’s long ride to Bethlehem on a donkey. There was no room at the inn, so the weary couple took refuge in the ‘stable’ – the cosy barn that made up our venue.
Baby Jesus came into the world represented not by a plastic doll, but a real little baby. Next came the shepherds who had come to pay their respects; these were played by any children who wished to take part, many of our own children from Wittersham School. Accompanying the children was a rather lovely pair of sheep and some sweet, little lambs. Finally, the three wise men arrived, robed and sandaled accordingly in their finery and bearing gifts for the new arrival. The final scene was really quite a picture to behold.
This was a unique and beautiful community event, made possible by the Lovejoy family of Hope Farm, Rev. Judy and members of the local community. Rev. Judy introduced and concluded this live nativity with the story of Daniel, a little boy living in poverty, today, in a shanty town. Sitting there on the straw bales in the draughty barn, we were given a version of the Christmas story rarely seen, both poignant and immediate.
These have been a very busy two terms for governors. In addition to our meetings, governors have also made a total of ten visits to the school in order to monitor the progress and impact of actions taken in line with the school plan. We have been delighted to be able to see that under the exceptional leadership of Mrs. Frost and the dedication and hard work of all of the staff rapid progress has been made in all areas.
Regrettably two of our governors, Carl Fraser and Wesley Dadson, resigned this term due to a change in their work commitments. We are grateful for their work on the governing body and for their support of the school during their terms of office.
We are fortunate that we have filled both vacancies, Jo Dadson joined us in December as a parent governor and Oliver Walker will join us in January as a Foundation Governor. This means that our governing body is complete. I know from Kent Governor Services that there are a large number of governor vacancies across Kent schools so we are delighted that we had two volunteers on our first call.
Chair of Governors
The Firework-Maker’s Daughter
On Monday 14 December I had the pleasure of accompanying the pupils of Oxney and Rother Class on their much anticipated trip to the Royal Opera House to see The Firework-Maker’s Daughter.
We assembled at our coach for 10 am sharp and began the long, but exhilarating journey to London. On board there was an excited babble of I-spy and other travel games, while others discussed questions of the performance that lay ahead: What will it be like? / Will there be loud bangs and fireworks? / What’s a fire-fiend look like anyway? / How on earth will they get a live elephant on stage or for that matter, an enormous volcanic mountain?
After a quick stop for lunch, a saunter down to the Greenwich Observatory and a rather nice view of some major London landmarks, we headed for the theatre to find all the answers to our questions. Covent Garden was awash with Christmas lights and we really had pinch to ourselves to think that we were actually here.
The performance – a mini opera was likely something the pupils had never seen before. One review described it as ‘unashamedly low-tech’ using a fine set of engaging actors, shadow puppetry and overhead projectors to tell Lila’s story. All without a firework in sight!
It was also noted that our Christian values featured heavily in Lila’s story; in fact these were pivotal to her success in surviving the fires of Mount Merapi, making-up with her father, proving her talent to the king and fulfilling her ultimate ambition: to be a firework-maker in her own right.
It was fantastic trip that the children thoroughly enjoyed. Although it was a long day and a slow return home through the Christmas traffic, all remained in good spirits and behaviour was exemplary.
Thank you for allowing me to share this momentous day. I am really looking forward to seeing the fruits of this experience in the children’s work.
As we have come to the end of the first term ‘under new management’ we can reflect on what has been a very productive one with Mrs. Frost’s arrival as our Headteacher. Changes in leadership inevitably bring about changes in practice and there is absolutely no doubt that there have been a number of important and exciting initiatives already implemented and having a positive impact.
At the start of the term governors joined staff, on one of their training days, to work on a new school vision. This was followed up by involving both pupils and parents in the process of developing this to the final version so that it truly is a shared vision. It is now Governors responsibility to monitor how this vision impacts on all aspects of school life.
Governors also joined staff on their October training day to be introduced to ‘Target Tracker’, a new way in which pupil progress and attainment is now being tracked in line with the changes in national assessment.
We know that staff have worked incredibly hard in implementing new procedures as part of the annual school plan. To support and challenge the progress and impact of this plan, and in line with Governors’ strategic role, we have increased the number and frequency of governor visits to the school. During these visits we not only speak to the Head and staff but also, very importantly, to the pupils in order to find out their views. I know that my governor colleagues always find a warm and helpful welcome and very much enjoy these visits to see the school at work.
There is no doubt that governors have taken on, as volunteers, an increased workload in fulfilling their governor responsibilities and I am extremely grateful to them for their willingness to set aside time not only to attend meetings but also, when they are able, to make these daytime visits. They do so because they are all strongly committed to the school.
The Governing Body is really delighted with all that the Head and staff have achieved in this first term. We look forward, as the school year unfolds, to see the undoubted benefits the changes introduced impact on our pupils progress.
Visit to Rother Class
July 10th 2015
As part of a monitoring visit, I was able to enter Rother Classroom as link governor. In addition to the more formal report elsewhere I was very pleased to be able to meet once again with the teaching staff and pupils. A maths lesson was in progress and all the Year Fives employed in drawing polygons were engaged and on task. Teaching staff were involved in coaching and mentoring, while pupils were generally able to access more learning resources in the form of a working wall, whiteboard instructions and tools (ruler, protractor and pencil).
I was able to sample some workbooks and found pupils’ work marked consistently and developmentally while marking feedback had been acknowledged in all cases.
It is always a pleasure to visit the School in general and Rother in particular. A warm welcome is always experienced and the pupils are very happy to respond to questions about their work and what they need to do to improve.
Thank you staff and pupils of Rother Class and good luck to the Year Sixes ready to move on, your school has given you a great start!
John Carroll Rother Class Link Governor