We have at last reached the finishing line after a very busy and lively first term back – thank you for braving the biting cold of the mornings in this final couple of weeks. I do hope the holiday gives us all a chance to reset and refresh and spend some much-needed family time together – both staff and children are definitely showing signs of being ready for a break!
Reflecting on this term is interesting; there are many things we still need to do, but there are also lots of things to be proud of. Something that shows noticeable improvement, for me, is the difference in focus and attitude of pupils in all classes. In some classes, the improvement is quite extreme! This will greatly benefit all children when we get back to work in January, as Spring Term is where we expect to see rapid and sustained progress. There are a few things to mention in this newsletter so please have a read and, as always, get in touch if you have any queries.
In Spring term, we are going to tighten up on punctuality. Lessons begin at 8:45 and we have noticed there are increasing numbers of children arriving after this time, which is resulting in missed learning of key skills such as arithmetic, spelling and grammar. Over the holidays, Mr Daish and I will be setting up the automated school bell to help us keep us better time in school. The morning bell will go at 8:45am and from that point, any arrivals will have to go through the Office. I would politely ask that parents leave promptly at that time in order to allow teachers to return indoors and begin teaching. I will ensure that classroom doors are open in good time to allow children to come in and settle down with their learning by 8:45.
In Spring, we will be sending letters out to parents whose children’s attendance is causing concern. I am very aware that there are often complicated factors involved in attendance, including health issues, that mean unavoidable absence from school. However, it is important to share poor attendance with parents, as quite often we don’t realise how much the odd absences can add up. Did you know that children with attendance below 90% are classed as “persistent absentees?” 90% may seem a reasonable figure but it equates to a day off every fortnight, which is a lot of lost learning. While I completely understand the complexities involved in attendance, it remains an area that OFSTED judge us on. We must therefore continue to promote the importance of regular attendance.
We have also seen a huge number of absences so far this year due to term-time family holidays. Again, I understand the reasoning behind these, especially after the disruption caused by Covid. However, these will always be considered unauthorized absences and, where appropriate, we will refer cases to the local authority which can result in a fine. Unfortunately, teachers are not able to spend additional time catching children up on missed learning due to a term-time holiday.
The Walking Bus
This Spring, I will be re-introducing the Walking Bus. This is a supportive measure we will be offering to families to assist in getting children safely to school. This needs careful planning to ensure it is set up safely and correctly, but it is a really effective way of helping each other and getting our children in to school every day on time. More information will go out about this early in the Spring Term – we may be looking for parent volunteers to lend a hand with this project so if you’re interested, please look out for further details in the new year.
Academisation – Where Are We at?
Earlier in the year, I shared our plans to explore the possibility of becoming part of the John Taylor MAT. While it may seem as though all has gone quiet on that front, plenty has been going on in the background. Our application to join the Trust has been heard by the Regional Board today (15th December). I am hoping we may hear the outcome later today, but if not, I hope to have a positive outcome to share with you in the new year. Once approved, we will be able to initiate the stakeholder consultation process where you as parents will have a formal opportunity to ask questions and share concerns.
INSET Day – January
Please remember that Tuesday 3rd January is an INSET day and pupils return to school after the Christmas break on Wednesday 4th January 2023.
Finally, I would like to wish you all the happiest of Christmases. Given what I’ve seen already of the active community in Alrewas, I can imagine Christmas in the village is a wonderful and busy time!
I look forward to seeing you all in the new year.
Miss E Wilson