9th March 2017
I am thrilled to write this particular blog following a really successful Ofsted inspection where the school was graded “good” again. Over the last few years the staff have worked really hard to ensure the children at Westfield get a fantastic educational experience and reach their full potential, particularly in maths, which has been a focus area for the school. This has been particularly challenging over recent years with the new curriculum and assessment arrangements which have been much more difficult for the children. The evaluations of the teaching and learning in the report show how the strategies and approaches used are working well with the maths teaching being rated as at least good and sometimes outstanding. Well done to all the children for their hard work and thank you the staff who constantly strive to find ways to improve the teaching across school. Thanks also to the governors who attend meetings and data sessions and challenge all our expectations, helping us to manage our limited resources to their optimum for the children.
The report also credited safeguarding as a strength and felt that parents were very supportive and complimentary towards the school. I did not, of course, see the confidential parental responses, but know they were really positive and supportive of school. Lots of parents stopped me the evening before the visit to wish us luck and it was super to have that support as always. I feel that the parents and staff always work closely together for the good of all the children in school - one of the best aspects of working at Westfield. We really appreciate these close relationships and feel very proud that the report evidences how we work so well together. Long may it continue!
Our two areas for improvement were again the maths and also to continue with our focus on the disadvantaged children’s outcomes. What I will say is that the report held no surprises – in fact, when speaking to Miss Swallow, Mrs Pickin (and Mr Clay!) about the inspection report we all agreed that we could have forecast the strengths and areas for improvements. We will continue to work on these areas, in partnership with parents, in order to make Westfield the best school for all our pupils.
18th December 2016
I would like to thank parents for their support this term – a very busy one in the run up to Christmas! We normally produce a Swoop newsletter at the end of each term but due to office staff changes at the moment we have been unable to do so this time. I would encourage parents to look at all the fabulous work and activities that are evidenced on our website. Mrs Clarkson, with help from all the staff, has worked really hard to ensure that all the classes and groups in school have examples of work, trips and activities from the Autumn term. It is super to look at and constantly changing, reflecting the vast range of opportunities the children have in school. It is also a super resource to share with grandparents and other relatives who may not get to visit school very often. It also has the parent’s calendar and copies of letters to help parents out when life gets hectic – please make some time to have a look in the different sections.
I would also like to thank parents and children, but especially those on the PTA for their hard work organising the Christmas Fair which raised over a thousand pounds for the Bungalow project. We are still working away at the project, the latest work has been electrical and will continue to post our progress on the notice board next the the 3B entrance.
We had two visits from groups of Swedish Students this term via our links with Trinity University in Leeds. These are always interesting dates for the children in school, and a chance for the Harmony group to host visitors from abroad. They were mystified by the "Stir up Sunday" Christmas pudding that we had made in assembly which was bubbling away in the staff room in a slow cooker. They enjoyed the English crumpets and mince pies and exchanged stories of Christmas traditions and daily life with the children who asked lots of great questions and were amazed to find that there was already lots of snow in Sweden even in late November. The University always sends me a really positive thank-you email to acknowledge the lovely children they meet and how welcome they are made to feel which I always feels reflects every aspect of our Westfield School community. We are very lucky to be a part of such as super school.
The last couple of weeks have been really fun and exciting in school. I always enjoy helping to run the parties and seeing everyone having fun. The concerts were excellent this year – the children worked really hard to speak clearly and sing beautifully. We also had lovely readings in our traditional carol concert at St John's Church and just this afternoon the children who have been learning instruments stood and played on the stage with great confidence. Well done to everyone.
It is always sad to say farewell to a member of staff. Mr Knapton-Smith joined us in September on a term’s contract and has worked hard and fit into school brilliantly. We will miss him in the New Year and wish him all the best for the future. I am sure he will pop in to see us. Mr Clay called into school this morning and it was lovely to see him again – he is enjoying the challenge of his new post! Mrs Pickin joined us at October half term and has used her first term in school to help me observe lessons and scrutinise books as she is our new Maths Leader. She is also a member of the Senior Leadership Team and has the role of SENCO. Mrs Pickin has worked hard this term to ensure every child has had an IEP meeting. I have supported with these as she is still getting to know everyone but she has already spent time with the children on the SEN list so it has been a busy first term for her too! Mrs Picken will be class based from January, teaching in Year 5. If parents have any concerns regarding their child's additional needs, Mrs Pickin is happy to meet with you or parents are welcome to come in and have a chat with me as always.
I would like to sign off by wishing everyone connected to Westfield Junior School a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year from all the staff at school.
22nd October 2016
It was lovely to see lots of new and existing parents at the Open Morning and Evening on the 11th October. The children volunteered to come back in the evening and really loved showing visitors around. The activities showcased what a great range of opportunities there are for the children in school including a wide range of exciting topics, Art, Music and Needlework as well as Maths, English and Science. Look out for the curriculum evening next term where we will demonstrate aspects of the Maths and English curriculum across all year groups and our final open afternoon on the 29th November.
The Hallowe’en Disco was a great hit as always. The children looked fantastic (or should I say Fang – tastic!) in their amazing outfits. Thanks to the parents who created such amazing little monsters and ghouls, the PTA for trimming up and the staff and parent volunteers for their help on the evening.
Our new Attendance Tree is full of autumn leaves at the 3B entrance to school. The government guidance for attendance is that children should have minimum attendance of 95% - our school target is 97%. Every child who achieves 95% attendance over the half term will be awarded a silver leaf on the tree. Every child who achieves 100% will gain a gold leaf. I think we will have a very full tree by Christmas as our children have good attendance overall! Take a look at the attendance figures which are also now displayed weekly on this board.
Enjoy half term everyone!
30th September 2016
It has been a busy couple of weeks in school. Firstly, our Year 6 parents attended an information evening regarding the residential trip which will take place next summer at Herd Farm. We have visited Buckden House very successfully for many years and are using Herd Farm for the first time this year. This is an exciting new venture exploring a venue that has undergone a lot of development over recent years. Miss Swallow has visited and returned with very positive reviews. She’s certainly getting excited already!
Our PTA met on the 22nd September to plan the Bangers and Bingo Night and the Christmas Fair. Come along on the 15th October – eyes down for a good night out. The PTA are always glad of help at the fair which is on the evening of the 25th November. If anyone can volunteer to help in any way it will be appreciated. Look out for the next PTA planning meetings in the newsletter.
I really enjoyed my time at the Gifted and Talented Maths Day at Ireland Wood School on Monday. The children worked with a Maths specialist to calculate costings if they designed and made their own game and whether it would be viable to produce. Good practice for entrepreneurs!
Last night saw a number of families from Westfield visit Old Trafford to see Manchester United play in a European Cup match. I have never visited Old Trafford before and the atmosphere was great. The children cheered loudly, especially when the big stars such as Rooney stepped out and it was definitely worth the long drive on a Thursday evening. Thanks to Mr Knapton- Smith and the parents who also travelled to Manchester and made the outing possible.
16th September 2016
I always look forward to the new start to the school year as it brings exciting opportunities and everyone returns refreshed and energetic after the summer break. The Year 3 children have settled brilliantly. I have visited the classrooms most days to see how they are doing and they look like they have always been at the Junior School already! All the children have returned looking smart and ready to learn in their uniforms – thank you to parents for their support with this.
The training day was spent analysing the results from both the internal systems and national SATs tests. This year's Year 6 took the first of the new curriculum SATs and they were assessed using a scale based on 100 being the average scaled score. Pupils had to reach 100 or above to be at “expected levels of attainment”. We have also analysed which types of questions children do well on/ need support on to help to inform our teaching this year and which children in the different groups need support through interventions. Staff are busy writing curriculum action plans for the year ahead and the leadership team and governors have completed a school self- evaluation exercise and new development plan for the year ahead. A busy start to the year! There is currently a governor vacancy and if any parents would be interested in getting involved in school development by applying, please call into school for more information.
Mr Knapton-Smith has been getting to know his class in Year 5. We also welcome Miss Robinson who will be working in Year 4 on placement from Trinity University this term.
We now know that Mrs Pickin will be able to join school after October half term as our new Assistant Head Teacher, Maths Leader and SENCO. Because Mr Clay secured his promotion just before the Spring Bank holiday it was impossible to recruit his replacement and for them to give a term’s notice at their own school in order to begin in September. As an interim measure, therefore, Mrs Jennings (SENCO at Westfield Infants) will be working in school every Friday from September to Christmas. This will ensure that our IEPs and other SEN schedules still take place as normal throughout the Autumn term with an excellent SENCO who knows the systems, children and families well. From October to Christmas Mrs Jennings will work with Mrs Pickin (another experienced SENCO) to ensure that Mrs Pickin gets to know the families and systems really well. Mrs Jennings will also get to see more of life at the Junior school which is an excellent opportunity for transition for both schools. We are grateful to Ms Lowry and Mrs Jennings for their support during the transition period.
It was lovely to see so many parents at the "Meet the Teacher" evening and to get such positive feedback about how the children were enjoying the start of the new school year. The PTA meeting is on the 22nd September at 6.30pm - please come along and help us raise money for the bungalow project - see you there!
15th July 2016
As we approach the summer holiday, life becomes very busy in school. The summer term brings lots of opportunities for outdoor learning which enthuses everybody with exciting topics such as Buckden, Scarborough and Minibeasts, leading to fabulous follow -up work in school. Take a look at the Westfield Swoop (under the Curriculum section of the website and emailed home to all parents) to see work and photos of all the activities that have happened this term. Looking back over the year all the year groups have had fabulous learning opportunities. Well done to everyone for your hard work this year and thanks to all parents and carers for their support.
Of course the end of the school year always brings changes. Mr Clay and Miss Hopkinson have gained well- earned promotional posts and we wish them well with these. Mrs Holmes is also leaving and again we wish her well on her new career ventures. All staff have worked really hard at Westfield and we thank them and wish them well for the future.
We also welcome Mr Knapton-Smith as our new Year 5 teacher who will start in September. We recently appointed Mrs Pickin as our new Assistant Head Teacher, replacing Mr Clay, who will be joining us later in the school year. Good luck to Year 6 at their new High schools. Have a super summer holiday and we look forward to an exciting start to the new school year in September.
28th June 2016
On Saturday we had our annual Summer Fair. It was a great success and a beautiful, sunny day (until the showers at 3pm which helped us get tidied away in double quick time!). The bottle and chocolate tombolas were popular as always and the new Prosecco and Pimms tent went down particularly well. Thank you to all the PTA members who organised the event and all the staff that supported on the day. We always welcome new PTA members, please let us know if you would like to join our friendly team. In total, we raised just over £1200! This will greatly help with the restoration of the bungalow. On Saturday 2nd July it is Yeadon Carnival and this year's theme is Roald Dahl. We would love some Westfield Junior School children to join with us in the parade, a letter came home on Friday with all the details and is on the website. Please return the slip or give us a call if your child would like to take part - get dressed up as your favourite Roald Dahl character.
19th June 2016
The last couple of weeks since returning from the Spring Bank Holiday have been really super in school.
Firstly, the Year 6 residential to Buckden House went brilliantly. Miss Swallow has spent the best part of a year organising this annual visit and the children get so much out of it. I was lucky enough to go for the start of the week and experienced a very hot Valley Head Walk, orienteering both in the grounds and around the village and even some welcome paddling in the stream!
The children were great as always – one of the best things about residentials is the chance to see Year 6 in a different setting and really chat with them and have some fun. There are always some surprises when particular children unexpectedly shine through and show a real talent for finding the orienteering signs or following the map. I really enjoyed the trip and would like to thank all the staff who worked hard to organise it, the parents who sent the children well equipped and the pupils whose company I shared. The photos on the website speak for themselves.
Whilst we were at Buckden the gym club were practicing hard for the “Let’s Celebrate” event at Guiseley Theatre. Miss Skillington told me that they performed really well and looked super in the new kit. Well done everyone.
The Health Week this week was a success with a fun run that everyone took part in. Some children really challenged themselves and achieved some amazing results.
Friday saw the Queen’s Birthday celebrated in school with a day of activities, bunting, a “decorate your bike/scooter/pram competition” and a street party on the playground for the whole school. The children looked great in patriotic dress and red, white and blue, especially the Queen (Mia) in Year 3 who tempted me to curtsy every time I saw her throughout the day! It was very busy setting up a party tea for over two hundred children and we were glad of the help from the mum’s who came along on the day. The rain did arrive just as we ate our tea but it did not dampen the spirits and Mr Clay selected every song about rain he could find just to remind us! At one point I stood back and looked at the whole school sharing tea and felt uplifted by the party atmosphere – everyone having a lovely time chatting and eating – a great sight.
This week the leadership team will begin to evaluate the achievements of this year and plan the new targets for next year. Please help us to continue to improve school by returning our questionnaires with your ideas and thoughts.
20th May 2016
It's been a really busy couple of weeks in school. The SATs test week is the most carefully managed week of the year as we want every child to perform to the best of their ability but to keep it as stress free as possible. Miss Swallow and the Year 6 team always spend a huge amount of time behind the scenes making assessments of the children’s needs over the year to ensure that all pupils are supported and confident during the tests. Despite the government comment that children should be unaware they are taking SATs and should not celebrate the end of the SATs week, I feel that anyone at all who works in schools across the country or has a child of KS2 SAT age will appreciate that in our world of assessing children and schools, many children find it difficult to escape the nerves of SAT week! What I can say is that the children could not be better supported – breakfast clubs, mentoring, booster classes to rehearse and increase confidence, careful timetabling so that pupils who need extra time or support can have this without disturbances, seating arrangements to support all the children and even adaptations to the playtimes and lunches to allow the pupils minimum disturbances and therefore the best chance of doing well, all take place. All staff are involved in the process and we have governors who come in to check the tests are carried out correctly. The end of KS2 SATs are a reflection of four years of hard work by children, teachers and parents and I know all our pupils have done their very best. And finally…yes we did have a SAT party which the children and staff thoroughly enjoyed and was a fitting end to all the hard work! I believe everyone should reward themselves and others for working hard and enjoy sharing a bit of fun with others both at school and in future life. Well done to all the Year 6 children and thanks to all for their hard work.
Thank you also to everyone who took part in the Trinity University Rotary Club Sponsored walk for the bungalow project. We have put up a new display board in the playground and will start to show the totals raised on there. The asbestos was removed at Easter and the builders will be back in through the Spring Bank holiday to remove the internal walls and put new fire doors in. A peep through the windows shows the start is going well. Our aim is to have a great room for interventions, lessons, outdoor learning, meetings, nurture, after school/holiday clubs and community use by summer 2017. Watch out for fundraising events and I will keep parents up to date on progress.
This week has been an amazing, busy, celebration week for the 50th Anniversary of Westfield School in the current building. The school began its life as Henshaw and Whackhouse Primary school in Nissan huts on the current site in 1944. I spoke to the children in assembly about this as we found the original log book which I showed them in assembly. The log book recorded many of the daily events of school life similar to our school today – staff illness, painting and maintenance work, open afternoons for the parents to see the children working etc. It also logged the installation of the new asbestos – ironic when we are currently managing and removing asbestos in school today! Perhaps the most moving entry is when the head teacher records the announcement of the end of WW2 and Churchill signing the paperwork. It then records the next day’s celebrations and day off school for Victory in Europe Day. More recent log books ceased in the late 1980's when it was no longer a requirement to keep one but they form an amazing insight into the daily running of the school over almost five decades.
The school expanded with the estate to accommodate the local mill and AVRO workers and the new building that we are in now was opened in 1965. Again, we expanded through the next few years which resulted in the Infant building being erected in the 1970’s as we expanded to a two form entry Junior school. Many current and past parents, past pupils and members of the community attended the open day on Thursday, including local councillors, Rotary Club and the previous owner of Ives Mill. They were transported back in time telling the tour guides about their happy memories and favourite teachers and sharing their amazement at the new library, computer suite and grounds. Some visitors found their names in the log books and registers and recognised themselves on the old photographs. It is always lovely to see past pupils and hear of their successes in life. What a fabulous day!
The week has been full of 50th celebrations. Pupils across school have produced art works in readiness for the Trust Art exhibition next month based on “Our Community”. We had a super visit from the Aireborough Local History expert with artefacts and a workshop. The week ended with a “Decades Day” where the children and staff came in outfits from the different decades and time travelled through each year group to experience music, art, history, dance and technology to name a few of the activities. Pupils seemed to especially like the Pong computer game (which I thought was amazing when it appeared in the 1970’s but now looks like the slowest moving thing ever!), the Hokey Cokey, the Conga and dancing to Saturday Night Fever routines. It brought back a few memories and we had lots of fun.
Finally, can I wish Mrs Jaciuch a happy retirement as she leaves on Friday. She began work at Westfield as my job share partner some sixteen years ago and has worked in every year group. She has always been an incredibly hard working, well loved, caring teacher who has gone the extra mile with projects in the garden and School Council – a real advocate for pupil voice. We currently have a veggie box growing for the Yorkshire Show as a result of their hard work with Mrs Hopps. I hope Mrs Jaciuch has a super retirement and a well -earned rest.
29th April 2016
It seems like a while since my last Blog posting but with the Easter weekend and then the additional two week holiday we have not seen so much of April in school. The days that we have been here have seen extremes of weather from lovely summer sunshine to snow this morning, which took us all very much by surprise!
The remaining chicks developed well and returned to their owner at the end of the term. It is amazing how quickly they grow and begin to develop hen- like features rather than the fluffy newly hatched chicks that we had started with just a week or two before.
We must be attracting birds at the moment as we had a pair of ducks in the pond on the return from the Easter holidays. The female kindly laid an egg, though she was obviously not feeling sufficiently broody as did not stay to sit on it!
Year 4 have been using the pond area for their current topic and also visited Dog Mill Pond this week with Steve Warrilow, the wildlife warden from Denso Marston in Baildon, helping them to identify aspects of pondlife. We had a lovely letter from a parent helper saying what a super day it had been. We are very lucky to have such a good range of facilities and places to visit on our doorstep and try to use them as much as possible. Thank you to all parent helpers that make the trips possible.
We also had return visits from the RSPB to carry out a further “Bioblitz” in the playground. All Year 3, 4 and 5 children have now spent time in the grounds searching high and low for signs of wildlife in their habitat, again a great opportunity for pupils to get outdoors and discover the world around them.
Year 5 have had a noisy launch to their “Brazil” topic, using drums and rhythm instruments to make music in the Samba workshop. It sounded great and certainly worked off some of the Easter chocolate! Miss Johnson has been successful in gaining a place for Westfield in the Rio Samba event where some of our children will learn a samba sequence and then take part in the biggest Samba band in Leeds, performing with lots of other Leeds schools – very exciting!
Over the holidays you may have noticed workers in the bungalow. We removed the asbestos as the first aspect of the refurbishment. We would really love to have a room that we could use for classes, meetings, nurture groups and evening and holiday lettings. Our plan is to develop the bungalow overcoming months to make it an adaptable and use-able space. Watch out for my letter telling you more details next week and launching the bungalow fundraising appeal. Our first event will be in coordination with the Aireborough Rotary Club, a sponsored walk in Horsforth on the 14th May. Please dig out those walking boots and come along to support us!
6th March 2016
Westfield has been full of hands on learning opportunities over the past couple of weeks which is fantastic and makes school life so much more exciting for both staff and children alike.
The children awaited the development of the eggs in the incubators with great excitement and were rewarded by the first signs of hatching on Wednesday. As you can see below, the process of the chicks hatching is an amazing one (Mr Clay filmed it and then speeded it up for us) but also a risky one! We were expecting at least half a dozen hatchlings and the second of the brood arrived on Thursday morning – popping out in a matter of minutes. Then there was very little action… After a phone call to the “Chicken Lady” on Friday morning, we were advised that we must not have had a very fertile clutch of eggs and there may not be any more chicks this year. Although this caused some disappointment after all our hard work, the two newly hatched fluffy chicks were now in their brooder and getting on fine.
Surprisingly, our third, and unexpected chick arrived on Friday afternoon but did not look well. He seemed bigger than the others, but very wobbly and did not get moving as quickly as they had. The previous chicks had begun to dry out very quickly and, although he remained in the incubator (they need to do this for a number of hours to keep warm, dry out and absorb the yolk) he was obviously unwell. We were instructed to assign someone to take them home for the weekend so they travelled along at a very slow pace to Baildon in my car and were given pride of place in the lounge, much to the disgust of my daughter’s indoor guinea pig, Toffee, who has definitely felt upstaged all weekend.
After a sleepless night on Friday, I sought advice again about the poorly chick. I was told that it may not survive and that its best chance may be to nurture it warmly against myself and feed it honey and water solution. After a dropper was found, and a visit to the Co-op made for the honey, we then spent around six hours cuddling him, (snuggled in a duster on a warm wheat bag) and drip feeding him, but unfortunately were unable to save him. This was so sad but does sometimes happen and is one of the aspects of hatching chicks that we unfortunately have to accept as Mother Nature’s way.
The good news is that the two surviving chicks are thriving and keeping me busy on Mother’s Day! I will return them to school in the morning so that the children can care for them and watch them grow throughout the week ahead. This has been a fascinating experience for all the children in school during the approach to Easter and, despite the disappointing loss of one chick and a slightly smaller brood than usual, we will definitely repeat it next year.
Miss Swallow has worked really hard to complete the Library, continuing the good work started last year by Mrs Scargill, who initiated the redesign and redevelopment of this essential part of school. It is now looking superb and was opened on Friday by visiting author Emma Barnes and Councillor Pat Latty. Emma then spent a day in school, working with classes and signing books – a fitting end to an excellent Literacy and Library fortnight. I teach reading to year 6 in the Grassington room every week and can see the impact that the improved learning environment has, both on the use of the room for Library purposes but also for sets, boosters, nurture, music lessons, meetings and lunchtime clubs run by the lunch staff. Thanks to all staff for their hard work, including Mrs Thornton, our Business Manager, who had the job of managing the project – from the new roof last summer holiday to the lighting, ceiling, fittings, furniture, carpets, blinds and books. We sometimes forget that all staff in school are working hard towards the same goal, often behind the scenes - making the place as super as possible for the children to achieve the best they can.
We were visited by staff and pupils from Benton in assembly on Tuesday to launch a planned art exhibition in June. The local Aireborough Learning Partnership Trust are to run a display to celebrate our local community, working together as a Trust. This will coincide with our celebrations of 50 years since the opening of Westfield School. I will let you know more nearer the time.
I had a great day in classes on Thursday when the RSPB sent a worker to help us carry out a “Bioblitz”, looking for wildlife in the school grounds with Year 4 and 5 children. This is a project sponsored by Aldi to enable the RSPB to carry out wildlife education in schools. The children were encouraged to look high and low and left no stone unturned! Many children do not spend as much time outside as they perhaps used to and don’t always know the names and habitats of common wildlife. There was great excitement at the discoveries and they enjoyed referencing their identification charts, amazed at what could be found around the pond or in the compost bin! Catherine is returning next month to carry out the same tasks with Year 3 and the remaining Year 5 children.
13th February 2016
And so we reach the end of another busy half term!
Well done to all the children who worked so hard training for the Leeds Athletic Plate. We eventually came fourth in the competition and though the competitors were a little disappointed, I feel that is still a huge achievement considering that over 130 schools began competing. After the first rounds the children who are still in the competition are either placed in the league for the Leeds Trophy or the Leeds Plate. To get to the finals of the Leeds Plate is in itself a huge achievement and the competition is fierce. I think the teachers and children should be very pleased with their achievements - they have all worked really hard with early morning training sessions and they did Westfield proud!
The Year 4 trip to York was a great success. The children became Romans for the day and really experienced the Roman way of life. These trips bring the curriculum alive, develop deeper learning and understanding, and are often the things that pupils remember in years to come.
We have recently taken delivery of two batches of hen's eggs in Year 3 and 4 which are due to hatch in about three weeks time. I have already had past pupils who have told me they remember having chicks at Westfield Junior School when they were there. I can assure you that when the lady arrived with her hens and eggs to talk to the children, there was great excitement - even from the staff!. The hens are special breeds and the children were given lots of information and facts about them. We now wait anxiously for the appearance of the first chicks. Mr Basson has been tasked with checking the eggs and topping up the water in the incubator over the holidays. Apparently, when they start to peck their ways out of the shells, we have to "cheep" to encourage them on their journey into the world. Watch this space!
I spent a busy evening with the School Governors earlier this term. Two Governors recently resigned their posts after a number of years, due to work commitments. We have welcomed a new parent governor, Mr Darren Mawson, to the Governing Body and we met to re evaluate our range of skills and work these into the Governors' Action Plan. The Governors work really hard to support school and these types of evenings actually highlight the wide range of skills and expertise we are fortunate to have on our Governing Body.
I also met with Mr Graham Sproats, a parent who also works for CAP (Christians Against Poverty). This is an organisation which has grown and grown and is now one of the main debt and budgeting charities in the UK. Last year Graham came into school to carry out a Year 6 workshop where the children were given a lesson on budgeting and managing money and then a challenge where they were given an imaginary budget and had to make decisions on how to spend it. Other challenges and temptations were thrown in too which made the challenge even greater. This is excellent for team work and debating but the main focus is to educate our children in order for them to manage their money well as they grow up. The adult sessions will look at financial issues and how to make better use of your money, or indeed become debt free. This is an excellent course and I have often had parents request help with budgeting skills in meetings so hope to see people take this opportunity to learn from Graham and his team. It is suitable for anyone at all that would like to learn how to get more from their money - please sign up at the school office if interested.
I hope everyone enjoys the half term break and the weather is kind to us. Don't forget the Bangers and Bingo Night on Saturday 27th February!
30th January 2016
Well done to the athletics team who came second in the Leeds semi finals this week despite tough opposition. They now go onto the finals - good luck!
I spent a super day yesterday with representatives from the School Council and Harmony Group at the North West Leeds Children's Services Pupil Voice event at Horsforth High School.
The School Council give a voice to all our pupils in school and regularly meet with me to discuss ways to improve school and feed their class ideas back to the Senior Leadership Team. The Harmony Group was set up when the school worked towards the Stephen Lawrence Award a number of years ago. This award was devised by Leeds City Council in liaison with Stephen's mother following his death in a racist attack. The process of the award made us examine all areas of cohesion, community, inclusion and harmony in our school, shaping those areas in the school community we have today - and so the Harmony Group was born. These children still promote the same themes through surveys, assemblies and joint meetings with the School Council but also help to host visitors to school, especially foreign links visitors such as the Swedish students and French teachers. They also coordinate the Fairtrade events each year.
We began the day hearing about the aspects of their community that the children like such as parks, trees, wildlife and good places to eat and shop. The children had to also voice the things they were concerned about, these being such things as traffic volume, potential new housing, lack of youth facilities and what happens to the elderly in the area when they see local elderly care facilities being replaced by housing. These were all ideas from the children but it struck me that they are just the same issues as many local adults also worry about.
The local councillors attended and talked to the children about their job roles, interests and the concerns that local people have such as traffic and flooding. Local children also spoke representing the Youth Parliament and groups such as the Yeadon Youth Group.
After a lovely lunch and chance to meet with other local school representatives such as St Oswald's children, there was a planning session where groups of children mixed and suggested ways to spend the £56,000 that the North West has for youth and children's projects. I spoke to Councillor Pat Latty who often visits school and secured some of the funding towards our cycle shelter last year, about the School Council and Harmony Group visiting the Civic Hall and she is going to look into this - watch this space!
Overall it was a great day - we will report back to the whole school in assembly next week. I would not be surprised if a few local children who attended this event will be encouraged into being our next generation of councillors in Leeds!
15th January 2016
Welcome to the first Blog of 2016 and Happy New Year to all the parents, children and staff of Westfield Juniors! With the floods of the Christmas break and the current cold snap, the return to normal routine can be hard at this time of the year. At least the lighter nights are starting to slowly creep in and the children have started working on new topics with enthusiasm - a walk around school evidences this on a daily basis.
The Wildlife group has started for Year 3 this week with children threading nuts to feed the birds who are also suffering with the weather. School has a new art club provider and there are lots of other clubs running to occupy children who cannot get out to play after school on dark nights but would still like to socialise and challenge themselves to learn something new. See the website or call in to reception for details (Mrs Clarkson puts together the clubs timetable as part of her role as curriculum leader).
One big focus for staff at Westfield, across the cluster and indeed the country, is the application of new assessment systems. With the disappearance of levels and the introduction of a mastery based approach to the curriculum, we are working with our own staff and the cluster networks to assess the children using the new Aireborough Learning Partnership Trust (ALP) Assessment Handbook. To find out more about how we are doing this (and how it is going so far!), come along to our information evening on Tuesday 19th January 2016 from 6-7pm, we would love to see you there.
Enjoy the weekend and watch out for the snow forecast!
18th December 2015
The Carol Concert on Monday was lovely, a chance for the whole school to come together and celebrate Christmas in a traditional way. Well done to all the readers and for the lovely singing in school and thanks to all helpers who walked to school with the children.
Christmas dinner saw a great uptake from children who normally have a school meal and those who usually eat packed lunch. Staff helped to serve a turkey lunch to over two thirds of the school's children - all the vegetables were hand peeled - thanks to kitchen staff for preparing potatoes and sprouts for 170+ children plus staff!
The end of the term was full of fun in school. I always enjoy spending time with the children at the parties. The old tradition at Westfield has always been for the Head teacher to run games in the hall for part of the afternoon (with help from Mrs Wear, Mrs Mahmood, Mrs Dandy and Mrs Nutter!) whilst staff set out the party tea and this is a tradition I would never choose to change. Despite the tiredness at this stage in the term, the great thing about running party games is that I get the chance to play with and have fun with every child in school. This is so important - everyone should have the chance to celebrate and enjoy themelves after a term of hard work and life skills are learnt even in parties, such as taking turns, joining in, listening to instructions and smiling when you lose! These skills were also evident on the last day when children played games as a reward for a term of hard work and good behaviour, many children enjoying traditional board games with their friends.
I recently read in the newspaper that research commissioned by IKEA looked at what would make children happier and the main message was that children would ideally like to spend more time with parents. Children said that they did not really mind what they did so long as they got to spend the time together. Children's suggestions included:
One third of childen felt their parents were on mobile phones too much and almost half of adults surveyed felt they did not have enough time to play with their children. None of the suggestions mentioned playing alone on a computerised game.This did make me think! As a parent as well as a Head teacher I know how my time at home during term time can be very limited and Christmas is a chance to spend time with my family. Looking at the above list, many of the activities children have said they would most like to do are ones that I do with my daughters over the festive season and these are some of the things I really enjoy about this time of year. Sometimes the most simple things are the best bits of Christmas. Let's hope everyone at Westfield has a very Happy Christmas and chance to spend time with friends and family. Here's to a Happy and Healthy New Year for everyone.
11th December 2015
What a busy fortnight in school! Christmas and all the excitement and magic are now very much upon us!
Last week saw us hold the final autumn open morning for prospective parents. I always feel very proud to show people around the school. The school councillors greet visitors in a mature, professional manner, always keen to tell people about the work they are doing and school always looks super. Well done to all the children who represent Westfield so well at these events.
On Thursday we were treated to the pantomime performance that I had mentioned, funded by the PTA, only when the actors arrived it became apparent that the version of "A Christmas Carol" was not a pantomime type one but a more serious show, telling the traditional tale of Scrooge. The children were transfixed by what was the best acting company we have ever had in my time at Westfield. It amazes me how these small travelling groups can produce a whole play with such a small number of actors and scenery. Thanks again to the PTA for this seasonal treat.
Progress meetings have been taking place over the last two weeks, as they do termly throughout the year. Each class teacher meets with myself, Miss Swallow (Senior Leadership, English and Assessment Leader), Mr Clay (Senior Leadership and Maths) and Mrs Mackay (a former Westfield teacher and SENCO who is now the assessment governor). We discuss different classes, sets, intervention groups and individuals to see who is progressing well and who needs more support in order to make better progress. This informs how we plan intervention groups for the following term and focuses on pupils who need a boost, but also gives lots of opportunities to celebrate the great efforts and progress that many children have made. I really enjoy these meetings as you can see the progress individuals are making as they travel through the school. It is also time to thank the staff for their hard work as we reflect on the detailed planning of activities to support the children in their care. We will be planning the Spring interventions before Christmas, ready to start in January.
I travelled up to the Infant concert on Tuesday morning which was a real treat - fantastic singers and actors are coming our way if this was anything to go by! Our Junior concerts were really super this year. Every child who takes part in the production has volunteered to do so and the commitment to learning vast numbers of lines in a short space of time and the beautiful singing were a joy. I had one email from a grandparent saying how super it all was - the costumes, singing and acting. When I get an email like that it makes my day to know someone else has enjoyed the concert so much.
Over 140 children walked and cycled into school for mincepies on Thursday, despite the dreadful weather. This was a tremendous effort - the children have really embraced the cycling, scooting and walking and it has been great to still work with Mrs Murray in her new role with Sustrans this term.
There's still lots of fun to come - parties, carol concerts, Christmas dinner, film afternoon...now I just need to crack on with some Christmas shopping!
28th November 2015
What a super evening at the school fair last night. I always feel that the Christmas season starts with the fair when the tree goes up and the children bring out the Christmas jumpers! Thank you to all the parents and children who brought contributions for the fair - it really does make a difference to the school. This year's PTA money will fund the library project in Grassington Room. We have ordered the new library furniture and I am sure the children will be excited to get in there and read. It will also make it a more attractive room for additional sets to work in and nurture groups, music lessons etcto take place. We are always short of space in school so any extra room needs to be maximised and this will make it a lovely learning base. Hopefully, the room should be complete by the start of the New Year term.
Earlier in the school year I wrote to parents to appeal for new members and helpers on the PTA. I am pleased to say we managed to gain a few new recruits who have already helped with the fair and the first meetings of the year. It is so important that new members are encouraged to join as this keeps ideas fresh and ensures to continuity of the PTA when older children ( and their parents) move onto high school. Any help is welcome and the PTA do such a fantastic job - over the years they have purchased the Pavilion, ipads, a Clavinova for the hall, decking, the school pond and the library to name but a few. They also ensure that every child experiences a Pantomime each year (Oh yes they do!) by funding the show in school and donating smaller amounts for items such as lunchtime equipment, sports kit and subsidies for the Year 6 Lightwater Valley trip. Thanks once again.
We began the week with the ethos statement based on respecting the beliefs of others. The children were shown the new advertisement by the Church of England which has been designed as a cinema trailer in the run up to Christmas to encourage people to think about the power of prayer, but will not now be played because it has religious content. This has opened up many lines of debate in the media. The assembly focused on why the Lords Prayer was initially written and began the debate on whether the advert should run, but also became a week long debate regarding whether we should use the prayer in school. Very few children had heard the prayer before or knew the prayer and many had been to weddings or other gatherings and felt they would have liked to have been able to join in. All sorts of viewpoints were aired - some pupils felt the prayer may upset some of the children in school and others felt we should say it occasionally as it is part of the heritage of our predominantly Christian country. What mature, deep thinking pupils we have at Westfield. Some of the points discussed were ones that the staff had not even imagined would arise! Many pupils suggested using the prayer occasionally in assembly so those who wish to say/learn it may do and that those who want to join in do so whilst others may chose not to. The debate will continue and a final decision be made over coming weeks.
Finally, well done to Mrs Holmes and her athletics group who did really well in the athletics this week and now go onto the next round of the competition. Also well done to the pupils in last weeks "Bullying Week Stomp" - we made it into the "First News" children's newspaper!
21st November 2015
It is the end of Anti Bullying week and I have been really impressed by the way in which the children have discussed the issues faced by bullies and the bullied with such thought and reason. Thankfully, bullying is very rare at Westfield but when it does happen we often find that the bully may have been actually bullied themselves in the past or have experienced things that make them feel angry towards others. These topics were discussed in open, thoughtful ways across school during the week. The theme for the week was "Make a Noise About Bullying" in order to stamp it out and our end of week assembly reflected the work carried out throughout school, with raps, drumming and lots of story boards and art work.
One particularly thoughtful aspect to the assembly was the art work from Year 6. The children had made Eiffel Towers in the colours of the French flag, as a symbol of support for the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris. The pupils in Year 6 had discussed the attack and saw it as a form of bullying and wanted to make symbols of support for the victims and people of France. These types of events are always so difficult to discuss with the children. We need to give them information and facts so that they can try to understand what is happening and be informed as the future citizens of the world but also not be too frightened by the events. Questions were discussed in class when they arose through the week though when such awful events happen the teachers do not have all the answers - who does? The children always amaze us with their thoughtful responses and support for classmates and the wider community, including their support for people of all cultures who live in harmony both in our local communities and across the world. We must teach them to work together in the hope for future peace.
The children were reminded of the Anti Bullying Policy that we have in school and the procedures to follow if they, or a friend, is being bullied to ensure that the staff can deal with any issues quickly and effectively. It is so important that we hold Anti Bullying week annually to make sure our children know how to recognise bullying (and the difference between this and a fall out with friends) in order to keep themselves safe.
Our final Anti Bullying activity was to make a noise and they certainly did! We gathered in the hall today to carry out a whole school "stomp" with the stamping of over 250 pairs of feet deafening us all! Miss Swallow recorded this (see it for yourself on the website!) and photographs were also sent in to "First News" (children's newspaper) where we may appear in print next week. I will let you know if we do, until then, take care.
13th November 2015
What a luminous day today in school - just the thing to brighten up the dull, dark mornings that we now have in the second half of the Autumn term. Mrs Murray came in last week as part of her new "Bikeability" role to start the term with a Walking/Scooting/Cycling theme to it as we are working towards a new award for getting everyone moving and the children certainly rose to the challenge of "dressing to be seen" in the Autumn and Winter months. As the day coincided with Children in Need there were also lots of Hi Viz bears around! Thanks to all the parents who sent donations for this important fundraiser. Whenever I watch the Friday night Children in Need programme I am thankful for all the good things in my own children's lives and those of most of the children in school- this really is a fantastic national fundraising event to help children in need of support across the country. We will let you know through the news letter just how much was raised.
Mrs Holmes and Mr Hiley have sent out letters regarding scooting in school which is an exciting way to get children exercising, especially at this time of year when we are less likely to head outside! I will be having a go myself - give me a wide berth! I may need some of the scooter skills sessions planned!
The assembly to mark the minutes silence this week was very poignant. Year 6 sang beautifully, with solos, duets and group contributions to World War 2 songs in remembrance of our brave troops both past and present. Each year I feel the respect and understanding of the children grows and grows and rightly so. When I was a child in the 1970's I do not remember schools raising such awareness of the remembrance celebrations and it is so important that children know the history and impact of these events if there is to be the best chance of peace in their lifetimes. I felt very proud of all the children and the way that they took part in the proceedings with real respect and consideration this week. The WW2 themed lunch and author visit added to the day. Well done everyone.
Our other themed lunch this week celebrated Diwali - another Autumn celebration which lights up the dark days and follows the theme of good conquering evil. This was enjoyed by the children and thanks go to the lunch and kitchen staff for the themed lunches that the children really enjoy.
Our Walkshire theme continues next week - get moving and blow thoses cobwebs away!
7th November 2015
Welcome back to the new term and also to my first Head teacher's blog! This is an exciting addition to the school website where I will have the opportunity to tell everyone in the Westfield community about latest news and events at school.
This week has seen a busy start to the term with History Week happening throughout school based on "Remembrance". Poppies have been used in all areas of the curriculum such as art, PSHE and history to name just a few. The Harmony Group have been busy selling poopies around school and we will let parents know the total raised in the newsletter.On Friday morning I covered Miss Swallow's class where every child performed their poems based on the themes of war. The children had developed ideas based on themes such as Hope and Fear with amazing results. Their empathy for the soldiers and their emotions and the quality of language was superb. The children tried very hard to learn quite long poems by heart and, with the exception of a few prompts, managed to perform whilst another class member filmed them doing so. The atmosphere in the class was electric with every child listening to their peers with genuine interest and respect. The Remembrance activities in classes across school are so important because we need children to know about the history, reasoning and impact of war but it also links to the British Values aspect of the curriculum. The values were so in evidence in 6G, not ony in the poems but also in the respect, support and encouragement that every child received from their class mates during the performance. Pupils from all classes shared their work in Thursday's assembly and the breadth and quality of work was excellent.Well done to all the children across school for a brilliant week of history work and to Miss Johnson for organising this. Next week the theme will finish with a minutes silence in assembly at 11 am on Wednesday morning followed by a WW2 themed lunch and a visit from a children's author who has written and will be selling her books about WW1.
The Harmony Group also did a splendid job of hosting the Swedish students that visited school this year. One aspect of our International links is to work with Trinity University when they host trainee teachers from Sweden each year. These teachers visit Westfield for the day to find out about school life in England with research questions at the ready! Themes this year included gender in English childrens books and whether girls or boys choose particular types of books, the English school lunchtime systems, PE and Sports activities and funding in England and the organisation of the school day. Our Harmony Group reps answered all their questions in detail and asked lots of questions of their own. The trainees visitied each class and spoke about life in Sweden and answered questions from the children. This is a great learning experience for the children and trainees and the feedback we get from the University always says that visitors find the children a delight and the school to be really welcoming and informative. There may be another group to visit later. Well done to all the school reps, you do a great job.
Hope everyone has a super and safe weekend - I'm sure the fireworks get bigger every year!