News: Head's Blog
Well if you look at the previous post it is pretty obvious how blind sided we all were with the events of 2020. Since January last year we have learned so much and most of it was not what we were expecting to learn. I thought we were going to launch into 2020 and crack on with our broad and balanced curriculum. In reality, we managed to deliver the 'Juniper' curriculum via remote learning. We had to learn quickly. Although I had already had experience in writing Risk Assessments, Covid-19 took that to a whole new level! As a result we had to re-think everything we do, how we do it, why we do it, do we need to do it? We used the summer to reflect and plan and what came out was something utterly different. Our 'Voices and Choices' curriculum has morphed into a Whole School Topic model, with spiralized learning, connected themes, progression, depth and coverage (sorry...too much teacher speak!). We found out that we loved all the school having the same topic for 2 weeks, but all learning at the different levels. We loved that whole families could get involved in the learning. We loved that staff could see level of support and challenge across their subject areas. It means we are writing the curriculum to respond to this new world of wonder. We set up the bubble, started the carper picnics in class and we restructured staffing to make the bubble a single, safe unit.
Happy New Year. We cannot express how excited we are to make a start on a brand new decade of learning. We have got the Voices and Choices curriculum everywhere you look!
Miss Smithies and her Year One and Two Teams are really making sure our learning it up to date, progressive and have children developing Voices and Choices at every turn. Just before the holiday they launched into 'Project Day' learning each Thursday. The children get the choice of different projects to work on, that allow for the application of knowledge, skills and understanding ( that all sounds very school-y! I know) What it really means is that children choose to develop a project based upon their own interests. They democratically decide the projects and work on their project each Thursday for a full half term, so for example if the child-led project is 'Slime' the children will get to make the slime, they may use their reading and IT skills to investigate different slime recipes, they may compare and contrast the different outcomes using fair testing skills from science , they will use maths to weigh and measure, they will describe and explore the properties, they may write stories about the Slime - create a magic slime dance, write a play about 'The Day the Slime Came...' they may look at where 'slime' does occur in nature, that might take them pond dipping, investigating frog spawn.... the possibilities are amazing! The children within each project group get to direct the learning but that adults have the tricky job of ensuring the skills we teach the rest of the week are being developed and deepened.
We have used this approach for a while in Foundation Stage so it isn't that new to the children but takes a bit of getting used to for grown ups. It means our classroom and organization in Foundation Stage and Year 1 and 2 ( Key-stage 1) is changing and developing. It doesn't look like classrooms you may have been in. It doesn't look like classrooms you may see at other schools, but if you ask our children they talk talk you through all the learning.
We are incredibly proud of the support we have received from families coming into class to see what the children are up to, book breakfasts and learning morning have been well attended and there is nothing better than having you here in school with us.
It isn't just the younger children that are getting stuck into their learning either! Key-stage 2 (Year 3,4,5 & 6) are all cracking on with their Voices and Choices curriculum with incredible passion. On 19th December we held our first ever 'Great Learning Debate' where the children debated which year group had learned the most - Year 1 went against Year 2, Year 3 against year 4 and Year 5 against Year 6. The children had to demonstrate their learning so far -such as 'we all know our 6 x times tables and can do long division' or 'we had a real life War Horse come to school as we read the book etc... the other year groups then democratically voted for the winner of each debate - the winners were awarded Great Learning Debate Rosette's to proudly display on their classroom doors.
We will be holding Great Learning Debates each half term, it is a fantastic opportunity for children to reflect and evaluate their learning. It also gives children a chance to hear what other learning is happening in different year groups.
Thank you again for all you time and support. We have some incredible readers and we know that is because those children are so well supported at home with regular reading opportunities with people they love.
We have begun Autumn Term 2018 with a quiet determination this year. This year we are focused upon getting further, flying higher and going deeper with our learning. As adults it is important that we never stop learning, that we follow our lead from the children. Everyday children are given feedback to act upon, advice to respond to and models to emulate. Our children do that beautifully. As adults we often find it harder. So this year we will all by trying harder to be a bit braver and take feedback and advice to improve.
Mrs Johnson is continuing her campaign to make Ash Tree love reading and books, Mrs Varley has decided really great science is the way to inspire and wow children. Miss Farrington is still our resident Mathematician with a desire to make maths magical for all, Mr Hicks still believes Kippax should be twinned with Catalina and wants us all speaking Spanish. Miss Panther has her fountain pens at the ready to ensure Ash Tree children are true writers. Mr D has a passion for getting the whole school active and healthy. Miss Eckersley is still working with those welly warriors to get children inspired about the environment - not to mention Mr Nelson, Miss Crossley, Miss Hodgson, Miss Bowles, Mrs Harrison, Mrs Crook and Miss Stephenson all adding their own little bit of flavour to our Ash Tree cooking pot!
We know that this academic year is shaping up to be the best yet! Thank you so much for being a part of Team Ash Tree
Have an Ash Tree amazing Day!
Welcome to our new website and a new term.
Today is 'Offer Day' for parent/carers applying for Reception places. This is where it all begins! All the excitement, all the questions, all the heartache, all the growing and all the new learning.
We know that your child is precious and special and needs something a little different to all the rest sometimes, all the time or just for a time.
I honestly believe that 'going to big' school is hardest for all the mums, dad and carers. There are all those worries about 'What is they don't like it?' 'What if they don't settle?' 'What if they don't make friends?'
It is a long time until September and that gives you lots of time to think of all the worst case scenarios. It is true - there a thousands of 'What if questions' but do you remember when they were first born and you thought they would never sleep? Eventually they did. Do you remember when they couldn't crawl - and then they did and didn't stop? The baby years go so quickly and the amazing little people that come to our school have already learned a million things.
Honestly, some will learn faster, some slower, some will love reading, others will love running, some will be popular, others will be shy but everything they have learned until now is from you and that doesn't stop because they are going to school - it just increases. There is no such thing as too much learning.
Children learn from their environment - if they live in a house excited about a new, big school adventure - the child will be excited. If they live with anxiety and worry, they will learn to be wary of school.
As a parent my youngest child is just getting ready to leave Primary School. The time has gone so quickly and we have loved the ride - it hasn't all been easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. However, she has cried with laughter, she has made friends, she has learned new things, she has practiced skills, developed talents and become her own person. Your child will do the same.
Of course there are times when mistakes have been made. She made mistakes, I made mistakes, staff made mistakes, her friends made mistakes but between us all we have nearly made it through.
I can promise you that we will make some mistakes, but that is because we are human, just like you. We want the first day of 'Big School' to be the beginning of an Ash Tree amazing adventure. Every adventure has its twists and turns and we cannot wait to start this journey with our new Foundation Stage classes.
As we start this journey - our year 6 children are coming towards the end of their Primary School journey. The children are focused for the SATs testing in May but SATs are a tiny part of the journey for children. The SATs will record how the children did on a test one day in May 2018. They will not evidence a great sense of humour, or ability to have empathy and demonstrate care for others. SATs don't show anyone what an amazing dancer you are or what an fantastic eye you have for design.
Over the next few weeks we will give the SATs our best shot, we will try our hardest but we will also keep doing art and PE and Science because our children are more than a SATs result - they are truly Ash Tree amazing. I am incredibly proud to be Head Teacher of a school full of adventurers, who roll with the twists, grapples with the turns, make mistakes and make it all count.
Have an Ash Tree amazing Day
Happy 2019. How do you describe an Autumn term that has had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows?
Since September we have truly, truly loved having our new members of staff join the Team. Miss Panther, Miss Bowles, Miss Squires and Mr Gayles have brought energy, knowledge, skill and enthusiasm. We were thrilled to be officially recognized for making such significant progress with our 'disadvantaged learners' in the Y6 SATs compared to all other Leeds schools.
Miss Smithies and Mr Dickinson welcomed our first ever Ash Tree baby and Mrs King celebrated the birth of her little girl.
We rolled out Class Dojo and have loved being able to communicate directly with families and to share so much more with you than ever before in much more cyber-safe manner.
Our curriculum work and development of Pupil Voice work has taken off and we are loving all our new developments and have even more plans to go bigger and deeper in all aspects of learning.
Mrs Bellas and Mr Dickinson are putting the passion into Pastoral - Mr Dickinson is now leading our Pivotal Behaviour models and Mrs Bellas is developing a Soul Kitchen.
Lots of successes in a single term, but of course, life is never that simple. Just before Christmas, Mrs Pillinger a member of support staff team for more years than anyone cares to remember, passed away. We collected donations on behalf of St Gemma's in her name. We have a memory book in school that we are creating to pass on to her family, that anyone is welcome to add to.
We were then further saddened to find out that a very lovely mum of 2 children in our school also passed away unexpectedly on 23rd December. Our thoughts and love are with her family.
We are taking everything day by day, we are still smiling and laughing. Never was it more important for us to keep moving forward with making our school a better place each and every day.
'Sometimes is takes sadness to know happiness,
Noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence'
We are at the half way point in the year, we have got through Janauary - a bleak, dark month with little to look forward to and entered February with a little more energy. The mornings are not as dark and we are managing to see some of the thin, wintery sunlight. That said, we have really 'grafted' this half term, we have work harder and for longer and we are incredibly proud of the progress and momentum that is building. However, I love words and this week I hear about the 700 year old word 'forswunk'. It means to be exhausted from hard work and we all know that as we wring the final drop of learning out of this half term we will all have a sense of forswunk. That tiredness can make keeping a perspective difficult and the smallest things can feel huge. We are trying hard to keep our perspective and keep looking towards the horizon.
Hope you are too!
"Did you have a bad day or did you have a bad 5 minutes that you thought about all day?"
Well, you know when you have an idea and it seemed a good one at the time...? In our Monday Assemblies we have been thinking about 'critical thinking' and as part of that we have talked about how charity theme days are a good way for large businesses to make some extra money - we checked out the profit and contributions that large shops make when you buy a 'charity' t-shirt and decided that we might want to go about charity events differently in the future.
That is how this whole Comic Relief idea got started... we didn't just want to have a non-uniform day or give money to shops - we wanted to do something that everyone could get involved with. We also happened to have a spare bath in Foundation Stage garden (...I know...don't get me started about why that happened...) so the inter-class competition with the winning class dunking the teacher of choice in the slime bath was launched!
Classes have done buns sales, sponsored dances, fruit skewers...then Year 2 got involved and last weekend the stakes were really raised! Parents and children raised a whopping £140 for year 2 - putting them in the lead for the competition. More worryingly... who do they want to dunk in the slime bath so much?
We have then gone on to discuss whether we will be celebrating International Women Day - it is equitable? Do men get a day? Does celebrating make a difference to equality? Should we celebrate just because everyone else is?
I love how many children are really considering the discussions and trying to be more critical - It does mean there will be children challenging some of our thinking and ways; as an adult that is not always easy to take.
Thank you to everyone supporting the classes and their ideas, thank you for getting into the spirit and being a part of our learning journey.
More importantly though... slime is really not a good look for me... just saying!!!
Hello Summer Term! We have begun Summer term with aplomb, Summer Term is always the busiest term, not onlt do we have national tests for children in year 2 and year 6 but we are trialing the national timetable tests for year 4 and we have the Phonics screening for year 1. Added in to this mix it is report writing season for teachers, Summer BBQs, Transition to High School, residential to London, school trips, bank holidays , sports days and to kick it all off we have the Tour de Yorkshire coming through Kippax this week.
In assembly we have looked at the Tour de France and then the Tour de Yorkshire and in particular the team element of the race. We know that the 4 jerseys awarded within the race mean not everyone can be a winner but everyone has to be a part of the team.
We know that those taking part in the race have developed individual skills, worked over long periods of time to build up strength and stamina. They have to increase their capacity and keep focused. Each person takes on a responsibility within the team to lead, support or challenge . All things we are trying to do everyday in every classroom. So as a school when we don our flat caps and make our way up to Longdyke Lane to cheer on the teams we know that the person at the front has worked hard but so have the rest of the team and we know that they need our support and cheers to motivate and encourage even more than the person at the front of the race.
In our national testing we want all learners to be at their best, we want the team to do well and we need support, encouragement all the way.
Over the next 2 weeks most children in Year 2 and Year 6 will be sitting the SATs tests. We know that children and staff have worked hard. We have been preparing the children for the SATs because we want them to be happy and successful and prepared for the next stages of learning, whether that is High School or Key-stage 2. Not every child in Year 2 and Year 6 will complete the SATs because some children have tests that come in different forms, equally as challenging and requiring the same amounts tenacity and engagement.
The SATs tests are designed to identify whether children are working ‘below’, at ‘expected’ or ‘above’ the national standard of an average year 2 or year 6 child in reading, writing, maths, spelling and grammar. I have never met an ‘average‘ child yet and I am pretty sure not a single member of staff came into education because we wanted to help young minds become ‘average’. We want our learners to be the best version of themselves they can be.
Whilst we want the children to do well, our children are so much more than a SATs ‘result’. The results won’t show that we have children with amazing levels of empathy, who will make a real difference to the lives of others; children who make us laugh out loud every day, they impress us with their ideas, they can make our hearts swell with pride and our eyes fill with tears. We have children with character and spirit that cannot be measured by a test carried out one day in May.
More than anything, over the next few weeks we ask that the children have the chance to rest and relax. What will really help at this point is having weekends and evenings where the focus is on having great sleep and not worrying. We have covered the curriculum. There will be nothing in the tests that we have not covered in class but is takes a well-rested and focussed brain to recall the information. Some will soar high with their results – others not so much, but we are still proud of each and every child, whether they do all the tests or none, whether they score highly or lowly as long as they have tried their best we could ask for nothing more.
We are so very proud of all our children, we love their work ethic, kindness, energy, humour, ideas and so much more.
Arrgghhhh! It has been a while since I updated on here - we have been posting all our news onto the Class Dojo School Story recently and had lots of great feedback, comments and messages so we will keep going with using that as our everyday communication tool.
This format will be a few reflections rather than news. Hope that makes sense. This school year we have really launched into our Voices and Choices Curriculum. All class teachers have curriculum subject areas and their passion and enthusiasm is infectious.
This year Mrs Varley is taking a break from being the science leader to concentrate on her new role of Deputy Head Teacher - covering for Mrs Johnson's maternity leave. That has lead to Miss Bowles stepping into Mrs Varley's shoes as the 'boss of science'. They are big shoes to fill but if anyone is up for it, it is Miss Bowles.
Miss Panther has the BIGGEST job on, she is English leader and this year we are determined that Kippax Ash Tree will have better reading outcomes than ever before. that is a huge job - It takes an entire village to raise a reader - the school, home, family, friends. We started quite literally with the village of Kippax - launching our year of reading with the BLP 'Look for a Book' treasure hunt over October half term. We have re-developed the libraries in school, we have had lots more training for staff, we have begun our 'book breakfast' sessions for families to come and read with children before school. There is still so much to do and and we love the way children are responding!
Miss Farrington has retained her crown as the Queen of Maths. We have already had a Rockstar TT launch with whole school TT challenges taking place every fortnight in assembly. KS1 are getting into the swing of Sumdog and Mrs Ratcliffe is on a mission to improve the mental arithmetic skills of every class in the school.
Mr McCarthy is leading computing across school - armed only with some selloptape and a bag of wires he has a tricky job - we have been saving up to buy some more IT equipment though! Hopefully we will have some exciting new resources soon. In the meanwhile Mr Watson our resident technician does a magnificent job at keeping everything working so that we can carry on with the computing curriculum in every way.
Mrs Harrison is the leader with responsibility for R.E (religious education). We love our new syllabus called Belonging and Believing. It is all about finding out about the main World religions, developing tolerance and understanding. Mrs Harrison is also very clear about the importance of traditions. Mrs Harrison leads the whole school visits to church each term, she also organizes amazing events like our World War 1 re-enactor visits from Sgt Gavaghan to mark Remembrance Day. This year it was even more special with the visit from his 'war horse' Lady Grey. Our annual visit to the War Memorial with Lady Grey was glorious.
Miss Crossley is leading DT (design technology) and has hardly got a hacksaw left in her cupboard. She has made sure everything is out and being used as much as possible.
Miss Reid is our historian and is making sure all the school in getting as much history into their classroom as possible - Mr Nelson is rising to her challenge and was last seen with Year 3 striding out timelines on the school field!
Talking of year 3 , Mr Hicks has relinquished the leadership of Spanish to Miss Bowles and has now become leader of the 'Arts' (drama, music, art) with the able assistance of Mr Nelson. Mr Hicks is using his flair for the dramatic and creativity to make sure children are loving every minute of their learning.
Miss Jay has taken on PE ( Physical Education) when she isn't with Year 6, or running athletics trials and coaching our school rugby team she plays for England at Rugby Union. Miss Jay is keen for us all to be healthy and involved with sports.
Miss Eckersly is determined to get us all in our wellies and loving geography and Miss Smithies is running the Pupil Parliament like the Primary School version of John Bercow!
It feels like we have packed more into this term than ever before. The learning is cracking on at an amazing rate - Each and everyday I see staff going above and beyond to make everyday of learning as as exciting and challenging as possible, we can't wait for you to come to our next coffee morning to see and hear all about it.
Have an Ash tree amazing day!
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