Class 4 have been busy creating e-christmas cards! Happy Christmas!!
Firstly, I would like to thank my predecessor, Mark Hetherington, for the fantastic job that he has done over the past four years. As I now take over as Chair of Governors from Mark, I feel that the school is in a strong position to continue to provide an excellent standard of education for our children.
For those of you who do not already know me and my family, Sarah and I live just down the road in Cumrew with our three children. Bella and Alice are currently in the school, with my eldest child, Jamie, having just “graduated” from Castle Carrock School in July. I am a director of an architectural practice in Carlisle and I have been a member of the governing body for a little over 2 years now and for the last 12 months have been the Vice Chair of Governors.
My focus as Chair of Governors over the coming years will be to support Rebecca and the excellent teaching and support staff as we strive to address the issues raised by the recent Ofsted report. It should be noted here that, although the final judgement of the assessment that took place in June was disappointing, there was a significant amount of praise for the school’s Early Years and Special Educational Needs provision as well the overall approach to learning that the school adopts. A number of improvement plans and strategies are now being developed and implemented that will address the issues raised by the latest Ofsted Report.
Whilst our focus will always be on maintaining and improving academic standards, we continue to face considerable restrictions and constraints from a funding regime that does not adequately reflect the requirements of a small rural school such as ours. Despite this, I thoroughly intend to enable the governing body to provide the focused support, management and leadership that puts the best interests and learning experiences of our children at the heart of all that we do.
It is good to hear feedback and as a consequence we have slightly changed the policy. As expected there will be always be contradictory points of view – but there were some common themes:
Parents appreciated the advice given for the younger children – for example to concentrate on conversations, or share books with your children instead of formal written homework. Activities such as counting; helping with shopping and practicing times tables were also advised.
The amount of homework given as the children move up the school is something that parents disagree about – and as a school it is important that any homework we give is manageable for staff and useful for the pupils.As such we have increased the amount of homework Year 5 and 6 receive – and changed the structure of any half-term projects in Key Stage 2. This is so the children are better prepared for the demands of secondary school. Year 6 will now be given both maths and literacy each week.
In Key Stage 2 the children do have access to Google Classroom – which on occasion will provide some of the work that can be done. There is also regular reading which needs to be completed, and spellings. All of Key Stage 2 have diaries which can be used between home and school to support this. This is the same for all children in Key Stage 2.
It was also thought that perhaps parents are not made aware of expectations – particularly in Class 4 – and so this will be shared more frequently – usually in the form of emails to parents with holiday homework or impending deadlines.
The updated policy can be found here: Homework Policy Sept 2019
We welcomed a local resident into school who spoke to the school about the impact the changing climate has on the butterflies here in Castle Carrock. John Miles also spoke to the children about how the changes affect plant life and had some amazing photographs which illustrated just how beautiful the butterflies are. It turns out that we have some very knowledgeable children here at school!
For the rest of the day Key Stage 2 had two workshops – with Ms Stacey they explored the impact the changing climate is having now – using data from NASA and an amazing app called Earth Now. Y6 then designed an amazing webpage with information and ideas whilst Year 5 worked on posters to illustrate the small things that we can all do! Year 3 and 4 worked on leaflets with five things we can all do to help our planet!
With Mr Kirby the children worked on a science investigation designed to explore the insulation properties of different materials and how we can use this information to think about building materials.
A very worthwhile day – and one which the children enjoyed. Having a positive outlook on the changes taking place locally – and being realistic about the impact around the Earth is so important for the children.
A huge welcome to all parents and pupils here at school. I trust you’ve all had a fantastic break – and managed to get some good weather somewhere – it seems as though we have come back to rain already!
As you know, we have said goodbye to Mr Tyrrell this year but we are really pleased to welcome Mrs Helliwell who, having completed her teacher training, is now taking Class 2 full time. I’m sure you join us in congratulating her!
We will have our school ‘drop in’ to meet the class teacher on Wednesday 11th September – 3:45pm. This is for Classes 2, 3 and 4.
Full details (as well as a link to the online shop) can be found on the website and the only change this year is the introduction of the House Team-linked colour PE tops. This means that the River Team your child is in will dictate the colour of their PE top.
Please remember a waterproof coat as we do try and be outside in all weathers.
Extra curriculum music sessions with Paul Hemingway and Jerry King are all available for specific instruments. If your child takes part in these sessions then please ensure they remember their instruments – and do speak to us if you are interested in these sessions for your child.
Remember that Parents and Carers are not to drive to the school gates at the start and close of school. Please park on the main road, or near the green, and walk up.
If you think you are eligible for school transport there is a form to fill in. I would recommend that you do this, even if you do not attend to use the school bus every day. You can find the form here: http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/childrensservices/schoolsandlearning/schooltransport.asp
After School Clubs
Creative Writing Club and Running Club – for children in Key Stage 2 – will both begin next week. Creative writing club takes place on a Monday after school until 4:30pm and Running club on a Thursday until 4:15pm. Both clubs are free.
Breakfast Club will be running as usual from 8am – please remember that the school does not open until 8:50am and children arriving before this will be placed into Breakfast Club and incur a charge. After school ‘Kids Club’ is open until 6pm. There are charges for this, and if you would like to know more please contact school.
Our PTA – ‘Friends of Castle Carrock’ always do a fabulous job of raising money for the school and creating community links. We have a Macmillan Coffee morning on the 27th September which will give you a chance to meet other parents and school friends. Donations of cakes for this are always welcome.
Safeguarding and Online Safety
The Governors take the safety of all children here at school very seriously and are committed to providing an inclusive education for all. If you have any concerns about children who attend our school please do speak to myself in the first instance. Advice for speaking to children about online safety and information about what we do in school can all be found on the website.
Homework and Google Classroom
As per our policy we will be carrying out a review of Homework this year. We continue to use Google Classroom, and the links to this can be found on the website. If you have any questions about these feel free to ask your class teacher. There is a guide to using Google Classroom here.
And that is everything! As ever we will try to keep you as up to date as possible with all that is happening in school via the website, social media and text. Please make sure your details are current.