Category Archives: News

Small Schools Week – The Importance of Governors

The last week in June was National Small School week, fittingly for us it was an incredibly busy week and I thought I would use the opportunity to highlight the importance of our governors.

I’m sure you will have met some of our governors here at school – they regularly attend events such as open evenings and coffee mornings. You can find out more here. 

This Small Schools Week saw two meetings involve our governing board. The first was a committee meeting with the ‘premises, ethos and welfare’ committee. At the meeting (which we hold every term) we were looking at a health and safety audit that the school recently undertook. There were no immediate and serious concerns, so the governors were able to look long term and consider how best we could support the school in the future. We talked about the adventure playground and the cost to fix or replace our tyre structure and we discussed the parent / career questionnaire and when best to undertake the next one.

The other meeting this week was with parents. The governors invited parents in to explore our structure for next year and address any questions. This was attended by a few parents – it is always hard to encourage parents to attend these meetings – and we were happy that we did try to attend to their concerns and answered their questions.

Small schools rely on their governors.

Here at Castle Carrock our governors are part of school life. They regularly attend school functions such as Parents’ Evening, Open Evenings and Coffee Mornings. They also attend day-to-day life at the school – coming in to see reading, or to take part in Assemblies. The governors have attended e-safety sessions and our ‘Racism: Kick it Out’ sessions. Governors come in to see how relationships are with the children; how our systems work and to talk to the pupils about their learning.

Governors are a vital part of leadership and management – forward thinking and challenging, exploring options and, importantly, holding the school to account for the outcomes for the children. Governors are volunteers, and as far as possible they need to reflect our community whilst at the same time providing skills and perspectives that are useful.

Maintaining a governor board can be tough and can be a big issue in small schools with a limited community.They serve a fixed time – and here at school we will be recruiting parent governors again in September.


Class 4 Trialling an Electronic Response System

Electronic Response System in Class 4

… or ‘Pods’ as we call them.

This year we have begun trialling some new electronic gadgets in the classroom. The scheme is being run through the University of Cumbria and we are amongst the first schools in the country to trial these, although they have previously been used in universities.

What do the gadgets do?

Essentially, they look like a small Blackberry phone, and are used to communicate with the teacher’s laptop which links to the Smartboard at the front of the class.

At a basic level, the teacher can set a task with different levels of questions and the children work through the task at their level. As they do so, their progress is immediately displayed on the teacher’s screen, so the teacher can see immediately if a child is struggling with a particular type of question and know to go to them and assist.

A teacher can also ask spot questions and allow the children to respond on their Pods. This is particularly useful in maths, where responses can be shown anonymously in a graph, so children can see if they have got a different answer to the majority without feeling embarrassed about having given an incorrect answer.


How can we use them in  advanced ways?

In literacy, we have found the Pods particularly useful for developing word banks. A picture can be displayed on the screen and the children think up adjectives to describe the image. Their adjectives can then immediately be displayed on the screen for use by the class. Children could then, for example, be encouraged to think of an alliterative phrase including one of the adjectives. Again, these could be displayed and then children could be asked to put one of the phrases into an opening sentence for their work.

The advantages of using the Pods over ‘hands up’ is considerable. All children are engaged in the activity at the same time and the teacher is able to direct thinking in any direction they choose, for example they could direct children to expand and improve the sentences on the board by adding a semicolon. Children have the security of responses being anonymous to the rest of the class, but the teacher gets an immediate assessment of which children know, for example, how to use a semicolon correctly.

What about the fact it’s a trial?

As mentioned above, the trial is being run by the University of Cumbria. They are gathering data, through myself, about our use of the Pods including frequency of use, the type of tasks, and children’s opinions about the gadgets. Evening sessions for teachers are run at the university to direct our data collection and to help use use the software and the Pods to their full capabilities. Future developments of the gadgets will be based on the research of all schools involved in the programme.

So far, the response to the Pods has been mostly positive, with children engaging well with activities. A few technical difficulties have been identified, which will go towards the research and development, however most children are becoming increasingly confident in using the gadgets.

Thanks for reading,

Mr Tyrrell


It’s that time of year again!

Each year I ask our Year 6 children to think about what they would like to do with their education.

We have a lovely conversation all about careers and their plans and we think about what we know about the adults around us and the jobs they do.

I then try to find people who do these jobs, or who have experience of these careers, to speak to our children. Answer their questions, talk about their journey and, possibly, inspire our children to aim high

This is year we are already planning our visitors. I have had the privilege of a fascinating chat with Year 6 – and they had some brilliant questions all about a wide range of careers.

Of course, you know what I am going to ask now…

We need you! More specifically, do you know anyone who is or are you..

  • an interior designer?
  • Working in computer game design…
  • A chef?
  • A small business owner..? (This was non-specific and was based on a discussion about how you would set up your own shop, or internet service)
  • Astronaut?
  • archaeologist

Or perhaps you know someone with an interesting career who has a story to tell?

If you can help us with this, please do get in touch! 

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Supporting Parents at Home

This week we cancelled an after school session that was planned to explore calculation methods and how we teach maths. Alongside that email I sent out a very quick three question survey to explore when a good time would be for sessions with parents, and what good topics would be. The overwhelming request has been for ‘how we can help at home’. Typically, however, we can’t agree when a good time would be!

In order to support as many parents as we can, we are going to put together a pack for each class so that you can see some kind of activities that will help. These packs will come home early next week. In addition to these packs class teachers will endeavour to put on a session to explore these packs in person. Of course, if you have any specific questions for your child please do pop in to school.

It is also worth pointing you as well to this web page – the How You Can Help section on the website. This may point you to some ideas that can support any thing you wish to do at home.