Blog

Welcome Back! 2017-2018

We have had a very busy start to the year! We finished last year with a Skype chat with a Polar Scientist in Norway and we started our year with school-wide workshops all about this very subject. Class 1 even got to taste some special food – and one of our pupils was dressed up in the very clothes they wear to keep them warm in these Polar regions.

We have started school life as we do every September – whole school assemblies have focused on our school’s core values – Charity, Curiosity, Family, Respect, Trust and Kindness. We started this term with Trust – exploring what can happen with ‘little white lies’ and how you can hurt your friends by not telling the truth. This week we are looking at forgiveness.

After school clubs have also started- including our running club and code club (both of which are free) – and our usual Kids Club and Breakfast Club.

We are also setting dates for the year – and you can find out more here.  As usual we are looking forward to our Panto trip, our school nativity show and the Friends Halloween disco this year.

We always welcome parents in to school -and will be doing our usual ‘lesson drop in’ sessions as well as Parents’ Evenings and Community Lunches. As usual, if you have anything you would like to ask, just catch your class teacher before or after school or ask Dee in the office.

Thanks!

Rebecca Stacey

Head Teacher

 

Parent Governor Needed!

We are currently looking for a new parent governor four our Governing Body. Expressions of interest to be in by October 9th

A parent governor is a representative and not a delegate of parents.

As a parent governor you do not have to vote in a particular way because you have been pressed to do so by parents. Objectivity, however, is essential.

You are not there to promote the interests of your own children but all children.

Parent governors are elected by other parents and it is important to establish a rapport with the parental body that elected you, whilst continuing to maintain a strategic approach to school governance.

As an effective parent governor, you:

  • Help to decide the priorities for improving the school
  • Make yourself available to parents, listen to other parents’ opinions and take account of them as you contribute to governors’ decisions
    Work in partnership with the headteacher, senior leadership team and co-operatively with other governors to raise standards and improve outcomes for all children
  • Take responsibility for your own learning and development as a governor including attending training
  • Attend full governing body and relevant committee meetings promptly, regularly, and for the full time
  • Read briefings and newsletters for governors; present a balanced view of issues representing different sections of the community
  • Promote the interests of the school in the wider community
  • Are loyal to the decisions made by the governing body
  • Respect the confidentiality of governing body affairs
  • Never promise to ‘solve a problem’ on your own
  • Never press your own child’s case at the expense of others
  • Declare an interest and withdraw from any meeting where you, a partner or close relative or associate stands to gain, or where you are so close to a matter discussed it is difficult to be impartial
  • Have regard to the broader responsibilities as a governor of a public institution in regard to promoting accountability for the actions and performance of the governing body

It is an incredibly rewarding role – and you play a key part in the vision, ethos and direction of the school!

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, or if you would like more information please speak to Dee in the office – or one of the other school governors.

Skype for Science!

Fantastic way to finish the year!

Two years ago, to coincide with the fantastic Tim Peake space project, we held a a ‘Year of Science’ here at school. A year that involved growing seeds that have been in space, holding whole school lessons with the International Space Station and borrowing a 3D printer for science week! 

One thing that is very clear from these experiences is that the children really do get lots out of them – and next year we are linking with a similar project for Polar Exploration (more on that to come in September). 

However, to get started with this project we were offered the chance to Skype with a Polar Scientist currently based in North Norway.  She will be our Polar Ambassador for the duration of the project. Emily is studying toxicology, exploring flora and fauna in these extreme conditions. The chance to ask a real expert about their experiences was one that Class 4 relished – and they really didn’t disappoint. Year 6 were desperate to get involved which is why we set it up before they finished! They asked Emily not only about her living conditions (surprisngly student-like when in the Arctic) but also about her motivation and inspiration. She explained to us that even in the short time she has been studying (four years) she has witnessed the effect of climate change including rain for the first time last year.

The children were also interested in the dangers, and the excitement (or otherwise!), that living in this part of the world brings and Emily explained about Polar Bears and the peril of frostbite.

All in all a fantastic experience to finish the year with – one that Y6 will take with them to secondary school and will link nicely with the rest of the project for Y5. We will be seeing Emily again – and, if there is interest, next time I will invite Parents along!

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