St Catherine of Siena - Start of Term update!
The last two weeks have been very busy at St Catherine’s, with lots of exciting things to report. The children returned after half-term refreshed and ready to learn. Year 6 have really stepped up to the responsibility of being at the top of the school, managing to balance their various jobs and responsibilities with the academic rigours of the year. It was wonderful to see the seriousness with which they approached their first ‘mock SATs’ assessments – they took the opportunity to really show what they have learnt. Their growth mindsets, perseverance and determination exemplified the attitudes we are seeking to foster at St Catherine’s – it isn’t about the score they achieved, it’s about the effort they put in and the progress they have made. Well done to them all!
The Golden Mile
Having carried out pupil voice surveys earlier in the year, we were aware that not all our pupils were achieving the recommended hour of physical exercise a day (half an hour in school, half an hour out of school). As such, we have been considering how best to utilise the government funding (PE and Sports Premium) to increase physical activity.
The Golden Mile is an initiative to increase activity which has been introduced in many primary schools – we have been participating in it since half-term. Each class walks a mile around the school playground at some point during the school day. The session takes around 15 minutes and is an opportunity for the children to go outside, get fresh air, increase their heart-rate and have a well-deserved chat and break from lessons. As well as promoting a healthy lifestyle, the Golden Mile also refocuses pupils, aids concentration and supports learning when they come back to class.
As with any new initiative, we are evaluating the impact and will adjust our approach according to the feedback we have received (from staff, parents and the children). Over this term we hope to adjust our lunchtime schedule so that our ‘Reading for Pleasure’ session is slightly reduced and classes participate in the Golden Mile together. Currently, the children are walking their mile, but we hope to move to pupils jogging or running the distance. This is a chance for all pupils to be more active, but also to improve overall fitness and even introduce a bit of competitive spirit!
Active Breaktimes & Lunchtimes
Our Pupil Voice Survey confirmed something that we as an SLT suspected – our breaktimes and lunchtimes are a bit boring!! Feedback was that children would like equipment to play with as well as an area for dance, drama and general performance. Our JLT completely stepped up to their first leadership responsibility – spending approximately £1,500 on new playgroup equipment to fit the bill! And when I say spending, I mean spending… Taking into account the views of each class, our JLT sat with Mr Atherton and myself and selected every single piece of equipment which we purchased – it was brilliant to see pupil voice translate into action!
Having received a huge delivery of new equipment, we have been phasing it in at lunchtimes over the last week. Mr Atherton and I spent a very enjoyable lunchtime teaching some of the children how to take part in group, long-rope skipping games. We hope to spend more time teaching the children traditional and modern games to keep them fit, active and having fun throughout break and lunchtime! Our Sports Apprentice Mr Fisher will be working with our KS2 children to lead these new playtime sessions.
Achievement Assembly Winners & Miss Kane's Award Board
So, the bad news is that I now get no paperwork done on a Friday. The good news is that it is because I am inundated with pupils coming to see me for Headteacher’s Awards! The staff and I have been astonished by the quality of home-learning and excellence of classwork taking place. The range of learning evidenced (sculptures, models, Powerpoints, recounts, poems etc.) are such that we need time to take photos, mount work and even do videos to record the astonishing work of our pupils. I have been amazed by the inventiveness and quality of work produced! Who knew that the digestive system could be so fun? I can honestly say that the best part of my week is rewarding children for their efforts and even more so when the pupils are receiving their first award. Well done to you all!! Please look back next week to see your names in print!
Our incredible Teaching Assistants generally spend time on a Friday (after the children have left), showcasing the work of our pupils. This week all staff attended Safeguarding Training on Friday afternoon, so we will have to wait until Monday for my ‘boards of glory’ to materialise. I will do a new blog next week, giving the names of all Miss Kane’s Award Board winners. All I’ll say is in the interim is that I am continually astonished by the efforts of our children and you as parents/guardians.
The feedback I have received about home-learning (rather than traditional homework) has been overwhelmingly positive. While many children have totally embraced home-learning, we know some parents require further support or ideas about how to challenge/support their children, so we have added a ‘Home-Learning’ section to the website, under our ‘Parents’ Area’. Please do have a look at this and give me feedback on my new challenges!
There have been so many ‘Shining Star’ moments that I need to continue this next week, but some highlights include:
Year 5 Fun Run
Our children were, yet again, commended for their immaculate behaviour at the recent Fun Run. As a Head, I know that praise from other teaching professionals is only given when merited. To hear that our children were ‘exceptional’ affirms everything we know about our incredible pupils.
The whole of Year 5 did us proud and showed their running prowess against other schools. However, massive congratulations go to Sam Griffin and Isabella Mash for finishing in the Top 10 in their races! You did us proud!! We look forward to hearing about their future athletic pursuits #watchoutMoFarah.
JAN HENNEY CUP
The Jan Henney Cup is the pinnacle of recognition for pupils who embody everything we strive for at St Catherine’s. For those who may not know, the Jan Henney Cup was introduced following the tragic death of a former pupil, Jan Henney. Jan was a vibrant girl, with a brilliant sense of fun, incredible work-ethic, lovely sense of humour and zest for life. She embodied everything we strive to nurture in our pupils. We are so grateful that her parents chose to work with St Catherine’s to celebrate Jan’s memory.
The Jan Henney Cup is only awarded to those children who have proven to be exceptional – not for a day, or a week, but over time. Jan was extremely special and the children who receive her cup are equally special. Congratulations to Sophia Currie and Aimee O’Malley our Jan Henney Cup award winners.
Chair of Governors’ Blog
Your governors have been busy throughout the first half of this term, with the first meetings of each committee and the full Governing Board being typically lengthy, and culminating in our first change of Chair of Governors for nine years.
The admissions committee has been particularly busy, with several meetings to consider in-year applications; we welcome all the new children and their families who have joined the school since September. The committee has also drafted the admissions policy for 2019-20 as a result of revised guidance from the Diocese of Westminster, and this will be be issued for consultation via the Local Authority later this month.
In finance committee we reviewed the end of year accounts and received an update on the building work completed over the summer. In standards committee we had an initial review of the results from last year, and we commend the staff and pupils on their fantastic achievements.
As a Governing Board we fully support the focus on communication and engagement this year, and we hope that sharing some of our work in this medium is helpful in understanding the role of the governors in the running of the school. We will also be asking for feedback to the governors in the near future, and hope that many of you will take the time to respond to this and other parent surveys over the course of the year.