School Updates for Parents

The Senior Leaders and Governors at St Joseph's are always looking for ways to improve our communication with parents and the wider community.

We send out a weekly newsletter, via the app, to every family. Our website contains a vast amount of information about the school. Our school app is a great way of commutating; updates are sent regularly to inform parents of news and events.

Starting from the autumn term of 2018, and based on feedback from parents, senior leaders and governors will host a half termly coffee morning. The coffee morning aims to share important updates with parents and provide them with the opportunity to ask questions about what is happening in school.

Parents, Senior Leaders and Governor Coffee Morning - 12th October 2018

Senior Leader Attendees:

  • Natalie Kelly - Headteacher
  • Marianne Courtney -  Deputy Head
  • Matthew Storey - Y4 Teacher & Maths Co-ordinator,
  • Phillippa Robinson -  Reception Teacher & Pupil Premium Co-ordinator

Governor Attendees:

  •  John Cape - Chair of Governors
  • Eileen Dodd - Vice Chair of Governor
  • Donna Clark - Parent Governor
  • Kimberly Taylor - Parent Governor


Number of Parent Attendees:  One


 At the Parents Coffee Morning, we discussed changes and new

initiatives at St Joseph's in the Autumn Term

Please see details of the autumn meeting below...

Handwriting and Spelling

Throughout school we are using a new cursive style handwriting; it is a national curriculum requirement that handwriting must be written in cursive to achieve expected.  As a school we are really trying to promote this. The new Mastery scheme will help more children meet the national curriculum’s requirements. The spelling and handwriting scheme was developed by Miss Marsden, our Y6 Teacher and Literacy Co-ordinator - every child from Y1 through to Y6 will be following this.

Each child is taught their age/year group appropriate level spellings based on the National Curriculum Requirements.  For children who struggle with the work, an additional booster sessions will be held.



Mr Storey spoke about Maths Mastery - from the perspective of Maths Mastery Leader

During the summer term we began trialling the new Maths Mastery approach.  In the British culture, it is usual and common for parents and children to say ‘I can’t do maths’ ‘I’m rubbish at maths’.  In school we believe that every child can be successful in maths; this is the Mastery belief.

It was shared that - "Parents are sometimes baffled by the homework as they have not done some of the methods before."

Mr Storey explained - The Maths Mastery approach takes maths back to its roots, promoting the use of objects for children to relate to and see to give them a sense of numbers, place value and to problem solve this helps to ensure that they are not thrown from the start.   The approach is for children to think about what the numbers represent through teaching and practical work using concrete materials such as counters and cubes to explore.   Maths meetings are carried out to discuss what has been learnt and the understanding of this – the sessions are short and pacey, and overall, are enjoyed by the children.

It was asked - "How long have you been using the new approach?"

Mr Storey explained - This was trialled in areas during the summer term and is now used throughout school from autumn term, only elements are used in Reception Class.

It was asked - "Is the Big Maths Beat That part of this?"

My Storey explained -  This does run separate from the Mastery scheme, but will be used throughout Mastery in applying and using the new skills. The skills are used in many areas.

In Y4 next year, a new statutory times table test will be taking place. Times tables have a massive impact on learning - area, perimeter, and fractions are all related to times tables.   

The new Maths Mastery is also a massive change for teachers, it has taken many hours of planning and pulling elements to pieces as the teaching is so different to what we have known before and to how we were taught and trained.  The mastery elements and methods may appear to be a long way round for teaching, but it does give a fuller understanding.




Mrs Courtney spoke about the new Mastery English - from the perspective of a class teacher.

We began the Literacy Mastery in September, the approach uses one book/text per term which forms the whole basis of our literacy lessons. The aim is to use a high quality book with the right language as the main focus. For example, in Y6, their literacy work is all based around the text, War Horse. In Y2 their text is about a whale and Green Peace. This approach gives children a purpose for writing and helps them to use their imagination for example in writing newspapers, letters, and poems. 

The children use the ideas and language from the book, for example in Y2, writing has included language such as ‘shrimp like creatures’ and ‘migratory.’ Their language and spellings have really improved! They have been producing letters to the book character using 6/7 sentences which at Y2 stage is great! The books/texts are carefully chosen by school however, the choices are books/texts selected by the mastery scheme - the future aim is that schools will have more ownership over the book/text choices.   This approach has been extremely positive throughout school in engaging children, and their enjoyment of writing.  

A literacy role model is chosen from each class where an example of their work is chosen, framed and displayed outside the classroom – each child is trying really hard to achieve this, we are 6 weeks into the scheme and it is going really well.



Parent Questionnaire Feedback/Changes to Daily Timetable

The removal of the afternoon playtime was a big feature in the questionnaires that were done before the summer. The results of these can be seen on our website. Unfortunately, the number of questionnaires returned was very low. The removal of the afternoon playtime has had no negative impact throughout school at all and went well from the offset.  A number of activities have been included during the afternoon school sessions, and there is more flexibility for longer afternoon sessions including PE. A reading slot has been added to the end of the day which is a fun/relaxing time, and feedback from the children has shown that they really enjoy this time.  We have been awarded £1000 from Tesco which is to be used for setting up a reading area also for lunchtime use.   

Other activities include ‘Brain Gym’ which the children love! Children have participated in reflection, meditation and mindfulness sessions, they have been writing prayer journals. The ‘Daily Mile’ has been introduced where each class uses the newly installed outdoor track to complete their daily mile at least twice a week, the children are also given the additional opportunity to use the trim trail outdoor equipment.   School will be purchasing a class half set of scooters to incorporate into the daily mile. Photos of the activities can be seen on the news extras below.


Parents’ Questions

Is there a SIP (School Improvement Partner)?

Mrs Kelly answered this Question – We have three people acting as SIPs.

  1. Our school is part of the Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) called the Hallam School’s Partnership Academy Trust. The MAT has a CEO (chief executive officer). The CEO visits our schools and carries out some aspects of school improvement works. The CEO visited our school yesterday and gave objectives to work towards.
  2. We also have visits from Jamie Kilner who is an Ofsted inspector. Mr Kilner carries out school reviews for us, based on OFSTED statements and outcomes. His reports are shared with governors and staff.
  3. Brian Beale is our Doncaster Local Authority STEP partner (Standard and Effectiveness Partnership). He will visit this term to look at our data and assessments. In the spring term the focus is on teaching and learning. In the summer term the focus will be leadership.


How is the funding for Pupil Premium used?

The funding is used in a wide variety of ways. The pupil premium plans can be viewed on the St Joseph’s school website.   Our school receives a large amount of funding for our pupil premium children, and we must evidence how the funding is used effectively for those children’s needs.   A large proportion of the funding is used for TA (teaching assistant) support - they carry out extra booster sessions and these are evidenced through the pupil’s ‘Intervention Book.’ 

Other children  also access these booster sessions and there are still a range of interventions and boosters throughout school to ensure all children are accessing and progressing learning at the best pace they can.

As a school, we are driving an initiative to improve pupil premium children’s attendance as it is significantly below average, which in turn has a huge impact on their learning. As a school, we have interventions in place to bridge the gaps however, they can only be accessed if the children attend school. Mrs Robinson is our Pupil Premium lead teacher, who is leading and monitoring this, with a £10 incentive per term per pupil premium pupil whose attendance meets 97% and above.  Other children in school are not penalised to allow for the extra pupil premium resources as they are allocated a specific pot of money to allow for this.

Does the school still largely use Bug Club?

The use of Bug Club varies from class to class, however, the parents and children who would benefit from using Bug Club more do not generally access it.  We have subscribed to Bug Club for this year, however, we will review this with parents/children, and carry out a questionnaire to decide whether to renew again the following year. We may use the funding to invest elsewhere such as for better books in school etc.



Questions from Governors to Parents

Why is it that despite organising sessions like today’s coffee morning, which has been really informative and very interesting, why are parents not attending? It appears that the school is making great efforts to engage with parents through regular parent information sessions, also having a superb App for communication and yet there seems to be little interest or involvement from parents – with only one parent other than the parent governors attending today.  Why do we think this is?

It was unclear why parents do not attend events like this

Mrs Robinson suggested appointing parent ambassadors for each class. It was agreed that this sounded like a great idea, and the senior leaders are going to action this.

How can we improve parent engagement ?

Are parents reading the Newsletters/App information/notifications?

We need to generate a greater interest with our parents as these sessions are a fantastic opportunity to help parents understand, what’s happening in school and why we do things.

Do you have any ideas how we can improve communication between parents and school? Please email us: