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.

PARENT AMBASSADOR MEETING NOTES 4th December 2018

Thank you very much for your feedback and for attending the parent ambassador meeting. Your discussion has raised some very important points, and as an SLT, we will use your feedback to improve our school. Please see the SLT responses to each area below in red.

Communication from school (app/ website)- parents find the weekly reminders useful, app and website are useful for checking calendars, some classes send reminder dojos from teachers which parents find really useful as well.  We are glad to hear that the parents find the app useful. We will encourage class teachers to send reminders about their class events via dojo and try and make this more consistent.

Parent communication Ambassadors feel the role will help support parents to communicate more with school, suggestion of an anonymous parent suggestion box if parents do not want to be named and talk about their concerns/ issues, parents who discuss anything with parent ambassadors will not be named during meetings if they do not wish to be.

A box sounds like a good idea and this can be stored in the office. Parents can send any concerns in an envelope, marked ‘Parent Ambassador Meeting.’

Homework parents find the amount of homework unmanageable sometimes, some parents not aware that the topic homework is voluntary, suggestion of reducing amount of homework for classes. KS2 parents can struggle with terminology/ methods used to support their children with homework. Could a parent workshop be put on to explain this to parents so they can help more at home. Bug club grammar a really useful tool for Y1+ - videos and explanations help parents with their subject knowledge. Some parents not sure whether homework tasks set are appropriate for their children.

All of the homework set is based on class work, and this is age appropriate. Homework tasks are checked regularly by SLT. We have offered several workshops before, which have been very poorly attended – often no parents have attended. We can consider running these again if parents feel they are useful and will attend.

Workshops/ coffee mornings – low parent turn-out for amount of work that staff put into theseCould these be after-school or at 3pm to try and encourage more parents to come along? Parent ambassadors to take on a role of encouraging more parents to attend events in school.

Different times can be trialled for these, although when we have tried after school events before, staff have stayed, but no parents have attended. There was a better turn out at the last one and we will continue to monitor the attendance at these events.

Bug Club – Not a lot of usage, especially in KS2some parents not aware of how this is used properly. Could a parent workshop be put on for this to explain the benefits? Could classes do a bug club morning session for parents on a rota – F2 one week, then Y1, then Y2 and so on – parents can come into class and work on bug club reading/ grammar with their children and staff can model how it is used? Parents to explain ‘use it or lose it’ for bug club, as this costs the school a significant amount of money, but is not used to its full potential.

We have a new lead teacher for Bug Club – Mrs Wallhead. She is going to be planning activities to support children and parents when using Bug Club. Please look out for events in the newsletter.

ReadingHave a reading morning session for each class on a rota (as bug club above). Parent invited into class to read with their children, F2 to have more ‘reading’ books during their reading session so children can read to their parents, as well as parents reading to their children. Parent ambassadors to ask for parent volunteers for reading with children in school.

Miss Marsden has been working closely with the Doncaster Library team to revamp and reopen our school library. As part of a ‘family reading project’ we are part of, it is planned that parents will be invited into school to read with their children in the library. Details of this will be shared in the newsletter and via the app.

 

Next Parent Ambassador meeting to take place on Friday 1st February at 2.45pm. Please can parent ambassadors confirm their attendance either via dojo, or through the school office. Thank you.

Parents, Senior Leaders and Governor Coffee Morning - 14th December 2018

Please click here to see the slides shared at Decembers Coffee Morning

Senior Leader Attendees:

  • Natalie Kelly - Headteacher
  • Marianne Courtney -  Deputy Head
  • Phillippa Robinson -  Reception Teacher & Pupil Premium Co-ordinator
  • Tina Black - School Business Manager

Governor Attendees:

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

Other Attendees:

  • Julie Vaughn - Education Welfare Officer DMBC

 

Number of Parent Attendees:  Nine

 

 At the Parents Coffee Morning, we discussed changes and new

initiatives at St Joseph's in the Spring Term

Please see details of the December meeting below...

 

 

 

John Cape welcomed the group to our second parent coffee morning, stating how pleased he was to see more parents in attendance at this session – the school very much welcomes parent involvement, to share ideas and thoughts on school matters.

 

Mrs Kelly - School Emergency Planning, Invacuation and Lockdown Procedures Presentation

One of the first main focuses in Spring Term 1 will be to finalise the procedures, and to put them into practice with our staff and children. A lockdown is a situation where staff and pupils are not able to enter or vacate the school premises due to an internal/external emergency threat. An invacuation is to contain both staff and pupils within the school in the event of an emergency or a dangerous situation.

Alongside the ‘Prevent’ agenda, our school is required to have policies and procedures in place, to prepare our children for a crisis without frightening them.   This involves assessing our school building and considering the risks – glass windows, locks, areas of safety where we can move the children etc, and in line with the local authority’s advice.

 

Why do we have to plan this?

A moral responsibility to staff, pupils and parents

We have a statutory duty under the Health and Safety legislation

It saves time when in crisis and may speed recovery

We have a duty of care to our staff and pupils

 

Considerations

Mrs Black has very recently attended an emergency planning training course. We will be holding assemblies with children at their age level - there are also children’s books available that puts this in good context.

 

We will be keeping parents up to date. Mrs Black shared that she was confident that we have everything covered in the procedures, and once finalised, they will be available to view on the school website. We will then be rolling them out to our staff and children. One parent asked about covering windows and if this was a consideration. Mrs Black responded to say - Yes, covering glass windows is one of the considerations as well as many other simple things such as rubber door stops preventing doors from opening, playing games with the children to keep them quiet, always with the aim being not to frighten the children.

Mrs Kelly explained - We will be practising scenarios with the children such as an accident on the railway, or a chemical spillage. We are putting in place air horns around the school to use as an alert to children and staff, making it clear that this is the alert for an invacuate situation, differing to a fire alarm/evacuation.   We will continue to practice on an annual basis. 

The Police are promoting to children the message ‘Run – Hide - Tell’ as part of the county terrorism policing. This will be shared and explained to our children.

Mrs Kelly asked the group for any questions/comments – none declared.

Mrs Kelly added that if parents have any future questions or concerns to please approach her to discuss.

 

Attendance

Mrs Kelly shared a presentation on  current attendance figures and 2017/2018 data for St Joseph’s School. The data highlights that 52% of our children have already taken a whole week off school during the Autumn term. Children with attendance below 90% are classed as persistent absentees; anything below 85% is extremely concerning. Families around this level are already being supported. these The focus moving forward will be on the children with sporadic absences in addition to fixed term absences such as unauthorised holidays.   Mrs Kelly explained that we are to continue focusing on the positive approaches already in place: the attendance awards, and the annual trip to Pizza Hut, however, these have not had a great impact on our children’s attendance overall. Doncaster as an area has a very low attendance rate compared to the national rates, therefore, it is not only an issue for our school but also our neighbouring schools.

Introduction Julie Vaughan Education Welfare Officer Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council.

Julie Vaughn (EWO) is working closely with schools across Doncaster on both whole school approaches and with individuals, in a bid to increase school attendance in Doncaster. Julie is allocated to our school for 2 hours each week. She will be supporting us with our attendance processes and procedures. During the Spring Term, letters will be sent home to parents to highlight children’s attendance if below 95%. Poor attendance is not only missed learning, it can also create social issues causing children to feel unhappy and lost when they have missed sessions, as they cannot follow the work.

Educational Penalty Notice Presentation

Julie clarified that the children with a genuine illness will not be penalised, and that support will be given to parents and families before it ever reaches the EPN stage.

Parent – Some parents may need parenting support.

There are Agencies who we can refer to that can offer parenting support, e.g. working with parents who have problems getting their child up and out of bed in a morning etc. support will be offered before any action is taken.

 

 

Parent – Is the Educational Penalty Notice a National initiative?

Mrs Kelly - We are unsure if this is National, however, it is for the whole of Doncaster as implemented by the local authority.

 

Parent – If a child goes home unwell in an afternoon, is this an authorised absence?

 Mrs Kelly - Yes this is authorised as are all illnesses, however, it does affect the child’s overall attendance.

 

Parent – my child had only one morning off all year due to a medical appointment and missed out on the 100% attendance reward trip to Pizza Hut.

Mrs Kelly - The 100% attendance award can only be granted to those children with a full years 100% attendance; medical appointments and illness can not be included. We do have weekly 100% attendance rewards.

Parent – It would be a good idea to introduce a termly goal/reward. If a child has already missed a day due to illness this doesn’t give them any incentive for the rest of the year, as they can no longer win the Pizza Hut Trip reward.

Mrs Courtney  added that the House Team Captains held a meeting last week, and attendance rewards were raised by the older children.

Mrs Kelly stated that we wouldn’t be able to increase the number of Pizza Hut trips, however we could look at introducing termly rewards such as extra play time.

School Holiday Dates

Mrs Kelly shared with the group three possible holiday patterns for 2020

Option 1 - one week at Easter and a 7-week summer holiday breaking up on the 10th July 2020,

Option 2 - two weeks at Easter and a 6-week summer holiday breaking up on the 17th July 2020,

Option 3 - one week at Easter, a 6-week summer holiday and an extra week added to the February or May half term.

Mrs Kelly stated how schools in our area are following different holiday patterns – in 2019 there are 3 different Easter holiday patterns for schools in our area, with holiday patterns differing again in 2020.   As a Catholic school, we will always endeavour to follow the Bishop’s recommendations at Easter which is that we are in school during Holy Week, closing for Good Friday.  

 

A few of the parents stated that they thought 7 weeks was too long.

Parent - breaking up on the 10th July would have it’s benefits as holiday prices would be cheaper. 

Mrs Kelly explained Scotland and Ireland do already break up earlier than schools in England therefore holidays are still at peak prices, however, they may be a little cheaper. Mrs Dodd asked - Is attendance low during winter? Maybe the option for an extra week at February would be a good idea to improve the attendance, also closing the school for an extra week during the winter would reduce school energy/heating costs.

Parent - Could the 7-week summer holiday begin later with school closed for the first week in September, as I personally like to take holidays in September.

Mrs Kelly - All holidays patterns must be taken before the 31st August.

Mr Cape - stated that a 7-week holiday is not within the best interest of the child, as it is far too long.

Mrs Kelly - We also must consider the financial impact on families of a 7-week holiday, and parents who require child care.   We will also consider The McAuley School and Rossington All Saints holiday patterns as we have families with children in both schools.

 

Parent – Are other religious holidays and festivals approved by school?

Mrs Kelly -  Yes other religious festivals/holidays and weddings can be approved, they are considered on an individual basis and submitted to the board of Governors for approval – the policy is available to view online via our school website.

 

 

 

 

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

Please click here to see the slides shared at the October Coffee Morning

Please click here to see the Maths Mastery Presentation Slides

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.

 

Maths

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.

 

 

Literacy

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: admin@st-josephs.doncaster.sch.uk