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Governors' Blogs 2014/2015

The School Year - 16 July 2015 - Janet Myers

Date: 16th Jul 2015 @ 8:28am

I can’t believe that it’s time to write the end of year blog!  It’s been such a pleasure to look back over the year and how much has been achieved. 

The year started and ended with the Rights of a Child.  It kicked off with a fortnight of activities based on the United Nations convention including workshops with two artists, which have resulted in some beautiful works of art and a dance workshop and culminating in a celebration assembly and a parade around the playground for parents and members of the community.  It ended with a fortnight of work focussing on the new school vision with more fabulous art work and an exhibition for parents where children shared what they had learned.  Other highlights were:

  • the performance by Key Stage 2 children at the Royal Opera House of a dance on the theme of protecting children in times of war inspired by the book “Oranges in No Man’s Land”
  • the Unicef’s #outright photograph competition in which one of our children was runner up
  • the United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week
  • the exchange by Miss Jones and Mr Moore to our partner school in Sao Paulo, Brazil through the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme
  • the mock election in which Year 5 formed their own political parties and Year 3/4 voted
  • the Schools Online project on the theme of refugees
  • the visit by MP for Chester, Chris Matheson, where the children lobbied him to “Send my Friend to School”

This wonderful work about international affairs, multi-culturalism and democracy has not gone unnoticed.  The school has been awarded the British Council Intermediate International Schools Award in recognition of our global curriculum, Mrs Artist was a finalist in the Think Global “Global Teacher Award” and, earlier this month, the school was awarded the Level 1 Rights Respecting Schools Award and received excellent feedback from the inspector.  She commented that “No child could possibly come to Cherry Grove and not be aware that they are part of a big wide world!”

The children’s knowledge of national and international news, and their compassion for others have led them to be involved in many charity events.   These have included support for Comic Relief, Children in Need, Macmillan Cancer Support, Save the Family, and the Chatterbox Challenge.  Children have worn something blue for those affected by Nepal earthquake, and the Unicef ambassadors held a penalty shoot out to raise money to buy mosquito nets and a cake sale to raise money for polio vaccinations.

The arts have been celebrated throughout school life.  At Christmas, Nursery and Reception gave a great performance of “A Little Bird told me” and Key Stage 1 delighted parents with “It’s a Baby”. In the spring, Year 3/4 brought the house down with “Oliver!” and most recently there was not a dry eye following Year 6 ‘s performance of “Goodbye My Friend”.  Key Stage 2 have visited the Royal Opera House twice, once to watch “Manon”, once to perform as part of the Dance Dynamic programme.  Just last week, every child’s work was displayed in an art exhibition and parents were invited to view their work whilst enjoying singing, performances by young musicians and delicious refreshments.  Children have also had a chance to share their singing talents at the Christmas carol concert and the Young Voices concert at the Manchester Arena.  The arts have taken the children into the community as they participated in the Lantern and Midsummer Watch parades.  Design and Technology has also been a focus this year with all children participating in activity days making wheeled carts, bridges, wired long houses, and hydraulic Viking figures.  Year 5 have enjoyed baking at Bishops High School and have learned to make “a Meal in a Mug in a Microwave”.

The school has enjoyed an amazing year of sport.  Opportunities to play competitively have included football, tag rugby, basketball, netball, athletics, hockey and orienteering.  As well as being commended for fantastic sportsmanship, the children have done very well in the events.  In football, both the girls and the mixed squads represented Chester in the English School’s Football Association’s Cheshire Finals, and the athletics team was third in its group in Indoor Athletics.  The year has ended well with the School Sports Organising Crew Awards and the school has been awarded the Silver Sports Mark.

Maths and English have had another good year with the World Book Day parade and Book Fair, Maths Workshop for parents, a visit from author Nick Toczek, the introduction of Reading Eggs and Reading Express, a Sumdog competition, an Inspiring Writing theatre workshop and the Reading and Writing Challenges.  Science has also been a focus and has included a visit to the Manchester Science and Industry Museum, a Whole School Science Week, a Zoo Workshop, the Mad Science Assembly and the solar eclipse. 

The Early Years teachers have kept us informed about the busy school lives of our youngest children through their blogs.  The books that they have enjoyed have included Rumble in the Jungle, The Tiger who came to Tea, Jack and the Beanstalk, Mr Grumpy’s Motor Car, Supertato, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark and The Day the Crayons Quit.  These have been accompanied by a huge variety of activities such as a Chinese restaurant themed role play area, a Potions Lab, eggs that have hatched in the classroom, discovering the magnetic properties of a car , visits by the Police, aliens, the North Wales Owl Sanctuary and the CBeebies programme “The Rhyme Rocket”, and visits to the cobbler in Hoole, the car mechanic in Boughton, the theatre to see Aladdin and Handa’s Surprise, the Grosvenor Park and the World Museum in Liverpool.  Reception welcomed parents into class for Reading, Numicon and Writing workshops, to share in the children’s Learning Journeys, and for afternoon teas for Mother’s and FUDGE (Fathers, Uncles, Dads, Grandads Etc) Day.  This excellence was recognised by the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scheme when they awarded Reception the phenomenal overall score of 6/7 and through a very successful moderation from the Local Authority’s Early Years Advisor. 

The PTA has had another great year raising money through the Halloween and Spring discos, Christmas Fair, Ladies’ Pamper Evening and the weather-defying Summer Fair.  Its members have brightened our school grounds through a community project to renovate the shed including a beautiful mural, moving and painting the storage containers that house the PE equipment, planting a wild flower area, working with children to produce African bag gardens and planting pots and hanging baskets on the yard and arranging for them to be cared for by families.   The work that they put in thoroughly deserved the Gold Schools in Bloom Award that the school received at the start of the year and hopefully we will do well in this year’s awards too. 

All of this is in addition to the usual residentials and school trips, a new website and ICT equipment, assemblies and workshops about e-safety, Childline, road safety and bullying, Open the Book assemblies and the Easter experience at Saint Paul’s church, the reconstitution of the Governing Body and the Governor Mark award.  We have also welcomed Mrs Jo Smith and Mrs Jenny Smith, Mr Spencer, Mrs Alli and Mr Landen and bid a very fond farewell to Mrs Priddey. 

I’m exhausted just writing about some of the activities that have taken place in school this year, so our teachers and children thoroughly deserve their summer holiday.  Good luck to those children and members of staff who are moving on and I wish you all an enjoyable and safe summer holiday.

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

You can reply to this blog by e-mailing: chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

The School Vision - 9 July 2015 - Debbie Tomkinson

One of the reasons I love being a parent and a governor of Cherry Grove is the commitment to the ‘whole child’ and a desire to teach our children not just about their ABCs and 123s (although they are important) but also ensuring that horizons are broadened and they have a knowledge of, and respect for, their place in the local, national and international community.

This outlook is reflected in our Vision Statement which states:

Our passion for nurturing individuality and respect for the rights of everyone enables members of our community to achieve their potential and be outstanding and local citizens.

As you will be aware from previous blogs a great deal of work went into deciding what our statement should be and how it reflects our values of care, respect for individuality, safeguarding, a happy and nurturing environment, a broad, challenging and exciting curriculum an d pride in our community.

I believe the Vision Statement reflects these values but I think it is also important that it is not just a statement and this is reflected in the work throughout the school.  I needn’t worry about this as the recent whole school ‘vision’ fortnight was evidence of.  I hope many of you were about to come into the school and look at the thought and effort that the children put into their work, from nursery and Reception children looking to the future with their art work on what they want to be when they grow up, to the nominations for local hero where the children really got to think about the good work that is done by lots of people in the wider community to the passion shown by the children talking about the Send My Friend to School campaign.  The children had the very exciting opportunity to talk to Chris Matheson, the newly elected  MP for Chester, about the campaign where over 4000 schools and their children are campaigning for the 58 million children around the world who do not have access to education.  It was clear from the children were really engaged by the campaign which enabled them to think about education generally and how lucky they were to receive such an education.

It has also got me thinking.  58 million children across the world who are out of school is a startling figure.  It makes me very proud and thankful that not only are Cherry Grove children receiving a broad and balanced curriculum but that they are learning about the wider world so that they truly can achieve their potential and become outstanding local and global citizens.

Debbie Tomkinson

Co-opted Governor

You can respond to this blog by e-mailing: chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Science - 2 July 2015 - Alex Makinson

One of the roles of a Governor is to be linked to a key focus area, helping the teacher who acts as the subject leader develop and enhance their role. For me that subject is Science and our Science coordinator is the very capable Miss Jones.

Most people don't realise that Science is actually a core subject at Primary Schools, very much like English and Maths, with one slight difference. Unlikely Reading, Writing and Maths the children don't have to take a test at the end of year 2 and 6 in Science, instead they are continually assessed by their teacher.

As part of this link, each term I must report back to the governing body, allowing them to monitor the impact of any changes and feedback on the development of the subject. This often means that the link governor has to meet with the teacher to discuss any plans, what actions have been taken and most importantly the impact of any changes.

I recently met with Miss Jones as part of this process, and to be honest I was a little surprised to hear how much the subject had been developed over the last year or so. Science can often become a forgotten subject, one that ranks after English and Maths but it's just as vital. I can truthfully say it’s very much alive and kicking within our school.

During my recent meeting, Miss Jones showed me a report on the events that the school had undertaken this year revolving around Science, and the impact those actions had on the subject. It's often easy to forget what we did yesterday never mind 6 months ago, when I read the list I started to appreciate how the subject has grown and become a key part of the everyday learning environment of the school. Some of the more memorable events being the Mad Science Assembly, the Chester Zoo workshop and the trip to the Science Museum. In March we also saw the whole of school engaged in the subject for our Whole School Science Week.   

The subject has become a real strength, so much so that Miss Jones will shortly be applying for the Science Quality Mark, a mark that is given to a school in recognition of their quality and achievement in the subject. I'm sure you will join me in wishing Miss Jones all the best with this application and fingers crossed that we are successful.

Should we be successful then the Science Mark would be added to all those other recent achievements that the school can be extremely proud off, including:

Arts Council - Arts Mark

GLM - Governor Mark

BSA - Basic Skills Mark

Unicef - Rights Respecting School

British Council - International School Award

360 degree safe - Commitment to safety online

At this rate, we may need a bigger wall for all the certificates!

 

Alex Makinson

Vice Chair of Governors

You can reply to this blog by e-mailing:  chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Our Headteacher of the Year - 25 June 2015 - Janet Myers

This year the Trinity Mirror Group, which includes the Chester Chronicle, has launched the Trinity Mirror Cheshire Schools Awards.  One of the categories of award is “Headteacher of the Year” and the Governing Body at Cherry Grove felt strongly that we had an excellent candidate for the accolade.  Sadly our nomination hasn’t made it onto the shortlist but I still wanted to share it with the school community to highlight to you the enormous progress that has taken place at Cherry Grove since Mr Bousfield joined us in September 2010.  Mike has been supported in these changes by our wonderful staff, so really this recognition is for all of them too:

“Mike Bousfield came to Cherry Grove in September 2010.  A year before, Ofsted had said that there were major inconsistencies in the effectiveness by which middle and senior leaders carried out their work and that some aspects of leadership lacked rigour.  Mike started to tackle this immediately, building leadership capacity within the existing team, getting to grips with the achievement and progress of each child, identifying areas of weakness in school standards and putting in plans to improve them, tightening the school's safeguarding processes, improving the school buildings and maximising the school budget to benefit the pupils.  These improvements were immediately recognised by parents.  In a survey in May 2011, parents were asked what improvements had been made to the school over the last year that had impacted the children most;   the single most cited improvement was the new headteacher. 

Mike has continued this accelerated rate of improvement with measures including:

1. the strategic redevelopment of the inside of the school encompassing a new kitchen, staff room, ICT suite, cloakroom and intervention rooms

2. the renovation of the outside of the school with new landscaping, play equipment and a Multi-Use Games Area

3. the launch of an on-site before and after school club

4. a significant improvement in communication with parents using a new website, Twitter feed, newsletters, e-mails and texts via Parentmail, extended slots at parents' evening and termly class newsletters

5. a step change improvement in safeguarding with a new school entrance, policies and procedures, and a safeguarding audit.  This resulted in Ofsted describing safeguarding at Cherry Grove as "second to none". 

6. a huge increase in involvement with the arts including dance, drama and ceramics, resulting in Cherry Grove obtaining the Artsmark award in 2013

7. a massive commitment to sports, resulting in more children enjoying sports and much more participation and success in local competitions

8. sustained engagement with the PTA and other organisations resulting in very successful financial and community partnerships

9. encouraging children to think using a broad curriculum, excellent global links, SMSC development and investment in Philosophy for Children

Mike is passionate about developing staff and giving them opportunities to further enhance their careers. He takes on board staff interests and genuinely has an 'open door' policy.  Mike has done a huge amount to embed how important data, assessment and subsequently, intervention and differentiation are amongst the staff. Ownership of the children's attainment and progress means each staff member can truly understand what they need to do to strive for change. He is approachable, flexible, realistic and level-headed.  As a result, staff, governors and parents have full confidence in him. 

Mike's work with teachers to improve teaching, assessment and tracking have resulted in:

1. improved attainment in Key Stage 1

2. improved achievement in writing and maths across the school

3. better tracking of individual pupil’s progress and of the progress made by cohorts of children

4. awareness of the under-achievement of disadvantaged pupils and increased accountability of teachers for closing the gap

In their last visit in 2013, Ofsted commented on Mike's "clear-sighted leadership that has lifted expectations and improved teamwork". 

As a result of excellent care, engaging teaching and a broad curriculum, children are very happy at Cherry Grove.  In the Ofsted Parentview survey, 100% of parents agree that their child is happy, safe and well looked after at Cherry Grove.  Mike demonstrates a strong, passionate and dedicated role in Safeguarding, Special Educational Needs, Children in Care and Vulnerable children.  Not only does Mike have a clear understanding of the individual children's wishes and concerns, he also strongly engages in external services in order to achieve a multi-disciplinary approach to furthering the overall quality of life for these children, far beyond what is a statutory requirement of a school.

The school is unrecognisable from where it was 5 years ago and that is a credit to Mike, his leadership, vision and inspiration. He not only does things right but he also does the right things; his ethics and integrity are commendable, he is passionate about learning and willing to stand up for what he believes in, knowing full well that it may make his life more difficult but fully appreciating the benefits it brings to the children and school.  Mike has a passion for the individuality of every child, especially the most vulnerable, and is determined that they will meet their potential.  He thoroughly deserves this award.”

As you can see, the Governing Body hold Mike in very high regard and feel that we already have the Headteacher of the Year!

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

You can reply to this blog by e-mailing:  chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Volunteers - 18 June 2015 - Debbie Tomkinson

I am writing the blog this following the success of the Summer Fair and once again, the PTA, the volunteers who helped on a stall and everyone who made a donation ensured that it was a great family day out.  Just as importantly £1900 was raised on the day, so thank you to everyone who helped or came along to spend some money – and support the school.

Returning home from the Fair, with an empty purse but two happy children, I thought about all the volunteers who give their time to help the school whether it be as a member of the PTA, helping out on school trips, with reading, making cakes with the children or even running cookery lessons. So this week’s blog is a celebration and recognition of all those people who willingly give their time to help the school.

Many of our volunteers, quite unsurprisingly, are parents of children at the school but I was interested to learn that we also have volunteers from the local community who come into the school to share their enthusiasm for education.  An example of this is the after school Enrichment Club run by Passion for Learning.  As their name suggests, the aim is to encourage a love of learning and they also have a strong belief in the importance of local community support for schools. By forming links with businesses such as Waitrose and Vauxhall they are able to train volunteers from these companies  to help out in schools . Cherry Grove has the benefit of three trained volunteers from Waitrose in Boughton who, by using their business links, can provide new experiences for the children such as introducing them to new and unusual produce which can open children’s eyes to new foods but can also help in discussions on, for example, global diversity.

Budding engineers and mechanics also had a treat last week as a team from the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port visited the club to talk about car production.  The activities they were able to offer included videos showing how cars are made, a dressing-up competition using the Health and Safety clothing worn in the plant and they even created paper models of cars. 

As governors, many of our blogs, quite rightly focus on the day to day running of the school.  I do, however, think it’s important to recognise the work of our dedicated volunteers as, after all, they help provide experiences that could spark a passion in a child that could last a lifetime.

Anyone interested in volunteering for Passion for Learning can contact Diane Clark at  diane.clark@passion-for-learning.com or on 07966 404355.

Debbie Tomkinson

Co-opted Governor

You can respond to this blog by e-mailing: chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

 

EYFS Moderation - Debbie Tomkinson - 11 June 2015

As we are all aware, there have been many changes in education over recent years, perhaps the biggest being the introduction of the new National Curriculum.  The EYFS has also faced changes with the EYFS framework being updated in September 2014.  This Framework has, as one of its aims, the promotion of teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and to provide children with a broad range of knowledge and skills which they can build on throughout their educational journey.  The learning and development requirements of the Framework cover:

-the areas of learning and development which must shape activities and experiences for children in all early years settings.

- the early learning goals that providers must help children work towards.

- assessment arrangements for measuring progress.

In my blog this week I will be talking about the assessment arrangements in the EYFS at Cherry Grove.  This is following a visit from an Early Years Adviser at Cheshire West and Chester Council whose role was to moderate the assessment arrangements in order to ensure they were fair and consistent.   In Reception, the teachers assess a child as Emerging (just beginning to acquire the requisite skill being assessed), Expected (is at the level expected for a child of that age) or Exceeding (above age-related expectations).

The process was a rigorous evidence-based discussion between education professionals about how children are progressing in order to ensure that teacher assessments are consistent and accurate.  Six children were chosen at random and the teachers had to talk and provide evidence in substantiation of their assessment over 17 different areas.

Following the moderation, several areas were said to be particular strengths.  These included:

  • Learning Book
  • Parent workshops
  • Afternoon tea (a particular favourite of mine too!)

In addition to this, the moderator was also particularly impressed by the evident team ethos and that teachers were able to confidently discuss the’ unique child’ and give an overview of that child regardless of whether that child was in their ‘class’ or not.

In terms of the assessments made by the Reception team, the moderator found that they were consistent and accurate, there was an appropriate ratio of child-initiated and adult directed activities and that the description of a child’s learning style matched that child’s overall attainment.  I am very pleased to have been able to write another positive blog about our EYFS provision and the external validation of the work they do.  I’d also like to thank Mrs Stark for taking the time to talk to me about the moderation and giving me an insight into what goes on behind the scenes.

Debbie Tomkinson

Co-opted Governor

You can respond to this blog by e-mailing: chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Governor Mark - Janet Myers - 4 June 2015

Back in May of last year, I reported to you that the Governing Body had decided to apply for the prestigious Governor Mark award and that we had formed a working party of five governors to compile our submission. 

The first stage of our work was a review of the Governing Body in which we considered Organisation and Teamwork, Recruitment and Retention of Governors, Self-Review, Innovation and Change.  This was an opportunity to consider the effectiveness of our structures and practice.  We considered it at the same time as Reconstitution and, after much analysis, decided to adopt a model without committees and reconstitute from 15 down to 12 governors. 

The second stage was to compile evidence of our impact under the headings of Strategic Leadership, Statutory Responsibilities, Strengths and Weaknesses, and Support and Challenge.  This involved collating information about subjects such as:

  • pupil attainment and progress
  • the school budget
  • safeguarding, teaching
  • parent and staff surveys
  • governor visits to school
  • policies
  • the School Development Plan
  • the School Council

We were then asked to complete three case studies on the subjects of School Improvement (pupil progress / standards), Partnerships and Community Engagement, and Pupil Wellbeing and Safety.  We pulled together information about some of the great changes that have been made to the school over the last few years.  The blogs written on this website over the years proved to be an excellent resource when it came to remembering the detail of what we had done.  We have made the case studies available on the website and you can access them at the very bottom of the Governor page

The working party handed over the completed submission to the Full Governing Body for their comments and changes and once we were all satisfied with the document, we submitted it to the GLM Partnership who administer the Governor Mark.  They arranged for an assessor to visit the school at the end of March.  Seven governors met with the inspector and were interviewed about the impact of the Governing Body covering topics such as performance management, safeguarding, pupil progress and attainment, communication and the school premises.  The assessor advised us that he would write a report that would be submitted to a review board for consideration. 

I am delighted to say that over half term, we learned that our application has been successful and we have been awarded the Governor Mark.  We are able to use their logo on our website and will be presented with a certificate to display at the school entrance.  We will also receive a report detailing the strengths of the governing body and opportunities for further improvement.  It is due within a few weeks and I will share the detail with you when it arrives.

I would like to thank my fellow governors for the time and energy that they give to the school.  Without this, we could not have made such a strong case for being awarded this quality mark.  The self-review that was involved in the application was useful in itself but it demanded even more time from governors so I would particularly like to thank those on the working party and those who met with the assessor on the day.

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

You can reply to this blog by e-mailing:  chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Vision, British Values & Rights - Janet Myers - 21 May 2015

Back in March, the governors and staff held our annual joint meeting.  We spent the evening together discussing our vision for the school, how the school teaches children about British Values and how this is supported by and supports our application to be a Rights Respecting School. 

We started by thinking about all the good practice within the school surrounding British Values.  The Department of Education has defined British Values as democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.  We considered these values and also took a wider look at what it means to be British using material provided by Heather Swainston of CDEC.  This included values such as politeness, education for every child, free healthcare and respect for property.  With everyone together, we quickly identified lots of great examples of how the school supports and teaches these values.  It became clear that there was a lot of cross-over between this and the work that the school is already doing on supporting Children’s Rights.  For example, last June years 5 and 6, assisted by CDEC, campaigned to ‘Send my friend to School’ to ask that all children have a right to education, no matter what their background.  This included presenting to MP Stephen Mosley about fair and equal rights for all children.  Also as part of the Rights Respecting School work, the children have created class charters setting out how they will each respect each other’s rights. 

We moved on from here to look at our vision for the school.  There have already been separate discussions with governors and different constituencies of staff and children about the vision, and parents responded to a request for their input.  This meeting brought those discussions together to consider what are Cherry Grove’s mission and unique selling point.  Given how much input there has been from so many people, there was a surprising amount of agreement about both.  Key themes were:

  • A commitment to every individual
  • Encouraging, enabling, nurturing
  • Respect for everyone’s rights
  • Having a positive impact on the local and global community
  • A passion for individuality
  • Achieving each person’s potential
  • Being outstanding citizens

Not surprisingly given the limits on our time, we were unable to craft the exact words of our vision and decided to delegate the final task to a working party made up of volunteers from the governors and staff with the purpose of continuing the good work started that evening.

Last week the working party met one evening.  With such a clear steer from the joint evening and more time to think, we quickly agreed on the words for our vision.  I won’t reveal them in this blog as the children are going to spend a fortnight focussing on them next half term, but they describe the school to a T. 

The second focus of the evening was to work on the school’s application to be a Rights Respecting School.  The children and teachers have worked hard on understanding and respecting the Rights of a Child this year, and it is now time for us to collate documentation to present to the assessor when he or she comes to consider making the award.   Mrs Artist has worked hard to gather evidence over the year but more examples were mentioned on the evening that even she wasn’t aware of.  The working party split the self-evaluation form into sections and will produce a portfolio of examples and evidence.  We will meet again in June to do one last check before the assessment in July. 

Many of you will already be aware from the school newsletter and website about the great work that Mrs Artist has done to support children’s rights and global learning.  I’m delighted to say that this has been recognised by the education charity, Think Global, as Mrs Artist was a finalist in their Global Educator Award.  You can read more about Roz’s nomination by Heather Swainston on their website (http://globaldimension.org.uk/news/item/20207).  This is very well deserved recognition of Mrs Artist’s hard work and the support provided to her by the staff and children, and is something that the whole school community can be proud of.

 

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

You can reply to this blog by e-mailing:  chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

New Governor Induction- 14 May 2015 - Janet Myers

I am very pleased to welcome a new governor to Cherry Grove; Mrs Kirsty Lowe has joined us as a Co-opted governor, elected by the governing body rather than parents, staff or the Local Authority.  Kirsty lives in Chester, has three children and is the Resources Manager at the Heath School in Runcorn. 

Kirsty is the first new governor to join us in over a year, so as Training Governor, I dusted off my induction material and prepared for her induction meeting.  Our governing body first introduced new governor induction training in 2010, and since then all governors have had a meeting with the Head Teacher, a tour of the school and a detailed introductory meeting with the Chair of Governors.  This meeting explains the role of a governor and how it differs from the role of the school staff, the structure of the governing body, the mechanics of meetings including the importance of keeping some elements of governing body business confidential, the further training and information available to governors, and the process for mentoring new governors.  The new governor is also given access to critical documents such as the School Development Plan, Budget, the minutes of previous meetings, the names and roles of members of staff, the contact details for the other governors, and crucially a glossary explaining some of the many acronyms used in the education world.  In addition to this, they are required to complete a pecuniary interest form giving details of any relevant business interests that they need to declare and a Disclosure and Barring Service check form.  Finally, they are expected to sign Cherry Grove’s Governors’ Charter, which is the agreement that all new governors sign up to confirm their commitment to the school and their understanding of the role that they have undertaken. 

I’m delighted to say that none of this seems to have put Kirsty off and she will join us for her first meeting at our Full Governing Body meeting next week.

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

You can reply to this blog by e-mailing:  chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Teaching and Learning - 7 May 2015 - Janet Myers

As a Governing Body, it is essential that we obtain information about the school from many different sources.  The Head Teacher provides us with enormous amounts of information in accordance with the timetable agreed in our Schedule of Work.  We supplement this with official sources such as:

  • Raise Online and Fisher Family Trust
  • information from other members of staff when they attend our meetings, when governors visit school or when we have joint meetings
  • information from pupils when they attend our meetings or we come to school to meet them
  • information from parents gathered from our annual survey
  • information from professional sources such as the School Improvement Advisor  

Back in January, I wrote about our School Improvement Advisor’s autumn term visits and her subsequent report.  In last week’s Governing Body meeting, we reviewed her spring term report. 

The advisor’s focus this term was Teaching and Learning and in order to give her opinion she visited the school twice.  The first time she met with Mike Bousfield, Kathryn Priddey and me to discuss pupil progress and attainment, the achievement of children eligible for Pupil Premium funding and the quality of teaching in the school.  She learned about the comprehensive system used by the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to monitor teaching, encompassing lesson observations, work scrutiny and planning scrutiny.  The SLT prioritise their time by working more with new teachers and those who need extra support.  She also learned about the visits that members of staff have made to other schools to learn about their approach to subjects such as marking and the classroom environment. 

Her second visit was to accompany Mr Bousfield in jointly observing three lessons in KS1 maths, KS2 literacy and Reception phonics.  Her aim here was not to make a judgement on the teaching, but rather to ensure that Mr Bousfield’s judgement was sound.  She observed him providing verbal feedback to the three colleagues which acknowledged the successes and improvements seen from his previous observations and gave clear indications of further points for consideration.  Her report concludes that she concurred with Mr Bousfield’s assessment of the strengths and development areas seen in the lessons and that she agrees with the school’s assessment that Teaching and Learning are good at Cherry Grove. 

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

You can reply to this blog by e-mailing: chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Digital Awareness - 30 April 2015 - Lata Oakley

This week we had a visit from Digital Awarness UK (www.digitalawarenessuk.com) or aka Digital sisters (twitter) a organisation whose mission it is too get schools social media savvy. The sisters Emma and Charlotte ran two days of workshops with all school years, teachers and parents.

The sheer energy and passion as well as a wealth of knowledge and experience combined to make their workshop compelling but Emma and Charlotte gave us parents some upsetting facts about our children's behaviour online.

What children actually do on social media:

Multiple profiles on social networking sites, not all of which they will tell you about.

Talking to Strangers they go on sites or use apps where strangers will ask you questions. eg 'Talking Tom'. These sites are targeted by paedophiles.

Follow Celebrities These celebrities are not always mindful of the young and post lewd photos or try to sell them products.

Take risks Will let strangers follow them as they want to be seen as popular. Sometimes these strangers can make unkind remarks.

Cyberbulling is a real danger and they can't get away from it at home.

Hacking of accounts which means that someone can work out your passwords and go into your account to take money from linked credit cards or generally cause havoc.

Computer viruses can be downloaded from roaming around on unregulated websites.

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Parent rules – Establish boundardies

What we can do to counter-act the above we need to 'parent-up' and deal with these issues head on. It is our role to establish boundaries and take the lead on the controls and managing. We can't expect children to be able to manage these issues themselves.

Gadget time. Gadgets should only be used for 30 minutes at a time. Looking at screens can affect our eyes and being hunched over a device is bad for our posture.

Gadget rules. Laying down the law such as no phones under the pillow. All gadgets have to be handed in before bed time. Just to give children a break and time to do other things such as read, sleep or just daydream.

Saying No. Social networking sites have an age threshold of 13 years of age this should be respected. Social media can have many wide-spread long term implications and the child needs to be resilient enough to be able to get out if it all turns bad.

Watching them closely and taking an interest. Looking at other people's edited lives can feed into a personal sense of isolation making a child anxious. We need to spot the signs of anxiety and explain that these are much edited lives without the messy bits.

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Keep talking and supportive.

The other side is that we have to keep the lines of communication open. Children will lie to parents, it is the way of the world. Peer pressure and wanting to mark out their own identity will make them do things they know you won't approve of; this is when you have to keep talking to them. If it all goes wrong they should know that they can turn to you and you will help them sort it out and not just take the gadgets away as this threat may stop them telling you in the first place.

Getting help for parents.

We can get support from online agencies such as Childline, NSPCC.  A list of organisations is on the school's websitehere. The school has informed children of the dangers and given us a base line to work with. The kids will bring back online promises from school which we can extend to home life as well.

I love social media and it enriches my life and helps me connect with others. I hope it will do the same for our children when they are ready to cope with it.

Lata Oakley

E-safety Governor

You can respond to this blog by e-mailing: chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Early Childhood Environment Rating Scheme - 23 April 2015 - Debbie Tomkinson

Welcome back to school after the Easter break and in this week’s blog I am going to be talking about Early Years education at Cherry Grove. 

There is a well-known saying which says “give me a child until 7 and I will show you the man”.  Although this statement from Aristotle is likely to be over 2000 years old, the sentiment does appear to be true.  Research has shown that children who have received access to high quality early years education do seem to reap the benefits throughout their lives.  Here at Cherry Grove I believe there is recognition of the importance of the Early Years and a commitment to ensure that the youngest members of our school community receive just such a high quality introduction to education.  An example of this can be seen in our decision to offer only morning or afternoon sessions in our Nursery.  The key driver behind this decision was the belief that this would provide a greater educational experience for the nursery children.

With this commitment in mind, the EYFS team invited consultants from ECERS (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scheme) into the school to evaluate the Reception provision and to provide advice on any areas of improvement.  The ECERS team came into school on Monday and conducted a half day observation and during this time they were focused on the three basic needs of all children:

  1. Protecting health and safety
  2. Opportunities for stimulation and learning from experience
  3. Building relationships

Within these three main headings were over 30 sub-sections with each category being given a score of between 1 and 7 (7 being excellent).  Following the observation, feedback was given to staff and I am very pleased to say that the team were given a fantastic overall score of 6.  Many areas that were assessed were given the maximum score of 7. Some of the categories that achieved top marks included the interaction between staff and the children, the interaction between the children, the general activities on offer in the classroom and, more specifically, the activities relating to Maths and Nature and Science.  This is by no means an exhaustive list and there were several other areas where the highest mark was given.  Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the ECERS consultants would normally return to the school in a year to see if the recommendations they made had been implemented.  The consultants felt it would not be necessary for them to come back next year because the recommendations that were made were minor and very easily introduced into the school.  It is very rare for a return visit not to be made and I think this speaks volumes about the Reception provision at Cherry Grove.

The final point I would like to make about the visit is that it is a voluntary assessment and the ECERS team were invited into the school as part of that commitment to constantly improve the education given to our youngest children.  This is important because, as I alluded to above, the quality of a child’s first educational experiences has a huge influence not just on their educational achievement but also their social and emotional well-being.  This impact is profound and lasts not just for their primary school years but throughout their lives.

Given the results you have just read about I think it is clear that our Reception children are getting an excellent start in life and I would like to say a massive thank you to the EYFS team for their passion, vision and hard work.

Debbie Tomkinson

Co-opted Governor

You can respond to this blog by e-mailing: chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Under 5s Story Time - 2 April 2015 - Janet Myers

As you will be aware, the Children’s Centre has now closed.  In order to continue to provide activities for the local community, we have started free monthly Story Times for under 5s with mark making and activities.

The first session took place on Wednesday 11th March from 2-3pm.  One of our reception teachers, Mrs Story, read Handa’s Surprise.  The tale was brought to life with African musical instruments and textiles and the children had the opportunity to taste the fruit from the story.  It was accompanied by play-based activities on the theme of Handa’s Surprise.  Fruit printing was a great chance for everyone to get messy, including the adults!  The animals and characters from the story were set out in a sandpit to allow the children to re-enact the story.  Playdough was available to cut and mould into the shapes of the people and animals.  It was a lovely session and gave parents, teachers and governors a chance to interact with the children and to chat whilst the children were playing together.  One of the parents was given a tour of the site so that she could learn more about the school.  I hope you enjoy the pictures showing how much the children enjoyed their afternoon!

The session was run by staff and parent volunteers and I would like to say a huge thank you to them for the enthusiasm and commitment that they put into the afternoon.

The next session will take place at Cherry Grove Children’s Centre on Wednesday 22nd April at 2pm.  It is open to any local children under 5 accompanied by an adult – you don’t need to have a child at Cherry Grove to attend.  Please help us to spread the word to any families with young children in the area.

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

You can respond to this blog by e-mailing: chair@cherrygrove.cheshire.sch.uk

 

Royal Opera House - 26 March 2015 - Tanya Wallwork & Janet Myers

Date: 26th Mar 2015 @ 9:27am

We are writing this blog from the M42 on a coach with 37 children, 3 staff and 7 other adults en route to Chester after a fun-packed and rewarding day in London.  Several months ago, Mrs Artist secured an opportunity for the children from Key Stage 2 to learn a dance routine and perform it at the Royal Opera House as part of their Dance Dynamic programme.  Mrs Artist, along with other teachers from primary schools across the UK, attended two one-day workshops at the Royal Opera House, developing a greater understanding of the creative processes and skills involved in making, performing and appreciating dance.  Since this time, she and Mrs Greatorex have been working with the 37 children selected to attend to develop a dance that reflects the work that they are doing at school.  The school was visited by a member of the Dance Dynamic team to provide further professional advice, knowledge and support.  The children, Mrs Artist and Mrs Greatorex not only spent their time in school preparing for this performance but also many hours of after school preparation.  

In September the school had a fortnight focussed on the Rights of the Child, culminating in the school receiving a recognition of commitment towards attaining UNICEF’s Rights Respecting School award.  Mrs Artist and the children decided to use the dance to build upon this work and reflect upon the need to protect children in times of war, calling their performance “Oranges in No Man’s Land” after the book of the same name. 

Today was t

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