"________ _________________ ____ _____"
WEEK 20 - Friday 12 February 2021
That was the term that was….
I think it is the weekends that do it. The predictability and the lack of variety. It has almost brought an end to those Monday morning conversations that we all loved to have with colleagues and pupils alike; “What did you do at the weekend?”, “Where did you go?”, “That sounds like fun.” There is incredible excitement if someone has discovered a new take away or perhaps a live streaming event that doesn’t involve trawling through Netflix!
But there are reasons to be hopeful. It is great to hear when staff colleagues across both of our school sites tell me that their parents have had their vaccination; you can see the relief and the optimism start to return. Likewise, pupils who tell us that their front line parents, or their grandparents, have also ‘had the jab’. Each one takes us closer to returning to something, if not normal, than better than this.
But, in school, it has been a busy six weeks. It is hard to think that when we returned on January 4th, we were still expecting to see pupils follow the very next day. Mrs Spencer and I are incredibly proud of the work that our staff have done to provide online learning so rapidly and to such a high standard. Mostly, I am pleased with how parents, carers and staff have come together to support the children when they needed us most. We may not always realise it, but we have done a good job. Together.
Once we had got that set up, we turned our attention to creating a pop-up covid testing centre at the High School site, which has now been running for four weeks. This tests staff and students that have been coming onto the school site and, thanks to other volunteer staff who have been trained to run it, we have carried out over 300 tests. In recent weeks, we have also set up a system for our Primary staff to carry out their own lateral flow tests at home twice a week and that has also generated almost 200 tests (all, thankfully, negative) in quick order.
I write this message on the final day of the term. There will be no online learning next week of course and I hope all of our pupils and families can find some time for a break, whether it be in the garden or plenty of exercise elsewhere. I believe it is going to warm up a little so I hope you can all take advantage of it.
Finally, I would like to thank you all for the ongoing support you have given to all of the staff at Penshurst during the past six weeks. If I could give one message to any parent who is appreciative of the work that your child’s teacher is doing, it would be ‘please let them know’. Teachers are fiercely self-critical and all messages of support truly are appreciated.
We return on February 22nd and I hope it will not be long after that date when we have more news on when pupils will be able return to school in person.
In the meantime, take care and stay safe.
Mr V Groak
Good Afternoon - Week 6 of Lockdown Learning complete.
Well, you did it; you made it to half term!
Once more, I thank you for your support during this lockdown period as I know how very difficult it has been for everyone. I'm sure you will be relieved that you can log off Google Classroom for the week and enjoy some quality family time to rest and recuperate. After half term we have included some topic days to break up the learning a little and we are all looking forward to World Book Day in particular - staff are already planning their costumes!
This week, a Year 1 child thanked me for bringing the snow to school - I'd like to say I planned the snow to coincide with ‘non screen’ day but can't take the praise for that one! I hope you all enjoyed your wellbeing day and it was lovely to visit some of the remote sessions and in school circles celebrating what you did in the snow. We had pictures galore, creative writing, snow poems and snow art shared with us and it really seems to have picked everyone's spirits up. There is something very magical about watching children play in the snow and it was fascinating to watch the children who had never seen snow before.
The school office is closed over half term but urgent messages will continue to be picked up. All non urgent enquiries and messages will be replied to on our return to school after half term. Please be aware that currently, it is only the children of key workers and vulnerable children, who have been in all term, that will return on February 22nd; this is the day of the Government review of lockdown and we hope this will be when we hear more news regarding a full scale return to school. It is worth pointing out that we only hear the news when you do and as soon as details are released we will begin to formulate our strategy to re open the school safely. We will contact you as soon as we have put arrangements in place.
I know that the staff at Penshurst cannot wait for all of the children to return. We have had over 200 pupils attending during this period and so, to a certain extent, school has run as normal for them. For those at home, we have tried to keep as close as we can to the school routine but understand how tricky it is keeping children on task and motivated at home. Thank you to those parents who have supported their child in their learning either by doing additional work if they are struggling or pushing them further if they need a challenge. When we do return, the Autumn Term arrangements regarding pick up and collections, social distancing, wearing of face masks onsite and all of the safety procedures in classrooms will all still remain. Further details of all of these procedures and protocols will be sent out when we have a return date.
Meanwhile, enjoy the half term and we look forward to seeing you after the break, either remotely or in school
Mrs J Spencer
Head of School
WEEK 19 - Friday 5 February 2021
Welcome to Friday - Week 5 of lockdown learning completed.
Thank you once again for your support. I am sure many of you are looking forward to the half term break and you certainly all deserve it. I sincerely hope that we will all be back soon as we miss the children who are not in and can't wait to see all the pupils back together with their friends. We will of course communicate any starting dates with you immediately when we are informed of a definite full return date.
Here are just a few dates that might help break up the scheduled learning.
Monday 8 February - No Screen Day. Activities have been posted today for you to look at and experiences will be shared in extended circles on the Tuesday morning. We are aiming to replicate non screen day with those children being taught in school as well. If you wish to do your own thing on Monday...go ahead!
Wednesday 24 February - Maths Day! We will be holding a whole school Maths challenge day where tasks will be set by all year groups around a similar data handling subject and you will have the opportunity to dip into other year groups and really challenge yourself with lots of hands-on fun activities.
Thursday 4 March - World Book Day. A fun filled story packed day with lots of reading activities for all ages to participate in. Staff will be dressing up for you to guess the characters and we would love to see you wear anything related to a story character- please do not buy anything, a simple clue to a book will suffice eg. you may have a letter stuck on you for The Jolly Postman, a witches hat for The Wizard of Oz or a stick for Stickman.
Monday and Wednesday 15 / 17 March - Parents Evening. This will be done remotely and a link to book your session will be sent out next week. Appointments are online and last 5 minutes.
Resilience. Respect. Aspiration. Responsibility. Integrity. Kindness.
These are the values that we strive to live by at Penshurst. This week I have seen examples of all of these both in school and in the remote learning sessions and it made me smile each time to see how our community is really trying to incorporate these values in their learning and play.
Resilience: Every day I am impressed by the resilience of our youngsters as they adapt to this new way of working. I see our pupils grappling with their work both in school and on the remote lessons and I am impressed with how they respond to the challenge when work is returned or in response to feedback given. The parents' resilience has been tested to the limit as well and it has not gone unnoticed that you are motivating and supporting your children day in day out.
One pupil's comment that I saw this week was a perfect example of resilience: ’Dear teacher, thank you for your message on my work-you are right it was tricky and I just needed to listen to your instructions again to understand how to do it. I have sent my work back to you again as I feel I have done a much better job now’. These are the kind of acts that are winning Pupil of the Week certificates at the moment!
Respect: It has been a pleasure to see how pupils have learnt to be respectful online towards staff and each other.After a few tricky first days where we had to remind everyone that behaviour online needed to be the same as behaviour in school, I saw a real turn around in how pupils approached the live lessons. Pupils learnt to be respectful by listening to instructions, muting microphones, dressing appropriately and submitting work to a higher standard. Thank you.
Aspiration: When visiting (remotely) a Year 6 session this week, it was remarkable to see the competitive edge to learning that was occurring both in class and online. Pupils were aspiring to be the best they could be and many were trying to win the quizzes and master the challenges aspiring to be the best. This has been echoed in other year groups where it is clear to see that parents assisting their children are aspirational for their children whether by producing work of a high standard or asking for more challenge and support.
Responsibility: I believe this to be the value that has been exhibited the most during these past few weeks of lockdown learning: It is difficult to get up, get dressed and be motivated to join the live lessons and then to submit work day in day out. We understand how responsible our pupils, and parents, are being in scheduling learning and being responsible for submitting work and responding to feedback. I have also seen pupils being responsible for their classmates learning by texting them to get on line or in some cases get on to lessons in time.Brilliant.
Integrity: I have witnessed a couple of acts of integrity this week. Integrity is always the value that the pupils struggle to articulate as it is a tricky concept. I always explain it to them as being honest and having good morals. We have seen great integrity when pupils are taking independent tests and not receiving help with these. It is easy to copy a friend's answers or get parents to help - much more difficult to do the test independently being honest about what you find hard. Thank you for helping with this as accurate assessment means we know how to challenge or support your child further.
Kindness: There really are two many acts of kindness to list but I will aim to share a few with you. Firstly, the kindness pupils have shown each other in helping each other find tasks online, working together to complete work and just checking in that their friends are well. The support groups that parents have set up with each other to help each other with homeschooling has been lovely to see and I'm sure is helping in these strange times. In addition, the kindness that has been shown in your messages to myself and staff thanking them for their hard work and support has been overwhelming - it is really appreciated by all.
Mrs J Spencer
Head of School
WEEK 18 - Friday 29 January 2021
Well done for another week of lockdown schooling - although no snow for us yet!
I am extremely impressed with how resilient the children have been during this time whether learning at home or in school. 96% of children at home are now accessing the live lessons which continues to be the best way for them to access help and support with their learning. Children in school have also done an amazing job in adjusting to working in classes without their normal friendship groups and their behaviour and attitude to learning has been exemplary.
A few tips to help with remote learning :
- Access the morning and afternoon circles if you would like your child to see their peers and have a quick chat with friends as many of them are missing each other and this is a way of staying in touch
- Access the live lessons for inputs so you understand the work however do not feel pressured to stay on screen while completing work; teachers are available all day should you need to pop back in to ask a question or receive extra support. Remember these are all recorded so if you want to work a day behind to fit in with your home learning schedules...do so
- If you are having a bad morning, have a break and complete lessons at a different time-they are all recorded
- KS2 children in particular should have no problem completing Google Classroom tasks independently; do not feel like you have to do all of the work with them as teachers are there to help if needed and it is much better for us to see independent work
- Remember to click back on your work to see any comments if they are not in the private messaging section
There are many other tips in the remote learning guide but the staff are available to help and guide wherever needed. On Monday 8 February we will be hosting a ‘non screen’ day where tasks will be set that do not involve looking at a screen-this will be both in school and remote lessons. The children can show any work that they want to in a Tuesday morning sharing circle. This is in collaboration with The Children's Society who are working with schools on supporting children's mental health and wellbeing. Teachers will post this work on Friday 5 February.
I have received so many lovely emails from you thanking staff for their hard work in providing both remote and in school lessons. I know that many of you have found the live lessons so much more effective than during the previous lockdown where children accessed written resources leaving you to become the teacher. Some of you will have noticed that children are selected to work in breakout groups with members of staff during the main lessons; this could be to support them in learning new concepts or to challenge them further in their understanding. We will continue to adjust and perfect our provision and from next week will be adding some small assessments to Friday morning so we can better plan any interventions that need to take place the following week. Please ensure that children complete these questions independently so we can accurately assess where they are in their understanding of the weekly topics. There are also some World Book Day/Maths Day and Pablo Challenges to come.
We continue to receive requests for school places however I must remind you that the deadline for this was 7 January. When we received initial requests from parents who are key workers and those who have vulnerable children, we formulated a staffing plan to keep children, staff and parents safe in school by creating maximum class sizes that allowed for social distancing; we were at capacity by the end of the first week in January. This remains the case and any requests for spaces will be placed on a waiting list.
It may be of interest for you to know that this week we received our first consignment of lateral flow testing kits. These are dispensed to staff who will test twice weekly giving us another layer of protection in school. This has definitely been viewed very positively by staff as it helps to keep colleagues, children and family members safe.
Mrs J Spencer
Head of School
WEEK 17 - Friday 22 January 2021
All the while that lockdown continues and pupils continue to learn from home, the school calendar clock is ticking and I am conscious that pupils in Nursery and Year 6, and their families, may have very legitimate questions and queries about how transition will be managed this year. Despite the uncertainty, we do have a plan…
For pupils in nursery, you will be notified by the Local Authority of the school place that has been allocated to you on 16 April 2021. Once all pupils have been allocated to the school, we will contact you with information on our transition arrangements. In normal years, this involves an extensive visit to the school, tour, meeting with the Head of School and other key staff etc. Last year, despite the national lockdown, we were still able to provide parents and children with an effective transition event which took place during June. Depending on the current situation at that time, we will still be able to offer some form of transition event and we will keep you fully informed through this blog.
For students transferring to Hessle High School and Sixth Form College, you will automatically be allocated a place, unless you have applied elsewhere. If that is the case, you will be notified of your child’s allocated place on 1 March 2021. Traditionally, students due to start at the High School have a week of transition activities during the final days of the summer term. Last year, we managed to deliver a virtual transition week which involved regular video messages being sent to pupils and families, as well as a number of activities which gave pupils the chance to experience some of the topics that they would be covering in Year 7.
Whatever the rest of the year brings, we understand the importance of effective transition as children move through their school life and we will adapt our transition programmes to provide them, and you, with as much support as possible.
As ever, we welcome your feedback and if there is information that you would like about either school, please contact the firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
Mr V Groak, Headteacher
This week I would just like to reiterate once again what a good job those of you who are home schooling are doing. We realise how stressful this can be for some, especially if you are working from home and if you need to speak to any of the team about any issues you are having, please contact the school office on email@example.com or give us a ring. Hopefully having live classes this time around has improved the home learning experience for you.
We have been working closely with some local children's charities to provide support for those children who are struggling to cope in this lockdown period and please contact Mrs Adams or Mrs Wall if you would like some help in this area as there is a lot we can do to support, ranging from regular phone calls home to making referrals to specialists.
The Children's Society is keen that we should include some activities that can be done off screen to give children a break from working on a device from time to time. With that in mind, teachers will begin to add in some activities that are more active, particularly in afternoon sessions and we will be holding events such as ‘no screen’ day, theme days and interactive activities such as mini P Factors. We hope this will engage the children and allow them (and you) some time to explore other aspects of being part of a community. We have also started to include some wellbeing and mindfulness activities where we can to support the children in school and at home.
We currently have over 95% of the school engaged in learning and we are striving to reach 100% in whatever format that might be. Staff are keen that I remind you that once an input has been viewed, you must not feel that you have to sit onscreen for the whole lesson. If your child is capable of working on their task independently they should do so and can return at any time to ask questions and to submit work. This will help in limiting the time they stare at a screen. Please bear in mind that work should be handed in on the day set or the next morning to be marked. Work handed in after these two days will not receive written feedback.
For those in school, it is business as normal as they engage in the same activities as those at home. Both sets of children continue to produce some really high quality work. Please make sure that if a teacher sets an independent assessment that the children do this on their own so we can gauge their understanding and adapt teaching if required.
I have received a number of enquiries regarding Parents Evenings and whether these will go ahead. I can tell you that we will be holding Parents Evenings remotely as we did last term for EYFS - you will receive a booking link nearer the time. As soon as we are able, we intend to hold an Open Evening so you can take the opportunity to come and look at your children’s work in greater detail as I know many of you really like to see your child’s work and discuss this with a teacher.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend
Week 3 of lockdown completed - well done to all.
Mrs Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 16 - Friday 15 January 2021
Week 2 of lockdown complete!
Well done to all of you who are accessing the online learning at home. We completely understand how challenging this will be for those of you trying to balance work and schooling and those with multiple siblings and we truly applaud you.
Staff have been working so very hard to ensure that the online learning replicates as much as possible how a classroom would run but we realise it will never be exactly the same. Remember the older your child is the more independent they should be with their learning. In Years 4 - 6 for example it is common practice to give a short input and then to set the children off to work independently. The children will then be given help as and when required; in online lessons all they have to do is pop back into the meeting or message the teacher for support.
Over the last two weeks we have been refining processes and striving to improve the assistance we can give the pupils at home. We are now hosting break out groups on the live stream whenever we have enough staff to help any children who are struggling and we are aiming to give comments on work by the end of the day. Please be patient with the teacher online as they are quite often teaching over 40 children of all different abilities while trying to reply to questions and mark work at the same time. They could all do with a couple of extra arms!
It is really important that all children are engaging with their learning and we will do all we can to help you with this. Please contact your year group or the office if you require more assistance with home learning. Year group staff will continue to check in over the week to answer any queries and check in with pupils at home.
I would also like to say thank you to those key workers who have ensured that they are only using school when they are at work and keeping them home if they do not need to go out. This really helps as we are hugely oversubscribed and any day you keep your child at home opens up a space for someone else to go to work. If you are a key worker who is working from home, the guidance is that your child should be at home aswell.
Remember that Friday afternoons have changed for those pupils at home with PE tasks and French and Spanish games uploaded for you to enjoy. There will not be a teacher live during this session as these activities are designed for you to complete independently or as a family. The afternoon will finish with your Pupil of the Week announcement.
Finally, I would like to thank you for the kind messages of support for all the staff -I have passed all of your thanks on to the relevant year groups.
Now...switch off the technology and enjoy your weekend!
Mrs Spencer, Head of School
N.B. We currently have a vacancy for a Parent Governor on our Local Governing Board. More details can be found here. If you are interested in applying for this post, please contact the Clerk to the Governors on firstname.lastname@example.org the deadline for applications is Friday 22 January 2021 at 5pm.
WEEK 15 - Friday 8 January 2021
Dear Parent / Carer
I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved as a community this week. Teachers have been juggling class teaching and remote teaching; fixing technical issues for parents and pupils; creating home learning packs and phoning and checking in with families. Parents have been upskilling themselves in remote technology and once again providing support for their child at home and pupils too are adjusting to this new way of learning and not being with friends again. It is fantastic for those at home that they can now chat to teachers and see friends alongside learning on Google Classroom.
It has been an incredibly busy week and everyone has responded very positively to the challenges we are all facing. It has been lovely to see so many of you engaged in remote learning and I have enjoyed popping in to say hello! Please remember that all lessons are recorded and posted with the resources to allow you to access them later in the day if needed. There is a slight lag in this being uploaded as it takes a few minutes for the system to process.
There is no right or wrong way to homeschool your child and hopefully having a teacher ‘live’ all day is helping to take away some of the pressure; however if you feel your child likes to work slower or quicker, please listen to the input and leave the chat to work at your own speed-you can join back in at any time to ask questions or receive help. Equally if you need a change of scene every now and again the BBC have produced lessons which are on every morning and Reading Eggs and Education City are still available to support or challenge learning.
In every year group, we have a teacher providing live learning to those at home and a teacher with a class of children. FS1-Y2 have three classes in normal times and so have been able to take two classes of children alongside a remote learning class in each year group. The size of the classes can be no more than 15 to ensure the safety of all on site.
The learning in school and at home is replicated as much as possible ensuring that all children have equal access to learning and it was great to see Year 1 children at home learning their split digraphs and the Year 1 children in school doing the exact same lesson. Some activities such as Art and PE will obviously need to be adapted slightly for those of you working from home.
I would like to thank you for your messages of support which mean so much to the staff who all want to provide the very best service for our families in this strange time. If you need support in any way, please contact the office who will direct you to the person best placed to help.
Have a lovely if slightly chilly weekend
Mrs Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 14 - Friday 18 December 2020
This morning, I met with Headteachers across our Trust to discuss yesterday’s announcement by the Department for Education with regards to the start of the next term and the proposal that schools administer Rapid Flow Testing. You will be aware that this proposal affects Secondary Schools only in the first instance.
Following that meeting, I can confirm that there is no suggestion that the use of these tests in Primary Schools is imminent and, if it does occur in the future, it will only be after extensive planning and training and will be based on parent consent. Please try not to concern yourself with this announcement.
I can also confirm that pupils will return to Penshurst Primary school at the usual staggered time on Tuesday 5 January 2021.
This will be our final communication of the school year and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all of the support you have shown to Mrs Spencer and her team during a most difficult term. The kind words and encouragement are appreciated more than you could ever imagine.
And finally, I wish you and your family the very Merriest of Christmases and a safe and healthy New Year.
Mr V Groak, Headteacher
Well we have made it to the end of a very busy, if slightly different, term. The children have adapted so well to the ‘new normal’ and have really done us proud this term. It was with sadness that we had to isolate the Year 1 bubble in the last week due to a positive case and we thank you all for your support. I would like to say a huge thank you for supporting us to keep the school open; the staggered starts and collections, social distancing and wearing of masks have all contributed to making our school site as safe as we can make it. All of the current arrangements will carry on into the new term as it appears that we are not rushing back to normality quite yet!
The last week of the Christmas term is always brilliant as we get to watch the excitement building and take part in so many festive activities with all of the children. EYFS children have enjoyed a special Christmas online storytime, Year 2 enjoyed a Polar Express day and Y3-6 enjoyed watching our online pantomime that was streamed into the classrooms. What's Christmas without a pantomime eh? Even Santa made an appearance via modern technology to say hello to all the girls and boys. It is interesting that Santa bore an unusual resemblance to a certain member of staff!
Throughout the week the children have enjoyed Christmas themed Maths, Reading and Writing and have also taken part in a myriad of Christmas crafts and baking. We have also learnt about the meaning of Christmas for people around the world and discussed what Christmas means to our families.
We hope you enjoy our Christmas mashup which is posted on Google Classroom and Tapestry as the children enjoyed performing ; let's hope that next year we can return to belting out all of our favourite Christmas tunes. Please do not share this video on any social media platform or upload to the internet.
Mrs Kay and Mr Alston have delivered 78 food hampers this week to our community and I thank all parents and staff who contributed to these.
Please have a safe and peaceful Christmas and really enjoy your time off together. We will see you all bright and early on Tuesday 5th January.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Mrs J Spencer,Head of School
WEEK 13 - Friday 11 December 2020
The number of pupils in any school is limited by its published Pupil Admission Number (PAN). This is based on a combination of the school’s capacity in terms of buildings and staffing as well as the annual demand for spaces.
The PAN at Penshurst for some years has been 70 pupils. This means that we accept up to 70 pupils into our reception each year, forming two teaching groups. As these groups have passed through the school, the number on roll has grown which has put strain on the capacity of the school. It also means that, in order to accommodate these pupils within our existing accommodation, group sizes have remained large, up to 35 in many cases. We do not believe this to be sustainable from either a financial or educational perspective.
To that end, we have embarked on a statutory consultation period to reduce our PAN from 70 to 60 with effect from the academic year 2022-23. If you would like to hear more about this change and to make your views known, please visit our website here for more information.
Mr V Groak, Headteacher
It has been lovely this week to have a really good look at all of the children’s work across the subjects. After our challenge week we always monitor the work in books to add to our final teacher assessments to ensure that these are as robust as possible. Progress reports will come home with your child on the final day of term. We will also post the Pupil of the Term video on Google Classroom in the final week. Just a quick reminder that all messages / emails to teachers must be sent to email@example.com and not to individual teachers emails please.
We have done a considerable amount of catch up work this term making sure that any missed work from the previous year is covered and consolidated while moving on to new learning as well . It is impressive to see how well the children are moving forward and that standards in every year group are high.
The children have also enjoyed recording some Christmas scenes to send home to you all and the Christmas cards are flocking in ready to be given out in the last week .We have also received many baking entries and we will get the results to you next week.
The final week is going to be incredibly busy as learning continues right up until the last day (although the maths and literacy may be Christmas themed!) Our art and DT lessons will also have a Christmas focus and any crafts that are coming home will have only been touched by your child and quarantined in their own folder. On the last day we would normally have our parties where everyone brings in food to share. As this is not advisable, we have instead purchased an online pantomime for the children to enjoy on the last morning.
We will of course be having activities and games and Christmas crafts all week as well. The pick up time for the final Friday is 1.40 -2.00pm to maintain a staggered collection. It would be helpful if you could maintain the alphabet system as much as possible to ease congestion with A-L arriving in the first ten minutes and M-Z in the last 10 minutes.
A very big thank you for your contributions to the Penshurst food bank; we have been overwhelmed by the contributions from parents and plan to get the hampers out to people during the last week of term. We have even had new toys and books donated which will make the hampers even more special - thank you. Staff have donated money so we can purchase a few perishable goods just before they go out.
Christmas Jumper day has been really brilliant and the school has been full of colour and Christmas excitement. I did have to let many of the children know that we do have another week of school as many thought Christmas was this weekend!
Have a lovely weekend - see you all on Monday
Mrs J Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 12 - Friday 4 December 2020
One of the many advantages of Penshurst Primary belonging to a Multi-Academy Trust as part of the Hessle Academy through-school is the financial benefit of being able to negotiate savings on any number of things, particularly larger capital projects.
After a period of relative under-investment, we are now planning a number of projects that will benefit the pupils and staff at Penshurst. Last year, we were able to provide the nursery with a brand new toilet block extension as well as internal renovations and new flooring throughout all toilet areas. We also increased teaching space with a number of other internal projects that have made more efficient use of space.
The building of the new toilet block exposed just how tired some of our other facilities are and we are also hopefully to begin more renovation work in that area, replacing windows, soffits and facias to make the whole area spick and span for our youngest children.
The Penshurst buildings are old and repairs are inevitable. Last year, several thousand pounds were spent on repairing the dining hall roof. However, this is not sustainable and we are preparing a bid to our Trust for the funds to replace the entire roof. This is not guaranteed but this is a priority project and we hope to be successful. If not this year, then before too long.
You may have also noticed an overhaul of our reception area in recent months as we have tried to declutter and streamline the site, bringing our vision and values statements to the fore at the same time. Similar work has taken place in offices and will soon follow in the main hall as we seek to provide a learning environment that looks smart and inspiring for everyone that uses it.
We firmly believe that all of our children and staff deserve the very best of everything and that includes their learning environment and we are delighted that these improvements are being delivered as a consequence of our academy trust membership.
Mr V Groak, Headteacher
First of all, a big thank you for remembering all of the Christmas dress up dates for our Christmas video; for those of you with multiple siblings, I'm sure this has been a challenge in itself. It is the first Christmas at school that has not involved singing which makes me really sad but we fully intend to return with a bang next year! The answer to no singing is….signing. The children have become excellent in their sign language and lip syncing skills.
The amended collection system has worked really well and has made this part of the day much more staggered and therefore safer for all-thank you. I am extremely proud of our community for how we have all come together to ensure the site is as safe as it can be and once again the staff have asked me to pass on their thanks for wearing masks, contacting them via phone/email and most of all for your kind words of support which we receive daily from individuals. The children have taken all of the COVID related procedures in their stride and I have been impressed by how understanding they are of the restrictions in school such as seating plans.
Christmas Jumper day (Friday 11 December) is causing great excitement and may I remind you that you can give a donation for Save the Children or a donation to the food bank if you wish . We will have the trolleys out on the playground as we did for our last charity day. It is optional to wear the Christmas jumper and if you do not have one please don’t panic and buy one, a bright coloured top or just a piece of tinsel will do! Christmas cards will be given out in the last week and the final afternoon will be a general staggered collection from 1.40 - 2.00pm. Class lists for Christmas cards (first names only) are available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are receiving quite a few baking competition entries through to the office and I have to admit I've had a quick look and we clearly have some excellent bakers in our community; I am only sad that I cannot taste them all as I feel I am eminently qualified for the role of cake taster. Our House Captains will be judging the entries and the winners will receive a small prize.
We have also been busy doing our end of term tests with children (which we call ‘challenges’ not tests!) and all year groups have made great progress since September. I have been particularly impressed with our younger children and the standard of their writing. It is always such a joy to look at the writing across the school and see how the children progress; all children wrote an adventure story in ‘Challenge’ week and it is fascinating to see how their understanding of vocabulary and writing structures builds every year.
Enjoy your weekend
Mrs J Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 11 - Friday 27 November 2020
As you will know we continue to make minor adjustments to our collection procedures. Thank you for taking this new guidance on staggered collection on board so quickly and it has already made a big difference to the congestion on site. Please remember that if you have a child in Year 1 or 2 and wish to collect from the classroom, you can enter via the Penshurst entrance and collect them from inside. Please let us know if you intend to change the entrance that you use so that we can have your children in the right place.
My concern is as always that we keep all members of our community as safe as possible and so I would ask again that you keep your children by your side as you enter and exit to avoid them crossing over with other year groups. We are so vigilant during the day to avoid bubbles mixing and just need to make sure that this follows through on the way in and out of school. Please do not think staff are rude if they remind you of the rules about social distancing while on site as they are merely ensuring the safety of all.
Keeping the bubbles apart in school is a full time job and we use every inch of the site to do so. Some bubbles (particularly Year 2 and 6) use the field and grassed areas at break. This can of course get quite muddy so please feel free to bring in spare shoes or wellies for them to change into if you want to avoid the dipped in mud look! We will assess this situation as the weeks go on and move to the playgrounds if required. Having witnessed Year 6 football (which appears to mainly consist of rolling around on the floor) they may wish to wear tracksuit bottoms over their school trousers as well.
It was lovely to see the children dressed in their civvies for Children In Need Day and we have raised a fair amount of money (we will let you know the exact amount when we bank it!) It is so nice to have these normal activities happening at this time and I very much look forward to Christmas jumper day on Friday 11 December. Remember if you don't have a Christmas jumper, you can wear a brightly coloured top or just a bit of tinsel. The Christmas trees went up in the halls this week and it is starting to feel very jolly indeed.
From Monday until 11 December we will have boxes on the playground and by classroom doors for children to drop Christmas cards in for children in their year group should they wish. These will then be quarantined and handed out in the last week.
Thank you for all of the donations that you have made to the food bank. It really will help some families this Christmas and your generosity has been overwhelming. The trolleys will remain out for another 2 weeks for collections.
Christmas arrangements summary:
Friday 11 December Christmas Jumper day (donation for food bank)
Friday 11 December deadline for Christmas cards to be quarantined
Friday 11 December deadline for photos of Christmas cakes etc to be sent to email@example.com
Wednesday 16 December Christmas dinner in school
Friday 18 December online pantomime in school as a Christmas present from all the staff
Friday 18 December break up for Christmas holiday at 1.45 - 2.00pm
Have a lovely weekend.
Mrs J Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 10 - Friday 20 November 2020
This week has been all about bringing back some more elements of normality to our school day (in a COVID secure way of course). Pablo's shop has made an appearance in classrooms so that children can see what they are saving their penguin pounds up for. It is really important that especially our youngest pupils can see what excellent behaviour and hard work brings about.
We have all been busy thinking of ideas to make Christmas week extra special this year and we already have online pantomimes booked and craft activities planned. The children will also be judging the staff Christmas cake competition and voting for their favourite. Unfortunately this will be on appearance alone as the cakes will not actually make it into school this year! Christmas jumper day is on December 11th and instead of a donation of money, we would appreciate an item for the food bank. We also plan to have a year group Christmas Bake off competition which you will be able to take part in at home should you wish to. The Christmas treats could be cookies, sweets, cakes, buns or anything else you feel like creating. Photos should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 11th and the entries will be judged by our Year 6 House Captains. Winners will receive a selection box and of course the title of "Star Baker".
Thank you for your continued support in keeping us safe on site by emailing or telephoning in messages for staff. If you have had to isolate during the last few weeks due to your own family situation or track and trace, work will have been provided on Google Classroom for your child. This work will match the classroom work as much as possible. As teachers are still in class teaching, work will be set including set resources and online links but will not include live lessons at this stage. You should email or phone the office if you are having any difficulty accessing any of the resources. It would be really helpful if your child could complete the work posted so that they do not fall behind the rest of the class. We appreciate that sometimes children have to share technology and that lessons may be completed at different times. We also appreciate that work may not be completed if your child were to fall ill.
If anyone in your household is taking a test, you must isolate and let us know straight away.
Please socially distance on site particularly when collecting from Y1, 2 and EYFS classrooms.
Of course this was also the week that we had to send a year 6 bubble home and we are all really sad to see this happen. When a whole year group is isolating, our blended home learning policy comes into effect where children will access a range of live and recorded teaching sessions plus online links and set work. We expect all children to participate in these lessons.
I hope you have a lovely weekend-see you all bright and early on Monday morning.
Mrs J Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 9 - Friday 13 November 2020
Another week closer to Christmas!
I saw my first Christmas Tree on the streets of Hessle this morning and the children have begun to discuss Christmas in their morning circles. Penshurst has already started to practice for our Christmas activities which although very different this year will still be a big celebration in year group bubbles. We hope to be able to share snippets with you all via Google Classroom so you can share in our celebrations. Please ensure you have completed the Google form giving permission for your child to be involved in the filming.
I would like to extend mine and my staffs thanks once again for your help when on site. The one way system is still working really well and I thank you for not approaching staff unless absolutely necessary. My staff would like me to say thank you to all of you who are wearing a mask on site as it really does show your support for the school and for everyone's safety.
I would now like to take you on the tour of the school that I took on Tuesday afternoon as it truly was a wonderful afternoon of thematic learning at its best....
First stop FS1 where the children were busy acting out the 3 Little Pigs fairytale. A group of children were absorbed in building the houses out of different materials and using a fan to see which building would collapse. Early scientists and architects in the making!
Into FS2 and there were squeals of excitement as the children examined the beans that they are growing which are just beginning to show. This activity was accompanied by many retellings of Jack and the Beanstalk and there is even a giant pair of legs hanging from the ceiling.
Along the corridor to watch Year 1 pupils making their very own fossils from salt dough and clay. It was certainly messy but the children had an amazing understanding of how fossils are formed and were very knowledgeable about Mary Anning and the work she did. One child very kindly offered to help me understand how fossils are made if I was a little unsure!
The smell of biscuits was very strong as I entered Year 2 territory to find the pupils completely immersed in building replicas of Stonehenge out of said biscuits. Fortunately the children were very well behaved and very few biscuits disappeared into mouths before the replicas were completed. The children could tell me how old the site was and kindly told me that this was even before I was born.
A slightly more pungent smell was evident as I made my way into Year 3 where I found Mr Oni and Mr Thorpe dissecting fish and Octopus to teach the pupils the difference between invertebrates and vertebrates. It was certainly a very smelly lesson accompanied by holding of noses and humorous groans; however each child could tell me all about skeletal systems by the end of the lesson so job done teachers!
It seems that the smelly aspect of the tour was to continue as Year 4 were delving into the topic of tooth decay and investigating this using different liquids and eggs to see which would cause decay quicker. I am looking forward to returning to Year 4 to find out the result of their investigations and I have been put off drinking Pepsi for life.
Year 5 were also scientists and were studying air resistance by creating paper versions of a sycamore seed to see how surface area affects air resistance. The children were extremely adept at explaining the investigation and I was really impressed with their scientific vocabulary and understanding of what constitutes a fair test.
Finally a stop in Year 6. A taste sensation was taking place in these classrooms as the children sampled food that was available during WW2. Mrs Hatfield had been busy cooking up a storm at home and the children were able to taste 6 different dishes that would have been popular. Harriet informed me that,' actually some of it wasn't too bad but the carrot jam was absolutely disgusting!' Apparently vinegar cake is bearable but sweet potato chocolate spread is nowhere as good as Nutella.
I hope that has given you a taste of an afternoon at Penshurst and the variety of activities that take place just in one afternoon.
Have a very happy, safe weekend. I know it's a rainy one but on your daily exercise don the wellies and jump in a few puddles - it's good for the soul!
Mrs J Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 8 - Friday 6 November 2020
As Headteacher of The Hessle Academy, my role is to lead the day-to-day running, and the strategic direction, of Hessle High School and Sixth Form College and Penshurst Primary School. I am supported by a Senior Leadership Team which includes a Head of School at Penshurst Primary School. Ultimately, we are accountable to our local community and to you, as parents.
The role of School Governors is crucial in this regard and we are held to account by them throughout the year via five Local Governor Board (LGB) meetings. At these meetings, they scrutinise our activities, ask questions of us and bring their own reflections and experiences, often developed in different sectors.
Currently, we have a vacancy for a Parent Governor at both of our local governing boards: Penshurst Primary School and Hessle High School. We are looking for parents who:
- can commit to attending five meetings a year
- can read and digest reports prior to these meetings
- have a keen eye for detail
- will be ready to challenge the school's Leadership Team
- are enthusiastic about making a difference to the lives of our young people
If this sounds like something that would interest you, please contact Gilly Stafford, Clerk, on email@example.com for more information.
Mr V Groak, Headteacher
What a lovely first week back it has been. The children have been exceptionally well behaved and engaged in their learning and there is a real buzz in school with so many exciting activities happening in the classroom. Year 4 had a particularly good start to the term in their Egyptian outfits and I'm sure will really enjoy this topic. Year 6 also enjoyed their theme hook watching the film 'Dunkirk'.
We do have some children isolating at the moment and if this is a situation you find yourself in this half term, you will find online learning available on Google Classroom. Teachers will put work on the platform as soon as possible after they have been informed of a child's isolation.
Towards the end of half term, we were kindly donated some bags from Morrisons for families in need who are eligible for free school meals. These have now made their way to school and we will be distributing these over this week. The arrival of the bags prompted many of the staff to suggest that we collect food/treats over the next half term so that we can make up our own bags for the Christmas period which we will distribute to families on free school meals or those who may need an extra hand over the Christmas break. This is a very real issue at the moment and we would like to do all we can to help. To this end, we will be placing containers at the Winthorpe and Penshurst gates from Monday 9 November for any donations. The donations will be quarantined every weekend, disinfected and stored until Christmas week. Donations need to be non perishable and have a best before date after December. Suggestions for the bags: rice, pasta, tins, cereal, jam, long life products and maybe even some festive treats. We are hoping we will be able to make up about 150 bags over the next 7 weeks and any donations would be welcomed, due to the current rules around not bringing objects into school, we do ask that any donations go into the containers at the gates and not to individual staff /classrooms.
Thank you so much for wearing masks when on site - it is much appreciated that you are supporting us to do everything to keep the school open and I know that the staff are really grateful for your efforts . Hopefully the staggered starts, social distancing and masks will go some way towards keeping us all safe.
Just a reminder that you should now only have your own household picking up your child or the household that are your childcare bubble.
Have a safe weekend and see you all on Monday.
Mrs J Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 7 - Friday 23 October 2020
At the end of a half-term that has felt like an entire school year, I would like to take the opportunity to celebrate the achievements that the entire Penshurst community have shown since we returned in early September.
Firstly, Penshurst has stayed open for all pupils. I know that, through absolutely no fault of their own, many schools have sadly been forced to ask pupils to stay home and we are never complacent about our own chances of staying open all year but we are still delighted that we have kept learning going for the past seven weeks. This has taken a huge toll on the staff who are exhausted. When asked what their plans are for the next week, they generally say, “nothing. Sleeping.” They have earned their rest and will come back, refreshed, to do it all over again in ten days time.
Which brings me to the pupils. Sadly, I have not been able to visit Penshurst as much this half term in order to keep staffing bubbles intact. However, Mrs Spencer has kept me fully informed about the way in which the pupils have responded to the changes to our school. They have shown such resilience and maturity beyond their years and we are incredibly proud of them.
At these times, it is more important than ever that we keep our communication channels open and that you are able to receive messages from us at all times. Our use of instant messaging and email is invaluable. Please always remember to update us if you change your telephone number or email address. Please also remind friends who also have children at our school to do the same. Remember that, if you use the Parent App to receive messages, then you must switch on your notifications to receive our communications.
Finally, when we send you a message, you will not be able to reply to it. If you wish to contact the school, please always use the firstname.lastname@example.org address.
I am incredibly proud that we have been able to provide unbroken education for your child these past seven weeks. I thank you for your support and hope that you and your family enjoy a lovely half term together.
Take care and stay safe
Mr V Groak, Headteacher
I hope you are enjoying the beginning of your half term and that the children are taking a well-deserved break. Teachers have been busy in school today working on our development plan for the year and organising our curriculum priorities for each year group. It has been a pleasure to see all of the children back in school learning about their year group themes and enjoying being back with their friends. I have watched lessons on the Hull Trawlers, famous illustrators, Barnum, diversity, land use, couture fashion, consumer choice, Peter Rabbit, people who help us and civil rights to name just a few and it has been fascinating to watch our children debate first world problems, extend their knowledge and learn new skills.
We have reached the halfway point of this term unscathed and I thank you all for your help in keeping our school safe. Fortunately, the weather has also been on our side over the last few weeks and we've not encountered the normal 'Hull Fair' bitterness; however, the rain is sure to descend upon us after half term and I would like to remind you of arrangements for collection at the end of the day. Currently, we run a 20-minute collection window from 3-3.20 and over the past 7 weeks this has become a much quicker process with nearly all children picked up by 3.10. Therefore, after half term we will narrow the collection window from 3.00-3.15 to shorten the time children are outside. We reserve the right to lengthen the stagger if the site is too busy. Please remember that if you have children in Year 1 and 2 and want to pick them up from their classroom, you must use the Penshurst Avenue entrance.
A couple of housekeeping bits... There has been a slight increase to school lunch prices of 15p which will make meals £2.25 per day after half term. Children should still bring as little as possible into school as we are so limited in space in the classrooms due to the way we have to position tables and chairs at the moment. Children should bring their PE kit on a Monday and take it home on a Friday and should bring a water bottle every day (bottles should only contain water).
Thank you for your cooperation regarding Parents Evening appointments which appear to have run very smoothly. Teachers have commented on how easy the system was and how lovely it was to talk to every parent about how their child has settled back into school. Many of you have started to ask about Christmas arrangements and all I can say at the moment is that we are working on how we can still do all of our lovely Christmas activities safely. It may be that we will be recording productions and asking for permission for your child to take part so we can share these special moments with you. Rest assured that Christmas will certainly happen at Penshurst! The good news is that PHE have now said it is safe for children in Early Years and KS1 to sing again as long as they are following social distancing rules and facing forwards. Singing is so important for young children so this is much welcomed at Penshurst and means we can sing all of our phonics and times table songs again! Some of you also asked about SAT's and at the moment we have been told that Y2/6 SATs and Y1/2 phonics screening will go ahead as normal beginning with Year 2 phonics in November as they missed the June screening. We will of course let you know if we receive revised guidance.
All that remains for me to say is, have a lovely half term and I look forward to seeing you all again in a week's time.
Mrs J Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 6 - Friday 16 October 2020
Well it's Friday and once again I have no idea where the week has gone! I have been fortunate to watch many super lessons this week and have especially enjoyed watching Year 1 learn their sounds in their Read Write Inc. lessons. It is amazing to see how far the children have already come in their reading in just six weeks.
It has also been a pleasure to talk to the children about their lead texts in their theme lessons. The children were so incredibly knowledgeable about their novels and were obviously hooked by the stories. In Year 6, the text 'Wild Boy' seems to have been particularly engaging and I have enjoyed talking about the writer's intent and vision with the children.
When talking to the Y2 children, I'm afraid we didn't do much delving into their learning as the main topic of conversation appears to be missing teeth at the moment! I was reliably informed that, 'its ok to lose your teeth once as they will grow back .If you lose them again the tooth fairy will be cross as she is busy and you will just have to do without teeth for ever and ever and ever.'
Transitions in and out of school are still smooth despite the downturn in the weather and we hope that we will not have to make too many amendments to collection arrangements. Please remember if you have a child in Years 1 or 2, you may wish to swap to the Penshurst entrance to pick them up as you can therefore collect them from their classrooms instead of the KS1 playground which avoids the youngest children standing out in the wet weather.
On this note, please can I ask you to be vigilant when parking near the school. At the Penshurst Avenue entrance there should be no parking in front of the school gates or on the zig zags on the road. I have received a number of complaints from parents and residents regarding the parking on Penshurst Avenue and I am concerned that I have seen some very dangerous parking on corners and pavements. While I appreciate that many of you need to get to work, it would be fantastic if more of you could park away from school and walk to the gates or indeed if you live in the surrounding streets, to walk to school. I know many parents have informed the council and PCSOs of the problem and ticketing did begin on the Winthorpe Road side of school last week. Thank you to those who are helping by not parking in the bays near school at the Winthorpe entrance; this has made this side of school a lot safer for the children coming in and out of school.
On the KS1 playground we have made a minor adjustment in moving the year groups around so that the older year groups are now nearer the gates as many walk home on their own. Just keep an eye out when you collect as you may need to wait in a different area of the playground.
The colder weather has seen the return of gloves and scarves; you may wish to consider the old fashioned approach of putting the gloves on elastic to avoid them going missing. I'm pretty sure children eat gloves at this school as we seem to be constantly searching for lost woollen items!
Have a lovely weekend
Mrs J Spencer, Head of School
WEEK 5 - Friday 9 October 2020
Next week marks the beginning of our Parent Evening appointments which last over the last two weeks of half term. Similarly to our normal Parent Evenings, appointments will be limited to five minutes and are intended to be a quick catch up on how your child is doing in school and any areas of concern or celebrations that either teacher or parent would like to discuss. If there are issues that need further discussion, the teacher will book you in for another phone call.
Please bear with us regarding swapping home reading books as we are limited to how many we have in school. We are having to isolate books each week before giving them back out again - that's 500 reading books in isolation each week! If you find yourself without a home reading book for a day, please use Reading Eggs to access a book or in turn, read recipes, newspapers, magazines etc. Any reading is beneficial.
'Pupil of the Week' certificates will be coming home from now on as they are laminated, quarantined and disinfected. We are still trying to use online forums for all of our communication and it will be very rare when any paper makes its way home.
Behaviour in school has been very good on the whole and children have settled in well. We are just having to remind a couple of year groups about the importance of walking safely back and forth to the dining hall. We will practise this with these year groups to ensure all procedures are being followed correctly.
As the weather turns, please ensure your child brings a coat every day and that they have an outdoor PE kit with them. We will try to take the children outside for PE as much as possible. With movement in class being limited at the moment, due to forward facing desks and limited sharing, it is really essential that the children get as much time as possible outside at lunch and break to run around.
I would like to finish by saying how very proud I am of the children who, in these challenging and different times, have adjusted so well. As I walk the corridors, I see engaged and happy children, learning and laughing. They are a credit to this school and yourselves. Now that the controversial jacket potato has made a return, the only thing missing is the singing. Let's hope that also makes a triumphant return very soon!
Have a lovely weekend
Mrs J Spencer, Head of School