I am sure that it is probably too late to wish you all a Happy New Year given that it is the 15th of January, but as this is the first newsletter of 2022 I hope that it is still okay. Obviously, I have written to you a few times in the last week but all of those messages have been about Covid so I thought we would start the New Year on a happy note.
I’ve spent my entire working life in education, so I cannot compare it with other types of work. I know that when you speak to people who work in primary schools they will tell you that one of the things they enjoy most is that no two days are the same. To succeed in a primary school you have to be flexible and willing to adapt when plans change at short notice. These skills have proven to be invaluable in schools at the moment when government guidance can sometimes change even during the day. I never quite imagined that as a headteacher part of each morning would be spent checking the number of Covid cases with office staff and thinking about whether this affects what we can do as a school. I’ve always marvelled at and been incredibly proud of the team spirit which exists at Orton Wistow Primary School. Whenever we are thrown a curveball, staff think of creative ways of solving the problem. This week, when we have had over 20 children and six staff off school with Covid, the generosity of staff has allowed us to cover these absences seamlessly. Once more I’d like to thank staff and parents for being so supportive and for helping us navigate the choppy waters of Covid.
I am really missing seeing the children in assembly. Whenever I see their happy smiling faces at home time or when I will walk through the school, I am always struck by how lovely their manners are and how lucky we are to have such wonderful children at school. I look forward to when we can all come together once more as a school community. We use assemblies as an opportunity to introduce the children to different cultures, faiths, beliefs, issues and topics that they may find interesting or even challenging. This week alone we have had assemblies that have looked at maintaining a healthy diet, acts of kindness through our Five Ways of Wellbeing, using meditation as a way of taking notice, the challenges of peer pressure and world religion day. Through our assemblies, we also celebrate the children's successes and use our Time to Think Thursdays as a way of exploring the topic at an appropriate level for the children in our class.
I’m sure that the children sometimes come home and tell you about what we have done in assembly. I know of at least one family who had their fridge raided this week as the children checked the labels after my healthy eating assembly! However, I imagine that most children don’t tell you about what we’ve covered and I’m keen for us to develop this part of the website. In the next couple of weeks, we will create a Collective Worship area on the website where we will outline our approach to this important part of the day as well as letting you know what themes we have already covered this year and what is still to come.
I am sure that the next few weeks will be just as uncertain as the first eight days of this term. Thankfully I know that Team Wistow will be as resilient as ever and that we will persevere no matter what challenges we face.
On 6th January, Year Six visited Alwalton Church to learn about our local history during World War One. We learnt about how significant the war had been on the local population and the impact of that on World War Two. We listened to the vicar, Sarah Gower, who told us about the history of the church and remembered those who had died for our freedom.
OWN Trust Training Day
By Mr Eardley, Head Teacher
The vision for the OWN Trust is that we create Opportunities to Work together and to Nurture talent. When creating the Trust, we knew from the outset that we want to create opportunities for staff across the schools to work together. Since 2019, we have created peer groups across the Trust and the opportunity to come together at joint training days has been an integral part of this.
On Tuesday, the 4th of January 2022. I led training for teachers and leaders across the Trust. The focus of this training was our ongoing work to align policy and practice around curriculum development and improvement. Part of this work has involved looking at the neuroscience research around how children learn and what we as teachers need to consider when developing a curriculum as well as our pedagogical approaches. As a Lead Inspector for Ofsted, I am also keen that leaders across the Trust are confident in their own abilities to articulate their school's vision and approach to the curriculum if and when they are inspected.
During this training event, teachers and leaders learnt more about the science of learning and the priorities we must have when designing and defining our curriculum. There was the opportunity for each leader to talk to, interview and build relationships with their peers at the other schools. We see ourselves as one organisation based on different sites. We know that there is a great deal of expertise and talent across all of the schools within the Trust and that by fostering and developing closer links between staff across the trust, we can ensure the highest quality of education is provided for children at the OWN Trust.
There will be additional training for staff in the coming terms to develop this area further, and we are confident that the new relationships that have been created between groups of colleagues will continue to grow and develop, going from strength to strength.
At Orton Wistow Primary School we are always looking for ways to extend and improve the learning experience for all our pupils. That’s why we are now using CENTURY – a ground-breaking online learning platform - with Years 3, 4, 5 and 6.
What is CENTURY?
CENTURY is an online learning tool for students. It combines artificial intelligence with the latest research in learning science and neuroscience.
The platform identifies every student’s strengths, gaps in knowledge and misconceptions. Students can log in and complete work that has been suggested for them by the advanced recommendation engine, or work that has been set by teachers.
It allows students to take control of their own learning and for teachers to get real-time data on progress, allowing them to quickly identify which students need support or additional challenge.
What does this mean for my child’s learning?
CENTURY will complement existing teaching methods. As well as using CENTURY in the classroom, teachers will use it to set homework.
Students are able to access CENTURY at anytime and anywhere. It is available to them in school and also at home. All they need to do is visit the CENTURY website and enter their unique login details. Some children in school already have their login details and have used CENTURY. Please ask them about it. Other classes are planning to introduce it to the pupils in the coming weeks.
The platform can be accessed from tablets and laptops on up-to-date versions of most common browsers. The best browsers are Chrome on PCs and Android devices and Safari on iPads. It is not currently optimised for use on mobile phones.
One of the many benefits of CENTURY, is the Guardian Portal feature. The portal provides parents and guardians access into CENTURY, so you can see what homework your child has been set, when it’s due and how they’ve performed.
We will send out further information about this later this term. Teachers will focus on how to make the best use of this platform in class and for homework to begin with.
What does this mean for my child’s personal data?
CENTURY is fully compliant with all relevant data protection legislation, including GDPR and has processes in place to ensure data is secure.
How do I find out more?
If you have any questions about CENTURY, please visit CENTURY’s website www.century.tech or email CENTURY at email@example.com. There is also some additional information and a downloadable copy of the letter which both of which are available here.
FOWS Fundraising with STIKINS
The Friends of Orton Wistow have recently signed up to STIKINS Name Labels as a way to fundraise for the school. If you purchase some name labels from STIKINS, then the school will raise some money via commission on your purchase.
Here is what STIKINS says about the initiative:
“It's that time of year where hats, scarves and gloves are needed at school - but seem to go missing as soon as they're worn! If you need some new name labels for your child's belongings, consider using https://www.stikins.co.uk/name-labels/ and if you use the fundraising number 36254 FOWS get commission on your purchase. It's another easy way to support the school, and of course gives your child more chance of coming out of the gate with everything they had when they went in!! “
Here is some more information about how to get involved:
For a downloadable version of the information, please click here.
Thank you for your support.
It is always sad to say goodbye to a colleague and friend. Sarah Gash, one of our Teaching Assistants, will be leaving us at the end of January as she has been successful in securing a role with more hours at another local school. We wish Sarah every success as she makes this move. This week, we appointed Hannah Wild to take on Sarah‘s role. We look forward to welcoming Hannah to the Wistow family later this month.
We would also like to welcome Mrs Owen, a Teach East Trainee who is joining the Giraffes this half term.
Outside the School Gates
Please can we request that parents disperse from the school gates after you have dropped your child off at school. This will help with social distancing and ensure that the school entrances are not crowded.
Next week's delicious menu includes Sausage and Bean Pie, Beef Lasagne, Bakewell Tart and Custard, Carrot Cake, and much more! Thursday 20th January is Census Day which means a slight change to the advertised menu. You can read more about the Census Day menu here.
Happy New Year! The perfect time to make empty promises to ourselves about the things we will or won’t do this year…certainly something I’ve been guilty of, as I’m sure you can identify! The problem with New Year’s Resolutions seems to be that they are always big sweeping statements such as “this year I will get fit” or “this year I will stop buying things I don’t need” or “this year I will do more for the environment” - and inevitably when the second week of January comes around, it’s grey, it’s boring, the year stretches before you like a black hole: and suddenly the benefit of keeping those big resolutions is harder to see, so we give up on them. (If you’ve ever made it past Jan with a resolution, I salute you).
My sister isn’t the biggest reader, and last year she resolved to read at least one book a month. She borrowed a bunch from my shelves and got to December having read five books. She immediately focused on all the ways and reasons she had ‘failed’, but didn’t see that she had spent more time reading than the year before, or the positive ways that had benefited her. Studies show that just 30 minutes of reading a week positively impacts our health and wellbeing - that’s only 5 and a bit minutes a day! I know people who spend longer in the bathroom than that! Who amongst us doesn’t want greater confidence, or stronger self-esteem; better sleep and a greater ability to empathise with others?
If you find it tricky to commit to 'grown-up' books, why not read kids’ books? I took some of ours home over the summer last year and read about 20 (maybe I should’ve kept count across the year!), and actually some of them were my top books of the year. (Frankly I think grown-up literature could learn a lot from children's literature). Even picture books can be profoundly enriching, either in their humour or their powerful simplicity - just ask Mrs Ironside about the Paper Dolls! There are so many fantastic new children’s books available now, and I really urge you to dip your toe in and read some!
The point is, there is no right or wrong kind of book to read. If you or your children like jokes, read a joke book! If you’re into aerodynamics, read about stuff to do with aerodynamics! If you like dense historical fiction or romance or science fiction or toilet humour or sentimentality, there is a book for you. So this year, instead of setting a huge, unattainable resolution, why not just set 5 minutes aside a day to read? Even if that’s all you manage, by December 31st that’s 1825 minutes - more than 30 hours. And if you do ANYTHING for 30 hours, you’re going to notice a difference!
Mrs Campling’s Top Ten Children’s Books Read in 2021
10. The Last Wild Trilogy by Piers Torday
9. The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar
8. Glassheart by Katherine Orton
7. Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets by Alex T Smith
6. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beatty
5. The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice by AF Harrold & Mini Grey
4. I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt
3. The Chime Seekers by Ross Montgomery
2. The Storm Keeper’s Trilogy by Catherine Doyle
1. The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethel
What’s on in the Library?
This term we will be continuing with the Years 2 and 6 book clubs, which I’m very much looking forward to - having missed the last Y6 one due to illness I can’t wait to find out their final impressions of The Last Wild and hear their predictions for what comes next! We’ll either be continuing on with the series or choosing something new - so watch this space for what they decide!
Story Writing Club will also be starting up again with the rest of the clubs, if you’ve got a budding story writer who’s requested a place you should be hearing very soon whether they’ll be joining me! Typically, we spend the first few weeks doing some activities as a group around plot, character and ending a story, then I let them loose with their imaginations to create their own stories. We always have a lot of fun collaborating, and hearing individual ideas at the end of the term.
Regular class visits resume next week with years 6, 5, and FS (but don’t forget KS2 can change their books independently during the school day as well).
The library is still open after school until 3:30 if you would like to pop down, however, we are asking parents to wear masks and may need to limit numbers if lots of you turn up at once!
Here’s a reminder of the days for each year group:
Y1 & 2 - Tuesday
Y3 & 4 - Thursday
Y5 & 6 - Friday
Books that are coming out this year!
For my recommendations this month I’m highlighting some books that are coming out this year, in series or by authors we love.
Little People, Big Dreams; Marcus Rashford by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara - April
This series is HUGELY popular in the school library (and with my own children) and they are very good at responding to current events and people of interest, hence the impending biography of Marcus Rashford! I know this will barely see the shelf when we get this as we have so many children interested in real stories, in sportspeople, and in changing the world.
The Greatest Show on Earth by Mini Grey - April
Year 1 are huge fans of Mini Grey (as they rightly should be) and this upcoming non-fiction book is going to be a firm favourite! Narrated by an unruly troupe of insects, The Greatest Show tells the story of the ENTIRE HISTORY of Earth from the Big Bang to the present day.
The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson - March
The House with Chicken Legs and The Girl Who Speaks Bear are both very popular with years 5 & 6, and Thief seems likely to follow in their footsteps. It’s the story of a girl who lives on a divided island, who longs to be able to sing the magic required to bring the people together and save her father. Like Anderson’s earlier books, this covers themes of grief, belonging and identity in a beautiful and imaginative way. I’m looking forward to reading it myself!
For the rest of January, anyone using our wishlist can get 10% off their purchases by using the code WISHLIST
Disclaimer: Orton Wistow Primary School does not endorse any products, services or activities that appear in the Community section of this newsletter, and is not responsible for any contract entered into by either party. Given the current circumstances, we would recommend all parents check with any providers regarding the status of these services, activities and clubs
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