Monday, 24 April 2017
Welcome back and updates
Whilst the school seeks to communicate information via the school website and text messaging service, there have been several changes and updates which require immediate attention and are changes to the planned school year. Hence the paper version issued below.
Access to school via the main door
You may have noticed that the main door to the school has had the original wooden door reinstated. Whilst this is an irritation, it has been necessary as a result of a safeguarding concern I raised with Derby City Council and the installation team.
A long-term solution has been identified; however, for the time being the old system requiring parents to pull the handle, will be in place. Apologies for any inconvenience, particularly those with push chairs!
Early years outdoor area development (Reception/EYFS children only)
This week, the early years outdoor area is being improved with additional equipment and an artificial grass area. This is an exciting development for all and one that will greatly enhance the children’s learning and play experience.
Whilst this is being installed, the children will play in a different area and there will be a need for parents to collect and drop off their children on the main playground. This is temporary and should last no longer than this week. Whilst it would have been ideal to have the installation take place during a school holiday, this was not possible and in order to do this we would have been required to wait until the Summer Break. I chose to get this installed as soon as possible so that the current EYFS children can benefit from the improvements.
Your cooperation is appreciated.
Last term, I gave notice that the school uniform policy will be enforced with greater vigour this term, owing to a lapse by some parents and carers who were choosing not to follow policy. I remind parents and carers again that the School Uniform Policy is available on the school website, and agreeing to a child attending the school on admission is an agreement to adhere to school policies. Under Department for Education guidance, Headteachers can call parents to school to address non compliance and send children home, where necessary, to rectify uniform matters. Reasonable notice has already been given and the policy will be followed.
Parent and carer questionnaires
Parents and carers were given the opportunity to complete a governor questionnaire during parent consolation evenings. If you did not attend, and would like to complete a questionnaire, copies are available on the school website and from the school office/reception area.
The outcome of the questionnaires, comments and actions, will be forwarded during this half term, once the appropriate governor has completed the analysis.
I would like to thank all those who took time to return their questionnaires; the return was our highest to date. Overall feedback for parents during the parent consultations was very positive, however, we are not complacent and will seek to address any matters raised in the questionnaires.
School finance – The national picture and the impact on our school
Many of you will be well aware that school budgets and finance has been high on the political agenda over recent weeks, and this has been a focus of press reports and speculation.
It is true that school finances have been greatly squeezed. Whilst it has been announced by the government that spending on schools has ‘never been higher’, this does not reflect the additional costs placed on schools for a wide range of services, changes in responsibilities and escalation to costs, including National Insurance, the living wage and other such policy changes.
- have been required to make significant cuts ourselves, although I am delighted to inform you that there are no current plans to reduce contracted staff hours at our school, and the same staffing levels agreed by governors last year, are planned for this year. are not planning any reduction in school opening hours, curriculum lessons or other such widely reported steps. Other schools may not be so fortunate.
Whilst there will be reductions in the use of some supply agency support staff, these are not contracted hours and have always been ‘additional’ and not part of the staffing structure. No doubt, we will have to apply some ‘efficiencies’ as the budgets shrink further; however, Governors, School Business Manager and senior leaders have worked hard to maintain a realistic and sustainable structure for the school over the last two years. In such a changing political and financial climate, no Headteacher can guarantee that their school will not have to dig deep and make some difficult choices, I can however say that for the time being at least, our position is a positive one.
INSET (Published in Autumn Term)– A reminder that the following dates are set aside for In Service Educational Training days (INSET).
-Tuesday May 2nd (Following the bank holiday Monday): Training focussing on improving children’s reading and comprehension skills.
-Monday 3rd July and Tuesday 4th July: Training focussed on supporting children with autism and evaluation, amendments and planning for the Lancashire Grid for Learning.
UK Parliamentary Election on Thursday 8 June
Ashgate Primary School has been selected as a ward Polling Station for the General Election and therefore will be closed to pupils on this date. This is a result of the ‘snap election’ announcement and had not been planned. As the school will be open to the general public, pupils will not be allowed on the premises. School staff will be in attendance.
YEAR 1 SCHOOL TRIP ON THIS DATE will be able to go ahead as they will be off-site. Year 1 pupils will meet in the Early Years outdoor learning area. Further details will follow.
Use of the school as a polling station. Councils elect specified buildings as ward polling stations during elections. Traditionally, schools are used and Ashgate Primary School has historically been the nominated polling station for the ward. Governors have raised this in the past and I will be consulting the appropriate authorities to see if alternative venues can be used in future elections, including local and by-elections. I am aware that the use of the school is inconvenient to many. I will do all I can to address this.
Parent and carers on the playground
All adults are reminded that I do not take lightly incidents where parents confront children or other adults on the playground.
- If an adult has concerns about out of school matters, this should be discussed off school site with the relevant parents not on my playground, and certainly not with a child in isolation. Such acts may be deemed as intimidation.
- If an adult has concerns about an incident at school, this should be raised with the class teacher, who may refer it to me or another member of the school leadership team.
The Headteacher, under Section 547 of the Education Act, gives parents access to the school grounds as a ‘perceived right’, which can be withdrawn for ‘unreasonable behaviour’. Parents are respectfully reminded that their conduct influences that of children and only the highest standards are expected of pupils and parents alike.
We look forward to working hard with the children in the coming term, and thank you all for your on-going support.