Wednesday 21st November 2018
A key element of being a school governor is to come in and observe the children as they are learning. It is the best way to understand the school, understand how the staff and children interact, to see how the children’s behaviour (which is generally excellent at EWPA) supports and encourages learning inside and outside the classroom.
This term I was fortunate to be involved with a visit by around forty Year 5 pupils to Bexley Grammar School. The children were there as part of their Spanish lessons, with senior pupils from the grammar school taking the role as teachers for the afternoon. After a short walk to the school, the EWPA children watched a short puppet show, all in Spanish, and were then asked questions about what they had seen and the Spanish words they recognised. While none of the children understood all the language used in the show, because it was a familiar story (Goldilocks and the Three Bears) they could follow it and were able to discuss what they had seen and heard. It was a great way for the children to learn that you do not need to understand all the words to be able to understand the message in a foreign language and I am sure it built their confidence in the Spanish they did know. I am sure the Bexley Grammar pupils also benefited from taking the role of teacher for the day.
After the show our children then had to create a passport for themselves, again using only Spanish, which was used to enter “Europa Town”, an area set up in the school to resemble a Spanish market with stalls “selling” clothes, food, and household items where the children could shop, speaking only in Spanish to the stallholders. Children received a stamp in their passports for each successful transaction they completed in Spanish and worked very hard to buy as many items as possible in the time they had. There was also ice cream and pastries that the children could buy and enjoy, also using their Spanish, and this proved very popular.
It was clear as we walked back to EWPA how much the children had enjoyed the excursion and I enjoyed being part of such an innovative learning experience with the children. Thank you to the pupils and staff of Bexley Grammar who made this such a successful event.
Chair of Governors
On Wednesday 3rd October I spent a very enjoyable morning visiting the EYFS provision. Firstly I was shown around all three reception classes and their outside area which is colourful, vibrant and has fantastic equipment and different areas for the children to enjoy and nurture their imagination.
Then I spent the rest of the morning in the nursery, which is also a lovely inviting, colourful and vibrant environment for the children with different areas in the classroom which include a book/reading corner, water play, role play, drawing and activities on the white board to name a few. After enjoying the various activities the children then sat on the carpet in a circle and were asked which numbers they’d been learning this week? Which were the numbers 1 and 2 and then asked the children what sound had they been learning (which was the sound of ‘F’)
Once all the children had been to the bathroom and washed their hands, two children helped to give out the drinks and snacks. After they had eaten their snacks and had a drink the children went out into the outside area. As with the outside area in the reception, there are different areas to nurture the children’s imaginations they even have a wonderful mud pie garden which seemed very popular with the children getting their hands covered in the mud - it looked like a lot of fun!
Another activity the children were offered was to practice writing the numbers 1 and 2 on the ground using paintbrushes and a bucket of water and to remind us how imaginative children are the bucket of water got knocked over which made a small puddle of water so then a couple of children got some toy cars and put them in the puddle then used the paintbrushes in the puddle and put the water over the toy cars and then said “we’ve made a car wash” which I thought was brilliant and a great example of how children have a wonderful imagination.
Seeing how the children interact with each other and the games they play and how happy they all were was lovely to see. When it was getting near to home time the children went back inside the classroom to sit on the carpet to listen to a story called ‘Lost and found’ a lovely story about a penguin, it’s brilliant to see how well the children behave and enjoy being at nursery. I look forward to my next visit where I’m hoping to spend some more time in reception and to see how the transition is from nursery to reception.
Yesterday myself and Brendan Hollyer were in school for the day, as the Trust carried out a visit looking at the areas of strength in our school and to offer guidance for any area that could be improved. There was a team of four from the Trust, all of whom are themselves experienced teachers and school leaders from local TKAT schools who bring great insight based on having visited many local TKAT schools. We spent the day going into classrooms to see the lessons, looking in the books to see the work the children are doing and how the teachers feed back about the work and speaking to the children to hear from them about their work and what they like about being in school and their learning.
We also had the opportunity to visit the Reception classes and see how the school has improved the outdoor area, ensuring the children have the opportunity to use the outdoor learning space effectively.
At the end of the day the team fed back to school leaders and then met with staff to share with them the key points they had seen and heard for themselves. They said how wonderful our children are and how they can achieve anything, so we must all make sure we keep challenging them, as they are so keen to do their very best.
The team will write up their report and the school will work on any aspects for improvement. As governors, Brendan and I have already set a date when we will come in and, using the report, we will check that the school has acted in these areas and see for ourselves the improvements.
Chair of Governors
Yesterday we spent a most informative morning with the Reception and Year 1 children, learning more about the Success for All scheme. Introduced this year, the scheme is having a very positive effect on the children’s reading and writing, with very many of them making significant progress in a short space of time. We saw the children engaged in creating a story, using imaginatively descriptive words as the story developed. The worked in pairs and small groups to share their ideas before sitting down and drawing up their own version of the tale. It was wonderful to see their enthusiasm and to hear about how well they are all doing. We will be visiting other year groups after half term.
Brendan Hollyer and Clair Harradine
This morning I was in school to observe the Year 6 SATs reading test. I saw Mrs Manzi, Mrs Moore and Mrs Whiley open the sealed box and I checked that all the packs inside were sealed. They then split them into the numbers required for each group and we took them to the classrooms and break-out rooms. I settled into a corner in one of the rooms and saw the calm way the instructions for the test were readout and the test started in a very timely manner. Throughout the test there was a studious air in the room and appropriate behaviour was observed throughout. At the end, all the papers and answer sheets were collected and taken to the control room, where all the names on the answer sheets were checked against the central register. When all answer sheets were seen to be present and correct, they were placed into the envelope provided and locked into the office cabinet, to be collected by officials in due course.
I must say it was a highly efficient operation from start to finish.
I wish the Year 6 pupils all the very best for the rest of their tests this week.
Vice Chair of Governors
This morning I watched a FAB-U-LOUS Year 3 production for Christmas, loosely based on the Strictly Come Dancing format. All the children had learned their lines perfectly and had brought their big voices for the show. The singing and dancing had parents and grandparents grooving in the aisles and the children obviously really enjoyed performing in front of family.
A big thank you to everybody for a highly entertaining time - I'm well in the Christmas mood now!
Vice Chair of Governors
I spent a lovely morning today, enjoying the Year 1 Christmas production, which this year was about a dispute between the cows and the donkeys about who controlled the stable in Bethlehem.
I won’t spoil the plot by saying anything more about it, but all the children did really well, reciting their lines, singing the songs and bringing the tale to life. There were angels, sheep, wise men, innkeepers and their wives, shepherds, judges, barristers and narrators galore! There were also golden stars to direct the wise men. But then again, ALL the children were stars! It was a wonderful show. Well done to everyone.
Spring had definitely sprung on the sunny morning of my visit to EWPA on Tuesday 12th April. I was there to find out more about the Maths Mastery curriculum in Year One with Mrs Payton’s class. What a pleasure to see all the students engaged in learning about the concept of measurement. When I arrived students were with their ‘talking partners’ comparing heights and modelling the correct use of key words to explain the difference between each other’s height.
I was very impressed by the students’ ability to both discuss their learning and assess their own learning. Year One students certainly were not afraid of challenging work – in fact they were very keen to apply their knowledge and chose work, which best suited their understanding. They were also able to apply strategies to help them complete tasks by using different coloured cards to request support from their teacher or teaching assistants.
It was wonderful to see how supportive the students are of one another. They were always on hand to offer helpful guidance or praise in the form of a ‘whoosh’! Students were very proud of their Maths books and were able to show me how the teachers’ marking helped them to make progress. Different coloured stamps help students to know when they are doing well and when they might need to get further feedback from their teacher.
I hope to visit Year One again at the end of the term to see how much progress they have made.
On Thursday 11th of February I was asked to help with the year 3 Egyptian day.
It was lead by a fascinating woman from History off the page who taught the children such a lot about the Egyptian culture and how they used to live.
The hall was full of different activities that the children could take part in, such as clay pot making, oils and fragrance making and how to embalm the dead!
After lunch they tasted food that the Egyptians would have eaten and drunk and learned how they celebrated and worshiped their god. They all had a part in the celebrations by acting, singing and dancing.
The day ended with a great story that all children were captivated by, they sat so well and behaved and listened intensely.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon in school with Mrs Whiley, looking a the progress Year 1 is making with their phonics. We reviewed the progress of all and I asked about the support being provided to ensure that all have the opportunity to make good progress.
After this, I met with children from Reception and Years 1 and 2, who told me how they learn their phonics sounds and how that helps them to read full words. They spoke enthusiastically about reading at home and how they report back to their teachers new words that they have learnt.
I then heard two Year 1 children read and heard how they use phonics to sound out words they might not be so familiar with, until they feel more comfortable with them. It was very obvious to me the importance of them being able to practice their phonics outside of school, so would encourage all parents to support this very important reading style, to ensure all our children enjoy reading.
Thank you to all the children for meeting me and for their excellent behaviour.
Mr B Hollyer
Vice Chair of Governors
Last week I went into school to see how the recent visits of the author, Cliff McNish, had impacted on the writing of the children. I met with many of them and they told me how inspired they were with his visit and how their teachers have helped them develop their skills in writing. Certainly, the dark stories I read in their books show how engaged they are in writing and how much more extended their work is. Their teachers are really doing a great job! It’s clear the initiative was successful, so well done to everyone and not least Mr McAlinney and Mrs Greenaway. I’m looking forward to reading the stories the children are all working on!
Today I visited our school to continue the work myself and the vice chair of governors are doing in the subject of phonics.We spent the morning with Mrs Samuel the lead for phonics. Mrs Samuel gave us a detailed account of phonics in year 1, and we discussed where myself and the vice chair can help.
We spent some time in all the year 1 classes. We looked at how the teachers broke down the lessons using graphemes and phonemes to teach our children to break down basic words.
All the children were very engaged in all classes. They all participated in the activities set by the teachers. They all worked either in groups, in pairs or individually. The staff used tactics that interested the children in the words set by the teachers.
The children all seemed to have full understanding and full enjoyment from this mornings lesson.
Had a great session in 6B's class yesterday, as Cliff McNish fired their imaginations for writing a ghost story. Some of the descriptive language used by the pupils was pretty scary and it was easy to see how much they have enjoyed the sessions with the author. Really looking forward to hearing their spooky tales when they are finished! Well done all!
On Tuesday 17th November I spent a very enjoyable morning in the KS1 building spending time in all three year 2 classes and all three reception classes looking at the different aspects of learning and how learning has progressed from Reception through to Year 2.
It was wonderful to see all the children listening attentively to their teachers even at Reception age and to see them all being very engaged in the activities they were doing.
I was very lucky to witness some numeracy and literacy lessons seeing how the children work independently and within a group and how they contribute with asking and answering questions. It was so interesting to see how learning has developed from Reception with more learning through play to more structure in Year 2. The children were really engaged in the lessons, one of the things from Reception all the way through to Year 2 is the eagerness of the children to want to learn and the enjoyment they get from the learning. The children in every class were all so well behaved, polite and friendly.
After visiting the classrooms I was invited to attend the School Council Meeting which was so interesting to see the students have their say about the issues that affect them and their school. The issues that were discussed at the meeting were what after school clubs the students would like to have, so a student from each class from each year group gave suggestions from their class and some fantastic ideas were mentioned, some ideas included a Rugby club, Kung Fu club, cheerleading, gardening club and art club to name but a few. I was particularly impressed by a suggestion from a student in a Year 5 class saying they would like to hold a reading club for the KS1 students where the KS2 students help them with their reading. I thought that was fantastic that the KS2 students want to help the KS1 students that really shows a great school community.
Another item on the agenda was ideas for what the Bus situated on the field behind the KS2 building could be used for? Again some great ideas were mentioned which some of which were ICT lessons, maths, homework club and art and crafts, an idea was also suggested that the students could decorate the bus with each year group decorating a section of it. I wasn't able to stay until the end of the meeting which was a real shame as I really didn't want to leave it was so interesting to listen to the children's ideas and see how passionate some of them were about issues that affect them and the school.
I'm really looking forward to my next visit to the school it was such an enjoyable morning
I spent a wonderful Autumnal morning in EWPA on Monday 12th October. I was able to visit classes from Reception right up to Year 4. What a pleasure to see all the students engaged in challenging numeracy activities – even reception students were exploring numbers through musical play.
I was very impressed by the students’ ability to discuss their learning and the best way to approach challenging activities. Students in Years 3 and 4 certainly were not afraid of challenging work! They talked to me about the ‘Learning Pit’ and the strategies they used to get out of the Learning Pit – that could include: working with a peer, doing the reverse of the task or practising again and again until they were sure they understood.
Students were very proud of their work and were able to show me how the teachers’ marking supported their learning. Different coloured stamps help students to know when they are doing well and when they might need to get further feedback from their teacher.
I look forward to visiting again soon and seeing how Year 5 and 6 are getting on this term.
Monday 12th October 2015
Today as a parent governor I spent the morning in the key stage 1 building alongside the Vice Chair of Governors, looking at how the school teaches phonics.
We both met with Mrs Whiley and Mrs Moore and were given an overview of how phonics is introduced in the Nursery and how it is continues to be the central theme throughout all the early years. Some elements of phonics continue into the early junior years if children continue to need practice.
We spent time in the morning with the Nursery group and the Reception Classes, seeing how the children develop their listening skills for 'hearing' sounds and how these sounds developed into written graphemes to write words.
I was very impressed to see that all children were very engaged in all activities and all joined in very enthusiastically.
I am really looking forward to making another visit to the school, to see how the phonics themes are continued into years 1 and 2.
Further to my last blog, I spent time in the school yesterday, seeing how Years 5 and 6 are embracing the “Writing Journey” programme that has been introduced across the school.
Year 6 were engaged in the mysterious tale of the Pilot and the Eye of the Storm and entered into role play, to explore the emotions of the Pilot as he and his airship steer directly into the storm. They also teased out the reasons for taking such actions and why he disposed of his belongings, including his precious dragon. They were all fully immersed in this adventure and when they were asked to prepare a make believe letter from the Pilot to his mother, the writing was fully of imagination and detail, delving into the dark and mysterious corners of the storyline.
To say they were engaged would be an understatement and they were genuinely excited when told some time would be made available in the afternoon, to complete the task – now that’s not something you witness very often, pupils excited about writing!
In Year 5, a different story about a princess going into a magical world. Here, children were invited to play the part of the princess during the Q&A role play and their imaginations were left to run free and take the class wherever they wanted to go. They would then prepare an entry for their diary. Again, all entered into the activity with much enthusiasm and there was evidence all around the classrooms of the programme being brought to life.
Parents, please take the time to ask your child/ren about the Writing Journey and see how their love of writing is growing.
“Right Attitude + Winning Mind = High Performance”
Yesterday afternoon I spent a very productive hour meeting with the Head of Literacy, Mr McAlinney, and the school Writing Champion, Mrs Greenaway. Literacy, especially writing, continues to be a key area of focus for governors and the school and I recently asked the governing body to approve me taking on the role of governor with a special interest in literacy.
Mr McAlinney and Mrs Greenaway have many ideas to improve writing across all the year groups in the school and I am looking forward to seeing these ideas implemented and seeing positive impact for all the children. Last year we actually had a year 6 girl who had a book published, so there is obviously a wealth of talent out there!
Obviously, this will be so much more successful if our families are involved and encourage the children to write imaginative, inspirational tales, whether about sorcery, growing up in modern Britain or sporting prowess.
Look out for more posts soon!
“Right Attitude + Winning Mind = High Performance”
What a lovely Year 6 graduation ceremony was held at the school yesterday afternoon. The school has said farewell to aspiring astronauts, Olympic champions, doctors, comedians, engineers and authors - amongst others!
Staff and governors are very proud of the progress and achievement they have made in obtaining one of the highest set of results the school has ever seen. Wonderful to see so many parents in attendance to hear the speech given by Mrs Manzi and Mr Thompson. After the viewing of the Graduoke video, it was difficult to find a dry eye in the house!
Very well done to all our young learners and we wish you every success in the future - it's yours; you own it, so use it wisely!
Just wanted to say a huge thank you to all the children in Year 2 for their fantastic performance of Pirates and Mermaids yesterday. Such an effort went into each of their costumes, with the Pirates looking very scary and the Mermaids very pretty. I'm now not sure whether I want to be a Pirate, with the hat, eye-patch, hook and sword, or a Mermaid, with long, flowing hair and a tail!
Brilliant effort by the children, but let's not forget the efforts of the parents/carers and the staff.
Well done all!
“Right Attitude + Winning Mind = High Performance”
I would just like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Year 6 children for their outstanding performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This has saved me a trip up to London and many, many pounds, since I don't believe the West End production could possibly beat the one they laid on for us at the school last evening.
To single out any one individual performance would be unfair, so suffice it to say that they all did wonderful jobs...although I thought the Oompah Loompahs were really cool!
How all the cast remembered their lines is completely beyond me. According to my Mum, it took me more than twenty years to remember the words "please" and "thank you".
Well done to all the children and the staff. You all worked so very hard and delivered a stunning show!!
“Right Attitude + Winning Mind = High Performance”
Just had a fantastic time viewing the wonderful artwork at East Wickham Primary Academy. It was indeed a joy to behold and you could see from the effort of every child that they obviously really enjoyed making their fantastic creations.
From the exotically decorated keyrings, stones and clay fish of the younger children, up to the balsa wood bi-planes of the upper years, the quality of the work was of the very highest standards.
The Key Stage 1 children delighted the appreciative audience with their works based on such classical painters such as Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and David Hockney among others and a centrepiece of clay modelling of lily pads, household pots with lids decorated as faces, London double-decker buses and tree light holders.
The key stage 2 children displays works based on Britto, Sali, Kandinsky and Emily Carr among others.
All the children and parents/carers I saw were very proud of their efforts, and they have every right to be.
You know, I'm sure I saw the art critic Brian Sewell furiously scribbling notes and nodding his head in awe of what he was seeing!!
Very well done to all the contributors and to the staff at the school, who nurtured this undoubted interest in the world of art for our budding geniuses!