14 parents attended the forum this evening, alongside 7 governors and the headteacher, Mrs Speed. Sara Priestley, Chair of Governors, welcomed everyone and the governors introduced themselves.
Mrs Priestley began the evening by reading an email from a parent who was unable to attend in person but who wanted to praise the enrichment activities (e.g. choir and sports clubs) on offer at the school and to thank the staff for their commitment to this provision. Questions around various aspects of school life were then raised.
A question was raised about the year 2 assessment tests. These will be similar to last years’ assessments and they differ from the SATs which children sit at the end of year 6 by being much more low key. In format they are very similar to the class assessments which our pupils are already very familiar with, and the results form part of the assessment picture which the teachers build in the course of the year, so that not everything hinges on the performance of a pupil on one specific day. The school reports the results as a whole, and the performance of individual pupils is passed on to their next school.
The arrangements for transition to Lowe’s Wong Junior School were explained. These begin in the summer term of year two and start with an opportunity for our pupils to meet year two pupils from Holy Trinity who will be in their year group at the Junior school. There are various ways over the summer term in which the staff from the Junior school engage with pupils and the year two staff at the Infant school, and Mrs Speed explained the ways in which data and information about pupils is transferred. The infant school staff use the same procedures as at the end of year one for determining classes in the Junior School so that all pupils are put into groups with friends. Ms D’Souza (governor from the teaching staff) described how the year two pupils showed increasing enthusiasm and readiness to move on to the next school in the course of the summer term, and parents mentioned how the transition seems harder for parents than for the children, who readily adapt to the new school.
The teaching of Maths in the Singaporean method was raised. Mrs Speed outlined the way it had been trialled, the positive results it had shown and the way in which mastery of the topics was demonstrated to benefit pupils at all levels of ability. The Inspire textbooks follow the Singaporean method, and similar approaches to teaching Maths are used at Holy Trinity and the Junior school.
The question was raised about how less able pupils are supported. Mrs Speed outlined the ranges of support on offer depending on the individual needs of a pupil. These include booster groups and input from Teaching Assistants, trainee teachers, parent helpers and teachers in a variety of ways. Some pupils with specific learning difficulties may be following an individual learning plan which can differ from the main classroom learning. Mr Oswald explained how governors are involved with teachers to ask questions about how support is targeted and to check that pupils are given the appropriate support. Mrs Stead said that the school plots the actual progress of pupils against their expected progress and intervenes as soon as problems arise.
The possibility of installing a Trim Trail similar to one in the Junior School was raised. It has been discussed but it was felt to be less suitable for our younger pupils and the tyre park is seen to be a safer way of allowing more adventure play. Mrs Priestley explained how the School Council becomes involved in suggesting additional toys for the playground. Some ideas (such as the swimming pool!) are not practical but others are introduced. Mrs Speed took this opportunity to explain the newly installed electronic noticeboard which, when fully operating, will show photos, provide information about e.g. birthdays (first names only), and give other advice.
It was asked whether more it was possible to provide more variety of books of fiction and non fiction for the reading scheme. The books in the reading scheme are regularly reviewed and effort has been put into giving as much variety as possible but the books are by necessity carefully graded into the reading bands and inevitably they are more repetitive than books read purely for pleasure rather than for reading practice.
The way in which birthdays are celebrated was explained in response to a question sent in by a parent. The new electronic board will be used to complement the standing arrangements. A birthday list is posted on the wall of the hall, and Mrs Speed mentions birthdays which have happened or which fall on that day in assembly. (Year two summer birthdays are mentioned in advance for children who will be leaving the school.) The children are given a sticker and have a chance to say what they liked about the birthday (present, cake etc). The staff try to make the day special for the pupils.
Information technology in school was raised and Mrs Speed described the facilities which the school has. Ms D Souza said how up to date with technical vocabulary pupils even as young as 4 are.
Information about special assemblies, which is given usually on a Friday for the Monday assembly, was the final topic raised. These assemblies are based on the work done in the preceding week and therefore it is important that the special book with staff recommendations has time to include all the pupils deserving of mention. Occasionally the list can be compiled by Thursday and on rare occasions the assembly might be held on Tuesday rather than Monday, but it is intended to be a mark of excellence for the preceding week, giving the new week a positive start. Mrs Speed acknowledged the inevitable pressure on diaries raised by the short notice but reiterated that parents could send other relatives or friends in their place. When no one can attend, she ensures that the pupil is made to feel special.
Mrs Priestley thanked the parents for coming and reminded them that the governors and staff are ready to answer any questions which arise at any time and not just in the Parent / Carer Forum.