This week Nursery had the exciting opportunity to go into the park and search for natural objects. We noticed that the leaves are starting to fall from the trees and change colour. We collected leaves, pine cones and acorns in bags and are going to use these to make an Autumn collage. We were impressed that the children used descriptive language to talk about the colours and textures of the leaves.
Published: 19 October 2016
Georgia Killingworth (Nursery Teacher)
Published: 18 October 2016
We held the first meeting of the Full Governing Body for this academic year in one of the magnificently refurbished classrooms. For new parents – our role as governors is threefold:
Set and guide the vision and strategy for the school
Hold the Headteacher to account, supporting and challenging
Ensure prudent financial management.
Every year, the Governing Body is required to re-elect the chair and deputy. I am continuing the role of chair this year, but now with the assistance of two deputies. Simon Horner is the Deputy with responsibility for ensuring the Governing Body does the right things to support the school. Katie Weig is the deputy charged with ensuring that we monitor the performance of the school effectively.
Other changes to the Governing Body include welcoming Vidya Sujalini as a full governor (previously an associate) and Sophie Russell as a staff governor, helping us relate what we do to the teaching staff.
We have said farewell to Joe Smith, a doughty campaigner for the sports and technology aspects of our work, and to Louise Aikman who has performed her role as Chair of the Teaching and Learning committee with great professionalism and charm. We would like to thank both Joe and Louise for their contribution to the Governing Body and to the school.
The appointment of two deputies is the first in a series of changes we are making to reflect the larger campus and journey towards becoming a two-form-entry school. We are working on ways to ensure how we monitor the school’s performance matches the expanded senior leadership team at the school and that our work is time efficient – for governors and critically for teaching staff whose time remains under enormous pressure.
We continue to interview prospective governors to ensure that we have the right skills for the challenges ahead. Do contact me via the school office if you would like to be considered.
Many parents will have seen first-hand the fantastic results of the summer building project. We now have a magnificent asset in the Early Years building with a spacious hall and a well equipped kitchen capable of producing high quality lunches. The refurbished classrooms in the main building are bright, well-equipped and create a super environment for the teaching staff and children. The change has been great for everyone’s morale and enthusiasm.
The work has come at no little cost – staff only had access to their rooms at the last minute and so everyone has been on the back foot in terms of preparation for the year. By prioritising the quality of the teaching environment, we have ensured that the children have not been disadvantaged by the building work. However, there is a substantial, unseen, backlog of ‘back office’ activity caused by the delay which will take some time to mop up. The Governors would like parents to join us in paying tribute to the office staff, teachers and teaching and learning assistants who expended so much energy to ensure the school was ready to open on time and with a warm welcome for the children.
The building works continue with another ‘push’ at half term to address the lengthy ‘snagging list’ and to finalise the new office and reception area. The playground is due to re-open after half term; the final phase will see the old Pavilion demolished and a third ‘court’ created on the Multi Use Sports Area. We are promised all this will be done by Christmas.
A key part of our discussions was around pupil achievement. We review the data to ensure that the school remains on track to deliver our expectations. Last year was (another) year of significant changes in curriculum and assessment, with new approaches to marking of classwork in particular. As a result, we have to bear in mind that the year-on-year results are not directly comparable; though we still subject them to the same scrutiny. We saw some uncharacteristic results which were below the school’s expectations. A series of specific actions are being implemented to address the issues raised by these results. While determined to see the actions in place to improve results, the Governors reconfirmed the school’s commitment to a ‘whole child’ approach to primary education whilst also recognising that each cohort of children is different.
This led us into a discussion of the work that has been done to redevelop the School’s Mission and Vision – there are exciting changes coming which are close to being finalised and will be revealed to parents soon. The Governors applauded this as a strong piece of work which draws on input from all of the school’s stakeholders, and facilitated by insightful support from Richard Addy.
The revised Vision also underpins the strategy for the year – contained in the School Development Plan. This document, produced to reflect the Senior Leadership team’s evaluation of performance against Ofsted standards, sets out a comprehensive plan across all areas of the school’s activities. Progress in delivering the plan is reported back to Governors by the Headteacher over the course of the year. That process is now firmly under way.
In response to the Parent Survey (and thanks again to so many parents for completing it!) we are looking for ways to help parents understand what Governors do and how to help us do it! Next week sees an early morning ‘formal’ introduction to some of the Governors at which we will explain what we do, feed back some highlights from the Parent Survey and the Headteacher and Deputy Head will explain elements of the School Development Plan. On Friday night, I’m delighted that the PTA have asked us to join their ‘Welcome to New Parents’ event where the speeches will be very short and hopefully the conversations long and engaged.
We do encourage parents to use the wealth of information about the school and its governance that is available on the school’s website. We will be looking to improve that over the course of the year.
Chair of Governors
Published: 03 October 2016
We are pleased to announce that PTA funded 30 new laptops to be used in Lower School (Year 1 to Year 3).
Thank you for your generous support by attending school events organised by PTA which enabled to support the school with this important learning resource to improve computing lessons for our pupils. This is especially important as the number of pupils increases as a two-form entry school.
Published: 30 September 2016
Published: 19 September 2016
We offer children at Dundonald Primary School the opportunity to take part in a wide range of extra curricular clubs.
In the Autumn term extra curricular clubs will resume in the week beginning 19th September and run until Friday, 9th December 2016.
Start and finish dates/times for each club might differ depending on the supplier's availability so remember to note these dates on your family diary.
Please find below the information/application forms for extra curricular clubs run by external providers.
Thank you to teachers, support staff, community volunteers and parents who give up their spare time to help run our clubs and ensure the children have access to rich and wide experiences.
Please find below notes from the Governing Body meeting on 5 July:Summary:· Increased burden on teaching staff this year· Supportive feedback from Merton Educational Partner· Parent feedback- recognising concerns over understanding measurement of progress· Thorough implementation of the School Development Plan
Published: 12 July 2016
· School Travel Plan
· Thank you and farewell to Mrs Bazley
The Governors used the opportunity of the last meeting of the academic year to review all the work that has gone on in the school during the year – and the list was long and impressive.
What is clear to all of us is the dedication of all the staff, particularly the teachers. I simply hadn’t appreciated – and I’m sure I’m not alone in this – the burden imposed by the changes in the national curriculum and in the assessment regimes. Most of our teachers are working an 11 hour day – and are often taking home work overnight and at weekends. Yet the quality of teaching, the detailed knowledge of the potential of every child and the contribution to the ethos of Dundonald has never been better. We all have to find ways to reduce this burden to retain and nurture the talent we have – and I ask parents to play their part in that.
We reviewed the report of the Merton Educational Partner (“MEP”), who inspects Achievement, Priorities and Planning on a termly basis. His comments included favourable discussion of the strength of Pupil Voice within the school, the high profile of science, consistency of classroom practice (especially in giving verbal feedback and using ‘working walls’ in classrooms). Especially pleasing was the feedback that pupils were found to be ‘confident to talk about their learning’ which is a key element of developing a growth mindset.
Over the summer we will review the findings of the Parent Survey. Thank you to all who completed it. We were able to discuss immediate feedback to the comprehensive new report formats. What is immediately clear is that despite the many opportunities provided to explain both the changes in the assessment regime and the raised expectations within the primary curriculum, the change from the old ‘levels’ has caused some anxiety. We are committed to working with the Senior Leadership Team to continue to provide parents with the information they need at a time of difficult transition for all involved – and we welcome ideas about how we can do this in new and better ways.
Child Protection and Safeguarding is a vital yet often unseen part of the management of the school’s operations. We reviewed the reportable data to understand both the trends and to get a sense of the sheer quantity of time and effort involved in managing these issues. We were pleased to see the MEP confirm the effectiveness of the school’s arrangements.
I wrote in the Autumn term about how we work with the Senior Leadership Team to shape and monitor the School Development Plan. The plan drives the implementation of the school’s strategy across six key areas. In our recent session, it was remarkable to see just how much had been implemented during the course of the year and to identify the areas of learning and adjustment to take into next year’s plan. We use a ‘Red-Amber-Green’ rating system to spot issues and challenge progress. The report was a sea of green! We discussed the few areas of amber/red and these items will become part of the planning for next year, which is already underway.
The expansion project remains on track. We know that parents are very keen to explore the new facilities but please bear with us – the builders will still be with us until Christmas! When we have the changes all bedded down, there will be opportunities to tour the expanded campus. Meanwhile, please keep your fingers crossed that good progress is made by the builders and the Council in refurbishing the ‘old’ building over the summer so that it is fit for re-occupation in good time. The timetable is tight!
Governors recognised the large amount of work involved in maintaining the School Travel Plan by Jessica Morton and wished to thank her for this.
Lastly, this meeting was the last to be attended by Joanna Bazley as governor, as she has decided to step down after 20 years of service to the school. I cannot speak more highly of the inspirational way she has conducted herself, courteously challenged the school leadership and other governors, and made a huge contribution to the outstanding performance of Dundonald not just as a school but as an asset within the local community. She epitomises all that is good about public service. We will miss her.
Chair of Governors
Published: 28 June 2016
Read about the exciting events that were going on in the Road to Rio
week in the latest Weekly News
that can be found in the newsletter archive.
Published: 28 June 2016
In the summer term, the key task for the Full Governing Body (“FGB”) is to approve the 3-year rolling budget for the school. This is prepared by the school’s Finance Officer, scrutinised by the Finance Committee and then presented to the FGB by the chair of that committee. The key theme is that the School’s slight year-on-year surplus is reducing. Over the next three years, the school is being asked to do more with less, potentially moving into a slight annual deficit.
As a result, the school is actively looking at ways to maximise other sources of income and to increase further the efficiency of its operations. We urge the whole school community to continue to support the School Fund, PTA fund raising events and to come forward with ideas and opportunities to develop new sources of funding.
School Development Plan (“SDP”) update
The Headteacher discussed with the FGB the many streams of activity to implement the School’s Development Plan. Particular focus fell on the development of marking and verbal feedback schemes; developing further breadth and depth into the curriculum - particularly to reflect aspects of being a Rights Respecting School; a review of whether boys and girls respond to ‘challenges’ differently; and in the Early Years, an increased emphasis on phonics and developing writing opportunities.
Given the ever shifting demands of curriculum and assessment and the heavy workload on teaching and other staff, it is a constant balancing act for the school’s senior leadership to keep innovating and delivering the SDP priorities whilst making efforts to improve the wellbeing of staff members.
Special mention was made of the fantastic efforts of the nursery team to create a vibrant temporary nursery space in what is currently a spare classroom as a consequence of the Easter preparatory works for the summer holiday ‘makeover’ of the original school building. Many thanks to the staff for their efforts – external commentators thought this had been in place for months, not days when they visited!
The FGB is required to approve a number of policies over the school year. The Equality policy is worthy of a special mention. This is not just a statement of ‘compliance’ with statutory requirements, but sets out how we wish, as a school community, to reduce inequality. It sets out objectives for the school to obtain and identifies key data points to be tracked annually. All the school’s policies are to be found on the school website – please take a few minutes to see how comprehensive these are.
Mission & Vision
One of the three core functions of the Governors is to ensure clarity of the vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school. The school – and the part it plays in its environment – has continued to evolve markedly. As a result the senior leadership of the school are reviewing its vision and mission to ensure that it truly reflects the progress the school has made across a number of fronts in recent years. Governors will contribute to that exercise and will act as ‘critical friends’ to the school in ensuring the required clarity of vision is captured.
Progress with the new school building remains on track. However, due to the complexity of works in refurbishing the existing school building, the timetable remains very tight. Parents will have seen that the Local Authority has advised that the school should be closed for an additional day in September. Staff will have very little time to prepare their classrooms for the new school year, doubtless causing them extra work and stress: very frustrating at a time when we want to be more mindful of their wellbeing.
The school does not control the building project – all we can do is to keep a very close eye on progress, which we can assure you is being done. Other aspects of the build are on track. The ‘Pavilion’ is scheduled for demolition in September, with the enlarged Multi Use Sports Area being completed by end November, creating a fantastic asset for the school and the community.
The Governors thank you all parents for completing the online survey with ca. 95% response. We will share the key findings and work with the Senior Leadership Team to consider your views and ensure they are reflected in the school’s activities.
Chair of Governors
Published: 08 March 2016
Parents with children in Year 1 to 6 had the opportunity to attend a Writing
that was held by our English Subject Leader Mr McGavin.
Following areas were covered:
- Writing the new curriculum
- How to teach writing at Dundonald
- Ways you can help your child
Thanks a lot for the positive feedback received:"Very encouraging workshop to see the different methods that are welcome to help children.""There were many tips shared during the workshop. I will encourage to read more and praise the effort.""I really like the idea of sharing the writing I do during the day.""Mr McGavin gave useful tips on how we can help support our child's writing. He explained as well what the
age related expectations are for writing."
Please find the presentation here
Published: 29 February 2016
Many thanks for attending the Online Safety Workshop in January 2016, which was all about practical parenting in the digital age.
Derek Crabtree (London Borough of Merton) has kindly sent us an updated version of the presentation held in January.
Please click here
for the presentation.