We have now been with our new school dinners provider for a term. Whilst we did have a few initial teething problems we have worked with Helena, our Cook, to tweak the menus to suit our children. This is something we continue to work on and Helena is liaising with the new provider in an effort to ensure the food that is on offer is what we know our children enjoy and will eat. Since we changed the rule about latecomers having a baked potato ordered for them we have experienced a few problems in that the children are not ordering a lunch as they are not in when the orders are being taken. We are still looking at ways to overcome this minor problem. We have had a few children deciding they do not want to continue on school dinners because some of the food doesn’t look quite the same as they did under the last provider, but please be assured that the quality of the food is still of the same quality as before, and Helena is cooking it in the same way. Indeed, the food suppliers continue to be the same company, delivering the same foodstuffs and Helena is extremely keen to maintain the same high standards as ever. Should you wish to discuss any aspect of the school meals please do not hesitate to contact me.
We are once again offering a free to attend Sports Club and letters have now gone out for the Whit club. There are a limited number of places available and you must commit to your child attending every day as we do have a lot of children wishing to attend, and booking a place then not turning up is not fair on those children who are desperate to attend but cannot as they did not get a place. If any child does not attend without a valid reason they will not be permitted to attend future clubs. Signing up means you are committing your child to attend for the full 5 days. They will need to bring their own packed lunch, and please ensure that you collect your child on time as staff do have commitments away from school and should not have to wait for parents who do not turn up at the correct time.
End of the School Day
It has been brought to my attention that there are an increasing number of children not being collected on time at the end of the school day. We expect parents/carers to collect their children on time as our staff have further work to do after 3pm and we do not offer a child minding service. I acknowledge that sometimes children may be a few minutes late out but that is usually due to the children not collecting their belongings and/or messing about at their locker (KS2). Teaching sessions finish at 3pm and your child will then be released to go home. If they choose to loiter teachers do try to hurry them along. Other than that we do occasionally run over time on a Friday. This is due to our Celebration Assembly sometimes taking slightly longer than we plan for, due to either a larger number of certificates and/or more birthdays than usual. You are all invited to join us at this assembly – it starts at 2.30.
School needs parents/carers support in tackling certain behaviours in school as I am sad to report that we are continuing to experience an increase in negative behaviours from a small group of children who seem to think that name-calling and ‘play fighting’ are acceptable behaviours in school. Unfortunately it is generally the same group of children, who despite repeated warnings and sanctions, continue to disregard school rules. It would appear when talking to the children that fighting is becoming normalised as many of them refer to computer games they are playing and/or films they are watching at home and tell me they are acting out what they have seen. Fortnite seems to be a favourite, and this is also causing fallouts when playing against each other using the internet and communicating with each other remotely via headsets – these fallouts are then being brought into school. We have also recently experienced more than one child refusing to do what they are told by a member of staff by just saying, “No!” and “I don’t want to!” This is TOTALLY unacceptable and going forward there will be significant sanctions for any child who is disrespectful towards any adult in school. I have or will be contacting parents/carers of any child continuing to exhibit these negative behaviours after half term. We will also enforce without exception the rule regarding needing a certain percentage of positive Dojo points to go on the end of year school trip. Pupils are aware of this rule and are given warnings before dojos are removed so have no argument should they fail to reach the required percentage of positive dojos.
Great Leap for Stockport
Those of you who attend our Friday celebration assembly can’t fail to have noticed a HUGE brightly painted frog in the school hall. To celebrate the exciting developments that Stockport is seeing we will be seeing many of these frogs around the town, not unlike the bees that were around Manchester. We had to bid to “win” a frog, submitting our design to the organisers. We were fortunate that our design impressed and our Frog is being sponsored and paid for by The Red Rock Cinema in Stockport where it will be on display during the Great Leap for Stockport Festival. We are hoping that, much like our Manchester Bee, we will be able to have him back to exhibit in school after the Festival is over. Our thanks must go to the cinema for allowing our children to be involved in such a positive community project. We will also be holding a Great Leap activity day in school in the near future, led by Liam.
Crowther Street/Covent Garden Housing Development
We were recently invited to enter an art competition to produce a piece of art work to be exhibited in the show home for the new housing development on Crowther Street, further down Hillgate. The Y6 children have been working hard and our entries will be judged by Mr Roger Salt our Chair of Governors along with the Chair of Governors of St Joseph’s School in the middle of Stockport, who are also involved in the competition, and a representative from the housing company. The developer has provided the budget for the art materials used and I believe there will be a prize for the winners. Each school is entering 10 pieces of art work, and judging take place on 10th June.
Can I please remind parents/carers that should you have a child attending an afterschool club and wish their sibling to attend Sibling Club it is now possible to book them in for the full half term rather than having to remember to do it each week. The club is exclusively for siblings and not friends who may be going to a child at sibling club’s house after school.
Attendance and Punctuality
There continues to be a small number of children/families having a hugely detrimental effect on our overall attendance and this is a major cause of concern. It presently stands at 93% which is significantly below national average. Not only does this mean that a significant number of children are missing important parts of their education, which will have a major negative impact on their educational progress and attainment, there is an increasing possibility of parents receiving Educational Penalty Notices which carry significant fines. It is a legal requirement that you send your child to school. If there is an illness we require parents/carers to notify us at the onset of the illness followed by confirmation of the reason for the absence in writing on the child’s return to school. Should you need to make a medical appointment for your child during term time please try to do this outside of school hours. If that is not possible we require sight of an appointment card before authorising the absence.
There are also an increasing number of children being late for school. This is not acceptable. It is vitally important that your child is in school to start the school day at the same time as their peers. When the children enter the classroom there are activities for them to do that support previous learning and lead into their work of that day. This is important scaffolding for new learning – which they miss! They also miss out on the social part of the morning, sharing news and generally having a time to connect.
As you may have noticed by now Mrs Gaskell is pregnant with her second child and will be leaving us to go on maternity leave at the end of the school year. We are currently going through the selection process to cover her maternity leave. I will give you more news about that towards the end of the school year, and also about which staff will be working with each year group in the new school year.
We have recently been joined by a new member of our support staff Mrs Tracy Hatton. Mrs Hatton is currently spreading her time in different areas of school. I am sure you will join me in welcoming her to St Thomas’.
We were visited earlier this week by Miss Davenport who introduced us to her new family member, 8 week old Mollie Rae. We have also been visited by Mrs Holt and her new son Oliver who is now nearly 5 months old. We are hoping to welcome both members of staff back to school in the new school year.
Miss McGuire has been on maternity leave since the beginning of the year and we were looking to welcome her back to school at the end of this term. However, Miss McGuire has decided that she wishes to be a stay at home Mum for the foreseeable future and has today tended her resignation. She will be sadly missed by all in school and we all wish her much happiness now and in the future.
After 19 years as Headteacher of St Thomas’ (virtually one third of my life) recently I informed the governors, in writing, of my intention to retire from teaching at the end of the 2019 – 2020 academic year. So next year will be my last at St Thomas’. I tell you this now as the post of Headteacher will be advertised nationally next week and the governors and I did not want any of you to find out through rumour or conjecture.
The governors are keen to find a Headteacher who puts the children at the centre of all the school is about and who will take the school forward with new ideas, whilst keeping all that makes St Thomas’ a unique ‘family’ school. For that reason they are looking to appoint a Headteacher Designate who will join us in January 2020 and work alongside myself and the staff for two terms to familiarise themselves with all that St Thomas’ brings. Until I depart I know that we still have much work to do to continue to raise standards and ensure that all our pupils get the best we have to offer, and I will continue to strive to do the best for each and every one of our children and families.
I will write more much nearer the time. Thank you