School News April 2014

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School News no.295 Dear Parents,

I wanted to wish you all a very happy Easter holiday and to thank you all for the marvellous support and help you have been this term.  The last two weeks have been very busy with events and getting together.  These have involved a lot of fun, but also a lot of time and energy – which is very much appreciated!

Work Day Our Work Day was a real celebration of the strength of our school community.  We had over 70 people arrive to work together on various projects, including cooking our lunch, gardening, cleaning, painting and general tidying up.  Our polytunnel is also one step closer to being up and running.  The school looks very well cared for and I hope that you managed to talk to someone new too.

Open Day Our café food was delicious – thanks to all of the clever cooks and café organisers.  We had seven new families looking around the school; they were all very impressed and have booked to come to have an official show-round.  The little sensory treasure hunt was held so well by Olya, Dyane, Shona, Martin, Gabi and Sarah.  The visitors had herbs to smell, compost leaves to touch, golden twigs to search for, birds to listen to and chocolate to taste.  Thank you also to Budgie and Natalie, who painted some amazing faces! I was very proud of our own children because they welcomed all the visitors and chatted confidently to them about their school, even when they were in the middle of a game.  Visitors often comment on how good our children are at communicating with all ages; I think this happens when they are used to having their voice heard.  They approach conversations expecting to be part of it and this enables people to respond positively. All the hard work at the Work Day really helped the school shine as the sun popped out at 2.45pm, just in time for the start. Thank you to Rich (Adelaide and Dorothy’s dad) for setting up the last school play on DVD in the Middle Room.  We all loved seeing it again.

School Play Wow! As you know, all the children in the main school performed “James & the Giant Peach” last Tuesday, which Mark’s class had been working on for about three months.  They decided which play they wanted and then worked together to write the script with Mark.  Ben’s class scene was inspired by an idea that Dorothy brought to Martin one day – the Cloud People were so perfect, weren’t they? Ownership of the play shone through in the performance, when each child challenged themselves out of their comfort zone to tell us their fantastic version of the story.  It also reflected how well teachers know their children, to be able to bring out the best in them.  They were relaxed, confident and having fun throughout the making and performance of it; as Aikin said “It was an absolutely fabulous experience and I loved every second of it”. I’d like to give another huge thank you to all the great talents behind the talent – Mark, Martin, Sarah and Ben.  Also, many thanks (in anticipation) to Drum and Rich for the DVD, which will hopefully come out by the end of the summer term (no pressure guys!)

The confidence and sense of owning their learning that we all witnessed is a real asset that Park children take with them to their next school.  I recently received a couple of emails from pupils who left last year to join South Dartmoor College and KEVICC, which I wanted to share with you:

“My eldest child, Luke started at Park School in Early Years at the age of 4, in the early part of 2007 as a very shy and sensitive pre-school kid. He left to start at Kevicc in September 2013. I was concerned about how well and how quickly he would adjust to a very different education system. But the outcome has only re-assured me of how amazing and helpful for Luke's future the Park School experience has been. He is confident and has a passion for learning. He is a great communicator and feels comfortable interacting with adults as well as other kids of all ages. On an academic level, he is getting very good reports, that keep improving, and has been very committed to learning with great enthusiasm for his further education. I feel that Park School helps children to build on their caring and communication with people of all ages and keeps the passion for learning alive. Thank You Park and Long Live Park School. I am very pleased that I have another 2 1/2 years to be part of Park School until my youngest has to move on.” Harriet Harrison

“When Finn left Park School last summer to go to South Dartmoor College, he left home, his and mine and we both shed tears as we waved goodbye. The summer passed without much mentioning of the great challenge that lay ahead and as the big day came, Finn got up, dressed neatly in his new school uniform and took himself to the very big local secondary school.  He came back and smiled and told me he had had a great day….. More days like this passed, weeks, months and I kept thinking ‘we are doing ok if we get to Christmas’. I was observing Finn’s progress at school closely and as he seemed very happy and relaxed and enthusiastic about his homework, which he insisted on doing even if it took hours and I lost patience myself, I didn’t ask too many questions about the differences between the two schools. When I finally got to that, Finn answered: “Mum, you can’t compare this. Park School prepared me for life. It is my family. The new school teaches me to do all I need to go to University one day”.  Indeed they do and at the first parent’s evening I was greeted without exception by all of Finn’s teachers with: “What a confident and lovely boy!” The confidence is a credit to Park school… he did not have that at all when he arrived there four years ago. And the loveliness too (maybe I would like to take a bit of credit for that) but I think what shone through when speaking to the teachers was that Finn is incredibly respectful towards the teachers and other students. That he is not shy to ask for help and will communicate his worries and detect those of others. He acts upon that rather than hiding it and it makes him a valuable member of a team in the school. That makes him very popular with students and teachers and I believe he learned that at Park school. Furthermore, the keenness to learn is outstanding. Finn seems to breathe in information. His reports are shining and he is proud and so am I. Sometimes, we go home to Park School and we feel so welcome and happy there. The school, the teachers, the children and their parents, the garden…. All the memories are beautifully shining parts of our life… we are immensely grateful for that!” Stephanie Simon

I am putting comments from visitors and pupils together in a display, to share with new parents, staff and Ofsted, in the office in the near future.

Needs and wants! We need more soup bowls for our Work Days - if you have any spare ones, or see any in charity shops, please pop them into the Fundraising Cupboard in the kitchen. Ruth has sent an email out about help with putting our school yurt up on 23rd April (9.30-10.30am), so look out for that if you can help. Wheelbarrows – we often need an extra one on Work Days, so if you have a spare one please bring it in.

New Parent Social & Fundraising Coordinator I am sure you are aware that Stephanie will be leaving us when Rudi moves to Sands in September; both will leave a huge gap in our community.  Stephanie has given so much energy, time and thought and the professional way that she has managed this role has extended to the way she is handing it on.  It is a Council elected post, and I am very happy to say that Richard Daws (Adelaide and Dorothy’s dad) has offered to step forward into this place and has been accepted by Council.  He will shadow Stephanie next term, with the preparation for the Strawberry Fair.  It is an enormous role, as I am sure you will appreciate.  Rachel (Will’s mum) and Simon (Dylan and Lara’s dad) have offered to support him, but I know that you will do all you can to encourage each other and make our events exciting and fun for everyone.

Ofsted Parent View If you haven’t already done so, please visit Ofsted’s websites to give your views about our school: PUPILS: www.ofsted.gov.uk/schools/for-schools/inspecting-schools/inspecting-independent-schools/independent-school-inspection/preparing-for-independent-sc. PARENTS: http://parentview.ofsted.gov.uk. Paper copies of the pupil survey can be obtained by phoning 0300 123 1231 or emailing surveys@ofsted.gov.uk

Diary Dates-not all dates are here due to child protection issues so please check your emails or hard copies 5th – 21st April – Easter Holiday 22nd April – Education Day – staff only in school 29th April – Mark’s Class Presentation, 3.30-4.30pm 30th April – Ben’s Class Presentation, 3.30-4.30pm 5th May – May Day Bank Holiday 8th May – Spring Celebration and Café, 2-4.30pm (Early Years parents lead this with our support) 15th May – Early Years Bring A Friend afternoon, 1.30-3pm 20th May –Council Meeting, 5-7pm 22nd May - Pizza Oven Day 19th – 22nd May – Blitz the Nitz Week 23rd May – Education Day – staff only in school 26th May – 1st June – Half Term Break 9th – 13th June - Blitz the Nitz Week 10th & 11th June – Parent/Teacher Meetings 3.30-5pm 18th June – Sports Day (25th June if wet) June – Work Day, 11am – 2pm and Family Camp to 11am on 29th June July – Overnight Camp (Mark’s, Ben’s & older EYs) July – Overnight Camp for Mark’s children 8th July – Council Meeting, 5-7pm 12th July – Strawberry Fair, 11am – 3.30pm 17th July – Leavers’ Ceremony, 11am-12pm then school ends

Mark’s Class were recently invited by KEVICs to see two exciting shows; the first took us to the Theatre Royal at Plymouth to see The Lion King, which was so beautiful and showed the children what a West End performance was like.  The second was a Science Roadshow in the Ariel Centre.  It was an exciting time spent at ‘Hogwarts’ full of potions, bangs and chemistry experiments.

Ben’s Class have been having lots of fun learning about electricity this term and have made some creative circuits, which Ben has put on the walls in his class, so feel free to pop in and have a look. Early Years has recently been joined by Pippa Hobbs – welcome to her and mum and dad Liz and Steve, who all live in Totnes.

I am off to see if the Easter Bunny is ready to lay any eggs now! Have a wonderful holiday and see you for a fun packed summer term, starting on Wednesday 23rd April. With best wishes,

Amanda Bellamy Teacher in Charge

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