Barn dance and March school news

School News no.253 Friday 18 March 2011

We had a very exciting Book Week at the beginning of this half term with storytellers, bookmaking, visits to the library and the bookshop as well as a fabulous dressing up day. The wonderful characters that arrived in school had a chance to be with characters from different classes to make up and perform short plays together. Mark’s class is just finishing some great books which they will read to the Early Years. It is fantastic to have had so many opportunities for the children to work in mixed ages because they all learn so much from each other. We have time each week for this to happen in the Open Studio art time and the Forest School Gardening sessions. The mixed ages create a very valuable learning atmosphere.

We have also had a lot of visitors this half term. We have a Swedish teacher called Cecila Olofsson working with us for 3 days a week until the end of the summer term. She is part of the Commenius Assistants UK Host School group who fund teachers to visit schools in other countries and to discuss their culture and language with them. Cecilia will be setting up a blogg with a Swedish school so that the children can have direct communication with them. There will be opportunities for Cecilia to teach the children some Swedish while she is here.

We have also had 2 teachers from a school in Dorset called Frome Free School who wanted to find out more about democratic education. They were very impressed by what they saw and wrote a blogg about their experience, which is well worth a look:

We had 4 PGCE students from Plymouth University join us for a week to experience an alternative type of education as part of their training. One of the things that they found interesting was the way the school meeting works. This is a meeting of all the children and staff in the main school (and occasionally Early Years) to discuss any issues that are coming up within the school. The agenda is drawn from class meetings and staff ideas. The main purpose of the meeting is to encourage everyone to realize that different opinions need to be respected and that compromise is important in certain situations. We have quite long discussions about things usually agreeing by consensus and not a vote. One of the conclusions that came up recently was that everyone (including parents!) should ensure that they have wiped their feet on the outside mats before they come in to the classrooms to try to keep the mud out. Currently we are discussing what we will do with the tortoise that is falling apart outside Mark’s room. Shall we mend it again or start again? If you have skills that could help us fix or make a new sculpture please let me know.

Our twin school in Sri Lanka has sent us the fantastic news that the money we collected at our autumn café will be used to buy materials to put the roof on their new library building. The children are busy making books to send to them and I now have a direct email address to contact the school.

A note from Stephanie-fundraising coordinator: Firstly a very big thank you to all those parents who helped create a very memorable Barn Dance on Saturday. Special thanks must go to Heidi Strawson, Sarah Strachan and Kate Daws who all brought the Hall to life with bunting, fairy lights, decorated tables and those fabulous Hemingway Cocktails on arrival. We also managed to achieve a profit of approximately £350.00 A very welcome contribution towards the Early Years Climbing Frame fund.

Jumble sale - 26 March. Kirsty Hurd-Thomas and myself are busy preparing for this event taking place in the Methodist Hall in Totnes. Thanks to Lilamae and Matthew for the loan of their garage. It’s proved to be a great way to unload cars filled with Jumble. This Friday (18 March) will be the last drop off for Jumble as the following Friday we will be transporting the jumble to the Hall, ready for the big sort out on Saturday Morning. Thanks to Emma Hopkins who has volunteered to help transport the jumble along with myself.

We do have a number of requests that need fulfilling asap. Firstly we need someone to offer 1 hour of their time to send a mail out via the office promoting the Jumble Sale. Please speak to Pauline to arrange this.

We also need some helpers to help sort the Jumble upstairs and bring it down to the garage by Friday of next week. Sarah (Talia’s mum) has kindly offered but does need someone else to help.

There is a sign up under the covered way asking for as many people as possible to sign up and help before or on the day of the Jumble. Please take the time to have a look on a regular basis.

The Social and Fundraising Group has in place a ‘Cooking Ingredients Fund‘. Food doesn’t come cheaply and, quite often we are all asked to contribute to events, which, during some school terms, roll into one another. The idea is to spread the cost of expensive and/or large quantities of ingredients fairly and to encourage us all to donate our time to Park and the wider community Group. The fund is available to all parents who would like the option of baking or making pizzas/quiches in larger quantities.

A good example is The Barn Dance. Julia and Shona made large quantities of Pizzas, Samantha Roderick bought and cooked large quantities of sausages and bread rolls and Nicky Dillon made a large batch of quiches. Being able to say thank you for making our evening dinner is important, as is having the facility to reimburse all the food costs.

A request for more baking will be going up within the next few days for the cafe at the Jumble Sale. So if anyone wishes to make a number of cakes etc, please remember to make use of the ‘Cooking Ingredients Fund’. Pauline will be handling the reimbursements, so just hand her the bill and she’ll ensure you’ll receive payment.

If anyone else has any other suggestions then please let me know. Stephanie.

A note from Ruth: Hello B&G'ers Wow I reckon we have done pretty well - the garden is looking fabulous with lots of input from parents and the spring sunshine helping it along, and the end is in sight with the urgent decorating. Thanks to Martin for painting the hall over half term. One more job this half term or perhaps during Easter. We want to paint the early years cloakroom and it is probably best for it to happen in the Easter holidays. So anyone who needs to make up some hours let me know what your availability would be during Easter - weekdays or weekend? Also window cleaning has come around again so a team willing to do that would be great too - any offers? I am still looking for a co-coordinator. Please come and talk to me if you want to support the school more. Ruth.

A request from Dyane: A wormery is the next step in composting. If anyone has one that they are not using and would be willing to lend it to the garden, that would be wonderful. Contact Dyane

A note from Inge Chair of Council - Meeting on 15 March

Amanda reported on recent events at the school and visitors: Cecilia, and a couple from Frome, and the PGCE students.

A vote of thanks was made to the organizers of the Barn Dance, which was very much enjoyed by all who attended. Council also thanked Marianne for all she contributed as Coordinator of social events and fundraising. Her commitment and clear, considerate thinking from the beginning of the pilot phase have laid great foundations for the excellent work that Stephanie, now officially appointed by Council, is carrying on.

The Council will be asking for your feedback of the New Parent Groups in the near future. The parent handbook has been updated and will be in all your pigeonholes soon. Please take a little time to read it. I hope that it will help the smooth running of the school.

Council continued its discussions of next year's budget, fees and bursary funds. Final decisions to be announced shortly.

A group has been formed to work on raising the profile of the school, and has come up with lots of ideas to follow up. The members of this publicity group come from staff (Amanda, Ben, Mark), Council (Carlos Glover and Anne Phillips) and parents (Kate Daws). Anyone else who would like to be involved should talk with Amanda. Some parents have been asking about the school's financial reserves and policy, so I thought I would take this opportunity to explain how we operate. Park School is a registered charity and is required by law to maintain some strategic reserves which could be used in the event that the school had to close. These would cover the costs of ensuring staff receive the proper redundancy payments and meet other outstanding financial obligations. Park School Council has a duty to ensure these reserves are maintained, and has done so continuously over the years since the school began. Obviously, the level of reserves fluctuates according to the number of pupils enrolled and the costs incurred by the school. In good years, the reserves will go up, and some will be re-invested into the school. However, we also need to plan for future contingencies: for example, our rent and associated running costs increased very substantially in the past year. We had been given plenty of notice of this by Dartington and had put aside some funds over previous years to help cushion this increase, so that we did not have to drastically increase fees. It is this kind of long-term planning which the Council and its Finance Committee give a lot of careful thought to in the interest of keeping the school viable and flourishing for many years to come. If you have any questions about any of this, please feel free to contact me or Drum, the school treasurer.

Music lessons We have a new piano teacher called Lucina Swain. She comes in to school on Thursday afternoons and has a huge amount of experience to offer. Colin is still teaching piano to his current students and inspiring all the groups with his singing. Martin Holland who taught at Park previously is returning to offer brass and guitar lessons. Please contact the office if you are interested.

Dates • Classroom invite. A chance for your child to show you what they have been doing recently.

• Parent/Teacher meeting for Early Years children • Jumble Sale and promotion of Park School. 26 March Methodist Church Hall in Totnes 1.30 – 3pm. Please display your poster on your car/house to publicize Park. See sign up sheet on green board. Bring jumble on Fridays 9-9.30 in the car park. • Workday. A time to meet other parents and to do lots of jobs for the school. Children are very welcome but are the responsibility of parents at all times. Please sign up for lunch on the green board (made by Julia – should be wonderful!) • Play. Mark’s class is putting on a play called ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ Ben and Amanda/Vanessa’s class are playing supporting roles. A letter about these roles and costumes will be going out soon. Tickets (£3 adults and £1 child) on sale nearer the time. • Young Dartington. A children’s summer activities club has used Park’s grounds for 20 years and they are having a reunion on 16-17 July. If you have ever been to Young Dartington you are welcome to come (For more information visit Young Dartington runs for 3 weeks this year beginning on 25 July. Park children receive a discount. If you would like more information they can be contacted on 01803 867100 or email: • End of Spring Term and Summer term dates. The spring term ends on 8 April. The new term begins on 26 April. 29 April and 2 May are Bank Holidays. There is a non-pupil day on 27 May and half term is the week beginning 30 May.

Please remember to return your updated Consent Form to the Pauline. If you can’t find it do come and ask for another one!

Best wishes,

Amanda Bellamy (Teacher in Charge)