School news 2011

Thank you for all the lovely cakes and scrummy things that you gave for our spring celebration café.  The celebration involved some beautiful singing, poems and dancing – as well as a naming circle.  It finished with children giving small painted stones as gifts to people as a symbol of their desire to spread peace, hope and love into their world.  It was lovely to see so many of you there, especially the giant chicken(!) and we raised £100.74. Thank you also for the work people are putting into the gardens this year.  The old pig pen has had a new lease of life.  Last week the children planted out many of the plants that they have grown from seed and the well dug soil turned into a fresh green garden in about 3 hours.  The children are also really enjoying caring for their own plots and working out which plants are weeds and which ones are not!  Ben and Dyane co-ordinate a Forest School Gardening session with the older classes each week where the children get in contact with the earth and learn that they can really make a difference to this bit of the planet.  Ben is looking for a hoe and some secateurs if you have any going spare.

Amanda’s class went on a fabulous wild food forage with Hannah (Soli and Ishka’s Mum) last week.  We discovered that there is wild food everywhere at the moment.  It took us an hour just to reach the river because of the feast along the way.  We walked to Pebbly Beach and enjoyed a refreshing paddle before gathering wild garlic to make pesto for supper.  The whole of the main school took a walk from Totnes to Sharpham last week to be part of a species survey led by the Sharpham Rangers.  The children learnt how to catch creatures to identify them.  They also identified plants and put all their information into a database.  The weather was windy but the rain stayed off and I think we were all pretty amazed by the diversity of beetles, spiders and little creatures that could be found in one small area of Devon.  A real insect safari!  Some families stayed after 3 o’clock and had a BBQ supper, saw badgers, heard bats, looked at the rings of Saturn through a telescope, caught huge eels on the muddy river bank and camped all night.  Waking up to a Sharpham River scene covered with mist was well worth the cold night!  The whole event immersed the children in nature and its endless wonders.  The Rangers will be coming in to school to do a follow up session later in the term.

Thanks to Luke (Nate’s Dad) for kindly spraying the muck off the Early Years outside walls for us.  The undercover area looks great!  The whole of the main school building is due for a big paint job in the summer holidays – so it will look glorious in September!

A note from Ruth: Building and Grounds coordinator

Welcome to the Summer Term! The beautiful weather is calling us all outside and the garden and grounds are looking fantastic due to all your work - Thank-you! We really need to get the early years loos painted after cancellation due to lack of volunteers over the Easter hols. Also we need to finish of entrance hall decorating job by painting all the wood work. So I'm sure I will be inundated with volunteers and we will knock both these jobs off in a weekend! I'm thinking last weekend of the Half Term holidays? 4th/5th June - any takers please let me know or if there are a few of you with a different date in mind..?  Please can any parents help continue to dig a trench around our new vegetable garden so we can put up a rabbit proof fence before the end of June?  Please remember to arrange through me as a first aider needs to be present. Also still looking for a co-coordinator after little Bonnie babe stole away my last one - any one interested let me know-

The children in Mark and Amanda’s classes have had a few lessons in Taekwondo this term and have learnt how to focus their eyes, bodies and heads!  There were a few great kickers and children with wonderful balance.

Dates-on your hard copy in your pig

hole if not available on this page (to

protect our children)

  • Work Party

Several parents have asked me about camping at school and so I thought it would be a good idea to make it a social event linked with our lovely Work Party day.  The idea is that we start the Work Party at 10 and have a lunch made for us.  Then we all stay on for the afternoon, either doing more work or just being together.  We could have a big game of Rounders at 4?!  Everybody is welcome to join the camp (after 2pm)– you don’t have to do the work party bit (although it would be great for the school if you did!)  Everybody needs to bring food and drink to share for supper and breakfast and to be aware that we will all need to help tidy up the site and the kitchen and toilets afterwards.  Children will be the parents responsibility at all times.  If you want to bring a guitar for some fireside  singing – or even a story or two that would be great.  Bring you own tent or book a place in the yurt.  If you are interested please sign up on the board under the covered way.  It should be fun!

  • Open Evening 6 July 4-6pm

We are going to have an Open Evening to help publicize and celebrate Park.  This will be an invitation for interested new families to watch a puppet show (kindly put on by Martin), share pizza, look around the school and do a few activities.  I am looking for parents and children who would be willing to welcome people and help the teachers with activities.  If you would like to help at this event please fill in the form at the bottom.  Children are the parents’ responsibility at all times.

·        Camps

It is camp season again.  A time to help the children learn a bit of independence and have a lot of fun!

Letters with more details will be sent out shortly.

·        Strawberry Fair 16 July 11am-3pm.- Our biggest publicity and fundraising event.

It is our 25th anniversary.  Please look out for planning meeting dates!

  • Bike Week 20-24 June

Please could all children in main school have a bike in good working order and a good fitting safety helmet.  Volunteers are needed to do bike maintenance on 20 and 21, 8.45-10am.  Please let Amanda know if you can help.

  • Amanda’s class Puppet Show and IDEC invitation with cream tea!

You may be aware that there is a conference about democratic education happening on 5-13 July at the River Dart Country Park which is hosted by Sands School.  There are delegates from all across the world attending and discussing the value of giving children a voice in their education.  I will be giving a short talk about Park School with Lynette Gribble who helped co-found Park, on the public weekend- 9-10 July.  Many of the delegates wanted to visit Park so I have invited them to come on 7 July.  My class will offer them a puppet show and Shona is making a cream tea.  You are welcome to come to the puppet show, meet up with new people and to have a cream tea too.  Please fill in the form below for the tea so that Shona can make enough scones!

  • Headlice Blitz week 6-10 June.

In most primary schools headlice can become a real pest so the first week back after half term is ‘Blitz the Nits Week’.  Please can we all check hair every day that week to blast them out of Park.  For good advice on ways to get rid of them please ask for a handout in the office.

Music lessons

We have a few more spaces for children who want to take up guitar, brass, flute, recorder or piano.  Please come to the office for details.

New Structure

We had a very optimistic and positive meeting in May about the new main school class structure for September.  I do hope that you have managed to read the minutes which were put in everyone’s pigeon holes last week.  I am very excited about the flexible structure and the way that I feel the children will be supported and held next year by having 2 teachers in each group in almost every session throughout the week.


Most of you will have noticed the Tagore Festival happening at Dartington Hall recently. Tagore was India's greatest writer and artist, as well as being a thinker, educator and spiritual leader. He was a close friend of Leonard Elmhirst, the founder of the Dartington Hall Trust, and the school that was so central to Dartington for many decades was strongly influenced by the educational models Tagore was offering on his own estate in India. It was therefore not surprising that a number of the talks were about the role of education.

I attended one given by Anthony Seldon, head of Wellington College and widely considered the most famous head teacher in the country. (Most recently he has become known as one of the co-founders of Action for Happiness, an organisation which aims to shift society from its fixation on increasing incomes to thinking about what actually makes people feel happy.) I was very struck by how much what he described as the essentials of a good school – as opposed to an “exam factory” - is being practised at Park.

He began his talk by inviting everyone to sit in silence for a short while, and then explained how important it is for children to learn to collect themselves and be still, something our children become well acquainted with during their circle time. He went on to talk about the need for a holistic approach to education which encompasses the intellectual, physical and spiritual. There are many kinds of intelligence and all 8 of these aptitudes need to be developed in order to produce a well-rounded individual: the logical and linguistic; the personal and the social; the creative and the physical; the moral and the spiritual. Only the first two are “testable” by exams and they are where conventional education puts most of its efforts.

It was inspiring to hear this formidable intellectual spend so much of his time talking about how important it is to cultivate other parts of our children than just their academic ability – art, gardening, the ability to think for themselves and to get on with others. Sound familiar? I've heard it before in alternative and artistic circles, but it was fantastic to hear it from someone from such a traditional background. Unfortunately, he had to dash off right after his talk, otherwise I would have scooped him up and taken him to visit Park to see somewhere that models so much of what he was talking about. It gave me hope that our message is beginning to get out into the educational mainstream. I hope so, for the sake of future generations of children.

Early Years Class Helper- Sarah Strachan (Darcy and Louie’s Mum) is now the class helper for the Early Years.

Diarrhoea- There have been a few cases of sickness and diarrhea reported recently.  Please remember that if your child has diarrhoea or sickness they must be kept at home until it has stopped for at least 48 hours.

Term dates for next year

Autumn term begins on 8 September.  21 October is an Education Day and half term is week beginning 24 October.  Term ends on 14 December.

Spring term begins on 5 January 2012.  10 February is an Education Day and half term is week beginning 13 February.  Term ends on 30 March.

Summer term begins on 17 April.  1 June is an Education Day and half term is week beginning 4 June.  Term ends on 13 July at noon.

Parent Phone List – an updated list is attached.

Finally a warm welcome to Esther who has joined Amanda’s class and Dorothy who has started in the Early Years.

Best wishes,

Amanda Bellamy (Teacher in Charge)