School News May 2012

  Please be advised that not all details of dates and names are put on the website for child protection reasons. Please can parents at school use their hard copy found in their pigeon holes at school.

What a wonderful week it was last week!  After a long weekend I boarded the train at Totnes Station at 9 o’clock with Mark, Hamid, Samadi, Minnie, Rose and Tilli and a headfull of ideas from all of Mark’s class.  The journey up to Paddington went smoothly and we arrived in time to meet Tilli’s older sister, Mark’s parents and Paddington Bear.  Mark’s Dad kindly took our luggage to our hotel (more of that delight later!)

Mark’s Mum then became our London tour guide!  We visited the Natural History Museum, Hamley’s toyshop, took a bus down the Strand to see Trafalgar Square and the London Eye.  We then stood on the banks of the Thames and saw Big Ben (my favourite clock in the world!) and the Houses of Parliament.  We then took a clipper boat down the Thames – seeing so many beautiful buildings glistening in the evening sunshine on the way.  We arrived at Tower Bridge and walked to our hotel via the Tower of London filled with all of its history and mystery.

Now, I need to tell you about our accommodation!  Several very kind people (including Felix’ Granny) had offered us floor space for the night, which we were very grateful of, as there were no expenses given for the competition.  However Heidi (Lara and Dylan’s Mum) runs a conference every 2 years and offered us rooms in the hotel she was using.  The hotel just happened to be the London Hilton at Tower Bridge (4 star!)  How amazing was that!  We met Heidi who showed us the 3 double deluxe twin rooms that she had so kindly and generously organized for us.  With whoops of delight we entered the rooms and crashed exhausted onto the comfortable beds to watch a bit of T.V.  We bought food to eat in and had a very quick chat about the competition ideas for the next day before Heidi came in bearing Kinder Eggs, notebooks, pens and a big Heidi smile.  The children voted to call their team ‘Team Outcome’ because whatever the outcome they would have fun and do it together.  By now it was 10 o’clock and time for sleep!  As I fell asleep listening to the sounds of a city at night I thought that whatever happened the next day the trip had been a wonderful success already.

We had breakfast at 7.30 (kindly shopped for by Mark’s Mum) before jumping in 2 taxis (given to us by Heidi’s company) and off we went to the London Business Design Centre in Islington.  The Design Centre was HUGE!  There was a Trade Fair going on so there were a lot of people being very busy with suits and ties.  We were shown to a seating area where we met the 3 other schools and our architects.  There were schools from Kent and Cornwall.  Each quite big primary schools of around 500 pupils.  We were given a little introduction by the organizers and they reminded us that we would be required to make a dream learning resource centre worth £400,000 to give them ideas for the next generation of classrooms they would build.  They talked us through the prize we would win which was a brand new classroom (60m²+ lobby + store) fully insulated and constructed.  This would come with a Smart board and furniture.

We were then led to the very centre of the Trade Fair where each school was given a small area with a table, smart board and art equipment.  It was already 10 o’clock and time for work!  We had to talk to the architects about what our school was all about because the design had to fit in with the school’s ethos.  We then made a site location map and began forming ideas of the classroom.  This could have been a time where we could have had quite a lot of conflict and disagreement given that we all had so many ideas to put in and a budget to stick to.  However Team Outcome really worked together and listened thoughtfully to each other so that by the end of about an hour we had a 2D drawing to be proud of.  This was overlaid with a collage to represent what was in the building and what it would be made of.  The children created a beautiful pond and a roof plan as well.  Then the 3D model was worked on – and the smart board was used to make slides and films for our presentation.  I could not believe the focus and attention that the children gave to this project.  They worked from 10-3 pretty much non-stop and all I remember them requesting was ‘What shall I do now?…What can I help with now?… Can I help here?’  By 2.15 most of the practical work had been completed and then it was time for the presentation.

Now watching the children present their ideas was simply hair tingling and teary eyed because they really really shone.  They had to present to about 8 judges (all in suits and with clipboards) as well as the other schools and any audience in the Trade Fair who happened to come along.  They then had to answer Dragons Den-like questions from the judges.  They were so confident, relaxed and totally owned their project so that they had the judges smiling right from the start when they announced their team name and what it stood for.

After we had watched all of the other schools present their ideas (all pretty wonderful!) we had to wait about half an hour in a little staged area for the judges to make their minds up.  Hearts were thumping and nerves on edge as he took to the stand.  I kept reminding myself that whatever the outcome we really had had fun and worked together.  He went on to say how wonderful all the entries had been, that they were the best that there had ever been in all the years that this competition had taken place, that 450 schools had entered and that we had all done very well to get into the Finals.  But there could only be one winner.  Heart thumping so hard, he began the sentence ‘And the winner is………..Park School!’  Well I must admit that I did scream very loudly!  We were all laughing and almost crying and hugging each other!  I finally understood why football players do that!  (But we didn’t exchange tops!!)  The other schools were very gracious and all came to say congratulations.  Then we had a whirlwind of publicity photos taken and so many people to call!  It was an amazing moment that I shall never ever forget.  Photos found at

We then made our way back to Paddington Station and boarded the 6 o’clock train back to Totnes.  All of us not quite believing what we had managed to do.  Not only had we had fun together and won a brand new classroom but we had been recognized as standing out as something original and exciting by a completely outside organization.  We all had a rather stupid grin on our faces all the way back to Totnes.  It had been a perfect partnership between children, teachers and parents.


So now we have a lot of thinking to do to work out the time frames for everything and work with the architects to see that we get the very best positioning for this most extraordinary prize.  We are also going to try to get as much publicity as possible!  Although only 7 of us went to London to enter the competition we all felt that the support and ideas came from everyone.   Thank you to every single one of you.  And for the champagne to celebrate our achievements on Friday which Kate and Richard organized.  I have put up photos, our 2D pictures, 3D model, and award and prize details in the corridor by the office.  Please do go and have a look at it all.


Jumble Sale

On Saturday we held our annual Jumble sale in town.  We set up on Friday night and on Saturday morning we did the final details – including putting out all of the delicious cakes and goodies.  We opened the doors at 10.30 and we had a steady stream of people until about 1 o’clock.  The school information stand had several enquiries – 3 of whom had never heard of us.  Thank you so much for the team of people who set up, served throughout the day and who helped to tidy it all away at the end.  The jumble left over was collected by an organization which recycles textiles and sorts good materials to be sent to Africa.  They also paid us £80 to do this.  The jumble sale was another occasion for us all to meet and get to know each other a little more – takings came to £521!! A great end to a wonderful week.


A note from Inge

We are beginning to make plans for the next academic year timetable. I am happy to say that all of our experienced and valuable staff will continue to work at the school next year. There are a few changes in their working hours which I will outline here: Ben will be taking every second Friday off and Amanda will be working with his class on special projects. She is looking forward to the opportunity to spend some full days working with this class.  Martin will do half a day less of art teaching which means there will be one less Open Studio each week. He will now be able to do more of his caretaking work during school hours, rather than at the weekend, so we will still see him around the school as much as before. Emily is continuing as Learning Support but will not be in school on Wednesday afternoons when School Meeting takes place.  If you have questions about any of the above, feel free to chat to either of the Council parent members (Ross Robens or Kate Daws), Amanda or myself.


It was great to see so many of you at our Spring celebration.  We danced and sung the spring in together and did a long parade around the grounds banging instruments and waking up the Earth.  We entered a circle in the field where Ben helped to create a calm and quiet space for us all to be truly present with each other and listen, smell and see the beauty of nature around us. Then a giant bird of Paradise arrived and laid a huge egg.  When I opened it out fell the 4 words- Hope, Love, Peace and Joy.  We went on to sing a song about these beautiful words while the children gave a small decorated stone to people watching as a symbol of their willingness to put these feelings out into the world.  We finished it all with a most delicious café filled with your homemade cakes.  We raised £92.13.


Wish List

We have now raised quite a lot of money and feel that it is time to spend it.  We no longer have to buy a new classroom after all…..!  We have already bought a gazebo, laptop and garden shed this year.  The children and staff have also requested a new outside covered space for Forest School and gardening work, a new office computer, a new laptop and projector for Mark’s room, a new lead to hardwire the animation room computer, tripods for our drama productions, camera for Ben’s class and a new school notice board.  These are all being costed at the moment and will be discussed with Stephanie and Ruth as coordinators of the Parent Contribution Group.  I will let you know in due course what each cost.  There is a book in the office kept by Pauline should you ever want to see the details of what the fundraising money is spent on.  There are ongoing costs for the maintenance of the outside play equipment, including bark, sand and preservative.


Circus Tickets

We have been given free tickets for a circus on 6 June at 4.45pm in Torquay.  It is Circus Starr and is in support of Children’s Hospice South West – Little Bridge House.  Please come to the office if you are interested.  First come, first served.


Earth Education Parent Evening

You are warmly invited to come along to a short presentation from the children in Mark and Ben’s class.  They will be talking about the work they have been doing during their ‘Children’s time’ sessions with Carlos and Mark over the last 8 weeks.  We aim to end around 4pm.  If your child cannot be there please tell their class teacher as soon as possible.



  • Ben and Early Years Expeditions – May and July.
  • It’s green transport to school day Cycle, walk, hop, hanglide to school.  Come along with a story to tell!
  • Deadline for Bursary applications 25 May
  • School Play ‘The Borrowers’ - in the Hexagon - all welcome.  Tickets in office shortly (£4 adults and £1 child).  Actors in school at 5.30 please.
  • Blitz the Head lice Week 28-31 May

Please check all heads at least once a week but this week let’s all make a special effort to check twice a week and get rid of these beasties.  More information is available from the office.

  • 1st June – Education (non-pupil) Day, Half term 4-8 June
  • Scarecrow event at Shops at Dartington 3 June .  We are making a large crow as a scarecrow!
  • Pizza oven Day 12 June - Please book and pay Tabitha as soon as possible.  This is a date change.
  • Parents Evenings   Sign up sheets will be put up nearer the time.
  • Camp

Early Years and Ben  June

Mark’s class June

  • Bike week 18-22 June

All children in main school please have your bike in school in good working order along with a good fitting helmet.

  • Sports Day  June
  • Workday and Park Family Camp  June

Bring supper (6pm) and breakfast to share.

  • 1 July 10-12 Young Dartington tent putting up
  • Strawberry Fair 7 July 11am-3pm.
  • July Leavers Ceremony and piano, recorder and drum playing 11-12.

Term ends at 12 noon followed by a picnic together.  Bring your own food and rug.


Kate Daws’ two years as a Parent Member on the school’s Council of Management finishes this term and we would like to thank her for all her hard work during this time.  There is therefore a vacancy for a parent member from next term.  A nomination form is attached and nominations should be returned to the office by 15 June.  Voting if required will take place on Wednesday 20 June 3-3.30 and Thursday 21 June 9-9.30.


A couple of requests

We need a large piece of velvet for putting onto tripods for Drama Production – please speak to Martin if you can help with this.

We also need rugs and fabric to hang around the yurt if you have any to spare.


Sun cream reminder

To protect your child from the sun it would really help if you could make sure that you apply a long lasting sun cream if you use sun cream in the morning before school as the weather gets warmer.  We do have sun cream at school, which we apply if necessary in an emergency.  Please let the office know if you do not want us to use sun cream on your child.  If you would like your child to have their own sun cream in school please send a bottle in with their name on it.


I hope that the sun continues to shine and that you all manage to find some time to enjoy it.