School News Jan 2013
Firstly it looks like our classroom is really going to happen this term!
A note from Hamid
We will be getting the new furniture and a smart board which we also won as part of this prize. For those of you who are new to the school you may not have realized that the children won this £100,000 classroom last year in a National Competition. They had to design a £300,000 classroom for the future with Green features and educational initiatives and give a presentation at the London Design Centre to a panel of judges. Their design was superb – with a tree house featuring as an integral part of a light-filled space. This is not the design we will be winning. The prize (still fabulous!) details are on the hall noticeboard.
I am in the process of making a book to illustrate the whole journey from paper to completion. It was wonderful to win the classroom and for the children to be recognized as being able to think and communicate so differently and impressively in a national forum.
Due to the building project please note that the fire assembly muster point which is normally at the logs by the greenhouse has had to be temporarily moved. It is now at the end of the Early Years garden fence just beyond the boat. Please make a note of its new position. We will be having our regular termly fire drill shortly.
The Early Years garden had to be dug up to put new data lines and electrical lines in to the new building. I am pleased to say that it has now been returned and grass seed will be put down to ensure that the garden will be fully up and ready after half term. Thank you to all the Early years children for managing to work in the garden when it has been blocked in many areas.
The delivery date for the new classroom is Friday 25th January. On that day Park Road will be closed to all traffic .We request that all parents drop and collect their children by parking in the Main Dartington Hall car park and walking down Warren Road until you come to the concrete path, just past the garages, that leads down to the river, and enter the school grounds through the wooden gate to the field where the rope swings are. (If for any reason you are unable to do this could you please let Amanda know in advance). We anticipate that the actual craning in of the building will happen around midday – but the precise time is hard to predict. However all the children will be able to watch from behind the fence on the grass just outside of Early Years – and we will take lots of photographs. Thereafter we expect it will be about three weeks before the fences come down again and we hope to move Mark in as soon as possible after that.
The second bit of exciting news is that we have once again been recognized nationally as doing something unique at Park School. Many of you realize that Park School is a Human Scale School and that we have been trying for many years to help people understand what this means. An organization called Human Scale Education was founded about 25 years ago and has been looking at the same issue. It has spent some time looking at Human Scale issues in state secondary schools. However we recently contacted them and sent the article written by our Council Member and ex-Teacher in Charge Richard Hickman called ‘Some issues in Human Scale Education’. The director, James Wetz, was so interested in this article that he came to visit the school last term. James has been a head teacher for over 16 years in a state secondary school. I met him with Richard over a hot cup of tea and talked about what we do at Park and then showed him around the school where he chatted to staff and pupils. He was very impressed and gave us very positive feedback on the day and wrote an email with this in it:
Park School Dartington
This is an exceptional school which highlights human scale education practice in a deeply effective way for its children, its parents and its staff. This is a school community where relationships and scale really matter and where these impact strongly on children’s wellbeing and attainment.
Park School is part of a national programme supported by the Human Scale Education Movement which is developing a footprint of Human Scale Education practice on behalf of the wider educational community.
He has also invited the school to take part in a national 3 year Action Research Project. This will look at what Human Scale Education is about and try to put its findings into a book which will make it clear to the general public. We have been chosen as one of only 10 schools in the country. The other schools are secondary and primary – state and independent. I am thrilled to be taking Park into this project and going to London on Friday with Richard to discuss the next stage with the other head teachers and James Wetz.
Two national recognitions in 6 months is pretty good don’t you think?!!
I hope that you manage to come along to the class presentations this week:
Ben 17 January 3.30-4.30
Early Years 16 January 7.30-8.30
Mark 16 January 3.30-4.30
It is an opportunity to find out what your child is learning this term and how you can support them. We use a topic (or thematic) approach to our planning and learning. This means that teachers have a topic each term which is taken from a rolling programme in the Science scheme of work. Teachers use the Literacy and Numeracy schemes of work to plan activities for the termly topic as well as weaving art, drama, P.E., R.E., humanities and French into their topic. This holistic approach to planning makes the learning more meaningful and fun for the children. This term the Early Years topic is ‘Spring’, Ben’s class topic is ‘Light and Dark’ and Mark’s class is ‘Dragons and Treasures’ (Materials and their properties). However not all lessons are taught through the topic. Some phonics and numeracy strategies need to stand alone – but are still offered in a fun and structured way. Children are also offered a huge amount of time to work at whatever they are interested in which may not be related to anything that the teachers have planned. This could be anything from putting on a show, to making a den, digging for treasure or writing stories. This is one of the reasons that we have much longer play times compared to other schools although we do have time in class for this too. We call it ‘Own learning time’. The excitement that all of us feel when we discover and follow through with an idea that we are enthusiastic about is what a love of learning stems from. It is this love of learning and readiness to focus that I hear time and time again from ex pupils, their parents and new teachers – whichever school they go to. It springboards them through their next stage of education and life. It is what Park is excellent at.
A note from Stephanie
Fund Raising and social events for this term are as follows-
9th March - Cabaret Evening
Kirsty (Aikin's Mum in Mark's Class) has come up with and will be the main coordinator for our main fundraising event this term, which is to replace the Barn Dance.
To begin the process of enlisting parental involvement/giving of time, Kirsty will be holding a meeting on Thursday 24th January at 3pm in the school kitchen. Please try and support Kirsty by either being present at the meeting, emailing or telephoning her with your ideas, suggestions and ways in which you can contribute. Kirsty is proposing to hold this at a venue in Totnes which will be confirmed very soon.
21st March - Open Day and celebration of new classroom (all being well)
Prior to this we will need to bear in mind that Mark will require a lot of input from parents to help him move into his class as smoothly as possible.
Next Term - A busy One
Due to where Easter falls this year, our annual Jumble sale will now be at the beginning of next term on 27th April. Planning for this event will need to be put in place before the end of this term. So please put this date in your diary and begin to think of ways in which you can contribute to this very important fundraiser for Park School.
Does anyone want to put themselves forward as the Main Coordinator to oversee and be champion of the jumble? I have run this for the last two years and would very much like someone else to step forward.
2nd May - Spring Celebration Café
This is being hosted by early years parents. Please make a note of the date and begin to co-ordinate your availability with Kathy your Class Helper. There is a sign-up sheet on the green notice board.
6th July - Strawberry Fair- Planning to begin towards the end of this term
I am setting up a Strawberry Fair Group and would like at least 4 other parents to be actively involved as coordinators in this year’s planning.
Please contact me if you are interested.
As you may have heard Lucina is no longer able to continue with the singing lessons. I have managed to find a singing teacher who has had several years teaching singing to school choirs. She is called Tonya Davies and she will work in the main school on Friday mornings. Tonya will be able to do this temporarily due to other work commitments so I am still looking out for a more long term solution to teaching singing at Park.
- Please make sure that your child has a coat and boots in school every day. All children also need a whole change of clothes as well – including Mark and Ben’s classes. Our outside nature of learning can be hindered if this does not happen.
- There are still some children arriving late for school. There is such a big difference for your child from having a good start to the day and arriving late. All of us have been late to meetings from time to time and know how it feels. It is no different for your child. It disrupts the class and is not respectful to your class teacher’s efforts to create a calm and working atmosphere. Obviously there are occasions that life will throw up, unexpected issues which can’t be helped. If you (fantastically!) catch the bus and are a little late please try to inform your class teacher beforehand so that they are prepared. Please remember that quick questions or information must happen 8.50-9.00 in the main school or an appointment made for after school. Teachers want and need to be with their class after 9.00.
- All visitors must sign in the visitors’ book and tell the office or class teacher that they are on site. You are a visitor if you are having a coffee, helping in the class or doing an essential job list job- or stay in the building more that at normal drop off time. This is essential fire and safeguarding information.
- Email addresses- If you have not returned the form as yet but would like to receive future school news editions in this way please return the form below. Please make sure that you inform the office of any changes to email addresses in the same way that you do for phone numbers.
Mark and Ben’s class had a wonderful expedition last Friday. We walked down the Estate road and right along next to the River Dart. We looked at all the flooding, upside down tree reflections and even a huge tree fallen across the weir. We then headed off up towards KEVICC road bridge to cross it and go to the Ariel Centre. Sands School in Ashburton (which is a Human Scale School) had invited us to their Art Exhibition showing 25 years of art at the school. The children flung off their coats and were treated to a life sized rhino, life sized dresses, shoes, pottery, wire sculptures, paintings and even a short film. They looked carefully at each thing and drew sketches. Sands School kindly drove the children back in their bus which was quite an adventure too! Thank you to those parents who came along to help – much appreciated. A great start to what looks like a very exciting spring term.
Finally a warm welcome to Marvin, Niamh, Anna and Blossom who have joined the Early years. Marvin’s parents are Gin Farrow-Jones and Melaine Le Bars, they live in Harbertonford, Niamh’s Mum is Stella Hardy and they live in Totnes, Anna’s parents are Veronica and Greg Meanwell and they live in Buckfastleigh and Blossom’s Dad is Christian Murison and they live in Totnes. An updated phone list is attached. The Parent Handbook has also been updated and is in pigeonholes.
Teacher in Charge
Phone number and email address
To aid communication the school publishes a Parent phone list for parents and members of the school community.
The school office and certain members of the school community e.g. Parent group coordinators, may prefer to send you some information by email if you are willing. Please would you sign below to indicate your agreement to your phone no. and email address (if relevant) being used for these purposes.
I would prefer not to receive information by email □ (Please tick)
Signed:............................................ Print name:.............................................Date:......................