In Review: Autumn 2022

In a term which began with a different monarch, a different Prime Minister, and numerous different education secretaries, a cost of living crisis felt both at home and in school, and all manner of other external pressures, there may be cause to celebrate just getting to the end of term in one piece. But our value of growth means we are always driving forward to do more and be more for the children in our care. I capture a summary of some of that growth under various headings below, and how we are looking to keep moving forward in each area.

Personal Development - Through Assemblies

After today’s Headteacher Award assembly, a parent commented on how encouraging it is that the children get to engage in such moments of reflection and personal growth in assemblies each week. It caused me to reflect that as a staff we may take for granted just how much goes into the personal development of our children through our assembly programme because it is so normal to us. My only correction is that it is not every week but every day! Being able to nurture what we hope will become lifelong habits of reflection and awareness of self and others, is crucial to children flourishing both now and later in life.

This half term, our assembly focus has been kindness. From being kind to ourselves through to how to be kind to our planet, it has been great to focus on this fundamental value in our school, and hopefully, through the children, an increasingly fundamental value in our society.

Support from the churches enhances this provision so much. In Revd Karen’s absence this term, the St John’s Church team have stepped in more often, providing weekly assemblies which have inspired the children with many memorable moments. Our great thanks to Revd Anna, Jay, Ezra and Sarah in particular for all their support.

Next - We have been challenged as a church school to call these 15 minutes each day by their formal title ‘collective worship’, rather than the generic word ‘assembly’ that we are used to. We’re not satisfied that either phrase is necessarily the best way to sum up what these times are for us and will look to explore this with the children next term.. Our theme for next term is ‘People who made a difference’. Staff will focus on people throughout history, and the Church team will help us to learn about difference makers in the Bible and what we can learn from them.

Personal Development - Pupil Leaders

As a junior school, one of our aims is to develop children’s leadership skills and courageous advocacy - looking to stand up and bring change to the world around them. This term we have new house captains who have led tours of prospective parents, planned and led the harvest and Christmas services (wasn’t the Christmas service such a joy!), and who will be leading on our charitable work in the term ahead. But there are multiple other leadership groups: children’s council have been discussing and suggesting ways we can grow in our safeguarding practices, and the eco warriors (with their beautiful handmade badges) have just started their important work in improving our environmental impact as a school.

This term has also seen our school selected as a London representative on the National Younger Leadership Group - a national steering group of young people who influence the work and direction of the Church of England. The children involved will be looking to make a difference that goes far beyond our local community.

Next - We will soon be reviewing our behaviour policy. Whilst in large part our approach is appropriate and successful, we know there are ways we can adapt and grow. We will be seeking your views as well as those of the children early in the new term.

Academic Attainment and Progress

A school’s core function and one that makes it possible to compare progress of a school’s provision over time and against others. Every year group is different so there is always fluctuation, but we are delighted with the progress and outcomes of our children. Our 2022 SATs results were above national and Richmond averages in all measures (see graph below).

And children in all year groups continue to make good progress. Our recent pupil progress meetings saw thorough review and discussion of the progress of all children and who and how to best support them to all keep moving forward in their learning no matter their starting points.

Next - Teachers will be in touch early in the new term to seek support at home in one or two ways that they have identified will make the most difference to the children’s ongoing progress. We will also be sending books home over a January weekend for you to see their work over the Autumn Term. (Please make sure they come back the next Monday!)

Curriculum Development & Expert Teachers

For children to learn, the curriculum needs to be designed excellently, teachers need to teach the content expertly, and children need to be ready to learn. These are all huge things in their own right! We regularly review our curriculum design and development, ensuring each subject is well planned, with clear outcomes for each year which build on their learning over time from Reception up to Year 6. This term, DT, gymnastics, and French are areas of the wider curriculum that have been particularly enhanced in both their design and the confidence of teachers to teach them well. The children have been raving about DT in particular - Mrs Foley (teacher of 6FG) is working wonders in bringing this subject to life!

We are never the finished article and we all have so much potential to discover. Each year we commit to supporting multiple members of staff to really stretch themselves in their professional development. Last year, a highlight was training up teaching and learning support assistants to become teachers; this year, it is teachers in particular who are being stretched with two teachers undertaking national professional qualifications in both special educational needs and curriculum development. Both the assistant headteachers and I are also undertaking qualifications alongside our work which is shaping how we lead and will see us better realise our long term aims as a school.

Next - More. More subjects in focus, more coaching of subject leaders by external specialists, more growth in our practice, more brilliant learning opportunities and outcomes for our children! The teachers have a very full INSET day to look forward to in January as we continue this work.

Wider Opportunities

The order of these sections is intentional - personal development matters most - shaping the people your children are becoming, academic outcomes and excellent teaching and learning is crucial, then comes those wider opportunities that inspire and embed that learning and development.

This term has seen more than half of the children learn musical instruments or sing as part of the choir in musical showcases. A team of music specialists have overseen this provision and it is wonderful that so many children are engaging in what has the potential to grow into lifelong passions. Sport too continues to be of great importance to us, sending teams to thirteen competitions, and introducing a new feature - house sports competitions - with every child taking part in whole school netball and football tournaments as the climax to the two half term’s PE topics.

Next - Trips to London and Wiltshire, and others more locally, have enhanced topics taught already this year, and there are plenty more to look forward to, with a synagogue (Y3), an apiary (Y4), the Museum of London (Y5), and the natural history museum (Y6) just a few of the trips and events on the horizon in the new year. Also, after the success of new clubs Aero Box and Rocksteady, we are looking forward to introducing another new club next term, with Teddington Hockey Club leading hockey sessions after school on Fridays from January.

Leadership & Governance

School leaders and governors have been working on mapping the school’s future direction this term. We are finalising a longer term plan for growth including curriculum development, inclusive teaching practices, financial sustainability, and spiritual development. My particular thanks on behalf of the governing body to Rachel Bide who acted up as Chair of Governors this term while Revd Karen was on sabbatical. Rachel was generous in giving up her time in carrying out this role, supporting and challenging me as we navigated the events of the term.

Governors have overseen the performance management of staff and the development of various school policies, reading and challenging reports on areas of our practice from attendance and behaviour to the development of our relationship with HWINS. Governors have also started attending class assemblies with a representative leading the thank you at the end of each assembly - something to look out for next term where the remaining 6 classes will have their class assemblies.

Next - We will share a little more detail about our development priorities in a parent coffee morning in the new term. We will also be looking to develop our relationship with HWINS at governor level as we continue to grow more closely aligned as: two schools, one journey.

Parents & the Community

We had excellent attendance at our parent teacher meetings in October and our meet the teacher sessions back in September, and it has been lovely to have so many join us for more recent assemblies and events. Our new PTA collective have also been brilliant haven’t they? The bingo night and Christmas fair were so well attended and had a great atmosphere. Thank you to Emma, Emma, Karen and Kate (and the multitude of volunteers across both schools) for all your hard work.

Some of the money raised has already gone towards funding all new gymnastics equipment, and the PTA funds were generously matched by Hampton United Charities - helping us to update and enhance the resources we are able to provide the children in this area. We rely on this support from across our community as school funding continues to be incredibly challenging.

Next - We are planning sessions to support families in the new year, from Maths, to how to keep your children safe online. We will also be seeking your views on the school in our annual parent survey as we look to better understand where you see our strengths and areas we can further develop as a school. Parent teacher meetings will be towards the end of the Spring Term with academic progress as the focus. The PTA will be gearing up for more events for both adults and children too which I am sure will be worth getting involved in.

A term with much to reflect on and be encouraged by. I look forward to all that there will be to reflect on come Easter as we continue to work together to see every child know life in all its fullness.

Mr Chamberlin

On behalf of the the Governing Body of St John the Baptist Junior School