Parents in School
A good working knowledge of the school helps to foster a better understanding and relationship between parents, teachers and children.
Parents and prospective parents are most welcome to visit during the day although it is advisable that an approach is made to the class teacher or the headteacher beforehand.
Day to day queries can be sorted out at any time by contact with the school office. If you feel that you would like to see the Headteacher, an appointment can easily be made.
Parents as Voluntary Helpers in School
The child whose parents take an active interest in their education has a natural advantage. Education is at its best when the child is supported and encouraged by interested parents. We are very appreciative of the many parents who actively support our school by being voluntary helpers. If you would like to help in school, please do not hesitate in contacting either your child’s class teacher or the Headteacher.
We are well supported by voluntary helpers and this enables us to give your child a wider range of experiences. All voluntary helpers complete a basic induction to ensure that they are aware of safety procedures and to ensure an awareness of the responsibilities that go along with this role. A police check also takes place.
Friends of Blue School
The Friends of St. Columb Minor Academy is a very active Parent/Teacher/Community group. It helps raise funds for the school but its main function is to organise events which bring the school, parents and the community closer together. The group meets on the first Monday of every month at 6.00 p.m. at school. We are always on the look out for new members. If every parent helped once during their child’s time at the school we would be overwhelmed with support! Remember that every child benefits from the work of this group.
St. Columb Minor Academy is at the heart of the community. We invite all parents and members of the wider community to feel part of our school and to uphold its values and standards.
When your child is unwell
As you know only too well, children do from time to time fall ill. Sometimes the illness is very slight, sometimes it is more serious. Children normally like to run about and play, so if your child appears ‘off colour’ unusually quiet and lifeless, there’s probably something wrong. When a child is obviously unwell, the best place to be is at home with a grown-up. Do not send an unwell child to school; the child will be unhappy and unable to cope with school work. If the illness is infectious, other children and the teachers may also become ill, so your child must be kept at home.
Headlice - can be a problem in all schools as so many heads are in close proximity. When headlice are spotted in school we would prefer parents to come and collect their children and take them home to treat immediately. If you find lice/nits in your child’s hair please inform the headteacher so that a letter can be sent to parents advising them to check their children’s heads. Hair hygiene is the responsibility of the parents. If you are in any doubts as to what to do, the school nurse will be happy to give advice.
If your child is having medical treatment you should tell the class teacher about it. If the doctor has said medicine should be taken once, twice or three times a day please give it at home. Occasionally a doctor’s prescription may make it necessary for medicine to be taken at midday even though he/she regards the child is fit to attend school. In these circumstances, please explain the position to the class teacher who will ask you for written consent to administer the medicine or ask you to be present at school to give the medicine. The Headteacher cannot guarantee that medicine left at school will be administered. Please organise your day so that medicines are not necessary at school.
If your child is unwell in school you may be contacted and asked to take your child home. For this reason it is important that you update us with any changes of address/phone number.
Accidents in School
Occasionally accidents may happen. All such accidents are recorded and appropriate treatment given. Parents are informed verbally or by letter if deemed necessary. Head bump notifications will always be by letter.
The Curriculum Today
Every child of statutory age follows the syllabus set down by the National Curriculum. They all study:
English, Science, Maths, Art, History, Geography, Physical Education, Design Technology, Music, Information Communication Technology. They also study Religious Education and Personal, Social and Health Education (P.S.H.E.)
We offer a broad, balanced curriculum so that every child may progress and succeed at their own level. We organise our subject teaching in a cross curricular style using the International Primary Curriculum as the basis for our teaching. We place great emphasis upon the importance of Reading, Writing and Mathematics and believe that the development of these skills are the responsibility of everyone. Every child is regularly assessed so that we can consider progress, match work appropriately and plan for their future.
We believe that children learn best from first hand experience and encourage learning by ‘doing’. We also value the basic skills because they form the building blocks of future learning.
We have high expectations and standards which we believe all children should strive to attain. We offer an active, exciting curriculum in a stimulating environment.
Foundation Stage Curriculum (First Year in School)
From the time that children enter our school, we treat them as individuals. All children will be at very different stages of development and it is important to prepare a sound foundation using your child’s talents and strengths to study the National Curriculum from the age of five.
An essential part of the curriculum in these early years is play which is well structured and provides opportunities for pre reading skills and the development of language and mathematical concepts, as well as important personal, social skills and physical skills in a happy and well organised classroom. Experiences are planned using the national ‘Foundation Stage’ curriculum framework. This sets out six areas of learning; Personal, Social and Emotional, Language and Literacy, Mathematics, Knowledge and Understanding of the World, Creative and Physical development.
Children area assessed, throughout this very important year, against the six areas of learning using the Foundation Stage Profile which is shared with all parents.
Wherever possible we introduce activities through drama, art/craft and music with opportunities to use computers from day one.
The quality of education for our youngest children is crucial, with emphasis placed on what they can do rather than what they cannot.
The Key Stage 1 Curriculum (The next two years in school)
Within Key Stage 1 we continue to build on the excellent foundations of learning and behaviour gained in the first year, through partnership with parents and governors. Children are offered a broad and balanced curriculum which meets the needs of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 1.
All work is planned within the whole school framework reflecting the school’s International Primary Curriculum. English and Maths are covered on a daily basis. Most subjects are now taught through a topic approach. Schemes of work in Science, History, Geography, Design Technology, Music, Art and Physical Education are planned to come under umbrella themes so that cross curricular links can be exploited.
Religious and Moral Education is also included and encompasses work in three of the major religions. All children attend school assembly which includes stories and information from all of the major religions (including festivals), awe and wonder of the natural world and an act of religious worship.
Sex education is taught at an appropriate level in Key Stage 1. Topics such as looking after ourselves and living things are part of the Science Curriculum. A Personal Social and Health Education (P.S.H.E.) scheme underpins this time in school.
All children are given time to learn about living and learning together with a growing responsibility for independent learning and being happy and healthy. As part of our partnership with home we expect all children to read regularly and learn weekly spellings/tables with their parents.
The Key Stage 2 Curriculum (The last four years in school)
Children join us at the age of 7 after 3 years in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. They begin the second stage of the National Curriculum which is known as Key Stage 2.
We have four year groups. These are known as Years, 3, 4, 5 and 6. We have two classes for each year group. This gives us eight classes. Parallel classes follow a parallel curriculum and teachers/teaching assistants plan in teams together.
All of our children follow the National Curriculum and Religious Education syllabus at an appropriate level for their stage of development. Subjects are generally taught in a cross curricular way using the International Primary Curriculum as the basis. Schemes of work are planned within the whole school framework. There are times when we use specialist teachers to deliver lessons across the whole Key Stage.
Our classes are well resourced and offer a very stimulating environment in which the children are offered a rich, broad based curriculum. Careful planning by staff ensures a continuous passage with appropriate development throughout the age ranges.
In all areas of the curriculum work is set at a minimum of three different levels to cater for different abilities. Pupils are given the opportunity to apply Information Communication Technology (I.C.T.) in every subject and I.C.T. is also taught as a subject in its own right.
Religious and Moral Education is included in subjects across the curriculum. It is also included in weekly lesson planning. All children attend school assembly which includes stories and information from all of the major religions (including festivals), awe and wonder of the natural world and an act of religious worship. Personal Social and Health Education ensures that children are helped to grow up with an awareness of their responsibilities for a healthy and happy life.
We give homework throughout Key Stage 2 and in Year 6 we formalise this in preparation for secondary school. Sometimes children choose to take work home which we always encourage. We expect all children to read regularly and learn weekly spellings/tables at home with their parents.
All of the children in Key Stage 2 are offered the opportunity to take part in our Outdoor Education Programme. This includes involvement in residential experiences. In Year 3 and 4 there is an opportunity to take part in a short break to a local outdoor activity centre. In Year 5 and 6 there is the opportunity for a whole week away. We see this programme as an important part of our children’s development.
Physical Education, which includes games, gymnastics, dance and swimming plays an important part in our curriculum.
Children must change for P.E. for safety reasons but this is particularly important at the upper end of the school where children need to be aware of personal hygiene.
Jewellery must not be worn and long hair must be tied back.
All children will have an opportunity to attend swimming lessons.
P.E. is not an optional activity and all children are expected to take part (unless withdrawn for medical reasons). We will contact parents of children who regularly do not have their P.E. kit for lessons. A letter is required for withdrawal from lessons.
Outdoor Education/Educational Visits
Educational visits are an important part of the curriculum. We believe that children learn best from first hand experience. Going out of school to look at their wider environment, visiting museums and field study centres etc. plays an important part in the learning process. The 1988 Education Act states that we are not allowed to charge for visits that take place wholly or partly in school time. Where a visit is planned, no charge is levied, but, prior to organisation, parents are invited to make a donation equivalent to the individual cost for transport, admission fees and other charges to be met in connection with the visit. No child will be barred from participating in a visit (or any activity) on the grounds that their parents are unable or unwilling to contribute. However, where 95% of visit costs cannot be met through voluntary contribution the visit will be cancelled. We do not and cannot charge other children more to subsidise non- payers. If you would like your child to take part in a visit but are finding it difficult to afford, please do not hesitate in coming to see the headteacher. Where residential trips are planned charges
will be remitted in full for board and lodgings if parents receive and can show evidence of benefits. (For further details see school’s Charging and Remissions policy).
Extra Curricular Activities
We believe in the importance and value of out of school activities. Our school offers a whole range of clubs which take place either at lunchtimes or after school. These range from music and sport to modern foreign languages. All clubs are run by staff or parents on a voluntary basis. All parents who run clubs are supervised by a teacher.
School officially begins at 8.55 a.m. Although staff arrive at school well before this time so that they may prepare for the school day, we would ask that no child arrives at school before 8.45 a.m. unless by prior arrangement with the Headteacher. Children who arrive before this time are unsupervised and therefore unsafe.
Parents are encouraged to bring their children into the Foundation Stage classrooms at 8.45 a.m. to settle their child into the classroom. Key Stage 1 and 2 children are encouraged to come in and read or engage in various starter activities from 8.45 a.m. These older pupils are left in the care of staff at the relevant school entrance.
Lunch is from 12.15 to 1.15 p.m. All children have a playtime break of 15 minutes in the morning. Our younger children also have a 10 minute fruit break between lessons 1 and 2. Children are supervised by staff and supervisors during playtimes and lunchtimes. A midday supervisor is allocated to each class and knows the children well. The school day ends for everyone at 3.15 p.m.
Punctuality and Attendance
We expect all children to arrive at school on time. Government guidelines require schools to record lateness and absence. All absence from school must be explained, preferably by letter. Please ensure that any absence is for a valid reason.
It will help us a great deal whenever your child is unexpectedly absent e.g. through medical or family reasons if you could phone the school first thing in the morning. If we do not hear from you our Administrator will phone you to find out why your child is absent. When your child returns a note should be written to confirm the absence. If it is a planned absence, such as for a family holiday there are appropriate forms to complete which are available at the office. (See below)
For safety reasons, no child is allowed to leave school during the day unless collected by a parent or responsible adult. Please let us know in advance if your child is to be collected during the school day.
We would also like you to write a note if your child is to be excused from P.E. or swimming.
Cases of persistent or unexplained absence or lateness will be referred to the Education Welfare Officer.
Holiday in School Time
Annual holiday patterns are nowhere near as fixed as was once the case and we do understand that parents cannot always avoid taking their child out of school. However, we would advise you to try to avoid this, especially now that the National Curriculum lays down specific levels of attainment for pupils at different ages. While the ‘odd fortnight’ might appear to be of little consequence, parents should appreciate that a fortnight’s school time lost each year is the equivalent of almost a full term’s schooling across the primary years.
Where holidays need to be taken during term time, forms requesting absence are available from school. These must be completed and returned to the school office prior to the absence. Failure to do this will result in an unauthorised absence.
Parents are entitled to request permission to take children on family holidays during term time for up to a total of 10 school days each year. This may be granted by the Headteacher at their discretion taking account of the pupil’s previous attendance record. Any days beyond this will be recorded as unauthorised and recorded on the child's annual report.
Governors will not grant permission for holiday leave for Year 6 pupils during the national SATs period. (This is the time of the national examinations)
Health and Safety
It is our prime responsibility to keep all of our children safe. We strive to ensure a safe environment within which the welfare of the children is of paramount importance.
To ensure this safety it is vital that the children obey all school rules which are mainly designed to ensure safety and order in our school.
Children are involved in regular practices to ensure safe evacuation of the building in the event of fire. The Headteacher and Governors are responsible for organisation of such practices.
Entry and Exit to School
We expect Key Stage 1 children to be brought to and collected from school. We encourage parents of Key Stage 2 children to do the same. Key Stage 1 children will not be released from school if a parent does not arrive, or if the parent has not informed the school of a change of usual arrangement. External doors are locked when school begins. Latecomers must use the front entrance and will be signed in by a member of the office staff. All adults visiting our school will be asked to sign in and wear an identity badge. Staff will challenge any adult not following procedures.
The security of our children in the playground is taken very seriously. Any unauthorised adults on the playground will be challenged. Please do not cross the play area during the school day or attempt to contact your child over any of our fences.
It is our expectation that every child in our school should feel confident, happy and safe. As a good, caring school we have high expectations in terms of behaviour and attitude. We operate a positive behaviour policy which recognises the importance of mutual respect for all.
Every member of the school community has the right to be treated with respect.
Every member of the school community has the responsibility to treat others with respect.
Good behaviour is praised at all times and is rewarded for all through “Golden Time” on Friday afternoons.
Children who do not display positive behaviour at any time may lose their entitlement to 10 minute periods of Golden Time. (Opportunities to earn this time back will be offered.)
Children are encouraged to recognise positive behaviour both in themselves and others.
Each class has its own “Code of Conduct” which is negotiated with the children and on display in the classroom.
The school has a Code of Conduct (Promises), developed through the Children’s School Council. This council has a representative from each class who meet and share the views and ideas of the children on a variety of issues.
In the event of a child displaying persistently difficult behaviour, a senior member of staff is available to support all staff and identify appropriate sanctions. In the case of serious misconduct; bullying, violence etc, the Headteacher will contact the parents immediately. Subsequent evidence of positive behaviour will be encouraged and recognised
If a child persistently fails to uphold these values then we would expect parents to support the school in disciplining their child. We believe that education is a partnership and that home and school working together is the most effective way to sort out difficulties. We involve parents from an early stage in an effort to avoid more serious problems.
Severe cases of indiscipline, if ever they occur, will be dealt with by excluding the child from school. Similarly spending lunchtime in school is a privilege, which if abused would be withdrawn.
Our Rules (We call them ‘School Promises’)
On entry to our school, children are introduced to our school rules. At the beginning of each year our rules are reinforced through whole school assemblies. Safety and respect form the basis of our rules.
Regularly all of the children across the school are consulted about what they want as school rules. Each class is represented by their council member at our School Council meetings, which are chaired by Ali one of our Assistant Headteachers. After discussion and further consultations with classes we agree a set of rules for the school. The children feel that it would be better to call them ‘promises’ so that everyone realises how important they are to keep.
They are currently as follows:
Respect ourselves, other people and their belongings
Try to keep to the virtues
Treat everyone equally
Be positive about our learning
Cherish our relationships
Choose our behaviour carefully
Care for each other and the school
Do everything to the best of our ability
We hope that you’ll agree that the children have chosen well. If we all keep these promises we will be happy, healthy and safe.
If rules are broken it will be the classteacher who initially deals with the child. If problems are more serious the Key Stage Leader and parents will be involved.
In cases of persistent indiscipline the Headteacher or Assistant Headteacher will become involved and exclusion may be necessary.
The following cases of gross misconduct will lead to immediate exclusion.
1. Physical violence against staff
2. Verbal violence or swearing aimed at staff
3. Serious physical assault on another child
4. Serious deliberate disruption of classroom environment putting others at risk.