Another busy week draws to the end. Thank you to those parents who attended the forum on Wednesday. It was very helpful to hear your views, and your continuing commitment to the school is heart-warming. We have taken your concerns on board and will endeavour to address issues at every level. I will send a separate letter with more information about the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust next week. Dan Morrow (CEO) is looking forward to coming out to talk to parents about the vision and values of the Trust and how it could benefit Milton Abbot in the very near future. I assumed all stakeholders had received more information about our involvement in the managed partnership and the nature of the Trust. As I mentioned last week we operate an open door policy and always welcome your thoughts or ideas. If you have any concerns or worries don't hesitate to come in and see us. Everyone wants Milton Abbot Primary to thrive, to ensure the children can achieve at the highest level.
Leadership Team at Milton Abbot
We feel it is very important that parents understand the nature of the leadership team and can put a name to a face. Finding a full-time suitably experienced head to lead Milton Abbot and accelerate school improvement would have taken a considerable period of time to recruit. Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust felt placing very experienced leaders with a range of expertise would be an excellent option for the school. Mrs Underwood, Mrs Stevens and myself liaise via Teams at least twice a week to ensure there is consistency across the school. We have a shared action plan and are determined to ensure every child loves school and is engaged and challenged by their learning at all times.
Early next week we will be sending home a leaflet providing more information on our Milton Abbot team, complete with photos of the people you see regularly around school.
Debbie Buckingham: I have a part-time contract with the Trust and will be in school on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. As I mentioned before I have been long term head of several schools and have been seconded by the Local Authority several times to support schools for short periods of time.
Elizabeth is a very experienced Headteacher and an Executive Principle in the Trust. She will be working on a Tuesday
Suzie is the Principal of St James Church of England Primary and Nursery School and an Associate to the Primary Executive Board of the Trust. She is an Early Years Lead Teacher and will bring great expertise to our early years unit. She will be in school on a Friday
Debbie Buckingham Elizabeth Underwood Suzie Stevens.
This week in Tawny Owls we have begun our investigations within our Design and Technology lessons, we explored how wheels and axles work as well as how we could make them move without us pulling or pushing the mechanism along the floor. Some great discussions were had and the children all persevered very well.
In our RE lesson, we looked at the holy book within Islam and what it means to Muslims. The class made their own mini Qur'an fact books and could recall so many key facts.
Within our History lesson this week we learnt all about Hadrian's Wall; including how it was built, why it was built and who built it. Tawny Owls loved creating their own mini walls in their books - not made out of real bricks but real facts and new knowledge!
We also enjoyed speaking to Mr Hill, Maths Lead across Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust, who visited on Tuesday, about our amazing Maths lessons. He was blown away by the children's high level of understanding, oral skills when discussing their work as well as their presentation skills.
This week we have been carrying on with our learning about Hinduism. The children have focused their learning on what ‘Atman’ is within Hinduism as well as looking at sacred texts / stories which guide Hindus towards goodness. The children learnt the story ‘The Man in the Well’ by completing some roll play / acting and which is one of the Hindu stories centred around hope and being a good human. Great acting and fun for all.
Today was Eagle Owls first ‘Forest School’ session. They had a great time in our lovely school grounds and spent the time recapping forest school rules and safety as well as playing outdoor activities and discussing shelter / den construction techniques.
It's been another great week of learning in Barn Owls!
In maths this week we’ve been continuing our work with height and length. Year 2 had a wonderful time measuring the school in metres following their previous focus on centimetres. They are now moving on to comparing measurements and solving word problems. In Year 1 we’ve been focusing on measuring with non-standardised forms of measurement and discussing the most suitable way to accurately measure objects.
Year 6 Transition
Our year 6 pupils received notification of their secondary school places this week. I hope that you were all pleased with the allocations that you received. Please respond to your offer before Tuesday 15 March 2022. We will make sure there is an effective transition programme for our Year 6 pupils.
.To our Milton Abbot families
What a great week I have had in school!
I am really excited at the prospect of working with your children. Everyone has made me feel very welcome this week especially your fabulous children. I have been working in education for nearly forty years, twenty years as a headteacher and several years as a school improvement advisor. My last substantial post was at a large school in Exeter for 12 years and I have led several small schools across the county. Last year I was seconded by the Local Authority to run Mary Tavy and Brentor School.
Working in partnership with parents is fundamental to the smooth running of the school and your input is highly valued. Next week we will be starting a regular face to face forum to hear your views, communicating our vision for the school and discussing how a managed partnership with Dartmoor Academy Trust will benefit your children. I would like to hold the first meeting on Wednesday 9th March at 6.30pm in the school for all parents. We are fortunate to be working with an expert team from Dartmoor Academy Trust and are committed to improving your lovely school to ensure all children achieve their very best. As a Headteacher I have always believed it is important to operate an open door policy to ensure parents feel comfortable about sharing their views. If you have any concerns or worries about anything don't hesitate to contact the school at any time. One of the first things we need to do is improve communication, both at school and class level. We want to celebrate your children's learning with you and the school's achievements. We want to provide more clarity about what your children are learning and how you can help them. Please come to the forum next week where we can meet face to face and talk about the future for Milton Abbot.
World Book Day
Thankyou for making such an effort with world book day. It was wonderful to see the whole school dressed up and the children celebrating their favourite authors and book characters. There was a very special shared reading experience across the whole school at the end of the day.
This week, assemblies have focussed on the crisis in Ukraine. Rather than have a whole school assembly I tailored the assemblies to Key Stage 1 and 2 to suit the age of the children. Your children were very knowledgeable and keen to contribute their thoughts and understanding. Save the Children offer some very good advice for parents when dealing with children's questions.
"What is happening in Ukraine can be frightening for both children and adults. Ignoring or avoiding the topic can lead to children feeling lost, alone and more scared, which can affect their health and wellbeing. It is essential to have open and honest conversations with children to help them process what is happening,”
Experts at Save the Children share five tools and tips that caregivers can use to approach the conversation with children:
1. MAKE TIME AND LISTEN WHEN YOUR CHILD WANTS TO TALK
Give children the space to tell you what they know, how they feel and to ask you questions. They may have formed a completely different picture of the situation than you have. Take the time to listen to what they think, and what they have seen or heard.
2. TAILOR THE CONVERSATION TO THE CHILD
Be mindful of the child’s age as you approach the conversation with them. Young children may not understand what conflict or war means and require an age-appropriate explanation. Be careful not to over-explain the situation or go into too much detail as this can make children unnecessarily anxious. Younger children may be satisfied just by understanding that sometimes countries fight. Older children are more likely to understand what war means but may still benefit from talking with you about the situation. In fact, older children will often be more concerned by talk of war because they tend to understand the dangers better than younger children do.
3. VALIDATE THEIR FEELINGS
It is important that children feel supported in the conversation. They should not feel judged or have their concerns dismissed. When children have the chance to have an open and honest conversation about things upsetting them, it can create a sense of relief and safety.
4. REASSURE THEM THAT ADULTS ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE WORKING HARD TO RESOLVE THIS
Remind children that this is not their problem to solve. They should not feel guilty about playing, seeing their friends, and doing the things that make them happy. Stay calm when you approach the conversation. Children often copy the sentiments of their caregivers – if you are uneasy about the situation, chances are your child will be uneasy as well.
5. GIVE THEM A PRACTICAL WAY TO HELP
Support children who want to help. Children who have the opportunity to help those affected by the conflict can feel like they are part of the solution. Children can create fundraisers, send letters to local decision-makers or create drawings calling for peace.
After School Club
I am delighted to tell you that from next week Susie Jonas will be running after school club for four nights a week. Ocra will continue to do sports on Wednesday. This will provide continuity for your children. Susie is really excited and is starting to plan some exciting activities and opportunities for your children.
We are delighted to welcome Suzie Stevens from Dartmoor Academy Trust who will be working with our Early Years provision every Friday. Suzie is the Executive Head of St James and an Early Years specialist. She will be working with all staff in the unit to continue to improve the provision and learning opportunities for our very youngest children .
For this half term, the children are focusing on Shakespeare and the play script of Macbeth. They have learnt the story, written detailed setting descriptions of where Macbeth met the three witches and today had the chance to dissect the deeper meanings of Shakespearian English as well getting into role /completing some drama.
In DT we are focusing on ‘Electrical Controls’. This week, they linked with prior learning and constructed and drew their own electrical circuits including the use of bulbs, switches and buzzers. They are going to be working towards designing, making and evaluating their own electrical board game.