At the end of every school year we have a period of reflection and look back over what we have achieved. It is really important to do this so that we can learn from what has happened and make changes and improvements where necessary, but also celebrate our successes. This reflection includes feedback from the school council, staff, governors and PTFA and from parents via the annual Governor’s questionnaire. The results of this are analysed and form the new School Improvement Plan.
The school year 2015/16 proved to be a challenging one for us all and in ways we were not expecting. We lost our dear friend, colleague and governor Glyn Davidson and the way the school community responded to this loss I think really demonstrates what sets us apart. The Catholic ethos of the school was evident in how we supported each other during this time.
One stand out memory for me this year was when the Chaplaincy Team came to a Governing Body meeting. Under the guidance of Sr Bernadette, they led a series of meditations and descriptions about their work in the school. The children were so confident in their understanding of the faith and their role in the school and were all incredibly impressive. Congratulations to them and the Pastoral Committee for this achievement.
We continue in our mission to build a spiritual and dynamic community which is enthusiastic for learning and which embraces the achievement of potential for all.
As governors we need to ensure that all our activities in school help us achieve this vision for the school.
In terms of dynamism – this can be seen in the teaching methods in the classroom – such as Kagan Cooperative Learning which ensures that all children agree actively engaged in their learning. It can also be seen in the responsiveness of the Senior Leadership Team and all colleagues to ensure that we are constantly improving. One big change that took place this year was in respect of our approach to teaching maths. The Governing Body approved the implementation of Singapore Maths which is a “teach to the top” approach and the feedback from children has been really positive. We know that the children’s understanding of maths as a subject has improved as well as their class room experience.
Governors were also actively involved in successfully bidding for money from the BIG Lottery Fund for new (and exciting) equipment in the Foundation and Year 1 playground and we look forward to these being implemented this year.
The physical environment is very important to enable teaching to be at its best and for all our children to achieve their potential. This is one of the biggest challenges for the Governing Body. The school is old and needs a constant and significant programme of development. Our Resources Committee has to prioritise and balance the spend on the physical environment. We have been successful in obtaining funding from the Local Authority and the Diocese to support this work and we have been able to progress with the refurbishment of the classrooms and toilets. This year we will need to think ever more creatively about how we continue to fund this work.
Building the school community is also a key part of our mission and the governors have supported the development of a new Senior Leadership Post to focus on behaviour, rewards and achieving the Derbyshire STOP award for anti bullying.
Enabling all our children to achieve their potential requires an excellent quality of teaching, teacher support and teaching methods. The Curriculum and Achievement Committee is responsible for ensuring that the approaches used are having the right impact on the children’s learning. We are an outward facing school, actively learning from other schools and we are also taking part in a lesson study research project aimed at further improving our maths practice.
We have a number of graduate teachers in our school this year which is fantastic. We are very proud to have two senior leaders in education – one with a maths focus, the other with an English focus. Additionally our headteacher is a local leader in education. These staff offer support to other schools, sharing some of our best practice and bringing back new ideas to our school.
You should see our governors regularly either in school, in church or in the playground. Please feel free to pass on any feedback about the school to any of our governors. We also have an email address if you would prefer to use this method firstname.lastname@example.org
St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Cross Street, Chesterfield, S40 4ST