Setting the record straight!

Many People Thinking of QuestionsFirstly, I want to say thank you to the whole school community for making me feel so welcome during my first week here at Selsdon. There is a lovely sense of community and a terrific warmth. I have quickly come to realise what a great school this is. I don’t think that I am betraying any confidences by stating what you already know, that the school has been in trouble for some time.
I was asked to come to Selsdon as I have a proven track record in steering a troubled school back in the right direction. In order to do this, I have introduced a number of new policies to the school. I shared these with the staff during the Inset days last week and we have agreed to implement them. I am hoping to spend at least a year here at Selsdon, this is of course a decision to be made by both governing bodies, but I am keen to see the whole year through.
I know that it is unsettling when things change, especially when there is a change in leadership.  I have heard that there are a number of rumours circulating around the playground and classrooms. This is only natural and I can understand that this has created some anxiety. I have received a number of private messages via the feedback option on the blog asking questions and letting me know that a lot of questions are being asked. In the spirit of openness, and without naming anyone, I thought it would be useful to answer the questions raised here so that everyone can see the discussion. If there is something you have heard, and I haven’t addressed it here, please leave me a comment below, catch me when I am in the playground or make an appointment to come and see me in school.

Additional help for Special Educational Needs (SEN) has been scrapped

This is not true. The school does not have a good track record in ensuring that children with SEN make excellent progress. There are a large number of experienced Teaching Assistants, all with experience of supporting SEN employed at the school. I have reorganised these staff so that they are supporting the children with the most need in their classrooms.
There were too many ‘exclusion’ and time-out rooms which meant that some of the children with the greatest need, spent most of their time away from their teacher. I believe that the class teacher provides the best quality teaching for all of the pupils. This is particularly important for children with SEN. In short the support is still there, but it takes place under the direction of the class teacher within the classroom.
Our SENcO, Kate Jenkins, is always available to meet with parents. She helps the teachers to provide detailed plans and support for children with SEN. Our Parenting Support Worker, Helen Moseley, is also available to offer any advice and support you need in relation to your child’s education and well-being. We also have a school counsellor available .

The Rainbow Room, RTC and Sunshine Room have been scrapped.

This is true. See above. However, the Rainbow Room is still available for those children who need to spend a short period of time in a quieter setting with the adult who is supporting them.

Some classes have no writing equipment.

This is not true. Stock was ordered over the summer and there is plenty of money in the budget for extra. I did find that no new mini-whiteboards were ordered. These have been ordered now, but have not yet arrived.

Star of the week has been scrapped.

This is true. We have a range of reward systems in our new Behaviour Policy which replace star of the week. Every class now has a ‘Golden Child‘ chosen every day.

Red ties for Year 6 have been scrapped.

Initially this was true. However, several Year 6 pupils came to my office on Friday and asked if I would reinstate this. I have now done this and will add this to our Behaviour Policy.

Parents and carers are not going to be allowed to help out in classrooms, on trips etc…

This is absolutely not true! Since opening the school to pupils last Wednesday I have made enormous efforts to invite parents and carers into school.  On my first morning, I spent time introducing myself to parents and families at the school gate. It quickly became clear that there was a general view that the school did not welcome parents or carers into the building. Later that morning I reprogrammed the front gate to enable parents to come into the playground earlier in the morning and the afternoon. Starting tomorrow, I have asked parents and carers to bring their children right into the classrooms. The message I would like to put across in the strongest possible way is that parents and family members are warmly welcomed into school. Please come in and help as much as you can!

The Headteacher’s monthly tea party has been scrapped.

This is true. However, I have introduced a new merit system and those children who earn enough merits to gain the Headteacher’s Award will be invited on a special trip with me at the end of the summer term.

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Susan Papas View All →

Executive Headteacher

27 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hi there I feel so excited about you coming to selsdon primary, I really feel you can turn our school around One thing that needs to be addressed is bullying, we need to deal with this issue promptly and also the bullies must be published according . I really don’t think our school up till now has dealt with this, please can you lay strict guide lines out for this .

  2. Hello ‘mum’!

    I take a firm stance against bullying in all its forms! Most issues will be dealt with promptly using our new Behaviour Policy. I will introduce a system for recording allegations of bullying which usually nips any of this behaviour in the bud.

    Best wishes


  3. Hello,
    Will the children in year 1 be streamed according to ability?
    This seemed to work very well in reception, however we are unsure if it was to follow through to year 1 ?

  4. Hi, I am a little disappointed that you will only be in this post for a year maximum. Can you really make that much difference in a year and surely any subsequent head will make a new set of changes to suit their style of management. Would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you

  5. I do not think a part-time Head teacher is what the school needs and can not understand the thinking here. With the high turn over of staff and staff absence in general the children need some sort of stability.

  6. Hello Mr Reynolds,

    Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. I will make it a priority to deal with bullying of all kinds in school to ensure that everyone in our school community feels safe and secure here.

    I understand from our conversation last week that there are a number of issues that you, and other parents, feel strongly about. As I said to you then, I do not want to spend too much time on what has already been. I would like to focus what we need to do now, which is raising the standard of teaching to ensure that every child makes good progress in reading, writing, maths and science.

    I look forward to working alongside you to make this happen!

    Best wishes


  7. Hello Maria,

    In short – yes! I certainly can make a significant difference in a year. If I couldn’t, then I would have no place here! I understand your concerns about the changes and your uncertainty about the future. However, the changes I have introduced are simply examples of good practice that any Headteacher worth their salt would introduce. So whilst I might expect anyone coming after me to make a few adjustments, the policies now in place should serve the school well, going into the future.

    As a matter of fact, I took Croydon’s Head of School Improvement around the school on Friday. He was very impressed in the changes made to the school already. He commented on the relaxed and happy feel around the school, something I am led to believe, was not the case last term.

    I am very exited about being here, and I think Selsdon Primary is a lovely school. I think that by working together we can enable our pupils to achieve to the highest level. I am certain that the Governors, and the Local Authority, will ensure that whomever follows me will share the same vision and ambition.

    Best wishes


  8. Hello Year Six Parent,

    I agree, the children here certainly do need stability! To reassure you, I will be spending the bulk of my time here this year. My aim is to create a happy successful school which serves every pupil well. By doing this, I am hoping that staff will want to stay! I cannot promise that staff will not leave over the next year, but if they do, then they are not right for this school.

    I will be keeping a clear focus on improving the quality of teaching. I hope that you will see a dramatic improvement in your child’s progress this year.

    I look forward to working with the whole school community to make Selsdon the school of choice for every parent in the local area.

    Best wishes


  9. Hi Susan,
    Thank you for your reply. I wish you well this year and hope that all parents will fully support any improvements you make. Having 2 children in selsdon primary obviously your commitment is very important to me as it is all parents. I hope that that governors will therefore consult with you on your replacement, so the school will continue to improve and attract/keep good staff.

  10. I agree – the changes Susan’s made so far have been very positive. We’re all looking forward to a really exciting year ahead and already we can see the benefits, for example inviting parents into school in the morning makes the school feel more open and welcoming.
    We are all working very hard to improve the children’s achievement and every single member of staff is dedicated and committed to this goal. I’m sure we will get there with Susan at the helm and a strong team behind her.

  11. Hi Susan, thanks for updating us on changes so far, some of which I am not so sure I agree with, but will follow with interest.

    One of my biggest areas of concern is the comment by ofsted in its last report on the quality of teaching from year 3 and above. Can you advise us what measures you are putting in place to improve teaching standards in the school please? With a daughter now in year three, this is clearly of immediate concern

  12. Hello Year 3 Parent,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Improving the quality of teaching is my primary concern. I would agree, teaching at Selsdon has not been good enough which is reflected in the unacceptably low progress made by many of the pupils.

    The first thing I have done is to introduce a new behaviour policy; if the children are not listening, taking care of each other or showing respect for those around them, very little learning will take place. I have also introduced a new marking and feedback policy as well as a new teaching and learning policy. Now that these are in place, and all staff are aware of my expectations, the leadership team and I will be regularly monitoring teaching and pupil progress. If any teacher is graded anything less than ‘good’ then they will be given clear targets (with support) to improve. This will be followed up within two weeks. This process will be repeated until all of our teachers are graded at least good/outstanding.

    Alongside this we will be regularly tracking pupil progress in reading, writing and maths. Pupils will all be given targets which we expect them to achieve within half a term. We will be using our experienced teaching assistant team to support any pupils who are not on track to make at least good progress.

    We will also be introducing workshops for parents and carers where our teachers will teach the parents and carers some of the strategies that we use in school. This will be followed up with homework related to this particular area of learning.

    These are all strategies that I have used before, and have proved very successful in many schools.

    I hope that this has reassured you.

    Best wishes


  13. Thank you for your reply and I do feel reassured that you have some practical measures in place to address this issue. I have to say I had no issues with the quality of teaching my daughter had received to year two but the ofsted report did concern me. In fact I was pleased that her ability was recognised and a commitment given to not let her ‘coast’ but to push her to reach her full potential. I do hope this desire to push individuals to their full ability will continue and doesn’t get lost. I look forward to the workshops but put in a plea that you provide a variety of dates, times and plenty of notice so working parents can attend too! I look forward to meeting you…

  14. Thank you Adrian,

    Point taken! Selsdon is a great school, a point I have repeatedly made on here. However, there is no avoiding the fact that the school has not been as successful as it should have been. I am very impressed by the staff who have been at the school for some time, they are positive and really hardworking, wanting the best for our children.

    Best wishes


  15. Harry,

    I think to be fair to the leadership team, they could only do what they were allowed to do under the previous Headteacher. I have found all of the staff, including the leadership team, to be incredibly positive and keen to make changes. They are, without exception, extremely hardworking and care very much about the school. I have every confidence that any improvements that are made will be followed through into the future.

    Best wishes


  16. In general i had no problems at all with the members of staff that had any dealings with my daughter. She has now moved up to year 3 and although I had read the ofstead report I did not let this worry me too much as I was happy to hear which teacher my daughter was getting for this year and I have every confidence that ms peacock will not fail my daughter and besides this as a family we will give my daughter any support with her education at home and in school. I feel that if a child is happy within their environment and they feel comfortable with the person or people teaching them that they are more willing to learn and to listen. my daughter had major issues coming to school last year (separation anxiety from me) and I found on the couple of times I managed to sneak in and take her to her classroom that she went in much better instead of the crying and clinging to me, which is also upsetting for us parents and now she is over the moon that I can take her to her classroom, which has made such a difference to her. My only problem I had and hope not to have it this year is that I became very confused and frustrated of my dealings with staff over my daughters absences’. So far I feel the changes are great for the children and the only thing I would possibly change would be girls not having to wear ties, I understand the need for uniforms but when do you ever see a woman in the work place wearing a tie, I just feel they don’t look right on girls ….!

  17. Hello ‘a mum’,

    I agree! The governors and Local Authority are working on this and we will let you know the longer term plans as soon as we can. In the meantime I am totally committed to Selsdon Primary and I am working hard to ensure that there is a marked improvement in the quality of teaching and pupil progress.

    Best wishes


  18. Dear Harry,

    I thank you for your best wishes. As other parents have commented, we now need to focus on the here and now, and work together to make sure that our children achieve to the very highest level.

    Best wishes


  19. Hi all, I think that this school has the chance to move onwards and upwards. I agree that working together is the way forward. As a parent, I think that we need to work with the school to better our children’s life experience, they only get to go through school once and we need to make this as enjoyable and beneficial for them as possible! But we must also lead by example, as parents, we must take responsibility that our children pick up our habits, opinions and beliefs. But we must remember that a child is born innocent, no concept of race, colour, gender, sexuality, let them keep that innocence! I look forward to working with OUR school to make it the best we can make it.

  20. Hello,
    I was wondering if you had a response to my question regarding year 1 ? Also when will you be doing the curriculum meetings that were canceled ?

    Thank you

  21. Hello Gemma,

    Forgive me. I thought I had replied! From what I understand from the Year 1 teachers, they will continue to stream for phonics. If you catch your child’s class teacher tomorrow morning I am sure that she can explain how they are teaching this year.

    Best wishes


  22. Thank you I will ask tomorrow !
    As to the curriculum meeting I am very interested in attending, as I understand the children in year 1 will be having a phonics test this year so would like information about when this takes place, and the best way to help my child prepare !

    Thank you

  23. Sorry Gemma. I’m not on the ball this evening!

    The curriculum meetings will be replaced with workshops. The dates, focus and times have yet to be agreed. We hope to plan these this week, once we have we will post all of the information here.

    Best wishes


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