Firstly, 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.