Mrs Bickersteth’s Week in Review 12th May 2017

A giant toadstool has been growing in the Lower School. The red and white toadstool is the creation of the talented Mrs Traynor who, with some help from pupils, has been creating props for the forthcoming Junior Production.  An extended rehearsal for the Production will take place next week, and tickets are already being reserved for the performances on 24th and 25th May. I am looking forward to seeing this production of “Alice in Wonderland”.

Following on from the Junior ESB exams which took place last week, the children have attained an excellent set of results . There were 28 entrants for these exams from Year 3 to Year 6, with the following results having been achieved: 15 distinctions; 9 merit pluses; 3 merits and one good pass. The children should be extremely proud of themselves for their achievements. The skills they have developed are so important, as these focus on communication and public speaking.  These are life skills in which it is so important to build confidence from an early age.  In the Lower School , speaking and listening are embedded in the curriculum  and  for the children who have chosen to enter the  ESB exams , this has been a valuable opportunity to gain a recognised qualification by using and applying the learning they do in school.

When your children come to school their day gets off to a flying start, as teachers make sure that the early morning time, before lessons start, are used in a variety of ways to help the children learn.  A sample of the activities that take place in classrooms after the children arrive at school from 8.25 onwards follows. This week in the Prep Department Year 2 were engaged in a grammar focus session , working on using contracted forms in  some written work; one to one reading took place in Year 1; in its regular weekly slot, older children from the Juniors went into the Prep department to listen to their “reading buddies”; one Year 5 class were busy responding to the teacher marking  in their exercise books and other children were tackling  puzzles, such as “how many squares are there on a chessboard?”; in the other Year 5 class they were completing a challenge to think of as many words as possible that began and ended in the same letter, for each letter of the alphabet and  in Year 6 there was some focus work taking place in small groups on literacy and numeracy skills.

Within school, it has been great to continue to see children gaining recognition for their hard work and achievements in different ways. Children are recognised in a variety of  ways, including receiving  housepoints – which are awarded for all aspects of work, effort and behaviour- to build up awards  to gain  their bronze, silver , gold, and  even platinum level certificates; stickers; reading rewards; class rewards; gold book and courtesy awards; individual certificates for specific effort and attainment; postcards sent home to celebrate individual achievements and the opportunity to enter house competitions throughout the year, which are always celebrated in assemblies. Already this year there have been successes celebrated in external Maths and English competitions in which CHS has  entered teams competing against other schools. As well as this, many children have received their music examination certificates in assemblies and had achievements celebrated for activities which they have done in extra-curricular areas. The Children’s University passport holders are busy gaining credits towards their CU awards too, via the range of enrichment activities that they do both in and out of school.

As the exam season approaches, the issue of testing in schools has been debated a lot in the media. In the Lower School, we assess children using a range of sources of information throughout the year. This comprises formative assessment and summative assessment. Formative assessment includes teachers assessing children’s work and moderating this with colleagues to ensure consistency; embedding assessment for learning in lessons, with teacher feedback to pupils verbally and via written comments, as well as peer and self-assessment in all subjects. Summative testing takes place regularly, so that when the Summer Term arrives, the tests that the children take are part of their routine and they are well-prepared for applying their knowledge and understanding independently in tests. Over the next week children will be taking some internal tests in Maths and English and   teachers will then be involved in marking and moderating work.  Pupil progress is tracked rigorously using the full range of assessment information which the school has for each pupil, to ensure that each child has teaching and learning in place which meets their individual needs.

Finally, it is always pleasing to receive positive comments about how pupils conduct themselves on school trips, and this week in particular Year 4 have been praised for their conduct whilst visiting Colchester Castle.

During the two Open Mornings this week visitors to the school were guided around the school by pupil helpers and  there were many positive comments received about how well the children conducted themselves, responded to questions  and on the learning that was seen taking place in the classrooms.

I hope you all have an enjoyable weekend.

Colchester High School