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Norris Bank Primary School – Tabitha Smith is the Inclusion Co-ordinator and acting Deputy Head at Norris Bank Primary School in Stockport.

 

Using Working Together for Change in School

28 November 2011

This year we are going to really focus on our communication with parents, by using ‘Working Together for Change.’ Over the last few weeks, we have had two opportunities to consult with parents, and to engage with them in a positive and constructive way.Nov Blog

Prior to Parents Evening, I wrote to all parents asking them to come along a little earlier to a) read the hopes and stars aspirations of all the children b) to read the One Page Profiles that were in every child’s drawer, and to add to these if parents so wished, and c) to contribute to three comments boards.

We took the approach of asking for comments on three different areas:

1) Aspects of the school that are going well (working)

2) Aspects of the school that we could do differently, or better, or more of (not working)

3) Questions they would like answering about the school (questions to answer)

We ran this exercise twice – during Parents Evening and again at our Parents Forum. Doing this type of exercise during Parents Evening potentially opened us up to anonymous criticism; it provided parents the opportunity to make negative remarks without having to justify themselves. This did make us stop and think as it would have been easy for us to put our defences! The second time was during a much more ‘intimate’ Parents Forum whereby parents had to stand by their concerns, and to talk about them. This led onto very constructive dialogue.

We have now catalogued and grouped the comments. The very many positive comments provided a definite ‘feel good’ atmosphere amongst staff. The ‘could do better’ comments have made us think about where we go next. We have grouped all these into three categories:

1) Those comments that can be answered by giving information

2) Those comments that need us to take some sort of action

3) Those comments that we need other people to action

I will report more on this in my next blog, to explain how we will feed back to parents.

I am also continuing to feedback to parents on a monthly basis our progress towards fulfilling the Schools Agreements and the Golden Rules. Having written about the School Agreement ‘We are confident to try new things and take risks’ and the Golden Rule ‘We are kind and helpful’, this month I will focus on the School Agreement ‘We will provide lessons that engage children.’

I have written in our weekly newsletter: ‘As staff, we are very aware of the need to inspire our children – be this through an attractive work environment, or through a wide range of exciting and memorable activities. As part of our staff development, we have been focusing on the elements of outstanding teaching. Key to this is the ‘hook’ into subjects, the ‘end product’ and having high expectations of all our pupils. Our teachers are excellent at planning hands on activities to make learning memorable. They might arrange to have a visitor in, or they might go out on a visit. They might dress up and become different characters in role. So far this term, we have had a Medieval Day, a Victorian Museum, mummifying oranges (!) air raid shelters built and then bombed, Egyptian reporters investigating tombs, and numerous trips. Children’s learning is obviously greatly influenced by home.

Indeed, children spend much more time at home than at school, so we would ask that school is supported by you from home. Learning is so much easier when children are bright eyed, enthusiastic and fresh! By being involved in what your child has been learning will inspire them to learn even more. ‘