Last half term we had a visit by the Mayor of High Wycombe, Counsellor Hussain, who came to unveil a plaque celebrating the wonderful support the school has had from Tesco over the past few years, particularly the huge sums they have given us through the Bags for Life Scheme, to develop our library.
On the final Friday we had our usual school disco, with well over 100 children dancing the night away, filled with treats for the special tuck shop.
In our Singing Assembly we had our first run at a fun Christmas song, with Miss Melling leading us into a version of the Grinch Christmas song.
Everyone will soon be preparing for Christmas festivities, which we hope will include lots of singing and a good deal of baking!
We have a very special treat planned for just before Christmas (if the weather is favourable for building works) with the installation of our new Biodome, a 6 metre diametre geodesic dome, that will be a great location for lots of our science experiments, among other things. We will post pictures on the website as soon as it is delivered, which is provisionally scheduled for mid December.
What a wonderful end to last term! We had the "usual" range of Christmas events, with top marks going to the Year 3 Nativity play and to our whole school visit to St Andrews for the end of term Christmas service. We had one of our favourite social events in the final week, with over 130 children attending the school disco. A few weeks earlier we had hosted BBC's Country File and on Sunday 18 December we all sat down to enjoy watching our children out on site at a local farm, then back in school running their market stalls. It was a great advert for the school, and our children were delightful. Needless to say we were immensely proud of them. And to top it off, in the final week of term we had the delivery of our new Solar Dome, which is now in place on the bottom play ground. We now need to kit it out with flooring and seating for use as we move into the summer season.
And now we are back in full swing. This week we welcomed Isabella Mead of the Oxford Story Museum here to train out teachers in the use of story telling as part of their literacy work. Isabella and her colleagues will be working with Beechview over the next three years, with Year 5, and running a series of events, including visits to their museum, visiting authors, book clubs, and much more. It looks to be a really exciting project, to run alongside our Year 4 work with the Country Trust.
We have just booked our next visit by M and M productions, who this year will be performing Treasure Island. Last year's Dickens adaptation was a huge success, and we are hoping for an equally lively performance in the school hall in February. This week we also met with our partners at Wycombe Abbey School to plan our own Science week, which will run from 6-13 March, with lots of exciting events, starting on the first Friday with a planetarium in the Hall. Wycombe Abbey has also invited our Year 5 and 6 children to oin them in the summer term for their Giant Science day. For Year 6 this will take place immediately after they return from their residential visit to Longridge. Year 5 are also doing a residential this year, in April, so we are now in the final stages of planning both of these events.
It's going to be a busy second half of the year!
The days start to shorten and we begin to prepare for another winter. The staff 'Phone Tree' went out last week, although increasingly we depend on technology instead of old fashioned word of mouth.
It was a historic moment last Friday when we hosted our first ever all girls' team football match. This might be the only time I can boast of having a school sports team that has never been beaten. The girls had a wonderful time in the pouring rain, having stood valiantly on the sidelines to cheer our junior boys' team on before they played.
We were delighted to welcome our Country Trust partners yet again today, and all of 4 Cedar enjoyed learning how to cook lasagna. Ms Crocker tells me that the lesson got a 100% thumbs up from the class.
I was delighted yesterday to place the order for our next two major additions: another class set of Chromebooks, to be located in the Year 3 annex and this will bring us another step closer to full pupil access via wifi usable during any lesson, not just for specialist lessons. The new set will be with us before half term .
In addition we placed an order for a 6.2 metre Biodome, to be installed on the lower playground area, and usable for lessons by any class. The money, raised through a lot of hard work on the part of our Development Director, Mrs Bownass, will give us another valuable resource, particularly for teaching Science. This is all part of our concerted effort to strengthen Science teaching across the school, led by our Science lead, Ms Crocker.
Last week we hosted our other primary school partners for an after school training session, sponsored by the Ogden Trust. I've been really impressed by the amount of investigative Science on display in lessons with every year group this year. This is scheduled for installation before Christmas, and we will share photos of it in place at that time, but if anyone would like a sneaky preview, here is a link to their website, showing the sort of facility we are getting:
We have also been continuing to expand our on line learning resources. Following on from the introduction of Mathletics in July, we went on line with Times Tables Rockstars and from next week we will be offering an online resource for our EAL children via "The Learning Village" . I'm really excited about this last resource, as it will allow all of our EAL children to make even more rapid progress towards full English fluency, including access at home. More details on this in my next blog.
Another school year starts, and this one has begun with a bang.
Followers of Beechview will know several important things have occurred over the past few months.
First: In June we had our latest Ofsted Inspection. After nearly a decade of being in Special Measures Beechview has taken the all important first official step by getting a Requires Improvement judgement . While this means we have taken some important strides forward, we are definitely not complacent, or satisfied with this! We knew we had lots more to do, and in fact all of the things that Ofsted told us were things we were already working on.
This year we have started with a new, broader and more challenging curriculum, with more pace and challenge opportunities, and targeted support in key areas.
There were two other major changes this summer, one very visible to any visitor, and the other almost totally invisible, but equally important. Over the summer almost every bit of the school's roofing was replaced. Out with old, uninsulated, asbestos sheeting on the roof and in with brand new, highly insulated steel roofing. It will make such a difference to the warmth and comfort of the school, and, we hope, help to keep our heating bills down.
The less visible change was the complete replacement of our entire fresh water supply, which goes into every classroom in the school. Our old water supply was rusty brown in colour, and it is a such a pleasure to go into a classroom, or down into the Breakfast Club kitchen and see pure clean water coming out of the taps. This work cost nearly £1.4 million in total, and represents a major vote of confidence in the future of the school by the DfE as well as a big triumph on the part of our Multi Academy Trust sponsors, the Marlow Education Trust, who secured the funding on our behalf.
It is also a joy to confirm that all of the work has been completed, with builders off site by the end of the first week of term, and on budget. We still have a small amount of money left from both projects, which we are hoping will allow us to do some other much needed improvements to the school - more about these in my next Blog.
Finally, the children have also been enjoying our newly revised lunch and after school programmes After school activities have expanded, and now include Football (junior and senior teams),Netball (juniors and seniors), Drama (juniors and seniors), Cricket, the Zone and Fencing. We are hoping over time to continue to expand this selection.
Now, at lunchtimes we also offer a similar programme of activities, with at least four different clubs every day, covering a very wide range of choices - we hope something for everyone - including Football, quiet reading in the library, cooking, "culture club", creative writing (for juniors and seniors), knitting, science club, maths club and art club. It is a very busy lunch time for many children, while others continue to simply enjoy playing outdoors.
This is the time of year when many parents are looking round at their school choices for next year. We all look forward to welcoming visitors either at our various open days, or simply by calling the school office number and making an appointment to come and see our school. I look forward to meeting you.
The start of a new calendar year and the annual excitement about possible snow days. We will always try to keep our school open, but with local roads all on steep slopes and a school site that has lots of potentially dangerous external stairs, this will not always be possible. Watch our website, and the Bucks County Council School Closure website for official notices of any closures or changes to the school day.
Our Beechview Hub work continues to develop. We had a very exciting meeting with two of our partners, Marsh and Micklefield and Empower to Cook recently and enjoyed sitting in our newly refurbished kitchen. Fit and Fed have already been using it, as has our own Breakfast Club, and we agreed two weeks ago with another new partner, the Country Trust, to launch a new project with our Year 4 children and their families, this term. The Trust will be helping to run sessions in the kitchen, and in our raised beds and poly tunnel, to ensure that Year 4 get a real understanding of growing and eating food, and learn more about the countryside and healthy eating.
We were delighted to hear that no fewer than SEVEN of our children were national winners in a recent writing competition. The "what would you bring" competition sponsored by Strangely Magical Competitions, challenged the writer to imagine what they would take along with them if they suddenly had to go and live in a strange new country. Well done to all our children but special congratulations go to Nikki 5W, who was a grand prize winner for her story 'Lucy and the Necklace'. You can read all of the prize winners on their website: www.strangely magical.com/competitions.
Some recent comments from visitors to the Academy:
I have noticed a huge improvement in the school and it is a much happier place. - PARENT
I am really pleased with the help and support the school has given our family. - PARENT
What a great welcome to the school, I can see how much it has improved since I came here last. - BUCKS SOCIAL WORKER
Your school is like a Genie's lamp, not so good from the outside but magical on the inside! - PARENT
The school has got a totally different feel to it, much more positive and you can feel it throughout the school. - 6 to 7 Transfer Support
The school is moving in the right direction and we can see that the welfare and well-being of the children is being fully supported here. - School Nurse
The school is much more approachable than it used to be. - PARENT
I'm hearing very positive messages now from neighbours with children at the school - and good reports of the new Headteacher! - Local resident and ex Headteacher (Different LA)
My child is in Year 6, could they go back to year 3 and start again? - PARENT
Thank you, you have already implemented so much support for this family - Family Resiliance.
I was very impressed with the support already in place and the ideas you have to develop this further to support mental health among pupils.
Your wealth of knowledge, clear understanding of mental health needs and passion will go a long way to supporting the children in your School to learn and grow in a safe environment.
I feel the work you are doing is a great model that could be shared with other school as best practice. - CAHMS
The garden project is well under way,it would be great if there were any parents who were able to give up a little time to help us with this project. We have very limited tools to do this, so if you are able to donate any tools, we would really appreciate it!
Fantastic news, our outside classroom was installed last year and since then we have been making the most of the good weather and using it to it's full potential!