Letter from the Chair of Governors
It has been a busy term so on behalf of the Governors I would like to take this opportunity to update you all that has happened.
We welcomed Wendy Fox at the beginning of term as our Executive Head Teacher. Ms Fox has been a tremendous help and support to both staff and governors and the School has already benefitted from her years of experience as Head Teacher of Four Elms School. Her appointment has also resulted in stronger links being formed between Hever and Four Elms in areas such as maths, writing, Safeguarding and IT to the benefit of both schools.
The maths subject lead at 4 Elms was invited to take part in a research project funded by the DfES. This research is focused on adapting Singaporean and Chinese maths teaching to a UK culture. As a result of our collaboration with Four Elms, Hever school is now part of this research group.
Mrs Fox and Mrs Cooke are keen to offer parents a “Breakfast Club” at school for those parents who would like the opportunity to be able to drop off their children earlier. You will receive a letter from Mrs Cooke shortly to establish if sufficient numbers are interested to make the club viable.
On the sports front the government is investing heavily in sport at school to encourage development of the PE and sport activities that schools already offer and to make improvements now that will benefit pupils joining the school in future years. The school’s Sports Premium Funding may well increase next year and we need to be focused on how we spend it, so you will soon be receiving a “Sports Questionnaire” which I would encourage you to complete and return.
Bad behaviour has unfortunately been an issue this term, particularly in Year 6 following Mr Gallagher’s departure, and it has been necessary to firmly deal with this. I know that some parents have found the new red/yellow card system rather strict, but it has had the desired effect. The children understand that unruly and disruptive behaviour and swearing will not be tolerated, and behaviour in the classroom and playground has markedly improved. I would like to thank the staff for persevering with the new system over the past few weeks, and the parents for supporting its implementation.
The senior leadership team, with the agreement of the Governors, have decided to make more use of our excellent team of Teaching Assistants to provide cover for short periods of staff absence, rather than use agency supply teachers. Agency supply teachers have more often than not been unsatisfactory, they often take little interest in the children, have no idea what the lesson plans are and do not mark books. The TA’s know the children, the curriculum and the class teacher’s plans, and inevitably end up delivering the lesson and marking anyway. In extreme cases agency staff have even had to be asked to leave during the teaching day. So the decision to utilise our own staff better for short periods of staff absence will be much more beneficial for the children.
Other staff news is that we have appointed Miss Draper to Senior Teacher to work alongside Mrs Cooke with effect from the start of Term 6. Mrs Cooke will be responsible for Special Educational Needs and will manage the Teaching Assistants, and Miss Draper will be responsible for Teaching and Learning.
Finally, I would like to update you on the exciting plans for our two new classrooms as we move towards being able to offer your children teaching in single year groups. The Board of Governors has approved the chosen builder from a shortlist, our architect will complete final negotiations with them this week, and the planning application will hopefully be resubmitted to KCC by the end of May. KCC have assured us that it will be processed as quickly as possible and so we are hopeful that we will hear within the statutory 8 weeks allowed for the Planning Office to consider it, which will give us the opportunity to deliver the classrooms in late autumn. We have chosen an eco friendly design, which will provide excellent classroom facilities. In tandem with this the Governors are working to raise the substantial funding required. We have applied to KCC for a loan to part fund the build cost and we await their decision. The classroom plans will be made available at school for you to view next term. Our team of enthusiastic Teaching Assistants are preparing a “fund raising tree” to show how the fundraising progresses, which will also involve all the children as we seek to raise much needed funds to fit out the classrooms. We will be employing a new class teacher and teaching assistant for the autumn, when Magnolia will be the first class to split.
On behalf of all the Governors I would like to thank the staff and the children for all their hard work, and wish you a happy and sunny half term.
Chair of Governors