Head Teacher's Update - Autumn 2021

Head Teacher UPDATE


Autumn Term 2021

Read, Write, inc

In March this year, the school adopted a new phonics scheme through funding from the English Hub.  We have received development days and training to implement the scheme.  The decision was made for the key reasons that we were aiming to improve the consistency of phonics teaching across the school and also to find a scheme that would help us to address our lowest 20% of children, who historically were not accessing phonics as well as others.

Read, Write Inc. involves the allocation of a Reading Leader, who is a non-teaching member of staff.  The Reading Leader assesses all children who require phonics teaching and allocates the staff who teach each group.  The children are then taught in homogenous groups (by very specific and robust assessment standards).  Now that we are able, these groups can be across year groups depending on the need of every child.  We are committed as a staff team to keeping these groups as small as possible. 

Phonics and reading now takes place at 9am for all children from Reception to Year 4.  Both teachers and teaching assistants have received training to deliver the phonics scheme and this teaching is monitored regularly by the Reading Leader.  The school have also received continued support from the English Hub and Read, Write Inc.  to help us to continue to improve the delivery of the programme through the year.

The scheme itself has robust management systems that enable the Reading Leader to track the lowest 20% of children.  These children receive additional tutoring in the afternoons and teachers are actively encouraged to use additional moments of time to revisit sounds.

Furthermore, the scheme itself is highly structured and has no room for lack of consistency.  Teachers are encouraged through regular coaching and there is no deviation from the plan: this is monitored through regular supportive visits by the Reading Leader, who can look for consistency of taught language, accuracy and deliver of the scheme.  Feedback so far from all involved is highly positive.  Children are engaged with the fantastic resources and teachers feel more confident with the delivery of phonics due to the structured nature of the teaching.

Children who receive phonics teaching are also assessed by the Reading Leader every 5 weeks.  They are then re-grouped according to their new level and teachers adjust accordingly.  This further supports the progress of all children and helps to ensure that no child is left behind.

Now, 8 months later, all of those involved are more confident and children are making rapid progress in their learning.  This is so exciting to see! 

Curriculum themes around the school

EYFS – Autumn


The new children have settled so well into Reception. They are very busy bees all day long. The Reception children are now joining the rest of the school for Read Write Inc phonics. They are super at following the routines and are making great progress with their early reading.


All of the children take part in daily maths sessions and have lots of maths opportunities within our provision.  At the moment we have been exploring numbers to 5 and the different ways we can represent them. We have also been learning about repeating patterns within our provision.


In line with the new curriculum we have made lots of changes within Reception. We have reviewed our timetable and environment and made the changes needed.  As well as phonic and math sessions the children now have free play and supported play as part of their daily timetable. Free play allows children to explore lots of curious things in the environment and allows them time to develop their own fascinations and interests. Supported play is activities supported with an adult which are designed to build on children’s previous knowledge and scaffold new learning. We are loving this new way of learning and looking forward to developing this throughout the year.

Years 1 and 2 – The Rainforest


We have been exploring different Rainforests across the world and deciding whether they are Temperate or Tropical. By doing so we have been exploring planet Earth and identifying hot and cold regions. The children now good awareness of the polar regions and can talk about the Equator being hot.


When studying the Amazon Rainforest, we have learnt about the different layers and what sort of habitat these provide for the amazing creatures that live there. The children can name different layers and can tell you why various creatures choose to live there. We have also touched on deforestation and how they as children need to look after our planet else more and more animal will become extinct.


The children have loved our science sessions this term; we have focussed on animal types: Mammals, Birds, Amphibians etc.


We have then built on this learning and focussed on the terms Ominivores, Carnivores and Herbivores. This lead beautifully into creating food chains of our own.


In art we have studied Henri Rousseau and Doug Hyde; we have compared both artists and identified similarities and differences. We have explored shade and tone when drawing using pencil pressure to show light and dark.  Cross hatching was a real challenge but one the children strived to master.


Here is a selection of homework that has been produced to reinforce the learning completed in school. Work ranges from Tribal Masks to shoe box rainforests. The children have loved celebrating their work with the whole school on the communal stairs.


In Music we have been learning about rhythm and maintaining a steady beat. We will now be using these skills to perform some Christmas songs to parents. We will be able to combine this with movement and dance in PE.

Year 3 and 4 – Once Upon A Time


This term we are exploring The Stone Age to the Iron Age. Our History focus has been prioritising prehistoric Britain. This includes specific lessons on life about the stone age and how different members of society uncover the past. We have also explored animals, the difference between extant and extinct with uncovering how certain mammals became extinct. The children have a secure knowledge of the different periods within the stone age and how these changes have influence Britain today. We are also continuing this tem with artefacts, settlements and changes, farming, the Celts and monuments. We are hoping to immerse the children in their learning with a trip to Heatree which we have previously attended. This trip will enable children to experience life in that era and complete a range of activities that included: foraging, hunting, making weapons, making fires, jewelry, clay pots, porridge and den building, cave paintings and storytelling in the roundhouse.


We have been using our knowledge organisers for weekly tests to check children have a secure understanding of the key dates and information about the Stone Age.

Within writing we have explored the narrative of ‘Stone Age Boy’ by Satoshi Kitamura where the children have written their own story about either falling into the stone age for a day or having a character from the stone age experience modern day living. We are now starting our unit of writing about Stonehenge. We are going to explore the dates, conspiracy theories surrounding the stones and create a powerpoint presentation using Keynote. We are continuing our Free Write Friday sessions which help to encourage creativity and to see any gaps that need to be covered. We also have weekly spelling tests and listen to readers daily.


A change we have made this year is streaming. We have 38 children on the RWI phonics scheme which has allowed us to set SPAG sessions targeting year 3 and year 4 grammar and reading objectives. We are also going to trial streaming maths this week. This is as we have had difficulties with meeting four different year group objectives per teacher. Within maths we have explored place value and linked this knowledge through white rose planning and delivery. We have been continuing with our TTRS and Safari maths to support the understanding of multiplication. The children are tested weekly and these scores are recorded to check progress.


In Science we have been looking at ecosystems, food chains and webs. We will be linking this to life cycles and reproductive cycles this half term. Within geography we are going to be learning about the natural resources of the world and how humans have exploited these.


For design and technology, we have planned a week of enrichment where we will be having the children complete afternoons with different teachers with an outcome of making a stone age shelter.


We will be applying this technique to our art where our focus is on sewing (applique) for a bauble to sell at the Christmas fair. We will be exploring the seven different types of stitches before designing, making and evaluating our applique piece.

For music coverage we are using Charanga. The unit of work will focus on singing and playing the glockenspiels. In PSHE we are looking at healthy eating, medicine and responsibilities.


Each class continues to have a forest school slot which they use weekly to enhance topic learning and events in the calendar outside. We have also continued our links with Pilton Secondary School where we have a specialist languages teacher teach quality Spanish lessons fortnightly.


Finally, we have reinstated KS2 assemblies on a Wednesday afternoon. These are delivered by teachers on a timetabled basis and cover a range of topics – events, PSHE and wellbeing, celebrations and can be class led.


Year 5 and 6 – the second Elizabethans



Our topic this term is ‘The Second Elizabethans’. We have been exploring the significance of the Tudors upon Britain today, including the English Reformation and the enduring legacy of Queen Elizabeth I. In our art sessions, we have been studying sketching techniques, such as the proportions of the face and individual facial features, to develop portraiture skills, leading towards creating our own Tudor portraits.


Through our geography sessions, we have been developing our use of maps, atlases and compass bearings, linking both to our local area and Tudor exploration.  In RE, we have been reflecting on the overarching question of ‘Why do Hindus try to be good?’ as we explore the concepts of moksha, dharma and reincarnation.


In our science lessons, we have been developing our scientific thinking, applying our knowledge of electricity to create our own enquiries into which variables affect the brightness of a bulb in a circuit.


We have drawn on our Tudor topic to focus on the works of Shakespeare this term. In the first half of the autumn term, we developed our understanding of the context of Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, alongside familiarising ourselves with the stories of Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest. To do this, we spent time making predictions based on introductory scenes, developing our skills as performers and exploring Shakespeare’s use of language. This was then brought together to create a product of a Tempest-style narrative, with a focus on developing setting, character and atmosphere.


In the second half of term, we are moving on to study Macbeth. Many of our children are currently working with Mr Boult, as part of the Shakespeare for Schools festival, where our filming project is based on Macbeth. Over the course of this half of term, we will be creating our own expositions, stage directions and dialogue, to form our own version of Act 4, Scene 1.


We have been fortunate enough to arrange a visit to a local theatre, where we will have the opportunity to explore behind the scenes and experience the feeling of standing on stage, ahead of creating our own playscripts.


In reading, we are promoting ‘reading for pleasure’ through our Tri-reading Tournament challenge and whole book study sessions. This is enabling pupils to be guided in their reading selections whilst having access to quality texts, building stamina, daily.


This term, there is an emphasis on securing understanding of place value and developing speed and accuracy within core calculations. We have continued to use White Rose mastery resources as a starting point for teaching and learning, with all teachers adapting this to best suit the children in their class group. A mastery approach is being applied to all teaching and learning in mathematics this year, in line with the 5 Big Ideas from the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. Our weekly programme includes mental arithmetic activities and challenges, retrieval tasks, problem solving activities and familiarisation with vocabulary. 


We have continued to develop our pre-key stage provision in year 5 and 6 to allow all children to access the correct curriculum. We are now in our third phase of development, with Miss Knight supporting year 5s within Mrs Rana Ms Richardson’s class and Miss Passmore supporting year 6s within Miss Squire’s class, including the use of the Fresh Start phonics programme.


We have continued to develop our blended learning platform, continuing to include Teams and One Note in our daily practice. This ensures that pupils can access their learning from home and school, can develop homework and home learning, building carefully on their lessons and learning in school. This has ensured consistency and progress for all pupils, across the year.

 PE and sports


It has been a successful start to the year in terms of PE and Sport at OV. The children have really benefited from and enjoyed PE going back to ‘normal’ and being able to start attending trips and events again.


Year 3,4,5&6 have enjoyed going to Park School to compete in cross county events and we had many children finish in the top 10 in their race including some third place second place and first place finishes.


Year 3 went to a multi skills sport event and enjoyed partaking in many different sports.


The whole school enjoyed a tennis coach from Tarka Tennis coming in to teach us some tennis skills.


In school the children have been working on their throwing & catching skills as well as learning about gymnastics.

Community Projects 

We have re-instated the play leaders at lunchtimes. It is lovely to see them helping and feeling responsible for the toys and helping the adults. 


Our Mental Health Ambassadors spoke in assembly about their role in the school. We are endeavoring to find the time to meet up regularly. They are a very keen bunch. You will see posters around the school which they have arranged to put up. 


We have set up a new PTFA.  A couple of teachers, a TA, a parent, and myself. We will be holding a regular Tuck Shop and have booked in a provisional date for a Christmas Disco for the children alongside a visit from Father Christmas. 


We ran a Bike to School Week where the children were encouraged to bike to school.  They also did some work in class around safety on the roads. 


A school choir will be meeting for the first time very soon which will be run by Jo assisted by me. We are planning to visit Asda and Portmill Residential again to carol sing in December.  We are also planning to do a walk around the local community to carol sing.  TBC.


We entered the Asda Foundation Grant and will be receiving £200. We have also raised just over £200 from the Cauliflower Cards Project. It has been agreed that some of this money raised will go towards the development of the reception and nursery outside areas. 


I am constantly looking for funding, but this is getting difficult to find something to fit in around school.