Carol Service

The end of term is always very special with Key stage 1 Nativity plays and the Carol Service.  Two full houses watched the performances of the Nativity which again proved what an exceptional team we have at St Johns.  The acting, singing and dancing of the pupils was outstanding (remember they are only aged 4 – 7), all of them smiling and putting real meaning into their words as well as keeping to the rhythm of the music.  Add the costumes, thanks to the parents, and the dedication of the teachers and you have the perfect result.

The Key stage 2 Carol Service at a  packed St. John’s Church was just what Christmas is all about.  Mulled wine and mince pies greeted the congregation and then the choir and orchestra wowed us with their singing and music.  There were readings from Penny Boshoff, member of staff; Jo Maxim, Governor; Grace Anderson, former pupil; George, Yr 6 pupil; David Stringer, parent and Gordon Fisher, volunteer.  Fr Robin brought the service to an end by explaining in simple terms the rather complicated last reading and so ended another memorable Carol Service.

World War Two Wonders and Workshops

This term has seen us develop a wonder and thirst for knowledge in all things World War Two.

We’ve researched political leaders from the outbreak to the end of the war, we’ve written a speech as Neville Chamberlain – the Prime Minister at the commencing of the war, we’ve written diary entries as William Beech and Mr. Thomas Oakley from the war-based story “Goodnight Mr.Tom” and we’ve just started our chilling discovery of truly horrific German propaganda, especially the stories written for children.

So as you can see, we have been very busy and hard at work throughout our term in Class 6.

However…

Our highlight of the term so far has to be our History Workshop from Knole Trust on all things World War Two. We were incredibly lucky and excited to receive such an amazing 2 hour session from Jennifer Whiteoak and her experienced team of volunteers.

Below are pictures of our brilliant time full of fun and learning.

As you can see we had such a wonderful time, however, this experience would not have been possible were it not for our incredible volunteer, Gordon.

Gordon not only comes to read with our class twice a week, every week, he also inspires us with his knowledge and experiences in life. Gordon was the man to bring our attention to this workshop, as he volunteers for Knole trust too! Not only that, Gordon also donated his time to speak to our class about his own war experiences, as he was evacuated from London during the Second World War. If that wasn’t possibly enough, Gordon has also sent a donation to the school to fund the workshop.

Class 6 and I cannot possibly thank Gordon enough, his kind, generous nature helps support our class in so many ways.

Thank you, Gordon!

Quiz Night

Another very professional Quiz Night was held yesterday.The Hall was

packed with 11 tables of teams of 6. A huge thank you to Ace & Emily

Chandler, Mark & Amy Semple, Dave Stringer & Helen Copp for putting

together a testing and entertaining Quiz with the added bonus of making

some of the question St John’s School based. In fact one Round, put

together by Helen, saw the children themselves on video asking the

questiuon. An enjoyable evening with the St John’s spirit well & truly at

it’s very best, so much so that when I left at 11.00, with most of the

Hall back to normal, the party was still on !! All the money raised is

going to the new School Bus.

 

In the afternoon, just before the end of school, the whole school took

part in a very well put together and moving 15 mins Remembrance Service

in the school Hall. A candlelight paper Cross was in the middle with the

pupils all around. Sally went over the reasons for the service and we

all left one by one singing the Remembrance Hymn.

What do Governors really do?

Almost all of you will know that St John’s has a Governing Body, but not many people tend to know what we actually do, or indeed, what we are for. The roll of the Body is to set the strategic vision and direction for the School, but what does that really look like? The first thing to say is that Governance is a partnership between the Headteacher and the Governors. Together they become part of the leadership of the School.

The most important thing is that we know the School. That means everything from knowing about reading attainment in year 3, the range of clubs on offer after school, to ensuring the relevant health and safety legislation has been met! It is a huge, and never-ending task. Of course, one person can never know, or cover all of this, so the Governors work as a team, each with areas of responsibility.

There are twelve Governors appointed and recruited from a variety of areas. Mrs. Quirk is one as Headteacher, in the same way I am one as the Vicar of St John’s. Two are elected from among the parents, one is nominated form the Local Authority, one from Staff members, one form St John’s Church, and one from the Diocese of Rochester. The final four are co-opted, and appointed on their skills. From time to time ‘Associate Governors’ are appointed for their skills. Whilst not voting, they can contribute valuable expertise to the body; Martin Palmer, our previous caretaker currently acts as an Associate.

The Governors meet three times a year for their formal meetings. These are long and busy meetings, often with long agendas! In a sense these meetings, whilst the formal decision-making body, are not where the work happens.

Each Governor is a member of a committee. These meet regularly and deal with set areas; Finance, Safeguarding and Behaviour, Teaching, Learning and Attainment, Health and Safety, The religious character of St John’s, and Leadership and Management. These deal with a vast range of decisions, such as setting the budget, looking at standards in key subject areas, setting ambitious academic targets for the year going forward, ensuring the School’s Christian values are embedded in all areas of the School, making sure Safeguarding is effective and a host of other things.

Each Governor is responsible for a curriculum area and a class. Here they will liaise with staff member responsible and have a knowledge of how a subject is taught, what attainment is like, how those with different abilities are helped and developed, and what the children think. They will come and do prearranged visits twice, or so a year. These are not to judge the quality of a lesson, but rather an opportunity to look and learn about what is going on. At the same time, they might have lunch with the children, or watch a playtime, perhaps visit a club; all opportunities to learn about St John’s and what goes on.

Governors are expected to complete formal training. These often consist of evening courses, or online training modules. It means Governors have the requisite knowledge to do their job, and to ensure the School is carrying out their statutory obligations.

All of this enable Governors, as I said, to know the School. Once they know it, they are able to help, to offer challenge, to be a critical friend to the School. It means the Governors become a key partner in driving the improvement of our School. Every year the Governors look at the School Improvement plan for the previous year and assess, with the Headteacher, what it achieved, and what is needed for the coming year.

It is a task that can seem endless, and often full of impenetrable acronyms! The truth is that whilst it maybe endless, it is also immensely satisfying because, in a small way, each Governor contributes to the improvement and development of the School. Each brings professional and life experience that, combined with knowledge of the School, drives our School forward.

St John’s is fortunate to have a dedicated group of Governors. Vacancies do arise from time to time. Do you have the time, energy, commitment, and desire to contribute to help us in our task?

Fr Robin

 

Harvest Festival

What a truly memorable service.

This year’s Harvest Festival raised money for the Send a Cow Charity and honoured all the good work that it does for the poor in Africa. However there was a surprise at the start of the service as Sally’s farmer brother, Tim Kemp, had brought along a 3 day old calf to set the scene in the Church. So here we have the stage set for a 9.15 start with Patrick lying in a pen of straw at the back of the Church, a congregation of 130 plus but no children! Fortunately as it turned out the excellent time keeping of the staff made for a perfect entrance as it was a joy to see the expressions of amazement on the 220 children’s faces as they entered the Church.

In his sermon Fr Norman, the Bishop of Richborough who kindly came to take the service, explained to the children how a cow is given to families to help them understand the food process and so put this knowledge into practise when cooking.
The service had been brilliantly thought out by the form teachers and their helpers. In between hymns Form 6 told us all about the Charity, followed by a video, Form 2 recited a great Milk Chocolate poem, Form 5 acted out their food sketches highlighting the food a cow helps to produce: cheese, butter, yogurt, burgers together with all the vegetables and fruits which make healthy meals and Form 1 made us all want to get up and dance to their harvest Rock and Roll song. The 30 strong choir had learnt to perfection two traditional folk songs which they sang in the native Zulu and Xosa language. Form 4 read bible readings and Form 3 ended with prayers.
The sun shone through the stained glass windows and Patrick lay peacefully through the service and Tim has decided he would like a CD of the singing to help all his cows to relax.

Spelling Strategies

As you are aware, raising standards in spelling across the school is a key focus for us this academic year.

We would like to share a wonderful resource with you which has been produced by our own language specialist, Claudia Goodman. The strategies outlined in this presentation are all now used in school so should be familiar to your children. Please take the time to read and use this excellent document and help your child become a great speller.

Spelling Strategies Document

Welcome to Year 3!

We have got off to a flying start in Year 3. Inspired by Ivan’s story in Robert Swindell’s Ice Palace, we have been imagining what life must be like living in a country where it is winter most of the year.  We have been learning about the dangers of the cold so that we can write a cold weather survival guide for the people of Ivan’s village. We now know what to wear to be prepared for cold weather and how to avoid frostbite and hypothermia by making snow shelters and fires.

We decided to put our new knowledge into practise by making tinder balls and real survival fires in the school field.  If you are not sure what a tinder ball is ask your child for instructions on how to make one! Happily, the rain held off long enough for us to build and light the fires. Every fire team was successful.

Well done year 3 survivors!

Does dyslexia make you stronger?

I know from talking to many parents that concerns about their children’s progress in literacy often stem from their own, or their partner’s, struggles with dyslexia (with or without a diagnosis).

Recent research by Margaret Malpas from the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has sought to identify characteristics which are helpful to adults with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. She wanted to find out why, despite their struggles with literacy, so many adults with dyslexia are particularly successful across a range of careers. Her research shows that 67% of dyslexic adults surveyed believed they had special strengths resulting from their dyslexia, the top one being determination. Other skills that featured highly included empathy, intelligence or a particular ability and motivation to help others. A full account can be found in Malpas’s book ‘Self Fulfilment with Dyslexia: A Blueprint to Success.’ If you are still struggling with literacy and would like help to improve your skills, the BDA has recently launched a new elearning programme for adults which is priced at £12.99 for 10 modules. Information on both publications can be found on the BDA website.

Highlighting the positives of dyslexia is the theme for this year’s Dyslexia Awareness Week running from 2nd to 8th October.