13 Nov

It’s been another busy week here at Hollinwood Academy, particularly with our first parents’ evening on Tuesday which was very positive and well attended. It was wonderful to see so many parents – a fantastic 94% of you came! I hope that you all felt welcome and found the meetings with staff informative and helpful. The feedback we have had so far has been overwhelmingly positive, including comments such as…

  • ‘As soon as we entered through the reception doors we were greeted by all staff and made to feel very welcome.’
  • ‘The fact that the staff don’t see an extremely complex character as a child who has no hope but a challenge …. I know my child is in the right school and everyone is giving 100% and offering an enormous amount of opportunities …. I had been left wary of teaching staff and schools in the past – You have given me new hope.’
  • ‘Overall we’re incredibly impressed by everything that’s been achieved so far and our child’s fantastic progress.’
  • ‘All staff are friendly and approachable, caring and understanding … my questions and opinions were listened to and answered … I came out feeling very happy and positive.’

The comments made around possible improvements to future parents’ evenings included..

  • ‘it would have been even better if more time was allocated with class teacher’
  • ‘it wasn’t long enough’
  • ‘I hope we get an opportunity for further involvement to develop this going forward’

I am looking to address the above points in a number of ways…

  • Regular communication with families outside of parents’ evenings – we already complete home/school communication books and telephone families regularly, and we are also happy to arrange informal update meetings after school. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you would like to arrange this with your child’s class teacher.
  • Annual Reviews will be commencing after Christmas and these will give a lengthier, more in-depth opportunity to fully discuss your child’s progress and opportunities for the future.
  • Setting up a Parents’ Forum for regular opportunities for parents to meet up with staff, get involved in the school and communicate around a range of more general issues, possible fundraising opportunities and special events.

Meanwhile the classes have all been busy learning as usual. This week I have managed to spend some time with Mr Corrigan’s class and I thought I would focus on the more social aspects of school life. Mr Corrigan and the team have worked hard in class on developing social interaction skills including turn-taking, listening to each other and caring for others. These skills are developed through activities in class such as the action game photographed here…

 

…where pupils take turns to use the spinner to give the next instruction for classmates to follow.

These skills can then be transferred to the unstructured times in school such as playing out in the yard at break times…

 

Dinner times are a different social activity again, and learning to sit and eat in a sociable and civilised way with friends and family is an important life skill. In the dining room classes sit together and are encouraged to develop table manners, chat together calmly, develop independence skills, take turns, wait in line and help each other with pouring drinks etc…

 

It is important to reflect on our children’s achievements outside the classroom too. I think that the dining room is where we have seen the most significant progress across the board for all our pupils. Some of them hadn’t been included in dining room settings in previous schools and when they joined us in September many were worried about eating in front of other people, coping with the noise and smells of such an environment and managing to be independent in a situation they were quite anxious about. Just over half a term later and I am delighted with the lunchtime setting – all our pupils now eat together in the dining room. They are trying a range of different foods and interacting with their classmates, and the environment feels pleasant, calm and settled. I am sure that parents will agree that this progress in terms of life skills and socialisation is probably just as important as the academic progress they are making.

Lunchtimes also provide opportunities for choices and decision-making skills in relation to clubs and activities. One of the reward lunchtime clubs for Mr Corrigan’s class this week included a fun session in the soft play area…

 

Within the classroom, one of the sessions I observed this week in Mr Corrigan’s class was  a modelling session using salt dough, part of their literacy lessons and linked to the story they had been following…

 

Much of our teaching is delivered in a cross-curricular way and this activity covered speaking and listening by relating to characters in the story, as well as developing fine motor skills and addressing sensory processing issues for pupils who need lots of tactile stimulation. The story of the Gingerbread Man has also been used as a basis for work on recognising emotions, with pupils identifying when and why the Gingerbread Man might feel happy or sad throughout the story. This is in turn is used to support pupils in empathising with each other and recognising feelings in others.

This week also saw our first School Council meeting which was attended by representatives from each class (apart from Reception). The Council met with myself and one of the Governors and spoke with great maturity about a number of issues their classes had raised. I was particularly impressed with 7 year old Reece from Mrs Lomax’s class who represented them superbly and sat alongside pupils nearly ten years older than himself, yet showed great understanding of the discussion and the matters raised. More on this next week once we have pulled together some action plans from the meeting.

Also, more next week from our colourful Children in Need Day along with lots of fun photos!

Have a lovely weekend,

Sarah

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