Week beginning 25th February 2019
I hope you all had a great half term. The weather was very definitely on our side this year, which always helps. And well done for remembering that we had a training day on Monday.
The teaching staff spent Monday taking another look at our curriculum and in particular at what are known as the foundation subjects in school. We looked in detail at what we do in Art, Music, Geography, History and Science and began to create a sequence which identifies the key learning that each pupil needs to gain each year. The results of this shouldn’t change the broad and balanced curriculum that we offer, but it will sharpen our focus as teachers, as to what the key learning in a topic will be. There is further work to be done, but we made some good progress and it was a very worthwhile day.
On Wednesday, a short meeting turned into some really exciting news. The building of the new sports pitch is starting on Monday. We are indebted to the Garfield Weston 60th Anniversary Fund, without which we would never have been able to afford to build such a fantastic facility, which will be here at Ravenswood long after our current pupils move on.
I will be keeping you right up to date with the building progress. Thanks in advance for your patience during the build, as we will be restricting access to parts of the school on the grounds of safety. The start of the project will see quite a lot of lorries and large machinery on site and so we are keen to ensure that no one can access these areas. The build is planned to be completed by Easter, but outdoor building is always dependent on the weather being kind to us.
The Year 3/4 Hockey Team went to the city tournament on Tuesday and had great success. There were 28 schools represented. The team were unbeaten in their mini league with five wins and one draw, taking them through to the quarter finals where they beat fellow OLT school, Hotspur. In the semi-final they came up against Newcastle Prep School. The score at full time was 1-1 and so the match went into Golden Goal overtime. Sadly, Newcastle Prep School were the first to score and so we didn’t quite make it to the final. Well done to the team. This was a brilliant result. In future, we will have a great hockey surface to have even more practice on.
On Wednesday evening, all of the teachers from across the Ouseburn Learning Trust came together for two “Teach Meets”. We hosted all of the Nursery to Year 2 teachers and Benton Park hosted Year 3 to Year 6. It was a good evening, allowing teachers to share good ideas in short, five minute presentations. This is another great example of how our local schools are working together and learning with each other. Later this term we will be meeting again to look at the curriculum and share our development work.
The press has been full of e-safety this week. I can reassure you that the children receive regular online safety talks and class discussions and that we have been reassured by the work that has been done this week, as all of the children have demonstrated that they know the rules of staying safe online. If you need any help in dealing with these conversations at home, have a look on our website under “Parents” – “Helping at Home” where there is a good document called “How to support young people online”.
Finally, I am going to talk about school funding, which with all of the politics going round at the moment, you might not want to read. If so, please stop now; I’ll never know!
For the very first time as Headteacher, I have had to have a conversation with Mrs West about how we might make cuts to our spending in order to balance our budget. We are a big school with lots of pupils and so we bring in quite a large yearly budget from the government. This mainly goes on staffing, but also has to cover the cost of equipment, maintaining the school building and grounds and all of our support systems such as finance, human resources, caretaking and cleaning and utilities. This leaves very little money for the nice things in school which are often the things that pupils remember most. Over the last few years, the cost of staffing has increased due to salary increases and increases in national insurance and pension contributions, which the school has to cover from its budget. These increases have not been matched by government funding increases and neither have the increases in costs that we have due to inflation. We are looking at how to manage the very near future and it will sadly be staffing that will be the only place where significant savings can be made. As a Headteacher, I am writing to Nick Brown to ask for his support in parliament. There is an interesting website created by the National Education Union at https://schoolcuts.org.uk which goes into more detail and shows how you can support all schools. We are by no means the worst affected school, but we are now being affected.