And, we’re off….term 4!

Dear Parents and carers

A quick reminder that the remote learning will commence again after the weekend-Monday 22nd February. There is a government announcement booked for the Monday-where we may learn a bit more about the potential pathway back to school’s opening up a little more, but you know when we know. We have been assured that this time there will be a little time for us to plan and implement the staff structure and learning opportunities for the children before the next date of change. The 8th March appears to be the next date when things might change a bit more-but we don’t at this stage know to which year groups and children.

 Provision in school will continue to be for key worker and vulnerable children only. We will continue with our set up as it is with sessions booked in advance as we support shift patterns etc. for key workers. At this stage it has been strongly advised, currently-the safest place for children to be is at home.

 Live sessions will start again on Monday 22nd and we will be back on the original timetable. In response to the majority feedback we had at our last survey, we will continue with not having the live sessions on the Wednesday-but everything else continues with work being set on every day including Wednesday by the staff here at school.

Physical packs of work are now available for you to collect from Monday 22nd February-from 9.00am onwards. They will be outside the school ready for you to collect. Please return any work that is ready for marking and assessment at this time-as a swap! Please make sure that your children’s work is collated together clearly with their name, class, and teacher. Please make sure it is secure-so that it cannot blow away-we can then make sure that the work gets back to the right members of staff. This is so that the teachers can see what the children have been up to and can make assessments as to how they have been getting on. There can then be some more personalised feedback given over the next few weeks. What we must all make sure of is that what the children are doing is of a high standard. The work being uploaded by families has been lovely to see-thank you!

All staff coming on site are now tested twice a week and results reported back to the government departments. We are increasing our staffing on site gradually so that preparations can be made for a full reopening as soon as we can. Staff will work hard to respond to blogs as they come in-this is the best way to get in touch with your teacher-sometimes they will be planning and working away from their online commitments. Please be patient and we will respond as we can.

The half term 100 challenge can be evidenced and sent to the class teachers-they have the certificates to send out to you when they know that the challenge has been met! We hope that there has been a bit of fun in trying to achieve this challenge!

These arrangements are there when everyone is fit and healthy. Obviously if we have staff illness-this will have an impact upon our provision and maybe our communication. Please understand that we make these arrangements to be as permenent as possible, but on our online journey together- there may be bumps in the road. Again, please be patient!

 There are lots of additional resources and websites for you and your child to explore:

Our new, revamped website has a number of ideas on it….

https://roadeprimary.co.uk/

https://roadeprimary.co.uk/curriculum/school-closure-home-learning 

To have access to PURPLE MASH-just click here. PURPLE MASH LOG IN

KEY STAGE 1 pupils (Reception to year 2) can find a number of activities and resources on the BBC BITESIZE page. This is available here: BBC BITESIZE KS1

KEY STAGE 2 pupils (Years 3-6) will find resources and activities here: BBC BITESIZE KS2

Oxford Owl is a fantastic website. You can find it here: Oxford Owl This site offers Reading, Phonics, Spelling, maths games and activities. Just click on the free resources to support learning at home.

Times Tables Rock Stars is great for testing yourself on your times tables-most of our children have been accessing this all year and have had fun trying to out-do each other! TIMES TABLES ROCK STARS

 To help you learn your times tables timestables.co.uk is excellent. The link is here: TIMESTABLES.CO.UK

Your child can obviously read, read and read as much as they can and whatever they like! We will providing some books to read-there are even more on Purple Mash. Our children will really benefit from reading in their heads and aloud or being read to! We are providing some Collins online books for your children to access-please check your child’s pack for log-in details

Communication with school can happen in a number of ways. We will carry on using parentmail to send emails and the school blog, through the website. We will use our social media to relay information to you-our FaceBook page and Twitter. Parents can use the admin email or the head@roade-pri.northants-ecl.gov.uk 

The older your child the more independent they will be. They may well need your support and may well need you to help organise them. Routines are essential to keep expectations high and engagement strong. Start with strong routines. Intersperse school time with some outdoor exercise-maybe go for a walk? (Joe Wicks is starting again I hear!) reading-everything and anything, music, arts and creativity. Make things as exciting as possible!  

 We know that there is a continued pressure on you as parents and carers. We realise that you will be pulled to work – either remotely or physically, please know that every effort you make with your children will greatly improve their experience and be incredibly valuable. Above all, try to have fun, remain, kind, calm and patient, as this will sometimes be difficult for all of us. We will know on the 22nd more!

We are still in this very much together and we can all try to help each other.

Thank you for your continued support of your child and our school.

See you at the gate (as soon as we can)

Mark Currell

Head Teacher

 

February half term…..

We find ourselves in Lockdown 3-by far the most challenging for our partners, carers, families and staff. As the term has rolled on our children have found it increasingly more difficult -it seemed that the half term arrived as a crashing wave rather than a slow sail into the harbour.

We all needed a break-we all needed a recharge, the trouble is that half term will look very different this time around. “A year ago families across the UK were packing suitcases, organising play dates and planning day trips – all in preparation for the February half-term break. But this year’s school holidays are set to look very different, with travel and social mixing restricted to stem the spread of Covid-19.” From the BBC website….

I decided to look for things to do for our families and post them here on our blog.  As I see it, there are two challenges. What can we do to relax and recharge and what can we do with our families that are different to the normal weeks remote learning….. It’s also important that parents and carers have things up their sleeve that will not completely exhaust them-it has to be a break for everyone.

Keep moving….get some exercise….

The BBC site says…..

“Children are going to have to be quite resourceful to keep active during this half-term,” says former England footballer Rachel Yankey.

She has been coaching children remotely as part of the Youth Sport Trust’s After School Sport Club, which takes place most weekday evenings.

“If kids don’t have an outdoor space, parents might need to make an exception and allow them to dribble a football inside in a controlled way.

“Even half an hour of physical activity makes a big difference to a child’s day.”

Jason Sugrue, a former British table-tennis champion who works with London-based charity Greenhouse Sports, says children should be “left to their own devices” as much as possible.

“Kids are bored of adults telling them what to do by now – so we’ve been doing a lot of peer-to-peer fitness classes online.

“Kids will work with their friends to find an object in their house [in a treasure hunt, for example] – it’s simple, free and fun.”

Greenhouse Sports organised more than 1,500 virtual coaching sessions for children in east London during the first nationwide lockdown.

Under lockdown rules, families can still get out of the house for exercise once a day, provided they remain within their local area.

“It’s really important young people make the most of that time outside,” says Sugrue. “Nothing beats fresh air.”

“Whether it’s a cycle ride, drills or just walking, families must try and find a designated time each day to do an activity together during half-term.”

Sport England have a great site full of ideas-Join the movement. Lots of tips advice and guidance to keep you and your family moving. 

https://www.sportengland.org/jointhemovement?section=join_the_movement&gclid=CMOsxeSf7u4CFUUgGwods4oMGA

Our little dog Sky is getting a lot of long walks-he’s only got little legs! 

This article on family fitness has some common sense idea so-but at the end of the day the old adage, “move more” is the one that we should be trying to do!

Family Fitness Activities For Lockdown

Escape in a book……

We are mad passionate about reading at Roade Primary School. Reading is everything-and it opens every other area of the curriculum. It’s a life skill and our children need it. Being read to, reading independently, sharing a book, secret reading, quiet reading, loud reading, talking books, listening to stories….anything! The more that our children experience-the better their vocabulary will be-the more rich their conversation and more expressive their writing! 

From the BBC site…….”It’s always said about books that they take you to another place,” says children’s author Michael Rosen. “It may be to the inside of a mind that’s not theirs or a physical place, but that feels especially important for kids during lockdown.”

Rosen says parents must try to make reading “feel relevant” to children’s interests.

“My trick was always to try and connect books up to theatre, live readings and movies,” he explains.

“Obviously, we can’t do that now but parents must be open to using digital tools to trigger more interest.”

The National Literacy Trust and Oak National Academy are offering online activities and making hundreds of e-books available to children through the virtual school library project.

But Rosen recommends parents let children’s reading habits over the holidays “emerge organically instead of foisting their anxiety about the need to read on [them]”.

Whatever reading you and your family doesn’t-it will be brilliant! 

Read for Good have some top ideas….

Reading for fun can help us through these challenging times

“If you can only do one thing with your child during lockdown, choose reading for fun. Reading together, or on their own, is proven to help children keep up with education, it’s away from a screen, it relaxes them (and you) and it helps them process what’s happening in the world.”

“None of us are superhuman; do your child – and yourself – a favour, and curl up with a good book. It’s really important that you do.”

Our children have their own individual log ins that have been sent to them… Staff have allocated age appropriate books and they can access them here

https://ops.collinsopenpage.com/  

Screen time is fine……

Just like a good book, a good film or series is a delight to share…. There needs to be a balance struck. Our children (and us adults) are now on screens more than ever. There is evidence that too much can be a bad thing and with children on line/screens  with their learning, on screens with some games and hobbies involving screens-it is up to parents and carers to manage what is too much for our youngsters. 

The BBC site says…..”If ever there’s a time to relax the rules on screen time, it’s this February half-term,” says child psychologist Laverne Antrobus. “Especially as it will be the main way for them to stay connected with their friends.”

Oxford University research on more than 17,000 teenagers in the US, UK and Ireland showed higher levels of screen time had little discernible effect on their mental health, but many parents are still cautious.

“Screen time doesn’t have to be isolating,” adds Antrobus. “Choosing a film or a TV show for the family to watch in the evening is something that brings everyone together.”

Virtual events are also accessible to families over half-term: the Royal Observatory Greenwich is putting on stargazing workshops and the Shakespeare’s Globe festival is offering family tickets for storytelling masterclasses.

Antrobus warns it may be “easier” for parents to get younger children engaged than teenagers.

“With teenagers, it’s a case of checking in on them and showing interest in the video game they’re playing – they love to teach us dinosaurs about tech,” she explains.

Get creative…

“Arts and crafts is all about making the most of everyday objects – in the house or in nature,” says illustrator Rob Biddulph, whose online drawing tutorials have become increasingly popular during the pandemic. We’ve used draw with Rob a few times as it provides a well structured drawing session. Not to be over relied upon as lessons every day-it does have some good skills to share! 

“We’ve been going out on walks as a family and we’ll pick up beautiful leaves, pebbles and sticks.

“And when we get home we’ll paint eyes on them and turn them into characters – all that takes is two splodges of white paint.”

The Tate Museum and the Southbank Centre also have virtual art events available to children over half-term.

Biddulph says his 11-year-old daughter is less “receptive” to drawing and painting than she used to be “but can still be tempted away from the screen when she sees the rest of the family having fun together”.

 Whatever you as families can do together, have fun and make it light for this half term. Be kind to yourselves-it’s been tough on everyone. 

Mark

 

 
 

 

Parents and Carers are incredible community heroes 

Lockdown 3 has proved to be the most challenging so far for everyone.In January, with less than a day’s notice all schools moved completely online to enable remote learning to happen. At Roade, we provided live sessions twice a day and online tasks and activities for all children of all ages, set up blogs and communication with teachers and pupils and sent out more physical paper based packs to support the online sessions. Like school leaders all over the country, I could not be prouder of the school staff who overnight changed how they work, plan and live each day and provide high quality learning remotely for each child in their own homes. The staff have been exceptional. Everyone has had to change their role, adapt and in most cases do something completely alien to them-pushing everyone out of their comfort zones.

The pupils changed from being in school every day, seeing their friends and having a teacher and TA in their room to support them-to learning from home. Their day moved from being at school, one with a rigid timetable, to one that relied far more on them being independent and self-sufficient at home. Children at a primary age are significantly less self-sufficient than their secondary peers! They rely upon the parents and carers in our community to help-not always easy to do throughout the day. A huge down side of remote learning is that pupils are missing key contact with other people-not just the formal learning times but the informal playtimes. School is not just about the lesson times-it’s also about the development of these crucial social skills. The school provides 3-4 hours of directed work per day for the pupils-but that could need support from an already working parent/carer and we know that children are spending many, many hours per day staring at screens-as this is our current way of working. This is a worry for our whole community.

During this lockdown we have seen more roles and jobs being considered as essential key work. There is a huge pressure for parents and carers to work-either at home or physically go to work. The government guidance does say that if you are at home you should keep your children at home-but it is hard to do when you have younger children to supervise and keep on task. Parents and carers are also missing out on the social side of catching up with friends in the playground-or on the walk to and from school. The days all blend into one. The dark days and cold weather don’t help. Even weekends that used to feel special and were ring-fenced for family time no longer seem special-they are just another day.

Due to our worries for the length of time our children are spending on screens and in response to overwhelming feedback from families the school has recently instigated a Wednesday with less screen time. A mixed response. There were some parents and carers who actually needed more school led time to keep their children focused so that they can do their work from home- but there were many parents who liked the concept of less screen time and did some amazing and creative things with their children-this did however mean more time from their parents-which not everyone had to give.

 There is a forgotten group. Most of our staff at school are parents and carers too. They too battle with the juggling, the pressure, the jobs they have to do for their work, the support that their children need to be online to support the learning in homes across the community. Sometimes it is forgotten that school staff have families too. We understand how hard this all is for everyone-because we are living it every day with each of our families.

The real heroes in all communities are the parents and carers who have continued to support their children’s learning and balanced life and jobs “in the real world”. Whatever your role-if you have a family to support, nurture and motivate-be a role model for and you are continuing to do your job role at the same time-you are a hero. You may not feel it at the moment. You may feel, like we do-like all school staff do, that you are exhausted and overwhelmed-but rest assured that if you are balancing all these spinning plates-you are a hero.

I recently wrote to our families, saying that they had been amazing throughout these tough times for everyone. Families are doing all they can to balance everything and keep everything going for work and family. We realised that it is the community that needs the focus-not just the education of the children. There needs to be so much thought and consideration to how the community is functioning and how much pressure we can add or take away . It is the responsibility of the school leadership to read the audience- especially as lockdown 3 continues.

To raise a few smiles, to engage with our families and to keep the community together-even though apart we’ve sung to the children and families again-(sorry)-with a frightening rendition of an Elvis classic-I can’t help falling in love with you-perfect for Valentine’s Day! We designed a huge bookworm hunt around the village so that families had something to look for on thier daily walk. Our bookworm hunt seems to have gone down well-with 42 different bookworms to find hidden across our wonderful village-we hope thfamilies enjoyed finding them all whilst you have been out and about-and it gave some all important off screen time for our young learners. on your daily walks-Most recently we have started our family quiz. Answer the questions, hand deliver (or send if you are from further afield) back to the school and we will draw one correct answer sheet for the magnificent trophy prize-a trophy of such magnitude-it would make the greatest of trophy winners green with envy…… (honest). We made sure that it was advertised to the whole community community-you don’t have to be a school family to enter it-it’s been on a few Facebook pages-the more the merrier-it’s for the whole community and its light and engaging. We will continue to work hard for our families and will continue to try to bring a few smiles-our community is special and deserves it. The next idea is being hatched as we speak……

 We know that one day we will get back together and we will be an open and brilliant school once again. We will be buzzing with laughter and music and children running and playing. We will have full classrooms and special assemblies. We will have trips and visits and visitors to school that bring learning alive. We will have brighter, happier days-as Captain Sir Tom said “Tomorrow will be a better day”. We have got these dark days to get through together. We will best do that by understanding that it is tough for everyone- we are all in the same boat, but in very different storms but we will get through it by being kind to one another and supporting one another.

 Here’s to parents and carers-you have made this happen.

 Mark Currell

Head teacher, Roade Primary School

 

 

 

 
 

 

Comparing your teacher self with social media


I have been a school leader/head teacher for a lot of years now. At the very start of my leadership career I was allocated a mentor to support me in my new headship-it was really useful to have someone to sound off against and to ask advice. In later years I have been an advocate for using social media to perform a similar role. At the start it was good to help me handle the imposter syndrome that seems to come with the headship role……But things feel like they have changed and social media feels like an unhealthy place to be sometimes.

There never used to be this level of competition between schools and settings. There never used to be this level of traffic on social media saying how great you could be if you used “X” or that you’re not a great teacher unless you’ve displayed in this way or that way or marked using this method or that method. In many ways twitter and other social media sites have become a method by which schools and professionals advertise how wonderful life is in their world and this attracts both professionals and parents! But this can add pressure!

There is even a 5am club for teachers! I suppose you could argue that it gives support for those teachers already awake at 5am and already working-but what are those teachers doing working at 5am???!! Be asleep, be eating breakfast with your family, but why are you even thinking about work at 5am? That is not healthy. It may well be a result of a pressured career that we are awake and worried but we should not be advertising it as an acceptable lifestyle choice!

All this worries me…. #education talk on twitter can be really useful for advice, support or a sounding board-BUT sometimes it does more harm than good -as social media can do by giving a completely false sense of normal!

In many cases there may be absolutely nothing wrong with the way in which your school operates-what’s right for you might not be for others-remember individuality and how schools could be different? You do not need to be using yet another assessment proforma-created by someone else if the one your school is using is doing the job. You do not need to be using the latest gadget pen for your marking-just make sure your feedback is good and that it has impact upon the students. You do not need to be using another new method of developing “X” learning if the “X” learning in your class is coming on well (all of this of course is subject to your school’s leadership-there may be whole school initiatives that need to be developed and then yes, it is important to all sing together-but don’t let social media pressure be the driver).

The point I am making (and this is from personal experience) is that comparing yourself with other teachers in other settings (who potentially have a social media persona that could be not quite sold as seen) can be a really bad thing to do. School leaders-comparing your school with others can be a really negative thing to do-you rarely get the full picture.

I am not a social media expert. I am no #edutwitter expert. I know what works in my school and with my staff and most importantly for our children). I love teaching and enjoy the days that I spend actually teaching our children. I know that I have felt worse by comparing my school or myself with others in different settings and different contexts. I have felt the competition as I see that there seems to be better teachers, better leaders and better schools all over social media. As I wrote this I began wonder who my target audience was-I began to realise that I wasn’t just aiming this at school leaders-heads and leaders everywhere are constantly hearing that other schools do it better somewhere-it wasn’t just for NQTs entering a career with wide eyes-it wasn’t just for exhausted teachers at all stages of their careers (who all want what’s best for their pupils.) It wasn’t just aimed at MAT leaders who feel the competition with other MATs to keep staff and pupil numbers-It was aimed at everyone who works in our schools-regardless of their academy status, regardless of their key stage or their phase…. 

So I guess my advice could be…..

👍🏻Don’t compare yourself with others-regardless of your position or where you are in your career. It’s not going to make you happy and may make you feel that the grass is greener-leading to a forced move, or even worse-leading you to think that you are not good enough. Imagine making a career move based upon a heightened feeling of missing out?! You can change your setting by being the change you want to see-you don’t need to move sometimes. You are not missing out. Take your time. Breathe and know that you are good enough-if it aint broke, don’t try to fix it-if it needs adjustment-school leaders, please make them gentle adjustments and maintain a consistency.

👍🏻Don’t feel that after reading a twitter post-you’re not good enough-you are! You don’t have to compare you with anyone else-remember that things are not quite what they seem.

👍🏻Don’t be in competition-just be real, your staff and your children will appreciate that a whole lot more.

👍🏻Getting up early and tweeting and blogging as well as teaching is exhausting-is it going to make you a better teacher? (More importantly-is it going to take away time when you should be present and with your family-if it is, stop!)

👍🏻Don‘t think about school when you should be present with your family and friends

👍🏻Don’t over think or worry-I know what you’re like! 😜

👍🏻Do what your students need-not what others think your students need-you are the expert in your class (if your a school leader-you are the expert in your school) -you are the barometer by which the pace and challenge in your room/school is set. Be present and do what they need you to do.

👍🏻Enjoy your job-it is a job-the creative, fun bits are ace!

👍🏻Put down #edutwitter and enjoy being in the best career in the world

👍🏻If you carry on comparing yourself with the mythical magicians on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram etc-you will never be satisfied and rarely be happy-there will always be something that you have seen that you wish you were better at or something that you think you could be doing or something you could be trying or thinking about-its ok to stop!

👍🏻Please remember that the most important thing in your school is the relationships that are created between the staff, each other and the pupils. It’s the moments and the memories. To do that-you need to be present in the now.

👍🏻Why are you still reading this? I understand the irony of this being an online blog post!

👍🏻Go put the kettle on! 

Please, for the good of the community, use social media responsibly……

Dear all

Tricky message to write and I’ve waited a few hours to compose it….

Social media can be great. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow such powerful communication and the sharing of information but in some cases it can cause upset. 

This has happened to our school.

There are a few Facebook pages set up by parents in different year groups. I guess this was so that they could keep in touch as new parents and have the reassurance of other parents that they were not missing anything and keeping up with the pace of the school-a nice idea. Unfortunately there have been times where some parent messages have got negative about the school and even personal about members of staff-and that’s where social media isn’t doing what it should. 

The staff work hard for your children. They go above and beyond and give their all for the families. It is not a career for the money-it is a calling to help families and enable children to learn and develop. They do not need a public message that could undermine their professionalism or hurt them personally. A public rant is not the way to sort out issues. A meeting, a call, an email could get the issue resolved quietly and serves to support not destroy relationships. 

Our school is financially struggling as are all schools nationally with a lack of funding and we are managing our staff on a shoestring budget. We can not afford anything more than we have until pupils numbers grow-because of this some of our work relies on staff good will-and this comes from positive relationships.

Posts have been made that were not nice about specific staff members-these posts made on other Facebook sites have been shared with staff. We know that this is not the view of all parents-but it is messages like these that damage the relationships we are working hard to build and these recent ones will take time to recover from. You can see how staff good will could be damaged when there is a possibility of a hurtful and public social media post being made. Relationships are fragile and it takes parents, staff, governors, pupils and parents to make our school strong! 

So if you have a worry or a concern or an issue that you or your child is unhappy about please contact the school through the right channels. Talk about it with us. 

We all want what’s best for your children. We all work hard for our children. We should be all on the same team for our children. 

Thank you.

RPS identified as a one of the 32 national DfE English hubs

Roade Primary School is very proud to announce that we have been selected by the Department of Education as one of only 32 English Hubs across the country identified due to our high standards of phonics and early literacy. In announcement made by Education Secretary Damian Hinds yesterday-a new initiative has been launched where schools will take the lead in suporting the development of reading, phonics no early literacy across regionalised areas. The hubs are to act as lead schools and support the work and practice in other settings. As you will see from the attached email from the DfE we are the only school in Northants to be identified as an English Hub. Exciting times for our school and a real pat on the back for the hard work of the staff and pupils at Roade. We look forward to the next steps! 
Subject: English Hubs – Official announcementDear Hub School, 

I am pleased to announce that the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon. Damian Hinds MP, has announced the 32 English Hubs today. This has also been announced on our website with the list of all Hub schools: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/english-hubs-list-of-primary-schools

The official press notice is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-education-and-skills-measures-announced–2

You are now able to announce this locally.

Looking forward to working together on this. 

Kind Regards, 

English Hubs Programme Team

Each class is a different author….

As you know our passion for reading at Roade is incredible. We’ll do anything to encourage our children to read more and to find that special writer that engages them and feeds their imagination. So this year each class is named after a special author. You and your child could take a little time to find out about each one and share their books. Pay close attention to your child’s author-they will play quite a role this year! 

Here is a list of the classes and their author name-a bit of background information so that you are ahead of the game when it comes to sharing these stories with your young bookworms! 

Mrs Roff Reception class- AHLBERG.


So many wonderful stories! Not just for our younger readers-these are fantastic for readers of all ages. The Jolly Postman is incredibly cleaver!! 

Janet and Allan Ahlberg were a British married couple who created many children’s books, including picture books that regularly appear at the top of “most popular” lists for public libraries. They worked together for 20 years until Janet died of cancer in 1994. Allan wrote the books and Janet illustrated them. Allan Ahlberg has also written dozens of books with other illustrators.

Miss Penney Reception class- CARLE


The awesome and classic very hungry caterpillar and so many more! 

Eric Carle is an American designer, illustrator, and writer of children’s books. He is most noted for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a picture book that has been translated into more than 62 languages and sold more than 46 million copies, which is equivalent to 1.7 copies sold every minute since it was published. Since it was published in 1969 he has illustrated more than 70 books, most of which he also wrote, and more than 145 million copies of his books have been sold around the world. In 2003, the American Library Association awarded Eric Carle the biennial Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal (now called the Children’s Literature Legacy Award), a prize for writers or illustrators of children’s books published in the U.S. who have made lasting contributions to the field.

Mrs Collison Year 1 class- MILNE

Quite simply-the genius that invented Pooh! 

Alan Alexander Milne was an English author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and for various poems. Milne was a noted writer, primarily as a playwright, before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work. Milne served in both World Wars, joining the British Army in World War I, and was a captain of the British Home Guard in World War II.

Miss Humphrey/Mrs Wizard Year 2 class- DAHL


The legend….

Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide. Born in Wales to Norwegian immigrant parents, Dahl served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He became a flying ace and intelligence officer, rising to the rank of acting wing commander. He rose to prominence as a writer in the 1940s with works for both children and adults, and he became one of the world’s best-selling authors. He has been referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century”. His awards for contribution to literature include the 1983 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and the British Book Awards’ Children’s Author of the Year in 1990. In 2008, The Times placed Dahl 16th on its list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.

Mrs Lamb Year 2 class- POTTER


Yes, responsible for that naughty Peter rabbit! 

Helen Beatrix Potter was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her children’s books featuring animals, such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Born into an upper-class household, Potter was educated by governesses and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and spent holidays in Scotland and the Lake District, developing a love of landscape, flora, and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted.

Mr Warden Year 3/4 class- SIMON


This author invented the shocking character Horrid Henry-phew, glad we don’t have any children like him at Roade! 

Francesca Isabella Simon is an American author living in London, who is mostly known for writing the popular Horrid Henry series of children’s books.

Mr Glbey Year 3/4 class- SEUSS


The wild, the whacky Dr Seuss with his fantastical books full of wild imaginatios! And if you think that these books are just for kids you obviously haven’t read “Oh the places you’ll go!” 

Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel was an American children’s author, political cartoonist, poet, animator, screenwriter, filmmaker, and artist, best known for his work writing and illustrating more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. His work includes many of the most popular children’s books of all time, selling over 600 million copies and being translated into more than 20 languages by the time of his death.

Mr Wilson Year 3/4 class- WALLIAMS 


David Edward Williams OBE known professionally as David Walliams, is a British comedian, actor, author, and presenter known for his partnership with Matt Lucas on the BBC One sketch show Little Britain.

Walliams is also a writer of children’s books. He has sold more than 25 million copies and his books have been translated into 53 languages. He has been described as “the fastest growing children’s author in the UK” and his literary style has been compared to that of Roald Dahl.

Mrs Albert/Miss Finch Year 5 class- LEWIS

Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a King or queen of Narnia….

Clive Staples Lewis was a British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, philosopher, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist. He held academic positions at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925–1954) and Cambridge University (Magdalene College, 1954–1963). He is best known for his works of fiction, especially The Chronicles of Narnia.

Lewis wrote more than 30 books which have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularised on stage, TV, radio, and cinema. 

Miss East Year 6 class- SHAN


Experience the darker side in year 6-here comes Darren Shan. 

Darrenn O’Shaughnessy, who commonly writes under the pen name Darren Shan, is an Irish author. Darren Shan is the main character in O’Shaughnessy’s The Saga of Darren Shan young adult fiction series, also known as the Cirque Du Freak series. He followed that up with The Demonata series and the stand-alone books, Koyasan and The Thin Executioner. Then came The Saga of Larten Crepsley which is a prequel to The Saga of Darren Shan. He has most recently finished a 12 novel series “Zom-B”. The first book went on sale in September 2012, with the final book, Zom-B Goddess, published in April 2016

Mr Taylor Year 6 class- ROWLING


The magical, the mystical, the wonderful……

Joanne Rowling, CH, OBE, FRSL, FRCPE writing under the pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, philanthropist, film and television producer and screenwriter best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have won multiple awards, and sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling book series in history.They have also been the basis for a film series, over which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts and was a producer on the final films in the series.

So please help your child discover these writers and as many more as you can! There is nothing better than getting a hot book tip from one of the pupils. I got a sure fire awesome tip from a year 7 returning student today and can’t wait to get stuck in! Stories, reading, imaginations and adventures make the stars shine that little bit brighter and fire inspirations. Let’s aim high and reach for the sky! 

Looking after the jugglers 

I’ll start this blog with an apology. I am sorry to everyone for the way I was at the end of the summer term. I am sorry to the children who were brilliant to the end (and those year 6 children leaving are just awesome-and will be missed!) to the staff who never stop giving, caring, nurturing and pushing our school in to even bigger, more wonderful things,  to the lovely parents who just wanted to say thank you, goodbye and have a lovely summer, to the governors who keep a firm hand on our tiller and make this ship move in the direction it should. I am sorry to you all. I wasn’t myself.

We had OFSTED in the last week of term. Monday lunchtime call, Tuesday visit all day. This unexpected grenade into an already busy week of end of year/term stuff at the end of a year that has caused more stress and more problems than it should was a serious kaboom. Staff were as ever brilliant and did what needed to be done. Children were-as ever-awesome. I led the school through the inspection and out the other side and on to end of term bbqs, productions, assemblies, goodbyes until the Friday of that week. You really don’t know that your under stress until it’s too late. I was frazzled. I was stressed. I was run down by the relentlessness of the year and the explosive ending to it all. 

As school leaders we are the jugglers in the circus, the plate spinners-who, with relentless monitoring and careful encouragement keep all the balls in the air and the plates spinning. On the Friday the tiredness of everything took over. There wasn’t one straw that broke this camel, there were a few bits-things so small that individually they are not worth mentioning, but on that Friday all my plates, juggling balls and even the big top came down. A parent chose to use the end of term to “forcefully” put me in my place, the admin team needed some things doing before the end of term, there were other bits-you know, the usual pressure things-it would have been fine any other time…..but strangely not this time. I ended up locking myself in the toilet to get a breather. It had all become too much

Staff saw me upset-something I try not to show as a leader, they were lovely-that made it worse in a way. The response from the admin team was rightly upset with me-I own my reactions- I responded badly-it was not great. Everything ended and we all went our separate ways. I spent the summer break upset with myself and stressed-then started to think about how I can make this job manageable. The pressure on being the leader that you want to be, the pressure that I certainly put upon myself-let alone the external pressures from everything around you push and pull you in directions that -for the most part-are not the direction the school or staff need to move in. These are the juggling balls, these are the plates-and I have realised that they cannot all be in the air at the same time. 

So what have I learned about myself and where my leadership must go-for me, my health and for the betterment of the school and staff? I don’t know of many successful leaders who aren’t reflective and haven’t experienced at least one “dark night of the soul”. I have to make changes. Here are my September New Years resolutions!

1. Ensure that my timetable is as important as every class timetable and there is time to actually do the work I have set out to do. To build in capacity for issues to arise-“things” are always going to crop up, parents will need appointments, there will be emergencies and decisions need to be made, the school needs the monitoring and guidance-but things can be done partly on our terms and there needs to be some control on how accessible a leader is to the needs of everyone else. I have found that being too accessible can lead you to be taken advantage of, but the trick is to not cheese people off by being too removed. Close but distant enough to be able to achieve what need to be done. 

2. Be honest with myself and others. Last term with the OFSTED added to an already over loaded term I should have taken a little time to be honest with those around me and told them that I was struggling and that I needed help. I do not expect anyone apart from another actual headteacher sat in the chair day to day to sympathise with the pressure and the stress element. There are more stressful jobs, but headship is up there I am sure. I can’t really explain the feelings of self doubt, pressure, dread and fear that go with the head’s chair. The art of the juggler is to put as many balls in the air as you feel comfortable with and put the others on the side until there is space to add them. Let others know that their ball will be up there with the others when you have chance to do so. Sometimes it’s ok to say no-just occasionally!

3. Remember that I am only human, but then, so is everyone else. Everyone carries their stresses and worries, so be careful how you tread. Treat others as you’d like to be treated, but don’t own everyone else’s problems and don’t get involved if it doesn’t require my involvement. Micro-management will kill me, the creativity and the natural growth of a school. As a beast it needs to grow and change-I can’t control everything. Shared responsibility with others and sharing the burden is crucial, but I am always mindful that I am ultimately responsible. I do however have a full point. We all do. I have spent the last few years of headship trying to keep the work load on my staff to a manageable level-in spite of growing demands placed upon those in the teaching profession and those battling the school business management.  I’d rather do things myself than give any more work to my already hardworking staff-but there comes a point. 

4. Set deadlines with others. A set end point for things to be completed by is vital to keep everything and everyone moving forward. The tricky bit is that everyone has different personal timescales. If as a school we agree the timescales and deadlines and we agree to hold ourselves and each other to them then we all know what’s coming up and when it is to be achieved by. This reduces the surprise bonus extra tasks that can push others over the edge. It enable leaders to spread the workload for all staff so that it all doesn’t come at the same time. This does require everyone to buy into a shared responsibility-when others miss a deadline it causes a knock on effect to others. 

5. Be healthy and well. I made myself ill-not the school, there’s no one else to blame for this apart from me, my passion, need, desire to do a good job and not be found out! After six weeks of rest and reflection (and yes, I have been into school in that time and done a few hours/days-but I have had some time away) I’m ready to go back. This time it took me all that time to get my head in the right place. Being a leader in a school does not mean that you are bullet proof. Take time to be away from school and with family and friends. Reenergise. I have been a headteacher for many years and I believe the pressure is at its worse right now. Now more than ever it is vital that there is some kind of balance. For me by the summer break it was too late. I had a realisation that for years that I had been trying to prove something to someone-in competition with all the other amazing heads and leaders in the county and on Twitter. There is always someone or a school somewhere that inspires and challenges you, but you can’t do everything. Be recognised for doing your own thing-your school must find its own mojo. In the meantime I will balance my work with the really important things-my own family, friends, gym, reading, music, trips, visits and catching up with those friends that mistakenly I have been too busy, too busy for or too focused on work for. 

I could list another few lessons learned this year, but 5 balls or plates in the air is enough for any blog. It has been cathartic to write it down, but the proof of the pudding will be in the implementing of a sensible and manageable work tempo that doesn’t upset others around me. Trust me-I’m juggling lots already, I’ll do what I can, but if I take on too much I will fall and then so will all the balls. Please don’t think of me as rude if I say no-occasionally. 

Have a great start to the term everyone and to all those jugglers out there-you are incredible, you are doing a great job, but don’t throw up too many more balls, make sure you can keep all those that you have in the air at the same time. 

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