St John's School

End of term letter from Mrs De La Haye

Dear Parents,

Here is a brief summary of events in school, culminating in a review our festive Christmas season at St John’s.

Thursday November 12th - Webinar conference held to strengthen educational links.

Mrs. De La Haye was one of four Headteachers who took part in this webinar, attended by over 100 principals/Headteachers from schools across China and Asia, to share experiences of education during the coronavirus pandemic and to discuss to how to strengthen cooperation.

Minister for Education, Senator Tracey Vallois, gave welcoming remarks at the virtual event and the headteachers of D’Auvergne, Les Quennevais, Hautlieu schools and of course, St John’s, all gave presentations. Also present was the recently appointed Minister Counsellor for Education at the Chinese Embassy in London, Madame Zhang Jin. During this event Mrs. De La Haye talked about a project she, and Year 6 had developed, based on the pupils’ understanding of global citizenship. This was highly praised by many of the Chinese principles, who commented on the impact of our pupil voice in discussing world issues at St John. (Article 13 -UNCRC)

Children in Need Day led to a very colourful school of pupils on Friday 13th November. We raised £311:55 for this great charity. Thank you for your support and to Mrs Loveless for organising. (Article 26 - UNCRC)

November 2020, Year 6 joined many non-fee-paying schools and fee-paying schools from across the Channel Islands, participating in the De Putron Challenge. St John’s pupils achieved =1st, having come first in two of the three competitions – general knowledge and computing – unfortunately, having to isolate during the final challenge. 😊 Breadth of learning and co-operation skills were crucial elements in this challenge lasting 3 weeks. We are proud of our incredible Year 6 learners. (Article 15 – UNCRC)

Thank you to the PTA for organising a fun and engaging afternoon Quiz on Sunday 15th November. There was infectious chatter following this event on the proceeding Monday morning. (Article 31 - UNCRC)

On Monday 23rdNovember, I organized for two external moderators to come into school, to ensure our assessment procedures and leveling of pupils is rigorous and accurate. The comments from the Moderators were incredibly positive and as parents, you can feel confident that our assessments are tight, thorough, and extremely accurate. We knew this ourselves; however, it is encouraging to have this verified by experienced, external moderators. (Article 3)

Internal evaluation in school. During the term Mrs Paul, Mrs Fairhead and Mrs Loveless have completed very rigorous internal school evaluations. These evaluations reviewed the consistency of phonic teaching throughout the school; unpicked pupil journaling to assess pupils’ depth of understanding in maths; reviewed consistency of questioning in our investigative science, as well as the progression of PSHE skills – our two on-track subjects (Science and PSHE). Mrs Loveless has also collected evidence for our Silver Award for our Rights Respecting Schools evaluation and has written reports monitoring our SEN interventions, Jersey Premium support and interventions for pupils with EAL. We are relentless in our self-assessments, ensuring we provide the outstanding learning opportunities for our pupils. (Article 29 – UNCRC)

Thank you for answering our Parental Questionnaire. We had an excellent response, and these have been very helpful in our continued journey moving forward. (Article 3). We had so many supportive comments about our school and recognition of the continuous hard work of our staff. Here is our response to the ways our school could be more successful.

  • More theatre, dance and art classes and more space to run. Response from the school: Before COVID, there was a weekly after school art class offered to pupils in KS2; dance/drama is taught through the PE curriculum and KS2 produce a Christmas play/ pantomime each year, Rec/KS1  develop a Christmas Nativity. Nursery do many drama/ art-based activities. We have entered the Jersey Eisteddfod for spoken poetry, dance, art, textiles and handwriting and have achieved great success. Yes, we agree with comments about space; we would like more space to run too.
  • Before COVID there was little opportunity for after school activities. Response from the school. Until COVID the school was offering 17 after school clubs, which were staggered throughout the year. All teaching staff are involved in leading a club at some point during the year. They do not get paid extra for supporting/leading clubs. They volunteer their time. We have bought in outside support too and sometimes parents have led clubs, for example, our wonderfully successful textile and sewing club. Clubs have included orchestra, choir, chess, football, cricket, running, art, computing, reading/ book club, gardening club, Brazilian football, break dance, Eco Club and Rights Respecting School Council. There are others too. Not bad for a school with only 9 teaching staff.

During 2018: 19 pre COVID, classes in the school went on 48 trips or visits, plus 3 Residential experiences to the Scout Hut, St Aubin’s Fort and France – plus a day’s visit to Sark.

Breakfast Club was also mentioned, and as shared before, we have tried tirelessly to work with agencies and teams to develop a breakfast club connected to school; however, we do not have the space in school to set one up, as teachers are preparing in classes before school, so classrooms cannot not be used and we have clubs using our hall before school, as well as frequent preparation for one of our regular assemblies. There is no other space in our school building. Several other schools in Jersey, have separate/ further space for before school opportunities. We are the poor relation in this area.

  • One parent asked for greater knowledge of subjects explored in class. School response. We do try to explain the topics, trips/ visits, highlights for the term in our termly curriculum letter which is sent out at the beginning of each term.
  • Adjust teaching approach to better suit boy heavy classes. School response. This is something we discuss in key stage meetings and regularly review. We have 1 girl heavy class too, but most of our classes are fairly even.

Despite the restraints of COVID- 19, Nursey have managed to enjoy a couple of “socially distanced” visits including a tour in the mini bus to look at Christmas lights around the Island; Year 6 have visited an art gallery and Diwali, Hannukah and Christmas, have been explored through creative ways, including art/ DT, Forest School activities and reflection. It was magical listening to children in Year 1 re-telling the Hindu story of Rama and Sita in their Piazza, with their Diva lamps lighting the path for the brave characters returning home. Year 5 have kept on with their weekly swimming sessions this term too.

Despite a challenging term experiencing the restrictions of COVID-19, we were determined to ensure that our pupils enjoyed an energetic and special celebration of Christmas! Everything looked festive after our “class bubble” Deco Day. Children from Nursery to Year 6, made a variety of decorations.  We were sad not to be able to work in mixed aged teams – as is our normal custom - and invite parents into school to help on this special day. Despite these very different changes, staff thought of some amazing decoration ideas and, the musical accompaniment of Christmas songs, was an inventive idea by Mrs Fairhead. Thank you to Natalie Jardine for coordinating the parents who worked behind the scenes preparing the resources for the decorations. Thank you to Mrs. McBrearty, for baking Christmas cookies for the children to enjoy. It was a very happy, festive and colourful Deco Day. After Deco Day we had a simple opening of our Gazebo, organized by the ECO Team. We are so grateful to everyone who was involved in making this dream happen. It was only right that Mr. McBrearty opened our Gazebo/ sensory garden area, as he has worked so hard developing this area for the children. (Article 31)

Thank you so much to Natalie, Rebecca, Kerry (and her mum again), Pizza Box and parents of the PTA, for all your hard work with the Christmas parties. The atmosphere, food and fun during this event was, yet again, wonderful. Thank you for planning our tasty lunch Natalie and thank you to your team, for sourcing extra food, plates etc., to make the party go with a festive “bang”. Packing pass the parcel was quite a task, but the children loved their festive book to enjoy at the end of the afternoon. The popcorn was eaten while watching a festive film, making the end of our day a huge success.

Against the constant COVID pressure and challenges of the last few weeks, we still managed to create a feast of festive entertainment. We all loved Nursery and Reception’s Lantern Walk – a very happy experience that created a memorable “ah” moment. Year 1 and 2’ s narration/ story/poetry, signing as they told the Christmas story “Little angel gets her wings”, was delightful. Our Christmas pantomime in Key Stage Two consisted of fine acting, amazing, thematic dances and exuded plenty of festive cheer. Thank you so much Mr Le Rossignol, for filming Nursery and Reception, KS1 and KS2’s Christmas productions and for putting these on Google Classroom for families to experience and enjoy. Again, although everything was very different this year, all our staff and pupils worked so hard to ensure the children had a happy “Christmas Season” in school. (Article 31)

Well done Olivia in Year 6, who won the guess the chocolates in the jar competition. There were 135 coins. What a feast to enjoy Olivia. 😊

I would like to wish each one of you a happy and peaceful Christmas and look forward to seeing you all on Monday January 4th at 8:45 am. I would like to thank everyone for your support this term. Please remember to drive at 15 mph max through Rue Gombrette.

My final thoughts are with our hard-working staff, who continue to go the extra mile for your children. This has not been an easy term and all staff in school feel the pressure of being “front line workers”, delivering a first-class education to your children, supporting families etc., whilst putting themselves at risk every day, during this very uncertain time. Thank you for supporting us with this. We are very grateful for the consistent support of our Senior Adviser, Mrs Eldridge Mrotzek, who is always available to support our school with her wisdom, guidance, challenge, care and sense of fun. Thank you to Ms. De La Cour in Year 2, who has worked hard all term and is spending time in another school next term, before returning to us to complete her placement. A big thank you to Mrs Falle and Mrs Bisson, who had to cope with extra administrative tasks due to COVD and to Mr Fallaize, who had to clean surfaces and handles several times a day.

Please remember to keep yourselves socially distanced at drop off and pick up

With best wishes for happy and safe Christmas break

Trudie De La Haye,

Christmas 2020.