Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Fantastic First Term at Tadpole Farm!

Thank you so much for all the support, offers of help and positive comments that have made this first term so rewarding and pleasurable for all of the staff involved at Tadpole Farm CE Primary Academy - we couldn't have done it without you! As Bishop Lee said, when he opened the school at the start of September, this is one step on our journey and we look forward to sharing many more steps with you in the coming terms and years.  This blog has information about the beginnings of the Christmas events; our values foci for term two; an update on the real school build; news on fundraising and gift giving; guidelines about things your children need and news from the classes. We wish you all a lovely holiday (remember, the last day in school is today, Tuesday 21st October) and look forward to seeing you on Monday 3rd November for term two.

The Beginnings of Christmas...
Christmas Decorations - we have thought carefully about setting up traditions and practices that will carry on as the school grows and have decided to set up one that will make Christmas very special community time.  We would like each child to bring in a decoration for the Christmas tree - the decoration needs to be robust enough to stand the test of time as we will hang the same decoration on the tree every year that your child is in our school.  When your child leaves the school their decoration will be returned to them as part of the leaving worship. The guidelines for the decoration are:

  • it must be named
  • it should fit a colour scheme of red/green/gold
  • it must be of a size that will hang on a branch
  • it must be strong enough to stand being hung each year for up to 7 years and being packed away repeatedly each year
  • it should be sent into school in the last week of November
We have thought about the size of tree we will eventually need, but as we all love Christmas we think that will be fine!
Stay and Play - on Thursday 20th November we are offering the opportunity for up to 40 of your children to Stay and Play at school from 3:30 to 8:00pm. This gives you an opportunity to do some Christmas shopping, without small people, or you may choose to spend the time doing something more relaxing!  During the session, supervised by staff in school, the children will do some Christmas crafts, play, have a buffet style tea and watch a DVD on the big screen. The cost for the session is £5.  Booking will be on a first come, first served basis - Niki Wilding will be stood at the entrance door to school on the first day back after the holidays - to secure a place you need to bring in an envelope, labelled with your child's name, containing the £5. In my experience, children really enjoy these sessions and love the novelty of staying on at school after the end of the day to play and have fun with their friends.  As a staff community, we feel it gives you a little bit of time to spend with your partner/friends and we know you value that.

Values and Collective Worship Foci for Term 2

For Christians, service means not only service to God but to each other.  We will be thinking about doing things for others and how others do things for us. The message that the children will be learning about from the Bible stories is 'It's good to be helpful'.  In this period in the run up to Christmas there are lots of things the children can do to be helpful and show the value of service - serving others helps them to think about themselves as part of a wider community too.
We will also be studying the value of thankfulness. Through the worship stories, we will be thinking about how it feels to be thanked and not thanked for something we have done. Looking at the amazing world around us, we will thank God for the changes that happen in Autumn and be talking about what we love most about the world that God has created for us.
It's obvious to say it I know, but our celebration this term will be Christmas. The children will be learning the story of the nativity and the journey and events that led to the birth of Jesus in the stable. Our nativity services (Nursery on 16/12 at 2:00 pm St Andrew's Church; Reception 18/12 5:00 pm St Andrews Church) will bring all this learning together to share with you at this special time.

The Real School - progress update.

tadpole farm swindonSome of you may already have been for a look around the new show houses that opened up last week on the Tadpole Garden Village development.  I was fortunate to go to the launch of the Village and met up with many of the designers and people involved in the woodlands and open land surrounding the site.  It looks set to be a very exciting project that your children will be involved in from day 1 - there will be opportunities to work with artists on aspects of the public art areas and also to benefit from the many wildlife and outdoor developments that will be taking place.  I also went to the school site for the first time... it feels huge compared to where we are now!  Wilmott Dixon are making good progress and it is possible to see most of the foundations in place already.  The beginnings of the timber frames were being erected the day that I was on site and it looks like the building will be as bright and airy as the one we are in now.  The builders are keen for the children to visit the site but at the moment it wouldn't be safe for them so we are hoping to take them over sometime in January for a first look around.  If I can, I will get permission for parents to visit at some point too as many of you have asked about the build and I know would love to see it.  You may have noticed, in a recent Swindon Advertiser article, that Swindon Borough Council have now confirmed an opening date of September 2015 for us to be in the new building.  This makes sense as the contractors are due to finish sometime in June/July and so we will have plenty of time for setting up the building ready for the children's return after the summer.  The plans are currently being updated and I hope to have a set on display soon.

Fundraising and gift giving

Thank you so much for the Harvest donations you gave.  The Swindon Foodbank volunteers have collected the goods and will let us know how many meals we have provided.  The Foodbanks are particularly needed at Christmas, as families struggle with gaps in income and cannot provide those Christmas treats that we may take for granted.  We would like to do another Foodbank collection around the end of November - we will confirm exact dates after the holiday, but maybe you could keep an eye out for early offers on Christmas goodies that you might be able to donate.  Having worked with families who have benefited from such help at Christmas, I can personally say that the difference that having the basic food stuffs, as well as a few Christmas biscuits/treats, can make to what can be the hardest of times is significant for families in need.
Facebook cover photo_CaptainCostume.jpg (2413×893)Children in Need - Friday 14th November
We will be supporting Children in Need on Friday 14th November.  For a £1 donation, your child may come to school dressed up as a superhero or just dressed in fancy dress - all money raised will be sent to Children in Need. There are some great fancy dress tips for easy to create super hero costumes here.
Easyfundraising.org.uk Raise money for the Friends of Tadpole Farm School when you shop on line by using this web site - more details will be in a leaflet in your child's bag shortly.  It costs you no more than shopping on line normally but the retailer sends a donation to the school for every purchase you make.

Helping your child

Wellies and waterproof coats - the children love to play on the grass but it is often wet so wellies are the answer.  If you have yet to send in a pair of named wellies, then can I ask you to do this as soon as possible.  If you are unable to supply wellies please let Niki Wilding, in the school office, know your child's current shoe size and we'll see if we can provide spares. Waterproof coats are needed every day too as we do play outside in all weathers - whilst gloves attached are useful in terms of not losing them they do trail in the water and mud when we are playing outside.
Parents Phonic Session - Tuesday 11th November 2:30 - 3:15 pm - come along and find out about the way your children learn the sounds that help them to decode and spell words. Miss Leach and Mrs Flynn have promised to make it fun for you and not include too many tests!  There will be a creche running for younger children.  We recommend that you come along to this session and ask that you sign up on the list that will be in the lobby from Monday 3rd November.
Birthdays - it's lovely to celebrate the children's birthdays with them, see their birthday badges and celebrate with them in Friday worship with our everlasting cake and candles. Please be aware that we are a healthy school and that children of this age may have intolerances that are not yet known about so, even though we have enjoyed the things you have sent in for birthdays so far, we would ask that, from next term, sharing of sweets and cakes are kept for parties rather than in school time. 
Nut allergies - some of the children and staff have nut allergies so, to be on the safe side, could we ask that no nuts or products containing nuts are brought into school - thank you.
School Photographs - Wednesday 19th November - the photographer will be in taking individual and children's family group photographs on this day.  There will be time after school to take wider family groups (this could be just siblings or parents too) - it will be a case of first come, first served.  The photographer we are using is Snappers Photography - http://www.snappersphotography.co.uk/

News from the classes

Owls and Squirrels - Reception classes
It is the end of the first term already and it has flown past! We are delighted with the way all the children have settled into school and Owl and Squirrel classes have all become the best of friends. 
We have been getting to know ourselves and each other this term, thinking about keeping healthy and how we change as we grow up. We have been learning to recognise and respect similarities and differences in each other and our families. The children have written their class rules, based on our school values, and use them to support each other in their learning. 
The children had their first whole school performance and excelled themselves at our Harvest celebration, learning songs and poems in a very short period of time.
Next term we will extend our learning into the world around us, we are planning walks around the neighbourhood and lots of visitors. 
We are impressed with the children's phonics learning, please keep practising at home and have fun with the new word webs.
Have a happy and restful half term break and we will see you next month!
Hedgehogs - Nursery classes
The children have had a great first term in Hedgehogs and have settled in to our routines really well.  Last week we read 'Oliver's Vegetables'; a story baout a little boy who ate lots of different fruit and vegetables.  We then tried the fruits and vegetables from the story and said whether we liked them or not.  We made collages of our favourite fruits and vegetables and learnt about Harevst.
This week we have been learning about Divali and how other cultures celebrate important occassions.  We talked about similarities and differences between Christian celebrations and Divali.  The children made beautiful diva, for holding special lights; had a special snack to celebrate Divali and did Bollywood style dancing with the children in the Owl and Squirrel classes.
The children have taken home there PE kits; please check through and make sure all the clothes are your child's own, as the odd item has gone missing.  Please remember to bring named PE kits back in to school on Monday 3rd November.  Have a lovely break and see you next term.

Friday, 3 October 2014

News Update Friday 3rd October

News Update Friday 3rd October

As the beginnings of Autumn blow in, we're thinking about Harvest, coats and wellies, wet and windy walks and keeping those viruses away!  In this blog you will find details of the Harvest service; requests re suitable clothing for the season, volunteers for DIY jobs and sewing cushion covers, support with children whose first language is not English and parents/grandparents to help with reading; reminders about collecting children, naming clothes, term dates and completing the Free School Meal forms; updates on The Lily Pad; Independence Fortnight and news from the classes.
Harvest Service - Friday 17th October 2:30 pm

You are all welcome to join us for our Harvest Service at school on Friday 17th October at 2:30 pm.  The service will be held in the Reception classroom, so please be aware that we do not have many adult sized chairs and it's likely to be standing places only.  We know that many of you have younger children too and we would ask that you be ready to take them outside if they become noisy, as the school children are likely to go very quiet when they see an audience and we want to give you the best chance of being to be able to hear them. We will be singing too and asking you to join in so bring your singing voices!  Our collection will be in support of the Swindon Foodbank - http://www.swindonfoodbank.co.uk/foodlist - please bring donations in on the Friday morning (or afternoon for Nursery afternoon sessions).  

Suitable Clothing for the season

As we move into Autumn the fantastic frog wellie racks that were made for us need filling with wellies so that the children can go out and about in the grounds,even when the grass is damp and muddy.  If you have yet to send in wellies, please send in asap, making sure they are clearly named.  Coats are a must for every day too, as the children do lots of their learning outside - if they are waterproof and easy to put on that helps the children. 

Volunteers - can you spare some time...?

DIYers...We have some DIY type jobs that need doing from time to time and would appreciate any volunteers who could come in and spare an hour or so - if you would be happy to join our contact list for this then please email school@tadpolefarmcepa.co.uk.  Once we move to the 'ultimate' school we will be employing a site manager for this sort of thing but for now we would appreciate your help.
Sewing Bees... Thank you to all those who volunteered for nativity costume making - we'll be starting on this very soon.  We're currently looking for cushion cover creators - if this may be you then let us know - the material will be in the school office next week.
Speak more than one language..? We'd like to build up a list of people who can speak languages other than English, who would be happy for us to contact them to come in to school and share their skills and knowledge on an occasional basis.  Please let Niki Wilding know school@tadpolefarmcepa.co.uk or pop in and see her.
Help with reading/story telling... now the children are more settled we'd like to invite any parent volunteers who would like to help support reading to get in touch with us. There will be a short workshop after school so that we can introduce you to the way we teach reading and the question centred approach we use when working with children in 1:1 and 1:small group to support reading comprehension. Please email school@tadpolefarmcepa.co.uk if you would like to find out more by attending the workshop - once we have a list of those who are interested we will set a workshop date.


Collecting your child... If someone, other than the usual person who collects your child, is collecting your child please give them a password to use.  You will need to call the school office (01793737325), let us know the password and we will then ask the person collecting your child for the password before we will allow your child to leave.  If your child is going to tea with a friend from class please make sure we know that too as we cannot let your child go with another adult unless we are sure you have made those arrangements.
Names in clothes... Imagine it's 3:25, the children are getting ready to go home and they don't have their sweatshirt on - the adult in class has a pile of sweatshirts one named but two not... the children try and work out which one is theirs... the smell of the washing powder... the baked bean spill from lunch... yesterdays sticker or badge... all are good clues but how much easier it would be if it had their name in :) Thank you for naming your child's clothes, it really helps us. If you haven't had time to do it yet or the one you wrote on has washed off, we'd be really grateful if you would re-do the name labels - thank you. Niki WIlding has details of a very recommended company to use.
Term dates... a reminder that we have an INSET day on Wednesday 22nd October and the school is closed to pupils that day.  The last day of term 1 will therefore be Tuesday 21st October.  Term 2 starts on Monday 3rd November.  
Reception Children only - Free School Meal Forms... As you know all the children in Reception are entitled to a free school meal and you do not have to apply for it.However, the government make additional payments to schools for some children whose parents/carers are on low incomes and, for us to access that funding, we need those of you whose children would qualify to fill in the application form for Free Lunches (check your child's book bag tonight - we've put a copy in there).  As with many government forms, it can seem not straight forward so please come and see us if you would like some help filling in the form. It is really important to us that as many of you as are eligible complete the form - thank you.

The Lily Pad

The Lily Pad is providing lots of fun for the children who need to be dropped off early or need to stay later than the end of school.  There are still some spaces and you are welcome to book a place on an ad-hoc basis provided you let us know in advance.  We can now accept childcare vouchers as payment - we are currently registered with Edenred and Computershare. If you need our registration details please email school@tadpolefarmcepa.co.uk.  If your company uses a different scheme for vouchers please let us know and we will register as a provider under that scheme.

Independence Fortnight

The children have settled in really well and we think that many of them are ready for the next step.  For the rest of this term we will be focusing on independence and encouraging the children to come in on their own (hugs etc at the inside gates to the play areas); hang up their own coats and bags; sort out their own water bottles and any notes for the school and settle to their start of the day tasks with their friends.  I know this is a tricky thing for some of you to support them with, and it's not that we don't want you to come in and see us, but it really helps the children if they can build these independence skills and, in my experience, this last few weeks of term 1 is the most effective time to do this.  If your child is not ready to come in on their own then we would ask that you support them in hanging up their own bag/coat/putting their things in the right places and gradually move to watching them from the door... then the window etc.
The children will get stickers and smiley faces for being independent and I'm looking forward to giving out lots of those in the next few weeks.

51Hio4i5JdL._SY300_.jpg (231×300)News from the classes
Reception classes - Owls and Squirrels

What a busy week we have had in Reception! We have been learning all about our bodies and bones and had great fun reading the Funny Bones stories. We explored jelly brains and made our own skeletons. We have been singing songs about our bodies and learning what different parts of the body do. 

Have your children been telling you about their germ hunts and what they have learnt about germs?
The children shared their feelings this week and we were delighted that so many of them said that coming to school made them feel happy!!
We are so impressed with how much the children enjoy their phonics session; thank you for supporting them to practise with their phonics books at home. Please ensure that the picture begins with the correct letter sound e.g. igloo not ice- cream. Your child could sing their song to remind them.

Nursery classes - Hedgehogs 
emotion smiley faces_thumb.jpg (200×199)We have had a wonderful week in Hedgehogs! This week we have been learning about feelings.We have been talking about how different situations make us feel and also what makes us feel happy, sad, cross or excited. We came up with ideas together about how to help others when they are feeling upset or lonely. We also talked about things we can do to help us calm down when we feel cross. We have been developing our speaking and listening skills by responding to questions and listening to what our friends say. We decided a class set of rules and have been getting lots of smiley faces for following our rules. 

Next week we will be learning about our families and how we have grown and changed since we were babies. To support the children's learning, please can your child bring in a photograph of themselves as a baby and a family photograph.
If your child is in our morning session and you would like them to take part in our Harvest service please sign up on the sheet outside Hedgehog classroom.