Sunday, 31 January 2016

Newsblog 29th January - Class updates

This week it's time for an update on the classes, which we are hoping to do every fortnight.  On those weeks there will be a shorter whole school information update.

In this weeks newsblog:

  • ActiveKids vouchers from Sainsbury's
  • FOTF - School Disco tickets
  • News from the classes

ActiveKids vouchers from Sainsbury's
We have begun collecting ActiveKids vouchers for this year so, if you or anyone ou know shops in Sainsbury's please collect the vouchers and drop them off in the School Office.  Last year we collected some playground equipment and this year we're looking, with your help, to add to our PE equipment. 

FOTF - School Disco tickets
There are still some tickets available for the Valentine Disco - please pop to the school office to snap these up!

News from the classes

Hedgehog Class
In Hedgehog class we have been doing lots of storytelling; we used actions and props to retell the story A Little Bit of Winter. The children have also been creating story maps by drawing the events of the story, some even added their own details to make their own winter story.

The children were really engaged by the theme of hibernation in the story and wanted to find out more. We have been learning about different animals that hibernate and the children have been asking lots of interesting questions to find out more about hibernation. We have been developing our early writing skills through ‘Secret Writing’, the children have been mark making in a variety of methods and giving meaning to the marks they make.

They have also been creating different hibernation dens for animals on a small scale using sugar cubes and mini marshmallows and on a larger scale outside they decided to make a bear cave using junk modelling to adapt our willow den. The children then took their learning further and drew animal tracks in chalk that led from the classroom all the way to the bear cave.

Next week we will be having a Frozen themed week! We will be doing lots of ice investigations and developing our role play inside and outside; the children will also be doing lots of Frozen themed cooking for snacktime. In the last week of term to finish off our winter topic we will be taking part in Forest School activities led by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust; further details will be emailed out to all parents.

Owl and Squirrel Class
Another busy couple of weeks in Reception!
Our new stage and den building area is now complete and the children can't wait to start using it in the coming week. They have really enjoyed watching Jon at work and it has inspired them with their own building projects. The children have also been working with Rachel from The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust learning how to build dens around the school, which was great fun and now they can use these skills to build their own in our new den area. If you have any old plain bed sheets you no longer need and you would like to donate them we would love them for our dens!

Don't forget we will be going over to the forest area with Rachel on Monday or Tuesday this week, so we will need warm spare clothes and extra socks as well as hats, gloves and scarfs to keep us warm while we explore.

As many of you know we have started learning challenges in Reception this term. Each week the children are asked to complete a number of independent challenges to demonstrate their learning skills. Literacy challenges are red and could be writing a list, playing a word or phonics game or retelling a story. Maths challenges are blue and could be ordering numbers, measuring objects or making patterns. We introduce the challenges on Mondays and then the children have until Friday lunchtime to complete them. If they complete the challenges then they have a special treat activity. The children are really enjoying the independent challenges and most children are managing to complete them in time! You can support your child by asking them about the challenges and which ones they have completed! Over the next term we will gradually add more challenges to continue to develop their independence over all areas of learning.
And finally, don't forget to keep sharing Magnificent Moments of your child's learning and achievements outside of school.

Fox and Badger Class
Continuing with our topic on weather, the Year One children have been experimenting with water and ice and blowing feathers in the breeze. Last week, when it was very cold, they became scientists and melted ice through different methods. As the temperature did not go above 0°C for the whole day they extended their learning by pouring the water on the ground to re-freeze!

They have amazed us with their use of information texts to support their learning about animals. We introduced non-fiction books at the beginning of the term and the children have enjoyed finding them in our bookcase and sharing facts with us - the more gory the better!

The clubs have started now, and are going well with all the children enjoying them. The chefs have made marmite pinwheels amongst other things, in craft they have started making jewellery boxes and in Star Wars they have made Yoda hats and light sabres.

Next week, the children will be den-building with Rachel from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. This will take place on the school premises so the children need no additional clothing as long as they have wellies in school. Also, we are making vehicles from junk modelling. If you have any boxes/plastic bottles/foil you need to get rid of, please bring it into school next week.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Short newsblog for week beginning 25th January

Hello All,

Just a short news blog this week, with reminders and charity news.

Inside this blog:-

  • Dates for your diary
  • FOTF News - Bags 2 School and Valentines Disco tickets
  • LilyPad closure reminder Monday 25th January
  • Charity news

Dates for your diary
A number of you have asked for details of term dates for the remainder of this academic year and the one after - we will stick to the dates for all Swindon schools so a check on Google for Swindon term dates will help you with this if you want an idea for years ahead - or print out the tables below or check the school website.  There are 5 school INSET days and one Academy INSET day - for 2017/18 there will only be the 5 INSET days.


 1st September    21st October1st September; 21st October
2nd November    18th December2nd November (additional DBAT wide INSET day)
 4th January       12th February 4th January
 22nd February24th March    24th March
 11th April27th May
 6th June    22nd July    17th June


 1st September    21st October1st and 2nd September; 21st October
31st October    16th December31st October (additional DBAT wide INSET day)
3rd January       10th February 3rd January
 20th February7th April   
 24th April26th May
 5th June    21st July    16th June

Other dates for your diary:-

Monday 25th January
LilyPad closed due to staff training
Drop off at 3:30 pm for Bags 2 School see below
Tuesday 26th January
Collection of Bags 2 School – please bring in by 9:00 a.m.
Thursday 11th February
Valentines Disco – FOTF event see below for details
Friday 12th February
Last day of term 3
Monday 22nd February
First day term 4
Week beginning 29th February
No clubs due to parents meetings – more details to follow

FOTF News - Bags 2 School and Valentines Disco tickets

We hope you've been having a good clear out and are ready to donate bags of unwanted clothing etc to our Bags 2 School initiative.  

The bags went home with most children about a week ago for you to fill with clothes etc you no longer need and would like to donate.  You don't just have to use these bags - black bin bags are fine too.  There is a list of what you can donate on the bags that came home.  It's a good opportunity to have a clear out of cupboards etc and we are paid on a weight collected basis.  Bags can be dropped in to the school hall after school on Monday 25th January or first thing Tuesday 26th January - they will be collected soon after 9:00 a.m. so please have them in before then.

Valentines Disco - tickets are on sale for £2 and will include a drink, crisps and a special balloon - please see our FOTF ticket sellers, who will be available before and after school again this week.

LilyPad closure reminder Monday 25th January

A reminder that the LilyPad is closed this Monday for staff training.

Charity news

#WearItOut Friday 4th March 2016

You may remember Mrs Wilding donned her bandana last year to raise awareness of childhood brain tumours; and, this year, will be doing so again along with the teaching staff.  With your support, we hope to raise £200 this year for the Brain Tumour Charity to use to provide support for families, fund clinical trials and increase awareness of symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis to saving lives.

We have opened up a Just Giving page at
or you can show your support by ordering your bandana by 31st January 2016. Place £3.50 in a sealed envelope Marked #WEARITOUT with your name and class on the envelope and drop it off at the school office, or simply wear your own bandana on March 4th.

We all like to think that these things won't happen to the ones we know and love but the reality is that, sadly, they do and it's at those times when we need to help in anyway we can.  It is an unpleasant fact that your child has as much chance of being diagnosed with a brain tumour as they do from being diagnosed with meningitis, and the outcome is not always a positive one.  With support for research and for ways of positively helping families to cope with such a diagnosis we can play a small part in showing we care.

Other Charity news:

As the school grows we will be setting up a school council who will select charities to support - we'll be asking for your ideas for this too - the first meeting of the school council is planned for term 5 and 6.  Meanwhile, we'll be supporting Sport Relief - more news on this to follow.  Supporting charities and people in need forms part of the ethos of giving that our school community values.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Class blogs and mini newsblog

Hello All,

This is a mini newsblog with class blogs being the major part of this weeks news.  Thank you for your patience with the ice and gritting - if you fancy helping out with gritting let me know - the grit spreader is great for an upper body work out first thing in the morning!

In this week's blog:-

  • Charity update
  • FOTF update
  • Head lice 
  • Class blogs from Hedgehogs (Nursery); Squirrels and Owls (Reception) and Badgers and Foxes (Year 1)

Charity update
Thank you for your generous support on Christmas Jumper Day - you raised a total of £102.20 which has been passed on to the charities concerned.  We will be supporting other charities during the year - some national events and some with a more personal, local connection.  One of the events we will be supporting will be Sport Relief on Friday 17th March - more information will be in future news blogs.

FOTF update

The FOTF had their first meeting of 2016 last week and the following officers were elected:-
Laura - Chair - mum to Ella Y1 and Poppy YN
Rachael - Vice Chair - mum to Shania Y1
Amanda & Geoff - Treasurers - parents to Evan Y1 and Ava YN
Gill - Secretary - mum to Ruby YR
Many others on committee have volunteered for different roles so you will be likely to hear from them in the coming weeks.
Things happening very soon are:-
  • Bags 2 School - bags went home with most children on Friday for you to fill with clothes etc you no longer need and would like to donate.  You don't just have to use these bags - black bin bags are fine too.  There is a list of what you can donate on the bags that came home.  It's a good opportunity to have a clear out of cupboards etc and we are paid on a weight collected basis.  Bags can be dropped in to the school hall after school on Monday 25th January or first thing Tuesday 26th January - they will be collected soon after 9:00 a.m. so please have them in before then.
  • Valentines Disco - this will be on Thursday 11th February from 5:30 - 6:30 pm and will be open to all children - tickets will be £2 and will include a drink, crisps and a special balloon - more details to follow.
  • Second Hand School Uniform Sale - FOTF are organising this very soon so if you have any uniform in good condition that you would be willing to donate please hand in to school office - thank you.
Head lice 

We have these little visitors with us again - it is quite common in primary schools and is difficult to eradicate but ideas on the NHS website might help you - NHS website

Class blogs 
Hedgehogs (Nursery)
The children have come back to Hedgehog class keen to learn and explore all our activities. This term our topic is ‘Feeling the Cold’. We have been investigating winter; we went on a winter walk around the school to look for signs of winter.

This week we have been reading the story A Little Bit of Winter, which is a  story about a hedgehog who asks his friend Rabbit to save him a little bit of winter while he hibernates. The children have been developing their speaking and listening skills; we have been talking about the book and answering questions about the setting and characters and discussing how we can care for animals.

The children have also been enjoying lots of messy hedgehog and winter crafts. We have been focusing on number and counting work; the children have been developing their skills with counting objects one at a time and saying the total number.

We have been joined by some new friends in Hedgehog class and we are helping them to settle into our routines and building new relationships. Please remember that we have a freeflow environment and the children are often outside, enjoying playing in our Nursery garden, therefore please remember to bring in a warm coat, hat and gloves. We alternate our PE days so please ensure your child has their named PE kit in school all week; we send them home termly to be washed.

Squirrels and Owls (Reception)

We are really impressed with how well the children have all settled back in after the Christmas break. They already seem more independent and grown up!
We have been enjoying learning about the traditional tales and have been developing our storytelling skills. We enjoyed talking about our favourite parts of the story and describing the characters and settings. By the end of the term we hope to be telling our own stories.

In Maths we are continuing to recognise and order numbers to 20 and use our counting skills in a variety of situations. We have also begun to add two groups of objects together to find the total, which we have really enjoyed. We are learning that maths is all around us and we can use it in lots of everyday tasks - How many steps are in my house? What shapes can I see in my house? I have got 3 blue sweets and 4 orange sweets, How many sweets do I have altogether? What numbers are in our car number plate? If I had one more train, how many would I have?

The children are still really enjoying our daily phonic sessions and are now using our sounds to write words independently. Thank you to all the parents who came to the Phonics workshop last term. We hope you found it useful and it gave you tips on how to support your child’s phonics at home. Below are some useful websites that you can use at home. Please be aware that many phonic apps are American and often have the wrong pronunciation of the sounds which can be confusing to the children. We have now learnt all of the phase 2 sounds and some of children will continue to develop their skills with these sounds and some will progress onto phase 3, where they will begin to learn the digraphs. If you would like any more advice on how to support your child’s phonics learning please come and ask.

Phonics Websites

Don’t forget to keep reading with your child every night to help develop their reading and understanding skills. They love to share their reading books so sharing them with different family members and friends will also help develop confidence.

The children have been working really hard to become more independent. Most of them can now come into school independently, put their things away and join the activities. You can help them continue to develop their independence by encouraging them to carry their own bags to school, getting dressed by themselves and doing up their own coats!
They have also started to learn to become more independent in their learning this term. We have begun weekly challenges where the children have to complete 2 or 3 learning activities on their own to show their newly learnt skills. When they complete a challenge they get a coloured sticker on their learning tile. If they have completed all the challenges by Friday they choose a special activity to do.

As you can see by their excitement in the mornings the children love coming to school and enjoy all the learning activities. Please keep sharing their home learning by completing the magnificent moments and sending in photos, we love to share them with each other.

Finally, as the weather suddenly begins to turn cold please make sure the children have hats and gloves to keep them warm when they are learning outside.  Please make sure that they are also all named in case they get misplaced!

Badgers and Foxes (Year 1)

Our topic this term in Year One is, ‘It’s raining cats and dogs!’ where we will be learning facts about animals and the weather. We had an exciting topic launch last week when we travelled around the school visiting different climates. We made sandcastles on the beach in the sunshine; made kites to fly in the wind; wrapped up warm and made snowflakes and wore our waterproofs to keep dry in the rain. (Typically it did not actually rain for the first few days so we used watering cans and umbrellas!) At the end of the day we made a list of things we want to find out about the weather, and will use these questions to inform our planning.

Why does it rain?
The children wanted to know why it rains so we have set up a science investigation in our explore area where the children make the cloud fill with water until it rains. In addition, we have learnt a water cycle song, detailing precipitation, evaporation and condensation. As an extension, this week we have been pretending to forecast the weather and measuring capacity with rain water. The children have used non- fiction books to research factual information about different species of animals and will be writing their own books next week!

Handsome Handwriting
This term, we are putting a strong focus on correct letter formation. We are introducing certificates for the children when they are secure in each letter family and a pen when they are able to write all their letters correctly. They need to start at the correct point, make sure all letters are of a uniform size and make sure all ‘tummies’ are sitting on the line. At school we are teaching handwriting each week, in small groups, and offering lots of opportunities to practise during the day. At home, you can support your child by using the letter formation sheet that you will find in their book bag.

Please ensure children have their PE kits in school all week. Although Wednesday and Thursday are our usual days for PE, there are always lots of other opportunities when we might choose to learn through PE.
The children spend a lot of time outside, whatever the weather, so it would be useful for them to have appropriate clothing such as hat, gloves and scarves.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Urgent Ice warning

Hello All, a short but important blog to say it is very icy at school this morning and to ask you to take extra care walking and driving to us.  We will obviously be open but wanted you to be aware of the conditions.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone and a warm welcome back to school.  It's lovely to see how all the children have grown and how they are so excited to see each other; they're really growing into a strong, friendly community who are great at welcoming new people in and making them feel part of our school very quickly.

In the newsblog this week:-

  • This term's value is Trust
  • Snow Procedure 
  • Reminders about car parking; water bottles; school times; independence; Lilypad closure
  • Wearable technology
  • Local Board Parent Governor Update
  • Strakers winners
  • FOTF update
  • Open Days for prospective parents
  • Clubs
  • Community Interest Company
  • Parent Local Board Members 

This term's value is Trust

Trust is a really important value. We will be learning about how to show people that we are trustworthy; how hard it can be to build a good friendship with someone if we do not trust them; how being trusted gives you freedom to try new things and become more independent and why it is important to be able to trust others when working together as a team.  Through the stories from the Bible and other faiths and the discussions and activities the children take part in in class and house worship we will be thinking about how Trust involves relying on others; putting yourself in others’ hands; how it is possible to build trust by being reliable ourselves, by not letting people down. 
Christians believe that Jesus showed us that we should place trust in others just as he entrusted his ongoing work to his disciples and ultimately to those that follow the Christian faith.Similarly, when we work with others, if we are willing to let go of control ourselves and trust in the abilities and integrity of others, everyone can be grow in abilities, skills and knowledge. 
At home you might like to talk about this phrase: “Trusting someone is like knowing you can jump and they will be there to catch you” or about people who are trustworthy.

Snow Procedure 

Hopefully we won't need to close for any reason, snow or otherwise, but it would seem sensible to let you know where you can find out what we will be doing should the weather turn snowy.  If at all possible, in terms of safety, we will open so that those of you who work can still get to work.  The teaching staff live at various long distances from school so their ability to get in to Swindon will have a major impact on whether we open or not.  A decision on opening, or not, will be made by 6:30 a.m. on the day of any snow difficulty.  Regardless of what happens after that time, the school will open or close for the whole of that day - so if, for example, the decision is to open and then the snow gets worse we will stay open until 3:30, though you would be welcome to collect your child early if you were worried about travelling in the snow; on the other hand, if the decision was to close for the day, we would remain closed for the whole of that day even if the snow all suddenly melts and the roads clear.  We will put a message on the website via blog; will send out a text and will send out an email.  The Friends Of Tadpole Farm Facebook page will also be updated. 

Reminders about car parking; water bottles; school times; independence; Lilypad closure
Car Parking: thank you to all those of you who park safely in the car park or in the lay-bys outside; if you find that space there is limited then please park further along the road rather than half-on/half-off the kerb as this restricts the space for children, push-chairs and people - thank you.  If you do come in to the car park, please remember that it is a one-way system so you drive in at the entrance nearest the Oakhurst end and out at the exit in front of the main hall.   There are signs as you come in but we will plan to have road markings too once we can afford them.
As our staff team grows we find ourselves with an increasing pressure on car park spaces. Could I ask that, when you are dropping off or collecting your children, you use the spaces at the far end of the car park and avoid those at the front of the building - some staff begin work at 8:30 or 3:25 and are having trouble parking in the school grounds - thank you. 
Water bottles: thank you to all those of you who have sent your child in with only water in their bottles as requested in a previous newsblog.  To be fair to all the children from this term onwards, if your child does bring in a water bottle with anything other than water in, we will send it home again with them and provide them with a cup for water during the day.
At lunchtimes all the children, including those with packed lunches, are provided water. If your child brings in a packed lunch they will no longer need additional cartons or drink bottles.   
School times: I've had a couple of queries recently about Reception and Year 1 school start and end times  - start time is 8:50 am (doors open at 8:40 am) and pick up is 3:30 pm.
Independence: It is so lovely to see so many of the children coming in to school independently; carrying their own bags and lunch boxes and putting their own things away.  Thank you for your continuing support with building these skills.
LilyPad closure: A reminder that LilyPad is closed after school on Monday 11th and 25th January for staff training.  

Wearable technology
A number of lucky children were given high tech watches for Christmas and want to wear them to school.  These watches can also take photographs, videos and record sound - very clever.  Our policy for mobile and wearable technology is that no unauthorised use is made of these i.e. no photos etc are taken that could be used outside school in an unauthorised manner.  Our value this term is trust and so some of the children have asked if they can wear their watches and just keep them in watch mode.  If we are to live by our values then we have to trust them when they say they will do this; however I have spoken to them of the consequences of breaking this trust and they agree we would then have to say they can't be worn.  So, in summary, wearable technology can be worn but must only be used for telling the time.  That said, we can't accept any responsibility if such items are damaged or broken in school so we leave the decision to you and your family.
We are working with our IT consultants to plan an IT week where the children could bring in their own devices and share ideas about how technology works, but we need to make sure we can ensure their safety from an e-safety point of view first so watch out for more details later in the year.

Strakers Estate Agents winners 
Three of our children won prizes in the Strakers Christmas Card Competition - Rheya, Amber, Daniel - all won a selection box and had their card on display in the window of the estate agent throughout advent - well done to all of them.

FOTF update 
Committee Meeting - There is a committee meeting of the FOTF on Thursday 14th January at school from 7:00pm to 9:00pm - all are welcome.  We will be electing a new chair and vice chair plus discussing how last years events went, future plans and how to FOTF can help integrate the school and the local community as that community grows.  If you cannot come along to the meeting but have ideas about fundraising; feedback on the last year's events or suggestions for when and where committee meetings could be held please email before the meeting.
Wednesday coffee morning 8:50 - 10:00 - these are up and running again this term - Wednesday mornings once you have dropped your children at school.  There are plenty of toys and activities for younger children to have fun with whilst you chat to other parents over a cuppa!  If you know of any parents who would like to come along but don't have a school aged child yet then feel free to bring them along too.  This sort of group will grow and develop as the school grows so if you have ideas about how you would like this to be please email to FOTF email address above.
FOTF first big donation... last year you all helped raise money for multi-level decking provision in the YR area and I'm pleased to say this has now begun.  The teachers haven't told the children exactly what is being built as this is generating some excellent questions but, for your information, it will be a stage, with backstage zone and a den building pit. The children will all love it and it will add additional opportunities for their learning - thank you for your generosity.  Our next request for fundraising will be to help us put in a trim trail with all-weather surface in the area by the shed - cost is £9600 - so we have some way to go yet!

Please see clubs list attached to this week's email notification of the newsblog.  Some clubs were oversubscribed and places were allocated by names out of a hat.  There are still spaces in some of the clubs so pop in to the office if your Year 1 child would like to join in with them.  Clubs start next week and will take place in week beginning 11/1, 18/1, 25/1, 1/ 2, 8/2, 22/2, not week of 29/2 due to parents meetings, 7/3, 14/3, not week of 21/3 - 8 sessions.
If your child attends cooking club please make sure they bring in a Tupperware box for the goodies they make and £1 per week to cover costs of ingredients - thank you.

Community Interest Company
The Community Mobiliser, Anna Smart, has now begun her regular drop-in sessions at school on Tuesday mornings from 10:00 - 12:00.  Her role is to help build community for those living in and around Tadpole Garden Village and she'd love to hear from you about ideas for things which you feel would help serve the wider community.  If you live on Tadpole Garden Village then you can also chat to her about allotments, developments that are coming up next and what events you would like to see held to help build a community spirit.

Parent Local Board Member
Thank you to those people who nominated and stood for Local Board - we have two candidates and so there will be an election beginning next week.  The voting forms will go out on Wednesday 13th January and will need to be returned by Wednesday 27th January at 3:30pm.  We do have vacancies for Foundation Members too, so if you missed this opportunity then please come in and chat about being a Foundation Local Board Member.