Friday April 20th

A great first week back, helped by some beautiful weather! I hope you all had a lovely break over Easter. I certainly did and am back fully refreshed and ready for the Summer term.

We’ve started with some really exciting events taking place this week. Reception class held a pirate party, Alison Jones out EAS Maths support spent some time catching up with Mr Langdon and his adventures in China and years 5 and 6 hosted some ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ workshops where we were joined by Sara Jones, the county councillor for the Llanover Ward and Councillor Reverend Malcolm Lane. I was so proud of the mature responses from our Year 5 and 6 children and very pleased to see how impressed the councillors were with them too!

Many thanks to Kate for excellent presentations too.

On Friday evening the PTFA hosted a storytelling evening where we got to share our favourite stories and our love of reading. We went on a Bear Hunt, shared some pizza and hot chocolate and cuddled up in our PJ’s to enjoy stories read by Father Julian, myself and local author Hilary Orme who also very kindly donated one of her own books to our new library. Many thanks to Phillipa’s Mum for sending me this lovely photo of us enjoying the evening!

I couldn’t attend the Abergavenny Eisteddfod this year as I was celebrating my son’s 14th Birthday with him but I was delighted that our amazing school choir came first this year! I’m really looking forward to a special performance in assembly this week and also catching up with all our pupils who entered the various competitions. Well done to Mr Oram and all who took part!

The result of our Estyn monitoring visit is published on their website tomorrow, please look out for it!

Mrs Joanne Bayton

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Friday 23rd March

This week saw the culmination of weeks of hard work by the year 4 pupils who have been engrossed in our Lead Creative Schools project. This involved them making maths Islands, working together as part of a team and being very creative in their approach to maths and problem solving. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the carnival that showed off all their hard work on Thursday but talking to Year 4 on Friday and seeing the photos I could tell how much the pupils have got out of this project. Well done to all involved!

I spent Thursday afternoon with the cluster Year 6 teachers looking at Welsh books and ensuring our levelling if the books is accurate. Welsh has had a really high profile in school recently and it was very encouraging that our Welsh EAS support advisor recognised the strong progress we have made. Criw Cymraeg members have been really busy catching all the pupils and staff using their Welsh confidently around the school and were very proud to announce another flame on our Welsh board! We are on track to achieve the bronze award in the Summer Term.

The PTFA organised a fabulous Easter Egg hunt on Friday – many thanks for all the donations and to everyone who took part in the events. The PTFA is working really well this year and we are very lucky to have such enthusiastic and hard working members, prepared to go the extra mile to support all the children and provide the extras. Many thanks to all involved!

A short but busy week this week. Year 3 are ending the term with their class assembly and we are looking forward to catching up with Mr Langdon’s adventures in China too!

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Friday 16th March

We welcomed Abbie and some members of our PTFA into assembly on Monday morning. Abbie is from the Ronald McDonald House charity and she came to thank the children for the money they had raised in their recent silly sock day and to explain a bit more about the charity too.

Ruth Stringer has been in several times this week too, supporting our year 4 class in the Lead Creative Schools Maths project. The children have been very busy creating their Maths Islands – we will be launching this in an event on March 22nd. Parents of year 4 children will be able to come and take part and the whole school will be involved in the games and activities created.

Mrs Balkwill organised a fabulous enrichment day for our KS2 pupils.

Children were able to choose an activity from Forest Schools, Arts and Crafts, Drumming, Drama, Sports and Board Games. Many thanks to all the staff involved in the planning and preparation of this event. The children were buzzing about the activities during our sharing assembly!

Another dose of snow unfortunately so another day of decision making and close communication with the Local Authority to arrange site clearance and gritting. It’s difficult for me to inspect the site as I live quite a distance away but make decisions based on advice from local staff. There is no more snow forecast but temperatures are set to drop again tonight so ice will be a factor tomorrow.

At the moment we plan to open and run breakfast club as normal. I will be there as early as possible to ensure we are safe to do so. Please be very careful on your way in to school and don’t take any unnecessary risks. If you have a spare hour and a shovel and would like to help clear the yards etc your support would be very much appreciated!

Mr Langdon is on a training course this week in China! A fabulous opportunity for him to experience a different teaching culture first hand. I’m really hoping he brings back some exciting new strategies to try to continue our developments in maths teaching.

Don’t forget our Social Media awareness session led by PC Cath in the hall at 3 30 tomorrow.

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Friday 9th March

Apologies for the lack of blog update last week – between the snow and Estyn and rearranging missed meetings and preparing for the week ahead there was no time! This week has simply flown too. I have to say a huge thank you to all at MCC grounds maintenance service who cleared the paths and car parks of the school allowing us to open as normal on Monday morning. Also our caretaker Colin and members of staff who continued to keep the children safe on the yards throughout the week.

Estyn carried out their monitoring visit on Monday and Tuesday. As always the children were an absolute credit to us, polite and courteous and able to explain their learning experiences with confidence. As soon as I have official confirmation of the outcome of the monitoring visit I will share it with you.

I attended a meeting of the cluster Headteachers on Thursday. One of our topics of discussion was the increased use of social media and the often negative impact the use of this can have. We rely on social media for communication and it is a powerful tool to instantly connect with parents and allow them to have a greater insight into school work and activities. However we are increasingly dealing with issues in school where children have connected with each other via social media platforms and some negative and unkind comments have been shared. This spills over into the classroom and results in class teachers spending teaching time resolving issues between children. I have also been made aware of several parents’ groups where parents have raised issues about other children or things that have happened in school that have led to misunderstandings.

We have invited PC Cath Gardiner to take a meeting for parents on Internet safety on Monday 19th March in the School hall. Please come along if you have any questions or concerns – and, as always, any concerns about School please come and see me or your child’s class teacher in the first instance to see if we can resolve any problems together.

Mrs Balkwill organised a fabulous World Book Day celebration with all children involved in several book related activities throughout the day and a great assembly where we all got to see each other’s costumes. Again another great effort from all the children and of course the parents!! We couldn’t do it without you!

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Sunday February 25th

I hope you have all had a great half term break? I have had a busy week getting ready for our Estyn revisit on 5th March but also spending some quality time with family and friends. I am writing my blog on the return journey from a weekend in London where I managed to add at least 20 miles to my Fitbit! I love the ‘big city’ but I’m glad I don’t have to live their full time!!

The week before half term seems a long time ago now but it was a very productive week. Many thanks to all who turned up for the parents’ forum on Tuesday. It was great to see so many there and we had some useful discussions on categorisation, funding and budgets, progress on Estyn recommendations and our School development plan moving forward. I find these sessions so valuable to gauge parents’ opinions and it’s always good for us to get feedback on things like our homework policy and Eisteddfod competitions as well as wider school issues.

I also had a chance to catch up with Year 2 and Year 6 teachers to look at the progress their pupils are making towards achieving their end of year targets. We check these regularly so we can organise extra support and intervention if any children are are struggling or just need a little confidence boost. I will be checking in with the other year groups over the next few weeks.

Year 1 ended our half term with a fantastic Superhero assembly. Their confidence and expression never ceases to amaze me and they wowed us all with their fabulous performance. Well done to all involved.

Quite a short half term to come, just 4 weeks and 4 days. We are holding our Eisteddfod on Wednesday if this week with the parents’ performance on Thursday evening at 6. Estyn will be revisiting the school on 5th and 6th March to gauge progress since the full inspection in September 2016.

Looking at the weather forecast for the coming week we may be in for a bit of disruption so please keep your eye on Twitter and our website and School Comms texting service for up to date information.

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Friday February 9th

Our Challenge Advisor Jayne Arthur was in on Monday looking at our monitoring, evaluating and reporting systems in School. These are the systems that we use for measuring the impact of our school improvement strategies, things like learning walks, listening to learners, book scrutinies and learning evaluations.

We have a timetable of these activities throughout the year and the results of the monitoring activities help us to employ our resources where they are most effective. For example, if, during a learning walk or listening to learners we realise that a member of staff needs some support or training in a certain aspect we can ensure they receive it. We may recognise a specific area that, as a school, we need support with and this may result in organising whole school training on a training day, or the need to purchase resources that would help improve our practice – maybe new reading books or a maths scheme.

It’s really important that our monitoring processes are effective and that all staff are involved in monitoring their own subjects and in feeding back results to colleagues to ensure all aspects of school continue to develop.

All these self evaluation processes lead to our School Development Plan. This plan forms the basis of all our actions in School over a given year. We plan to spend our budget in order to meet the targets set out in the plan. This year’s plan builds on the recommendations from last year’s Estyn inspection and concentrates on reading and writing, maths, Welsh oracy, ICT, developing assessment and feedback and also developing our monitoring and evaluation activities.

Part of our action plan is to develop and improve our reading provision for our children and also get parents involved as far as possible – hence our reading workshops this week. It was great to see so many parents attend the sessions and be able to observe their children taking part in reading activities such as Read Write inc and Guided Reading in school.

We also had two visitors from MCC in school, looking at the parking and traffic issues we have at the end of the school day. We do all we can to ensure that all our children are safe when entering and leaving the school but it is always good to get more advice!

Hopefully we will get some clearly demarcated bus bays for our school buses and taxis, some disabled parking bays and some clearer signage indicating our 5mph speed limit and one way system. The 2 officers also suggested that wherever possible parents reverse into the empty bays to park to ensure they can drive straight out once they have picked their children up with a much clearer view.

Hopefully we will be making these changes over the next few months.

I hope to see you at the parents’ forum, Tuesday 13th at 9am in the school hall.

Mrs Joanne Bayton

Friday February 2nd

It’s world Cancer day today (Sunday Feb 4th),I’m sure,like me, this disease has affected you in one way or another so I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting our Wear red for Velindre day in school on Friday. We raised over £180 so thank you very much indeed!

Just a reminder too that I am doing a swimathon in April for Cancer Research and Marie Curie – many thanks for those who have donated to my just giving page – the link is below if you would like to donate.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/joanne-bayton

Red was a topic of conversation last week for other reasons too. The Welsh Government published the Categorisation for all Welsh

schools and, disappointingly, Llantilio was placed in the red category. There are many reasons for this but in a nutshell the school has failed to make rapid enough progress in meeting the recommendations for improvement as outlined by Estyn when they published their report in November. By placing us in red we have secured 25 days of support to help us improve in the areas of writing, maths, Welsh oracy, aspects of ICT and feedback and assessment.

We have made progress in these areas over the last year but the impact was not apparent in some cases, particularly maths, where progress was more limited. Since September 2017 however we have benefited from increased support through links with St Gwladys Primary in Bargoed and also linking with our EAS maths team. Similarly we have received support for Welsh too. We have revised our marking and assessment routines to ensure feedback to children leads to improvement in books and looked at differentiating work to ensure we meet the needs of all our learners – including adding extra challenge for our more able and talented pupils.

We have also developed leadership at all levels and have developed staff’s skill and expertise in monitoring and evaluating standards in their subjects. Progress has been more rapid in the Autumn term and is continuing this term. Yes, I am disappointed that we are ‘red’ but we really have benefited from the extra support and I am very confident that we will continue to build on the progress made so far and ensure Llantilio continues to grow and improve.

If you are concerned about categorisation please do not hesitate to contact me. I am holding a parents’ forum on Tues 13th at 9 am or call in and see me. There are also some links below for more information.

http://gov.wales/newsroom/educationandskills/2018/latest-categorisation-reveals-improvement-in-school-performance/?lang=en

http://gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/180130-nscs-parents-and-carers-guide-en.pdf

We have parent reading workshops coming up – on Tuesday we are focusing on Foundation Phase and Wednesday KS2. We are hoping to give you ideas on how to support your children with reading at home. Sessions will be initially in the hall at 2pm followed by a chance to see reading in practice in the classroom. If you can’t make the session we will ensure you have the information.

Mrs Joanne Bayton