Compassion  by Emily Braune (Year 6)


This story that I am about to tell

Is about two people called Harry and Belle,

It shows what it’s like to be in other people’s shoes,

Empathy is the one to choose


When Belle is sitting all alone

And Harry is with his friends,

He notices her with tears in her eyes,

Harry knows Belle doesn’t pretend.


He feels her sorrow and her pain

And asks her what’s the issue

She tells him her tale with a quivering voice

Whist dabbing her eye with a tissue.


His voice is warm and tender

It puts her at her ease,

Harry’s arm is around Belle’s shoulder

He gives her a compassionate squeeze.


I hope you’ll see from my caring tale

That the role of the friend is clear

to provide love, support and sympathy

At times of greatest fear.


Didn’t you know! Compassion is the new fashion!


Change of name

Academy Status

The school became an academy on the 1st November. On my blog I indicated our new name would be ‘Minchinhampton Church of England Primary School’ –an academy under the Diocese of Gloucester Academy Trust. However these things are never as straightforward as you hope and, because of a legal technicality, our name needs to have academy in the actual title. We will therefore be known henceforth as, ‘Minchinhampton Church of England Academy.’

To be perfectly honest the name itself makes not a jot of difference to me, and I hope not to you either. Ultimately all that matters is what we can provide for the children.

Academy Status

Academy Status

The school is now an academy- officially the school’s first day as an academy was last Saturday. Henceforth the school will be known as ‘Minchinhampton Church of England Primary School’ –An Academy Under the Diocese of Gloucester Academy Trust.

Of course most of you will not be able to discern any difference in the school now or, for that matter, in the foreseeable future. Our vision remains the same; we still have the same set of responsibilities as a school for your children’s welfare and learning; we’re still the same set of people with the same level of commitment.

However behind the scenes the school will soon be reaping the benefits of our involvement with DGAT. In particular the joint working with other schools and the high quality support from consultants has already begun in earnest and promises to make a significant difference to staff and the quality of education we can offer your children. Already we have high quality training organised for next term, as well as opportunities to visit outstanding practice in other parts of the country. We also now have other schools looking to come and see good practice here and learn from our leadership team. This is exactly what we had hoped for. In time of course we could also see adaptations to the curriculum we teach to make it that much more relevant to our children and certainly being an academy will give us greater freedoms regarding how we spend our income and allocate resources.


For the moment however, please sit back and assume business as usual. I am confident that, in time, our academy status will play a significant role in helping us provide your children with an even better education.






Our reading community

As a school, when it comes to reading, we have two parallel and equally important ends to achieve for our children: yes we want them to learn the mechanics of reading words on a page and comprehending them but we also want them to become ‘experienced’ readers: that is young people who see themselves as readers and are motivated to read.

The benefits of books and reading are well documented and indisputable. There is no doubt in my mind that books can transform lives. As a head teacher, on a daily basis, I see evidence of the strong link between reading and engagement with school; between reading and learning; between reading and self-discipline; between reading and an interest in the world we live in and the people we encounter. The Book Trust sites the long term benefits of books as increased educational outcomes, and increased employment opportunities. Reading for pleasure, they say, is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status. The National Literacy Trust also cites overwhelming evidence that literacy has a significant impact on a person’s happiness and success. Leisure reading makes students more articulate, develops higher order reasoning, and promotes critical thinking. According to The Rose Review in 2008 ‘a deep engagement with storytelling and great literature links directly to emotional development in primary children.’

Books introduce children into a wide tapestry of knowledge and culture, which can help children understand who they are and the place they have in the world. They can serve only to enrich our lives and deepen our appreciation and our sense of fulfilment. This is why we have invested so much time and money into the school’s library and book corners and into events such as Book Week. Every time our children walk through the library one implicit message must come across loud and clear: ‘books are important.. we value them.’ As a ‘Talk for Writing’ school, we also greatly value the art of story-telling. Stories have always been critical to how we make sense of things: there is nowhere better than stories for children to take risks, test their courage, face their fears and to indulge their humour. It is a way of growing up in a safe environment, testing out personal feelings and responses through others’ experiences.

Predictably, during Book Week, my assemblies were about reading. I tried to communicate to the children the pleasure I took in reading. I compared it to watching television and related how when I got up from watching most television, I felt a little empty, like I’d simply been killing time. In contrast, after I’d read a good book, I felt full up with my imaginings and stimulated by new thought. As a school we want our pupils to experience a whole wide range of books and other reading, whether it is comics, newspapers, magazines or digital media. What is important to us is that children read – an ambition best served by children reading what they want to read and being encouraged by the adults around them to read widely.

I think the very best way to get them interested in reading is to read to them and share your own enthusiasm for reading with them. The first ‘longer’ books I read were all books that an adult had already read to me or at least introduced me to and, as I developed my subsequent reading ‘interests,’ again these were heavily influenced by enthusiastic adults in my life. For this reason we introduced ‘Book Talk’ at the outset of each term. In teaching children to read, we can become preoccupied with teaching reading skills to the detriment of pupils’ pleasure and engagement in the text and developing their personal response. Without the purposeful encouragement of children’s pleasure in reading, the teaching of reading skills can become laborious and sometimes pointless. A key reference point for our Book Talk policy is Aidan Chamber’s ‘tell me’ approach and the CLPE’s ‘Power of Reading’ initiative.

I recognise that, for us parents, the ‘helping them to learn to read’ bit sometimes becomes a chore rather than a pleasure (especially when faced with the sometimes monotonous rigour of a reading scheme). There is no getting away from the fact that children can find reading hard work but it is so important that they stick with it. Getting the traction right on this can be difficult. The children need to know that working on their reading is non-negotiable but, at the same time, you don’t want to put them off reading. You will all have your own ways of making it work- with my own children just being firm with them wasn’t enough- I needed to make sure our reading sessions were regular and positive and accompanied by plenty of reading to them and enjoying their books with them. Finding that regular slot for reading in amongst our busy lives is often the key challenge. With this in mind we will sometimes now be opening our library to parents of Reception pupils before the end of the school day to provide an opportunity for parents to read to / with their children.

One thing we do have to be careful about is the ‘phew- they can read- now we can let them get on with it’ moment when children have finally emerged from the reading scheme and are what we term ‘independent readers.’ There is no doubt that this moment warrants a celebratory pause but, in truth, it is just the beginning. There is little point in being an independent reader if you don’t read; if you’re not developing into an experienced reader. As I have already stated, good reading habits make such a difference to a child’s confidence and progress in school generally. While ultimately we need the children to want to read and enjoy reading for its own sake, there is no harm in our introducing targets for them to try and achieve. To this end we are introducing new reading diet cards in the back of their reading journals. The children will update these monthly. This will involve them tallying up the number of times they have read as well as keeping track of the different types of reading they have engaged in. It will be critical that they maintain an ongoing record of their reading in their reading records and it would be very helpful if you monitor these at home and sign them regularly. Please also aim to discuss their reading with them regularly, including talking to them about their book choices and still listen to them read aloud -this an important skill in itself and can improve speed and understanding. One simple but effective approach is to work alongside them, reading a page each.

Last of all and most important and previously stated on numerous occasions- there is nothing we cannot achieve for your children when we work together. The one ‘joint piece of work’ that will have the most far-reaching consequences is our joint working on reading. It is about far more than just learning to read: it impacts fundamentally on their learning in general, like nothing else can. I have summarised below firstly what the school will offer your children and then how you can help. Please do contact me if you have any further thoughts.

How we can work together:

Our reading offer:

We will:-

Read to them;

Teach them phonics;

Take them through the reading scheme;

Teach them to read using 1:1 reading, guided reading and shared reading in class;

Encourage them in their personal response to reading through ‘Book Talk;’

Provide them with excellent book choices in class (see also core book lists);

Provide them with an excellent library;

Employ our librarian to promote reading and aid them with their book choices;

Hold Book Weeks each year to promote reading;

Encourage them to become experienced readers through our reading diet cards;

Develop their personal response to their reading through use of reading journals;

Provide parents with guidance and advice re reading with their child.

How you can help:


Help them with their ‘letters and sounds’ work 3 x a week;

Listen to them read and sign their reading records at least 4x a week;

Read to them/ enjoy books with them regularly;

Once they have become independent readers (up to the end of Year 4):-

Monitor and sign their reading records at least 4x a week.

Discuss with them/ help them complete their reading journals 1x a week.

For independent readers (up to the end of Year 6):-

Monitor and sign their ‘link books’ at least 1x a week.

Discuss with them/ help them complete their reading journals 1x a week.



Our PTA is a very impressive outfit. Now, of course, I’m duty-bound to make remarks like this but please don’t pass off my claim as one of those head teacher platitudes. Know that I have worked with a good number of PTA’s over the length of my career but none of them come within a country mile of our team here. What is it that makes them special? Yes, they raise much needed funds for the school- and a very significant amount at that, and yes, these funds have been well used to provide excellent opportunities and resources for the children. This is clearly the core purpose of PTA work and resources like the library, the scrap store and Woodhenge are educationally exciting as well as being intrinsic to the school’s vision and ethos. However what sets our PTA apart is the level of their commitment; their resourcefulness and their creativity. The events themselves are often on a very large scale and/or often unique to Minchinhampton- the Fire Works and the Comedy night being prime examples. Children and adults alike love these kind of events and they also provide a focal point for the community at large. I would strongly urge you to get involved in any way you can- partly for the undoubted pleasure of taking part and partly because it represents the perfect way of supporting your school and your children. Ahead of the Fire Works on Saturday, I would like to say again, a big thank you to the PTA for all their fine work.

N Moss