End of another year

Dear Parents/ carers

The Year 5/6 production, Robin and the Sherwood Hoodies, was brilliantly performed this year: the pupils and staff never let us down. We are always treated to a bit of a spectacle (the props and costumes were superb) and we are always blown away by the children’s confidence and presence on stage. The play was riddled with awful jokes which in the wrong hands can be hackneyed and tedious. Instead we were all prepared to give ourselves up to it and laugh because the children delivered their lines so expertly- with precision timing – and threw themselves into their characters. The singing, the dancing, the acting- were all first rate and as usual fresh talent was realised and nurtured up there on the stage. The final performance on Wednesday really took off- one actor’s confidence rubbing off on the next and inciting the audience into greater participation until the atmosphere was electric. It was the perfect send off for a group of pupils who have always gelled well and looked out for each other- the performance had a flavour of them as a group; was, if you like, a good true reflection of their group spirit, their togetherness. It also felt though like a group coming of age- growing into their parts as they’ve grown into themselves recently—a display of confidence, personal ambition and readiness for the next stage in their education. In short they shone.

A lot of our Year 6 children had been together since Reception and those that joined later had slotted in as if they had started in Reception. Looking on you could see a year group that functioned well; that was full of so many wonderful friendships; friendships that if they’re lucky and if they make an effort- should and could last a lifetime. For my part, I will miss them enormously- partly because I’ve been around long enough now that I felt they were my Leavers – they were just coming into Year 1, after all, when I arrived on the scene. As a group they had always been impressive; energetic and creative and full of beans, and they will undoubtedly leave a big hole here at Minch. They, no doubt, had been bursting to get out and get on with the more ‘grown up’ business of secondary school for some time: to them the years in primary school have been half a lifetime. I hope they enjoyed themselves and I hope they felt proud of themselves. I hope that they felt ready, for the most part, to take on the challenges ahead, as well as make good use of all the rewarding experiences and opportunities that will be coming their way. We felt very proud of them and this will always temper any sadness. We felt proud of the way they had conducted themselves as a Year 6; proud of them as individuals; of their many attributes and talents; proud of them as young people with so much to give. We so enjoyed having them and send our very best wishes with them as they strike out into the blue beyond.

We selected a book of poetry as a present for them this year. For me poetry has the capacity to reflect deeply on all of life- on everything and anything – so it seemed an appropriate present to give them as they drift off beyond our clutches to lead the rest of their lives. This particular collection is a favourite of mine- it’s called ‘Because a Fire Was in My Head’ – I hope this is how we are passing these children onto their secondary schools- fired up and ready. I hope this is what we are achieving for all our pupils. We aim to recognise and nurture all the pupils as individuals; to work on an ethos which supports their emotional and social needs as well as getting them inspired and fired up by learning itself so that they will always want to learn. I am very proud of our teaching team – we are none of us perfect but there is real strength in depth in this team and an unfaltering commitment to the children first and foremost. We are not pre-occupied by what an Ofsted team might think of us or by the SATS results per se- these are necessary and perfectly reasonable methods for judging one school against another but in terms of ‘knowing’ a school they are a scratch of the surface – real life is always going to be infinitely more complex and subtle than a number or a grade. The bottom line is this however- if we get it right for the children and I mean right for them in as many ways as we can- then high standards will always follow. As an Ofsted inspector I have seen schools who are so cowed by the Ofsted process and so preoccupied with their data (understandably so, I might add, given the very real pressure on schools to perform), that they have lost sight of the child. We are not prepared to make this mistake- I have staff with real integrity- who are determined to care for nothing but the children in their care.

The high standards are filtering through. Below are the latest figures – some of these may need to be revised if papers are sent back to the markers so treat this as a draft but a reliable indicator, all the same, of an upward shift in standards over time.

Phonic Screening Check


  2013 2014 2015
Minchinhampton 62 81 100


Key Stage 1 Data


Level 2 + Level 2b+ Level 3+
2013 2014 2015 2013 2014 2015 2013 2014 2015
Reading 100 88 96 89 86 91 39 48 47
Writing 96 91 96 83 79 77 22 7    30
Maths 100 95 96 89 88 81 22 33 40


Key Stage 2


  Level 4+ percentage Level5+ percentage Level6+percentage 2 Levels of Progress 3 Levels of Progress
Sch13 Sch14 Sch 15 Sch13 Sch 14 Sch 15 Sch13 Sch14 Sch15 Sch13 Sch14 Sch 15 Sch13 Sch14 Sch 15
Reading 100 90 95  59 66 79 5 0 2 97 93 98 19 21 43 
Writing 97 93 100  51 63 64 0 7 4 97 98 100 29 48 68 


Maths 92 81 95 51 59 60 18 12 17 95 88 98 30 33 43



A few things could to be said by way of explanation:-

  1. Progress is the most critical measure for schools because some cohorts will always have a higher attainment profile than others. The progress measures here are strong when compared
  2. The percentages of pupils achieving level 3 at KS1 and level 5 at KS2 has been rising steadily. These figures are strong when compared to other schools nationally.
  3. Maths is finally catching up with English. We continue to work on ways to improve the teaching of maths and this trend will continue.
  4. The disparity between Level 6 in English and Level 6 in maths is the same nationally.

Now that you have seen the figures, I have to warn you that levels will no longer exist as of September. This is to be applauded – the new way of working without levels and instead through year group related skills and knowledge is educationally much more enlightened; more in line with our approach and ethos and much better for the pupils. However it will take some getting used to – for teachers and parents alike. I will explain how it is to work and the thinking behind it in detail next term.

For now I am signing off for the summer and I wish you quality time and happiness with your children. There should be a temporary classroom in place as of September as well as some lovely play structures in Foundation Stage- so plenty to keep us busy until then. It’s been a tough year for some of our teams this year- in particular The Nursery and our school office and we wish them a better one next year. The children however continue to thrive and that’s what we’re here for.

N Moss