This is the first edition of Littleport Life this academic year, and since the last edition we have had the summer holidays and the lovely weather. That all now seems an age away and Christmas is on the horizon.
At the end of September, our Year 6 children had a fantastic experience on their residential visit at PGL in Caythorpe, Lincolnshire. With 3 members of staff, they spent 2 nights away from home taking part in activities such as rifle shooting, abseiling and high ropes.
‘Character building’ is a term that could be applied to such a visit; but somehow that suggests high levels of anxiety and being forced to do something you really are too scared to do. Yes, going to PGL is an opportunity to try new things, ‘push yourself to the limit’; but nobody is forced to do something they don’t want to do and it’s also great fun.
This is the first year for a very long time that I haven’t joined them, and I felt I was missing out on something quite special. Seeing our children in a different light, seeing them learn new things about themselves and each other, and seeing the sense of satisfaction and pride they feel when they have tried something new or overcome a fear, even if they decide they don’t like it and won’t ever do that again. For me that’s crawling on my hands and knees through dark tunnels!
Family Learning, for parents, has really developed at Millfield this term, which I am really excited about. Last summer we ran a course called ‘Keeping up with the Children’ which concentrated on Maths. It was so popular that it is being run again for another group of interested parents after half term. In addition, and until Christmas, we have ‘Let’s Talk’ where parents learn about a whole range of different ways to communicate with their children, and then have time to try things out in school.
We have a number of new members of staff who have joined us this year. Nicki Clark, Kate Fulford and Sarah Gower are Teaching Assistants, and Sarah Cort is a reception teacher. In addition we have a new position in school; a Family Support Adviser, and Tara O’Loghlen is now our FSA.
The role is to support families in a whole range of things such as helping get their child to school on time every day, supporting them with how to manage them at home when things might get tricky, visiting them at home to talk about other things that may be of worry and causing stresses in the home such as rent arrears and housing issues.
When we were thinking about the new role we wondered whether we had the need for a full-time position but how wrong we were! I am really proud that we have recognised the pressures that families are under and have thought ‘outside of the box’ to try to make a difference in our own small, but quite different way. Already Tara has supported a number of children and their families in very different ways and I know they have really valued this. At a time when a whole range of services are being cut within society, schools need to take risks and step into areas where perhaps they haven’t had a role in the past.
And finally, we have a new school prayer, which incorporates the values of The Elliot Foundation Academies Trust, slightly tweaked so that all our children can engage with it. We think it works for all of us at whatever stage we are in our lives.
‘Today and every day, I shall do my best to be brave, try hard, join in, play fair, have fun, be kind and feel proud.’