Back in Britain – happy and tired! Click on the pictures and they will become clear!

January 31st, 2016

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imageimageimageimageimageimageimageAfter an early morning start with a visit to the mineral baths and Fort Charles, we had lunch and were taken to the airport in Kingston. We felt a strange mix of emotions saying goodbye to our new, extended, school family. We were sad to be leaving but excited at the thought of seeing our families, friends and everyone at Roseberry!
The flight was rather bumpy, but seemed to go quite quickly. We then had to catch trains from Gatwick airport to Victoria Station, from Victoria Station to Kings Cross Station and then on to Northallerton. It took a very long time!
Mr Channing was at the station to meet us, with a very big smile!
We have had a super time working with the staff, children and parents of St Joseph’s Infant School. They welcomed us into their school family with warmth, friendship, hugs and smiles. We learned lots from each other and thought about how we may make our schools even better than they are already! Sharing ideas and working collaboratively is how we learn best, whether we are in the same class, same school, same country or same world. Where you are doesn’t make the difference – how well you work together does!
As we got back late today and have been awake for 36 hours, we will see everyone on Tuesday and look forward to sharing our experiences with our very special Roseberry family.

Teamwork at Dunns River Falls

January 30th, 2016

imageToday, we travelled a long way to Dunns River Falls. This is a huge waterfall that people love to climb. We went with Mrs Peters, Mr Peters and Mrs Gray and carried out a team building exercise, climbing the falls without a tour guide. It was brilliant! We had to work together and help one another. Mr Moore took the lead and planned our route, trying to avoid the slippery rocks. We all held hands and sometimes had to pull each other up. Mr Moore, however, misheard me when I said I was stuck. He thought I said ‘Pull me up’ and pulled my hands so hard that I lost my footing and landed on my knees in fast flowing water, unable to find somewhere to put my feet and helpless with laughter! He did apologise, but I’ll remember…!
We had a great day with our new, extended, school family and were sad to leave them at the end of the day.
Tomorrow is our last day. Mrs Clarke and Mrs Russell are going to pick us up early and show us some more sights before taking us to the airport for our long flight back to Gatwick airport.
We have learned so much during this visit and have worked with teachers to share best practice and talk about children’s learning and the type of education we want for our children. We share the same values, hopes and dreams for our children and will continue to work together into the future.
I can’t wait to see my Roseberry family and share our experiences and photographs with children and adults alike.
Have a lovely weekend. I’ll see you all on Tuesday!

Busy, busy, busy – and Mr Moore saw a pig in the street!

January 30th, 2016

imageimageYesterday started with a 7.30am pick up from our hotel. We took the long drive from Port Royal to Kingston looking at the sea, the factories, street sellers and Pelicans hoping to catch a fish or two!
Upon our arrival, we were given clipboards with paper headed with the names of the teams that children belong to. Every week, children meet in their house teams to recite a Bible verse and their team motto and sing a song. Senior members of the staff mark them out of ten for each event and then mark them on how they walk around school. They must walk in single file up the stairs, with their hands behind their backs. Some of the children are only three and we were very impressed by their confidence, passion and enthusiasm. We gave the winning team and runners up erasers that had been donated by RAFT (they were erasers with the old FORS motto). The children were delighted, as they have to provide their own equipment for school.
We were then given two minutes to catch our breath and grab a bottle of water before boarding a bus with lots of very excited children. We were going to the zoo! The journey started with a prayer, asking God to keep us safe and thanking Him for the driver. We travelled for about twenty minutes before reaching the zoo. The children were very excited! One thing Mr Moore and I were really shocked at was the attention to health and safety compared with places to visit in the UK. There were large trailing electricity cables in the children’s picnic area and a broken light switch with bare wires exposed. We were worried about this and so tried to steer children away from the hazard! We saw lots of animals, including a very lazy lion, a cheeky monkey and loud, squawking birds!
After this super experience, Mrs Clarke collected us and took us to visit a private prep school to see what private educational settings are like. The school was very different to St Joseph’s. The building was much better, there were more resources and much smaller class sizes. This is because parents pay for this education. I felt quite sad for Mrs Clarke, seeing how well off the private schools are when St Joseph’s struggle financially.
Lunch consisted of jerk chicken, breadfruit and bulla bread. The food here has been amazing and this was no exception!
Following our very busy morning and early afternoon, Mrs Clarke and teacher, Mrs Gray, took us to see Emancipation Park, Devon House (where we had scrummy ice cream) and uptown Kingston, which was much more posh, and more expensive, than downtown Kingston. We visited a shop, where we took time to buy some gifts for our loved ones at home.
We returned to school where we were collected by our wonderful taxi driver and minder, Jimmy, who took us back to our hotel. On the way back, Mr Moore couldn’t believe his eyes – there was the largest pig he had ever seen, standing in a side street!
What a way to end yet another very eventful day!

Another very busy day!

January 28th, 2016

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imageToday, we were picked up from our hotel at 7.30am and taken to school. There, we visited the children before being taken to the local primary school to meet the children and their teachers. The school has approximately 1200 children and typical class sizes are 45 children with one teacher! The classes we visited were in one huge room with large boards dividing it into classrooms. Children have to provide their own books and pencils, as the school doesn’t have enough money to buy them.
After our visit, we returned to St Joseph’s to Skype our Roseberry family. Hearing the children sing ‘Roseberry can do it’ made me go all tingly! It was so lovely to see everyone and share some of our experiences, including showing a Jamaican apple, which looks like a pear, smells of spring flowers and tastes divine!
Following our Skype session, Mr Moore and I taught a class all about what it’s like to be a child in a school in England. We taught them some traditional songs, introduced them to Stan and gave out stickers and erasers. The children were delighted!
After a scrumptious lunch of curry goat, we were taken to the Blue Mountains, where we were given a tour. To get there, we drove up a very bendy and winding road. We ate sugar cane and banana crisps as we watched the trees and plants passing by. After about an hour of climbing higher and higher we reached Holywell. The view was stunning!
When we came back down the mountain, we visited a soldiers’ training ground and talked to one of the soldiers about the history of the buildings, which were built in the mountains by British soldiers in the 1800s. We were then taken on a tour of parts of the island we had not seen before and tried patties and cocoa bread for tea. They were lovely!
We finally returned home at 9pm, tired and ready for bed.
We have had a lovely day and are grateful for the hospitality, generosity and friendship shown to us by our extended Roseberry family.
Take care, everyone. I look forward to seeing you all very soon.

What an eventful day!

January 27th, 2016

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imageWe had such a busy day today! It started with breakfast outside. Breakfast was very different to what we would eat at home – steamed spicy vegetables and toast – but it was scrumptious!
At 7.30am, we were picked up by the Principal, Mrs Carke, and taken to school where we met the staff, parents and children. There are lots of children in each class, with one teacher and very few teaching assistants. The children were very smiley, very lively but very well behaved. Everyone was very friendly.
At lunch time, we had the traditional dish of salt fish and ackee with yams and green banana. It was delicious but very different to our school dinners!
In the afternoon, we went on a tour of Kingston Downtown, visited the Houses of Parliament and met the Minister for Education, Minister for Finance and the Chief of Police for the whole of Kingston. We then went to the Mayor’s office and met the Deputy Mayor. We visited a huge park and a craft market. This gave us a great opportunity to see and experience the culture of the children who attend St Joseph’s. Their lives are extremely different to those of our children.
After walking for miles in hot but windy weather, we returned to school and the Principal drove us back to our hotel after showing us the sorts of homes her pupils live in. They are nothing like the houses in Great Ayton!
Tomorrow, it’s another early start with a visit to a local primary school. We have been asked to give a presentation to the five year olds in school and so will share pictures of you! The children will also meet Stan. They may even earn an ‘I made Mrs Channing smile today’ sticker or two.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to Skype you tomorrow afternoon. Take care, be good and we’ll see you very soon.

What a proud Principal!

January 22nd, 2016

Yesterday Miss Harmar, Mr Moore and our Chair of Governors, Dr Roth, accompanied me on a school walk. We visited every classroom, looking at learning environments, teaching and learning, children’s learning behaviours and their work. We were delighted to see that our recent focus upon the presentation of children’s work has had an impact. There was a marked difference in children’s handwriting from when the last walk was conducted in October.
After we had visited every classroom, we discussed what we had seen and posed questions for adults in school to reflect upon.
Here is our list of the many strengths we saw:

•There is evidence of adult intervention on children’s work and feedback is relevant
•The design of learning environments has had a positive impact upon learning
•Children are actively self assessing their work
•There is effective deployment of high quality TAs who are able to intervene appropriately and use questions effectively to move learning forwards
•Expectations are high and clearly communicated to all children
•There is high quality questioning and a focus upon use of ambitious vocabulary
•There are progressive learning environments throughout the school which are calm, focused and safe
•There is evidence of clear, rapid, improvement in presentation in books throughout the school since the last School Walk in October
•Learning environments promote collaborative learning, engagement, success and pride in children’s achievements and learning
•Learning walls are related to prior and current learning and act as scaffolds
•There is clear evidence of real time feedback and children acting upon this. Children edit their own and each other’s work
•There is a wide range of resources and scaffolds throughout the school
•Relationships between children and staff, children and children, staff and staff are extremely positive
•Lessons are engaging and transitions from class to group learning encourage an almost palpable ‘buzz’ of learning – this is well timed and impacts upon engagement, enthusiasm and learning
•Positive, outstanding, learning behaviours were seen throughout the school. Children listen, work collaboratively and accept feedback – they understand the purpose of feedback in enabling them to make progress and there is evidence of them acting upon feedback

It’s no wonder that I drove home feeling very proud, indeed! Roseberry really is a fantastic place to learn and grow. Thank you, everyone!

Pupil Progress

January 22nd, 2016

Last week, senior leaders and teachers met to hold Pupil Progress meetings. During these meetings, the attainment and progress of every child in our school was discussed. As a result of this, children deemed not to have made the progress expected of them have been identified for additional intervention and support. Pupil Progress meetings are held every term and the impact of interventions and support upon children’s learning is evaluated. Our vision is for every child in our school to make great progress!

Breakfast Club

January 22nd, 2016

Our Breakfast Club is open in the upper hall from 7.45am until 8.55am from Monday to Friday every week. Entry to the club costs £1.50 per child, with an additional charge for a breakfast of their choice.*
Children who are eligible for economic Free School Meals are able to access this provision at no cost.
*Please note that for the club to be financially viable, children need to purchase breakfast, as we cannot provide £1.50 childcare!

Roseberry’s extended family across the miles…

January 22nd, 2016

You may remember that last half term we welcomed a Headteacher and teacher from St Joseph’s Infant School in Kingston, Jamaica, into the Roseberry family as part of the British Council Connecting Classrooms project. The project, which is funded by the British Council, encourages educational professionals across the world to share good practice for the benefit of children’s learning and development. I am excited to announce that Mr Moore and I shall be paying a week long reciprocal visit to St Joseph’s at the end of January when we will meet with the staff and children that some of our classes have already contacted via Skype.
We will go with questions posed by our own staff and analyse effective practice that may benefit our children, whilst sharing our ideas and approaches. Roseberry will be led by our very capable Vice Principal, Mrs Stanley, in my absence. Follow our progress via my blog!

Happy New Year!

January 8th, 2016

Welcome back to another busy term and a very Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday. Everyone has settled well and as I’ve visited classrooms I have, once again, felt the ‘buzz’ of learning and seen active collaboration and happy faces!
During assembly on Tuesday, we thought about the promise that a new year brings and the fact that the start of a new year is an ideal time to set personal goals for ourselves. We thought about how important it is to be in school every day and our new, exciting, attendance reward system was introduced to the children, causing much excitement! From this Friday the weekly attendance percentage for each class will be displayed on class balloons in the lower school hall. At the end of term, rather than only one child winning an attendance prize, the class with the best attendance will win a class treat—probably a film and pizza!
I look forward to another fabulous year with our school family!