I really enjoy visiting schools in September and October. The atmosphere at the start of the academic year is always electric, filled with reunions after the long summer holidays, new starts and ambitions for the year ahead, writes Peterborough and Cambridgeshire service director for education Jonathan Lewis.
The buzz really is quite infectious, especially at secondary schools, where you can see the newly arrived nervous, yet excited, pupils who have moved up from primary school forming friendships that will last for years and learning skills to last a lifetime.
Before I talk about anything else in this column, I wanted to say a big thank you to all readers for the part you’ve played in getting pupils ready to learn. It really does make a difference if they enter the classroom in the first days of September with a willing attitude and looking and acting the part. Thank you, I know it’s sometimes a hard job, but it will benefit them greatly over the coming months.
I think sometimes that society neglects to recognise the positive impact that parents, family members and guardians can have on their children’s lives, particularly in terms of starting good habits.
As a parent myself, I know how tempting it can sometimes be to miss my children’s regular story-time and instead spend 30 minutes catching up on emails I haven’t looked at during the day. However, statistics show children who read books often at age 10 get better academic qualifications when leaving school.
Earlier this year, the Peterborough Celebrates Reading Campaign got underway and each month has a different theme, with October’s being ‘Reading in the early years’.
Rhymetime and story events are being held at libraries across the city, with free books handed out at many sessions. A bear hunt is also being held at Ferry Meadows on October 17, organised by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Nene Park and Vivacity. The event will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the story ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’, published by Walker Books.
There will be plenty more activities going on over November and December, so look out for details on the Peterborough Celebrates website.
On a separate subject, creative youngsters are being invited to produce artwork inspired by our ambition to make special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) everybody’s business.
We are calling for paintings, drawings and other artwork that brings the words and phrases used in our SEND Pledge to life, which incorporates values such as welcoming everyone, trusting each other, being honest and listening.
The winning artworks will be used to create a poster to illustrate how we will work together with children and families to help them to achieve their potential.
The competition is open to all children and young people living in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire. The closing date is 6 January 2020.
Please photograph or scan in your creations and submit them via: Facebook: CambridgeshireCC, Twitter: @cambscc (#MakeSENDeverybodysbusiness) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My most recent school visit was to Caverstede Nursery School in Walton, which holds the unique position of being the council’s only maintained nursery school.
I was extremely impressed by the general provision on offer. The school is quite rightly rated outstanding by Ofsted and there are currently places available if parents wish to send their children there.
Find out more about the school here https://www.caverstede.peterborough.sch.uk/website.
I also visited Nene Park Academy (formerly Orton Longueville School) and was shown around by Rob Grover, the new principal.
It was so pleasing to see how far this school has come since my first involvement. One of the key things I was struck by was the focus on supporting children and young people’s mental health.
The school’s head boy, Louis Salmon, has a blog running to support positive mental health and it’s a fascinating and helpful read for us all - https://yugenemotion.com/ Well done Louis for all you are doing.
And, on the subject of school places, I would like to remind parents that the deadline for applications for secondary school places for 2020/21 is fast approaching. Missing this deadline often means you will not be able to get your local school due to high demands.
Applications close on Thursday 31 October, for more information and to apply visit: https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/residents/schools-and-education/school-admissions/starting-secondary-school-in-year-7/