Welcome to this week’s bulletin
You might have noticed one or more messages or letters around attendance in the past week. The first of these will have been if your child did not attend on Friday 10th March, the day of the snow. We appreciate that some people were unhappy to receive this letter which was simply intended to give a chance to share any circumstances for absence other than the weather and to make sure we had the right reason logged on our system. We are not able to authorise absence due to the weather if school is open. We always aim to stay open as we are very aware of the inconvenience caused, especially to working parents/carers, when we close. We think it is the right thing to do if we can.
This might be a good time to remind everyone that we can really only authorise absence for illness and medical appointments. There are very few other permissible absences by the DfE rules. For authorisation for illness, that illness needs to be serious enough to prevent attendance and generally all but contagious diseases like chicken pox, the most severe, coughs, colds, sore throats, etc should not be a barrier to attending.
At present, our attendance is not good. It is well below our ‘typical’ and is falling worryingly. Many, many schools are in ‘the same boat’ , but we have an obligation to do all we can to reverse this. It is there in all the staff’s job descriptions, teacher standards and headteacher standards against which we are judged and managed. Attendance, especially how rigorous we are about improving it, was a big feature, quite a challenge in fact, on the recent OfSTED inspection. They felt we did a lot but wanted to see more, including more use of penalties.
That said, we have many children with very good attendance, including 43 currently with 100%, and we have been in touch to thank all of those.
Again, we know that some children have ongoing conditions and barriers and we try to be sympathetic to that. No one chooses to have those. Or to have chicken pox! It is a matter of doing as well as possible and being as resilient as possible when deciding whether or not to attend.
We cannot authorise on the grounds of parental (or child’s) choice or desire not to come in. These are the rules we operate to. Once past statutory school age (turning 5 in the term), attendance is not optional and there is a legal requirement for children to attend school and for parents/carers to ensure that attendance is as high as it can be. This message has perhaps become blurred, understandably, during the Covid pandemic.
One real practical reason, the best reason in fact, for the pressure on attendance is the nature of the curriculum these days. It builds skills and knowledge very quickly. It is expected to be fast moving and challenging. We are expected to show that children make progress every day – that every single day, every lesson in fact, there is new learning which builds on the previous day. This is an OfSTED requirement. Consequently, children missing time are disadvantaged on their return. They have missed the previous day. They are lacking a building block. This means either they need an intervention or the rest of the class have to ‘hold back’ for a bit whilst the previous day is reviewed. Of course, illness is out of everyone’s control, but time off needs to be only when absolutely necessary. We can see how on our data how attendance and progress are linked.
On the subject of those interventions, they tend to have to be delivered by a teaching assistant if the rest of the class is to continue its learning. This brings us to the main reason for the ongoing industrial action by members of the NEU. Aside from pay, the root of the recruitment and retention crisis, the strikes are around school funding. For us here, this is the key point. The current funding crisis means we already have half the number of TAs available to support learning in classes than we did three years ago. We once had a TA per class. We now have one per year group and even that model will not be sustainable next year. Most schools have already ‘lost’ their class TAs totally and we are heading the same way. We also do not have the funding to provide the support some of our children with special needs would benefit from. We cannot provide the interventions that we used to. Our local family of Nottinghamshire schools has no money for new support bids for the children with the highest levels of need. Next in the ‘firing line’ is our Pastoral Care team who do so much to support families and keep children safe and healthy. They are an optional extra and the funding crisis threatens their continuation. Similarly our hugely successful and valuable Speech and Language offer in Early Years.
These are tough times. Like all schools, we are fighting to avoid a six figure deficit operating budget for this year and next year threatens to be tougher still. This is what we are fighting for. Many, many thanks to the vast majority of people who have expressed solidarity with this in recent weeks, particularly those who have offered kind words and support to us on the picket line.
In other news…
It’s Red Nose Day tomorrow – Thank you to all the competition entries we have already received.https://parkdale-primary.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/RND-2023-Flier-for-Web.pdf
The non-uniform theme for the day is to wear red – as much or as little as the children want/can.
The donation page, should you wish to make one, is here: https://app.parentpay.com/ParentPayShop/Foc/Default.aspx?shopid=10797
Sustrans Week. Parkdale are taking part in Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel 2023 which is next week. Please encourage your child(ren) to walk, use a wheelchair, scoot or cycle to school on as many days as possible during the event. If you need to drive please consider parking a bit further away and walking or wheeling the last bit into school.
Using the App. We still have parents/carers who aren’t signed up to ScholarpackApp. Those that are primary contact and not signed up should have received a new code this week. If you are still having problems please email the school office.
Y6 Life Skills – Y6 have finished the Daart Life Skills programme and have their graduation on the 22nd. Please make sure you send your reply slip back. https://parkdale-primary.co.uk/year-6-daart-graduation-wednesday-22nd-march/
Reception are having a gardening week. Please note this is just for Reception, not whole school, sorry for any confusion from the original post. https://parkdale-primary.co.uk/gardening-week/
School dinners. If your child is off sick please remember to cancel their dinner on the Aspens site by 9.30. This will stop parents/carers being charged for KS2 dinners and the school needing to pay for KS1 dinners and cut down on waste from the kitchen.
Easter Bonnet Parade – The parade will be on the 29th of March, more information will come out next week.
Reminders here about the regulations for children walking home unaccompanied and age restrictions: https://parkdale-primary.co.uk/walking-home-end-of-day-collection/
A request regarding parking here and a heads-up that we will be taking direct action against illegal parking, which is parking on the yellow lines (single or double) around drop off and collection and on the zig-zags at any time: https://parkdale-primary.co.uk/parking-2/
Snow changes to dates
New date for Reception disco. The reception disco will now be on the 28th of April.
New date for Y3 Safari Park trip. Y3 will now be going on their trip on the 24th of March.