Many thanks to those who took the time to attend one of the open meetings earlier this week. It was great to see so many families in school! Overall, we had nearly 150 here.
To summarise the content if you missed it:
Senior Leaders and Phase teams introduced themselves and explained their roles. The roles of Mr Pattison and Mrs Burge were clarified, essentially that they are Deputies and qualified to deputise in the absence or unavailability of the Head. Both work across the school, though Mrs B focuses more on Early Years and Key Stage One, while Mr P focuses more on Key Stage Two
The Designated Safeguarding Leads were introduced, but the key message was to raise any concerns directly with class teachers in the first instance. For concerns about the class teacher, go directly to the Head. DSLs are: Mr Hillier, Mrs Burge, Mr Pattison, Mrs Taylor and Mrs Walker. They have training above and beyond that which all other staff have completed.
The way in which children are supported was explained. The challenges to the school of securing funding 1-1 support or additional staff was raised. Essentially, there is no funding available for new bids for this in our locality this year. The school’s strong reputation for inclusion was highlighted, along with the fact that this seems to haven made us the school of choice locally for children with more complex needs, with many transferring in from other settings. We are proud and happy to have this reputation and delighted to welcome all, though it brings challenges and has caused us to change how we organise our provision for those needing most support. We will continue to attempt to meet the needs of all who want to be here and for whom a mainstream setting is the best option.
The anti-bullying procedures were explained. The main focus here being that bullying is extremely rare, but children do have fall outs and often report feeling bullied. Usually this transpires to be something other than bullying. Nonetheless, it was explained that teachers log every reported incident between children, even at a low level. Everything his reviewed and monitored regularly by teachers, Senior Leaders and the Pastoral Team. It is important that information is shared with us. We encourage children and families to report any concerns to class teachers, so that our systems for support can come into effect. Everyone has bad days and things do go wrong, but no child in Parkdale should be unhappy or dislike school. 99%+ report to us in their surveys that they enjoy school, feel safe and have fun, If any don’t, we have systems to address that and can usually find a quick and effective solution, as long as we know about it.
Behaviour systems were discussed, along with the fact that behaviour at Parkdale is outstanding, second to none. This is something noted by all visitors to the school; from inspectors, quality assurance teams from our trust, volunteers, supply staff, outside agencies, people who host our children for visits etc.
The current financial situation was explained: the school faces a shortfall of funding for the year, as do all other schools. Budgets were increased by 3% but inflation is now running at 10% and expected to rise to 20%+. Fuel bills largely drive this. There ois no price cap for schools or businesses and, as yet, no Government help. Parkdale is in a strong position, much more secure than most, as we have reserves (savings) we can use to support us for this year. However, we are directed to cut any non essential spending and have a freeze on recruitment. We have had to withdraw the previous offer to subsidise all trips etc by £20 per child – we hope to be able to reinstate this if the situation looks better in January 2023. We undertake not to ask parents/carers for more than £20 for activities and trips (excluding residentials) this school year.
The school is well overdue an OfSTED inspection. All our data and quality assurance from the trust, which is very rigorous, suggest we should be pushing for an Outstanding grade. Our indicators are better than for many schools currently holding Outstanding. However, it was explained that we might not get Outstanding on this occasion as an upgrade necessitates OfSTED re-visiting and this is not currently their priority, being so far behind schedule since the pandemic.
The school’s performance last year was discussed; essentially that all data and indicators were well above national and local averages. There was a ‘drop off’ in outcomes at Year 6, for whom years 4 and 5 had been seriously disrupted. However, our ‘drop’ was small compared to nationally and locally. We feel that our home learning offer during Covid and the great support from families contributed hugely to this, Data in all other measures and year groups looks extremely strong.
The school’s philosophy regarding Attendance was explained. The strong link between attendance and successful learning was highlighted. The Department for Education expectations for schools to do all they can to secure attendance over 96% was discussed. It was explained that schools cannot authorise holidays in any circumstances, nor any absence over 10 days. The rationale behind Governors directing the Head to request penalty notices for all meeting the threshold was explained – namely that it is the only fair and transparent way to manage this consistently.
The importance of the Pupil Premium funding to the school belong able to continue to offer extra support to children was explained. We urge all parents/carers to consider whether they may be eligible and to apply online if so. We use Pupil premium to be able to continue to employ support staff. We also use it to subsidise trips, residentials and more for eligible children. Children eligible for PP also continue to receive free school meals throughout Key Sage two (for others, they stop at end of key Stage 1), even if family/financial circumstances change after the first application. Once deemed eligible, even for a short period, the funding remains. It is worth registering, even if your child is in key Stage 1 and currently receives a free dinner as part o the universal offer. There are full details here: https://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/education/school-meals/free-school-meals-and-milk
Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City residents can check eligibility and apply here: https://emsonline.nottscc.gov.uk/CitizenPortal_LIVE/en