Does SATs preparation and testing ruin the last year of primary school for Year 6 children?
This is a question which has been debated for a number of years and is something I am often asked by parents, staff and anyone who has an interest in the education of children. Having worked in the state sector for over 20 years, I think I can answer that question with a resounding ‘yes’! My experience of teaching Year 6 is that all learning opportunities are put to one side as soon as children start the academic year in September; a year taken up with SATs practice. Despite schools and staff working incredibly hard to minimise the impact of this on the curriculum, I know that, for many schools, the implications of the SATs results make the stakes very high.
Further evidence comes from the independent National Foundation for Educational Research. They have found that children are simply being more effectively coached for SATs rather than educated: History, art, drama, discussions and music get squeezed out of the curriculum and all those enriching experiences which so benefit children in the last year of school are either crammed into a few weeks at the end of term, or indeed not done at all. They also point out that as children are coached so intensely, the end results are not always a true reflection of ability. Speaking to colleagues who manage the transition to Year 7 in senior school, it is clear that they no longer rely as much on SATs results as an indicator of ability or performance, preferring instead to assess children themselves once they join Year 7.
Independent schools have a choice whether to participate in SATs testing or not and some schools have continued with it simply as a way of being included in the Sunday Times Good School Guide. However, it is telling that the number of independent schools who choose this option is now less than 25% and falling. They have discovered, as we have, that eschewing SATs tests actually enhances academic performance.
At Moorfield, along with 75% of good prep schools, we do not do SATs and yet the children leave at the end of Year 6 performing well above the national average in English and maths. We want our Year 6 children to say farewell to us having experienced an enriched curriculum and all those ‘extras’ which make memories of school so special.
As we start our new term, I thought it an opportune time to reflect on all we have achieved during last term. If you attended the end of term assembly, you will know that I included lots of ‘highlights’ which the children had shared with me in the run up to the last week. I have included the list below for those parents, carers and grandparents who were unable to be at the assembly:
It comes as no surprise to discover that, for the children, the highlights are all about sharing successes and experiences with others, celebrating personal achievements and thoroughly enjoying creative and challenging lessons. I also have my own highlights which I included in my Christmas letter to parents in December. If you have not had the chance to read it on your email, I have included the main body of it here. It can of course also be found on the Parental Portal on our website.
As always, the last two weeks of the term are a whirlwind of excitement and activity as children prepare for the Christmas break. I am sure you will agree with me that both the Nativity and the Carol Service reminded us of the wealth of talent, courage and musicality our children demonstrate when they are called upon to perform. I’m sure, like me, you could not have failed to appreciate the wonderful Christmas message told so sensitively and endearingly by the children; without doubt, the perfect way to get us all into get into the Christmas spirit.
It is fitting then that I can wholeheartedly say that the highlight for me has been the over whelming generosity, kindness and compassion which has been so prevalent throughout the term, both from children and parents. As I write, the sleigh outside my office is over flowing with gifts, bought and wrapped by Moorfield families, ready to be taken to other children in the Bradford area. Those gifts will be truly appreciated by all those who work for the organisation, ‘Staying Put’, as they work to help children and parents recover from difficult home situations.
Our Children in Need day, which was completely organised and run by School Council, raised over £1000, with £648 coming from EYFS alone, as parents and children braved the weather to undertake a walk with the specific purpose of helping other children. The MacMillan Coffee Morning, together with a donation from a member of staff, raised nearly £800 and another £200 was the result of the Jeans for Genes day in September. Alongside this of course is the donation of food to Ilkley Food Bank as part of our Harvest giving and the Christmas collection for the Revival Centre in Matugga.
When I say that Moorfield is a small school with a big heart, this is exactly what I mean. It is not really about the money, impressive though that is, it is about our willingness to reach out to other people in our community and do what we can to show our support – this is what it means to uphold and cherish the values of the school.
Finally, it only remains for me to say a heart-felt thank you for supporting Moorfield in all manner of ways and to wish you all a very happy Christmas. We look forward to seeing you in January and hope you all manage some rest and family time over the holiday.
Last week was an extremely busy week in school but I am always amazed at how well our children greet each new activity with such a ‘can do’ attitude; don’t they ever get tired? It seems not! Busy weeks, of course, can also be productive, thought provoking and actually joyful.
When I look back at the calendar from last week, the range and scope of learning opportunities is both exciting and inspiring. It was very much a science and maths focus starting with class trips to the Otley Science Festival. If you haven’t already, do look at the Facebook photos which show Form 3 enjoying the ‘School of Water Wizardry’. Senior 5 have been looking at how to reduce their carbon footprint through renewable energy which inspired them to investigate how water wheels work and the factors which affect how much electricity is produced. Form 4 and Senior 5 were also involved in a streamed live STEM lesson from the Caribbean where they learnt about the anatomy of the coral polyp. Further activities during the week included a focus on maths investigations with all children involved in maths challenges, which encompassed building tetrahedrons, using maths in coding lessons and working out a combination problem involving houses, teddies, colours and streets. I popped in to see the children and hardly anyone looked up to acknowledge me, not because they had forgotten their manners (these are Moorfield children after all) but because they were so absorbed in what they were doing.
It is wonderful that our children have all these opportunities and as we already know at Moorfield, learning is not confined to a timetable, structure or the classroom. I know from the excited reactions and conversations during the week that these experiences will be remembered for a long time, inspiring our children to be curious, adventurous, innovative but most of all, helping them to develop a love of learning and discovery which will last a life-time.
One of the most difficult things to do as a parent is to allow your child to make mistakes or even fail. It is a natural instinct to want to protect children from disappointment; I know from my own parenting experience that I have been guilty of trying to smooth the way and remove any obstacle or bump in my children's path.
There are many research papers, parenting guides and academic theories penned by all sorts of experts about how to build resilience in children and there are differing points of view in them all. One thing on which they do agree is that allowing children to take risks and make mistakes also helps them learn to solve problems and understand natural consequences.
Donna Volpitta, founder of the Centre for Resilient Leadership in the USA, maintains that “children can gain so many lessons from failure. When we don’t swoop in to save them, they’re forced to learn how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. It pushes kids to learn to try new strategies. Parents can use failures as opportunities to teach those lessons”.
“That is easier said than done,” I can hear you say and of course you have to make a judgement about when the time is right to let your child get on with it. A good rule of thumb is to let children fail when they have a good chance of learning from it and they can be supported in developing a strategy for next time. Parents can help by giving the right kind of praise and talking about strengths and weaknesses and, although it may pain us as adults, we can be role models in showing our children how we deal with our own setbacks and disappointments to better prepare them for life’s challenges.
Our value during these first few weeks of the school year has centred around ‘thankfulness’, so it is fitting that the end of the first half-term coincides with a Harvest Assembly in school. We have so much to be thankful for but sometimes it is so easy to forget this; I am grateful to Reverend Shannon for reminding us of this in such a warm and engaging way.
I am thankful for our wonderful parents who gave so generously to the work of Ilkley Food Bank. As I mentioned at the end of the assembly, it is important to remember that even in a town such as Ilkley, there are many families who, for one reason or another, may experience difficult times and need the support of all of us to help weather a rough patch. I was reminded of this when I read about the work of the Ilkley Food Bank volunteers who explained that they collect, prepare, pack and distribute over 50 bags of food every week to families. They went on to make the point that none of us are immune to a sudden change of circumstances which may result in any one of us relying on this sort of support.
So as we come to the end of the first half-term, I am thankful for our wonderful school, talented and hard-working teachers and our kind and well behaved children. Most of all though, I have been extremely thankful for the willingness of parents to support us in everything we do and for all the good wishes and encouragement I have received personally since the beginning of term – I could not have wished for a better start.
Enjoy a restful half-term break, you all deserve it!
Switching roles from class teacher to the Head of Moorfield has many challenges as you can imagine. While I miss the close interaction a teacher has with a class and the joy of seeing children completely engaged in their learning, a Head’s job does have many compensations! Over the last week, I think my highlights have all been about celebrating the success of the children and, of course, being Head means that I can be involved in the celebration of many children, not just one class.
This week I have had some interesting conversations with Form 1 who all came to see me to show me their ‘Autumn Riddles’ and took great delight in making me try and work out the clues. The writing and imagination in such young children were exceptional and they all deserved their silver stars. I know I use the word ‘proud’ more times than I should but the whole week certainly did make me proud. Our Reception children braved the wind and rain to spend a day on the Otley Chevin; not a single complaint from anyone and the Facebook photographs show a group of children revelling in the mud, rain, wind and each other – what better advert could you have for demonstrating how resilient our children are?
The rugby festival at Gateways was a triumph for the boys and for Mr Snook. For many children, it was their first rugby match and so there were nerves all round when they set off, but goodness me, how they rose to the occasion - four wins out of five, well done everyone!
To complete an already magnificent week, Senior 5 and 6 made me proud just by being Moorfield children. Mrs Crebbin reported to me that during their wonderful trip to Bradford Cathedral, the cathedral staff was full of praise for the ‘delightful, well behaved children’ who all showed such interest and asked sensible, thoughtful questions. The conductor on the train back to Ilkley personally thanked our children for being so wonderfully polite and well behaved. Oh dear, I’m going to use the ‘p’ word again! Well, it won’t be for the last time I’m sure.
There has been much in the news over the last few months about the rise in the number of children who have been referred to health professionals for mental health and wellbeing issues. We only have to look at the many influences and demands on young people to see how this rise has happened. The World Health Organisation has reported that the pressure on children to attain only the highest grades, negotiate their way in an increasingly competitive world and to be seen to be ‘perfect’ is creating a climate of low self-worth and anxiety.
The Mental Health Foundation has created a pack entitled, ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ which lays out simple rules for building resilience and explains how parents and teachers can support children in developing emotional wellbeing. The tips are:
Get connected – encourage children to have conversations with different people in school, join clubs and teams, organise events to have opportunities to socialise, such as school coffee mornings.
I mention the Mental Health Foundation pack because as I read it I realised that at Moorfield, we already embrace all of these rules during the normal school day and week; even the coffee morning idea which was such a success last week. Equipping our children with the skills to be able to deal with change, the stresses of everyday life, cope with setbacks and maintain positive relationships with others is a crucial part of our ‘hidden’ curriculum. It is the responsibility of all schools to help children to develop the confidence to negotiate life’s choppy waters and I am proud that we are a school which takes this responsibility seriously.
Yesterday morning Peter Willox (Vicar at St. John’s) led our assembly and I was inspired by something he said. He explained to the children the meaning of the ‘good news’ for Christians and during his talk he encouraged children to be good news; to do something kind for someone every day. If you want to read more about how important this particular rule is, please encourage your child to read the ‘Doing Good Does You Good’ guide which can be found on the Mental Health Foundation’s website.
We have been thinking about language and how we communicate. ‘European Languages Day’ has been the perfect opportunity to try out different ways of greeting each other and expressing ourselves. In an age where the study of modern foreign languages seems to be in decline, certainly at GCSE level, we want to do all we can to encourage our children to see the value in this very important skill. When you can speak to people in their own language you deepen connections and understanding. If you learn a foreign language as a child, you will have a lifetime to reap the benefits of cross-cultural friendships, broader career opportunities, exciting travel adventures and deeper insights into how others see the world.
There are other benefits too. Research shows that learning a second language boosts problem-solving, critical-thinking and listening skills, in addition to improving memory, concentration and the ability to multitask. Children proficient in other languages also show signs of enhanced creativity and mental flexibility.
Obviously, these are all important reasons and we are very fortunate that we are able to offer both French and Spanish at Moorfield, even to our younger children. What has been apparent as I have watched Mrs Hewitt’s lovely language lessons and observed the children singing, reciting, counting, role-playing and participating in language games, is the complete joy they experience from immersing themselves in a new language.
During this week, the children have embraced the fun of learning a language; from dressing up in the colours of the Polish flag, asking for their lunch in Spanish, experiencing food from other countries and learning how to conduct basic social interactions in French, Spanish and Italian. Our Spanish lunch was such a success this week that Mrs Collier has suggested we have a ‘Language Lunch’ every half-term, not just on Languages Day. Well, I say ‘twoje zdrowie’ to that – Polish for ‘cheers’!
You would be forgiven for thinking Form 1 was moving classroom this week. I popped in to see them on Wednesday and couldn’t find a single child anywhere, but there they were, hiding among a pile of huge cardboard boxes! It soon became clear that this was the start of an exciting train building project, inspired by a fabulous ride on the Bolton Abbey steam train the day before. This is why we love teaching at Moorfield; harnessing the enthusiasm and interest of children and observing how much they enjoy learning is definitely one of the best things about the job.
Our younger children continually surprise and impress us. Mrs Turner-Thompson’s First Aid lesson really was a revelation. I was so proud to see children as young as five years old confidently following the correct procedure for dealing with an emergency – it seems that we have some budding medics in our midst! During role play, they checked their ‘casualty’ for breathing and injuries before calling for an ambulance, remembering to explain their location and briefly summarising the problem. We are so fortunate that we have a teacher who has a wealth of skills and experience in life saving and emergency procedures and even more fortunate that we have children so prepared to give this a go. As I mentioned at Meet the Teacher Evening, every child in school will receive the benefit of these very important life lessons.
Finally, if you have not had the chance to catch up with all our goings on through the school Facebook page, do have a look. Only Mrs Minshall would think of taking Nursery children to a car wash! Those photographs will keep you smiling for days to come.
There is so much to celebrate in school this week. Already, Reception children have received silver stars for beautiful letter formation and handwriting, Senior 5 children are busy impressing Mrs Welsh in maths lessons and everyone in school is greeting each new opportunity and challenge with great enthusiasm.
A huge thank you to parents for attending ‘Meet the Teacher’ evening. It was a pleasure to see so many of you there and have the chance to get to know new faces. Feedback since then has been very positive, with parents commenting on how much they appreciate the chance to hear from their child’s teacher about plans for the year ahead. As I mentioned at the meeting, as part of our focus on helping parents and children to use technology safely, we are running a series of lessons and workshops looking at on-line safety and we are grateful for the expertise of the Bradford District Cyber Team, along with West Yorkshire Police, who will be helping us with this. Please keep an hour free on the afternoon of 15th November as we will be inviting you to a special workshop for parents, grandparents and carers. Keeping our children safe and helping them to protect themselves is becoming even more important in the world in which we live.
Another highlight this week has been a wonderful assembly on the theme of curiosity and what a surprise at the end! I won’t give too much away here but watching the children’s reaction and hearing such delighted laughter was certainly one of the best ways I know to start a busy Thursday.
What a lovely first day back we have had! The sun has been shining, well most of the day at least, certainly there has been enough dry weather for the children to go out to play. I have been delighted to see so many smiling and absorbed little faces as I have walked around school and popped into classrooms. There has been a definite buzz in the air which has been delightful.
Our Senior 6 prefects are very proud to have been given responsibilities this term and, in honour of our library being reinstated, we have asked Sam to be in charge of it, a prefect job he is particularly thrilled with. Congratulations to Lucinda who is Head Girl this term, I know she will undertake this role brilliantly.
Mrs Tina Herbert
The Summer term is a short but very busy one and it seems incredible that we are already almost half way through the first half of the term. There is so much to fit in! Last week began with a Bank Holiday but school was very much to the forefront for many of you at the Ilkley Carnival. I do hope that all involved had a wonderful time; I know that the children have talked about it with great enthusiasm.
Even though the Bank Holiday left us with a four day week, there has still been time to squeeze a lot in. The Wharfedale Festival was prominent and I’m really pleased that so many of the children were involved. Those children who performed in the Poetry Recitals achieved superbly well; there was a first and second place in Form 2, a second and both joint thirds in Form 3, a first and second in Form 4, a first, second and third in Senior 5, as well as a second in Senior 6! The String Group also achieved a first place and by all accounts performed very well. I was present to watch the performance of the Senior 5 and Senior 6 choir and I thought that they were excellent; as usual watching them made me feel incredibly proud of the school and the dedication and abilities of the staff and children involved. Besides all of this, there has also been time for a very successful residential trip for Form 4 to Bewerley Park. I’m told that the children behaved themselves superbly and that a wonderful time was had by all.
This week promises to be even busier: Many of the children will be completing annual assessments during the week and, in addition, children in Senior 6 and some children in Senior 5 will also be out on the roads on their bicycles as part of the Bikeability programme. All of this goes on, of course, alongside the rehearsals that are continuing for next week’s production of “Mary Poppins”. The play is getting very close now and the excitement and anticipation are noticeably beginning to build! I am certainly looking forward to seeing my first Moorfield School production enormously.
In the near future we will be issuing a school survey which will give parents the opportunity to feedback to us about things which are going well and of course also where there is room for improvement. This is a vital tool for school development so please look out for it and do get involved if you have the time to complete one. The children will also be having an NSPCC assembly in the final week of half term which delivers the “Speak Out. Stay Safe Programme”. Once again, please look out for a letter with further information about this initiative.
I do hope that you and your children enjoy the rest of the half term. Things promise to be even busier when we return after the half term break.
The warmer weather and brighter skies are finally here and spring is definitely upon us! As we prepare for our Easter Break, it seems a good time to reflect on some of the extremely positive things that I have seen and experienced at Moorfield over the last few weeks.
It has been so pleasing to see the impact that the children here at Moorfield have within the local community. There were of course excellent performances at both the Harrogate and Skipton Festivals. In fact, in all there were 110 performances by our pupils at the Skipton festival alone and ten of these were chosen to be in the final concert, which showcases the best performances throughout the week.
Closer to home, it was a pleasure to take part in the school’s Autism Awareness Walk. The children looked fantastic in their uniforms and hats as we walked around Ilkley and gave a wonderful impression of our school through both their appearance and their polite and friendly manner towards anybody that we encountered.
Resilience is a key word in the school values and I have seen the way that the children who have been joining in with the weekly cross-country runs are able to display this in abundance. They turn up in their numbers to some windswept and rainy locations and then run up and down hill in treacherous conditions without a word of complaint, all in the name of representing their school, well done to all involved.
As you would expect this last week of the term has been a very busy one. It began with the wonderful shared event that was the Easter Service at St. John’s Church. It was lovely to see so many of you there to experience the very moving singing and the powerful readings which were so well executed by the children in Senior 6. There has also been an exceptionally high quality of entrants to the Easter Bonnet and Decorated Egg competitions; some wonderful attention to detail and a serious amount of creativity in evidence there.
I hope that you all have a very relaxing and fun Easter break together and look forward to seeing you all again next term.
One of the many great privileges of having a career in education is that on occasion there is an opportunity to accompany children on a residential visit. Last week I was able to enjoy my very first residential with children from Moorfield School. In this case it was the Senior 6 trip to London. The trip was a wonderful treat for me, not just because of the fabulous cultural opportunities that were on offer but because this sort of trip always provides a chance to get to know the children much better and to see how they socialise with each other over a long period.
As you might imagine, they were all a credit to the school and to their families. Consistently polite, open to learning and new experiences, both tolerant and compassionate with each other and cheery and positive throughout. The residential was superbly organised by Mrs Hewitt and Mrs Crossley’s experience of both the trip and the city meant that I was in a really good position to observe and enjoy the children’s interactions. They made the most of everything and even when they were clearly tired and hungry they never stopped being positive and caring. The whole trip was an affirming experience and one to make a head teacher very proud, I look forward to the next one.
In recent weeks we have continued to focus on how we can look after and respect our planet. This has involved setting out on some different environmental projects. You are very likely to be aware of Reception’s ‘Sea Cycler’ which currently has pride of place in the entrance foyer. What you may not be aware of is that as a school we have recently signed up to a scheme whereby our food waste is now being recycled and converted into energy. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing information with the children about how this process works and how much energy we are able to create.
As well as this, Miss Van Eede also attended a recent Ilkley meeting entitled ‘The Solution is Less Pollution’ on the school’s behalf, which was about water pollution in the town. We will be following up on this as a school after the half term. Finally, we have also just begun a school project on air pollution using Friends of the Earth’s clean air pack. We have a pollution monitor near the front gate and another next to the pitch, these monitors will be sent to a laboratory after two weeks and we will then be able to discuss our findings.
All of these different projects were briefly discussed with the children in assembly and we all hope that they will give the children plenty to think about and talk about as they develop. The assembly also featured many examples of the children’s art work as part of our regular celebration. I really was struck by the ambition, the diversity and proficiency of the children’s work, right across the school. It was an excellent reminder of just how rich a curriculum they are exposed to and how well they take advantage of this.
Many of you were present at the final assembly of the year in which various prizes were awarded to deserving pupils. During the assembly we spoke a lot about the school values and I drew the children’s attention to the fact that most of the prizes fitted in very well with these values. Not many of the children were entirely clear about what our school values are. This is not to say that they don’t have an understanding of what the school stands for or that they don’t demonstrate these values on a daily basis, they do. It’s simply that generally speaking they don’t know how to articulate the values of Moorfield School and this is something that we will be working on with them this term. Currently the values are expressed as below:
Excellence in Education, inspiring Kindness, Confidence and Creativity.
We achieve this by:
It may well be that we need to find a way to make these statements more accessible to the children but in the meantime we are examining each one in detail and we have started with:
The children have fantastic ideas and are able to tell me about some of the wonderful things that they do at home and at school which support this. I have drawn their attention to The UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which are largely aimed at children and really inspire thought about global citizenship. It may well be that these goals could provoke some really useful conversations at home too.
November 15th 2018
Since we returned to school after the half term break we have, as you would expect, been extremely busy. As always there have been exciting things going on in the classrooms and we have also enjoyed great success in the Wharfedale Art Competition.
What will remain with me however are those times when we have come together as a school and with parents, carers and other members of the community.There were the two piano concerts which took place on the 30th and 31st October in which the children highlighted not only their fantastic levels of skill but also their confidence to perform and their collaboration skills when performing with each other. The concert on the 31st was particularly poignant as we were visited by Mrs Clarke who donated the piano which is now being used in the hall. She clearly took such delight in hearing the children playing it so well and with such enthusiasm. Afterwards she spoke to us all in very moving terms about what these performances meant to her.
Some of you were also able to be with us for last week’s remembrance assembly, which made it all the more special. I was very proud of the children’s maturity and sensitivity when being a part of such a meaningful assembly. This goes from the impeccable way that nursery children were able to observe the two-minute silence right up to senior six and the empathetic manner in which they all contributed to the assembly.
This week of course will culminate in Children in Need day. I must thank you all for your generosity in the donations that we have received through the purchasing of merchandise and taking part in quizzes and so forth. We have needed to order more stock as demand far outstripped supply, a very useful learning experience for the children involved.
In double quick time my first half term at Moorfield has come to a close and a very positive experience it has been. I would like to thank everyone for their patience as I have gradually learned the faces and routines of the school. I now have the opportunity to reflect on all that I have absorbed over these past few weeks and to begin to plan for the future of the school. There is so much to be proud of here. What has particularly struck me as I have observed the children learning in these past few weeks is just how high their levels of engagement are. I have yet to walk into a lesson and see any child approaching their learning with any kind of passivity at all. The children are excited and involved in what they are doing throughout the school and are happy and able to articulate this.
I have seen some excellent examples of team work, the children support and genuinely value each other. There is an enthusiastic and collaborative approach to dealing with any problems or barriers that a given task might present. These are strengths that we will continue to build on and can enhance even further. The school is such a positive community; it’s lovely to see the high levels of participation in extracurricular music and sport and the pride with which the children represent the school when given that opportunity, something I would like to make even more accessible to all.
I have had a hugely rewarding first half term and I look forward to many more to come.
We are well into the term now and the school is feeling very busy and purposeful as children have been taking part in a variety of exciting opportunities. Sport has been very much to the fore and there have been netball matches both home and away in three different age groups as well as away rugby matches due later on this very afternoon.It’s also been a time in which various children from around the school have benefitted from hearing directly from some notable children’s authors. Just yesterday Senior 5 were lucky enough to visit Bradford Grammar School and meet acclaimed cyclist and now children’s author Sir Chris Hoy and today we eagerly await the visit of Peter Bunzl, author of the Cogheart series; a very exciting opportunity! As well as this, we’ve also been celebrating the European Day of Languages as part of our exciting curriculum.
The fly in the ointment at present surrounds the issues that we are having around swimming provision as the Ilkley swimming pool remains closed. I have been in contact with three other swimming pools to see if they can offer us the provision that we need. Unfortunately, so far we haven’t been able to find a pool which is available and has the right kind of facilities for us but we will keep trying.
The first full week at Moorfield seems to have gone by in a flash. It was wonderful to see so many of you at our meet the teacher evening. I’m delighted that the partnership between the parents and carers and the school staff is so strong. The evening felt enormously supportive and I have been very grateful for the feedback that so many of you have taken the time to share with me. As I mentioned on the evening the welcome that I have received from parents, children and staff alike has been overwhelming and has served as an affirmation to me of what a fine school Moorfield really is, I feel very lucky to be here.
A reminder that our communication systems are now all up and running after some initial teething problems so please do check for emails and texts as well as using the website as your first port of call for any school information. On that subject we expect to send out agreement forms for use of technology and photography in the very near future, please can you return these to school as soon as you are able.
Finally it was lovely to end the week with our Big Breakfast for Matugga this morning. I very much enjoyed experiencing the way in which that Moorfield spirit extends into the global community and would like to thank all involved for their generosity both in terms of their time and their donations to a very worthy cause. A special thank you to Miss Van Eede fo organising such a positive event so early in the new school year.
This week we have been transported to the African plains with a triumphant performance of The Lion King staged by Senior 5 and 6. This ambitious choice of play was made in order to give us the opportunity to showcase the wealth of talent at the top of the school. Oh my goodness – what a feast of dance, drama and song was presented to a delighted audience! We were all in awe of the standard set by every child to entertain with such a vibrancy, polish and professionalism. Fabulous photographs, taken by Andrew McMillan, are available on his website, which will serve as a lasting reminder of such memorable performances. We are so proud of our actors and I am deeply grateful for the talent and enthusiasm of our staff to facilitate and support such a quality production.
Another extremely busy half term has flown by. Enjoy the two week half–term holiday, everyone.
Life is so busy at Moorfield that we barely have time to bask in the success of something before working busily towards another event. Wharfedale Festival last week included a large number of children from F2 to S6 each of whom had worked hard to prepared for entries in speech and drama, creative writing and poetry, choirs and musical ensembles. Our News page lists the specific awards achieved by individual children although, in my opinion, everyone was a winner for having the courage to enter a competition.
This week the focus is on final preparations for 'The Lion King' to be staged next week. I haven't been able to resist a sneak preview, suffice it to say that anyone who comes to see this year's school play is in for a mighty treat.
THANK YOU to ALL parents and children who supported the Moorfield carnival parade on Bank Holiday Monday. Huge thanks to Linda Denmark who took responsibility for the parade on behalf of the PA and Mrs Rhodes who organised the dance lessons at school before the event. With so many families making an effort to be there, we were able to create an impact of colour and fun, which matched the 'Strictly Come Dancing' theme. All the mothers looked dazzling and fathers dapper in their DJs, despite the really hot weather. The children's dancing was delightful - I hope you have enjoyed the photographs in the entrance hall, which show how many were twirling and shimmying to the music. The gloriously sunny day made the parade really festive and, as usual, Moorfield just enjoyed being part of this traditional community event. We took special pride in our Nursery pupils who walked ALL the way! Three cheers for Moorfield!
Our congratulations for Mrs Preston whose baby arrived on 25th April - a girl, Nell Amelia. What a lucky girl she is to be born into such a loving family. Moorfield is lucky too to have Mrs North covering Mrs Preston's maternity leave. She is a qualified teacher who has specialised in EYFS for a number of years - the children are thriving in her company.
School has been rather empty with Form 3 at Nell Bank and Form 4 at Bewerley Park on their residential trips. I have great admiration for those children who have been so brave about being away from home overnight. They will all have had an exciting time and feel so pleased with themselves for having the courage to be adventurous.
A huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to EVERYONE who came to our Open Day yesterday and made it such a success.
I know that Mr Baddeley greatly appreciated meeting parents and that his address was well received, providing assurance that Moorfield will be in very good hands under his leadership. We were also delighted to welcome a number of new families who could meet the incumbent Head, meet parents and teachers and hear, thanks to the phenomenal standard of the trio who sang, the talent Moorfield will discover and develop in our pupils.
What a treat to welcome sixteen new children to Moorfield recently: Charlie (S5), Sam (F4), Ali, Arthur, Isla, Libby and Ted (F3), Alice and Amber and Teddy(F1) and Camille, Josh, Olivia, Ollie and Sam (EYFS). It is only the end of the first week back but those who arrived just a few days ago already look as though they have always been here. It has been encouraging to hear such positive comments from parents about how they feel their children have settled into our school. Please look at our Facebook page to see a lovely photo of them all.
We have made a change to our lunches to accommodate the larger number of children in the dining room each day and have introduced two sittings. Upper School now eat at 12.15pm and Lower School at 12.45pm. The atmosphere is calmer and we feel the children are enjoying lunch times more.
An important new boy will be visiting tomorrow! He will be keen to meet parents and children. We know how much my successor, Mr Baddeley, is looking forward to starting here in September and such visits to the school will enable him to feel comfortable before his first day of term. Everyone benefits from a taster!
We look forward to seeing you tomorrow if you can come to our Open Day.
What joy to feel the onset of spring over the past few days. A hard winter has finally come to an end and we will no doubt take extra pleasure in ‘earth’s immeasurable surprise’ (Philip Larkin) as buds fatten and nature springs to life again.
Children luckily are not dormant during the winter months and their cheerful involvement in everything on offer has resulted in a very successful term. I hope that parents keep an eye on our Facebook page to see what goes on in classrooms during the school day. Other highlights have included phenomenal success at Skipton Music Festival, very strong performances on the sports field, beautiful poetry at the Poetry Recital Competition and a wide range of showmanship at Moorfield’s Got Talent - the breadth of our curriculum gives great opportunities for all our children.
Academic strength continues to be shown in our excellent senior school entrance exam results. We are proud of how we achieve such success without unnecessary pressure due to skilful teaching through many years at Moorfield. Children here enjoy their lessons and therefore engage with their learning in a way that enables them to achieve such good outcomes. I would like to pay tribute to all the Moorfield teachers who, right from the start, value and work with each individual child through the years to achieve such results.
Thank you for your generous support for the S6 Young Entrepreneurs’ Project this term. I’m sure there isn’t a single parent in school who hasn’t shelled out for a tie-dye T-shirt, a scrumptious cookie or a packet of meringues. Children in the top year have learnt a great deal about working in a team and the fundamentals of running a business – without your support their products would have remained unsold. Ilkley Candlelighters will reap the rewards as all profit is being donated to this worthy local charity.
You will be pleased to know that the PA's fundraising efforts have enabled us to order the giant climbing net as the target has now been reached. Thank you to you all! The children will be delighted when it arrives in the summer term and is installed in the grounds.
Next term, OPEN DAY is on Saturday, 21st April, which is the first Saturday after the holiday. The main purpose of this event is for parents to meet Mr Baddeley who will be the new Head from September 2018. With this in mind, the format of the Open Day is different to previously. We are hoping that families will drop in for a cup of coffee and delicious cake baked by our wonderful Parents’ Association. The morning runs from 10.30am to 12 noon but we expect parents to pop in for either the first half or the second half. Mr Baddeley will be introduced and give a short talk at 10.45am and this will be repeated at 11.30am. The EYFS will be open as for a normal school day for all EYFS children and Mr Snook will be on the pitch for others. The whole school will be open for anyone who wishes to look round and we will ask our Senior 6 children to be on hand to give tours for anyone who would like one. All teachers will be there to chat to parents and visitors. Please use this opportunity to invite any friends you have whose children may benefit from being at Moorfield. Most prospective parents choose to visit on a normal working day but for those who find it difficult to visit during the week, a weekend Open Day can prove to be a golden opportunity to get a flavour of the school. I know that Mr Baddeley is looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible before he arrives officially at the start of the new school year. I’d like him to feel welcomed by Moorfield so PLEASE COME!
Also looking ahead, we have after much discussion and deliberation, reluctantly concluded that on the day of the Tour de Yorkshire, Moorfield will not be able to be open. This means that the May Day Bank Holiday weekend will start early as school will be closed on Friday, 4th May. The reasons for this are as follows: as the finish to the race is at The Cow and Calf, the crowds that build up on Cowpasture Road will prevent parents parking anywhere near school to collect their children; intermittent closure of the A65, Denton Road and Brook Street for the racing cyclists will impact on traffic flow as will the all-day closure of The Grove and Cowpasture Road. Lack of easy access for emergency services also has to a health and safety consideration. I take no pleasure in this decision, particularly after the forced snow closure but cannot see a way round the negative impact of the congestion on Moorfield due to our location in the town. I apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.
Please refer to the website calendar, which will be updated during the holidays for next term. I recommend this as your first port of call if you want to know what activities are going on at school each week. I hope you all have a restful Easter holiday and I look forward to seeing you again on Monday, 16th April.
This term we have shown a large number of prospective parents round the school. I have been delighted with the positive feedback we have received. One parents emailed afterwards: 'What really came across from my visit was the passion of the teachers in teaching and how well that is being transmitted to the children, who are obviously really engaged in their learning. It is not until you bench mark practices in other schools that you realise what you are missing out on.' Another wrote: 'Every member of staff has been a delight to deal with, as well as being caring and clearly passionate about the school. We are looking forward to starting for real after Easter.'
We have now started a new page for parents' comments on our school website. We would be delighted if you too could recommend the school. So often parents say kind and encouraging things but, in order not to misquote spoken words, we would be grateful if you could write down what you think. Please email this to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to our 'What Our Parents Say' page.
With only four days to go to the end of term, we're going to have a very busy week: Easter Service (parents most welcome); more visitors; Bunny Day (+ £1); Easter egg decorating competition; house rounders matches for Upper School; staff v S6 netball match (we're scared this year!); four classes on outings and final assembly at 11.15am on Thursday morning. Once again, parents are most welcome to attend. School breaks up at 12.15pm for the Easter Holiday.
What a treat to welcome fifteen new children to Moorfield recently: Charlie (S5), Sam (F4), Ali, Arthur, Isla, Libby and Ted (F3), Alice and Amber and Teddy(F1) and Josh, Olivia, Ollie and Sam (EYFS). It is only the end of the first week back but those who arrived just a few days ago already look as though they have always been here. It has been encouraging to hear such positive comments from parents about how they feel their children have settled into our school.
An important new boy will be visiting tomorrow! He will be looking forward to meeting parents and children. We know how much my successor, Mr Baddeley, is looking forward to starting here in September and such visits to the school will enable him to feel comfortable before his first day of term. Everyone benefits from a taster!
We look forward to seeing you tomorrow if you can come to our Open Day.
The adjudicator at Skipton Festival this week commented that, “There’s something special happening at Moorfield School”. He was referring to the standard and range of musical talent from our pupils. He also said of our choir that to hear children of this age singing in five parts was very rare and that it was a very special performance. What rewarding feedback to receive from someone who has no need to promote what we do. Thank you to all parents who have supported us with transporting children back and forth to all the different classes. Our results have been stupendous, a comprehensive list of which will be published next week.
Also this week we swam in a gala, played a hockey fixture and ran cross country. How proud we are that Martha will run in the national finals in a couple of weeks. Will she be the fastest runner in the country at her age again this year?
As we hurtle towards the end of term, perhaps children would like to enter the annual Easter egg competition. The theme this year is MUSICALS. Please bring decorated eggs in for the last week of term.
Thank you for the huge pile of clothes sent in for St George's Crypt over the past week. We have also made a donation of £125. For those who so generously donated to our snow appeal for the homeless, we appreciate your kind-heartedness.
What a pleasure it was today to see the EYFS children treating their mummies and grannies (and daddies!) to an afternoon of treats. The children loved to show what they do when at school with lots of activities, ballet and singing to share. The children had baked delicious cakes and the wonderful spread was itemised on a 'menyoo' all written out so that grown-ups would know what there was to eat.
At the top end of the school, the Senior 6 class has spent three days in London together. Thankfully, the journey was sandwiched between snowfalls and we all had a very exciting time discovering some of the historic sites, shopping at the best toy shop in the world and seeing the West End show, 'School of Rock'.
It is also good news that the new children who have recently arrived at Moorfield look as though they have been here forever. Alistair (F3) had us laughing in assembly this morning at his cockney slang, Teddy (F1) loves school lunches, Isla (F3) and Emmy (N3) are the epitome of smiles and kindness. It has been a pleasure to welcome them all to Moorfield.
At this time of intensely cold weather it doesn’t bear thinking about what it must be like to be homeless. Sledging and playing in the snow is great fun but returning to a cosy home, hot chocolate, roaring fire, deep bath and comfy bed is part of the pleasure.
Having watched the news last night on the tremendous work done by St George’s Crypt in Leeds, I am now hoping that we can show our spur-of-the-moment Moorfield kindness by having a collection at school when we all return. We now also have a close link with St George's Crypt as James Nice's father, Matthew is their Chief Operator. James is in Form 4.
There will be baskets in the School front entrance and in Nursery - please give with gratitude for your home and comforts. Also, if anyone has a surplus man’s coat at home, please bring it in as there is a real need for these.
We will contact you again tomorrow morning when a decision will be made about having school open or not. If we are open, there will be no breakfast club but school will open at 8.45am. We will text you by 7.45am at the latest.
I am very sorry that Moorfield was closed today. It is always an agonising decision as I consider the inconvenience it may cause parents before the joy the children possibly have on their sledges!
Tomorrow will be bitterly cold and some weather reports say it will be snowing heavily tonight with more to come tomorrow morning between 7am and 10am; however, I don't want to make a decision about tomorrow until the morning in case the forecasts are wrong!
We will have a later start with children potentially arriving at 9.30am as it would give us time to assess carefully whether school can run or not. There will be no Breakfast Club. Parents will receive a text by 8am to inform you whether school is open or closed.
If we are open we will NOT be having Pyjama Day. Please only travel to school if it is safe for you to do so. It is not worth risking the icy roads in treachorously cold weather. If we are open, lessons will take place in some form depending on which staff can get to school. Senior 5 and Senior 6 must not panic about play practice. I will ensure they have another time to rehearse. The Lion King must not suffer for snow when Africa is on stage!
At Moorfield we know that all children are individuals with different needs and talents. As they approach the end of their time at Moorfield, we help parents with their choices for senior schools so that each child goes to a school whi