Tuesday, 16 December 2014

'Evening Standard' article flags St. Mary Magdalen's high performance

Last week the 'Evening Standard' published a full list of London borough primary school league tables.
The London Borough of Lewisham extract is shown below.
Graeme McGlasson-West

Our Nativity Play

On Friday parents and carers  of Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children enjoyed the annual Nativity Play.
The packed School Hall was treated to a tightly-run show with wonderful costumes, clear diction, beautful singing and lots of fun all round.
Mr. West, our Head Teacher, closed the show by thanking Mr. Rimmell for his direction and the other teachers and TAs involved for their support.  He stressed the importance for children of the Nativity Play and hoped it would help everyone reflect on the true message of Christmas. 
Robert Sheppard 

A blessed Christmas to one and all

Friday, 12 December 2014

End of Term message from our Head Teacher

As we come to the end of a very busy and successful term, I would like to thank you all for the support you have given to the School.  Our PTA events have really taken off and the success of the Italian Night and, most recently, the Polish Night, are a credit to the organisers and to those of you who supported our School.  I am now awaiting confirmation of when the Caribbean, Irish and Nigerian Evenings are to be held!
I hope you will agree with me that the World War One theme has been something that captured the children’s imagination.  Apart from being a very special event, and one that we will most definitely come back to, it has really united the School and allowed for a lot of sharing of resources and ideas.  The visits to the Imperial War Museum, to see the exhibition of poppies at the Tower of London, and of course the excellent War Story workshops (which all of the Junior parents had an opportunity to see extracts from in their child’s class assembly), were a real treat for children and staff alike.  Our Remembrance Service was held with great feeling and increased empathy by the children, who had studied life in the trenches and now understood more clearly the sacrifice that is still being made today by members of the armed forces.  We even joined with other schools across the Commonwealth in a school assembly from the Tower of London on 10 November.  The driving idea for this whole school theme was to engage children, but especially boys, in their writing.  Research shows that girls are generally much more motivated to write than boys and as our constant focus is on raising standards, we wanted to ensure that we do as much as possible to give them the impetus to learn.  Even the children’s football skills were put to the test with the house team’s competition last Friday.  This was in commemoration of the famous World War One ‘Christmas truce’ football match.
You will see from the Curriculum Webs, which will be sent to you next week, that Spring half term’s whole-school theme will be Space.  Once again we have ‘reserved’ the theatre group who worked so well with the children on War Story and they will be the starting point for our work.  With all of the current media reports about space exploration we think that the children will be very motivated to learn.  Any parents/carers who have an interest and knowledge of space and would like to talk to a class about this, please get in touch with the office.
Our links with the Parish were strengthened this term when Year 6 hosted a ‘1914 Tea Party’.  Our School Council and Charity Monitors (together with Miss Gardener and Mrs Piper) feel it is so important to reach out beyond the School, into the local and wider community.  As a result the Poppy Day Appeal, Help for Heroes, Save the Children, Children in Need and Cafod have all benefited from the children’s, and your, generosity this term.  In the Spring and Summer terms the children will be thinking of raising funds via their ‘mini enterprises’ (cake baking, jewellery making etc).
We have now completed all of our assessments for your children’s progress and attainment this term.  You will be pleased to know that the vast majority of them are on track to make good or outstanding progress over the course of this academic year.  You will have an opportunity to discuss your child’s progress around half term, in February.  I have just one concern and that relates to homework.  I have noted that the number of Year 6 children completing homework during lunchtime and playtime has increased.  Many of them do this on a week-by-week basis and not just as a one off exercise.  Research shows that homework in many primary schools has little effect on pupils’ achievement because it is not particularly related to anything going on in class.  At our School this is not the case.  All homework is given to support your child’s work in class.  If they miss doing it then they do not reinforce the learning from their classwork.  Furthermore they will certainly find that getting into the habit of not doing homework does nothing to prepare them for secondary school next year.  As parents I would ask you to ensure that your child completes their homework on time and to a good standard.  It is not the teacher’s responsibility to chase the children up for this.  They have a week to do their work and if they are confused about any part of it, then they have time to bring it back to the teacher for clarification.  If they leave it until the weekend they do not have this opportunity.  In future we will ‘Parent Mail’ all parents (in all classes) if their child does not complete their homework on time. The days when homework is handed out and is to be given in are on the curriculum webs you received last July, or can be accessed on our blog under the heading ‘curriculum’.
Finally our School Advisor visited us last week and was very pleased with our progress towards ‘outstanding’.  As you will be aware we moved to a category 2a (very good) in September and all staff and Governors are determined to ensure your child receives nothing less than good or outstanding teaching and learning experiences in every lesson.
The closing date for applications to start Reception in September 2015, is on 15 January 2015.  I will be taking prospective parents around school on Wednesday 7 January 2015 at 10.00am.  If you, or someone you know, wish your child to join our very special school, then please get in touch with the school office to book a place at this Open Morning.  You may also be interested to know that we still have a few vacancies in other classes too.
All those who work at St. Mary Magdalen's, as well as our Governors, would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very peaceful Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.  Could I ask you all to remember in your prayers Father Philip’s brother who is very unwell at the moment.  Father Philip will be back with us for our Carol Service on Tuesday 16 December (7.00-8.00pm), which you are all most welcome to attend, and for our End of Term Mass with the Parish on Weds 17 December at 9.30am.
Graeme McGlasson-West
Head Teacher

Thursday, 11 December 2014

St.Mary Magdalen high performance reflected in latest Government stats

The Department for Education has today published School Performance tables for the whole country and, helpfully, shows how each school is performing against other similar schools.
St.Mary Magdalen's comes out 6th in its comparator group of 125 similar schools, reflecting the huge efforts that have gone into driving the School forward over the last few years.
Congratulations to each and everyone involved.

Robert Sheppard