Week beginning 13th September 2021
What a start to the year …as devastated as I was to miss the first week (Covid 19 finally got me!) I have been so impressed with how well and how quickly our children have settled into the new academic year, I feel immensely proud.
It was a challenging time as I was too unwell to work, even from home, so Mrs McManus had to take on my role temporarily, as well as caretaker duties (also absent), alongside her usual responsibilities. This meant there was a real need for the school community to really pull together and support each other and so I am truly thankful to those that did.
Thank you to those of you who attended the Meet the Teacher Information evenings this week. It was wonderful to be able to have you in the building again, I look forward to much more of that as we move through the year, so much nicer than staring at a screen!
I appreciate your patience as we get caught up with a few bits and pieces (mostly me playing catch up!) but just to reassure, we WILL be getting extra-curricular clubs running very soon, we are finalising one or two bits of the curriculum so they can be sent out and the homework for the half term will also be winging its’ way to you.
Mrs McManus and I will be holding an informal ‘drop in’ coffee morning for parents next Friday morning (details to follow) which will be an opportunity to get together as parents, have a chat with either one or both of us, drink tea, eat biscuits and hopefully get to know each other as a community.
You will know that over the summer I spent a lot of time in school overseeing the building and refurbishment work that took place. There is still some work to do in half term, however the classrooms, library, nurture room and reception space all look incredible! Click below to see some photos that give you an idea of the journey of improvement and chaos!) that happened over the 6 weeks.
Finally, thank you again for your kind words and support so far!
Week beginning 7th June 2021
I hope you all had a great half term and enjoyed the wonderful sunshine!
We have a busy but exciting few weeks ahead of us. As we wait to see what will happen on the 21st June, we are remaining optimistic and planning as much as we possibly can for the end of term activities.
Year 6 have their Legoland trip as well as their upcoming performance and graduation ... more details on these will follow in due course.
We have planned for a normal (ish) sports day this tear so am hoping not to be let down by the weather and keeping everything crossed.
Year 6 began their swimming lessons this week (those that missed out in Y5 because of lockdown) and had a great time!
Mr May is taking time to organise teams (boys and girls) to involve pupils in some competitive football for the first time since before the pandemic which is really exciting!
I have been really pleased with the honest and open manner in which our pupils have responded to the annual pupil survey. Despite an incredibly challenging year with enormous disruption, hurdles to overcome and having to adapt to a very different way of life, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. This feedback, along with the outcomes of a recent school council meeting with Miss Buckley, will help my team and I to build upon our successes as well as making any relevant changes to continue the school's ongoing journey of improvement.
To further support us on our journey I will also be welcoming feedback from parents and carers as I aim to send out the annual survey for completion very soon.
I would just like to remind you all that although we have had to remain very distanced physically, myself and Mrs McManus and all the teachers are still very much here for you to speak with should you have any concerns or worries.
Current circumstances are not ideal, since being in post there is a great deal I have been unable to implement with regards to interactions with you all. I have engaged with lots of you virtually, via e-mail, telephone, letters, videos, website as well as being on the gate but I have really missed the opportunity to interact face to face as much as I would like
All my plans for getting together in person with the community have had to be put on hold however, I am excited to be able to hopefully get this started in the new academic year ... in the meantime, please do keep in touch. We can only help if we know what your worries are and others' perceptions may not always be entirely based on fact ... this happens and can understandably cause anxieties but I'm here, I'm happy to talk and I only want the best for the children.
Those that have spoken to me, or e-mailed directly will know that I always respond, I will always prioritise addressing any concerns or providing reassurance and will, of course, always work to support as much as I can.
I will, very soon, be updating you with regards to classes and staffing next year. As is always the case, as we come to the end of another year, there will be some changes of face as we have some staff either taking time out or pursuing some very different and exciting adventures. This is really positive as I wholly support my team and love that they feel empowered to take on new challenges!
I'm about to go and give out some more achievement certificates to our amazing pupils and celebrate successes with some golden raffle ticket winners so have a fantastic weekend and stay safe!
Week Beginning 24th May 2021
I can't believe we are coming to the end of another busy half term!
The children have continued to make us so proud by working really hard and being fantastic role models.
I have given out lots of Headteacher Awards, Achievement Certificates and have lots of Celebration Raffle winner events timetabled in for next half term ... We have some catching up to do thanks to lockdown!
And of course ... let's not forget the much loved 'Iced Bun Fridays' for our House Point winners!
As we think about transition to the next year group (or to secondary school for our year 6!) we continue to work to support our pupils in becoming respectful, resilient and independent individuals as per our Anton values and expectations.
This development not only allows pupils to cope with and manage the upcoming challenges they may face as they move through education but also provides them with the skills, tools and attributes needed to function effectively in the wider world.
We all know how much honesty, kindness and positivity benefits society and with the added impact of Covid 19 on mental health, it is more important than ever to ensure that we, as adults, model those attributes to others for our children to see.
We all want the same thing for the children, we want our children to be happy, to be kind, to know the difference between right and wrong and we want them to be able to make the right choices as they grow and develop as individuals.
Our vision is around educating the 'whole child' and are so thankful to all those that support us in this as like you, we only want the absolute best for your child.
As I have said before, Covid 19 restrictions have eased in the wider world and I am wholly supportive of resuming normality as soon as it is safe to do so ... I actually can't wait! Unfortunately, we are still very much held within the restrictions of the DfE guidance which has changed very little since January. However, I am keeping everything crossed that we can begin to ease some of our restrictions after June 21st as I am sure we will be provided with some updated guidance from the DfE.
Navigating our way through this situation has been incredibly challenging for the entire school community but again, I am so thankful to those that have been so supportive, patient, kind and understanding.
Please do have a sunny, safe and happy half term break and we will look forward to the children returning on the 7th June ready for their final half term of this year.
Week beginning 17th May 2021
It has been a couple of weeks since my last blog so I am happy to be writing this and updating you on life at Anton.
I hope you are all well and aren't too disheartened by the rubbish weather we have had ... am hoping it will improve as we move towards June!
As restrictions in the wider world begin to ease, in schools we are expected to continue to remain within the guidance that has been in place since January to ensure we all stay as safe as possible. With this in mind I will keep current arrangements for drop off and collection as they are until the end of the academic year. We have made some alterations to the school day where possible to introduce a little normality for the children, such as eating lunch in the hall and making bubbles slightly larger.
School visits and visitors are now beginning to be reintroduced and so this is another key change. I have some great ideas in the pipeline for Year 6 who unfortunately won't be able to attend their residential this year (still too much uncertainty and too short notice for all involved) so watch this space.
We have recently sent out a survey regarding Care Club to gauge interest with a view to it restarting in July or September depending on numbers. Just to confirm, the Infant School will NOT be providing after school childcare, that will remain with us with them continuing to provide breakfast club as it was pre pandemic.
We are still very much at a stage of cautiousness and so are having to react accordingly as things progress which makes it really quite challenging. However, I am optimistic for September around reintroducing a little more normality for our pupils so keeping everything crossed!
The children are all working hard and have completely settled back after an unusual and challenging Spring term in lockdown. We are progressing through the curriculum and focusing on preparing them for transition to their new year group/school so they are able to fully access the curriculum. Having recently had parents evenings, it was fantastic to hear of all the positive messages being passed to you about how well your children are doing, they have shown themselves to be so resilient and determined, they are a real credit to you!
Having joined the school in the midst of the pandemic, I am yet to experience the 'usual' Anton so am excited for this. I do however recognise there may be aspects of the school that worked fabulously and aspects that perhaps need reviewing and so welcome any feedback from you as parents where this may be the case.
As a school that has had to endure many changes over the last few years I already feel fully invested in and passionate about making this the best possible environment for your children. As a staff team we are busily working away behind the scenes to drive improvement and despite the pandemic, have already made significant progress which I know will continue. We do fully appreciate your support, positivity and trust as parents as we are on this journey and just know that your children are our absolute priority above all else.
I will be updating you with more concrete plans for upcoming trips, events and activities over the next few weeks as restrictions (hopefully) continue to ease.
Have a great week from us all here at Anton!
Week beginning 19th April 2021
I hope you all had an amazing Easter break and enjoyed the chocolate, sunshine (and snow!) and are feeling refreshed and ready for a brand new term. The children have settled back in really well this week and are excited to be back with their friends and engaging in some new topics as we begin the Summer term.
Although restrictions are gradually easing across the country, in schools we are still highly vigilant around the measures in place to minimise risks around Covid 19.
I know there are some concerns amongst some of you around gaps in pupils' learning due to lockdown and them 'falling behind' however, please try not to worry. We are very mindful of the need to address the impact of Covid 19 and lockdown and so have a long term plan in place to ensure our children are provided with the very best opportunities to catch up. Our immedite response is to prioritise embedding the knowledge and skills required to confidently access the upcoming academic year (September 2021 onwards). We have a very bespoke learning journey ahead of us that addresses significant gaps in learning whilst continuing to move forward and progress. This will certainly continue into the autumn term and pupils will work at a pace appropriate to them.
We completely understand that learning over lockdown varied greatly due to significant differences in circumstances, time, resources and context across households and so our forthcoming learning journeys will reflect this.
Next week we are holding parents evenings for most of you so you will have an opportunity to discuss any concerns you have with your child's class teacher, however it will also be an opportunity to really celebrate the sheer strength, resilience and determination your children have shown through what had been another very challenging year so far.
The teachers are also in the process of writing pupil reports which will be sent home later this term, so that will also provide you with insight into your child's successes this year.
Now for the really fun bit! We have lots to look forward to this term as restrictions continue to ease. I am hoping to begin to re start some clubs and activities after school so watch this space! We will also begin to include more enrichment through visits to places and visitors to school. I know Year 6 would usually take part in a residential visit which will not be possible this year, I am however in the process of looking at fun and exciting alternatives to this. I will be watching closely for updates with regards to school restrictions and updating you along the way as we begin to resume some normality. But rest assured, my drive to keep everyone safe will not waiver and we will continue to risk assess and implement any measures necessary.
Please remember, we are here for all of you so if you do need support, have concerns or queries then get in touch and somebody will always be on hand to help.
Week Beginning 29th March 2021
And here we are at the end of term and what a term it has been ... full of changes, challenges, achievements and new experiences!
We started out in January with a normal (ish) term, a day later was the move to fully remote learning, 8th of March back to face to face learning but despite all of those huge and unusual changes, the children continued to make us proud.
Despite the lockdown, we were determined to make the best of the situation and amongst the successes with Google Classroom and the rapid adaptations the children made, we held some great virtual events!
I still can't quite believe the sheer volume of talent we have here at Anton which truly came to light during Anton's Got Talent. And then our World Book Day competitions were very popular with many competitive pupils attempting to win which was fantastic to see ... I completely relate to this as I can get pretty competitive myself!
I loved delivering the achievement assemblies remotely as it gave me chance to tell everyone how incredibly they were coping and to celebrate the achievements of individuals. It was tough not being able to see my lovely Anton pupils, popping into classes, children showing me work or collecting Headteacher Awards as would normally happen, so I have loved getting back to that.
I have now completed a whole academic year in post as Headteacher of Anton Junior School and have loved every single second of it. To work with such an incredible team of staff and wonderful pupils, as well as getting to know the families, most of which have supported us throughout these challenging times, has been all I could have wanted and more. I am passionate about Anton and it feels like home already ... I will continue in my journey to make sure the children are at the heart of everything that we do.
As we look forward to the summer term, we hope for more and more easing of restrictions (hopefully) as we begin the final push for learning, thinking about transition for September and of course all the usual fun elements we would expect in the final school term. We have already been discussing plans for our Year 6 leavers this year as well as whole school events such as sports day. There may need to be some alterations or tweaks to ensure we work within guidelines and are safe, however we will continue to work hard to provide the best possible experiences for our pupils.
A huge well done to our Values Champions who have received a special certificate and Easter egg for role modelling the values exceptionally well this term. I would also like to thank our Year 6 Head and Deputy Head boys and girls for their proactivity in supporting their peers this term. I will be working more closely with them next term as we continue our journey of school improvement together.
Just a reminder, we have INSET on the first day back (19th April) so will not be seeing the children until Tuesday 20th April.
Have the most amazing Easter Holiday, stay safe and we look forward to seeing you all very soon!
Week Beginning 22nd March 2021
Another great week at Anton!
Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone that donated towards Red Nose Day last Friday, we raised a total of £234.91 which is fantastic!
Another word of thanks must go to one of our wonderful pupils Penny Carter. Penny is our resident Sustainability Ambassador and is passionate about caring for the environment and taking action to address the issues related to this.
Following conversations with staff and the School Council, Penny has started doing weekly litter picks (see pictures below) where she has worked hard to clear litter in various places such as a local forest and her walk to school route. Unfortunately, she has found a huge variety of litter items including broken glass which I know has made her feel sad, as it does me. She has been very safe when doing this, wearing gloves and making sure adults support with dangerous or unknown items such as glass. Of course, hand washing immediately afterwards is also a must.
I really do believe that if we all take a leaf out of Penny's book and get involved in regular litter picking, we can really make a difference. Unfortunately, there will always be those individuals that have no care for their environment and there will always be litter to clean up, so it is important we all play our part in addressing this. If everyone even picked up just one piece each day on their way to and from school, that alone could make a huge difference. I know Penny would absolutely appreciate this. I am keen to continue to promote this worthwhile initiative so watch this space ... there may be some extra incentives for those that get involved.
The children are well and truly settled back into their routines and working incredibly hard on their learning. We still have a big focus on PSHE and wellbeing following lockdown but are also incorporating the skills and knowledge required across the wider curriculum. This will continue as we move into the Summer term and I know teachers are busily planning the learning opportunities for their classes as well as continuing to embed our values and expectations for behaviour which is essential in keeping everyone safe and happy. Your ongoing support is very much appreciated as we continue this difficult journey and I know despite the struggles faced by many of you, your willingness to work with us has been exceptional, so thank you.
Next week will be the final week of term before the pupils are able to have some well deserved 'down time' ready for a super busy (hopefully lockdown free) and exciting summer term.
Have a fantastic week and stay safe.
Week beginning 15th March 2021
Another wonderful week here at Anton!
It was fantastic to be back delivering face to face Achievement Assemblies which is definitely one of the best bits of my week. We can now also go back to celebrating house point winners, giving out gold certificates to be entered in the raffle and of course this week, we had Anton's Got Talent and World Book Day competition prizes to give out!
Lots of our children entered the Masked Reader and Book Cover competitions and those that won received some lovely sweet treats from Mrs House (I had hoped to keep these for myself but no such luck!) but of course we praised and celebrated all those that made the effort to participate.
I had the pleasure of giving certificates to some of the children that entered Anton's Got Talent (more to give next week) as we felt all the children that were brave enough to show off their talents deserved that recognition. Medals, a trophy and book vouchers will be going out to the runners up and winners which is really exciting. I need to say a huge thank you to Mrs Lambourne for taking the time (much of it her own) to organise and lead this as I know the children have really loved it ... as have we!
This week is also Red Nose Day which is a fantastic opportunity to really consider those less fortunate and learn a great deal about tolerance, diversity and citizenship whilst enjoying the fun element the day brings with it.
As I said to the children in their assemblies this week, we continue to feel very proud of them as they have had to demonstrate such resilience and adaptability through so much huge change. It is tough for them and I know where there have been those that have struggled emotionally, we are all working hard to support in the best way that we can.
We can do this!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I'll look forward to seeing everyone next week.
Monday 8th March 2021
What an absolutely fantastic week it has been here at Anton!
I know the pupils here are incredible, but I think this week they have just outdone themselves with how well they have settled back into school life. The level of change they have had to experience over the last few months as restrictions have eased, then tightened repeatedly, directly impacting on their day-to-day life and experiences, has really shown them to be so resilient, resourceful and determined.
I and the rest of the Anton staff are so very proud of them.
So as we come to the end of the first week back ... what now?
Well first and foremost we will continue to focus on pupil wellbeing and emotional health as they adapt to the ever-changing world around them. This can be such a significant barrier to learning, it is essential we get this right.
I am aware lots of you will have heard of 'catch up' and be worrying about your children being 'behind' but please try not to. Firstly, the engagement in remote learning has been incredible during this lockdown but more significantly, the teachers will very quickly get to know where the children are and will be providing a personalised learning experience for them all. Lots of the curriculum we deliver will be around reinforcing and consolidating learning that happened at home whilst gradually introducing new knowledge.
As a staff team, we have spent lots of time watching, and thoroughly enjoying, all of the fantastic Anton's Got Talent entries . . . So much talent that we knew nothing about! I'm excited to think there may be future celebrity singers/dancers/magicians in our midst, just don't forget to mention your Anton Junior School Headteacher in your interviews!!
We are in the process of selecting our finalists ready for voting so watch this space!
Next week our Achievement Assemblies will return in full and face to face in our bubbles. We will continue to give out certificates to celebrate pupils that are modelling our values exceptionally well. We will also continue with Starbooks, Golden Ticket raffle and of course, our house point winners. I am so excited to get back to this, it is one of my absolute favourite parts of the week!
Next week we will also be announcing winners from the World Book day competitions, I know Mrs House has some fantastic treats for those pupils which I will try not to steal for myself 🙂
We have three weeks left until the end of this term and the Easter break which feels strange considering we've only just got the children back in the building. As we head towards the Summer term (wow! How time flies!) I know lots of you will be thinking about transition, end of year celebrations and of course our year 6's move to secondary school!?! Right now things are very uncertain in terms of restrictions which I find challenging as I am a planner and like to know exactly what's happening. What I can tell you though, is that we will adapt, tweak, risk assess, think creatively and do everything in our power to make the summer term the very best it can be. We will make transition as rigorous and robust as it needs to be for all of our pupils, we will celebrate our year 6 pupils' achievements, we will hold a sports day in whatever way we need to, we will continue to deliver our curriculum, keep the school community safe and embrace every challenge we face.
Have a brilliant weekend, stay safe and I will look forward to seeing everyone for another busy week on Monday.
Monday 1st March 2021
Finally it feels like Spring is around the corner as we begin a brand new month. I'm sure we'll have the odd cold snap and rubbish weather, but I can't wait for the warmth and sunshine of spring and summer and have loved the gorgeous weather over the weekend. I hope you all have been able to get out (safely) and enjoy it too.
So, my first topic this week consists of 3 words . . . Anton's Got talent! I have to say, Anton definitely does have a huge amount of talent from what I have seen in your online classrooms. Mrs McManus and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the entries posted and WOW! What a varied and spectacular array of performances there were! I don't think I have ever worked in a school with so many incredible talents. We will of course spend time narrowing down the entries and choosing finalists so keep an eye out for more information in your classrooms. I also know Mrs Lambourne is very busy putting a show reel together as well which will showcase everyone's efforts and will be posted on the website very soon. It just wouldn't be fair to keep these wonderful performances only for ourselves!
The next super exciting thing is of course, welcoming everybody back to school next Monday (8th March)! I can't even begin to describe how excited I and the rest of staff are for this to happen. We have been waiting for this since early January and despite such incredible work from all the parents and carers facilitating home learning, we know that here at school is where the children need to be.
There will be some mixed feelings of excitement, happiness, anxiety and concern from all of you but just know that this is OK. However you are feeling, you are not alone, and it is completely natural. We are here to support all of you in any way that we can and hope that you will soon get back to the routine and structure of day to day school life.
I know lots of you Year 6 pupils will be (or have already) finding out your secondary schools for September, I can't actually believe there'll only be a term and a bit left here at Anton so I guess we had better make it the best term ever! All being well we will be able to celebrate your time here at Anton without too much disruption and where necessary we can just adapt as we have been all year.
Although things have been tough and we still have some challenging times ahead please remember, we have so much to look forward to so let's all focus on 'the light at the end of the tunnel'!
Have the best day, stay safe and continue to be your awesome selves!
Monday 22nd February 2021
A huge welcome back and it's great to see everyone (in person and virtually) after what felt like a very short half term break.
I hope you were all able to make the best of it despite the restrictions and some yucky weather. Most importantly, I hope you were all (children AND adults) able to rest those brains after our tough few weeks of this new way of learning.
I am hopeful for the near future though as the vaccine is being rolled out and it seems likely we will all be back on the 8th March ... subject to tonight's confirmation by Boris of course!
As excited as we all are to see all the children, we will still prioritise safety and work hard to minimise risk as much as we possibly can. For those of you worrying, please try not to although I suspect many of you will be glad to get the children back in and resume some normality.
Whatever happens we have some key events on the horizon to look forward to this half term which we will embrace in whatever way we can. I know Mrs House has some great ideas for a virtual celebration of World Book Day and between hers and my passion for books and reading, we fully intend to make the most of this day! There will also be an opportunity to enjoy some laughs whilst raising money as Red Nose Day also falls in March. We will of course inform you of plans for these days very soon.
I am absolutely delighted to be beginning a brand-new half term with you all and although there are a few unknowns right now, I know that as a school community we will continue to work together to make this school year a real success.
Have a great week, stay safe and happy learning!
Monday 8th February 2021
Another fantastic week last week as we celebrated Children's Mental Health Week. Never before have I known it to be so relevant as it is right now and what a wonderful job our children did in raising awareness, raising money and expressing themselves in their bright colours!
There were some incredible pieces of work completed where our children really celebrated being themselves and valuing every aspect of their identities. We know that issues surrounding mental health can impact significantly on children's wellbeing and development as well as being a barrier to learning so we aim to provide as much support to our children and families as possible. If you do feel you need support in this area, then do make contact with your child's teacher who will be only too happy to help.
I have to say, not only did our children do a great job of expressing themselves on Friday, so did our grown-ups! We definitely have some members of staff who weren't shy in showing their personalities through what they wore ... myself included (pink and sparkles obviously) so well done to our very expressive teachers and LSAs.
This week the children have just four days of learning as we have INSET day on Friday and then it will be half term. I can't quite believe how quickly these last few weeks have gone! Please do use half term to focus on non-screen activities and embrace the quality time to rest, recuperate and forget about the stresses of home learning.
I am so very proud of our children and their achievements both in school and at home and as we edge nearer (hopefully!) to a full return I am excited to see first-hand how much progress our children have made at a very challenging time ... I have a feeling the teachers will be very impressed! Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of you, as parents and carers to facilitate the learning whilst juggling all other aspects of day-to-day life. You all deserve a medal!
I will be keeping a very close eye on Boris and his announcements as we move forward, to ensure I can plan for and communicate with you as soon as possible regarding the return to school. It can be challenging to pre-empt and plan at this time as we have no idea what is coming until it is announced however, I have started to consider various scenarios and so will inform you when definite plans are in place.
Have a great rest of the week, happy half term and watch this space!
Monday 1st February 2021
As we find ourselves in another lockdown and discovering different ways to adapt and bring some 'normality' to life, I thought it would be good to use our website as a link between myself and our Anton community, hence the setting up of 'Mrs Bennett's Blog'.
I want to be able to provide you with updates, school news, thoughts and insights into life at Anton Junior School from my perspective as Headteacher, get to know me a little better and provide another layer of communication for you all which, particularly right now, is hugely important to me.
I am a Head that loves to be interacting with pupils, parents, visitors and staff as much as time allows so being pretty much confined to my office is a huge challenge. However what has made it more bearable is being able to be nosey, go into the online classrooms and see how hard everyone is working (including parents and carers!) and all the great efforts from everybody to keep learning moving forward.
Mrs McManus and I have been delivering achievement assemblies, which is the absolute best part of week right now as not only do I get to celebrate some fantastic achievements, but also get to see all those great smiles I miss so much!
This week is Children's Mental Health Week which I think is more relevant this year than ever. I know the teachers will be delivering some great wellbeing lessons and activities with a PSHE focus and of course, Friday is 'Express Yourself' day where everyone will be dressing to reflect who they are using either a colour or maybe something completely different ... I can't wait to see everyone expressing themselves ( I know there are a couple of teachers keen to fully embrace this day!) but if any pupils feel they would rather not join in then that's OK too.
I can't believe we have just two weeks left of this half term and what a few weeks it has been. So many changes, so many successes, so much hard work and witnessing the school community pulling together at this time has just been the best!
I'm excited to be continuing this journey with you all and will aim to update this blog weekly.