Welcome to St Francis' Church of England Aided Junior School!
We are a busy but friendly school, with lots going on. This website aims to give you a taster of the school, as well as providing regular updated information for both parents and pupils.
We hope that you enjoy your visit to our website, and that you find any information you are looking for. Please feel free to leave comments in the Guestbook, or contact the school direct with any queries you may have.
Thank you for visiting!
Headteacher's Blog, March 27th 2020
Morning everyone! We are trying to get a list of all families' emails together for communication purposes and would be delighted if you could either -
emails us at email@example.com
call us on 01325 300236 (we have a call divert to Mrs Harrison on)
OR use the app.
In this way, when information from central Government is released eg about the evouchers in place of free school meals, we can contact your directly.
We are trying our best to keep you informed to the best of our abilities; all of the staff hope you are keeping well and managing to stay positive in these difficult times.
Headteachers Blog March 25th 2020.
Dear children, parents and carers,
Welcome to my blog!! I know that many of you will be feeling a bit stressed, overwhelmed and under pressure by everything that's happening. This includes the work being sent home for your child. I wanted to just give my perspective on it all as a Headteacher and I hope this can help with what is happening;
Things to think about:
1) This is not homeschooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting on the whole world. Let's keep perspective. Homeschooling is a choice, where you considered, you plan for it and you are your child's school teacher in whatever form you choose. This is, at best, distance learning. In reality, it's everyone trying to keep perspective, because none of us know what we're doing and what's right and wrong here.
2) You are, and always have been, your child's primary educator. If you decide that your child isn't going to engage with anything sent home and is going to spend the entire period playing in the dirt, or baking, or watching TV, then that is your choice. That is your right. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about.
3) Schools don't know how this is going to work in the longterm - we were NOT told to 'continue to plan lessons as normal and just send them home' – that’s NOT possible. If it were, we'd all be out of a job!
4) It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a primary aged child and work from home at the same time. If you're trying to do that, please stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, please don't try to do everything.
So, a few FAQs:
- You have sent home lots of physical work. Pages and pages, hours and hours. How am I supposed to get through it all?!
You're not, don't try. Your child's teacher spent a couple of hours gathering things to send home so they could say they did their best and there wasn't a lot of complaints that enough didn't go home. It's not a competition, or a race, it’s unlikely the teacher will even manage to look at it all.
-Do I have to do something with any links and ideas the school puts forward?
No! Not at all - we are putting things on the website that we think might be useful; for you and your children in these difficult times. If they are , great, use them. If not, don't!
- Someone in my child's class has everything done and we've barely started. Will they fall behind?
Your child will not fall behind. This is all revision and reminder work. If children could all learn new concepts without specific teaching, we wouldn't need teachers. They will cover all of this again, multiple times during their time at St Francis'. Don't worry - we'll get there!
- I'm not doing any work with my kids. All they're doing is building Lego, cooking and playing outside.
All of this is learning -very valuable learning. Give yourself and them a break.
- How can I get three different lots of work done with 3 different kids of different ages?
You can't, stop trying. If they're old enough, try to get them to do little bits independently. Otherwise try to do something they can all engage with, reading a story together, some free writing, baking etc.
- So what's the bare minimum you'd expect?
For me, do what feels right for your family. We need perspective.
My ideal for the children in our school?
- A bit of reading every day (independent or to them or via audiobook - audible books for children are all free right now etc)
- Some free writing now and then. If they'll keep a diary or something, great. If not, would they draw a comic?
- Practical hands on maths. Be that via cooking, cleaning, outside or some maths games, physical or digital.
- Some fine motor work. Lego, cutting, playdough, tidying up small toys.
- Physical exercise everyday
- Some art/music where possible through the week. Let them go wild!
-Stretch goal, if old enough getting them to independently work on a project is great for keeping brains ticking over. Get them researching in a book or online and putting together something to present to you or family.
- Some time to use their imaginations
Believe me when I say I honestly know you are doing enough. You are loving your kids and supporting them through a difficult time. Look after yourself. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this for mental health. Don't let this be something that stresses you. Only you can control that by accepting it is in your circle of control, you are the primary educator and this is all your call.
Please believe me when I say that whatever you are doing with your children at the moment is enough. Stay safe and stay strong. Why not encourage your children's artistic talents today by sending us something for our "Positive Rainbows" page?
If you need to get in touch with school for whatever reason, please use our normal school number as there is a call divert on it at present to Mrs Harrison. Just to remind you
Best wishes to all in troubled times
WELCOME TO ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR!!
Yes, I know I am a little late in writing this particular blog but things at St Francis' have certainly been very busy over the last half term. The children have settled brilliantly back into school - they are all a delight to teach (honestly!) We welcomed Mr Slack to the teaching team alongside Mr Baister and two new members are now finding their feet in our office, Mrs Harrison and Mrs O'Donovan. They have a tough act to follow in the guise of Mrs Fawell, who is now enjoying her well earned retirement after 34 years in the school. Enjoy!! Mrs Ball left us to join the teaching team at a school closer to her home town and we are delighted to welcome our new members of school in Y3, but also in Y4 5 and 6. We are in the enviable position of a rising role and this will, naturally, over time, affect the funding the school receives.
Our approach to teaching and learning remains, as ever, completely committed to meeting the needs of our individual learners to ensure they make the most progress in learning that is possible. It is therefore wonderful to have Mrs Lakey working alongside me to ensure that this occurs for all our children in a non contact role. We are embedding thinking skills, philosophy 4 children and growth mindsets and it is always heartwarming when visitors comment upon the very positive approach all our children have to learning. Events this term so far ( to name but a few!!) have included Jeans for Genes fundraiser, Macmillan Cancer fundraiser, visits to Hardwick Park (Y6) Harvest Assembly by Y5 and several sporting events. Music is back on the learning menu every Friday and we are working hard to develop our curriculum still further. Our Celebration Assembly has had a transformational facelift and the children are loving working in teams to achieve glory.
Learning is not always easy; but our children take joy in acquiring skills and knowledge. Thank you for your continued support!
Jane Wilkinson (Head)
Welcome to the new school year!!
Hello and welcome back to the new academic year 2017-2018. It's great to be back and there are so many developments planned for this year. We are continuing with our work on Growth Mindsets (building resilience in learning and organising learning effectively) and will be rolling our mindmaps into all of the subjects taught in school. We are also going to be working really hard to develop spelling and handwriting skills throughout the school and we hope very much that the two schools can work together to help all children be "brilliant" in this.
The transition work that was carried out between Horndale and ourselves in June for all our new starters has worked well, and children are showing great ability to work with real dedication and pride.
We do hope you have taken the opportunity to come into school and meet with your child(ren)'s class teacher(s) this week; again the feedback has been very encouraging. If you would like to arrange an appointment at a more suitable time for yourselves, please contact Mrs Fawell in the office and we will be pleased to arrange this for you.
Emma is running a Craft Afternoon TODAY (27th September) to prepare items for the Christmas Fayre. Please do come along and join in if you can - let the creative ideas flow.
We always appreciate your thoughts and feedback, whether to praise or develop the school. Thank you for your continued support,
Mrs Jane Wilkinson (Head)
Growing for Gold with Growth Mindsets
Pardon the pun!! Our work on Growth Mindsets and Habits of Mind (Art Costa) is having a dramatic effect upon learning in school. We are continuing to work with our partner infant school Horndale and it is pleasing to see mind maps, learning pits and display boards brimming with examples of children's excellent work. Children are really "buying in" to the idea that intelligence isn't fixed, and that with determination and hard work we can learn and achieve more. Questionnaires have been completed once again last week as part of "Showy Off (Assessment)" week. Results will be available as soon as Mrs Lakey is able to collate them. In the meantime, here is another interesting, thought provoking video....
Thank you to all the parents and carers who have returned their questionnaires so far. As ever, if there are issues that you would like to raise with school please do not hesitate to come in and talk with either the class, teacher for educational matters, Emma for social and emotional wellbeing or, if you feel that you would like my input an appointment with the head. We will all try to work together to resolve any issues and problems so that your child is as happy as they could be in school. Please could I ask that questionnaires are returned by Friday 27th January 2017?
Jane Wilkinson (Head)
Hello and Happy New Year to you all! I was sorry to not be with you all at the end of last term to celebrate Christmas in St Francis' but I have been assured that there were many highlights... there was the Christmas Dinner which over 60 parents attended (thank you Ana, the dinner was yummy!!) the Christmas Production (the shepherds take on the Christmas story) lots of parties, Christingle service and also the Outstanding Student Celebration. I was delighted to learn that yet again over 60 children had been nominated by their peers for having a "growth mindset" mentality and they showed real resilience, perseverance, humour and application in all aspects of school life.
The "Growth Mindset" work coupled with Thinking Schools professional development for staff from both St Francis' and Horndale schools is having a discernible impact on the children's learning. The maps provide children with a way of organising and sharing their learning with others- if you would like to know more, have a look at
On Friday 13th January, myself and Mrs Lakey together with Mr Brown and Mr Walker from the infants school are going to London to visit two outstanding "thinking schools" to gather more ideas. One is in Walthamstowe, the other in Tottenham. We are very hopeful that the visit will answer questions that we have together with providing us with more evidence of why the ability to organise your own learning is so vital in todays world.
Some of you may remember that we recorded a CD in 2014 with the company POPUK- we are delighted that we are going to be repeating the process in February 2017, with the same team as before. Once again there will be a gala concert at Greenfield College, on Wednesday February 15th 2017 to which you are all warmly invited. The arrangements for the concert have changed slightly this time, in that we are being advised to ask for £2 entry per ticket which will then allow you access to the Popuk website so you can download as many copies of the recording as you would like. A win win situation!! We will advise you all nearer the time of further arrangements, timings etc
We have reached the October half term holiday after a whirlwind first few weeks. The children have settled well into their new classes, and we have had many positive activities going on in and around school already. It was brilliant to see over 60 parents and carers in the school yesterday morning (Thursday) to share our pride and happiness at some of the exceptional role models within school. Over 60 children were identified by their peers as being outstanding, and possessing habits of mind that make them this. They all have a sense of humour, know how to take sensible risks, are able to work effectively in teams, and care strongly for the wellbeing and welfare of others. If you would like to know more about the "Growth Mindset" culture we are now "growing" in school have a look at this inspirational video that features Carol Dwek. She is insistant that we are not born with a fixed set of learning attributes, but that we can do anything if we possess a positive approach.
Enjoy the holidays,
See you on 31st October
Jane Wilkinson (Head)
It has been an incredibly busy start to the Autumn Term here at St Francis....there has been so much going on already and we are nearly at the first half term holiday. Children everywhere in school are really taking well to our new initiatives that build upon Christian Values of hope, wisdom and thankfulness, The Success Zone and Rights Respecting Children ethos in school. WE think it is vitally important that children understand how to learn; what it is they need to do to build resilience and a lifelong love of learning. We have therefore undertaken staff training this term with our colleagues from Horndale Infants in the ideology of "Thinking Schools." We are confident that the development of these ideas will help children grow and flourish even more during their time with us. If you want to find out more just put Thinking Schools and Growth Mindset into a google search; you'll be amazed by what you find out!!
Year 5 and 6 are off to Beamish on the 18th of the month; they have already sent letters to the museum explaining why they are looking forward to the trip, and they have also written to a variety of educational illumine (including Micahel Wilshaw at OFSTED) to try and find out more about their views on home schooling. The new Y3 pupils have settled into the school routines beautifully and Y4 have been most effective in "showing them the ropes"
We have also had two fundraising events - one for Jeans for Genes, which raised £88 and one for Macmillan Coffee Afternoon, which raised £151.00. Thank you to everyone for supporting these worthwhile charities.
Please remember we are unable to authorise any "Leaves of Absence" requests and any absence over 7 days in a 12 week period will result in a fine.
If you have any questions, queries or thoughts on anything that is happening in school, please do let us know-
Jane Wilkinson (Head)
Children in Need
It's been a usual Friday at St Francis' - except for Captain America, Snow White, The Spice Girls and various fabulous gymnasts, dancers, nurses and super heroes that is! They all appeared as part of our usual fundraising efforts on behalf of children in need. So far today we have raised money from donations and a cake stall ....thanks to the parents who helped with this yesterday!!!
Mrs Fawell will make sure the final amount is on this week's newsletter.
Thanks for your support!
Hello! Welcome to my first official blog of the 2015-2016 academic year. I hope that my news letter , containing lots of useful information, data and dates reached all of you last week. If not, a copy is attached below. The term has started much as the summer term ended - at high speed! On the last day of last term we had hawks and owls in school as an end of term treat for the winning house team (team's choice) Pictures can be seen in the slideshow above....all the participating children had the opportunity to learn more about different types of birds of prey, habitats and feeding patterns. They then had an opportunity to complete a recall with one of the hawks....as indeed I did! We have begun this term with assessments in order to provide teachers with accurate information on how children are doing and where we can help them most to ensure good or better progress.
As you are aware, we had a very successful OFSTED in April 2015 - the report can be viewed at http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/114267, and we now await our inspection by the local diocese as we are an aided church school. We expect this to occur at some point in the next few weeks, and we have accordingly been busy making sure the school looks as colourful and engaging as possible by spending much of the teaching time this week looking at world religions and preparing display boards.
Dates for the diary will be available on this website shortly, and, as ever, if there are any questions or queries please do get in touch. I sincerely look forward to seeing you all at our first Parent/ Carer Review Meetings for classes which will take place on the 23rd September 2015- if the time given is not convenient, please contact the class teacher to make other arrangements.
Thank you for your continued support
It has been a busy couple of weeks in school: we have successfully put on an "International Extravaganza" which also showcased many of the songs we sang alongside 1300 other children and staff at The Sage last Thursday, welcomed our new Y2 parents/ carers and pupils, visited Greenfield (Y6 and Y5) taken part in a football tournament at Staindrop academy - the list goes on and on!! We have also ( courtesy of Emma) been running a lunchtime "Upcycling Project" for many Y5 and Y6, plus the lovely gardening club members with Mr Hollis's are ensuring that our garden areas look stunning. Life, as they say, is never dull. Thank you to the many many parents and carers who came along to listen to the International Presentation - the children were an absolute credit to yourselves as they did not have a lot of time to make it a " nearly seamless" performance. The " Big Day Out" to the beach at South Shields and then the Sage made me feel very proud to be the head of this wonderful,school- the caring approach that children show towards others can only be admired and rejoiced in. Fortunately for us, the beach was brilliantly bathed in sunshine and our little encampment could have been anywhere in Europe as the sun shone brightly on us all. The Sage was no less brilliant - there were many "oos" and "aas" as we entered but the children soon got down to the important business of enjoying themselves!! ( see video in parents/ community section) Please do try and join us for the many events over the next two weeks - we always love to have support from yourselves! Thank you once again
Welcome back to the Summer Term here at St Francis'! We were delighted with the many events and activities that occurred during the Spring Term 2015- including trips, sporting events, Easter Fair and Eggstravaganza to name but a few. Easter has now come and gone and we are delighted that our newly refurbished annexe area is now in full working order and is being used by various groups on a regular basis. We were able to celebrate many successes in the Spring term including our Outstanding Students, Role Models, the further development of the Gardening Club (thank you Mr Hollis!), Living Eggs in school, Y6 attending the Safety Carousel, Young Enterprise involvement in Y3/4 (Y5/6 will take part in these business themed activities after the SAT week) our Year 3 tennis players amongst many others. We were pleased to take delivery of over 20 Kindle Fire devices for the children to use, particularly in reading as individuals and groups. The setting up of these and ensuring that firewalls etc are in place is taking time, but Jason, our IT technician is working hard to overcome initial teething problems. The Summer Term sees our Y5's having "taster days" at our secondary schools and Y3/4 visiting the Oriental Museum. As you will be aware we are also attending the "Big Sing" event at The Sage in early July. Personnel from The Sage will be coming into school to help the children learn the 18 or so songs early in June. This half term is also, of course, important for our Y6 pupils as it is the time of year when they take SAT tests. The week for your diary this year is 11th-14th May. All children in Y6 will be expected to attend for these most important tests every day this week, and we will, as usual, make sure that the Y6 Breakfast Club is available for all our SAT students. If there are any problems during this week for these children, please do let us know ASAP so that arrangements can be adjusted for them.
As always, if there is anything you would like to ask about,. anything you would like to share please contact us on the usual numbers.
Thank you for your continued support,
Jane Wilkinson (Head)
Hello and welcome to my first "New Year" blog. Things have been very busy in school and we really don't feel like it is only a few weeks since Christmas! Anyway, Happy 2015! We have lots of exciting projects lined up in school with the emphasis , as always, being on inclusivity and making sure everyone in the school community is safe and happy. Last Friday we ran an E-Safety course in school for all parents and carers which was designed to let you all know how you can keep your children safe in the "cyberworld" There are so many things to thinks about but lots of advice can be found at https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ orhttp://www.kidsmart.org.uk/ May I also remind everyone that Facebook and Skype are not suitable social mediums for primary age pupils - you should be 13 or over to use them. If you would like further help or advice on this topic, call in and have a chat with Mrs Lakey, who leads in these matters.
On Friday 6th February (this week) we have another of our popular "Teach In" sessions- this time focussing on Writing - please do come along if you can and enjoy a teaching and learning experience with your child.
On the International agenda I am pleased to report that Runendhu Bikash Dey enjoyed another successful visit to the school from our "link" school in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. He arrived in the middle of all the snow and confessed he had never experienced frozen toes and fingers before! He spent a lot of time in classes, talking to children and sharing his vision for a new project which involves tree planting on children's birthdays. As a school we feel happy to support this idea as it fits well with our environmental approach and desire to "save the planet."
Next week is Assessment Week (also know as Showy Off Week by Mrs Lakey) and we would appreciate your support in ensuring , wherever possible, that children are in school for every day next week ( 9-13th February)
We have also considered your views on homework and are pleased to report that after some very positive feedback from parents we have made changes so that Reading, Tables and Spellings are fully incorporated into homework grids and the number of "extra" tasks has been reduced to match more closely term lengths (Y3/4) In Y5/6 changes have been made to more closely match the needs and demands of Upper Keystage2; especially with SATs looming for our Y6! (Dates for diary 11th-15th May 2015)
Please could I remind you that the uniform for girls does not include black or grey leggings; they are not warm enough or suitable for schoolwear. Black or grey trousers are much more suitable in these cold winter months.
Many thanks for your support
Mrs Jane Wilkinson (Head)
Well this was the week that the winter weather blew in ......snow, cold fingers and toes and wellington boots at the ready. There was a hubbub of activity throughout all the classes in St Francis' as the children prepared for the end of term events - Performance, Christingle, Christmas Fair, to name but three as well as the excitement of the tree's arrival, decoration and production of a stunning set of murals on display in the hall that tell the Christmas story. They are really very beautiful and testament to all the hard work and creativity that goes on week in week out within school. Preparations for the Fair have reached fever pitch, with more glitter being used daily to add extra sparkle to literally everything. Our annexe area is very prettily frosted but Ems assures me that she could possibly spread some more around for good cheer if required! If there is anyone who feels they could spare even a couple of hours to "lend a hand" for this event (Next Wednesday at 2pm) please get in touch - either with Emma directly or via the school office. Thanks!
The Christmas Lunch was well attended by many parents this week - over 60 in fact! It was great to get in the Christmas spirit, pull crackers and enjoy a tasty roast dinner provided by Mrs Henderson and the team. Many were most complimentary about the dinner- thank you all!
Christmas Parties are on Monday afternoon for Y5/6 and Tuesday afternoon for Y3/4. Hopefully you have received the request for food to support these events - school will, as usual, be providing prizes, rewards etc You are also warmly invited to our annual Christingle Service on Thursday afternoon at2.15pm.
Next weeks final event will be the Showcase Assembly on Friday afternoon when children who have been nominated as "Outstanding Students" because of their positive attitude, readiness to learn, excellent behaviour etc will be rewarded once more. Additionally all attendance rewards will be presented /drawn at this time. Please come along to help us finish the term on a real high.
May I close by saying a big thank you to all those parents/carers that have returned questionnaires to school. The overwhelming majority are most complimentary and positive about the school and how it works with you as partners to provide the very best education possible for your children. Where there are any issues, we will certainly ensure that we take action to rectify issues (for instance) of letter communication as swiftly and productively as possible in the Spring term. We have already made provision for Charlie to be able to update the website so putting all communications of this type on the website will be easier to facilitate.
Thank you for your support - bring on the glitter (and baubles!)
Jane Wilkinson (Head)
Hello and welcome to my second blog on our new, improved website. It has been a busy week so far, and things are now starting to really gear up for Christmas. There has been some wonderful singing heard by all the children in school and I am sure that this years "performance" ( next Thursday at 9.30 and Friday at 2.15) will be wonderful as always. If you would like tickets, please make sure that orders are placed with Charlie and Mrs Fawell ASAP. Christmas lunch for all children, staff, as well as those supporters that have indicated that they would like to come is next Wednesday (the 10th) At the last count there were over 60 parents and carers coming along, which is absolutely fab! Our theme for the last two weeks in school has been "Forgiveness" and what we can do to make our worlds better by forgiving others. As ever, the children were insightful in their thoughts as to how we could achieve this as a community- listening and acting responsibly seemed to be high on the children's lists of actions to take. Emma and her team have been "beavering" away organising and making for the Christmas Fair which is of course, on the 17th at 2pm. Please do come along and join us for what promises to be a really festive occasion....with mince pies and buns galore! Any donations, offers of help etc would be gratefully received- please contact Emma if you would like to be involved in our winter extravaganza.
Other news this week included the very welcome news that Mr Runendhu from our partner school in Cox's Bazar Bangladesh will (hopefully, visa allowing) be visiting us again in January, bringing all sorts of stories and resources to help our children achieve world vision. Mrs Lakey and all the staff have been busy this term putting together an application to the British Council for "International School Award" which will recognise all the things we have done to develop links overseas. Thank you!
Please could I ask you to complete and return the questionnaires that were sent out yesterday by the end of the week? They will really help use to develop ideas, vision and direction during the coming months... please pick up a pen and pop it back to the office !
Jane Wilkinson (Head)
Welcome to my very first blog on the new look website! We have had a very interesting couple of weeks in school and everyone's thoughts are starting to turn towards Christmas, holidays and time with friends and family. As part of our remembrance of the events of World War one, the underpinning theme throughout the school for last week and this has been "peace". We remembered those who died for us last week and Mrs Lakey, in her role model assembly talked about inner peace (and even had children doing a quick meditation session!!) Today we considered peacekeepers and their role in life. We thought about how peace and conflict can be closely linked, especially in relation to the events of Christmas 1914 when the British and German soldiers played football together; for a short period war was forgotten and the two sides communicated through a shared enjoyment of sport. One of the best comments was by Gabrielle Wilson in Y3 who wisely commented " Peacemakers are like swans, all white and snowy....powerful but gentle too."
This week has been assessment week in school and we are pleased with outcomes so far. Please remember the importance of reading and completing homework activities with your children- if you would like further help just get in touch with the class teacher or come along tomorrow to our "Maths teach-in" that has been set up following the success of our "Reading Teach-in" earlier in the term. 32 parents attended that session - indicating that it is a really good way to find out how school teaches skills to your children. Session starts at 9.05.
If there is anyone who would like to help get our school garden "up and running" please get in touch with Emma - more the merrier!
Next week we will start to practice our Christmas Production - please help us to make it a fab show by singing along with your children and helping them learn the words (and tunes!)
If there is anything you would like to ask - please do, I'm usually around and would like to hear your ideas and questions.
Jane Wilkinson (Head)