Sue Blakeway, Vice Chair of Governors, 6.12.21
As part of the governor monitoring week, I met with five subject leaders. We discussed the development of each curriculum area, the progress of the children and considered strengths and areas for development.
During our meeting on 30th November, Miss Bird, subject lead for art, explained that her main focus for the year is to improve the assessment of art across the school so that staff will be able to build more effectively on prior learning. She is also working on an application for Artsmark Gold (the school currently has Artsmark Silver).
Visits out of school have not been re-introduced since lockdown, but the children are benefitting from experts coming into school to work with them. Artists and a theatre group are booked to work with several classes.
Monitoring across the school shows that coverage of skills is very strong, and progress is evidenced in sketch books. Children work with enthusiasm and passion and really enjoy their learning. The provision in F2 is exceptional, with children working creatively with focus. During the scrutiny of sketch books, Miss Bird noted that children are showing their final piece only and the creative journey cannot be seen. The better use of sketch books is a focus for the year and is on the subject action plan.
I met with Miss Dermody, Assistant Head and mathematics lead, on 26th November. Maths continues to be a strength at Mellers. The recent round of school monitoring was very positive, lessons are well planned and delivered and there is evidence of excellent progress from Year 1 to Year 6. Children and staff use common and appropriate mathematical language and problem solving is modelled well. Support for SEND children is very good and all children have a high level of engagement, showing enthusiasm for their mathematical learning.
Since the return to school since lockdown, the quality of discussion has been less rich, with some teachers reverting to a more instructional style of teaching. This is probably due to the impact of teaching online and Miss Dermody is working with staff to ensure that children have the opportunity for deep discussion and complex problem solving in class.
The school has embarked on the mastery numeracy programme led by NCTM. This supports all the work done in school to make the children fluent when working with number. Already the children have had the opportunity to develop their number skills, from basic bonds to complex multiplication. This work is helping to close some of the gaps that have appeared throughout the lockdown period when children did not have as many opportunities to hone their numeracy skills.
Presentation in maths lessons is excellent as this is instilled on entry into the school. The clear and organised presentation helps the children to solve problems, they write one digit to a square and are shown ways to present their work that supports understanding. Teachers model presentation very well and any inaccurate spelling is corrected. Productivity in books is increasing as the children become reacquainted with the high expectations set in their maths lessons. Some teachers are using a timer to help the children use class time to maximum effect.
My meeting with Miss Bryan on 23rd November was inspirational. The curriculum in DT has moved on considerably over the last year. All classes are benefitting from lessons that are well planned and delivered and the children are designing and making a wide variety of products.
Miss Bryan has recently undertaken a round of school monitoring, and she was very impressed with the quality of the teaching and the standard of the children’s work. In year 1 the children were working on a pop-up card using mechanisms. Excellent use of vocabulary was evident, and children were able to choose a suitable design and articulate the reasons for their choice. In year 3 the children were considering healthy eating, looking at different pastries and using them to design and make jam tarts. Vocabulary in the lessons was excellent and all children benefitted from the wider learning about healthy eating and dietary choices. In year 5 the children investigated structures and built on their knowledge of mechanisms. The lesson was very broad in outlook and encompassed all aspects of the DT curriculum. Children were investigating with interest and enthusiasm and were able to explain and record their findings. Progression over was shown clearly.
Floor books are used to record work. Miss Bryan shared some of these and it is inspirational to see such young children designing and amending their products. Children have ownership of their work and draw neat diagrams that are labelled clearly. The constant use of a pencil helps to develop their writing and wider fine motor skills.
Modern Foreign Languages
I met with Ms Guinard, MfL subject lead on 24th November 2021. She updated me with the changes that have taken place since the lockdown period when she predominantly worked with a group of children who are new to English. It is really pleasing to report that this group of children are thriving in school, working well in their own classes and accessing some support from EAL experts in school.
Ms Guinard has reverted to her original role and is delivering French lessons to all the children in both Key Stages one and two. All children are enjoying their learning and are making good progress. Aurelie has been impressed with the way children have recalled prior knowledge and applied it to current learning. In year 2, the children have been learning about body parts. They are developing their vocabulary and work with enthusiasm. Year 6 pupils are developing their grammar, they can speak and write in full sentences and can use negative statements. The children value the opportunity to learn another language.
In school, Ms Guinard has created as display of all the languages spoken in school. This has been a very rich activity, leading to detailed and meaningful conversations with many of the children in school. The school continues to celebrate its diversity and multi-lingual richness. Ms Guinard is also working with a group of Afghan children who are waiting to be allocated a school place. They are aged 3 to 6 and come into school to access the lessons. I am very proud that Mellers is supporting this vulnerable group.
During my meeting with Mrs Gillen, subject lead, on 26th November 2021, I was impressed with how well the RE curriculum is developing; there have been notable improvements since last year. The new scheme of work is being delivered well and Mrs Gillen continues to make improvements that are appropriate for the children at Mellers and they are given wider opportunities. Support for planning is now in place to ensure that there is progression in how RE is taught across the school. The children can develop a better understanding of important events in a variety of faiths.
Visits to cultural places have started again. The Year 6 children are studying prayer and faith this term and they have enriched their learning with visits to a Christian Church, a Sikh temple and a Mosque. They have really valued and enjoyed these visits, embracing learning about the faiths that are represented in the school. Children have fed back to Mrs Gillen that these visits help them to appreciate and understand other faiths, this will help them to become excellent citizens of the future. Further to the visits, the Year 6 children wrote their own sacred text, a wonderful opportunity for extended, meaningful writing.
Further amendments to the scheme of work are going to start in EYFS. Mrs Gillen is working with colleagues to amend the scheme of work to ensure it is representative of the faiths within the school, rather than solely focusing on Christianity. This a sustainable approach which should have a big impact.
In RE lessons there are many opportunities to write. During Mrs Gillen’s monitoring she has seen many samples of written work and the quality is good. Staff model presentation well and all children are expected to edit and review their work before it is written up as a final piece. Children from Year 3 onwards mainly write in joined up letters. In year 2 they begin this process. Productively is increasing post lockdown and spelling is good. Mrs Gillen did not see evidence of punctuation being corrected, but the quality of punctuation in final pieces was very good. I am hoping to visit the school next term to see RE teaching in action and to speak to the children about their experiences and learning.