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Penshurst Primary School

Weekly Blog

All the latest from the Headteacher and Head of School

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  • WEEK 33 - Friday 11 June 2021

    Published 11/06/21

    It has been a glorious week at Penshurst with lots of learning and playing outside - a real Summer feel. Please remember to bring hats and apply all day sun cream to your children although there are shaded areas available as well.

    On the topic of Summer, we would normally be holding our big events this term such as the Summer Fair, End of Year show and Sports Day. Unfortunately the Fair and Show had already been cancelled but we have made the decision to cancel the normal full day Sports Day as well. In collaboration with the other primary schools in the Trust we have decided to hold a sports week in school from Monday 5 July and hold year group Sports days within school without visitors. We all agreed that as we are all still in class bubbles it felt unwise to open up the school so wide and potentially undo all of our good work; the priority for all of us is to keep Penshurst open right up to the Summer holidays for all pupils and hopefully be able to get to our transition week and allow pupils to work with new teachers in the last week including three days at the high school for our Year 6 pupils. I Know many of you will be disappointed but we will endeavour to ensure the pupils have the sports day experience despite the lack of visitors.

    Year 6 will still hold a leavers assembly which we hope you can either attend or join an online link - time will tell. We have also organised a Leavers BBQ on the Thursday before they leave after school to celebrate their final few days at primary school and we will of course hold the obligatory shirt signing session on the final day.

    A couple of parents have asked about next year's classes and we will confirm these in the penultimate week of term. Please be aware as ever that classes may be mixed or split depending on the needs within the year group and the accommodation that our building afford. Typically Year 1, 2 and 6 are split into three classes and Years 3, 4, 5 are kept in two classes although these may be mixed.

    It was lovely to be able to smile at everyone this week for the first time (minus masks outside) and it has been great to allow the children to mix with friends at lunch time. Every other COVID procedure remains firmly in place and we will keep you updated if anything changes.

    Hopefully the weekend will remain sunny for you all-enjoy.

    Mrs J Spencer 

    Head of School


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  • WEEK 32 - Friday 28 May 2021

    Published 28/05/21

    Keeping children and young people safe in school is the most important responsibility that we hold as adults working in schools. Parents do care about exam results but mostly you want to know that your child is safe and that they will be taken care of during the day. You want to believe that your child is happy and is enjoying school, that they are making friends, sometimes new ones, and gaining an understanding of the differences between themselves and others and learning to live amongst, and celebrate those differences. Importantly, you want to know that if something happens to your child, we will know about it and take care of them, and keep you informed along the way. You also want to know that we will find the talent in your child and find a way to nurture it. These, and much more besides, are the expectations that we place on ourselves every day. 

    In order to do that, we constantly review the way that we work and, being part of a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) offers us even more ways to review that work than if we were just a stand-alone Academy. This week, we welcomed some fellow leaders from our Trust to our school to undertake a Safeguarding Review. Over a day and a half at the High School and at Penshurst, they spoke to pupils, students and staff to ask about how we keep our learners safe; they observed our procedures at first-hand, reviewed documentation and discussed our systems with leaders. They watched student movement around the site in the morning, at lunch, at the end of the day and between lessons and they spoke to visitors, parents and contractors. The report that they have provided us with, I am pleased to say, found no concerns and indeed offers many positives and, in a number of areas, highlights some exceptional practice. As it should, it also suggests some ways that we can develop even further; these suggestions are based on the evidence that the team have found from studying other schools in our Trust. Likewise, some of the practice seen at Hessle and at Penshurst will also now be shared with other schools, to the benefit of all of our learners. This kind of collaboration across Academies is a really important benefit of the MAT structure and we are seeing gains from this on a regular basis.

    Finally, we arrive at the end of yet another half term. I am delighted that we have managed to avoid any significant disruption caused by Covid since Easter. School is beginning to return to something more normal although we continue to keep the majority of our protective measures in place, such as bubbles and year group zones. We await the Government announcement about the next stage of the roadmap and will, as ever, communicate our response fully as soon as possible.

    In the meantime, enjoy what promises to be a warm period whilst the children are on half-term and we look forward to welcoming them back to school on Monday 7 June.

    Take care and stay safe

    Mr V Groak


    We have made it to half term intact with all bubbles remaining in school-fantastic! It really has been brilliant to have the children in school and return to some semblance of normality, structure and routine. Fingers crossed that we have seen the back of multiple isolations, however I must point out that schools in our locality are still sending bubbles home so we must remain vigilant in terms of masks inside, following one way systems,allowing only essential visitors to school, forward facing desks, hand sanitising and minimising transitions across the school.

    After the half term break we are happy to allow wearing masks outside to be optional for both staff and parents. In addition, we will be allowing year group bubbles to play outside together and staff will have more freedom to move across their year group to take interventions. Learning inside will still take place in class bubbles to minimise the risk of a whole year group being sent home in the event of an identified positive case. 

    These are not decisions we take lightly however we are aware that children can mix outside school and so we feel that the outside mixing at lunch and break is low risk and that it fits in with the national guidelines. Also, we would really like the children to enjoy their Summer term (the final one for Year 6) playing with all of their friends. We will of course review all procedures weekly to ensure they are still keeping us all safe and make you aware of any changes in this weekly blog. 

    Finally, I would like to say thank you for your support over this half term in following procedures and I hope that you and your family have a restful and enjoyable half term. 

    Mrs J Spencer 

    Head of School

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  • WEEK 31 - Friday 21 May 2021

    Published 21/05/21

    A mixed week on the weather front but that hasn’t deterred the children from wanting to make the most of the outside whenever possible - it appears that children really don’t mind getting wet (not sure all of the adults on duty feel the same!) We have had some intensive work on the allotments and it is already exciting to see some vegetables peeking through. 

    Mrs Smith is in charge of the allotment project and is launching a competition for families to design a logo for what will be our farm shop based in the community cafe. We hope to be able to have the logo printed on produce bags. I would also like to say thank you to Mrs Whitham, one of our cleaners in school, who has been advising and giving up her free time to help. We are really lucky to have such a dedicated staff team. The children will be coming home next week with a template to complete over half term if they want to enter. 

    In addition to her work with the allotments Mrs Smith has also won two awards for the school; the Platinum Modeshift Award and the Healthy School Award - what a busy lady she is! We are the first school in the East Riding to be awarded platinum grades so we are super proud. 

    Alongside the allotments, we have ’bee-friendly’ areas, flower beds and bug hotels all being created on site. We have been nurturing Evie’s Garden and making sure it is well kept and a special place for children and staff to reflect. We are also bringing the outside in with caterpillars and tadpoles inhabiting various classrooms to accompany themes such as ‘Down at the Bottom of the Garden’.

    Thank you to those of you who have sent in photos of your children’s activities outside school which will go on display to celebrate our pupils’ achievements. Please continue to send any photos in or bring in medals etc and we will take photos.

    Just a reminder that school photographs are the final day of this term and a letter has been sent this week.

    Finally, please ensure you bring locks for bikes to ensure their safety. 

    Mrs J Spencer 

    Head of School

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  • WEEK 30 - Friday 14 May 2021

    Published 14/05/21

    We are having a real focus on handwriting this half term  and it has been lovely to see the children working so hard to improve their writing. This is something we would really like to see the children practice at home as well. To be awarded expected and greater depth in the Year 2 and 6 exams, the children really need to have beautifully formed handwriting. Mrs Petch and Miss Hatfield will be emailing out some WAGOLLs (what a good one looks like) so you can see the standard for your child's year group which may help you to help them at home.

    The allotment project has begun in earnest and we would like to say thank you to Kelly Wilson who has arranged for her workplace to donate £1000 to the PFA to help fund this project. This means we have been able to purchase more equipment than we initially thought and move a little quicker. Eventually we plan to sell our produce in the Penshurst farm shop so look out for an upcoming competition to design the logo for the shop. This will obviously take a while to get running but we hope it will become a part of the extra curricular clubs from September.

    I do just have to mention COVID in this blog once to update you on when we anticipate any relaxations being able to take place in school. We intend to remain cautious at school and will review the current arrangements in school just before half term. We do hope that we will at least be able to lift the wearing of masks outside after half term and will be making a decision about class bubbles, lunchtimes and staff movement around school at this point .

    In the near future we are planning to have payment for Breakfast Club on Parentpay as we do lunches which will make us a totally cashless school. Please ensure if you use the Breakfast Club service, your details are up to date to log in to the system. Contact the office if you are unsure of your details or login. We are also hoping to have class photos and Year 6 leavers photos on the last day of this half term.

    In other news, another success in football for Penshurst pupils with 3 boys in Year 5 (Flynn, Trent and Asa) being selected for the East Riding schools team. Well done boys. Please fill in the Google Form in the following link letting us know what clubs your child participates in outside school so we can celebrate this in school and tailor our clubs from September  to suit them.

    Have a lovely weekend 

    Mrs J Spencer

    Head of School

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  • WEEK 29 - Friday 7 May 2021

    Published 07/05/21

    Well a mixed week on the weather front but as normal this has not stopped the pupils and teachers from getting out and about with Year 6 contributing towards our school development plan in helping to get the allotments established (despite the rain). Staff and pupils are really excited about getting our community back on track after a fairly isolating year. I am beside myself with joy that we may be able to have assemblies in the last couple of weeks of the term although I am not so sure that the staff are as excited about my Singing!

    My favourite part of this week has been watching the FS2 children power through with their reading acquisition. From marching out letters, waggling bottoms to sounds to sitting at tables and writing sentences, the children really are starting to be prepared for Year 1. On this note, we may just be creating some ‘Year 1 ready’ packs for you to enjoy over the holidays in the Summer!

    We have received word from the Trust that trips and visits are allowed after June 21st. This may not be time to get all of our proposed trips booked in but a few may go ahead. We can also have visitors in if COVID regulations and risk assessments are abided by and the outside used whenever possible. Therefore a couple of visits that we had booked in may be able to go ahead sooner. We will endeavour to get some of the special missed trips in next year and will give you lots of notice of these to help with the financial commitments.

    We continue to look at events such as Sports Days and leavers activities with back up plans should we suffer any setbacks across the country which puts further restrictions in place.

    I must remind you at this point that masks on site, one way systems and bubbles still continue and we will let you know when we make any revisions to these. Thank you for your continued support on this. I do feel that we are heading towards more freedom but we are still being very cautious at school.

    Mrs J Spencer

    Head of School


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  • WEEK 28 - Friday 30 April

    Published 30/04/21

    I am delighted to be able to inform you that our new school website is now live.  Building a website sounds to me like a tortuous task and so I am really pleased to have had the support of our TCAT Central Services team putting together the framework within which we can show the content and demonstrate the great work that goes on at Penshurst. The site can be found here. Please take some time to explore the site and find out more about what we do. This site will allow us to update our content more easily and so you can expect to see more frequently updated content on here from now on.  

    Finally, we reach that point in Spring when the Bank Holidays come thick and fast.  I’m not sure that the weather will cooperate this weekend but I hope that you can find time to relax and enjoy the three-day weekend.

    Mr V Groak


    Well it has not been quite as sunny this week but that has not deterred us from continuing all of our outside activities. As I type, staff are working outside on creating eco brick planters for our allotment space and tulips are being planted in Evie's Garden. I had witnessed several bug hunts, a very competitive rounders tournament and a tour on a London bus all by Monday lunchtime.

    We have had the vision screening this week for the FS2 children and they have been absolutely brilliant and behaved impeccably while having their eyes tested. We have also started to prepare the FS2 children for Year 1 by making half of the unit more formal with tables and chairs for longer adult directed sessions in maths, reading and writing. The children seem to be taking this in their stride and enjoying having their own writing books like the older children. This is also being mimicked to a lesser degree in FS1 with children sitting in larger groups for their learning.

    At the other end of the school in Year 6, we are preparing them for the big move with a theme based on being ‘secondary ready’. Normally this would involve moving from lesson to lesson, having timetables and carrying bags about but class bubbles have delayed this for a little bit longer. Mrs Pinkney is the transition lead at High School and she always makes the time to talk to the Year 6 pupils and answer questions that they might have. We also have visits from the School Nurse and discussions on puberty and feelings around moving schools. I am just so glad that we are able to have some sense of normality for this group this year and hopefully we will be able to send them off in style after their transition days at High school (more details to follow in the coming weeks).

    Just a quick couple of reminders about uniforms, please ensure that if your child has earrings they are removed for PE days unless the child is able to remove them by themselves as it is school policy that earrings are not worn for PE. On this note only small silver/gold studs should be worn in school as per the uniform policy. For those of you who have told me you are already shopping for school uniforms for next year (I am amazed by how efficient you are!) don't forget it is tie and shirt in Year 6. Year 6 girls can wear the summer dress as well.

    We have sent out new links to the SIMS parent app as this will be where we communicate more and more as the year goes on. If you have already requested a link you will have been re-registered. If you have never requested a link, please contact the office ASAP to receive one. Annual reports will be posted on the app so it is imperative that as many parents as possible have downloaded it and begin to use it for texts etc.

    Finally, we would like to congratulate three of our Year 6 girls (Indy S, Lucy D and Annabelle C) on making it through the East Riding Schools football trials. They have now been selected to play at the English School Cup in Stockton in a couple of weeks. Well done girls!

    Remember that school is closed on Monday due to the Bank holiday so have a lovely three day break.

    Mrs J Spencer

    Head of School

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  • WEEK 27 - Friday 23 April 2021

    Published 26/04/21

    Another sunny week at Penshurst which has seen us able to use the field and learn outside as much as possible when appropriate. As we now have access to the field and the weather is pleasant we will be allowing children to picnic outside whenever possible although hot dinners will be served at tables. We have located shaded areas for those children who prefer not to sit in the sun. As the weather improves, you will need to put sun lotion on the children or provide a sun hat as they are outside playing for a fair time at lunch. It is preferable that this is once a day sun lotion as the teachers are unable to apply the lotion to pupils.

    I had the pleasure of visiting every class this week to watch the 10 minute pledge taking place. Currently we ask that you read for 10 minutes with your child every day and that we will match this in school above and beyond the daily Reading lesson. During the 10 minute pledge, teachers read the lead text for the current theme. In Year 1 they are deep in the world of fairy tales; Year 2 are exploring lands at the top of the’ Magic Faraway Tree’; Year 3 are currently located in both Peru and London with ‘Paddington’; Year 4 are riding a cyclone to the Land of Oz and studying disasters; Year 5 are exploring space with ‘George's Secret Key to the Universe while Year 6 are  reading ‘Can you see me?’ which is a novel written from the perspective of a girl with autism-a real mix of classics and new fiction.

    We now have enough copies of the lead texts for every child in KS2 to have their own copy in class- this should greatly enhance the reading sessions and particularly help those children who may struggle to focus or need more support in their reading. During this session the pupils enjoy the lead text and also note down any new vocabulary in their vocab books; these books are then used to enhance their writing. It is a really special time of the day and helps to calm the classes after lunchtime ready for afternoon thematic learning.

    Progress reports were given out last week and we hope that you have had time to read them. Please do not hesitate to contact the class teacher with any questions you may have although I am aware many of you will have already asked questions at the recent Parents Evening. Annual reports are sent out in July with an opportunity to follow up with a teacher if you have any queries. In the meantime, should you have any concerns over your child’s progress contact the class teacher in the first instance; equally Mr Key (Maths), Miss Hatfield and Mrs Petch (Literacy) and Mrs Preston (Curriculum) will always try and help with any subject specific queries. 

    I hope the good weather continues and that you have a lovely weekend.

    Mrs J Spencer

    Head of School

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  • WEEK 26 - Friday 16 April 2021

    Published 16/04/21

    As you are aware, we made the decision over Easter to revert to class bubbles from the start of this term.  This is in response to the positive Covid cases that we had before the break and the consequent number of pupils that had to self-isolate. Class bubbles will allow us to reduce the number of contacts that each pupil has and therefore limit the risk of self-isolation. However, this means that students can no longer be placed in different groups for their literacy and maths. We know that this is not ideal but this is a better scenario than the risk of more periods of isolation. The children have responded really well to this and we appreciate the support that we have also received from parents.

    At this time of year, I am placed in the position of having to allocate how we spend our capital funding. This is money that we receive for significant improvements and repair to our buildings and the site. The funding comes into the Academy and we prioritise how it is spent across the Penshurst and Hessle High sites. In recent years, I have been delighted to have directed increasing amounts to Penshurst. Last summer, we extended the nursery area to include a new toilet block for their dedicated use, whilst also upgrading the general nursery area. We also improved the toilet areas across the school with new flooring and decoration.

    This summer, the largest project will be to replace the dining hall roof. We have managed to patch this up for a number of years but, now we have been able to get it replaced, it will vastly improve that space. As part of this work, we are also committing £18,000 to the replacement of new windows. This may not be the end of the works at Penshurst for this year and I will keep you updated if we are able to apportion more funds towards the school site. Penshurst occupies an old set of buildings and the staff and pupils work miracles to keep it looking as good as it does. Everyone across the Academy and the Trust are committed to maintaining it to the highest possible standard as we all know that our children deserve it!

    Take care

    Mr V Groak


    Well what a gorgeous week it has been at Penshurst - the weather has been beautiful and the children have been excited to be back in school. As we have had a COVID free week, I have been able to resume my learning walks, work scrutiny and observations of classroom teaching and learning and it has been a real pleasure to see how well settled the children have been and the fantastic learning taking place. I have seen everything this week from learning about the 80’s to the ancient lands of the pharaohs and every era in between.

    Due to the fabulous weather, the pupils have been able to learn outside as much as possible and make the most of doing PE outside on the athletics track.We have had many enquiries about Sports Day and we do have provisional dates on the website however this will obviously be subject to the current situation. If we cannot hold a full Sports Day this year we will certainly put on year group/class events for the children to enjoy. We have also had a video crew this week in school to film a short promotional video for new starters to Penshurst in September. This means that many of the children (subject to permission) had the opportunity to be filmed in their classrooms or doing activities. I cannot wait for singing assemblies to resume in full as it took me rather a long while to locate a class who could remember the Penshurst song in full - Well done Year 5! Over 20,000 new books have arrived in school this week as we begin to replenish our library. Every pupil will have their own lead text to read for every theme and there are multiple new best sellers for children to choose from in the coming weeks. This is the beginning of moving the library from the bus to a space in school preparing for our new project which is to transform the bus into a film studio. We will then resume recording ‘Penshurst News of the Week’ which will be broadcast to our families. We are just about to start our allotment project as well as so if anyone has any seeds/old planters or advice we would be really grateful for any contributions! I hope the good weather stays with us this weekend - enjoy!

    Mrs J Spencer

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  • WEEK 25 - Friday 26 March 2021

    Published 26/03/21

    I write to you at the end of a very difficult week for everyone associated with Penshurst Primary School following the unprecedented cluster of cases that were reported to us this week.  I am pleased to inform you that the rate of cases being reported has slowed down significantly from Monday and Tuesday and that the reports I am receiving from staff and parents is that the adjustment to online learning has been a smooth and straightforward one.  I hope that your child has settled into learning from home again and that this transition has not been too problematic for you.  As we reach the end of term, the period of time away from school will actually be fairly short but I urge you, if you are affected by self isolation, to ensure that your child, and family members where applicable, observe the full duration of self isolation that has been required.  If you are unsure of this, please contact the school for confirmation.  By acting together, we can improve our chances of a less disrupted start to the new term after Easter.

    I thought I might take a few moments at this time to share with you some insight into the way in which the school operates when notified of a Covid case amongst our community and the steps taken to isolate a year group bubble.  This may offer you some explanation for the actions we have taken and the way in which communication has been provided.

    Firstly, it is common for new cases to be reported early in the morning, usually as the school is preparing to welcome pupils and parents and when staff are already extremely busy.  This means that it may be too late to prevent pupils from the affected year group from coming in.  It takes a little time to carry out an investigation which involves speaking in some depth with the parent of the child in question and then to staff in order to trace pupils that may be affected.  Whilst this takes place, we have to decide whether to isolate the whole year group until we have all of this information.  If this is the case, the priority is to get the children home safely and as quickly as possible.  This involves contacting up to 70 families at short notice.  The most efficient way to do this is by text or email.  We would love to be able to telephone each family with an explanation and a more personal reassurance but there simply is not the time to do so.  Once this communication has been sent, parents begin to arrive at school soon after and our staff must then ensure that children leave safely and are all accounted for.  At this stage, the safeguarding of the children is absolutely paramount. 

    Meanwhile, it is common for staff members to also be isolating at the same time, so that means a number of colleagues clearing their rooms and making sure that they have what they need to switch to online learning once they get home.  Rooms will then be ‘deep cleaned’ as a further precaution.

    As each ‘bubble’ is closed, we are required to notify and work with the local Public Health team, so it is important that we do this quickly and accurately so that they are aware of the situation and can advise on any further measures they see fit.

    Meanwhile, understandably, some parents will seek clarification on the circumstances, there will be some parents that cannot pick up their children and so on.

    All of this, whilst also continuing to run the school and teach the children that remain in the classrooms!  I am full of admiration for the work that staff in school are doing on a daily basis across the entire country to handle these situations; it is an incredible effort.

    At the start of the week, this happened several times in quick succession leaving staff reeling and then working long into the night to check that everything was recorded correctly, messages replied to, staff checked in with, and the next day prepared and planned for.

    I was dismayed to hear that, despite doing all of this work to keep the children and community safe, some of our staff received some very negative remarks and even abusive comments from one or two parents at the school gate.  This is utterly unacceptable and, I am sure that once those parents reflect back on their behaviour, they would agree and seek to apologise.

    I prefer, however, to focus on the overwhelming majority of our parents who have been, yet again, incredibly supportive, patient and understanding and whose words of appreciation, when offered to our staff, really make it all worthwhile.  To those who have taken the time to offer thanks and a kind word, I truly thank you.  You will never know how important it is for school staff to receive that kind of comment.


    Mr V Groak


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