Amesbury School

Kia ora koutou

*Reporting to parents – we need your thoughts, please

*A plea for rubbish-free lunches to solve the rubbish problem

It has been a lovely start to the term. The sunny weather has certainly helped. Sometimes my office has actually been too hot with the sun streaming in through the windows –  can you believe it! It is like that even as I am writing this.

Reporting to parents on student achievement – we need your thoughts, please: Schools are legally required to report to parents at least twice a year on progress and achievement especially in the foundational areas of maths, reading and writing. However, schools are no longer required to use National Standards’ Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJs) for this reporting. When these changes were announced, we asked students how they had felt about being given an OTJ which said they were “below”, “at” or “above” in maths, reading or writing. We got quite a mixed response from students – some said they found it motivating and helpful and others said it was demotivating. Some parents are also interested in knowing how their child is going against expected targets and outcomes. Hence, in the middle of last year we changed the reporting format so that we report on where students are at in relation to a year level and whether they are early or confident at that year level. This then leaves parents (or students if they wish to) to work out whether their child is achieving “below”, “at”, or “above” the expected level. If a parent knows his/her child is achieving at confident year 5, and they are a year 4 student then that parent can be confident their child is “above”. However, the thing about “expected” or “target” levels is that these should really be different for different students. If what we are interested in is how well a student is fulfilling his/her potential, then a student could be “above” compared with other students, but not doing well enough compared with his/her own capability (potential).

The reports that you received for your child last week were slightly different from the ones we sent our last year. With the strong focus on teacher workload, we realised that what we were expecting of teachers was unsustainable with teachers having to do huge hours in the weeks leading up to reporting time. Hence, we reduced the amount of writing that teachers were required to do. These reports are interim reports. We are now working on developing a fully, or almost fully automated report which will further reduce teachers’ workload. A huge depth of information about a child’s learning is available to parents on ALF and can be accessed at any time, including samples of work. The purpose of the twice yearly report is to summarise the information in a way that makes it more immediately accessible to parents and students.

We have quite a few ideas already about what this report might look like but we would like to hear from you about what information you already do, or would find useful. Please follow this link to our Loomio Community Consultation tool and find the thread about school reports and pass on your thoughts to help us as we develop this reporting tool. Please do remember that as well as wanting to provide useful information to you and your child, our goal is also to continue to reduce teachers’ workload. Therefore, expectations need to be reasonable. This thread will be open for the next two weeks or so. I look forward to receiving your thoughts.

A plea for rubbish-free lunches to solve the rubbish problem: Several weeks ago, I put out a plea for parents to send their children with rubbish-free lunches and morning teas. Unfortunately, the rubbish issue being created by glad wrap, chippy packets and other snack packaging is not diminishing at school. We live in a world where rubbish is a huge global problem and it is time for all of us to take responsibility (and I am talking to myself here!) to reduce the amount of rubbish we are generating. Rubbish free lunches are an easy way to contribute to reducing the amount of waste we are generating. It also makes good economic sense because you get much better value by giving children chippies (for example) from a big packet of chippies and making it last a week, rather than giving them lots of small packs of snacks with just a few grams in each.

I have thought of putting a programme together to encourage our students to bring rubbish-free food to school – a bit like we do with Movin' March. But I certainly don’t have any spare time to do that and nor do teachers. A much more efficient solution would be for parents to send their children without rubbish in their lunchboxes. There are plenty of very nice rubbish-free lunch boxes available on the market at reasonable prices (even on Kindo, our on-line shop). Yes, initially it will mean putting more effort and thought into shopping and preparation. But it won’t take long for it to become a routine thing.

Once again, this is my plea to you to reduce rubbish and waste by sending your children with rubbish-free lunches. A big thanks to the many families who already do send their children with rubbish-free food.

Nga mihi nui


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