Newsletter – January 2019
A word from our Principal, Mr Yates:
Dear Parents and Carers,
A belated Happy New Year to you all! I would like to begin the new term by sharing my thoughts on reading and asking for your help.
Reading is an important educational skill - it is the key that opens up most of a child's curriculum. At home and school, we share the responsibility of teaching children to read.
It's no secret that activities at home are an important supplement to the classroom, but there's more to it than that. There are things that parents can give children at home that the classrooms cannot give.
Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice the existence of printed words on a page. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word.
Even after children learn to read by themselves, it's still important for you to read aloud together. By reading stories that are on their interest level, but beyond their reading level, you can stretch young readers' understanding and motivate them to improve their skills.
Although I appreciate that lives are sometimes hectic, you should try to read with your child at least once a day at a regularly scheduled time. But don't be discouraged if you skip a day or don't always keep to your schedule. Just read to your child as often as you possibly can.
If you have more than one child, try to spend some time reading alone with each child, especially if they're more than 2 years apart. However, it's also fine to read to children at different stages and ages at the same time. Most children enjoy listening to many types of stories. When stories are complex, children can still get the idea and can be encouraged to ask questions. When stories are easy or familiar, children enjoy these "old friends" and may even help in the reading.
Taking the time to read with your children on a regular basis sends an important message: Reading is worthwhile.
Our goal is to motivate children to want to read so they will practice reading independently and, thus, become fluent readers.
The teaching of reading consists of two dimensions:
· Word reading
· Comprehension (both listening and reading).
Word reading means that children are able to decode effectively and easily recognise familiar words.
Comprehension is the understanding of what is being read. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum.
Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. This supports children in all areas of learning, even in Maths.
At West Drayton Academy, we teach comprehension used the Super 8 Reading Strategies:
To encourage children to have a love of reading, it is vital we all show an interest in their progress. A positive stimulus for the child is to know that the teacher and parent are in regular contact and are working in partnership to support them.
At West Drayton Academy, we expect that all children have their reading record in school every day. Children should also be reading at home every single day. Research suggests that reading for 20 minutes a day can have a significant impact on a child’s academic progress.
In terms of recording, a signature to show you have heard your child read would be ideal but also any comments of praise, identified areas of development or simply recording how they read are of great help. You could use the Super 8 Reading strategies to help focus your comment. For example, you could discuss with your child what they predict will happen next. You could talk about what the text reminds them of (making connections). Or you could sum up in a couple of sentences what has happened in the story so far. At parents’ evening, you will receive a leaflet with more information about the Super 8 Reading Strategies.
When children are read with at school, the teacher will leave a comment about what your child needs to work on next time. Talk to your child about these comments and work on the target together. Please do not hesitate to speak to your class teacher if you are unsure about how to help your child improve their reading skills.
Year 1 went on a local walk to West Drayton Library. We were very lucky with the beautiful sunshine and to have so many volunteer parents along to support us. On the way, the children enjoyed looking out for the places we have spotted on Google maps within our Geography lessons and the different modes of transport.
When we arrived at the library, we were greeted by our wonderful local librarian,Christiane, who spoke to us about how we use a library. The children could then explore the wide range of books that the library has to offer including their fiction and non-fiction books.
After a few minutes of quiet reading, we settled down for a group story. As we are currently learning about fairy tales, Christiane introduced us to 'The True Story of The Three Little Pigs.' This is the story of the 3 little pigs from the perspective of Alexander T. Wolf. The wolf is trying to set the story straight of how he came to be "big and bad". The children were a great audience and enjoyed the tale.
Thank you to the adults that supported us!
Tips for helping your child to enjoy books:
· Encourage your child to pretend to 'read' a book before he or she can read words.
· Visit the library as often as possible - take out CDs and DVDs as well as books.
· Schedule a regular time for reading - perhaps when you get home from school or just before bed.
· Buy dual-language books if English isn’t your family’s first language - you can talk about books and stories, and develop a love for them, in any language.
· Look for books on topics that you know your child is interested in - maybe dragons, dinosaurs, insects, cookery or a certain sport.
· Make sure that children’s books are easily accessible in different rooms around your house.
· All reading is good! Comics, graphic novels, leaflets, newspapers, magazines….
Some inspirational poetry from 5WR
Books are treasure;
You open their lid.
Knowledge as powerful as the tide;
Gushes out, educating your soul.
Books encourage your senses to glow in the dark;
They let you be free, allowing your senses to soar.
They can transport you into a scary forest on one page;
And a magical palace the next!
Professor Intergalactic Grace from the Mad Science Company came along to promote their after school club and give our KS2 a little taste of science.
The ‘lesson’ was about air pressure and she asked the children, “how much does air weigh?”. Most thought that air weighed nothing but one bright spark said, “as much as two African elephants” which is apparently correct!
It might not seem like it, but air has weight. Anything with mass has weight, and we know air has mass because (for example) we can feel it when the wind blows. The total weight of the atmosphere exerts a pressure of about 14.7 pounds per square inch at sea level.
The ‘Professor’ then proceeded to conduct a number of experiments, demonstrating forces and air pressure and the principles behind them.
The session was extremely interesting and informative and the children were thoroughly engaged.
There was a real ‘air’ of excitement!
Musical Inspiration for Year 4
Saul from the Junk Music Orchestra joined Year 4 on our return from the Christmas holiday. It was a great introduction to their topic question: ‘Can we make music like the top bands?’
Children had the opportunity to use a range of wind and percussion instruments to create music together.
Our first Celebration assembly of 2019 was hosted by our Deputy Principal, Mr Daniels. He asked the children to talk amongst themselves to see if they could recall our 10 values. Based on the show of hands after the discussion, most of the children claimed to have remembered all 10! He then asked the children to listen to the teachers as they presented the certificates so they could appreciate the ways in which the children being awarded had managed to demonstrate the values.
Excellence: Illir, Frankie & Harman
Unite: Bobby, Dylan & Millie
Excellence: Kawsar, Adnan & Dev
Enjoy School: Akula, Aarav & Emily
Excellence: Hadi, Aniqa & Sebastian
Reflect & Improve: Satvik, Oliver & Grzegorz
Excellence: Arjun, Niranjan & Safiya
Aim High: Ashvika, Maryan & Cailyn
Excellence: Kierdan, Nadia & Sumaya
Engage: Ahyan & Ardam
Excellence: Aum & Lily
Reflect & Improve: Alfie & Harry
Duty of Care at Drop Off
We politely remind parents/carers that children should be accompanied in the playground until the gates open at 8.40am when children can then go into class.
It has been noticed that children are being left unaccompanied in the playground when parents/carers should ensure that their child/ren make their way to class before leaving the premises themselves.
As the school has expanded, parking has become more of a problem at peak times. We are aware of a number of incidents involving irate drivers, pedestrians being put at risk and neighbours being inconvenienced due to inconsiderate parking.
If you have to drive to school, perhaps due to distance from home or work commitments, please leave some extra time for your journey or even park a little further away and walk the last part of your journey, it could be part of a health and fitness
Since our last newsletter, the following classes have achieved top attendance:
Week ending 14th December 5W with 100%
Week ending 21st December 5W with 99%
Week ending 11th January 4M with 99%
Welfare - Head Lice
Head lice and nits are very common in young children . They don't have anything to do with dirty hair and are picked up by head-to-head contact.
Symptoms include itchy head or a feeling that something is moving in the hair.
There is no preventative treatment but the key is to regularly inspect you child’s hair for any evidence of lice and to treat any signs of infestation early.
Special fine combs are available from the chemist to help detect and eradicate lice and nits.
You will find some excellent information and advice on the NHS website:
If you do find any evidence of head lice, do start treatment immediately and please inform your child’s teacher so that we can alert other parents to be vigilant.
You will find a range of products to treat head lice at your local pharmacy and there is no need to see your GP or keep your child off school.
On Tuesday 15th January, a group of pupils from Year 5 were invited to take part in the Park Federation’s Aspiration Day, along with groups of Y5 pupils from all of the other Academies.
The event was held at Lake Farm Park Academy where professionals from the local community, including a Firefighter, Veterinary Nurse (pictured below with a lizard), Dentist, Football Coach and Optician, were invited along to talk to the children about their jobs.
Pupils had the opportunity to earn about what it takes to be successful and achieve their goals.
The importance of hard work and a good education was made evident, as well as learning from mistakes and never giving up – powerful messages that clearly resonated with the pupils attending.
QPR coach, Kasha Petit, also reminded the children that there was no such thing as losing, only winning and learning – helping to build a positive growth mind-set.
The pupils and adults attending had a wonderful and inspiring day, with West Drayton pupils displaying impeccable learning behaviours and engaging with adult speakers in a mature and inquisitive way.
The School Council
The school council met to share their views on the curriculum and the pace and pitch of lessons.
Mrs Warren-Searle asked the children if they found their lessons too easy or too hard and how their teachers responded. The majority of the children felt that the work was pitched at the right level and that, if they were finding the work ‘too easy’, then the teacher would offer a form of extension to provide challenge.
With regard to Science, children found this subject hard with a lot of tricky vocabulary to learn and more theory than practical.
We recently launched a new PSHE programme in school (you may remember the article in one of our earlier newsletters) . The children all confirmed they knew that it stood for Personal, Social Health Education and had been receiving regular lessons.
Interestingly, the children felt that most of their school work was all around English and Maths. While we know they are essential core subjects, it would be beneficial to include more cross curricular opportunities as well as more art.
Based on the School Council feedback, Mrs Warren-Searle is planning to conduct a survey with the whole school and to feedback the results to our Principal.