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Class 2 Assembly

On the 15th of January, Class 2 keenly showed off their fabulous learning during their assembly. 

Every child shared with the audience at least one fact from their diverse range of subjects--whether it was through their description and performance about Mary Seacole, Florence Nightingale and the ways they helped improve soldiers' lives in the Crimean War to the origins and the effects the Great Fire of London had on life and architecture--in words and even through an adorable song on the fire--complete with actions.

They proudly demonstrated their knowledge of modern London architecture as well and showed us their creative interpretations of today's skyline in their art projects.

Class 2 also provided a detailed lesson on ways to make the number 30 through their understanding of maths facts and number relationships.

Overall, it was a joyful assembly and wonderful to see the children so enthusiastic about their learning.

Sarah Harper
Class 2 Link-Governor

Reception Assembly

On Friday November 20th I attended the Reception class assembly. The children performed the traditional tale of The Little Red Hen, a simple story, with a repetitive refrain, about hard work and sharing. All the children participated. They followed this with instructions for making bread and a slide show of their bread making activities in class. Lots of parents and other family members came to watch, as well as all the other classes.

It was followed by class tea session in which parents discussed the forthcoming Christmas Fair, a fundraising event. The Head Teacher then explained the government changes to the way pupils' attainment will be assessed in future.

An excellent way of involving parents in school life, I think.

Deborah Townsend Governor

Underground review

On Tuesday, 14 July, Class 6 put on a fabulous performance of Underground - a play written just for them by Rob, with direction by Pete, set-design by Hannah and music by Amaryllis.

It was a brilliant adaptation of both Alice stories--in perfect time for the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland.

Set against enchanted backdrops and fantastical music, the witty writing, combined with carefully selected portions of the original stories allowed each child to shine--and afforded the audience--lots of laughs.

The excellent casting and creative direction ensured the children clearly had fun on stage as they performed to their utmost--and charmed the audience all the more.

It was a magical, yet bittersweet night as Class 6 came together with tremendous enthusiasm and sense of teamwork for the last time. Their maturity in putting on such sophisticated, dedicated performances in just 6 weeks shows how inspired they were by Rob, Pete and Hannah and that it is, unfortunately, time to move on from this amazing school.

Sarah Harper Y6 Parent and Parent Governor

Governor Update March 2015

I’m very sad to have chaired my last meeting of the Fitzjohn’s governing body before Easter. But I am pleased that Beverely McMaster agreed to take on the role of chair until the end of this term, and that Siobhan Baillie was elected as vice chair. The governing body has agreed a course of action for its leadership in the longer term, and I am sure that it is in good hands.

Look out for information about the election to fill the vacancy for a parent governor. The election is open to all parents and carers, but the governing body is keen to increase its skills in finance and accounting, or in UK employment law. Please consider standing if these are your areas of specialism.

Governing body meetings always include a development activity and governors completed an exercise which will inform the school improvement plan for 2015/16 and feed into the headteacher’s constant work to identify ways to make Fitzjohn’s an even more successful school.

Thank you to my fellow governors and to the staff, parents and pupils who have ensured that my time as a parent governor and as chair of governors has been so enjoyable. I'll be continuing to support the governing body as an associate governor, and will try to visit the school whenever I am in London.

Jennie Walsh

Year 1 Assembly

All Aboard

Class One’s interpretation of the story of Christopher Columbus this morning was both delightful and informative. The children spoke very clearly and even threw in the odd Spanish phrase, welcoming us in Spanish, “Bienvenido a Espana." King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella finally believing in the promises of Christopher Columbus, sponsored him to the tune of three ships, a crew and provisions and bade him good passage to discover the “Easter Islands’ sailing not East but West, a feat never completed before by the great sailing adventurers. Instead, Columbus set foot on what is known as San Salvador, collected some treasures, captured a few of the native people and returned home to his patrons with his ‘bounty’. The King and Queen were most pleased and rewarded him handsomely for his efforts. Columbus later set sail again eventually discovering North America, although he continued to believe that he had discovered part of the Indies right up until his death in 1506. The children had built their version of the Santa Maria, the lead ship of the three that Columbus set sail in. It formed the backdrop to their story telling and accompanies some excellent in class work and displays. The final piece de resistance had to be the singing however, … In 1492, Christopher Columbus did sail the ocean blue… it has been with me all day. Thank you Class One.

Beverley McMaster Friday 27 March

Year 5 Assembly

On Friday 13 February I attended Class 5’s Assembly, which was a ‘take off’ of the Bafta and Oscar awards. There was a presenter on the platform who introduced film clips before announcing the winners of the various Pentagon Awards. These were five-sided naturally! Class 5 did the filming, wrote the scripts and chose the soundtrack. This was a very impressive production.

As each winner was announced the ‘celebrity’ squealed in absolute surprise before making a speech thanking ‘my mum, my dad, my gran, my cat …..’!
The films included children cartwheeling, a doggie disaster when two trespassing dogs deposited health and safety matter in the school driveway, and a boy shown levitating in the ‘zero gravity lab’!
We were invited to Class 5 to see the remainder of the films, where we were treated to ‘cocktails’ which had been made by the children using different juice combinations. I was assured that they were non-alcoholic!

Pat Traynor

Baboushka

On Monday 8th December we had the pleasure of watching this year’s nativity production put on by Classes 1 & 2. Both of us had children in the production. The Christmas Story this year, was told through the eyes of Baboushka, who apparently was a manic cleaner with an enormous heart. The children sang their hearts out, along with giving us faultless dancing and story delivery, showing that the weeks of rehearsals paid off. Thank you to all the teachers and children who put in such a brilliant effort and performance.

Sarah Harper Rasmussen
Beverley McMaster

(Parent Governors)

Letter from Our Chair re Ofsted Report

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Dear Parent/Carer

I am sure that by now you have read our very good Ofsted report.

As Chair of the governing body I am particularly proud of the report’s recognition of the hard work and dedication of our volunteer governors and the impact their work has on school life. Thank you and well done to all of my colleague governors.

The focus of an Ofsted inspection and the subsequent report is a very narrow one as it mainly concentrates on reading, writing and maths. We know that learning at Fitzjohn’s is much broader than this and that visits, trips, clubs and the interesting curriculum enrich our children’s lives.

I am pleased that the report recognises the outstanding start to schooling that the children get in our Foundation Stage and the fact that teaching is never less than good anywhere in the school. The staff go above and beyond what is required to put the welfare of the child at the heart of everything it does. On behalf of the governing body thank you to all of them.

Ofsted has already recognised the good progress we are making in improving writing under the outstanding leadership of Rob, Debbie and our subject leads. I know they take such pride in their roles that they will continue to work hard in the best interests of your children and our school.

As a former Fitzjohn’s parent I know I always valued the huge number of social events that the FSA and school organised to help build a community. The governing body is greatly appreciative of the FSA’s time and efforts. When we work together we succeed.

As my daughter has now left Fitzjohn’s and my family begins a new life in Spain I will soon be leaving the role of Chair but will remain as an associate governor in order to continue to support a school that has been a core part of my and my family’s life for eight years. I leave the role with immense pride in what we have all achieved together.

Have a wonderful holiday.

Best wishes

Jennie Walsh

Chair of Fitzjohn’s Governing Body

Governing Body Update

December 2014

The governing body met last week. Our main talking point was our very successful Ofsted inspection. We celebrated the way that it really captured the feel of the school and the very positive language used. Rob also shared some inspector feedback that was not included in the final report. We continue to work together to improve our school.

We also discussed the reconstitution of the governing body. It is likely that we will have to hold elections for one new parent governor in the new year. Please think about standing—more information to follow.

Have a great holiday.

Jennie Walsh (Chair)

October 2014

Our governing body (GB) met last week for the first time this school year and welcomed new parent governors Sarah Harper Rasmussen and Arthur Ferretti. Also welcomed to the governing body was Siobhan Baillie, our new local authority governor.

The first meeting of the school year is always an administrative one, with the appointment of the chair, vice chair and clerk to the GB and the assignment of governors to committees according to the skills and interests that they bring.

Jennie Walsh was reappointed chair and Beverley McMaster vice-chair for the 2014/15 school year. Mike Herlihy was reappointed as clerk to the GB.

Governors considered the Headteacher’s half-termly report, which always includes data on attainment and progress and about the pupil premium tracker, which demonstrates how the school uses the additional funding it gets from the government to benefit children who receive free school meals. It is the role of the GB to provide a balance of challenge and support to the school leadership team and governors asked a number of questions in order to probe the data and focus on specific areas where attainment or other aspects might need improving.

Fitzjohn’s expects a visit from the Ofsted inspectors soon, so the Head led a short development session to remind governors of what they will need to know to demonstrate that they are an outstanding GB.

The government has decided that all school governing bodies must reconstitute by next September, meaning that the number of the different categories of governors on the GB (parent, staff, community and local authority) will change. The GB had a short discussion to prepare the ground for this.

It is likely that a vacancy for a parent governor will arise in the coming months, depending on when reconstitution takes place. We hope that parents will be interested in this position. Please speak to Rob or one of the current parent governors – Beverley (classes 2 and 3), Sarah (classes 1 and 6) and Arthur (classes R and 4) for more information about what the role involves. Or email governors@fitzjohns.camden.sch.uk

Jennie Walsh

Year 6’s The Switch is a thrilling adventure

When my daughter was in Fitzjohn’s nursery, she had to be taken out of the performance of the Year 6 play because she was terrified of the murderous Finn. As a Year 6 girl herself she remained fairly terrified of that deadly criminal – this time in her character of Eric Snarby, slobby father of Bob, a boy who Finn exploits for his evil ends.

The Switch, by Anthony Horowitz – a thrilling adventure set in a funfair inhabited by mystics and magicians – was cleverly adapted by headteacher Rob Earrey and brilliantly performed by Year 6.

It’s the story of 13-year-old Tad Spencer, only son of wealthy businessman Sir Hubert (who has his own share of evil intentions), who makes the mistake of wishing he was someone else. Waking up as Bob Snarby, the child of squalid parents Doll and Eric (think Wayne and Waynetta Slob), it’s a lesson in being careful about what you wish for.

It’s not the easiest of scripts. There were a lot of lines to learn for some children. But they did so with professionalism and aplomb – what else would we expect from Fitzjohn’s kids?

We were treated to some outstanding acting. I particularly enjoyed Dr Aftexcludor and his assistant from the Arambayan tribe of Brazil, along with some of the apparently (though almost certainly not) ad hoc appearances of the circus performers with their commanding ringmaster (“I said a drum roll, not a Swiss roll!”).

But from leading characters, to chorus roles and behind the scenes lighting and sound technicians, all our children made the performance and did so with confidence, style and charisma, and a great deal of humour. I for one was rolling in the aisles.

Jennie Walsh

Tuesday 8 July

Governing Body news

The last Governing Body (GB) meeting of the school year took place last week. We welcomed newly elected parent governors Arthur Ferretti and Sarah Harper Rasmussen and new staff governor Rachel Moss, while saying goodbye to outgoing governors Sally Ashcroft, Rein de Gier, Susie Griffiths and Kate Dillnott-Cooper. We thank them for their hard work over the years and hope that they will continue to use the valuable experience they have gained as school governors in their future endeavours.

Because governing bodies have a statutory duty to ensure that schools keep children safe, and that Ofsted places this role at the heart of its inspection regime, the GB spent the majority of the meeting undergoing Safeguarding training. Lynne Rigg, a specialist child protection training consultant, explained the areas of responsibility that school governors have for safeguarding and how governors can hold the headteacher and staff to account for the effectiveness of safeguarding arrangements in the school.

If any member of the school community would like to find out more about the role of governors in respect of safeguarding, or anything else about what the GB is responsible for or does, please do not hesitate to speak to a member of the governing body or to email governors@fitzjohns.camden.sch.uk

Jennie Walsh

13 May 2014

Our governing body met this week and was delighted to hear that three parents had put themselves forward for the parent governor vacancies. Election information will be sent out very soon. Thank you to those parents for putting their names forward.

Our clerk to the GB, Mike Herlihy, carried out a skills audit of governors earlier this year and reported back the results. This will enable us to better assess the effectiveness of the GB and to identify training needs next year.

We discussed the annual Fitzjohn’s Conversation, which is being held on 3 June, and agreed the questions that the conversation will develop around. You’ll have to come along on the night to find out what they are. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible – it’s an important and fun opportunity to have a real say in how your children learn at our school.

Governors also received an overview of the new Curriculum Map and learned how subject leads are using the objectives set by the government’s National Curriculum to develop topics. And they also enjoyed a develop session on how the school uses the pupil progress data toolkit to track pupils’ progress and attainment from the very start of their time at Fitzjohn’s, enabling it to identify the need for learning interventions and to see their impact.

It is the use of innovative software such as this that helps to set Camden’s state primaries apart from the rest of country.

Jennie Walsh (chair of governors)

Year 6 Assembly 28 March 2014

Year 6 Assembly – The Decades

I was very impressed by this tremendous assembly on the subject of the Decades. It was more like an end of year production. The piece was written by one of the students and took the audience on a journey from the 1920’s to the modern day. It was imaginatively staged with the action taking place both in the centre of the hall and at the end. The screen was used and music (both live and recorded) was included. All of the children appeared to have great fun with their roles and their costumes and the audience of parents and other pupils and staff were thoroughly entertained.

Sally Ashcroft

25 March 2014

Members of our governing body have been spending a lot of time with us over the last couple of weeks. They joined us for their annual day in school, which is an important opportunity for them to observe lessons, chat with parents, staff and children, and to receive training to enable them to better understand and support the school’s teaching and learning methods. This year they looked at our Raiseonline statistics, a key tool that enables schools to analyse performance data. They also received Ofsted training, discussing what areas of knowledge about the school that inspectors might ask about.

Last week’s full governing body meeting built on this process through a development session on the school self-evaluation and school improvement plan. It also agreed to hold the annual Fitzjohn’s Conversation on Tuesday 3 June. The Fitzjohn’s Conversation is a chance for the school community to get together in a relaxed atmosphere to talk about what we want from our school and how we can make our children’s time here the best it possibly can be. Please put the date in your diary now.

We will soon have vacancies for two parent governors on the governing body and will be holding elections next term. Becoming a school governor enables you to make a real difference to your child’s school and we hope that a number of you will consider standing. For more information about the role of school governors speak to Rob or to any of our current parent governors.

17 February 2014

Fitzjohn’s governors enjoyed an instructive session with school business manager Fran Swan, when he provided training on school funding at last week’s governing body meeting.

It’s a complex area, with the government setting funding formulas which dictate how much state schools receive from local authorities according to such things as how many children receive free school meals, the number of children with special educational needs and the amount of support they need (known as “High Needs Funding”). Getting to grips with school finance is not made easier by the fact that the government keeps changing the formulas.

Governors need to understand how the funding formulas work in order to set budgets and ensure that the school has adequate funding. If any parent/carer would like to know more about school funding formulas and what they mean for Fitzjohn’s then please speak to a member of the governing body.

Our school finance training was followed by a discussion around some of the issues raised by the headteacher’s half-termly report. It is the job of the governing body to scrutinise and ask questions - Ofsted expects us to challenge - and points made included about unauthorised absences, support for more able children, the way that data about pupil behaviour is presented and the teaching of French. Look out for the minutes of the meeting, which will be posted on the governors’ notice board.

We had to rearrange our governors’ day in school and it is now set for Wednesday 19 March. It’s a good opportunity for governors to speak to parents, staff and pupils so please come and chat to us when you drop off your children.

Jennie Walsh (chair of governors)

29 November 2013

The Fitzjohn’s governing body met last week and took part in a training and development exercise on improving governance. Although the school does not expect a visit from the Ofsted inspectors until summer term at the earliest, it is important that members of the governing body start preparing now so that when they meet the inspectors they can demonstrate that they are an outstanding governing body. That means knowing the school really well and being able to show that they provide the headteacher and school leadership team with exactly the right balance of challenge and support.

Governors considered the headteacher’s half-termly report, which included data on attainment and achievement and about the pupil premium tracker, which demonstrates how the additional government funding for children on free school meals is used by the school and the attainment levels of children who receive it.

The headteacher responded to a number of questions from governors about the data.

Beverley McMaster was welcomed as the newest member of the governing body, having won the recent election for a new parent governor.

If you would like to know more about the role of the governing body then please approach any of our current parent or staff governors. You can find out more about who they are from the short biographies on the governors’ notice board (next to the junior block entrance). Minutes of governing body meetings will also be posted on the board.

There will also be a chance to speak to governors on 13 December, when they will hold their annual governors’ day in school.

Jennie Walsh