Dear Parents and Carers
I would like to start by saying a huge thank you to all of you who have taken the time to complete parental questionnaires at parents’ evenings throughout the academic year. Your feedback is invaluable and helps us to ensure that we continue to provide the best possible care and support for your children.
It has been fantastic to read such a large number of incredibly positive comments about so many areas across the school and I am always very quick to pass on these messages to our staff. We are very lucky to have such committed, enthusiastic and supportive staff who go above and beyond on a regular basis to support your children in so many ways.
Whilst the positive comments are great to read and pass on, we also take on board your comments suggesting areas for development. At Barnwell we are very self-reflective, and we are always seeking ways to progress as part of our commitment to continuously improving our provision. The Senior Leadership Team along with our staff are fully committed to constantly improving our practice and there have been a few areas for development highlighted by our parents and carers that I would like to feed back on, along with the actions that we have already put in place to start to address these areas.
Approximately 10% of parents who completed the questionnaire raised concerns about our website design and in particular they find it hard to locate certain information as well as general issues of poor navigation around the site.
We have made some recent changes to the website, many behind the scenes and things that you may not have really noticed, to meet the requirements set out by Ofsted. This is work in progress and we welcome any feedback.
It is great to see when our children have been awarded credits on the Gateway App but it would be even better if it said why they were given.
Our Head of Enrichment and Student Engagement, Mr Reavell, has looked in to this in great depth and the short answer is that he is looking for a more effective way for the Gateway App and our school admin system SIMS to communicate with each other. Currently, it is very quick and easy for staff to log when a credit is given but this quick way doesn’t provide all the other information required, like the subject, the teacher and the reason why it was given. For all that information to be available it requires the staff to enter in all this added information for each individual credit and the time that it would take to do so, is time that we feel is better spent planning and preparing outstanding lessons to support your children’s progress.
As soon as Mr Reavell and his team have worked out a more effective way to provide this information to you, via the Gateway App, we’ll let you know.
It is clear that you like SMHW as a monitoring tool and more than 80% of you log in to all to see what homework your child has been set, and if they have completed it or not. You have said that it would be better if staff could also record an ‘effort’ grade or ‘quality of homework produced’ grade so you can monitor the quality as well as the quantity.
We agree with you and SMHW has a variety of different ways to log the standard or quality of homework such as marks out of 10, red, amber, green and percentages. The problem comes where our marking policy, which was judged to be a strength in our recent Ofsted inspection, doesn’t neatly fit into any of these SMHW systems and would mean staff having to run two concurrent administration systems which is not time effective or a reasonable expectation for staff. We have a team of Middle Leaders and Senior Staff looking into how we develop the use of SMHW and we have some staff trialling certain systems so please bear with us whilst we work out the most effective and consistent way forwards with this.
To help us work and engage even more effectively with our parents and carers, we have created the Barnwell School Parent Partnership.
We were very proud last year to earn the ‘Leading Parent Partnership Award’. (LPPA) We are one of only a few Secondary schools in the whole of Hertfordshire to earn this important and highly regarded status. As a very important part of this process, we established a small parent working group to work on a variety of action points required to gain the LPPA award.
Such was the success of this small working group we have now developed it into the Parent Partnership. We have already held our first very successful meeting (over wine, cheese and biscuits!) where we looked at the areas for development highlighted above as well as some other points of interest. We also dedicated some time to discussing our most recent Ofsted inspection. The meeting helped us to focus our actions into certain key areas and both us as a school and the parents/carers got a lot from the meeting.
I would very much like to increase our numbers for future meetings so if you would be interested in joining our Parent Partnership, please email me and I would be happy to give you more information and welcome you into our team. We are planning to meet each ½ term to discuss a variety of issues related to the school. Gaining your viewpoints is vital to us so your time would be very much appreciated. Meetings will be informal, in a relaxed environment so feel free to come and just listen or get stuck in as much as you wish. Our Parent Partnership is still in its infancy, but we are really excited about developing it over coming months and years.
If you have any parental engagement questions or would like to speak to someone regarding any of the points raised in this piece, please feel free to contact me on the school number or alternatively on school email. In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy Easter.
Mr Martyn Patching
Assistant Head Teacher
KS3 Director of Learning