Parent Surveys

Parent Survey Letter 2015

Parent Survey Autumn 2015

Your comments from the survey, grouped by common theme.

Our responses to your comments are in red.


Behaviour and reward systems

What we do well:

  • Everything!! Rewarding positive behaviour (Y5)
  • The ‘Star Award’ and ‘Headteacher Awards’ are a great idea! My child is always excited when he feels rewarded for his efforts. (Y5)

Our reward systems are a key part of our approach to behaviour and we are delighted to hear that you value these. It is fantastic to see so many of our children wearing their star award badges with great pride. (JS)

  • I am pleased emphasis is placed on the whole child, not just academic achievements. I like the superstar and star award systems. (Y5)
  • Rewards for achievement – great! (Y4)
  • Very friendly staff and polite pupils eg: holding doors! Well done! (Y4)
  • Good at encouraging kids with star awards etc. (Y3)
  • It is hard to answer questions about behaviour generally, but my impression is that it is very good and children have a real pride in the school. (Y3).

We are really pleased that you have acknowledged the high standards of behaviour in our school. This is something that we work incredibly hard on every single school day. We are very proud that CJS children are kind, polite, respectful and considerate of others and that this is regularly reported back to us from the many places we visit or from visitors to our school. (JS)

  • Very impressed with discipline and amount of activities in breaktimes (Y3)
  • Great reward system (Y3)
  • Commending children by giving awards and house point incentives. (Y3)
  • Good how older children help younger ones. (Y3)
  • Children treated fairly. (Y4 and Y5)

What could be better:

  • Could the winning house point team get a reward on winning, i.e. extra playtime, non-uniform day etc? My son is disappointed nothing happens when they win! (Y5)

We have been focusing on improving engagement of children with their houses and have increased the amount of house competitions and events we have across the year and it is clearly working. This is an interesting suggestion and one that we will pass on to the school council for their consideration. (JS)

  • Too trigger happy with the red and yellow cards last year, causing unnecessary distress. (Y4)
  • The threat of detention for those children who always strive to do the right thing can be intimidating. (Y3)
  • I feel that sometimes children are disciplined with consequence time or detention without really being listened to or being allowed to fully express their side of the story. (Y3)

Thank you for your comments on behaviour sanctions in Year 3. We are really sorry to hear that any child is our school feels distressed or intimidated as that is absolutely not our intention. We are constantly reviewing our practice and learning from any issues that arise. As a result of feedback we have changed the way minor behaviour issues are dealt with in Year 3 this year. Children are no longer given ‘consequence detentions’ but they may be expected to stay behind at the start of either their break or lunchtime to discuss their behaviour further. This also gives children the opportunity to be listened to without it affecting the learning of others. This change in approach in Year 3 is now in line with our behaviour policy and matches practice across the school. (JS/JR)

  • Maybe too much focus on extrinsic rewards and not enough on the intrinsic pleasure of learning.(Y4)

We try to strike a balance with intrinsic and extrinsic rewards and feel that our star awards and badge system does this well.  Whilst these badges are not expensive, they represent lots of effort and hard work by our children who are rightly proud of them and therefore proud of their achievements in learning. (JS)

  • Reduce emphasis on consumption of cakes – linking with reward/celebrations is normal in our society but is also leading to obesity. (Y6)

Superstars’ tea and cake is a lovely reward for excellent behaviour and a real treat on a Friday afternoon – as a Healthy School, we fully understand the concern about childhood obesity and eating cake. The cakes we provide for Superstars are small (two or three bites) and as part of a balanced diet are not excessive. Each child might be chosen twice a year on average as Superstar, so we feel that this is an acceptable level of cake consumption and that we are not contributing to levels of childhood obesity. (JS)

  • Try to use alternative reward for educational tasks eg: times tables or maybe not always. (Y6)

Our reward systems in school recognise both academic and personal achievement, with Star Awards being used in every class for individual success in academic tasks. These are highly valued by the children in the school and they wear their star badges with great pride. (JS)

  • I feel that bullies should be dealt with more appropriately and quickly. I understand that the child being bullied does not always approach a teacher with their worries but I think teachers should be more aware of what’s going on around them. Many times I have had my daughter coming home sad and upset due to bullying. (Y6)

We were really unhappy to hear that one of our children was having issues with bullying and because this questionnaire is anonymous, we have been unable to address this directly with you, which would always be our preference. We work really hard on developing a culture in school where bullying is understood by all but is not tolerated under any circumstance. We provide lots of guidance and support for our children about bullying through lessons and assemblies.

A key message we give to our children is the importance of telling someone/anyone if you are being bullied. One of the lines in our behaviour code is that ‘we voice our worries or concerns’ and this is really important. If we are not made aware of bullying behaviour, then it is very difficult for us to work with you to resolve it.

I understand that you feel that teachers ‘should be more aware of what is going on around them’ and we do our very best to make sure that we know what is going on with our children through strong pastoral support.  However bullying behaviour is often very subtle and not obvious, and in the course of a very full and busy school day we do not and cannot spot everything.

The most important step we need to take is for you as a parent to come and talk to us about what your child is experiencing. We can then work together to resolve this, with an important step for the future being building your child’s self-confidence so that they feel able to follow our school’s behaviour code and voice their worries or concerns in school when they need to. (JS)

  • Greater opportunity for different children to be involved in the school council, rather than the same children being re-elected. (Y6)

Thank you for your comment. In the summer term 2015, the School Council discussed this issue. They voted that pupils would not be able to be re-elected in the same academic year. (RS)


School staff

What we do well:

  • Caring and approachable staff (Y5)
  • Committed, inspiring, knowledgeable and caring teaching staff (Y6 and Y4)
  • Efficient staff in the office (Y6 and Y4)
  • Professional team (Y4)
  • Mrs Davison is fab. (Y4)
  • Mr Donovan seems very kind. (Y4)
  • Welcoming and positive staff and teachers (Y4)
  • Encouraging teacher – great! (Y4)
  • Teachers and assistants seem to make personal connections with pupils often. (Y4)
  • Great teachers in Years 3 and 4. (Y4)
  • Very approachable teachers and headteacher and welcoming ethos in the school. (Y3)
  • Encouraging, motivating, enthusiastic teaching team! Thank you! (Y3)
  • Staff very friendly and approachable. (Y3)
  • Reception staff always cheerful and efficient. (Y3)
  • Staff know and care about the children and explain curriculum issues to parents. (Y6)
  • Office staff always reply quickly to emails. (Y6)
  • Mr Howe is absolutely superb. (Y6)
  • Mrs Sandford makes a huge effort to know everyone. (Y6)
  • Extremely welcoming staff throughout the school. (Y5)
  • I have nothing but praise for the school and staff. All polite and very friendly and helpful. (Y6)

We really appreciate your positive comments here. We are so lucky to have a fantastic staff here at CJS and everything we do is a team effort. We go to great lengths to ensure that our school feels welcoming and that every child feels valued and cared for. (JS)

What could be better:

  • More opportunities for parents to be involved and meet teachers in the upper school. It can be difficult to know who to approach if you have a problem because you don’t really get to know who the teachers are. (Y5)

This is a very useful point and one that we need to think more carefully about. It is easy to forget that some of our staff are not familiar to you. We will be looking for ways to improve this in the rest of this school year. Thank you for raising this. (JS)


Teaching and Learning

What we do well:

  • Very interesting teaching methods (Y4)
  • Teaching is generally very good (Y3)
  • Wide range of subjects taught. (Y4 and Y5)
  • Varied and interesting balance of subjects, learning experiences and opportunities (Y3)
  • Providing a very conducive and safe place to learn (Y5).
  • Lots and lots. Always positive and always realistic. I love that Mrs. Sandford puts encouraging a love of learning above all else. You incentivise the kids to achieve. (Y3)
  • Provide opportunities to try new things and gain new skills. (Y3 and Y6)
  • Inspire my child to achieve and be proud to do so. (Y6)
  • Excellent opportunities for extra learning – Be dog smart and volunteering at the Clare School (Y6 and Y4)
  • Help is always given. Children are cared for and staff care about their progress. (Y3 and Y5)
  • Great support and encouragement to children. (Y4)
  • Support the individual needs of the child. (Y3 and Y6)
  • Extra help where needed eg: maths boosters (Y4)
  • Booster sessions put in place to give extra help (Y4)
  • Stretch the most able (Y3)
  • Great EAL support (Y4)
  • Supporting children from abroad very well. (Y6)
  • Support for children with additional needs eg: separate SENCo appointment at consultation and info. meetings each term. (Y6)
  • Good support for children with problems. (Y4 and Y5)
  • Have fun and engage the kids. (Y3 and Y6)
  • Homework is now far better. (Y6)
  • There used to be too much homework. Now it is the right amount. (Y5)
  • Homework has improved, eg: less as reading and spellings are a lot on their own. (Y3)
  • Really like the times table and number facts homework as can be done in a few minutes and is essential for my daughter to learn and meet the demands of the new curriculum. (Y4)

We have reviewed our approach to homework following comments from parents in last year’s parent survey and have simplified our approach, focussing on key skills.  We are pleased to hear that this is working for many of you. We are in the process of rewriting our homework policy and will issue this to parents as soon as it is finished. (JS)

What could be better:

  • My child has found the transition from Year 4 to Year 5 a bit difficult – new rules, level of work and homework. I don’t feel her lessons are grabbing her interest as much as they used to so she has become a bit ‘indifferent’ about school (Y5).

We are really sorry to hear that your child has found the transition between year groups challenging. We have redeveloped our school curriculum to make learning more interesting and engaging for children, but appreciate that some topics appeal to some children more than others. We have very high expectations of all our children and these expectations do steadily increase as children move through the school so that by the time they leave us at the end of Year Six, they are truly high-school ready. We are always here to help and want every child to enjoy coming to school, so please come and talk to us if things have not improved. We can work together to find the right way forward for your child. (JS)

  • As parents we think that it would be better for our child if the school could help and support her to build her confidence and spend more time working with her one-to-one, more than once a week. (Y4)

Children requiring additional support for learning are indentified quickly in our school and we put in place a range of strategies to support them, based on their particular areas for development. One-to-one support is only one option from a wide range of support we offer and is used sparingly or for children with a high level of Special Educational Need. The learning support we provide is largely classroom-based where children benefit from the best quality teaching as well as additional small group or individual support. We have highly experienced teaching assistants working in each classroom as well as specialist teachers, such as Mrs. Garrod, our EAL teacher, who also work with children in the classroom. We do not like to withdraw children from core lessons for additional help as they benefit most from being in lessons taught by our excellent teachers. Your child will be being supported in class in a number of ways which may not be obvious to you as the support is in class and not through withdrawal. If you have any questions about the support your child is receiving, please come and speak to us. We will be able to explain to you the support we have put in place.  (JS)

  • More updates about children’s progress (for example: sending home Big Writes, issues to focus on…) between teacher-parents meetings since there is a big gap between them. (Y4)

Thank you for your comment – this is something that we are always thinking about and are always looking to try and find ways to share information with parents in a manageable way. We are aware that some of our parents would like more information (and also that some of our parents wouldn’t) and in the meantime, your child’s class teacher is always happy to talk to you about how they are progressing. (JS)

  • More detailed charts of child’s progress which show strengths and weaknesses in each subject (Y4).
  • The progress graph at PT interview was not very clear or helpful (Y4)

We have used achievement graphs at parent consultations for the last two years and fully agree that the graphs we shared with you at the October meetings were not useful. This was because of the significant changes in assessment nationally in September and the removal of national curriculum levels. Alongside all other schools across the country we have developed our own assessment system to replace national curriculum levels. Parents who attended our assessment briefing in November will have received information about these changes and this information is also available on our website.  By the time you attend your parent consultation meeting in March, there should be two lots of data on your child’s graph, which should make more sense. If you have any questions about assessment, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We would be happy to talk about it. (JS)

  • Not easy to book parents evening slots without contacting teacher (Y3)
  • Parent-teacher consultations – had to bring my daughter along and felt like I just watched the teacher chat to her for 10 minutes. Not good use of time. (Y3)

We are sorry to hear that you have found parent-teacher consultations difficult to book and not productive. We are looking to revise these meetings during the coming year and your comments will be used to help us with this process. We are fully in favour of children being present at these meetings as they are essentially about them and their learning. (JS)

  • Communication about what my child is being asked to learn/think about in the classroom eg: times tables, spellings and when to bring things in. More support in becoming independent, being able to organise themselves. This is still a new skill for my child! (Y3)
  • A homework diary would make a huge difference, helping us know what is necessary each week to support our child’s learning. (Y3)
  • Communication – especially about how to support learning at home. Not all children tell their parents much about school. I had no idea about multiplication tests until another parent told me. (Y3)
  • If you could send a weekly newsletter about what my child needs to take in school every week. (Y3)
  • No timetable was provided at the start of term. Relied on hearsay of when to bring in PE kit etc. (Y3)
  • Sometimes there is not instructions with my child’s homework. (Y3)
  • Communication with parents re: what is required to support children with homework. (Y3)
  • I know you are encouraging independence but I suddenly feel quite removed from my child’s learning. The infant school blog entries were helpful for parents. (Y3)
  • We knew the transition from Colman Infant would be difficult for our child and found the initial communications regarding daily routine poor ie: where things were, when things happened. (Y3)

We have worked to improve the transition from infant school and many of you have acknowledged that this is much improved. This year for the first time we invited parents in for an open session early in the Autumn term to allow any questions to be asked and this was very successful. However there are always things that we can do to improve transition and in the summer term we will be looking at how we can ensure parents have all the information they need ready for the new Year 3 in September. In the meantime if you have any questions about any aspect of school life, we are always happy to help. (JS)

  • Project-style/quiz/activities for completion at home. (Y6)
  • I would like more guidance and instructions with some of the homework eg: Big Write doesn’t always come with clear instructions. (Y6)
  • More challenging homework especially in Years 5 and 6 so they feel more confident when progressing to high school. (Y6)
  • When the children in Year 6 have tests let the parents know the results so they can brush up on extra help if needed! (Y6)
  • Has a decision been made to reduce the amount of literacy homework? (Y3 and Y6)
  • I feel homework is not necessary in years 3 and 4. (Y3 and Y6)
  • Less or no homework – I do not agree with it. (Y4 and Y5)

Homework is a tricky issue for schools as parents (and teachers) often have very different opinions about it, as you will see from the comments we have received above. We have simplified our approach and hope that we have got the balance right. Parents who would like their children to have additional work to complete at home are able to request this from class teachers. (JS)

  • In the last academic year a non-school uniform day was on the same day as an assessment. I thought that this could be distracting for children. (Y4)

Thank you for your comment. This situation is something that we try to avoid. The assemblies and events calendar for this school year has been checked to avoid this happening again in the future. (RS)


Curriculum

What we do well:

  • Our child is very enthusiastic about topic work and enjoys learning about these. (Y4)
  • I love that my son is learning to sign and the diverse range of new activities such as drumming (Y4)
  • Great clubs, great topics (Y4)
  • Fantastic opportunities to do interesting activities (Y3)
  • You make good use of the outside. (Y3)
  • Spellings are taught very well (Y3)
  • Lots of music (Y5)
  • Mathletics – good to see this in practice, my daughter loves it and I can see what she is learning in school. This means I can help her and not feel like I am teaching her incorrectly. (Y3)
  • Early Bewilderwood trip for new Year 3s. (Y3)
  • Great trips (Y5)
  • Great school trips – Brancaster was amazing! (Y6 and Y4)
  • Trips – good! (Y4)
  • Going on trips (educational). (Y4)
  • Great school trips. (Y3)
  • Brancaster trip was a superb experience (Y6)
  • Good school trips (Y4 and Y5)
  • Always trying new initiatives to improve school and listen to ideas and feedback. (Y6)

Thank you all for so many positive comments. We work hard to ensure that our children get a wide range of opportunities to extend their learning beyond the classroom and that our curriculum is broad and balanced. (JS)

What could be better:

  • I realise that literacy and maths are very important but the topic lessons, art, languages, science etc. are being squeezed more and more. These subjects are also important and interesting and involve literacy and maths. (Y5)
  • More outdoor activities and art activities (Y4)
  • Adopting more of a ‘forest school’ approach. (Y6)
  • My son says he is happy with the variety of learning but some elements feel very repetitious and he would like more variation in the timetable pattern. (Y6)
  • Swimming every week would be wonderful. (Y3)

We fully agree that all subjects in the National Curriculum are important and we work very hard to ensure that we provide a broad and balanced curriculum.

We have redeveloped our school curriculum over the last two years so that our children are learning thematically and links between subjects are exploited wherever possible. We have also been focussed on accelerating progress and raising attainment for our children in school in English and maths so that they are fully prepared for the rigours of high school at the end of year six. Our English lessons are linked to the topic the children are studying in each year group through carefully chosen texts, for example Street Child for Y6 Victorians topic in the Autumn term. Our school curriculum is being constantly reviewed and revised to reflect the interests and learning needs of our children, which naturally change each year.

In time we will look to extend our curriculum further to include such approaches as Forest Schools, but for now our focus is on ensuring that we have a broad and balanced curriculum across the school based on thematic learning and that our children’s achievement in English and maths is good enough for them to make the most of high school. (JS)

  • I feel at primary school that children should not have homework as they need to play and spend time outdoors (Y4).
  • The Big Read homework should be longer, our working life makes it difficult to do this in just one night. It would be better to use two nights. (Y3)

Please see earlier comments about homework above.

  • Curriculum information should be online and provided earlier. (Y3)

Our curriculum information is on our website, but we completely agree that this has not been issued promptly enough at the start of each term. This is something that we are looking to improve quickly. (JS)

  • Sport in general taken more seriously. (Y6)

We are sorry that you feel this to be the case because we believe that we do take sports very seriously. A number of our teams and individual children have proved successful in their fields in recent years – both year 5 and 6 football teams have won their respective Autumn leagues in the last two years, our Korfball players have had success in various age groups, including having players selected to represent the county and our rugby team won its way to the county section of the event for 6 years running. Cohorts of children vary in their interests and abilities and the most important thing we can do for them is provide them with opportunities to participate. We took part in 50 inter-school events in 2014-2015 – more than one a week – and this provided the opportunity for 55% of our children to represent the school in a sport. These figures show a significant growth in recent years and compare well with other schools. (SF)

  • More transparency about how children chosen for representing school eg: cross-country (Y3)

We try to strike a balance with the selection of children to represent the school. We do want to be competitive but we also seek to reward commitment and try wherever possible to involve as wide a range of children as we can. Selection for Cross Country may previously have been a little random, particularly with children who were new to the school; however with the Colman Mile now in place, this should become easier to manage. (SF)

  • The school has improved so much over the last couple of years and has become such an excellent learning environment that I am finding it difficult to find something that could be better – maybe it would be nice to see the school use more places close by such as Eaton Park and the UEA for activities such as science and games (Y6 and Y4)

We are so fortunate to have such excellent resources and facilities so close at hand and do our best to use them wherever possible. (JS)


Extra-Curricular

What we do well:

  • The wide range of after-school clubs and school trips offered. (Y5)
  • Excellent lunchtime and after-school clubs (Y6 and Y4)
  • We like Friday library sessions. (Y4)
  • Excellent selection of school clubs (Y4)
  • Clubs are varied and either good value or free. My daughter has joined (and enjoyed) lots of different clubs in the past year. (Y4)
  • Great clubs, great topics (Y4)
  • Cycling proficiency (Y3)
  • Offer a wide range of opportunities for the children in the form of after-school clubs and trips. (Y3)
  • Great range of after-school activities on offer. (Y6)
  • After-school clubs (Y6)
  • Variety of clubs/trips. (Y6)
  • Give the children lots of different opportunities to take part in some fab activities/clubs or events which represent the school. (Y4 and Y6)
  • Good after-school clubs (Y4 and Y5)

What could be better:

  • Provide free after-school activities/clubs rather than paying. Kids are delimited to joining because parents can’t afford to pay (Y5).

The vast majority of our after-school activities are led by school staff and there is no charge for these. We have a few high-quality external providers who do charge for their activities, such as Mad Science and Kiddy Cook and the money paid for these activities goes directly to these external providers and not to the school. We are fully committed to ensuring that all children at Colman Junior have equal opportunities and if your child would like to attend an after-school activity where there is a charge involved but you are unable to afford the charges, please come and speak to us. We are able to offer subsidies for children who have free school meals or for exceptional circumstances.  (JS)

  • Shame football and korfball finish at half term. I guess that this is to do with not using the school hall? (Y4)

Outside clubs tend to have a long winter break due to darkness. It is not possible to teach football to 30+ children in the hall for reasons of safety. For all groups except Year 6, however, football will run through Spring and Summer terms so is available for half the school year. (SF)

  • My child’s swimming talents don’t seem to have been put to good use yet – perhaps an after-school swimming club on a Wednesday? (Y4)

Ms. Cole is very clear about ensuring pupils are ready to compete before taking them to events as most of these take place in deep water. We do not always have the use of our own pool after school as it is used by swimming clubs. Ms. Cole does involve our children in inter-school galas wherever possible, such as the recent event at St. Francis, but these mostly involve children in Years 5 and 6. We think that a lower school gala is an interesting idea and will investigate this further. (SF)

  • Sports day – it is like a church fete gone wrong. Please somebody address this. (Y3)

At Sports Day we involve all children in a range of fun activities. The idea of grouping children into teams with mixed age ranges is to develop teamwork and a supportive approach to each task. Our sports day is not intended to be ‘over-competitive’; we take part in a range of inter-school and inter-house events which are competitive and allow our most able athletes to perform at the highest level possible. In our school sports day we have to meet the needs of all children and it is important that there is a sense of fairness. All children can participate in a non-threatening environment and apply and develop their skills. Of course if you have suggestions about how we could improve these activities, please let us know. (SF)

  • Not very clear if child has got into after-school club or not. (Y3)
  • Communication about after-school clubs – whether children accepted or not for them. (Y3)

Thank you for your comments and suggestions about communication and after-school clubs. We agree that sometimes it is not made clear to you quickly enough whether a child has been accepted for a club. With clubs run by outside providers we are not involved in the administration and they should contact parents directly. With our own clubs we will do our best to ensure that this information is communicated to you in good time. (JS)

  • Where there’s a limited number of spaces for an event or other occasion, possibly run a group A and group B so more children get a place? (Y4 and Y6)

In principle, this is a good idea and something that we have thought about. However most of our clubs are run by staff members who do so voluntarily and only have a limited amount of time available each week for after-school clubs, as they have many other work-related duties to carry out after school. We are sorry but there is no easy answer to this. It is fantastic that our clubs are so popular and we always operate a waiting list for clubs that are oversubscribed. (JS)

  • It is not clear which school clubs count towards Children’s University. It would be useful if it said on the clubs timetable which do. (Y3)

All of the clubs that are run during the school day and after school on the clubs list have been validated by Children’s University. Please see the CJS website – Community – Children’s University for any further information and an email address to contact with any further enquiries. (RS)

  • Better communication about day/time of keyboard lessons. (Y6)

Following comments from parents in last year’s survey, instrument tuition times now change termly so that children are not always missing the same lesson. We fully appreciate that this can be difficult but do our best to communicate this to you via our office. If you have any queries about when your child’s instrument lesson is, the office staff are always happy to help. (JS)

  • Drama club? (Y3 and Y5)

We think that this is a great suggestion and one that we will look into in the coming months. Watch this space! (JS)


Communication

What we do well:

  • Frequent newsletters (Y5)
  • Excellent communication to parents (Y6 and Y4)
  • Good communication about school activities (Y4)
  • Good communication so I know how to help my daughter, i.e. targets on reading record and maths folders (Y4).
  • Teacher gave helpful and encouraging feedback at PT interview (Y4)
  • Very welcoming and listen to parents. (Y3)
  • Website great now (Y3)
  • Text message updates are really helpful. (Y3)
  • Excellent communication/information. (Y6)
  • Make sure teachers are available as and when needed to discuss anything! (Y3 and Y6)
  • Very informative parent/teacher consultations (Y5)
  • Help children settle in to new school with lots of support (Y3)
  • The transition between infant and juniors is very good and was hassle free for my child. (Y3)
  • Help children settle in to new school with lots of support (Y3)

What could be better:

  • Letters could be sent out earlier. Sometimes we only get one or two days notice (Y4)
  • More notice on trips or things that endure a cost. (Y4)
  • More notice on dress up days etc. Sometimes we get two days notice which is not always doable. (Y4)
  • Sometimes it would be helpful to have more notice of dates eg: concerts, dressing up days. Not always enough consideration of working parents with timing of meetings etc. (Y3)

We are really sorry that you feel that we do not give enough notice for trips and events as this is something that we thought had improved. We try to ensure that this information comes out to you as quickly as possible. Sometimes this is beyond our control as some things, like sporting events, are only communicated to us at short notice. As soon as we are aware that an event is happening, we communicate this to you. We do this in a range of ways – letters, website, texts, newsletters, curriculum leaflets.

We are very aware of the financial pressures on families and let you know as soon as possible about trips involving a cost – parents are given over two terms’ notice about our residential trips to Hilltop in Year 4 and Brancaster in Year 6 and there are always payment options available for all trips that have a cost attached. We also provide links to charities who can offer financial support for these things – where appropriate this is detailed on the letters we send to you and this information is also available on our website, via our office or our Parent Support Adviser.

We also fully appreciate the challenges around the timings of meetings and working life, as the vast majority of our staff are also working parents. We are trying to provide two options, an afternoon and an evening time, for most things now, such as our recent parent briefing on internet safety which should improve this. If there is ever anything that you are unable to attend but would like to either speak to someone about or receive any information provided at the meeting, we can always arrange an appointment for you with the relevant member of staff. (JS)

  • Flow of information – there are far too many newsletters. They should be condensed. (Y3)

Following comments made by parents two years ago about newsletters not being regular enough, we now send two newsletters each half term. As you will see from the comments above, this seems to work for most parents now. We do put most of our information on our website to reduce the size of our newsletters. We have so many fantastic things going on in school that we want to share with you. (JS)

  • Do the teachers have email addresses? (Y3)

If you need to contact a teacher by email, please email the school office (office@colmanjunior.norfolk.sch.uk) and we will then forward your email to the class teacher. We do not routinely provide parents with staff email addresses. (JS)

  • Could hand letters out as they leave school to ensure they get passed to parents (Y3)
  • Children not always the most reliable post people! (Y3)
  • Relying on children to inform adults doesn’t always work. (Y3)
  • Communication with parents on activities. We are reliant on letters coming home with children or sometimes nothing appears eg: in the calendar of events it referred to Year 3/4 football at UEA but no one knew what this was and I heard nothing about it. (Y3)

We have tried a range of different approaches to sending letters home. We are not able to hand the letters out to children as they leave as they often do not leave from their classrooms with their class teachers but from the ICT suite or music room with different members of staff. We do send out all letters via email too if we have your current email address on record and all our letters are placed on our website for your information. Whilst no system is ever foolproof, we feel that this is probably as thorough as we can make it. Inevitably there will be something that doesn’t get to you despite our best efforts, but regular checking of the website will ensure that you do not miss anything. (JS)

  • Website – a bit sporadic with what is on and what is not. (Y3)

We are really disappointed to hear this as we have completely reinvented our school website. We spend a lot of time and effort filling it with all the amazing things going on in school and feel that it is a fantastic resource for parents and children. If there is something you feel that should be on the website but isn’t, we would really like to hear from you. We are very proud of our website and want it to continue to grow and develop, so your suggestions would be most welcome. Please email your ideas to us (office@colmanjunior.norfolk.sch.uk). (JS)


Environment/atmosphere

What we do well:

  • CJS is a buzzing learning environment where every child is included, respected and cared for. As a parent I always feel that the teachers and teaching staff are working extremely hard to do the best for my children and for every child at the school. I could not wish for a better junior school for my children who are very settled and happy at Colman – thank you! (Y6 and Y4)
  • Positive, supportive atmosphere (Y4)
  • Provide a safe, healthy and positive environment for the children. (Y4)
  • Nice sense of community (Y3)
  • Welcoming, fun, warm feeling school. My child is happy and keen to learn. (Y3)
  • The school is very open and welcoming. Our child enjoys coming to school and is doing well. (Y3)
  • The school is a very welcoming environment for children and my child loves going to school. (Y3)
  • I think the school has a lovely feel to it and a real community of caring people. The children are polite and caring and all know each other which is a credit to the school. (Y6)
  • General atmosphere – school is calm, relaxed and welcoming. (Y6)
  • School is warm and welcoming. (Y6)
  • Developing the field – when and how it is used (Y5)

What could be better:

  • Nicer environment for parents and siblings to wait after school. (Y4)
  • Congestion at school gates at drop off/pick up a concern (Y4)
  • Although the field area is great, it would be good if there were more trim trails, tyre parks etc. (Y3)

We are looking to develop our outside spaces in the future and have made a good start with our wildlife garden and developing areas of our school field as alternative play spaces. Thank you for your ideas, which we will use to inform our future plans. (JS)


Lunchtimes

What could be better:

  • My only concern is that my child generally needs gentle encouragement to eat (especially his healthy lunchbox options). Sometimes I think that he is a bit too puffed out after play time to fancy it. Perhaps a calmer final 5 minutes before lunch? (Y4)
  • The reward system for ‘sittings’ at lunch means my child doesn’t get sufficient time to eat her lunch, always bringing some home. I would rather she had ample time to finish it! (Y4)
  • Hot dinners – sometimes the food runs out and the children have to rush. (Y3)
  • More time for each child to eat their lunch. (Y6)
  • Bigger canteen. (Y6)

During the Autumn term, the School Council worked with me to discuss how to improve the dining room experience. At the beginning of the Spring term, in collaboration with the School Council, the dining room was re-organised and routines were changed. No tables or chairs are now moved during the lunchtime period. Also, for the last 10 minutes of lunchtime, music is played, which signifies ‘more eating time and no talking’ time. This enables the children to finish their lunches in a calm environment and in the time available. Lunchtimes are now much improved. (RS)


How your child feels about school

What we do well:

  • We have been very pleased with every aspect where our child is concerned. She is always happy to come to school and always talks positively about her day – thank you! (Y5)
  • A lovely school which my daughter enjoys going to (Y4)
  • Colman Junior is a great school that my son is making great progress at. He enjoys being there and is motivated to learn. (Y4)
  • My child is generally happy so I would say that you do most things well! (Y4)
  • Children seem happy and enthused (Y3)
  • The children feel safe and happy in the school – that’s my impression from visits, fetes etc. (Y3)
  • My child loves coming to school and is making good progress – thank you! (Y3)
  • My son is very happy at school. I feel like he is very well supported and the environment is friendly and safe. (Y3)
  • Making all the children feel happy and secure at school. (Y6)

What could be better:

  • Maybe you could give the children in Year 5 and 6 a survey of their thoughts/feelings and opinions? (Y4 and Y6)

We talk frequently to the children in school about their views and opinions both informally and formally. Within the last year we have surveyed their views on lunchtimes and playtimes and spoken to random samples of children from all year groups about behaviour and safety on several occasions. Subject leaders in school have also spoken to samples of children from across the school about their learning in particular subjects. Class council meetings provide regular opportunities for all children to put forward their ideas and suggestions for improving our school and this has led to significant changes in the way we now organise lunchtimes. (JS)


General

What we do well:

  • All fab – really welcoming as always. Thanks so much for all your efforts. (Y4)
  • Pretty much everything! (Y3)
  • You have not only supported our child but you have also supported the parents. (Y6)

What could be better:

  • It’s not what the school could do better in my view. It’s what the government can do! I honestly think Colman does an amazing job. (Y3 and Y6)
  • More parents could support PTA. (Y3 and Y6)

We fully agree with this. We have a fantastic PTA, run by only a handful of parents between the two Colman schools and they are always looking for more parents to get involved and help with ideas, events and fundraising. School budgets are increasingly under pressure and there is very little money left over after paying salaries and utilities to provide the extra things that make our school a fantastic place to be. In the last two years the PTA has funded two class sets of iPads for our school – something that we would never have been able to afford without their generous help. This year we are looking to fundraise to improve our outdoor play, which we all know needs to be better. Your help with the PTA is an important part of ensuring that we raise the money needed to improve your child’s school experience. Our PTA has a page on our website and can be contacted via this page or through the school office (office@colmanjunior.norfolk.sch.uk). (JS)

  • Would like parents to be able to be more involved. Am all for fostering independence but Colman Junior feels like a ‘closed shop’ compared to Colman Infants which I always felt was very accessible. Parental involvement should be considered important beyond age 7. (Y3)
  • Parents have not been invited to help in school. Only on trips. (Y3)
  • It would be nice if parents had more opportunities to come into the school. (Y3)

Parental involvement is an area we are actively working on, following comments in last year’s parent survey. We have increased substantially the number of opportunities for parents to come in to school this year; each year group had some form of parent event in the autumn term, from poetry recitals in Year 5 to Victorian museum in Year 6 and these opportunities to share learning with parents will continue throughout the school year. We have also had maths evenings for parents in both the upper and lower schools, an assessment evening and a safer internet evening for parents. We also offer a regular forum for parents with Special Educational Needs. Additionally throughout the year there are many performances, such as the Year 3 Christmas play, the summer term Year 6 production and various musical performances. Many of these opportunities have been recently introduced to bring parents in to school. Many parents have recognised that we are a very welcoming school and we are looking to continue to develop this further. (JS)

  • Please have fruit or breadsticks at Friday library read, not biscuits. (Y6)

The children are really enjoying our new library and as part of this we have been inviting children to come along and change their library books or hear a story after school on a Friday. Although we do aim to promote healthy eating and snacks in school we also want to promote the idea of a balanced diet and feel that a biscuit after school on a Friday can be part of this. (KH)

  • Encouragement of healthy eating eg: instead of ‘sweets’ at PTA disco, could we not see a healthier option here? (Y3)

Thank you for your comment. In the past there have been healthy options as well as sweets on offer. Unfortunately, the children tend to buy the sweets option. Your comment will be forwarded on to the PTA to consider. (RS)

  • Very little – keep up the good work! (Y6)
  • My child would prefer to eat snack inside the classroom, rather than outside. (Y3)

All children eat their snack outside at breaktime and whilst this may not be your child’s preferred location for this, it does ensure that we make the most of learning time and any dropped food or crumbs are kept out of the classroom. (JS)

  • Online payment system for school meals etc. (rather than cash/cheques). (Y6)

We recognise that this would make things so much easier for so many of you and we are hoping to introduce this as soon as our management information system makes this available. At the moment it is not an option, but we are reliably informed that it is in development. As soon as we have any further information about this, we will let you know. (JS)


Survey 2015 Graphs

thumbnail of Survey 2015 graphs