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  • Issue 33 - 14th June 2024

    Published 14/06/24

     

    Dear Families,

    Thank you to everyone who attended our sports days last week – I am so pleased the rain did not make an appearance and we were able to enjoy it. A big thank you also to all the staff involved in the preparation and planning for such a wonderful event – particularly our PE lead, Mrs Small.  

    Congratulations to all of our children for creating such a wonderful Sports Day on either Thursday or Friday. The whole staff were extremely proud of the passion shown and the teamwork displayed throughout both mornings. The pupils' spirit, as soon as their house song was played, lifted the atmosphere and made for a great event. After having the scores verified by a group of teaching staff, we are pleased to announce BLUE house won both the Y3/Y4 event and the Y5/Y6 event. Many thanks to you all for your support on the day (or both); it makes a huge difference to the children seeing so much teamwork and encouragement on the track. 

    Our staff (and some children) took lots of photos on both days which we will be delighted to share with parents. However, we have a number of children who do not have permission for their photos to be shared online so we must take the time to check these carefully before they are added to our website. We will publish the photos on our newsletter once they have been checked. 

    We do hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did and would welcome any feedback on how we can make Sports Day even better next year. We would also love to hear what you liked about the event, so please leave your feedback below.  

    Emma Fordham 
    Headteacher 

    Key Messages

    Therapeutic Thinking – Parent Workshops 

    Thank you to those parents who attended the sessions. We hope you found them useful. Parents who did come to both sessions were lovely and engaging which is really appreciated. If you are interested in viewing the slides from the presentation, these can be found below.  

    We understand there may have been some parents who could not join the online meeting and we can only apologise for this. If you have any questions regarding therapeutic thinking, please contact Mrs Burgess.

    Online Safety Day – Wednesday 19th June 

    Parents may remember the wonderful ‘Parenting in the Digital World’ workshop we offered in February. The feedback from the parents who were able to attend was overwhelmingly positive. I too found the session invaluable which is why I am really pleased to tell you that Richard will be visiting our school on Wednesday 19th June to work with the children. He will be delivering 2 sessions (one for the lower school and one for the upper school) on this day.  

    https://thestaysafeinitiative.org.uk/our-work/online-safety/  

    Year 5 Parent Meeting – Grafham Water Trip - Wednesday 3rd July at 6pm. 

    Parent view from our parent forum meetings suggest that Year 5 parents would like more information about Grafham before starting Year 6. With this in mind, Miss Simmons will be holding a Grafham information meeting for Year 5 parents on Wednesday 3rd July at 6pm. Here you will have the opportunity to find out more about the trip and ask any questions you may have. Year 5 children are welcome to attend with parents/carers. 

    To gather an idea on numbers and if you haven't already, please let us know if you will be coming by submitting the form below: 

    Year 6 Graduation Events 

    Some parents in Year 6 will have had children who have already come up through the school and moved onto secondary school but for others, this may be your first child who has reached Year 6 at Almond Hill.  We believe it is important to recognise the hard work, achievements and memories that are made in the time children are here which is why we hold ‘graduations’ for all children in Year 6. It is a wonderful opportunity to really celebrate with families and would love for as many parents to attend as possible. Due to space limitations in the hall, we can allow up to 3 guests per child.  

    The graduation will run from 2pm-4pm on the day so where possible, please arrange alternative collection for younger siblings. We like to keep as much of the event a surprise where we can but can assure you, you won’t want to miss it!  

    Children will be given 3 tickets to bring home today – please give these to your child’s guests to bring with them. We know that families will want to come but I must stress that we will be up to our maximum capacity for fire regulations so will not be able to allow additional people to attend.  

    Monday 15th July - 6S  
    Tuesday 16th July – 6B  
    Wednesday 17th July - 6C   

    Read More
  • Issue 32 - 7th June 2024

    Published 04/06/24

    Dear Families, 

    I hope you all enjoyed the half term break, It is wonderful to see the children back and eager to learn. It is hard to believe we have 6 weeks left of this academic year but what a 6 weeks we have planned!  

    I am sure children are still buzzing from our fantastic sports days and of course waiting in anticipation for the results of the house cup.  Once counted, this will be announced in an upcoming achievement assembly and added to our newsletter.  

    Next week, FOAH will be hosting our Father’s Day present room (Friday 14th June). Online payments close today. If you would like to make a payment, please do so on School Gateway. Alternatively, they will be taking cash on the day (£2 per gift) but cannot accept IOU’s.  

    Please be reminded, we have an INSET and Occasional Day on Friday 21st and Monday 24th June and school will be closed.  

    Emma Fordham 
    Headteacher 

    Key Messages

    A Message from Dr. Osborne  

    As some of you may be aware, Dr Osborne has been away from school for a while and I am sad to say she has now taken the decision to step away from classroom teaching. She wanted us to tell you how much she has loved teaching the children at Almond Hill (past and present) and that she will always cherish the memories she has made here as a part of the Almond Hill family. I am sure parents and children will join me in wishing Dr Osborne all the very best for her future. 

    ‘Top of the Hill’ Badges 

    If your child would like a replacement ‘Top of the Hill’ badge, this can be purchased online on School Gateway. Once paid, children can collect from Mrs Fordham.

    Feedback from Parents  

    We hosted a SEND/Pastoral afternoon tea earlier in the term but unlike previous events, the turnout was extremely low. Again, this is the chance for parents to come and talk about all things SEND and pastoral and the team are there to talk to. We had planned another coffee morning after drop off after half term but would like to know from parents if these chances to meet with the team are useful and wanted to ask what the barriers are to attending. Please comment below to let us know if you would like to discuss SEND and pastoral and what the barriers are to coming to the planned events. If we know what they are we can try and work around them.  So far, we’ve only had 2 responses (thank you to those parents) so we wanted to give parents a further opportunity to provide feedback. This will close on Monday.

    Therapeutic Thinking Workshops – Tuesday 11th June  

    Mrs Burgess, our Pastoral Lead, will be running workshops for parents on Therapeutic Thinking. This is an opportunity for parents to gain an insight into the school's behaviour management approach and how we consider what a child's behaviour might be trying to tell us.  She will be hosting 2 sessions. The first will take place in the hall at 2.00pm and will last approximately 1 hour. The second will take place online (via Microsoft Teams) at 6.00pm. We hope to see as many parents there as possible.  

    Click here to join the meeting 

    Meeting ID: 329 620 471 472 
    Passcode: BSwoGb 

    The Next Singing Assembly is Friday 14th June – Lower School  

    Please check your payment history on School Gateway to check if you have a space booked. If you do and you can no longer come, please let us know. If you do not have a space booked but would like to come, you may come along on the morning of the assembly and we will of course let you in if there are ‘no shows’ (we really don’t want any empty seats!) but we cannot guarantee this will be the case. 

    Year 5 Parent Meeting – Grafham Water Trip - Wednesday 3rd July at 6pm. 

    Parent view from our parent forum meetings suggest that Year 5 parents would like more information about Grafham before starting Year 6. With this in mind, Miss Simmons will be holding a Grafham information meeting for Year 5 parents on Wednesday 3rd July at 6pm. Here you will have the opportunity to find out more about the trip and ask any questions you may have. Year 5 children are welcome to attend with parents/carers. 

    To gather an idea on numbers and if you haven't already, please let us know if you will be coming by submitting the form below. The form will close on Friday 28th June.

    Transition Day - Thursday 11th July 

    Hertfordshire’s transition day is on Thursday 11th July. Children in Year 6 will spend the day at their new secondary school, Year 3, 4 and 5 will move up and spend the day in their new classes and our new Year 3 intake for September 2024 will spend the day at Almond Hill so it is a very busy day for all. We know some parents/children find the transition and change of teacher/classes daunting and so as promised, we will ‘announce’ the new class teachers for 2024/25 during that week and before transition day. Families who are joining us from Letchmore will know who their teachers are prior to this date due to additional transition visits taking place.  

    End of Term - Monday 22nd July 

    The summer term finishes on Monday 22nd July. Please note, as always, there will be a cold option only for lunch on this day.  We understand that Letchmore do not finish until Tuesday 23rd July. Where we can, Letchmore and Almond Hill have the same term dates and INSET days but we are separate schools with different commitments so sometimes, differences can’t be avoided. However, I do not want to put unnecessary pressure on families with children in both schools so we will finish early as planned on Monday (12.30pm) but for those parents who really need it, school will remain open until 3.15pm. Children will be invited to watch a film in the hall and will be supervised by support staff. This will be the last day of junior school for Year 6 and their early finish is a rite of passage that we do not want to take away.  

     

    Read More
  • Issue 31 - 24th May 2024

    Published 24/05/24

    Dear Families,

    I hope you are looking forward to a lovely half term break with your families. When we return, we will embark on the final stretch of this academic year! We still have lots of events planned including some much anticipated school trips, graduations and sports days!

    Enjoy the break (and hopefully the sunshine) and we will see you all when we return on Monday 3rd June.

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Forum and Volunteers

    I would like to thank the parents who attended the parents' forum hosted by Miss Simmons this week. This is a really good opportunity to discuss issues that matter to you and has resulted in some really good partnership work resulting in changes to the newsletter, increased accessibility to Bikeability and the return to World Book Day dressing up to name but a few!  Children thrive best when school and home work together.

    As a direct result of feedback from our parent forum meeting, we are holding a meeting for Year 5 parents to share information about Grafham (you will find more information on this further down).

    We hosted a SEND/Pastoral afternoon tea earlier in the term but unlike previous events, the turnout was extremely low. Again, this is the chance for parents to come and talk about all things SEND and pastoral and the team are there to talk to. We had planned another coffee morning after drop off after half term but would like to know from parents if these chances to meet with the team are useful and wanted to ask what the barriers are to attending. Please comment below to let us know if you would like to discuss SEND and pastoral and what the barriers are to coming to the planned events. If we know what they are, we can try and work around them. The form will close on Thursday 6th June.

    I would also like to thank our parent volunteers that are regularly coming in now. It is great to see this slowly increase again after Covid and we are really pleased to have the help! If you have a few hours that you think you could offer to come and help in school, we would be most grateful. Please let us know via the admin email address - admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk

    Sponsored Read

    I am sure children have been telling you all about the wonderful new books that have landed in our class libraries over the last couple of weeks. Our Year 6 HTAs have been working very hard getting these labelled and distributed. We still have some books left to arrive which will be delivered after half term. This week in assembly, children were presented with their certificates of participation and our winners were announced…

    Lower School Winner – Idris in Year 3

    Upper School Winner –Ahyan in Year 5

    Both winners selected a book of their choice as a prize. Happy reading!

     

    Singing Assembly

    Unfortunately, we had lots of no shows this week at our upper school singing assembly – more than half of parents who had booked did not attend. This is a real shame and disappointing for the parents who wanted to come but were unable to due to lack of spaces. The office team have received lots of emails and queries about the sing-a-longs and I would like to remind parents that this has been advertised and spoken about on the newsletter weekly since 19th April. We have also had lots of last minute emails to change/swap/cancel/check bookings. Some of which are not sent until the morning of the assembly. As I am sure you can appreciate, in the morning, the office team are busy ensuring all children have arrived and checking on dinners and may miss last minute emails. Please check your payment history on School Gateway to check if you have a space booked. If you do and you can no longer come, please let us know. If you do not have a space booked but would like to come, you may come along on the morning of the assembly and we will of course let you in if there are ‘no shows’ (we really don’t want any empty seats!) but we cannot guarantee this will be the case.

    Year 3 Collection/Drop off

    A parent has mentioned that it is often difficult to safely manoeuvre around the Year 3 classrooms during drop off and collection due to parents congregating on the steps. Please can I ask parents to not wait on the steps for children and keep this clear for families coming in/leaving site.

    Key Dates Half Term  

    Class Photos – Wednesday 5th June

    On Wednesday 5th June, our photographers will be in school taking class photos. Please send children into school in full uniform (including red school jumper) in the morning. If children are due to have PE, they will need to bring their PE kit to change into for their lesson.

    Sports Day – Thursday 6th and Friday 7th June

    We are looking forward to welcoming parents to our sports days after half term. This year’s sports days will take place in the morning from 9.00am-11.00am.  Parents should make their way to the school field after drop off.

    School will be selling light refreshments and baseball caps so please bring cash with you. There will also be the opportunity to purchase pre-loved books and school uniform. These will be available at the end of sports day too so please take the time to look around and grab a bargain!

    Therapeutic Thinking Workshops – Tuesday 11th June - 2.00pm and 6.00pm

    Mrs Burgess, our Pastoral Lead, will be running workshops for parents on Therapeutic Thinking. This is an opportunity for parents to gain an insight into the school's behaviour management approach and how we consider what a child's behaviour might be trying to tell us.  She will be hosting 2 sessions. The first will take place in the hall at 2.00pm and will last approximately 1 hour. The second will take place online (via Microsoft Teams) at 6.00pm. We hope to see as many parents there as possible.

    Join the meeting now

    Meeting ID: 329 620 471 472

    Passcode: BSwoGb

    Online Safety Day – Wednesday 19th June

    Parents may remember the wonderful ‘Parenting in the Digital World’ workshop we offered in February. The feedback from the parents who were able to attend was overwhelmingly positive. I too found the session invaluable which is why I am really pleased to tell you that Richard will be visiting our school on Wednesday 19th June to work with the children. He will be delivering 2 sessions (one for the lower school and one for the upper school) on this day. If you would like more information on the Stay Safe Initiative and what they do, please visit their website below:

    https://thestaysafeinitiative.org.uk/our-work/online-safety/

    Year 5 Parent Meeting – Grafham Water Trip - Wednesday 3rd July at 6pm

    Parent view from our parent forum meetings suggest that Year 5 parents would like more information about Grafham before starting Year 6. With this in mind, Miss Simmons will be holding a Grafham information meeting for Year 5 parents on Wednesday 3rd July at 6pm. Here you will have the opportunity to find out more about the trip and ask any questions you may have. Year 5 children are welcome to attend with parents/carers.

    To gather an idea on numbers, please let us know if you will be coming by submitting the form below:

    Graduation Events

    The year 6 team are busy organising the graduation events for July. Tickets will be given to children after half term. Please remember, we can only allow 3 guests per child. This brings us to our limit in the hall for fire safety.

    A reminder of the dates:

    Monday 15th July - 6S  
    Tuesday 16th July – 6B  
    Wednesday 17th July - 6C

    2.00-4.00pm in the school hall. 

    End of Term  - Monday 22nd July

    The summer term finishes on Monday 22nd July. Please note, as always, there will be a cold option only for lunch on this day.  We understand that Letchmore do not finish until Tuesday 23rd July. Where we can, Letchmore and Almond Hill have the same term dates and INSET days but we are separate schools with different commitments so sometimes, differences can’t be avoided. However, I do not want to put unnecessary pressure on families with children in both schools so we will finish early as planned on Monday (12.30pm) but for those parents who really need it, school will remain open until 3.15pm. Children will be invited to watch a film in the hall and will be supervised by support staff. This will be the last day of junior school for Year 6 and their early finish is a rite of passage that we do not want to take away.

     

    Read More
  • Issue 30 - 17th May 2024

    Published 13/05/24

    Dear Families, 

    This week has been relatively quiet, with much attention centred around the Year 6 SATs. I'm sure you could hear the collective sigh of relief echoing from the Year 6 classrooms! Our value for May is trust and we can confidently say that all our students gave their best efforts, remained diligent and trusted their peers to create an environment conducive to concentration during their tests. A heartfelt congratulations to Year 6 and a big thank you to the entire school community for their support.  

    Have a good weekend! 

    Emma Fordham 
    Headteacher 

    Key Messages

    Healthy Eating 

    Our school council meet half termly to discuss a variety of issues which most recently included the topic of healthy eating. They discussed the food they eat at school and whether this was a healthy choice or not. Most children agreed they could do more to eat healthier – like choosing to eat the salad and vegetables provided in the dining room at lunch time or bringing a healthier snack to school.

    In response to this, Miss Wase has created a healthy eating week initiative which will be next week. The week will kick off with an assembly and children will complete at least two healthy eating activities and the half term home learning will be based on healthy eating. This helps form part of our wider school objective in improving physical and mental wellbeing.

    Eliminating Economic Exclusion 

    Parents may be aware that we are striving to ensure that we make the expensive business of raising children and sending them to school as affordable as possible. With this in mind, on Tuesday 4th June, we have an advisor from the local authority visiting our school to help us audit and review our practices in order to maximise every opportunity to avoid economic exclusion. One of the activities they have asked us to do before they visit is to complete a parent survey. You will find details about this (and the link) in the letter below.

     

     

    Abel Smith House,
    1st Floor West,
    Gunnels Wood Road
    Stevenage,
    SG1 2ST

    Friday 17th May 2024

    Dear Parents and Carers,

    We are currently working with Almond Hill Junior School to understand how the rising financial pressures due to the cost-of-living crisis might be impacting on children’s learning and to try to ensure that pressure on household income doesn’t have a negative impact on any child’s education.

    We are keen to understand how the culture at school impacts on children and any opportunities they experience throughout the school day.

    We are speaking to school leaders, children, teachers and governors about things such as access to after school and lunchtime clubs, trips, music tuition, the cost of uniform, how free school meals are administered and how children access food during the school day. 

    We will be in school on Tuesday 4th June and it be great to get the views of as many parents as possible in advance of this. Therefore it would be really useful if you could fill in the questionnaire using the following link Almond Hill Junior School (office.com)

    It would be great if you could complete the questionnaire by Friday 24th May.

    Thank you for your support,

    Carole Hinstridge

    School Effectiveness Adviser
    District Lead for Stevenage

    Fundraising – thank you families! 

    I wanted to take the time to thank parents for their support when raising sponsorship for our recent athlete event. We raised £2459 from this event! This is incredible! I am blown away by the generosity and not just for this particular event. As a whole, we are extremely lucky to have families who support our events and help us to raise funds to improve our school – just like the recent sponsored read and government bake sales. Thank you all – your support does not go unnoticed.

    Pop-Up Pool

    You may have seen in the local media that a Stevenage school has got a pop-up pool set up to offer swimming lessons at school. I am pleased to tell parents that we too will be offering this from our playground. We will provide more details when we have a solid plan in place but we are really looking forward to offering this facility to children in the autumn term! Please don’t worry – the pool is heated!

    Summer Sing-a-Long

    Sadly, we had lots of ‘no shows’ at our sing-a-long this morning. If you are unsure if you have booked a space, please check your gateway payment history to ensure you have booked before arriving at school (or contact the school office and we can check for you). The remaining dates are full so please only come if you have booked a space.

    A reminder of the dates:

    Upper School – Friday 24th May
    Lower School – Friday 14th June
    Upper School – Friday 5th July

    Please let us know if you can no longer attend so we can release the space for someone else. 

    Read More
  • Issue 29 - 10th May 2024

    Published 08/05/24

    Dear Families, 

    Next week, children in Year 6 will sit their SATs. It is essential children come to school and on time otherwise they may not be able to sit the tests.  It is important to ensure children have plenty of rest the night before to set them up for the day ahead. We have engaged in lots of practice tests so they are well versed in the process and this should reduce undue anxiety. We see the tests as an opportunity to show what children can do and there should be no other pressure or worries than this. The tests are sent away to be marked externally and the teachers share the outcomes with the children on the day their reports come out. This is done on a one to one basis so children can ask questions and be supported whatever the outcome. 

    Year 6 children only are invited to come to school at 8.30am on all four days of SATs week where breakfast will be provided and they will have the chance to not feel rushed before they start each day. They will be met on the playground by their teachers at this time. 

    It would really help our year 6 children if parents across the school could make a concerted effort to ensure their children are on time for school this week. Some children will be taking their SATs in rooms across the school and late arrivals can cause disruption to these children. Children behaved impeccably during our mock SATs week and I look forward to seeing the same behaviours demonstrated next week.

    Have a good weekend!

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Safeguarding – Late Collection 

    We understand there are times when parents are late for collection but please remember that children must be signed out from the office.  Please can parents not come into school from any other door than the main reception to ensure that children are signed out appropriately.  

    External Clubs for Dance and Musical Theatre 

    We hope children have enjoyed our new dance and musical theatre clubs. These clubs will end at the end of this half term but I am pleased to tell you we are in the process of looking for a new provider to provide similar clubs for the children to join. Watch this space… 

    It will soon be possible to sign up for the football club, which will be running again after half term, please see the sign at the front of the school for more details. There are limited free places on this club. Please contact Mrs Fordham if you are interested in these spaces. 

    Parent Singing Assemblies 

    There are a handful of spaces left on the lower school sing along on Friday 14th June. All other dates are now fully booked. 

    Lower School – Friday 17th May and 14th June 9.00-9.25am 
    Upper School – Friday 24th May and 5th July 9.00-9.25am 

    Year 6 Graduation Events 

    Year 6 Graduation Events 
    Some parents in Year 6 will have had children who have already come up through the school and moved onto secondary school but for others, this may be your first child who has reached Year 6 at Almond Hill.  We believe it is important to recognise the hard work, achievements and memories that are made in the time children are here which is why we hold ‘graduations’ for all children in Year 6. It is a wonderful opportunity to really celebrate with families and would love for as many parents to attend as possible. Due to space limitations in the hall, we can allow up to 3 guests per child. The graduation will run from 2pm-4pm on the day so where possible, please arrange alternative collection for younger siblings. We like to keep as much of the event a surprise where we can but can assure you, you won’t want to miss it! Nearer to the time, children will be given 3 tickets to bring home to give to their guests. These will need to be brought with you on the day of your child’s graduation. We know that families will want to attend but I must stress that we will be up to our maximum capacity for fire regulations so will not be able to allow additional people to attend.  

    Monday 15th July - 6S  
    Tuesday 16th July – 6B  
    Wednesday 17th July - 6C

    Read More
  • Issue 28 - 3rd May 2024

    Published 01/05/24

    Dear Families,

    I would like to start this week’s newsletter by thanking children across the school for being respectful and considerate of the Year 6 children who completed their mock SATs this week. I would also like to congratulate Year 6 on their behaviour and resilience in what can be quite a tough week!

    I hope you enjoy the long weekend and we will see you after the bank holiday. 

    Emma Fordham

    Key Messages

    School Improvement Plan  - Latest Update

    Parent Singing Assemblies

    Thank you to those parents who have already booked a space at our parent singing assemblies. If you haven’t already booked and would like to come, there are still some spaces available. Please use SCHOOL GATEWAY to book.

    Lower School – Friday 17th May and 14th June 9.00-9.25am
    Upper School – Friday 24th May and 5th July 9.00-9.25am

    Toys and other items from home

    Please be reminded that children should not bring ANY toys into school. Children only need a water bottle, books and lunch boxes. We have also noticed an increase in jewellery items and must remind parents that these are also not allowed in school.

    Year 3 Parents

    We are beginning to look at the transition for children from year 2 to year 3 and as parents who have not long been through that process, we wanted to ask for your help. The transition process is incredibly important and we want to make sure we make it as easy as possible for families. Is there anything you wish you had known before starting at Almond Hill or any comments/feedback you would be willing to share regarding the process.

    Year 6 Graduation Events

    Some parents in Year 6 will have had children who have already come up through the school and moved onto secondary school but for others, this may be your first child who has reached Year 6 at Almond Hill.  We believe it is important to recognise the hard work, achievements and memories that are made in the time children are here which is why we hold ‘graduations’ for all children in Year 6. It is a wonderful opportunity to really celebrate with families and would love for as many parents to attend as possible. Due to space limitations in the hall, we can allow up to 3 guests per child. The graduation will run from 2pm-4pm on the day so where possible, please arrange alternative collection for younger siblings. We like to keep as much of the event a surprise where we can but can assure you, you won’t want to miss it! Nearer to the time, children will be given 3 tickets to bring home to give to their guests. These will need to be brought with you on the day of your child’s graduation. We know that families will want to attend but I must stress that we will be up to our maximum capacity for fire regulations so will not be able to allow additional people to attend.

    Monday 15th July - 6S
    Tuesday 16th July – 6B
    Wednesday 17th July - 6C  

    Read More
  • Issue 27 - 26th April 2024

    Published 26/04/24

    Dear Families,

    What a jam-packed week it's been! We've had football matches, the upper school movie night, book sales, Year 5 library visits, special assemblies, and even some fantastic visitors. Keep reading to find out more about what the children have been up to this week.

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Singing Assemblies

    I am pleased to tell parents that we will be offering another opportunity for parents to find out about their children’s experiences at school. Mrs. Cleaves our music co-ordinator has kindly offered to ‘throw open the doors’ for our weekly singing assemblies. Parents are invited straight after drop off on selected Friday mornings to spend around 30 minutes listening (and participating if they wish!) to our music assembly.  There will be 30 places each week. Places can be booked on School Gateway on a first come first served basis and once full, it will automatically close. The booking opened Monday 22nd April and unless full, will close the day before each event.     

    Lower School – Friday 17th May and 14th June 9.00-9.25am
    Upper School – Friday 24th May and 5th July 9.00-9.25am

    Term dates for Next Academic Year

    The term dates for 2024/25 are now on our website (including INSET days). Please follow the link to view.

    https://www.almondhill.herts.sch.uk/page/?title=Term+Dates&pid=24

    INSET/Occasional days for 2024/25: 

    Monday 2nd September 

    Friday 20th December
    Monday 6th January 

    Friday 20th June

    Monday 23rd June (Occasional Day)

    Wednesday 23rd July 

    Clubs on Arbor

    Thank you for bearing with us whilst we dealt with the issue with clubs over the weekend. As you know, Arbor is a new system and we are learning to get to grips with all the things it can do but unfortunately, when learning, this doesn't always go to plan.  We open events on a weekend to make it easier and fairer for parents to book but our office staff do not work at weekends so if there is a problem, we will need your patience in getting it fixed for you.

    Club Year group Day Collection From Start End
    3/4 Football 3, 4 Monday Field Gate 15th April Half termly
    Gardening 5 Monday Acorn House 29th April 24th June
    Rounders 6 Monday Field Gate 29th April 24th June
    Reading Fluency Booster 4 Monday Acorn House 29th April 15th July
    Reading Fluency Booster 5 Monday Acorn House 29th April 15th July
    5/6 Football 5, 6 Tuesday Field Gate 16th April Half termly
    Rounders 3 Tuesday Field Gate 30th April 25th June
    Street Dance All Wednesday Hall 17th April 22nd May
    Stop Motion 4 Wednesday 4L 1st May 26th June
    Rounders 4 Thursday Field Gate 2nd May 27th June
    Musical Theatre All Friday Hall 19th April 24th May
    Rounders 5 Friday Field Gate 3rd May 28th June
    Mad Science All Friday 4O 3rd May 28th June

    Year 3 Writing Day – Pirates!

    We will be welcoming some Pirates into school on Wednesday 8th May for our inspiring writing day. We would like to invite Year 3 children to join them in dressing like a pirate! We welcome all forms of pirate dress but ask that no weapons (swords, cutlasses etc.) are brought into school and that outfits are still suitable for break/lunch time. We are looking forward to an exciting day with our new pirate friends! 

    This is not compulsory and if children would prefer not to dress up, they should come to school in their uniform as normal.

    Goodbye to Miss Baxter

    Miss Baxter will be leaving Almond Hill next Friday to start a new adventure in Early Years. I am sure parents will join me in wishing Miss Baxter all the very best in her new job. 

    Read More
  • Issue 26 - 19th April 2024

    Published 19/04/24

    Dear Families,

    We hope you all had a wonderful Easter break and we're thrilled to see the children back, eager to dive into learning. We've got an array of exciting events lined up for the upcoming term, including our sports days. Lower school's sports day will be held on the morning of Thursday 6th June, followed by upper school's on Friday 7th June.

    Continuing the sports theme, we're delighted to host visits from athlete, Lesley Owusu, along with a variety of sporting events and Year 5 Bikeability sessions.

    That's not all! We've also arranged some fantastic external visits. On Monday, April 22nd, Year 4 will be participating in a team-building day organized by 'Wise up.' This will involve a series of challenges throughout the day, fostering teamwork with support from school staff and Wise Up activity leaders. Year 3 will embark on their writing day which is planned for Wednesday, May 8th.

    There are plenty of opportunities for children to explore beyond the school grounds. Year 5 and 6 will venture to the library, while Year 3 and 4 will engage in regeneration activities in May.  In June, Year 5 will visit Thomas Alleyne for a DT session, and both Year 4 and 6 have exciting school trips planned post-half term!

    A friendly reminder to parents of Year 6 children: our graduation events are scheduled for July (dates below). We'll provide more details closer to the time but we want to ensure parents have plenty of time to make arrangements for this special occasion.

    Monday, July 15th, 2:00-4:00 pm – 6S
    Tuesday, July 16th, 2:00-4:00 pm – 6B
    Wednesday, July 17th, 2:00-4:00 pm – 6C

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Science Morning

    Thanks for the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the Science Morning – we appreciate that it is hard for some parents to attend these events (it is the same for our staff who are parents as well) and would never wish to add to parent guilt. As ever, we will take on board constructive feedback and always consider where we can make changes to help parents as much as we can, such as offering some of our events in the morning as well as the afternoon. 

    Parent Forum Meetings

    As some of you may know, Miss Simmons hosts half termly parent forum meetings. The aim of the group is to share and discuss important educational issues affecting the school and to get parents even more involved in decision making that directly affects your children.  It is an opportunity to provide feedback, discuss future initiatives and national news related to education. Each and every one of you is an expert in what it is like to be a parent at our school and would be very welcome to join Miss Simmons at the next meeting. Please email admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk if you are interested in attending the next meeting which will be held on Wednesday 22nd May - 5:30 - 6:30pm. 

    Parent Singing Assemblies

    I am pleased to tell parents that we will be offering another opportunity for parents to find out about their children’s experiences at school. Mrs. Cleaves our music co-ordinator has kindly offered to ‘throw open the doors’ for our weekly singing assemblies. Parents are invited straight after drop off on selected Friday mornings to spend around 30 minutes listening (and participating if they wish!) to our music assembly.  There will be 30 places each week. Places can be booked on School Gateway on a first come first served basis and once full, it will automatically close. The booking will open on Monday 22nd April and unless full, will close the day before each event.   

    Lower School – Friday 17th May and 14th June 9.00-9.25am
    Upper School – Friday 24th May and 5th July 9.00-9.25am

    New Uniform Provider

    As previously mentioned, we have now moved to a new uniform provider. Along with many other schools in Stevenage, I am pleased to tell you Smarty Schoolwear will be providing our branded uniform. You can order online using the link below or pop into their store in the town centre.

    https://www.smartyschoolwear.co.uk/find-your-club-school-c1/almond-hill-junior-school-c730

    Uniform is still available from our previous supplier, My Clothing.

    Reading at Almond Hill

    This term, we are shining a spotlight on reading so families can feel fully informed in how to support children with developing this key skill.

    • All children in Years 3 and 4 are expected to bring a book banded book home irrespective of reading level and this is to ensure they choose a book of appropriate challenge.
    • Children in Years 5 and 6 that are not yet reading at the age-related level are also given the opportunity to choose books from the colour bands to ensure that they have access to books that are suitable for their reading level.
    • All children who are reading book banded books are assessed half termly (and once in the Spring term as it is shorter) by their class teacher to check whether they should go up a stage/colour.

    All children are encouraged to choose any book they please from the extensive class libraries and this is to support reading for pleasure. The books are organised by genre and children might choose easier reads for fun or harder ones they need support with from parents at home

    ‘Extra Reading’ as an Intervention

    If your child is undertaking extra reading as an intervention, you will be invited to observe them during this time so you are able to support this more fully at home. You will notice that children having this intervention will bring home a Twinkl phonics reading book to read at home as well as their colour banded book and the book they can choose to read from the classroom library.

    This Twinkl book should be fully decodable except for the specific grapheme/phoneme they are working on. This means they should be able to read it fluently for meaning. Your child should be able to tell you which grapheme/phoneme they are working on which will feature somewhere in the book such as ‘ai’ in the word ‘train’. Ideally families should read the Twinkl book several times with their child across the week (as well as the times they read it with an adult in school). This is because there has been some significant research to show that learning to read some texts really fluently for meaning has a positive impact for children learning to read any text more fluently. However, we know reading the same book over and over can feel a bit boring so the book banded book should provide the chance for reading something different but accessible too. Reading fluency is important for all children even if they have secured all of their phonics and we will be offering parents the chance to come into school and observe the teaching of reading fluency later this term.

    If your child is undertaking extra reading as an intervention, you will be invited to observe them during this time so you are able to support this more fully at home. You will notice that children having this intervention will bring home a Twinkl phonics reading book to read at home as well as their colour banded book and the book they can choose to read from the classroom library.

    This Twinkl book should be fully decodable except for the specific grapheme/phoneme they are working on. This means they should be able to read it fluently for meaning. Your child should be able to tell you which grapheme/phoneme they are working on which will feature somewhere in the book such as ‘ai’ in the word ‘train’. Ideally families should read the Twinkl book several times with their child across the week (as well as the times they read it with an adult in school). This is because there has been some significant research to show that learning to read some texts really fluently for meaning has a positive impact for children learning to read any text more fluently. However, we know reading the same book over and over can feel a bit boring so the book banded book should provide the chance for reading something different but accessible too. Reading fluency is important for all children even if they have secured all of their phonics and we will be offering parents the chance to come into school and observe the teaching of reading fluency later this term.

    Glossary of Grammatical Terms

    You will also find stuck in children’s home learning books next week a glossary of grammatical terms that are used in each year group. It was brought to my attention by a parent in a meeting that they were trying to support their child with the home learning but did not always understand the terminology. This information can be found on our website but I appreciate parents don't always think to look there or have the time.

    Read More
  • Issue 25 - 28th March 2024

    Published 27/03/24

    Dear Families,  

    As we come to the end of the spring term, we can look back on some great events and achievements. From football and netball matches to writing awards, from school trips to enriching parent engagement events, the past few months have been very busy! 

    The spring term has flown by and we have lots of opportunities for children and families in the summer term. In our last newsletter, we outlined some of the dates for you to mark in your calendars. 

    The lower school can look forward to an inspiring assembly hosted by athlete, Lesley Owusu, where we'll delve into the world of sports, motivation, and success. FOAH have planned film nights in the first 2 weeks after Easter. We hope to spark some creativity on writing days and we have more trips planned for children through the term. 

    That's not all! Our commitment to fostering meaningful connections extends further with engaging sessions designed to strengthen the bond between home and school with SEND and Pastoral coffee mornings, our parent event focused on reading, SRE sessions and Therapeutic Behaviour Workshop for Parents. Let's not forget the adrenaline-pumping sporting events that will keep our competitive spirit alive and kicking. 

    As we gear up for end of the academic year, our Year 6 students are preparing for their SATS in May. Following this, they'll be treated to a series of unforgettable leavers' events, celebrating their remarkable journey at Almond Hill. 

    Stay tuned for more updates and announcements as we begin the Summer term! 

    Have a good Easter break and we look forward to welcoming you back on Monday 15th April.  

    Emma Fordham 
    Headteacher 

    Key Messages

    Relationship and Health Education – Parent Meetings April 2024

    Year 4, 5 and 6 will be teaching RHE in the summer term. It is part of our policy to offer parents the opportunity to ask questions and view the resources that will be used in lessons, the vast majority of which is statutory. These meetings will be held online via Teams and links for these are below. 

    Monday 15th April - Year 4 - 4.00pm - 4.30pm.  

    Join the meeting now 

    Meeting ID: 356 101 532 377 

    Passcode: pScp9F 

    Tuesday 16th April - Year 5 - 4.00pm - 4.30pm.  

    Join the meeting now 

    Meeting ID: 359 630 498 459 

    Passcode: 2ue8QG 

    Wednesday 17th April - Year 6 - 4.00pm - 4.30pm.  

    Join the meeting now 

    Meeting ID: 344 084 889 606 

    Passcode: b3qjQg 

    Sports Day - Date Change  

    Due to some clashing dates that have been brought to our attention for events outside of school that we cannot influence, we will need to change the proposed dates for sports days - we will still be holding the lower school sports day in the morning of Thursday 6th June but the Upper school  will now be on Friday 7th June. Sorry for any inconvenience. We appreciate for parents with children in upper and lower school, this may present a challenge but unfortunately, we are struggling to fit in all of the planned events whilst also avoiding events in feeder schools and sporting fixtures/educational events externally planned.  

    Therapeutic Behaviour Workshop for Parents – led by Mrs Burgess 

    Tuesday 11th June – 2.00-3.00pm in school and 6.00-7.30pm online

    Year 6 Graduation Events

    Monday 15th July – 6S 
    Tuesday 16th July – 6B 
    Wednesday 17th July – 6C 
    2.00-4.00pm

    Headlice

    Recently, cases of head lice have been identified in the school. Whilst lice are nothing more than a nuisance, it is important that children are checked regularly so that any head lice can be dealt with quickly.

    How to get rid of head lice

    Treat head lice as soon as you spot them. You can treat head lice without seeing a GP.

    You should check everyone in the house and start treating anyone who has head lice on the same day.

    There's no need to keep your child off school if they have head lice.

    Please follow the link for tips and advice. 

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/head-lice-and-nits/

    Sporting Events 

    We have lots of sporting events coming up and as part of our commitment to increasing our offer for children, we hope to be able to offer these opportunities on a regular basis. We know that the location of some events can prove tricky for parents with dropping off and collecting from the venue. If you are not able to commit to this, please can we ask that you decline the consent on Arbor (ideally with a note to explain why) so we can offer the place to another child. We are having to cancel events due to lack of numbers which could be rectified if consent was completed more promptly. There may also be occasions where we are able to offer lifts to those who are unable to get there (this is dependent on a few things, including the member of staff having the appropriate insurance) so it is always worth telling us.  

    School Government Fundraising

    The school government were treated to a visit from a representative of Letchworth Garden House Hospice on Tuesday afternoon in recognition of their great work raising money for both this charity and Cancer Research with the bake sales last half term which was so well supported by our school community. Each member received a certificate to acknowledge their contribution and all were excited to see a huge cheque in person. Actually, only Mrs Fordham was excited about this - one of the children commented they had never seen a cheque in person, never mind a huge one - sign of the times and Mrs Fordham's age perhaps! 

     

     
    Read More
  • Issue 24 - 22nd March 2024

    Published 21/03/24

     

    Dear Families,  

    Spring has sprung! It has been lovely to see some sunshine this week and I wanted to share a picture of some of the daffodils we have on our grounds. Hopefully they put a smile on your face as they did mine! 
     
    With the end of term fast approaching, I wanted to give parents some advance warning of diary dates for the summer term. 

    Relationship and Health Education – Parent Meetings April 2024  
    Year 4, 5 and 6 will be teaching RHE in the summer term. It is part of our policy to offer parents the opportunity to ask questions and view the resources that will be used in lessons, the vast majority of which is statutory.  These meetings will be held online via Teams and links will be sent to parents closer to the dates.  

    Monday 15th April - Year 4 - 4.00pm - 4.30pm. 
    Tuesday 16th April - Year 5 - 4.00pm - 4.30pm.  
    Wednesday 17th April - Year 6 - 4.00pm - 4.30pm. 

    Year 6 SATS 
    Monday 13th- Thursday 16th May  
     
    Year 4 Multiplication check (2 week window) 
    From Monday 3rd June 

    Sports Day (exact times TBC but likely to be 9.00-11.00) 
    Thursday 6th June – Lower School 
    Thursday 13th June – Upper School  

    Therapeutic Behaviour Workshop for Parents – led by Mrs Burgess 
    Tuesday 11th June – 2.00-3.00pm in school and 6.30-7.30pm online  
    See below for more information on therapeutic thinking.  

    Year 6 Graduation Events – 2.00-4.00pm 
    Monday 15th July - 6S 
    Tuesday 16th July – 6B 
    Wednesday 17th July - 6C 

    We will also be planning a reading event for parents for next term. Watch this space.  

    Please remember, all clubs have now finished for this term. The last day of term is on Thursday 28th March and we finish at 12.30pm. Please note, there will be cold lunch options only on this day (cheese and ham). Please help us by clearing any dinner money debt by the end of term. Thank you.     

    Have a good weekend.  

    Emma Fordham  
    Headteacher  

    Key Messages

    Sponsored read – over £1000! 

    A HUGE thank you to everyone who took part in the sponsored read. I am delighted to tell you we raised over £1000! This money will be spent on new books for our school. 

    Litter Pick 

    Along with Stevenage Borough Council’s Environment team, children from Almond Hill, Mrs Fordham, Mr Browne, Mrs Nicholls and Mrs Osborne (who had popped along to say hello to 4O) supported Keep Britain’s Tidy’s national campaign 'The Great British Spring Clean’ this week by participating in a litter pick in our local community.

      

    Make up  

    We have noticed that some children in the upper school have been wearing make up to school. Please note, this is not allowed.

    School Photos 

    Your school photo images are now live and ready to view/purchase.  

    THE DEADLINE FOR FREE DELIVERY TO SCHOOL IS: WEDNESDAY 27TH MARCH 2024 

    Any orders placed after the set deadline will be subject to postage and packaging charges with delivery direct to your home address. For any issue regarding Online Ordering Access Codes, please contact the school office who will have this information available on their systems and will be able to assist you. Should anyone have trouble in placing an order, they can contact DSP directly via email dspenquiries@gmail.com  

    Therapeutic Thinking 

    Therapeutic Thinking is a behaviour management approach which focuses on all behaviour being a form of communication. The basis is that we need to 'analyse' children's behaviour for what they are not saying and put into place support for them in order that they can thrive and develop not only academically but socially & emotionally too. The ethos is that we teach kids to read, do maths, swim and we also need to 'teach' them what positive behaviour looks like. It has to be explicitly taught so we can't bribe with extrinsic rewards as we want children to be able to make good choices for themselves (intrinsic) even when we are not there.  

    When children feel negative, it is harder to make good choices. It's like when we're tired, hungry, stressed we are not the best versions of ourselves. So in order for some children to be able to make better choices we need to help them feel better about themselves by giving them more positive, pro-social experiences. 

    The theory is underpinned by ACES (Adverse childhood experiences), attachment and being Trauma aware and how all these things can impact on children. Research shows for it to work, it has to be a whole school approach and needs to be embedded in policy. Consistency is key so children get the same experiences from all staff which makes them feel safe and secure at school.  

    Everyone makes mistakes and when children get it wrong we focus on repair, reflect, restore strategies such as reflection & restorative conversations to help them make a better choice next time. 

    Read More
  • Issue 23 - 15th March 2024

    Published 15/03/24

    Dear Families,

    A big thank you and well done to everyone who took part in the sponsored read. We finished collecting sponsorship money today and will update you on how much was raised when it has been counted. I hope the children enjoyed reading their books and enjoyed dressing up for World Book Day.  
     

    What a busy week we have had this week celebrating 'British Science Week!' 

    Children across the school have taken part in 'The Great Biscuit Investigation' to see which biscuit makes the 'best dunker.' Year 3 investigated a range of different biscuits; Year 4 observed whether the type of liquid the biscuit was being dunked in made a difference; Year 5 thought about whether the temperature affected 'the dunk' and Year 6 compared different brands of the same biscuit.  

    Yesterday, we held our 'Science Morning' and saw children (and parents) get their hands dirty with lots of hands-on science experiments. Children investigated what happens when cornflour is mixed with water. They also marvelled at the reaction that takes place when vinegar is added to bicarbonate soda. Finally, some children managed to 'grow a rainbow.'  

    We had more than 120 parents attend the morning and It was so lovely to be able to share this with you so thank you for joining us and fully embracing the morning.  

    We took on board the feedback from the previous DT afternoon and made some adjustments to this event (changing it to the morning for example) and would love to ask you for your feedback again. Please leave a comment below – positive feedback or constructive criticism – we plan these events for you to enjoy so it is important we hear your views. 

    Have a good weekend.  

    Emma Fordham  
    Headteacher  

    Key Messages

    External After School Clubs 

    We have lots of wonderful staff here that are always keen to volunteer their time to run after school clubs for our children. We offer these clubs free of charge as we never want cost to be a barrier for accessing extra-curricular activities. However, parents will understand that staff have huge amounts of other commitments at the end of the school day so we can’t always offer as many as we would like. To increase our offer, we have begun introducing external clubs which are paid for by parents. We currently host a dance club on a Wednesday afternoon and will be introducing a Performing Arts club on a Friday and a football club on a Monday and Tuesday. We agreed for these clubs to use our space with the proviso that there were some (limited) funded spaces available for our children. If you feel that cost is a barrier for your child accessing these clubs, please email admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk FAO Mrs Fordham. All emails will be treated confidentially and I really want to build up a list of children who can benefit from these extra opportunities who might not otherwise be able to. Please do get in touch.  

     

    Year 5 Cycling 

    We were pleasantly surprised to see so many people interested in the cycling proficiency this year so much so we had to book an additional slot. Last year, we struggled to fill a slot of 16 spaces! We know, despite adding the additional spaces, there are still people who missed out and we have been in contact with the company to see if we can increase this further. Watch this space...

    In future, we will endeavour to give advanced notice of booking systems opening to allow parents to plan for this.  If possible, we will also offer some spaces to the current Year 5s next year should there be space available.  

    Arbor Parent Portal 

    Please remember, we have moved onto Arbor for communications so all messages will be sent via Arbor not School Gateway so if you haven’t already, please ensure you download the app to continue to receive important information from us. We will continue using Gateway for payments. School Grid and School Cloud have not been affected by this change.

    Attendance 

    As much as it was lovely to see such a high attendance percentage on Tuesday for school photo day (96.4%), please remember education is more important than school photos and it would be even better to see this level of attendance every day.  

    Coming to School Before 8.45am 

    Children are not supervised on the playground before 8.45 so should not be arriving without an adult before this time as it is not safe. Bagels are available after 8.30am.

    e-Scooters in School 

    Further to the information shared on last week’s newsletter, please can I remind parents that e-Scooters are not allowed on the school site.

    Last Day of Term

    The last day of term is on Thursday 28th March and we finish at 12.30pm. Please note, there will be cold lunch options only on this day (cheese and ham). Please help us by clearing any dinner money debt by the end of term. Thank you.   

    Read More
  • Issue 22 - 8th March 2024

    Published 08/03/24

    Dear Families,  

    To recognise British Science Week, we will be inviting parents into school on Thursday 14th March to take part in some exciting science activities. Following feedback from parents, this will take place in the morning. Parents will be asked to join us at drop off and the activities will be completed by 10.15am. There will be refreshments in the hall from 8.45am. This can be accessed from the quadrant. Guides from Year 6 will ensure parents can visit all/any classrooms. Gates will be locked at 9.00am but parents can sign in and enter via the office after 9.00am. The ‘event’ will run from 9.15-10.15am. 

    Please refer to the email that will be sent after this newsletter for the link to view the recording of the online safety parent workshop as well as other great resources to help you protect your child. As per instruction from the organiser, please do not share this online.  The feedback from the parents who were able to attend was overwhelmingly positive (some of the comments shared are below). I too found the session invaluable which is why I am really pleased to tell you that he will be visiting our school on Wednesday 26th June to work with the children. 

    Have a good weekend.  

    Emma Fordham  
    Headteacher  

    Key Messages

    School Photos –Tuesday 12th March

    The photographers will be in next week to take individual photos of the children. If your child is due to have PE on Tuesdays, please can they wear their usual school uniform to school and bring their PE kit to change into for their lesson. Year 6 parents – these photos will be used in the yearbook so it is important children are in school for their photo.  

    Sponsored Read and World Book Day 

    Please accept our apologies, there was an error in the dates for the sponsored read. This was meant to take place from Friday 1st March to be completed on Friday 8th March. However, please don’t worry, the most important part is that children READ and help to raise money for new books so we can extend the date on this if necessary. We will count the proceeds from the 15th March. 

    Some selected children from Year 6 were invited to go to Letchmore to read with younger children. This was a reward/positive consequence for their contribution to the school e.g Reading Mentors and Headteacher Assistants.

    Moving Forward with the Arbor Parent Portal - Action Required

    As you know, we began using Arbor for collecting data at the start of the academic year. We will now be moving forward with the app and will be introducing Arbor communications from Tuesday next week. Adopting Arbor will allow us to communicate with our families more efficiently and bring all our data into one user friendly system. The Parent Portal and Parent App will allow parents to view attendance data, update the contact information that we hold and complete consent forms all from one place on your phone or computer. 99% of our parents have already logged into the Arbor Parent Portal which is fantastic but I must urge parents that haven’t already, to download the app and login. For the time being, we will continue to use School Gateway for payments only with the plan to move everything to Arbor by the start of the next academic year. 

    There is lots of helpful information on our website if you need some guidance: https://www.almondhill.herts.sch.uk/page/?title=Key+Information+and+Apps&pid=223  

    PTIs 

    Parents’ Evenings for the Spring Term will take place on Thursday 21st and Tuesday 26th March. We wanted 4O parents to have the opportunity to meet both Mrs Barham and Mrs Geer together and so their first set of meetings were held on Thursday 7th and the next will be on Thursday 21st March.  The booking system will close at 1.00pm on Wednesday 13th March.  Should you wish to make any changes after this date, please contact the school office. 

    The system we use for booking these meetings is the same as we use for clubs.  Please visit https://almondhill.parentseveningsystem.co.uk to book your appointment. A short guide on how to add appointments is available on the school website. Please log in with the following information: your child’s first name, surname and date of birth. A creche will be available.  

    Parent Governor Positions  

    We would like to ask you to consider volunteering to become a school governor at Almond Hill. Being involved in school governance can build tangible links with your local community and make a positive impact on the life chances of young people. Thousands of ordinary people do something extraordinary every year by becoming school governors, helping drive the strategic direction of our schools and supporting head teachers in delivering the best possible education opportunities for their pupils. 

    We have a group of governors with a wealth of experience who do an incredible job but would love to extend this to include more of our parents.  If you would like to visit or to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me at the school via email at admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk or call our office (01438 233 660). We can arrange a time to meet and discuss the role of governor before you commit. 

    Teenage girl found guilty of driving offence relating to an e-scooter 

     

    Parents are being warned about the dangers of purchasing e-scooters for their children after a teenage girl was found guilty of causing serious injury by careless driving following a collision in Letchworth. 

    On 7 January 2023, at 8.30pm, the teenager, then aged 16, was riding the e-scooter outside Letchworth Railway Station. She attempted to cross the road whilst the pedestrian lights were red and collided with a motorbike. The rider suffered potentially life changing injuries as a result of the collision. 

    The girl appeared at Stevenage Youth Court on Thursday (22 February) where she was found guilty of causing serious injury by careless driving. She will return to court for sentencing in April. Detective Constable Ellie Cowling said: “This was a devastating incident, not just for the victim, but also because a teenager has had to appear in court and has ended up with a criminal record. “I am sure many parents may be buying these scooters for their children thinking they are harmless fun, but as this case demonstrates they can be extremely dangerous, with devastating consequences.” The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that a person must not use a motor vehicle on a road or other public place unless a valid policy of insurance is in place. Although electric scooters are motor vehicles, they are not legal for road use and therefore cannot be insured. They can only be used on private land with the landowner’s permission. 

    “Please think very carefully before you purchase one of these scooters,” continued DC Cowling. “At this current time there are very few places you can legally ride one and we will seize e-scooters being used in public areas and prosecute riders where appropriate. “We have been engaging with the retailers that sell these machines, to advise them to remind any purchasers that they cannot use an e-scooter on a public road.” The full Government legislation on e-scooters can be found here

     

    Read More
  • Issue 21 - 1st March 2024

    Published 01/03/24

    Dear Families,  

    I hope you all had a wonderful half term break. Although this is a particularly short half term, we still have lots to look forward to. In the next few weeks, we have World Book Day, the sponsored read, our family science morning, sporting events, SEND and Pastoral coffee morning, regeneration visits into the Town Centre and we will finish the term with another wonderful Rocksteady Concert before we break for Easter. Keep a look out for updates on our newsletter about these events.  

    A big thank you to the parents who joined Mrs Lyons and I on the online safety workshop last night, which was fantastic! Next week, we will send parents the resources he referred to as well as the recording of the event as I know many parents wanted to attend but could not. I cannot stress enough how much I agreed with his advice.  

    We have had lots of families joining us in the last few weeks and I am sure you will join me in welcoming them to our school! 

    Have a good weekend.  

    Emma Fordham  
    Headteacher  

    Key Messages

    World Book Day - Thursday 7th March 

    Children are invited to dress up for World Book Day on Thursday 7th March.  Please note this is not a non-school uniform/pyjama day. If they wish to dress up, children should dress us as their favourite book character. Parents in the parents' forum had communicated they would really like to do this which is why I have reintroduced it this year but I don't want to detract from the purpose of the day, which is to celebrate books and reading, so any special activities will be linked to that. Children will be given the opportunity to 'parade' their character in class and explain who they are and which book they come from. However, those children who don't want to dress up will not be expected to. I anticipate a greater take up in the younger classes and would prefer parents didn't have to go to any extra expense - although I fully appreciate when my children were in primary school, my sewing and creative skills weren't up to it so a quick trip to a supermarket made my life easier! If your child usually has PE on Thursdays and they are dressing up, please send them in with their usual PE kit so they can change for their lesson (3C, 4H, 4L, 5P and 6B). 

    We will also be doing a ‘sponsored read’ from Friday 8th March – Friday 15th March to raise money for books for our class libraries. Children were told about this in assembly on Wednesday and will have been given a sponsorship form and a reading log to bring home. For more information, please see the email that was sent to families on Wednesday. 

    Some selected children from Year 6 will be invited to go to Letchmore to read with younger children. This is as a reward/positive consequence for their contribution to the school, e.g. Reading Mentors and Headteacher Assistants. The children will be told in person by Mrs Fordham.  

    Parent Science Morning - Thursday 14th March

    To recognise British Science Week, we will be inviting parents into school on Thursday 14th March to take part in some exciting science activities. Following feedback from parents, this will take place in the morning. Parents will be asked to join us at drop off and the activities will be completed by 10.15am. I hope with some advance notice many of you will be able to come along.  There will be refreshments in the hall from 8.45am. This can be accessed from the quadrant. Guides from Year 6 will ensure parents can visit all/any classrooms. Gates will be locked at 9.00am but parents can sign in and enter via the office after 9.00am. The ‘event’ will run from 9.15-10.15am.

    New Uniform Provider  

    In April, we will begin using a local provider to supply our uniform. We will continue to use our current provider ‘My Clothing’ for a short period of time whilst we transition over but wanted to give parents the heads up in case they wanted to wait before purchasing new items. Please don’t worry, the uniform is staying the same and there is no need to change the uniform you already have.  We will send you further information when items are ready to be purchased. 

    PTIs 

    We are planning Parents’ Evenings for the Spring Term on Thursday 21st and Tuesday 26th March. We would like 4O parents to have the opportunity to meet both Mrs Barham and Mrs Geer together and so their meetings will be on Thursday 7th and Thursday 21st March.   

    We will be again using a hybrid system for these appointments, whereby it is parental choice whether the appointment is face to face or online.  However, following feedback from both parents and teachers, all online appointments will take place in a ‘block’ at the start of one evening and a ‘block’ at the end of the other.  We have also increased the number of in-person appointments available to parents as this was the overwhelming feedback last term.  Appointment lengths are ten minutes and teachers will need to keep to strict timings. 

    The booking system will close at 1.00pm on Wednesday 13th March.  Should you wish to make any changes after this date, please contact the school office. 

    The system we use for booking these meetings is the same as we use for clubs.  Please visit https://almondhill.parentseveningsystem.co.uk to book your appointment. A short guide on how to add appointments is available on the school website. Please log in with the following information: your child’s first name, surname and date of birth. 

    Given how the time spent with the class teacher at parents’ evening is finite, we thought it would be beneficial for families to receive their PTI forms before parents’ evening to allow you to digest the information and plan for any questions you may have. Parents of children in 4O will receive their forms on Monday as their parents' evenings start next week. For all other classes, the forms will come home on Monday 18th March. These will come home with your children in an envelope. 

    Parking

    As we are all acutely aware, parking around the school site at drop off and pick up is a significant problem. We are in conversation with a local councillor to try and come up with some strategies to help improve this but this will be an ongoing project. When the school was built, there were far fewer houses and less cars on the road than there are now and the infrastructure was not built for the increased congestion. We have had a look at our demographic and thought it would interest you to see how far and wide our families come, many of whom will need to drive to school not only for the distance but to enable them to go off to work from drop off. However, there are also many families who live in the local vicinity who could absolutely benefit from walking, scooting or riding to school. We will keep you updated on any progress we make.

    PE Days for Spring 2 

    Please see below for the PE dates for this term.  

    Monday  

    3A, 3C, 3W, 6C, 6S 

    Tuesday 

    4O, 5S, 5P, 5W, 6B, 6S 

    Wednesday 

    3A, 3W, 4L, 5W 

    Thursday  

    3C, 4H, 4L, 5P, 6B 

    Friday  

    4O, 4H, 5S, 6C 

    Red Nose Day

    With Red Nose Day approaching, I wanted to let parents know we won't be raising money for this event as we select specific charities in advance and don't like to ask for money from families too regularly. It is also an easy fundraiser for families to support outside of school if they so choose. However, if children want to bring their red noses to school to wear at playtime, this is fine. School will not be responsible for the noses as they will all look the same!  

    Read More
  • Issue 20 - 16th February 2024

    Published 16/02/24

    Dear Families,

    Wow! Our school government organised a wonderful bake sale this week which could not have happened without the support and generosity of our families so thank you! Cakes were 50p each but as mentioned on our most recent newsletter, families were able to donate more than this if they would like. We were not in a position to offer change however, if you feel you gave more than you had wanted and were expecting change, please contact me via admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk  Once counted, we will let parents know how much money was raised for charity but so far, they have raised over £150!. The government are already looking forward to their next event which is focussed on writing.

    In October, we were invited to take part in a video created by Stevenage Borough Council to promote the '5 Ways to Wellbeing'.

    The 5 Ways to Wellbeing films form part of Stevenage Borough Council’s work to address mental health within the town. The films aim to increase awareness of ways young people can improve their mental health and wellbeing. 

    I am incredibly proud to share these videos with you in this week's newsletter and would like to say a huge well done to the children who took part - it certainly was no mean feat! I was also really pleased to see some Almond Hill alumni featured in the videos too!

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Dates for your diary after half term
    I would like to give families advance warning of upcoming school events that will be taking place after half term. Children are invited to dress up for World Book Day on Thursday 7th March.  We will be doing a ‘sponsored read’ from Friday 8th March – Friday 15th March to raise money for books for our class libraries. This event will be introduced to the children once we return from half term.

    To recognise British Science Week, we will be inviting parents into school  on Thursday 14th March to take part in some exciting science activities. Following feedback from parents, this will take place in the morning. Parents will be asked to join us at drop off and the activities will be completed by 10.20am. I hope with some advanced notice many of you will be able to come along.

    5 Ways to Wellbeing

    The 5 ways to Wellbeing are a 5 step framework that people can use to improve their mental health and wellbeing. Implementing each of the 5 ways to wellbeing into an individual’s life can help them feel happier and be able to get the most out of life. Each way to wellbeing helps foster a good mental wellbeing while also improving other areas of their physical wellbeing and improve the community they have around them. 

    The 5 Ways to Wellbeing are: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give. To found out how you can implement them into your life makes sure to watch each of the videos on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.

    5 ways to well-being video (05:46)

    This video focuses on all of the 5 ways to wellbeing, and the importance of them. It also outlines feel good week.

    Connect (03:42) 

    This video focuses on the importance of connecting with others. It outlines ways young people can connect with one another to better their mental wellbeing. Connecting with other people, forming good relationships and friendships are important for wellbeing as they help build a sense of belonging and self-worth, gives an opportunity to share positive experiences, and allows you to get emotional support yourself while allowing you to support others.

     Be Active (03:30) 

    This video focuses on how being active boosts a young person’s mental health. The video explores different ways young people can be active. Being Active can improve mental wellbeing by increasing self-esteem and helping you to set and achieve goals. Being active also causes chemical changes in the brain which can help to positively improve a person’s mood. Aside from the positive improvements to mental wellbeing, it is also great for physical health and fitness.

    Take Notice (03:13) 

    This video focuses on taking notice and how it can help improve young people’s mental health. The video explores all the ways and all the different things young people can take notice of. Taking notice improves mental wellbeing by helping you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. Being more mindful of the current moment can enhance your mental health. This involves being aware of your thoughts and emotions, connecting with your body, and appreciating the surrounding world.

    Keep Learning (03:22)

    This video shows why young people should keep learning and how it can boost their mood. Learning can improve mental wellbeing by boosting self-confidence and increasing self-esteem. Continuous learning is a natural, ongoing process that often occurs unconsciously. Experiencing a sense of growth and development can positively impact your self-esteem.

    Give (04:40) 

    This video focuses on how giving can improve a young person’s mental wellbeing. The video showcases different ways young people can give. Giving can improve mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings and a sense of reward, giving a feeling of purpose and self-worth, and helping to connect with others.

    Website Link: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/five-steps-to-mental-wellbeing/   

    Online Safety

    It was recently brought to our attention that a video, which was deemed inappropriate, was recorded on a child's phone and subsequently circulated among Year 6 pupils. Parents of children involved in this incident were contacted directly but I wanted to remind parents that as a school, we take matters of inappropriate behaviour and the misuse of technology very seriously. This is an ongoing issue for children in our school and we are contacted by parents to report incidents of this nature. I would like to remind you of the school policy regarding the use of mobile phones on the premises. Phones should not be used during school hours, and any breach of this policy can result in the removal of this privilege.

    What is cyberbullying?

    Cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms and mobile phones. It is repeated behaviour, aimed at scaring, angering or shaming those who are targeted. Examples include:

    • spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos or videos of someone on social media
    • sending hurtful, abusive or threatening messages, images or videos via messaging platforms
    • impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf or through fake accounts.

    Face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying can often happen alongside each other but cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint – a record that can prove useful and provide evidence to help stop the abuse.

    Cyberbullying in itself is not a crime and is not covered by a specific law in the UK. However, by committing an act of cyber bullying, a person may be committing a criminal offence under a number of different acts.

    I would urge parents to monitor the use of their child's phone and have a conversation with them regarding the appropriate use of technology.

    Please follow the link to view the HfL online safety newsletter https://best-start-herts.tfemagazine.co.uk/assets/1/spring_2024_parents_newsletter.pdf

    Read More
  • Issue 19 - 9th February 2024

    Published 08/02/24

    Dear Families,

    A big thank you to everyone who brought cakes in for our bake sale next week. The school government have been very excited watching them come and can’t wait for the bake sale. Your generosity has been overwhelming.  Children will need to bring cash to school and cakes will be sold for 50p each. Although we will only be allowing one cake each, in the past, parents have wanted to donate more than the suggested donation or donate for others which will be allowed (but not expected). We know that parents with children who have allergies may wish to bring in their own allergy safe cakes. We will be purchasing ‘free from’ cakes but if you would rather bring in something specific for your child, please bring it in to the office with your child’s name on and we will ensure they get this.

    There has been a slight change to the dates originally planned due to the Year 5 Regeneration Trip on Wednesday so the cakes will be sold to the children on the following days:

    Year 3 - Monday 12th February
    Year 4 - Tuesday 13th February
    Year 5 - Thursday 15th February 
    Year 6 - Friday 16th February

    What an exciting week we've had with trips and visits galore! Read more information about these further down.

    Have a good weekend.

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages 

    Jungle Gym 

    As mentioned in a previous newsletter, we have been working on a project that will see the very popular jungle gym almost double in size. This project has been kindly funded by Friends of Almond Hill and has started this week. Whilst work is taking place, the existing jungle gym will be 'out of bounds'. Please help us to keep children safe by not allowing younger siblings near the work site during drop off and pick up.

    Drop off Zone

    We received a report from a parent regarding some dangerous driving in our school drop off zone which could have very easily led to an incident involving more than one child. This facility is there to make it easier to drop off and collect children from school but it is imperative it is used safely. We understand everyone has busy lives but absolutely nothing is more important that the safety of a child. Please take care and consideration when leaving the spaces, especially when reversing and ensure you have looked for any children who may be nearby.

    Dance Club 

    Please see the below letter regarding an externally run dance club being held at Almond Hill. There are 25 spaces available. When this was last opened for booking, spaces went very quickly so please book on fast to avoid disappointment.  The club takes places on a Wednesday in the hall from 3.15pm with prompt collection from the hall doors in the quadrant at 4.15pm. Following feedback from parents, there will be the opportunity for a one-week free trial before committing. Please follow the link in the letter for information and cost details. Please make sure your child has no other commitments on a Wednesday before signing up (such as tutoring).

    Dear Parents/Guardian,

    I, Christina Marks will be offering the students of Almond Hill School Street dance classes every Wednesday after school.

    Learn the latest dance moves to popular music, these lessons teach a mixture of styles and steps.

    Classes are taught by our team of passionate CMSOPA teachers who all have showbiz CVs and enhanced DBS.

    Class times will run from 3:15-4:15
    To register and book please follow the link below.

    https://christina-marks-sopa.classforkids.io
    Any queries please do not hesitate to ask.
    The ethos which lies at the heart of the school is to dream, aspire, achieve and excel.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Christina Marks.
    Email-
    Christinamarksschoolofperformingarts@hotmail.com
    Tel- 0752585023

    Contacting Premier Education

    If you need to contact Premier Education, our wrap around care provider, you can do so by calling the following number: 07783 306 081. This phone will be answered during the hours of 7.30-8.45am and 2.30-6.00pm. Please note however that this number is for parents to pass messages to Premier such as change of collection details and cannot be used to make bookings.

    Read More
  • Issue 18 - 2nd February 2024

    Published 02/02/24

    Dear Families,

    During week commencing 12th February, our school government will be holding their second event – a bake sale! Please help to support them by bringing shop bought, pre packed cakes into school next week ready to sell at break times the following week. Please ensure these do not contain nuts (like cherry bakewells for example). The children would like to raise money for The Garden House Hospice and Cancer Research UK. Each year group will have the opportunity to buy cakes starting with Year 3 on Monday 12th February. Any cakes left over will be sold to all children on Friday 16th February. Please have a look at the wonderful flyer our Prime Minister, Willow made for more information.

    Have a good weekend.

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    e-Scooters

    Please see the below message we received from Herts Police last week. I would also like to take the opportunity to remind parents that e-scooters must not be brought into school.

    An e-scooter is currently at Stevenage Police Station, having been seized by police. Please remember - if you ride an e-scooter through the public streets of Hertfordshire, you are breaking the law. E-scooters can only be used on private land with the landowner’s permission. Many parents may be unaware of the legislation and are buying these scooters for their children thinking they are harmless fun. However, these vehicles can be very dangerous and many people across the country have been injured because of collisions involving e-scooters. If you are caught riding one on a public highway, pavement, or cycle lane it could be seized by the police and you could also be reported for driving offences, which would lead to significant penalty points and a fine. If you are a parent letting your child ride these in public, you will be the one found responsible and in turn, this could affect your own driving licence.

    Medication in School

    We are seeing an increase in the amount of medication that is needed during the school day such as antibiotics. This takes a considerable about of time for office staff to administer. For safeguarding reasons, 2 members of staff must be present when the medication is taken. The government’s policy for administering medicines in schools states ‘medicines should only be administered at school when it would be detrimental to a child’s health or school attendance not to do so’ and ‘where clinically possible, medicines should be prescribed in dose frequencies which enable them to be taken outside school hours’. If your child has been prescribed a course of antibiotics for example that need to be taken 3 times a day, then unless stated, this could be taken outside of school hours i.e. morning, after school and at bedtime. Parents are also welcome to come to school to administer the medication required if this is at all possible, but fully understand this is not a feasible option for all. You can view our policy for supporting children with medical conditions on our website.

    Increase in Meal Charges

    Please be aware that that from 1st April 2024 the cost of a school dinner will increase to £3.30.

    Lost Property

    We have lots of lost property in school at the moment. Please remember to label all items with your child’s name to make it easier for us to reunite children with lost items. I would also ask that parents check the uniform they have at home (particularly fleeces and jumpers) as we know some children are missing named items but they are not in lost property.

    Diary Dates
     

    For our full calendar, please click the 'button' link below.

    Please click here for next week's diary dates...

    Attendance

    Year 3 - 94.99%
    Year 4 - 93.08%
    Year 5 - 94.33%
    Year 6 - 92.23%
    All students – 93.66%
    Class winners - 6B - 96.5%
    The government expectation for attendance is 96%

    Almond Hill Achievements 

    Click the button below to see all the wonderful things our children have achieved outside of school. 

    House Points

     

    Upcoming FOAH Events

    Valentine’s Sweet Jars – more details to follow
    Mother’s Day Present Room –
    Friday 1st March
    Friends of Almond Hill will be running a Mother’s Day present room on Friday 1st March, if your children would like to do some shopping for the special ladies in their life. All gifts are £2 and there will be a great selection of items - so they are sure to find the perfect gift.  Present(s) can be purchased on School Gateway up until Saturday 24th February. What will your little one choose for you? 
    Movie Nights: possibly Tuesday 16th April (year 3 and 4) and Tuesday 23rd April (years 5 and 6) – subject to enough parent volunteers. Please contact foah@almondhill.herts.sch.uk if you can help with this event.

    In Other News...

    Safer Internet Day
    Next week we will be joining schools and youth organisations across the UK in celebrating Safer Internet Day 2024. Safer Internet Day is a global campaign to promote the safe and responsible use of technology, which calls on young people, parents, carers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, companies, policymakers and more, to help to create a better internet. This year the campaign will be focusing on change online, this includes covering:

    • Young people’s perspective on new and emerging technology
    • Using the internet to make change for the better
    • The changes young people want to see online
    • The things that can influence and change the way young people think, feel and act online and offline

    Using the internet safely and positively is a key message that we promote in school and celebrating Safer Internet Day is a great opportunity for us to re-emphasise the online safety messages we deliver throughout the year.

    We would be delighted if you could join us in celebrating the day by continuing the conversation at home. To help you with this, for the UK Safer Internet Centre have created some free activities and information for parents and carers which are available at: saferinternet.org.uk/SID-parents

    Whether you have 5 minutes to start a conversation or hours to spare, there are top tips, quizzes and films which you can use at home with your child.

    Read More
  • Issue 17 - 26th January 2024

    Published 25/01/24

    Dear Families,

    Clubs have started this week and I would like to remind parents of the importance of letting school know if your child is unable to attend. For safeguarding, office staff will chase parents of children who have not arrived without prior notification. If your child was signed up to a club and no longer wants to attend, please let us know as we may be able to offer this space to another child.

    Following our most recent survey some parents told us they would like regular updates about the School Improvement Plan (SIP) and how this is implemented. The SIP is an ever moving document and progress in some areas will be quicker than others. Please take a look at the document below for an update.

    Have a good weekend.

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Jewellery

    Please support our uniform expectations by not allowing children to wear jewellery to school, particularly hooped earrings. Not only do these cause a safety risk, jewellery in general can cause arguments amongst the children. Children will be asked to remove jewellery if it comes into school and parents will be asked to collect from the office. Please also note we cannot take responsibility for items that have been lost or stolen.

    PE Kit Reminder

    As you will know, we updated our uniform expectations in September last year which included standardising our PE kit. Now that children wear their PE kit to school on the days they have PE, it is important they continue to look smart and ‘ready to learn’. This is expected at secondary school and getting children used to it now helps to set them up for this journey. PE kit should be plain, non-branded and should be black and red – no other colours. Please refer to our website for a reminder of our uniform expectations. https://www.almondhill.herts.sch.uk/uniform

    If you are having any issues regarding cost, please contact Mrs Burgess.

    For sporting events, we have purchased a ‘squad kit’ for children to wear whilst representing our school. We will ask that if borrowed, the kit is washed and returned to school ASAP to be used for the next event. This will be used for the first time today at a football event at Giles. Look out for a photo on our newsletter next week!

    Year 6 SATs

    Thank you to the parents who attended the SATs meeting on Monday. For anyone who couldn’t make it, the slides are available to view on our website. The link below will take you to our SATs resources page where you will also find past test papers. www.almondhill.herts.sch.uk/sats

    Read More
  • Issue 16 - 19th January 2024

    Published 19/01/24

    Dear Families,

    Miss Simmons will be holding the Year 6 SATS meeting online on Monday for parents of children in Year 6. This is an opportunity to gather information and resources for the SATs which will take place in May.  I would encourage all parents to attend where possible as the information provided is invaluable. The meeting will start at 6.30pm and will last approximately 30 minutes. Please use the link below to join. 

    Microsoft Teams meeting
    Click here to join the meeting
    Meeting ID: 393 544 013 633
    Passcode: 7pSDu8

    Please help to support our school government’s next initiative. They will be hosting a cake sale to raise funds charity. Please send shop bought cakes (where ingredients can be checked) in w/c 5th February. The sale will take place during playtimes the following week and cakes will cost 50p each (cash).  Please keep in mind we are a nut free school.

    Have a good weekend.

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    A reminder of key dates

    • Tuesday 30th January - SEND/Pastoral Afternoon Tea 2.30-3.15pm – your opportunity to speak to Mrs. Birchall and Mrs. Burgess about all things relating to SEND and/or pastoral needs and a chance to meet and chat to likeminded parents. There is no need to book. Please come to the main office.
    • Wednesday 31st January – 50p Book Sale – if you have any books you would like to donate before this date, we would be very grateful. Donations can be given to your child’s class teacher.
    • Monday 5th February - Year 3 visit to North Herts Museum
    • Wednesday 7th February – Uniform Sale 3.00-3.30pm
    • Monday 19th February – Half term
    • Thursday 29th February at 7.00pm – Parenting in the Digital World virtual session for parents. 
      Flyers
    • Thursday 7th March – World Book Day and back by popular demand – children may dress up!
    • WC 11th March – Science Week  - we are hoping to invite all parents to come in during science week for various events – look out for more information.
    • Tuesday 12th March - SEND/Pastoral Coffee Morning 8.45-9.30am – please come to the Friendship Room which can be accessed via the quadrant.
    •  Tuesday 12th March – Individual school photos
    • PTIs – these will take place on Thursday 21st and Tuesday 26th March (times tbc)
    Read More
  • Issue 15 - 12th January 2024

    Published 12/01/24

    Dear Families,

    Welcome back to the Spring term! A big welcome to the families who have joined Almond Hill this term! I hope you enjoyed the Christmas break with your families – Miya certainly did! The children have shown me this week how enthusiastic and well prepared they are for the term ahead.

    We have plenty to look forward to and some of the key events are highlighted below - please add the dates to your diaries.

    • Tuesday 16th January – FOAH Meeting at 5.30pm via Microsoft Teams – teams link can be found below.
    • Year 6 SATs Meeting - Monday 22nd January 6.30pm – this is an opportunity for Year 6 parents to meet with the Year 6 teachers (online) to gather information and resources for the SATs which will take place in May.  I would encourage all parents to attend where possible as the information provided is invaluable.
    • Tuesday 30th January - SEND/Pastoral Afternoon Tea 2.30-3.15pm – your opportunity to speak to Mrs. Birchall and Mrs. Burgess about all things relating to SEND and/or pastoral needs and a chance to meet and chat with like-minded parents. There is no need to book. Please come to the main office.
    • Wednesday 31st January – 50p Book Sale – if you have any books you would like to donate, we would be very grateful. Donations can be given to your child’s class teacher.
    • Monday 5th February - Year 3 visit to North Herts Museum
    • Wednesday 7th February – Uniform Sale 3.00-3.30pm
    • Monday 19th February – Half term
    • Thursday 29th February at 7.00pm – Parenting in the Digital World virtual session for parents. 
      Flyers
    • Thursday 7th March – World Book Day and back by popular demand – children may dress up!
    • WC 11th March – Science Week  - we are hoping to invite all parents to come in during science week for various events – look out for more information.
    • Tuesday 12th March - SEND/Pastoral Coffee Morning 8.45-9.30am – please come to the Friendship Room which can be accessed via the quadrant.
    •  Tuesday 12th March – Individual school photos
    • PTIs – this will be take place on Thursday 21st and Tuesday 26th March (times tbc)
    • For children who have a reading intervention to help develop their skills we would also like to invite those parents in at some point in the coming term to learn how to help their child even more.

    As well as these events, there will be lots of other things planned such as sporting events and writing days which we tell you all about in our upcoming newsletters.

    Have a good weekend.

    Emma Fordham
    Headteacher

    Key Messages 

     

    Safeguarding
    Please be reminded, we are a nut free school. Children should not be bringing any products containing nuts into school. This does include treats for the class on birthdays or gifts.

    Organising Events – Deadlines

    As I am sure parents will have noticed, we have been working hard to offer lots of opportunities for children to take part in different events and activities. We ‘subscribe’ to Stevenage Sporting Futures who organise a variety of sporting events throughout the year. As well as this, there are adhoc events in maths, writing, visits to our feeder schools, netball/football matches and plenty more. With lots of children here, it is important we are organised when planning these events to ensure risk assessments are completed in plenty of time and everything is in place for the event to be safe and successful. We know parents are very busy and sometimes emails are missed but going forward, we will be adding a date and time to our deadlines for consents etc. If these deadlines are not met, we will offer the space to someone else. Often the sporting events have a minimum numbers requirement and if we do not have enough people, then the whole team will miss out. There are other events that we have paid for and would lose money if the space is not taken. We will endeavour to ensure our deadlines are as reasonable as possible to help parents with this although please bear with us as sometimes information from external providers is not given to us as promptly as we would like.

    We have set ourselves a target this year to ensure every child is involved in an additional extracurricular sporting activity or event and are tracking this carefully to ensure all children have access to these opportunities.

    I would encourage all parents who have not already done so to log in to Arbor as this will be a key method of communication for consents etc going forward.

    Reports Feedback

    Firstly, I would like to thank the parent who alerted me that we did not come back to the reports survey after this was completed by many parents in the summer. I can only apologise for this oversight and assure parents the feedback has been read and will be used to adapt/improve what we provide in the summer term.

    I am going to take the time to address some of the points here. It was lovely to see so many responses with the vast majority being positive.

    Parents told us they were happy with the length and amount of information received and particularly liked the child’s feedback section. The reports were described as ‘in depth, easy to read, and not generic’. One particular comment really stood out ‘I am always impressed with how much thought and work goes into this report, it’s a challenge to do that for each kid’. We are really grateful for such positive feedback.

    As we would expect when asking for feedback, there are some areas that parents felt could be improved and some of which requires a more personal, 1-1 response and where this is possible (i.e. a name has been provided as the feedback is anonymous), I will be in touch if I have not already to discuss the reports with you

    Some parents requested more information per subject regarding areas of concern and/or praise and some asked for more detailed information, particularly if their child is not at age related. Another request was for school reports to be received more regularly.  The general comments section is used to provide further information on what a child has done well or where a child needs to develop.  School reports take a huge amount of time to draft, read and rewrite and providing additional reports is not feasible. The school holds two parent and teacher meetings a year as well as the school report, but as always, parents are very welcome to meet with their child’s class teacher to discuss any areas of concern/interest. Please use the year group emails to let teachers know if you would like to speak to them about anything,

    Whilst some parents said the reports felt personal, there were some who felt they were quite generic. The reports are written using a formula to ensure all parents receive the same areas of information. However, I read every school report and can assure parents they are personalised to your child.

    Finally, I would like to say thank you to so many of you for responding to the survey about reports. In the past years, I have only received two or three responses and had considered not adding it to last year. I am so glad I did as I genuinely appreciate and consider all comments.

    Online Safety - Managing Screen Time

    99% of current children will own a smartphone before they reach 18 📱👶. With phones and other devices offering an increasing number of ways to pass the time, it can prove difficult for young people to set them aside. As a gateway to messaging services, games, television, music and more, digital devices can become borderline indispensable items in a young person's life. 

    Studies have shown, however, that managing a child’s screen time can have positive impacts on their cognitive development. The guide below provides you with some simple but effective tips to help you bring your family’s screen time down to a healthier level, while suggesting alternative activities that are far less reliant on technology.

    Managing Screen Time Guide

    Term Dates

    We have not yet planned INSET dates for the next academic year but we have had some parent queries regarding the start of term in September 2024 so we have liaised with Letchmore and agreed we will have an INSET day on Monday 2nd September and term will start on Tuesday 3rd.  I hope that helps parents to plan their summer holidays.

    Read More
  • Issue 14 - 15th December 2023

    Published 15/12/23

    Dear Families,

    A week of Christmas dinners concluded with Year 6 today with some very strange looking staff! It has felt very festive around school this week with Christmas jumpers and class parties!

    Our Rocksteady bands performed for their parents this week and what a fabulous job they did! Well done everyone. Our choir visited Hampson Park to sing for a wonderful community group and they sounded fantastic! I accompanied them along with some other staff and felt tremendously proud of their beautiful voices and wonderful behaviour. I would like to say thank you to Mrs Cleaves who gives up numerous lunchtimes to practise with the children regularly in order to achieve such excellence. I also believe that the singing that they indulged in on the walk back from Hampson Park to school entertained the local community at large!

    I would like to say a big thank you to the FOAH volunteers who have arranged some lovely events for the children this term such as the silent disco, sweet jars and 'Design a Christmas Card'. Not only are these events really enjoyable for children to participate in, they raise funds for the school that we use to improve the experience of all children whilst they are here. We are currently working on a project that will see the very popular jungle gym almost double in size. Watch this space…

    Next week, we are onto our final few days of the autumn term. Year 6 children and our school choir will go to St Nicholas’ church on Tuesday for their carol service which is one of our favourite Almond Hill traditions. It is always a lovely service and a real pleasure to be a part of. If you are attending, please remember, space in the church only allows for two parents per child. Please don’t arrive until 1.30pm to allow children to arrive and get organised. We would also ask, to ensure all children are kept safe, that you allow children and staff to leave first and return to school. Parents are then welcome to collect children early from their classrooms. They must be signed out by their teacher first. As normal, to help parents with siblings in other year groups, you may collect them from their classrooms too.

    Mrs Lyons and Miss Simmons will host our very popular Christmas Talent Shows on Tuesday too. Teachers have been running auditions for children who want to take part and they will be informed by their class teacher if they have been successful. They may bring special props or chosen outfits for their performance. Children in the upper school will perform in the morning and the lower school in the afternoon. Good luck everyone!

    That brings us to our final day on Wednesday. Please be reminded, our cook is preparing cold options only on this day and we will finish at 1.00pm.

    All that is left for me to say, from all of us at Almond Hill, we hope you have a very happy Christmas with your families and look forward to welcoming you back to the Spring term on Monday 8th January.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Dates for the Diary for Next Term

    • Wednesday 10th January – Uniform Sale 3.00-3.30pm
    • Tuesday 16th January – FOAH Meeting at 5.30pm via Microsoft Teams
    • Tuesday 30th January - SEND/Pastoral Afternoon Tea 12.30-1.15pm
    • Wednesday 31st January – 50p Book Sale
    • w/c 5th February - Feel Good Week - Environment Theme
    • Monday 5th February - Year 3 visit to North Herts Museum
    • Wednesday 7th February – Uniform Sale 3.00-3.30pm
    • Monday 19th February – Half term
    • 29th February 2024 at 7.00pm – Parenting in the Digital World virtual session for parents. 
      Flyers
    • Thursday 7th March – World Book Day and back by popular demand – children may dress up!

    Parent Engagement Feedback

    Thank you to the parents who took the time to give feedback on our engagement events. I am pleased so many of you enjoyed the DT afternoon. We had some suggestions on how to make this particular event even better next time and I agree there are things we can do to achieve this. This was our first afternoon of this kind and appreciate the feedback. It seems the most frustrating part of the afternoon was the queue for the hot glue guns. Unfortunately, we have found that normal glue (Pritt stick/PVA) is not sufficient for these types of projects but for health and safety, hot glue guns are not allowed in the classrooms and must be supervised on a 1:1 basis. I liked the suggestion made by one parent of completing the toy assembly in advance to allow families to focus more on the craft element of the project. It was also suggested that the day still finished at normal time when running afternoon events.  We are in a unique position as a junior school as many of our families have children at Letchmore and therefore need to be there to collect them at the end of the day. Leaving early makes life easier for these families and stops the need for them to go back and forth.

    Arbor Parent Portal

    We now have 91% of parents who have logged onto the Arbor Parent Portal. THANK YOU! This is fantastic. If you have not yet logged on, please do as we will be using Arbor more and more over the coming months. If you need support in accessing the portal, please contact our school office.

    Read More
  • Issue 13 - 8th December 2023

    Published 08/12/23

    Dear Families,

    The countdown to Christmas at Almond Hill is in full swing and wow! What a fantastic start! Children in Year 4 went on the Faith Tour on Tuesday where they visited the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, All Saints Parish Church and the Jamia Gulshane Baghdad Mosque. On Wednesday, Year 6 went to visit Thomas Alleyne, one of our feeder schools, to watch their production of ‘Back to the 80’s. Children and staff in Year 3 put on a wonderful Christmas Musical on Thursday to get us into the festive spirit and today, FOAH hosted our Christmas Present Room.

    Next week, each year group will be having their Christmas dinners and on Thursday our choir will be making their way to Hampson Park to sing carols. On their year group Christmas dinner days, children will also have their class parties and they may wear a Christmas jumper, party clothes or something festive.

    On Monday 18th children in Year 6 and the choir will be having their church rehearsal ready for the big performance on Tuesday. Please note, the church can only accommodate one parent per child to watch. We will finish the week with the Christmas Talent Shows with the upper school’s taking place in the morning on Tuesday 19th and the lower school’s will be in the afternoon.

    We break for Christmas at 1.00pm on Wednesday 20th December.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Bring your toys to school day!

    Our newly elected school government have pressurised Mrs. Fordham into holding their first promise! On their Christmas dinner day, children can bring a toy to school such as, dolls, teddies and fidgets. Please see their wonderful poster below for more detailed information. Please get behind our school government and support their first event!

    Online Safety

    Online Safety
    In assembly on Monday, I shared an online safety video which has been made by the online safety group led by Mrs Lyons as well as the new online ownership safety code for the classrooms. Both of these can be seen below.

    Parking

    A local resident has contacted me regarding parking around the school. Please remember that although you need to collect your child from school, there are people who live in the houses locally and they need access to their driveways etc.

     
    Read More
  • Issue 12 - 1st December 2023

    Published 01/12/23

    Dear Families,

    I wanted to start this newsletter on a very positive message. The children have been on a lot of outings recently including the cinema, space centre, other schools and various sporting events. I am incredibly proud to share that we are consistently getting feedback that the children's behaviour is really good - both from our staff and other staff/spectators at the events particularly in comparison to other schools. It is really brilliant to hear this! As part of 'The Climb,' we introduced a behaviour curriculum and we can really see the difference for many children. A big well done Almond Hill!

    FOAH will be hosting the Christmas Present Room next Friday. Please remember that online payments close today (Friday 1st December). Cash will be accepted on the day but they are unable to take IOUs. Recently, I told parents that we would be having class reps from each class to help support the FOAH at events and they will also be helping on the day. If you are able to spare some time in the morning to volunteer in the present room, please get in touch!

    Have a good weekend.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages
     

    Parent Survey Feedback

    Do you use Seesaw?    What do you like about it?    Is there anything else you would like to see on Seesaw?

    It is really promising to see that the vast majority of parents who responded to the survey use Seesaw. We invested in Seesaw to help bridge the gap between home and school. The aim was to help you open the dialogue with your children about what they have been learning and give you an insight into their time at school. Many of the teachers here are parents and we understand the pain of asking our child what they have been doing only to receive an answer like, ‘I can’t remember’.

    Parents have reported that they find the app easy to use and love to see photos of their children’s work. We researched a lot of different apps when deciding on what we would like to invest in and feel Seesaw is by far the best – I have used it as a parent myself and agree with the comments about how wonderful it is.

    What else could we use Seesaw for?
    Some parents have said they feel it is not being used to its full potential and in part I agree. Seesaw has a lot to offer however I am mindful that the main responsibility for teachers is to teach and although we are looking at how we can move forward with Seesaw, we want to ensure it is always seen as a positive tool and that it does not become too onerous.

    Messaging the Teacher
    There is the option to message the teacher but this has been switched off. The reason for this is we already use a system for messaging parents and have the year group emails, and feel having too many channels for communication could lead to messages being missed. You are always welcome to email your child’s teacher using the current methods.

    Posting to the journal from home
    Some parents have asked about posting to their child’s journal from home. In order to do this, class teachers need to issue a ‘home learning code’ and I am going to discuss the pros and cons of this with teachers over the coming months – watch this space!

    The general consensus is that parents would like to see Seesaw used more. All teachers and support staff have now received training on the app and classes have an iPod to use specifically for Seesaw. Please remember, your child must have image consent to be included in group/class posts. 

    Collection for Children in Year 3 and 4.

    Children in Years 3 and 4 need to be collected by an adult unless we have written permission for children to go home with older siblings. Please confirm this with teaching staff via the year group email. There are no laws about this as such as it relates to the level of the child's competency however we feel that most children in Years 3 and 4 do not have the experience to make safe choices when circumstances are not as they have expected. It is also sometimes not possible for an older sibling to keep a younger sibling safe. Ultimately it is the parents' decision however we are responsible for the safeguarding of the children so will want some dialogue if children younger than Year 5 are not being collected by an adult. As the school has become larger and access routes (both pedestrian and vehicle) have become busier, this becomes increasingly important.  There were two incidents at the end of the school day in the last week that have meant that children have not been directly supervised by an adult which may have compromised their safety and I really want to avoid a near miss becoming an accident. 

    Use of Mobile Phones in School

    Please can I ask parents to remind children in the upper school that phones must not be used in school grounds. I understand the desire for children to have phones in the event of them walking home independently but they  must be switched off when in school and should not be used. This includes taking photos.

    Attendance

    The government expectation for attendance is at least 96%. We have seen an increase in absence due to sickness and wanted to remind parents that although there will be times when your child is too poorly to attend school, the NHS has guidelines in relation to certain illnesses and whether a child is 'too ill for school'. Please take a look (and save) the link below for reference. We know good attendance improves learning and would encourage parents to support their child in coming to school.

    https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/is-my-child-too-ill-for-school/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

    Parent Forum

    Our next parent forum will be held at 5.30pm on Wednesday 13th December and Miss Simmons would love to see some parents there especially those with children in Year 6. Please contact Miss Simmons via the Year 6 email address if you would like to come.

    Year 3 Christmas Musical

    I wanted to thank parents of Year 3 for their support during the organisation of the Christmas Musical. Limiting tickets is not an easy decision but is unfortunately not something we have a choice on due to the restrictions with our space. We are really looking forward to seeing you next week. FOAH will be there in the evening selling refreshments too!

    Non uniform Day - Friday 8th December

    Please remember children can wear non uniform next Friday to help support The Stevenage Community Trust's Christmas Gift Appeal. Payments can be made now on School Gateway.

    Parent Feedback - Parent Engagement Events

    A big thank you to the parents who responded to the cinema survey on last week’s newsletter. We had almost 100 responses with the vast majority of those saying they felt overall the cinema trip was a good idea and we agree! It was amazing to see so many of you at the open afternoon yesterday enjoying the DT Christmas crafts. It made me think of the elf workshop! I hope the QR system made signing in quicker and easier for parents (and hopefully meant less time was spent waiting in the cold).

    As so many of you answered my quick survey last week, I would like to ask another this week.

     

     

    Read More
  • Issue 11 - 24th November 2023

    Published 23/11/23

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    I hope children enjoyed their trips to the cinema over the last 2 weeks. This was a lovely experience for them all and tied nicely into Feeling Good Week. A big thank you to Miss Simmons for organising and securing the tickets. Year 5 had their trip to the Space Centre last week which I have heard fabulous things about!

    What a wonderful end to Feeling Good Week!  The children of Almond Hill were delighted to hear Natalie Shay's songs and hear about her experiences.  They listened with great interest as she bravely shared her feelings about broken friendships, resilience and how important it is to try to turn a negative into a positive.  Many of the children stated that it was the first time that they had heard professional live music and it was a delight to see their captivated faces. Thank you, Natalie Shay!

    Next week, we will be holding our very popular used book sale. These sales are held during the day so children will need to bring money into school if they would like to purchase any books (50p each). On Thursday, we have our first SEND and Pastoral Coffee Morning which is hosted by Mrs Birchall and Mrs Burgess and parents of children in Year 4 and 5 are invited to our DT afternoon. More details for these events can be found below.

    Have a good weekend.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages
     

    Parent Survey Feedback

    Beyond the national curriculum, what do you think are the key experiences to gain at Almond Hill?

    I am very grateful that parents were able to go into such detail in response to this question. There was so much positive feedback that we have collated some of the words used to provide a snapshot of the responses. It’s particularly fantastic to see words like gratitude and empathy being used after having a focus on these values.

    On the other hand, some parents said they didn’t feel there was much to offer aside from the usual curriculum. Last year, I understand that some trips were cancelled and although this was beyond our control, I know this was disappointing for those affected. This year, all year groups have at least one trip planned (some have already happened) including the Year 5 trip to the Space Centre, free cinema trips for all year groups, the Year 4 Faith Tour, Zoology trips, trips to the museum, our annual residential trip for Year 6 to Grafham Water as well as lots of other in school events like our recent Feeling Good Week. We are always conscious when arranging trips as we know there is a cost involved for parents but do feel it is important for children to have opportunities to go on school trips. We have also increased our offer of school clubs by investing in clubs run by Premier Education. We also have a well established school choir for children in the upper school and our ECO committee and Journalist club, as well as teacher led after school clubs which are free of charge.

    Cinema Trips

    As a school with high expectations for behaviour and learning where hard work is greatly valued, we believe taking advantage of occasional opportunities like trips to the cinema where there is no cost involved and that complement the curriculum are a good idea. We are also aware that for some children, trips to the cinema happen very rarely or not at all. However, given that we are always interested to know what you think, the best way to gather your feedback is to ask. Your feedback will help us to plan future events.

    School Government

    Every year, children at Almond Hill vote for their Prime Minister and government. Children in Year 6 are invited to form ‘parties’ and canvas children for their votes. Each party has to come up with a school, local, national and international pledge that they promise to fulfil throughout the year. All children had to the chance to vote for this year’s school government. The votes have been checked and verified and I am pleased to tell you that the winners were the Mini Meerkats! Well done to Willow, Abbie, Harmony, Bonnie, Alexia and Roman.

    Flu Vaccinations -  Tuesday 28th November

    Please be reminded the School Nursing Team will be in school on Tuesday 28th November to give flu immunisations to those children with consent.

    SEND and Pastoral Coffee Morning – Thursday 30th November 8.45-9.30am

    We are really looking forward to seeing parents and carers at our coffee morning on 30th November where Mrs Burgess and Mrs Birchall will be there to offer support and advice to parents about all things SEND and/or pastoral. I am also incredibly pleased to tell you one of our parents has offered to join us for the session. This particular parent has extensive personal experience about what it is like to have a child with SEND and pastoral needs. She is happy to offer support to parents who are in a similar situation to herself and her family having faced barriers throughout the primary school journey but with the help of school, has seen her child gain the necessary support to flourish in a secondary school provision. I am very grateful she is giving her time to offer families and carers a parent's view and I am sure there are many parents who could benefit from hearing about her experience. Please do come along.

    Year 4 and 5 DT Afternoon - Thursday 30th November

    On Thursday 30th November, we are inviting all parents from Year 4 and 5 to come in and join us for a DT afternoon as part of our Autumn term engagement events. Parents with children across both year groups are able to visit children in both classes and can move freely between the two. We will be trialling a QR signing in system to (hopefully) make it quicker for parents to sign in. Please bear with us. Children from Year 6 will be helping to support this event by showing you to your child’s class. The afternoon will start at 1.30pm (but please don’t worry if you can’t get to us until later, the doors will remain open) and will finish at 2.45pm to allow parents to collect siblings from Letchmore. You are very welcome to take children home at 2.45pm from any of the classes as you leave. Please go to the classroom door where your child will be signed out by the class teacher. If your child is in Year 6, please go to the front of Acorn House where a member of the Year 6 team will assist you. Only children that are being collected by their own parents/carers may be allowed to leave before 3.15pm.

    Year 3 Musical - Thursday 7th December

    The booking system for the musical closed today. We will now work out how many tickets we still have available and will be in touch with parents to let you know when the system will reopen to allow you to book any additional tickets. This will be on a first come first served basis. We will allow parents to book one additional ticket and will open the system in the evening to allow a fair chance for working parents too.

    Using the School Drop off Zone

    Please can I remind parents that the facility to ‘drop and go’ is for the mornings only. In the afternoons, there is an expectation that parents park, get out of the car and collect their children from their classrooms. This is to keep all children safe as having unattended children walking through the car park presents a significant health and safety risk. Parents should not walk through any of the vehicle gates. This models to children that this is safe behaviour when it isn't. There are pedestrian gates either side of the vehicle gates. Please see the illustration below for a reminder.

    Read More
  • Issue 10 - 17th November 2023

    Published 15/11/23

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    Last week, we invited families to an open evening at our wonderful school. We were overwhelmed by the number of people who came and we were incredibly proud to show them the fantastic displays and engaging activities in each classroom. We had so many volunteers from Year 6 who acted as ambassadors for our school and were tour guides for families. We had lots of positive feedback and I am incredibly grateful these children took the time to proudly represent our school.

    On Friday, we observed a 2-minute silence in honour of Remembrance Day and children in Year 5 and 6 took part in a country wide online assembly. 

    We are now on the final day of Feeling Good Week and I hope the children have been speaking to you about the fabulous activities that hav been planned in school this week.  To prepare us for the week, the children to took part in Kindness workshops last week. You can read more about this further down our newsletter. I would like to thank the staff for putting in so much effort to make sure the week has gone so well with fun sports, cinema trips, performances,  as well as a focus on the more serious side of online safety and addressing worries raised when the school nurses came in! 

    A parent has asked me about having a non-uniform day in support of Children in Need. It can be difficult to accommodate all requests and this term we have focused on local charities with a non-uniform day in support of the Abilities in Me Foundation in September and our upcoming non-uniform day in December in support of The Stevenage Community Trust and their Christmas Gift Appeal. Whilst I fully agree that Children in Need are a worthwhile charity, there are ways to donate nationally (I have shared these below for those who are interested) and feel these local charities need our support.

    https://donate.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Survey Feedback

    Are we meeting your child's needs?

    I was incredibly pleased to see some lovely feedback to this question and to read how happy many children are to come to school. Some parents told us they are happy with the communication from school, issues are dealt with well and many are happy with their child’s progress. Alongside this, some parents requested more communication, support for their child, a change in homework and a review into how we manage behaviour.  

    In terms of additional support, for children who require more help with their learning, there are provisions in the classroom to support them. Some children are taken out individually or in small groups for additional help but we feel that for the majority of the time it is usually better to adjust the resources in the classroom to be more inclusive and help the child stay and learn with their peers. We recognise there are also children who need to be stretched and for those children, there is a ‘challenge task’ offered in lessons and weekly homework for them to complete on top of their usual homework. All children have access to TTRockstars and some to maths.co.uk and all are provided with reading books to help their learning. All parents have been given the opportunity to buy CGP books at a lower cost to help support their learning at home. 

    As a school, we must offer parents at least one opportunity per year to discuss your child’s performance. However, we offer two parents’ evenings per year as well as the end of year school reports. Parents are also welcome to utilise the year group email addresses to contact their child’s class teacher for an update on their learning throughout the year. We want you to be interested so please ask!  

    Some parents mentioned our approach to poor behaviour and although some people felt we are too soft, there are others who believe we are too strict. This is of course down to personal preference and what we as parents expect from a school. This being said, we absolutely believe that unacceptable behaviour cannot be tolerated and urge parents to support us in dealing with this. We use the Therapeutic Thinking, Hertfordshire Steps approach to behaviour management (more information on this can be found by following the link below) but this does not work for all incidents.  We welcome open discussion about this somewhat contentious area and the parents' forum is a great place to start! 

    https://thegrid.org.uk/send-and-additional-needs/behaviour-management-hertfordshire-steps  

    School Improvement Plan

    This can also be downloaded at the bottom of the page.

    Year 4 and 5 DT afternoon

    On Thursday 30th November, we are inviting all parents from Year 4 and 5 to come in and join us for a DT afternoon as part of our Autumn term engagement events. Parents with children across both year groups are able to visit children in both classes and can move freely between the two. We will be trialling a QR signing in system to (hopefully) make it quicker for parents to sign in. Please bear with us. Children from Year 6 will be helping to support this event by showing you to your child’s class. The afternoon will start at 1.30pm (but please don’t worry if you can’t get to us until later, the doors will remain open) and will finish at 2.45pm to allow parents to collect siblings from Letchmore. You are very welcome to take children home at 2.45pm from any of the classes as you leave. Please go to the classroom door where your child will be signed out by the class teacher. If your child is in Year 6, please go to the front of Acorn House where a member of the Year 6 team will assist you. Only children that are being collected by their own parents/carers may be allowed to leave before 3.15pm.

    Year 3 Christmas Musical

    On Monday, we sent information to parents regarding the Year 3 Musical in December. Please do log on and book your tickets before the 24th November. You are very welcome to book a seat at both the afternoon and evening performances but as previously mentioned, we can only guarantee one space per family at each. Unfortunately, this does also mean we cannot allow children on laps for the performance. We are very tight on space and are working within the limits allowed by the fire regulations and truly appreciate your understanding. Once the booking system closes and we have an understanding of how many tickets have been booked, we will re-open the system to allow for any remaining places to be booked.

    Read More
  • Issue 9 - 8th November 2023

    Published 08/11/23

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    We have lots of enrichment events planned this half term starting with our cinema trips for all year groups (free of charge!) Parents of children in Years 4 and 5 will be invited to a fun DT afternoon on 30th November. More details for this will be shared soon.  In the run up to Christmas, Year 3 will perform their Christmas Musical to parents (please look out for information this week on how to book) and children in Year 6 will attend the church (with the school choir) to sing Christmas carols with families invited too.

    Next week is 'Feeling Good Week'. Children will take part in daily activities regarding physical and mental wellbeing ending with a performance from musician Natalie Shay which has been funded by school.

    We are discussing the idea of moving our weekly newsletter to a Friday and would like to ask your opinion on this. There are two reasons for this, the first being that our newsletters contain lots of information and we feel sending it home on a Friday gives families longer to read and digest the information shared. Secondly, we celebrate achievements on our newsletter on a Wednesday but our Achievement Assembly is not held until Friday sometimes ruining the 'surprise' for the children. Please complete the quick survey below to give your views.

    Newsletter Survey

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Survey Feedback

    Do you feel that conflict is dealt with appropriately by the school?

    We appreciate that this question is more emotive for some parents than for others and people’s experiences will vary but I am pleased that generally, most parents feel conflict is dealt with appropriately and the comments left, have been taken on board by the senior leadership team.  Some parents have commented that the consequences given are not tough enough whereas other parents feel that they are too harsh.  As a school, we are moving in a direction whereby teachers are being empowered to be ‘stricter’ and there is a focus on behaviour. Learning behaviours and expectation are explained to children as they join the school and are referred to during their journey.  We want our children to move on from primary school with the tools they need to be successful in the next phase of their education and into their adult life. We need parents on board to make this successful.  It is fantastic to see that parents like the restorative conversations and peer mediators. The restorative conversation process explores how an incident has made each child feel and the aim is to develop children's reflection, empathy and problem-solving skills. The aim of the peer mediation scheme is to increase the pupils’ understanding that disagreements are a natural but manageable part of life and that they can acquire a range of skills to enhance their ability to deal with emotions related to conflict. Where there are repeated and/or serious incidents teachers will contact parents and monitor for trends. We believe conflicts should be dealt with in social times not in learning time. Currently Year 5 are being introduced to peer mediation by Mrs Hewitt and Mrs Small and parents in this year group will hear more about this going forward.

    Parents’ Evening

    In light of this analysis we can see that in person appointments remain the most popular option for parents when booking parents’ evening appointments but a significant number of parents value online so we will continue to offer both. However it was quite a juggling act for teachers to move between in person and online appointments so in the spring term, there will be a limited number of online appointments offered at the start of one PTI day and at the end of the other. If parents require an online appointment and they have all been allocated, we would ask you to contact the office directly who will sort this for you.

    Cinema Trips and Lunch - Please Read

    I hope children are looking forward to the trips to the cinema this month. As children will be arriving back to school when lunch has begun, the kitchen will be supplying a cold packed lunch option on these days (for the children going to the cinema, all other year groups will be offered the normal menu). Please see below for a reminder of the dates and films.

    Year

    Date

    Film

    3

    Wednesday 15th November

    Early Man

    4

    Wednesday 15th November

    Early Man

    5

    Thursday 23rd November

    The Little Mermaid

    6

    Friday 24th November

    The Railway Children Return

    As a reminder, children will need to bring a water bottle, a snack, a coat and clothes/footwear appropriate for the weather and walk. They will not be required to bring anything else. Mobile phones are not permitted on school trips. These will be kept school as normal.

    Please note, if your child has asthma or requires an inhaler for any reason, they must have this with them or they will not be able to go on the trip.

    FOAH Meeting

    Thank you to the two members of FOAH who joined us at our regular monthly meeting yesterday and to the additional parent who attended. It is important to stress that without further volunteers, events such as the present room will not be able to go ahead for all year groups. We are really lucky to have such friendly and welcoming parents on our PTA who would love the help of other volunteers. 

    e-Scooters

    Please note, e-scooters are not allowed at school. Please see the below guidance which has been taken from the government website.

    The rules for private e-scooters have not changed. It is against the law to use a privately owned e-scooter. If you use an e-scooter illegally:

    • you could face a fine
    • you could get penalty points on your licence
    • the e-scooter could be impounded
    Read More
  • Issue 8 - 1st November 2023

    Published 19/10/23

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed a restful half term break.

    This half term, we will be having a real focus on well-being for pupils with some really exciting activities planned. Today, some filming has taken place with some of the children with consent as part of a town wide film being made about positive mental health. We are really excited to be part of this and are proud that our school has been involved.

    On Wednesday 8th November, the whole school will take part in Kindness workshops which leads us nicely into 'Feeling Good Week' during the week of 13th November. Children will take part in daily activities regarding physical and mental wellbeing ending with a performance from musician Natalie Shay which has been funded by school. 

    Please visit our website if you need any resources or support for yours or your child's mental health and wellbeing https://www.almondhill.herts.sch.uk/news/?pid=22&nid=25

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Survey Feedback
    Please tell us your views on the school's ethos 'It's all about the climb'. What do you understand of it?

    Last year, we began introducing ‘The Climb’ as our new school ethos. Previously, we had the ‘Almond Hill Pyramid’ but felt the climb, with children striving to be top of the ‘Hill’, was more fitting for our school. I agree with the feedback that this had not been communicated in the best way to families but hope that now we have had our year group parent information evenings (where the video was shown), this has been covered in enough detail for parents. For those who were unable to attend the evenings or for anyone who would like a refresh, you can watch the video below.

    ‘The Climb’ helps to build on our expectations for good behaviour and self-ownership. The Climb is about the lessons you learn along the journey and not the end result.

    Premier After School Club (wrap around care)

    Please be aware that as our numbers are steadily increasing, so are the number of children booked on to after school club with Premier. If you would like your child to attend after school club, please book in advance. We cannot guarantee there will be spaces on the day.

    Seesaw has Rebranded

    Governor Update 

    You may not be aware, but our chair of governors, Andrew Boakes, left us at the end of the last term.  As a result, we now have a reformed team of non-staff governors with Claire Lanni and Stephen Fuller as Co-Chairs. Heidi Nash takes the place of Vice Chair.  Debbie Furness and Lisa Leonard remain as Co-Opted governors and we welcome Kanwal Rizvi to our team as a new parent governor.  See link below for detailed biographies for our governors. 

    https://www.almondhill.herts.sch.uk/page/?title=Governors&pid=35

    We have been working together to produce a governor development plan and are excited to continue to work closely with staff to maintain high standards at our school and to shape future developments.  

    We are building a great team of people, but we need more governors to bring new skills, interests, and ideas to our team. You do not need any qualifications to be a governor, just an interest in education and the ability to give some of your time.  If you think there is a possibility you would be interested, please talk to Mrs Fordham to find out more about the role without making any commitments.  Or alternatively if you would like to forward any questions to the governors, please email admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk  

    Read More
  • Issue 7 - 18th October 2023

    Published 18/10/23

    Issue number:  7                                                                                                                              Date: 18th October 2023

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    This week, we hosted the last of our parent lunches for Year 3. I hope families enjoyed this opportunity to come in to school. It was lovely to see you all!

    Many children in Year 6 will be setting off for their residential trip to Grafham on Friday. We hope the children thoroughly enjoy themselves and make lots of memories with their friends. A big thank you must be given to Mrs Patterson for organising the trip and to all the members of staff who are accompanying the children this weekend. Have fun!

    We have lots to look forward to when we return from half term including our Open Evening on the 9th November for new parents where we are hoping Year 6 pupils will continue the tradition as acting as tour guides (letters will be sent out in due course), Feeling Good Week, a Year 5 trip to the Space Centre and the Year 4 and 5 DT afternoon. Keep a look out for more information on our newsletters.

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Survey Feedback

    Each year, the SLT and Governors develop the School Improvement Plan, what would you hope to see on it?

    Some parents told us they would like regular updates about the School Improvement Plan (SIP) and how this is implemented. I agree that this has not been very regular and will endevour to keep parents updated termly regarding the SIP and how this is moving forward. The summary for this year will be shared with parents soon. A small number of you also said you would like better communication between your child’s class teacher and home aside from the use of Seesaw. Parents are offered two PTIs per year and are given an end of year report. As well as this, parents are really welcome to utilise the year group email boxes to arrange adhoc meetings with the class teacher if needed in between. We aim to keep the channels of communication open and strive for engagement with families.

    Some parents commented on our offering of after school clubs and have suggested a wider selection. We completely understand why parents would want this to happen but must stress that many of our clubs are run by staff who volunteer their time and skills to run these clubs. As a school, we have started funding clubs from Premier but as I am sure you will appreciate, we have budgets we must adhere to. Therefore, although we would love to offer even more clubs, we are limited by cost and time. We would welcome parent volunteers to run after school clubs so If there are any parents with specific skills who wish to offer their time to run a club, we would be delighted!

    Arbor Parent Portal

    The portal has now been opened to all families across the year groups. I am really pleased that over 75% of parents have logged on at least once. If you are struggling with this, please pop into the office where the team will be happy to help you. When you first log on, you will need to use a web browser (i.e. Chrome/Edge) to set up your account – not through the app itself.

    Diary Dates

    For our full calendar, please click the 'button' link below.

    Click Here for Upcoming Events

    Read More
  • Issue 6 - 11th October 2023

    Published 11/10/23

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    It has been lovely to see so many Year 3 families join us for lunch. We hope you have enjoyed it as much as the children have! We are looking forward to welcoming families from 3W next Wednesday. Please remember, the deadline to order lunch for next week is today.

    Next week, FOAH are hosting our Halloween (silent) disco! Please note, there will be NO clubs after school on this day. This does not impact Premier our wrap around care provider.

    The times for the disco are as follow:

    Year 3 - 3.30-4.30pm       Year 4 - 4.15-5.15pm
    Year 5 - 5.00-6.00pm       Year 6 - 5.45-6.45pm
    Children in Year 3 can stay at school at 3.15pm and their teacher will escort them to the disco. If your child is staying here, please ensure they have their costume or change of clothes with them. They will have time to change in class before the disco at 3.30pm. Children in Years 4-6 must be dropped to the hall doors by the main office via the main office gate which will be open. If your child is booked to go to Premier after school club, they can bring a change of clothes with them and will be taken to the disco by an adult. All children must be collected (from the quadrant) by an adult.  As it may be dark when your child is being collected, we will see the children out individually to ensure everybody’s safety. Please form an orderly queue! Please remember, staff and parents volunteer their time for these events so would appreciate a prompt collection at the end of the disco. Phones are not allowed at the disco so please make sure these are left at home.

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham

    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Survey Feedback

    Do you feel that the school promotes and informs you about up to date online safety matters?

    Many parents feel that although we provide information about online safety, this is an area they would like further support with. We currently have an online safety group with pupils, staff and governor representation headed up with Mrs Lyons. In November, like many schools across the town, we will be holding a 'Feeling Good Week' and we have decided to focus in on online safety and how technology can help or hinder our wellbeing. We are hoping to end that week with an exciting visitor... more news to follow! I am also currently investigating booking a speaker for parents about this very important topic. This is likely to be in the spring term.

    Autumn Parents’ Evenings

    Yesterday was the first of our parents’ evenings and as requested by you, we have been trialling a new way of offering appointments. I hope it has worked well for families and will look to gather feedback once the final evening has been held in November. Please make sure you have read the email (sent 09/10/23) from the office before attending as this details everything you need to know on the night.

    How do parents join the video call?

    A link should automatically be sent to parents via the system 1 hour before their video call but we understand that this may not have happened for all parents on Tuesday. Please check your spam/junk box in case this has been sent here but parents simply access the system on the day of their appointments and press the Join Video Appointments button at the top of their screen. There's also a link sent to parents in the email confirmation to join the video call.

    https://almondhill.schoolcloud.co.uk/

    Booster and Tutoring

    We will soon be inviting some children in Year 4, 5 and 6 to attend different booster/tutoring sessions. In the past, we have had parents query why their children have not been asked to attend. These sessions are built to meet the needs of particular individuals with specific support requirements. If your child has not been invited, it may be that these sessions are not beneficial to them. If you feel your child needs additional support, please speak to their class teacher.

    Secondary School Applications

    Please be reminded that the deadline for secondary school applications is on Tuesday 31st October.

    If you haven't already done so, please follow the link below to apply for your child's place. 

    www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/admissions

    Read More
  • Issue 5 - 4th October 2023

    Published 04/10/23

     

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    As well as different sporting activities, we have lots of events booked in this term and opportunities for parents to come into school. This month, Year 3 parents are invited to have lunch with their child, Year 5 children have been invited to Barclay to watch a performance of ‘Oliver’ and we finish the month with our FOAH Halloween (silent) disco. In November, we have planned trips to the cinema for all year groups (free of charge!) and parents of children in Years 4 and 5 will be invited to a fun DT afternoon. In the run up to Christmas, Year 3 will perform their nativity to parents and children in Year 6 will attend the church (with the school choir) to sing Christmas carols with families invited too. We will also be hosting a Rocksteady Concert for ‘band members’!

    In response to parent feedback, we have planned parent events for all year groups across different weeks to make it more accessible for all. We also know that Letchmore have lots of events planned and have tried to liaise with them as best as possible to avoid any conflict of dates. We would also really welcome help from parent volunteers on school trips wherever possible as staffing can sometimes be a barrier to engaging in more external events. Please email your child’s year group if this is something you may be able to do (on an adhoc basis). If you are a keen gardener, we are also looking for volunteers to help maintain our allotment. Please email the year 4 group if you would be interesting in helping in the allotment.

    In addition to our monthly values, we will be having a whole school focus on the concept of empathy this year. The definition of empathy shared with children is: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place. Essentially, it is putting yourself in someone else's position and feeling what they are feeling. Empathy enables people to get on with others, whether it be a loved one, peer, friend or complete stranger. Ultimately, it is essential for developing good relationships, both at school and at home and throughout our life. Last year, we focused on gratitude and saw a real positive shift in mind set. Please speak to children about empathy and what this means to them over the coming weeks.

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Survey Feedback

    Question 2 on our survey related to our website. We asked if parents look at the website and what they would like to see added. I am pleased to see that the vast majority of parents answered yes, they do look at the website and there were some suggestions on areas that you would like us to improve which I will address here. Some parents suggested more photos of the staff would be useful. The website already has photos of all staff members but I appreciate this may not be found easily so photos of all members of Almond Hill staff are now on our staff page.

    It was requested that up to date plans for each subject were available. Our long term and medium term plans are on the website and these are regularly reviewed. However, curriculum is ever changing as we seek to improve and adapt e.g. we have been reviewing the PSHE content to ensure we are meeting the needs of the pupils so sometimes, documents may be changed after publication. They can be found here: Year group pages

    Some parents would like to see more photos of events. Each class now has an iPod which they use to upload photos to Seesaw. These are also taken with staff on events to take photos where consent allows. These are then added to our website here: Photo Gallery

    There were some comments regarding our website calendar. Last week, we spoke about adding clubs to the calendar which has been done. Our admin team have made a start on ‘splitting’ the calendar. This has been done before and unfortunately wasn’t as effective as some would have hoped so please let us know on our next survey if this does not work. The categories have been split into school events, term dates, clubs, lower school and upper school so you can select which you would like to view. We would suggest always having ‘school events’ ticked as well as your child’s tier to avoid missing events.  Don’t forget, you can subscribe to our calendar to keep up to date with the events going on within the school. Follow the link below, select 'subscribe' and follow the instructions for your device. School Calendar

    Autumn Parents’ Evenings

    Don’t forget to book your appointment. The booking system will close at 9.00am on Friday 6th October.  Should you wish to make any changes after this date, please contact the school office.

    The system we use for booking these meetings is the same as we recently used for clubs.  Please visit https://almondhill.parentseveningsystem.co.uk to book your appointment.  Please log in with the following information: your child’s first name, surname and date of birth.

    Parent Forum

    All parents are welcome to attend the first forum of the year with our parent volunteers and Miss Simmons. This will take place in school on Monday 16th October 5:30 - 6:30pm. Please email admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk (FAO Miss Simmons) if you would like to attend.

    Year 5 trip to Barclay - Request for Volunteers

    The students of Barclay Academy have invited students in Year 5 to a matinee performance of their production of Oliver Jr by Lionel Bart - a story based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. This takes place at the same time as swimming lessons so non-swimmers will be going. With members of staff attending swimming and escorting children to Barclay, we would really appreciate some support from parents. If you are free and able to attend the production at Barclay, please contact the year group email: year5@almondhill.herts.sch.uk The performance is on Tuesday 17th October 1.30pm - 2.45pm and parents would be walking to and from the production with us.

    Traffic Wardens

    In the recent visit to our school, a traffic warden reported being verbally abused/threatened by an individual visiting our school. I was disappointed to hear about this incident and would like to remind parents that traffic wardens are just doing their job which ultimately mean safer roads for our children. We have received numerous complaints regarding dangerous parking/driving around our school site and their role is to help prevent accidents from happening – something we can all agree we want.

     

    Read More
  • Issue 4 - 27th September 2023

    Published 27/09/23

    Dear Families,

    It was lovely to see so many of you at our parent information meetings last week. For those of you who were not able to attend PowerPoints are available to view here:

    Year 3 Presentation
    Year 4 Presentation
    Year 5 Presentation
    Year 6 Presentation

    Last year, we had a whole year focus on the concept of gratitude and parents will be aware that children are encouraged to express gratitude both verbally and in writing regularly in school. At Almond Hill, we believe this is really important because not only does expressing gratitude have a positive effect on the people around you focusing on the good things in our own lives is proven to make people happier in themselves. I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude to some parents who took the time last week to give positive feedback to members of Almond Hill staff. With permission, I would like to share some of the kind words that were sent by parents last week.

    ‘Thanks so much that’s a huge, huge help honestly it’s very much appreciated.’

    ‘I just wanted to send a happy message for a Friday to say that my son has settled in brilliantly to year 4.  He loves his teacher and he has told us very enthusiastically about the Almond Hill “climb” - it’s great that the school are guiding the children to be aspirational in this way. 

    I also think the faith tour that has been advertised today is a lovely idea and is really important for our children to experience. My eldest son still remembers visiting a Gurdwara at school and seeing all the swords!’

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages 

    Contact with the School
    If there is a change of collection arrangements for children during the day, please inform the school as early as possible. However, to be sure that the message has been seen, parents must ring and speak to someone. Emails may not be seen before the end of the school day which could result in messages not being passed on in time. 

     

    Parent Survey Feedback

    Over the last 2 weeks I have shared the graphs from last July’s parent survey. In the next few weeks, I will be responding in more detail to specific comments made by parents.

    In response to ‘Do you feel you receive adequate communication regarding what is happening at school?’ the vast majority of parents responded positively. However some parents raised queries that we feel we will be able to accommodate to make our practice even better. It was requested that dates related to clubs could be added to the school calendar and this is something the admin team are looking into. However we are aware that adding too much information to the calendar can make it hard to read so we will monitor this.

    Some parents requested greater clarity regarding transition at the end of the year. It is likely that classes will continue to be mixed at the end of Years 3,4 and 5 as it has proven to be successful the last 2 years. We agree class mix arrangements could be communicated more clearly and intend to improve on this next year.

    Parents thought that a PA system would be useful for sports day and we are looking to borrow one from a local secondary school this year.

    Finally, some parents would like parents’ evening slots to be longer. We have found that 10 minutes is sufficient for many families, however please do contact the class teacher via the year group email if you feel you need a longer or an additional meeting in order to discuss your child’s needs in enough detail. Teachers will always be happy to accommodate this.

    Autumn Parents’ Evenings

    We are planning Parents’ Evenings on Tuesday 10th and Thursday 12th October. We are aware that these are the same dates as meetings at Letchmore, and we hope this helps working parents who may need to book time off work to attend.

    Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Richardson will be holding their meetings after half term as Mrs. Campbell will be having an operation before half term and will not be at school for two weeks.  We would like 3C parents to have the opportunity to meet both teachers together and so their meetings will be on Wednesday 1st and Friday 3rd November. 

    In response to feedback from parents last term, we will be trialling a hybrid system for these appointments, whereby it is parental choice whether the appointment is face to face or online for all times offered.  Appointment lengths are ten minutes and teachers will need to keep to strict timings.

    Our booking system opened at 7.00am on Monday 25th September and the booking system will close at 9.00am on Friday 6th October.  Should you wish to make any changes after this date, please contact the school office.

    The system we use for booking these meetings is the same as we recently used for clubs.  Please visit https://almondhill.parentseveningsystem.co.uk to book your appointment.  Please log in with the following information: your child’s first name, surname and date of birth.

    Please see the email sent to parents on Friday 22nd September for additional information.

    Year 3 Parents to Lunch

    Year 3 parents are invited to have a school lunch with their child so that you can both sample our delicious meals.  Each class will be invited in for lunch to be served at 12.15pm on separate days:-

    Wednesday 4th October – 3C (Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Richardson)
    Deadline for orders Wednesday 27th September 

    Wednesday 11th October – 3A (Miss. Andrews)
    Deadline for orders Wednesday 4th October

    Wednesday 18th October – 3W (Mrs. Ward)
    Deadline for orders Wednesday 11th October

    Please see the email sent to parents on Friday 22nd September for additional information.

    The parent lunch is an opportunity to sample the food served by Herts Catering at lunchtime. Children who usually have packed lunch are welcome to have a school dinner on this day but if not, they will eat their packed lunch with the rest of the year group. Children in Years 4, 5 and 6 will be eating lunch in their classrooms on this day and the options will remain the same.

    Year 3 Seesaw

    I am pleased to tell you that all parents/children with consent have now been added to Seesaw. You will have received an email inviting you to connect to your child’s journal. Should you require any assistance, please contact Mrs. Jones at the office.

    Parent Forum Invitation

    All parents are welcome to attend the first forum of the year with our parent volunteers and Miss Simmons. This will take place in school on Monday 16th October 5:30 - 6:30pm. Please email admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk (FAO Miss Simmons) if you would like to attend.

    Arbor Parent Portal Whole School Roll Out

    As some parents will know, we have begun rolling out Arbor Parent Portal to our Year 3 families. The Arbor Parent Portal gives families access to their child’s attendance information and personal record. Once logged in, parents can request changes such as email addresses, phone numbers of emergency contacts and postal address. You are also able to update medical and dietary requirements as necessary. We use Arbor to store parental consent and parents will receive an alert should they need to give consent for any specific events. We will now begin rolling this out to other year groups starting with Year 6 this week. Once you receive your ‘welcome to Arbor email,’ please log on and check the details held are accurate.

    Read More
  • Issue 3 - 20th September 2023

    Published 20/09/23

     

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    A big thank you to the Year 5 and 6 parents who have joined us for the parent information meetings this week. I hope you have found them useful. We are looking forward to seeing Year 3 parents tonight and Year 4 parents tomorrow. Please can I remind parents that the meetings will take place in the hall 3.30-4.30pm. Parents can access the hall doors in the quadrant.

    Last week, we had our first achievement assembly. We celebrated children’s achievements both inside and outside of school, shared certificates from the Summer Reading Challenge and invited children to play their musical instruments to their peers when entering and leaving the hall. The atmosphere was lovely and I hope children enjoyed it. We are looking forward to the next one on Friday. If parents have any specific questions regarding this, please direct them to Mrs. Small (Assistant Headteacher) by emailing admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk

    The FOAH have lots of wonderful events planned for this term. Please see information below for what’s coming.

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Survey - SEND Graphs

     

    Attendance

    I recently wrote to parents about the importance of attendance and have also been speaking to the children about this. In order to keep this high profile and in discussion with the children, I have decided to provide some incentives. The class with the highest weekly attendance (which has always been celebrated on the newsletter) will also receive the attendance trophy and teddy (yet to be purchased!) and an extra fifteen minutes playtime on a Friday afternoon. The logic being that their attendance is so good they can 'afford' some extra minutes of playtime as they have been in school all week. I have explained to the children and please can parents be reassured that the attendance figures of children with significant medical reasons for not being in school, will not negatively affect the class total as this cannot be avoided and the figures can be adapted to remove this impact.

    Clubs – Waiting List

    We know that there were some people who wanted to book onto a club this term who were unable to due to that club being full. We are going to keep a log of those people so we can offer clubs to children on a ‘waiting list’ basis or we could offer those children first refusal on clubs later in the year. The clubs that were full were; multi-sports (Year 3), stop-frame animation (Year 4) and football (Year 6). Please note, we cannot guarantee which clubs will be run each term but we hope by doing this, clubs can be allocated as fairly as possible. If would like to add your child to the waiting list, please complete the form below.

    https://forms.office.com/e/GkWjseJcY1

    Whilst on the topic of clubs, please can I remind parents that at Almond Hill, we do our upmost to ensure a fair allocation for all clubs and remove barriers such as cost by making clubs freely available to all. This is facilitated by the school funding Premier clubs and for staff kindly volunteering their time free of charge. Therefore, although we would love to offer even more clubs, we are limited by cost and time. Parents may know that last year, our highly successful football club (who won both the league and the cup) was run by parent volunteers. If there are any parents with specific skills who wish to offer their time to run a club, we would be delighted! Please email admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk FAO Mrs Fordham.

    Abilities in Me – Fundraiser – 25th September

    We are excited to tell you that we will be having a fundraising day on Monday 25th September to raise money for a fantastic charity. As most of you will know, The Abilities in Me Foundation writes children’s stories based on real children with a range of conditions. Money raised goes into: creating more books to help raise awareness, supporting school SEND projects and running family support events which they are looking to expand across the UK. If you would like to find out more, please go to: www.theabiltiesinme.com. All teachers will read at least one book from the range to children during the day. For a suggested donation of 50p, children are invited to wear an item of brightly coloured clothing to school on Monday 25th September. Parents of children in Years 4, 5 and 6 will remember that the author of this book series visited the school (free of charge) last year and donated her entire series to our school library. Children were truly inspired by her visit and her books so this is a lovely way to support the charity. Payments can be made on School Gateway.

    Opportunities to Join our Parent Forum

    The benefits of the strong partnership we hold with you cannot be underestimated and it is with this in mind that I would like to extend an invitation for parents to join an Almond Hill ‘Parent Forum’ which was set up by Miss Simmons last year. The aim of the group is to share and discuss important educational issues affecting the school and to get parents even more involved in decision making that directly affects your children.  It is an opportunity to provide feedback, discuss future initiatives and national news related to education.

    Each and every one of you is an expert in what it is like to be a parent at our school and would be welcome.

    Miss Simmons plans half termly meetings to discuss an agenda jointly formed between the school leadership team and parent volunteers. The most important thing is that parents get involved. We would love approximately three parents per year group and with so many new families joining, we wanted to remind you of this opportunity.

    Please email admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk FAO Miss Simmons if you would like to get involved, or even just find out more. This is a really exciting opportunity to further develop the home school partnership.

    Headlice

    We have had some reports of children with headlice. Please check your child’s hair and treat accordingly. Please see the website for advice on treatment: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/head-lice-and-nits/

    Read More
  • Issue 2 - 13th September 2023

    Published 13/09/23

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    I hope you are all settling back in to school life and all of our new pupils, parents and staff have felt welcome.

    Before we finished for the summer last year, we asked parents to complete a feedback survey. These responses are invaluable and are used to aid decision making for the year ahead so a big thank you to those who took part. We didn’t have quite as many responses that we have had previously and would urge parents to take the time to complete these surveys when the opportunity arises to ‘have your say’. In our newsletter over the coming weeks, I will share the feedback with you and any actions taken as a result. This week we will begin with sharing the graphs (see below).

    Year 6 will be taking part in a Writing Day on Thursday which is a fantastic day with the aim to inspire children to write. All year groups have a day booked in this academic year.  We have invited visitors from the NSPCC in to speak to children in Year 5 and 6 about safeguarding and ways to keep themselves safe. Look out for information on our newsletter about these visits.

    Next week, we invite parents to come in for their parent information meetings in the hall and hope to see many of you there. This is a great time to ask questions. A reminder of these dates and times can be found below. After school clubs will also begin from Monday. I hope parents found the new system easy to navigate. This is the same system we use for parents’ evening and will use it going forward to book events and clubs.

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Parent Survey Graphs

     

    A Reminder of our Uniform Expectations

    My Clothing supply Almond Hill Junior School uniform complete with embroidered school logos. www.myclothing.com/almond-hill

    Please support us by following our uniform expectations. You will see that skorts have been added to our PE kit if children would prefer these to shorts. Please ensure both shorts and skorts are an appropriate length.

     For our standard uniform we would like all children to wear the following:  

    • Standard red cardigan or jumper*  
    • White polo shirt* (children in year 6 may wear a shirt and tie) 
    • Black trousers or skirt  
    • In summer, children may wear red and white gingham dresses.  
    • Black shorts/skirts
    • Plain black shoes/trainers 
    • Black/red tights preferred

    PE kit 

    • Red crew neck t-shirt (no collar)* 
    • Black shorts/skorts (appropriate length) for summer and black jogging bottoms for winter
    • Children can wear their usual red school jumper or black sweatshirt/hoody
    • Black unbranded tracksuits for PE are preferred

    *items can have the Almond Hill logo on but without is absolutely fine.  

    We run regular pre-loved clothing sales to help keep the cost down. The next one is after school on Wednesday 4th October. Please let us know if you have any issues with uniform or PE kits. Mrs Hukin or Mrs Burgess will be happy to help.

    Stationery and items from home

    Please do not allow children to bring stationery in from home - we have all they need in the classrooms and friendship room and resources for lunchtimes.  It is better for children to all have the same resources as it can cause upset when items are lost, borrowed or broken.  Please send the minimum into school and ensure all items are clearly labelled (I.e. uniform, PE kit and water bottles).

    A message for new families to the school

    Please can all parents log on to Arbor and complete the consent section. Without consent, children may miss out on opportunities throughout the year like local trips/visits, photos, films etc. Parents are of course welcome to decline consent but please do this on the portal.

    Thank you to those parents who have already completed this but there are still lots outstanding. If you need any help with completing the consents on Arbor, please come and speak to us in the office. As previously mentioned, we know parents are keen to get started on Seesaw however this cannot be done without parental consent.

    School Dinners

    Please log onto http://app.schoolgrid.co.uk  to order

    Next week we will be on week 3.

    Please don’t forget to preorder. It can be done from home for the day, week, month or even the term!

    Attendance 

    Year 3 – 97%          
    Year 4 – 95%
    Year 5 – 97%          
    Year 6 – 94%
    All students – 96%
    Class winners – 5S - 97%
    The government expectation for attendance is 96

    Diary dates 

    Click the months below to open our calendar.  

    Did you know, you can subscribe to our calendar to keep up to date with the events going on within the school?

    Follow the link below, select 'subscribe' and follow the instructions for your device.

    School Calendar

    September

     

    October

     

    November

     

    December

     

    House Points

    Click the link below to see our house points totals. 

    Almond Hill Achievements 

    Click the button below to see all the wonderful things our children have achieved outside of school. 

    In Other News...

     

     

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  • Issue 1 - 6th September 2023

    Published 06/09/23

    Dear Parents/Carers,

    A big welcome back to you all. I hope you enjoyed the summer holidays (when the sun finally appeared!). I hope our new families are settling in well and we wish you a warm welcome to our school.

    Our value for September is friendship. Children can always help others by offering to play with everyone and not leaving others out. We have a friendship bench on our lower school playground where children can go if they are struggling to find someone to play with. We also have a friendship room which is for children who may find social times particularly hard. This is run by our pastoral team and they offer a range of activities for children to do to ensure they enjoy their lunch times.

    We have lots of exciting events this term including visitors to the school and school trips (please check the diary dates further down). As well as this, I would like to draw your attention to the parent information meetings that are planned for w/c 18th September. In response to the parent survey (which we will feed back over the coming weeks), we have decided to run these to provide families with information on exciting school initiatives (such as The Climb) and show you where information is on our website to support you at home like the long and medium term plans for curriculum. These will be held in the hall with Year 3, 4 and 5 running from 3.30-4.30pm. Parents can make their way to the hall once they have collected children from class and children and siblings are welcome to stay. The Year 6 meeting will run from 5.00-6.30pm and will run in conjunction with the Grafham meeting.

    Please take the time to read our newsletter as this is our main method of sharing information with you at home. For those of you who don’t know, the newsletter is on our website and is shared with families via email on a Wednesday afternoon.

    Have a good week.

    Emma Fordham,
    Headteacher

    Key Messages

    Achievement Assemblies and Summer Reading Challenge

    Mrs. Small, our new assistant head is responsible for physical and mental wellbeing and as such, she will be introducing Friday achievement assemblies starting on Friday 15th September. We will begin with celebrating the children who completed the summer reading challenge over the holidays. If your child took part, please email a photo of their certificate FAO Mrs Fordham (reading subject lead) or they can bring in their certificate. I know children are very keen to be awarded their 5 house points. On this note, we will be inviting children to bring any trophies, certificates, awards or photos from achievements outside of school to share with pupils in assembly (as well as being added to our website/newsletter).  In addition to this, we will be celebrating the musical talents of our children and inviting those who play instruments to play for their peers whilst they enter the hall for assembly. If your child would like to do this, tell them to speak to Mrs. Small.

    Attendance

    Parents will receive a letter this week regarding attendance and I would urge you all to take the time to read the information. With the cost of living crisis and more pressure on families, we saw an increase in the number of holidays taken in term time last year. I would like to remind parents that I cannot authorise time off during term time unless for exceptional circumstances. I understand parents may feel that the time off will not affect their child significantly negatively however the overall education of the class is affected if the teacher has to repeatedly catch up those who have missed prior learning.

    Seesaw

    We use Seesaw across the school to share and celebrate the children’s work. New parents will receive an invitation to join the app but only once consent has been given. This has been sent to you via the Arbor Parent Portal. For more information, follow the link below: www.almondhill.herts.sch.uk/Seesaw

    Facebook

    For those of you who don’t know, we have a school Facebook page. We already have 170 of you following but would love to see many more of you including our new families! Please follow the link to follow our page: https://www.facebook.com/121almondhill

    Other Key Apps

    Please download the School Gateway app to receive messages and emails from school. You will need to give your email address and you will be given a PIN number to set up your account. The email address must be the same as the one held on our school records.

    To order and pay for school dinners, you will need to use School Grid. http://app.schoolgrid.co.uk

    Next week, we will be on week 2. 

    Parents of children who have joined us this term will have access to the Arbor Parent Portal. Many of you have already logged in which is fantastic but if you haven’t and need help with this, please contact our office. For all other year groups, this will be rolled out in the coming months.

    Coming to School/Mobile Phones

    School policy allows for children in Years 5 and 6 to bring a mobile phone to school for safety reasons if they travel to and from school independently. Mobile phones must be switched off whilst on school premises and not be used during the school day. There is no need for parents to inform the class teacher/office if their child is walking home independently. I would ask that children do not however bring their phones on school trips or after school events.

    Please can I remind parents, especially those in Year 5 and 6, not to arrive at school before 8.45am. I appreciate some children are keen to get to school but the school grounds are not supervised before this time and accidents can happen.

    Contacting the School

    There will be times, as parents, where you need to contact the school and general enquiries can be made via the school office by phone or email. You can also use the year group email addresses to contact your child’s year group.

    If you have any concerns regarding your child, please make an appointment after school to see the class teacher initially as in most cases they will have the most up to date information on your child. If at this point you still feel you would like to speak to someone at our school, please first contact Miss Simmons, our Deputy Head (admin@almondhill.herts.sch.uk) or if your child has special educational needs or disabilities, Mrs Birchall our SENCo (iep@almondhill.herts.sch.uk).  The Designated Teacher with overall responsibility for Child Protection is Mrs Fordham, with Mrs Birchall and Mrs Burgess as deputies. The deputies (especially Mrs Burgess) deal with day to day safeguarding issues but all cases are shared with the whole safeguarding team.

    Mrs Fordham can be contacted using the admin email address and will respond accordingly. However, depending on the nature of your email, it may be passed on to a more appropriate member of staff for a response.  Mrs Fordham is often unavailable at short notice and an effective and more efficient response is often achieved by speaking to someone else on the team. That being said, Mrs Fordham will always make the time to speak to parents if all other avenues have been exhausted, the matter is extremely urgent or parents have a specific reason why they believe she is the only person who can deal with the matter.

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