- Message from Mrs Plant
- First ever Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award at JTFS
- Summer Uniform Expecations
- EcoSchools Project
- Covid Update
- Meet your PTFA!
- Earth Killers - WBD2021
- Learning @ JTFS post-lockdown
- Our wonderful JTFS Community
- Year 7 challenge: To write a sonnet
- STEAM Guest Lecture Series - Spring Term 2021
- Planet Omar: Incredible Rescue Mission
- JTFS Loves Baking!
- "Apart but Together" WBD2021
- Exploring the importance of "R"
- Don't worry - everything is going to be alright
- Bank Holiday
- Half Term
- Student Led Consultations
- Student Led Consultations
- Students return to school
We have finally returned to face to face teaching and it is wonderful to have the building full of students again. Schools should be vibrant and busy places and I am pleased that JTFS has come to life once again.
In true JTFS style, our community has supported us throughout - we are particularly grateful to those volunteers who helped us establish our LFT testing centre. Our PTFA is also growing and developing; the team are working hard to raise money to support the school. I talk more about the power of community in my blog.
Students have shown incredible resilience over lockdown and I am so proud of the range of their achievements. We have been celebrating this over the last couple of weeks as we return to routine. Our focus in lessons has been on structure and routine to support students make the transition back into the classroom. Teachers have been using a range of ways to assess their knowledge, understanding and skills and adapting the curriculum accordingly to ensure that we can move forward positively.
This newsletter highlights a range of activities students have taken part in, as well as their online or face to face lessons. The staff here have worked hard to offer enrichment activities as well as normal lessons, to enable the students to access a rich curriculum. I am grateful to them for their continued hard work and commitment to ensuring that our students can succeed and thrive both at home and in school.
As we approach the Easter break, we have been reflecting on our community and the power of this both in school and more broadly. It is great that the sunshine has finally arrived at the same time as restrictions are lifted - so I hope you are able to enjoy the break. Do stay safe and continue to follow the guidelines so that we can all return for the summer term.
It was a bright sunny day when the first ever DoE cohort met for their training day. To kick start the day we were welcomed by our team leaders and met our instructors. To begin with we learnt and practiced some map reading skills, we learnt how to read grid references and plan a route. After that we had a better our understanding of maps we had a quick 10 minute break before we were back to learning.
We were taught about all of the hazards that we may come across on our expedition such as livestock, bad weather and injuries and how to sort out a problem. We then had a session on food safety and planned the sorts of meals we would be expected to prepare and bring on the expedition.
Lunch came flying around and we were soon back to work. We were shown how to correctly pack our backpacks for the expedition, and learnt all about gravitational points and how to use them to our advantage. We also learnt how to pack our belongings so they don’t get wet!
Our next stop was outside so we made our way to the front of school and learnt how to use the camp stoves, we prepared tasty hot chocolate and pot noodles to warm ourselves up. Our final task was to try putting up the tents, and ensure they stayed up even in the strong wind! Overall, it was a great day, we all learnt lots and are now ready for the real thing!
As we move into the summer months, please ensure that your child meets the following expectations for uniform:
BLAZERS: School specific grey blazer with school emblem on pocket (available from school uniform suppliers). Blazers are expected to be worn at all times, unless permission has been given by staff to remove it.
TIES: All students wear a clip on tie reflecting their house colours
If your child borrows a tie from school and does not return it, a payment of £8.50 will be added to your ParentPay account.
SKIRTS: School specific, tartan skirt only. These must be knee-length (i.e. the skirt touches the floor if the student kneels) at the start of September. We appreciate that students grow over the year so suggest that parents take growth into consideration when buying a skirt. It will be the school’s decision if we deem the skirt to have become too short i.e. it is sitting above the knee.
SHORTS: Tailored black shorts may be worn instead of trousers or skirt.
TROUSERS: Plain (no decorative: buttons, zips, belts etc) black, tailored school trousers ONLY. Trousers which are ‘fashion’ style, those that become narrower at the ankle, have turn ups, ‘anklegrazers’, are tight fitting, low slung or Lycra based, are not permitted.
FOOTWEAR: Only black, plain (no colour trim or unnecessary adornment e.g. big bows, flowers, studs etc) standard leather-style school shoes will be permitted. Trainers are not permitted.
PE KIT: This is worn on the days when students have PE on their timetable. Hoodies may not be worn. Students may wear the long sleeved PE top or their blazer if required. Tracksuit trousers or leggings must be worn with the Skort whilst in school (removed for PE lessons only)
The EcoSchools club have been busy raising awareness of environmental issues, through poetry, during lockdown. This resulted in three of our students having poems published in an anthology of work by the Staffordshire Poet Laurette.
The students are super excited to be getting back to work next term when the enrichment programme starts again. They will be continuing with their work on the school garden, ensuring that the trees in the nursery are well cared for. They will also be hard at work making signs to remind all staff to close windows and to turn off lights and interactive boards at the end of each day to save energy. We have lots of ideas for the sustainable future of our school and can’t wait to get back to it!
Please make sure that you follow the latest guidance for Covi-19. The current rules can be found here.
All students should continue to have the following with them in school. Easter Holidays are a good time to stock up on equipment required:
- Plain facemask - reusable ones are not very eco-friendly!
- Blue/ Black Pen
- Glue Stick
- Scientific Calculator
- Purple Jotter (we will provide these for each student at the start of term. They are expected in every lesson)
- Reading book – expected everyday in every lesson.
Your child has been given more Lateral Flow Tests this week. Students should continue to test at home twice a week over the holidays. All results should be reported via TestRegister and NHS Track and Trace. An individual link has been sent to parents to enable you to do this. If you have not received this link, please contact the school by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your child receives a positive LFD result, please also email the school office using the email address above.
We are a friendly group of parents and carers, meeting regularluy to organise fundraising activities. We work to provide additional funds to the school for resources that they may not normally have to support and enrich the student's school experiences.
What are we fundraising towards?
At this point in time, we have pledged a regular donation to the JTFS Support Fund which ensures that all students have access to the kit and resources they need to be able to attend school. We know that some families have found themselves in difficult circumstances over lockdown and we are keen to support everyone in the JTFS community.
We have also donated £500 to the Learning Resource Centre so that new books can be purchased for the students. We know how important reading is at JTFS and we want to make sure that there are plenty of books to choose from!
In the longer term, we would like to work towards fundraising for some larger items that the school needs, such as a shelter for the Outdoor Wild Learning programme.
What have we raised so far?
Our virtual balloon race proved to be lots of fun and raised £641.28, so a big thank you to everyone who supported this.
Lots of our parents and carers support via the Lottery which really helps. Tickets cost £1 and there is a cash prize every week! To enter go to yourschoollottery.co.uk and search for PTFA of John Taylor Free School.
You can help for FREE by shopping with your favourite retailers via the Easyfundraising app or website! Go to Easyfundraising.org.uk and enter PTFA of John Taylor Free School as your cause.
If you would like to donate any outgrown uniform, please keep this aside as we are planning a uniform sale to raise funds for the PTFA and provide uniform at a bargain price.
Calling all artists. We need a logo for our advertising, communications and social media, and would love it to be designed by one of the students. There will be a prize for the best design from each year group. Please email entries to PAOTFS@gmail.com or drop a hardcopy with the school office by Friday 23rd April.
Our Summer event is in it's planning stages, so watch this space!
Interested in getting involved?
We would love to hear your ideas, and welcome you to our crew! Please come along to our next virtual meeting at 7pm on Wednesday 31st March via Zoom. For meeting details please contact PAOTFS@gmail.com
We look forward to meeting you!
The PTFA Team
The earth is dying, and the blood is on our hands,
We’re earth-killers, it’s harsh but true.
We destroy nature for our own needs
Ruining the planet we once knew.
Tree-executioners slice up the forests
And the earth chokes on factory fumes.
Still, we never stop, and the destruction never stops
The wild lies in overgrown tombs.
It’s our responsibility to preserve nature
And it’s a treasure we take for granted.
A beautiful landscape growing day by day
Where life blooms and greenery is planted.
The earth is dying and the blood is on our hands,
We’re earth-killers, it’s harsh but true.
But it’s not too late, it’s never too late
To bring back the planet we once knew.
Young people across the country have experienced unprecedented disruption to their education as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). We are very proud of our students who have applied and developed their STRIPE skills through a challenging set of circumstances. To support the students in their return to education we have a variety of support in place:
- Low stakes quizzes and assessments in all subjects to determine where there are gaps in knowledge and understanding
- Curriculum plans are adapted using results from these assessments to support students in catching up on lost learning
- Staff Professional Learning has been dedicated to time for curriculum areas to adapt schemes of learning and assessments following the lockdown disruption
- Some small groups are receiving extra support during PT time, including outdoor team building and organising learning skills
- Some small groups are receiving extra Maths and English lessons, which take place during the school day with a specialist teacher
- Extra reading groups in Year 7
- PT programme has focussed on routine and wellbeing as students become accustomed to being back in the classroom
As we look forward to the Summer term we hope for a phased return to a more normal school life. Our Enrichment programme will be on offer again, with the ability to offer more outdoor activities. The students are now able to play football during lunchtime, which has proved popular! Students are also able to do practical Drama lessons again and more Science practical lessons. We have been very fortunate that many areas of our curriculum have been able to run as usual this academic year, but with zoned classrooms per year group, such as in Art and DT.
You will be ablle to understand more about your child and their learning during the student led consultation meetings in May. Please check the school calendar for dates.
Rest assured that we will continue to monitor all students from an academic and welfare perspective. Support from teachers and additional small groups will continue into next academic year to ensure we minimise the loss of learning due to lockdown.
The JTFS Team
"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members."
I have received some lovely emails in the last week from members of our local community complementing our students on their conduct, behaviour and good manners. This is music to my ears! We work very hard with students to teach them to treat people with respect and dignity whether that is in the classroom, at lunchtime or outside of school. It is great that they have demonstrated this to members of the public in our surrounding area.
As I was in school on Saturday, supporting with our first Duke of Edinburgh Award cohort, I took the opportunity to walk up Battlestead Hill. It was a lovely sunny day and I had an unusual view of school from the top. I could see the new housing development and its’ growth, Burton Rugby Club and the new stand being built there as well as our school at the foot of the hill. This made me reflect on how our local community is coming together; the houses are now occupied, the rugby club will soon be hosting matches and very soon our growing PTFA will be holding events in school.
We set out to be an important part of our locality and many of our ideas to support our community have been put on hold during the pandemic. However, they are only on pause and we are keen to enable local clubs and groups to utilise the facilities as a centre for the community as soon as we are able to.
Over the course of the week, we have been talking to students about what it means to belong to a rich and diverse community. One of the things that I love about JTFS is the range of students that we have here; each student is different and difference is good.
“normal is a setting on the washing machine” – it does not describe a person
We value each and every person in our community and celebrate the differences that we have. Our community is made stronger by its’ diversity and our mantra of “turn up, work hard and be nice” means that we will be measured on our compassion and kindness for others.
As we end another challenging term, I would like to thank the staff, the students, their parents and our wider community for the support and care shown to each other. I hope you have a fabulous Easter and finally get to enjoy some time together with your families.
Thank you for your support over the last few weeks with the children returning to the school routine. Students have settled in well in a calm manner, ready to learn.
Your thoughts matter to us, so we would like to encourage you to complete the ParentView questionnaire, which can be found here: https://parentview.ofsted.gov.uk/login?destination=/give-your-views
You will need to create an account if you haven’t already done so, but this should take no longer than 5 minutes to complete.
Thank you for your continued support.
Writing a sonnet is not easy; to use the correct sonnet structure and rhyme scheme, including iambic pentameter and end on a heroic couplet - and if you're not sure what all that means ... ask your year 7 JTFS student! Here is a brilliant example:
Falling slowly from my fragile hand,
Hitting the ground, getting ready to grow.
My heart starts beating like a marching band,
Souring through the vast blue skies, goes the crow.
Sprouting out the ground, starting a new life,
As night emerges, darkness caves in.
Now go the cries of distant wildlife,
Her long, sharp thorns prickled my skin.
Petals show their face to the morning sun,
Leaves soaked up the light, turning deep green.
This is a sign the day has begun.
Wind blowed making the atmosphere serene
Years went by, she fell softly to the ground,
Nothing was left, not even a sound.
During remote learning in the spring term, JTFS has been delighted to be able to offer our students a number of STEAM presentations from guest speakers. Our guest speakers come from a range of backgrounds and have volunteered their time to help provide our students with ideas in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) opportunities.
Our first talk was from Sara Campinoti, a post-doctoral scientist at the Institute of Hepatology, Kings College London, and was on the theme of Stem cell development and Human Tissue engineering. Sara explored with our students what STEM cells were and the topic of regenerative medicine. Sara explained how scientists can work on regenerating tissues to produce working organs to use in patient treatment.
Our students asked her some very insightful questions such as:
- ‘Could you create the decellurised organ without an organ in the first place for example 3d printing? if you recreated a brain would keep the memories?’ James
- ‘Is decellularisation a key to combining plants cells and animal cells?’ Ahsam
- ‘In theory could you make a human being’ – Jason
It was great to see our students listening intently and asking such thoughtful questions based on the content of the talk. After the event, Sara got back in touch ‘It was an amazing experience and I was fascinated by the incredibly high-quality questions I received’. Well done to everyone involved.
Our second talk was from Clint Davies an Aerospace Engineering and Computer simulation expert. This fascinating lecture explored Clint’s exciting career working on nuclear submarines, F1 cars and Boeing aircrafts. Clint asked the students to consider how important accurate computer simulations are to creating new and innovative products, finally touching on a brand new field of development in bio-mechanical engineering. Clint explained to our students that his company has recently produced an engineering model of a human heart to help surgeons make clinical decisions and help device manufacturers to optimise their products.
Once again our students asked a variety of really interesting questions with Gracie asking about the possibility of creating computer simulations of climate change which is a subject recently studied in the curriculum.
Clint sent us this message to those who took part ‘Please say thank you to your students for me – they were very attentive and asked the best questions I have ever been asked!’
We have two further speakers this week giving talks on polar exploration and human disease research (Students – please Use this link to book onto these two sessions) and for the remainder of the half term topics include:
- renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, hydro power)
- aerospace engineering (solving aircraft and spacecraft problems)
- Biomedical engineering (solving clinical and healthcare problems)
- Environmental engineering (solving problems with pollution and the environment).
Please do encourage your child to check their emails from myself with the details. Here is the link to book on the remaining talks
Curriculum Leader for Science and Lead Teacher for STEAM Learning
At JTFS we love reading!
Some people find independent reading comes easily to them and devour books, but for others it can be quite a challenge to find something they enjoy or can access independently.
We want to foster a love of reading at JTFS, and are aware of the benefits of reading aloud to ‘big’ children. It helps expand their literacy skills, their love of reading, their worldview and much more.
The goal is to love the story.
Letting your child listen to audiobooks without the frustrations of struggling to decode the words, can help reluctant children to fall in love with stories again. More than that, when you read, you’re modelling how to read language. You pause at commas and full stops, your voice inflection changes when you read questions and exclamations. Crucially, you can show what you, a fluent reader, do when you come to a word you don’t know! Struggling readers need to know that we all struggle with new words, and they need to see that what we do to overcome this (even if you’re faking it!)
Reading aloud can ensure children become hooked on a new series, author or genre that they might not have chosen otherwise. Literature is one of the best ways to help children understand things without experiencing it for themselves. It is key to developing their empathy.
Decades of research shows that reading aloud to a child daily is one of the most important activities for reading success. That goes for older children too.
We wanted to offer the children a chance to listen to a story read aloud to them. This is another way we can stay in touch with them during this difficult time too. Our team of English teachers and Learning Support Assistants have recorded themselves reading the novel ‘Planet Omar: Incredible Rescue Mission’ for our students to enjoy.
Please find the link to the STREAM videos below - this is accessible only via your child's JTFS email. Curl up on the sofa, and enjoy!
Mrs Mack and Mrs Ceney
Despite only being back in school for a few weeks, the Food Technology rooms have been a hive of activity for years 8 and 9. Students have used their STRIPE skills and experiences in the kitchen at home to create amazing muffins and vegetable curries. The aromas floating into the corridor have made many students (and staff) hungry!
We have received heartfelt messages from parents to show how proud the students are of their baking experiences.
The DT team has recognised 4 students for their self-manager, team worker and resilience skills. They are named as our Star Bakers! Congratulations to Murphy H, Aminah J, Tom G and Isabelle H. Recognition postcards are on their way home and chocolate treats have been awarded too.
Here are some entries for our #JTMATlovesreading challenge of creating a book:
"Apart but Together"
Well done Year 7!
Our STRIPE approach to the curriculum is very important to us and as Children's Mental Health week draws to a close, I thought it was a good time to explore the R; reflective and resilient learner. Just as we did in the last lockdown, this time we have planned to support our students with their emotional health just as much as we do with their learning and progress. Being able to “Thrive” is just as important as being able to “Succeed”. In fact, it could be argued that in order to be successful in anything, we need to feel a sense of well being too.
Being self reflective enables us to be more resilient. When we understand ourselves, and our responses to any given situation, we are in a position to deal with it more effectively next time. This is very much in tune with our “failing forward” approach. We can learn from mistakes, make improvements and do better next time. A little self knowledge goes a long way to building character. Strength of character begins with humility; knowing our own strengths, our weaknesses, when to ask for help, when to reach out and help others and when to just sit and reflect.
All of these skills require practice and patience – it isn’t easy to reflect effectively without being self critical. Self criticism can be unhelpful and a barrier to making progress. Accurate self reflection can lead to a change in action and positive steps forwards.
We know that some of our students are finding things tough. This also applies to some families and members of staff too. During this time of immense pressure and stress, anxiety can present itself in different ways and by having that self-awareness we can make sure we don’t end up our own worst enemy. All too often, we can put pressure on ourselves to do more, achieve more and not be kind to ourselves. Ask yourself the question – would you speak to your best friend as you are talking to yourself right now?
Being resilient doesn’t just mean that you can “bounce back” or that you keep on going when times are tough; it means that you can reflect on a situation and see it for what it is. You can seek support, look for the positives and take the next step. Focusing on the positives, no matter how small, is a powerful tool for building resilience. It enables us to practice thinking optimistically. Doing things that bring a smile to your face or make you feel happy can all help to restore balance and perspective even for a short time.
Students in years 8 and 9 will know that I often use music in assembly to make a point, help them think about an issue or just create a particular atmosphere. So if I could play you a track right now to make you think, it would be – “Don’t stop” by Fleetwood Mac. If you have never heard it, go and take a listen and hopefully it will make you smile. What would your choice of song be? Try listening to it and see what your response is, if it makes you smile then it is time well spent.
Take care and I am really looking forward to seeing you soon.
It is nearly half term - everyone has worked so hard since January both at home and in school. Our students, their parents, teachers and their families too have all been trying their best to turn up, work hard and be nice!
Nearly time for a rest and recharge of the batteries... we are expecting announcements to come after the break about when we can return and what that might look like. So, we are still in uncertain times but don't worry, everything is going to be alright!
Have a good break everyone, I hope this makes you smile.
26 May 2021
3:45 PM to 6:00 PM
27 May 2021
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM