- Have a great summer holiday from the team at JTFS
- The end of an amazing first year at JTFS...what a whirlwind!
- A message from the CEO
- Tell us what you are looking forward to this summer
- Challenge Day
- Gardening Club
- On to Pastures New...
- What a difference a year makes in the LRC!
- Cooking Club
- The Best of JTFS: 2018-2019
- Duke of York Bronze Award
- "Curriculum - building a love of learning with strong foundations"
- Amazing African Masks!
- Student Leadership Training
- Summer Learning Conference
It has been an incredible first year for everyone at John Taylor Free School. In this newsletter you can read a review of the year from our Student Journalists and also the final blog for this term from Mrs Plant. Other articles and photos give highlights of our recent events. You can also look back on the year via previous newsletters.
This week, we say goodbye to 2 members of the team. Mrs Moody has done a fabulous job this year creating our Learning Resource Centre. She has worked tirelessly to source a wide range of books for our students to enjoy and we are very grateful that she came out of retirement to do this. We hope that she will still come and visit us and that she also enjoys some time with her family. Miss Hopkins has spent this year in our Finance and Administration team but has realised that teaching is the profession she has always wanted to be part of. She is going to start her teacher training programme in September and we look forward to hearing how she gets on as she learns to teach Geography.
Term starts again on 2nd September with 2 Inset days for staff. All students start on Wednesday 4th September when we welcome our second cohort of Year 7 students. The first 3 days of the new term will be spent on induction and transition for everyone here - it is important that we all have some time to get to know each other before the timetable commences.
We hope that everyone has a fabulous holiday. Enjoy the time with family and friends; whatever you are planning and wherever you go, we hope you have a restful break. See you in September!
From the team at JTFS.
I am sure that the clocks at JTFS go faster than in any other school! It really doesn’t seem 5 minutes since we were preparing the building to open and now we are preparing for the last few days of term. It does feel like a time for celebration; so much has been achieved in such a short space of time and there is much to be proud of.
For our founding cohort of students, they have made 2018/19 a very special year for me. The students and their families are happy to be part of our school community with 98% of parents saying that they would recommend the school to others and 98% of students proud to call themselves a JTFS student. Children feel happy and safe in school and parents feel that their children are making progress. It was also lovely to read such positive feedback about the quality of relationships and supportive staff. Of course there are things that we want to work on next year and our development plans take on board the feedback we have had from all our stakeholders.
The most special part of this year has been seeing the students grow – in confidence, maturity and responsibility. They have developed into young people who are able to role model the positive learning behaviours that we want to see in others, for our next cohort. I have enjoyed talking to the students at the start of the day as they come through the door, at lunchtimes and on the corridor. Just this week, during one of our walk and talk sessions, I was discussing future career aspirations for one young man who wants to join the RAF. We had a very mature discussion about representing your country but also about the challenges which come from such a role.
I have also been asking the students what they feel they have been successful in this year, how they have been able to thrive and what their hopes are for the future. These are being collated to create a memory box for this cohort to share over the years and look back on when they are older. It has been delightful to read about success from what might seem like something small to more significant events over the year. They have told me about friendship support, enrichment and feeling respected; all ways they feel that they have been able to thrive this year. Their hopes for the future range from becoming an architect to saving the oceans from plastic! Many admirable dreams for years to come.
Our staff team have also been amazing over the past 12 months. Time and time again, they have stepped up and done whatever needed doing to ensure the students receive the best education possible. Being a small staff team has presented us with challenges but our parents have appreciated this and the staff couldn’t have done more this year; planning new a curriculum, delivering a wide range of enrichment activities, theatre trips, competitions, sporting events and more. When I held the recruitment event, I did say that people would have to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in – and they have certainly done that! From unpacking boxes last August to running a challenge day on the penultimate day of term, everyone has pulled together and I am very grateful for their energy, support and enthusiasm.
Now, as well as looking back over an incredible first year, I am also looking forward. September brings a new chapter in the life of the school with an additional cohort and a growing team of staff. We have spent a year building the foundation stones on which future success will sit; as we grow we add more stones to enable each and every student to aim high, turn up, work hard and be nice so that everyone in our community can succeed and thrive. I am so proud to be Head of School at JTFS – I genuinely love my job and consider myself fortunate to be part of a wonderful team of people.
Enjoy the holidays and I look forward to sharing more stories from our fabulous school community in September.
Head of School
It has been a real pleasure to witness the first year in the life of John Taylor Free School. The Multi-Academy Trust core team re-located to the new school as it opened its doors for the first time in September, and we’ve seen the school, and its children, grow in so many ways over the last ten months. As early as the Open Evening in September, at which the pupils - who had been at the school for only a matter of a few weeks – acted as tour guides and helpers for younger children and their parents, it was clear to see how proud JTFS students were of their new school. We’ve seen wonderful milestones and achievements – some involving all (the official opening of the school by HRH Duke of Gloucester, the Big Bang event, Challenge Day) and some relating to individuals who have learned something new and seen the value in doing so.
The school looks forward to 2019/20 with real excitement, and we in the MAT offices upstairs do too. It’s great to see the school grow in size and stature day-by-day, term-by-term and now year-by-year. That growth is testament to the hard work of all the JTFS community: the children, the staff, the parents, the governing body, and community partners. We thank you all!
CEO - JTMAT
Thursday 18th July saw students at JTFS take part in their first Challenge Day. Students arrived in their PE kit and worked in their House Teams to complete a number of challenges. Activities included literacy, physical, STRIPE, STREAM, creative and number challenges.
There was a great sense of challenge throughout the day from both students and staff. The winning House was Marchington - congratulations!
Gardening Club is now well underway, with the students enjoying getting their hands dirty and using their STRIPE skills to overcome obstacles along the way (the rabbits are enjoying trying to eat all of their produce!).
"I have enjoyed gardening club, the teachers supply us with tools so that we don't need to buy them for ourselves. In our first session, we planted peas, sunflowers and tomatoes. When we moved outside, we participated in weeding the bed, planting flowers and building a home for insects."
"I enjoy gardening club because we do fun activities like planting seeds and building a bug house so that we attract insects for pollenation. We talked about collecting objects for the bug house such as shells, twigs and leaves. We have planted sunflowers, tomatoes, peas and beans, but the beans got eaten! We have put shiny disks around the plants to stop the birds from eating them."
We are looking forward to continuing with garening club in the new academic year.
Miss Hopkins is a founding member of staff at JTFS. She has worked in the Administration Team and has played a huge part in setting up new processes and getting the school off to a flying start.
During the year, Miss Hopkins has been inspired by what she has seen from our fabulous teaching staff and has decided to complete her teacher training.
Miss Hopkins said:
" As of September I will no longer be working within the Administration Team at JTFS. The dedication and passion of the teachers and staff have inspired me to complete my teacher training, with my chosen subject being Geography.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working here and will miss all children and staff. I hope to come back as a qualified teacher one day."
The team at JTFS wish Miss Hopkins lots of luck with her training!
Having started out with arguably the most beautiful room in the house, but with empty shelves and 210 very new borrowers, we are now the proud owners of over 1800 KS3 fiction and non-fiction books, and some confirmed reading addicts! We’ve added graphic novels, quick reads, and an online encyclopaedia to broaden our appeal, and now have an enthusiastic team of student librarians, happy to assist our borrowers every day.
We can boast that 90% of our students have borrowed a book over the last year, and that we have issued over 2,030 resources. Some of our readers have read over 100 books and we have issued certificates to 8 Word Millionaires!
It has been a real privilege to work as part of the inaugural team at JTFS and to select the most appropriate, exciting and diverse books to grace the new shelves and serve the first cohort of readers. I am retiring after 27 years as a school librarian and shall look back at this year at JTFS as a real highlight. Thanks to all the students and staff for their support and enthusiasm in growing the LRC over the past year. I wish all the staff and students the very best of luck in the future.
Cooking Club has been extremely popular this term with many students trying new cooking and baking techniques. From Oreo Truffles to Mexican Quesadillas..Our students have impressed us with their food knowledge and passion for cooking. Cooking club starts again in the new year and we look forward to showing the new year 7s our amazing food technology rooms.
As the academic year draws to a close, we can look forward to a lot of changes that will be happening at JTFS in September. We are welcoming 240 new students, a new group of teachers and support staff, and opening new classrooms and parts of the building to accommodate this. But, before all of that change and excitement, let’s look back on the year that has flown by, starting from the first day of school...
September 5th 2018: the first day of school: we all got our first look at the school, met our classmates and Personal Tutors, and started out on our journey at JTFS. The next day, we had a STEM in Action day, and we were visited by the Royal Engineers.
Official opening: We were visited by various guests, who were all given tours and served lunch by a group of our students. His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO was also present to officially open the first new high school to be built in Staffordshire in nearly 30 years.
Race for Life 2018: As part of learning about fitness in P.E, every student took part in a 5k run. Everyone brought donations and/or sponsorships and as a school, we raised more than £370 for Cancer Research.
District Cup Football Final: JTFS reached the District Cup Football Final and in a dramatic playoff against JTHS, we lost 2-3 after extra time but everyone had a great time and enjoyed themselves.
National Young Mathematicians award: JTFS sent a team of four year 7 students to the National Young Mathematicians award. The JTFS did very well and ended up progressing to the second round of the tournament.
Christmas dinners and jumpers: Everyone enjoyed their school Christmas jumper day and Christmas dinner, and there were some truly fantastic jumpers that students wore to school!
The JTFS netball team meets Beth Cobden: The girls in our JTFS netball team were lucky enough to meet Beth Cobden from the England Netball team.
Food for the future: Harper Adams University workshop: A STEAM based workshop delivered by Harper Adams University, where we learnt about protein, the importance of it, and what we might be eating for protein in the future: Bugs!
JTFS Big Bang day: JTFS hosted a Big Bang day, and all of the schools in the John Taylor MAT got together for a STEAM-themed day of fun workshops and activities. It was great to see the entire MAT together and celebrating STEAM.
World Book Day 2019: On Thursday 7th March, we celebrated World Book Day, on the theme of “Reading is Power”. Everyone also dressed up as their favourite book character, including the teachers!
A new member: This year, we had a very special new member join us: our school dog, Pluto! Students have been learning to take care of him in Canine club, including how to feed him and look after his well-being.
Summer Learning Conference: Our third whole-school learning conference, based on Super Powers and Festivals, gave our students a chance to talk to each other about their experiences in their STRIPE projects and how they used their STRIPE skills to succeed in lessons.
It’s been a busy year here at JTFS and, hopefully, it will be even more fun and exciting, with even more opportunities to succeed, thrive, and show off our STRIPE skills when we welcome our new Year 7 students in September.
By the Student Journalists.
(Serena, Luke and Charlotte)
In Computing this term our students have been working towards earning their Duke of York Bronze award. The Duke of York award is a programme that helps develop digital, enterprise and employability skills through a series of online challenges. The students have been earning points for each badge they complete, with the ultimate aim of gaining an industry recognised award to help them succeed and thrive beyond their time at JTFS.
The challenges are split into core categories, each with its own series of badges to be won- citizen, worker, maker and entrepreneur. This new award aspires to be the digital and enterprise equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh award.
One side of the year group have completed their Bronze awards already and the others look forward to beginning theirs now the timetable has rotated.
"It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it's the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time"
David Allen Coe
We are often complimented on the beauty of our building and the site in which it sits and indeed, we are very lucky to work in such an environment. However, the building itself does not make a great school. It is what goes on inside it that will make the difference to the lives of our young people.
Curriculum is the hot topic for schools at the moment. It has been an important part of our conversation all year but particularly now as we review our first year and look ahead to year 2.
For me, the curriculum is everything that happens to a student while they are in school – this is why our enrichment programme is just that and not “extra” curricular. We have our timetabled curriculum which is what happens in lessons, our enrichment programme and then there is everything else that happens in school; eating together at lunchtime where students develop socially, interactions on the corridor, a “well done” for going above and beyond, a celebration of winning a Golden Ticket, a few minutes with Pluto or just smiling at someone as they walk through the door in the morning. Every single one of these situations teaches us all something and those little interactions are ones I enjoy just as much as the “light bulb” moment in a lesson.
Many schools will be reviewing their curriculum in the light of the new Ofsted framework which comes into operation in September 2019. At John Taylor Free School, we are in the unique position of being able to plan from scratch and we take this responsibility very seriously. We have spent our Professional Learning sessions over the last few months evaluating what has been taught over the year. We have asked ourselves the question – how well has this worked? And what difference has it made? Teachers are also looking ahead at years to come and thinking about sequencing of learning to ensure our students are well prepared in their subject content for each and every “next stage”. We have literally put the building blocks of subjects together to see what the learning wall of our taught curriculum will look like across the school. We are building the foundation stones on which the rest of their education will sit.
“Look at situations from all angles and you will become more open”
Driving questions form the basis for every term – these are BIG questions, not easy to answer and in fact there are many answers to the questions.
“Does money make you rich?”
“Who creates my image?”
“How do we conquer terrain?”
Each subject may answer the question differently but at the same time develops a deeper understanding of content, a broader range of knowledge and a refined set of skills relating to that question. What I particularly like about our curriculum is that students can make links right across the curriculum as they also develop their STRIPE learning behaviours. African masks designed in Art have been linked to the African drums studied in music; rainforests learned about in geography are related to scenes in a book being read in English. Formulas in maths are used when designing a vehicle in DT.
Learning is based on real life examples and the journey is tracked through student reviews, learning conferences and student led parental consultations.
During these events, students are able to talk about their learning behaviours and how they have developed as well as explain their growth in subject content. These enable the students to be confident and articulate about not only their progress within each subject but their own strengths and how they have developed along the way.
We are determined that our students take every opportunity available to them to succeed and thrive and that means providing a rich and exciting curriculum which we can all enjoy and learn from.
Thanks to @MaryMyatt for "The Curriculum: Gallimaufry to Coherence" for inspiration combined with common sense.
Students have been developing their skills in Art based on the driving question "How do we celebrate?" They have created printed pages then showcased their outcomes with drawn African masks and experimented with adornment. We think their work is fantastic!
Student Ambassadors have been taking part in their leadership training this morning – exploring what it means to be an effective leader.
Last week, JTFS had its third whole-school learning conference. This time the students were sharing their experience on our two STRIPE rotations from last half-term. Half of the year group were exploring the question "How do Superpowers improve Society?" and used their lessons in Geography, Science, English and Maths to develop their STRIPE behaviours as well as develop an understanding of "superpowers" in different contexts.
The other half of the students were investigating "When do we Celebrate?" and learned about different celebrations in French, Art, Food Technology, History and Computing.
Everyone was divided into teams of around four in their STRIPE groups. Each team then made a poster, showcasing their best pieces of work and explaining the STRIPE skills they used in each one. Each team was then visited by a team from the other rotation.
We each shared our posters and the work we put on them, as well as telling the other groups how we have used our STRIPE habits to succeed, as well as a little bit about the project they would be working on this half-term.
This is a great way for the students to share their thoughts and achievements with each other from the past project, and to learn more about the STRIPE subjects they will be studying next half term.