Mr Veale’s welcome
My goodness, time is flying once again. Who would have thought that this weekend marks the halfway stage of January?
The children continue to settle back to their studies. In assemblies, they are being taught many brand new songs: I have created a Spring Term playlist for them so that the range of songs that they are learning expands each and every term.
I’d like to reflect on school lunches. You will know that Atwood has changed its catering contractor from Chartwells to Harrisons. As with any change, a period of settling in and adjustment is always required. Some aspects of change will be very welcome whilst others may be less so. We all know that change takes time. It is true that there have been some teething problems, but to reflect that we are less than two weeks into the new arrangements, much has been improved already.
School catering is a very challenging area in which to work, not only meeting the government’s food standards, ensuring that pupils with allergies and intolerances are catered for, encouraging children to eat a wide range of nutritious meals, but also to do this on a very tight budget.
Schools caterers are no less immune to economic factors such as food price inflation, higher wage bills and delivery costs. What was becoming very clear to Atwood was that Chartwells could not continue with the contract as was, without charging the school a hefty subsidy each month. This meant in real terms, that the monies received from parents for paid meals, and income from the government for the universal infant free school meals and for free school meals, were not covering the cost of production and service.
This would have then led to Atwood- like many other school in the country- subsidising the cost of school meals from their general grants, which should of course be spent on staffing and resourcing for the children.
Harrisons, because they cater for the other Pegasus schools, are able to offer nutritious food for the children and staff without having to charge the Trust a subsidy. However, with this comes certain factors that need to be considered. Before we consider these, I think it is worthwhile looking at some of the changes that have been introduced by Harrisons since January.
Before, the children would select their meal choice at registration time, often guided by their teacher. The totals for each choice would then go to the kitchen and the various numbers of meals would be catered for. Often the children would forget what they had ordered when they got to the hatch, and then choose something that appealed to them, or simply chose a default option of jacket potato or pasta.
Harrisons do things differently. Because the menu is refreshed only twice per year, the cooks get to know which meals are more popular than others, and they use this information to cater accordingly. The benefit of this system is that the children may choose based on what they fancy, which I’m sure you will agree is a good way of going about things.
Harrisons must adhere to the food standards and as such, design their menus accordingly. It was true that before, Chartwells, relied too heavily on jacket potatoes and pasta as a cheap way of covering their bases if children did not take up their chosen option. This in turn, meant that a child could have over the course of the week, a very restrictive diet, that did not meet the food standards.
Both Atwood and Harrisons have chosen to restrict the jacket potato or plain pasta option to only those children who have very specific dietary requirements. To note, a preference or being a fussy eater is NOT a dietary requirement even though it may feel like one and can be very frustrating as a parent. In this way, the children, over time, will begin to widen their tastes and try and enjoy a much wider range of hot foods.
In other news, I am working with Harrisons, as they settle in, to ensure that all children receive their meal and that food does not run out. I know on the very first day there was an issue, but I have checked each day since and this has been resolved.
Allergies, intolerances and lanyards
Harrisons must follow their policy regarding allergies and intolerances. In all other schools in the Trust, the children with such allergies or intolerances (and dietary requirements) wear a lanyard to show these clearly. I know that some parents are less keen for their child to wear a lanyard, however I have given the matter a great deal of thought and I have reduced the amount of time that a child may have to wear such a lanyard just to the time that they are in the hall eating. Mr O’Connor has made a set of hooks for each class and a pupil’s lanyard hangs there until it is collected in the dinner hall and returned before they go out to play. In terms of the greater good, I feel that this is a sensible compromise and that the children will soon get used to this. Better to be safe than sorry.
On this note, Harrisons have sent out to families, their Allergy and Dietary Requirements form. To date, we have only had very few returned. This is vital information that Atwood relies upon to record on SIMS- our school management information system. We cannot produce an accurate lanyard without the most up to date information from parents.
Harrisons change their menus twice per year. No sooner have they joined us, than February will be upon us, heralding a menu change. Once the draft menu is issued, I will check this over and make my suggestions in order for it to be finalised. Watch this space.
This half term, the children will be focussing on in PHSE and assemblies, the Pegasus Value, ‘We have good manners’. In KS2, I described to the children that manners are ‘social oil’. What I meant by that, was that without manners and courtesy, the social machine would start to make horrible grinding noises, as relationships between people began to grate.
Manners lubricate each and every social situation: pleases and thank yous, respecting elders and others, thinking of others before yourself, active listening, turn taking, not speaking with your mouth full, eating with a knife and fork, not just leaving the table- this list goes on. As I write these words, my own children come to mind! The teaching and learning of manners is just like any other learning- some children (and adults) demonstrate good manners seemingly with no trouble at all, whilst some keep needing to remember and practise over and over again.
I’m glad we are focussing on manners this half term- children and adults with good manners are always noticed for all the right reasons.
Our Fundamental British Value this half term is Tolerance. We are learning what tolerance is, what should be tolerated in a fair and just society, and in what situations, what should not be tolerated. As the children get older, they are more able to consider on a deeper level, such concepts as tolerance.
Word of the Week
This week’s word is IGLOO. Based on an inuit word, igloo comes from iglu, meaning a domed house made from snow.
Team Points (Pupil Reward Points)
Remember that everyone at Atwood believe in the Terrific Trio- Kind Words, Kind Thoughts, Kind Actions and for that, the children are rewarded. The first key milestone for a pupil is to reach 50 Pupil Reward Points because they will be awarded a £5 Book Token in Celebration Assembly, as we also wish to promote the love of reading at Atwood. Each pupil has been assigned to a Team or House. These are Air, Earth, Fire and Water. All Pupil Reward Points also contribute to the Team Points each week.
Here are the all important totals for the term so far:
Congratulations to AIR who have won the Team Points Competition for the second week of the Spring Term
Why not head over to the Pupil Reward Points website? https://www.pupilrewardpoints.co.uk
With those holiday adverts all over the TV at the moment, just a polite notice to families- we do not authorise holidays in term time. Children are expected to attend school for 190 days per year leaving plenty of holiday time for those summer vacays!
Attendance is important. After all, children only have one opportunity to go to school, don’t they? As a rule of thumb, we expect children to attend school at least 95% of the time. Here are the Attendance figures for this week:
|Week Ending 6th January||Week Ending 13th January|
|Infants (highest)||Blue 100%||Blue & Green 100%|
|Juniors (highest)||5G and 4T 100%||6SB 100%|
|Whole School (weekly)||97.5%||97.7%|
|Whole School (year to date)||94.5%||94.6%|
Forthcoming dates with newly added items in BOLD
Friday 20th January- PAT poetry competition @ WHJUN
Saturday 21st January- SLH Cross Country Races
Tuesday 24th January- Class Reps Meeting- 2pm at Atwood
Thursday 26th January- Year 2 Post Box Trip
Thursday 26th January- Netball match vs Greenvale (home)
Friday 27th January- LAC or AFC event- 2pm-3pm
Thursday 2nd February- Netball match vs Forestdale (home)
Friday 3rd February- Mums and Female Carers’ Number Day
Tuesday 7th February- Year 2- Superhero Day
Tuesday 7th February- Netball match vs Gresham (away)
Tuesday 7th February- Safer Internet Day
Thursday 9th February- Netball match vs Selsdon (home)
Friday 10th February- Last day before the half term holiday
Monday 20th February- Pupil and staff return after the half term holiday
Wednesday 22nd February- Year 6 Dental Screening
Week commencing 27th February- Book Week
Monday 27th February- Author Visit- Dan Freedman author of Unstoppable
Week commencing 6th March- Whitgift Primary Project for Year 5
Saturday 11th March- Farthing Downs Cross Country Race
Week commencing 13th March- Science Week- Our Theme is CONNECTIONS
Tuesday 14th March- KS1 Science Wizards Workshop
Thursday 16th March- KS2 Science Wizards Workshop
Saturday 18th March- SLH Cross Country Races
Monday 20th to Wednesday 22nd March- Year 5 Residential to Carroty Wood
Friday 31st March- Last day of the Spring Term- School finishes and 1.30pm
Monday 17th April- Children return from the Easter holidays
Friday 21st July- Last day of Summer Term closing at 1.30pm
To note, all of the ATW dates are on the calendar and so please click on this link to find them: https://www.pegasusacademytrust.org/events-calendar?school=ATW