Happy 47th birthday Unicorn School!
It was lovely to celebrate Unicorn’s 47th birthday last week, with the whole school singing in the playground and the children sharing fruit from the wonderful rainbow fruit display prepared by parents. It made me start to think about the 50th which is not so far away now! I remember the fun celebrations of Unicorn’s 30th birthday in 2000, when I was teaching Blue Class (Year 3) as a Newly Qualified Teacher. It is amazing how many people involved in the founding of the school in 1970 are still involved and how many past pupils send their children here. The special ethos of the school remains intact, even in an ever-changing world. By working together, the parents, pupils and staff demonstrate that we can be forward thinking and yet maintain the breadth and creativity we’ve always promised. Unicorn provides an educational setting that sits comfortably with the traditions of its founders and the demands of 2017.
Thank you to those who came to the Bullying Workshop given by Education and Parenting Consultant Gill Hines last week; these are always emotive and thought provoking occasions. I left at the end of the evening with heightened awareness of the importance of addressing these issues. At a school like Unicorn it is easy to assume that there is no bullying, but national statistics would suggest otherwise. Gill will be returning to talk with staff later on this term and we will also be marking anti-bullying week in November in our assemblies and PSHEE lessons. Last year we welcomed Dick Moore and listened to his personal and passionate talk on mental health issues, a topic that is once again in the headlines as it is reported by researchers from UCL and the University of Liverpool that a quarter of girls aged 14 suffer from depression. We will arrange another talk related to Pupil Welfare later in the year.
Gold Star award for Unicorn’s travel plan
Unicorn has been awarded a Gold Star award for our travel plan. Thanks to all of you who have completed travel questionnaires in recent terms and those who particularly strive to do their bit for the environment by cycling, scooting, walking or catching public transport to get to school. Mrs Long deserves enormous praise as she has worked tirelessly with TfL’s STARS to produce the extensive evidence required to qualify us for this highest level of award.
We had our Harvest Festival assembly on Monday when you all kindly brought in 6 items of food or toiletries which were then delivered to those more needy than ourselves. We have supported West London Action for Children for many years and I thank Mrs Boxer, the School Committee and all parents who give so generously. Perhaps this year you could also make time to have an age appropriate talk to your children at home, about poverty and the idea of ‘giving’. Questions you could ask your children might include: Why give? Why do we say thank you? What is ‘true’ giving? What is poverty? Is it always ‘right’ to give? What things would you find hard to give? Can we go to the supermarket and buy food together? As we know from our recent involvement with WLAC, SPEAR and Richmond Foodbank, there is a great deal more local poverty than may be obvious to us or our children.
IAPS Heads’ Conference
Last week I have spent a few days away from school at the IAPS Heads’ Conference and previously I was away for a couple of days inspecting another school as part of my role as a Team Inspector for ISI. These absences have happened early in the school year and yet they have both been hugely valuable as I look to build upon the successes of Unicorn. There are several ideas which I will talk with staff over the coming days and weeks. One important message that I have taken from both these visits is the emphasis on looking at the outcomes of the pupils. As teachers and members of staff at Unicorn, we want to create as many opportunities as possible for the children to learn and make progress. Clearly, positive outcomes come through excellent teaching, but they are also a result of the atmosphere of the school as a whole; a happy, safe and inspiring environment which you, as parents, are very much a part of. The fact that we all care deeply for the children ensures that we constantly look to improve the school, so they get the educational and pastoral opportunities they, and you as their families, deserve.