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Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 13th July 2018


This week has seen our year 6 children enjoy three days away at their PGL residential. I’m glad to say that the sun shone and all the children behaved brilliantly to ensure that the three days were a resounding success. Many thanks to all the staff who gave their time to organise and attend the trip. The year six children are also enjoying their prom tonight. As I write they are in the hall enjoying their fish and chips with lots of brilliant parent helpers making sure that the children’s big night is remembered. The pictures below give you a little taste of what fun they are having tonight.


On Thursday evening our cross country runners won the orienteering competition at Eyes Meadow in Duffield. Many thanks to Mrs. Taylor for giving her time to take the children to this event and well done to the children for bringing home another trophy.


On Tuesday morning I, along with thousands of head teachers across the country downloaded the children’s year 6 SAT results at 7.30am. We have already shared these results with the children in their annual report and with the community in this week’s newsletter. It is easy to see why all of the children and their parents should be very proud of what their children have achieved in their seven years at St. John’s. As we know they’ve all done so much more than the numbers on the paper show and I hope that in the year 6 leavers’ service on Thursday that we are reminded of lots of their other achievements and memories as well.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 6th July


Our parents are brilliant. Today and last Friday we’ve had a band of parents put up gazebos at school to allow the junior and infant sport afternoons to take place. Many thanks to all of you that were able to help and a special thanks to those parents that helped on both occasions. It is fantastic to know that we can count on your support to help the children enjoy one of our annual highlights. Your help means that we have now been able to run all sport afternoons since 2015 on the scheduled afternoon and not have to use the reserve day. We appreciate that parents often take days off work to attend so it’s good to know that this has been the case for 4 consecutive years. It was especially nice this afternoon to have our first ever Nursery race. In 2025 these nursery children will be taking part in their final St. John’s sport afternoon – and for many parents that time will pass in the blink of an eye.


All of the children met their new teachers this week in our transition mornings. We no longer give the names of the children’s next teachers out with the annual report. Instead, the transition mornings give children an opportunity to spend time with their new teacher, which we found last year and this week, a considerable help in removing many nerves. Whilst we appreciate that not every anxiety is removed in doing this we can see that it clearly helps many of the children.


We have already updated our website with information about where all the teachers will be next year and the school plan showing where all the classrooms will be. CLICK HERE to go to our website so that you can see where you child’s classroom will be.


Parents are invited to complete an online survey this week to help us collect views on St. John’s. CLICK HERE to be taken to our website to begin this process. Your children have brought home a letter today as well with this information on it; you may find it in the bottom of their book bags!


Finally, all of the teachers have now finished writing your child’s end of year reports. Before they come home on Thursday, I will be making sure that I get to read them all. I have already started and am thoroughly enjoying reading all of the lovely comments that the teachers have written to help celebrate this year and provide help and advice for next one. I am sure that you will enjoy reading them on Thursday night.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 29th June


We’ve had a very musical week. On Tuesday our year 4 children entertained dozens of parents with their orchestra afternoon. Our 70 clarinet players were all brilliant and this was a lovely celebration of a year’s work. On Thursday we had our annual music concert evening and had over 40 children perform on stage with over a hundred parents and friends watching. Yet again our musicians were brilliant and did themselves proud on stage. Many thanks to Mrs. Garbutt for organising this annual event.


We’ve also had a very successful sport afternoon today. We were only able to carry on due to the help of dozens of parents that came to school this morning to put up gazebos. This meant that we were able to keep the children safe in the shade whilst they were not racing. The races were watched by well over two hundred parents and friends. Children and parents all enjoyed the fantastic weather and good sportsmanship on show. Well done to the green team who were this year’s winners.


The weather forecast looks set to be very sunny next week as well. We will decide on Tuesday 3rd if we need gazebos again to help keep the infant children sun safe on Friday 6th for their sport afternoon. We’ll send messages out online and on twitter if we do, please watch this space.


On Wednesday our year 5 pupils enjoyed a taster day at Belper secondary school. This annual event gives our children the opportunity to experience a day at secondary school to help ease any worries before they make the move in 12 months.


Some year 6 pupils enjoyed a special science day at the roundhouse on Thursday. Miss Nicklin took children for a day of STEM science activities that excited and engaged all the children that went.


We still don’t have a total amount raised at the summer fayre on Saturday. Regardless of how much we raise though it was great to see the school full of happy families enjoying the sunshine and activities. Many thanks to all who supported the day by volunteering and or attending, it wouldn’t have been a success without you.


Finally on Monday our year 6 children enjoyed their Mexico day. South America was the flavour of the day in all of their activities and in the dinner hall at lunchtime as the kitchen staff cooked up a special Mexican lunch for the whole school.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 22nd June 2018

It’s not often that we are able to give our children £2,989 to spend, but today in celebration assembly that is just what we were able to do. Our recent sponsored read, which was very generously supported by lots of families, raised £1,864. Our link with Usbourne books then meant that Usbourne have given us another £1,125 to leave us with £2,989 to spend on new books for the library and classrooms. I am looking forward to sharing pictures of all of our new books once they arrive on site.


We also gave out rewards to all children that took part in the reading picture competition and then 7 children were also able to choose a new Usbourne book of their choice as their award for winning the photo competition in their year group. At the summer fayre tomorrow, you may be able to see the display board with all the entries, just outside the school hall.


Our year 1 children have enjoyed a trip to the Hindu Temple today. The picture below shows the children enjoying the visit where they learned about Hindu weddings, customs and religious observance. Miss Nicklin’s class can be seen below enjoying their visit.


It’s summer, so the cricket season is in full swing. We won two tournaments this week with both the girls and boys team winning their competitions on Wednesday night. In other sporting success, our swimmers won the swimming gala on Monday afternoon.


On Wednesday, we welcomed our September 2018 reception parents to school. It’s very exciting to know that lots of these families will be part of the St. John’s community until July 2025 when their children will leave year 6. Our reception teachers for next year will be Mrs. Smith, Mrs Christie and Mrs. Wojcik and all the new children know who their class teacher is. The rest of the children will find out who their new teachers are on Tuesday 3rd or Wednesday 4th July when we have our transition mornings.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 15th June 2018


In five weeks, we will be saying a sad farewell to Mrs. Turner as she leaves us after the summer holidays. I am really pleased for her, as this move is a promotion and for her new school in Nottinghamshire. This move brings changes for us. I am very pleased to share that Mrs. Heer will be replacing Mrs. Turner on our leadership team in September as our SENDCO. I am sure that you join me in wishing both Mrs. Turner and Mrs. Heer well in their new positions. I look forward to sharing the name of the new class teacher who will join our teaching staff as soon as I can, watch this space. 


All of Mrs. Carvell’s class have successfully taken part in their Bikeability training this week on the roads around St. John’s. Riding a bike safely in the road is a really important life skill and it is great that we are able to offer this to our children every year. Next week the children from Mrs. Heer’s class get their turn.


On Tuesday our athletes won the Amber Valley team competition. Fifteen school took part and as well as winning the overall team trophy, we had a javelin thrower who achieved the huge throw of 38m, which was a highlight of the evening.


On Thursday morning, we welcomed the parishioners from St. Peter’s church to our weekly sing and praise service. It was lovely to have 20 visitors join in with our singing. Some very proud year six children then took our visitors on a tour of the school. All of the visitors spoke very highly of our tour guides and how well they spoke during the tour. Well done to them.


We still have some places in our nursery for September 2018. If you know of any families that have nursery aged children, born between September 2014 and August 2015, please let them know that they can still apply for places by going to our website or ringing school.


Please be aware that Sunday is the closing date for several applications to come and join our team for support staff and midday staff vacancies.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 8th June 2018


Welcome back after the half term break. Lots of classes and children have started new projects for the half term. Year 2 children enjoyed a day at Sheffield’s butterfly farm to begin their science work and year 1 children walked to the local coppice to begin their new topic. CLICK HERE to go to the year 2 web pages that have pictures of their day and information about the life cycle of a butterfly. CLICK HERE to have a look at the year one children enjoying their walk in the woods.


On Monday, all of the children had their class photographs taken. It was a lovely but hectic start to the term.


We’ve had two after school sport competitions this week. On Wednesday, we took part on the Amber Valley golf competition and yesterday we took place in the Amber Valley cycling competition. As always, the children all represented themselves very well and enjoyed taking part in the games and races.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 25th May 2018


Well done to our year 3 children who led their first church service yesterday at St. Peter’s. Our junior children all lead one service per year and the year three children lead the annual Pentecost service. These children will lead three other services during their time at St. John’s (Harvest, Easter and Lent) and then finally they will be leading their own leavers, service in July 2021.


Our football team completed an historic treble on Thursday evening when they won the league. The trophy will be presented soon, however we can now confirm that we have won the league, the 7 a side and the 9 a side cup. I did remind Mr. Hallam that Sir Alex Ferguson got a knighthood after his treble a few years ago!


Our year 6 children had a lovely day at Eden Camp on Tuesday. On return Mrs. Carvell was able to share that two adults approached her to let her know how well behaved our children were, a lovely message to get.

Over the half term holiday new GDPR regulations come into law. We have therefore updated several of our policies and procedures. All the new documents are available on our policies page on our website. Children also brought home our updated privacy notice on Thursday with a copy of our latest newsletter.


The detectives have been at work during the week. Seven days ago, I shared a picture of the final obstacle on the tough runner course that hundreds of us completed last week. The picture showed Mr. Hallam and I getting soaked with buckets of water, however, it did not allow us to clearly see who got us wet. I am pleased that during the week we received the following picture, which does clearly show who we need to speak to! More information will be gratefully received J


Have a lovely half term holiday – we look forward to seeing you on Monday 4th June for class photograph day.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 18th May 2018


Yesterday evening was lovely, the sun shone, children and parents had fun and I got soaked. We welcomed the return of tough runner. Our tough runner event in February was during the day and for children only. Due to popular demand, we brought the event back for an evening with parents and children invited. One hundred children, one hundred parents and several staff took part running, scrambling, jumping, climbing and crawling around our school field. The final part of the course was the water slide. Most competitors seemed to survive this by only getting a little bit damp. Mr. Hallam and I however, got soaked with several water buckets being emptied on us as we slipped towards the end of the course. One of the photos below clearly shows the size of one of the buckets that was emptied on us, a parent that we would like to question and most importantly that I beat Mr. Hallam. Many thanks to Amber Valley Schools Sports Partnership for running the event for us, we think it was a great way to spend some of our sport premium money.


Our year 6 children have a week of SAT papers this week. Their effort and attitude has been brilliant all week and they all deserve a weekend off. I believe that they have all had no homework this week! It’s not the end of the road just yet though as we still have to finish their writing assessment. Y6 children don’t have a writing ‘test’ but do produce a portfolio of written work done in the classroom and these are still on going at present.


Our kitchen staff and midday supervisors were brilliant today as they organised and ran a brilliant Royal Wedding street party for all the children to take part in. The school hall was great fun at lunchtime today with 500 very excited children eating their party lunch.


Finally in assembly today we presented our football teams with the two trophies they are won so far this season. The captain was very busy as he came to collect both of them and then proudly present them in the school entrance area. Well done to all the team.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 11th May

I have just got back from watching our football team win their second cup final of the season. Yesterday and today the team have played at Moore Farm in the cup finals for the 7 a side (yesterday) and 9 a side (tonight). We won both games 3-0. Well done to both Mr. Hallam and the boys for their commitment and effort throughout the season. They thoroughly deserved to win both matches. The two pictures below are of the teams with each of their trophies. The first picture are Thursday's winners, the bottom picture was taken tonight.


We welcomed Miss Rhodes to our staff on Tuesday. Miss Rhodes joins us as a Team Leader on our Teaching and Learning Assistant team. I am sure that your children will get to know Miss Rhodes over the coming weeks as she begins to work with them.


Our year six children have spent some time this week with our school chaplain Mrs. Lamb. Mrs. Lamb and other congregation members from local churches have worked with our year six children with prayer and other activities to help them prepare for their SAT tests next week.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 4th May 2018


Reverend Anne took our Junior and Infant collective worships on Monday and Tuesday of this week. She continued our half term theme of Truthfulness with the story of St. Lucy and traditions associated with St. Lucy’s day on December 13th. It appears that on St. Lucy’s day in Scandinavian countries that children take cakes to their parents, teachers and other adults that help them. Please be aware that December 13th is a Thursday this year and I would fully encourage this tradition as something we could adopt at St. John’s!


Last night our netball team represented Amber Valley at the borough finals. Having won the local competition a few weeks ago we were up against the best of the best. We finished third last night out of over sixty schools that entered the competition. Well done to Swanick primary school, the overall winners.


Finally, Mr. Hallam has asked me to let parents know that we have a few places left for the parent and child tough runner event on May 17th after school. The child only event during the school day a few months ago was very successful. We also had comments from some parents that they would have liked to have a go as well and we look forward to getting slips from these parents to now have a go with their children (we remember who you are!) Children brought letters home yesterday with information about this.


Have a lovely three day weekend – it looks like the weather is going to be kind to us.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 27th April 2018


Many thanks to Rob Bounds this week who has come to school to deliver Safe Scooter sessions to all children in year 2 and above. From speaking to the teachers he has helped children learn how to avoid accidents when enjoying themselves on their scooters. I trust that the children enjoyed their hour, it is, however, a shame that the weather today meant that yesterday’s children might have enjoyed themselves much more!


We welcomed local MP Pauline Latham to school today. Mrs. Latham was in school to help us celebrate the work that we do to promote sun cream and safe sun practice every year. I am sure that pictures will appear in the local press over the coming weeks. Again, it was a shame that the sun was not shining for the visit and the pictures had to be taken inside.


I am sure that the parents of the children in year 5 join me in thanking all the staff that took the children to Whitehall residential centre for three days this week. I know that for many children it was their first experience of time away from home. It was also, probably, the first time many of the children have climbed up a waterfall and abseiled off a bridge! The trip was a huge success and lots of happy tired children returned to school safely on Wednesday afternoon. Well done to the teachers for organising such a brilliant trip again. Be aware that for the present year 4's and 3's we have already booked for 2019 and 2020. Year 4's - you'll all be going on Monday 17th June 2019 and year 3's can start counting down to Monday 22nd June 2020! 

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 20th April


One week ago, we still had the heating systems set to winter, this week we have been opening windows to welcome the first summer weather of the year. I hope that it continues into next week so that our year 5 children get to enjoy three lovely warm days in Derbyshire on their residential visit to Whitehall.


It’s really good to see that lots of children have been sun safe this week, wearing hats and sun cream. We will be running our stay safe in the sun campaign again this summer with assemblies informing children how to stay safe and access to sun cream for the children during the day. Letters and information will be coming home from Mrs. Girling, our sun safe co-ordinator, soon.


Our year two children have had a busy week. They had a theatre visit on Monday to help them with their seaside project they are studying this term, all of the children became pirates for the day. They have also all had a Bikeability session, teaching them how to ride bikes safely. It was really nice that the Bikeability lessons were able to take place in the sunshine of this week and not the rain of last week!


Our sport teams have had a successful week with 3 football victories in cup and league competitions and our netball team becoming Amber Valley champions on Monday evening. Well done to them all.


Finally, lots of our children bring fantastic homework projects to school on a very regular basis. It would be impossible for me to recognise them all. However, this week I saw a brilliant ‘X-ray’ apron that Faith made in year four. The children’s project this term is called ‘Burps, Bottoms and Bile’ and they are all enjoying learning about the human body. This ‘X-ray’ apron, that I had to try on, is a brilliant way of showing the human digestive system. Watch this space – Faith may be on Dragon’s Den soon with this marketing idea!

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 13th April

Welcome back after your Easter break. I hope that the summer term weather becomes more summery soon as at present sun cream and sunhats seam a long way off.

We’ve had two sets of interviews this week for new staff. I look forward to sharing the name of the new teacher who will start with us in September, and the new Senior Teaching and Learning assistant who will start as soon as possible, as soon as I can. Some of your children will have been taught by the candidates on Wednesday or Thursday as part of the interview day is to ask the candidates to come and teach a lesson to the children.

Our football team were able to play a game on Thursday evening when they played against Village primary in the 7 a side cup. Unfortunately we’ve had to cancel a lot of recent matches due to a water logged pitch at St. John’s so we were really pleased to hear that yesterday’s away game was able to go ahead as planned, especially as we won 5 – 0!

The NSPCC came and took some assemblies and workshops this week to help raise children’s awareness about appropriate behaviour. All children brought home a letter about the talks and may want to share what they were told with parents and families at home. If you have any questions about the NSPCC activities, please direct them to your child’s class teacher in the first instance.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 23 rdMarch 2018

Many thanks for all of your support for our Sport relief day today. We have had lots of fun dressing up as sports fans and competitors, and lots of us have run the mile as well. I look forward to letting you know how much we have raised as soon as possible.

Many thanks to all the parents that have come to parent evening this week. I hope that the time was useful and helps you celebrate the work that your children are doing at school as well as give some pointers as to how we can continue to work to help them achieve to their best abilities.

On Wednesday, we said goodbye to Mrs Robertson. She will be fondly remembered by lots of staff, families and children that she has worked with over the fourteen years she has been with us. I wish her all the best as she continues her teaching career in Nottingham.

On Thursday year four children lead a lovely Easter Service at St. Peter. They told the Easter story beautifully, spoke clearly and has some wonderful actors and actresses acting out the story for a packed church. Well done to them all and thanks to the staff who helped prepare them.

The highlight of the week for many was our Easter Treat on Wednesday morning. We were very excited to have Philippa Hanna come and play two concerts to the infant and junior children. She brought a lovely smile to lots of faces, from the three year old nursery children all the way up to the eleven year old year sixes as well as to all staff (whose ages we shall be discreet about!)


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 16th March

We have had two celebrations at St. Peter’s church this week. On Monday our reception children walked to church, in very wet weather, for their welcome service. This is the first time we have run what we hope will become an annual fixture in the school calendar. For many years we have said good bye to our year 6 children at their farewell service and it seems appropriate to ‘bookend’ this with one at the start of our children’s school life as well. On Wednesday our choir took part in an evening concert along with 3 other schools. Many thanks to Mrs. Garbutt for organising the event and preparing the children for this concert. It was beautiful to listen to the children in the church.

On Thursday our year one children finally got to enjoy their trip to Yorkshire Wildlife park. This was their first big school trip and I am pleased that they all enjoyed themselves and saw lots of animals to help them with their Paws, Claws and Whiskers project they are studying at present.

You will have read about the planning application submitted by the Local Authority this week to modernise and expand St. John’s to cope with the demand for school places. We have written two statements to help explain to families and neighbours why the application has been made and what it means.

Finally, as I write we are getting ready for our family quiz and chip evening tonight. Given the fun we had last year, I am really pleased that our PTFA have organised a second one for us to enjoy tonight.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 9th  March 2018

Many thanks to all the parents and carers that have helped children come to school looking fantastic for the World Book day ‘dress up day’ today. World book day was last week, but due to the snow we moved our celebration of all things literacy to today. All children have brought home a £1 book voucher that they can use at lots of shops to get a pound off a book. When at the bookshops you may also notice that many authors have published special £1 books that you could also use your token to purchase. See the link in the previous sentence to find out what these £1 books are or have a look at the pictures below, where you will also see a picture of staff getting into the book day spirit in assembly this afternoon.


The PTFA met on Monday night at the Greyhound Inn, many thanks to all the parents that came to support the school and help organise the events that our children all enjoy coming to.


On Wednesday evening, our year 2 staff led a workshop to help parents of children in Y2 find out about the tests and assessments that their children will have to do at the end of the year. If you were not able to make it the information is on their class pages.


We said goodbye to Mrs. Jennings today who moves to a new school as a sports teacher, we wish her well in her future job.


Finally, children brought home a newsletter this week CLICK HERE and we have now announced three of the five INSET days for next school year, CLICK HERE.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 2nd March 2018


The very poor weather this week has led to a very difficult time for lots of people. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by any of the actions we have had to take this week, however as always we consider the safety of your children, our staff and you as parents and carers first in decisions that we make. The decision to close a school in poor weather can only be done made by the headteacher. In ten years of headship in Derbyshire, I have now had to close a school due to adverse weather conditions on three days, and two of those have been this week. Closing a school in poor weather is one of the most difficult decisions I have to make and only having done it 3 days out of just under 2000 over ten years as a head shows that the decision wasn’t made lightly. To help make the decision I use the following information -


  • The weather forecast (I tend to trust the BBC)

  • If possible a visit to school myself to asses our capability of keeping paths between buildings safe and free from ice and assessing the local roads and pavements (I was at school at 5pm on Thursday afternoon).

  • Availability of staff, some staff have to travel from Nottinghamshire and potentially cut off village locations to get to school. We need sufficient staff on site to ensure we can look after and feed the 500 children safely.

  • Impact on local roads and cars driving safely on Land Nook and surrounding area with 500 children on the pavements.

  • The impact on parents and letting you know at a suitable time to make alternative arrangements for your children.

  • Conversations with Mrs. Carvell (of which there have been many over the last few days).


    Once I have made the decision to close I have to inform the Chair of Governors and then follow the communication procedures outlined on our adverse weather information you can find on our website. I then go through the calendar to make sure all visitors we were due to have that day know not to come, I contact the adults that run regular events such as our morning Sport club and music lessons to let them know we are closed and Mr. Millington ensures that all deliveries we were due to have aren’t sent. Class teachers then have to spend time updating lesson plans and activities they were planning on running as we have medium and short term plans that will need to be submitted to the leadership team that show what the impact has been and how teachers have adopted their plans to compensate for the closure.


    On Wednesday afternoon, when the weather started to turn for the worse, we decided not to close and remained fully open all afternoon. All of the children were safe in warm classes and we were fully staffed. We did put a message on the website at 1.30pm to parents that were concerned about journeys to and from school that they were able to come and collect their children early if they wished. Once we had given this message any collections from school were fully authorised, however if parents had collected children before such a message was given out it would have been unauthorised.


As well as the school closure, we also had to postpone some events that I am very pleased we have been able to re-arrange and some that will be re-arranged as soon as possible. It was not a difficult decision to postpone the visit to Yorkshire and I am very pleased that Linburg Coaches and Yorkshire Wildlife Park agreed to alter the dates at no charge to parents or school, which is very generous of them both.


  • The reception church service will now take place on Monday 12th March at 10am.

  • The Y1 trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park will now take place on Thursday 15th March.

  • Dress up book day will now take place on Friday 9th March.

  • The basketball finals and football matches will be re-arranged and dates will follow.


Finally – two pictures below taken on Thursday afternoon at 5pm in the school courtyard of the depth of undisturbed snow (23cm) and of snow that had drifted into the corner (35cm).

I’m looking forward to a normal week next week.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 16th February

Three highlights this week that need special mentions.


On Wednesday, our year 5 children took our annual lent service at St. Peter’s. The service was lovely and reminded us all of the special period of the Christian calendar that we are entering. Lots of children told of things they were going to give up for 40 days to help make them a better person. Some children are going to take a different approach and are going to try to do something kind and helpful every day for 40 days. I wish them all well as I personally go through forty days with no crisps.


Our second highlight was the ‘Tough Runner’ day on Thursday organised by Mr. Hallam and the AVSSP. All of our junior children had a fantastic hour running around the tough runner course on the schools field. All of the children were advised to bring some clothes that could get muddy, and it was a good job that they did. The course got very muddy throughout the day and the children certainly got into the spirit of ‘tough running’. Well done to all who finished the course, and many thanks to the AVSSP.


Finally, many thanks to the PTFA who ran last night’s school disco. Lots of children danced the night away, enjoyed sweets and drinks and enjoyed themselves with their friends. I look forward to sharing how much money was raised as soon as possible.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 9th February 2018

Our celebration collective worship was extra special today as our school band were able to perform three brilliant songs to us all. School band practice is on Friday lunchtimes. If any children would like to join you are invited to get a letter from Mrs. Garbutt with all the information on it. The only requirement is that you need to play an instrument! We look forward to seeing you on Fridays.


Our dodgeball team played on Monday night. We played well enough to get to the final, where we were unfortunately beaten by Long Row Primary School. Well done to all the children that played, coming second out of fourteen schools is something to be very proud of.


On Wednesday, when all the children had gone home, we had 50 teachers from local schools come to St. John’s. All of the teachers worked together with colleagues that taught in the same year group as them to look at work done in their respective classrooms. It was a very successful way of sharing good practice across Belper.


Today our year 5 children had an Ancient Egypt day to help with their class work. Some of the costumes worn by the children were fantastic and all the children enjoyed Egyptian activities and mummy making!


Mrs. Robertson has let us know that she will be leaving St. John’s at Easter. I am sure that you join me in wishing her all the best as she starts work at her new school in the summer term, even though she will be missed by all. Her new school is considerably closer to her home, so her daily commute will be reduced from over an hour and half to under 15 minutes. Mrs. Girling will teach in Duffield class full time for the summer term meaning that disruption will be kept to a minimum.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 2nd February 2018


We all know that good mental health is as important as good physical health. With this in mind a few weeks ago, Mrs. Winson-Bushby took a group of children on a day’s training on how to develop strong mental health and how to help others that may be struggling. These children have been able to reflect on this training and this week were able to lead a junior assembly on Thursday to explain their ambassador role in school with the ‘Be A Mate’ initiative. The children have already had an impact on the whole school with children talking about how they can help each other and themselves. We look forward to seeing how this programme develops.


On Tuesday, Alison Brown came to school from the Diocese of Derbyshire. As well as having strong links with St. Peter’s church as a Church of England Voluntary Controlled school, we also have strong links with the Diocese. We are very proud of our Church of England status, our Christian values were highlighted in our recent OFSTED inspection as having a positive effect in helping us teach children happily and safely. The best way to find out why we are a Church of England Voluntary Controlled School and what this means is to watch a video on the Diocese website, where Alison clearly explains what the “C of E (VC)” means in our official school title.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 26th January


The PTFA have let us know that they are looking for volunteers to help with the proposed summer fayre, due to take place on Saturday 23rd June 2018. If you are able to help please email them on Without any extra help this annual event enjoyed by hundreds of children and families will not be able to take place.


On Thursday evening our girls footsall team finished third in their competition. They did come back with a group certificate though for being the most sportsmanlike team playing that evening. Their attitude was a credit to themselves and St. John’s, well done to them.


Finally don’t forget that on our policies page we have a ‘Calculation Policy’ that we hope helps parents to see how we teach the children in their maths’ lessons. I know that some parents find this really useful when helping children with their homework. The policy is on two parts, part one and part two.

Headteacher Weekly blog – Friday 19th January 2018


We have had a relatively quiet week at school this week. Our sporting teams have, however, been busy at two events.


On Wednesday, we had two teams at the soccer dome at Pride Park for the day taking part in an all day football tournament. We were able to take two teams, as Mr. White was able to go along with Mr. Hallam to look after one of the teams for the day. Both teams had a great day with us reaching the semi-final before getting beaten by Walter Evans. On Thursday night we had a boys futsal team play in a tournament at Alfreton Leisure centre.


Mr. White is a member of staff from the Amber Valley Schools Sports Partnership and we pay for him, with some of our Sports Premium money to come to St. John’s for a day and a half a week to work with children throughout the school in their PE lessons as well as take clubs at lunchtime and after school. Mr. White will be working with us until July 2018 so I am sure that your children will work with him at some point during the year. It is good news that we are able to use our sport premium money to have a sports specialist working with us for the year.


On Tuesday, our year 4 children entertained just over 100 family and friends is a music concert. Every year 4 child at St. John’s has a weekly music lesson and loan of an instrument for a year. This year the children are all learning clarinets. They sounded fantastic and we are all looking forward to July when they will perform in their very own ‘Last Night of the Proms’ at the end of their year’s lessons.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 12th January 2017

We welcomed Miss Ingham and Miss Bailey to school on Monday as they started work with us for the next two months. They’ll be working with Mrs. Gascoyne and Mrs. Turner in year one and two. It is always a pleasure to welcome staff from the University of Derby who help us keep our teaching fresh and exciting. This is the third year we have worked with the University of Derby teacher-training department. We have continued this programme again as it is one of the ways that we are able to ensure that teaching methods and ideas we use throughout St. John’s is up to date and relevant.


On Wednesday, we had our official opening ceremony for the nursey building. Children have been coming to the nursery since September 2017, but it was nice to mark the addition of this fantastic opportunity for Belper children with a special event. We were very pleased that Councillor Alex Dale came to ‘cut the ribbon’. Alex and all the other official visitors including the architect, development officer and members of our governing body were treated to two songs from the school choir before being presented with a memento of the day from the children themselves. Local press were invited to cover the event, and more information can be found on the Derbyshire County Council’s news update page.


Please be aware that we are now taking applications for September 2018 for the nursery. All three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours a week free nursery education. If you want to know if your child can attend use this chart to help. Information about applications can be found on our website.


Our year 4 children enjoyed their trip to the Sea life centre on Thursday. This trip will help them with their Blue Abyss project that they are studying at the moment.


Finally well doe to our PTFA who have organised two events for this week. Last night all of our infants enjoyed their film night and tonight the juniors are going to enjoy their popcorn and film. Many thanks to all the parents who have given their time to make these events a success.


The three pictures below show the choir singing on the opening day, Alex Dale cutting the ribbon and Mr. Hallam’s class at the Sea life centre – a busy week!

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 5th January 2017

Happy new year to you all. A newsletter has gone home today with most of the information about this week. All children have also brought home a copy of the spring ‘Fridge Door Calendar’ for you to stick on your fridge door! The children also brought home a copy of our recent OFSTED report from the December inspection.


On Tuesday we had an INSET day. The day was attended by all teachers and support staff and was led by members of Derbyshire SSSEN, this is the department that helps us support children with specific special education needs. The day was very useful as it further helped us support children with specific ‘literacy difficulties’. We were able to look at potential solutions and ideas to help children in classes with their reading and writing.


Yesterday evening Mrs. Carvell and Mrs. Heer led an evening for parents of year 6 children. At the end of year 6 all children take national tests, often called SAT’s. These tests are set by the government and are completed by all year 6 children across the country. Many thanks to them for running the event, which was well attended and well received.


Finally if you know of any families with children that will be starting school in September 2018 (i.e. their date of birth falls on or between September 2013 and August 2014) can you please let them know that they need to have applied for a school place by January 15th 2018. Application details and information can be found on our website.

Headteacher weekly blog – Tuesday 19th December 2017


Not a full week at school, but still it’s worth writing a two-day week blog!

The Ritz cinema in Belper have been brilliant this week. They have re-arranged their own commitments to help us deal with the snow and ice of last week and ensure that all children have been able to watch a film this Christmas. They have not charged us any extra for this so huge thanks need to go to the Ritz team for stepping in during the adverse weather.

With the opening of our Nursery, we have now officially changed the name of our school to “St. John’s CofE Primary School and Nursery”. Over the coming months you will notice changes to signs, websites, logos etc. as we find the money and time to update them.

We said goodbye to Mrs. Brassington this week. I am sure that you join me in wishing her well as she approaches her new adventures. In January, Mrs. Newton will now be working alongside Mrs. Garbutt to teach this year 1 class.

After our OFSTED inspection a fortnight ago we were told that we may receive and then publish the report before we broke up. We did get the report at 2pm this afternoon! This meant that we did not have time to print a letter and distribute it to all 500 children but we have put a copy of it online for parents to read over the holiday.

Finally, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing you all at the start of the spring term on Wednesday January 3rd 2018 at 9am.

Head teacher weekly blog – Friday 15th December 2017


Our Christmas dinner and Christmas jumper day on Wednesday was a highlight of the week for many children. The kitchen staff were fantastic in preparing and serving over 460 dinners in one and half hours. The children all had fun singing along to Christmas songs as they ate and celebrated, it was a lovely time to be in school.


Our Christmas nativity plays have hit full swing this week with 210 children taking to our new stage over five performances to tell the Christmas story to watching families and friends. We have one performance to go next week when the year 2 children finish with their final production. Well done to all the children and staff for all the work they have done to prepare for these lovely annual events.


The snow and ice meant that we had to postpone some trips to Belper Cinema this week. We are very grateful to the Ritz cinema for helping us rearrange the dates at no extra cost to the school. Our year one children will now go on Monday 18th December and our year two children will go on Tuesday 19th December. Both of these trips will take place in the morning and any help in walking children to and from the Ritz would be greatly appreciated.


A date for next week, it’s our annual Christmas Carol concert at St. Peter’s church on Monday 18th December at 7.30pm. As usual, Heage brass band and Father Christmas will be in attendance, ensuring that this lovely family event will help many families begin their Christmas holidays in style. All families and friends are welcome, no tickets are needed.


Finally, many thanks to all the families who checked our website on Monday morning to find out if we were able to open in the snow. I am pleased that this service was successful and appreciated as it meant that very few families had to ring us.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 8th December 2017


We’ve had a couple of firsts this week at St. John’s.

The first, first was the section 8 OFSTED that St. John’s has had. This took place earlier this week and we look forward to sharing the report with you when it gets published. We hope that this is before the Christmas holiday.


The second, first was the nursery nativity on Wednesday 6th December. We’ve never had a three year old nativity before and it was lovely to see the hall full with proud parents and grandparents as the children took to the stage. At the end of the play the children had a special visitor as Father Christmas himself came to give them all a present.


Today we’ve had our annual Christmas fayre. The PTFA have spent the afternoon getting everything ready and as I write we have a happy group of children waiting to go and see Father Christmas himself. The grotto looks fantastic and he was very happy when he arrived at 4.30 to see that we had real snow to greet him.

Finally a newsletter has gone home today. You can download a copy from the school website. CLICK HERE.

Headteacher Weekly Blog – Friday 1st December 2017


Another trophy was put in the cabinet today. Our handball team won on Monday night, well done to them all. The children all got their certificates today in celebration assembly and the trophy now sits proudly in the cabinet.


All of our infant children have continued with their Christmas nativity practices this week. Letters went home this week with information about how parents can get tickets to come and see the performances. Dates and times are on our school calendar.


We have started to receive donations for next week’s Christmas fayre, many thanks for supporting the school. All children have taken home a plastic cup that you are invited to fill with sweets for the sweet stall. All children have also brought home a poster this week advertising next week’s fayre. This poster was beautifully coloured in by Freya in year 3. Unfortunately our black and white printer did not do the colourful poster justice. See below for what the poster should have looked like, and well done Freya for winning the competition.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 24th November 2017


On Tuesday and Wednesday morning lots of reception children brought their mums and dads to school for an hour to join in their lessons with them. Instead of parents going home after they dropped their children off in the morning parents came into the classrooms to sit in the first activities of the day. Parents were able to help their children in a phonics lesson and then with free flow activities around the classroom. We hope that the parents that came found it useful and that the children enjoyed showing their parents and carers around their classrooms.


We took part in two basket ball competitions on Monday and Tuesday after school. In both events we played very well and enjoyed ourselves, despite not winning.

On Tuesday we put our new stage up for the first time. We are very lucky to have the support of the PTFA who raised the £4,000 to purchase the stage. The children were very excited to practice for the first time and not have to worry about any splinters that used to cause some problems with the old stage that we have now replaced.


Finally as parents you all have a bit of homework to do. We have set up an email subscription service. If you want to sign up to it you will be able to receive regular email updates from the school about events and activities that are taking place. The service is free and confidential. To sign up you need to click here, terms and conditions are available by clicking here. We look forward to sending our first emails out later next week via this service.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 17th November 2017


On Tuesday evening our PTFA volunteers held a meeting at the Greyhound. They have launched a new website this week to help keep parents up to date with information about what they do to help the school. You can either go straight to it

or go via the link from the school web site

Many thanks to all the PTFA team who continue to have fun and volunteer to support our school.


Yesterday we had our Children in need day. This was held 24 hours early as we have had an INSET day today. Yesterday saw the generosity of our families help us raise £845.31 for this worthy cause. It is worth noting how organised the children in years 5 and 6 were as they organised the cake stall (year 5) and the ‘bring and buy’ sale (year 6). They were all brilliant and drove a hard bargain when it came to purchasing. I am sure that they were charging the staff more for cakes than they were other children!


At our INSET day today teachers and support staff have continued planning and preparing our new Talk for Writing resources. Your children are nearly at the end of their first Talk for Writing module and we’ll begin the next one in January. I am sure that your children will be able to tell you about what they are doing in their writing lessons at the moment and (hopefully) that they are enjoying them.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 10th November 2017


On Tuesday this week our year three children continued their Predator project about different animals with Rosliston forestry centre birds of prey visiting us. All of the children got to hold the birds, watch them fly, feed them and learn lots about predators from the Rosliston staff. I was pleased that when I went down for a few minutes that I was able to join in as well, see picture below.


On Wednesday we had our second round of reception parents to dinner. Over 20 parents came to school for roast chicken. It was really nice to hear so many parents say that they thoroughly enjoyed the meal and that schools dinners aren’t anything like they used to be when they were at school. Well done to our hard working kitchen staff for working so hard to get over 300 hot meals cooked every day.


Our girls’ football team competed on Thursday afternoon and finished 7th in a competition featuring all Derbyshire primary schools. Given that there are over 300 primary school in Derbyshire this is fantastic.

Today all 500 children recognised Remembrance Day with two minutes silence at 11am, see the picture below. All of the children were exemplary with absolute silence as we thought of all the brave soldiers that work hard to keep us safe today and those that have given so much in the past. It was extra special this year as we had our 3 year old nursery children join us for the first time, and they had all made poppies to hold.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 3rd November 2017


Our collective worship today was the first time that we have all been able to celebrate as a whole school this year. The reception children joined us for their first full school assembly. It was lovely to see the hall full with just under five hundred children for a weekly celebration of all the good work and behaviour that we have seen all week. Every week we give our lots of certificates including attendance of the week for infants and juniors, which were won by Ladybower and Ashbourne and a class of the week certificate that was won by Parwich.


We had our first disco of the year on Friday night. Two hundred children enjoyed themselves thanks to the hard work of our PTFA volunteers, many thanks to all of you that were able to give some time to help the school.


We had three rugby events this week, for boys, girls and the development team, with the children all enjoying themselves and bringing back certificates.


On Tuesday afternoon it was Phil White’s funeral. Mrs. Carvell was able to go on behalf of the school as well as many other staff both present and previous. On return Mrs. Carvell said that ‘it was a lovely service for a lovely man’. Our thoughts and prayers are with Phil’s family and friends who are no doubt missing him at this time.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 20th October 2017

Another week and another sport trophy. Well done to our year 3 and 4 athletes who won on Thursday evening.


On Monday our Y3 children continued their food project with a trip to the local co-op store to see behind the scenes and see how the food get from lorry to shelf to basket.


Many thanks to all the parents that came to see teachers this week at parent evening. I hope that you found it useful and used the information to help celebrate your child’s achievements so far as well as getting a point or two on how to further help them over the coming school year.


On Thursday our new £4000 stage, purchased by the PTFA was delivered. Well done to the team for fundraising for this great addition to the school. This means two things. Firstly our Christmas productions are going to look great on the brand new multi level stage! Secondly we have a very old, much loved wooden stage to get rid of. Please let us know if you would like a couple of stage blocks for home, cubs group, etc etc . I am also aware that bonfire night is approaching and if we get no takers we are more than happy to help an organised bonfire display build their fire with the wooden blocks. Please get in touch with the school if you would like to take some blocks away.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 13th October 2017

On Monday evening our rugby team won their first two games of the season against Chellaston. Well done to them for having a great start to the season – I guess this means that we must be top of the league at the moment! Keep your eye on this web page to follow our progress for the season.


On Tuesday evening our PTFA met at the Greyhound Inn for a social get together and a meeting. They hope to send their first newsletter of the year home next week, keep your eye out in children’s book bags. Their next meeting is on Tuesday 14th November at 7.30pm in the Greyhound. Please feel free to come along to make new friends and help our school.


On Thursday our Y6 children led our annual harvest festival at St. Peter’s church. They did really well and made us all smile with their wonderful singing and poignant messages. Our athletes also finished second in the Y5/6 athletics competition after school at Alfreton Leisure Centre. Congratulations to Mundy School who won the event.


Finally it is with a very heavy heart that I share the sad news our ex-caretaker Mr. Phil White passed away at the weekend. Mr. White was the caretaker at St. John's from 1999 to Easter 2017 when he left us to take early retirement. It is very sad that he only got to enjoy six months of what we would all have wanted to be a much longer and happier period of his life. I am sure that you all join in with me in sending his family our love, thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 6th October 2017


Well done to the infants. On Monday night Mrs. Astell took a group of infant athletes to the Amber Valley infant athletic competition and we won! It was great to see the children stand up in celebration assembly today and collect their certificates and then put the trophy in our brand new trophy cabinet!


Our football team played their first games of the season on Tuesday after school. Unfortunately they lost to St. Werburgh’s. Let’s hope that this is just a glitch and that they find their feet for the next few games before half term.

On Wednesday evening all of the teachers travelled up to Clay Cross to find out about a ‘Positive Play’ programme that has been set up by some staff at their primary school. We have used lots of the positive play techniques with lots of children over the years, however we are looking forward to using the ideas we got this week and the training that we will receive in coming months to help us improve this way of working.


All 500 children had their photographs taken today and have brought home an order form for you to use to purchase any pictures that you wish to keep. Children have also brought home a newsletter and a harvest festival letter this week. You can find a copy of the newsletter on this website.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 29th September 2017


The highlight of this week was when a group of our children took part in the Brownlee Foundation Triathlon day on Wednesday. 28 children were able to take part in the swim, bike and run event in Derby. The highlight was getting medals, certificates and shirts signed by Olympic Gold and silver medallists Alistair and Jonny Brownlee. This is the second Olympic gold medallist that our children have met and been inspired by in 2017 as earlier in the year we had Hollie Webb, who won gold in the hockey competition come to our school.


Rev. Anne came to school and took collective worship on Monday and Tuesday. She continued our theme of thankfulness.


Finally hundreds of children were recognised today for taking part in Belper Library’s summer reading challenge. It was great to see them standing up in assembly and collect their certificates. We are sorry if any children missed out today but look forward to recognising their achievements next week.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 22nd September 2017


I am pleased that the problems we have had with our class web pages has been solved today, so hopefully over the coming days and weeks you will see class teachers begin to add information to their web pages again.

Today whilst the children have been at home all of the staff and our chair of governors have been in school. We’ve had a day’s Talk for Writing training led by Jane Ralphs. Our day has been full of lots of new ideas and strategies for helping children enjoy and improve their writing. We hope to be using these new ideas after October half term, after we have prepared some new resources.


On Wednesday evening lots of parents came to meet the PTFA team over drinks and nibbles in the hall. It was great to see so many new faces. At the PTFA meeting after the social we were also able to add four important future dates to the school diary. Many thanks to all of those who signed up to help out at future events.


  • Discos – Friday 3rd November 2017

  • Christmas Fayre – Friday 8th December 2017

  • Family Quiz and chips – Friday 16th March 2018

  • Summer fayre – Saturday June 30th 2018


Mrs. Smith our EYFS (nursery and reception) lead teacher led two workshops for new parents on Wednesday. Sending your eldest child to school for the first time must be very confusing so we were very pleased that 30 families were able to attend.


Our year two children have continued their studies of Belper. On Monday, local historian Adrian Farmer came to talk to them about Belper’s history with lots of pictures and interesting stories. Then on Tuesday the children all went for a walk to look at the buildings and parts of Belper that Adrian had talked about.

Headteacher weekly Blog – Friday 15th September 2017


The children and staff are now in the flow of the school year. The children have had their first full week back, the reception children have done their first set of full days and our nursery children have spent a full week in their brand new unit. The curriculum projects are up and running with children going for walks around Belper last week and next week and our year 5 children spending the morning today in an inflatable planetarium in the school hall. Our after school and before school clubs are up and running again and Mr. Hallam is in the process of picking teams and players for the competitions that we have coming up. It’s great to see the school year start so well, however, unfortunately we are having a very small problem with our class webpages. Some of our teachers are not able to start adding information to them yet, hopefully we’ll have this problem sorted by next week so that you can start to keep your eye on your children’s classrooms through web updates from the class teachers.


There are a few important events to let you know of next week.


On Wednesday we have two parent association events taking place. At 6.30pm all parents are invited for a wine, drink and nibbles reception to come and meet the team then at 7.30pm we have our annual general meeting where we will be setting dates and events for the year for all our children to enjoy.

Also on Wednesday we are running two workshops for reception parents to come and see how to help your child in their first year at school at 2.30pm and 5.30pm. Please come to either, lots of really useful information will be given out.


Finally don’t forget that on Friday 22nd September we are closed for an INSET day. All of the staff are getting trained on how to deliver some new resources to help children with their writing. After our focus on reading and accelerated reader last year, we are moving our attention to writing this year. We look forward to sharing these new development with you later in the autumn term at a parent workshop.