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Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 9th November


As I write we have dozens of generous parents helping set up the Winter Gift Fayre in the school hall. I look forward to seeing anyone who is able to come and support us later tonight. Events such as this help us fund events that your children enjoy such as the Christmas trip to the cinema. We have booked these again for December 2018, you can find the dates for each year group on the school calendar.


Earlier today in celebration worship we welcomed our reception children for the first time. Reception children have already joined smaller infant assemblies, but today was the first time they joined the whole school. It was really nice to have all 480 of the children in the school together for the first time this year.

On Wednesday Rev. Anne visited our nursery to read a bible story to the children. This new monthly event is really enjoyed by the children. Thank you to Rev. Anne for coming in on the first Wednesday of every month to spend some time with the youngest members of our school.


In collective worship this week I was able to tell the children of an exciting new venture for St. John’s. In January Mrs. Hodgson and I are travelling to Kolkata in India with the Diocese of Derby. We are going to go and work in The Scottish Missionary School helping the teachers and children. This is the first stage in a project that will see us build substantial links with this school and help our children at St. John’s find out about school life and how children live in another part of the world. The Diocese of Derby has run annual trips to Kolkata for several years and in this time dozens of schools in Derbyshire have developed such links with teachers travelling to other slum schools in Kolkata and helping the Indian teacher and children. I showed the children parts of the video that can be found on the Diocese web site. There are parts of this video that show the slums that the school children live in and the schools that the children attend. We spoke about how lucky we are in Belper and began to think about how we could help the new friends that Mrs. Hodgson and I will make when we travel to Kolkata ourselves.


Mrs. Hodgson and I have already spent several Saturdays working with the thirty teachers that are traveling to India in January planning the work that we will do and making plans for the links that we want to establish. At one of these meetings we met staff from Ashgate Primary School in Derby. This will be the third year that staff from Ashgate have travelled to Kolkata and their website gives a taste of the work that they have done celebrating the links between their school and their school in Kolkata after the two trips they have been on so far. It will be great for us to help children at St. John’s develop such links as well.


The building work started this week for the three new reception classrooms and extended carpark. Information about what the three new classrooms will look like can be found in this letter. Our reception teachers are really looking forward to September 2019 when we will be teaching our 70 newest members of the school community in these new shiny classrooms. The existing reception classroom will then hopefully be getting modernised to look as nice as the year two classrooms do after they were modernised in 2017.


With the building work taking place we have had to change the pickup and drop of arrangements this week. Many thanks to parents and families that have helped in these new arrangements and have found new meeting points for their children. Several parents have let me know that they prefer been on the playground. Please be aware that parents do not have to come onto the playground to collect their children, we are aware that parents of some elder children have pick up points a short walk away. Elder children are still allowed to do this.


Finally, we work hard to ensure that children know to come back into school if they have a problem at the end of the day and can’t find the adult who is picking them up. This is still and will always be the case. We always tell children that they should come straight back to school to one of the adults here if they can’t find the adult that is picking them up and we encourage all parents to tell their children to do this as well.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 26th October 2018


I hope that the children have all enjoyed the first day of their October half term holiday today. All of the staff have been in work today for our INSET day. The majority of the staff have been working with a consultant as we consider how to improve our teaching and learning of spellings. This is part of our continuing effort to improve opportunities for writing. We have also had some staff working on developing the reception outdoor area. I am sure that the children will enjoy coming back to school in November and seeing the new outdoor learning opportunities that have been added today.


Nearly every parent has been to school this week for our first parent evening of the year. If you have not been able to see your child’s teacher yet, please ring school after the holiday to book an appointment as teachers will still be able to see you in November.


Our school chaplain, Mrs. Alex Lamb, has been in school every day this work helping the children make harvest and autumn prayer spaces every lunchtime. Lots of children have had a lovely time working with her and have produced some lovely prayers that they were very proud of.


Finally the building work has started today that will lead to us having three brand new reception classes in September 2019 and an extended carpark by the end of next month. All parents need to be aware that when we return to school after the break that all children will be entering school through the nursery gate and that all parents are invited onto the school playground to drop off and pick up their children. Extra staff will be on duty on the first day to help.


Have a lovely half term holiday – see you on November 5th when we return to school.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 19th October 2018


We have been overwhelmed by the amount of donations received for our harvest festival this week. The very generous St. John’s community donated boxes and boxes of food that has been distributed to the Padley Centre was gratefully received. Our year six children did really well as they only began getting ready for their service on Monday morning and by Thursday morning were ready to perform in front of hundreds of children and parents at St. Peter’s church. Unfortunately, even though they were ready the technology wasn’t and we were hit by a technical glitch that meant that the children had to perform without the lyrics and pictures that they had planned on using. Despite this they did brilliantly and the service was enjoyed by all.


Our year three children also got involved in the harvest celebrations with a trip to Morrisons on Tuesday morning. This trip also fitted into their project work.They had a tour of the store, speaking to staff on all the counters to find out about the food that they sell and make.


Unfortunately the rain over the weekend meant that we had to postpone our away football match on Monday evening at St. George’s in Derby who were suffering with a water logged pitch. We did however get to take part in a lower junior athletics competition on Thursday evening at Alfreton Leisure centre. Our team came 3rd and can be very proud of well they did.


Today we have had a dozen parent helpers in school help us prepare and organise hundreds of new books for the library and classrooms. We are very lucky to be supported by families in this way and really appreciate the help and support we get. I hope that your children enjoy reading the new books over the coming months.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 12th October 2018


This week has been all about singing and and iSingpop concerts. The children have all had a lovely week with Ashling from iSingpop learning lots of new songs and actions. There have been hundreds of smiles as the tunes, lyrics and actions have excited and inspired us all throughout the week. Last night we had our first concert at St. Peter’s church with half of the school, and it was clear that families and friends thoroughly enjoyed it. Tonight we look forward to our second concert with the rest of our children, I am sure that it will be equally enjoyable. There are some pictures of last night’s concert below, I hope that this doesn’t spoil the surprise for any parents who are coming tonight for the first time.


Huge thanks need to go to parishioners of St. Peter’s who have fundraised throughout the two years since our last concert to make this event possible and help celebrate the link between our school our church and our Christian values.


Don’t forget that we have our parent evening meetings in a couple of weeks and you are invited to book an appointment with your child’s class teacher. Information went home in the newsletter last week.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 5th October 2018


A newsletter has gone home this week with lots of information. Please make sure that you get your copy from your child’s book bag or online as it contains some important information, including details of the parent evenings that will take place during the week beginning October 22nd.


 On Monday evening Mrs. Astell took our infant children to the indoor athletics competition at Belper Leisure centre and today in collective worship it was a pleasure to give them their runners up certificates. For many of the children it would have been the first time they represented the school so I am really pleased at how well they did.


Today hundreds of children have had their photographs taken by two fantastic and very patient photographers from Tempest photography. We have worked very hard to make sure that all the children smiled and looked smart and hopefully you’ll enjoy the photographs that you get the opportunity to purchase later this term.


Finally we’ve continued to have more work done to rectify some of the problems with the school field. Now that the field is fenced off to unwanted weekend and evening users we’ve invested money in re-soiling and reseeding areas of the field that were worn away. I look forward to when the field is ready for use again, hopefully this will be before the wet winter weather makes it unusable during the winter months.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 28th September


On Monday we had our second INSET day of the year. The day was focused around our status as a Church of England School and the importance that this has on our vision, values and our approach to educating children. On our website we have some links and a really useful video that help explain why we are a Church of England School. Over the coming year we will be recognising and celebrating our Church of England status as we work to respond to the new guidelines issued by the Church of England as to what makes a good Church of England School. Part of our training on Monday was led by Dr. Alison Brown, from the Diocese of Derbyshire as she helped us all understand this new document and look for ways that we can celebrate our achievements against it.


Our year two children have had a busy week with a walk to Belper on Tuesday and then a local historian, Adrian Farmer, come to school today to talk to them about Belper of yesteryear. This is to help them with their project work about Belper that they are studying at the moment.


On Wednesday we sent over twenty children do a triathlon competition at Allestree Secondary school and on Wednesday our girls and on Thursday our boys, took part in the first football competitions of the year.


We’ve had our first PTFA meeting of the year on Wednesday night and due to the support of our volunteers are going to be able to add some dates to the calendar soon about disco and quiz nights! We also had our first governor meeting of the year on Thursday night. Amongst other things we agreed the school improvement plan for the school year, which will be available to view on our website soon and the results of the parent survey that parents completed in June 2018. We will be able to share the results of the parents’ survey in the next newsletter that we hope to send home next week.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 21st September 2018


On Wednesday, we held our first safe indoor practice of the year. This is the opposite of a fire practice when the children practice getting outside as quickly as possible. In a safe inside practice the children all know that they need to stay inside with the nearest adult. The children know that we have these safe inside practices for reasons such as having a dog on the playground, or a factory nearby might be spreading some smoke in the air and we need to be inside out of the way. Once again, the children were brilliant during this practice and behaved perfectly.


Today, Rob from the Amber Valley School Sports Partnership come and present us with two awards. There are 61 schools in the AVSSP and every time one of us enters a competition, we earn some points. School also earn bonus points for fair play awards or finishing in the top three. Every August AVSSP total up all these points to find out which schools did the best throughout the school year. I am pleased to announce that we came third place in the infants end of season table and second in the junior end of season table. This is a huge pat on the back to all the children that represented school during last year, and to Mr. Hallam and the staff that made it possible for them to partake.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 14th September 2018


The highlight of the week for many children was the visit of Dan Magness yesterday. Dan is a free style, football, world record holder. Due to our close links with Amber Valley School Sports Partnership we were able to have Dan spend the entire day with our junior children for free. Dan was very motivational and lots of fun.


We are really pleased that due to our new fence we now have a private and secure school field. Since the school was built in 1972, the school field has been open access and unfortunately, this has led to unofficial use by some members of the local community in the evenings and at weekends. The fence also means that we are significantly more secure when children use the field during the day. Because the field is now secure we are now investing time and money in making the field a nicer and safer place to be and next week we are going to have some work done to repair areas of the field that have been damaged by unauthorised use. This repair and re-seeding will take some time but we hope that the end product will be worth it. Unfortunately, despite the fence and repair work there will still be long periods of time when we will not be able to use the field at lunchtimes. As all local residents know the road that runs alongside our school field is called Marsh Lane, and having seen the field in the winter months I can assure you that this is not a coincidence. For most of the winter and spring, the field is very wet and muddy and will still only be used by the football and rugby team. Role on summer 2019!


We had our first fire practice of the year on Wednesday. All of the children, including our new reception children, all got out of the school safely and sensibly to line up on the school playground. Next week we will have our first safe inside practice of the year when children will all move inside the building and wait safely and sensibly with an adult. I am sure that this will be successful as well.

Headteacher Weekly blog – Friday 7th September 2018


We’ve had a lovely first week back at school. For all of the staff the week began on Monday when we had our INSET day. Despite the fact that a lot of teachers and staff are in during the summer there is still some work for us to do on the September INSET. We started the year with a prayer and moment of reflection led by our Chaplain, Alex Lamb along with Rev. Anne and Patience Atkinson-Gregory. We then used the morning to do several important jobs. We made sure that we are all aware of legislative updates regarding child protection and GDPR. We also looked at the behaviour policy and to make sure we are happy with it for the year and set the wheels in motion for the annual School Improvement Plan. In the afternoon the staff all worked in their year groups and in their classrooms putting the finishing touches to displays and lessons plans ready for Tuesday morning.


In looking at the behaviour policy we have decided to add a new line in the sanctions section. The existing policy read like this


Sanction for inappropriate behaviour

  1. Glare by the member of staff in charge.

  2. Name written on board.

  3. Underline the name.

    1. The child spends the following morning or afternoon break time against the wall.

  4. Sent to Senior teacher (Assistant head) or colleague.

    1. Child to complete the ‘apology’ and ‘next time I will’ slip. See Appendix 2. These are to be kept by the class teacher.

    2. Child to be made aware of getting sent to Deputy Headteacher if behaviour continues that day.

  5. Sent to Deputy Headteacher.

    1. Class teacher needs to let parents know that their child has been sent to Deputy Headteacher.

    2. Formal record in school behaviour log.

    3. On the third time within a half term child gets sent to Headteacher.

  • At the beginning of every day the child is given the opportunity to return to stage 1

6. Sent to Headteacher.

a. Miss the half termly golden time.

b. When sent to the headteacher for the second time the child is put on a behaviour chart. Parents requested to come and see Headteacher to discuss the behaviour chart and any pre-exclusion plan. Behaviour chart – See Appendix 3.

c. Continued dialogue between Headteacher and parents.

d. Behaviour support staff from Local Authority informed.

If none of these sanctions are effective and the child continues to disturb the education of others within the school, then the Headteacher will begin a process of fixed term and then permanent exclusion. During this process the school and the Governors will follow the Local Authority’s guidelines and procedures.

Advice for parents about exclusions can be found


3. Underline the name.

a. The child spends the following morning or afternoon break against the wall.

b. Staff will keep a record of when a child has their name underlined and goes against the wall. If a child reaches 5 times in a half term they go to see the Deputy Headteacher, i.e. stage 5.


We hope that this will help us more effectively address persistent poor behaviour. We have also ‘moved’ the wall, not literally but we are going to use a new area of the playground. Children will now stand against Mrs. Carvell’s class and the reception yard in a quieter, less public,  part of the playground.


Children have brought home the first newsletter of the year today and a copy of the school calendar designed for the fridge door.


Finally, all the staff at St. John’s hope your child has had a happy and successful first week back, I have certainly seen hundreds of smiling faces in classrooms and around. We are sure that any children that may have had first week blues after a lovely summer holiday will begin to settle next week, however, if not please come and see the class teacher to help should any concerns continue into mid-September.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 20th July 2018

We have had to say goodbye to seventy children that have had up to seven happy years at St. John’s today. Yesterday the children led a wonderful leavers’ service at St. Peter’s church. The church was full of the families and friends of the year sixes as they reminded us of their happy, funny and emotional memories of school life. I found the most poignant part of the service to be when we were treated to a song, whilst we saw pictures of the children on their first day at school, along side a picture of them today whilst they told us what job they wanted to do when they are older. This really showed the path that the children are on and how school, church and family have to work together to make sure that we have the next generation of vets, police officers, lorry drivers, teachers and vloggers etc etc etc . I look forward to seeing you all achieve these goals and ambitions as we continue to bump into each other in Belper and Derbyshire.


We also said goodbye to Mrs. Turner today who moves onto a new school and a promotion to Nottinghamshire. Mrs. Turner has taught and worked with hundreds of children at St. John’s in her roles of class teacher and SENDCO.


On Wednesday our year three children enjoyed a day at Lea Green activity centre in Derbyshire. They had a fantastic day taking part in various team building and adventurous activities with their friends and teachers.

On Monday evening Mr. Hallam and the football team went to Pride Park to get presented with their football trophies for the season. Our team got a special mention as been the only team in all of Derby to win the treble for their age group this year. The real pleasure of this achievement, however, has been the attitude, commitment and sportsmanship of the team during the season. They have all been a credit to themselves, their families and St. John’s throughout the entire season.


This morning we had our annual celebration assembly to mark the end of the year. We gave out over forty 100% attendance certificates. Well done to these forty children that have come to school every day since September 2017. We also gave out awards to the classes that had the best attendance of the year. These went to Mr. Astell’s infant class and Mr. Hallam’s junior class. As well as plenty of other awards, we also gave out a new ‘Governor Award’ to one child from each class. Seventeen children received this new award in recognition of their excellent attitude and commitment to school life. We had also secretly invited the children’s parents to come to school as well so the children that received this award had an extra surprise when they saw their family in the hall as well. The final treat for them was a tea party organised and run by the governors. Chocolate coated strawberries and other treats awaited them as they enjoyed their treat and showed governors some of their work for the year. I hope that this lovely end of year award becomes a new tradition. Pictures of the tea party can be seen below.


Finally – I hope that you all have a lovely summer holiday. I look forward to seeing you all in September when we come back refreshed and ready for another year at school ………has any one see a ‘Back to School’ sign up in the shops yet?

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.