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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.