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Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 20th May


We had a wonderful Tuesday afternoon in school when a hundred parents and friends were able to come to school to watch their year 4 orchestra. All of our year 4 children have been learning to play either the trumpet or trombone this year with Adam and Hannah from Derby’s Music Partnership. The concert was fantastic. Well done to the children for doing so well in learning how to play a musical instrument.


Yesterday we sent a team of over 30 runners to the cross country race on Duffield Meadows. We have some great individual finishers picking up top three medals in their individual races and I’m pleased to share that over all we finished first. Well done to all the children that took part and thanks to staff and parents that took children to the race.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 12th May 2022


Today we have been interviewing new teachers to come and join our school in September. We are making a few appointments today and then again on the 25th May when we will be interviewing again. I am looking forward to sharing the names of the new teachers and the year groups that they will be teaching in as soon as we are able to do so. Families will already be aware that Mrs. Christie and Miss Thompson are leaving us as they retire and take a promotion to another school. Today I am able to share that Mr. Silk will also be leaving us in August. Mr. Silk joined us in January and will have worked with us as a year 4 teacher for two terms. I am sure you join me in thanking Mr. Silk for his brief period of time at St. John’s and wish him well as he leaves us this summer. 


Our reception children have enjoyed looking after their eggs and chickens this week. The eggs were delivered on Monday and throughout the week I have enjoyed hearing updates about the eggs that are hatching and the chicks that are now sharing a classroom with the children.


Our year six children have taken their SAT tests this week. The last time year 6 children took SAT tests in the UK was in 2019. Well done to all of the year 6 children for working hard and doing their best this week.  In previous years, schools and the government have published their SAT results for all parents to see them. You may be aware that the government have announced that in 2022 they are not going to publish or share school’s SAT results. Children will, however, still get their individual results, these will come home with their written reports in July.


Over the next few weeks other children at St. John’s will begin their end of year tests with children in year 1, 2 and 4 taking more statuary government tests. Our year 1 children take a government phonics screening test, year two children take their government end of key stage tests and year 4 children take their government multiplication tests. Teachers have recently led successful and popular meetings for parents about the tests that the children take. The presentations can be found on our class pages – year two CLICK HERE – year 6 CLICK HERE.


Our 7 a side football season finished last night. At present we are top of the league, with teams below us to play some games. Yesterday we finished the season with our 10th win beating Oakwood. Well done to all the children and many thanks to Mr. Hallam for giving the children the opportunity to enjoy themselves representing the school.


Finally a reminder, our online calendar is always up to date with events taking place CLICK HERE. Please can we draw your attention to the Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) workshops that are taking place on Thursday 19th May after school. Mrs. Girling looks forward to meeting any parents that want to come to school and look at resources and ask any questions about the RSE lessons that will be taking place in school this term. Our PSHE plan, that can be viewed online CLICK HERE shows families what PSHE units are taught when. After the half term holiday we have projects called ‘Relationships’ and ‘Growing up’ that are taught throughout the school that parents may want to find out about on Thursday evening. A letter went home earlier this month with information about the evening. CLICK HERE.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 6th May 2022


It is always lovely when we get messages of appreciation and thanks. This week our year 5 children have continued their project ‘Allotment’. As part of this work they have had Mr. Gerry Stuart, one of the members of Hunter Road allotments come and visit us at school and talk about how the allotments are maintained and what they are used for. They have also visited the allotments, spoken to the gardeners and spent time researching what they can grow this summer. We then received this message from Mr. Gerry Stuart.


Miss Proud, can I say what an absolute pleasure it was to meet up with your Year Five students yesterday. Their attentiveness and willingness to ask (good) questions when I did the classroom talk was first class. The visit to the Allotments - only one word - Perfect.

Well done to you and all involved.


Once again the behaviour and attitude of our children has been exemplary. Well done to them.


Yesterday at the Netball competition our team finished second, out of eight teams. Well done to them and on Tuesday our football team were successful when playing against Shelton.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 29th April 2022


You may be aware that we have some adverts in the press for two teachers to join our team in September. I shared before Easter that Mrs. Christie will be retiring in July 2022. Today I am sharing that Miss Thompson will be leaving us in the summer as well. She leaves to take a promotion and class teacher role in a local school. She will leave us in July with all our best wishes as she takes her passions for teaching and helping children with her. I am sure you join me in wishing her well as she continues her career in Derbyshire.


We were very pleased to see so many families enjoying our Wednesday afternoon open classroom session. It was great to see so many families in school looking at their children’s work and classrooms. I hope that your children enjoyed showing you their work. All the staff at school are pleased that such events can begin again and we look forward to seeing parents in school more often in the coming months.


Well done to our year 6 children who have had a practice SAT week this week. They have all worked brilliantly and will be able to take what they have learned this week into their real test week on May 9th. I am pleased to be able to share with them that this week Mrs. Carvell and some Y6 parent volunteers continued to make plans for their end of year prom on Friday 15th July. As well as this prom I know that there are lots of other events for them to enjoy this term as they continue to prepare for secondary school.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 8th April

Most summers bring staffing changes at schools and this August after twenty year’s work at St. John’s we will say goodbye to Mrs. Christie. The majority of this time has been spent in reception. There are hundreds of children (as well as young adults) in Belper who know Mrs. Christie as their first teacher and many parents who know Mrs. Christie as a friendly face who helped them and their child take their first few independent steps at school. Fortunately it may not be a complete farewell as Mrs. Christie has offered to come and help at school as a supply teacher we may still get to see her in the new school year.


The highlight for many children this week was today’s Spanish Day. We have all had great fun counting, singing, dancing, eating and speaking all things Spanish today. Every child has taken part in a flamenco workshop, I am also pleased to share that teachers took part as well and judging by how much effort was being put in we’d give the team at Strictly Come Dancing a run for their money as well. The pictures below only give a brief taste of the day, I hope that your children have been able to tell you a bit more.


Our children have also had another treat this week with a PTFA funded Easter workshop at the beginning of the week. Many thanks to the PTFA for funding this event and to the team at Valleycids for coming in for three days to work with us. The team spent just under an hour with each group of children telling the Easter story using interactive props and activities.


Finally we’ve had two trips to St. Peter’s church this week. On Tuesday our reception children went to their ‘Welcome to St. Peter’s’ service led by Rev. Anne. This lovely service is bookended by their farewell service that they will be leading in July 2028 when they are in year 6. We’ve also had our Easter service this week. Well done to our year 4 children for leading this service and helping us all prepare for our Easter holiday.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 1st April 2022


This morning it appears that several teachers were able to enjoy a bit of April fool fun with their classrooms. I gather that some classes were then able to get their own back on teachers with tricks later in the day.


Summer must be on the way as on Monday we had the field grass cut and the sport pitches marked out. The children have also been on the field for some lunchtimes this week. It’s a shame that the weather didn’t continue to get ready for summer later in the week with snow showers reminding us that it was still only March. The snow and weather meant that our cross country race on Wednesday evening was cancelled by Amber Valley Sports. This will be re-arranged and run later in the summer term.


Yesterday some of our artistic children spent time with Mrs. Wayne from Belper arts producing work celebrating this year’s Queen’s Jubilee. Many thanks to Mrs. Wayne for coming back to St. John’s and supporting us with this exciting project.


I am also pleased to share that our year 5 children have won this fortnight’s walk and wheel competition in school. We have been encouraging children to get to school on foot or scooter and year 5 children showed that they did the most journeys to school in this manner.


Please remember that next week out reception children are walking to St. Peter’s church for their Welcome Service on Tuesday 5th and that all our other children are walking to St. Peter’s for our Easter Service on Thursday 7th April. Our reception Welcome Service will begin at about 9.45am our Easter Service will begin at 10am. Reverend Anne will lead the Welcome Service and our year four children will lead our Easter Service. Parents and families are welcome to both services. Please let your child’s class teacher know if you are able to help us walk to and from church safely. We also have our Spanish day on Friday 8th and parent and carer evenings on the 4th and 5th. Our PTFA are also selling Easter treats and drawing the Easter raffle prize after school on the playground at 3.30pm on Thursday 7th April. We’ll be ready for our Easter holiday.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 25th March 2022 


Many thanks to all the families and children that supported us on Monday 21st when we recognised Down Syndrome Day. It was really nice to see so many children wearing something extra in recognition of the extra chromosome that people with Downs Syndrome are born with. I hope that the day has helped our children understand Downs Syndrome a little bit more.


Our sporting teams have been busy this week. On Tuesday our basketball team took part in the Derbyshire School’s finals. Unfortunately we didn’t get out of the group stages by one basket, but the team showed great sportsmanship throughout the day. On Wednesday evening our two table tennis teams finished first and second in the Amber Valley competition.

Thank you to parents for helping us to use the footpath around school at the end of the day, we appreciate your support in this.


Rev Anne led our junior and infant assemblies this week when she helped us think about ‘learning wisdom from our parents’. I hope that this weekend lots of mums get to enjoy a treat or two on Sunday, even though the day begins with us all turning the clocks forward an hour.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 18th March 2022


This has been one of the busier weeks of the year so far.


Many thanks to Author Lesley Parr who visited on Wednesday and spent the whole day with our junior children. She helped us understand how she writes books and stories that lots of people enjoy to read. You’re invited to find out more on her website.


We also spent time on Wednesday trying to understand and show support for the children and families less fortunate than us caught up in the Russia / Ukraine conflict. Thank you to all the families that helped children dress in blue and yellow with such short notice.


Today we enjoyed Red Nose day and so far know that we have raised over £400 for this worthy cause. School was full of super heroes today and as you can see several teachers joined in the super hero fun.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 11th March 2022


For most parents this isn’t a normal Friday as we have had an INSET day today so children have been at home. I hope you are enjoying your three day weekends. All staff have been in school today on a phonics training day. Mrs. Heer our English lead has led the day. We look forward to sharing some new teaching ideas and resources that we will be using from September 2022.


On Tuesday evening we played two football matches against Walter Evans. Well done to the team who won both games.

On Monday our reception and nursery children enjoyed lots of visitors from White Post farm.  All the children got to cuddle and stroke various animals. The day was also linked to a forest school day with the children spending lots of the day outside in our forest with Mrs. Richardson. See the photographs below.


On Wednesday and Thursday evening lots of parents from year 2 and year 6 came to school for our SAT evenings. Children in these year groups will be taking stator government tests at the end of the school year and working together as school and family will help ensure that these are successful. Many thanks to the parents that were able to come.


Finally on Wednesday DCFC coaches were in school working with our year 5 pupils, this is taking place for the next few weeks and is an excellent opportunity for our year 5 children.  

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 4th March


On Monday morning we had a police visit to help us with an incident that had happened over the holiday. Our year one children discovered what looked like a crash site on the playground. The police had taped off the area and the children had to use their detective skills to try to piece together what had happened. Even though the crash isn’t good news the children have been able to use the event to produce some great writing and work throughout the week.


Many thanks to all the parents who supported us yesterday in helping dress children for world book day. It was a great success. We have also run our first book swap and thanks to the PTFA are giving out £150 worth of book vouchers to competition winners. These children were told they won today and will be able to collect their prizes next week. The book swap shop appears to have been a success, I hope that your children enjoy their ‘new’ books this evening and over the weekend.  In another first we had a book day tea party at the end of the day. Many thanks to the PTFA for organising this event for the children. Many thanks to Miss Proud, our reading lead, for organising these new events for our children.


On Wednesday evening our football team played three football matches against Duffield Meadows. The games were played on the 3G pitch at Belper Secondary school. We won both of the league games and the cup game. Well done to the team for getting 2022 off to a wining start.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 18th February 2022


Thank you for your support in today’s windy and wet weather. Your children have spent all the day safe indoors and have not had any outdoor playtimes or PE lessons. Unfortunately we couldn’t have our celebration worship this afternoon as we didn’t want classes of children walking across the playground to get to the hall. This means that we haven’t been able to give out our normal weekly celebration certificates. We’ll have a very busy Friday 4th March as we catch up with this week’s missed celebrations.


Our reception children have had a warm snuggly day in their classrooms today with their pyjama day. The children have all worn pyjamas and enjoyed hot chocolate before scrubbing their teeth. This has been a lovely finish to their Starry Night project that they have enjoyed this term.


Yesterday our year 5 children led our first service at St. Peter’s church with children watching for two years. We are continuously reminded about how much we have had to miss in the last two years. It’s good to be able to give children the opportunities to lead such events again.


Last night we also enjoyed our PTFA disco. Many thanks to the parents for organising this event and ensuring that the children could enjoy themselves whilst raising money for school.


Our year 4 parents were also invited into classrooms yesterday to see work done by children this half term. Once again it was good to see families together again in St. John’s celebrating their children’s achievements. The picture below shows children and parents looking at their work.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 11th February


We had some heart-warming news from our friends in Kolkata this week. It is hoped that children will be able to return to school soon after a significant period of having to stay away. We were sent a picture of the teachers of Scott Lane school meeting together to begin to get ready to welcome the children back. The teacher in the centre is the headteacher of the fee paying school that give a room to the Cathedral Relief Service. The Cathedral Relief Service then run schools for the ‘pavement’ children of Kolkata. These schools are free for children. Scott Lane school that we have links with is one of these schools and uses the room of the fee paying school. The three teachers either side of the headteacher are the teachers that work at Scott Lane School. I am sure you join me in wishing our friends at Scott Lane a safe and happy return to school. The picture below appears to be taken on the playground of the fee paying school.


On Monday night our lower junior children took place in a dodgeball competition at Belper Leisure centre. We took two teams to represent the school. There were 18 teams there in total and our two teams finished fourth and fifth.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 4th February


Our year 5 children have started rehearsing for their Lent service at St. Peter’s church. This will take place on Thursday 17th February at 10am. All parents and friends are welcome to come and watch the service, no tickets are needed. Our year 1 children enjoyed a ‘Fire of London’ drama workshop on Tuesday morning in the hall. Judging by the noise they made they enjoyed it.


Many thanks to all the parents that have returned a parent survey this week. We have begun to look at some of the forms and the answers that you have given us. It is very nice to read the hundreds of positive comments written and see the overwhelming appreciation and recognition of the work of the children and staff in our school. A special thanks to the parents that put their names on forms where concerns were identified. We have already begun to contact families with regards to some of these and are very pleased to be able to speak to families who have identified issues and want us to improve with their help. We look forward to sharing full details of all the survey results next month once we have been able to analyse the information and share it with governors in March.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 28th January


It was very exciting on Thursday to have children going on a school trip again. All of our year 4 children went to the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham to help them with their project work this half term. I’m so glad that we are beginning to be able to organise such events again to help bring our learning alive. Speaking to the year 4 children today was lovely as they shared what they saw yesterday. The visit also helped inspire some great writing today about the fish, turtles and penguins that were spotted. 


We also had visitors in school on Thursday leading an Egyptian day for our year 5’s and a pirate drama class for our year 2’s. Exciting opportunities such as these have been missed for a long time and bringing them back is really helping us bring school life alive again. 


A busy Thursday also saw us compete with two teams and a local Futsall competition and a PTFA meeting at 8pm at the Greyhound pub. 


Today we have sent home a parent survey for families to complete and share views about life at St. John’s. Such surveys are helpful to us and give us time to consider where to focus our time effort and money. Information about all our previous recent surveys can be found on our website 




Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 21st January 2022


Congratulations to our futsal team who won the Amber Valley competition at Belper Leisure Centre on Wednesday evening. We had a second team at the same competition who finished third. Well done to the boys for doing so well. Next week it’s the turn of the girls.


We had one of our regular visitors in school on Monday and Tuesday when Sue from Valley Cids came and took our infant and junior assemblies. Our theme for assemblies this half term is ‘Respect and Reverence’ and  Sue helped us all think about how lucky we all are to live on such a lovely world and what we need to do to show our planet respect.


Finally please could you spend a couple of minutes helping Mrs. Girling our PSHE lead? She has published an online parental survey asking for opinions and views about our PSHE work. Your responses will help her and us understand what is going well in PSHE and where we can put any time or effort to help make it better. Thank you. CLICK HERE to go to the survey.

Headteacher weekly blog - Friday 14th January 2022


All of the staff are very pleased that we have been able to welcome children back this term to a ‘normal’ school with no significant COVID differences. As always throughout 2022 we will continue to ensure that we keep children as safe and happy as possible by keeping up to date with and following government and local authority advice at all times.


Many of our children have enjoyed exciting events at school this week as children begin work on new projects.

On Monday our year 1 children hosted a tea party for the Queen. The morning was spent making sandwiches and preparing for the royal visit in the afternoon. On Tuesday our year 3 pupils had a drama work shop to help them with their Ancient Greek project this half term. On Thursday our reception children all came back to school at 5pm with their torches to enjoy and pitch black treasure hunt around the field and playground to help them with their Star Gazers project. Many other exciting events took place or will be taking place soon in other year groups.


On Wednesday we took two football teams to the Soccer Dome at Pride Park to take part in a football competition with fourteen other teams. Our teams finished sixth and third. Thank you to Mr. Hallam and Miss Whiteman for organising and taking the children.


Today we had our first celebration assembly with reception children in the hall. It was a real pleasure to welcome the youngest members of our school to our weekly celebration of wonderful work and brilliant behaviour. I imagine that parents at the school gates and on the playground could hear how much we all enjoyed singing our end of week song at 3.20pm just before we left school.


Finally we welcomed Mr. Silk to St. John’s this week. He joins us as a year 4 teacher. Unfortunately we will say goodbye to Mrs. Simpson in the school office in February. I am sure many parents will have been helped by Mrs. Simpson as she is often the person who answers the phone or welcomes visitors. We wish her all the best in her new job. We will be advertising for a replacement in the coming days and will share information on our website about the application process as soon as we can.  

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 17th December 2021


It was lovely last night to have our children enjoy their Christmas disco. During the week we have all kept lots of fingers crossed that government guidelines didn’t change and that we were still able to give the children an hour of fun with their friends. Many thanks to the PTFA who put extra time into ensuring that the event ran smoothly and thank you to the volunteers on the night for taking LFD tests and helping us keep the children safe and happy.


Money raised by the PTFA at the disco will part fund the trips to the cinema that began this week with year 4 and year 1 enjoying their trips to watch The Grinch and Arthur Christmas. Next week years 2, 3 5 and 6 walk to the cinema to enjoy their films. The dates that they go are on our school calendar.


We have also enjoyed another Christmas tradition that was missed last year with our children performing their nativity productions to parents in the hall. Once again thank you to parents that are taking LFD tests before coming into school. Support such as this means that we are able to continue to offer these Christmas traditions to our community.

On Wednesday, when the fire alarm accidently went off at 3.20 all of our children evacuated the building brilliantly. We have an evacuation practice at least every term, and having two this autumn term, only helps keep us safer. Having an evacuation practice at this time when many parents were already on the playground was a first, and has given us this opportunity of sharing what to do in this position.

  • Many thanks to all the parents who recognised that the teachers still had responsibility for the children and allowed their children to line up with their teacher for them to do a register check.
  • Please always support the teacher and make sure that the teacher has dismissed the child before taking them home. This is really important in ensuring that we know who is safe and who may be in the building. The teacher will be told what to do by a member of the senior leadership team and will then be able to let parents know what to do. This is what happened on Wednesday once Mr. Averis and Mrs. Carvell had found the problem and were able to share this with teachers.
  • Thank you to the parents who moved away from the lines of children and allowed the teachers to make register checks. Should we have all needed to move further away from the building we would have moved onto the field or car park, depending on where any problems or and where the safe spaces were.


Finally we’ve welcomed our new teacher, Mr. Silk to school this week. He joins us in January, teaching in year four, replacing Mrs. Robertson and has been able to spend a couple of days in school this week getting to know the children in his class. He looks forward to meeting parents of children in Norbury in January and getting to know the rest of our community during the spring term.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 10th December 2021


On Wednesday this week our year three children enjoyed their ‘Owl’ day to help them with their predator project. The children observed, drew and held the owls and all got to see them fly around the hall. We also enjoyed more sporting success on Wednesday when our Basket Ball team won the Area Final Competition after winning the Amber Valley competition a few weeks ago. Well done to all the children who took part in this competition.


Wednesday was a particularly busy day as the volunteers of our PTFA organised our first event in school for many months. Many thanks to all the parents who helped our children enjoy the online pantomime after school. It was fantastic to hear children enjoying themselves, singing and dancing with the actors. Next week we have our discos to look forward to on Thursday evening. Once again, many thanks to our parents and staff who will give the children another well-deserved Christmas treat.


On Monday lots of our children were given their flu vaccination by the school health team. Many thanks to all the parents who supported the school health team in having their children vaccinated against flu this winter.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 3rd December 2021


It was lovely in assembly today to give certificates to our year 3 and 4 handball competition winners who won at Belper Leisure centre on Monday evening. We finished joint first in the competition and our boys gave the trophy to the other school as there was only one available. I’m pleased to share that Amber Valley sports have contacted the trophy makers and have ordered another trophy for us that should arrive in school soon. We’re looking forward to adding it to the trophy cabinet.


All of us are aware of the updated COVID advice from the government, and we have shared updates about how this affects us at St. John’s. As we continue to work together to keep us all safe I again take this opportunity to thank you all for working with our community to keep us all safe.


On Tuesday we held interviews for the new teacher that will start teaching in year 4 in January 2022. I’m pleased to share that we were able to offer a job to an excellent candidate and look forward to sharing information once we have carried out pre-employment checks. We’re very hopeful that we will be able to introduce Norbury class to their new teacher in December. Once again this is a good opportunity to thank Miss McConnachie who has made many personal arrangements to ensure that these children have enjoyed stability in what could have been a very different period of time for them.

Headteacher weekly blog – Thursday 25th November 2021


One month to go, hopefully we’ll all be full of Christmas dinner and pudding in a month’s time. Our infant children are in full nativity swing getting ready to perform our three nativity plays this year. Hopefully our plans to invite parents and carers into watch them will be able to go ahead, we’ll share ticket details closer to the dates.


Our PTFA have also been busy organising their Christmas events and letters have come home this week with information for these.


On Monday evening our basketball players won the Amber Valley competition at Belper Leisure centre. Many thanks to Mr. Hallam for giving his evening up and taking the children to the event.


Don’t forget that tomorrow is an INSET day – I hope that you all enjoy your three day weekends.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 19th November 2021


In total we must have run a few thousand kilometres today with our children all running 2km for the Pudsey Children in Need Run. We can see that we have already raised over a £1000 for this online – thank you for all your donations.


We can also see that we have raised over £500 on our just giving page with donations for children who have helped with jobs at home to raise money for children in need. In Celebration Worship this afternoon we asked the children to continue to do jobs over the weekend for any small donations to further help our fundraising. It has been lovely to read about all of the jobs that children are doing.


All of our Children in Need links can be found on our website CLICK HERE. The photograph below is of the playtime disco we had this afternoon after the 2km runs had finished.  


On Monday our infants took part and won all 5 of their handball games at a local Amber Valley competition, well done to them all.


Last night our PTFA had their Annual General Meeting. It was fantastic to welcome over 25 parents and friends who attended to come and help run events and raise money for our children and community. The PTFA’s first planned event of the year for children is on December 8th when we are hoping to have a digital pantomime in the school hall, starting at 3.30pm. More details will be shared by the PTFA soon.


Finally, the collecting and swapping craze of Pokémon cards is being enjoyed by many children at school.  All of us adults probably remember playground crazes from when we were at school. Unfortunately the hours of fun had by most children looking at, swapping and comparing cards is getting spoilt by some swapping and taking of cards that is causing upset to a few. We strongly recommend that children only bring cards to school that they want to swap. This would help ensure that any accidental or deliberate taking or swapping of cards can be sorted much more quickly by teacher who would far rather be spending our time helping children in lessons, than playing police officer, detective and judge in solving the cases of any missing Pokémon cards.

Headteacher Weekly blog – Friday 12th November 2021


The picture below shows children collecting our Silver Modeshift award today outside our scooter park. The award was given to us as we continue to work towards reducing the number of journeys made by car. We have free scooter and bike lessons for pupils, we have lesson plans showing how we teach about sustainable travel and we take part and encourage children to take part in walk to school week and other such initiatives. Many thanks to Mrs. Newton who organises our travel plan as we continue to work towards going for our gold award.


Yesterday we marked the 11th November with two minutes silence on the playground. All of the children stood in perfect silence. As parents you can be very proud of how your children showed their respect for fallen soldiers and brave service personal who keep us safe today.


Our year one children had a teddy bear picnic in school this afternoon. All of them made sandwiches for their teddy bears. It was fantastic fun for them all and I think that lots of teddy bears enjoyed their afternoon tea.


On Thursday our reception teachers led two workshops for parents to introduce and share how we use phonics to help teach children to read and how we can work together and school and families to help children develop their reading skills. The children all know that I say that ‘Book Build Brains’ and reading is great exercise for the brain. Helping your children read and build this key life skill is one of the most important thing we can do together. Children need to read regularly at home and encouraging them to read at least 5 times a week is very important. If you missed the information, or have children in another year but would like to find out about phonics the information that we shared is on our website, CLICK HERE.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 5th November 


Welcome back to school after the half term break. I am pleased to share that this week we have made the choice to continue with our Christmas plans to have nativities, carol services and trips to the cinema. We will, as always, be following any government advice at the time, but with last Christmas getting ‘cancelled’ we want to ensure that this year we give the children the memories they deserve. Check our online school calendar for details about nativities and cinema trips. Many thanks to the PTFA for funding the trips to Belper Ritz cinema for this annual treat.


We said good bye today to Mrs. Howis in our office who begins her maternity leave. We wish her and her family all the best in the coming weeks and are looking forward to sharing news with you when we can. With this in mind we said hello this week to Mrs. Allwood who is now going to be working as Jill’s replacement whilst she is on maternity leave. I’m sure that Mrs. Allwood looks forward to meeting our families and getting to know you all.


Enjoy your firework and bonfire celebrations this weekend. In assembly today we asked the children to make sure that they listen carefully to the adults and parents looking after them to stay safe.

Headteacher weekly blog – Thursday 21st October 2021


Tomorrow is an INSET day so I hope that many families are taking advantage of it and are starting their holiday a day early. Staff will be in school on an INSET day tomorrow. We are going to be spending the day considering our curriculum and adapting it to ensure that it stays fresh and exciting for the children.


Last week’s short blog was written at 4.30pm in between the two iSingPOP concerts that we enjoyed at St. Peter’s church. I can now share that the evening concert was brilliant and enjoyed by all. Chris from iSingPOP was still full of energy and sent us all on our weekends with a spring in our step. Many thanks to Rev. Anne and the congregation at St. Peter’s for helping us to ensure that the day was a success and celebrate our Church of England status and our special friendship with St. Peter’s.


This week I am unfortunately sharing that two staff are leaving St. John’s.


Mrs. Robinson shared with staff last week that she will be spending more time focusing on returning to full health and won’t be returning to St. John’s as she had hoped to do. I am sure you join me in wishing her well in her recovery. Miss Robinson has worked at St. John’s for over twenty years and we hope that we do get to see her before Christmas to say goodbye to her and wish her well as she begins a new chapter in her life. I am very pleased that Miss McConnachie has agreed to continue teaching her year 4 class next half term to ensure stability for the children. We will be able to share information about the teacher for the class from January in December.


We also say goodbye today to Mrs. Holgate in the school kitchen. Mrs. Holgate has been our ‘number two’ cook for several years and I am pleased to share that she will now be her own ‘boss’ and lead cook at Heage Primary School in their kitchen. Well done to Mrs. Holgate on getting this well-deserved promotion.


Thank you for your generous harvest donation today. Staff from the Padley Centre were overwhelmed with your generosity and shared that they are in desperate need of today's donations to help members of our community that don't have as much as we do. 


Finally many thanks to everyone for their support and help this half term. We were all excited to have school return to a period of normality in September with children not having to stay in bubbles all day and work with many other COVID secure procedures that we had to put in place last year. We have all worked together as our school community to ensure that our children enjoy their school days in the way that we all want them to remember. Let’s hope that this continues safely into the rest of the autumn term.  

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 15th October.


A very short blog as it’s a very busy Friday. We have had one fantastic iSingPOP concert and we have one more to go. Many thanks to all the people who have helped today, form the kitchen staff who have served meals for an extended lunchbreak to the volunteers who have helped at church and with the walking and everyone in between. Special thanks to Rev. Anne who has looked after the iSingPOP team for the week and spent time getting the church ready for us to all enjoy our concerts.


Well done to our lower junior athletes who won the athletics competition yesterday. That’s two trophies in two weeks for our athletes, a great start to the sporting season.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 8th October 2021


We’ve won our first sporting trophy of the year! Well done to our upper junior athletes who won the Amber Valley competition on Thursday evening. It was great to present this in assembly today. Next week the lower juniors have their competition, can we make it another trophy?


Thank you to all the parents who have booked parent evening appointments. Teachers will be allocating appointment times early next week and will either be sending a message home with the time of the telephone appointment or will be adding a meeting time to your child’s google classroom page for the google meet.


Yesterday our year 3’s had great fun making bike powered smoothies to help with their science work. The picture below shows how it worked with the children taking it in turns to peddle and add ingredients before enjoying their delicious healthy fruit smoothie. Thanks to Rob Bounds from the Derbyshire sustainable travel team for helping us run this event for free.


Next week is iSingPOP week. We’re all excited about our two concerts on Friday and look forward to seeing you at the church for the afternoon or evening performance.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 1st October 2021


Our reception children are learning about people in our community and on Tuesday Rev. Anne and I both spent some time in each class speaking to the children and answering questions they had thought of.

I wish I’d asked Rev. Anne what questions she was asked, however I can assure you that my questions kept me on my toes. Questions from the different classes included,

  • Do you like helping everyone?
  • Did you want to be a policeman when you were little?
  • Did you want to be a palaeontologist when you were little?
  • Do you work hard?

And the one that made me smile the most

  • How many keys do you have for the school?

During the chats the children found out how many keys I have, and that I did want to be a policeman when I was little. It was a pleasure to spend time with our reception children. They all deserve pats on the back as to how well they have settled at school, how hard they are working and how nicely they are playing. Well done to them.


Our sport teams have been busy this week. On Monday our infant athletes were are Belper Leisure Centre and finished 2nd out of the school taking part from Amber Valley. Our football team beat St. Werburgh’s on Thursday evening.  

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 24th September 2021


Our football team have finally enjoyed some games with other local schools. On Tuesday we beat St. John’s Fisher school 5-1 and on Thursday both our teams did well in the AVSSP tournament in Duffield, reaching the final, before getting beaten by Pottery Primary School. On Monday next week our infant sport stars get their first opportunity of the year with an athletics tournament at Belper Leisure centre.


Unfortunately I also need to share with families that a much loved and respected member of staff passed away last week after her long and brave battle with cancer. Mrs. Gemma Smith taught in reception and led our Early Years Team in reception and nursery as a member of the leadership team. Many families will know her as their child’s first teacher. Many children at St. John’s knew her as Mrs. Smith. Many parents knew her as their friend Gemma. Many staff were lucky enough to know her as both Gemma their friend and Mrs. Smith their respected colleague.


Gemma’s star shone very brightly whilst she worked at St. John’s and her impact will be felt by the hundreds of children who will continue to join us in future years as it was Gemma who worked with the architects in designing aspects of our three new reception classes. The picture below shows her in them, whilst they were being built, with Paul the builder, no doubt making sure that the work was being carried out to her expectations. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Gemma than knowing that these classrooms will be part of the education for every child that joins us in future years and spends their reception year in them. It is exactly the start to school that she would want for every child in our community.  


Most importantly Gemma is remembered as a loving, fun and friendly mum, wife and daughter. I am sure that you join me in putting Gemma and her family in our thoughts and sending our prayers, love and support to them all.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 17th September 2021


For lots of children the highlight of the week was our junior tough runner day on Thursday. All juniors enjoyed an hour of ‘tough running’ around a wet, muddy and challenging assault course. As the day went on the grass got muddier and the children had more fun. Thank you for your support in washing the clothes and children that came home at 3.30pm, I can assure you that we all had a lot of fun.


We were asked how we funded this event and why it was free to children. We paid for it with our sport premium money. Our school gets some money every year from the government that we have to spend on developing and resourcing our sport provision and giving children opportunities to take part in sporting events. We also use our sport premium money to pay for all of the after school competitions that we partake in, including the boys sport competition at Eyes Meadow in Duffield next Thursday. During the year we normally take part in up to 20 similar after school competitions.


We're also using this money to pay for the infant tough runner on 5th October and then our y6 bikeability lessons in November. See our online calendar for dates. CLICK HERE. 


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 10th September


We had our first fire drill of the year on Thursday. 440 children and staff all vacated the building safely and quietly in less than two minutes. We practise evacuating the building at least three times a year and the children all know what to do and how to stay safe. As we have done this at school this week it may be a good idea to help your children to understand what to do at your house if there is a fire. This information from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue service will help you plan how to evacuate your house safely and quickly in an emergency. CLICK HERE.


We also test all of our fire safety features such as our alarm panel and sirens regularly. Please take this as a gently reminder to test your alarms at home this weekend, it could be the most important thing you do.


Finally this week it was lovely to recognise the work of Mrs. Capewell who is the head cook in our school kitchen. She has been working in Derbyshire school kitchens for 25 years and was presented with her award this week by some children who enjoyed their tour of the kitchen, and their school dinner that day. Well done Mrs. Capewell and thank you for all your hard work.




Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 3rd September 2021


It has been lovely to welcome the children back to a ‘normal’ school this week. The government guidelines have told school to no longer use pupil bubbles, which has meant that your children have enjoyed a couple of days of ‘normal’ schooling.


The differences are sometimes subtle, but all have an impact on helping us enjoy working and playing at school.

Our excellent year 6 and year 5 children have been able to play with and help our younger children at lunchtimes.

We have had our first assembly in the hall and Mrs. Carvell and I were able to talk to and bring our school together for the first time since March 2020.

Our before school Wake up Club has started for children who have parents that want to drop children off from 7.30am.

I haven’t had a single online teams meeting and have been able to have face to face conversations with more than one or two people in the same room at the same time.


The highlight of the week has been seeing and getting to know our new reception and nursery children who have started their journeys at St. John’s that may not finish until 2029 when they leave year 6. As these new families and children join St. John’s for the first time it has been a pleasure to meet many of you. On Wednesday we had many of these new families come to our open afternoon for new reception parents, it was lovely to welcome back some ex-pupils who are now returning as parents. It is very special for the staff at St. John’s to see this and recognise the place that our school holds in the hearts of our community.

Headteacher weekly blog – Tuesday 20th July 2021


The highlight of the last 7 days at school was today when we were able to have our first service at St. Peter’s since early 2020. Our year 6 children led a fantastic leavers’ service in front of over 150 parents and carers. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity of taking part in something real and not online for the first time in 16 months. Our year 6 children have had an exciting last few days at school with their ‘Bestival’ prom on Friday afternoon and their leavers’ service today. Most of the last few days have also been relatively normal.


It is always emotional when we say goodbye to a wonderful group of children who have spent 7 years at St. John’s. These children started with us in September 2014 and have spent two thirds of their life coming to our school. I know that they all take a piece of St. John’s away in their hearts and am sure that they will have happy memories of friends and teachers.


We also said goodbye to several staff today with Mrs. Winson-Bushby, Mrs. Gartside, Mrs. Smith, Miss Lemon, Mrs. Badhan and Mrs. McConnachie leaving us. These teachers have helped hundreds of children at St. John’s and I am sure that you join me in wishing them all well as they move onto new challenges and opportunities. I am also sure that you all join me in sending special wishes to Mrs. Smith as she continues to focus on her health and getting better.


In September you will be able to meet all of the new staff that are joining our St. John’s family. Some of your children will have already met our new teachers and support staff.


I hope that you all get to enjoy and safe and happy summer holiday with your family and look forward to seeing you again when we return to school at 9am on Thursday 2nd September 2021.  


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 9th July        


The weekly email this week has lots of information on it, so the blog is very short.


Lots of children and staff enjoyed their ‘Sport dress up day’ at school today. Thank you for your support in helping the children enjoy this.


We’ve also had another year 6 class successfully earn their bikeability awards this week. Well done to all of them.


Finally our infant children enjoyed their sport morning today. Fingers crossed that next year we can enjoy this event with parents.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 25th June 2021


The best thing about this week is that some children have been out on a school trip. This is the first trip we have been able to have for over 15 months. Our year 5 and year 6 children have all been to Lea Green activity centre for the day. Year 6’s went on Monday and Y5’s went on Tuesday.


The day was successful and all of the children enjoyed spending the day taking part in adventurous activities such as carting. We would have liked it if the children could have enjoyed the residentials that we had planned, however, this one day was a compromise that made everyone as happy as possible. As well as all the staff who travelled, I am sure you join me in giving particular thanks to Mrs. Cooper and Mrs. Astell who were responsible for risk assessments and making sure that the children were COVID safe and Mrs. Millington who has spent many hours on phones to residential centres, insurance companies and bus companies as our plans had to change on numerous occasions. Some pictures of the day are below.


Some of our year 6 children had a particularly busy week as Rowsley class have also done their bikeability this week. Many thanks to Big on Bikes in Little Eaton for ensuring that this could take place safely, following COVID guidelines.


We've also had an exciting house matches day at school today. All of our junior children have taken part in competitive sports, whilst remaining in their year group COVID bubbles. We look forward to sharing the scores with the children next week and finding out which house has won. The picture below is of the year 6 children enjoying the tug of war.


It's good to see that even with COVID restrictions in place we are continuing to see children get to take part in more and more activities at school. Fingers crossed that the route to normality continues. 


Friday 18th June 2021


No one likes it when all of our children can’t come to school and this week has not been what any one wants as our year 6 children have had to spend the week at home. Many thanks to all the families that have supported the school and our community in keeping us all safe by supporting us in this and isolating their children. I am also sure you join me in wishing the family that have had the positive cases well and successful recoveries. I have spoken to them today and am pleased to share that the children are all getting better and they have asked me to pass on their thanks for the support that they have had whilst isolating.


The COVID cases we have had this week need to remind everyone of the importance of remaining careful and that we all follow the government guidelines of isolating and getting tested if we display symptoms.


Well done to all the children at school who have done their end of year tests this week. The teachers are busy marking them all and look forward to sharing how well everyone has done this year in the end of year reports that will be sent home in July.

Headteacher blog – Friday 11th June 2021


After a lovely half term holiday it’s great that we are still enjoying lovely sunny weather. With this sunny weather in mind can we remind parents that -

  • We are not distributing sun-cream this year and that therefore you are encouraged to apply sun-cream to children before they come to school in the morning.
  • Children are strongly encouraged to bring a named hat to school to wear at break and play times.
  • Children are encouraged to bring a full water bottle to school every day as our water fountains are closed. Bottles from home can be refilled from taps in classrooms during the day. These bottles need to have a sport cap so children can drink from them without taking the lid off to help prevent spillages during the day.

Next week children will be taking their end of year tests in their classrooms. These tests are then marked and used by teachers to help assess how well the children are working against age related expectations and will be shared with parents in the end of year reports. As well as using the test results teachers will also be looking at the work completed by the children all year to help with this judgment.

We hope to be able to share with parents which events we are able to run this summer by the end of next week. We all hope that we are able to enjoy annual events such as sport afternoon, year 6 prom and transition mornings. As always we will follow government guidelines to ensure that we keep everyone as safe as possible. With this in mind we expect to be able to share more information next week as the government clarify what will and won’t be able to happen from June 21st.

Finally thank you for the support from families and year 6 children as we had to share that we had a positive case in year 6 this week.

Headteacher weekly blog – Thursday 27th May 2021


Our year two children have all had an exciting week with their bikeability lesson this week. All children have had a few hours a safe cycling instruction with trained staff from Big on Bikes and once again the smiles on children’s faces as they achieve something new for the first time as they cycle without stabilisers or safely turn corners on a balance bike were lovely to see. Well done to the staff from Big on Bikes for their support this week.


In July we say good bye to two familiar faces at St. John’s. Mrs. Winson-Bushby and Mrs. Gartside are both leaving us for new opportunities.


Many children have enjoyed their weekly French lesson with Mrs. Winson-Bushby over the 10 years that she has worked here. Mrs. Winson-Bushby’s love of French and her passion for teaching foreign languages have inspired many children to study the language to GCSE and A level at secondary school and may have helped many families on holiday in the continent with the ordering of provisions from local shops.


Mrs. Gartside has worked as a class teacher in reception, infants and juniors in the 15 years that she has worked at St. John’s and many children will have been in her class. As a qualified swimming instructor she has also helped us with whole school beach safety workshops in July as lucky children look forward to their summer holidays.


Both staff will be missed in September and I’m sure that as they spend their final few weeks with us in June and July we will make sure that they leave with lots of happy memories.


Finally I hope that you have a lovely extended holiday and get to enjoy some safe family time with loved ones.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 21st May 2021


Unfortunately our y5 and y6 children have learned today that despite lots of work done to try and ensure the residential trips can take place we have had to cancel our visits for the summer. All of us are very upset that this is the case. We are pleased that we have been able to offer a small compensation in a day trip to Lea Green outdoor centre, where the children will be able spend 9 and half hours enjoying lots of activities and have an evening meal with their friends. Children have brought home a letter today with information about this.


We hadn’t shared with parents that once our y6 trip to Whitehall was cancelled a few months ago we had been able to secure a residential at Lea Green for our Y6 children. Another school had chosen not to travel this summer regardless of government advice and therefore we gladly took their dates. Last week the government guidelines were published for outdoor residential centres and Lea Green informed us that they wouldn’t be able to cater for our children at all and could only offer day trips. With Mrs. Millington working hard in our office we were able to secure transport for the day trips and our thanks go to Linburg coaches for allowing us to make countless changes to our original bookings and not passing on any costs to us.


Next week we will be sharing information with our new reception starters about September 2021 and how we hope to help with a successful transition from nursery to reception. If you know of any families starting at St. John’s this autumn please tell them that information is on the way in the post.


Finally don’t forget that next week is a four day week with children breaking up for half term at 3.30pm on Thursday 27th May.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 14th May.


We have shared 4 of our INSET days for next year this week. Parents with children at Belper School need to note that we both have an INSET day on Friday 26th November 2021. Hopefully this will help families potentially plan a long weekend away.


Families that also have looked at our term dates for next year will note that we don’t return to school after the Christmas break until 9am on Monday 10th January 2022. CLICK HERE. At time of writing Derbyshire’s late return to school has not been noticed by all of the holiday companies and parents may find that there are some cheaper holidays during the first week in January than are normally available when schools are closed.

Parents may also want to note, however, that we aren’t due to break up until 3.30pm on Wednesday 22nd December 2021.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 7th May 2021


I hope that you all enjoyed your three day weekend last week, even though the weather wasn’t what we wanted on Monday, at least Saturday and Sunday were nice enough to enjoy the outdoors.  


We had a busy day on Wednesday at school as we interviewed teachers to start working with us in September. I am pleased to share that we have been able to appoint and look forward to sharing the names of the new teachers that will be joining us in September as soon as possible.


Thank you for the positive comments about the new signs outside the front of the school. We like them as well. We always try to use local companies if possible and I am pleased to share that these signs were designed, supplied and fitted by a local Derby firm MX display.


We’ve also enjoyed replacing all the corridor displays in school recently. As parents aren’t able to come into school at the moment you can see pictures of a couple of the new displays below.



Headteacher blog – Friday 30th April 2021


Our year two children have had another exciting Thursday. Last week they had a Judaism workshop with staff from Derby Open Centre and this Thursday they had a medieval day to help them with their Towers, Tunnels and Turrets project. Lots of children were dressed up in costume for the day and all enjoyed the medieval banquet at lunchtime. Thank you to our brilliant kitchen staff for preparing this food for the day.


We have had some lovely new school signs put up outside of the front of the school today. They all look fantastic with the new sign above the scooter park being my favourite. The signs are the final touches to our new entrance area at the front of school.  


Finally please be aware that we will not be using the school sun cream dispensers again this summer due to COVID safety. A letter went home this week with information about children applying cream in the mornings before coming to school and then bringing their own cream with them. CLICK HERE.

Headteacher blog – Friday 23rd April 2021

The picture at the bottom of this blog was sent to us by Ada Belfield and shows residents opening the Easter cards that were sent by children at St. John’s. Every class at school sent an Easter card in March and all 17 cards were displayed around the home at Easter.


We welcomed Rob Bounds back to school this week as he delivered another safe scootering session to our year 1 pupils. All of our year 1 and year 2 pupils have now enjoyed a safe scootering sessions with him this summer.


Unfortunately this week I have had to share some upsetting news about one of our teachers today. Despite us all looking forward to welcoming Mrs. Smith back to school when she was well enough to do so, we have published a letter today to explain to parents that Mrs. Smith will unfortunately, not be returning to work at St. John’s as she continues on her road to good health. I am sure that you all join me in putting her and her family in our thoughts and prayers. CLICK HERE.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 16th April 2021

We’ve had a lovely sunny first week back for the start of the summer term, which means that after the dry Easter holiday we’ve also been able to begin to use the field at lunchtimes. Like our playground the field will be zoned so that year groups are separated. Each day a couple of year groups will be able to play on the field.


We also welcomed Rob Bounds into school this week who gave our year two pupils a safe scootering lesson on Tuesday. Our year 1 pupils have a safe scootering lesson with Rob next week. The good weather has meant that our scooter park has been almost full every day this week showing that lots of children are scootering to school instead of driving or walking. We expect that our local Civil Enforcement Officers (AKA traffic wardens) will be supporting us again during the summer term by coming to patrol at 9am and 3.30pm. Please ensure that parents that drive to school, continue to do so safely and with consideration to others.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 26th March 2021


Several members of our community have noticed that we are recruiting at present. We are looking for a midday supervisor to join our team as soon as possible and a class teacher to come and join the team in September. Information about our vacancies are on our website. CLICK HERE.


Today we said good bye to Mrs. Wright, who has worked as a midday supervisor at St. John’s for just under twenty years. I am sure that you join me in thanking her for all of her work and wishing her well as she begins this new chapter in her life.


I hope that you all get to enjoy a safe and happy Easter break as some restrictions are removed and we get to slowly return to normal. We look forward to seeing you back at school on Monday 12th April.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 19th March 2021


Many thanks to all the parents who ‘attended’ our virtual parent evenings this week. From speaking to staff we had very few technical gremlins and it appears that nearly all phone calls or online meetings were held successfully. Hopefully in October 2021 we will be able to welcome parents and carers back into school to look at children’s work and enjoy a face to face meeting.


It was great to see all the children in their super hero and red nose costumes in school today. Lots of children shared what pocket money jobs they had done at home to help raise some money as well. I hope that parents have enjoyed some home help for the last few days and potentially over the weekend. Our just giving page is still open and parents are invited to make small pocket money contributions for any jobs that their children do around the home to help this worthwhile cause. CLICK HERE.


Finally it was good to see the support of our local Civil Parking Enforcement Officer (AKA traffic warden) outside school a couple of times this week. All of us are rightfully angry when some families believe that legal, polite and considerate parking rules don’t apply to them. These rules are there to keep all our children safe and the support of all in abiding by them is appreciated. We look forward to the continued support of the team of Parking Enforcement Officers in the coming weeks in the roads around school.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 12th March 2021


We have just had our first live whole school ‘online’ collective worship for 2021. It was lovely to see all the children on my computer screen again as Mrs. Carvell and I led our end of week celebration worship. It is a year since all of our children were in the school hall together, let’s hope that we are able to enjoy whole school assemblies in the hall again this year at some point.


We’ve also returned to some music lessons in school this week with our specialist music teachers. This means that as well as the sound of children filling school, as it should do, we have also enjoyed listening to the sound of guitar, flute and trumpet lessons again.


It was great to see all the children’s faces on Monday morning as they saw the balloons and banners we had put up to welcome them back. They were all sorely missed. I’ve put pictures below for parents who weren’t on the school run on Monday morning.


I am pleased to share that we received one nomination for our parent governor vacancy and look forward to sharing the name of the parent as soon as I can. We still have one vacancy for a local authority governor. If parents are interested in joining the governing body in this capacity please either visit our website for more information or ring school to speak to me.


Finally many thanks to all the families who are arriving at the correct time in the morning to help us get our children into school safely. Please ensure that if you do accidently arrive early that you maintain social distances from friends and that you allow children arriving at the correct time to get into school safely by not blocking the entrance or gate.



Welcome Back - Monday 8th March

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 5th March 2021


It was great to see on today’s Google Meets how excited lots of children are about coming back to school on Monday. We are also aware that some children and families may be a little nervous and anxious. Since January we have continued to ensure that school remains a safe place by following government guidelines. One of the significant differences between December and now is that staff are testing themselves for COVID twice a week and from this week parents of children that attend school are also been given the opportunity to test themselves twice a week as well. CLICK HERE. We hope that parents and carers at home take this opportunity and join the staff in helping us keep everyone as safe as possible.


Finally, book day on Thursday was a great celebration of reading and a lovely way to unite learning at home and school. Lots of children sent us pictures of their costumes and joined in their google meet lessons wearing their costumes. Many thanks to all parents for helping children enjoy the day with the great costumes that everyone was wearing.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 26th February 2021


Hooray! It was the best possible news to come back to school after the half term holiday and find out that evening on the news that all children can return to school from March 8th. I speak on behalf of all the staff that we are looking forward to welcoming every one back and making our St. John’s community complete again.


I trust that those of you that took the week off work last week enjoyed your week off at home and are now enjoying today’s spring weather and warm sunshine. It really does feel as if we have reasons to be hopeful and optimistic about the coming months and a return to normality. It’s great to be a part of this journey and helping your children as we all return to a more normal school on March 8th. 

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 12th February 2021


Another short blog as I have recorded a vlog again for all the children at home. Your children can watch this vlog by going to their google classroom.


Many thanks to all the parents at home who are continuing to support us and their children with their home learning. I know that we are frequently telling the children how good they are – but I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the adults.


Mums – dads – carers – adults -. The list below probably recognises some of what you have done

  • Home taught for 6 weeks
  • Learned how to use google classrooms
  • Remembered maths and English lessons from when you were at school
  • Laughed and cried
  • Felt proud and felt frustrated
  • Done your best


Thank you

I hope that you all get to enjoy some time off this half term, you’ve earned it.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 5th February 2021


I have recorded a vlog this week that all children are invited to watch. It is on google classrooms and can only be watched when your child is logged on with their school log on and password.


I won’t be uploading the vlogs onto the school website and youtube from now on. Using google classrooms means that watching the video is more secure than when it was on the public website.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 29th January 2021


I am not recording a vlog for the school website this week. Instead, the children that are learning at home have a special ‘invitation’ waiting for then on Monday morning when they log onto Google Classrooms. All children are invited to join and take part. I’m looking forward to Monday morning and hopefully helping children with a new exciting ‘Google Class’ that is waiting for them.


This week we invited all children learning at home to complete a survey questionnaire on Google Classrooms. Well over a hundred children have already responded which is great, but a few children haven’t. If your child hasn’t responded, there was a video and a survey published for them on Thursday morning. They have until Monday morning (1st February) to complete it. Some of our younger children may need a bit of adult help to complete it.


The children in school had some fun in the snow on Monday morning when we were able to have playtimes and lunchtime outside. Many thanks to all of the parents who made special one off arrangements to keep children at home on Monday, this really helped as several staff were unable to get to school.


You will have seen in the press that across the UK all staff in primary schools have been invited to take part in a COVID testing program. This is now in place at St. John’s. We now have lots of staff taking two LFD COVID19 tests every week. This will help us to ensure that we all stay as safe as possible at St. John’s.


Finally I am sure that like me you heard the Prime Minister announce during the week that schools will not be asked to fully open until March at the earliest. I know how hard many parents are working at home as you juggle home learning with working from home and that this news about a March return date will be met with mixed emotions. The same emotions were felt by staff at school. We all look forward to when school is full with 460 pupils again instead of the 220 we have at present. To ensure that this happens as soon as possible I thank you all for staying at home, following COVID lockdown restrictions and staying safe.

Headteacher Vlog 22.1.21

Headteacher vlog 2020 01 15

Headteacher weekly vlog - with poem read from Roald Dahl's book, Revolting Rhymes - with thanks.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 8th January 2001.


I trust that you all had a safe and happy Christmas holiday. Even though it was only for one day, it was lovely to see all the children back at school on Monday and find out about their holidays. Even though it was a very unique Christmas I am pleased to report that it appears our children all still had fantastic times, and all of them appeared to have been on the good list.


At the end of this week I need to say a huge thank you to our community of children, staff and parents. On Sunday evening we all went to bed thinking that schools would stay open as normal and on Monday morning we all came to St. John’s hoping for a better 2021. At 8pm on Monday evening, most of your children were probably asleep, we all had the rug pulled out from under our feet.


Your children are having to cope with another period of uncertainty. You are having to roll up the ‘home learning’ sleeves again, or/and you are working in a key industry helping us all. Our staff had 13 hours to completely change their plans for the week and alter hours of lessons plans and resources to begin to help children at home whilst still teaching and looking after their classes.


Given the number of messages of thanks we have received – this is a great opportunity for me to recognise the work that you are all doing as well – thank you.


However, I do know that we have some teething problems with google classrooms. We have also had many successes. It has been great to see children at home engaging in lessons with their teachers, whilst the lessons are taking place live in our classrooms.


We are using google classrooms to ensure that our home learning is able to offer what your children deserve and the government expects. We all want home learning to become a two way experience with children at home being able to communicate with their teacher regularly, during lessons. Our web site did not offer this and therefore we had to change. Many thanks to all of the parents that have understood these teething problems as we work through them, we have only been using it for 4 days.


I have recorded a message for the children below. I'm sure the children that get a birthday shout out will enjoy it - I hope that others do to. 


Have a lovely weekend, stay and be kind.

Headteacher vlog 2021-01-08

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 18th December 2020


The final blog of 2020 naturally leads us to thinking about 2021 and a hope that we all able to return to some normality. It also prompts us to thinking about the year we have just had. All of us have been tested and challenged this year in ways we never imagined 12 months ago. I never imagined,


  • leading a school where I was only allowed to let certain children attend every day and had to refuse admittance to others
  • not being able to see parents faces fill with pride as children shine on the nativity stage
  • a complete cancelling of our sports fixtures with no competitions for children to enjoy
  • An October parents evening – with no parents on site – but with video conferencing ensuring that we were able to talk to each other about your children


The list could go on for a long time. However, there are also other aspects of 2020 that have had an opportunity to come to the front, most noticeably, the feel of community, gratitude and kindness as lots of our St. John’s family have supported and helped each other. This has certainly been prevalent this week with the many messages of thanks and cards we have received in school. They have all been appreciated. Thank you.


There have also been some levels of normality, especially since September.

  • Our Christmas dinner day on Wednesday was its normal busy, excited self. Our 5 brilliant kitchen staff cooked and served 400 Christmas dinners to Christmas jumper wearing children.
  • Our nursery children enjoyed a Christmas party this morning with Mrs. Gallen and Mrs. Grigoriu.
  • Our year 4 children enjoy a weekly music lesson with the music partnership.
  • And most importantly of all, our classrooms have been full of children and we haven’t had to turn some away.


None of us know what 2021 will bring, however as I said at the start we all hope it brings even more normality with school trips, parent evenings, sport fixtures and nativities back on the calendar, where they deserve to be.

Many thanks for all of your support and help this year, have a lovely and safe Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 11th December 2020


Yesterday evening I was able to have an online meeting with teachers from around Derbyshire and staff from the Diocese. The meeting was about our friends in Kolkata, at Scott Lane School and all the other schools that are supported by the Cathedral Relief Service in Kolkata. I was excited to learn two things.


The first is that donations to the Cathedral Relief Service have meant that they have purchased some smart mobile phones for the schools. We hope that this this means that in 2021 we will be able to communicate with Scott Lane School more often and that the teachers and children will be able to use the phone to help access resources and information to help them. The second was that on Saturday 6th February Derbyshire teachers hope to be able to link with all the schools in Kolkata online. There will not be a Derbyshire visit in 2021 so this online meeting will be a very exciting opportunity to meet some of the Indian teachers from Scott Lane that St. John’s have worked with over the last two years.


On Monday we welcomed some new children to St. John’s nursery for the first time. These children came for an introduction session with Mrs. Gallen and Mrs. Grigoriu before they start in January. It was lovely to welcome these new children to St. John’s as they begin their St. John’s journey that may last until 2029!


Finally Mrs. Heer has as me to pass on her thanks for the lovely messages she received following the birth of her son, Ruben. She has asked me to share this lovely picture of him taken on his '1 month' birthday. 


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 4th December 2020


On Wednesday this week is was lovely to be able to welcome Rev. Anne to St. John’s. She was in school to work with year three children and ran a lesson on baptism to help them with their RE lessons for this half term. With our COVID secure measures in place we have not been able to have Rev. Anne come and take an assembly since March. She does send us a weekly ‘virtual’ collective worship for us to watch in our classrooms, but this week it was really nice to see her at school again.


We also had a visitor on Tuesday when a visitor came to school with birds of prey to help the year three children with their predator project. The children all had time in the school hall looking at the birds and learning about them. They also took their sketch books with them to draw the birds.


We have moved our COVID-19 page to parents on the web site this week to make it easier to access. All of the same information is there, but it is now easier to find and is only one click away from the home page instead of two. Several parents had let us know that it was difficult to find sometimes. Some of the links that you had may no longer work so to help out the new links are below.

COVID-19 home page – CLICK HERE


What to do if your child or family member develops symptoms or tests positive – CLICK HERE

Letters published – CLICK HERE


Finally well done to two of our year 6 children, Xanthe and Josie who have been raising money for cancer research. They've raised a huge amount of money for this worthy cause. CLICK HERE. 

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 27th November 2020


I am pleased to share that our latest building project at the front of school is progressing as planned. We hope that the work will be completed by the time we break up for Christmas. We are all looking forward to when this part of the school becomes the new main entrance for visitors. Children will continue to come to school as they are at present the new entrance will be used by parents and visitors during the day.


Next week we have a new member of staff joining our team. Mrs. Cooper joins us as our Medical and Welfare Assistant. You may find that your children mention her as she becomes our main member of staff to help with bumped heads, grazed knees and administering medicine. She will also be supporting the welfare of children and will be working with some children to help them enjoy school happily and safely.


Some of your children may have mentioned a member of staff, Mr. Pearce. Since November 9th, Mr. Pearce has been working with us at lunchtimes, on the playground setting up games and activities for the children. Children now have the opportunities to take part in regular organised sporting games and activities every lunchtime. The success of this during the autumn term means that we are going to continue working with Mr. Pearce in the spring term. All of the children enjoy it when Mr. Pearce is working in their playground zone, with the ‘Dinner Time Disco’ he sets up being particularly popular, see below where our reception children are having a boogie. 


Finally it was lovely to have everyone back at school on Thursday after isolating and partial closure. Our school is a much happier place when we are all here together. The smiles of the children who had to miss a few days at school were lovely to see on Thursday morning when I was back on the gate at the beginning of the day.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 20th November 2020


Thank you for the messages of support in what has been a very different week at St. John’s. Several parents have asked and therefore I am pleased to share that all of the staff that have had to isolate are well at time of writing at 6pm on Friday 20th. This is also an ideal opportunity to apologise to parents of children in years six, three and nursery who have been impacted as we had to close parts of the school due to staff shortages. Teachers of these children have shared with me how much work is being done at home therefore can parents reading this also pass on my ‘thumbs up’ to children that have had to work at home this week and who have done so with enthusiasm and a great attitude to learning.


Throughout this week and last week we were and we have continued to follow all of the advice and procedures that the government and local authority have recommended to ensure that we all stay as safe as possible. As well as sharing all information with Public Health England and Public Health Derbyshire, I have also ensured that all governors are fully aware of the two positive cases in our school community. I am very pleased that the nature of these unlinked cases has not impacted our children and that no children have had to isolate and are therefore not at risk.


 The children that have been at school this week have had a normal week with some of our trusted supply teachers and our Higher Level Teaching Assistants ensuring that the vast majority of classes were able to stay open as normal. Teachers that are at home have been in in regular contact with these staff ensuring that lessons have been able to continue, following our curriculum plans to minimise disruption. Many thanks to all of these staff who have supported us when we needed it.


Finally, it’s great to be able to share that we raised £907 in our Children In Need appeal last week. Well done to the children who were doing jobs around the house to earn some money and thank you to the parents who were able to give them some pocket money for doing so.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 13th November 2020


We had some lovely news at school this week when Mrs. Heer was able to let us know of the safe arrival of her baby boy on Monday. Mummy and baby Ruben are well and we are looking forward to when she can safely visit school and let us all welcome the new arrival ourselves.


We have supported two charities this week. The picture below was taken on Wednesday morning when all of us at St. John’s observed the 2 minute silence at 11am. All of the children stood in their bubbles in their playground zones and were perfectly silent for the two minutes. It was very humbling again as all our children showed their respect for the brave adults that have kept and keep our country safe.


Today we supported Children in Need. We have done lots of activities this week to recognise the work of this charity. We are especially pleased with the way that children have responded to our request that they are only able to donate money that they have earned. We really want to children to feel that they are contributing by doing some jobs around the home to earn a bit of pocket money, rather than receiving money from generous parents and carers without any action on their behalf. Our just giving page lists lots of these pocket money jobs that the children have done and how much money we have raised so far. CLICK HERE. Thank you.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 6th November 2020


I hope that you all had a lovely half term break and enjoyed some normality ahead of our second lock down. I am sure that over the coming weeks our community will show how much we can help each other with kindness and support as we work together to help keep us all safe as we did in April and May during our first lock down.


It was very good news for children that the government advice for schools during the second lockdown will mean that children can continue to attend school and enjoy their time with their friends and teachers. Other than the face masks for adults at the beginning and end of the day it appears that we have had to make very few changes at St. John’s to keep us COVID secure. I may be able to share some more information next week as some details become clearer.


You will have noticed that we have some more building work taking place at school as our old staff room is converted into our new main entrance. We are really looking forward to when we are able to use this entrance to school and no longer have to welcome parents with the imposing metal gate and intercom buzzer. Hopefully the work will be completed by Christmas.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 16th October 2020


This week was a first for St. John’s as we help our first parent/carer evenings with no parents or carers coming to school! School is normally a thriving, busy building on these evenings. It is a huge shame that we couldn’t all see each other face to face. However, in the last three evenings over 400 parents have had the opportunity to speak to their child's class teacher over the phone or face to face via an online video link. We are very pleased that, despite COVID-19 we have been able to spend time celebrating your children's work with you and sharing ideas as to how we can continue to help them throughout the year.


Thank you for your patience if any technical glitches disrupted your appointment. We have learned several lessons ourselves this week and will use this to help us next time.


On Wednesday next week we will have another first as our year 3 pupils lead our annual harvest festival on Microsoft Teams. They will be in their classrooms whilst the rest of us watch from our classrooms around the school. Your support for this annual event is appreciated with all donations welcome. Any harvest donations sent to school on Wednesday 21st November will be collected by the Padley centre and distributed to families in need in our community.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 9th October 2020


Many thanks to all the parents that completed the consent form for the flu vaccination programme on Wednesday this week. Over 95% of parents or carers completed the form to help the school health team support families and their children.


Our year four children have had a very exciting potions day in school today. This has helped them with their science topic this half term. You can see form the picture below the fun that they had.


Making decisions to cancel events is never easy. This week making the decision to cancel our Christmas nativity plays was very upsetting. The teachers and children have to do a lot of work before the productions and this normally starts at October half term. Given the information on the news at present we have decided that work done could easily be wasted as we continue to live in a COVID-19 society and would more than likely have to cancel them at a later date, which would cause even more upset. Even trying to have all our pupils and staff in the hall for a practice would go against advice. Let’s hope that in 2021 we can enjoy some of the important traditions that we all want to look forward to.


Headteacher weekly blog. Friday 2nd October 2020.


Last week I wrote about how nice our school corridors looked with our new displays. I also commented that it was a shame that parents weren’t coming into school to see how smart the school was looking. Thank you for the suggestions about adding some photographs, I enclose some below.


Over the past couple of weeks we have been taking part in some virtual athletic competitions during some of our PE lessons, with other schools. I am pleased to share that out of all the schools in Amber Valley we finished 3rd. Well done to all our children in year 2, year 6 and Mr. Hallam’s class that took part.


Over the next couple of weeks we will be sending a letter home to parents about a vacancy on our governing body. We are looking to recruit a new parent governor to join our team. Information will come home soon, however, If any parents wants to speak to me over the phone or at the school gate about becoming a parent governor I look forward to speaking to you.


Finally, this morning our year 5 children enjoyed having the mobile planetarium in their classrooms. All of the children enjoyed listening to our visitor and seeing pictures of the planets and solar system that they are learning about at present.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 25th September.


We have already shared that Mrs. Heer is staring her maternity leave later this term. Mrs. Heer is one of our senior teachers with responsibility for inclusion as our SENDCO. You are also aware that another of our senior teachers, Mrs. Allen, left St. John’s in July as she joined another school as their deputy headteacher.


I am pleased to share that in October Miss Cooper and Mrs. Newton join the leadership team for the rest of the school year as our senior teachers.  Miss Copper will be our SENDCO and Mrs. Newton will lead maths. I am sure you join me in congratulating them on their appointments and look forward to working with them in their new roles this year.


It is a real shame that parents and adults can’t come into school to see our new corridor displays that were put up this week. We have celebrated the full re-opening of school, the friendships we have in classes, the things that we missed about school during the partial closure and our Derbyshire class names. The displays all look lovely. There are lots of pictures of children playing and learning with friends. They are very strong reminders of what we all missed in the summer when we only had 170 children at school every day with 300 at home. It’s really good to have the school full again, and these displays are a celebration of it.


Finally don’t forget to register for the flu immunisation programme. Information about how to register is on our website. It is especially important this winter to help us all stay safe that families take advantage of this and have their children immunised. CLICK HERE.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 18th September 


Even though our year 6 pupils have only completed three weeks of the year, parents already need to start thinking about September 2021 and year 7. Applications for year 7 places opened on Monday. CLICK HERE for more information.


Thank you to all the parents who are following the advice on our website about what to do if your child is feeling poorly. I appreciate the difficult position that COVID-19 puts us in as we try to make decisions about our loved ones. We have tried to help with information about COVID-19 symptoms and other health worries such as a runny nose or a sore throat on our website. I hope that in clarifying that children with sore throats do not have to isolate for 10 days help families make these difficult decision. CLICK HERE for our COVID-19 symptoms page.


Well done to our reception children who had their first full week at school this week. I would imagine that after 5 full days at school that a lot of four year olds may be a bit tired this evening. I hope that this means that some parents get to enjoy a lie in tomorrow morning as their children dream about new friends at St. John’s!


Finally, several parents have asked me about what happens if any children or staff are found to have COVID-19 after a positive test. Government advice on this is clear. Schools need to ring the DfE and report it. We then receive support, recommendations and information from our local Public Health Team who support me and the governors in keeping the community safe. Any information about positive cases and the actions the school is advised to take would be published on our web site and shared with parents.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 11th September


I am pleased to share that landscaping work has finished around our new reception classrooms. There are now only a few fence jobs to finish and then the builders work will be complete.


During the week, Mrs. Carvell and I have noticed how many more parents are helping us by arriving at school at the correct time in the morning. As more members of our community do this, the safer we all are. Thank you.


We have been frequently asked if we will allow children in earlier due to parents work commitments and unfortunately the answer is no. This would not be fair on other families and as we aren’t able to do it for all, we aren’t able to do it for any. However, this has meant that some families are leaving children unaccompanied outside the front of the school in the morning, or dropping children off from cars before the correct arrival time and then driving off to work. It is upsetting that we have families prepared to increase the health risk to others by acting this way. From next week we will be calling parents that have children arriving at school early and unaccompanied and asking them to behave in a more responsible way. We appreciate your support in this matter.


Finally, Sunday 13th September should have been educational Sunday at St. Peter’s church. For a couple of years now we have celebrated our links with St. Peter’s every September. It is a shame that we can’t do this in person this year, however, you are all invited to join in with virtual live online services with Rev. Anne through the St. Peter’s web page. CLICK HERE.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 4th September 2020


So many parents have told me this week how lovely it has been to have some normality back for their children. The feeling is the same for teachers. Even though lots of procedures in school are different, having St. John’s full with 460 pupils is very exciting.


We’ve welcomed 50 children to our new reception classrooms. These children will work and play at St. John’s for the next seven years until July 2027 and form hundreds of special memories that will be with them for ever. On Wednesday the St. John’s adventure started for them with all of the parents of our new four year olds coming into school for a ‘stay and play’ session with their children. Our new reception classrooms were obviously loved by all the children and families and in no time at all the children were painting and writing, cutting and counting, building and climbing with new friends that they will still be playing with in 2027. I can’t wait to part of this journey with them.


We were also able to say goodbye to our old year 6 pupils on Wednesday. Everyone was fed up that in July we couldn’t give our year 6 children the send-off they deserved after their seven years at St. John’s. Lock down meant that they couldn’t have their leavers’ service, shirt signing afternoon or evening prom. These children started reception in September 2013 and certainly deserved a leavers’ celebration. Mrs. Carvell, Mrs. Heer and several wonderful parents came to the rescue on Wednesday afternoon and a socially distanced leavers’ celebration with chips, rounders and ice cream took place on the school field. It was lovely to see these children one last time and was another highlight in this week of firsts.  


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 17th July

This is my 13th summer holiday as a headteacher and today it starts as no other has. Saying goodbye to 170 pupils, about 35% of our children, was lovely in the sunshine this afternoon, but 330 children weren’t there to say good bye to. Knowing that the school will be complete again in September when all our children will be back makes me and the rest of the staff at St. John’s very happy. Lots of work has been done to prepare the school for full classes again in September and during the summer holiday staff will continue to move desks and resources as our classrooms begin to return to normal with chairs for up to 35 children instead of 11.


Many thanks for all of the messages of thanks and support we have received this week and over the last few months. They have been too numerous to mention and to reply to individually, but have all been read and appreciated. Thank you for them all.


Congratulations go to Mrs. Allen who leaves us today as she moves onto be the Deputy Headteacher at Herbert Strutt Primary School. Many thanks to Mrs. Allen for all the work and support she has given all the children and staff at St. John’s in the 10 years she has worked here. She will be missed at St. John’s, the children at Herbert Strutt are getting an excellent Deputy Headteacher and their gain is our loss.


Mrs. Gallen return to our nursery in September after her maternity leave. We aren’t saying goodbye to Miss Lemon though, she will still be part of our team in September and beyond and I look forward to continuing working with her.


Finally, the final blog of the year has to focus on the children that are leaving us for secondary school. Most of these children started St. John’s in September 2013 and have had seven years as part of our family. Despite the last few months I am sure that many of them will leave with happy memories of learning, friendship and fun. I know that as these children leave St. John’s, St. John’s will not leave them. The lessons and values the children have learnt at our school will help them as they grow into teenagers and adults in our community. I wish them all the best as they start the next chapter in their life and hope that it is a happy and successful one, they deserve it.


Have a lovely and safe summer holiday.


R. Averis

Headteacher vlog 17.7.20

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 10th June


All children in school today have come home with their annual written report and many of you with children still at home have rung school today to say that you have received your report through the post. I hope that you enjoy reading and celebrating them with your children. Each report also has a letter enclosed with supporting information to help at this time of year.


All children coming back to school in September are told in the letter who their teacher for next year will be. Unfortunately children have not been able to spend time with their new teachers as they normally do in our July transition mornings. These transition mornings have been very successful in recent years in helping children prepare for September, and not having them this year is very upsetting. We are also aware that for all children who have not been able to see friends or new teachers that there will be higher levels of nerves about September 2020, especially for children who have been home since March. Please assure your children that teachers will be aware of this in September 2020 and will ensure that time is given to getting used to being back in school with friends and teachers.

To help compensate for this teachers have prepared some ‘virtual transition’ pages on our website to help. Please have a look to these pages with your children to help them find out about September and the fun they will have in their new classes.


When looking at the staff lists for next year you will see that we welcome Miss Walker to year 2 and Miss Bennett to year 6 in September. You will also notice that Mrs. Carvell does not have a class next year. Mrs. Carvell is moving out of the class for a year to work as a non-class based deputy headteacher. She is looking forward to this new role as she gets the opportunity to help and support more children across the school as well as in year 6.


We have also shared user names and passwords for our new remote learning ‘virtual classrooms’ that we are setting up for the autumn term. We are still living with COVID-19 and schools have been asked to ensure that they have plans in place to provide blended learning for children where families are able to access work at home should we need to partially close again. St. John’s staff have already offered blended learning via our website since March, however, the remote learning log on information that you now have will help us enhance what we have been doing in the autumn should we need to partially close again.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 3rd July 2020


It was really exciting yesterday to get information from the government to help us plan to re-open in September for all children. The information is publically available for all to read. CLICK HERE. Over the next few days I will be looking at this government advice and the Local Authority risk assessment, and working with Mrs. Carvell and the rest of the school leaders as we plan to open safely on September 2nd.


I know that you may have lots of questions about how school will look and feel in September, which I look forward to answering over the next fortnight. Please keep checking the FAQ’s where information will be shared as soon as I have it.


Unfortunately no information has been shared yet with regards to how schools should be reducing social distancing from 2m with enhanced personal protection from July 4th. With this in mind I feel that it wouldn’t be safe to alter what we are doing at present. Therefore next week we will continue to welcome and teach over 160 children at school every day whilst continuing to provide activities for children to do at home. I am sorry for any upset that this causes.


Earlier in the week we shared some information about a small increase in price for school dinners from September 2nd. The information is on our website. CLICK HERE.

Headteacher vlog 3.7.20

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 26th June 2020


We’ve all enjoyed another hot week at school and today we’ve had another whole school virtual assembly. Even though the virtual ones are good fun, I’m looking forward to when we are able to safely have the hall full of children again.


Please remember that we are not using the school sun cream dispensers this summer. Children are allowed to bring some named sun cream to school to apply themselves during the day and/or parents are able to apply sun cream in the morning before children come to school. Children are also encouraged to wear hats to school in this weather to help them stay safe during their lunch hour. Parents also need to be aware that we are not using the water fountains in school and therefore children need to bring bottles of water with them.


Several parents have contacted the school with questions about July 4th and the announcement from the government that social distancing will be reduced from 2m to 1m+ on this date, with the + been enhanced personal protection. Everyone, including me, wants to know how and if this will help school safely open up to more pupils.


Next week we’ll have 169 pupils in school, 34% of our population. Please be assured that I will do everything I can to safely bring more children back to school as soon as possible. However, I will only do this when I have clear and consistent information from the government, the department from education and the local authority about procedures that we would need to put in place regarding many aspects, including -

  • Social distancing between pupils
  • Social distancing for adults
  • Any PPE or enhanced safety features required to reduce any social distancing to less than 2m for both children and adults.
  • The integrity of the bubbles in place at the moment, i.e. would we be advised to break them up and start again, or would we need to keep the present bubbles in place and add to them.

At the time of writing no information regarding these four points, or any other, is available. I will share it as soon as I have any.


Finally, do you want to come and work with us? We are recruiting a grade 5 Learning Support assistant to come and work at our school. More information is available on our website. CLICK HERE.

Headteacher vlog 26.6.20

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 19th June 2020


What a wet week that was, however the children have still been brilliant in school despite missing some playtimes due to the weather. Today was also very exciting as we had our first ever St. John’s virtual assembly. Mrs. Carvell and I led the assembly with children in nearly every bubble getting involved. We finished with all the school singing a song together at the same time. Even though we were all apart in our bubbles we were together in the song we were singing, it was a lovely part of the day.


Two class teachers have announced some exciting news on their class pages this week.


Firstly Mrs. Heer has shared with her children that she is expecting a baby in the autumn. I am sure that you join me in wishing her and her husband well as they start this new chapter in their life.


Secondly Mrs. Allen has shared that she has a new job. Mrs. Allen’s last day at St. John’s will be on Friday 17th July when she leaves us to take up the post of Deputy Headteacher at Herbert Strutt Primary School. Mrs. Allen has helped and taught hundreds of children in her time at St. John’s and will be greatly missed. However, I am sure that you also join me in wishing her well as she begins this new chapter in her professional life and wish her well.


Last week Mrs. Carvell and I were interviewing new teachers to come and join us at St. John’s. Unfortunately at present I can’t share names of staff, until the recruitment process finishes, but I will do so as soon as I am able to.

Headteacher weekly vlog Friday 19.6.20

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 12th June 2020


Even though we only had about a quarter of our children in school this week (next week we go up to about a third) it has been lovely to have an element of normality return for some children and the school.


Unfortunately today some parents that applied for places for their children to return on the 15th June were told that we didn’t have places to admit them safely. Telling parents that St. John’s children can’t come to St. John’s school was very upsetting. For the children that were looking forward to seeing friends it must be very confusing. With this in mind I strongly advise parents that are applying for places for June 22nd to be very careful what you share with children. We have less than twenty places left and until government advice changes we will not be able to admit any more.


On a different note Mrs. Carvel and I interviewed teachers this week that we hope will be able to come and join our team in September. I look forward to sharing the names of the new staff as soon as I can and the changes that this will have in the school as we welcome new faces to our St. John’s community.


Finally, for parents of children in year 6, don’t forget that you need to complete any leavers’ hoodie order forms by 11am on Wednesday 17th June. Information is on the year 6 class pages.

Headteacher vlog 12.6.20

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 5th June


Once again I have the pleasure of starting my blog by thanking the many parents who have contacted the school offering thanks and support. Of special note here are the year 6 parents and families who were very upset on Wednesday when we had to share the news that we didn’t have room for them to return on June 8th. Several parents contacted us sharing their disappointment which is felt by us at school as well.


This week we’ve had over 50 pupils attend school most days, next week this goes up to 150. Parents need to continue to help us at St. John’s as we get used to working safely together in a new situation again. Please can you make sure that you bring your child to school at the correct time for their year group – on Monday June 8th these are -

  • Year 6 and Nursery - 8.45am
  • Year 4 and 5 - 9.00am
  • Year 3 and 2 - 9.15am
  • Year 1 – 9.30am
  • Reception - 9.45am


From Tuesday June 9th they change and they are

  • Nursery - 8.45am
  • Year 6 and younger siblings – 8.45am
  • Year 3,4 and 5 and younger siblings – 9.00am
  • Year 2 and younger siblings – 9.15am
  • Year 1 and reception – 9.30am


At the end of the day pick up times are

  • Year 6 – 2.45pm
  • Year 3,4 and 5 – 3.00pm
  • Year 2 and reception – 3.15pm
  • Year 1 children – 3.25pm


Whilst picking up and dropping off parents need to be prompt, consider social distancing and use the one way system around the school - thank you. 


Finally I have shared some more pictures of what school looks like at present to help you show your children what they can expect on Monday.


See you on Monday smiley

Headteacher weekly vlog 5.6.20

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 22nd May


After two weeks work preparing to welcome 151 children back to school on Monday 1st June I was looking forward to a holiday and then seeing children back in schools with friends and teachers. I am upset that the work done by staff will not be able to help children on 1st June but am pleased that clearer guidance has helped me ensure that when we do open we will be safe for all children and staff.


This morning I took a series of pictures to help parents prepare children for what their classrooms will look like. I am still sharing these today, below, for you to see what classrooms looked like following the government guidance that social distancing could be less than 2 meters in a primary classroom. We could get 15 children in each room, with a distance of between 1 and 2 meters between every child depending on the number of children in the bubble and the shape of the classroom.


The advice today that the distance needs to be 2 meters means that classrooms need to be re-arranged, children books need to be re-distributed, bubbles need to be re-assigned, staff need to be re-assigned and timetables for areas such as the dining room need to be re-written. It also means that we won’t be able to get up to 15 children in a room so fewer children will be in each bubble and more staff will be needed.


Over the coming days I will continue to keep abreast of the advice and will, after a few days off, share more information as soon as I can.


Have a lovely three day weekend.

Headteacher vlog 22.5.20 - with guest appearance!

Mrs.Carvell popped in to surprise you, and me, at the end - she says a big hello to you all!

Teachers prepare for June 1st

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 15th May 2020


Many thanks to all of the parents that have completed the attendance form for June 1st. I fully understand that as the government advises us that aspects of lockdown are eased that we will all be both excited at some aspects and nervous and worried about others. It is easy to understand why returning to school fills us with both excitement and worry.


We have already had messages from families and children letting us know that they are excited about seeing their friends and teachers again. The feeling is mutual. I am looking forward to seeing you as well and I’m really looking forward to helping and working as part of the team of teachers and community, that will begin to give children their normal lives back. Your children deserve it.


We have also had messages from families about the difficult decision that you are making and the worries about safety that you have. The feeling is mutual. I am aware of how careful we will need to be and how we need to follow the advice from the government to ensure that your children, our staff and our community stay as safe as possible as the road to normality resumes. We have worked very hard this week to ensure that what we are doing at St. John’s does do this. We are following the government advice. Your children deserve it.

Weekly vlog 15.05.2020

Headteacher weekly blog – Thursday 7th May 2020


We’ve had to make more difficult decisions at school this week and unfortunately the year 5 and year 6 children that were due to go away on residentials this summer won’t be able to. As always the health and safety of the children is always our main concern and the decisions that we have made have been based on this. As well as cancelling these activities more of the summer one day trips that were due to take place in other year groups have been cancelled as well.


It’s when we remove these events from the calendar that we realise what our children must be going through as the events that they have looked forward to for a long time can no longer take place. It’s a real shame that our year 3 children won’t be able to lead their first service at St. Peter’s later this month and our year 4 children won’t be able to go to the Derby Arena and perform with the Halle orchestra. Lots of other events have been cancelled as well.


In my vlog this week I look at lots of the work that you are doing at home and read a poem written by one of our year 6 children about the lockdown. It’s a beautiful poem and talks about all of the things that we are missing such as the seaside and visits. However, the poem ends with us recognising that one day this will be over and we will be able to play and have fun with our friends again. Let’s hope that we can all do this safely soon.

Headteacher Vlog 7.5.20

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 1st May 2020


For this week’s vlog below I have decided to read another poem from Allan Ahlberg. Once again the poem refers to children playing outside and having fun, something that I all know we are looking forward to doing again. I hope that it helps you all look forward to when we can have fun with our friends again.


In the vlog I also talk about our friends in Kolkata. We have had some pictures and information from the Cathedral Relief Service in Kolkata. It’s this service that runs a lot of the slum schools in Kolkata. You can see some of the pictures and information on our Kolkata page online. CLICK HERE. We have also had two videos on YouTube from the Diocese of Kolkata and the Cathedral Relief Service showing how they are distributing food parcels in the slums and how they are trying to help people socially distance in conditions very different to us. You may want to show these to your children at home to help them understand how the virus is impacting us all. CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE for the two videos. Your children may recognise some of the places through pictures that we have shared and talked about at school.


If you want to help the children and friends that we have in Kolkata there is information and an email address on our school website for you to contact the Cathedral Relief Service directly. CLICK HERE.


Stay safe, stay at home see you all next week.

Headteacher weekly vlog 1.5.20

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 24th April 2020


I hope that you are all safe and well. It was lovely to see children at school this week again. I look forward to when all 500 children are able to return safely, rather than the two or three dozen children that we have every day at present whilst their parents work in key industries.


Four weeks ago I had never taken part in a video conference. Today alone I have had five. It is really nice to be able to speak to and see teachers and staff as we continue to work together to keep school working at the moment and prepare for when we are able to open again. Many of the meetings that I have had this week have been about setting the budget for next year. This is normally a really busy time of year as I work with Mrs. Carvell and other senior teachers and the governors to set the budget for the next financial year and school year. This year is no different and I look forward to the governor meetings that we are going to have online over the coming weeks as we prepare for the rest of the year and decide what money to spend where.


It was lovely to finish my week again by looking at the work that children are doing at home and sending to teachers. Our website is alive with lots of great work and busy children carrying on with their learning in kitchens, back gardens and dining rooms. Well done to you all and thank you for working so hard at home with your mummies and daddies.


And finally, yes I did enjoy some crisps again at the end of lent. Well done to everyone else who was able to give something up.

Headteacher vlog 2020-04-24

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 17th April


I hope that you have all enjoyed the sunshine over the Easter fortnight. You will all know that earlier this week the government announced that the lock down will continue for another three weeks. This means that St. John’s will only be open from Monday 20th April for vulnerable children and children of key workers who have to send their child to school as there is no care alternative at home.


Daily Attendance Form

Parents that are sending their children to school during the partial closure need to complete the Daily Attendance form to let us know that their child is coming to school. This needs to be done by 4pm the day before your child is attending school at the latest. CLICK HERE.


From Monday 20th teachers will be uploading two activities a day onto their class web pages for your children to complete, as we were doing before the Easter holiday. This will continue throughout the partial closure. Many thanks to all of the parents who are helping their children with these activities during our partial closure. Please continue to use the contact the teacher forms if you have any questions about the activities.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 3rd April 2020


It’s not the end of spring term that we had all planned. Yesterday we should have all been together at St. Peter’s church with our year 4 children leading our annual Easter service. We all know that it’s a real shame that they have missed out in this and that so many other children are missing out on activities and events at school and clubs that they enjoy.


Well done to all of the children that are working at home. It really helps cheer all the teachers up to see what you are doing. You can see in my vlog below that I am also enjoying finding out what you are doing at home.


It would be wrong of me not to say thank you to a very special group of people at the end of the spring term. Many thanks to all of the mums, dads, step mums, step dads, carers and all adults who are home schooling with their children - you are all brilliant. I hope that you all get to enjoy an Easter holiday of sorts over the coming two weeks - you've deserved it. Teachers will begin uploading activities again on Monday 20th April. 


I would normally begin a holiday by wishing everyone a nice time. For this Easter it seems more appropriate to wish everyone a safe holiday. Stay at home, stay safe and be kind.

Weekly vlog 2020-04-03

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 27th March


A unique week calls for a unique blog. I hope that the video blog below brings smiles in what has been a period of uncertainty and concern for many.


School has been open every day this week. We have had up to 40 children attending every day as their mums and dads go to work in key industries.


We have also begun our on line learning journeys as children, families and teachers begin a new way of helping your children at home. Many thanks to all of the parents that have passed messages of thanks for what our teachers are doing every day. Also thank you for the comments that we are getting to help improve what we do. We are only on day 5 and will get better, when working together, in helping ensuring that your children work happily at home. Your children are amazing. They are coping with something that we never did at their age.   


Enjoy the video, I hope you enjoy the poem, it is one of my favourites. I don’t own any copyright for it and am reading it out in good faith crediting Allan Ahlberg for his excellent words.  

Headteacher video blog

Weekly blog for St. John's CE Primary School

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 20th March 2020


This is the hardest blog I’ve had to write in over 5 years, it’s also going to be the briefest as I’ve already shared so much with parents this week through emails and website updates.


In summary, in the face of adversity and challenge it has been a privilege to lead a school of such wonderful children, staff and parents. At this point I only know that if our community continues to support, help and care for each other as it has done this week we will all come back to St. John’s bigger and better than before.


Emotions have run high as our children have finished school today with so many unknowns. It would be easy to mention so many things however it would be wrong of me not to mention year 6. I have spoken to the year 6 pupils today guaranteeing them that I will do everything I can to let them have the opportunities that their older siblings may have had when they finished at St. John’s so that they can also enjoy shirt signings, parties and other traditions. Don’t worry children you will get your chance at some point in some way.


As my most unique week at school in over 25 years of teaching finishes though I already think of next week and beyond and the new challenges that our children and staff face in the coming weeks. And as I said at the start – with this team we’re ready.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 13th March 2020


The children’s favourite event of the week was probably sport relief day today. It was great to see the different sports that our children enjoy. It was especially exciting to see how many children get to enjoy playing sports with local clubs and societies. As parents you must all be very busy getting children to various sporting venues around Derbyshire. 


On Tuesday our year two children had a drama day as they welcomed Pirate Steve to school for the day. All children did a number of drama activities around the theme of pirates. 


I understand that many families will be worried about the media reports of how Covid-19 will affect them and their loved ones. I can assure you that as always my first priority will always be the health and safety of the children and staff at our school and during this week and in the coming weeks this will remain my primary focus. We have already introduced several measures in school such as ‘hand hygiene’ and at dinner time today children were watched wash their hands as they came into eat. We have also agreed a new, local authority suggested, cleaning schedule with our hard working cleaning staff to further help us remain safe in school.


Given this unprecedented situation I am continuing to take official advice from the government and the NHS. This advice is being added to on a daily basis and I am therefore monitoring and responding to it as it is published. Links to all the updated information can be found on our website CLICK HERE. These links have been updated today with a new link to a Derbyshire County Council webpage and a telephone number that parents and families are invited to ring with any questions.


I appreciate the support that we are getting from our community as we continue to act on the advice of the government and assure parents that I will continue to do so. As always I will be outside the school at the beginning of most days for any questions or comments that parents may have in relation to this or any matter. 

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 6th March 2020


The highlight of the week for most of the children was dressing up on Thursday for book week. Many thanks to all of the parents who helped their children join in this fun day by preparing costumes and props. Book week was started on Monday when we welcomed author Rob Bounds into school. Rob has written several books about birds and animals. He keeps budgies and we were able to look after two of them for the week to help the children with their work in year two. Rob led an assembly and spoke to all infant and juniors children about how he became an author and what he did to make his first book. He then went into lots of classrooms and read one of his stories to the children. Rob’s web site lists all of his books. CLICK HERE.    During the week Mrs. Newton was selling the books to children for £5. Each book came with a free toy bird. If anyone else would like to buy a book still please send a message to Mrs. Newton who will be able to help.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 28th February 2020


The first week back at school has seen year groups begin new projects. Lots of these new projects have been marked with exciting activities to help the children understand what they are learning about. On Monday afternoon two Viking warriors came to year four and spent half an hour with the children showing them how to live and fight like a Viking! On Monday year 5 children spent the afternoon with a geologist helping them start their Alchemy island work. On Wednesday morning all year one children spent an hour in a mobile planetarium to start their Moon Zoom project.


Our curriculum page on our web site, CLICK HERE, has lots of information about what we are teaching the children. Use this page to find out about what your child is learning at school at the moment. It also has information about age appropriate standards and lists the standards that children need to be working at, at the end of each year. This is useful for parents that are helping their children and want to know what is expected of them.


Finally a newsletter has gone home today. All newsletters for the current year are available on our website, CLICK HERE. All archived and historical newsletters going back to 2015 are also online, CLICK HERE.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 14th February 2020


The snow at the beginning of the week meant that all of our children had a very exciting playtime in the afternoon. The pictures below show just how much fun was had in the 15 minutes we were on the playground. It was lovely to have such excited children enjoying their brief bit of snow play as within a few hours it had all turned to slush or ice.


With the recent snow fall in mind it is worth reminding parents of our poor weather procedures. You can read it all on our policies and paperwork page on our website, CLICK HERE. Earlier this week when it did snow several parents have asked why we didn’t update our website with information about what was happening at school. Hopefully sharing the link to our weather procedures sheet helps explain that we only update the website if we are closing or if we are authorising parents to collect children early. On Monday we did not update the website as we weren’t closing and we weren’t authoring the early collection of children.


Finally in relation to adverse weather conditions many thanks to the parents that didn’t ring the school to ask if we were still open but that did check the website, your support in this is greatly appreciated.


Also this week we have had two sets of children perform to dozens of parents and friends. On Tuesday afternoon our year four orchestra performed to just over a hundred parents and friends. I was really upset that I couldn’t make this concert as I have been very excited to hear the progress that our trumpeters and trombonists have made since September when they picked up the brass instruments for the first time. 


On Thursday morning our year five children were at St. Peter’s church leading the annual Lent Service. This was a lovely service with the children reminding us of the reason behind Lent and that Christians test their character and will power by giving something up.


Finally yesterday our volunteers on the PTFA ran a very successful friends disco. Hundreds of children enjoyed themselves and money was raised to help the school as well. Many thanks to the PTFA for organising another event for our children.


I hope that you have a good half term break and look forward to returning back to school on Monday 24th February at 9am.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 7th February 2020


On Monday our year four children enjoyed a trip to The Sea Life Centre in Birmingham. They all had a great day and have done fantastic work back in school this week. Such trips are a really important part of school life giving children opportunities to experience exciting places like this with their friends and teachers. Many thanks to the staff who organise them and the parents that help with voluntary contributions to ensure that they can go ahead.


After school on Monday our year three and four children won the Amber Valley dodgeball competition. Today in celebration assembly they proudly added the trophy to the trophy cabinet. Thank you to Miss Thompson for going with the children on Monday.


Also on Monday Mrs. Christie and I were out of school at Matlock for the day with teachers from other schools looking at the new Derbyshire Religious Education agreed syllabus that we will be required to teach from September 2020. There will be a couple of changes from what we teach at present as we move towards this new legislative syllabus. The RE agreed syllabus is updated every five years and Mrs. Christie and I are both looking forward to working to the new document for the next few years.


On Tuesday morning we have the Partake Theatre Company come and work with our year three children helping them with their Ancient Greek work.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 31st January 2020


This has been an exciting week as we have spent a lot of time finding out what Mrs. Winson-Bushby and Mrs. Hodgson are doing in India. As I write (Friday afternoon) they are just leaving Scott Lane School having spent the day with the children and teachers showing them how to use the resources that they have taken with them.


Throughout the week classes throughout the school have had several video chats with Mrs. Hodgson and Mrs. Winson-Bushby. We have seen the buildings and places they have been to, we have heard the noise of the streets and we have asked questions which have been answered on the spot about life in Kolkata. We have also read the daily blog and looked at the pictures and videos that have been uploaded onto our website. CLICK HERE to have a look at the 2020 blog yourself and then talk to your children about Kolkata and what is happening there.


We look forward to welcoming Mrs. Hodgson and Mrs. Winson-Bushby back to school on Tuesday 4th February and listening first hand to what they have done and what the teachers and children at Scott Lane School will do with their new resources.


On Wednesday morning our Y1 children enjoyed a morning with Partake Theatre Company helping them with their project work.


Thank you for your patience during the roof work that is taking place. The roofers are still hoping to have finished by the time we return to school after the half term break. I am sure that like me, you are looking forward to when we have no builders at St. John’s for the first time since October 2018. In March we will welcome the landscapers who think that by then the land outside the new reception classrooms will be dry enough to plant bushes and sow grass seeds to make the outdoor grounds look as nice as the new classrooms themselves.


Finally please can I draw your attention to an important letter that went home this week about term times for school year 2020-2021. CLICK HERE to read it. I am sorry for any problems that have been created with the position we found ourselves in, however, I hope that the holiday arrangements for Easter 2021 now give some parents the opportunity to take a cheaper holiday than normal with us having a week’s holiday at a different time to other schools.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 24th January 2020


This morning at 8am Mrs. Hodgson and Mrs. Winson-Bushby left St. John’s on their way to Kolkata. About twenty other Derbyshire teachers are joining them as well as students from the University of Derby and staff from the Diocese of Derby. Mrs. Hodgson and Mrs. Winson-Bushby have been working hard over the last few months, with children at St. John’s, to prepare resources to take to the children at Scott Lane School. One of the things they are taking with them is lego. It’s lovely to know that hundreds of children at St. John’s have donated a couple of pieces of lego over recent weeks and that as I type it’s in a suitcase on its way to Kolkata. I am looking forward to seeing the pictures of the children at Scott Lane playing with the lego that has been played with by our children in Belper. Mrs. Hodgson will be writing a daily blog of her time in India. She has already written some information about how we have prepared and planned. You can read it on our web site. CLICK HERE.


I can’t believe that it is a year that Mrs. Hodgson and I went to Kolkata and went to Scott Lane School for the first time. I’ve had a look at the blog we wrote every day and the videos and pictures that we took a year ago. CLICK HERE for the 2019 blog and CLICK HERE for the 2019 videos. It’s great to know that with the support of the children and families of St. John’s and the financial support of St. Peter’s church we have been able to continue to help the children of Scott Lane. Thank you.


On Tuesday our girls won the Amber Valley Futsall competition at Alfreton. They enjoyed adding the trophy to the trophy cabinet in celebration assembly today. This afternoon the boys have been playing at Moor Farm where Derby County train. Unfortunately they lost in the semi-final but have thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon at Moor Farm.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 17th January 2020


Our football team have won two competitions this week. On Tuesday evening our upper junior boys won the Amber Valley Futsall competition at Alfreton Leisure Centre. On Wednesday our A team won the EFL Kids cup competition at the Soccerdome in Derby. Well done to the team. We’ll find out soon where they play next after winning on Wednesday. We think that it will be at Derby County’s training ground at Moor Farm which will be a very exciting opportunity for the team.


Our year two children have had staff from the Open Centre in Derby visit school today and attended a Judaism workshop. The children learned all about the faith and practises of the Jewish religion and got to see lots of artefacts used in synagogues.


We’ve changed all of our corridor displays this week and had a move around in the schools entrance area outside Mrs. Howis’s office. The new space works really well with our new visitor’s chairs getting the thumbs up from people who have used them so far.


Parents of reception children have now been inside our new reception classrooms. I am pleased to say that the builders have all left and that we have our car park back ready to use. We’ve also had the pavement tidied up that runs to the nursery classes and from next week all pick up points will be as normal for nursery parents who can use the normal side gate.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 10th January 2020


Happy New Year and welcome back. I trust that you all had a lovely holiday and enjoyed time with friends and family. We’ve had a very exciting first week back at school as our reception children have moved into their lovely new classrooms. All 50 children are now working in their new classrooms with their teachers and over the coming days the builders will finish some external work so that we can start to use the new playgrounds and outdoor areas as well. You can see from the pictures below how nice the new classrooms are and how much the children are enjoying using all of the new resources that they have.


Children in reception have taken a letter home today letting their parents and carers know about the new rooms. Unfortunately this letter has some other news in it about Mrs. Smith one of our reception teachers. Mrs. Smith was away from work in December and today I was able to share with parents that she may not be returning until after the summer holiday. I am sure that you all join me in wishing Mrs. Smith well as she goes through the radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment that we hope ensures a full recovery and a return to good health.


Our year two children enjoyed their return to school with a ‘Muck, Mess and Mixture’ day on Tuesday. This was a great way to start their art and design project for the half term. On Tuesday we were also visited by the Queen in year one. The Queen enjoyed a tea party held in her honour and told all of the children about life at Buckingham Palace.



Headteacher weekly blog – Friday December 20th 2019


The final blog of 2019. It has been another lovely Christmas week at St. John’s. All of the children have had a wonderful time enjoying treats such as cinema trips and discos. Parents and carers have had a wonderful time watching loved ones on the stage at our nativity plays and our Carol Concert at St. Peter’s church. Teachers and staff have had a wonderful time celebrating the children’s favourite time of year. A piece of work done this week in year two is a perfect example of this. The children were writing instructions in their English lessons. They were writing the instructions for a perfect Christmas Eve. It was lovely to see all of the traditions that lots of children have and listening to them talk about what they do every year at home. It really is a lovely time of year to work in a primary school


On Wednesday our kitchen staff exceled again. They prepared and served 400 Christmas dinners that were enjoyed by staff and children alike. A huge amount of work takes place in the kitchen every day and unfortunately so much of it goes unnoticed.  It is lovely to get this opportunity to say a thanks to the team and especially Mrs. Capewell and Mrs. Holgate, both of whom were working away from 7am on Wednesday. The children all looked great in their Christmas jumpers, Christmas songs were playing on the hall speakers, the children sang and ate and the kitchen team welcomed a new apprentice for an hour when serving. Can you spot him below?


A newsletter has gone home this week with lots more information in it.


I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. God bless. See you in 2020.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 13th November 2019


It was lovely this week to begin our Christmas Nativity plays. The reception children were fantastic on stage yesterday when I got to watch them perform. I am sure that Mrs. Carvell enjoyed today’s nativity that she was able to watch. I am sure that all of the families and friends that came to watch left feeling very festive. Throughout all of the performances next week the PTFA will be selling tea coffee and mince pies to help raise funds for the school. The stage that we use and the costumes that the children wear were all brought by the PTFA in recent years.


Many thanks to all the parents who halve helped us walk children to the Ritz cinema in Belper this week. It’s a lovely annual treat, paid for by the PTFA and it’s great to be able to support one of our local businesses who continue to give us a group discount to help us save a bit of money. Year 6 and year 5 children will enjoy their cinema trips on Monday. I hope that the weather is drier than when the year 4 children walked there on Thursday.


On Tuesday we were able to start to move into our new reception classrooms with lots of new furniture going in first of all. Mr Collinge our caretaker, is working hard to ensure that we hopefully have everything ready for January. I will be writing to all reception parents on Thursday 19th December with information about what will happen in January when we return to school.


Lots of parents came to our Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) workshop of Tuesday evening, run by Mrs. Girling, and commented on how useful it was to see the resources that we will be using from year one up to year six. We will be teaching RSE in the summer term and Mrs. Girling has offered to run the workshop again in 2020 to help parents that may have missed it this week.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 6th December 2019


I hope that you are enjoying another three day weekend. We have had another training day in school. We have had a day’s training on some new software to use on the interactive whiteboards that we have in every classroom. Earlier this year we upgraded the facilities in classrooms to make sure that all teachers had the same touchscreens at the front of each class. Today we have been trained to use some of the software that makes the most out of this new hardware. I am sure that your children will notice the difference in lessons, especially as the interactive software will be getting them out of their seats and up to the front of the class more often. 


On Tuesday afternoon our football team won the Derbyshire finals. We are now looking forward to finding out details of the Midlands finals that will take place when the best team from each of the other local counties will play against each other.  This is the first time in many years that our football team has achieved this. Mr. Hallam and the team are rightfully very happy and excited about how well they have done. 


Many thanks to the PTFA who organised and ran a lovely pyjama party and movie night on Tuesday.

Hundreds of children had great fun with hot chocolate, popcorn and Polar Express. It was lovely that Father Christmas was able to visit as well and bring all of the children a bell. I am pleased to report that all of the children could hear their bell ringing. 


Finally and looking ahead to September 2020, please note that children are returning to school on

Wednesday 2nd September 2020. CLICK HERE for the term dates. It is worth noting that in 2020 and 2021 that children will be returning to school in September after their summer holidays in the same week as the August Bank Holiday. 

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 29th November 2020


I am very pleased that the INSET day that the children are enjoying today is the first sunny day of the week. I hope that you are all making the most of the three day weekend. I hope that you get to enjoy the three day weekend next week as well. All of the staff are in school today, we are looking at and considering how we teach writing and use the talk for writing resources we have in school. Next week we are spending a day looking at some new software that we hope will help us use the interactive white boards in every classroom more effectively.


Many thanks to members of the PTFA who organised and ran a very successful and enjoyable Christmas fayre last night. Dozens of children visited Father Christmas and we were all entertained by the school choir as well as enjoying the refreshments and cakes. Many thanks to all of those who attended for supporting us.


I am pleased that today we were able to welcome back the playground line painters who are making the most of the empty playground and good weather to carry on with the new playground markings that they started in August. We hope that by Monday we will have the daily mile track and courts all finished ready for use. If the weather is good on Friday 6th when we are closed for the INSET day we hope that they are able to finish all of the work

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 22nd November 2019


We say goodbye to Miss. Rhodes today who leaves us to take up a new challenge. We wish her all the best as she opens up her café and bar in Brinsley. I know that many staff will call in when passing for a cuppa.


You may be aware that Mrs. Gallen is leaving in January as she goes on her maternity leave. Mrs. Gallen is our nursery teacher. I am pleased to share that Miss. Lemon will be taking over and covering the maternity leave. Miss Lemon has already been to school to get to know the nursery children and meet the team and will be visiting us a few more times between now and Christmas to get to know the children. I’m sure that we’ll all welcome Miss Lemon when she begins work with us on Monday 6th January 2020.


We welcomed 8 new children to the nursery on Monday afternoon. These children will start in January 2020. If you know of any other parents or families with nursery children please share that applications are open for places in April and September 2020. CLICK HERE for more information about how to apply or how to come and have a look around our nursery and see us if you are thinking of applying.


On Monday afternoon our infant handball team played at Belper Leisure centre and finished 4th our of 8 teams. Well done to them.


On Monday afternoon some of our children worked with a local artist to help prepare art work that is going to be permanently displayed at Belper’s new library on Derwent Street in Belper. St. John’s is working very closely with the team building and developing the library and this is just one of the projects that we are involved with. Next week the winners of the time capsule competition will find out who they are and will get to decide what goes in the time capsule.


Today our year two children have had a great Towers and Turrets day. Children have come dressed as mediaeval Kings and Queens and have enjoyed a mediaeval banquet at lunch time today, with mediaeval food, music and decorations.  Many thanks to our kitchen staff for preparing the food.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 15th November 2019

On Monday we were able to recognise the minute’s silence at 11am. This annual feature at St. John’s was marked with a huge amount of respect amongst all of the children who were perfectly silent for the minute at 11am. It was, again, a very humbling moment.


On Tuesday we recognised anti-bullying week by all wearing off socks to show that we can all be different and friends at the same time. Mrs. Carvell and I had to go to a meeting in Matlock on Tuesday, my odd socks were worn in a room full of people who must have thought I had left the house in the dark that morning. Other activities have taken place this week to help children understand that bullying is when someone does something nasty to them several times on purpose and help them learn what to do if this does take place.


Today we’ve had a lovely Children in need day and have raised £766.08. Many thanks for all of the support you have given with cake making and donations for the bring and buy sale. I hope that children have done some jobs around the house to earn any money that they brought to school today to help them feel that they were making a difference. We want to ensure that parents don’t feel obliged to give children money on days such as today, but that children feel empowered to earn some so that they know they have helped.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 8th November 2019

I hope you all had a lovely half term break and that you all enjoyed some family time.


We’ve had a relatively quiet week at school this week, however on Tuesday afternoon the school was full of the sounds of preschool toddlers and babies. Our year one project is ‘Memory Box’ and we had over a dozen young babies and children in school to help our year one children try to remember what life was like as a baby. Many thanks to all of those who came to school to help us.


On Wednesday lunchtime parents of children in Mrs. Smith’s class were invited to dinner. Roast Pork was on the menu (Wednesday is always Roast dinner day) and it was lovely to see the excited children show their parents and carers how to carry trays and get their food off the kitchen staff. I hope that the parents that came enjoyed themselves.


Next week we have a couple of exciting events taking place – please check the calendar section to find out more.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 25th October


Our INSET day today has seen over 120 teachers and teaching assistants from local primary schools in our school hall working together, asking ourselves the question – what makes an exciting primary curriculum? It was a fantastic morning and we were all given lots of great ideas by a guest speaker as to ways that we can help all of Belper’s children enjoy school and get the most out of their lessons.


Yesterday evening our rugby teams won the tournament trophy at Belper Rugby club, on Wednesday evening our development team came 5th out of the 16 teams that took part. 


Well done to our year 6 pupils that led our harvest service at St. Peter’s on Thursday morning. Lots of us may know the Let It Go song sung on a popular Disney film. Our year six children changed this to Let it Grow – the song was enjoyed by all.  I am pleased to say that today the Padley centre volunteers came to collect all of the harvest donations you were able to give – thank you.


Have a lovely holiday – see you on November 4th.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 18th October  2019


It’s great to have the small patch of grass by our scooter park, that was getting very muddy, looking great again thanks to the help of one of our parents from CDM artificial grass, who volunteered some time and materials to put down the artificial grass. We now have clean shoes coming into school every day. As you can see in the picture below the children are happy as well.


Last night we won the year three and four athletics competition at Alfreton Leisure centre. That’s the athletics double for us as we won the upper junior competition last week.


Many thanks to all the parents that came to parent evenings this week to speak with teachers. I also appreciate any time you gave to helping our governors who gave put parental questionnaires to complete. Also thank you to parents that supported the cake sale in aid of raising money for the year 6 prom. Our PTFA donate £900 to the prom, the extra money that is raised will help ensure that our children get to enjoy their evening on Friday 10th July 2020.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 11th October 2019

On Thursday our year 3 children walked into Belper and had a behind the scenes tour of the Co-op. This helped them with their work on fair-trade products. Many thanks to the staff of the co-op for their time in helping us explore where our food comes from.


Last night we won the Amber Valley, upper junior, athletics competition. This is the first time we have won this trophy so we were all very proud when it was presented in assembly this afternoon.


This afternoon in celebration worship our reception children joined us for the first time. It was lovely to have the school full with all of our school children for the first time this year. The reception children enjoyed their first whole school assembly and behaved brilliantly.


Every day we have hundreds of children and just over sixty staff come to and leave school happily. Unfortunately this week, this was not the case as on Wednesday, when one of our staff returned to her car at the end of the day, an abusive note had been glued to the windscreen of her legally parked car.


I know that one of the problems in the community is the number of cars that come to school every day. I know that dozens of staff and hundreds of children walk to school every day. I know that over 50 children regularly scoot to school every day. I know that when we were told we were going to have building work done to make the school bigger we ensured that the first thing built was a new car park. I know that at present we have one of three car parks closed due to the building work. I know that some staff have to park on the road. I know that hundreds and hundreds of neighbours in the local community support St. John’s and help us. I know that someone, however, has unfortunately acted inappropriately and upset a member of staff who was coming to work to help children enjoy another day at St. John’s. I know that nearly everyone reading this will be upset and will support me in sharing that I will not tolerate abusive behaviour directed towards any one in our community, including children, parents, staff and neighbours. I know that the time I have spent addressing Wednesday’s incident would have been better spent helping children. I hope that after contacting the police on Thursday and writing this today, that this is the last time I have to deal with such an incident.


Again, I offer my thanks to the members of our community that work, play, learn and live in Belper and support and help each other. Hundreds of us do this every day with considerate parking, considerate commuting and considerate conversation when a problem arises. Thank you.


Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 4th October 2019


Just under 500 children have sat and smiled at the photographer today. Individual photograph day is always a busy day, and Mrs. Howis has worked brilliantly this morning to make sure that all photographs were taken by 11.30am ready for school dinner to be served at 11.45. 


During the week we put out a request for some help with some mud on the way into the scooter park. Many thanks for the generous offers of help. As it stands we are now exploring the possibility of having some artificial grass. Watch this space.


Last night our football team finally got to play their first cup game of the season. I’m pleased that we won and are through to the next round.


Last night’s discos were a great success. Many thanks to the parents who volunteered to run the events. It appears that the online ticketing system was a success with lots of parents reporting to me how much easier it was for them.

Due to the work of the PTFA we have had a new addition to the playground this week and an upgrade. The clatter bridge has been repaired and we now have a playground clock. Many thanks to the PTFA for their continued support.


Children have brought home a newsletter today – you can get a copy from our website. CLICK HERE.

Headteacher weekly blog Friday 27th September 2019


We’ve won our first trophy of the season on Thursday. Our football team won the Amber Valley competition at Eyes Meadow in Duffield. Mr. Hallam took three teams with him to the tournament, as so many children want to play football this season, and as well as coming first, we also came second and third. Let’s hope that this is a sign that we’ll have a successful season ahead of us.


On Thursday our year 2 children went for a ‘Street Detective’ walk around Belper and spent time finding evidence about what Belper was like in the past. Today they then had local historian Adrian Farmer come and speak to them about historical Belper. When listening to Adrian it become very apparent how lucky we are to live in such a rich historical part of the country.


On Monday evening Mrs. Allen met with lots of year 4 parents to share information about the new times tables tests that all year 4 children across the country will be taking in the summer. CLICK HERE to look at the information she shared and CLICK HERE to go to our maths page that has extra information from Mrs. Allen about helping your children.


Finally some policies have been recently reviewed by staff and last night at the governors meeting they were agreed to. CLICK HERE for all of our policies and CLICK HERE to have a peak at some of the little changes we’ve made to our behaviour and attendance policies.

Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 20th September 2019


On Thursday over twenty of our children went to Ada Bellfield residential home. They took with them work about our school and were joined by local historian Adrian Farmer. We were there to recognise world Alzheimer day. The children talked to the residents about life at school and listened to the residents tell us stories about when they went to school.


On Tuesday the mayor of Belper came to officially open our new scooter park. We have had over 60 scooters stored on most days this week.  It was great to welcome him to our school and recognise the work our PTFA have done to help reduce congestion.


Our reception children were busy building scarecrows that are now on display at St. Peter’s church for their scarecrow festival this weekend. You are welcome to go to St. Peter’s at any time and walk around to see all of the scarecrows made by local schools and community groups.


On Monday afternoon Mrs. Smith welcomed 30 reception parents to school for a reading workshop designed helping parents and school work together to help children learn to read. Many thanks to all the parents that came to the event. I hope that it was worthwhile.




Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 13th September 2019


I am pleased to share that Mrs. Gallen, our nursery teacher, is expecting a baby in 2020. I am sure that you join me in wishing her and her family well as they begin this exciting new chapter in their lives. Mrs. Grigoriu our nursery teaching assistant and Mrs. Smith our EYFS lead are looking forward to welcoming our new, temporary, nursery teacher to St. John’s in January.


Several parents have already rung us asking about applying for school places in September 2020. Applications open on Monday 11th November 2019 for children that want to start in reception in September 2020. To help parents choose their primary school for their children we are running a series of open afternoons where parents and children are invited to come and meet us and spend time with me and the reception staff. More information is on our website CLICK HERE. We look forward to seeing you.


Our first PTFA meeting of the year was held on Wednesday. I am really pleased that we have such generous parents at St. John’s who are happy to give their time to help support the school and community through raising money and providing activities such as disco’s and summer fayres. Lots of dates were added to the diary for the coming months – CLICK HERE for information. The first event is a disco night on Thursday 3rd October. I am also pleased to share that the PTFA have agreed to fund the repair of the rope bridge on the school playground. We look forward to getting this repaired in October.


The scooter park, which was funded by the PTFA, has been a success in the first week. It has been regularly used by about 30 scooters every day. We look forward to Tuesday 17th September when the Mayor of Belper is coming to officially open it. I hope that it continues to be a success and helps us take a few cars off the road and promote a healthier, sustainable way of travelling to and from school.


On Sunday we celebrated our links with St. Peter’s church. The Sunday service, led by Rev. Anne focused on the way that the St. Peter’s, the diocese of Derby and St. John’s work together to help our children and community. St. John’s school was originally opened and set up by the parishioners of St. John’s chapel on St. John’s road at the top of the High Street in Belper. Children from Belper were taught here for over a hundred years, we still have the log books at school! As Belper grew the church, congregation and parishioners out grew the chapel and moved to St. Peter’s and we out grew our building and moved to Laund Nook in 1972. The building that children used to be taught in is now a block of apartments that most of us will drive past every day. This video helps explain what the C of E (VC) means in our school name and why we should be very proud of our heritage and history in Belper. CLICK HERE.  


We had or first fire practice of the year today. It takes us less than two minutes to evacuate the school and get all our children and adults lined up on the playground silently. All of the children were again very sensible when we have our evacuation practice. Have you and your family every talked about an evacuation practice and what to do at home if you have a fire. The Derbyshire fire service web site has lots of information about how you could help your family prepare for such an event. CLICK HERE.



Headteacher weekly blog – Friday 6th September 2019.


The first week back has flown by. We have had a really exciting week with teachers and support staff getting to know the new children that they will be working with for the year.


We’ve introduced a new morning routine that is helping us ensure that children are in classrooms ready to learn at the start of the day. Thank you to the year one parents for dropping off at the side door. This is saving a lot of time as children no longer have to walk onto and then back from the playground. Thank you to the year two parents for dropping off at the classroom doors and not going into classrooms. Next week can year two parents please begin to drop their children off at the school gate with the senior teacher so that they can walk down the side of the school on their own? Thankyou.


We’re going to open up our scooter park on Monday to offer a new way that parents can ‘commute’  to school in the morning. I hope that the scooter park is a success. Watch this space as we learn how to use it and how popular it is and then assess whether or not we have to change anything.


Thank you for your support as we introduce these new procedures and work through any small teething problems that we may have to ensure that they are successful and helpful.


Over the summer holiday we have had the school playground ‘refreshed’ with new playground markings and games painted onto the tarmac. These have all proved popular this week. You can see pictures of a couple of the new markings below. We have more markings and activities to be hopefully be painted next month including a daily mile circuit which we are looking forward to using.


We also had a couple of classrooms re-decorated in August so Mrs. Allen’s and Mrs. Newton’s children have come back to very posh looking rooms. Many thanks to Mr. Collinge for doing this as well as getting the scooter park ready.

On Monday when the children were enjoying the last day of the summer holiday all of the teachers were in school getting ready for the new school year. Every September we have annual safeguarding training to help us ensure that children are safe at school. Mrs. Carvell is our safeguarding lead for any questions you may have in relation to child protection.


Please note that next week we have our first PTFA meeting of the year on Wednesday 11th Sept at 6pm at school. New parents are welcome to attend to come and meet the team and make new friends.


Finally, I hope that your children have enjoyed their first week back at school. I look forward to helping any morning at the school gate with any comments or questions should there be any as we move into the rest of the school year.