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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.