Headteachers Blog | Chellaston Infant School

Headteachers Blog

Snow update

Dear Parents,

Thank you for your patience and understanding regarding today’s school closure. It is never a decision taken lightly to close school. I’m also sure that you’ll appreciate that it takes a while to collate the key information that informs the decision making process.

Those things considered being:

  • Is there a fundamental reason to close school? e.g. do we have sufficient heating/running water in school?
  • Do we have food provision? e.g. can we provide meals for more than 300 children over lunchtime? The closure of CJS is fundamental in this.
  • Do we have enough staff to keep the children safe over lunchtime while other members of staff have breaks?
  • Do we have adequate staffing for children to be safe in school? This being the most complex, not only do we need a member of staff in every classroom, we need 2 in FS2 plus our SEND pupils need their one to one support in order for everyone to be safe.
  • Do the staff we have available have the necessary skills we need? – whilst we have an amazing team and everyone is very capable, some children / classes have very particular needs and are more impacted by unfamiliar adults being with them.
  • Are we compromising staff, children and parents safety in encouraging them to travel to school? Nobody would want the responsibility of an accident on their conscience.
  • Can our school site be made safe for staff, children and parents to move around? Being a ‘split site’ is a particular factor for our school. Children and staff frequently move between the portacabins and the main school.

We have a significant number of staff who live locally but only 3 teachers, not enough to run a school for 360 children.

I can understand the frustration around not knowing what may happen tomorrow but to lose two days of learning time is a significant decision; it’s 1% of the year. The forecast may improve or the travel conditions may ease with more gritters out and traffic using the roads.

It is likely that, if the weather continues as it is, we will make a decision this evening to close in order to enable parents to make contingency plans for tomorrow. If, by chance, we open in the morning, any child unable to attend as childcare has been pre-arranged will have their absence authorised.

Many thanks for your understanding,

Mrs Galley

PS. The chicks are fine, Miss Clark and Mr Archer are looking after them… we have 5 so far, I think!

Academisation Consultation Document

As you are aware we have been exploring the benefits of converting to a Multi Academy Trust alongside ; Chellaston Juniors, Homefields Primary School and Chellaston Academy.

Please find here the consultation document for your information. Please note the time line and the procedure for giving feedback.

Thank you


For parents;

Dear Parents,

You may have seen a report in the Derby Telegraph regarding a safeguarding incident that took place in Swarkestone, where some children from Chellaston Academy were approached by someone posing as a police officer.

We want to reassure you that we will revisit ‘stranger danger’ with all children in assembly, and continue to uphold our safeguarding procedures.

Many Thanks,

Keeping our children safe

Please visit our new webpage covering all aspects of Child Protection and Safeguarding; there are lots of links to topics of interest for parents about keeping your child safe from the NSPCC.


140th Anniversary – Memories of our school

As you will know, as our longest serving member of staff, Mrs Falevina kicked off our year of anniversary items on the July newsletter and over the next year you’ll hear from some other familiar faces along with some ‘voices from the past’ as we delve into our schools first 35 years worth of Headteacher log books. Having received the log book from the records office our first discovery was our actual anniversary date which is confirmed as April 2nd 1878.

You can read Memories (1) here:

Distinction from AfPE!

We’re pleased to announce that we have, after 3 years, retained our Association of PE (AfPE) P.E. award at distinction level. Our assessors feedback noted how hard it was for schools to retain distinctions with everyone improving overall. Well done to our Healthy Living Team in school who keep us moving … Mrs P for her daily aerobics sessions … our Gym Team … our Dance Team … our teachers for their fantastic PE teaching and our children for their enthusiasm for PE and healthy living!

Look what one of our “Little Princesses” has done…

You can do amazing things whether you’re big or small.

Over the weekend one of our Year 1 pupils has donated 12 inches of her hair to the Little Princess Trust, who turn the donated hair into wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy.  Lots of generous people sponsored her and she’s raised over £800. Her family and school are so proud of her!

When she first heard about the trust, she immediately wanted to help – her parents say “we’re so proud of her for making that decision all by herself”.  Here’s a photo of before, during and after her cut ;


Annual General Meeting of the PTFA

Last week saw the AGM of our PTFA which was well attended. Thank you all who were there.

During the meeting our 2016/17 Committee of Mrs Tricia Clifton (Chair), Mrs Jane Leyland (Vice Chair/Secretary) and Mrs Claire Palmer (Treasurer) stepped down. Firstly, on behalf of myself, the children and their parents, and our school staff we thank the ladies for their tireless commitment to our school, all have been members in various capacities throughout their time with us and been part of a hugely successful fund-raising drive, seeing both large scale and smaller scale projects to fruition.

We were thrilled to appoint a new 4 person committee of:

Kieran Howell – Chairman
Jenny Burton – Treasurer
Chloe Adams – Secretary
Rhiann Andrews /  Catherine Cheung – Vice Chairpersons

to carry on the fantastic work and in doing so ensuring that our/your children still have access to PTFA activities such as school discos, fairs and other special events.

The children have asked that you, along with the new committee, established and new PTFA members help raise money now for a bouldering wall and a stage in the main playground.

Mrs Clifton’s Chairperson’s annual report to parents can be read below.

Chair’s Report to Parents

Important update for parents and staff

I can confirm that Unison have suspended their strike action whilst members are balloted for their acceptance of a latest offer from Derby City Council. At the time of writing (16.45pm) Headteachers have just received official notification from DCC that this is the case.

Therefore, I am pleased to inform you that we will be returning to ‘open as normal’ from Monday 20th March.

The Orchard, The Zone and Jumping Clay have been informed that home time will return to 3.30pm and their clubs will run as normal. I wish to extend my sincere gratitude towards our community partners and their staff – The Orchard After School Club, The Zone After School Club, Jumping Clay, Art Box and Soccerstars – who have supported us and your children during this difficult period, free of charge. 

If you have made arrangements to collect your child at 3pm and are unable to change these you may still do so; if not home time will be 3.30pm. Year 2 Goodwork assembly will be at 3pm on Monday 20th March.

May I also take the opportunity to emphasise that strike action is only suspended and that we very much hope that the offer from DCC, of which I have seen no detail at this point, is acceptable to members who will vote in their ballot over the next two weeks.

I think it is also crucial to take the time to thank the staff and volunteers who have helped our school remain ‘mostly open’ over the last 11 weeks. It has been incredibly challenging but their dedication to our school, our team and our children’s education has been outstanding. 

Finally, we look forward to welcoming back our colleagues who for different reasons have had an equally challenging 11 weeks. We can’t wait to be a team again and get back to the business of running our school.

Mrs Galley

CIS: Our strength is our team…..

A letter to Unison [edited]

Dear Carol (UNISON East Midlands),

Please thank Andy (Belfield, Regional Head of Local Government, UNISON East Midlands) for his letter…. it is important to hear both sides of the dispute.
Please also be assured that the motivation for my writing is purely based on an urgency to end the dispute and that as a Headteacher my loyalties remain firmly with my school, the children, my staff. Throughout the dispute I have remained neutral. Yes, I am the Head of an LA school and as a result followed the directive to conduct the pay and reward review, but I am also proud of how this was done in my school and that I have continued to maintain an open and honest dialogue with support staff effected by this.
I suppose what I’m trying to understand is how Unison and DCC can ever expect to make an agreement with a “one size fits all” approach to negotiations. With the up most respect to them, my TA2s will not vote to accept an offer from DCC if it doesn’t serve “their” cause…
What do they want? They want a localised solution where their currently temporary mitigated hours can be made permanent.
Can we do this? Probably, maybe, likely… but we need time. Our school budgets are released this week, my SBM is working in school at this very moment in time trying to populate the spreadsheet. It’s not a quick job and it needs to be right.
But the money should be there? (“It wasn’t a cost saving exercise”) No, it wasn’t, but we also experienced £30K of increased costs following the process…
So, in the meantime we just manage… but are we? On the face of it maybe, the children’s parents have a 3pm early finish on a strike day… they’re getting used to that, and the annoyance around that decision has pretty much subsided.
It’s the staff that remain in school that are struggling, and I’d bet most will be spending this holiday trying to recover from the sheer exhaustion and additional burden that’s been placed on them through the strike action. Unison and DCC don’t see this either, there’s no way of collecting data and measuring the impact I see… the change in children’s behaviour and how unsettled they are as their TAs are in school one day and not the next, the morning but not the afternoon. These are 4-7 year olds! The small group work with our most vulnerable learners that isn’t happening. The constant calls to the school office asking whether home time is 3pm or 3.30pm, what time is assembly again? Governors taking time off work to help out, because we’ve got to keep going, as you’ve said yourself this is a long dispute, and WE can’t afford to let it effect the children. SLT members unable to focus on improving outcomes for the children of Derby, and Derby really needs this to be a focus.
It’s easy to aspire to school closures and and that this will force a resolution, but what does that actually mean for the children of Derby? 3 out of 5 days not at school last week, was that the aim? If we’d closed on strike days, as Unison want, my children would have lost 10 out of the last 20 days at school, that’s HALF!
I do object to the tone of some of the Unison member communications, I’d also like to know the timescales on when the tactic below will be evaluated as successful (or not).
“The most important thing you can do is increase the disruption to make this bigger than before. The only way to do that is to close or partially close as many schools as possible. There is one simple task we can all do to make this situation resolve quicker. The greater the disruption, the greater the pressure will be felt to resolve.” (UNISON)  
What am I worried about?
I’m worried about my TAs… I worry that their working relationships are being impacted through their own, and others’ strength of feeling.
I’m worried that teachers can’t focus on teaching as well as they can, how they know is right. I’m worried that they can’t plan properly from one week to the next not knowing if they will or will not have a TA. Nobody needs to tell any of us in school how important TAs are in schools, what they’re “worth”, what impact they have. We’re not responsible for, or in control of this dispute.
I’m worried that we can’t focus on what’s important for our school while everyone is so distracted by the dispute, in turmoil with their own feelings, and exhausted.
But mostly, I’m worried for our children. Please find a different way.
Thank you for reading.