Headteachers Blog

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.

Responses to parents regarding strike action…

At this challenging time for our school we have had some really thoughtful and positive feedback from parents around how our school is managing at this time; but understandably some parents are less pleased with how school has responded to the current situation. I thought it would be helpful to share my responses to some of their comments as they do contain information that is not “in the public domain” but may help those parents who are wanting clarity on why certain decisions have been made.

“Thank you for your comments Mrs ****** which are noted, I am truly sorry that you feel angry.

I do believe that a letter being issued by our Chair of Governors tomorrow will address most of your questions and, should it not, you may contact him for further clarity via an email through the school office.
I would like to note that the current situation is fast moving, unpredictable, and in terms of real-time for our school, less than 2 weeks old. I do stand by the decisions I have made and truly believe these are made for the right reasons and with the back-drop of being a full time working mum myself. I would never purposefully hijack working parents or, effectively, the reputation of a school which I have dedicated 18 years of my teaching career to. It saddens me greatly that parents are upset and disappointed with me personally, and my school.
In relation to other schools; all Derby City schools are affected by the pay review unless they are a foundation school – like the Juniors, or an academy – like the Senior school, as they set their own salaries, terms and conditions. The level at which the effect is ‘obvious’ to parents is based upon individual members of Unison and their decision to follow union directives to take industrial action, or not. For a substantial time our own TAs chose not to strike when instructed to do so by Unison (June 2016-January 2017) and Mr Ames’s letter will address the reasons behind this further.
Just to pick up your comments around health and safety, what parents might not be aware of is that our lunch break is 1 hour and 20 minutes long and without the necessary adjustments to lunchtime and 6 midday supervisors not attending for work, I would have 8 staff supervising 360 children in 3 separate locations (playground, corridor and dinner hall) 3 of those children need to be supervised 1:1, leaving 5 MDS with 357 children, an unacceptable ratio of more than 1:70. If a child had an accident and parents found this out I am sure that you, as every parent, would find this wholly unacceptable too. My decision to send children home without a crossing patrol or to stand and wait for older brothers or sisters is based with this as a background.
We have had a small number of parents begin to ask if they can help, help which we are grateful for also. We hope that some of these parents can begin to work with us over this week and next and understand how our lunchtimes work – I do not believe it would be sensible to parachute 6 very well-meaning, but inexperienced, volunteers into roles as MDS and to see this as an instantaneous solution; others might, I do not, and Derby City Council are aware of my decision. I would prefer that volunteers worked alongside experienced staff and that at such a point that I felt confident we could function safely we change back to our ordinary school day.
I do hope that once you have received Mr Ames’s letter that you feel we have addressed your questions as best we can; I would be interested in continuing to understand parent views during this difficult time.
 Kind regards,
Lindsay Galley”
“Thank you for your email Mrs *******. Since it became apparent that the strike action was going to be prolonged, we have had to make some difficult decisions in school and with the knowledge that inconvenience will be caused to some parents whatever we decide to do. Our priority will always be to remain open for as much of the school day as possible whilst causing the least amount of confusion and disruption to the children’s routines.  
Since last week I have been negotiating with all of our after school provision in order to ease disruption for working parents; the Orchard were able to accommodate the change immediately and, having waived their lettings fees, all of our other after school clubs are providing an extra 30 minutes without charge. Unfortunately CJS were not in the position last week to do this due to staff commitments and absence.  

I have spoken to Mr Emery this morning, having been unable to discuss this due to their Ofsted yesterday, and he has confirmed that the Zone will collect at our earlier finish time from Monday 30th January at no additional charge to parents. A text will be sent to parents to this effect. 

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you require any further clarification. 
Kind regards,
Lindsay Galley”

And guest of the Mayor this week were our school choir!

Well done to our Year 1 and Year 2 Choir for their fabulous singing for Mayor (and Chellaston’s own) Linda Winter. Your parents and school staff are so proud of you. Well done to Mrs Elliott and Mrs Johns who may not have any voices left by next week after being so busy with the children this Christmas!

Remember Year 2 Choir will be up at the Ashberry Show Home on Monday 19th at 11am, down Fellowlands Way and just past Lister House Surgery; see you there!

Click the article title to see photos of the event

What a busy week!

Well, I think your children have earned their weekend this weekend! What a lovely busy, Christmassy week we’ve had. We began with trips to see BJ and Rachel at St. Peter’s and sang our Christmas show songs for them, then onto Year 1 and Year 2 party days and then finally a wonderful performance today from Blunderbus (click the article title to see photos of the event)

Many thanks to BJ and Rachel for inviting us to the church and to the PTFA for funding our Christmas show this year, we had fabulous fun!

Charity fundraising efforts

What an amazing day! Firstly thank you very much for your generosity with donations of cakes for our cake sale; we’ll let you know how much we raised for Children In Need as soon as we’ve finished counting! Secondly your children looked fabulous, thank you for your efforts with helping them to dress up today; we know this can be tricky especially when you’re such busy people. Lastly, the choir did a wonderful job of singing the Children In Need song at the beginning of the day, they show the potential to be a super group and we’ll look forward to more performances as the year goes on.


We also received acknowledgment from the British Legion that we raised just over £140 for them in selling poppies and poppy-related products.


Parents Curriculum Meeting 11th October

Thank you very much to all who attended tonight it was great to see such a good turn out for an evening meeting and to see how many of you are so interested in helping your child to learn. As promised here is the powerpoint from the meeting along with resources.

Watch the reading DVDs here at you will need to register.

Meeting powerpoint









Back to School- 5 tips for Parents around Online Safety

Another really useful article around keeping our children safe online.

Safer Internet Centre UK

Keeping your Child save online this summer

Some interesting information for parents around e-safety, in particular Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go

Staying Safe Online This Summer

My Story by Amelie – aged 7

This is what the end of year 2 is all about! Being an amazing and confident writer who can generate an emotional response in a reader (yup, I cried!) Not about tick sheets of ‘writing skills’ ploughed into a dull, formulaic piece of writing. Feeling so proud of our Y2 children……… please take a read. Mrs G

Amelie’s story