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13.6.17 - How the schools facilities continue to improve……………

Every year, we save money from the school’s budget and spend it on children. Some of the money is spent on extra teachers, equipment, training and projects. We do try each year to make improvements to our facilities.

This year has been another good year for the improvement of how the inside and outside facilities look around school.


The playground has many new markings which the children enjoy as they are activities and this was possible after quite a lot of the tarmac was replaced and patched up. It’s a colourful sight.

Both flat roofs have been refurbished and we await the installation of a new Foundation Stage canopy which will make outdoor provision even more accessible. On the EYFS playground, there are lots of small changes and the children in particular enjoy the recently constructed, ‘Builder’s Yard!’

The outdoor reading area is a development we are particularly proud of! We have accessed a grant from the Beeston Consolidated charity and led by Mitchell, developed a lovely environment in which children of all ages and at all times of the day can enjoy books! It is particularly rewarding to see older pupils sitting down on a cushion and sharing a book with a younger pupil.

The outdoor area on the field is a constant source of inspiration, linking projects in the classroom with a creative approach to the use of the school environment. Not only do trolls trip, trip trap across the bridge in Year 1, a life-size ‘room on the broom’ broomstick has been built by Year 2 and a wattle and daub round house has been built by Year 3. Last term, Year 5 made an irrigation system as part of their African topic. What a wonderful set of cross-curricular resources.

Inside school, we continue to keep an eye on how the facilities look and improve small areas. The Beehive has some new furniture, 4 classrooms have new projectors and the Head Teacher’s office and both Year 2 classrooms are due to be repainted in the summer.

We consult staff, the parents who lead Friends of John Clifford and the School Council about how we can use any spare money and constantly look for extra funding to improve facilities.

We are very proud of our school site and try our best to improve it!


Succession = continuity, stability and development


I have always believed in succession. Succession planning has a lot of different terms such as the ‘Greenhouse effect’, and ‘Replacement planning’, ‘Bench strength’ and ‘Talent Development’.

Essentially, it is the process of growing your own, hence the greenhouse analogy.

At John Clifford we have little leaders and big leaders. Within school, we have a bit of plan which goes like this:

Children by the age or stage of Year 2 are ‘Little leaders’ and from joining us in Foundation Stage are nurtured for responsibility. We have little leaders who are involved in Maths, Reading, Writing, the Environment and ICT. Every class has an elected boy and girl school councillor too.

This is all good preparation for the end of Key Stage when we promote children to the lofty roles of librarian, Faith Councillors, door monitors, play leaders, hive captains, referees etc and the ultimate position, Chair or Vice Chair of the School Council.

The children thrive on responsibility and are given a lot of respect by their peers as they nurture their friends to do their best.

Similarly, our teachers start as trainees on the SCITT or PGCE programme. We hope we can grow them to be class teachers/ newly qualified teachers. We use recently qualified teachers to mentor them as they remember their trainee years well and know exactly what the challenges are.

As we head through our careers, we develop leaders from the teaching staff by offering them subject leadership roles or teaching and learning responsibilities. We have a member of staff who was a trainee, a teacher, a subject leader and is now assistant head.

And so it continues….. Deputy Head. Head Teacher.

John Clifford has executed a succession plan. Our Deputy Head becomes the Head teacher. And what does that offer us all?

Succession = continuity, stability and development

January's blog


We asked the children to choose 1 thing they would take with them if they left from all the

systems we have in school, to promote outstanding personal development from:


1. Mantra: ‘Be your best, celebrate success’ as ‘Together we will be successful’


2. Our promises: We promise to:


Be polite

Be friendly – make everyone welcome

Be kind and caring

Be Helpful

Make everyday count



3. John Clifford Promises Assembly – receiving certificates, photos, being part of the display, the compliment circle, sending a text message to parents and inviting them to assembly.


4. Nurture – Playing in the Beehive, going to ICT at lunch, taking part in the respect agenda in football at breaks, attending Play club (s), Allocating Jobs for Yr 5-6, door monitors, librarians, play leaders, line leaders, judging tidiness, allocating referees to games.


5. Rewards – bees tokens, HT stickers, respect tokens, birthday cards, sitting on the bench next to teachers in assembly



6. Good to be Green – celebrating being green in assembly, receiving stickers, certificate, pencils.


7. Parents – having home school agreement, meeting parents at lining up/out, attending reading mornings/afternoons.


8. The Hives – receiving points, chant, electing hive captains, receiving the treat.


9. Attendance – 100% termly prize, class certificate and year reward.



What do you think were the top five answers? Answers in the next blog!

Transition – the benefits of preparation for a new school year!   


At the end of the summer term, we tried to keep classes constant so that they could start the new school year with a sense of security, stability and familiarity. Our hope that our transition procedures would help all pupils feel confident about their new class teaching arrangements and friendship groups.


An added ingredient in July was 3 planned transition days based on the theme of the Olympics. Each class moved up to their new teacher and spent 3 days working together on an exciting project, lining up in their new classes, observing lunch and play routines and moving all their belongings at the same time.


At the end of the three days, we celebrated with an Olympic style assembly and there was a sense of excitement, familiarity and confidence in the arrangements. It was probably hardest for Year 6 who spent a day and a half at Chilwell and then had to reintegrate into John Clifford and re-join activities.


Mrs Waring and I designed a questionnaire and checked out the views of staff and parents. The school council also asked each class for their feedback. There was a consistent message back – the stability of the classes and the 3 transition days were extremely popular.


The full feedback will be summarised in an end of term newsletter but it is safe to say that we will try to build on the 3 day event again this year and ensure Year 6 feel confident in their transition to secondary school.


Mr T


Autumn 2016

Leaders of the Future 21/3/16


All of the candidates who we interviewed for Assistant Head in 2010 are now Head Teachers in schools in Broxtowe, Nottingham, Mansfield and Long Eaton.


Our very own Steve Tague, one of the candidates above, recently gained a headship at Jubilee Academy in Bilborough, after a two term secondment to Roe Farm Primary School in Derby.


We are delighted for him and very pleased that we have succession plans in place for all teachers, office staff or teaching assistants who demonstrate the capacity to be a leader.


The first ingredient I look for in a teacher is the quality of their relationships with the school community and how this manifests itself in high expectations, teamwork and a hard work ethic. Then I identify the skills they have and what areas we need to work on in order for them to be an effective school leader.


The most important quality is humility. What can a potential leader do to make other people better?

It’s not about charisma, or dynamism or confidence. Those interpersonal skills all help but the most important qualities are a teacher’s self-awareness, emotional intelligence and dignity. I like to think that we can coach the skills of assessment, teaching and learning, behaviour management, subject coordination but we have to start with personal leadership skills.


All of this coaching is provided in bespoke packages to individual school leaders and it has been a major priority of the school improvement plan, led by our governors and myself .


Leaders have to be resilient, they have to have the emotional health and well-being of all pupils and the school community at heart and be able to face challenges and barriers with an unerring ability to be positive, act on feedback and mirror the aims and values and ethos of the school.


I am lucky that our Assistant Heads and Deputy Head all have those qualities. They are an exceptional team with experience and talent in all areas of school. I am lucky that their successors lie waiting in the wings, ready to step up. School is in very safe hands with the school leadership team which includes a passionate and hard-working governing body.


We have leaders of the future!


Mr T

A sign of the times     18/1/16


I hope you have noticed all the new signs that we have had commissioned by ‘Sign it’ around the exterior of the building, the site and in school corridors.


Children, staff, parents and visitors have already commented on their effectiveness as they give the place a lift and deepen our identity as a school. The beehive, the bee, the hexagon are all signs of teamwork.


Identity and a sense of belonging are key ingredients to children feeling that they are valued at school. The bee certainly has helped us all connect with each other as the school’s ethos and values embed over a period of time.


Mr Oakland has done an excellent job consulting the whole school community, including parents at Open Evening, on which signs are necessary, how they look and where they are located.


On some signs we have been able to include translations of ‘Welcome to John Clifford’ in our most significant languages. This will continue to be a feature of the school as we hope to use more second language signs around the building.


The facelift will continue! Although Year 6 did a good job starting off the painting programme in the shed areas, we will complete them by employing a professional painter and decorator. This will then allow us to construct some school-themed murals.


A Victorian school building is a difficult environment to improve so we try our best to be as bright and welcoming as possible wherever we can. The school calendar display in the Junior Hall is a good example of how we can do this and then print a permanent reminder of childrens’ work.


The signs will also be on our website and I hope you approve of the work we have done.

Parental engagement – working together in partnership 16/11/15


I always enjoy a tour of the building on parents' reading mornings, as I usually have to side step ‘clumps’ of bodies sprawled on the floor. To be fair, they are all just enjoying a good book. Recently, I haven’t been able to get into Foundation Stage as there are so many parents and children reading books together. It’s a great sight!


The view is always that bit more rewarding when children, whose parents are unable to attend because they are working, sit with another adult and enjoy the experience of sharing their book.


It may seem like a small contribution to make and for many parents who have the time to pop in each week to parents’ reading morning it is not always possible to measure the impact. But it means a lot both to your child, other children and staff in particular.


Whilst we have reading buddies – older children listening to and reading to other children – the parents reading morning is a super celebration of parental and school partnership.


Reading is one way in which you give us great support but there are so many other ways that demonstrate the quality of partnership:


  • Making sure that children attend school every day on time. Your children really do value attendance and punctuality rewards.
  • Supporting homework whenever it is appropriate.
  • Chatting with staff on the playground about work going on in the classroom and pupil progress.
  • Giving feedback to school via questionnaires, meetings or consultations so that we can continue to improve.
  • Following our sporting activities and cheering us on.
  • Supporting the musical activities we promote within the community.
  • Ensuring that children are well kitted out and have warm coats in winter.
  • Joining us on local trips, visits and events and ensuring we have appropriate adult-child ratios.
  • Attending curriculum meetings to explore recent developments in reading or phonics.
  • Joining us at parents evening for a review of progress and targets about pupil achievement.
  • Supporting our parents’ association, the ‘Friends of John Clifford’ at their events.


They may seem like day-to-day activities but they are very much appreciated by all staff. The support you give us and the partnership this demonstrates makes it much easier for children to make social, emotional and academic progress.


And soon it will be Christmas, with parties, plays and concerts!




Dear JC Community,


                                      It’s a great privilege to lead the school into another year, my ninth as head teacher. There is always a sense of anticipation in early September and none more so than with the leadership team of the school which has been re-shaped this year. I welcome Janine Waring as my deputy head teacher and they join assistant heads, Jenny French, Carol Bamford and our new assistant, Hannah Straw.


We are constantly looking at ways to improve school and give children the best possible start in life. See the questionnaire on the website which shows how parents think we are performing. This task is always made much easier when we receive your support.


We are excited about working with all our new families and it has been most encouraging to see 60 new children settle into Foundation Stage. They will soon be joined by 21 nursery age children. In addition, we have admitted 13 children into Year 1-6 from other schools and countries.


Running alongside the teaching staff, and we welcome 6 new teachers and 1 new teaching assistant, we are currently holding a governor election for parents. We are very pleased to say that 6 have come forward for the election in mid-September.


On Monday 14th September, our newly elected PTA, ‘Friends of John Clifford’ meet to plan the year ahead and welcome any ideas on how they can engage parents to support the school. This meeting is in the Community Room at 6pm.


Our governors begin their work on the 17th September with a review of last year’s school improvement plan. They are flourishing – 19 governors representing parents, staff, the local authority and community – and meet every other Thursday at 6pm.


So we are ready! Welcome……………………

The end of a good year


Last week, the school year ended with the departure of Year 6, some individual children moving school or country and Mrs Wass, Miss Kennett and Mrs Abdy left the building for the last time. It was an emotional time for many staff, parents and children but they all managed to enjoy a variety of events including graduation, the leavers’ assembly and the staff party.


We celebrated lots of good moments on the website at the end of a very busy year:

  • Improved results in  Foundation Stage, in Year 1 Phonics, KS1 progress,  and attainment in all subjects in Year 6 (see results and information)


  • There is a very positive summary of results in the annual parents’ questionnaire (see page 2 of newsletter 11 in news and events)


  • A World Culture Day which was supported by 15 cultural groups led by 35 different local adults from a variety of faiths and cultures (see latest news)


During this period, the attitude and demeanour of Year 6 stood out. They were busy right up to the last day and enjoyed many fine moments in the final fortnight:


  • Visits to a variety of local secondary schools for transition and induction


  • A super end of year production of the ‘Wizard of Oz’


  • Support and help as marshalls for the Tesco’s Fun Run


  • An excellent visit to Skegness to celebrate their enterprising fund raising during the year which paid for the day at the Pleasure beach


  • An evening camping on the school field


  • A dignified graduation ceremony and leavers’ assembly


On the final day, they wore their leaving ‘hoody’, signed shirts and photographs and sang the ‘leavers’ song’ for the final time.


They will be missed!


Have a happy holiday all you JCers out there!






Head teacher's blog, May 2015



School Council are out and about!


If you are approached by a member of the School Council before or after school, with a clipboard and a questionnaire, they are trying to find what you think about the performance of the school this year.


They are doing this vital job on behalf of governors who have trimmed the number of questions from 33 to 20. We have made sure that the questions we ask are in line with ‘parent view’ (Ofsted) and also adapted to meet our context and approach to feedback.


For example, after the 20 questions which know are only divided into 3 options –Yes/No/Don’t Know- there are three opportunities for you to comment:


* The best thing about John Clifford is………………………….


* If I could change one thing about John Clifford, it would be………………….


* Any further comment


We really do value your feedback and always try to respond to any criticism which helps us to improve. We also believe that this is an important job for our school councillors to conduct even if the final analysis is completed by governors.


Other ways in which you can express a point of view is:

* Speaking to a parent governor (see photos in reception)

* Becoming a governor – 2 vacancies will arise from September

* Joining Friends of John Clifford

* Speaking to me or a staff member on the playground

* Emailing me


Thanks for taking the time to complete the questionnaire. There will be a full analysis and evaluation of the answers by the end of the year.


Best Wishes


Mr. T

Extra time, opportunities and activities


Teachers have always been very generous with the time they give to making sure children experience extra opportunities and activities.


It is one thing to do this during the school day. Good examples would be the tag rugby festival or a cruise on a narrow boat, trips to a variety of locations like Green’s Windmill, the National Science Centre or even visitors in school like the Vikings, ‘Tales from the Heartwood’ or ‘The Young’Uns.’


However, it is completely different when staff give time after school, the evening, overnight or at the weekend. This extra time has been historically known as extra-curricular activity and is often remembered by pupils for the rest of their lives.


I have been a teacher since 1983 and meet my first class in a variety of contexts. My first class, ten year olds in Ruddington, are now in their forties! Some are actors, hairdressers, teachers – who have applied for a job to work with me! – and nearly all are parents.


When I bump into them in Sainsbury’s or in town, they always ask me if  I remember camping in Lathkilldale, or the residential in Castleton or the trip to Rufford Park and ‘The secret world of Polly Flint’. Some are amateur musicians and remember the songs the choir sang. Others are engaged in sport and remember cricket matches.

The extra time primary teachers give at John Clifford will be remembered for a lifetime.


  • Young Voices in Birmingham
  • The zip wire in Kingswood
  • ‘Mad Science’ club
  • The walk to Padley Gorge at Hathersage
  • The Year 2 choir performing at ‘Hope’
  • The dance festival
  • The 3-3 draw with Bramcote!


There are so many different memories but one unifying theme: the extra time our staff give to make sure that a difference is made to a young life, an opportunity created and taken.


Thank you staff!



Music is good for the soul!


HAPPY NEW YEAR! I have been waiting until January 16th to write this blog which I update each half-term. I hope everybody had a good Christmas holiday and feel refreshed in the New Year.


I am a great believer in the power of music, particularly singing, to give people a good feeling. The feel good factor is evident all around us – on the radio, internet, on CD’s, television and more importantly live at church, in community groups, organisations and particularly at school.


And our school? John Clifford CAN sing!!


Singing is one of our greatest strengths and one of our whole school priorities. We have invested in an excellent music teacher, Mrs. Howes, who works with all classes in KS2. In KS1, Ms Bamford leads a super lower school choir and we sing in classrooms and assembly. Singing is a natural activity for our Foundation Stage pupils and they learn rhymes and counting through song.


We are lucky to have four singing groups using John Clifford’s facilities. Beeston voices, Hope Gospel Choir, ‘Oldish Spice’ and Rock Choir. Beeston Voices is targeted at the local community and is led by Mrs. Howes and frequented by parents and teachers alike.


And there were 38 children who formed our ‘Young Voices’ choir, led by Mr. Mitchell in last Friday’s celebration at the National Exhibition Centre. 12,000 people all gathered to listen to 6,000 children singing. It was a joyous event and underlined just how good for the soul singing is.


Thank you to Mr Mitchell, Mrs Howes, Mrs Barrs and Mrs Bailey for giving our pupils a once in a lifetime experience. The coach arrived home just before 11pm on Friday with many exhausted but proud children. It was an emotional experience for parents who made the journey to Birmingham.

Music is good for the soul!


When you learn a song, you engage with lyrics and melodies and harmonies and have no time to think of anything else. You forget your worries and concentrate on the song. Music is good for the soul!


Mr T


WW1 Exhibition: Thursday 4th December


We were taken aback by the reaction to our KS2 WW1 exhibition on Thursday 4th December at 2.30pm, at which over 120 parents joined their children for a guided tour of the exhibition.When Mr. Oakland originally thought of the exhibition, I am sure he didn’t imagine just how good the work would be!


‘We will remember them’ has been a particularly strong connection for our children who have engaged on a deep level with stories, facts and figures from a century ago. Poetry, diary entries, and descriptions of life in the trenches have been beautifully crafted and presented.


There was a sense of pride and belonging; a connection with identity and family in the themes that resonated so strongly for our pupils. The children have enjoyed developing these qualities through the work on display.

Mr. Smith brought in his artefacts, the Saunders family had medals on show, Mrs. Pacey enhanced the quality of the art work in a vibrant display and the music of WW1 played in the background. Trench cake was served in the community room to enthusiastic and supportive parents, grandparents by Mrs Haywood and year 6 pupils. They also sold calendars.


The children really enjoyed putting the exhibition together and we thank all the KS2 teaching staff who worked so hard to present the works so attractively.

Picture 1
Picture 2

Working with parents: partnership!


We really appreciate the support you give us at John Clifford and we continue to think about how your engagement can help us to improve outcomes for the children. Some of the highlights this term have been linked to the curriculum, to events and activities and to some small changes we have made to make school feel a bit more accessible and inclusive. These include:

  • The ‘Fireworks Event’ was an activity aimed at the whole family. By keeping ticket and refreshment prices as low as possible, and by using ‘Magic, Miracle Fireworks’, we ensure that there is an annual event of high quality for the local community. We also hope that parents will join our ‘Friends of John Clifford’ and help us with events like Fireworks, discos and Fayres. The money generated always is a great help to the school.


  • We have organised class assemblies each month which you are invited to. So far Ospreys, Koalas and Lemurs have prepared presentations on the USA, Remembrance and WW1. After a coffee, parents are then invited on a school tour which illustrates the provision we make for our children within our partly refurbished building.


  • Reading initiatives continue to flourish and many are dependent on your contribution. Parents Reading Mornings, visits to the library, ‘Tales from the Heartwood’ are all examples of how you can engage with reading at school and the communication in the school diary is at the heart of this relationship.


  • Structured meetings such as ‘Meet Your Teacher’ and Parents Open Evenings are key events and the attendance in October was very good. As expected, staff discussed how children have settled this year and we look forward to progress review meetings in March. We always welcome any sort of discussion and teachers are available first thing in the morning, or after school, when they lead children out.


  • Our mind maps and letters home give some structure to what we are attempting to teach and learn. We hope that by trying to involve you in our projects such as WW1 - with reference to books, photos or artefacts – that your interest and curiosity will rub off on the children. This can result in joint homework projects and some of the work sent in recently has been of a very good standard.


  • Our website is growing day by day. Recently articles have been added on e-safety, the curriculum, our use of last year’s pupil premium, information about governor responsibilities and lots of recent news, newsletters and photographs. We hope to offer you some e-safety education and help you access our ‘Junior Librarian’ service which helps us track which books are being read by individual children. For other news and children’s work, we are using noticeboards a bit more proactively.


  • Open days and exhibitions are increasing. For new parents in 2015, we have conducted a series of afternoon visits. For our current parents we enjoyed a huge carnival in the summer, and we now look forward to a KS2 WW1 exhibition in December and of course the Christmas activities for parents and grandparents, including performances for FS, Year 1 and Year 2.


We welcome ideas on how we can continue to improve in this area. Let me know!


Mr. T, November 2014.                            

Welcome to a new school year (finally!)

As we turn from September to October, from incredibly warm weather to rain and wind, I would finally like to welcome the whole school community to a new school year and the first HT blog which is a monthly contribution from myself.

Why the delay?

I can honestly say that I have not had any time to spare for what should be one of the more important jobs, namely communicating with John Clifford families and any visitor to our website.

Since my return from a lovely summer holiday on August 18th, I have used every spare moment to try to get the refurbishment of school completed. Even now as I write, there are many unfinished jobs which are preventing us from offering children the very best provision.

We are not ungrateful for the building work and certainly do not deny that our facilities have been dramatically improved! But they are not finished and we are 6 weeks into term! The mobile classroom has only just been taken off the playground by a crane (and now we have some damaged tarmac!).

So even if we are still battling against unfinished work, delays of equipment and furniture, incomplete installations, we should celebrate:

  • Four new rooms in KS1 – two classrooms, an intervention room and staff room.
  • A newly refurbished Foundation Unit with a partitioned area for foundation 1.
  • New ICT equipment.
  • 3 sets of new toilets.
  • Separate cloakrooms and art areas for ‘wet work’.
  • An extended outdoor area with new perimeter fence.

We hope to officially ‘open’ the newly refurbished building on Thursday October 23rd by inviting the Mayor of Broxtowe to do the honours!

My role in this has been to chase, badger and persuade the local authority and contractors to give greater priority and time to our school. The delays have also had an impact on how we use our building and which groups have needed relocating to different areas. We have also had to consider how we move resources and how to do this with teaching in full swing. Teaching commenced full-time across the whole school on September 22nd and we are moving in the right direction.

So now I have a bit more time to ‘communicate’. So here are the next proposed blog themes:

  • ‘Together we will be successful’ – an update on our school’s vision and ethos.
  • Our results in 2013 and targets for 2014.
  • The new school free meal for children 4-7.
  • Engaging parents in our work together.


Feel free to suggest a topic, or respond to any of the blogs, by emailing


Picture 1

This is the second blog on the new website and the topic is the school's work on our vision, ethos, aims and values.


We have embedded the John Clifford Promises over the last six years and our motto, 'Be your best, celebrate success' works well on a variety of levels. It can be applied each lesson, each day and each week. One thing leads to another. Success is there to be acknowledged and celebrated. More importantly if we try to be our best, success is more likely to follow.


Children receive a variety of rewards for 'Being their best' including bee tokens which are converted into hive points. Each week we also present a John Clifford Promises certificate to children in assembly ranging from, 'Being Polite' to 'Making Every Day Count.' A photograph is taken each Friday of the 12 successful children, one from each class.


Now we are in phase two of this work: 'Together, we will be successful.'


The picture above is a piece of work by teachers and governors who wanted to discuss what the school would look like if we were able to dream. It is a picture looking into the future and it is in the reception area of school.


It is a huge pathway of how we think we will be successful in the way we belong to John Clifford, learn, lead, provide and achieve.


Please pop into school and have a look in detail. The next step is to break this vision down into achievable steps with our children. Once the School Council have discussed the picture we will start working on the next steps.


Best Wishes


Simon Thompson


Please feel free to make a contribution or email me with an idea for my blog.

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