This has been another successful year. We held our annual Spelling Bee competition just before the Easter. This is the second year we have held this and it looks set to continue. We discussed the importance of reading for pleasure and reading to children and are currently compiling lists of the essential books that children should read or listen to. Schools are revising their long term English plans for all areas of the National Curriculum.
We have worked closely to share good practice and resources. Two of our schools, who are members of a Mathematics Hub Teacher Research Group working to develop mastery teaching, were fortunate enough to visit a school where a teacher from Shanghai modelled a mastery lesson. They fed this back to our group sharing resources and ideas.
This year our science leaders worked together to share their ideas and work collaboratively to raise the profile of science and to ensure opportunities for rich learning experiences across each school. Displays in schools have been created to promote science in everyday learning. Practical science learning has taken place each week along with additional science learning in themed weeks such as Health Week and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The children are becoming more and more excited about their science learning.
Across the year we have focused on assessment in history. We started with an audit, sharing ideas about summative and formative assessment in our respective schools. We discussed historical skills and how these can be assessed, sharing examples. Some of us trialled a ‘rubbish sack’ activity designed to tease out historical thinking. We are currently compiling a list of resources, trips, visits, speakers and local historians for use in the Portico Group. Next term we are planning to moderate samples of work.
Subject leads have been working successfully to identify outstanding geography work within all our schools. This has led to identifying strengths in feedback to continue to extend the children’s depth of understanding and geographical skills. We have shared characteristics of more able learners to support children within each of our schools. Next year we intend to continue to develop our learners by identifying and extending key vocabulary to support and advance the children’s learning.
These meetings have given us a great opportunity to share good practice by pooling resources and giving each other support. In particular we have looked at progression of skills, assessment of work and being Ofsted ready! We have drawn support from local art groups such as Metal, Southend Creative Network and Focal Point Gallery. The year ended with the very successful Portico Art and Design Festival – a travelling exhibition showcasing work across the year groups from each of our schools.
This year the PSHE group has been building on what we already do well in each school. Planning for themed weeks and key objectives has been shared across the schools to ensure the Health Education and Relationships Education aspects of PSHE are strongly embedded before the compulsory requirements come into effect in 2020. Schools have also signposted each other towards visitors including the NSPCC and online safety workshops.
The Portico music subject leaders have met together on three occasions during this academic year. We have shared ideas and discussed good practice. Our joint project for the year has been to take a lesson from the ‘BBC Ten Pieces’ resource and deliver it to a year group, recording the resulting classwork and compositions. Each school chose a different piece and it was interesting to see the different approaches taken.
On Thursday 11th July, 42 children from Year 2 and Year 3 across the Portico Academy Trust schools enjoyed a special day of activities at Hamstel Junior School. Upon their arrival, the children were made aware of some strange circumstances before discovering that an alien egg had fallen from the sky onto the school field. After decoding an important message from Gloop (the alien) the children set about a variety of activities to discover all about the mysterious alien and his home planet. Some children were challenged to build a protective casing to launch the egg back into Space while others worked as tour guides. Another activity involved locating hidden messages with UV light to build a detailed picture of Gloop and his planet. Overall, the day was a huge success and one which the children will certainly remember for years to come!
The subject leaders for Art and Design and Technology across Portico Academy have united this term to create a travelling exhibition – The Portico Art and Design Festival. This project has been created to showcase the incredible talent and artistic creativity of the children across all of the year groups within our academy schools and it has been enthusiastically welcomed by all of the children. Beginning at West Leigh Junior School, the exhibition impressed many children and parents before moving onto Porters Grange, followed by Friars and finally, Hamstel Infants and Juniors. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to see the hard work, effort and incredible creativity of the children.
On Thursday 4th July Friars and Porters Grange visited Hamstel Infants as the PE leaders had arranged an after school 3 Tee friendly tournament. The mixed teams played two games each; one against each of the other two schools. These friendly games were also used as a learning experience as some of the teams had had more practice than others. The children all had a great time. One of the pupils from Friars celebrated getting the ball through the gate twice in a row with a wriggle dance which amused and entertained everyone!
We were very proud of the response from the children at Hamstel’s Armistice Day Ceremony that was held on Friday 9th November. The children proudly wore their poppies in support of the British Legion as the schools from Portico Academy Trust joined together with Westcliff High School for Boys’ Combined Cadet Force.
Hamstel School was originally opened 27 days after WW1 was declared in 1914, which connects the schools very closely with this significant time in history. Every child at the Infant School made a poppy from recycled materials in preparation for the ceremony; over 500 flowers were planted into a field of poppies in the wildlife area by Mr Darke their Forest Ranger.
The children stood respectfully as Mrs Clark spoke about the school’s history in relation to the beginning of WW1, commenting on the bravery of those children and families that continued to attend school despite the challenges they faced at that time. Mrs Clark went on to read a moving poem by John Bailey recognising the brave soldiers who fought and defended the rights we appreciate today and those who paid the ultimate price.
Mrs Snashall, our lone bugler, played the ‘Last Post’ while the Cadets marched around the poppy field in honour. One of the Y2 children laid a wreath, made by the class, on the cenotaph at the top of the mount in the field of poppies. The children’s behaviour, from the youngest to the oldest, was exemplary as they marked this significant time in history.
After some intense battles and overcoming some of the toughest spellings known to children in their individual school finals, the day had finally come for the Portico Spelling Bee Grand Finals! This eagerly awaited event saw boys against girls, champions against champions, Hamstel, West Leigh, Porters and Friars all against each other but above all, it was a celebration of some great spelling across the Portico Academy.
After several sudden death playoffs, some intense concentration, some very tricky spellings set by Mr Queenborough and some extremely high quality jokes from our comperes, Hamstel Juniors had emerged victorious in the Years, 3, 4 and 5 finals. With only the opposing schools standing between a clean sweep for Hamstel, the year 6’s battled it out, West Leigh was finally crowned champion. A special mention must go to our audience that included all of the runners up from their respective schools. Every child did themselves and their schools proud, whether competing or cheering on their friends!
During the year the Portico schools were involved in a number of sporting events including the Dodgeball and Football festivals which the children greatly enjoyed.