Grayrigg CE School - Start Small Think Big

A beautiful view…

Sitting in my office this evening, I realised how lucky I am to work in such a beautiful place. Sometimes we take the world around us for granted, but this evening the view that I look onto daily made me stop and appreciate the natural beauty. I’m not sure whether it was the brilliant blue sky, the immense beauty of Whinfell Beacon, the lambs frolicking or that sun shining beautifully onto our lovely outdoor classroom or maybe all of the above, but it really did take my breath away.

In all fairness - the sunshine really does add to the view but it is equally as stunning covered with snow, and even in the rain (although on a rainy day the beacon often disappears behind the clouds and mist). The funny thing is at 6pm I wished the children were still there. We had all taken learning outside, taken advantage of the fact that today nobody felt cold. In fact it was one of those perfect sunny days that are warm but not too…

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Guest blog

Whilst I thoroughly enjoy writing my Headteacher’s blog, I thought it might be nice to mix it up with a few guest blogs, an opportunity for you to hear from other people who are involved in the day to day life here at our unique little school. At a recent curriculum evening, I was overwhelmed by the willingness of parents to share what they think is special about our little school. Receiving positive feedback from parents is always reassuring. After all, they trust us with their most precious gifts 5 days a week. When this blog landed on my desk, I was so moved I couldn’t resist sharing it as the first guest blog…. So enjoy….

Our son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was age 3. Although it wasn’t a shock to us we were still worried about what this would mean for the future. He was a summer baby so that meant he would also be very young going to primary school.

We chose a school with…

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We love to wobble at Grayrigg!

In fact, we aim to wobble in every lesson and more often if we can. Wobbling has become one of my favourite words. I’m not referring to wobbling round school like a bowl full of jelly. What I refer to is feeling the wobble when we are learning. Having a wobble when learning isn’t about failing, it’s about finding things tricky and feeling the wobble but being able to ride out the wobble and stand up straight again. If lessons are easy, there is no learning happening. Real learning comes from being challenged and requires endurance. The wobble we refer to is more like the way Weebles wobble…

If you remember the Weebles, you will remember their catch phrase - “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”

Well here at Grayrigg we approach our learning like Weebles. We might find it hard, we might wobble (quite a lot), but we never fall down. If the children are finding work easy, they are encouraged (I would even go as far as to say expected) to challenge…

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The right teacher…

In the Oaks we are currently exploring Shakespeare. Some people hear the name Shakespeare and groan, others become excited - I am one of those people who gets excited. Not because I am more literate than those who groan or because I am a teacher. No, it’s because I had the right teacher. The teacher to whom I refer is Miss Dunn, my dance teacher. I guess she was never limited by which Shakespearean adventure she could use as she never had to follow a GCSE curriculum, but she is most definitely the person who helped me to understand and love Shakespeare. When I was ten – I played the part of Puck in the ballet of Midsummer Night’s Dream and had to read the beautiful monologue from the end of the play. She took the time to help me understand (so I could act appropriately as I delivered my lines). So by the time I was introduced to Shakespeare at secondary school, I was maybe at a slight advantage to many of my peers.

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I’m a headteacher - but I’m not the school leader

I guess the title of this blog isn’t quite true - I am a school leader but I’m not the only school leader. All schools have a senior leadership team which is generally made up of the most senior staff. It is common knowledge that governors are school leaders but sometimes we forget to talk about the children as leaders. Pupil Voice is a common expression but we are often guilty of manipulating that voice, only letting them make certain decisions. Policies are often produced in staff meetings or in the head or subject leader’s office. They are shared with staff and governors but rarely the children. Of course, I wouldn’t put the children through producing a health and safety policy but when it comes to things that involved them, I’m sure theirs is the most important voice.

Recently I have explored the idea of an Ethos Team - you can read more about them on their own page (under team in the menu). They were originally formed to ensure the school values are at…

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A forest or a wood?

What is the difference between a forest and a wood? I was asked this question on our latest visit to our “forest”. Technically a wood is a smaller area with less density of trees, a forest is a larger area and may encompass several woods in that area. In reality it does not matter, for no matter how small your wood is, once the exploration and fun begins, it opens up into a great big forest.

One thing that I have learnt when we head down to the forest on a Friday afternoon is, never have a concrete plan for activities. The children will see or hear something that needs exploring and nature being nature you have to explore it there and then. For what you see or hear will be gone in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

Over the years that we have been in the forest we have had the privilege of seeing deer, buzzards, wild hares, crayfish, frogs, cows, sheep, plus a variety of bugs and insects.…

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An afternoon with the Acorns

I must start this blog by letting you all know I love teaching my Oaks class (years 3 to 6). They are incredibly special to me and of course I spend four days a week teaching them and I love to see them grow as people. I love it when they grasp a new concept or achieve something they have struggled with. However, this blog is about my afternoon each week in the Acorns class. It most definitely does not belittle how wonderful my own class of Oaks are - I adore the days I spend with them as much as I adore my afternoon each week in the Acorns. Both classes are special, but it is my afternoon each week in the Acorns that keeps me sane as a school leader.

I genuinely think it should be made compulsory for every head teacher to spend time in their EYFS class/unit. In fact, if I were ever minister for education, I think this would be the first law I would make. I…

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Cool Canvas VLOG

Saving school playgrounds one at a time!

Our huge but empty playground was transformed by the amazing team from Cool Canvas. A massive thank-you to Oliver and his fantastic team for creating such a special area! This video was created by the Oaks!

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Matilda: Everyone Extraordinary

Why Matilda is special to us!

As part of the end of year celebrations we performed our version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I was then very fortunate to be able to take my wonderful class to see Matilda the Musical whilst on a three day residential in London. The story really does resonate with me. Firstly on a personal level, because I loved the story as a child and remember being taken to a local production of Matilda (long before Matilda the Musical had ever been thought of). I love the idea that one person can make a difference - however small they are. I also love that despite being part of a self-centred, egocentric and uncompassionate family - Matilda chooses to be good.

However, the main reason is how the story resonates with me as the headteacher of our special school. It is the story of an extra-ordinary little girl who does extraordinary things. She is smaller than the other children and often underestimated. As a school we can relate to this - we are smaller than most and…

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Welcome from the children

The children were tasked with making a short video about our school. Here’s what they came up with.

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