Welcome to Class 5
WELCOME TO CLASS 5!
Hello everyone and welcome back to a new school year at OLST. This year brings the completion of your child’s time at Primary School and marks the beginning of the next stage in their journey through education. It is an exciting and emotional time both for the children and yourselves and it is my job to make sure it as pain-free an experience as possible!
As you know, last year, numbers in school meant that for the first time in our History, we moved to a single age range class for Year 6 pupils. Your child will benefit from being in a class of only fifteen pupils – undoubtedly, a positive for their learning. They are situated in our lovely new classroom, only big enough for up to 20 pupils and, at a push, their teacher! With its lovely, serene colours and purpose – picked furniture, it really is an oasis of calm in which the children can tackle the very challenging curriculum that Year 6 brings. Despite limited space, I have managed to create a dedicated reading area which means that the children can escape into whatever world is to be found between the pages of their book and it has already been well used with children wrapping themselves in the warm throws and nestling against soft velvet pillows whilst nibbling on Jammy Dodgers as they read! Whoever said Year 6 was tough has obviously never visited OUR Year 6!
On the subject of reading, the children know that they need to read at least five times a week in order that they will be fully ready to access the Year 6 Reading Comprehension SAT. I would ask that you initial when they have read just as you always have. Some children will still need the structure of our reading scheme while others are moving to more free choice within their reading matter. I really don’t care what the children read so long as they are reading on a very regular basis. This is really a non-negotiable for Y6 to build speed and resilience. The development of higher order comprehension skills is delivered through targeted readings sessions within the school day. As mature readers, I hope your children will begin to develop a life-long love of reading if they haven’t already done so.
English work is built around visually stunning books as well as exciting novels. A whole range of writing opportunities have been planned across the school year and the children are beginning to think of themselves in terms of being authors. I am sure that you will be impressed with some of the work they have already produced when you visit the classroom.
Maths relies upon your child knowing their times tables inside out. Another non-negotiable is that the children practise their tables every day. Even when they know them, they need this daily reminder in order to work at the speedy pace demanded within Y6. In Class 5, Maths is taught as a whole class delivery and all children are assumed to be masters of Maths! Intervention is immediate and reacts to a child’s requirements as soon as possible. The power of yet is a regular mantra in our classroom and the children are beginning to see that they may not be able to do something – YET – but with perseverance, they soon will.
The staff at OLST have spent a lot of time over the summer, re-designing the curriculum in order to create a more bespoke learning environment for our children. As a result, children will access an enquiry based curriculum which will lead them to examine their own heritage, explore the world from their classroom and outside spaces and appreciate the diversity and wonder of the world and its people. It is my intent that they will know their own place within their community and their world and have the confidence to take it. I intend that children are presented with balanced arguments about life so that they can begin to form their own opinions and express them eloquently and articulately. We hope to inspire our Y6 children through the introduction of sessions with former pupils who will share their current careers with pupils – how did OLST help me become who I am and do what I do? We already have a number of former pupils who are willing to come in a share their stories with the class and we hope that this will have a lasting impact on Y6 and help them to examine the range of options there are available to them after school.
Y6 at OLST is not simply about English and Maths until after SATs and then everything else squashed in afterwards! We achieve as highly as we do because our children have access to broad and balanced learning throughout the school year. It is my firm belief that children need to be children and therefore, I will not overload them with homework. I do however, ask that children spend time every night reading, practising tables and spellings. Occasionally, I will give them extra work to consolidate something we have worked on in class. This year, the children will continue to access two PE sessions a week which are on Thursday afternoon and Friday.
The children are involved in a project with Northern Heartlands (the people who brought us Man Engine) this term which celebrates the Mining Heritage of Willington. They have already worked with ladies from Daisy Arts, creating Miners lamps which they will carry in a procession. As many of our children come from Mining families – indeed, it was the Irish miners who built our school and church brick by brick – I am sure this project will resonate with many of them.
As a Faith school, we will of course, consider the teachings of the Catholic Church in our everyday practise. However, we recognise the diversity within our school and it is important that children reflect upon the different circumstances others come from. We start each day with a period of calm reflection which may include Scripture, quotes from famous influential people, ideas from other world religions and images and words which encourage the children to develop a peaceful approach to accepting others and loving themselves.
Finally, I have mentioned SATs a number of times during my letter to you. SATs are part and parcel of Y6 life – we cannot avoid them and therefore we must teach our children the resilience to deal with them and to achieve the best that they can personally. I will share with you what I expect your child will be capable of when I meet with you at parent’s evening later in the term and I will hold a SATs information evening so that you have the information you need to support your child. However, life in Class 5 is not defined by SATs – there is so much more to this year. It is a time of change for your child – a time when they are on the cusp of young adulthood and all the strife that can often bring! As an experienced Y6 teacher and mum of two of my own (now grown-up) children, I am well-versed in dealing with the emotional roller-coaster that some children begin to experience at this time and look upon it as a privilege to work with you to ensure these wonderful young people can deal with their emotions and take their place in the world as a responsible and capable human being. I know how challenging it can often be for you as a parent of a Y6 child so please do not hesitate to speak to me if you are concerned about anything. It is always best to make an appointment because as Deputy Head and a Teacher Trainer for Durham University, I am often difficult to simply catch in the corridor!
Once again, I welcome you all to Y6. I look forward to meeting with you all in the coming few weeks and sharing an exciting experience to end your child’s Primary school years.