Testing Times

  Tests and exams are a big part of school life whatever your age. In the weeks since the Easter break, we have been preparing for SATS, GCSEs, BTECs, phonics tests, and many other assessments across the federation.  Now that we are amid the ‘testing season’ it is reassuring to see how well the children are handling these assessments. It never fails to impress school staff just how mature, sensible and diligent young people can be when it really counts. It is also a source of pride to see the exam machinery burst into life.   The tests and assessments could not be conducted as well as they are without the army of invigilators and helpers who descend on schools each summer. These are the people who help us to make it all happen, putting children at ease, checking papers, monitoring the time, and ensuring a calm and purposeful atmosphere.   To everyone who has helped prepare our young people and guide them as they continue through their ‘testing days,’ we would like to say a big thanks.

Delighted to be staying!

  It has been another busy few weeks across the federation, and the Easter break is now fast approaching.  Personally, it has been a very big week. I am delighted to have been able to accept the opportunity to become the permanent Headteacher at Alston Moor Federation. Since Christmas I have been made to feel very welcome on 'the moor', and I have thor oughly enjoyed getting to know the schools, and the people who attend them each day.  There will of course be many challenges ahead for all three schools, but I am relishing the chance to lead the federation as we face the next chapter of education across Alston Moor.  The activities and events continue to come thick and fast for the children. In the last week or so it's been great to see SKS pupils visiting New College in Durham, and taking part in first aid training.  All three schools were fully involved in World Book Day, with Alston Primary School visiting the town library last week. Yesterday I was 'treated&


  School should be an experience. To be precise, it should be a series of experiences which add up to make your school years some of the most memorable and enriching times of your life.    In recent weeks it has been great to see so many different experiences being offered across the federation, but it’s been even more powerful to see the impact these experiences have had on the children. Rehearsals for the Carlisle Drama and Music Festival are in full swing, as are preparations for the U Dance festival. Friday saw a brilliant performance in preparation for the Carlisle Festival by two very brave pupils during the Alston Primary School assembly. Duke of Edinburgh expedition planning is well underway, and our regular clubs in fitness and archery have continued to attract interest. We have enjoyed Bikeability in both primary and secondary classes, and the work of the ‘Mini Police’ has continued with great enthusiasm across both primary schools. Year 10 have been to visit Teesda

Have a Good Break

  As we race towards half term we are busy planning exciting things for the next few months of the academic year. The weeks ahead will undoubtedly be busy, and we have lots of work to do across the federation schools before Easter. It is sometimes said that schools have lots of holidays, and there is also often discussion about why this. Schools are fast-paced, dynamic and varied places. Pupils will often take part in multiple different things each day, and they are expected to switch with the ring of a bell or the clap of a hand from one topic or activity to the next. Information comes thick and fast. Our young people can be physically active, mentally stretched, creatively stimulated and then guided to work quietly and independently all within the same lesson. In short, school is tiring. Breaks and holidays help the school community to reset. They allow for recovery and rest. They also give the pupils a break from the routine and rigour of school. The breaks can also allow the ti


Community is a word used a great deal in education. The ‘school community ,’ or a school’s links with the local community, are often highlighted or questioned whenever judgements are made, or opinions are formed about a school.   In the month I have been with the federation it has been amazing to see just how strong the sense of community is across the three schools. The schools that make up Alston Moor Federation each have distinct communities, both among their children, and with the wider group of teachers, parents, carers, and volunteers who are all involved in numerous ways .    What has struck me most however , is how much interest the community takes in the federation, and how keen people are to be involved with the young people it serves. In the last month I have been fortunate to meet lots of people from the communities across Alston Moor. Many have simply arrived to introduce themselves, got in touch, invited me to visit their business or establishment, or just offere

The Importance of Repairing Relationships

Schools, whether big or small, are complicated places. Most workplaces do not have the high numbers of the same people interacting on a daily or weekly basis that schools have. Because of this ever-changing and evolving human dynamic, schools are great places to be, but they are not without their challenges. If one working relationship in the classroom or playground breaks down, it can suddenly impact on large numbers of people very quickly. If behaviour takes a downturn, or if someone is having a bad day, then very soon the ramifications can be felt across an entire cohort of young people. Throw in travel disruption, changes to the school day and hundreds of different personal situations, and it becomes no wonder that the balance of harmony can easily be unsettled in any school. Clear expectations and positive relationships often help to guide pupils to make good choices, and make the most of each school day. Mistakes however, do occur. People get things wrong. FACT. Young people ar

The First Full Week

  It has been great to meet so many parents and members of the local community over the first couple of weeks that I have been with the federation. I would like to thank everyone who has made me feel so welcome. The response from the children to the arrival of a new acting head has been really positive, and the pride they take in the things they are doing has been evident. I have been in lots of classes and seen some wonderful learning going on.  Until you start working in a new school, you can't really appreciate the intricacies and quirks that make a place what it is. Over the last week or so the learning curve has been steep as I have tried to get to grips with the way things run, and more importantly the people who make it all happen.  The team of people across the federation are incredibly dedicated to the work that happens in all three schools, and their passion to help our young people has been clear to see.  Alston Moor Federation is a small but complex organisation, and th