New School Week…

Letters went home today about the changes to the school week that are to come into effect from September. The same details are also on the front page of the homework. Already, I have had positive comments and some negative comments about the changes so I thought it might be an idea to have a public forum to get all those ideas available in one place – which is why we have the blog in the first place…

I have to apologise if the timing of the change seems hasty but we have been taking our  time as a staff to consider this carefully since we saw the state of the budget in April – and we have spoken to schools where this happens (indeed, it is increasingly happening around the whole country.) We needed to talk to governors first (and the majority of our governors are parents) and we shared it with the whole school community as soon as we had done that.

Every parent knows that the staff and governors at this school share the aim of providing excellence at the school – making the school a safe place where children enjoy their schooling, make fantastic progress and attain highly. We do that very successfully because all the teachers work selflessly for the children (five of us are away on residential this weekend with the Y6 and we have given up our weekends because it brings down the price and makes it more affordable.) But there are a hundred ways in which we give everything for your children…

We believe we will provide a better education for your children by changing the school week. Teachers will work longer hours and children will get the same amount of schooling – but the quality of that schooling will improve because the teacher and LSA  (learning support assistant) will be in front of the class for the whole of the week rather than trying to cover each other and thus diluting what we can offer. We know that parents understand what we are trying to do because so many people from Conisbrough and beyond go out of their way to get their children into Ivanhoe because of its outstanding reputation.

We have chosen Wednesday as the shorter day because every member of staff works on a Wednesday and therefore the shared planning will be more successful; we also wanted to avoid the idea of the week tailing away, which would have happened had we chosen Friday.

The only negative comment I have received so far by email has asked how I think that other schools cope: and in my view, that’s what other schools do – they cope: they manage to run a five day week, but they don’t provide anything like our education, which is why we have been the top performing school in Doncaster for the past two years.

I understand that some parents are concerned about the cost of wrap-around care on the Wednesday afternoon. I would welcome ideas especially on that – we would not be able to offer a free service, as providing the wrap-around is expensive, but we could perhaps reduce the price to £2.50 an hour if that made it easier and then have a sliding scale such as two children costing £4 an hour and so on.

Please use this blog as a public forum so that all views can be expressed (just remembering that it is  a public forum accessible by children…) I will be back in school on Monday morning and very happy to meet anyone face-to-face, but it would be great if the school community used the blog so that all ideas could be accessed by everyone.

Joe Brian

37 thoughts on “New School Week…

  1. I personally do not have any problems with the change to the school week, I do feel however that what was written in this blog should have been what was put in the letter we all received because I think it much better explains to parents why and how. The more parents feel involved and told what’s happening the more parents are willing to work around things. I do think the cost of the wrap around care is to high and will really affect some parents, but I’m also sure parents at the school will rally round and help each other. I actually like the idea of slightly longer days, as prepares the children for the future, and I’m sure parents starting work at 9am will appreciate that extra 10 minutes in the morning. As I said before it’s imperative that parents feel involved, tell us why things happen, get parents involved.

  2. Hi Laura,
    I also wish that I had explained it more like that in the first place🙈. I’m sorry that originally it seemed a bit brusque and that parents were upset.

    Joe

  3. Hi,

    I was just wondering if the wrap around care would be offered on an ad hoc basis or would we have to commit to this service say on a termly basis?

    Will you be able to accommodate a large number of children needing this service as I am sure lots of parents do work during school hours?

    I think the hardest part about this is, although in the grand scheme of things the cost per week is not a lot, it always seems to be working parents who get hit in the pocket – particularly those like myself who have multiple children. We work hard to provide and give our kids the best we can but then it seems we get penalised for doing so. Many of us are also paying for private nursery fees, breakfast clubs & additional wrap around services on top of this additional cost.

    I also agree with the lady above saying parents need to feel more involved. It is very upsetting that there has not been any form of parental consultation regarding this change. Maybe a parent meeting would have been (still is) a good idea for you to put across your thoughts and reasoning’s in to why you think that this change is the best idea for the school. I think this would be a good opportunity for parents to address their concerns and views on this matter also.

    Thanks,

  4. Hi Roxanne,
    All of our wrap-around is ad hoc. Our dinners are ad hoc. We do our best to help parents as much as we can. We will have to see how many parents require wrap-around: I don’t believe many will – but we will need to wait and see. We can look after those children appropriately…
    As I explained, there didn’t seem time for a formal consultation – but in effect, we are consulting through the blog. And yes – I will have a meet with anyone who wishes to discuss it.

  5. Hi why on a Wednesday when most parents work through week why not on a Friday when most people finish early or don’t work so then we don’t have to worry about childcare and just to let us all know by letter I think is out of order

  6. Hi Kelly,
    We were advised against Friday by another school who said that in their experience, parents took the whole of Friday off just to have a long weekend: we already suffer from this at caravan time and didn’t want to make it worse. Also, every teacher works on a Wednesday so that makes it the best day in terms of educational outcomes.
    I wrote a letter and the homework front page to get the message out as speedily as possible once governors had approved it. I’m sorry that there wasn’t more time for consultation – though I’m going to try and take on board the comments (already have around prices…) I hope you will encourage more parents to blog as it will allow everyone to know what everyone is thinking…

  7. I initially was slightly shocked when I received the email whilst I was at work. But after thinking about it starting earlier through the week and 15 minutes later on most days works very well with me as a working parent. It means I wont have to rush so much as I work 9-3!
    Luckily i have an amazing mum who helps with childcare through holidays, who is more than happy to help me out on a wednesday with an early pick up.

    I also believe the children will benefit from half a day Wednesday. As a child a full 5 day week is daunting and it may give them something to look forward to finishing earlier half way through the week.

  8. Yes – I also believe that a half-day midweek will benefit children.👍😁

  9. I agree with the other comments about consulting with parents beforehand. We should have been able to give our opinions on the matter. I don’t have a problem with the 8.30am-3.30pm days but I do with the 1.10pm finish on Wednesdays. It’s very difficult as working parents to collect your child from school so early. We don’t have anyone else to collect our child as we share this duty between the two of us. I am not happy that we will be out of pocket for our child to have to stay behind. I certainly wouldn’t want to be paying more than £2.50 an hour. It’s a struggle enough without the extra cost. Also if the teachers and LSAs are going to be busy on Wednesday afternoons, who is going to be caring for our children and what will our children be doing?

  10. I’m sorry that we didn’t have a consultation period before I shared the changes – but this is consultation. The governors wanted assurances from me that children would be doing something interesting on the Wednesday afternoon – and I agreed. LSA’s do not have planning time so they will have a role to play here – and I don’t plan. We might be looking to use external agencies as well.

  11. Hi Michelle,
    The fee for wrap around should cover the cost… but the first priority of this exercise is to take planning time out of the school week to improve the quality of the education we deliver… we will save money by doing this as well. This money could contribute to the wrap-around.

  12. Hi , I have no issue with starting earlier or finishing later as this helps me and my family, but I am the person picking up my child and I don’t get back from work till normal pickup time so having to pay for wraparound care would be double at least ,working part time it is an expense we can do without.

  13. I understand that paying for childcare is not great… but on the positive side, our children will get a better deal educationally from this. I know that doesn’t solve the issue of childcare – but it is a positive.

  14. Hi Joe

    I have read all the information and have carefully considered what has been said, the reasoning behind why you want to make this change I have no real issue with. I understand the pressures the school is facing and that yourself and the board of governors feel this is the best direction for the school in terms of education. I also want to make clear I appreciate the hard work the staff put into at the school and I have no issue whatsoever regarding the level of education both my children receive.

    However the way in which this change has been managed is wholly inappropriate, with poor communication and total absence of information for parents. I don’t believe that the board of governors can genuinely represent the demographic of the school and parents most certainly should have been asked. There are so many different family set ups in modern society, many parents work and rely on childcare, grandparents and other family members to help them out. It is impossible to take into consideration the views of everyone unless you ask! The proposed wrap around child care costs for two children over the course of a month will equate to a full days wages for some parents who haven’t got the additional help some are fortunate to have and that may not sound like a lot of money to some people but to some people especially single parents this is an additional expense to cover.

    I’m really disappointed that the board have not allowed parents a say in this. It would have been far better to provide parents with substantial information detailing why this change will benefit and showing case studies for other schools and then asking for a vote. I don’t believe it is unreasonable to want our ideas and considerations to be heard especially when discussing matters that directly affect our children, our families, our working arrangements and hit us in the pocket.

    I ask you consider putting this to the vote, allowing the school community to decide on what is best for the majority. Had you done this in the first place there would be no arguments regarding the matter.

    Despite the schools good intentions, parents have been let down. We’re not incapable of processing information and making an informed decision. I’m not happy that we’ve been told this is happening and not asked if it works for us. Consultation with the board of governors is not enough on matters such as this.

    I look forward to your response.

    Thank you

  15. Hi Gemma,
    The parent governors (who form the majority of the governors) are elected to represent the views of the parents.
    I completely understand why some parents might be annoyed about the lack of communication – though I’m using the blog as a proper area for discussion and I am ready to be influenced by what people blog. I had to move quickly with this as we teachers could see plainly the educational imperative to change things: a term of consultation would have led to a deterioration of the education we were offering – and children don’t get that time back. Our first priority is the education of the children in our care.
    I am always willing to talk face to face with parents – and I like to think that’s one of the strengths of the school: another strength is that we put the education of children at the top of our priority list alongside safeguarding.
    I am paid to make decisions and I need to report to governors elected by parents. I need to put education first. The reason so many people want their children at this school is that there is the understanding that at Ivanhoe, you get the best education going – that’s what it is all about.
    I wonder if you have seen that I suggested £2.50 an hour or £4 for two children per hour – that is in response to parents who have communicated their thoughts with me. I also may move the day to Friday for the summer term following conversations with parents.
    My door is always open and I do take on board what parents have to say. Thank you for doing so much to raise awareness of the issue.

  16. I’d just like to add my comments, both as a parent and as a Governor.

    As a parent, these changes will affect me, alongside the other parent governors on the board, but being a governor and working closer with the school we are also able to understand why the Academy is proposing the changes.

    Being a governor we see first hand the impact to the school when budgets are squeezed. We are fortunate at Ivanhoe that we have a good School Business Manager who does their best alongside the headteacher and staff to get the best out of the budgets, but even with all the careful planning impacts are still felt when the money the school gets from the government is impacted.

    The Headteacher and staff are always looking at ways to improve the education that they provide to the students and they recognised the impact PPA (Planning, Preparation and Assessment) time was having when being covered by LSA staff, which meant that not only could the LSA not do the smaller intervention work, the teachers were often doing their PPA time in isolation and not able to work with each other.

    At the governors meeting the Mr Brian alongside two other governors, who are teachers at the school explained to us the benefits of the proposed change, for the teachers they see it as a benefit because they can use the afternoon to do their PPA (Planning, Preparation and Assessment) time alongside the other teachers, which will help them increase the quality to the children. They explained the benefit of being able to share that time with each other.

    We were assured that the additional 30 minutes on the other 4 days would mean that no children would miss out on learning time and that provisions could be put in place for the Wednesday afternoon for any parent that cannot arrange a pick up at 3.15. Many parents already use the Wrap around ‘Tea Time’ Club and it was agreed that for those parents there would be no additional cost.

    We did of course ask questions and raise concerns around childcare, mindful not everyone would be able to get their children by the new closing time. At least one of the parents governors was concerned of impacts to the after school activities their child goes to and the timings and raised that this would likely affect others.

    We also discussed how this is being rolled out in a number of schools across the country and we aren’t the only ones doing it. The reasons for doing it is all to improve the quality of education for the children, which the school always works hard at. We’ve been one of the top performing schools within Doncaster, thanks to the hard work put in by the school, who are always focussed on the children.

    I note from the comments on the blog and some posts I have seen on Social Media that parents are particularly upset that there wasn’t a consultation process. If everything had run smoothly this year our governors meeting would have been held in June, giving us plenty of time to do a consultation process, but circumstances saw the meeting pushed back to July and when the discussions were held around the change it was agreed to get the information out to parents as soon as we could after the meeting to give them notice before the end of term, which is coming up so soon.

    I don’t want parents to think that the parent governors who were at the meeting just said “Oh ok, go on”, we did ask lots of questions, this part of the meeting did take quite some time to go through (it was a much longer meeting than usual) and we did raise what we thought the concerns would be, we did recognise that there would be a whole range of reactions to this, but we also understood the reasons why the school want this to happen and the benefits of what the changes would mean to the quality of education of the children.

    I hope people continue to use this blog to voice their opinions and whilst I can’t speak for all of the governors, I am happy to discuss with parents alongside the head if that would be of help.

    Caroline

  17. I think that one of the positives of all this is that it raises the profile of the governors and will help parents understand their role… it would be nice to think that it will help to recruit governors in the future😁👍

  18. I had forgotten that parents can actually use childcare vouchers for wraparound care – which will be a further 20% (or 40%) reduction so even for two children it would only be £25.60 or £19.20. Also, parents working who claim tax credits can get 75% of childcare back and those in universal credit can claim up to 85% back. This information is on the ‘childcare choices’ website.

  19. Hello,
    Definitely poor delivery of the change by email then later by homework and a letter 2 & 1/2 weeks before the end of the school year. Maybe something to consider next time. Already seems as though the decision is final so I’d like to share what it has meant for my family…

    I was already considering leaving work due to the high childcare costs for my youngest child, breakfast club and after school clubs for my eldest; Making it difficult for a working parent to see the benefit when most of my wages already go out to pay for care so I am able to work to pay for care. A cycle in which I am relieved by once a child is in full time education – was relieved by.

    I am also aware that schools are for education and not “free childcare” as my previous paragraph may have seemed, however in this day and age most families do have two working parents, or single parent families that have to work also and they do actually rely on this little bit of help. A place where they know their child is happy, safe and they don’t have to depend on friends and relatives. For those who do have friends and relatives to pick up, drop off and everything in between- that’s fantastic! But not everyone is that fortunate. – I really just wanted to point out the stress this decision has put on my partner and I and I’m sure we’re not alone, I’ve actually lost sleep over this.

    Ok, so now my questions and concerns.
    Firstly £3.50 per hour would have meant I would have been resigning. I personally would need the 2 hours care and £3.50 for 2 hrs over 39 weeks is £252! £2.50 is much better and something I can work with, although still not ideal. But it is what it is by this point.

    Secondly, in your first email/letter you mention NQTs needing extra time. If they have Weds afternoon for their planning time, when do the NQTs have their extra time. This would mean they are still out of class at some point. Same for their mentors and senior members needing their management time.

    Thirdly, you also mention about “poor behaviour and learning” when Lsas are covering classes. Does this mean the wrap around care sessions will experience this? I understand there will be no teaching as this will be care not education based however I’d like to think the care I will be paying for will be quality care. It was your letter which questioned it, not me personally.
    Personally I think the support staff do go above and beyond and have always been amazing from what I’ve seen. However after reading that maybe I’ve missed something.

    Lastly, I think it might have been underestimated how many parents will need wrap around care. What will happen if the need for care outweighs the staff ratio? I know you will not know until September but it’s a real possibility.

    Thank you very much for your time, I look forward to your reply. Never had a bad word to say but I must admit I’m upset over this.

    Jessica

  20. This will undoubtedly inconvenience and cost me (like most working parents we don’t qualify for help with or towards childcare) however that being said I want the best for my child and the way I see it, school are to provide him with an education…. not free childcare. If I need to work (which I do) then it is my responsibility to arrange the childcare around what ever hours school deems necessary to provide the highest standard of education possible.

    I would rather pay for wrap around care and know the quality of the time spent in school is better, than for the convince to myself as a parent, have my child’s eduction be negatively impacted.

  21. Hi Jessica,
    Again – I apologise for the timing… I was initially going to spend a term in the consultation phase, but I was so convinced by the educational need for change that I brought it forward and took the hit as far as parent annoyance went: the autumn term is the longest term and does such a lot of the work for the school year that I didn’t want to lose that time.
    We have a fantastic staff – and the LSAs are second to none, but we are also a school that has a range of needs in every class. Ideally, teachers and LSAs work together to make the lessons run smoothly – the LSAs works with a group or spots children struggling and assists individuals or maybe takes intervention groups and in this situation the class runs like a well oiled machine. It is harder for a teacher to teach without an LSA and it is certainly much harder for an LSA to teach without a teacher – and as I keep saying, this is all about providing the best education.
    If I were in a different school with different teachers, they would be protesting about the fact that I was increasing their working week with this scheme – but they are not like that… they share my view.
    We can manage NQT time and management time because we do have a little flexibility with our teaching time (when you add the part time timetables together, there is some left over).
    Finally, I would be surprised if there were many children requiring the wraparound, but governors insisted that it should be an enjoyable experience that was well resourced. I am positive that we can manage that.
    Thank you for taking the time to write such a considered reply – I have said this before, but the teachers at this school work here out of love for the place and knowing that they work on behalf of such considered parents does make them feel valued 😁.
    Joe Brian

  22. Hello,

    I would just like to say that I welcome the changes to the school day.

    Not only will the school be offering longer teaching hours (with the teachers voluntarily doing this for the benefit of the children) the school has also shown its commitment to serving the community by offering wrap around care – something which is not expected from an educational setting. The wrap around care is a much cheaper option than using other childcare services and more convenient as it is located within the school. I am also in support of Mr Brian as he has listened to parents by lowering the cost and giving discounts for those with multiple children.
    Thank you to the staff of Ivanhoe for providing the best education possible for our children and I am sure that these carefully considerd decisions regarding the school day will only enhance teaching and learning.

  23. Thank you – it’s great that the sacrifice of the teachers is recognised. I have been teaching a LONG time and I have never worked with such committed and skilled professionals…

  24. Hello
    I have read all the comments and like many families, we will have to review our situation and decide how best to manage the short day. Can I please make a request, if the day changes from a Wednesday, don’t change again! It will already be a challenge to organise help on Wednesdays (or whatever day!), so changing the day will only add to our difficulty.
    Many thanks
    Hope

  25. I agree with many of the comments about how this matter could have been handled differently and at least given us some warning that it was being considered as an option. If the original governors meeting should have been in June then there was plenty of time to make the knowledge public.
    I am concerned about the wrap around care though. I’m worried that the numbers will be greater than you anticipate. Also what’s going to happen? Are all year groups just going to be mixed in the hall? As my youngest is just about to start reception and needs more supervision than some of the older children and I’m worried this is going to be overlooked. I’m also interested to know what they will be doing as obviously this is going to be weekly?
    Your letter/ email states that if a child attends tea club then there will be no cost to wrap around care, is this just for those that currently attend tea club or will this be available to children that join now or from September. Also with the end of the year approaching is there going to be a method to sign up and pay for this wrap around care? As parents need to know that their children have a place for the first week back in September.
    Thank you.

  26. Hi Lindsay,
    Yes – it’s a pity that the Governors’ meeting was moved which gave me less time to talk to parents – but I would say that this is consultation that we are doing right now: more consultation than many schools offer – parents at Ivanhoe expect consultation because we are always open when we are contemplating something, it’s just that this time we had to wait until after that Governors’ meeting.
    We are going to wait and see on the numbers – and the last thing in the world that we had in mind was children being gathered together and mixed in the hall. We obviously need to think on our feet the first week but in the weeks that follow, we will organise according to the children we will be caring for.
    If children have regular wrap-around (by which I mean, more than just Wednesday) the Wednesday afternoon will be free. If you wanted wrap-around until 5.30 on a Wednesday then I’m sure we could come to a separate agreement.
    Christine Foster will be writing to parents later this week to organise the Wednesday afternoons – and there will be a place for all who need the care.

  27. Would breakfast club start any earlier now school starts 10 mins earlier or would the cost go down due to less time needed?
    Also I cannot find a post for wrap around care, is this on sims agora?

  28. I see in the thread of this blog that you are considering changing the day in which the school will close at 1.10pm. Please could you give an indication of when the final decision will be made. I also agree with the comment above that this cannot become a moving feast. The worst challenge a working parent faces is organising childcare and we also have to consider the affect this has on those that help provide that childcare.

    I understand the financial constraints the school faces, I do however feel that consultation with parents, prior to a final decision being made, would have been more appropriate.

  29. Those are good questions – breakfast club could start earlier or the cost could go down. Perhaps people would like to let me know what they think. Christine Foster will send out a form for parents to fill in if they require childcare. This will be sent electronically.

  30. Hi Gillian,
    We wouldn’t move the day within the year – we might look at a change of days much later next year and we would give ourselves plenty of time to gather views first. I am sorry that circumstances meant that we didn’t have a lot of consultation time – but I would remind parents that education comes first for us and we needed to act for the sake of the education of the children in our care.

  31. Hi Joe,
    When I first chose Ivanhoe I did so to ensure my child was at the best school possible, even though this meant a commute through Doncaster at the worst possible times.
    I would like to thank all the staff at Ivanhoe.
    Most of whom will be giving an extra 15 mins daily going forward to ensure that continues.

    I’m a single working parent(minimum wage)
    So the cost would be hard for me too but my child’s education is top priority and I will pay whatever it costs to get that.

    Everybody has “Weeks” now to plan how they will make this work. Being at one of the Best schools in Doncaster is worth a little sacrifice.

  32. I would personally be quiet happy for breakfast club to start earlier as we attend everyday and it is a almighty squeeze for me to then travel to work. Maybe you could send a form out asking for opinions.

  33. Hi Ian,
    In week where we have been battered by all sorts of idiocies on Facebook (about an unrelated matter) it is a blessing to hear the voice of reason. Thank you.

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