Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Fiona Aris and I am the Head teacher. I work with an incredible team of staff who believe passionately that every child should be empowered. This means they will have choices in life and will be able to exercise these choices to take up the career or job of their choosing, have stable relationships be that with family, friends or future partners and your child will also belong to their community and be proud of who they are and where they have come from.
Our belief is quite straightforward at Firs. We believe that if we empower people we are giving them the opportunity to make and have positive choices in their life. Choice is both powerful and liberating for individuals, families and communities.
We are empowering our children at Firs to:
Academic – Enable them to become highly skilled so they can enter the world of work well equipped to make a positive and strong contribution through the achievement of academic outcomes that are above national averages.
Character – We aspire for our children to become empowered through developing core characteristics and values that enable them to face challenges both in their careers and personal lives to enable them to have jobs they enjoy, relationships that last and lives over which they are proud. We firmly believe that through developing learning for life skills (Resilience, Resourcefulness, Collaboration and Reflectiveness) our children will become young people and adults who will live and lead with honesty, integrity, transparency, courage, belief and trust.
Community – At Firs we are part of and form the community. We understand that our community has core needs. The school ensures that where we can we identify areas of need from the local community and work in collaboration with community members and families to support this through our curriculum and school improvement.
We operate within a framework of common core values and these are honesty, transparency, trust, respect, courage and belief. We are part of a strong and diverse community. I have not yet met one parent who does not want the best for their child in our community and they trust the school to deliver on all areas of our empowerment beliefs. We are fortunate to have a very active Parent Action Group who advise us, work with us and help to shape and deliver various events such as Our World Day and our Eid Picnic.
Our Governing body is incredibly supportive but also ensures that all leaders and staff are held to account – we would not want it any other way. The Governors are active members of the school and visit often and they are on hand at any time to provide support and guidance. When you visit us you will see a lovely music wall that our children in year 6 built for the younger children, one of our governors managed this project.
When you walk in to our school you will see polite children who respect each other and adults. The children have an amazing capacity to absorb information and to learn. Sometimes they fall out but not often and it`s our job as adults to guide them and to help them learn from their mistakes. You should hear laughter, something we think is important – we are a happy school and staff will tell you they enjoy coming to work. Leaders will meet and greet you and your children on the school gate before and after school (even when it is raining). This connection is important to us.
When you visit classes you will see children learning and staff pushing and challenging pupils to excel. We expect teachers to teach well and deliver strong academic outcomes. You will see children being taught the core curriculum but also we have specialist Art, Music, Computer, Humanities and Languages teachers who will teach children important skills such as how to draw and shade, how to read music, how to write computer programmes and will discover why the Romans were great engineers. All of this forms a rich skills and character curriculum that will enable your child to compete well in the market place and become strong community citizens of the future.
You will see a strong rewards system in place at Firs. We are in a position where we can enjoy rewarding excellent work, fantastic progress and effort as well as recognising other achievements. You will see marbles being awarded to children and once the jar is full the whole class are allowed Golden Time. You will see children been given raffle tickets and gold stars for showing great effort, kindness, help and empathy. We then have a prize draw. Every day children take part in PATHS (Personal Learning and Thinking Skills), they are encouraged to think and talk deeply about their learning and that of others. They reward children who they believe have displayed strong leadership or character skills and they become the PATHS pupil of the day.
Our Behaviour Policy is very straightforward – our guiding philosophy is to be firm but ensure children understand their mistakes and that these are repaired quickly. We do not tolerate lack of respect (verbal or physical) for any member of our community.
Assemblies are important times for the community to come together to celebrate children’s` achievements, to sing the school song and to think of others in our community and around the world. We light a candle and this represents our thoughts, best wishes and prayers for those who are perhaps struggling.
So, our journey continues at Firs. We still have lots to develop. We are keen to build our after-school provision and continue to develop a strong community agenda where we can ensure Firs is supporting community priorities thus helping to sustain the community and give a strong sense of belonging to the children.
I hope that I have given you a good flavour of our “little oasis” and that you will want to come and meet us to find out more and see with your own eyes our school.