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West Denton Primary School

‘A Stepping Stone into the Future’

Head Teacher's Blog

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Head Teacher's Blog 

09 -06- 23 (Mick MingStones, Head Teacher, WDPS)

Dear Families,


I hope this week has been enjoyable for you all.



Thank you all for your support during our Ofsted Inspection. Once I receive the final report  (6 - 8 weeks), I will share it with you.


Monday Assembly

There was no assembly this week due to a Teacher Training Day


Teacher Training Days

These highly-constructive days included inputs by Mrs. McHatton (Art Therapy) and Miss Croll (Spellings and Handwriting). Staff focused on phase planning for this half-term and there was also positive handling training delivered  by Alan Robson (Clennell Educational Solutions). 


Staff  Meeting

The focus was training on the online Doodle app that our children use for literacy and numeracy.


Bumbl  Meeting

I enjoyed a highly creative online meeting with Mark Wright (WDPS Vice-chair of Governors) and Greg Miles (Bumbl) as we discussed how best to promote our unique school culture via social media channels.


Triad Meeting

Miss Croll, Miss Knowles, Miss Jenks, Mrs. Singleton and I visited Havannah First School along with key staff from Broadwood Primary School as part of our Triad Partnership. We provided feedback on our recent Ofsted Inspection as our colleagues prepare for an imminent inspection too.


Achievers' Assembly

I love seeing the delight on our children's faces as they share their work and receive an Achiever's Certificate for their academic achievement or for living out WDPS Core Values like 'Creativity', 'Enthusiasm' or 'Empathy'.


Attendance Update

All school staff are working really hard to improve our overall school attendance. Please ensure that your child gets into the habit of coming to school every day so that they can maximise their life chances through developing their talents to the full. Our Attendance Officer Grant Short and our School Welfare Officer Lyndsay McMenzie are working with families to improve their children's attendance. If you are having any problems getting your child into school, please let their Class Teacher know immediately and Grant and/or Lyndsay will contact you to offer support.


Attendance Figures- September 2022-May 2023

Overall attendance : 93.1%

Persistent Absence

Sep 2022- May 2023 Threshold = Less than 91% 

55 students

47 (Y1 to Y6)

8 students (R)


New Initiatives

Children with over 97% attendance will have a treat in the hall once a half-term.

Green wrist bands for 97% attendance for a half-term and gold for 100% attendance.

Class weekly league table on the website every Friday.

Monday text reminding parents about benefits of attending and the £50 voucher each half-term.

Children to receive a sticker for attending each week.


New In-class Incentive

On each day that the whole class are present, they will earn a letter to display. Once they have spelt out ‘My Perfect Attendance’, they will be rewarded with a Golden Afternoon e.g. PJs party, film and popcorn in classroom, board game afternoon etc.


Holidays in Term Time - Penalty Notice

Since September 2019, the Governing Body has been notifying the Attendance Service about any pupil taking holidays in term time and will now be issuing Penalty Notices.  This policy is in line with Newcastle LA and our partner schools in the Outer West Learning Trust (OWLT).


Please note that a copy of the Penalty Notice is issued to each parent for each child taken out of school. A Penalty Notice is a fine of £60 if paid within the first 21 days which increases to £120 if paid between 22 and 28 days. If the Penalty remains unpaid, this may lead to prosecution through the Magistrates Court.

The summer holidays at the end of the academic year 2022-2023 are equivalent to a full six weeks starting on the 21st July to the 5th September which we hope may enable families to book cheaper holidays removing any need for children to go on holiday during term time.


Family Support - Literacy and Numeracy

Read Write Inc (RWI), Reading Plus and Reading with Your Child at Home to Improve their Life Chances

NB We have purchased Reading Plus for those Y2 children who have finished RWI.


Please practise all RWI phonics work that is sent home with your child and work with school staff to help our children to develop a love for reading by sharing books with them at home on a daily basis. Also, can we ask all parents and carers to share a book, story of magazine with their child at home each day. Help your child and  make sure that they do their Reading Plus work as well,  as those children who are accessing these challenges regularly, are making rapid progress in their reading speed and thinking skills. I know that many of our students are strengthening their attainment levels with regular sessions at home on both Doodle English and Doodle Spell. 

Once your child can read, they can access the curriculum and begin to learn and also improve their life chances to get the best jobs possible in life. Education simply opens up more choices for your child in all areas of their life to come. 



All children love and benefit from Times Tables Rockstars, so please support them at home with this programme and also with Doodle Maths and Doodle Tables. With just 10 minutes every day, the children can potentially make three months’ worth of progress in one month. 


Parental Engagement

Hat Trick

A reminder to our Reception parents and carers who are able to attend their first  after-school Hat Trick parent and child session next week. 


Snuggle 'n' Read

Thank you to Miss Croll, WDPS staff and supreme hedgehog designer Mrs. Bryne for organising the Snuggle 'n' Read event on Thursday. It was lovely to see parents and carers attending the workshop in the hall and then to spent time in the classroom with their children.


Extended Curriculum

I am passionate about giving our children a rich diet of healthy activities at school. It has been lovely to extend our curricular offer and to encourage our children to adopt healthy life choices that they can hopefully continue throughout their lives. 


From September 2022, we have extended our outdoor learning offer and provide a wider range of activities in order to develop our children’s Multiple Intelligences.  Please click on the link below to see an overview of the exciting experiences our children will enjoy in the future as per the mindmap  'WDPS Cycle Development and Wider Outdoor Learning'.


WDPS Cycle Development and Wider Outdoor Learning - September 2022 | West Denton Primary School

This week, our Y4 children enjoyed 3their weekly ukulele sessions delivered by John from the Newcastle Music Service. Nathan has taught Rocksteady music sessions to our budding performers and musicians. 


Mrs. McHatton has had fun delivering the WDPS Life Skills Challenge Award (LSCA) to our children on a rota basis. Mrs. Williams continues to develop our children's bike-handling skills and give them confidence in this life-enhancing skill. 


Year 5 & 6 Mountain Biking After School Club

We are delighted to be able to offer a group of 15 year 5 and 6 pupils the opportunity to attend a Mountain Biking After School Club.  This will be led by a British Cycling coach called Ben Skaife and supported by Mrs. Williams.

All sessions will take place on the school field using a selection of specialized Sender ramps that we purchased earlier this year.


Computing at RGS

On Wednesday, Year 6 took part in a computing session at RGS.  This  involved the children programming robots and competing with them in a number of different challenges.  


Attitudes, Behaviours and Consequences Project (ABC Project)

Our Y6 students enjoyed their first session of the ABC Project that is  delivered  by Dr. Percy Mather who is a former Director of Training for Northumbria Police. Through this programme, our children are encouraged to develop their knowledge and understanding of how attitudes may lead to antisocial behaviour which may have consequences for the young person in their future lives. 

Our children learn what antisocial behaviour is and how to avoid it in school and in their local neighbourhood. They also learn how to make informed decisions and to appreciate that each individual must take responsibility for his or her own actions.


Kick Sampling

As part of our exciting Life Skills Challenge Award (LSCA), Mr. Shiel's children went to the Derwent River to enjoy ‘Kick Sampling’ and a nature walk on Thursday 8th June 2023.  While they were there, they navigated their way around and took part in forestry activities as  as well as enjoying 'Kick Sampling' and 'Balsam Bashing'. Learning to care for our natural environment is an integral  part of the LSCA.



A huge thank you to all out staff who have provided lunchtime and after-school clubs for our children this week. If your child did not manage to get into the club of their choice this half-term, there will be further opportunities over the course of the next academic year.


WDPS Raising Aspirations Programme (RAP)

We need more speakers - please!

If you would like to share your life journey with our older students (15 to 20 minutes), could you please e-mail Miss Croll or I and we can talk through this positive experience for our children. I promise you that it is very relaxed and teaching staff and I are there to promote a calm, learning environment.


All children need to have positive adult role models in order to help them to achieve their full potential. This is why we invite inspirational speakers into school to help children understand that hard work, perseverance and following your dreams can open up maximum choices in all aspects of life. 


Having Fun as a Family

As families, remember that you and your children need lots of down time and getting outside together is a tonic for the wellbeing of all. A walk in the park, throwing or kicking a ball, a family bike ride can all help to put a smile back on our faces. If you have a pet, have fun playing with it. If the weather is challenging, try an indoor physical workout which will get your heartbeat up or dust off a board game and re-kindle the shared pleasure of playing games together. Also, sharing a book is one of the best ways to help your child on their lifelong learning journey.


Enjoy a fun weekend with your families and friends. 


Kind regards,




Mick MingStones

Head Teacher