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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 

24- 05- 24 (Mick MingStones, Head Teacher, WDPS)

Dear Families,


I hope you have enjoyed an inspiring week.


Monday Assembly

Thank you to Miss Croll for leading this week’s assembly and for promoting how we all aspire to live out the WDPS Core Values including ‘Caring’ and ‘Thinker’:


WDPS Core Value - Caring

I want people around me to be happy and I am sensitive to their needs.

I care for other people.

I try to help others

I care for animals and Planet Earth.          


WDPS Core Value – Thinkers

I am thoughtful.

I try to solve problems and make good decisions.

I do this by thinking about things and by learning from my mistakes.


Budget Setting Meeting

Thank you to Mrs. Hollins and CFO Victoria Hanlon for collaborating to shape our budget for 2024-2025.


Director’s Meeting

It is always refreshing to see how Education and other Government services work together to provide the best outcomes for children and young people in Newcastle.


Margaret Curry Meeting

I enjoyed a productive meeting with Margaret Curry as we discussed Business Continuity and Incident Planning. 


Practice Fire Drill

Thank you to all staff and children for evacuating the building so sensibly during the termly, practice fire drill.


Friday Achievers

I love seeing the delight on our children's faces when they receive an Achievers Certificate for their hard work, positive attitude and living out the WDPS Core Values.


Staff Meeting

The focus was ‘Dates for the diary’ for the final half-term and also any emerging priorities.


Bushcraft Club

It was a joy to work with Mrs. McHatton and the children in the WDPS Bushcraft Area this week.


Attendance Update (We need to reverse the downward trend to February half-term and to start  heading in the right direction once again.  We are working hard to support all families to get their children in to school 96%+ of the time).

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 2023-March 2024

Overall attendance: 93.9%


Persistent Absence

Sep 2023- Mar 2024

Threshold = Less than 91% (SIMS Value range), but 90.1%+ = Non PA

66 students

51 (Y1 to Y6)

15 students (R)


Attendance 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.


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.


Parent and Carer Incentive

Parent/carer 97%+attendance termly prize draw for a £50.00 supermarket voucher.


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 2023-2024 are equivalent to a full six weeks starting on the 22nd July to the 2nd 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. 


Y1 Family Learning – ‘Wellbeing and You’

Thank you to Miss Croll for organising and to the families who are attending this latest family learning  course.


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. 


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 their weekly ukulele sessions delivered by John from the Newcastle Music Service. Nathan has delivered Rocksteady music sessions to our budding performers and musicians.  Our Reception children are having fun learning in their weekly music session delivered by Jane from Newcastle Music Service. Our pianists are also relishing their lessons with Newcastle Music Service.


Mrs. McHatton has enjoyed delivering the WDPS Life Skills Challenge Award (LSCA) to our children on a rota basis. I am enjoying helping her deliver a lunchtime Bushcraft Club too. Mrs. Williams continues to develop our children's bike-handling skills and give them confidence in this life-enhancing skill. 



A huge thank you to all out staff who provide lunchtime and after-school clubs for our children this term. 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.


Science is a Superpower

Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG) are offering an exciting program to keen, young Scientists. These sessions are fun, highly practical and interactive. This initiative ties in perfectly with the WDPS Raising Aspirations Programme (RAP) as we want to inspire our children to achieve all that they can in life.  14 Y5 children are taken to and from school on this date by NHSG Coach and  return by the end of the school day.


Timetable for the Science is a Superpower Project (Remaining Sessions):

Session 7 – Wednesday 5th June 2024 – 1.30-3pm @ NHSG – CSI


Attitudes, Behaviours and Consequences Project (ABC Project)

Our Y4 students have really benefitted  from 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.


RGS Computer Workshop

Our Phase 3 students enjoyed their Computer Workshop delivered by RGS staff.


WDPS Life Skills Challenge Award (LSCA) – Visits to Derwent River Kick Sampling

Unfortunately this had to be postponed due to a Met Office weather warning.        


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.


I hope you all get to enjoy some down time to relax with your families over this half-term holiday period.


Kind regards, 




Mick MingStones

Head Teacher