January Newsletter

January Newsletter


Dear Parents/Carers

Was Christmas really only just over a month ago? The days and weeks fly by so quickly these days, with so much to do and so much still to be done.

We have had a very positive start to the year for the children with everyone settling back really well into the expectations of school and trying hard to learn and make progress. All the children’s timetables are well established and running smoothly and, touch wood, we have had very few children absent with illness so far.

Team Building at Belton House Thursday 1st February

This Thursday we are hoping, weather permitting to make a return visit with most of the children to Belton House, to build on the teamwork skills from our last trip there in November. On our last visit, as well as enjoying the Woodland Adventure Park, the children worked together to build a woodland shelter. This required planning and organisational skills, negotiation, compromise and working as one unit to build a safe and roomy structure that they could take shelter in, as well as being great fun for everyone involved.

Unless the weather is abysmal we intend to head out for the day, so please could you make sure your son or daughter is prepared for a day in the outdoors by sending them to school with:

  • a packed lunch and drinks
  • wellingtons or stout shoes/boots (we have lots of wellies in school, so let us know before Thursday if your child doesn’t have any and we can see if we can kit them out)
  • a waterproof and windproof coat
  • waterproof trousers if you have them
  • scarf and gloves (2 pairs ideally)
  • a change of clothing
  • a towel.

The children will not need any money with them. We will be having a couple of breaks during the day for hot drinks and, if the weather is gloriously hot and sunny, ice cream too!

Support for RNIB

One of our pupils has also taken it upon themselves to work towards supporting the RNIB. He has brought a collection box in for the charity and hopes to raise awareness across school. We will be using one of our Reach Week days for the whole school to work together to fundraise for the charity. Any support you could offer Max for his efforts would be greatly appreciated in the form of donations for a raffle or simply some spare change to put in the donation box.

GDPR Compliance

As you may or may not know, there is a new law coming into effect in May relating to Data Protection. Although our practices as a school are compliant with current law, the new law requires parents to fill in some forms relating to us storing your personal information, who we share this with and our obligations as a holder of your data. A letter will be coming to you individually explaining all of this but if you have any questions about it in the meantime, please contact Luke on the school number or on l.rich@parkhouseschool.co.uk

Planning Ahead 1

Now the better weather is upon us (almost), we will be looking to start using the Poly-tunnel a lot more to grow plants and vegetables to sell to raise money for school resources.

If you have any specific requests for plants or vegetables, please let your child’s keyworker know and our green fingered pupils will work towards growing them.

Planning Ahead 2

Last years trip to The Thomas Centre was such a success that we booked up for this year straight away. The dates are Monday 12th November to Friday 16th November

The owners of The Thomas Centre are currently constructing two new houses, so we should be able to accommodate all pupils who wish to go this time. A letter will go out shortly after half term with more details and requesting bookings.  This should give everyone plenty of time to budget for payment for the places.


A couple of parents have expressed concern about the relatively minor changes I have made to how children are transported to and from school in their taxis.  Following a risk assessment undertaken at the end of the week before last it became necessary to alter the seating arrangements in three taxis.  This was because the arrangements that were then in place put children potentially at risk of harm.  The reasons for this change are set out below;


  • Ultimately all pupils are my responsibility whilst they are on the school site. I therefore have to be sure that I have minimised the risk for any potential harm to occur at any time. Therefore, from the minute they arrive on the site to minute they leave, I am responsible for their safety and wellbeing.


  • In addition, I act in loco parentis. This means that I am expected in law to make the decisions that any reasonable parent would make to ensure the safety of their child. I must therefore consider the conditions in which children travel to and from school as well as whilst they are at school in our care.


  • Whilst most pupils are sensible most of the time, nearly all our pupils have moments where their good sense deserts them and, if in a heightened or anxious state, they do something that normally they would not want to do.


  • Despite constant reminders to taxi drivers, a significant number were regularly failing to put child locks on their doors before they brought the children into school or took them home. This meant that the children could have exited the taxi at any time. With taxis arriving at times between 09.00 and 09.15 this meant that children were getting out of their taxis before 09.15, when they are actually due to arrive on site, without a member of staff being outside to ensure their safety. They could have wandered off into the park and then down to the main road without any of us knowing.


  • Children sitting in the front seat of a taxi are not protected by child locks, because these are not fitted to front seats. They, therefore were doubly at risk, as, potentially, they could have let themselves out of the car at any time.


  • The taxi drivers now know that if they do not have child locks on when the children get out of the car in the morning, or into the car in the afternoon, we will be contacting the local authority responsible for commissioning the contract and asking them to review the current arrangements.


  • Children under the age of 16 who have been risk assessed as not meeting the criteria we apply to them in order to ensure it is safe for them to do so, are not allowed to sit in the front seat of school cars at any time. Because the children enter and leave the school site in a car, the same rules apply.


  • There is also a safeguarding concern for children sitting in the front seat of cars/taxis if they are, at any time, the only child in the car/taxi. Should an allegation be made of inappropriate conduct by the adult driving, then it is one word against another. In this situation, the child’s word is believed unless it is proved to be false. This is a situation that can be, and should be, avoided.


By implementing these measures, our assessments show that the risk factor has fallen from high to low. I apologise if the new arrangements caused any anxieties to either children or their parents. The children had this explained to them on the day it was introduced and all those affected seem, since the next morning, to have become accustomed to the change.

Easter Respite Scheme

This Easter holiday we will be repeating the respite scheme we piloted last Summer.  Respite days will be available in the first week of the holiday on Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th April.  If anyone is interested in finding out more about this, please ring Luke for more details.

Half term holiday

We break for half term on Friday 9th and return to school on Monday 19th February.

As always, please do not hesitate to be in touch should you have anything you would like to discuss with us.