31st January 2019
Unbelievably, the first month of 2019 is now almost done and dusted. I know it is a cliché to say that time flies and the older you are the quicker it seems to go, but certainly for me this now feels more and more the reality rather than the illusion!
I hope that 2019 has started well for you all. Everyone here at school settled back in quickly after the Christmas and New year holiday and the reassuring rhythms of the school day soon reasserted themselves. However, as we move towards half term, we are gearing up for some changes in terms of staffing and our work spaces.
We welcomed Ms Hayley Williams and Ms Charlotte Brunton to our school staff last week. Both come to us with a wealth of experience gained in mainstream schools and other settings. Between now and half term they are getting a feel for the school and our young people, by working alongside experienced members of staff and observing how we work with individuals and groups. Their induction training will be completed by half term and this will enable them to start work alongside named individual children.
Mr Paul Macey, a long term member of staff will be retiring at half term. Paul has worked here at Park House and prior to that its sister school, Lovells’ Hall for almost as long as the school has been open. Paul will be known to many of you either because he has worked directly with your son or daughter as their keyworker, or as the man behind the camera at so many of our school events and activities. Paul is moving shortly to Dorset to enjoy his retirement on the south coast. I would like to thank Paul personally and on behalf of all the staff and pupils at Park House for his dedication to the students and their welfare and interests over the 10 years he has been with us and wish him every happiness and success in this new stage of his life.
Mrs Alison Winterton will be changing her role and reducing her hours here at Park House from Easter 2019. Alison will be relinquishing her Senior Management Team responsibilities as Head of Therapy and reducing her working days from 5 to 3 after the Easter holiday. She will continue to be the schools Educational Psychologist and will be focussing on assessment, guidance and advice during her three working days with us. She will also continue to deliver some of the specialist groups to our students and to offer advanced training opportunities to staff as she does now.
Ms Vicki Tansley and Ms Charlotte Sansom have gained new internal positions within he school. Both have been successful in gaining promoted posts that will see them having greater responsibility for planning and delivering specific work to children within our Vinery group. Working with myself, Kristina, our Speech and Language Therapist and Linda, one of our Occupational Therapists, they will be tailoring session to meet specific individual and group needs. they will also continue to act as keyworkers for named children at various times as well.
I am delighted to be able to tell you that we now have enough money raised to install our own basket swing. The new equipment in Thorney Park is fantastic and we are getting a lot of use from the various elements, but we still feel that for some of our pupils this is not accessible, so we will be having our own swing installed before the Summer Term.
Last Friday, Fenland Family Church held a quiz in aid of Park House School at the Chapel. There were two teams from the school, The Pensioners and The A Team. Whilst the Pensioners started well, but it was noticeable that as their bedtimes drew nearer their ability to focus and recall waned significantly and they were beaten by 8 points by the younger A Team members! My thanks to the fenland family Church for organising what was a very entertaining evening and for all who came along and supported it. We have received a donation of £290 towards our next fundraising target.
We are currently looking at the possibility of investing in a tandem, which, if we go ahead will be our next fundraising aim. This will give us the opportunity to take children and young people out onto the roads, so that they can learn about and experience riding on public roads, without having to worry about all the responsibilities of moving independently in traffic. We have been offered the loan of a tandem to see what use we might get from it and, if it is something we feel that will add to the experiences and understanding of our children and young people then we will be raising funds to buy one for school.
Changes to Keyworkers supporting individual children
With the arrival of two new staff and with Paul leaving us in February, there will be some changes to individual Keyworkers supporting individual pupils. Whilst we all acknowledge that this is far from ideal for our children, this type of change is inevitable in any school, when staff move on. The senior team, teachers and therapists have worked for a long time to look at how best to minimise these changes for any individual child. Now that all pupils have two Keyworkers, one for the morning and one for the afternoon, we have done our best to ensure that at least one of these Keyworkers remains the same.
All the children will be told on Monday which Keyworkers they will be supporting them after the half term holiday and a letter will be sent home to all parents to let you know of any impending changes. Over the last two weeks of this term, those children who will have a different keyworker after the holiday will have sessions with their new adult if they do not already work with them in some other capacity.
We do appreciate that change for young people with ASD is difficult, but change is a fact of everyday life. It is up to us all, both here at school and at home, to enable our students to accept and embrace change within a secure safe environment, so that we are helping to build their resilience and coping strategies to manage change in the world that they will experience as adults. Times of change raise anxiety levels in all involved, but learning to manage that anxiety and to see change as a positive and not necessarily a negative is a key life skill for the future.
With well over 50 people working in the school, space and rooms to work are at a premium. In order to create some more individual work spaces we are also having a move around in some areas of the school.
The biggest change is that the Main Office where Danielle and I have been working and the Finance Office upstairs where Luke and Charley have been working is being combined into one of the rooms downstairs. Whilst is has been interesting trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot, we are almost there! This has freed up both of the current office rooms. What was the Main Office will now become the Library. This will be a space where, as well as being able to access our books more easily, people can come and read and work quietly. It will also provide us with a room to hold meetings in without disrupting students and staff by taking over their home/base rooms.
In order to meet the evolving medical needs of one of our students we need to move them from one of our smaller rooms into a larger room. In order for this to happen, we need to combine the students working in two rooms, moving them into a larger room upstairs and move the current students in this room into the upstairs office room which is ideal for two students but too small for three.
The office move will be completed by Friday and staff will be telling those students affected by the proposed room moves on Monday morning. Their parents will also be told on Monday. Over the next two weeks, the students involved will be included in arranging their new rooms and moving their own things into them, so that all the moving is completed by the time we finish school on Friday 15th February for the half term break. When we return after the break on Monday 25th February, everything will then be settled and ready for the new term ahead.
|Half term||18th February – 22nd February 2019|
|Term ends||Friday 5th April 2019|
|Term opens||Monday 29th April 2019|
|May Day||Monday 6th May 2019|
|Half term||27th May – 3rd June 2019|
|Term ends||Wednesday 24th July 2019|
As always, if there is anything relating to this letter or anything else you would like to discuss with us, please do not hesitate to be in touch.
Park House School