Case Study 41

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.Encouraging shared family activities -
developing school ethos and community participation

This is the first Case Study during the 2004-05 session and, like the last edition in 2003-04, it also has a linked Reflective Learning Supplement enclosed. John Galt Primary School is a non-denominational primary school in North Ayrshire Authority and part of a New Community School Cluster. Two of the aims of the New Community School development programme across Scotland are to enable schools and other children's services to support families in the school's community and to increase the involvement of families in their children's education. This Case Study particularly highlights John Galt Primary School's approach - through Family Clubs - to these aims. Activities to enable the meeting of these aims are also recognised as instrumental in developing a positive ethos and raised achievements in the school. The Case Study recognises the fun experienced, the substantial progress made towards achieving the aims of the development and the need to ensure consolidation of this progress. Further development is planned, especially in relation to greater parental involvement in managing the Family Club.

This Case Study was published by the Scottish Schools Ethos Network.

Contact for this Case Study
John Galt Primary School
Headteacher: Anne Wilson
Tollerton Drive
Irvine KA12 0QD
Telephone: 01294 279487
Fax: 01294 277986

SSEN Case Studies allow schools to look behind the doors and into the playgrounds and communities of other schools to see how they develop a positive ethos that enables well-being and achievements on a broad front. In doing this, they have taken forward a wide range of initiatives and ideas. This Reflective Learning Supplement asks questions related to Case Study 41 that may be used to help schools illuminate and explore their own activities, policies and practices. The questions focus on particular on the theme of the Case Study:Reflective Learning Encouraging Shared Family Activities - developing school ethos and community participation - and its aims but other issues are also proposed for possible debate. When you see the Reflective Learning image, click on it to read the supplementary information.

North Ayrshire Council's Website

1. Introduction

Reflective Learning1.1 John Galt Primary School is a non-denominational school serving mainly the Vineburgh and Redburn areas of the town of Irvine. It has a pupil roll this session of 239 pupils who come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, abilities and needs. Our free school meal entitilement is 41.2%, compared to a national average of 20.2%. The school has a nursery class with a capacity for 30 pupils in the morning and 30 pupils in the afternoon. The school forms part of a New Community School Cluster with its associated primary schools and Irvine Royal Academy. The current Head Teacher has been in post since last August. This session the teaching staff comprises 11.7 full-time equivalent with an additional .9 FTE from the Better Neighbourhood funding. As part of the Early Intervention Programme the school has a full- time nursery nurse. The nursery staffing is a teacher and two nursery nurses. There is an active School Board and supportive PTA.

Reflective Learning1.2 When the Community School 'roll-out' began, Irvine Royal cluster was a pilot for the initiative in North Ayrshire. Obviously working closely with parents and the wider community became an even greater priority. Our Family Club (see Section 2) was part of this development but it was not an isolated 'add on'. Its very real success was built on many years of essential but undramatic work, building up our school ethos and ensuring that the school community members all enjoyed positive relationships.

Reflective Learning1.3 Nearly all visitors to the school comment on the friendly atmosphere soon after they have passed through the doors. This ambience would not be possible without the commitment of a dedicated staff, teaching and non-teaching, to a programme of raising self-esteem and encouraging our pupils to achieve all they can in all aspects of their lives. An ethos of celebrating success is embedded in our school and is visually expressed through our 'wall of fame' display of pictures of the children and the certificates they have been awarded for achievement. These are presented for educational and social successes. Achievements in the community, e.g., a dancing trophy or a Boys Brigade badge, are recognised by the receiving of blue circles that are added to House Points. These House Points are also allocated in class for good work - attainment and/or effort - and are totalled at the end of the session when the leading house celebrates with a 'fun afternoon'.

Reflective Learning1.4 A positive ethos, however, cannot exist without involving the pupils in the wider work of the school. Our pupils are encouraged to be respectful and supportive towards each other as well as to staff and other adults and also to become more able to manage their own work and behaviour. One example of peer support is our P6-Nursery pupils' Buddy programme. The P6 pupils introduce the Nursery pupils to the P1 playground, playing with them there in some of their break-times. As the Nursery children move up into P1, the Buddies - now in P7 - continue to scaffold the P1s' adjustment to being in the big school.

1.5 Working as a team and sharing the responsibility for making progress is promoted partly through our well-established pupil council (see Picture C). This consists of elected members from each class in the upper school (P4-P7) and our House captains - P7 pupils who are also voted into their positions. Also elected from P4-P7 are the pupil representatives on the eco-school committee that has recently been formed. Our prefects have taken on the responsibility of allocating the play equipment at break times and ensuring its safe return. Last session saw an election for Junior Road Safety Officers who run competitions for our pupils and maintain a notice board full of advice and ideas. The number and diversity of roles, and the fact that school council and eco-school committee membership are mutually exclusive, mean that larger numbers of pupils have a chance of being a representative. Aspiring representatives have to put forward their case in a mini-speech to the electorate (P2 through to P7). The elected representatives certainly do not comprise a fixed elite although they do come from the upper school. The engagement of younger pupils in the listening and voting processes ensures their participation and enables them to volunteer as they become eligible later. Finally, the whole school population is consulted as to its views on how progress is being made towards our School Development Plan targets.

1.6 Like so many schools, we believe in working in full partnership with our pupils' parents to enhance the 'value added' atmosphere of the relationships in our school. Our formal parents' meetings and induction visits are always well attended, regular newsletters keep parents informed about the life of the school and we welcome parents to our assemblies and concerts. We have deployed volunteer parent helpers on outings and in classes and led various workshops for them to explain our teaching materials.




Picture A

Picture B

Pictures A and B: The very ordinary exterior of our school currently and a young pupil's drawing of how it may look after some school ground development (see paragraph 3.4!)










Picture C

PictureC: Our Pupil Council comprises elected representatives from P4-7 and the House captains, also elected.





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