Amazing Writing!

Children often come to share really special work with me, work that they’ve completed in class. Yesterday a Year 3 brought this piece. It had been written completely unaided and is simply stunning writing for Joseph who was 8 just one week ago!

A Description of a Setting   Monday 4th November

It was a grey stormy evening, waves collided with the stones and pebbles. I quietly crossed my legs and sat on the uncomfortable shore, simultaneously I watched the steaming ships go by and skimmed flat stones against the flat surface of the churning ocean. When I got bored I collected stones and examined them in case there were any crystals. It was beautiful, I could just see the sun peek shyly through the dull clouds. Whenever I had troubles I went to this beach. All the calming sounds soothed me. The first thing I ever did when I went here was look into the nothingness of the great blue gentle sea.


 What great news we have to share about our lovely school!

Thank you to everyone for their part in creating such a special place to work and learn – this really is the result of a team effort. Special thanks to Penny Boshoff who alerted us to the kite mark and who guided the evaluation process so efficiently. How we miss Penny at St John’s!

National SMSC Quality Mark Verification Report

Dear Mrs Quirk,

I am delighted to inform you that as a result of the recent verification visit, St John’s CE Primary has been awarded silver level of the National SMSC Quality Mark, and this has been confirmed by the Quality Assurance Panel.

I would like to offer particular thanks to Amelia, Eloise and Joaquim for escorting me around their school and describing the displays so well.  I would also like to give a big thank you to the 10 pupils I met with to talk about the different ways the school contributes to their SMSC development and the many ways in which they are supported. All pupils spoke with such maturity, confidence and honesty. When asked to describe their school in one word, they were very thoughtful and insightful, and responded with the following words: Happy, excited, fun, fantastic, brilliant, musical, gives great opportunities, good lessons like Design and Technology and friendly. The children showed a great understanding of democracy and described how so many activities are chosen through a democratic process. They were keen to tell me about different social action projects and initiatives that they have been part of through the school – especially the Drastic Plastic bird creation. They listened thoughtfully to each other and often expanded on each other’s ideas or supported the younger children if they struggled to answer a question. They were buzzing, happy and ready to converse with me, which is a real credit to the school. It was also lovely to see how aware the children were of the power of their voice and the different projects that had been carried out in the school by the School Council. 

I would also like to thank the parents who took the time to meet with me. It was lovely to see how happy they are with the school. They were also asked to describe St John’s in one word and responded saying: Family, happy and embracing. They agreed how the children, ‘Can’t wait to go to school!’. One parent went on to describe how St John’s, ‘Supports their children in embracing different people, situations and events, by ensuring things are discussed and viewed with an open mindset.’ Another parent commented on the ‘lovely family vibe’ and that, ‘The school is a warm and welcoming place with happy people.’ All parents agreed that they feel listened to and have a variety of opportunities to voice their thoughts and ideas. This was also visible in the most recent parent newsletter and in the introduction of the online forum ‘Lean Coffee Table’. 

I congratulate St John’s CE Primary on the silver standard of SMSC development that is afforded their pupils. Young Citizens will be discussing with the school which aspects of your provision can be shared with other schools.

Strengths of the school’s SMSC development:

Through your self-evaluation and our discussions it is evident that there are numerous SMSC related strengths at St John’s; the following are a few key examples

  • The family vibe that is felt in the school. This is something that no paper trail or policy can create, but just something that oozes naturally from the school. It was lovely to hear how many past pupils continue to return to the school to catch up with and/or support their former teachers.
  • The importance given to pupil voice and the value which is demonstrated and felt by the pupils.  
  • How much you welcome and value parental involvement.
  • The effort made to take every opportunity to inspire your pupils with opportunities to play their part in society from child driven competitions to school events – both inside and outside curriculum time.
  • SMSC is regarded highly within the school. Not only is this demonstrated through the application of the Quality Mark, but also through the dedication of the staff to ensure that SMSC is embedded into everything you aim to do.
  • Areas for development:
  • Consider making links with other schools nationally and/or globally to strengthen students’ cultural awareness and development.
  • Consider adapting the current teaching of Fundamental British values to encourage the teaching and learning of more ‘Universal values for citizens living in Britain’.
  • NASWUT and Equaltiteach Responding holistically to the requirement to promote Fundamental British Values
  • Consider using some of the fantastic board space to share and celebrate the rich cultural diversity already in your school and reflect the diversity of society.
  • Make use of the already strong Spanish foundation to bring the language to life for your pupils before they set off for Seville.
  • Consider ways to ensure that the wonderful experiences that St John’s provides its children and their families are celebrated shared more widely.Please note that his award is recognised for 3 years and that re-verification should be sought by October 2022. However, we would welcome an application for the gold award within 18months.
  • Verifier: Victoria Quijada                                         Chair of QA Panel Yvonne Richards

Seville Day three round-up

We are all safe and well but have had a distressing afternoon today. Both Adele and Megan have had their day bags stolen from under our noses in the park. The girls have shown a truly amazing approach to managing this upsetting incident.
After a fruitless search for the bags or discarded contents we proceeded to Plaza Espana, all feeling somewhat grim and disillusioned with our fellow man.
Spirits lifted when we set eyes on the phenomenal building and it’s fountain and as every member of our party rallied round to cheer each other.

In the morning we had learnt and discussed so much concerning Spanish bull fighting. Our trip to the bullring and our guide’s knowledge had proved really though provoking. At various points we’ve revisited and re-evaluated our thinking on this traditional custom.

We ambled back from the plaza through the now familiar streets. We counted cats, pushed the now empty wheelchair and noted the temperature has reached 28 degrees. Naturally this prompted us to realise we needed another ice cream, inmediatamente! Ordering now with confidence we found they tasted even more delicious.

During free time many of our party showered and dressed for our special evening out while others simply sat and stared ahead -talking was even too strenuous!

At 6.45pm we wound our way through the narrow ancient streets to Hosteria del Laurel for our long awaited tapas meal. Adventurous food tasting at tables for 4 was accompanied by card games and general high spirits. Awards and speeches were given – what a wonderful time we’ve had! Notably we all know each other so much better and we like that feeling.

We were guided back to our hostel expertly by Isaac and Elizabeth. We settled to yet more games culminating in the Game of Snaps where the secrets of my mind reading were finally divulged. This was something of a relief and thrill for Sam in particular.

It’s 11pm and 5 expert teachers delirious with fatigue are still sitting in the corridor on the second floor. There been no noise from rooms for 30 minutes but it’s just too hard to move.

Sally Quirk

Seville – Day 2 Round-up

At the 7am wake up call one room of light sleeping boys was midway through a game of Uno while all others were dead to the world. Elizabeth even required a light shaking to join us in time for our delicious and generous breakfast spread.

On our way to market we filled up with water and tried 6W’s game of Off Ground It. Although great fun Sarah sadly managed to twist her ankle. Luckily the arrival of the wheelchair meant Finley had no further need of his crutches. We begin to resemble a hospital outing.

Great Spanish enabled us to buy our picnic really swiftly, some groups coming in under budget while others splashed the cash on delicious frivolous items. Returning to the hostel we chatted and lapped up the glorious weather as we walked towards the river.

We broke our short walk for churros which were delicious. A prize was offered if 6M proved the first group, in 6 years of coming to Spain,  not to spill any cups of chocolate. Things were looking so good until Ethan swung round with his camera!

While lunch was prepared back at the hostel, I enjoyed a quiet read while icing our two swollen ankles.

Then, after eating our fresh market produce the seal was broken on gift shopping. While some of our group are keen to compare prices between retailers others find their euros very easy to fritter. So wearing new hats or earrings or cooled by a new fan we walked to our flamenco experience. Again we were impressed with every child taking part, even those with injuries.  (Erin has by now skinned and bruised her shin.) Our teacher was superb and the talents of 6M were noticeable.

The flamenco show was spectacular. The dancers were not the same as 3 weeks ago, but demonstrated familiar stamping and swishing. So vigorous was this that some of our group felt sure they would be trampled at any moment if the male dancer misjudged his footing. Sweat flowed freely but this luckily added to the excitement. Yuk!


We arrived back with 5 minutes to spare before paella was served. We are travelling with good eaters, this evening many made light work of the enormous chocolate pudding.


It’s been so warm we sat outside on our decking area for games. A hilarious round of “G’day Bruce” was followed by Empire. Well done to Caitlyn who showed great strategy and skill in foxing us all. I know some of the children plan to share these games with you at home – what a happy thought!


It’s 9.30pm. Almost all children are asleep. Great result teachers, we should be able to turn in soon. The bin men come at 4.30 remember!


Sally Quirk