PARENT’S ZONE

Term Dates

2021-22

Autumn Term 2021

Teacher Training Days: Thursday 2 September 2021 & Friday 3 September 2021

Term starts: Monday 6 September 2021 

Half-term holiday: Monday 25 October 2021 to Friday 29 October 2021

Teacher Training day: Wednesday 1 December

Term Ends: Friday 17 December  2021

Christmas holiday: Monday 20 December 2021 to Monday 3rd January 2022

Spring Term 2022

Teacher training day: Tuesday 3rd January

Term starts: Wednesday 5 January 2022

Half-term holiday: Monday 21 February 2022 to Friday 25 February 2022

Term ends: Friday 8 April 2022

Easter Holiday: Monday 11 April 2022 to Friday 22 April 2022

(There is 1 additional Teacher Training day to be allocated across in 2022, this day is yet to be confirmed

Summer Term 2022

Term Starts: Monday 25 April 2022

May Day Bank Holiday: Monday 2 May 2022

Half term holiday: Monday 30 May 2022 to Friday 3 June 2022

Term ends: Thursday 21 July 2022

[The term will end on Thursday 21 July 2022 rather than Friday 22 July 2022 in lieu of Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday – to be confirmed.]

Home learning:

Ordinarily, children’s home learning will be found under their Year Group Button on the Children’s Zone page. 

However, things became very different from March 2020. Daily home learning was shared via Zoom, Showbie, Dojo or via paper copies. 

Below is the guidance we shared at the time, in the hope that we will not have to revert to this approach again. Instead we hope that we can continue to build on the improvements in communication and digital literacy that many of us had to quickly adapt to.  

Free School Meals:

We highly recommend all families apply to see if they’re able to access Free School Meals.

Please see the information below and link to the Sandwell application form or ask for a paper copy from the school office.

Many families in Sandwell could get free school meals but don’t claim for them.

Your child may be entitled to free school meals if:

  • your annual income is less than £16,190; and
  • you claim Child Tax Credit (*Not Including Working Tax Credit) only; and
  • your child is attending a Sandwell School (if your child(ren) doesn’t attend a Sandwell School, you will need to apply to the Local Authority which your child(ren) school is in)

*Please note you will not qualify for free school meals if you receive any amount of Working Tax Credit. Before applying please check your latest Tax Credit Awards Notice if you are unsure.

 Your child may also qualify for free school meals if you receive any of the following benefits:

 Income Support

  • Universal Credit ** if you apply on or after 1 April 2018, your household income must be less than £7,400 a year as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods (after tax and not including any benefits you get) Your net earned income is your household income after taxes and deductions and does not include income from Universal Credit or any other benefits you may receive.
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • Guaranteed Pension Credit (including Child Tax Credit)
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • support from the National Asylum Support Service.

 https://www.sandwell.gov.uk/info/200151/education_benefits/2176/free_school_meals

Travel assistance (Bus passes):

If you live in Sandwell, are attending the nearest school (via Safe Walking Route) you may be able to receive help with travel costs towards the cost of a bus pass.

However, there are certain criteria requirements you have to meet before you will qualify for assistance. Please read Sandwell’s Home to School/College and Adult Learner Transport Policy which gives you more information on the eligibility criteria you will need to match before applying.

https://www.sandwell.gov.uk/info/200151/education_benefits/2179/help_with_school_travel_costs

ParentMail:

 

For most home-school communication we use ParentMail at Victoria Park Academy. 

ParentMail is a service paid for by schools to help communicate and collect payments from parents. 

All letters, messages, parents evenings and payments will be coordinated through ParentMail, meaning less paper used, less opportunities for messages missed, and the introduction of a cashless school office.

 Registering with or logging into ParentMail is usually straight-forward but if you do need help we are happy to walk-through your setup with you – please contact the school office for support. 

We recommend parents download the free ParentMail App onto their smart phones. Doing this means you won’t need to search through busy inboxes for schools messages or have to remember login details. https://www.parentmail.co.uk/support/parent-support/

If you are unable to access ParentMail, or you have difficulties accessing the internet or data, please contact the office and we will arrange paper copies or an alternative service. 

 

Clubs:

Our club offer has grown enormously – each teacher in the school now runs a lunchtime or afternoon club based on their interests of the interests of our children.

Clubs change each term and include: Knitting, arts and crafts, football, cooking, baking, marathon training, geography, history, science, Forest school and strategy games.

Since adopting this approach participation has grown from 47 children to 215 taking part in at least one form of extra-curricular activity.

Bookings for each term can be made via Parentmail. Please see details and timings in our club booklet which will be circulated in September, or contact the office for more information.

Attendance and punctuality:

“Children who miss school, miss out as adults.”  Secretary of State for Education 2012

“Of pupils who miss between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of primary school, only 35 per cent manage to achieve five A* to C GCSEs, including English and maths.”

We expect and encourage our children to be in school everyday. And on time. Our focused support and reading sessions take place from 8.50, and so it is vital children are in on time and ready to learn.

¨ Children who arrive after the gates close at 8.50 will need to report, with their carer, to the office to be registered and escorted to their class.

¨ Children not collected by 3.30 will be placed in our Afterschool Childcare service and relevant charges maybe incurred.

We operate a strict policy regarding holidays in term time and any such applications will not be approved. This is inline with Sandwell guidance and the law. If children are away for a prolonged period of time there is a strong possibility of their place being allocated to another child.

Absence, illness, medication (and contact details)

If your child is ill, please contact the school office as soon as you can either by phone (0121 558 8701), or via the ParentMail App.

We encourage you to always send your children into school if possible. If they become unwell then we will phone you to collect them.  Therefore, it is important that we have a minimum of two contact numbers where we can speak to a trusted adult throughout the school day. You must make sure that you update the school office if these numbers change.

If your child is prescribed with medication that requires administration at school, you will need to log this with the school office and complete a medical registration form. For longer-term medical requirements, our SENCo will work with your medical specialists to complete a personalised care plan. 

School Meals

The school has its own kitchen and school meals and snacks are cooked fresh, on the premises every day. The school has won a healthy schools award and prides itself in providing a wide variety of choices including a meat dish, fish dish and vegetarian option and uses fresh vegetables when possible every day. We also have themed days to give children an opportunity to try new foods, e.g. Chinese Day. Menu’s giving details of the choices for each day are available from the school office and displayed in the canteen.

 

School dinners include a main meal, pudding and drink. Payments for dinners should be made via Parentmail. Please see the school office for any further information or to request a menu.  https://pmx.parentmail.co.uk/#core/login

Please click here to view the school lunch menu.

School Uniform

It is the expectation of the school that all pupils wear school uniform. This helps to promote a positive identity, supports discipline, set standards and prevents pupils from wearing unsafe or unsuitable ‘fashion clothes” which are often more costly. 

We ask parent to support the school in encouraging their children to wear school colours and take a pride in their appearance.

It is not essential for children to wear our branded uniform, (we recognise that more affordable options are available), but if you do choose to purchase jumpers with the VPA logo, then we’ve sourced a range of suppliers:

• Clive Marks—£13.99 (+ £4.99 postage and packaging)
• Crested school wear—£10.99 (+ £3.99 postage and packaging)                                                                                                                                                  • Alpha Corporate Branding— £11.50 (delivered to school)                                                                                                                                           myclothing.com – £9.99 (£3.75 postage and packaging)

Please make sure that all items of uniform are clearly marked with the child’s name. This makes lost items easier to return and can save the cost of replacing them!

 Jewellery and make-up are not allowed.

We would never want the absence of uniform or equipment to become a barrier to learning or attending school. 

As well as running a ‘Save the Planet School Wear’ project to repurpose uniform across our community, we can also work with families to discuss other discrete support. Please contact Mrs Mahal, Mr Hull or Mr Reed whenever you need to.

  • School uniform consists of:
    Navy blue round-neck sweatshirt with or without Academy logo
  • Plain white polo shirt (from Asda or other stockists)
  • Grey or black trousers or skirt
  • Black shoes
  • Wellies, raincoats, gloves, hats, scarves etc for when playing outdoors in all weathers.
  • Children may wish to wear blue and white checked dresses or shorts in the Summer time.
  • School PE Uniform consists of:
  • Pumps or trainers
  • Black skirt, shorts or jogging bottoms
  • White T-shirt or polo-shirt.

Safeguarding and e-safety

(For all of our statutory information and policies, please see our Key Documents page).  

All of us have a duty to safeguard the children in our care. If you ever need to report information or a concern, please contact one of the Designated Safeguarding Leaders via the office, either in person, or by calling 0121 558 8701. 

An area of growing concern is how we keep children safe online. Children will be taught this explicitly in school as part of their ICT and PHSE Curriculum, and again through anti-bullying week and cyber safety day. Please click below for links to support parents and carers outside of school. 

Wraparound: (Breakfast Club and afterschool childcare)

Our support staff deliver an early morning breakfast club for parents who are working or studying and need to drop children off before school starts. Children can be left on site after 8am and will be provided cereal, toast, drinks, and have a range of games and activities to play with. It costs £3 a day, although families entitled to Free School Meals may be able to access the service at no cost. 

 

New for September 2021 – we are extending our Wraparound Provision to include afterschool care. Again, the cost is £3 per hour (or part of hour) between 3.30 until 6pm. 

 

Please contact the office to check availability and discuss a place. 

 

Class Dojo:

At Victoria Park Academy, we use ClassDojo, a communication app for the classroom. It connects teachers, parents, and pupils to share photos, videos, and messages through the school day and gives parents a sense of the classroom as experienced by their child

https://www.classdojo.com/en-gb/?redirect=true

One great benefit of Class Dojo is the translation feature. We will increasingly send whole school messages on Dojo as well as ParentMail to support with language translation. 

ClassDojo is also a behaviour management tool for the classroom. Each student has a profile – complete with their own avatar – to which teachers can assign points (or ‘dojos‘) throughout the lesson. Parents are able to see the points that children receive and praise their child as a result.

All messages sent by parents on ClassDojo Messaging can only be viewed by the teacher. No other parent can view your messages.

Your child’s class teacher will give you your log-in details for ClassDojo.

We ask parents to adhere to the following rules when using ClassDojo:

Rules for use:

  1. Messages are only sent through ClassDojo between the hours of 8.00am and 6.00pm in support of work-load and well-being considerations for parents and teachers.
  2. Class Dojo is only used to share your child’s everyday experience of learning in and beyond the classroom. It may also be used to send reminders to parents regarding events and activities.
  3. ClassDojo is not to be used for parental complaints – (please contact school in the usual way should the need arise) or for detailed discussions – again should you want to discuss your child’s learning, please see your child’s class teacher

Parent Forum:

We have been without a Parent Association for many years – we’d like to correct this!

If you would be interested in joining a newly formed Parent Forum in 2022 please contact Mrs Mahal via the school office.

We’d like the Parent Forum to provide input and support on:

  • The type of community events we run
  • How school can better support families and the local community
  • How parents can become more active in school life – listening to readers, volunteering in class, and attending school trips.
  • Planning and coordination of the Summer and Winter Fairs.

Poverty Proofing:

During the 2021 Summer term we have been incredibly fortunate to partner with Sandwell Local Authority and the Charity, Children North East. Over the course of a week ALL children in our school were consulted about what it’s like to be a pupil at Victoria Park Academy, what barriers there are to learning, and which aspects help them to thrive. 

Over 100 parents also provided feedback through surveys and interviews to understand the financial implications of sending children to our school. Our next step is to analyse this and understand the outcomes as a staff team, and to develop a Poverty Proofing Code of Practice for VPA that we hope to share and implement during 2021 and 2022. 

Choosing a Secondary School:

When your child reaches Year 5, it is time to start thinking seriously about which high school they will go to. When choosing a school, it is well worth attending open days as well as getting the views of other parents. However, don’t forget that a school that is right for one child may not be right for another – it is really about finding the school where your child can achieve their potential.

You will need to complete an online application form for Sandwell schools in September when your child is in Year 6, however if you think grammar school will suit your child you must apply earlier.

Applying for Grammar Schools

Each grammar application is different and you will need to contact the school or visit their website to check how and when to apply. As a rough guide the entrance test for grammar schools is taken in early September of Year 6, however you will need to have registered your child to sit the test in the Summer Term of Year 5.

There is no substitute for a visit to a school where you will get a real feel for the atmosphere and ethos, however, school websites are a good place to start and they will also tell you about their application process.

Family Handbook:

We hope that you have been able to find all the information you need across these pages, however; we’ve also set out our information for families and carers in a school handbook. You can either request one from the office or click on the link below: