December 2013

Welcome to December!

How time flies and we're nearly at Santa time already...  As you can imagine, school is really buzzing right now, with various Christmas preparations, as well as all our other activities.  However, if we can't get excited about Christmas in a Primary school, we can't get excited about Christmas full stop.

Our Open Morning takes place on Friday 6 December 2013, as previously advertised.  Visiting times are at 9.30am and 11.15 am, but don't worry if you can't make either, as there is an Open Evening on Wednesday 8 January 2014, from 7.00pm.  If you're still stuck for a time, just call us and we'll arrange a time for you to come and visit.  If you click on Home Page, you'll find information on our Admissions Criteria, too.  However, please remember that these only become active once the school is over-subscribed for P1 entry, ie we have more than 53 applicants.  Remember, too, that we welcome applications from all pre-school providers in the true spirit of the open enrolment procedure.  For additional information, you can also view our Prospectus and promotional flier.

Before Christmas, we'll be updating our year group News Sheets, so if you want more information on what's going on in the classes, this is where you'll find it (to the right-hand-side of this page).

In March 2012, we published our book in recognition and commemoration of the Titanic Centenary.  'A Titanic Memorial - the Andrews Memorial Hall' sold widely, in Comber and all around the world.  It was a great success and we are tremendously proud to have been able to publish a book of its quality and significance to the ongoing legacy of Titanic.  This December we are again very proud to announce the availability of the book in downloadable form via this website.  We are conscious of the Hall celebrating its own centenary in January 2015 and are making plans for that year, but this is a lovely opportunity to once again promote the book, this time in a very 21st century form.  'Hard' copies are still available for sale from the school and newsagents in Comber; and we are still welcoming additional information to the original content, such as people's names from photographs or other anecdotes about the hall and those who used it.

The book can be accessed from the Titanic Centenary page of the website, or by clicking on the link below.  We very much hope that you will be encouraged to spread the news and that new readers can enjoy the stories behind Comber's most famous public building.

A Titanic Memorial - the Andrews Memorial Hall

We reported on our first Walking Buses last month, so this month sees us returning to our already established 'Bike Bus'.  We invited children and adults to form the bus and then to help themselves to a healthy 'Bike It Breakfast' in school.  Once again, we were delighted with the response and look forward to more of the same in 2014.

Before we publish more Christmas news, we have a very important story to report on...  On our Eco Club's recent visit to the Linen Museum in Lisburn, we were informed that we are the only school that the museum staff know of that actually grow their own flax.  We were chuffed indeed!

We are indebted to Mrs Moorhead and her valiant Eco Club pupils for their commitment and hard work in nurturing and harvesting the flax; then processing it to its current state, ready for combing and spinning into thread (the museum have offered their assistance in this).

A lovely parallel for our school, in particular, is the fact that the Andrews family ran the Andrews Mill across the road from where the school stands - making linen thread no less!  We look forward to inviting members of the family to see our own crop in the new year.

Flax in our polytunnel - drying after harvesting.

Spinning linen thread in Lisburn - soon we'll be spinning our own.

After harvesting, the seeds must be separated from the plant.  This is called rippling.

Here we are, retting the flax - wetting it to soften the stems of the plant. Did you know that the actual linen will come from the stem of the plant?  Here's hoping that we'll have pictures of that soon.

And finally, as we approach the end of term, we arrive at our Christmas celebrations...  It really has been a busy month!

Here are two photographs of the Carol Services - played out to a full Andrews Hall on each evening.  We must also thank everyone for their generosity towards the Philippines' disaster and emergency fund, and Prader Willi, for which we raised over £300.

Our Nativity Play, the Gigantic Star stars all the children in P1-3.  Hot from the first performances, here are two pictures to whet your appetite.  To view more pictures, click here to download them.

And finally... who says Santa gets stuck in the chimney?

Happy Christmas!

October 2013

Review of the Common Funding Formula - PLEASE RESPOND NOW.  Your children's eductional futures are under threat from a wholly unfair proposal by the Minister of Education to take funding from our school and give it to others in allegedly more need.  Please make your voices heard and support your children, their teachers, their school and your school community.

For guidance, there are several documents you can consult, all of which are listed below.  There is also a suggested set of responses which can be accessed by clicking on CFF Consultation Response.

Information for Parents

Local issues - the reality

Parents' Powerpoint from 9 October 2013

Your local MLA contact details

Online parent petition:

http://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/schoolfunding

You can also find some aditional information here:

http://www.thedetail.tv/issues/282/school-funding/the-winners-and-losers-under-school-funding-reform-proposals

The school will support your efforts to return your responses on time - by 5.00pm on Friday 18 October 2013.

Next week, during the parent-teacher consultations, the Computer Suite will be open for your use.  Staff will be on hand to help you through the process.  Please, please, please make every effort to respond - and get members of your family to do the same.  It doesn't take long and you don't need to fill in the'extra commnets' boxes.  These can't be counted by the Department; what matters is the selection of YES, NO, NOT SURE or NO VIEW.

You may also download the response form from the Department's website and complete it by hand, before posting it directly to Bangor - the address is on the website.  Just make sure to complete the full response form - we can't take the risk of a response being declared null and void because it is incomplete.

All response forms can be found by clicking this link - DENI.

You will have to select the 'Online Consultation Response Form' from the list of documents on the web page.  You will be directed to a page that asks you to create a personal log on.  After that, the process is easy - just select the answers from the options provided - but check our answers first.  Here they are:

Question:

1

2

3a

3b

3c

3d

3e

3f

4a

4b

4c

4d

4e

5a

5b

6

7

Answer:

N

N

N

N

N

N

Y

NS

NS

NS

NS

NS

NS

N

NV

Y

Y

N

NS

as you wish

Key: Y - yes; N - no; NS - not sure; NV - no view

In addition to completing the 'official' response form - which is the only thing that will definitely be counted - you can write or telephone or email your local representatives, as well as other MLAs, your MP or your Councillors.  There is genuine anger about these proposals.  They are unfair and a real threat to your children's chances of receiving the best education that they deserve.

Key Issues you may wish to include in a letter (see the powerpoint, too)

FAIRNESS - these proposals are patently unfair to many and distinctly advantageous to a few

SUSTAINABILITY - Andrews Memorial is measured as strongly sustainable by the DENI & the SEELB - using criteria of Enrolment, Quality of provision & Financial accountability

APPROVED BUDGETS NOW DISMANTLED - Boards of Governors' hard work and time made to look a waste of time

You must exercise your voter's rights to make sure the politicians hear your voice.

 

The end of September / start of October now has a tradition at Andrews.  It is at this time of year that we invite members of our school community, as well as visitors from the worlds of business and education, to sample a real Andrews welcome at our French Breakfast.  The breakfast is held in support of the European Day of Languages and has been a great success over the past three years.

This month's breakfast was once again very memorable and the children excelled themselves in their ambassadorial roles.  The P7s are given the added responsibility of serving the food and the PTA serve the drinks.  WE even had a Minister and A Canon who weren't the same person - look carefully...Magnifique!

Thanks to everyone who came to our Harvest Service in the Andrews Hall on 8 October.  The hall was full and the children sang and read beautifully.  We had the pleasure of Paul Cameron, from Scripture Union, coming to speak, and your generosity in the collection resulted in the SU receiving £160.  Thanks, also, to everyone who contributed items for the Food Bank in Comber.  These were gratefully received, as were the flowers, fruit and vegetables that we donated to Weir Court.

Attention all quiz lovers...  The PTA's annual 'starter for ten' quiz will be held at McBride's in Comber (upstairs lounge) on Friday 18 October 2013, beginning at 7.30pm.  All are welcome - this is always a great chance to get to know some parents and to have a bit of craic.  It also gets our fund-raising efforts off the ground.  We'll be dropping in a special round called the PTA AGM, too, so in order for you to prepare your answers, click on PTA for help...  We hope to see you there!

We also hope to see you at our Hallowe'en Family Fun Night on Thursday 24 October - tickets are selling fast, so don't delay!

Thanks to all parents and friends for their support at the PTA Pub Quiz in McBride's.  With careful choreography, the PTA managed to hold its AGM as 'an extra round' in the proceeedings, so congratulations to all the office bearers and Committee members - and all the best for the year ahead.  For more information on the 2012-13 year, you can click on the following links:

Chairperson's Report 2012-13

Treasurer's Report 2012-13

As the dark evenings come closer, we think it's really important that the children do everything they can to stay safe when out and about.  Of course, as a proud Bike It school, we also have a duty to promote a healthy lifestyle through walking and cycling.  You'll hear lots more about this as the year goes on, but our new Bike Crew have been 'spooking some spokes' in an effort to promote wearing bright colours when out in gloomy or dark conditions.  Here's how a few of their ideas ended up!

Earlier this term, the school received a request from Forestside Shopping Centre.  It was to decorate a calf for a dsiplay this Hallowe'en, called 'Moos in the Mall'.  It sounded like fun and we said yes.  Then we forgot...

Until, that is, the calf arrived - carried proudly into the school under the arm of a friendly delivery man.  It was white and life-size - we all laughed and wondered...

Of course, Mrs Boultwood sorted us out, followed soon after by Mrs Moorhead, and a team of artists was despatched to paint what has now become 'Winnie'.  We added Wilbur, the cat, too, as we were following the theme of a favourite children's book, Winnie the Witch.

And here they are, Winnie and Wilbur.  Wilbur was painted by a team of pupils from various year groups; Wilbur was created by the Primary 1and2 children and cut-outs of their hands.  Perhaps you'll see them on a shopping trip this half-term...

Finally, to round off what has been an exciting and challenging start to the school year, we can report on a very successful Hallowe'en Family Fun Night.  As is customary, the evening's finale was a firework display - our thanks to Mr Sandford for braving the darkness to take these pictures...

September 2013

Hello, and welcome back to another school year!

At least on this occasion, we can all say we've had plenty of sun.

For anyone wanting to check the term dates and holidays for the 2013-14 school year, please visit the Calendar page.  We will do our best to update the page as the school diary fills up.  It will, too!

As we enter the final year of our School Development Plan (2011-2014), it is our duty to remind and update you on the main target areas of the plan - just click on June 2013.  Should you wish to receive a hard copy of this document, please let us know.  We will also make some copies available at the forthcoming Curriculum Evenings.

September is a very special, indeed unique, time for one of our year groups.  Our new pupils in Primary 1 are just beginning what we hope will be an exciting year and an exciting time at school.  A short visit to their classrooms brings a smile to everyone's face.  Their smiles and enthusiasm remind us all why we do this job!  Already, Miss Larkham - and now Mrs Connolly - along with Mrs Knaggs and Mrs Moorhead, feel the children are well settled and relaxed in school - much credit to the staff team, of course!

Here are some pictures from the children's first few weeks at Andrews Memorial...

We wish all our new pupils well!

Our other new class format sees Primary 3 children sharing a room with Primary 4 pupils - again, we are proud to say how quickly and happily the children have settled.  Thanks also to Mrs Hanafin for her commitment to the class, and to Mrs Allen and Miss Hall for their support.  Here is a selection of their artwork from recent weeks, including - as is a must for this time of year - two photos from the recent visit by Don Scott, the 'Owl Man'.  Don is the first visitor to the school each year and always proves very popular with the children - as do his 'guests'...

 

Another development in the children's learning that we are starting this term sees the introduction of 'Skills-based Learning'.  This is essentially a programme of topic-related skills-based activities for the older pupils in Key Stage 2 (P5-7).  Like the Play-based Learning (P1&2) and Activity-based Learning (P3&4), these activities are designed to promote more active learning, with pupils working in self-managed groups around a range of activities, both in the classroom and in the activity areas.  Our school is perfectly suited to this type of programme because of the shared areas.  The SBL for the older pupils really develops and extends the skills that are a strong focus in the earlier years, but which matter every bit as much as we get older.  The pictures here show the P5 pupils at work...

Keep an eye out for the year group News Sheets soon.  Everyone is settling into school really well and we're all looking forward to another great year!

Our final piece of September news sees us welcome our new school crossing patrol, Mr John Dunn, to the Andrews Memorial family.  Mr Dunn joins us after many years' service with the transport unit of the SEELB.  We wish him well in his efforts to keep us all safe and hope that everyone is crossing the road safely - that is, where and when he tells them to.