Hernhill School Frost Fair

28th November 6.00-9.00pm at Hernhill School.

Get your Christmas Presents at the Frost Fair. Lots of unique stalls plus the Book People, Avon, Hercules wine and Mrs W Cider. Music from Cloud Nine Jazz.

Prices are £2.50 in advance, £3 on the evening, this includes a glass of wine and a mince pie.

Wine and mince pies will be available throughout the evening

Please note – this is an Adult Only event.

Please contact the school PTFA for tickets.


Grammar Schools: Debate on Radio 4 at 12.15 today

Home Secretary Theresa May has backed plans for an expansion of a grammar school in her constituency and London’s Mayor Boris Johnson says scrapping the grammar school system was a “tragedy” because they boost social mobility. What do you think?

Were you helped up the ladder by a grammar school? Or are poor bright pupils locked out by better off children with tutors? Might they be better helped by bursaries to the fee-paying independent schools whose members dominate workplace elites?

Tell You and Yours your stories – email them at youandyours@bbc.co. uk
Phone lines open – 03700 100 444


Listen Live

Image: bbc.co.uk

Primary Concerns

Choosing a Primary School

I have been thinking about all you parents who will be visiting and choosing primary schools over the next few months. I’m sure it’s hard to believe that your little ones will be off into the big wide world of school next year and you may be trying not to think about it, but I wanted to give you the benefit of my experience before you go and look around your local schools and make your choice:

1. Look beyond the Year R teacher and classroom; remember that your tiny titch will be a teenager, (well, look like one), by the time they leave.

2. If you hope to support your child’s learning at home, look for a school that welcomes you as well as your child. Find out what information and support the school provides for parents, in an ideal world this should include the following:

  • An informative website
  • A Regular Newsletter for parents – some schools provide weekly newsletters, others termly
  • Regular letters/texts/emails about school activities and events (letters can usually be found on the school website – read some to get a feel of the tone and content)
  • Termly year-group letters telling you what topics and other teaching areas the children are covering that term, (these should also be on the website)
  • Phonics and Maths (and possibly other) information workshops for parents
  • Effective policy for dealing with parent concerns, including approachable and available teachers/ SENco/head-teacher 
  • After-school/breakfast clubs/child-care
  • A supportive, approachable and available governing body
  • A strong, supportive PTA that fosters the school community

3. Don’t put all your faith in Ofsted reports, or SATs results, but trust your instincts. If you feel welcome and relaxed, that’s a good sign. If you aren’t sure, hang about in the school playground at the beginning and end of the day, talk to as many parents as you can, including those with older children, or visit the local play park at school pick-up time and see how relaxed and friendly the parents are and find out what they are talking about.

Schools vary enormously and the culture and ethos of the school depends on the priorities and effectiveness of the people running it. No school is perfect, they are like small empires run by benign dictators, so do your research and find the spot that is best for you. Remember, you know your child best, you were their first teacher: Find a school that you trust to continue your work in the way that suits you and your child best, but make sure that it is one that will keep you informed, respect your opinion and respond to any concerns quickly and sensitively.

You do have a choice and if at first you don’t succeed, put your child on a waiting list for as long as it takes.

Good luck!

Top Tips on Being Teacher’s Pet

The School Run asked teachers to share their top 12 parenting peeves, along with the things that parents can do at school and at home to make their job easier. This list includes:

  • Don’t ambush the teacher during the morning rush
  • Don’t be tight with school trips
  • Do except that your child may be different at school

Find out more here:




Secondary Schools: Open Days calendar

With the round of Open Days at secondary schools coming up over the next several weeks, we’ve compiled a calendar of several of the dates for local schools, which we hope relevant parents will find helpful.

We do recommend that people check the appropriate school websites to confirm that the times & dates are current and correct.

By all means do contact the Forum if you can give us updates or dates of any others local secondary school open days which we might add to the Calendar: thank you!

The Calendar will also feature as a Widget on the right-hand side of the home-page during the relevant period.


Welcome Year R Parents!

“Research shows that reading is the single most important thing you can do to help your child’s education”

Confused by Phonics? Not sure how to help with reading at home? You need:


A Guide to Understanding & Reinforcing School Teaching Methods at Home

This guide has been written by a parent for anybody who has children in Reception or Infant Classes at school. It includes an introduction to helping your child to read, an outline of methods of teaching reading in primary schools and suggestions of ways to reinforce these methods at home.

There are also Department for Education Guides on this subject:


and help from the BBC:


Phonics International have a free resource including videos of how to pronounce phonemes:


or find lots more useful stuff in our Literacy section:


and remember:

“Make it fun and if they aren’t enjoying it, try something else”

Happy Reading!

New Ofsted framework removes ‘satisfactory’

A new report published by Ofsted today reveals that ‘good’ will be the minimum requirement in inspected schools from now on.

The previous ‘satisfactory’ rating’ has been abolished, and instead such schools will be deemed as ‘requires improvement.’ The former five-point scale has been reduced to four – Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement, and Inadequate.

The Head of the Inspectorate, Sir Michael Wilshaw, states in his introduction to the report that

Too many children go through their entire school careers in ‘satisfactory’ schools. From September, only ‘good’ will be good enough. The changes we are introducing will help schools that don’t meet this standard to improve.
The ‘satisfactory’ grade will cease to exist and will be replaced by ‘requires improvement’. We will inspect those schools that ‘require improvement’ more frequently and we will support and monitor them to help them to improve.

Schools adjudged as needing improvement will be re-inspected within a maximum of two years, and will be expected to become ‘good’ within a defined timescale.

Read more on Ofsted’s website here, and further details in the Ofsted document here.

Successful School Leaders say “Talk to your Parent Governors!”

A Parent governor cannot act as an advocate for a parent who complains and a governor’s reaction to any complaint will probably be “have you spoken about this to the class teacher and/or the Headteacher”? However, parent governors can play “a vital two-way communication role: as an ambassador for the school, informing and reassuring parents about the outcome of debates and governing body decisions, and in turn informing fellow governors about parental reactions to such decisions”.

A parent governor is required to put forward their own views to the governing body, rather than acting on behalf of the parent body, but they are in a good position to reflect back parental reactions to policy decisions to fellow governors and to the Headteacher.

It is generally accepted that a good relationship between parents and governors will benefit the whole school community. A former head teacher and chair of governors writes that:

The reasoning is simple: if governors know what parents want, they will be more able to deliver it; and if parents know what governors do and who they are, they can help to make the governing body itself more effective. These two groups within the school community have many common interests and much to offer each other. Together they have much to contribute to the enhancement of the school as a whole.

Then there’s the group of parent-governors. Parent-governors are, of course, exactly the same as any other governors; they don’t carry a special mandate to act or vote in any particular way. But it is usually assumed that parent-governors will have useful channels of communication with other parents, and that they will, informally at least, represent the sort of views commonly held by parents as a whole within your school. This is a channel of communication that needs to be exploited. Do your parent-governors ever meet together to discuss issues? Do they ever hold feedback meetings for parents? Do they attend PTA meetings to canvass opinions or convey information about proposals and decisions? Do they hold any kind of surgeries or clinics, to which parents can bring any anxieties, complaints or suggestions?

Governors should attend as many functions as possible – and not as VIPs! For example, in my own school, the governors staff the gate at the PTA’s annual summer fair. We organise the rota ourselves. It gives us a chance to meet people and often some serious discussion takes place”.

It’s very effective if governors maintain a presence in the playground at the beginning and end of the school day; especially those governors who are also parents. By so doing, you can pick up the latest concerns, give guidance to parents with complaints, and generally make it very clear that the governors are not some distant, aloof gathering of people who take important decisions and are rather above all this stuff directly involving children: but that you are a group of genuinely concerned people, who know what the school is really like, and are an active part of its community”.


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