"Achievement Partnership Success"

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23rd June - Talk By Dave Cooke, Governor

Date: 18th Jul 2017 @ 2:36pm

On Friday 23rd June, as part of our "Friday Parents' Coffee" talks series, we had a talk by Dave Cooke, who has been an Alma Park governor for 17 years.

This was a fascinating look at how volunteers including parent governors and coopted governors work so hard  to help make our school the friendly, successful and happy place that it is. 

Dave Cooke talked about his experiences in education here in the UK and in Africa. He went on to explain the background of what makes Alma Park special, what the challenges are to the governor team, and the day to day business of making our school fun, equitable, educational and fair.

The governors comprise a large team with a diverse skill set - from Finance, Health and Safety, Education and many more.

Thank you for a very interesting and informative talk!

If anyone has any questions about governors, then do collar them at school events - the governors now sport exciting yellow T Shirts saying "Ask Me". This is one part of the bid to make our school transparent and accessible.

I will try to make the powerpoint available on this page shortly, together with photos.

Thank you for a great talk!

Volunteer Readers at Alma Park

Date: 6th Jul 2017 @ 1:18pm

As some of you may know, Alma Park has a team of volunteer readers.  These are parents and carers, who in their spare time come into the school to listen to children read.  This is a hugely important role, and one that benefits the children massively.

Reading is an important skill- not just for achieving at school, but in life.  The benefits of reading are huge and far-reaching.  Of course, becoming a competent reader is a good thing in itself, but here are some other benefits that you may not be aware of-

  • Reading has been shown to improve concentration and attention span in children
  • Reading improves writing skills
  • Being a confident reader also helps in other subjects at school- not just English! For example, when reading instructions for a maths or science activity.
  • It improves self-confidence
  • Reading encourages creativity and sparks children’s imaginations
  • Reading encourages empathy and can improve social skills- reading about other people and their experiences allows children to put themselves in other’s shoes and consider alternative experiences and view points
  • And reading is a fun, free hobby that can be done anytime, anywhere!

As you can see, helping children to learn to read, and enjoy reading is incredibly rewarding in so many ways.  The teachers at Alma Park already spend a lot of time hearing the children read and sharing a love of books and stories with them, in a variety of ways, but some children may need additional time and support beyond this, and that is where volunteer readers come in!

Often times, volunteers will read with those children for who English may not be their first language, or who perhaps are struggling with their reading or lacking in confidence.  Having some extra one-on-one time to read with an adult for guidance and support is hugely beneficial, and as someone who has been a volunteer reader I can vouch for what a difference this makes, even sometimes within a matter of weeks!

I volunteered as a reader at the start of the school year, and after being given some guidance from the teachers, I was assigned to read with children from year 1 and 2.  The days and times were arranged to suit my own commitments, so it is possible to be a volunteer reader even if you only have a small window of free time each week.

Over the following months I read with a group of children from each of the year groups, and was able to see the progress they made- not just in terms of their vocabulary, phonics and understanding, which is of course fantastic in itself, but also in terms of their confidence, and enjoyment.

It was lovely to see children, who had been hesitant, lacking in confidence, and clearly wishing they didn’t have to sit and read to a stranger, over time blossom and come skipping over with their reading books, keen to read, and tell me about the stories they were reading!

The school needs more volunteer readers, and I would urge anyone who is interested to give it a go.  You don’t need any special skills, and will be given guidance on how best to support the children.  The days and times can be arranged to suit you, and even a small amount of time each week can make a difference.

All volunteer readers will need a DBS check completing- but please don’t let this put you off.  The office staff are available to help you with this, and the school pays, so all you will need to do is fill in a very quick form, and bring in your proof of ID- it really is very simple!

Ultimately, volunteering as a reader at the school is a really wonderful opportunity to get involved, and make a difference.  I often get waves and “hello’s” in the playground from the children I read with, and it’s brilliant to see the progress they are making.

If anyone thinks they might like to become a volunteer reader, or would like more information about what the role involves, please just speak to the staff in the office.  I know they will be delighted to hear from you J



What Do Governors Do?

Date: 15th Jun 2017 @ 12:41pm

Hello! I’ve been a governor for a few months now.  Before I started all this I wasn’t really that sure what governors actually do so I thought I’d do some blog posts in case anyone would like to know more. 
There’s a lot to learn and I’m still only at the very tip of the iceberg. Here’s a bit of what I’ve found out so far..
Every half term there are 3 official meetings – Staffing and Budget, Curriculum and Full Governing Body. I’ve been going to all of them at the moment while I find my feet but usually you only go to S+B or Curriculum. 
At the Staffing and Budget meetings we mainly talk about money and staff (no surprises there). But also things to do with the building, like the new refurbishments to the staff toilets and roof and health and safety.  The staff issues are mainly things like people going on and returning from maternity leave and how that will be accommodated, new staff arriving and others leaving.  Anne Smyth (in the office) is the School’s manager and every meeting she gives a breakdown of school spending and how that relates to the budget.  Dave Cooke is the Vice Chair of Governors and he gives forecasts of the school’s budget in year’s to come. 
The three curriculum meetings I’ve been to so far have started off with presentations by members of staff about their curriculum subjects. Firstly Nell McNeil gave an interesting talk about training she has been doing about ways of enhancing Science teaching.  The course is spread over a number of weeks and gives teachers advice and tools to make science in schools more fun and engaging.  She passes this information on to the rest of the teachers in school and helps them get the most from these lessons.  The second meeting had a great presentation from Sian Osbourne about the work she has been doing with music in the school and her aspirations for the future.  Thirdly we had a presentation from Mrs Hughes about the Early Years provision including how the school makes sure that the child is the centre of everything we do.  The curriculum meeting is also where school policies are discussed before going to the full meeting.  Most of them need to be reviewed every year and Karen Houghton and the subject coordinators have been doing a fantastic job of making sure they are all up to date and relevant.  There are lot! If you’d like to read them, most of them are on the school website with more to come.
Making sure that all children are getting the right opportunity to learn and enjoy school is a big part of what goes on.  As part of this a lot of data is collected.  Governors don’t see individual’s data but we do look at groups, for example, how does the achievement of girls compare to boys in various subjects, and how does this compare to national averages.  Doing this helps the school identify areas to focus on.  Governors had a training session on what to look for given by David Jackson who advises on planning and development. I must say that I have also been very impressed at how often the subject of the pupil’s experience comes up. There is an awful lot of stuff to do and boxes to tick but almost every time the subject comes round to how any decisions will effect the children’s enjoyment of learning and school.  As a parent, I’ve been very pleased and encouraged that children enjoying school is always such a high priority. 
You’ve probably had enough of reading about this for now.  I’ll leave the excitement of Health and Safety audits for next time – bet you can’t wait!

World Book Day- PTA Book Swap and Cake Sale

Date: 6th Mar 2017 @ 11:17am

Last week the children celebrated World Book Day with a full week of literature themed events- including author visits, dressing up as book characters, a special assembly and a book swap.  The PTA decided to join in with the fun, so on Friday at our usual tea/coffee morning we held a book swap and cake sale.

The idea was to bring along a book to swap, or if people didn't have a book to swap there were some available to buy for a small donation.  We also had a range of delicious cakes available to buy, with all proceeds going towards improving the outdoor spaces at Alma Park- in particular we are hoping to raise money to put towards the repair or replacement of the 'buddy bench' in the junior playground.

The morning was a great success- lots of people found their next read, everyone enjoyed the cake, and the icing on top was that we managed to raise £52.83 for the school.  A big thank you to everyone who made and bought cake, brought along books for the swap, and came along on the day.


Report on: Emotional Health and Wellbeing Friday 17th Feb 2017

Date: 17th Feb 2017 @ 1:08pm

Today Robert Chapman, our school nurse, gave a talk at Friday Parents' coffee about the topic of "Emotional Health and Wellbeing."

In collaboration with "Healthy Schools Manchester", Robert is involved with delivering a series of Health Promotion lessons on Fridays to children at Alma Park school, in years 1 through 6.

Our children learn about a range of topics, including respect for others, understanding our own and others' feelings, and problem solving when it comes to simple problems that arise in friendship groups.

There are separate sets of learning materials for the various age groups, with lessons delivered by Robert and the classes' own teachers. 

If anyone needs advice about specific issues, do contact the school, with the usual first point of contact being the class teacher. And Robert our school nurse is available every Friday and is at the school gate/office area at the beginning of the school day.

Robert also talked about what support is available when more difficult problems arise, including referrals to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service).

This was a very interesting talk! Thank you Robert, and thank you everyone who attended, for good discussions.

The next dates at Parents' coffee will be as follows. All welcome to all events:

Friday 3rd March: Book swap and cake sales! There will be coffee as usual. You can bring any books you would like to swap or donate along. There will be homemade cakes on sale, as we are beginning fund raising to improve the buddy benches in the playgrounds. 

Friday 10th March - Coffee as usual 

Friday 17th March - PTA meeting, 

Friday 24th March - Coffee as usual 

Friday 31st March - Talk by Robert on Hygiene and Head Lice 

Report on: Southern Perspectives History Talk 20th Jan 2017

Date: 23rd Jan 2017 @ 12:47pm

Big thank you to Dipali Das, Dave Cooke and the Southern Voices team, for their presentation this week on "Southern Perspecives on WWI." And thank you everyone who came along!

This was a very interesting and informative "hidden history" lesson.

The big themes of the talk included: Hearing about the sheer staggering numbers of people involved in the war, from all over the then British Empire, especially the army in India. The displacement, enlistment, and the social effects of this. The fact that decisions made at that time still now affect situations in the present - with echoes throughout history. The contrast between the "white" nations - Australia, NZ - which gained independence after WWI, while British Colonies in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean did not.

Above all, the apparant silence and the lack of a recorded story of colonized peoples. And a lack of a record of  women in our history books.

We saw very striking pictures depicting enlistment of troops, movements of troops, and the experiences of people caught up in the war. And heard about the research being doing by historians around the world to recover these histories.

The materials from the talk, including the powerpoint presentation, will soon be available on the Southern Voices website.


Some of the materials have been incorperated into education packs for schools, including photographs and worksheets aimed at KS2 children.

The "Southern Perspectives" material has also been arranged into a touring photographic and video exhibition, called "From the Shadows of War and Empire" which will be at various community venues in Manchester, including:

Phil Martin Centre, Princess Road, Moss Side: from now until the end of March 2017.

Z-arts (Zion centre) in Hulme: 18-28 April 2017 http://www.z-arts.org/events/from-the-shadows-of-war-and-empire-by-southern-voices/

Manchester Central Library Dec 2017 to Feb 2018.

The take-home message of the presentation was to talk about and learn about colonial history, not just from the point of view of the ruling empire. To be aware of the wider world, and to listen out for those "hidden histories" which had a huge impact on vast numbers of people, and yet are not often heard. And to encourage our children to do the same.

Look out for further talks from Southern Voices at Alma Park in future months.

In the summer term, Southern Voices will return with a theme of "Manchester, Cotton and Colonialism" again looking at experiences of people from within and outside of Britain. For example, focusing on the cotton imports by the East India company from India, Pakistan and other regions in Asia, through to more recent experiences of people moving to Manchester and Lancashire and working in the textile industries. This promises to be another fascinating talk.

Thanks again!

For a list of future talks at Friday Parents' coffee, keep an eye on parentmail and the Sandwich Board at the school gates.

We aim to have a few informative talks each term, while other Fridays are just for social chat etc.

Friday coffee is from 9am every Friday of school term in the community room near nursery. All are welcome. Kids welcome (there are toys). Price: Free, or you can donate e.g. 50p towards coffee and tea supplies, or bring biscuits or snacks to share.


Safety Talks at Coffee Morning

Date: 12th Dec 2016 @ 11:45am

On Friday 9th December we held a couple of safety related talks at our usual Friday coffee morning.  We were delighted to be joined by Robert Chapman the school nurse and Mr Bullivant- one of our year 4 teachers and digital learning manager for the school.

Robert talked to us about PRIDE 123.  'Pride' standing for Parents Role in Drugs Education.  This is a project being utilised in a large number of schools across Manchester, including here at Alma Park.  Some of the year groups have already started having these lessons and others will begin to shortly.  The focus is on keeping children safe and healthy and the content is tailored to the children's ages. In the younger year groups children will be learning about medicine safety and safety in the home, for example. In older year groups there will be discussions about tobacco and alcohol and the harmful effects of these, as well as beginning to increase knowledge and awareness around the issue of illegal drugs.

As part of the project children will not only receive lessons in school but will also receive a booklet which can be brought home and can be used to open up family conversations about health and safety.  Robert delivered an interesting talk about the lessons and we really enjoyed having him- thank you Robert.

For more information about Pride 123 you can visit:


There is a specific section on the site for parents and carers at:



We then had a talk about e-safety from Mr Bullivant.  This felt particularly pertinent for this time of year as so many children will be asking for video games, consoles and tablets for christmas, or spending time on them during the school holidays.

Mr Bullivant discussed the way in which e-safety is taught at Alma Park- with every unit having an e-learning element parallel to the teaching and how Cyber Bullying- a worrying new phenomenon, is dealt with swiftly as part of the school's zero tolerance policy on bullying.

He also talked about the problems with online gaming- particularly when children have headsets on and will likely hear bad language and inappropriate comments from other players, and how immersive playing in this way is- with a screen in front of you and headset on, you are completely shut off from the real world. Playing in this way it is easy for children to become completely absorbed to the detriment of other areas of their life- friends, family and school work for example.

So many children believe that their parents don't understand the online or gaming world and so are unlikely to approach them or confide in their parents if they see or hear something they are uncomfortable with or if they begin having problems online.  For this reason Mr Bullivant suggested that we as parents need to educate ourselves so that when faced with questions like "Can I play...x, y or z?" we have an informed answer to give.  And one of the best ways to do this (believe it or not!) is to actually download the app/play the games ourselves!  If you're not confident doing so- then asking a friend or family member or perhaps an older sibling to do this, can be a good way of getting an idea about what games actually involve, particularly in terms of unsuitable content for younger children. Mr Bullivant ran through the games ratings system for us and all of us were shocked at some of the content, particularly in those games rated PEGI16 or PEGI18.  Very few of us would allow our children to watch a film with an 18+ rating and yet some parents do allow primary school age children to play on (or watch others playing on) these games.

Finally we had some tips on ways to keep children safe at home such as making sure that children access tablets/computers/other devices in family areas or places where they can easily be supervised rather than allowing them in bedrooms for example, and also to talk to other parents about current apps/games that children are interested in so that we are all informed.

As he said- our children may always be one step ahead of us when it comes to technology but if we keep ourselves informed we will at least only be one step (rather than miles!) behind!

Some of the practical suggestions included using Youtubekids instead of Youtube (as this will block some unsuitable content) and Snapkidz instead of Snapchat (as this allows children to take selfies and add filters etc but not to share with the world!)

A lively and interesting discussion followed Mr Bullivants talk and we all felt better informed as a result, so thank you again for joining us.

We would also like to thank all the parents and carers who attended- it was a great turn out.  For anyone who was unable to attend you can visit the PRIDE 123 links above, or talk to Robert in person, and the slides from Mr Bullivant's e-safety presentation are available below.




Ghyll Head 2016

Date: 7th Jun 2016 @ 9:03am

Day 1: Everyone arrived safety and were soon off on their first adventure. It was hot, very hot! The nighttime temperatures were high too.

We have five pictures of our Ghyll Head Heroes exploring the woodlands around the centre and a superb view of a Windermere sunset.

We will add more tomorrow morning 

Day 2The children have been busy enjoying great adventures. Some were  shooting down the zip wire and exploring the waters and Winderemere shoreline by canoe others went caving  in Yorkshire next to the Ribble Head viaduct. Everybody was brave and rose to the new and exciting challenges they faced.

Afterwards we  tucked into a tea of sausages and chocolate cake pudding then it was back out into the grounds to play the Alien Game, badminton and football.

The weather has been fantastic; warm and sunny and no thunderstorms (unlike Manchester). With all of that evening activity we needed more food and drink courtesy of Mrs Mitchell and Mrs Green. Everybody was very tired so slept well.

Day 3We were all enjoying cereals and hot crumpets for breakfast when Mr P and Ms Houghton arrived at Ghyll Head! Some extra adults had come to join in with the fun!

The plan was to swap the activities around ghyll scrambling, caving and canoeing followed by climbing and zip wires. Everything was going well until the thunder, lightening and rain came. It's not safe to be flying through the air hanging from a metal wire in a storm so we had a slight change to plans. Orienteering in the warm rain proved to be a super alternative.

However after a few hours the sun came though the clouds and we were able to zip wire after all! Orienteering became a bonus extra activity!

After tea Ms Houghton and Mr G drove back to Manchester and we played team building games. These were very difficult to do at first, but with practice, co-operation, cheering and by encouraging each other we became very slick.

After supper we shared our thoughts on the success of the day; who and what had impressed us and why. It's great to know that there were so many instances of children and adults being caring, helpful  and appreciative towards each other.

Everyone (children) was in bed and lights out by 10 p.m., as many of us were very tired. Three days of adventures was taking its toll!

And finally....
Dear "Bloggers", thank you for your comments on our blog. We will try to post some pictures from all of the groups so other families can see how their Ghyll Head Heroes are getting on. But don't worry, if time and logistics prevent us from showing more children...we will give all families a CD of with many, many  pictures from Ghyll Head 2016.

Day FourAnother warm and sunny day, the weather was superb. Some of us revisited Windermere to consolidate and extend our canoeing skills whilst others faced the usual exciting challenges underground or clambering around Ghyll Head's rope course

The ghyll scrambling session was even better today as overnight rain had increased the flow and volume of water! The children weren't the only ones being impressive; Liam the instructor bravely dived into deep water to rescue two sunken wellies that had somehow escaped their wearers feet!

Back on site we ended the day with a campfire, performances and recollections of the day/week. It was heartwarming to hear the wonderful comments our children made. Bloggers I hope you get chance soon to ask your child about these circle time reflective sessions and what was said!

Day FiveAs I write the sky is overcast, so there may not be too much sun today! There are morning activities lined up; some on site some not too far away walking up Gummers How and appreciating the beauty of Windermere. Then it's lunch,  load up the coach and head back to Alma Park to be reunited with loved ones. Bloggers please keep in touch with the office to find out the coach's expected time of arrival.

Stop Press! 

Breaking News...

Fire alarm sounds at Ghyll Head!

False alarm!

All safe!

At 7:00 a.m. our Ghyll Head Heroes were awoken by a false alarm. Everyone got out of the building very quickly as is to be expected. Unfortunately someone was a little late because he was in the shower. 

Being an inclusive school meant that Mr Rose, who has been camping in a beautiful spot overlooking Windermere, wasn't allowed to miss out on the fun. Out Heroes ensured he had chance to join in by running around his tent making very loud alarm noises. 

I'm sure that this was an improvement on the pheasant that has been waking him up every other morning! He has declined to comment.

Eco Schools Blog

Date: 13th Oct 2015 @ 12:20pm

This blog will tell you all about Alma Park's Eco school activities

Alma Park Primary School

Errwood Road

Levenshulme, Manchester M19 2PF

T: 0161 224 8789

E: admin@almapark.manchester.sch.uk

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