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Open Forum Feedback November 2012

Posted in Information, News, Our School, Parents on November 8th, 2012 by

Both Open Forum meetings were wonderfully well attended; many thanks to all of you for taking the time and trouble to come in. We estimate over 100 families were represented across the two meetings. That so many of you have stepped forward with willing voices and excellent ideas is an enormous boost to us all as we enter this next phase of our school’s life. We look forward to sharing these ideas in the weeks and months to come, and exploring how we can make them happen.

Questions raised and responses given will be posted here shortly. In the meantime, you can find responses to other non-financial questions posted here. Any further ideas and questions arising from these meetings can be sent to

Don’t forget that OFSTED’s Parent View feedback form takes just a few minutes to complete and can be found in the Parent section of the website.

 Open Forum 7/8 November 2012

Questions we have received unrelated to the question of finance:


  1. 1.       Please explain the restrictions now in place on the games children can play in ‘free time’.


The new ‘Brief Playground Guide’ (attached) was drawn up at the beginning of the term to establish a consistent message throughout the school in regard to our expectations for behaviour during playtime.

It is one of the many unique things about our school that all teachers share break time duties; this is both a blessing (it helps us to see the children in a different environment) and a challenge (we are not all games teachers, or referees). It is therefore particularly important that a distinction is made between free-time play and games lessons. With this in mind, the guide was written – in consultation with our games teachers – specifically to encourage an ‘Olympian’ spirit of fair play and awareness of others.

The rules for Four-Square (no holding and smashing) were introduced, in line with the ‘national’ Four-Square rules, after we observed a significant number of disputes and some injuries last year. Our approach is the same for tackling, wrestling and ‘take-down’ (grabbing a child by his/her clothes and throwing them onto the ground), where it was observed that without adult games supervision such behaviour tends to escalate and lead to injury.


  1. 2.      What is the policy on handheld electronic gadgets during school hours?


Mobile and Smart phones are banned from lessons, though they may be considered necessary to enable pupils to make arrangements with parents after the end of school. They have no place in the classroom or during the school day. On Academy premises, pupils should only use mobile phones after the school day has finished or at agreed times on trips. In no circumstances should a phone be switched on during school hours. This information is available in the Parent Handbook. 


  1. 3.      Can a policy be introduced where phones are handed in at the start of the school day and returned at the end as happens in some other schools?


It could be, but we are reluctant to introduce such a measure. Our behaviour policy has its roots in promoting positive behaviour and in offering pupils an opportunity to exercise an appropriate level of self-responsibility; this would include an awareness of switching off your phone and putting it in your bag before you come into school. The pupils are well aware of this rule, and are equally aware that phones used during school hours will be confiscated.

  1. 4.      Why are children who need extra support being taught by unqualified and inexperienced teachers when surely they need the best opportunities?

The school makes sure that the children’s learning is a priority. We always strive to employ staff who can meet the needs of the pupils. In any school there will always be teachers with different amounts of experience; this does not mean that they are not good teachers. Performance management and lesson observations provide support and are part of the programme of professional development for all teachers at school.  When children are taught in a small group, away from the classroom, the work that is set is carefully planned with the teacher responsible for delivering that subject.  Small group work, split classes, combined classes and in-class support are some of the many ways that school organises lessons to maximise the learning and achievement of the children.

  1. 5.       Is there Wifi at school                          There is no Wifi at school.


  1. 6.      Term dates: Could you please explain why the goal posts have moved yet again to a Tuesday. Also, why are we breaking up on Friday 20th December 2013 and not Thursday 19th December 2013?

It is important to point out that, despite pressure from the Local Education Authority, we continue to offer fewer school days than other maintained schools. For the year 2013-2014, we will have five fewer days than the LEA expectation. The other significant point is that we consistently strive, in response to requests from parents, to finish our summer term in advance of other schools so that our families can get away on holiday before most schools break up. This strategy has ‘a knock-back effect’ on our start and finish dates through the preceding year. Were we to finish on the Thursday in December, then the knock-back effect – working in conjunction with the Easter dates – would lose us an entire weekend plus two school days at the end of the summer term. 

  1. 7.       There is enough demand to run four Parent & Child groups a week, plus craft groups, for the use of the community to use a space. This would bring in regular revenue to the school. Can we sell the shepherds huts and create a larger, much more versatile space?

The school strongly supports Parent & Child provision and the parent craft groups, and would like to see both taking place within the site. It remains a complicated issue of planning, safeguarding and finance that requires the cooperation and support of several of our governance committees. The Academy Leadership Team and the Premises Group is currently working with Friends to put together a lasting plan that is in the best interests of all. Please watch this space.

  1. 8.      Question from Class Reps regarding the e-mailing of the Friday Flier instead of sending out paper copies to all:

Before changing to e-mail, we were sending out approximately 270 paper copies per week including Bulletins.  Most FFs are at least 8 pages + the separate market place which is another 4 pages (i.e. Around 70,000 sheets per year!)  In terms of a person’s time, it was taking half a day per week for someone to print, fold, label and distribute all the newsletters.  We saw this as an area which was wasteful both in terms of paper, the environment, and time.  We realise there are some people who may not have access to computers, and they can (and do) request a paper copy.  We have surveyed our sister Steiner schools to see what they do, and we can provide the replies if you wish to see them.  The overwhelming majority of Steiner schools e-mail their Friday Fliers, and adopt the same option as we do for parents who do not have access to email.

  1. 9.      Has the school considered photo voltaic cells for electricity generation as a revenue saving during school hours and selling surplus energy back to the grid as revenue source after hours, during weekends and holiday times?

Yes. This is something currently being explored by the Premises and Finance Groups.

  1. 10.   A question on whether after-school provision has been considered and how this would support working parents as well as providing a revenue source for the school.

We do offer a small range of after-school clubs, such as chess, running and singing. We are not aware of a significant demand for them, but would be happy to look into this if parents felt it was something they would use. Please contact Ian or Fran direct so that we can get an idea of numbers.

Anything else?

If you have any further questions, then please pass them onto Fran or Ian at the end of the meeting.With best wishes and thanks for your continued support.

Academy Leadership Team (Clarence, Wendy, Fran and Ian)



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The Steiner Academy Hereford, Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire, HR2 8DL | Tel: 01981 540 221 | Email:

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