I hope all is well with you and I hope you will enjoy the two week break.
I have a number of items to update you on:
Parking for parents outside the school gate
Peter, Chair of Governors, and myself met with Camden Parking recently in response to my letter explaining the difficulties parents bringing their children to and from school by car, are experiencing. It was a positive meeting. As a result:
- Camden will review its policy on parking outside schools – long term solution;
- Zebra crossing – they understand our need for a crossing and will investigate further;
- They came to the school last week and spoke to a number of parents. They understand the issues and we are optimistic that they can find a quick solution.
- Parking vouchers – we have ordered a bulk supply of these and will sell them to any parent who needs an hour slot to attend a meeting at school eg annual reviews. They will cost £2.55 for one hour and can be purchased on the day from Reception.
This is a system Camden uses for sharing information. We are exploring how to use this at school instead of Fronter, to give you access to your children’s work and progress.
You will be aware we have been looking into having a school uniform. Thank you to those of you who completed our survey. There wasn’t a great response but generally people were in favour and Katie, the School’s Media Resource Officer, has produced a “mood-board” of ideas for the uniform. Please click here to view and it would be good to have your feedback. Please email this to email@example.com
The matter of supplying halal food was raised when the new school was built. A survey was sent to parents. There are parents who want halal and others who don’t. This leaves us with a dilemma as the kitchen cannot accommodate both. At present, children who want halal food eat the vegetarian option. I will continue to explore whether we can resolve this in any way and I will come back to you on this matter.
After the idea of a weekend club was talked about at a recent Parent Council meeting, Dahlia Dajani took up the project to help organise this weekly event. She has met with Clare Donovan to go over updates and ideas and would like to thank all parents who replied to the survey that was sent out to help us learn how you would like these weekend clubs to run. A committee of parent volunteers has been set up to help out, but the more volunteers we can have the better! We hope to have the club running soon as we still have to iron out a few things with BAM. If you have any questions or comments please do let us know.
Some Major Developments we have planned for the School
When the building was planned, we had a £25 million budget for the actual building and its fitting out, including furniture and IT.
We made clear from the outset that we needed a building that was adaptable, as the needs of the students were changing over time, and that we would have to make changes. We are now doing this and I want to share with you some of the improvements we are currently working on.
Display around the school (September 2014)
Staff and students are working on displays across the school. At present the walls are too clinical.
Short breaks flat (September 2014)
Upper school students and staff are developing and setting up the flat which will be available for “short breaks” via Social Services and some Life Skills experiences for some of our students. We are also developing it as a “Smart Centre”. Taryl has been appointed as manager of the flat.
16 – 25 provision and 25+ provision – we need supported learning, living and working provision for our students post Swiss Cottage. We are working with Camden to develop this. This is a common issue for students leaving special schools across the country.
As our population at Swiss Cottage has changed to take children with more complex needs, the children with MLD who used to come to Swiss Cottage, now have no place to go. We have begun talks with Camden to address this.
Playground development (September 2014 and beyond)
Governors have allocated £200,000 in the first instance to further develop the outdoor spaces for our students. We expect most of this work to take place over the summer holidays. A Hobbit House has been installed in the Lower School playground this week.
6th form Common Room
Upper School students have been to IKEA to furnish this room. There are still more developments to come.
Fundraising – “Friends of Swiss Cottage”
Camden gave us an annual budget of approximately £7 million. We spend most of that money on staff salaries because we employ a lot of staff to meet the needs of all children at Swiss Cottage. The rest goes on day to day running expenses and resources. In order to do all the extra things we do for your children, we raise money. We are aiming to raise £1 million in our first 3 years in our new building. We have currently raised approximately £400,000. This will be invested and we will use the income from the investment for the extras.
Some current major fundraising areas:
- after school/Saturday and holiday schemes;
- playground development;
- research projects;
- video cameras in every classroom to show best teaching practice
We are also very excited to have been chosen by PHD Media Planning, a large media and communications agency, to be their charity of the year (www.phdww.com). Volunteers from PHD hosted a fun day (Big Hug Day) at the school on Tuesday 1 April to launch their relationship with us. Thank you to Claire Avant and the fundraising team for organising the Big Hug Day and all staff who worked hard to make this a success.
Autism Awareness Day
Thanks also go to Sandra Garrett and the Autism Team for leading on Autism Awareness Day yesterday. Lower School celebrated the day with a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party including sensory play and an imaginary tea hosted by the white rabbit, Alice and the Mad Hatter.
Classes and staff for next year
We are currently full for next year. We know the children who will be leaving and those who will be joining us, mainly in Lower School. This means that we can confirm our class groups and teachers earlier this year, ready for next year.
Some Star Pupils
I would like to share with parents generally, outstanding achievements by pupils at Swiss Cottage. In this letter, I would like to start with Jahziah Williams.
Jahziah is 13 years old and a student in Pine Class, Middle School. Jahziah has been a student at Swiss Cottage for a number of years. Jahziah is a sprinter. After being selected to train with the national cerebral palsy development squad for Athletics, Jahziah went to Loughborough University for an official classification so he could compete in national competitions. At the training camp he really excelled. Since his classification Jahziah has competed in a number of events but on the weekend of 15/16 of March he competed in the Middlesex Championships at Lee Valley Stadium. He came first with a personal best time of 8.8 seconds in the 60 metre sprint which now ranks him as number 1 in the United Kingdom for under 15 athletes in his category for 2014. What an achievement! We are very proud of him.
Forthcoming dates for your diary:
End of current term: Friday 4 April 2014
First day of summer term: Tuesday 22 April 2014
Last day of summer term: Tuesday 22 July 2014
Half term Monday 26 – Friday 30 May 2014
Parent Council 13 May 2014, 1 July 2014
International Day/Evening: 1 May 2014
Governors meeting Parents: 4 June 2014
Summer Fair: 21 June 2014
A Perfect Day: 21 September 2014
Exchange students travelling to Sweden: 12 May 2014
School trips: 8 – 13 June 2014: Redwood Class
ICC, Salcombe, South Devon
June – date to be confirmed – J K Rowling Class Residential