Being the best that we can be
Our vision is that we are Being the best that we can be
In order for for all of us to be the best that we can be we have to work together. We want our community to work together effectively and enthusiastically. For this to happen, we have to ensure that we listen to each other and feel that our contributions are valued and acted upon.
Cypress Primary School is a school that puts itself at the heart of the community; we are a "family First School".
The school prides itself on its ability to consult with and listen to its community. Our values were drawn up as a result of extensive consultation with children, staff, parents and governors.
The school has a very active school council that meets weekly. The children will raise issues, as well as being given subjects for discussion and feedback.
Termly parents' forums are held. These are open to any parent and, like the pupil council, their agendas are a combination of raised issues and subjects offered for feedback and discussion.
In addition to our pupil council and parents' forum, we regularly engage our community in whole school consultation about particular aspects of school planning e.g. effective communication, parents' evenings and homework.
At Cypress we work hard at delivering effective communication and support to families. We hold parent information meetings for all year groups at the start of every year. These meetings allow us to share the main aspects of schooling relevant for that school year and, to suggest how families can target their time towards complimenting focuses at school.
We publish a very informative newsletter every week; the esteemed "Cypress News".
We plan our school diary, as much as possible, for the whole year to help families plan their attendance at important school events.
Our parent consultation events are attended by the pupils too, so that pupil, home and school can engage together in the child's learning journey. Then, as a team, we can celebrate successes and be clear on next steps.
For children to want to do their best they have to be engaged and motivated.
At Cypress our staff take great care to plan interesting and exciting lessons.
We invite a wide range of visitors, plan a variety school trips and host a range of topic-related themed events. We evaluate what has worked well by thorough learning discussions with the children. We use these reflections to do more of the things that worked well and less of the things that do not
We are very fortunate to have extensive and beautiful grounds: a woodland trail, pond and field on the infant site and fully-functioning food garden; amphitheatre and play garden at the juniors. We use these facilities regularly to engage the children in outdoor learning activities. These include bug hunts, pond dipping, gardening and camping.
We aim to balance a very prescriptive basic skills focus with a creative and child-centred curriculum. We have a very clear and effective way of teaching phonics, for example, and a rigorous "accelerated reading programme", but we also use book-based learning, whereby a really engaging book is used to drive other aspects of creative learning.
We focus relentlessly on mental maths (e.g. learning tables, quickly recalling adding and taking aways), but we also engage in real-life, problem-solving and investigation in maths too.
We work hard to develop a love of learning with the children. We want them to be clear on how to learn and how to improve their own performance. All of our planning and assessments systems help children to know exactly what they need to learn, what they have had success in already, and what they need to do next. Our systems develop our pupils' ability to self-assess their work and support their peers in assessing their efforts too.
At Cypress we place a great emphasis on developing skills of how to learn and manage our behaviour but also on developing character.
Our values prioritise the characteristics we wish to be embedded in our pupils when they leave us to venture on to the next stage of their learning and development.
At Cypress we view the curriculum as everything that happens in our school from beginning to end. We think of it as "The Cypress Experience". So every part of the school's ethos, at any time, should be driven by our Vision and Values.
In order to develop creativity, innovation, good communication and the ability to be assertive appropriately we have to plan appropriate learning experiences. Opportunities to develop these characteristics are frequent at Cypress. For example, we undertake a young inventor's programme each year, we enter competitions and we engage children in consultation and real life problem solving.
We place great emphasis in developing the skills of speaking and listening through drama, public speaking, school performances and presentations of projects. We do not encourage or allow "street talk" at school.
We use mediation and reconciliation to help children assert themselves and learn to see things from the points of view other than their own and not engage in an "eye for an eye" mentality. We have a whole school behaviour policy that is built on:
Making expectations clear (school rules).
Teaching children what they mean and why we have them.
Rewarding children when they are making good choices.
Working with families through quick and objective feedback when children are not making good choices.
Putting alternative provisions in place for individuals when what we are routinely doing is not working
As a school we follow a programme that focuses on children's social and emotional aspects of learning. Themes are introduced each week in the head teacher assemblies on each site. These themes are then followed up in further assemblies through the week and in class. At the end of the week, children who have been able to engage effectively in the aspect of learning focus are celebrated in assembly and in our weekly Cypress Newsletter.
We also celebrate musical, artistic and sporting prowess in school as well as success outside of school again in assembly and our Cypress News.
Performances are a major part of our school calendar and from nursery onwards families are given regular opportunities to see their loved ones performing. These can be in singing, special assemblies, musical evenings or full on performances. Take a look at the showcase section on our website.
Our school has the silver Healthy School Award and bronze Travel Plan accreditation. We have strict standards for school dinners and packed lunches to ensure that national nutritional guidance is adhered to. We do not allow crisps, solid chocolate or sugary snacks in packed lunches, and the only drink allowed in school is water. School council petitioned hard and brokered a deal to allow a small packet of crisps to come to school on Fridays when one, regular school dinner option is fish and chips; this is democracy in action.
Our school motto is "Persevere" and children are encouraged to stick at things, not give up easily and to try their best.
Our staff plan activities that are based on accurate knowledge of their pupils. They plan to balance challenge without constant over or under stretch, both of which can lead to demotivation.
Our children are encouraged to self-select from activities that can range in challenge. Staff monitor their choices carefully to ensure that children are appropriately "pushed" and self-driving.
All work the children complete has to be self-assessed. This develops self-responsibility, pride in achievement and learning responsibility. No one really wants to write "I did not achieve the learning objective because I didn't try!"
Every piece of work will receive a 1, 2 or 3 tick grading. Two means "I did what is expected of me" and 3 ticks means I really tried hard. Any "3 tick work" means that a child can move their name up on the class reward chart.
Learning conferences and feedback on work means children understand what they have achieved well in and what they need to work on further. Through developmental discussions pupils are encouraged to adapt and try things in different ways.
Through our assemblies and class lessons we teach tolerance and acceptance.
In our collective worship we invite children to address their thoughts to their God, if they have one, or family or friends if they wish and to say "Amen" if they want to.
We use a variety of media to teach good manners, behaviour and kindness including books, social stories class discussions, debates, circle times. Class discussions and circle times are also used to reflect on feelings when someone has not been kind, polite or positive.
We endeavour to give the children a wide range of experiences so that they will embrace diversity and understand sameness and difference. This will help our pupils to be open-minded, positive and curious in learning about things outside of their usual experience. We also believe this gives children a steady platform on which to judge what is fascinating and interesting but also to know what is safe and acceptable.
Cypress is a large school, but we try hard to keep a small, family ethos. Our school has a considerable leadership team that allows us to organise ourselves in smaller "hubs", each lead by a senior leader. We have one Head Teacher overall who takes the strategic lead on all aspects of school development. Each year group is led by a senior teacher and each site has a dedicated class based Assistant Head Teacher and non-classed based Deputy Head Teacher. Each phase of schooling; 2 year olds to reception, years 1 and 2, years 3 and 4 and years 5 and 6, is overseen and lead by one of the headship team. Running alongside this structure, we also have a non-classed based, Assistant Head Teacher, dedicated to inclusion of all of our children.
Our school organisation and management team also work well across the sites with an overall School Manager leading the administrative staff in the 3 school offices and an overall Site Manager leading the Assistant Caretakers.
One of the many benefits of being a large school is that we can create many opportunities for our staff to develop and grow with us. It also means that we have the capacity embed a balance of strategic thinking, nurture and relationship building with our children and their families. This organisational structure ensures that we can really get to know and work with our community.
Through our whole school events we celebrate the rich culture of our school.
This happens through events like "One World week", Winter Festival Evening, Black History Month, as well as regular religious festival celebration and cultural days.
Our school delivers an "Anti-racist curriculum" meaning that a global perspective is routinely built into how our children learn. For example, in teaching French, we see an opportunity to discuss language and culture , in our Victorian topic children are encouraged to research where their family members were living during this era and what life was like there at that time and then to present their findings as individual projects.
We openly and routinely celebrate diversity, tolerance and respect as a foundation of our school.