On Thursday 20th March we celebrated our 200th edition of newsletter with a bumper 4 page edition. We had had some fantastic comments and messages of congratulations about the school's weekly newsletter and website. There had been a lot of debate at the time about parental communication following a report by the chief Schools Inspector saying stressing its importance so that was timely/ The comments we had were:-
“Millbank Primary School's Newsletter is a shining example of excellent practice...May I congratulate Mrs Brown on the 200th edition and may it go from strength to strength” Cllr Bill KellowayExecutive Member Education & Lifelong Learning
"Congratulations to Millbank primary on the 200th edition of the school newsletter. Millbank is well known for it's superb website , communication with parents and the wider community." Kevin Brennan MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families
"Children achieve so much more when schools and parents work together, it is extremely important that parents and schools have effective communication." Steve Marshall Dept for Children Education, Life long learning and skills WAG
"Millbank's newsletter is the envy of many schools, so well done to everyone who has kept it going for 200 editions. Here is to the next 200" Rhodri MorganAM First Minister. Welsh Assembly Government
"I do appreciate the significance of your school's 200th newsletter and congratulate you on reaching this milestone. I also strongly support any endeavour to encourage parental communication. I wish you every success in this work" Jane Hutt AM Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills. Welsh Assembly Government.
When 'young Miss Flynn' came to join Millbank in 2002 she had the idea of starting a weekly newsletter for parents and the first one came out in November containing the familiar mix of jokes, school and community news and birthdays. Miss Flynn is now Mrs Brown and 'enjoying' her maternity leave for her second child (first one reported here) but that does not stop her popping in to check up on this and that including the 200th edition of the newsletter.
Mrs Donnovan now puts all the various stories together and does a smashing job too. Teachers use it to inform parents what is going on a weekly basis(they also give out a termly overview of topics). The numerous clubs post messages about their activities and games, the school council reports back to parents and asksfor donations. The children themselves have always been quite keen to interview and report, and many of the photographs are taken by the children themselves.
Communication is obviously more than just informing parents, it is a dialogue. The school is keen to listen too! For several years the governors have organised a parents questionnaire to gauge parents opinions and views on a variety of subjects, they have also tried to present their Annual Report to parents in a user friendly way.
All the newsletters go online(we are celebrating the 300th Web album too!) so the parents can log on at work and read them. Our Local Librarian said that many children used to visit our old website from other schools just to read the newsletter and funny animations.
The school's websites and weekly newsletter are an important part of the dialogue. You can see the children progressing through school from class 1 to class 6, you can see them working on a variety of projects and can - hopefully- understand why they did it and what they learnt. One of the nice comments we keep getting is that the website and newsletter have the same sense of fun that you feel when you visit the school, so we must be doing something right.
There have been many items covered over the past 200 editions, the schools council's efforts to support the terrible Tsunami in Jan 05; The visit we had from the crazy Gregory Brothers. Class 5's visit to a Victorian schoolhouse; The Brazilian Dance Project; The fabulous Teddy bears picnic we had to say farewell to Lovely Miss Lemon;The Millennium Centre Interviewing Jason Mohammed the schools Venture weeks and loads more. Of course it covers the more mundane messages like watch out for nits, and do not park on the zig-zag lines.
The six years of effort did earn 3 lines in the Echo. It does require a lot of work and dedication by the whole school but then the school motto is "only our best is good enough" and the school strongly believes that is what the parents and pupils deserve.