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I wonder how many members of our community actually know what an INSET Day is? For our children it’s definitely an Insect Day, possibly where teachers come to school to prepare lessons on those mythological creatures, ‘mini-beasts’. For parents it’s simply another day to wait before term starts. For teachers in some schools, I hear, it’s a day to experience a slow and sometimes painful death delivered by Powerpoint.

Well, in case you’ve been wondering, INSET days, also called Baker Days after the minister responsible for their introduction, are In-Service Training days, or opportunities for staff to prepare for the year ahead, to learn about new approaches, technologies and techniques and generally further develop the skills and attitudes to teach even more effectively.

So what do we get up to at Highgate Primary?

INSET Days at the start of the new academic year are a great opportunity to make sure everyone is ready and prepared, practically and mentally, for the year ahead. Last Monday we started with coffee and croissants in the Highgate Primary Café. This is true. Over the summer the staffroom has had a makeover, and as we know, happy staff make for happy children. Once we were ready to go, I introduced the day, sharing the successes of last year and setting the priorities for the year ahead.

We followed this with a whole-school session on ways to manage children’s behaviour, ensuring that our approach is positive, consistent and effective. You’ll find ‘traffic lights’ in all of our classrooms and, hopefully, children proud to go through the school day on green. I hear that some of our children have even been making their own traffic lights for use at home, I imagine to ensure their parents are also following the golden rules. After that we reviewed our safeguarding procedures, making sure all members of staff are confident to deal with any concerns they may encounter sensitively and professionally.

In the afternoon we had a presentation from an organisation on a programme that they feel will accelerate children’s progress in primary schools. Very simply, the MIMO approach (Minimum Input Maximum Output), in which children are supported to carry out a set of simple exercises, listen to Mozart and drink water throughout the school day, boosts attainment. We’ll be trialling this in Key Stage 1 and expect great things!

And after that, we went for a long walk! Every member of staff including the admin staff, site staff and kitchen staff, set out for a walk on Hampstead Heath for a walking meeting. What better way to catch up and plan for the year ahead?

With time to prepare the classrooms, more meetings and a bit more planning and preparation, the school was ready to welcome the children back after the summer break. It’s been a lovely first few days, with children happy and engaged. With so much thought and hard work going on behind the scenes, it’s probably not a surprise.


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