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Whitehouse Primary School, 2 Doagh Rd, Newtownabbey
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Principal's Blog

23rd Feb 2018

February Update:

We held a very successful and effective Internet Safety Day on the 6th February. Classes across the school engaged in some really interesting activities. They also entered an       e-safety competition for ‘House Gold’. The entries were fantastic but more importantly it was obvious that the pupils had learned lots about staying safe on the internet.

We also during February made useful preparations towards our Rights Respecting School Award bid for later in the school year. Our Eco Club Teachers, Mrs. Weir and Miss   McIntosh, attended a Eco School Leadership training course to help us prepare for our ’Green Flag Award’ entry for June 2019.  

In addition to this teachers are working very hard to include more e-safety lessons and numeracy/thinking skills activities. Staff also audited our I.C.T. planning overviews.

20th Feb 2018

January Update

The big focus this month has been the embedding of our P.D.M.U. new policy and scheme. Teachers spent a considerable amount of time developing their planners.

This month staff completed another cycle of ‘New Year, New You’. There was a particular focus on helping pupils to support their own mental health. This will be followed up in February with our teachers using ‘Children’s Mental Health Week’ as a teaching opportunity.

We also had a very useful ‘Love for Life’ workshop with parents and the Year 7 pupils to help them understand puberty. They were fantastic workshops! Pupils’ feedback was excellent.

At the beginning of January the pupils completed our annual ‘Happiness Audit’. What was very pleasing that the results were even higher than in January 2017. That made us smile!

September 2017/18 sees the fifth year of our dynamic six year school development strategy. This innovative and far ranging plan will bring our school to the next level in terms of learning and services to our community.

In this section we want to share some of our key strategic goals for the year ahead and then focus in on a few of the key innovations. Over the next year we will regularly report on what has been achieved and the new projects that we develop.

Strategic Leadership

To share good practice across the school and beyond to enhance staff development and pupils’ attainment. This will include the development and coaching of curriculum leaders;

The continued development of Shared Education with St. James’s Primary School. In particular, this will allow the schools to promote S.T.E.M. and Forest School learning as well as achieving ‘Rights Respecting Schools’ status;

To engage with community stakeholders to increase aspirations, attainment, early intervention and collaboration. This will include focused family learning support interventions.


Implement and review a whole school wellbeing strategy;

Achieve the British Council’s International School Award by June 2018;

Use the pursuit of the Eco Green Flag, by June 2019, as a means to educate our school community to be more eco friendly.

Learning and Teaching

90+% of pupils, in both, Literacy and Numeracy will achieve as expected or above;

I.C.T. will more effectively enrich creativity, thinking skills and improve school management;


20th Dec 2017

This month, in the midst of all the tinsel and glitter, the School Development Plan was not neglected. Our main area of focus was our P.D.M.U. Policy and Scheme update.

The teachers have helped Mrs Clifford (P.D.M.U. Leader) audit our present provision and vision a model for future P.D.M.U. learning across the school. This has resulted in a new spiral curriculum being developed from Year 1 to Year 7. On the 5th January staff will use this new document to review and update their half-termly notes for P.D.M.U.

Family learning has been another exciting development. We are so proud of the nursery unit’s use of the ’Getting Ready to Learn’ project to engage and empower parents in their children’s learning. The levels of participation and feedback from participants has been very pleasing.

29th Nov 2017

The feedback from our Shared Education monitoring visit from E.T.I. inspector was very affirming. Here are a few highlights of the inspector’s comments:                                                                             

There is a definite whole school vision and approach to Shared Education.  There is a clear and strong sense of strategic leadership from the principals and coordinators.  There is evidence of high level Governor communication and commitment.  There is a clear sense of togetherness but also a healthy recognition of the differences between the schools. There is clear community impact from the partnership. Outcomes from the parents and pupils are that attitudes towards cultural diversity are very positive. Working with parents at STEM nights is another clear strength.                                                                                                                                                  

The three strands of S.T.E.M., Forest Schools & R.R.S.A. are clear areas of focus.  An innovative and determined approach to innovation is evident.  The S.L.T. focus on ensuring quality provision and outcomes is commendable.

Conclusion: The partnership was congratulated on its successes. It was stated clearly that there is much to be proud of and share. Capacity for self-evaluation was another area of strength.

*This is not a formal report but the principal’s summary of the feedback.

19th Oct 2017

October Update:

At the end of September we took two days to work on our P.D.M.U. curriculum, planned for ‘New Year, New You 2018’ as well as revisiting our risk assessments across the school. It was an intense but also a very worthwhile few days.

In September we also developed new handwriting resources and strategies for improving handwriting skills in Year 5. Over the next year we want to really focus on presentation skills. In June 2018 all Key Stage 2 pupils will engage in a handwriting and presentation competition. Pupils will receive Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates for their achievements. One pupil will be awarded by the Governors the ‘Principal’s Pen for 2018’.

We were very excited when our Year 6 pupils received their new tablets. These will     enable them to pilot a new piece of numeracy software that aims to increase their thinking skills and problem solving abilities. We believe that this work will help us boost pupils’   enjoyment of numeracy as well as their achievements in mathematics.

19th Sep 2017

September Update

Late August and September is a very exciting and busy time in our school. Here are a few of the highlights:

Our Year 6 staff are being trained in using tablet technology to boost pupils’ numeracy thinking skills. Every Year 6 pupil will have a tablet and will use them to learn mathematics using the Singapore/Shanghai type approach to numeracy. We hope our pupils will have a fantastic learning experience.

Our school also gained highly prestigious Erasmus+ funding to promote science and mathematical learning in partnership with five other schools across Europe.

In addition, we are updating, in conjunction with our parents, key pastoral policies including Behaviour, Anti-Bullying and R.S.E. policies. Not a bad start to 2017/18!

1st Sep 2017

End of Year Report

The Eco Committee achieved their Bronze Award and had a new Waste Week to promote ‘green’ values across the school. I am sure you have all noticed the lovely new garden area that Miss McIntosh and Mrs Weir have developed. It is fab!

The P.D.M.U. Team have completed some baseline work on the status of the area in the school. In 2017/18 to 2018/19 we hope to have a major focus on refining our work within P.D.M.U.

The Education Authority seem to have finally signed off on the new outdoor learning zone. To be fair, this type of funding has been a first for the Education Authority but now they have gotten over the administration issues they are totally committed to the completion of the park in the near future.

The end of year literacy and numeracy results, yet again, were very pleasing. Nearly all pupils are either meeting or exceeding their potential and our numeracy results have increased again!

31st May 2017

On the 17th May we jointly hosted with the staff from St. James’s Primary School a wonderful Shared Education Fun Day. The event was held at St. James’s Parish Centre. There was face painting, an open farm and a whole range of fun games. Better than this was the genuine sense of community, friendship and conversation that was obvious on the afternoon.

Between 400 to 500 children, parents and staff attended. Pupils, as a treat, were allowed to wear their own clothes.   This was, however, a very deliberate decision. It was lovely seeing families have fun together and no visible sense of two separate schools just a collection of happy children.  

As we come to the conclusion of this 25th anniversary of our schools’ friendship we have much to celebrate from our past, enjoy today and strive for in the years ahead!

Our literacy and numeracy results give us much encouragement. While we are always striving for better, we felt that the scores have been very pleasing. Numeracy results have increased yet again and the level of pupils reaching their potential in literacy is so high!  

2nd May 2017

April Update: On the 30th March we were awarded our 360 Degree e-Safety Award. This international charter mark is only achieved by schools who have demonstrated the highest levels of practice. We are only the second primary school in Northern Ireland to be awarded this charter mark.

Governors visited the nursery at the end of last term to observe the use of the campus. It was great to see that all the work that has been invested over the past two years is now paying off.

On the 29th - 31st March we held our second shared education residential. Eleven families from each school headed to Ballycastle for a few days of fun and learning. It was a super experience!

On the last week of term some of the staff from St. James’s Primary School and Whitehouse Primary School came together to develop our planning for learning; especially play, This is part of the Shared Education project. This work is called T.P.L. (Teachers’ Professional Learning).

31st Mar 2017

March Update:

On the 17th March the school had a very productive Exceptional Closure. The primary staff developed their topic planners for the Summer Term. This allows our topics to be linked very creatively with our key literacy, numeracy and ICT skills.

The nursery staff were reorganising their resources to allow for a more creative use of their campus. They also have been extending our work in using the indoors and outdoors more effectively to stimulate pupils’ learning.

Finally, the ICT Team had another successful month. New equipment has been installed in the classrooms to enhance our learning environment. In addition, we have also been preparing our bid for the 360 Degree ICT Safety Award. We will be assessed very soon and hope that we can be accredited at this very high level.