Tuesday 15 September

Welcome back everyone and what a great start to the year! I do hope that you took the time to read the September newsletter over the weekend.

I am delighted to see all the students back to Chantry after the summer break. They look so smart in their uniforms. A special thank you to all the parents for making this happen. I do appreciate the work and money that goes into this. Our first value of the term was responsibility and I reinforced to the students about the need to take responsibility for their uniform. If they lose it in school they need to look for it and we need to encourage others if they find it with a name in it, to return it to it’s rightful owner. I would be grateful if you could reinforce this with your children at home.

A very warm welcome to our new students and parents in Year 5. Year 5 spent the day at Kirkley Hall last Wednesday engaging in a number of team building exercises and making new friends. Thank you to Ms Clark and Mrs Irving for organising this. As I write this blog the students are participating in Road Safety workshops – again the children have been reminded about the need to use the Green Cross Code and use the crossing patrol at the bottom of the drive if they are walking down into Morpeth. I also asked in the newsletter that parents do not use the drive and park sensibly on Mitford Road. I would be very grateful if you could support me in this matter, as health and safety on the school campus and around it are very important to us.

Our value for last week was reflection and the children were asked to carefully consider what they would like to achieve this academic year – this might be to do their best in their end of year tests or to learn a new skill at a club in school. I do hope that they will work hard to achieve this.

On Friday, it was fabulous to invite Ian Lavery, our MP, into school. He spoke to the students about his work at Westminster. He was very impressed with the questions that the students with subjects from Jeremy Corbyn to the migrant crisis discussed. The students asked questions very clearly with maturity – well done. He presented badges to those students who have been elected to our Student Parliament. Congratulations to;


Poppy Pritchard


Patrick Croft


Georgia Hutchinson


Zoe Watmore


Chloe Halliday


Sophie Elliott


Joseph Swinney


Millie Harvey


Emily Watmore


James Mason


Ciaran McDougall


Severn Phillips


Matthew Wells


Jason Crumplin


James Reid


Josh Williams

The Student Parliament will meet on a regular basis with Mr Shaw and Mr Nicholson. I look forward to hearing about some of the things they think would make Chantry , an even better school!

I am sure that we have a fantastic year ahead with many highlights to come!

With kind regards

Steven Johnson

Monday 15 June

I do hope that you had a good weekend.

As you know it is the We Will Rock You performances this week on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday evening, all being performed to packed audiences as all performances are sold out.

I was immensely proud to be in Morpeth on Sunday morning at 11am when approximately 70 children from Chantry and Newminster performed some of the music from the show at the annual Morpeth Fair – they were very well received and certainly brought the crowds in! Well done everyone! It was lovely to see the community of Morpeth and our two schools come together.

I cannot begin to thank Mrs Woolley, Ms Jones and Mrs Wigham for their amazing work. They have given lots of their free time to preparing the children for this performance. Special thanks also, to Zita and the Creative Arts students from Newcastle College who have supported the students in developing their acting and singing skills. Thank you also to Jonathan Hughes and students from KEVI who have supported with the fantastic sound and lighting systems – at the moment it is as if we are in the middle of the Theatre Royal with all the equipment! Thank you to the other staff who may have contributed to helping out at rehearsals, selling tickets, preparing programmes, setting up the hall, making costumes , props and scenery. I am sure I will have missed someone!

We still need help on the evening so if you are able to help selling raffle tickets or refreshments please contact the school office or just turn up on the evening and report to me!

I do hope that the students have a great time and as they say in theatre land – break a leg!

With best wishes for the coming week.

Steven Johnson

Monday 18 May

I do hope that you had a good weekend.

Last week was really busy in school last week as usual!

I really want to commend Year 6 for their attitude and resilience during the National Tests. They showed determination and tried really hard. As in my letter to Year 6 parents on Friday evening I would to again thank you all for your continued support of Chantry and your children. Whilst SATs are an important gauge of their learning in Key Stage 2 and just one set of exams that they will sit in their education they do represent only a tiny part of what we do here at Chantry! Thank you to the kitchen staff who served toast and juice to all the students at the beginning of the day. The papers were collected by Parcelforce on Friday and we look forward to the results coming back at the  beginning of July. My thanks also to the second year BA students from the University of Northumbria who planned some Geography projects in Morpeth on Friday – I know that the children really enjoyed the activities as well as the picnic and free time in Carlisle Park. There are some pictures on our twitter page!

As you know it is not long to our We Will Rock You performances which will take place week beginning 15th June. As I sit in my office working it is amazing the sound that comes from the hall from the various practices. Mrs Woolley is working really hard with the students to prepare the stage with backdrops. If you are performing in WWRY and would like tickets for the Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening performances, please contact the school office for more details. These will go on general sale on Monday 1st June. If you would also be able to help with serving refreshments and / or selling raffle tickets then please again contact the school office and I will get back to you. Also the cast will be performing at the Morpeth Fair on Sunday 14th June at 11am on the main stage so please come down to show your support!

Well done to the three students, Chloe Holmes, Joseph Jackson and Josh Wade who went fishing to Fontburn last Sunday as part of the Trout Ticklers group. Please visit the website front page to read about their exploits! The next visit is planned for Higham Lake on Sunday 14th June. Please contact thetroutticklers@gmail.com for further information. Thank you to Andrew Jackson, parent of Joseph, for his support of this venture!

On Friday morning I shall be hosting a Parents Forum. All parents are welcome to come along and have a tea or coffee – the event starts at 9.15am. Please contact Mrs Pringle in the school office if you intend to come along so refreshments can be ordered. If there is anything in particular you would like me to discuss please let me know so I can prepare some resources.

Please remember that school closes on Friday 22nd May for half term and reopens at 8.55am on Monday 1st June for the final half term of this academic year. I do hope that you enjoy the bank holiday and spend some time as a family to reflect on the busy half term.

With best wishes for the coming week and half term.

Steven Johnson

Monday 11 May

I do hope that you had a good weekend .

I am very grateful to all the staff at Chantry who volunteer to run extra curricular activities and lead residential experiences.

Year 5 spent last week at the Hawkhirst Centre in Kielder and I spent Wednesday afternoon with them. On my journey to Kielder it made me realise what a beautiful county, Northumberland is. It was great to see the children take part in a range of activities from archery, abseiling, crate towers, den building and cooking doughnuts on a camp fire. The children certainly promoted our school values of resilience, aspiration, co-operation, respect, reflection and responsibility. Thank you to the staff at the centre who made me feel so welcome on my visit – the evening meal was beautiful!

Thank you to Mrs Irving, Mr Hutchinson, Dr Jackson, Miss Collings, Mrs Craigs, Mrs Reay and the parents who accompanied the children on the trip. On Friday evening Mrs Irving reported to me that all the students had been a credit to the school – well done! Look at our twitter account for some fantastic photographs!

There are many more residentials coming up before the end of the year including Kingswood, Austria, Belgium and London. Please remember that Dr Jackson is holding an information session for Belgium on Wednesday evening at 6pm – we do hope that you will be able to attend.

Good luck to all the students who are completing their SATs tests this week. I spoke to all Year 6 students on Friday afternoon to wish them the best of luck! They have worked hard and I am sure they will all do well. I do hope that you agree that we do work hard to develop the whole child at Chantry and give them a broad and balanced curriculum. We prepare them well for tests and give them skills and strategies they will need next week and later in life at GCSE and A-Level. We are aware that children do sometimes set themselves very high standards and can at times get very anxious and make you anxious too! On Wednesday 20th May we are offering a parents session about anxiety. Please see the newsletter for more information.

With best wishes for the coming week

Steven Johnson

Tuesday 5 May

I hope that you enjoyed the bank holiday weekend – it was so lovely having an extra lie in. The wonderful news of the new Princess of Cambridge being born brought some cheer to the country. Remember that Mrs Wilson’s baby is due at the end of the month and we will let you know as soon as we know!

In the next three weeks all the children will be taking part in their end of year SATs tests, which measures the progress they have made since September, in all areas of the curriculum.

In particular Year 6 will sit the national tests in reading, SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar) and Mathematics during the week of 11th May (please see newsletter for dates and times of the actual tests). The children have worked really hard in preparation for these and I hope that they will show the external examiners how good they are at these areas of the curriculum – they deserve to do well! The staff would also like to thank all our parents for their support. We would urge all children to be in bed early during the week so they get the amount of rest they need to do their best. Children are reminded of the need to read the questions carefully and to check their work thoroughly – have they used the correct units in Maths or the correct punctuation in English? Mrs Hoyle and her team will serve toast and juice to all Year 6 students from Monday to Thursday, from 8.20am. Children may bring a good luck charm into school if they wish, which they can have at the end of their table. At the end of the tests the children’s papers go to a central location and are scanned into a computer before they are sent to an individual examiner to be marked. Results will be known on Tuesday 7th July and we will send these out as soon as possible after this date.

Until a few years ago, children also sat a writing paper which was sent away to be marked. A couple of years ago, the Government changed this and writing is now assessed in school by your child’s teacher. We have just been informed that Chantry Middle will be moderated by Northumberland County Council. This will happen in the first week of June and three moderators will come into school to see if they agree with our teacher assessments for writing across the curriculum.

I do hope that you took the time to read our May newsletter which was published on Friday, celebrating the achievements of the previous month and informing you of important dates and events for the remainder of the school year.

With best wishes for the coming week

Steven Johnson

Monday 27 April

I hope that you had a good weekend – it was a pity that we had so much rain considering the beautiful weather last week. The children love being able to use the field at lunchtime. We are so lucky with the amount of green space we have on our school campus

Over the past two weeks during twilight sessions, a number of the staff have been renewing their First Aid qualifications, which have to be renewed every three years. Our instructor, Alan Jobling from Northern Training Partnership, talked us through basic life support, choking, bleeding, burns and fractures. This also involved us in a range of practical activities including using the dummies for chest compressions and bandaging each other. We do hope that we will never have to use these skills in school or outside of school.

I am also very grateful to Mrs Sheena Carrick, mother of Olivia, for giving up her time to come into school to teach basic first skills to some of our Year 7 students during the DLE sessions on Friday afternoon – these basic skills are so great to have.

All of our associate staff will also be undertaking training for the use of defibrillators during this term and we will have a defibrillator on our school campus once this training has been undertaken, hopefully in September.

Can I please remind all parents of the importance of good attendance during the school year?  64 children at the end of the Spring Term had a 100% attendance and these names will be celebrated in the May newsletter. At present the Government say that a child is classed as a persistent absentee if their attendance is less than 85% (at the end of the Spring term, 15 children at Chantry came into this category)

As from September 2015, persistent absence will be classed as less than 90% – this will present more challenges and we hope that you support us with this. Please remember that if your child has less than 90% attendance then they have missed the equivalent of half a day for the whole of the academic year.

I do hope that you will make some time to read our May newsletter which will be published on Friday 1st May, celebrating the achievements of the previous month and informing you of important dates and events for the remainder of the school year.

With best wishes for the coming week

Enjoy the May Bank Holiday.

Steven Johnson

Monday 20 April

I hope that you had a good Easter break and did not eat too many Easter eggs! I hope that you found the time to spend some time as a family and reflect on the busy Spring term. I enjoyed the break and as well as reflecting on the Spring term took some time to begin planning for the Summer Term ahead. I can promise you that it will be extremely busy! I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead and all of the extra-curricular opportunities we will afford the children, as well as supporting the children through their important assessment activities in every year group.

First week back has certainly started as the way we mean to go on! Year 8 had the opportunity to either visit Hartlepool Power Station or Newcastle University – I have been informed that both visits were very successful. Also as part of our careers programme, Newcastle University came to Chantry to work with Year 5 to deliver their Campus Explorers programme. Thank you also to the Year 5 parents who attended the Hawkhirst Parents Information Evening – I know that the children are really looking forward to canoeing on Kielder Water at the beginning of May. I am also grateful to those parents who attended the 5C Literacy lesson and lunch – I hope that you learnt something and enjoyed your lunch.

My highlight of the last week was the whole school assembly when we invited David Watson, father of Rebecca in Year 5, into school. At Student Voice it was decided that we would support the DEBRA charity on Friday through a non-school uniform. Mr Watson delivered a very important presentation on the work of DEBRA, a charity very close to their family’s hearts. Rebecca has epidermolysis bullosa, which is an inherited skin disorder that causes the skin to become very fragile. Mr Watson spoke frankly about the treatment that Rebecca endears every day to help ease and control the symptoms. I am delighted to announce that we raised £377.85 which will be presented to DEBRA, who continue to work hard to find a cure. I am very proud of the students for their generous donations. I know that Rebecca is very happy! Well done everyone and thank you to Mr Watson and Rebecca for preparing the presentation.

In the next couple of days, I will also be writing to you to invite you to join the Trout Ticklers fishing events. We are planning to offer you three opportunities to fish with your child before the summer holidays. You will be able to fish at Fontburn on 10th May or 12th July and at Higham Lake at 14th June from 8am – 4pm. If you are interested in taking up this offer please contact Andrew Jackson, father of Joseph in Year 5, using the following email addres: thetroutticklers@gmail.com. We would be grateful if you could inform him by 12noon on Friday 1st May so that he can make the necessary arrangements. Please note that an adult must accompany your child throughout the visit.

The Trout Ticklers Club was founded at Hirst Park, Middle in Ashington in 1997 and has had many successes over the past 17 years. However, members have moved on and membership has sadly declined. Students and parents from Chantry have already been invited to an event earlier in the year and we hope that the Trout Ticklers can live on through our school. We hope that we will be able to celebrate the children’s achievements at the fishing events in assembly and through our website. Please do not hesitate to contact Andrew or the school office if you have any further queries.

With best wishes for the coming week

Steven Johnson

Monday 23 March

I hope that you had a good weekend.

On Thursday evening I had great pleasure of attending the High Sherriff of Northumberland’s Youth Awards at the Northumberland Church of England Academy in Ashington with Mrs Michie. Chantry were invited by the South East Northumberland Magistrates in the Community group to collect a Youth Award on their behalf. Olivia Carrick collected the award from the High Sheriff, Mr John Carr-Ellison and chose Hollie Sparham to accompany her – well done. It was humbling to be part of the evening and celebrate some of the fantastic awards, which included youth projects from across Northumberland. It was great to listen to all the volunteer’s stories and achievements – what a fantastic place Northumberland is to live and work in!

On Friday afternoon, the children enjoyed the Easter Extravaganza and the PTA helped us to make lots of money – we raised £417.90 – what a fantastic achievement! The children really enjoyed playing games such as Play Your Cards Right and Wheel of Fortune. Thank you to all parents who contributed chocolate for prizes – this is very much appreciated as always.

On Saturday evening, our 49 students returned home safely from their week’s skiing in the Alpe d’Huez region of France, with Mr Hutchinson, Miss Edwards, Mrs Brown, Mrs Craigs and Mr Robson. I do hope that you have followed their adventures on the school website or through twitter #CMSski15 – please follow us! Mr Hutchinson spoke to me on Sunday afternoon and said the students were a credit to Chantry Middle – well done. I am sure that they will remember this trip for the rest of their lives.

On Wednesday we will be hosting our last Year 4 taster day with students attending from St Roberts and some of our out of catchment schools. These have been a real success and the children have really enjoyed the Technology and ICT activities, taking home a key ring that they made with Mr Stoker or a cup cake that they baked with Mrs Elliott. They also enjoyed having to make a choice of what to eat at lunchtime.

We have another very busy week in school with a Skipping Festival , Year 8 Hindu workshops, trip to Beamish, a visit from a Sky Sports Ambassador and a famous book author, speed dating as part of the Year 8 Careers programme and house matches! That is just for starters……

I do hope that you take the time to read our Easter newsletter that will be published on Friday.

I do hope that you have a relaxing and peaceful Easter break and hope that you do not eat too many Easter eggs!

Please remember that school reopens on Monday 13th April at 8.55am.

With best wishes

Steven Johnson

Monday 16 March

I hope that you had a good weekend.

Thank you to those parents in Key Stage 2 who attended the Mothering Sunday assembly on Thursday morning, led by Val Cowan from the Mustard Tree Trust. I do hope that your children spoilt you on Sunday and made you realise how special you are. Thank you to the PTA who provided the daffodils and the refreshments. We hope to make this a regular date on the Chantry calendar!

At 6.55am on Saturday morning, 49 students left Newcastle Airport bound for a week’s ski-ing in the Alpe d’Huez region of France, with Mr Hutchinson, Miss Edwards, Mrs Brown, Mrs Craigs and Mr Robson. At time of writing this blog, the group had settled in well to the resort and were looking forward to their first ski lesson! Please follow tweets from the ski trip #CMSski15.

I am very grateful to the staff for the residential visits that we afford our students at Chantry. The Year 8 ski visit is the first residential of the academic year. Over the next four months, students will be visiting Hawkhirst, Kingswood, London, Belgium and Austria. Keep referring to the school website to read updates on the various trips!

As a geographer, I really value fieldwork in supporting the curriculum, whether this be using the beautiful town of Morpeth as a resource, or further afield. Giving children the opportunity to go away with their peers on a residential experience prepares them for later life if they decide to get a job or attend university away from home.

Thank you to the staff who organised an outstanding British Science Day, led by Miss Edwards. All the children spent the day experiencing a range of activities both in and out of school. Year 6 thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of Technology Tom and holding a snake in the Creepy Crawley workshop! How frightening! Year 8 enjoyed taking part in the CSI investigation learning about fingerprinting and chromatography, with representatives from Newcastle University. Year 5 visited the Great North Museum in Newcastle whilst Year 7 visited Alnwick Gardens to study structures.

We also hope that the day will give the children the opportunity to begin to consider the career opportunities within the STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects and how they could pursue these at college, at university, in an apprenticeship or a full time job. Thank you to all those parents and organisations, which supported us on the day and to the PTA who offered some additional funding to support the day.

As you can see it has been a very busy week in school again!

I do hope that you have a good week and please remember that I am hosting a Parents Forum at 10.15am on Tuesday 17th March – please feel free to come along.

With best wishes

Steven Johnson

Monday 9 March

I hope that you had a good weekend and had the opportunity to read the March newsletter which was emailed to you on Friday

On Saturday I had the great pleasure of attending the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial at South East Northumberland Law Courts in Bedlington. This is the fourth year that we have competed in the local heat and were winners in 2013 & 2014. We competed against teams from Dukes Middle, Seaton Sluice Middle, Whitley Bay High & Cramlington Learning Village.

Over 95% of criminal cases (more than a million a year) are dealt with by magistrates, yet many people know very little about what they do. This competition that has been running annually since 1994, introduces the legal system to young people in an innovative and exciting way. In the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff, students prosecute and defend specially written criminal cases. This year it was the trial of Pat Taylor, accused of theft.

Our team compromising of Josh Wilson, Adam Williams, Helena Marley, Jessica Hawkins, Rosie Bowden, Olivia Carrick, Lauren Hodgson, Jack Simm, John McLean, Beth Lightley, Kate O Halloran, Olivia Henery, Pascale Brennan and Fay Bloodworth, were amazing. I was astounded by their knowledge and understanding of the legal system, their confidence in public speaking, their team work, their ability to develop an argument and their analytical skills. They did very well in both rounds where they took turns in defending and prosecuting. Whitley Bay High were the eventual winners and go through to the next round – well done and good luck to them!

A massive thank you to Mrs Michie and Mr Warner, who have worked with the children, throughout the process. I would also like to thank Kate and Carolyn, two local magistrates who also helped us to prepare the case. My last thank you is to the parents and carers who turned up on Saturday morning. I know that the children really appreciated this and showing to you their hard work.

Thank you to all the parents who supported World Book Day on Thursday. I know how stressful this can be but the children really enjoyed coming into school, dressed up as their favourite characters. Mr Shields and Mr Storey said it was very difficult to choose the winners in each year group. See April’s newsletter for more information and pictures.

Thursday was an extremely busy day in school as we also played host to the Show Racism the Red Card workshops in Year 5. This educational charity was established in 1996 and uses the high profile status of football to help tackle racism in society. Thank you to Richard Offiong, Trevor Benjamin and Justine King who delivered the workshops. One student commented to me that the day was fantastic and gave him the opportunity to ask lots of questions that he was unsure about, without worrying. The presenters reinforced that using racist language within Chantry Middle School and in society is not acceptable and will be challenged. Thankfully the use of racist language is very rare at Chantry and hopefully will be eradicated after these important workshops.

I do hope that you have a good week

With best wishes

Steven Johnson