News, Stars & Snow from John & the PHS Team 1st December 2023

Welcome to Percy Hedley School's Whole School Blog!

Hi everyone

Happy 1st December, but before that Happy St Andrews Day! We celebrated in style at lunch with haggis, neeps, tatties and cranachan – it was great and the food was really popular with the pupils. It’s totally snowy here as I write this to you, so I hope everyone got back ok and on time

There’s lots to look at today, and some particularly good STARS. Please do also look at our events calendar on the parents part of the website; I’ve reprinted some of the events towards the bottom of the blog so you can see if you can make any of the parent times – I appreciate it’s hard to. The safeguarding column really hits home this week too

Otherwise we’re gearing up for Christmas and it’s all starting to go that way – the snow helps! All the best for a lovely warm weekend wherever you are and whenever it starts for you. Take care and stay warm!


I’m biased because I lived actually in St Andrews for four years!

😊 from John & the PHS Team 😊


Personal Development

Physical Development

  • our three Super Steering Groups

These three big Steering Groups deliver our curriculum – there’s a paper describing how it all works on the website if you want to read further. The Groups work on all the areas in these broad themes to deliver the right things for our pupils. This is where a lot of exciting stuff is happening, so I can’t resist leading on it in the blogs. Here is the latest from those three Groups


With The Literacy Squad! All Things Literacy!

Ooh, Jolabokaflod! Do you remember that from last year? Course you do! Well here we are again. Let’s here from Sarah and the guys

As it’s the first of December we wanted to let you know that our literacy team are once again hard at work planning a festive treat for our students – ‘Jolabokaflod’ is returning, but on a slightly smaller scale! For those of you who are new to the school or missed this last year, ‘Jolabokaflod’ translates as ‘Christmas book flood’ and is an Icelandic Christmas tradition. Books are gifted to friends and family on Christmas Eve, then opened immediately and enjoyed together curled up by the fire with a hot drink!

As part of our ‘Year of Reading’ last year, students were gifted a book to enjoy in class and then take home, whereas this year we will focus more on the experience within school. We are planning a special afternoon of cosy book sharing in our classrooms, once again funded by The Friends of Percy Hedley School. Last year we had fireplace scenes on the class whiteboards, twinkly lights and lots of festive story fun, which we can’t wait to replicate for our students again.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about Jolabokaflod it’s worth a little read here:

As always, if your pupil has a favourite festive book that they would like to bring in and share with their class please do send it in and let the team know!

Thanks, Literacy Squad, and shout-out to the FoPHS too – thanks guys!

Personal Development

Jo oversees this rich and crucial area, full of aspects lie wellbeing, careers, PSHE, Citizenship and other great things It’s a strength of our school. Some in-depth stuff this week about another of the areas in PD. Nice one Jo!

Social, Moral, Spiritual, Cultural

White Ribbon Week

North Tyneside has now had White Ribbon status for two years and is continuing to work towards ending violence against women and girls. This initiative is supported annually by the ‘16 Days of Action’ against domestic abuse campaign, which starts on 25th November and is also White Ribbon Day. The theme for White Ribbon Day this year is ‘Hands are not for hurting’

In 2KH/LL have been talking about White Ribbon Day. We have talked about is it fair some boys and girls to be treated differently from each other e.g. is it fair the boys in the class get more stickers than the girls and vice versa. We all agreed this is not fair. We also talked about what being kind and unkind might look like and suggested ways we can be kind to our friends. Have a look at some of our ideas!

Citizenship and Careers

The students in 6LD have been lucky to be able to take part in a couple of exciting volunteering projects in the local community over the Autumn term.

The first project is the ‘Growing Together’ project at Ouseburn Farm. As part of this project, students have been preparing healthy snacks with ingredients grown on the farm and have been learning some basics of animal care.

Another project we have been participating in and enjoying very much is ‘Music Sparks’ at the Glass House. The students have been enjoying creating their own music and learning how to play instruments such as different drums and the ukulele.

I feel very proud of the students in 6LD as they have demonstrated all of our school values whilst accessing community, showing respect to others, demonstrating real resilience when things don’t always go to plan and of course, working together as part of a team.

Well done 6LD gang!

School Values

Stars of the Week

Students from 4RR and Charlie F from 4JF were invited to take part in a creative workshop with The Project Art Works; Residential, at the Baltic Contemporary Art Gallery. The workshop focused on holistic and sensory Art; from group mark making to individual paintings on canvas. The project is aimed at people with disabilities and neurodiverse needs in expressing themselves through creative processes.

All of the students demonstrated our school values beautifully while there – well done!

STARS!!! All of them!!!! What excellent activities! Well done all!

Physical Development

Steph oversees the Physical Development team’s exciting work. And it’s another brilliant one this week – a lot of people’s favourite thing to do! – Hydro!!!!! Let’s hear about it and bust out some nice pictures too. Cheers Steph!


How Swimming and Hydrotherapy supports our students Physical Development

Some students at PHS access swimming and/or Hydrotherapy as part of their physically active curriculum, and this is essential in promoting a healthy lifestyle. We are very lucky to have a well-equipped hydrotherapy pool onsite and many of our students who have hydrotherapy in their EHC plan can access this on a regular basis to support their physical development.  Other students access the local swimming pool at the Lakeside Centre, and this is led by external swimming instructors.

What is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is a type of physical therapy which utilises water to create a therapeutic environment, and at PHS it is delivered by physiotherapists. Some of our students have neurological conditions that affect their movement and coordination and present with physical difficulties such as tight muscles, joint pain, reduced strength and altered posture. The warmth of the water promotes relaxation and alleviates pain whilst facilitating freedom of movement within a sensory rich environment. It can also be used as part of a rehabilitation programme following an injury or surgery.

Halliwick Swimming:

PHS also utilise the Halliwick approach where appropriate to support skill development in the water. We follow a 10-point programme which include aspects such as submersion, gliding, buoyancy and rotation to promote swimming techniques. Through this, students can improve their breathing, balance, movement, and independence whilst also becoming more confident and safer within the water.

Physiotherapy Intervention:

Some Physiotherapists use the Halliwick structure through water confidence games, activities, stories and music. Attention to areas such as movement, strength, respiratory capacity and oral control are incorporated into the sessions, with the emphasis on enjoyment and use of the group process to motivate and promote achievement. Social skills, communication, learning ability, psychological wellbeing and self-esteem are also developed through Halliwick sessions, especially when working in groups.

Not all students will use the Halliwick method. Some will be working on a sensory -based programme to aid relaxation and promote active movement. They will experience moving in water with assistance of an adult and be working on developing control and balance of their body in water. Developing these skills in water will promote better control on land and enhance ability to access the curriculum.

What are the benefits?

  • The buoyancy of the water reduces the effects of gravity, allowing students to exercise with more freedom in water than they can on land.
  • The buoyancy of water creates an environment that reduces the level of impact on students’ joints, providing a gentle environment for those with unstable joints to exercise safely
  • The warmth of the water promotes relaxation, improves movement and reduces pain.
  • Water can also be used as a resistive medium for improving strength and body control.
  • Breathing control can be developed by blowing bubbles, submersion and through higher intensity exercise.
  • It promotes water awareness and safety
  • Great psychological value! Improved independence promotes a sense of achievement, enhancing self-esteem. Learning to swim also gives children the skills to participate in sport, play with their friends and family, and provides a means of keeping fit.

Some great pictures to illustrate a fascinating article – the pool, which we’re delighted to have

Brilliant Competition Winner of the Week!

Camilla entered a competition with Tyne Tunnels last academic year, to design a sticker and name one of their new electric vehicles. Camilla won!!!!!!!!!!!!! and then recently visited with her mum to view the vehicle and add her design to it. First have a look at that the pictures

Huge congratulations, Camilla, that’s a fantastic achievement! Really well done!

Preparation for Adulthood – PfA

PfA is a really important part of our work, and a crucial part of our mission is to do whatever we can in all areas to prepare our pupils for the world outside. Hannah F is leading on this and will be updating us about what’s going on with PfA. Here’s Hannah now below

An important aspect of Preparing for Adulthood is learning about enterprise and our students in post-16 have been doing just that!  The Christmas elves are busily crafting away, making beautiful seasonal wreaths for an extremely reasonable price.  They have been considering what they will need to produce something that people will want to buy, and thinking about price points and returns on their product.  Haven’t they done a fantastic job!

Safeguarding Update from Rebecca, the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)

Including the Online Safety blog from Maria!

Rebecca is the DSL and has a great team working with her. They give us weekly updates, which cover a range of topics. This is the latest thing that Rebecca and the team have been working on. It’s a really thought-provoking one this week

This week we have been thinking about the difference between Bullying and Banter in school, building upon the work completed in anti-bullying week.  We find increasingly that when pupils report concerns about their friends that we are hearing the excuse of banter.  We are working with our pupils to understand that things are only funny if everyone in the conversation finds it funny and are working with them to understand the impact of their words and messages.

We have recently worked with our student council to review our student friendly bullying policy and have worked with our Speech & Language Therapists to also create one that is in communicate and print to support all of our students.

This is something that there have been several studies about the influence of banter within families.  Dove have recently done some work about the impact of this on young people and their emotional health:

‘Joking and teasing probably aren’t top of your list of family issues. But as your child becomes a teenager they will naturally become more sensitive to comments about the way they look. And family members may not realise the impact of their words.’

You can find more information on this at:

This work can be found on our website

As always please get in touch if you have any questions or queries through email or our website anonymous link

From Rebecca and the DSL Team

Online Safety

Also don’t forget to go over to Maria’s Online Safety blogs on the website – what Maria is doing is working through a whole range of topics that you guys asked for in a survey, and what you mention to us that you would like more info in – so you may find it very useful

School Lunches

You may remember in the summer term that we wrote to you explaining we are in the unfortunate position where due to increasing costs, we plan to begin charging for standard school meals.  There has been a slight delay with this and it will now be rolled out in the New Year. As promised we will still introduce the charges gradually, so hopefully reducing the financial impact on you.  We will be sure to provide more details as soon as they’re available and we’ll of course contact parents of our young people who require an IDDSI meal prepared at levels 1 – 5 separately

If you think you’re eligible for Free School Meals and haven’t yet applied for this then please contact Eileen our Family Liaison Officer who can send you the form and support with the process

Our Winter Menu is on our website here: Parent and Carers Area – Percy Hedley School  The catering team are also planning for the next themed day which will be on St Andrews Day, the 30th November – we’re already looking forward to it!


Attendance is a big focus right across the country, and it’s been a focus of ours for a while now. It will almost certainly need to be for a while. Mark our Attendance Officer has been very active so far, and some of you may have been in contact with him

Attendance was the only thing that arose from the September 23 Ofsted inspection as an Action For Improvement. This is what was in the report

Too many pupils are frequently absent. This limits their learning and has an impact on their academic progress. The school should strengthen its attendance systems and attendance strategy to promote regular pupil attendance. The school should provide challenge and support for parents to help them to overcome any barriers that may prevent their child from attending school regularly

So it’s good that we have Mark now, and that we are working with LAs and, most importantly, you about this. It’s one of those issues I think that is all about partnership. As I say, it really is an issue right across the country! Thanks for your support

Updated Code of Conduct

Here’s a link to our Code of nduct, which is also on the website in the  Parent and Carers Area – Percy Hedley School’. Most schools have these now, so please do have a read – they aren’t used very often

Friends of PHS – the FoPHS!

The fabulous Friends are always looking for volunteers for events!  If you can offer any support, please contact Eileen at

LPPA – Leading Parent Partnership Award (LPPA)

For Tracy and the LPPA team Contact

Thank you to Tracy and the team, and all parents supporting us! We know that there is always lots to do, but we are interested in working as hard as we can to create the best kind of partnerships we can with you at home

Stars of the Week!

That reflect our School Values!



3TW – The Blackbirds!

Over the past few weeks They have had the opportunity to participate in some different sports at Newburn Leisure Centre. They have all been amazing trying new things. Resilience at it best.

Archery has been a clear favourite with some hidden talents along the way. Many STARS!!! And a great class!

Bit of a different one this week, but an excellent one. Well done Terry’s class!

ENGAGEMENT STAR!!! of the Week!


Our Engagement star of the week is…



Our star of the pathway this week is George for showing huge resilience. George is working very hard during his physiotherapy. Well done, George!!!!!!!!! STAR!!!

KS4 STARS!!! Of The Week


Joseph & Jack for sharing opinions and snacks when they arrived back from their community visit

Kayden for showing around a school visitor on Monday afternoon.


Noah for getting involved more and having an improved attitude

Kacey, Shaye and Jess for coping well with changing classes.


4MM have been working well together on their enterprise project in preparation for the fair on the 20th December

POST-16 STARS!!! Of The Week

It’s so nice to visit the post-16 area. Got a great feel down there! Here are four great STARS from down there


Benjamin for being so helpful and kind


Andrew for recognizing when he needs help and asking for it

Sid for doing some amazing work all week


Robyn for washing all her equipment independently

Makaton Signs of the Week

Events Calendar

The link to the calendar is here – we very much want to be giving you as much advance notice as possible of all the things that are happening

Rebecca sent out a letter detailing the events that are happening in the Appropriate Accreditation Pathway too recently, so I’ve reprinted it here too

Below is the calendar for the last few weeks of term

12th and 13th December – Moving in a Winter Wonderland (students only event)

14th December – Christingle at St Johns Church (student event only)

18th December – Express your Elf! – Upper School talent show (student event only)

19th December – Christmas Lunch (student event only)

20th December – Christmas Enterprise Fair from 2pm – Open to all parents with students KS3 and up.

21st December – Christmas Jumper Day/ School finishes for students.

22nd December – Staff training day

And Sarah did too!

You are invited to this half term’s ELTBA pathway Christmas coffee, catch-up and crafts afternoon on Friday 15th December 2- 3pm, which will take place in the school dining room. As part of the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to meet members of the class team, other parents, and carers, as well as making Christmas crafts with your child. We look forward to seeing you on Friday 15th December

Here are other dates of end of term/festive events that are taking place within the ELTBA pathway:

12th & 13th December-MOVE-ing in a Winter Wonderland (student event only)

14th December-Christingles, St John’s Church, Killingworth, (student event only)

14th December-True Colours Party-Lower School am (student event only)

15th December-ELTBA pathway Christmas Crafts and Coffee & Catch-up afternoon 2-3pm (parents & carers welcome to attend).

19th December-Christmas Dinner & Jolabokaflod (see school Blog for further information) (student event only)

20th December-Christmas Enterprise Fair 2-3pm (Open to all parents with KS3 students)

21st December-Percy Hedley School Christmas Jumper Day / School finishes for students.

22nd December-Staff training day. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a lovely festive holiday and a happy new year

All the very best to all of you at home, from all of us here at the school. Happy November and all the things that go with it!

…..from John & the Team here at PHS

A robin flew into our reception this morning! There’s a Christmas message in there somewhere…..