Start farming… there’s a feast to come

Kids will be gardening all next term - and parents are invited to get in on the action, too.

Our kids will be gardening all next term – and now parents are invited to get in on the action, too.

Sunday 20th March, 1:30-4:00ish-pm, is Family Farming Day at Tufnell Park.  Everyone at school is invited to come along in warm/ waterproof/ doesn’t-matter-about-the-mud clothes to plant the crops that we’ll harvest and eat at the end of July (the Feast).

There will be cake, hot drinks and other refreshments to help keep us cheerful, whatever the weather: do come, and help the children kick off a fantastic, term-long gardening project that will involve them all.  If you missed the leaflet on World Book Day, take a look at it here:

Family Farm & Feast – download flyer here

We need to make room for a LOT of potatoes this year.

We need to make room for a LOT of potatoes this year.

This Friday, a team of 20+ volunteers from the workplaces of two Tufnell Park parents are giving their time and muscle to get the school grounds ready before the project begins. Raised beds will be mended, new ones introduced and low-maintenance irrigation systems put in place to help keep veggies watered over the weekends and holiday breaks.

All this costs money, in addition to the grant from Santander raised by the HSA. If you’d like to contribute, you could sponsor this year’s Weight Loss Club, which has already raised almost £1,000.00 towards gardening and healthy eating at Tufnell Park.  There are just 24 hours left to make your donation before the website closes….


What the HSA Committee talked about…

The clock is ticking... someone needs to relieve our pregnant popcorn sellers of their duties - soon!

The clock is ticking… someone needs to relieve these blooming popcorn sellers (aka HSA Secretary and Chair) of their duties – soon!

…on Wednesday 3rd February 2016.

Recruitment to the HSA committee was much on everybody’s minds, with a co-Chair position still vacant and our current Chair and secretary both requiring maternity leave in the very near future (May and March respectively). Other committee members have been in position for several years and would be happy to step down by the end of this school year to let new parents run things their way.

The HSA has had to curtail several of its activities this year for want of people willing to step up and organize. We have only been able to lay on one of our usual three Learning Treats – the spectacular Animated Movie-Making (ITC) Learning Treat that came to fruition on Friday 12th February. And we have not been able to re-run the super-popular family Bingo night we had last year.

Sports Relief 2014 - the danceathon and healthy snack stall were a triumph...

Sports Relief 2014 – the danceathon and healthy snack stall were a triumph…

...Will we be able to run anything for Sports Relief this year?

…Will we be able to run anything for Sports Relief this year?

Sports Relief is coming up on Friday 18th March and there’s still no volunteer to run a healthy snack stall or any other event on the day: it can’t happen without someone to take the helm.   Contact us now if that person could be you.

Please volunteer your help if you’d like to see the HSA continuing to organize a programme of events that genuinely enrich the life of the school. Better still, come along to a meeting: the next one is Wednesday 9th March at 8:00pm in the Tufnell Park Tavern (cafe section).

Plenty of events do still remain on the agenda. The long-planned gardening and cooking project – titled “Family Farm & Feast” and supported by Santander’s community fund – will be launched at the after-school event on World Book Day, 3rd March. It’s a project to grow, harvest and cook enough vegetables and herbs to make a giant meal using the recipes of four nations, which participants will then eat (of course!). You’ll be hearing plenty more about that in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, please put these crucial Farm & Feast dates in your diary:

Friday 11th March – Give & Gain Day. A team of 20 volunteers from two different businesses are coming to prepare the school grounds for the Farm & Feast project. Let us know if you can help out with the garden work or refreshments (donating or helping serve).

Sunday 20th March – 1:30-4:00pm – Family planting afternoon: sowing the vegetables that we’ll cook in July.

Sunday 17th July – 9:30-2:00ish – Family harvesting, cooking and feasting day.

After the Easter holidays, there are plans for an HSA social evening of the pizza-and-drinks variety – no fundraising, no agenda, just some free food and fun.

Theme for Summer Fair 2016?  How Wild do we want our West to be?

Theme for Summer Fair 2016? How Wild do we want our West to be?

At school, the annual children’s Fun Run will return on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th June (the week after the late spring half term holiday) and the date of the Summer Fair is Saturday 9th July. No theme has been decided yet but at this meeting, the Wild West proved immediately popular… Come to the meeting on 9th March if you want to cast your vote.

What the HSA Committee talked about…

…on Tuesday 19th May 2015

Cupcakes, lobby walls - you name it, we'll put smarties on it.

Cupcakes, lobby walls – you name it, we’ll put smarties on it.

A stream of “thank you”s were high on the agenda: to all parents who helped out at the fantastic Give & Gain day on 15th May (there were SO MANY of you!) and to our corporate supporters – Jewson, Santander and Chris Stevens – as well; and in particular, to Andromeda and Cygnus parents Rachel, Patrick and Adam for leading design and execution of the new-look corridor and lobby. Replacement furniture and a new IT installation are still to come, but the space is already truly transformed.

Is this the face that shipped a thousand lunches? (Well, it's one of the faces - thank you ALL involved!).

Is this the face that shipped a thousand lunches? (Well, it’s one of the faces – thank you ALL involved!).

Also, a massive thank you to everyone who helped make the extraordinary whole-school trip to Sobell Centre on 18th May happen, and happen so successfully: most notably Carolyne (mum of Emma and Luke) for kicking it off and our co-Chair Fiona for seeing through every detail. The school’s kitchen staff, chef John and Caterlink area manager Noel also went all out to help make the day special, as did the lovely instructors and staff at the Sobell.

The forthcoming Summer Fair (Carnival!) on 11th July necessarily took up most of the meeting’s discussion. Look out for the next HSA newsletter in your children’s PACT folders for full details of the stalls that are planned and what we need to make the fair another huge success. It’s certainly never too late to come up with an idea for a stall or activity of your own. And it can’t be said too often: we will always, ALWAYS need more face-painters than we have! Please volunteer – older siblings are also warmly welcome to help.

Even before the fair, the rest of this term is choc-a-block with HSA activity. Tuesday 16th June is recording day for the Music Learning Treat – a CD of songs from across the span of the last 100 years. Entries for the CD cover competition are on display in the school lobby: go in and take a look. They’re wonderful – hard to believe that someone is going to have to choose just one…

On Friday 19th June, national “Empty Classroom Day”, we’re focusing on ecological water use in honour of our volunteer team from Thames Water, who are coming to help build the foundations for the school’s Early Years forest school. Rain chains, soaker hoses, drip irrigation… there’s a whole new vocabulary to be learned.

The annual children’s Fun Run is the following week, Thursday 25th and Friday 26th June. Carolyne (again) and HSA resources manager, Becca, have kindly responded to our appeal for new parents to organise the event now that Fun Run instigator and brilliant long-term HSA supporter, Sara, is moving on.

And to end with another thank you: thank you Anna, mum of Freya in Aquila and Evie in Cygnus, for stepping up as HSA secretary. Anyone on the email list can expect to hear from Anna soon…

Thank you for the transformation

How to say “thank you” loud and long enough to everyone who helped transform – metamophosize! – the shabby insides of our school on Give & Gain Day?

Make room for the teams! So many parents showed up to help - it was standing room only in the corridor.

Make room for the teams! So many parents showed up to help that it was standing room only in the corridor.

Two commercial partners – Santander bank and Jewson – gave cash donations, and the lovely people at Chris Stevens on Holloway Road enabled us to buy a veritable ocean of paint for much less than it could have cost us.

And then, the show of goodwill and volunteer muscle on Give & Gain Day itself was nothing short of amazing.  About 50 people – business volunteers from Santander, local councillor, Kat Fletcher, and many, many wonderful school parents – showed up during the day to help get the work done, and to bring cakes and other food to keep the volunteer army marching.

Our design team, Rachel and Patrick – both parents at the school – have donated extraordinary amounts of time and professional skill to make this happen.  They’ve been assisted before and after Give & Gain Day by production designer Adam and a small group of apparently tireless parent volunteers. Thank you all – your commitment has been phenomenal.

Though finishing touches are still to be added, the scale of the metamorphosis is fully apparent. What a fantastic effort by the community: it feels as if we really can do anything if we do it together.

Corridor design: the children’s vision

Mystery designer: who are you?  This anonymous offer appeared on one of the feedback forms - we'd love to know who you are!

Mystery designer: who are you? This anonymous offer appeared on one of the feedback forms – we’d love to know who you are!

Projector malfunction, though disappointing, didn’t prevent us going ahead with a special assembly this morning to announce the winners of the school’s corridor design. For those at the back and those who weren’t there, the three winning models are as follows:

The children have really thrown themselves into the design process and there were so many fantastic ideas on display, the voters were spoiled for choice.  Please do them proud by coming to help realise their designs on Give & Gain Day.  Contact the HSA at any time to ask further questions or let us know you can help, whether for a day or an hour…

There's been a lot of sketching so far - come and see the lobby designs in displayed in the lobby from Thursday.

There’s been a lot of sketching: now come and see the lobby designs in displayed IN the lobby from Thursday.

Architect/ parent Patrick also spoke briefly this morning about the progress of the lobby design project and the feedback he’s received from families and children.  Lobby designs will be exhibited IN our lobby from Thursday onwards (along with the originals of the corridor designs above).

Please stop by and take a look.

What the HSA Committee talked about…

…on Tuesday 21st April 2015

BIG DECISIONS were made at the Tufnell Park Tavern on Tuesday night: namely, the theme of this year’s Summer Fair. It’s Carnival! Think music, neon feathers, games and parades, fiesta, madness and perhaps a hint of Rio in anticipation of summers to come… Put the date in your diary: Saturday 11th July.

Time to get out the feathers again: the theme of this year's Summer Fair is Carnival.

Get out the feathers: the theme of this year’s Summer Fair is Carnival.

Thanks very much indeed to everyone who gave up their Tuesday evening to help plan. We need lots more help to make the dreams real, so please watch out for further meetings and sign up your support. Got an idea for a stall you’d like to run? Happy to help out on one of the rides? Make instruments and headdresses with the kids? Can you juggle? Please let us know! And we can never, ever, ever, ever have too many face-painters – particularly not at Carnival time.

News of other HSA projects this term:

Yay, Fun Run! Help us make it happen this year.

Yay, Fun Run! Help us make it happen this year.

The Children’s Fun Run needs a parent to lead it: come on, you sporting dads and mums! The last Thursday and Friday in June are pencilled for the event, which has always been fantastic for whole-school participation and an exciting physical challenge for the kids, as well as the HSA’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Whoever steps forward will have plenty of support from people who’ve done it before, but it can’t happen without someone to lead and co-ordinate. Contact the HSA for more details of what’s involved.

All hands to the paintbrushes on Friday 15th May, Give & Gain Day. The business volunteers who signed up to our project have had to pull out so we’re still looking for a partner, but whatever happens we’ll go ahead with parent power. Check whether your own employer allows “community days”: if so, they may be willing to release you (and some of your colleagues!) for a fully-paid day to help make our lobby and long corridor beautiful. If it’s impossible for you to take a week day off, perhaps you could come and help prep for Give & Gain Day on the weekend before the 15th. That’s Saturday 9th May: please come along, as we’ve a lot of wall to rub down! The designs themselves are to be revealed at assembly on Tuesday 28th April, and parents/carers are very much invited.

Watch the PACT folders, too, for requests for parents and carers to accompany the Whole School Fun Trip to the Sobell Leisure Centre on Monday 18th May. And there’s also a second Give & Gain project on Friday 19th June, involving a team of volunteers from Thames Water’s Inspection Division in building a den for our nursery.

Finally, the HSA urgently needs a new SECRETARY. It’s a really good way of getting involved in an important role without being overwhelmed by responsibility. You need to manage our email list and messages, schedule monthly meetings, send out agendas and take minutes – plus occasional related jobs, such as sending “thank you” notes to the many people and local businesses who help us. You do need to be able to come to the meetings. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.

We are winners!

Our Infants’ Playground – completed by business volunteers and parents on Give & Gain Day last year – has just won joint first prize in the Society of Garden Designers’ annual awards (Community Space category).

Triumph! Our infants' playground proved good enough for gold.

Triumph! Our gorgeous infants’ playground has proved good enough for gold.

Designer Jackie Herald was at the ceremony at the Milennium Gloucester Hotel in Kensington on Friday night to hear the announcement.  How Jackie splits the gold medal with joint winners Guys & St Thomas’s Hospital, we don’t yet know… but she’s bringing the framed award into school next week.

Well done Jackie; another million thanks to the volunteers from Flamingo who gave their time and muscle on Give & Gain Day – and a massive well done to all the families and children who made the project happen. That represents a lot of organization, activity and donations of time, goods and cash.

Let’s do it again on Friday 15th May this year, when we use Give & Gain Day to refurbish our school lobby and long corridor in accordance with the children’s designs…

Moving mountains on Give & Gain Day

So many people helped out on Friday - and there was no lower age limit.

So many people helped out on Friday – and there was no lower age limit.

Despite all the build-up, Friday’s Give & Gain Day with Flamingo London still managed to surpass expectations.

The weather, as everyone commented, was spectacular.  But so, too, were the workers, the goodwill, the donations, the lunch and of course, what we managed to achieve on the day.  Here’s a glimpse:

Remember the playground before works began?

Remember the playground before works began?

This is a snap of how (part) of it looked at the end of Friday - a different place!

This is a snap of how (part) of it looked at the end of Friday – a different place, though with one mountain still to move…

And these are some of the people who did it: Tufnell Park School loves you!

And these are some of the people who did it: Flamingo, Tufnell Park School loves you!

Our new friends at Flamingo commented that in eight years of Give & Gain days, they’d never been so well looked after, nor had so many of their hosts turn out to work alongside them. Tufnell Park School, we should feel proud.

There are so many people to thank and luckily we’ve got some really great pictures, so Give & Gain Day will have its own page where we can do it properly. Look out for that shortly.

For now, special thanks to Chris Stevens‘ Holloway Road branch for slashing their price on paint and brushes for us, just when it looked as if we weren’t going to make ends meet after all.

And for those of you who raised money specially for the great, green doughnut… it’s coming… it really is coming…


They say it’s a jungle out there…

Herbs and grasses arrive in the infants' playground for planting out tomorrow.

Herbs and grasses arrive in the infants’ playground for planting out tomorrow.

…they should see it in here!

No-one at the school today can have failed to notice the deliveries for tomorrow’s Give & Gain Day.  We’re still short of spare spades, wheelbarrows and trugs for carrying earth.  If you’ve got them, please do lend – we’ve got a lot of soil to shift.  And it’s going to be a scorcher, so bring plenty of suncream and a thirst-quenching drink if you’re coming to help.

Meanwhile, thanks very much to everyone for your patience while the playground gates are closed.  Roll on Monday.

Our trusty team sort through the new arrivals.

Our trusty team sort through the new arrivals.

A real dump truck! At primary school! That should happen every day, right?

A real dump truck! At primary school! That should happen every day, right?

Cedar logs ripe for jumping on - just wait until they've been settled in tomorrow.

Cedar logs begging to be jumped on – just wait until Monday…

Scraping it together

girl_scrapingAn massive thank you to everyone who turned up this blustery Saturday to help with preparations for Give & Gain day. Despite the enormity of beige wall facing us, we got  a lot done and people even managed to make it fun… The community that scrapes together, stays together!

Now for the really big push: Friday 16th May.  We need to borrow plenty of equipment to make maximum use of our volunteers – we can’t have helpers standing idle for want of a wheelbarrow!  Please label equipment with your child’s name and class, and hand it in to school reception.  Or if you’re bringing it on the day, please email us now so we know it’s coming.

The complete equipment list is posted below the photos.


Wheelbarrows (3)
Stiff yard brushes
Stiff hand brushes
Hand forks
Pruning saws
Power washers
Electric screwdrivers
Paint scrapers
Measuring tape
Kneeling mats / cardboard boxes to squash + bin liners if it’s wet
Thick crayon (for marking on wall)
Old-fashioned dustbin lids (perfect circle with a handle on top) and similar circular objects, 30-60 cm in diameter