Headmaster's Blog

23 February 2017

Continuing with the theme of healthy eating - this week we look at the merits of different breads.  This is something commonly discussed in the media.

As a committed cyclist who keeps a very close eye on nutrition to be able to regularly ride between 70 and 120 miles on a Sunday morning I am a keen advocate of wholemeal products such as bread and pasta (not quite so keen on the rice) for my personal consumption, though this is not shared across my family.

A quick stroll down the supermarket isle indicates that around 60-75% (my estimation) of products on sale appear to be made of white flour. So what is the difference between white, brown and wholemeal products? Is white bread devoid of nutritional value or even bad for you? 

 Here is some guidance from the NHS and British Nutrition Foundation:



Bread – especially wholemeal, granary, brown and seeded varieties – is a healthy choice to eat as part of a balanced diet. Wholegrain, wholemeal and brown breads give us energy and contain B vitamins, vitamin E, fibre and a wide range of minerals. White bread also contains a range of vitamins and minerals, but it has less fibre than wholegrain, wholemeal or brown breads. If you prefer white bread, look for higher-fibre options.


Myth – Bread does not contain any nutrients

Nutrients are lost during the milling process of flour that is used in a whole host of products including bread and the amount lost will depend on the amount of bran and germ removed. However, the key nutrients lost through milling – i.e. calcium, iron, and the B vitamins thiamine and niacin, must be restored to white and brown bread flour by law in the UK. This ensures that white and brown breads contain similar levels of these key nutrients to wholegrain bread.  

According to the Government’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), bread provides more than 10% of our daily intake of protein, folate and iron, and around 20% or more of fibre, calcium and magnesium.  Wholemeal bread contains more of some vitamins and minerals than white bread, because some of the parts of the grain removed to make white flour are nutrient-rich. As many of the nutrients are restored in white and brown bread flour (detailed above) although there are small differences in the content of some minerals (i.e. magnesium and zinc) the main difference between white, brown and wholemeal bread is the fibre content. Nevertheless, because of its popularity, white bread still provides some 10% of our daily fibre, iron, magnesium and calcium and smaller proportions of other vitamins and minerals. 

There is a wide range of nutritional advice and information out there, and I don't wish to start a debate, merely stimulate some thinking.  You can find a lot of advice about low and high GI foods (the rate at which a carbohydrate is digested and released as glucose (sugar) into the blood stream.) which is another thread of nutritional thinking. However, in summary whist the absolute best option will always be a wholemeal product, if you or your children really don't like wholemeal, you can supplement their fibre and vitamin intake in other ways and you can look for higher fibre versions of white flour products.

I hope this has been helpful.

Kind Regards

Richard Riordan, Headteacher 

8 February 2017

The governors and senior leaders spent a very energising morning on Saturday the 28th of January  reflecting on the strategic future of the school and our vision and school priorities as we adjust to life in the Lighthouse School's Partnership and as the role of the Local Authority and the educational services it is able to offer schools diminishes.

One of the issues that we reflected on of operational importance was the education we offer around healthy eating and how healthy eating and nutrition is reflected in our support for families and the day to day running of the school.

We are conscious that parents and children will have their own views on this and that they will be wide ranging and in some cases very strongly held.

As an outcome of this meeting we will be consulting with the users of our wrap around care (The Playstation) with an aim of providing balanced and nutritious breakfasts and after school snacks.

One immediate impact of this developing approach has been that no sugar is available to be added to any food.

A new catering company will take over the supply of school meals from the 1st of April 2017. It is anticipated that the new company (shortly to be appointed across the primary schools in the LSP) will work with the school to offer advice and guidance to support an improved food offer in our wrap around care provision.

So why is nutrition and healthy eating so important?

An unhealthy diet can present itself in a range of symptoms in children and adults. Lots of emphasis is placed on the obesity epidemic our country faces and the impact of this on well being and services. Sometimes this message gets mixed up with messages and expectations around body shape and size. At school we recognise that human beings, both adults and children, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. A small waist is not the sign of a healthy eater or a balanced diet. Our commitment to health will also focus on self esteem and ensuring that unhelpful messages in the media around body image are addressed when appropriate and in an age appropriate way.

As an educational organisation our policies and practice should be in line with national advice and guidance from colleagues in the NHS. We have a moral and professional obligation to support our children to establish healthy eating habits through the curriculum, our school food offer and through the school's policies and expectations.

We look forward to sharing in this journey with you as one element of our developing vision that your will be involved in through consultation.

Please see the link below to a great health awareness tool for families. Whilst I am sure lots of us are aware of this information, it can sometimes be useful to remind ourselves of some of the key information out there to help our children be healthy and active.


Kind Regards

Richard Riordan, Headteacher 

Tuesday 31st January

It feels like January is the month that doesn't want to end but after 3 weeks since the last blog I stand on the eve of February wishing the weather and sunlight levels would improve and waiting full of anticipation for the oncoming of Spring. Whilst the sun has been somewhat absent, there is lots of learning, laughter and creativity going on that brightens up the school.

Thanks to everyone who attended parents evenings last week and to year 6 parents in advance who are visiting tonight and Thursday. Taking the time to come in and chat with staff as well as looking at your child's books is a really important part of our partnership with each other. It is fantastic for your child's sense of self-esteem to hear from you how proud you are of them and the progress they have made in school. As head, and with a daughter in the school, I don't get any extra access to books or learning, and so just like you, I really look forward to seeing my daughter's learning on these occasions and getting a chance to understand from a personal point of view what a great job the teachers and staff are doing as well as finding out what I can do to help at home.

I know from talking to parents and staff that one of the most common questions we get asked is around getting children to do homework or read. This is completely dependent on the individuality of children and their own sense of self-discipline as well as their innate ability to defer gratification which is down to the wiring in their brains.

It can be hard to challenge our children and takes real determination to see things through, whether it be homework, reading, wearing uniform, time to go to bed and the many other boundaries that children will test. Being a parent is hard work and of course we will each have our own views, values and beliefs which may not always be in line with school policy, social norms or government advice.

Regarding homework here are some top tips to help if it is a battle in your home:

1. Do your best to get into a routine and timetable homework at the same time each week.

2. Often doing it as soon as possible, at the start of an evening or start of a day gets it out of the way and can be a good incentive to start.

3. Try to pick a best time that fits in well with other family routines and commitments.

4. Find a space that is quiet and distraction free - turning off tvs and other gadgets so children can concentrate can make a big difference.

5. Try to avoid doing homework when your children are really tired or hungry....if your know they have a sleepover or are going away maybe before is best.

Ultimately self-discipline is learned. Having routines and structure can really help and will benefit children as they move through the school and get secondary school and life ready. No matter what your approach .......being flexible when life gets in the way will always help.

It is hard work being a parent. We have nearly 480 children here at PPS we are very proud of....so give yourselves a pat on the back, you are doing a great job. And when you have those battles, don't worry, you aren't on your own, they are happening everywhere. Hang tough, dig deep, be determined and keep doing the best you can to best the best version of yourself.

Here is a link to an article I chanced upon,  "It's Okay to say No" the other toughy!


Who among us hasn't caved in to our child's pleading for candy or a toy, despite wanting to say no? According to David Walsh, Ph.D., it's a common occurrence — and ...

 Mr R, Headteacher and parent in training.

Tuesday 10th January

I hope that everyone enjoyed the Christmas break and was able to enjoy some quality time with their children and families. Christmas and New Year can be a fantastic time or one that presents many challenges for lots of people. Whatever you did I hope that 2017 sees you looking forward to new beginnings with the opportunities that life offers us. Enjoy the best that each day brings.

The school INSET day focussed on high expectations and behaviour. Increasingly one of the key skills required of us all is resilience. Peter Kay does a great sketch that you can find on YouTube all about biscuits. One of the challenges of our education system and facing us as parents in the 21st Century is finding that balance between caring for and supporting our children whilst developing independence, determination and perseverance. Some days we feel like Rich Teas and some days we are Hob Nobs. Let’s work together to help our children develop that inner resilience that we all need to weather the challenges that life throws at us and is needed to overcome the challenges so that they can reach their full potential.

I am very pleased to announce that the on the 4th of January the school passed the E-Safety Mark accreditation. This is a national scheme that recognises the high standard of work required to keep children safe and families supported in dealing with the threats that the internet throws up, particularly as mobile technology, social media and the number of apps available to download proliferates. Thanks to Mrs Fletcher, Mrs Strachan our school staff and the school council for their hard work.

Our value of the term is: Determination

Children will be learning to:

• Persevere

• Ask for help

• Be Resourceful

• Try new ways of doing things

• Control their frustration

• Build our resilience

• Challenge themselves

Happy New Year

Richard Riordan, Headteacher

22 September 2016

On the 14th September 2016 Ben Smith visited the school and spoke to over 400 children from Year 1 to Year 6 about his incredible story. Ben's warmth and strength of character shone through during the assembly and his anti-bullying message touched a nerve with all of our children and staff.  A glance at the 401 Facebook page shows that many of you have been touched and took time to comment on his visit. Some of you  were lucky enough to run with Ben around Portishead or get a selfie -we've seen the photos!

Here at PPS we work very hard to spread the message that every child has the right to feel happy and safe in school and very human being has the right to feel valued for who they are and to have what makes them unique celebrated. The nature of Ben's challenge and the scale of it is truly inspirational. It is incredible that Ben will have run 401 marathons in over a year. What is even more inspirational is that Ben has dedicated this much of his life and all that he has had to sacrifice to spread his message of love and respect with children and communities all over the UK.

In an era where celebrity and hero are often confused, here at Portishead Primary School we recognise that we have met a true hero, a local anti-bullying champion and an ordinary guy with extraordinary courage, selflessness and dedication. I can not think of a  more effective role model to support children with the anti-bullying message.

In honour of Ben and his example we are naming our group room/lunchtime safe haven Room 401. When we think about anti-bullying, Ben's message and visit will be at the heart of our discussions. I would like to thank Ben for making such a difference to our school community in one morning. We are proud to have hosted a visit and are grateful that his impact will last way beyond Marathon 401!

If angels walk among us then just  may be Ben is one of them. What I can say for sure is that Ben Smith has the power to change of lives. Check out his webpage to see how you can help or make a donation. The video for the competition can be found here, many thanks to Sean Gannon who filmed and edited it for us. We now need to wait and see if we get selected in the final,  then if we are lucky everyone needs to vote for us !!!

If you read this and feel inspired please take a moment to discuss respect and equality with your children and to reflect with them on the impact of unkind words whether spoken or shared on social media and unkind actions. By working in partnership, sharing concerns and supporting both the bullies and the bullied we can help ensure our school is a happy and safe place for all.

Kind Regards

Richard Riordan, Headteacher 

6 September 2016 

Dear all,

What an enjoyable first 2 days we have had back in school already. It has been a pleasure seeing the arrival of our new Reception classes and this morning our Year 6 children have been evacuated to Dunster Castle by coach and then a steam train. There were some very impressive period costumes this morning as they began their World War 2 experience.

This term the values we will be reflecting on are Respect and Equality

As we explore Respect we are learning about respecting ourselves and what that means, respecting each other, following rules, discussing problems to avoid conflict when we are angry and thinking about how the way we act and the things we say make other people feel.

Topics you may want to reflect on at home might include healthy eating, health and hygiene and using kind words. It is also worth a discussion,age appropriately, to explore rules for social media use and e-safety including the kinds of photos children share on apps and the risks associated with the internet.

As we look at Equality we will be challenging stereotypes and discussing how important it is that people are treated fairly, looking at how the attitudes have thankfully changed over time as well as celebrating diversity and all that makes us unique and individual.

You may want to highlight and use news stories as a prompt for age related discussions about equality issues. This may be related to gender, culture, beliefs, ethnicity, disability and who we love. You can tailor conversations to the age of your children and a level that you are comfortable with. The Paralympics which which starts on Wednesday is a great starting point and is televised on Channel 4.

To celebrate Team GB's achievements at Rio we will be adding a piece of Gold, Silver and Bronze ribbon to the nest in the school hall for every medal won. Will the Paralympians come home with a record breaking haul like our Olympic team?

On Thursday the 15th of September we have a very special visitor to school. Ben Smith who is running 401 marathons to raise awareness of bullying will be delivering an assembly to the children at an appropriate level. Ben is from Portishead and has been on an incredible and inspirational journey  after experiencing terrible bullying because of his sexuality. Check out his website to decide how you could build on his visit at home or support the cause, including running with Ben. You may not feel that the full detail of his story is suitable to share with your children as will be the case with our assembly.


Get Involved . Find out how you can support and get involved with The 401 Challenge, be part of the family

Kind Regards, 

Richard Riordan, Headteacher 

14 July 2016