a very short newsletter this week as I'm afraid we are all just about ready to drop but I couldn't let Friday go past without taking a few moments to fill you in on what has been going on and saying 'thank you' to the people who have kept us running.
As you will know I was off with covid for ten days through last week and a bit of the week before. I came back to school on Monday and it was lovely to be welcomed back by pupils, parents and staff. My first 'thank you's have to be to the wonderful staff at the school kept the school running while I was away. I don't know when I last felt so ill and I wasn't able to play any part in keeping the school on its feet. Thank you and well done to all the staff but especially to Mrs Armstrong who did a magnificent job in my absence.
Over the course of this last week we have lost quite a number of staff to covid and to other illness and this has taken us down to a skeleton crew. To be absolutely honest with you, there have been times this week when we were minutes away from closing the school to classes. We know that this is extremely difficult for families and we have done everything we can possibly do to stay open. We have managed that this week and we hope the children have continued to have a good time and to do some good learning. This has put a great deal of pressure on teachers who have missed the time they would usually have for planning, preparation and assessment and has meant that I have been in class throughout the week. Normally we would be able to employ supply teachers to cover for absence but for the last few months this has proved close to impossible - there just aren't enough supply teachers in the system to cover the numbers of missing staff and the vast majority have now accepted contracts in schools so there are very few 'floating' supply teachers left available.
If you have called to speak to me or have not had a response to an email I do apologise - my time has been entirely spent in the classroom or trying to organise cover for isolating teachers.
I think that things should be a little easier next week - we've had no new infections for a couple of days now and those who tested positive early last week should be coming back in to school over the course of the first few days of the week. While it remains possible that we might have to ask one or more classes of children to learn from home as the secondary schools have been doing, we are optimistic that this will not be the case. And, of course, we hope that the two week break over Easter will play the part of a firebreak and reduce infection rates further.
Patron of Reading
We are looking forward enormously to the first visit from our new Patron of reading, Sarah McIntyre, who starts in her role after the Easter break. Sarah is the author and illustrator of many great picture books such as Grumpycorn, The New Neighbours, Jampires, Dinosaur Firefighters and many, many more. She also works with author Philip Reeve to create books together - many of the children will know their 'Kevin the Fat Flying Pony' series which is set on Dartmoor. Sarah and Philip will be visiting us at Chagford Primary on soon after we get back from our Easter break, they will be leading assemblies, working with children, visiting classes and hopefully boosting our children's awareness of what exactly it is that authors and illustrators do and boosting the love of stories, books and reading in the school. We will give you all a chance to order a book from Astor's bookshop so children can have them signed by Sarah and Philip.
Farming our Moorland