Another beautiful week here at Chagford Primary. A special shout out for the moon which has been as beautiful as I can ever remember seeing it. The early mornings just before we let the children onto the playground have been gorgeous with crispy, crunchy frozen grass and sunlight just starting to wash over the hills towards Castle Drogo. What a privilege to be here.
Year Two News
I wrote to parents of children in year two earlier today to let them know about an exciting new addition to the class structure and the staff team here at the school which will be coming into effect after half term. It's no secret that our Year two cohort has grown over the last few months and it is now at the size where we have enough pupils to employ another teacher and to split off Year Two from Year One making our school a true one form entry.
Of course this is an upheaval for the children which we would prefer not to have had to make them go through mid year. The Year twos will miss their Year One friends and vice versa, and those Year Two children who have been studying in Year Three have done incredibly well there gaining in confidence from the increased level of challenge and revelling in the Key Stage Two curriculum. We will be absolutely respectful to the children's feelings and do our best to manage a calm and orderly transition.
Our new staff membre is Ana Quieroz. Ana gave me a few words to introduce herself to you, this is what she said;
My name is Miss Queiroz and I'm really excited to be the new Year 2 teacher! I wanted to tell you a little bit about me before we meet in February. Teaching has always been a passion for me. My career in education began in Brazil, where I trained to teach science. In England, I worked as a TA and later as a teacher at different schools in Devon, where I supported children of all ages. Wherever I went, I did my best to foster an environment in which all pupils felt safe and confident to participate, make mistakes and learn from them.
In my spare time, I like playing with my two cats, taking long walks, reading and meeting up with friends. When the weather is good, I enjoy kayaking and gardening. I also love talking about Brazil, where I'm originally from and sharing interesting facts about my culture.
I look forward to meeting all of you and working together!
Thanks so much for welcoming me into your lovely school!
Helen Gilbert from Med Theatre joined us at school on Thursday to lead a workshop for Year Four. The class worked outside in the Forest School area to generate ideas then came back inside to write. They are invited to take part in a poetry competition looking for verse inspired by the beautiful Teign Valley.
The competition isn't just for children, there are categories for young people and adults too - why not have a look at the competition and see if you'd like to take part - just click here OUR RIVER - Med Theatre
Got something for the Newsletter?
A parent caught me after school today and gave me something to think about. She suggested running a competition for parents and carers to contribute something for the newsletter - the winner gets the glory of seeing their words in print and one of our much sought after 'Chagford Champion' certificates. I might even buy them a drink at the pub.
Of course that got me thinking - one of our key values at Chagford Primary is 'Community' and this newsletter could be a great way to reach out to other people in the community. If you'd like to write a piece for us that would be absolutely lovely - whether that's about an interest or a campaign, a poem or some nature writing - that would be great but it would also be fine if you'd like to give me details of a community event or group that would be fine too. Just email it to me firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Newsletter' in the subject line and, presuming it's appropriate, I will include it in the next letter.
The Ethos Group are a gathering of people who come together once every few weeks to help to set the direction for the school and help to devise actions which will help us to embed and express our values. We would love the group to be truly reflective of the diversity of our school community. That means we want people of different faiths and none, people with a range of philosophies and outlooks. If you have an interest in being involved do have a word with Mr Finch or drop him an email. We have some dates sorted out for the rest of the year and we'd love to welcome you to a meeting to see if you'd be interested in coming more regularly.
It is very important that children get seen by the dentist regularly. I know from my own experience how hard this has been during the pandemic and how backed up some of the dentists are. I am reasonably forgiving over appointments that really have to happen during school hours. I would say, however, that by far our preference is for dentist's appointments and other appointments such as opticians and so forth to happen out of lesson time so that children don't miss out on parts of a sequence of lessons. The example I like to give is of a series of lessons in which children will plan, draft, redraft and publish a story. If your child misses the lesson where the children plan out their story they may only have missed ten percent of the teaching but they will struggle to take part in the rest of the sequence. If our teachers a re doing their jobs well their teaching isn't a series of stand alone lessons but a journey through a cohesive whole. So, of course, if your child needs an appointment and there really isn't any time they can go, we are going to say 'yes' but if it's possible to make an appointment that doesn't disrupt their learning we would be grateful if you could take that instead.
We have a new display up in the little corridor outside the hall. For mysterious reasons we have started receiving postcards, letters and messages from some of the UKLs most interesting and talented writers. We've collected these together and now we have a whole board full of messages from our favourite novelists and poets. Have a look at this display and see if you or your children know any of them - they all come with the Mr Finch seal of quality. There's still space for a couple more authors so, if you can think of someone who ought to be up thre let us know, we can but ask!
The wonderful poet Dom Conlon sent us this poem from his book with Viv Schwartz 'This Rock That Rock - Poems Between You, Me and the Moon. It remembers a story from astronaut Charile Duke about a question and answer session with a group of children. They asked all the usual questions - what did you eat?, How did you go to the loo? What did it feel like? - until one child asked a very different question.
Did you meet my grandma on the Moon?
She was like roadside dust,
when I last saw her,
gathered upon the bed
as my family and I
saying our goodbyes
until the white winds changed
and she was gone,.
Did you meet her on the moon -
she'd have risen to greet you
lifted by the ancestors
who once held her as a baby
an she'd have looked at you
as she used to look at me
when I sat upon her knee
to tell her of the dreams I had
of becoming an athlete leaping
across continents or
a racing driver turning
the circle of this world in my hands -
but that was when she was here.
So did you meet my grandma on the Moon,
and did you tell her of your dreams?
On Tuesday of this week we worked together with Paul Martin of Devon Wildlife Trust to plant a new hedgerow alongside the fence by the amphitheatre. Every child in the school from EYFS to Year Six planted a tree so that's one hundred and fifty new trees in our grounds. We chose tree species that would directly benefit wildlife and bring beauty into the grounds- hazels for the nuts, elder for the berries, maple for the glorious autumn colour - and we avoided things with thorns so as to make sure we aren't risking too many scratches.
I like to invite the children to think about how the hedge will look when they are grown ups, and how it might look if they have children who come to Chagford Primary School some day. Perhaps their children will be able to pick elderberries and sit in the shade of a tree their parent planted. This new hedge and the new mural in the hall feel like real promises to the future of the school and to the community.
We were especially pleased with our team of Wildlife Champions who worked as runners throughout the day to fetch groups for their chance to plant a tree and who helped the younger children - superstars every one.
Huge thanks to Devon Wildlife Trust for facilitating this project.
Information for Parents/Carers-Attendance
We have recently updated our attendance procedures across Dartmoor Multi-Academy Trust. The link between a child’s attendance at school and improved outcomes and life chances is well documented. We want to help all children and young people to fulfil their potential and get the most out of their education.
In line with our policy and government expectations all schools have the following procedures:
· If a child’s attendance starts to drop the school will speak to the child/parent and discuss the reason for absence and any support needed.
· After 10 sessions of absence, you will receive a first attendance letter (there are 2 sessions in the school day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon).
· After 15 sessions of absence, you will receive a second attendance letter and you will be invited to have a meeting to discuss how we can best support your child to attend school more often. You will also be offered an Early Help meeting.
· If your child’s attendance does not improve you will receive a third attendance letter and the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) will be informed.
Of course, there will be unavoidable absences for illness or medical appointments, but we want to minimise these where possible. Pupils and families will not be penalised for legitimate non-attendance due to Covid 19.
No term time holidays will be authorised unless there are exceptional circumstances. Every day in school counts, even a small drop in attendance can lead to a child missing a significant part of their education.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with school at any time if you have any queries around attendance expectations and procedures.
It’s Not Ok—campaign
This week, the whole of our Trust have launched the, 'It's Not OK' campaign across all its schools to say no to all forms of sexual violence and sexual harassment. Children at St James have talked about different ways they are kept safe in school as well as the characteristics of positive relationships. We have revisited the NSPCC Pants Rule and are proud that our children know who they can talk to should they feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any time.
For further information about how you can keep your child safe, please visit underwear-rule-parents-guide-children-autism.pdf (nspcc.org.uk)
Changes to the self-isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19From Monday 17 January, people who are self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after 5 full days if they test negative with a lateral flow device (LFD) test on both day 5 and day 6 and they do not have a temperature. For example, if they test negative on the morning of day 5 and the morning of day 6, they can return to their education or childcare setting immediately on day 6.
The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. All test results should be reported to NHS Test and Trace.
If the result of either of their tests is positive, they should continue to self-isolate until they get negative results from two LFD tests on consecutive days or until they have completed 10 full days of self-isolation, whichever is earliest.
Anyone who is unable to take LFD tests or anyone who continues to have a temperature will need to complete the full 10 day period of self-isolation.
Further information on self-isolation for those with COVID-19 is available.
This new advice has been added to the school's updated Risk Assessment which can be found here.
Dogs on the School Site
Huge thanks to everyone who has remembered that we are asking to keep all dogs off the school site. There are issues of hygiene - we want our children to be able to play freely on the site without the risk of coming across something that might make them sick or worse, we have issues of allergies and we have some children who are very scared of dogs and for whom it can compromise their feelings that school is a safe place. Thank you so much for you support and cooperation in this matter.
Happy New Year! I have a very strong feeling that we are owed an absolutely stonking year so my heart is full of optimism and positivity for 2022.
It's easy to be positive at the moment with the new mural in the hall that fills my heart with joy every time I go in there. If you haven't had a chance to see it yet do take a peep in through the doors of the hall and feast your eyes on the colours, the shapes and the three bounding hares.
Our mural was created by artist and illustrator Anna Higgie who has painted works for multinational businesses and huge festivals and who did this for us at barely a snip of her usual fees. You can have a look at Anna's website here. She put her heart and soul into the job pulling some very long days to make it work. Anna was assisted by Bruno's mother Ione. The project was paid for from the proceeds of the auction of promises that took place way back before the pandemic so, if you were involved in that event, give yourself a pat on the back - it was very worthwhile. Thanks to the team who ran that event and raised the money and particularly to Ione who coordinated Anna's project and Casper who provided and erected the scaffold towers.
The children have been blown away by the mural and I've heard lots of excited talk about it - favourite colours, favourite shapes, the meanings and names of the hares. What a lovely welcome back to school for the new year.
Welcome to Miss Pollard
It has been just wonderful to see Miss Pollard settling into the Early Years Foundation Stage area. She is a terrific teacher and a great positive force. The children seem to have taken to her immediately and the atmosphere in the room has been an absolute pleasure to see.
We have had no positive tests at all amongst staff at school over Christmas or up to now. We currently have two children isolating after positive tests over the school holidays. This is atypically low nationally at the moment and things could change very quickly however, for now, we are very thankful to be able to run the school almost normally.
As the omicron variant is so very contagious we are being very careful indeed and not letting visitors into the school unless there are very specific reasons why they should be in the building. Sadly this means no volunteers just at the minute - we will be back on that project as soon as we can safely relax that protocol.
The government advice no longer recommends keeping children to 'bubbles'. Instead they recommend keeping a flexible approach so it may be that if staff need to isolate and there are small numbers of pupils in the class that we amalgamate classes. We would let you know if we were doing that. Hopefully we will all remain well and there will be no need for such an action.
In school we ask the adults to wear masks when in communal areas but we don't ask them to wear masks in the classroom. We keep classrooms well ventilated and that means they can be a little chilly so it is worth sending children in with a hoody or other warm layer they can slip on if needed. If you or your child have any of the symptoms associated with covid please do book a PCR test and get it checked as soon as possible and do, please, let us know what is going on for you.
Before Christmas we had a plan to work together with Devon Wildlife Trust and have each child plant a tree along the fence line bordering the amphitheatre to create a new hedgerow. sadly the weather was very rough the day we had it planned and the wildlife trust staff were advised to cancel b their bosses. I'm glad to say that we are back on for next Tuesday and by the end of that day we hope to have one hundred and fifty baby trees settling their roots into our soil. It might be wise for children to wear stouter shoes than usual or to bring a pair of wellingtons on Tuesday as some of the flimsier trainer style shoes we see on the playground may struggle with a spade.
The vast majority of parents and carers are making sure that their children are in school by ten to nine ready for the bell that calls the children to line up. We would love to see the number of children arriving after this time diminishing so that we can all start the day together with positivity and togetherness. The side gate is locked by nine and after that children are asked to come to the front of the school to enter through reception. Of course we all have days when we can't din our glasses or we meet an HGV reversing past Sandy Park but as a general rule we would like to have all children on the premises by ten to nine so we start the day in an orderly way.