A HUGE well done to everyone. We have recently seen a noticable uptick in attendance. Earlier this week we had a day with attendance of 99% and this morning we saw attendance at 97.3%. I am very pleased indeed and hope this shows that, at last, we are moving back towards pre-pandemic levels of attendance.
This isn't just for the numbers on my spreadsheet - it means that more children are attending school reliably, getting the day by day contact they need to make really good progress in their learning and all those chances to build great social contacts, friendships and experiences.
Thank you to everyone - I couldn't be more pleased.
Festival of Hope
The Year Sixes have been working with Mrs Armstrong and Mrs Ramoutar to create a piece of art for the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust 'Festival of Hope'. This annual event brings together children from across all the nineteen schools in the trust for music making, sport, art and performance. Our children worked together to build a hope filled artwork inspired by the fabulous book 'Window' by Jeannie Baker. Mr Finch just about managed to squeeze it into the back of his car and drove it to Tavistock where it will be proudly on display next week before moving to Holsworthy College and then Okehampton College. Our Year Fours will go and see the art exhibition while it is up in Okehampton.
Other children are taking part in the festival through sporting events and every child learned to sing the new 'festival of Hope song - look out for a very special video of that coming out as soon as Kai has edited it all together. Fitting all nineteen schools into a three minute song is a challenge!
Parish Council and West Devon Borough Council Elections
2023 is the year for Parish Council and West Devon Borough Council Elections which will be held on Thursday May 4th in the Jubilee Hall.
All 12 seats for Chagford Parish Council will be up for election
This is your chance to have your say in what happens in our community.
If you would like to learn more about being a Parish Councillor, contact the Clerk on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications should be made by the beginning of April.
Stories Around the Firepit
Join us on Thursday 23rd March for Stories around the firepit. We will guide you in to our Forest School area and invite you to enjoy an evening of storytelling from Mr Finch and friends of the school. The PTFA may be selling some drinks and snacks. Do come along to enjoy the evening - we guarantee a very special evening which fuinny stories, scary stories and magical stories and a real sense of community around the fire. Book this in the diary now and look out for more information.
This is part of our contribution to the Festival of hope.
World Book Day
We celebrated World Book Day on Wednesday. Children came to school dressed in a wonderful array of costumes. We had two Kevin the Roly Poly flying ponies - presumably inspired by our Patron of Reading, Sarah McIntyre, a matching pair of Ooompa Lumpas, several characters from the Harry Potter Universe, numerous assorted sportsmen and celebrities, a good clutch of characters from Podkin One Ear, two Looshkins, a stitch head and so much more. I enjoyed clelbrating all the fun and creativity as the children made thier procession around the playground. As always, it was great to see the youngest and oldest children working so beautifully together.
In class, children took part in a wide range of bookish activities. Enjoying and sharing books, designing book marks, drawing favourite characters and more.
In the afternoon we had a visit from The Bookery who shared a selectrion of really exciting, recently published titles and gave the children a chance to buy them at very much reduced prices. The PTFA helped out by purchasing one each of all the featured titels to go in he school library so that all children, even if theri parents hadn'[t given them some money to spend, will be able to read them.
A good time was had by all and, hopefully, the bookish love grew and spread in the school.
Thanks again to Kael and Chloe for facilitating today's Woodland School session. The children relish being out in the open air and are able to learn in a different way together. We love the Woodland school provision and we really want to see it continuing.
Frieds from the PTFA have set up a dedicated fundraiser to make sure we can continue to provide Woodland school at our setting. They have already earned an impressive £1,198 and are well towards half of their £3000 target for the year.
If your child enjoys Woodland School and you would like to see it continue, please consider giving what you can via this link Fundraiser by Katherine Grimshaw : Chagford Primary Woodland School (gofundme.com)
The PTFA will be running a Bake Sale next Thursday, 9th March. They are looking for donations of baked goods for sale and, of course, for plenty of eager customers!
CELEBRATING THE EARTH
The next Celebrating the Earth event will take place on March 21st at the Church of St Michael the Archangel. It will focus on wildflowers, the beauty, the myth and the very real benefits. There will be input from the school of some form. maybe a song - maybe a poem - maybe some art....
Pop it in your diary and lets get a good showing from the school at theis lovely event.
A busy, busy week here at Chagford Primary. We have just had the Friday celebration with the most ever parents and carers in the room to celebrate childrens acheivements with us. Cornelia played a piano piece she'd written herself, George amazed us with his beautiful, corruscating computer art, we heard about great learning in maths, beautiful writing, the children sang - what a lot of beautiful things!
Earlier in the week the children enjoyed a football tournaemnent run by OCRA (Okehampton Community and Recreation Association). It was a cold day but the tournament was very exciting and the children had a blast.
Spring flowers are popping up all over the site - some in the most unexpected places as a legacy from the layout of the old building. I don't remember as often as I should to say 'thank you' to the gardening team that gives our school a daily dose of wonder and beauty. Thank you gardeners - you don't know how much your work enriches all of us.
Next week I am expecially looking forward to our World Book Day celebration on Wednesday and Woodland School on Friday. I love Chagford Primary - there's always something to celebrate and be thankful for.
World Book Day - Wednesday 1st March
Chagford Primary will be celebrating World Book Day next Wednesday, 1st March. This is a day before the 'official' World Book Day as we have managed to organise a visit from The Bookery to help us make the day special.
On Wednesday, the children are invited to come to school dressed as a favourite character from a book, or in another way that chimes with the book day theme. Do see the message from Proper Job below. They know that World Book Day costumes can be an expense and a lot of work for busy parents and they are hosting a reuse and recycle facility to save families time and money.
During the day, classes will take part in a variety of activities designed to promote a love of books and reading. There will be a competition for the best 'book nooks' - book sized boxes that slot into the bookshelf amongst the books and contain a little diorama linked to a book.
In the afternoon, our friends from The Bookery will give a presentation of exciting newly-publshed books that the children might enjoy. The children will then be able to buy from this selection. Books are subsidised and much cheaper than they would be online or in the bookshop. Children can buy one book for £6 or two books for £10. Money should be brought into school in a named envelope. It is fine to bring £10 to be shared by two siblings but this must be marked very clearly on the envelope so that we don't inadvertently let one sibling choose two books and leave the other without.
We would love as many parents as possible to join us on the playground in the morning for a short parade, so we all get to see the great costumes.
Message From Proper Job - Don't Panic! - Reuse, Recycle and pass on fancy dress!
Dressing up for World Book Day has become something of a tradition over the years. For many children, getting to be someone else for the day is imaginative and fun. There can be lots of learning - thinking about book characters, what they look and act like, and getting creative. But how much unnecessary waste does this national tradition create?
We know that parents are increasingly under pressure to produce new ideas each year and it can cause stress and anxiety for many, therefore we have put together a rail of pre-loved items to help you to reuse, recycle make do and mend.
If you would like to share or pass on last year’s outfits, please donate them to the Resource Centre and we will try to pass them on to others to help save time resources and money!
#worldbookday #reducereuserecycle #makedoandmend #fancydress
The PTFA are holding a Bake Sale on Thursday 9th March straight after school.
This is to raise money for upcoming events.
We would be very grateful for donations of any baked goods. Please take these to the school office before 3.30pm on the 9th March and/or send your children in with some money to buy something delicious!
Woodland School Fundraiser
The children at Chagford School have been lucky enough to enjoy Woodland School sessions since last Autumn - donning their wellies come rain or shine (or minus 7 degree frosts!) and going into the school grounds to learn about all sorts of exciting things to do with our environment. The sessions have been funded by the PTFA but this is not sustainable and a longer-term funding solution is needed. Therefore we are turning to you, family and friends of Chagford School, to help keep this fantastic opportunity going for our kids.
Why do we think it is important?
Outside play is a key aspect of child development. Small children spend much of their time exploring, collecting, wandering, and questioning. When school starts for the child, their learning takes a different form, one that engages the more intellectual side. We believe that providing the opportunity for outdoor learning benefits the child’s development on all levels and provides a good balance.
Through the Woodland School, the children have the opportunity to develop a fascination and interest in plants, insects, animal life and natural processes of nature such as the weather/seasons. They learn some of the skills to work with natural substances in the old traditional way, building structures, using fire, and harvesting wild edibles.
Working together in teams, the children naturally develop good interpersonal team-working skills with communication an essential and natural part of this. The enthusiasm with which these activities are taken up by the children shows the effect that working within nature has on them, building upon their natural enthusiasm and encouraging new social interactions between classmates.
What is magic about engaging the children this way is that when back in the classroom, their levels of focus and concentration have improved. This is both through these activities working with nature and also from having time away from the busy-ness of the classroom. With their lungs full of fresh air, the children have been seen taking up their classroom work with a new focus and enjoyment.
The Woodland School provides an opportunity for hands-on activities to be adapted to suit all children, thus enabling every child to take part in honing both their gross and fine motor skills. As their skills grow, so too does their self-confidence. Their problem-solving skills are called upon within this highly practical environment.
£3,000 would allow the children from Reception to Year 6 to enjoy 3 sessions per half term for the next year as well as a little surplus for materials.
Any donation is so very much appreciated! Thank you!
Fundraiser by Katherine Grimshaw : Chagford Primary Woodland School (gofundme.com)
We have decided to move away from using the Accelerated Reader scheme to monitor and incentivise pupils' reading. The scheme has become more expensive and we are not absolutely convinced of the value for money. We have allowed our subscription to the scheme to lapse as families may have realised if they logged on to run pupil book quizzes.
We will, of course, continue to monitor children's reading. We will do this through close attention to children's reading ages and by continuing to prompt children to move gradually to more challenging books - while still promoting a love of reading and allowing children to build their own tastes in author and genre.
We know that very much the most productive thing that parents can do to support their child's learning, right across the curriculum, is to read with them for a few minutes as often as possible. This does not have to mean the child reading to the parent - it is just as important, maybe more so, for the adult to model good reading to the child. Read a bit, stop to predict what might happen next, talk about the characters (Who do you like? Who don't you like? Why?), how does the book make you feel? At home it's not the decoding of reading that we focus on - we can teach that effectively at school - it's the deep appreciation and love of reading and learning how books connect us.
We will run a 'reading with your child' workshop for any parents who are interested in the next few weeks and we would love to see you there.
Industrial Action - March 2nd
Members of the National Education Union are taking industrial action in the SOuth West and other parts of the country on Thursday 2nd March. As a result our school will be closed to all pupils for the day. We regret the disruption to parents, carers and families. The closure effects all parts of the school, including pre-school. Fees for pre-school sessions will be reimbursed retrospectively.
Another week finishes leaving us exhausted but very happy and proud of the work the adults have put in and the progress that the children have made. February half term is half way through the school year and a great vantage point to look back at what has been acheived and forward to what is still to come. Mr Newland was glowing with pride this morning as he told me about the great strides some of our year threes have made in Phonics so dar this year. Our Year Fives treated us to a terrific assembly on Wednesday showing off their increasing discipline and control as a group. More year sixes joined the Year Six Ambasadors on hte bench after evidencing their commitment to learning and character development.
Danielle Betts, who has been working with us at Chagford Primary since September is finishing today to take up a new job a little closer to home. In assembly she told us that when her agency called her up and asked her to take on the role at Chagford, the recruiter said that Chagford was a very special school, one that would live in her memory for a long time after she finished her contract. Danielle told us that, at the time, she'd imagined this was just him trying to get her to take on the job but, once she arrived, she realised that there is something quite special about our school. Something which doesn't come from the walls or classrooms but from every child and adult who comes together in this place to live and learn together.
I think we will all be grateful for our half term break but that we will also be looking forward to another term. There's so much to look forward to.
World Book Day
Chagford will celebrate World Book Day on Wednesday 1st March. The official date is March 2nd but with the National Education Union planning another day of strike action for that day we have brought it forward.
Just as last year, we will have a visit from our friends at The Bookery on the day to learn about some brilliant newly publsihed books and there will be a very heavily subsidised book stall allowing the children to purchase the books. Through the generosity of the PTFA, we'll be purchasing a complete set for the school library so children can get a chance to read the books even if they can't buy every one that they would like.
Children can come to school dressed as a favourite book character or they can push the idea a little further - I have had children attend as full libraries, as genres, as authors or as historical or creative characters who they admire and clutching a biography. One of my all time favourites was a child in a lab coat absolutely covered in the poems from 'The Lost Words' - you could quite happily read that costume all day!
Additionally, there will be prizes for 'book in a box' exhibits. Take a box that would fit in a book shelf between teh books. Take off a side and build a little world inside. Yoiu might like to think about The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Lord of the Rings, The Gruffalo, The AdventureMice or any other book your child is passionate about - non fiction just as much as fiction. There will be some prizes and lots of celebration.
Children's Mental Health Week
This week has been Children's Mental Health Week across the country and Chagford Primary has played a full part. Classes have taken extra time over their PHSCE and Circle Time sessions and every day's afternoon assembly has had a mental health focus. Year Five gave us a confident whole school assembly based on the book Ruby's Worry.
We learned that worries tend to get bigger when we keep them inside and tend to resolve when we speak about them to other people. We thought about who the trusted people in our lives were that we could talk to and learned some good ways of talking and asking for help. We learned that everybody has busy thoughts in their heads and that we need to treat others with respect as we never know what worries or anxieties they might be carrying - even if they are looking happy and confident.
On Friday we celebrated with a 'Dress to Express Day. Children and staff came to school dressed in ways that expressed something about themselves - clothes that made them happy, clothes that reminded them of something they really like, clothes that had a story. Mr Finch was relaxed in his jeans and a comfy shirt and with no tie around his neck for once, Mr Dray chose an old rock band tour T-Shirt which reminds him of happy times in the past and of things he's looking forward to. SOme children wore their cosiest onesies, or dressed to make each other smile. My absolute favourite was a child who wore her rugby strip to show her pride in her team then shyly revealed that she was wearing a football top underneath to awknowledge her friendship with a football mad classmate.
Well done and thank you everyone. Hopefully a few children end this week a little more confident and comfortable to talk about thier identity and to share their worries.
Thank you to eveyone who donated a pound for the children's mental health charity place2be - there are many, many children and young people sruggling with the mental health and wellbeing at the moment - with more than twenty years in education I have never seen the situation so serious in this reagrd. Our young people need help and with services like CAMHS so overwhelmed, it is groups like place2be who are doing the work,
Work at Chagford Primary
We are currently very stretched indeed at Chagford Primary. Due to circumstances beyond our control we are down two key members of staff and unable to recruit to fill those jobs. We would love to take on two members of staff to fulfil these roles though, currently, it would be through agency.
If you know anyone who has some experience of working with children, is able to commit to a medium term agreement - up to the end of summer term ideally, is good at learning quickly and follwoing instructions and is happy to sign up to an agency and undertake the usual formality of a DBS check then please, please put them in touch with us so we can explain more and get things moving. Both roles are demanding but rewarding and vital for the children we serve.
Chagford Primary is a Church of England School. It's a key part of our identity and one that. maybe, we don't always celebrate as much and as loudly as we should. I am very proud o our children's increasing ability to talk about spirtuality - not as something which is tied to one religion or world view but as a way of thining about how we relate to ourselves, the people we are connected to and the wide world around and beyond us. I love that our children so understand our school vision 'Community, Challenge, Care and can talk about where the idea comes from. I am proud to hear them sing our school song 'Let us spur each other on to love and good works'. I love to hear them say our school blessing at the end of each day's collective worship. I am proud when I stand in the church with all our pupils, when we sing together, think together and pray together as part of a community much larger than the school.
A great deal of what I really love about Chagford Primary is, in part, in expression of it's distinctive identity as a Church of England School.
Church of England Schools are inspected under the SIAMS (Statutory Inspection for Anglican and Methodist Schools. Our last inspection under SIAMS was way back in 2016 and was judged 'good' at that time. We were expecting an inspection this year and rather looking forward to showcasing everyhting we love about our school however the inspection schedule is badly behind after the pandemic and we were told this week that we would not be inspected this year after all. We are a little disappointed that we won't get our chance to show how we shine this year, we hope that people outside the school do see the love, the care and the attention to the child's spirit that we think makes our school a bit special.
We have had a busy, busy week at Chagford Primary with lots and lots to celebrate.
Very little pleases me more at a school than when the children reveal talents that we hadn't been aware of. Sometimes because they are something they are developing away from school or sometimes becasue they have only just reached the point of confidence in themselves to let us see what they can do. There were several beautiful examples of that this week.
Kit impressed everyone in Collective Worship on Thursday with his recorder playing. He played a charismatic (and very speedy) reading of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' theme which blew everyone away.
Molly played to the school on Friday. She was nervous but showed she could keep a steady pulse and played right through to the end of her opeice with support from Mimi. We were proud of her and of the school who listened impeccably.
I was delighted by Benji C who asked if he could share some art work and brought a collection of absolutely delightful models of creatures, mostly birds, that he has been making at home. He has put such love and care into these models - I shall ask if I may photogrpah them to share with you all.
We love to see this - if your child would like to share in assembly but has been a bit nervous to offer do let us know so we can invite them. It means a lot to us and I think it can mean a lot to them.
'Dress to Express' Day
Next week is Childrens Mental Health week. Across the UK schools and colleges will be thinking about how we can help children to be in tune with themselves, in harmony with the people they are connected to and in good relations with the wide, wide world around and beyond them. Classes will talk about this in their PHSCE and Circle Time sessions. It will be a theme in our afternoon assemblies and collective worship thought the week and, on Friday, we will have a whole school 'Dress to Express' Day. Children can come to school wearing clothes that make them happy or, if they want to, they could be more adventurous and dress to express a given emotion or a character from a book that helps them think about their own wellbeing - Ruby from Ruby's Worry for example.
We are asking for a one pouind donation per child to raise some funds for children's mental health charities.
The week should give us great opportunities to talk and explore our feelings and those activtries which help us to feel good.
Our Friday Celebration will have a special mental health focus and we would love to invite all parents and carers to join us for that if they would like to.
A huge party of Chagford Priamry pupils headed off to Simmonds Park in Okehampton today to taker part in an inter school Cross Country competition. Huge thanks to Mel Holyoak and Chloe Brooks-Warner who accompanied the trip aloing with Mrs Armstrong and our bold leader Wes Frewin.
As ever, the children made us very proud. Their conduct was excelletn and every child put in their very best effort. We love to see those fighters who know they aren't going to place but keep putting one foot in front of the other anyway. We love those kids who go out of the traps like a greyhound and lead the pack for a good lap before finding they didn't have quite the legs they thought they did and fall back. We love the concientious plodder... the great thing about running is that there really is room for everyone.
Of course, we are also extremely proud of those children who excel and today we had two superstars. Seth placed on the podium in the Year £ and 4 boys race and max came first in the Year 5 and 6 boys race making him the quickest out of all the many children on the course.
We are seeing many cases of a nasty cold amongst staff and pupils which is accompanied by a really vicious sore throat. Most of us seem to get better in a few days with plenty of rest, fluids and paracetemol but some children and adults are needing antibiotics to shake it off. It's really worth speaking to your GP and finding out if this is strep A.
Common symptoms of strep A include:
Industrial Action by the National Union of Teachers
Our school was closed to all pupils on Wednesday of this week due to indusrtial action by the national Union of Teachers (NEU). We recieved many messages of support from members of the school community which the teachers taking action were very grateful for. Some aprents have asked questions to better understand the action and I agreed to give answers in the newsletter.
Why was the school closed when some other schools were only partially closed?
There are a number of teachers unioins, the NEU is the biggest in England but there are also the NASUWT, ASCL and the NAHT. Other unions did not pass the strict regulations regarding turn out to have a succesful ballot for industrial action so their members were not taking action. At Chagford Primary is so happens that all members of the teaching team are members of the NEU and therefore eligible to take this action. At other schools it may be that the majority of teachers belong to other unions. As head I make a judgement about whether it is safe to open the school, with no teachers on the premises as well as no leadership or safeguarding lead, it was my judgement that it was not safe to open to pupils.
Did other members of staff besides teachers strike?
At our school, no other memebrs of staff belong to the NEU and, therefore, none were elib=gible to take strike action.
What did the striking teachers hope to achieve?
WHile the aims of the action are formally about teachers pay, the teachers that we have spoken to are far more concerned about funding for the sector as a whole and the impact that the realk terms reduction in funding for schools has had on staffing, morale and, ultimately, the provisioin schools can provide to their children. Striking teachers told me that they wanted to make the public aware of their concerns and wanted the govenment to unbderstand the depth of their concern.
Do striking teachers get paid?
No. Everyone who takes strike action is docked that days pay. For our colleagues this is a significant sum which impacts on their budgetting for the month and does make a real impact.
Will there be more days of strike action?
There are three more days of action currently planned. The next is on Thursday March 2nd. We do not yet know how many members will be likely to take a second day of strike action. We will risk assess closer to the time and let you know how our school will be effected no less than a week ahead of time.