Sarah McIntyre 'Patron of Reading' Visit
On Wednesday, author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre spent the day at the school in the first of her visits as our new Patron of Reading. Sarah brought her friend and co-author Philip Reeve along for the ride and together they gave us a very special day.
In the morning Sarah and Philip ran a special assembly for all of Key Stage Two - they told us all about how they work together and how their books get made, they performed the start of their newest book for us, they taught us how to draw Kevin - the roly-poly flying pony - and together we made and played a brilliant 'Great Race' board game. The hall was full of engagement, interest and bookish fun.
For Key Stage One Sarah ran another assembly where she focussed on the character of 'Grumpycorn' - she taught the children how to draw the character and and helped them to make him their own by tweaking him to their own interests - there were some great, great pictures and we had so much fun.
Sarah visited the Foundation Unit and read the children her book 'Dinosaur Firefighters' which went down a storm then the children helped Sarah to do some amazing drawings of the dinosaur characters from the book - they gave her suggestions of funny things to add to the pictures and it was lovely to see their ideas coming to life on the paper. The children were fascinated and lots of them wanted to spend the rest of the day drawing and talking about the visit.
Sarah and Philip visited every class and were happy to spend time chatting to every child and signing books and bits of paper everywhere they went.
Huge thanks to Sarah and Philip for their time and energy and to Chagword for funding this project.
A group of our keenest readers got together with Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve to interview them for the newsletter. This is what they said...
Chagford Primary Reporters: How did you start making books with Philip Reeve?
Sarah McIntyre: We met at a book festival in Scotland and we made friends. I told him I was trying to put a new drawing on my website every day, as a challenge to myself, and he decided to start doing the same. I was very impressed by his landscape drawings of Dartmoor and the way he drew its interesting twisty trees. After many months of comparing our drawings, he invited my husband and me to see these twisty trees in real life and we stayed with him. After awhile, we decided that it would be fun to do a book together and came up with Oliver and the Seawigs.
Chagford Primary Reporters: When you were writing your books how did you get your ideas?
Sarah McIntyre: When I did Grumpycorn I couldn’t think of an idea for a book so I did a story about a unicorn who couldn’t think of a story! That was easy.
An editor asked me to do a story that had dinosaurs and police in it as her child really liked Dinosaurs and the police, so I did a book called Dinosaur Police!
Chagford Primary Reporters: When you create a series like the Kevin books, how do you come up with lots of different characters for the different books?
Sarah McIntyre: We based Kevin on a painting that Philip had painted years ago. We knew he needed a human friend so we invented Max and Daisy. Then we wanted to make it a little bit spooky so we introduced some characters that were a little bit spooky and interesting based on lots of different characters we’d met in different books and people we know.
Chagford Primary Reporters: Did you make a story map and plan stories before you start writing them?
Sarah McIntyre: For the stories we do together, Philip makes up the stories mostly by just starting to write and finding out what happens.
Philip Reeve: I don’t really plan it much – I start writing and make it up as I go along. Sometimes you have to go back and change things to make it look like you knew what was going on on from the start!
Chagford Primary Reporters: What characters are fun to write? What bits of books do you like doing?
Sarah McIntyre: I really enjoy writing all the fun little characters - I like doing Beyonce and Neville, the guinea pig characters in the Kevin books. I really enjoy making the big spreads with no words on them, like the end papers in the Grumpycorn books. I love collecting fabrics and I based those spreads on that.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
We are beyond excited and delighted that preparation for our whole school production o A Midsummer Night's Dream are now firmly underway under the watchful eye of our director Lydia Frater. The children have been having an absolute ball and it has been a pleasure to see it happening. The parts for the main characters will be cast next week and rehearsals will get underway in earnest. We are just SO EXCITED to share this with you all. Huge thanks to Crispin and to Ben who have been the moving force behind this project.
‘Music for a Midsummer’s Dream’ Concert
We are thrilled to announce a very special concert, ‘Music for a Midsummer’s Dream’, taking place in the church on Saturday 21stMay at 7.30pm. Two highly acclaimed musicians, the professional pianist Rupert Egerton-Smith and local cellist Amye Farrell (see below for more information) will treat us to an evening of music guaranteed to enchant, playing Rachmaninov Sonata in G Minor for cello and piano, Beethoven Sonata in A Major for cello, Chopin Ballade No. 3 in A flat Major and Scarlatti Sonatas for piano k96 and k27.
All proceeds will go towards funding Chagford CE Primary School’s ambitious summer production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play has been specially adapted and re-written for our school by acclaimed playwright Crispin Whittell and is being directed by experienced director Lydia Frater. It is a wonderful and unique opportunity for our children, every one of whom will have the chance to take part. Anything remaining will go to the School’s Art Fund which supports and encourages a variety of artistic and musical opportunities for the children.
Tickets are £10 to include a glass of wine and are available to buy in Sally’s Newsagent or reply to me (email@example.com) to purchase online.
Celebration of the Earth – Beltane May 12th
On 12th May, we are holding our monthly event following on from COP26. This month’s theme is Beltane, or the Welcoming in of Spring. We are having a couple of people dressed up as an Obby Oss and Jack In The Green, and there will be music and singing and some dancing at O’er Hill (where we had the Wassailing event) from 17:30 that afternoon. We hope to get families and their children involved in this and to have a wonderful time together celebrating our wonderful world and the fun we can have together in it.
Unite and unite, and let us all unite
For summer is a-comin today.
And whither we are going we all will unite,
In the merry morning of may!
Celebration of the Earth – Bees (June)
This celebration is all about bees, the beautiful mystery of their lives and communication and the wonderful work they do for us all by pollinating so many of the plants we rely on for our food, our fabrics, our oxygen and the beauty of our world. We are thinking of creating some sort of hive right here at school that the children go go into to feel bee-ish. What fun! If you are a bee afficionado, why not get in touch and see if we could get you involved.
Unbelievably, this break marks the end of my first year as Principal at Chagford Primary. I have to say a big thank you to everyone who has welcomed me, supported me and helped the school along this leg of the journey. There are far too many people to mention by name but the kindness and welcome shown to me by the staff, the community and, most of all, by the pupils of the school is genuinely moving.
It has been a challenging year for sure - the pandemic has forced us to make a lot of difficult decisions and there's always something surprising around the corner when you're trying to run a school. I hope that parents and carers can see just how hard staff are working and that5 while, of course, we can't get every decision right for everyone, we really are trying to do our best for the children in our care and for the community we serve.
There is so much to look forward to after Easter - there's our Midsummer Night's Dream production, trips galore, swimming, sports fixtures, a concert... we can't wait to take this next step with you alongside us - 'Let us spur each other on to love and good works' Hebrews 10:24.
Easter Hat Parade
It was a delight to see so may of the children arriving at the school in their Easter Hats. The rain may have dampened the hats a little but we kept our spirits high. Thank you to parents who came along to support and enjoy the occasion. The rendition of 'Spring Chicken' may not have been exactly as it was in the past but the children loved singing it and that put a big smile on my face. if you have any more photos you are happy to share, do email them to me and I shall add them to the slideshow. Lots of prizes were distributed in assembly in the afternoon - I wish I could have given a prize to every single child but alas my money doesn't stretch that far. Well done and thank you to each and every one of you.
We have lots of after school clubs running and more starting after Easter. Currently children are participating in multi skills sports, Samba, Netball, chess, football and lego robotics. Aft5er Easter we will be adding a dance club. Perhaps you'd like to run a club. Talk to us and we will try to make that possible. Could yo run a book club, nature club, gardening club, coding club, craft club...? Have you got an idea for a club you'd like to run that we haven't thought of? If so, get in touch and we'll see if we can make it happen.
A Message from the Governors
On behalf of the Three Hares governors, I would like to wish all pupils, their families and all staff a Happy Easter, and to say a huge thank you for all your hard work and support during what has been another tough term.
I would also like to welcome our new governors, Liz Davidson a parent governor who has a daughter at South Tawton, Lucy Dennis a staff governor from South Tawton and Wes Frewin a staff governor from Chagford. We also welcome back Ben Morris who had been on sabbatical so he could concentrate on the COVID vaccination programme. Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to Mark Neave, one of our foundation governors, who is moving to a new parish. It’s been another busy term for governors, and I thank you all for your hard work and support too.
There are still some vacancies for governors, so if you are interested or know someone in the community who may be please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would particularly welcome someone from the North Tawton community, as both Jo Ware and Lee Pascoe stepped down as governors last term.
We are hopeful that next term we will be able to come into school more so we can see all the wonderful things that are happening in our schools and to meet up with pupils, parents and staff to hear their thoughts about the schools. We also hope to join in with community events. So please keep an eye out for us. Next term we will have our details posted on the school websites so hopefully that will help in recognising us! We are also going to set up a governor blog so you can see what we have been doing for the schools.
Chair of Three Hares Governors
Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve visit
Don't forget that our new Patron of Reading, Sarah McIntyre and her friend and colleague Philip Reeve will be visiting us on the first Wednesday after we get back from the Easter break. It's going to be a really great day. As well as everything else they'll be doing. Sarah and Philip will be happy to sign copies of their books. We did send out a form to allow you to pre-order books for your children earlier this week but only a few people have taken advantage of it. Tucker in Astor's Books or any other local bookshops will be very happy to sell you copies of Sarah and Philips books prior to the event so that your child can have their own copy of a book signed by the author and illustrator - this can be a real incentive to build a love of reading so we really do encourage you to buy a book to get signed.
Children in pre-school, reception and Year One might be best served with a copy of Dinosaur Police or Grumpycorn. In Year Two and Three I would suggest one of the 'Kevin' books about the fat flying Dartmoor pony that Sarah and Philip create together. For Year Four 'Philips 'Goblins' might be a good choice. For Five and Six I'd recommend 'Utterly Dark' - Philips newest book, or, for more confident readers, his 'Mortal Engines' series. Sarah and Philip are really high quality, award winning authors,. I'm very proud to have them visiting the school and I know a signed book would be a really powerful way to make the day more effective for your child.
Year Two Staffing
We are very sad to be saying goodbye to Ana Quieroz. Ana joined out team as class teacher for Year two a few weeks ago but due to a change in her personal circumstances she is unable to continue in the role. We have enjoyed her time with us and we wish her all the very best for her future. Audra Fitzgerald who has taught the Year two children for some extended periods in the last few months is returning and will take the class through to the summer break.
Easter Bunny Paw Trail - 9th April to 24th April
Find the twenty eight bunnies hidden around Chagford and claim a prize. Buy a trail sheet for £1 from Beachwood Bakery, The Birdcage, Blacks Deli or Sally's Newsagents.
Postcard form Brazil
Ollie and Eva have been in Brazil visiting their family for the last couple of weeks. They wanted to send a postcard back to their classes at Chagford Primary. With their mum's permission we wanted to share it with you - what a lovely photo of the two of them and what an amazing setting! Ollie and Eva said;
Hello everyone at School,
We are having a wonderful time with our family in Brazil. We went to see the Iguaçu Falls, one of the natural wonders of the World. It was amazing and beautiful!
We hope you are having fun and have a very Happy Easter.
Love Ollie and Eva.
Easter Swimming Crash Courses
Learn to swim over the Easter Break. Take a four day crash course and improve your swimming and water skills. Only £24 for four days of lessons. Classes available in Okehampton and Tavistock.
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