Well this has been a busy and challenging year in equal measure.
As I come to the end of my time as head I am taking a few moment s to look back and think about how far we have come. Sports Day, Year Six Residential, Rainbow Day, World Book Day, Fantastic Mr Fox, Class Assemblies, Celebrating the Earth, our Coronation Party... so many events to enrich our pupils stock oof experiences.
People have been immensely, immensely kind in messages to me these last couple of weeks - I am deeply humbled and don't really know what to do with myself emotionally. Thanks to everyone who has spoken to me or sent a message. The generosity of the gifts I have recieved are beyond words.
If our school really has touched lives and enriched children's experiences during my time here then the responsibility and the credit sits absolutely with the people who really make that happen. Our incredible teachers and support staff. We had a special assembly this afternoon to say thank you and goodbye to people who are leaving the school. Let me take a very brief moment to thank them here.
Mr Newland isn't leaving but he is going to take a new role as SENDCO working with children across the new Foundry Hub (Chagfrod, SOuth Tawton, Norh Tawton and Exbourne schools. He will be missed by so many children but will be working hard to benfit many, many more children across the group of schools. We wish him the very best in this new role.
Claire-Shauna Saunders has worked one to one with our most vulnerable children. Claire's smile and infectious laugh light up the room she walks into. She will be very missed.
Dani Rout has worked in our Foundation Unit for nine years - every child in the school who attened Chagford for pre-school or reception has been cared for by her. She has touched so many lives. It is the right time for her to move on and take care of other areas of her life. We give her our very best wishes.
Judith Simpson joined as as an early career teacher when she completed her teacher training. Have studied through the pandemic when schools were only partly open, she has had to learn on the job. She has showed so much compassion for the children she has taught. Well done Judith - we wish you all the best for the next step in your career.
Jasmine Pollard joined us just eighteen months ago. That is hard to belive as she has absolutely transformed the provision in our Foundation UNit both for pre-school children and for the reception children in her class. She has been an exemplary leader in the unit and was praised very highly by my friend, the eminent EYFS expert, Ruth Swailes for the quality of her work and the opportunities she gives our youngest children. Jasmine is taking a job closer to her home which is very wise for our planet and her pocket but she will be missed. We are so glad that our friend Emily Coleman is coming back to fill those very big shoes.
Elaine Lawson started at Chagford Primary at the same time as me. Throughout our time togethe she has been a constant surce of support to me, she has the geratest emotional intellignece of anyone I have worked with. She says teh right thing to help children and adults in any sitaution and has solved more problems for me than I can tell you. She will remain a good friend to many in this community. Okehampton Primary will be gaining from our loss - they are very fortunate indeed.
Christine Ramoutar is also moving across to Okahampton Primary. There is very great need there and she will be doing enormously important work to support children in their Communication and Interaction Resource Base and across the school. She has done so much to help children in Chagford Primary who struggle with their emotions - her influence and wise counsel has set ripples which will continue to spread for a long, long time.
That is an awfully long list of leavers. It feels too long. I should tell you that Emma Goodwin, the new principal, has been working extraordinarily hard to ensure we have the staff we need to keep the school safe and effective come September and the new school year. I have been very nimpressed by her determination and tenacity. She has fought hard for this school. Today she has secured the contracts of two new teaching assistants, one of whom completes the staffing picture for EYFS and the other support learning in Year Three and Four. Parents and carers will know how important these appointments are - I hope they will join me in thanking Emma whose resilience and willingness to go the extra mile are what have made these appointments happen. Thank you and well done Emma.
I don't know what to say about my own departure. You all know why6 I have chosen to make the heart breakingly difficult decision to step out of headship and away from Chagford Primary. I need to make sure I am being the best dad I can be for my own child - and that means making sure I have the time and emotional energy available to be present for him when he needs me. This job is quite possibly the best job in the world but it doesn't leave time or headspace to be a good parent. So I have to make that change.
I have had one of the most rewarding, enriching and challenging periods of my professional life in the past two and a bit years. I think we have acheived great things together. When I look back on this time, it will be the friendship and support of the community I serve that will live longest in my memory; parents on the gate in the morning, volunteers making the gardens so beautiful, people checking in with me when they could see I wasn't having the best day, grandparents and people from the wider community stopping for a chat in the street, passionate PTFA members making sure we could offer the children the richest of offers, people helpiong us take children on trips to sporting fxtures, or down to the pool, or off on a spree and stoppign to share their joy. It's the people of the school - staff and wider community - who make it what it is, and this community is a joy. I do hope that I shall be allowed back to lead the occasional assembly and come to community events to hear about what is going on for the chidlren and grown ups I've come to know.
Thank you for having me as your Principal - it has been a privilege.
What a great day! Thanks first to the weather which managed to staydry and not too horribly hot or cold all day - something of a miracle after the weird summer we've had so far.
It was lovely to see all the children enjoying being together and taking part in the activities. I love the inclusive sports day model that Mr Frewin has developed - everyone joins in, everyone has fun, everyone celbrates what they can do - not what they cannot.
All the children came out at the end of the day to enjoy an ice cream in the sunshine thanks to the PTFA. Thank you to Zoe and the team for organising that.
Well done to Green and Red teams who won the KS1 and KS2 events respectively.
The biggest cheers of the day however went to the funny and resourceful Year Sixes whose 'Year Six Spectacular' made us all smile so much. Well, I didn't smile quite so much when they ganged up on me and plastered me with flour - but I can forgive it after the outstanding year those children have had.
A Message from our new Hub Principal, Lisa Paton
Dear pupils, parents and staff
I hope you are enjoying the end of term and engaging in some positive activities with your school communities. I was hoping to come and see you this week to say hello as I haven't been to your school for a little while. I have been supporting children in another of our schools and haven't been able to pop in. Sorry this hasn't happened but I am very much looking forward to starting as your Hub Principal after the holidays. I am excited about the work we are all going to do together as we move into the next chapter for Chagford Primary School.
Have a lovely break over the summer.
A Message from the Chair of the Local Stakeholding Board
It’s the end of an era for the Three Hares, as our hub of schools (Chagford, North Tawton, South Tawton and Exbourne) is being renamed Foundry. (Mr Finch is secretly quite pleased about the decision to name the hub after him…) With the change of name comes many other changes. The school is losing a number of staff, and we are all anxious about September because we don’t know what our school will look like, how it will operate, and how it will affect our children and our school community as a whole. The Local Stakeholder Board will no longer exist, as the Trust is introducing the role of advocate to the individual schools instead of governors as we currently know and understand them to be. The Trust will communicate the detail to you all in due course, no doubt, but in the meantime, I wanted to invite each and every one of you to consider taking up the role of advocate. The main purpose of the role will be gathering stakeholder voice, and we know from recent experience how important it is that all voices are heard, from the loud shouty ones, to the barely audible. Each is equally important. I do not know yet whether I will stay on in this new role – a change of face is sometimes a good thing (!) – but if anyone is immediately keen to find out more about the position, please do get in touch.
The one thing I really want to pass on, having chaired the LSB and been a governor for five years is that, whilst we are losing people we love from the school, we are also keeping some absolutely fantastic people. Ed has spent the last couple of years really embedding our core values of Community, Challenge and Care, and they don’t just disappear because other things change. We must all hold onto these three words, as we start the next academic year, and ensure we continue to make being at school an exciting and happy idea. Emma Goodwin is coming to Chagford, and we should welcome her with open arms, and support her the way we supported Ed, and Tara before him. I suspect it is going to be a tough enough job for her as it is, and respect and kindness will make her job (and her life) easier. Living and breathing those values every day will make sure our wonderful school stays as good as it is now.
Finally, I need to thank the team of governors that have worked for the school, ensuring all sorts of areas of governance are covered, and in particular, I would like to acknowledge our Chagford governors for their epic contributions. James Warner has served an astonishing eight years in the role, predominantly as our Safeguarding Lead. He has ensured the safety of our children every day, picking up problems when they arose and getting them resolved. His wisdom and ability to give a balanced view has helped our LSB operate at a really high level. And Lennie McGowan, who only recently took over as SEND Lead, has made such a difference already, providing support to our SENDCo and the children. Her experience and knowledge of issues that SEND children can face has made her an incredible asset to the team.
Finally finally, I would like to share something really valuable that I have gained from my past few years working with the school. And that is that we were all raised differently, with different values and consequently we sometimes have conflicting outlooks on life. Sometimes it’s been hard to accept such extreme differences of opinion, but in the wise words of Mr Finch, who has been persistent in teaching equality and tolerance of all… “We are all different. And that’s okay.”
Thank you to all our friends at St Michael the Archangel for welcoming us so warmly to hold our Year Six Leavers' Service at the Church on Thursday. The Year Six children shared memories and sang beautifully, Lotte played the violin magnificently, we enjoyed a slideshow of photos from the children's year and the Reverend Harriet Every shared some thoughts. The Year Six children presented us with the results of thier weaving project - a big woven pool of greens and blues drawn from the colours of CLaude Monet's waterlilies - we thought about all the experiences that have woven together to make our leaving pupils the proud, resourceful young people that they are and we thought about the weaving of frinedhsip that makes us a community. Thank you Year Six, it's beautiful and we will think of you every time we look at it..
We ended by singing 'One More Step Along the World I Go' and praying our beautiful 'Chagford Blessing' together. Thanks to Mrs Armstrong for all the hard work she put in with the brilliant Year Six pupils to make this event so special.
Would you be interested in enabling our children to enjoy positive, purposeful play? We are looking for three playleaders to facilitate play, for all, during our lunchtime breaks. These highly rewarding positions will be from 12-1:15pm daily and will really enhance our lunchtime provision. For more information, please visit Support Staff Vacancies | Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust (dartmoormat.org.uk). The closing date is noon on Monday 31st July, with interviews later that week.
Libraries' Summer Reading Challenge
What is the Summer Reading Challenge?
Children aged 4-11 are invited to set a reading goal and collect rewards for their reading.
The Challenge encourages them to keep reading during the school summer holidays – and to enjoy anything they like to read! It’s FREE to take part.
The Challenge finishes on 16th September so plenty of time to sign up and complete the challenge.
It has been created by the Reading Agency and is delivered by libraries across the country. For 2023, The Reading Agency has teamed up with Youth Sport Trust for ‘Ready, Set, Read!’ a sports and games themed Challenge that will encourage play and participation.
How can a child take part in the Challenge?
Stereo Problems Gig
This talented band of musicians are playing a benefit for mthe PTFA in the summer holidays. If you are around, do make sure you mark it in your dairy and get along to hear them. They are a brialliant group of young people some of whom attended our school and even started to learn their instruments right here at the school.
Whiddon Autumn Festival
We were blessed to be able to host a workshop in prepar\tion for this Septemeber's Whiddon Autumn Festival.
I think I have never seen the hall so full or heqard it sounding so joyful as pupils from Moretonhampstead and North tawton joined our Year Fours and Fives to sing together.
A lovely team of young musicians led by local legend, and the Festival's Artistic Director, Freddie Crowley, worked hard to create material with the children which they will be invited to perform as part of a concert at the church of St Michael the Archangel on Thursday 24th September at 6:00 p.m.
Huge thanks to the Whiddon Autumn Festival team who worked their socks off and produced the most magnificant sounds from the children - it was glorious to see the children from the schools coming together and to hear them rasie their voices together.
The Festival Website is here.
"The great joy of this festival is its youthful exuberance, enthusiasm and vitality. Forget the stuffy, strait-laced image which sadly plagues so much serious music-making, the Whiddon Autumn Festival works hard to pulverize the stigma of classical music as elitist."
— The Moorlander (2022)
What a rainy day! The children have been stuck indoors all day but the school has, nonetheless, been full of joyful noise. Both Year Two and the pre-school children have treated me to a show today and, right now, I am listening to beautiful singing from the hall where children from Moretonhampstead and North Tawton have joined our Year Fours and Fives for a singing workshop in preparation for the Whiddon Music Festival in September. Children from Year Three and Four travelled with Mr Frewin to Okehampton to play in a football tournament this week and, I am told, a good time was had by all. The children performed well, enmjoyed thier football and were great representatives for our school. With music and shows and performcances and chilren off in France sporting events all around I feel comfort in knowing that this school is fulfilling it's promise to care for the whole child. I hope you agree.
Last week, I told you about changes to class teachers for next year. I promised then to let you know about some other staffing changes that affect support staff. We hope to be welocming some new members of staff to join the team next term under Emma Goodwin's leadership.
Elaine has been our admin at Chagfrod since I started here as head. She has been my greatest support and without her I don't think I could have done the job. I am thankful for her every single day and I know many members of our school community feel the same. Elaine has been asked to move across and work at Okehampton Primary from September. This is a real loss for our school and we are very sorry to see her go.
Christine joined us at Chagford two years ago. It is no exaggeration to say that she has transformed the school experience of many children since she has been here and that there are children attending school confidently today who, but for Christine's work, may well have become school refusers. She is something of a miracel worker. Christine has been asked to take on a similar role at Okehampton Primary. There is great need at Okehampton Primary and I know that she will be a key part of the team there . We will miss Christine from our team very much indeed.
Dani has worked with Tina in our Early Years Unit for nine years - longer than the vast majority of children in our school have been alive! Every child who has passed through our unit in the last nine years has been through her hands - that's an impact on an awful lot of children! Dani has decided to step away from her role at the school to make time for other commitments. In all my time at this school I have never heard anyone have a bad word to say about Dani - she is kindness, patience and humour personified. She will be very much missed.
Claire has been away from work for a while now dealing wiht her health. It is sad to accept that she won't be returning but we trust that she has made the right choice for her health and for her wellbeing. Claire may not be so well known to most parents as the anmes above as she has mostly worked one to one with children who needed a lot of extra support. The families whose children were cared for by Claire know what a difference she made.
Our school is so much a community that the loss of any member is felt deeply. We feel very sad to be saying goodbye to Elaine, Christine, Dani and Claire even though we know that each of them will be moving on to an important new step of their journeys. It has been pointed out to me that my message about last week did not explicitly state that Ms Simpson and Miss Pollard will also be leaving Chagford Primary for pastures new at the end of the year. Again these are absolutely beloved members of the team and we are so sorry to be saying goodbye even though we are excited for their next steps in the professional journeys. I shall be making a proper fuss of them in next week's newsletter!
Year One and Two River Walk
Children from Year One and Two took a walk down the River Teign together. I have rarely seen such a set of such shining eyes as I saw on their return from the trip. Thanks to Mrs Lloyd and to Mrs Robertson for organising this and, especially, to the parents who came along to walk with us and help supervise.
Thanks to Zoe and all the PTFA for the Summer Fayre - everyone had a great time and I know a good amount of money was raised for the PTFA. The PTFA have such a great team - we are so very grateful for all the hard work they do and for the smiles with which it is always done.
Year Six Residential
Since Tuesday, our Year Sixes have been in Normandy on residential with children from right across the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust. This project has been fully funded by the Turing Scheme so that no child has had to pay an penny for the experience.
The children have been staying in a beautiful chateau in the countryside, they have visited the D-Day landing beaches and the WW1 cemeteries, they have visited Mont St Michel, a French resteraunt, and much more.
We are looking forward to welcoming them all back on Monday ands hearing all their stories. In the meantime, we have been keeping up with their activities by looking at the blog which you can find here.
This trip has been organised by Mrs Underwood and Mrs Jordan - massive thanks to them for all their hard work and for giving our children this amazing experience.
Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve
We were lucky enough to have a visit from our Patron of Reading, Sarah McIntyre, and her co-author Philip Reeve this week. They worked on a HUGE mural with the children and gave us very entertaining assemblies. THANK YOU!!
This was Sarah's third visit to the school. These visits have been funded by the Chagword Literary Festival and we are very grateful indeed! This time they focussed on thier charming and very popular AdventureMice series so we drew lots and lots of Mermice.
Between them, Sarah and Philip have written and illustrated a staggering number of books for children and young people from toddlers to young adults. AT the end of the day they signed and dedicated books so a lot of children went of very proudly. We love to build that sense of pride and ownership in children's reading.
Dates for Your Diary
Sports Day - Wednesday 19th July
Key Stage One - parents and carers welcome to enter the school grounds through the top bus gate from 9:00 a.m.
Key Stage Two - parents and carers welcome to enter the school grounds through the top bus gate from 1:30 p.m.
Leavers Service - Thursday 20th July
Two p.m. in the Church of St Michael the Archangel
Term Dates for 2023 - 24
Full dates for next school year have been published on the school website. You can find them here.
Earlier today, I sent out a letter to all parents and carers letting them know the plans for class teachers next year. I don't think there were any huge surprises in there - I hope not. It has taken a long time, longer than usual, to finalise these plans but we have ended up with a really great team of people, all of whom know our school and live our values. It's great that after a difficult time through the necessaary but hardly welcome staffing restructure, we have ended up with a stable and familiar staff team. I am releived and happy.
It has reminded me that the 'community' we refer to in our school vision 'community - challenge - care' is not solely the community of children in our school or the links to the community of Chagford, Throwleigh, Drewsteignton and beyond - it also refers to this community of adults who come to work in this place. I am glad that that community will remain intact and ready to serve through to another school year.
While I am thinking of the community of teahcing staff, I would like to thank the teachers of Chagford Primary. As you will know, this week teachers had to make a very difficult decision. Whether to take strike action with theri union to protest the real terms attrition to school funding which is cauing suach damage or whether to give up their right to take action in order to make sure that our productin could take place. This was an enormously difficuolt decision for each and every teacher. I am very grateful indeed that they made the decision they did - the children who took part in the production will remember it for the rest of their lives - but disspaointed that this is a decision that they had to make. We msut all stand together to insist on proper funding for our schools.
Thank you also to the parents and carers who showed thir support for the teachres by providing some treats in the staffroom and sending in such beautiful, heartfelt cards of thanks. We are proud and privileged to serve this community.
Woodland School Fundraiser Update
We are very excited to announce that we have reached our target with a grand total of £3,063. This will fund the Woodland School for children in Reception to Year 6 for a whole year and leave a little extra for materials. Thank you to everyone in the school and wider community who donated -every single contribution is so very much appreciated and we are so pleased we can continue to offer this great opportunity to the children. Thank you!
Fantastic Mr Fox
Our production of Fantastic Mr Fox has been an absolute triumph! Mind you, I'm writing this before the final performance so I hope I haven't jinxed it!).
A huge well done to all the children - they have been absolute legends. Thanks also to Lydia, Phillipa, Chloe, Zoe, all the teachers, everyone who came to a workshop to help with set and costume, Elaine ...
These productions demand a whole community's involvement and they give pleasure to the whole community. Well done and thank you everyone!
Please don't forget that it's the annual Summer Fayre tomorrow. Zoe and the PTFA team have been working very hard to make this event as fun and exciting as it can be. We are lookign forward vey much to the inflatables and the tombola! Do come along between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.and enjoy stalls, snacks and fun.
End of Term Events
Sports Day - 19th July. KS1 in the a.m. KS2 in the p.m. Do join us!
Leavers Service - Thursday 20th July - 2:00 p.m. at St Michael the Archangel