Newsletter 26th November
Favourite Author Competition
Mr Finch wanted to find out who the children's favourite author's were so he set a competition for them to take part in. With prizes for Key Stage One and Key Stage Two it was all to play for - all they had to do was create a sheet saying who their favourite author was, give some information about the author and say who they would recommend that author's books to. We had entires celebrating some of the best known authors; Jacqueline Wilson, JK Rowling, Dav Pilkey of Dogman and Captain Underpants fame and 'Tom Gates' author Liz Pichon all made appearances. Even more heartening were some slightly less well known authors - Chagford's own Roland Chambers for example. The purpose of the competition was to give every child a chance to think about favourite authors - some said it was very hard to choose which of their many favourite authors to focus on: music to my ears!
We were pleased to see so many different authors represented - our children have real passion for their favourites and must be reading widely to have encountered such a range of different authors and genres.
It was very hard to make a final choice of winners but in the end we decided to give the KS1 prize to Tabitha for her clearly very heartfelt tribute to Andrea Beary who write Rosie Revere - Engineer and Ada Twist - Scientist amongst other books. The Key Stage Two prize went to Benji for his page on Willard Price - author of thrilling wildlife adventures. Two very different authors but two very passionate readers.
The purpose of the competition was to give every child a chance to think about favourite authors - some said it was very hard to choose which of their many favourite authors to focus on: music to my ears! At the end of the day, we don't minf if it's fiction or non-fiction, graphic novels or poetry, the argos catalogue or football annuals. What our children read for pleasure is up to them and we want every one of them to find something they love to read.
We would appreciate it enormously if parents and carers could make an absolute habit of booking school meal preferences online for every day. We lose good learning time every morning going through choices child by child and this sets back the start of the day. It would make every teachers life a little easier and every child's learning day a bit more effective if we could remove the need to go through the rigmarole of lunch register in class. If you aren't sure how to book lunches or are unclear on how to check the menu, pop in to the reception or give us a call - Elaine will be happy to talk you through it.
Christmas Lantern Parade
We are in the final stages of finalising the School's Contribution to the late night shopping extravaganza on 9th December. We are thinking that we will have an event here at the school where the children can sing and speak poetry without too much crush and noise so that we can really hear and celebrate them. After that, in their parents care rather than ours we will head up into town together and make some joyful noise. Mr Finch and Mrs Armstrong will bring their accordions along and we hope parents, carers and pupils will join us in some Christmas songs.
We had the school photographer in school today taking individual pictures of each of the children and group photographs of siblings. We are very embarrassed indeed that we didn't manage to get news of this to you before the day. The booking was made before the summer and somehow didn't synch to our diaries for this year. Huge apologies for this. Fortunately the children were in their smart school uniforms and any who were not looking smart were able to borrow from the supply of spare uniform we have to sell. The photographer from Tempest was an absolute miracle worker making sure everyone looked their best so, all in all, I think no harm was done. Children are bringing home their proof photographs for parents and carers to see either today or Monday and I understand all ordering is done online. There was a large number of children absent today due to sickness so it may be that we look into having the photographers back later in the year to snap up those who were away today.
Broken Glass in Play Park
A member of the public has alerted us to the presence of broken glass in the playpark and told us of a recent incident where a young child cut their hand whilst playing there. Worryingly, there seems that some children who have been playing up at the play park have been finding bottles in the bins or nearby recycling bins and playing games with them that end up with bottles getting broken. I don't need to tell parents just how worrying and dangerous this is - the possibilities for serious injury are genuinely high if children are playing with glass and interfering with bins and kips. We will speak about this in school but we would advise parents and carers to speak to children about this too.
Snap Chat and Social Media
A parent contacted us in concern to say that their child had spotted a friend's post on SnapChat - while otherwise entirely innocent had included information which made their home easily identifiable. We include internet safety in our Computing and PHSCE curriculum and teach them to think very carefully about information that they share online - including images. In a world where many thousands of people might be able to see an image we share, we have to assume that just one or two of those people might want to do us harm.
SnapChat sets a lower age limit of thirteen years so no children at Chagford Primary School should have their own Snapchat account. The same is true for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We do not believe that children of Primary age have the social development to safely negotiate the complexities of Social Media and we know of too may children whose lives have been a misery through cyber bullying - we really do encourage all parents and carers to ensure they are fully aware of and fully in control of what their children are doing online. Let us know if there is an appetite for a parent/carer workshop on this subject - we'd be very happy to run one.
You can find advice from the NSPCC here.
A call out for donations if you have any of these items and would like to donate them to the school.
The fabulous Chagford Primary gardening group have been cracking with bringing our raised beds back to life. After a long period of neglect over the pandemic the beds are now receiving life giving care in the form of layers of cardboard which is blocking light and helping the perennial weeds to dies back and make better life choices. The cardboard will break down into the soil and eventually we will be able to use the beds again making sure that every child can experience the joy of planting, nurturing, harvesting and enjoying. Thanks to the team.
November 19th, 2021
Children in Need
Children came to school today dressed in clothes that make them happy to mark Children in Need. They brought in money to donate to the charity and a little bit more to buy cakes kindly provided in a Bake Sale by the very wonderful Oak Class. The Bake Sale alone raised £106. I can't wait to hear how much the whole day raised when we've had a chance to bring it all together and count it all up. A special shout out to Ed and his amazing inflatable Alien outfit. I think he made us all happy.
Late Night Shopping
Late Night Shopping is back again on the 2nd, 9th and 16th of December. It will be lovely to see the town bustling and full of life and a great opportunity to support some local businesses that you don't always get to in your busy lives. Santa will be receiving visitors in his grotto on the 9th in aid of the PTFA so do give him a visit. Around that time there will be a lantern parade and singing from the children - we'll confirm dates and times for that when we have it a bit more settled.
Celebrate a Life and add a stasr to the Memory Tree while raising funds for cancer research and for Hospicare.
Thank you to the very kind people who have offered to volunteer at the school. We are busily processing DBS checks and references to make sure we stay within Safeguarding regulations and will be getting them into school to work with the children as soon as possible.
If you would like to volunteer to help out do have a word with us. We'd love to recruit people who can give some hours each week to read with children, to help supervise playtimes and lunchtime, to support outdoor learning and to run clubs after school. One little boy has very specifically asked if there could be an after school art club so if you know of anyone who might enjoy running an after school art club one day a week do please let us know. We'd love to host one.
Call out for donations
This week we are particularly looking for...
Last one - and this sounds a bit mad but go with me - broken paving slabs suitable for crazy paving as we work on the labyrinth in our new peaceful, mindful area. We'll also be asking children to collect 'special stones' to add into this so keep your eyes open!
As you will know we recently changed our school vision statement to 'Community, Challenge, Care' - Challenge is right in the heart of that and this week our Year Sixes made me the proudest principal in Devon - maybe in the world. They have written simply stunning poems taking Kit Wright's 'The Magic Box' as a model and have risen beautifully to the challenge to take care not only over the sense of the words but also over their presentation. The children are just so proud of their work and so eager to share that I couldn't pick just one or two for the blog - they all had to be there. I hope we can share this work with parents soon - you would be very, very happy with your young people. I'll admit to having a tear in my eye as I looked through this work - it just goes to show what Mrs Armstrong and I always say - when you raise the challenge the children will rise to it. We are investing in some fountain pens now and there's mutterings of a calligraphy club to be started soon.
This time of year I drive to Chagford from my home in Crediton in the dark and it's just starting to get light as I wind through from Whiddon Down. I don't mind though as it gives me some absolutely stunning views. I love the wreaths of mist and how they drape themselves across the fields. I doubt there are many other schools with such a beautiful view from their play field.
Newsletter 12th November
We were very impressed and moved by our pupils' respect for the two minute silence on Thursday. At the end of playtime - just before eleven - we gathered them together and stood together to observe the act of remembrance. Some of the more keen eared children were able to hear The Last Post drifting down the hill from town.
The school will be represented at the church on Sunday by a group of Year Sixes who have practiced a poem to read. Mrs Armstrong will be there with them and would be very glad indeed to see any other children from the school who would like to attend the service of remembrance led by the Reverend Paul.
Children in Need
Next Friday is Children in Need Day.
We are asking everyone to wear something that makes them happy and to bring a donation for the charity. What makes you happy can be different for everyone - some people might like bright colourful colours, other people might like comfy tracky trousers, another person might feel happiest in their school uniform - whatever makes you happy is fine with us.
At the end of the day we will have a Cake Sale organised by Oak Class - all other families are very welcome to bring cake along too! Do bring a little money along at pick up time to buy a little snack.
Come and Work at Chagford Primary
We will very shortly be advertising for a new teaching assistant and for two new Mealtime Assistants to join the team at the school.
We would be immensely grateful if you could put the word out far and wide so we can get some great applicants in. The teaching assistant job is being advertised as one one year fixed term contract, they would most likely be working with Key Stage One (that's Year One and Two) and would need to be a very flexible person able to work with groups large and small and turning their hand from teaching phonics to helping with PE to sorting book bags - every day is different. You don't necessarily need experience to do this job but you do need an ability to get on with people and a positive 'can do' attitude.
Mealtime Assistants work through the children's lunch times to supervise the hall, watch over play and ensure everyone is safe.
We have a work party organised for tomorrow morning - there's a good few jobs to do so do come along if you can. If the weather is dry bring a paint brush or gloves and secateurs. If you have any outdoor paint in really bright colours - even just the end of a pot - do bring it along and we will try to rainbowify the EYFS area's fence. If the weather is really foul we might give it a miss.
You will know that the church has been filled with light and sound these last few weeks creating an environment for contemplation on our responsibility to our planet. Oak Class took a trip to the church to look at the art installations that have been created and to add their thoughts and wishes for the future. They were so enthused by the visit that my heart sang a little. Well done Oak Class and thank you to the church for the warm welcome.
Composter and Litter Picking
We are super proud of our Litter Picking volunteers who managed to gather a whole sack of litter and rubbish from around the school playfield this week. Especial thanks to Benji who brought the group together and even brought his own litter picker to school. Thanks also to Surfers Against Sewage for the gloves and rubbish sacks.
Also this week old friend of the school Nicky Scott got the Ridan Composter going again with the help of our new 'Little Rotters Club'. All the food waste in the school - from potato peelings to half eaten fish fingers, can go into the big magic Ridan which is insulated such that the composting food waste can get to a really good temperature. It's great to think we'll be putting far less waste into landfill and that we'll be able to produce our own, rich, soil conditioner.
Disabled Parking Space
A very passionate plea here. PLEASE can people leave the two parking spaces marked as disabled free. We do have members of the school community who need access to these spaces and if someone parks there 'just for five minutes' and that is the time that the people who need the space arrive then it causes real distress. We have looked into purchasing more signage but if you just remember that the two spaces nearest to the school reception are out of bounds except for the people with blue badges then it should be simple. Please leave those spaces free for those who really do need them.
Devon Wildlife Trust
We've been really lucky to have Paul Martin from Devon Wildlife Trust working with us to help the children learn about the rich natural life around and about in our grounds. Paul worked with groups of pupils on Monday. They became nature detectives to work out what had happened to the green woodpecker whose feathers Paul had found on the ground. The evidence pointed towards a sad end in a foxes jaws. They also investigated some of trees in the grounds including our friend the big old oak. We thought of questions we could ask about the oak - how old is it? How did it come to be planted there? How many creatures live amongst it's branches and leaves?
Paul will be back regularly for a while culminating, we hope, in a grand tree planting day as we create a mixed native hedgerow along the fence protecting us from the drop into the amphitheatre.
Fantastic to see Chagford children out and about taking part in sporting fixtures. Just a few months ago it seemed impossible that these things would ever start up again and now they have - it's great a great experience for the children. This week Mr Frewin took one group of children from Year Three and Four to a football competition in Tavistock. On Thursday he took another group of children to a Cross Country competition at Castle Drogo. I don't think I've ever seen a teacher as proud as Mr Frewin was when he got back to school after those events. Absolutely splendid effort from the children - they are true #ChagfordChampions.
Thank you to those that attended our PTFA AGM on Wednesday. It was heartening to put together what we all managed to achieve over the 2019-20 academic year despite many challenges. It was wonderful to see some new faces too. If you’d like to be involved in any way please contact Chloe (firstname.lastname@example.org), everybody is welcome!
This Christmas will see the return of Santa’s Grotto on Chagford’s Late Night Shopping evening on 9th December alongside a school lantern parade. We will also be running a Grand Christmas Raffle, if you are able to donate a prize or have a contact who may donate a prize please get in touch. We will be asking for smaller donations to make up the popular Christmas hampers also. Thank you!
Parents – Your school needs YOU!
There is a vacancy for one Parent governor to join the Local Stakeholder Board for the Three Hares. Local governors are a vital part of the Trust’s connection with schools and community and Parents are an important voice within the governance structure.
To qualify as a Parent governor, you must have at least one child on the school roll and must be eligible under the national governing body rules.
Nominations are now open, until close of business on Friday 26th November.
All nominations will then be put forward to a parent vote, which will take place electronically.
The nomination form must be completed in full, and can be found on the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust website:
Margo and Mr Whatsit: Paddleboat Theatre Company
Newsletter 5th November
PTFA News - Autumn Festival and AGM
Thank you to everyone that came along and supported our School Autumn Festival. We had a wonderful day and raised a brilliant £1178.61 for the school.
Huge thanks to those parents, grandparents and friends that helped on the day, Jill Millar and Ralph Mackridge for the loan of the Apple Press, A.L Martin and Sons for a great deal on their delicious Old English sausages, Thomas’ Bakery for a discount on rolls, Pam of The Fruit Loop for lovely English apples at cost, Julia of Beachwood Bakery who did her very best Prue Leith and judged our Cracking Chagford Cake Scoff and provided winners’ vouchers, Max H and Lucy for setting up their fabulous fruit kebab stand and a few very generous families who donated all the food, drink and prizes. It felt very special to hold an event in our fabulous school grounds again for such a joyful occasion.
We need you! To keep running our School PTFA successfully, raising money and putting on events such as our wonderful Autumn Festival, we really need more helpers. There are many ways to be involved without signing your life away to the PTFA! Baking a cake, donating a prize, helping at events, designing posters, sharing ideas….
The PTFA is holding its AGM on Wednesday 10th November in the school hall (or outside of the weather allows) straight after school pick up at 3.45. Children are welcome to come to play together/read/draw etc. and there will be cake! We are hoping to get through our AGM business and move fairly swiftly onto Christmas plans. Everyone is very welcome to come along and hear about how the PTFA has helped the school already this year and our future plans. If you can’t make it but would like to be involved in any way, please email Chloe (email@example.com) to join the PTFA contacts list. Thank you!
Volunteering at Chagford Primary School
Are you interested in volunteering time to support at Chagford primary School? Perhaps you would like to offer to hear children read, running or helping to run an after school club or to help supervise at lunch time. During the pandemic we haven't been able to invite parents and carers in to play these roles but we think now the time is right to get going with volunteering again.
We will be sending a form out on paper for people to express an interest in volunteering. We will need anyone who is going to be working with pupils to have a full DBS check. There is a cost to this which we will happily met but as it is not cheap we will need to ask the people whop we get checked to make a regular commitment - perhaps two hours a week.
Look out for that form and do consider if you would like to come and help out and what you might be able to offer.
Read Write Inc 'Book Bag Books'
We have had difficulty getting Beech Class children's book bag books changed as often as we should have. We would like to apologise for that and we think we now have a better system running and this problem should not present itself again. Do please let us know if your child's book has not been changed in a week - our school values are community, challenge, care and we absolutely want to be challenged to get this right.
The Read Write Inc Book Bag Books are an odd sort of book. They exist to help the child focus on and practice a particular sound and a particular spelling pattern. If the story in the book is about a frog who sat on a log and made friends with a dog then that book is really all about 'og' and we want the child to read that book till they are absolutely confident with the sound and spelling patter 'og'. That means the sometimes (ok - quite often) the RWI books aren't absolutely thrilling in terms of plot development or character - those aspects of reading aren't the point of them.
Of course, we want all our children to have a love of reading and, for all their many strengths, the RWI books won't do that by themselves. Every child needs a mixed diet of 'phonically decodable' books which build their skills and confidence in reading - that's what the Read Write Inc books do - and exciting, funny, engaging, interesting, silly, moving books which build the love of the holistic aspects of reading.
I think of the Read Write Inc books as the equivalent of practicing my scales or learning to use a tool. Practicing the C major scale or how to use a file is not exciting of itself but it's a necessary part of building towards playing in an orchestra or making an amazing sculpture. And, of course, there is a great satisfaction to learning to do something really well, even if it is just playing a scale or using a tool. I see children who are immensely proud that they can read to me from the RWI Book Bag Book even if, in terms of literature, it's pretty thin stuff - they are looking at marks on a page and turning them into sound and meaning, and that is pretty amazing of itself.
We ask that you read each book that comes home a few times - at least three - until the child is really confident and no longer stumbling over it - particularly the sound and spelling that book is focussed on. We also hope fervently that you'll be spending some time every day enjoying great books together. Poetry books, story books, non-fiction books, funny books - all sorts of books. We need both sorts to build a confident passionate reader.
If you'd like us to run a workshop on reading with your child just say - we would be very happy indeed to do so whether for a handful of parents and carers or for a whole throng.
With covid restrictions increasingly lifting we are able to increase the range of clubs we are offering to pupils.
You will have received a letter inviting children to sign up for an after school choir club with Mrs Armstrong on Mondays. Mr Finch will be starting Samba Club after school on Thursdays and you will receive a letter to sign up for that very soon. We have our Saints Sports Club on Mondays and Craig's Football Club on Fridays. We also have more clubs coming along soon. Our ideal is that every child in the school will be able to access a club that appeals to them each term. If you have an idea for a club you'd like to offer please let us know and we will see if we can work to make it happen.
This coming week sees an exciting community event take place at St Michael’s, Chagford.We hope that you may be able to drop by and participate in our Celebrating the Earth - cradling the community of Creation which we’ll be hosting at the Archangel from Sunday 31st until the COP26 finishes on 12th November. Our focus is on hope, not just party politics or personalities and all sorts of people from across the Chagford area are involved. As well as a series of displays and prayer stations, with artwork and other contributions by our schoolchildren, there’ll be a musical/reading/talk/film item each day from Monday 1st November between 5.30pm and 6pm (eg. harp music performed by Elizabeth-Jane) followed by quiet contemplation, reflection and prayer until 7pm, as we hold all involved in the Glasgow Conference in God’s light. The last night on 12th November will see our choir & others perform John Rutter’s ‘Look at the World’ in the final 5.30pm slot…if you’d like to take part do be in touch!
Take care and hope you can join us,