At this time of year it's a good idea to slow down for a minute and think about what we are grateful for. I know how blessed I am to have the support of so many people here at Chagford Primary.
First of all I want to say a big thank you to Shauna Pindard who has been teaching our Reception Class this last half term. Shauna has done a sterling job, she has improved the standard of the provision that the children receive, she has ensured they have made excellent progress - particularly in their phonics - and has been a friendly and kind member of staff right across the school We will really miss you Shauna.
Next I want to say a huge Thank you and well done to Miss Paddon and Miss Simpson, both started with us this year and both have made a real impression on us. They have maintained positivity and raised expectations. I take my hat off to both of them - I'm not sure I did so well in my first year of teaching.
Of course I have to say a huge thank you to Mrs Armstrong who has come into our school and quickly put her mark on it. She has been singing with the children as well as creating opportunities for great writing and helping the children to become really proud of their presentation. She has also helped me in every way. We are so lucky that she has come to us, she is, in one child's words 'a total legend'.
I can't go any further through my thank yous without saying a proper thank you to all the brilliant parents and carers and members of the community who play an important part in the life of the school. Thank you to Mel Holyoak, Chloe Brooks-Warner and Sue Bifani for all their work with the PTFA, to Phillipa O'Brien for the magnificent Grotto. Thank you Emma and James and all the members of the Local Stakeholding Board who challenge us, hold us to account and have our backs when we need support. Thank you to Paul Seaton Burn and other members of the church community who help us express our identity as a Church of England School by coming into school to lead collective worship, welcoming us to the church and who are there to lend an ear when I need a thoughtful conversation. Thankyou to The gardening group who do so much to make our school a beautiful palce to be - and especially to Nicky Scott for helping us to get the Ridan composter up and running again.
I need to say thank you to every member of staff whether they clean the school, support children, supervise lunchtimes, support learners, run the office, take care of maintenance, or any of the other strange and wonderful roles people play in schools. It's a surprisingly big team for a not huge school and everyone in it plays an important part. Thank you to each and every one.
lastly, but certainly not least - thank you to the parents who send their children to Chagford Primary and to those children who come along. It's one of the happiest moments of my day each time I unlock the gates and greet the children as they run into school. I couldn't be luckier. Parents, thank you for trusting us with your children. Children, thank you for being you.
The Grand Christmas Raffle made just over £1000 for the school which is absolutely incredible and will go a long way in helping to support and enrich the Children’s experiences and learning. Huge thanks to everyone that bought tickets and to the generous people and businesses that donated such brilliant prizes. Thank you!
A big thanks also to Friendly Faces and the team at 56 The Square who made £221.50 for the PTFA selling mulled wine at Chagford’s late night shopping events.
We are so, so lucky to have amazing energetic people running our PTFA - as head teacher I am moved every day by their generosity with their energy and their time. The money the team raises, with the whole community's support, makes a real difference to the quality of education we are able to offer at Chagford Primary.
As we head into the new year with a surge of covid cases in our community and beyond it is hard to predict what the start of 2022 is going to look like. To me it seems very, very unlikely indeed that our government will impose another general lockdown but it does seem likely that, should the surge be as large as many are predicting, we might see a return to 'bubbles' and classes learning from home for a while to stop a cycle of infection.
We at the school are doing everything we can to break the cycle of infection in school - we are taking lateral flow tests regularly, we are taking Key Stage One and Key Stage Two for Assembly separately, staff are wearing face coverings in communal areas and so on.
If cases in school do spike and we are advised to send children to learn from home for a week or for however long, it will be important that children are ready to go on Google Classroom straight away so I really do advise you to check children's log in details are still working and to let us know if they are not. If we can fix that ahead of time your child will have a better experience if we do have to go online.
We currently have one child isolating at home following a positive PCR test, there have been no further cases in that class so we do not believe that the school was the location of transmission. We are aware of many cases in the town and in the community so we know that it's important that we, and the rest of the community, remain vigilant.
The Jesus Room Poem
Last week, at our outdoor carols and poems event, the Year Sixes read a number of poems related to Christmas. One really stood out for me. This poem, by Christopher Woodland, was new to me - perhaps it is familiar to everyone else and I'm just late to the party, but it reminded me of Eliot's Little Gidding, which is one of my all time favourites, and reminded me how Christmas can speak very deeply, if we let it. The message of Christmas, the sacred come to live amongst us, can speak to us whether we are Christians or people of any other faith, whether we are pagan, or humanist or people who profess no faith at all. I wanted to share the poem with you all and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The Jesus room is not a chapel
Or a church or a shrine
Or anything like that.
It is not even sacred ground
in town or garden.
The Jesus room is inside the head,
inside the heart, inside the body,
Inside the feelings, but no one knows
Quite where the exact location is.
It is not really a room at all
And the Jesus discovered there
Does not come care of religious dogma
Or some archbishop or priest
Or politician or minister
Or anybody like that.
Indeed when you go into the Jesus room
You will find no one there,
Only space… emptiness… energy.
You will, however, feel the vibration
If you are very still and quiet.
And as you tune in to the power of the place
You will sense a presence, a mystery,
You will hear the poetry of the Jesus room.
By Christopher Woodland.
Christmas Eve Carols
Paul would want me to remind you of the Carols at the church on Christmas Eve. I very much hope to be there myself and would love to see members of the school community there. We will sing a mixture of carols old and new in what I am told will be a welcoming and informal atmosphere. The event has been moved outdoors in response to covid regulations which should, if the weather is kind, make it feel even more special. The even should start at six but do check ahead of time in case any details have changed. It is broadly possible that some people might choose to cross the road to the pub after the singing which could be very jolly.
Christmas Card Competition
Many of our children took part in a Christmas Card Competition to design the card for our friends at helpful holidays. Manna Hine from Beech Class won with an absolutely delightful Christmas scene which made us very happy. Manna won a set of the cards to send and a book token. Even better, as the winning school, Helpful Holidays gave us a book token for one hundred pounds which I took straight up to Astor's Bookshop and exchanged for a great stack of books which we wrapped and gave to the children as a Christmas gift. Thank you so much to Helpful Holidays - it was lovely to be able to do this.
Carol Concert and Santa's Grotto
It was such a huge pleasure to see so many children, parents and carers at our outdoor carol concert on Thursday. We may have got a little damp but my word it raised the spirits. The teachers, led by our wonderful Mrs Armstrong, had been practicing the songs with their classes for the last few weeks meaning that every corridor I walked down was filled with Little Donkey or some other Christmas classic. The work certainly paid off and I was really impressed with the children, especially considering the conditions. We intend to record and share the Year Six children's poetry reading - they did an amazing job but it was hard to hear over the sound of rain pattering on anoraks and we really want you to be able to hear them.
Thank you to everyone who came along. Next year we hope we'll be able to host you all in the hall but, if we can't, I'll be happy to sing with you all outside again.
Huge Huge thanks to Lotte's mum Phillipa who did an exceptional job or organising a fun and very covid secure Santa's Grotto as part of the late night shopping event on Thursday. It filled my heart with happiness to see so many families queuing up the road for a little bit of Santa's time and a big slice of Christmas magic. Phillipa has been organising this for, I think, six years and she more than outdid herself this year. I saw a lot of happy little people clutching cuddly reindeer and the parents seemed to have been more or less undaunted by the lenghty wait - it seems santa was up for a bit of a chat with everyone who came through. Thanks to each and every person involved in this lovely endeavour - Philippa, the elves, even good old santa himself.
Celebration of the Earth
Following the COP26 meeting in Glasgow the church here in Chagford has started hosting 'Celebrating the Earth' events for the whole community - not just for regular churchgoers but for anyone who would like to take part in a contemplative celebration of our shared home. The first of these took place in early December, celebrating Winter Trees. One of our Year 3 pupils took centre-stage, processing up the aisle behind the Yule log, and presenting the yule to the audience. This took courage and confidence, and we are extremely proud of her for not faltering, even when her mischievous headdress decided to fall off mid-sentence!
Do look out for more of these events - we hope, as members of the community and as a school to be more involved with them as we go on.
At the time of writing we have no confirmed cases of covid in the school but do have one pupil awaiting the results of a PCR test. We will of course let you know straight away if that test does come back positive. WE are alos aware of a number of positive cases in and around the wider community so we are not in any way complacent. In line with the raised level of cases in Devon and in line with government guidance we have taken a few steps to increase our covid security at school.
Sadly, for the time being, we have had to cut down on visitors to the school. We are not allowing people into school unless they already work here or have a very strong need to be in the building. This means that just in the very short term we are not able to allow parent volunteers in the building. We wonder if there might be a way to involve reading volunteers online. Our colleague Miss Robertson has been teaching individuals and small groups on line for a few weeks now and it has been hugely effective. If you would be interested in piloting this and we have processed your DBS do please get in touch.
We are now insisting that adults in the school wear face coverings in all communal areas such as the foyer, corridors, hall and staffroom. We do not ask children to wear face coverings.
For teachers having close face to face interactions with children we are strongly advising the use of a visor to protect both parties.
Staff take two lateral flow tests each week - most choose to take these on Sunday and Wednesday. Colleagues who work across schools - such as Miss Jordan our brilliant French teacher and people in leadership positions across the trust are taking daily tests to ensure they don't carry the virus between school settings.
While we do not expect another lockdown as we had last year and the year before we have to accept that it is at least a possibility that children may be learning from home again at some point in 2022. To ensure we don't miss a beat if individual children, classes or even the whole school is asked to learn from home we would like to try and make sure that every child has access to their google classroom account. We will be communicating on this next week but it would be immensely helpful if you could work together with your child to make sure they have access to their username and password and attempt to log in over the weekend. We will be able to reset passwords where necessary and to confirm accounts for pupils who have started at the school since the last lockdown.
Just to reiterate, we aren't expecting another lockdown and we don't have access to any special information on this but, should anything happene to necessitate learning from home again, we would like to be ready to go - not on the back foot!
There are just a few days left to enter the Chagford School PTFA Grand Christmas Raffle! Thank you to those that have already bought tickets, the draw takes place on Wednesday 15th at 8pm.
Be in it for the chance to win some brilliant prizes:
Chagstock 2022 weekend family ticket
One night in a luxury handcrafted Shepherd’s Hut
Two Bridges cream tea for two
Hill and Coombe 4kg organic beef box
The Dartmoor Shepherd hot water bottle cover
Load of seasoned barn stored logs
Fat Mouse Diary £30 voucher
Folklore £20 Voucher
Dartmoor’s Daughter £20 voucher
Black’s Delicatessen Goodie Bag
Plus prizes from Uptown, Bay Brows and Beauty, Bloom Hairdressers, Fare of the Field flowers, Chagford, Made by Morwenna, Chagford Pharmacy, Chloe Brooks-Warner Jewellery and more!
Thank you so much to our incredibly generous donors.
Tickets are only £1 each, simply follow the link to Rafall.
Please share far and wide! Thank you for your support, all funds raised go directly to supporting our local School and enriching the Children's experiences and education.
Carol Singing Christmas Eve
If you enjoyed the Christmas carol concert on Thursday evening you really must make an absolute appointment to come along to the carol singing at the church on Christmas Eve at six p.m. The event will be held outside to ensure it can be covid secure. It would be wonderful to see a good contingent from the school there. The Reverend Paul assures us that there will be a joyful and inclusive vibe and a good mix of carols for all tastes. What a lovely way to make Christmas Eve special and to take a little time out of the day to celebrate with the community and reflect on some of the universal messages of Christmas.
We are looking forward to our very well ventilated and socially distanced Christmas Event next Thursday. Starting from five o'clock each of the classes will sing Christmas songs and our year Six pupils will read some Christmas poetry. The PTFA will be helping to make us all feel extra seasonal. We think the event will last around three quarters of an hour. After that we will return all children to their parents care and invite families to walk up into town with us where Santa will be in his grotto and all sorts of good things will be going on. We will hope to find a quiet spot to lead some carol singing and hope that some families will choose to join us for that. If you have friends or neighbours you think might enjoy the event please do invite them along. We would love it to be an event for the whole community.
This year Father Christmas will be visiting Chagford as part of late night shopping on the the 9th of December. He’s setting up his Grotto at 14 The Square, next door to The Three Hares Gallery. He is looking forward to see everyone there! Don't forget to buy your tickets for the PTFAs online Christmas Raffle.
Our SENDCO, Chloe Bennett, asks that people make a note of her email firstname.lastname@example.org. Her email has recently changed and there is a risk that emails sent to the old address may not reach her.
Church of England Advent Calendar
If children are getting excited for Christmas and you'd like to create opportunities for a daily reflection on the true meaning of the festival and ideas for a daily activity, why not take a look at this online Advent Calendar from the Church of England. Each day you can click on a window to reveal a verse of scripture with a link to Christmas and a suggested activity which might be crafts, drawing, writing or musical.
Family activities Advent calendar | The Church of England
Reverse Advent Calendar
Mr Finch would like to invite you to take part in the 'Reverse Advent Calendar'. Each day during Advent I put aside a gift to donate to the food bank. Sometimes it's shampoo or shower gel, sometimes something to make life with a small baby easier - nappies, wipes or little snacks, sometimes it's a christmassy treat. I like to take these along to the food bank on the last day it's open before Christmas.
Would you like to join with me in this? Drop off any gifts to the office and we'll see they get to the food bank in time to brighten someone's Christmas Day.
Over the Christmas break the amazing mural artist Anna Higgie will be working in school to create a huge artwork in the school hall. We are very, very excited indeed to see what she produces. Thanks to Ione for organising this. Check out Anna's inspirational website here.
Spare Shoes and Baggy Trousers
At Chagford Primary we are very proud that our pupils go out play in every kind of weather. We want them to have access to the outdoor spaces all the year round. At this time of year however we do have a problem with children getting very damp and muddy at playtime - they can be very uncomfortable as a result, some parents are less patient with children getting their shoes and trousers muddy each day than others and our cleaners find the mud trodden into the carpets more than a little irritating.
For the coming weeks we would encourage children to bring a change of shoes to school which they can wear outdoors at break and lunchtime if they are wanting to play on the field. We suggest they also bring a pair of extra baggy tracksuit trousers to pull on over their uniform to save them from the worst of the mud.
Have you seen the new playhouse in the Foundation Unit garden? It's just amazing and the children have loved playing in it this week. A thousand thanks to Henrietta and her partner who spent most of last weekend building the house and getting ready for the children. It's a spectacular addition to the area.
Thanks also to Bella's dad who has given us the car seats we need for our play car project. Let us know if you would enjoy joining us to build a car on a pair of pallets.