Newsletter 16th December 2022
This week was a great week for 'flourishing' - we saw every child from Pre-school to Year Six performing on stage in a series of events that made my heart swell with pride.
Our Nativity Play on Wednesday was a delight. Year Two children had composed their own retelling of the story of the first Christmas and spoke confidently while children from Reception and Year One acted the story out following their lead. It made the most hard hearted of us smile and brought a tear to the eye. Children from pre-school made an appearance too and charmed us with 'Twinkle Twinkle'. I was proud to be the head teacher of a school that could make such a calm, loving and inclusive Nativity show for parents and carers to enjoy.
On Thursday, Key Stage Two performed their Christmas Concert twice - they sang a range of seasonal songs, many of which were new to me, and children from Year Six recited poetry linked to Christmas. Highlights included a beautiful, confident performance on handbells of the 'Walking in the AIr' theme from 'The Snowman' and the wonderful poem 'The Jesus Room' which stopped me in my tracks at last years Christmas Concert.
Finally, on Friday, we had our second trip to the church of the school year. This was especially moving to me as it will be the Reverend Paul's last church service with the school before he moves on to his new parish in Cambridgeshire. He has been such a friend to the school, and to me personally, I shall be very sorry to see him go. Once again the children's singing was beautiful. I loved especially to hear 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' which has long been my favourite Christmas Carol and is now, even more so, in the new melody and arrangement that the children learned for the concert.
So many people have played a big part in making this week's events happen. I shan't manage to thank everyone but I have to pay special tribute to Miss Coleman and Miss Pollard for thier lovely work on the Nativity, Chloe Brooks-Warner and all the other members of the PTFA committee who volunteered time and effort to support the events and, especially, Mrs Armstrong who made a herculean effort to teach the children all the repertoire for the concert as well as training the Year Six pupils for the poetry recital and the hand bells. We are so very lucky to have her on the staff.
The Jesus Room by Christopher Woodland
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 politican 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.
PTFA Christmas Fayre
Huge, huge thanks to Zoe and to everyone who made last weekend's Christmas Fayre such a success.
The grotto which Izzy, Anna and others somehow magicked out of our PE store was breathtaking, the refreshments were delicious and all the various stalls were well chosen and well run. It made me very happy to see people from all parts of the Chagford community come together to make this event happen. Quite unsentimentally, I thought of our school vision 'Community, Challenge, Care' and how I could see every aspect of that reflected in what was going on the hall.
The team raised more than £1000 on the day, this is money which will go straight to improving the quality and range of provision that we can offer our children - it genuinely makes the most enormous difference. In recent months, for example, the PTFA have funded the Woodland School sessions that our pupils have enjoyed so much, helped towards trips and visits for families where money is tight, furnished and equipped the redevelopment of what we used to call 'The Pancake Room' and now call 'The Nest' as a nurture hub and much, much more. There's a lot to celebrate about Chagford Primary and our hardworking, cheerful PTFA is a big part of that.
Christingle Service and Carols in the Square
The Reverend Paul has asked me to mention two events to you all.
The Christingle Service tomorrow (Saturday 17th) at 4 p.m. in the church of St Michael the Archangel will be fun and inclusive way to encourage your children to reflect on the meaning of Christmas. All families are very welcome to come along to make a Christingle together, everything you need will be provided and help will be on hand. The event won't last more than half an hour. If you don't know what a Christingle is, or have never made one before, this is your chance to find out!
Carols in the Square will run from 6:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Come along and gather outside The Pepperpot to sing lots of old favourites. If you play an instrument do bring it along and join in - guitars, mandolins, melodeons, concertinas, violins, clarinets and everything that can make a joyful noise is welcome.
I have been assured that all the carols will be in 'easy keys' so I shall bring my D/G melodeon along and a pocketful of harmonicas and add to the wonderful din of a community singing and playing together.
Thank you to Helpful Holidays and to Astor's Bookshop
Mr Finch had a very happy time visiting Astor's Bookshop in its new location in the old NatWest Bank building on Thursday. Our friends at 'Helpful Holidays' had donated £250s worth of book tokens to us as a 'thank you' for the children's designs for their calendar.
I was able to buy every class a pile of brand new books to add to their book corners. These were gift wrapped and opened on Friday to 'oohs' and 'ahs' in almost every case. There's nothing quite like unwrapping a brand new book with its wonderful 'new book smell' to help build a love of reading.
A massive thank you to Helpful Holidays for this - £250 is a good deal of money and we are very grateful indeed for it.
Thanks to Astor's for letting me strip bare the children's section on the same day as the late night shopping - I hope it was ok to see all the beautiful stock waltz out of the door and into the boot of my car! If you haven't checked the new shop out yet, do go and have a look - it's a lovely new space for the town.
Thanks also here to the benefactor/s who donated us a similar sum through The Bookery in Crediton, allowing us to buy books for some of our pupils individually. Working on that project with The Bookery was one of my very happiest tasks this week, and one which will make a real difference to a good number of children this Christmas.
A community food project to help local people
Chagford Pantry is a new community-led food project that is here for anyone who is struggling or facing difficulty in the local area. It’s run by the community, for the community. Anyone can use it, and anyone can donate food or funds. This Christmas and New Year we will also be delivering 40 or more hampers for residents. THANK YOU to those of you who have donated food, money or time to support our Pantry.
There are two Pantry locations – one at the back of Chagford Church (open every day 9am – 7pm) and during term time, one at our brilliant Primary School.
To use the Pantry:
You don’t need to be referred to access food, we invite anyone who is struggling and needs food to come and help yourself to some cupboard essentials. If you or someone you know needs help but can’t get to the Pantry please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would love donations of non-perishable, in-date food (as well as sanitary products and pet food). You can drop off food donations during opening hours at Chagford Church or you can donate funds for Chagford Pantry here: https://bit.ly/chagfordpantry
Chagford Pantry is a joint initiative between St Michael the Archangel, Chagford and Chagford Primary School, with support from local people and businesses. If you’d like to be involved, drop us a line on email@example.com
December 09th, 2022
It's wonderful to see the children growing in happiness and confidence as the year wears on.
A child bounced up to me at the gate to show the comic he had made with such pride that it made me very grateful indeed to do the job I do.
I see children become excellent writers. A child doing equations using fractions that not only could I not have done at his age but which I'm not sure I could do now. I see children loving their PE lessons - there's been some amazing gymnastics going on - and children fascinated by their science.
One special pleasure this week has been listening to the practicing for the Christmas Concert next week. 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' is sounding just wonderful thanks to the care of the children and Mrs Armstrong's brilliant work. Another particular joy was Christmas Jumper Day on Wednesday - we loved the children's pleasure and pride in their decidedly individual choices of festive overgarments. Happy days and happy memories. Thank you to everyone who took part and for all those donations for the Christmas Fayre's Tombola.
We have our Collective Worship together every afternoon and it's wonderful to see that culture and practice becoming ever more deeply embedded. We were fortunate this week to have a visit from James Forshall from Romilly's Foundation to speak to us about the small charity he runs, named after his daughter who died sadly early, which helps to offer education to street children in Sub-Saharan Africa. We love to have visitors and speakers so if you'd like to visit or have something to say which would interest the children do get in touch. We want children to understand that our community of learners goes way beyond the school gates out into the world. If your child was moved by the assembly and you'd like to learn more, you can find the charity website here.
We look forward to welcoming as many of you as possible to our Christmas Fayre tomorrow.
This is being hosted by the PTFA in the school hall between 2-4pm.
The Fayre is open to the general public as well as people from the school so please spread the word!
There will be a lot of different things to do from making decorations, carol singing, refreshments, a raffle and tombola, and much more.
Please note we are only able to accept cash.
As this event is being held out of school hours, we politely ask that all children are supervised by a responsible adult and that children are not permitted to be anywhere else in the school other than in the hall for the Fayre.
We look forward to seeing you all there.
The PTFA Committee
Mel Stride MP visits Chagford Primary
We were pleased to welcome our MP, Mel Stride, to Chagford Primary today. He toured the school and took an interest in every area from Early Years to Key Stage Two. It was an excellent opportunity to talk to the children about how a parliamentary democracy works and what the job of an MP is. I think that, as adults, sometimes we have a habit of overestimating how much children understand about the world of politics - it was great to have a meaningful opportunity to talk to them about how the system works, how MPs are elected and how not everyone gets what they want. We modelled an election in assembly and thought about how people whose favourite candidates don't get to win might feel but how we can all respect the fairness of the system.
Mr Stride was interested to hear all about the strengths and challenges of our school and we were able to explain some things that would really make a difference. He promised he would try to help if we got in touch to follow these up.
Mel met with a group of children from Years Five and Six who got to ask him questions about what he does. The children showed themselves and the school off really well - they must have been nervous but they didn't let it show.
Poppy and Benji B asked Mr Stride about the best and worst aspects of being an MP - he said the best bit was knowing that, in your job, you can make a difference- even if only a little difference to people's lives. He said the worst bit was that sometimes people aren't very kind to MPs.
Benji C asked him if he had always wanted to be an MP. He said that actually he had done lots of things before he thought of it but that he had always been interested in politics and that when he was about 48, he had decided that he wanted to be active politically and that was where it had started for him.
Ellawyn asked Mr Stride if if he got to spend much time in Devon or if he had to spend all his time in Westminster to which he replied that because it takes such a long time to get from his home in Devon to Central London it just isn't possible to commute and he does spend most of the time in London but that he made sure that whenever Parliament isn't in session, he spends as much time as he can in the constituency.
Jess asked Mr Stride about how she could become an MP and he explained a bit about how elections work.
Finally, Max asked Mr Stride how people could get in touch with their MPs if they wanted to ask a question or ask for help - he said that if you just google 'Who is my MP?' and put in your postcode you can find his email address and the phone number for his office.
Perhaps we should encourage the children to write to him with their thoughts and concerns.
Scouts' Christmas Post
Many of you will know that several of our Chagford children are part of the 1st Moretonhampstead Scout Group, either as Cubs or Scouts. This year, the Group is running a Scout Christmas postal service in Moreton and Chagford, and nearby villages, raising money for two charities: St Jerome Centre, a children’s home in Kenya (stjeromecentre.org.uk) and Force, Exeter’s cancer charity (forcecancercharity.co.uk). Read on to find out how it works and where will the Scouts will be delivering…
The delivery areas will be: Moretonhampstead, Doccombe, North Bovey, Manaton and Chagford. Please don’t post cards addressed to other areas and please don’t post cards for the Scout Post in the Royal Mail post boxes. Please note, you do NOT need a stamp!
Where can I post my cards? In Chagford, Blacks and the school have kindly agreed to host the postboxes. (Of course, If any other business is keen to volunteer then please get in touch!) The postbox in Blacks is just inside the door on the left, and the box at school is in the main reception.
How much does it cost and how do I pay? It costs 35p per card (or you can post three for £1. Just put your money in the Scout Box by the card collection box. If you don’t have any cash, but would like to use the service to support the Scouts’ fundraising efforts, please contact the Group Leader, Mike, or the Treasurer, Mel (yes, her again!) to make arrangements (contact details below).
When will the cards be delivered? They’ll be delivered in the week before Christmas. We are only doing one delivery round, so please don’t include invitations for events before Christmas!
Is it legal? Yes, as long as it’s only Christmas or New Year cards.
And - if it’s not too early – Happy ‘Preparing for Christmas’ from 1st Moretonhampstead Scouts.
Mike Collins, Group Scout Leader (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mel Holyoak, Group Treasurer (email@example.com)
Three Hares Local Stakeholder Board
With the lead-up to Christmas, we have been quite busy these last couple of weeks, but in a really wonderful and positive way. Our thanks to our three schools for inviting us in over a frantic period in the school year, so we can appreciate the fruits of the children and staff’s labour! I have just returned from North Tawton’s Carol Concert at the school which was utterly joyful! I absolutely loved the mix of music and singing, and particularly loved “Oh come all ye faithful” when they started the chorus quite loudly (when it’s meant to be quite quiet) and I was thinking “Goodness, how are they going to get any louder?” but sure enough, by the third repetition, they were raising the roof! One of the best parts of being a governor is seeing the children being themselves in a safe environment at school, and it was so clear to me how much the kids were enjoying themselves. David Spence, our new governor based in North Tawton, also attended and was able to see the school “in action” (as well as applauding his own children!).
Another great part of our role is being recognised by the children… Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited on the joint Chagford / North Tawton Year 6 school trip to the Energy for Waste plant in Devonport, Plymouth, so I spent all day with twelve of the Y6 North Tawton pupils. If you’re a parent of any of those children, I have to say what an absolute delight they were to hang out with. And it was even nicer to be recognised by them today at the school, as they called out to say “Hi!” to me.
In the meantime, all of our governors have attended the “Ringfenced Funding” training, which helps us to understand what additional monies the schools receive for Pupil Premium, Sports Premium etc, and how that is spent for the benefit of the children. We are booking meetings with the Principals and Sports Leads for each school early next term to monitor how those funds are being spent in each school, and the impact of those spends.
Liz has alo managed to visit South Tawton a couple of times, where she was impressed with the great progress Early Years have made with their reading using the Read Write Inc platform, and this was reinforced by one of the children telling her how happy they were that they could “read words now!”
We hope to see you at one of the school’s festive events – between us, we are hoping to get to as many as possible.
Mel & Liz
It was very cold today - especially in the morning - but we Dartmoor folk aren't easily put off and classes from Year One to Year Six enjoyed another session with Kael in a very frosty Woodland School area. Classes played 'Head Honcho' learned about tawny owls and made pcitues of their favourites parts of the site using materials they found within it. Thanks, as always to the PTFA who fund this for our children, to Kael for runnning the sessions and to Chloe-Brookes Warner who gives up her time to support Kael and to look after the fire. It is a beautiful thing to be able to offer our children and it's terrific to see the enjoyment and engagement that comes from it.
Dates for Your Diary
PTFA Christmas Fayre - Saturday 10th December 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Nativity Play - Wednesday 14th December 2:30 p.m.
Carol Concert - Thursday 15th December 5:00 p.m.
End of Term - Friday 16th December
First day of Spring Term - Wednesday 4th January
Scarlet Fever/ Strep A Letter to Parents
7th December 2022
Dear Parent / Carer,
You may have seen recent news reports concerning cases of suspected or confirmed scarlet fever. This has also been referred to as “Strep A”. We are writing to inform you that there has been some increase nationally in notifications of scarlet fever to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), above seasonal expected levels.
We would like to take this opportunity to provide some information about this illness, and to raise your awareness of the signs and symptoms to look out for.
Although scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, it should be treated with antibiotics to minimise the risk of complications and reduce the spread to others. The symptoms of scarlet fever include:
If you think you, or your child, have scarlet fever, please take the following actions:
Children who have had chickenpox recently are more likely to develop more serious infection during an outbreak of scarlet fever and so parents should remain vigilant for symptoms such as:
You can find more information in the guidance: Scarlet fever: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Further advice can also be obtained from the Health Protection Team during office hours. Please see below for links to further information and FAQs.
In school, staff will continue to be vigilant about looking for symptoms and encouraging pupils to maintain good hand hygiene. Hand washing remains the most important step in preventing such infections. Staff and pupils will be encouraged to wash their hands at the start of the school day, after using the toilet, after play, before and after eating, and at the end of the school day. Hand sanitiser is available.
Ed Finch, Principal
Scarlet fever: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
Scarlet Fever Frequently Asked Questions
Health Protection Team for UKHSA South West Centre Health Protection Team
Follaton House, Plymouth Road, Totnes, TQ9 5NE
Phone: 0300 303 8162 option 1 then option 1
Newsletter 2nd December
As ever, children at Chagford Primary School have been flourishing this week.
Years R, 1 and 2 have been working on their unique and very special nativity play. The Year Twos have the job of telling the story, while the Reception and Year One children act it out following the storytelling. Everyone gets to pick their role and do what they need to do to share the challenge and responsibility of telling the story. It will bring tears to your eyes. Do please come along on 14th December at 2:30 pm.
Year Five have been working out of their skins to write their own myths based on stories they've heard from Ancient Greece and the Norse world. They have been on fire and have written some terrific stories. I was impressed and very pleased by some children who went way beyond what they had previously been able to show us, Great work Year Five.
Year Six enjoyed a trip to the recycling centre in Plymouth. It was led by an excellent guide who made the experience really meaningful for the children. Lovely work.
Year Two have impressed us by getting on with life without missing a beat with their new teacher - Mrs Robertson back from maternity leave and very happy to be back at work and thriving in Year Two.
We all enjoyed the beauty of the world this morning in the first proper frost of winter. Chunks and plates of ice were retreived from buckets, wheelbarrows and tyres sparking curiosity and wonder. It's easy to forget how special things like frosty grass or a frozen puddle are - it's a joy when the children remind us.
It was beautiful seeing so many parents and carers at our Friday Celebration today and even more beautiful to see so many people volunteering to take part in our weekly 'Attitude of Gratitude'. The evenings are nearly as dark as they are going to be, the weather has been foul and colds and viruses seem to be everywhere but in our community of learners the knack of gratitude seems to run strong.
Celebrate a Life
We will be attending the Celebrate a Life event at Cross Tree opposite the Jubilee Hall at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. There will be carols, mince pies and mulled wine. You will be able to add a star to the tree in memory of a loved one.
Children from the school will join together to sing 'Away in a Manger' led by Mr Finch. We have the words printed off so all children are very welcome indeed to come along and join us to sing together.
This event will be raising money for Cancer Research, the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Charity and for Hospiscare. These are causes very close indeed to many of our hearts, so do please come along to take part, to share joyful memories of loved ones and to raise a little money for these very worthwhile charities.
Stars for the tree can be bought in advance from Uptown but don't worry about attending if you haven't been able to purchase a star in advance - this will not be an issue. You are invited to bring a small hand torch.
Christmas Jumper Day
Our Christmas Jumper Day is this coming Wednesday 7th December.
Children are invited to wear a Christmas Jumper if they have one or any other warm and cosy jumper, and to bring a donation for the tombola at the School Christmas Fayre. A tin of drink, a can of beans, a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine - bring something you wouldn't mind winning, add it to the pile and we'll enjoy each others jumpers.
This is NOT the school Christmas dinner which will be the following Wednesday 14th December.
The Christmas Fayre is next Saturday 10th December from 2:00 till 4:00 in the school hall. The PTFA would love to see as many people as possible there.
Miniature Pony Christmas Experience
Our friends at the Miniature Pony Centre have put together a special offer for children attending Chagford Primary.
Any children attending the school and their immediate family members (siblings, parents and guardians) -- can all get a reduced price ticket for only £12.00 (normal price (£17.95 each).
As an extra activity for the Christmas period our friends at Chagford Eco Pantry are preparing hampers full of good things to distribute.
Do you know someone who you think might welcome a Hamper - maybe a neighbour, an elderly person in the area or a family who haven't got a huge amount to spare at the moment. It's fine to nominate yourself if you could do with a bit of extra help.
There are hampers waiting at the Eco Pantry at St Michael's and you can just come along and help yourself or, if it is easier for you, or if you have any special dietary requirements, you can call Lucy Tufton on 01647-432314 and she will be happy to make up a special hamper and have it delivered to your home. Don't worry about the cost of this - the church has received a very generous donation to fund the project so you will be helping the church and the community to fulfil their mission if you do nominate someone to receive a hamper. This will be a lovely way to spread random acts of kindness - do get involved. If the stock of hampers runs out, it will be replenished - so if you go into the church and there are none there please don't lose heart. Check again in a day or two or just give Lucy a call.
Thank you to everyone for organising this and to Lucy for heading it up - 01647-432314 .
Dates for Your Diary
PTFA Christmas Fayre - Saturday 10th December 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Nativity Play - Wednesday 14th December 2:30 p.m.
Carol Concert - Thursday 15th December 5:00 p.m.
End of Term - Friday 16th December
First day of Spring Term - Wednesday 4th January
This week attendance has fallen back to 93.4%. This is a percentage point back from last week and below national levels. There has been an absolutely horrible cold going around which has impacted many of us, myself included so there's no blame. Sympathies to everyone who has had it or who has been looking after poorly little ones.
A point that I've been asked a couple of times in the last few weeks is "If my child is poorly in the morning but perks up in hte day, should I bring them to school?" The answer is an absolute 'yes'. If your child is well enough to come into school - even just for the afternoon session - they should be at school. We will be ahppy to see them, they will be off the sof and off your hands and they will stand a good chance of learning something interesting or doing something useful.
In purely administrative terms, we mark each morning and afternoon as separate sessions. A child who comes to school every day for a week attends ten sessions. If they miss a morning but come in for the afternoon that's nine sessions and 90% for the week. We are happy to welcome the children at any time so if they perk up soon after school would have started then why not bring them in for ten forty-five. They'lll get to have break time with their friends and won't miss the lessons between break and lunch.
We'll be having another Woodland School session this coming Friday 9th December. Children will need wellies, coats, hats and gloves most likely. Thanks to the PTFA for funding this.