Newsletter 24th March
Chagford School Blessing
Lord of the high tors and the singing rivers,
Lord of the farmhouse, the village, the town and the city,
Be with us -
In our hearts,
In our friendships,
and in the wide, wide world around and beyond us,
On every step of our journey.
Our school blesing reflects on the beauty and blessings of the natural world around us and then reminds us of the model of spirituality which we use in our Collective Worship every afternoon as well as in our class discussions. We think of spirituality as being that interrealtion of ourselves, those people we are connected to and the wider world of nature and whatever is beyond. Whenever we say our prayer we think of being settled and in harmony within ourselves, in our relations with others and in relation to whatever is beyond us. For a child with a home context of religious belief the 'wide, wide world around and beyond us' includes God and the spiritual world. For a child from a humanist or athiest household, that phrase can refer to nature and the sense of wonder and connection we have with our amazing, beautiful universe. Can your child remember the blessing? Can they say it to you? Can they talk about how the things you do as a family - enjoying time together, walking on the moor, playing games, eating together - relate to our model of spirituality?
Fantastic Mr Fox
Years 5 and 6 started the earliest preparatory work for this years production. Following on from last year's success with A Midsummer Night's Dream, our friend Lydia Frater is back again to direct the production.
Every child in the school from Early Years through to Year Six will be in the show which, weather allowing, will once again take place in our beautiful auditoreum.
One reason for last year's huge success once the invlvement of the whole community. Parents, grandparents and members of the community who don't currently have a child at the school came together and worked to help the children rehearse, to prepare the set, costumes, tickets, refreshments, to make sure the amphitheatre was as trim as can be and safe for our children to perform in. We could not have done it without them. After the Easter break we will start putting feelers out for people who would like to be involved - whether that's volunteering to take part in a costume workshop, to help out on the night, to come into school to help pupils rehearse or whatever other role they are fitted for.
Mealtime Assistant Vacancy
We will very shortly have an advertisment up on the trust jobs page for another Mealtime Assistant. This role involves coming into school a little before lunch break to help set up and to get the smallest children into the hall. The assistant would then go outside to supervise playtime. They wil also be asked to facilitate play for the children. After the end of break they stay for a few more minutes to help clear and clean the hall.
I will message when the advertisement is live. The candidate must be compliant with all safeguarding regulations and will have to have a standard DBS check and undertake safeguarding training. They will have a full induction before starting the job.
Easter Bingo - a message from the PTFA
Dear Parents and carers.
The PTFA are holding a bingo on Friday 14th April in The Jubilee Hall, Chagford.
Doors open at 6.45pm eyes down at 7.30pm.
There will be excellent prizes and meat hampers to win, a cash flyer, raffle and refreshments will be available.
Children are welcome.
We are asking for donations for raffle prizes. If you could spare a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates or something else suitable to put in the raffle we would be very grateful.
Any donations can be taken to the school office by Friday 31st March.
Many thanks in advance.
The PTFA Committee.
Festival of Hope
For the second year, every school in Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust has taken part in our 'Festival of Hope'. Bringing together puipils from all our schools fro sports, arts and celebration.
Mr Frewin has been very busy indeed ferrying children to various sporting activities including a great day of indoor athletics at tanistock College.
The Festival of Hope is great idea. It is achance for our childen to come together and to encounter each other and become aware that they are part of something bigger than the one school that they are in. We hope that year by year, the festival will be more recognised by the staff, pupils and families of the trust and become something to look forward to.
Festival of Hope Art Exhibition
Children from Year Four travelled to Okehampton College to see the Festival of Hope Art exhibition featurng art created by pupils from every school in our trust.
The children enjoyed seeing how different schools had responded to the prompt of depicting 'Hope'. Many of the pieces drew on the book 'Window' by Jeannie Baker and imagined a world in which people took action to repair our environment.
As well as viewing the exhibition, the children had a workshop with an artist in residence who painted an amazing owl live infront of them then let them take the painting back to school - it has quite the stae! The childen also got to design and make their own shoes! They showed us theri work with great pride.
Our Reading Journals
Why do we have the reading journal?
Acquisition of language has been proven to develop much more strongly through reading that through the comparatively much reduced vocabulary of conversational language.
As a result we hold with the belief that frequent opportunities to read are essential for the development of basic reading skills, vocabulary and comprehension.
We no longer have access to the Accelerated Reader programme but our library books will continue to be coded as per AR as this still enables the children to pick books that have been analysed to ensure a smooth progression in difficulty.
The exact content of the journal will change slightly with the next print run but the essentials are as follows:
,Changes to the Daily Routine
Starting after Easter, we will make a change to the way we run our morning routine.
We expect children to be arrive at school between 8:40 and 8:50 a.m. Our day starts at 8:50 and we do expect all pupils to be on site by that time.
After Easter, instead of gathering on the playground and lining up before entering the school building we will send children straight in. All children should therefore, be in the school building by 8:50. This means that teachers can complete registers by 9:00 and get on with the day. The gate will be closed sooner than it has been and children arriving after that time will enter school through reception. Children arriving after the gate is closed will be marked as late.
We love to hear the children singing together and it's an important part of how we build a sense of community. We will continue to sing every day but we will do this in Collective Worship in the afternoon.
Schools do not authorise absence for holidays within term time. We are simply not allowed to under national, county or trust protocol. It is our statutory duty to ensure that children are present in school to learn. Parents too have a statutory duty under the law to ensure children attend school regularly. When you sign up to send your child to school, one of the commitments you make is that you will ensure they attend regularly unless there are excpetional circumstances. Of course, for the vast majority of children, these exceptional circumstances amount to the ocassional illness - no one expects that your child will attend school if they are sick.
I think that, due to the pandemic, lots of families had postponed holidays that they wanted to fit in, often including visits to family around the world. This was understandable but we, as heads, could not authorise them. Sessions missed from these holidays are marked down as unauthorised absences. Other unauthorisable absences can include trips the theatre or to relatives for special birthdays. Any children who have missed more than 10% of available sessions is coded as a 'persitant absentee' and this raises concerns which we have to look into. Currently, in our little school, 16% of our pupils are coded as persitant absentees - this is a good deal more than we would expect.
One of the insruments we can use to show our intent in this area is fining parents who removing children from school for reasons that we cannot authorise. This is something that I have been reluctant to do in the past but which I feel I will have to do. I would always do this is consultation with the county Education Welfare Officers who can help families before it gets to that point.
Even though we cannot authorise holidays, we are grateful to have the absence form filled out so that we know where they are - if we know in advance that you are visiting family overseas for a week in April, we don't panic when your child is away and the phone unanswered.
as a school, we would like to see the persistant absentee figure fall markedly over the next few weeks and we hope to see all pupils attending such that they can make really good progress.
Newsletter 17th March
I've never known a school in England to make much of a fuss of St Patrick's Day but, here at Chagford Primary, it was quite the thing. Under Ms Simpson's valiant leadership, Year Five pulled off a masterfull retelling of the life of the Irish saint complete with an astonishing sea voyage, savage sheep and some brilliant fiddle playing from Benji Chambers.
Special commendatin has to go to Rafi who played St Patrick himself with great aplomb. Benji B as the Voice of God was another highlight.
The fun didn't stop there. On Friday, St Patrick's Day itself, the Year Five children made little St Patrick's day packages to share with all the children in the school. There were a lot of Shamrock stickers going around the school.
A huge thank you from the PTFA for supporting our recent Bake sale. The total profit was a whopping £259.96.
We were overwhelmed by the generous donations of baked goods meaning that we had enough cakes to run the bake sale 2 days in a row.
We really appreciate everyone who baked, sent children to school with money and queued in the rain! Extra special thanks to Chloe and Harriet for running it too!
Celebrating the Earth - Wildflowers
Join us at the church on Tuesday 21st March for the next 'Celebrating the Earth' event.
This will be a short family friendly event in an inclusive multi faith setting. We'll think about all the gifts we recieve from wild flowers.
Our children have been practicing 'Country Life' to sing at the event. I really do hope to see as many children as possible at St Michael the Archangel at 5:30. Do join us.
The PTFA have set up a School lottery using 'Your School Lottery'.
This is an exciting weekly lottery that raises money for schools in the UK. All schools supported by the lottery will benefit the UK and its residents.
Play the lottery, support your school - it’s that simple!
Tickets for the lottery cost just £1 per week, with a top prize of £25,000!
Each ticket will consist of 6 numbers and each number will be between 0 and 9. There will be a draw every Saturday night when a 6 digit winning combination will be picked. Match all 6 and you win the JACKPOT!
There is also a guaranteed winner for each school every Saturday which is drawn on a raffle basis, so there are two chances to win a prize.
A full list of prizes below:
130% of ticket sales
From every £1 ticket sold 40p will go to the school! Please know that your money is going back into your community and your school will benefit from your contribution.Many thanks in advance and Good Luck.
The PTFA Committee
Newsletter Update 13th March 2023
Chloe Bennett, our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator across the Three Hares Schools, has successfully applied for a new job and will be leaving our schools at Easter. Chloe has been part of the Three Hares for a very long time, having started her career as a teacher at South Tawton Primary School. We are very happy for Chloe as her new job will be a step forward in her career - we wish her all the best in her new role. At Chagford Primary School, Adam Newland will be leading on SEND for the Summer Term, supported by the Trust SEND team. We know he will do an excellent job. From September, a new hub SENDCo will be in place. We know that parents and carers will want to join us in giving Chloe Bennett their very best wishes for this next step in her journey.
Newsletter 10th March
Well done to all our pupils for another busy and succesful week at Chagford Church of England Primary School.
A special well done this week to the pupils of Year Two who have dealt admirably with the absence of their teacher Mrs Robertson. The children have had na very odd week learning alongside their friends in different classes and have done so with flexibility and good humour.
Well done also to the children and teachers in Year One and Year Three who have accomodated these guests!
Sadly, due to the weather and wisely cautious bus companies, the planned Cross Country competition to take place earlier this week was cancelled. We hope that will be rescheduled soon - our children love cross country and really excel at it.
We are currently recruiting a teaching assistant for an important role in our school. If you know of anyone in the area who might be interested in working as a teaching assistant, do please let them know that we would be very interested in having a conversation. We are currently advertising one fixed term position but we would also be interested in hearing from people with availability in the near future who might be able to work with us through an agency to provide support in the short term.
Support Staff Vacancies | Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust (dartmoormat.org.uk)
World Book Day
Last week we didn't manage to share our photos from World Book Day with you, so here is a gallery of lovely costumes and brilliant faces filled with bookish glee. We really did have a lovely day - thanks to our friends from The Bookery and to Chloe Brooks-Warner for their help to make the day a success.
Celebrating the Earth
I hope that your children have come home from school singing 'Country Life', our new song for the next Celebrating the Earth event at the church of St Michael the Archangel on Tuesday 21st March. This event will celebrate wild flowers and all the ways they enrich and prolong our lives. Celebrating the Earth events are not too long and always aim to be family friendly. We shall be practicing our song every chance we get and, hopefully, lots of children will come along to sing with us, to raise the roof and welcome the spring.
Children might like to practice by singing along with the Waterson Family here.
There's an odd word in there, the small birds sing upon their 'laylum'. I think that's a Sussex version of 'leyland'. A meadow, perhaps by a river,
Mobile Phones in School
Can we ask all parents and carers to keep to our 'no mobile phones' rule in school. There are a number of parents who, for very good reasons, ask that we do not share photographs of their children online and it is important that we respect those wishes. I know how much parents and carers would like to share photographs from special events and assemblies but we ask that you refrain from doing so. When we upload photos to class blogs and to the website, we do our utmost to make sure that we do not share photos of pupils for whom we do not have photo permission. If there's a reason that you would really like a photo of your child, for example receiving a certificate or performing in assembly, let us know and we will try to get a photo that we know we can share with you.
All Kinds of Minds
'All Kinds of Minds' is a week of celebration of neurodiversity. We are all different, with our own opinions, things we like and things we don't like. The concept of neurodioversity takes that a bit further - our minds can work in different ways. While we used to think of traits such as ADHD and autism as things that were 'wrong' with people - now we've learned to understand and celebrate them as differences. Some of our greatest scientists, artists, musicians and leaders have been neurodiverse - for them ADHD and autism have been things that made their brains more amazing.
Creative challenge: What would your sustainable future look like?
In our video, we will set children a creative challenge inspired by the things the researchers have said about sustainability: to think about what children want their sustainable future to look like and create something that shares their thoughts. Responses can be anything creative, a picture, a photo, a poem, building something, writing a letter, making a model, etc.
Children can then take a photo of their response (or email a document or film) and submit it by 31st March using this Microsoft Form: https://forms.office.com/e/iBVTaqaiwi
Invitation to neurodivergent children: Join us on our Streatham campus (Exeter) on Saturday 15th April
We would like to invite any Key Stage 2 neurodivergent children known to your SENcos to join us on University of Exeter Streatham campus with their families on Saturday 15th April between 10am and 12pm. SENcos are also warmly invited.
We will create a relaxed environment with access to quiet spaces and outdoor areas. Children will be able to meet the team who put together the video they have watched, take part in a LEGO build, and hear a little bit about university life from Lily and Jack from the Student’s Guild, who are also neurodivergent. Children will be able to see an exhibition of responses received to the creative challenge and families can meet each other over refreshments.
Please would you discuss this opportunity with your children and their parents. It would help us plan refreshments if you could confirm numbers likely to attend by the end of term (31st March).
FAMILY BREAKFAST CHURCH - Sunday 12th March
As a Church of England school, we retain our longstanding links with St Michael's, not only through our collective worships, but by participating in many community events which are orchestrated or hosted by the church. We value our relationship with St Michael's very much, and would like to encourage you to attend this family-friendly service on Sunday 12th March in the Jubilee Hall. It is a great way for your children to explore their own spirituality in a gentle way, Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and pastries are available free-of-charge too....! Family Breakfast Church is held on the second Sunday of every month, starting around 09:30.
MED Theatre - Granite
Several pupils from Chagford Primary are taking part in this community theatre project with MED Theatre. Do go along if you can to support our young people and to learn a little about life on the moor in Victorian times.
Newsletter 3rd March
A HUGE well done to everyone. We have recently seen a noticable uptick in attendance. Earlier this week we had a day with attendance of 99% and this morning we saw attendance at 97.3%. I am very pleased indeed and hope this shows that, at last, we are moving back towards pre-pandemic levels of attendance.
This isn't just for the numbers on my spreadsheet - it means that more children are attending school reliably, getting the day by day contact they need to make really good progress in their learning and all those chances to build great social contacts, friendships and experiences.
Thank you to everyone - I couldn't be more pleased.
Festival of Hope
The Year Sixes have been working with Mrs Armstrong and Mrs Ramoutar to create a piece of art for the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust 'Festival of Hope'. This annual event brings together children from across all the nineteen schools in the trust for music making, sport, art and performance. Our children worked together to build a hope filled artwork inspired by the fabulous book 'Window' by Jeannie Baker. Mr Finch just about managed to squeeze it into the back of his car and drove it to Tavistock where it will be proudly on display next week before moving to Holsworthy College and then Okehampton College. Our Year Fours will go and see the art exhibition while it is up in Okehampton.
Other children are taking part in the festival through sporting events and every child learned to sing the new 'festival of Hope song - look out for a very special video of that coming out as soon as Kai has edited it all together. Fitting all nineteen schools into a three minute song is a challenge!
Parish Council and West Devon Borough Council Elections
2023 is the year for Parish Council and West Devon Borough Council Elections which will be held on Thursday May 4th in the Jubilee Hall.
All 12 seats for Chagford Parish Council will be up for election
This is your chance to have your say in what happens in our community.
If you would like to learn more about being a Parish Councillor, contact the Clerk on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications should be made by the beginning of April.
Stories Around the Firepit
Join us on Thursday 23rd March for Stories around the firepit. We will guide you in to our Forest School area and invite you to enjoy an evening of storytelling from Mr Finch and friends of the school. The PTFA may be selling some drinks and snacks. Do come along to enjoy the evening - we guarantee a very special evening which fuinny stories, scary stories and magical stories and a real sense of community around the fire. Book this in the diary now and look out for more information.
This is part of our contribution to the Festival of hope.
World Book Day
We celebrated World Book Day on Wednesday. Children came to school dressed in a wonderful array of costumes. We had two Kevin the Roly Poly flying ponies - presumably inspired by our Patron of Reading, Sarah McIntyre, a matching pair of Ooompa Lumpas, several characters from the Harry Potter Universe, numerous assorted sportsmen and celebrities, a good clutch of characters from Podkin One Ear, two Looshkins, a stitch head and so much more. I enjoyed clelbrating all the fun and creativity as the children made thier procession around the playground. As always, it was great to see the youngest and oldest children working so beautifully together.
In class, children took part in a wide range of bookish activities. Enjoying and sharing books, designing book marks, drawing favourite characters and more.
In the afternoon we had a visit from The Bookery who shared a selectrion of really exciting, recently published titles and gave the children a chance to buy them at very much reduced prices. The PTFA helped out by purchasing one each of all the featured titels to go in he school library so that all children, even if theri parents hadn'[t given them some money to spend, will be able to read them.
A good time was had by all and, hopefully, the bookish love grew and spread in the school.
Thanks again to Kael and Chloe for facilitating today's Woodland School session. The children relish being out in the open air and are able to learn in a different way together. We love the Woodland school provision and we really want to see it continuing.
Frieds from the PTFA have set up a dedicated fundraiser to make sure we can continue to provide Woodland school at our setting. They have already earned an impressive £1,198 and are well towards half of their £3000 target for the year.
If your child enjoys Woodland School and you would like to see it continue, please consider giving what you can via this link Fundraiser by Katherine Grimshaw : Chagford Primary Woodland School (gofundme.com)
The PTFA will be running a Bake Sale next Thursday, 9th March. They are looking for donations of baked goods for sale and, of course, for plenty of eager customers!
CELEBRATING THE EARTH
The next Celebrating the Earth event will take place on March 21st at the Church of St Michael the Archangel. It will focus on wildflowers, the beauty, the myth and the very real benefits. There will be input from the school of some form. maybe a song - maybe a poem - maybe some art....
Pop it in your diary and lets get a good showing from the school at theis lovely event.
Newsletter 24th February
A busy, busy week here at Chagford Primary. We have just had the Friday celebration with the most ever parents and carers in the room to celebrate childrens acheivements with us. Cornelia played a piano piece she'd written herself, George amazed us with his beautiful, corruscating computer art, we heard about great learning in maths, beautiful writing, the children sang - what a lot of beautiful things!
Earlier in the week the children enjoyed a football tournaemnent run by OCRA (Okehampton Community and Recreation Association). It was a cold day but the tournament was very exciting and the children had a blast.
Spring flowers are popping up all over the site - some in the most unexpected places as a legacy from the layout of the old building. I don't remember as often as I should to say 'thank you' to the gardening team that gives our school a daily dose of wonder and beauty. Thank you gardeners - you don't know how much your work enriches all of us.
Next week I am expecially looking forward to our World Book Day celebration on Wednesday and Woodland School on Friday. I love Chagford Primary - there's always something to celebrate and be thankful for.
World Book Day - Wednesday 1st March
Chagford Primary will be celebrating World Book Day next Wednesday, 1st March. This is a day before the 'official' World Book Day as we have managed to organise a visit from The Bookery to help us make the day special.
On Wednesday, the children are invited to come to school dressed as a favourite character from a book, or in another way that chimes with the book day theme. Do see the message from Proper Job below. They know that World Book Day costumes can be an expense and a lot of work for busy parents and they are hosting a reuse and recycle facility to save families time and money.
During the day, classes will take part in a variety of activities designed to promote a love of books and reading. There will be a competition for the best 'book nooks' - book sized boxes that slot into the bookshelf amongst the books and contain a little diorama linked to a book.
In the afternoon, our friends from The Bookery will give a presentation of exciting newly-publshed books that the children might enjoy. The children will then be able to buy from this selection. Books are subsidised and much cheaper than they would be online or in the bookshop. Children can buy one book for £6 or two books for £10. Money should be brought into school in a named envelope. It is fine to bring £10 to be shared by two siblings but this must be marked very clearly on the envelope so that we don't inadvertently let one sibling choose two books and leave the other without.
We would love as many parents as possible to join us on the playground in the morning for a short parade, so we all get to see the great costumes.
Message From Proper Job - Don't Panic! - Reuse, Recycle and pass on fancy dress!
Dressing up for World Book Day has become something of a tradition over the years. For many children, getting to be someone else for the day is imaginative and fun. There can be lots of learning - thinking about book characters, what they look and act like, and getting creative. But how much unnecessary waste does this national tradition create?
We know that parents are increasingly under pressure to produce new ideas each year and it can cause stress and anxiety for many, therefore we have put together a rail of pre-loved items to help you to reuse, recycle make do and mend.
If you would like to share or pass on last year’s outfits, please donate them to the Resource Centre and we will try to pass them on to others to help save time resources and money!
#worldbookday #reducereuserecycle #makedoandmend #fancydress
The PTFA are holding a Bake Sale on Thursday 9th March straight after school.
This is to raise money for upcoming events.
We would be very grateful for donations of any baked goods. Please take these to the school office before 3.30pm on the 9th March and/or send your children in with some money to buy something delicious!
Woodland School Fundraiser
The children at Chagford School have been lucky enough to enjoy Woodland School sessions since last Autumn - donning their wellies come rain or shine (or minus 7 degree frosts!) and going into the school grounds to learn about all sorts of exciting things to do with our environment. The sessions have been funded by the PTFA but this is not sustainable and a longer-term funding solution is needed. Therefore we are turning to you, family and friends of Chagford School, to help keep this fantastic opportunity going for our kids.
Why do we think it is important?
Outside play is a key aspect of child development. Small children spend much of their time exploring, collecting, wandering, and questioning. When school starts for the child, their learning takes a different form, one that engages the more intellectual side. We believe that providing the opportunity for outdoor learning benefits the child’s development on all levels and provides a good balance.
Through the Woodland School, the children have the opportunity to develop a fascination and interest in plants, insects, animal life and natural processes of nature such as the weather/seasons. They learn some of the skills to work with natural substances in the old traditional way, building structures, using fire, and harvesting wild edibles.
Working together in teams, the children naturally develop good interpersonal team-working skills with communication an essential and natural part of this. The enthusiasm with which these activities are taken up by the children shows the effect that working within nature has on them, building upon their natural enthusiasm and encouraging new social interactions between classmates.
What is magic about engaging the children this way is that when back in the classroom, their levels of focus and concentration have improved. This is both through these activities working with nature and also from having time away from the busy-ness of the classroom. With their lungs full of fresh air, the children have been seen taking up their classroom work with a new focus and enjoyment.
The Woodland School provides an opportunity for hands-on activities to be adapted to suit all children, thus enabling every child to take part in honing both their gross and fine motor skills. As their skills grow, so too does their self-confidence. Their problem-solving skills are called upon within this highly practical environment.
£3,000 would allow the children from Reception to Year 6 to enjoy 3 sessions per half term for the next year as well as a little surplus for materials.
Any donation is so very much appreciated! Thank you!
Fundraiser by Katherine Grimshaw : Chagford Primary Woodland School (gofundme.com)
We have decided to move away from using the Accelerated Reader scheme to monitor and incentivise pupils' reading. The scheme has become more expensive and we are not absolutely convinced of the value for money. We have allowed our subscription to the scheme to lapse as families may have realised if they logged on to run pupil book quizzes.
We will, of course, continue to monitor children's reading. We will do this through close attention to children's reading ages and by continuing to prompt children to move gradually to more challenging books - while still promoting a love of reading and allowing children to build their own tastes in author and genre.
We know that very much the most productive thing that parents can do to support their child's learning, right across the curriculum, is to read with them for a few minutes as often as possible. This does not have to mean the child reading to the parent - it is just as important, maybe more so, for the adult to model good reading to the child. Read a bit, stop to predict what might happen next, talk about the characters (Who do you like? Who don't you like? Why?), how does the book make you feel? At home it's not the decoding of reading that we focus on - we can teach that effectively at school - it's the deep appreciation and love of reading and learning how books connect us.
We will run a 'reading with your child' workshop for any parents who are interested in the next few weeks and we would love to see you there.
Industrial Action - March 2nd
Members of the National Education Union are taking industrial action in the SOuth West and other parts of the country on Thursday 2nd March. As a result our school will be closed to all pupils for the day. We regret the disruption to parents, carers and families. The closure effects all parts of the school, including pre-school. Fees for pre-school sessions will be reimbursed retrospectively.
Newsletter 10th February
Another week finishes leaving us exhausted but very happy and proud of the work the adults have put in and the progress that the children have made. February half term is half way through the school year and a great vantage point to look back at what has been acheived and forward to what is still to come. Mr Newland was glowing with pride this morning as he told me about the great strides some of our year threes have made in Phonics so dar this year. Our Year Fives treated us to a terrific assembly on Wednesday showing off their increasing discipline and control as a group. More year sixes joined the Year Six Ambasadors on hte bench after evidencing their commitment to learning and character development.
Danielle Betts, who has been working with us at Chagford Primary since September is finishing today to take up a new job a little closer to home. In assembly she told us that when her agency called her up and asked her to take on the role at Chagford, the recruiter said that Chagford was a very special school, one that would live in her memory for a long time after she finished her contract. Danielle told us that, at the time, she'd imagined this was just him trying to get her to take on the job but, once she arrived, she realised that there is something quite special about our school. Something which doesn't come from the walls or classrooms but from every child and adult who comes together in this place to live and learn together.
I think we will all be grateful for our half term break but that we will also be looking forward to another term. There's so much to look forward to.
World Book Day
Chagford will celebrate World Book Day on Wednesday 1st March. The official date is March 2nd but with the National Education Union planning another day of strike action for that day we have brought it forward.
Just as last year, we will have a visit from our friends at The Bookery on the day to learn about some brilliant newly publsihed books and there will be a very heavily subsidised book stall allowing the children to purchase the books. Through the generosity of the PTFA, we'll be purchasing a complete set for the school library so children can get a chance to read the books even if they can't buy every one that they would like.
Children can come to school dressed as a favourite book character or they can push the idea a little further - I have had children attend as full libraries, as genres, as authors or as historical or creative characters who they admire and clutching a biography. One of my all time favourites was a child in a lab coat absolutely covered in the poems from 'The Lost Words' - you could quite happily read that costume all day!
Additionally, there will be prizes for 'book in a box' exhibits. Take a box that would fit in a book shelf between teh books. Take off a side and build a little world inside. Yoiu might like to think about The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Lord of the Rings, The Gruffalo, The AdventureMice or any other book your child is passionate about - non fiction just as much as fiction. There will be some prizes and lots of celebration.
Children's Mental Health Week
This week has been Children's Mental Health Week across the country and Chagford Primary has played a full part. Classes have taken extra time over their PHSCE and Circle Time sessions and every day's afternoon assembly has had a mental health focus. Year Five gave us a confident whole school assembly based on the book Ruby's Worry.
We learned that worries tend to get bigger when we keep them inside and tend to resolve when we speak about them to other people. We thought about who the trusted people in our lives were that we could talk to and learned some good ways of talking and asking for help. We learned that everybody has busy thoughts in their heads and that we need to treat others with respect as we never know what worries or anxieties they might be carrying - even if they are looking happy and confident.
On Friday we celebrated with a 'Dress to Express Day. Children and staff came to school dressed in ways that expressed something about themselves - clothes that made them happy, clothes that reminded them of something they really like, clothes that had a story. Mr Finch was relaxed in his jeans and a comfy shirt and with no tie around his neck for once, Mr Dray chose an old rock band tour T-Shirt which reminds him of happy times in the past and of things he's looking forward to. SOme children wore their cosiest onesies, or dressed to make each other smile. My absolute favourite was a child who wore her rugby strip to show her pride in her team then shyly revealed that she was wearing a football top underneath to awknowledge her friendship with a football mad classmate.
Well done and thank you everyone. Hopefully a few children end this week a little more confident and comfortable to talk about thier identity and to share their worries.
Thank you to eveyone who donated a pound for the children's mental health charity place2be - there are many, many children and young people sruggling with the mental health and wellbeing at the moment - with more than twenty years in education I have never seen the situation so serious in this reagrd. Our young people need help and with services like CAMHS so overwhelmed, it is groups like place2be who are doing the work,
Work at Chagford Primary
We are currently very stretched indeed at Chagford Primary. Due to circumstances beyond our control we are down two key members of staff and unable to recruit to fill those jobs. We would love to take on two members of staff to fulfil these roles though, currently, it would be through agency.
If you know anyone who has some experience of working with children, is able to commit to a medium term agreement - up to the end of summer term ideally, is good at learning quickly and follwoing instructions and is happy to sign up to an agency and undertake the usual formality of a DBS check then please, please put them in touch with us so we can explain more and get things moving. Both roles are demanding but rewarding and vital for the children we serve.
Chagford Primary is a Church of England School. It's a key part of our identity and one that. maybe, we don't always celebrate as much and as loudly as we should. I am very proud o our children's increasing ability to talk about spirtuality - not as something which is tied to one religion or world view but as a way of thining about how we relate to ourselves, the people we are connected to and the wide world around and beyond us. I love that our children so understand our school vision 'Community, Challenge, Care and can talk about where the idea comes from. I am proud to hear them sing our school song 'Let us spur each other on to love and good works'. I love to hear them say our school blessing at the end of each day's collective worship. I am proud when I stand in the church with all our pupils, when we sing together, think together and pray together as part of a community much larger than the school.
A great deal of what I really love about Chagford Primary is, in part, in expression of it's distinctive identity as a Church of England School.
Church of England Schools are inspected under the SIAMS (Statutory Inspection for Anglican and Methodist Schools. Our last inspection under SIAMS was way back in 2016 and was judged 'good' at that time. We were expecting an inspection this year and rather looking forward to showcasing everyhting we love about our school however the inspection schedule is badly behind after the pandemic and we were told this week that we would not be inspected this year after all. We are a little disappointed that we won't get our chance to show how we shine this year, we hope that people outside the school do see the love, the care and the attention to the child's spirit that we think makes our school a bit special.
Newsletter 3rd February
We have had a busy, busy week at Chagford Primary with lots and lots to celebrate.
Very little pleases me more at a school than when the children reveal talents that we hadn't been aware of. Sometimes because they are something they are developing away from school or sometimes becasue they have only just reached the point of confidence in themselves to let us see what they can do. There were several beautiful examples of that this week.
Kit impressed everyone in Collective Worship on Thursday with his recorder playing. He played a charismatic (and very speedy) reading of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' theme which blew everyone away.
Molly played to the school on Friday. She was nervous but showed she could keep a steady pulse and played right through to the end of her opeice with support from Mimi. We were proud of her and of the school who listened impeccably.
I was delighted by Benji C who asked if he could share some art work and brought a collection of absolutely delightful models of creatures, mostly birds, that he has been making at home. He has put such love and care into these models - I shall ask if I may photogrpah them to share with you all.
We love to see this - if your child would like to share in assembly but has been a bit nervous to offer do let us know so we can invite them. It means a lot to us and I think it can mean a lot to them.
'Dress to Express' Day
Next week is Childrens Mental Health week. Across the UK schools and colleges will be thinking about how we can help children to be in tune with themselves, in harmony with the people they are connected to and in good relations with the wide, wide world around and beyond them. Classes will talk about this in their PHSCE and Circle Time sessions. It will be a theme in our afternoon assemblies and collective worship thought the week and, on Friday, we will have a whole school 'Dress to Express' Day. Children can come to school wearing clothes that make them happy or, if they want to, they could be more adventurous and dress to express a given emotion or a character from a book that helps them think about their own wellbeing - Ruby from Ruby's Worry for example.
We are asking for a one pouind donation per child to raise some funds for children's mental health charities.
The week should give us great opportunities to talk and explore our feelings and those activtries which help us to feel good.
Our Friday Celebration will have a special mental health focus and we would love to invite all parents and carers to join us for that if they would like to.
A huge party of Chagford Priamry pupils headed off to Simmonds Park in Okehampton today to taker part in an inter school Cross Country competition. Huge thanks to Mel Holyoak and Chloe Brooks-Warner who accompanied the trip aloing with Mrs Armstrong and our bold leader Wes Frewin.
As ever, the children made us very proud. Their conduct was excelletn and every child put in their very best effort. We love to see those fighters who know they aren't going to place but keep putting one foot in front of the other anyway. We love those kids who go out of the traps like a greyhound and lead the pack for a good lap before finding they didn't have quite the legs they thought they did and fall back. We love the concientious plodder... the great thing about running is that there really is room for everyone.
Of course, we are also extremely proud of those children who excel and today we had two superstars. Seth placed on the podium in the Year £ and 4 boys race and max came first in the Year 5 and 6 boys race making him the quickest out of all the many children on the course.
We are seeing many cases of a nasty cold amongst staff and pupils which is accompanied by a really vicious sore throat. Most of us seem to get better in a few days with plenty of rest, fluids and paracetemol but some children and adults are needing antibiotics to shake it off. It's really worth speaking to your GP and finding out if this is strep A.
Common symptoms of strep A include:
Industrial Action by the National Union of Teachers
Our school was closed to all pupils on Wednesday of this week due to indusrtial action by the national Union of Teachers (NEU). We recieved many messages of support from members of the school community which the teachers taking action were very grateful for. Some aprents have asked questions to better understand the action and I agreed to give answers in the newsletter.
Why was the school closed when some other schools were only partially closed?
There are a number of teachers unioins, the NEU is the biggest in England but there are also the NASUWT, ASCL and the NAHT. Other unions did not pass the strict regulations regarding turn out to have a succesful ballot for industrial action so their members were not taking action. At Chagford Primary is so happens that all members of the teaching team are members of the NEU and therefore eligible to take this action. At other schools it may be that the majority of teachers belong to other unions. As head I make a judgement about whether it is safe to open the school, with no teachers on the premises as well as no leadership or safeguarding lead, it was my judgement that it was not safe to open to pupils.
Did other members of staff besides teachers strike?
At our school, no other memebrs of staff belong to the NEU and, therefore, none were elib=gible to take strike action.
What did the striking teachers hope to achieve?
WHile the aims of the action are formally about teachers pay, the teachers that we have spoken to are far more concerned about funding for the sector as a whole and the impact that the realk terms reduction in funding for schools has had on staffing, morale and, ultimately, the provisioin schools can provide to their children. Striking teachers told me that they wanted to make the public aware of their concerns and wanted the govenment to unbderstand the depth of their concern.
Do striking teachers get paid?
No. Everyone who takes strike action is docked that days pay. For our colleagues this is a significant sum which impacts on their budgetting for the month and does make a real impact.
Will there be more days of strike action?
There are three more days of action currently planned. The next is on Thursday March 2nd. We do not yet know how many members will be likely to take a second day of strike action. We will risk assess closer to the time and let you know how our school will be effected no less than a week ahead of time.
Newsletter 27th January
Thank you to all the families who came to the church on Tuesday night to join in with 'Celebrating the Earth' together. We loved the poem that Year Four children had written and which they performed so beautifully - the participants at the event were very moved.
I was delighted to have so many pupils to sing with and they really made us proud. Lots of people have told me how much they enjoyed the children's singing - what an absolute pleasure and thank you to everyone who came along. The next event will be on the subject of birdsong - we shall have to think of a song to perform at that one.
Year Four – Peace in Nature Poem
I smell green plants around me
I hear jenny wren singing in the branches.
I feel long grass brush my thigh.
I smell the sweet scent of flowers.
I taste the warm summer breeze.
I feel calm and relaxed in my heart.
I feel peace in the woodlands.
This is a place where I feel safe
The river delivers the salmon to pray
As the water comes to the beat of the dancing fish that wish for eggs to lay.
Upstream, Down stream – the rocks tumble and the river slows.
I hear the water rushing
I see the darting fish
It gives me joy to be outside.
I feel one with the wild.
I feel free.
Children in Years Five and Six took a break from the curriculum this week to learn a little about the great Rabbie Burns. Year Five learned his poem 'Up In The Morning Early' and performed it in assembly on Friday. Year Six were given a Burns Supper in thier classroom - the Haggis was piped in and served with neeps and tatties. I was very pleased and impressed to see every child trying the food - no one turned thisr noses up at it and almost every scrap was eaten. Some had even had seconds!
Industrial Action by The National Education Union
Parents wil know that members of the National Education Union voted to take strike action a few weeks ago, that the ballot suprapssed the benchmarks required and that union have called out for members to take action on four days over hte next few weeks. The first of those days is next Wednesday, 1st February.
As all members of the teaching staff at Chagford Primary are members of the NEU and intend to follow their union's call for action, that means that we will not be able to open the school to pupils on Wednesday. Teachers regret the inconvenience to parents and carers and are very mindful of the disruption to routine and to children's education. They feel that issues in the state education system at the moment which are impacting on thier pay and conditions are also impacting, perhaps with greater effect, on the education and wellbeing of the pupils that they care for.
Colleagues would want you to know that this strike action is taken reluctantly but with clear intent. They hope that this action will bring the attention of the government and of the public to bear on the issues of funding in general which are making it more difficult for teachers to teach and children to learn.
The school will be closed to all pupils on February 1st. We will need to look at the other forthcoming dates as they come.
Newsletter 20th January
Well it has been a hard week for many of us with travel on the roads worrying and problematic and with footpaths treacherous. The buses that bring so many of our children to and from school could not operate as usual and parents had that and other challenges to deal with.
Well done and thank you to everyone who managed to keep things ticking over and helped to keep our children safe and happy.
Of course, for the children, a little snow was pretty much a treat. We lvoed watching the youngest enjoiying what was for many of the their first 'proper' snow. It's hard to stay grumpy about the weather when so many little faces are shining so brightly.
Chinese New Year
We enjoyed celebrating Chinese New Year on Friday. Children worre red for good luck or something with a bunny on to remembr the Year of the Rabbit.
We loved seeing the effort some families had gone to - we had traditional clothes, chinese banners and a brilliant head dress.
In class children heard the story of 'The Great Race', made lanterns and learned to say 'Happy New Year' in Chinese.
It was such a fun and positive day and, hopefully, the children reflected on a valuable lesson - people around the world are very different, and people around the world are very much the same, and it's great to celebrate those similarities and differences as that's what makes us all special and unique.
Celebrating the Earth
Year Four have written a wonderful poem to perform, the school have rehearsed 'Roller in the Coaster' to sing. It will be a beautiful evening in the Church. Please do come along and join us from 5:30 to clebrate our Earth and our very special place on it. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of children and families there.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Our pre-school and reception children have been enjoying the classic 'Tiger Who Came to Tea' and had a brillaint time today having thier very own tea party. They loved making and eating their jam sandwiches and they loved playing 'Musical Statues', 'Simon Says' and (more uniquely) 'Pass the Clownfish'. Fortunately, no one drank all the water in the taps.
There are few parts of my job as headteacher that enjoy more than spending time with our youngest pupils. They make me smile every single day. Thank you to Miss Pollard and her team for making such lovely opportunities for these children.
Attendance today was 94%, for the year so far we have an average of 94.2%. That is just a shade above the national average which is currently sitting at 93.4%.
Back before the pandemic we would have expected a typical school to have an average of around 97% so, as in so many orher parts of our lives, we really aren't 'back to normal' yet.
Sickness has certainly palyed a part in this - there have been some really horrible coughs, colds and bugs around. However, that's not the only reason that numbers are down. We are seeing term time holidays happening far more than we used to and that does make me worry. Children who are away from school for a chunk of time are missing a chunk of learning and it's not easy to see how a teacher, with the best will in the world, is going to catch up a whole unit on fractions, or those four great lessons when we designed and made our automata, while conbtinuing to teach the rest of the class. Teaching is planned and delivered in sequences - it is progressive - not cumulative.
Added to which, childrren who are aay in term time are missing elements of the social aspect of schooling. Bits of the shared experience that builds community.
I would dearly love to see our attendance creep back up towards 97% as the year goes on - there's my challenge!