Haven't we been blessed with the weather this week! I have recently moved house and my new route in to school, just as the sun is rising, shows me waves upon waves of mist lying in hollows with the tops of trees peeping out. It's genuinely magical and reminds me to be graeful every day to work in this beautiful part of the world. I'm reminded again to be grateful as I watch the children dancing to start off the day - a job which starts every day with a dance can't be a bad one! Thankyou to every parent and every carer who pays us the huge compliment of trusting us to care for their children.
After a good many months where Chagford Primary School has ben left untouched by the coronavirus, I am sad to say that this week it has made an appearance. While changes to government protocols and guidance mean that as a school we a re no longer the main point of contact in terms of tracing contacts we still have a great duty of care to all our children and to our families. Currently we have three confirmed cases of the virus in the school population and those individuals are isolating. All three individuals are pupils, no staff have been affected. The children are not all from one year group. Two more pupils are awaiting the results of PCR tests. We are comfortable to share this level of information but, of course, we cannot go much further than this without compromising the confidentiality of those involved. We are aware that some people in our community may have very specific reasons to be concerned - if, for example, they are immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable. We'd ask that anyone in that position let's us know discreetly so we can let them know if we believe there is a specific concern they should know about.
School Vision - Community Challenge Care
The school ethos forum met on Tuesday to agree the finalised version of the school's new vision statement. Every Church of England school is required to express a school vision and we felt that the existing vision 'Love Life, Love learning' had perhaps lost meaning and focus through over familiarity. After consulting with staff, pupils, parents and carers we have come up with a new vision statement that we think really sets out what we think matters at Chagford Primary and gives us the push we need to improve and develop.
From now on instead of saying 'Love Life, Love Learning' we'll be saying 'Community, Challenge, Care'.
Community - we are nothing without our communities - our children and families have roots and backgrounds that make them unique, collectively we are of this place - we draw from it and we give back to it. The lockdowns and regulations of the pandemic made it hard for us to demonstrate and nurture our connections to the community context of our school and it's time to purposefully put that right. We'll start off with what we hope will be a huge community celebration in place of our Autumn Fair in just a few weeks - we'll be inviting community groups such as gardeners, bell ringers, eco-groups, sports teams and everything else under the sun to join us and set up stall to show their presence in the life of the community of the school, we'll be inviting community groups in to play a part in the life of the school and we will be asking ourselves what we as a school can do for our community. We want to make our school not only a place nourishes the pupils' sense of being part of a community but also a place that reaches out to create good in the community. If you are part of a community group that might like to come along to the celebration or if you have an idea of something we can do to reach out to our communities will you please get in touch and let us know?
Challenge - we know that to see the progress in our pupils that will enable them to reach their potential we need to raise the level of challenge. We have to get them thinking harder, learning more, working harder. Not to raise the challenge means accepting second best and we can't believe that second best is good enough for the brilliant, sparky children in our care. At the same time we know that we as a school have to be open to challenge - if three's something we're not doing right or could simply do better we need to be open to hear about it. We'll be adding a 'challenge us' tab to the website and putting a 'challenge box' in the foyer to make it easier to get those challenges to us. Challenge can mean other things too - climbing a tor, learning to swim, mastering a musical instrument, improving at a sport - all of these are real challenges for children and adults and we want to celebrate every obstacle tackled and every goal our children are striving for.
Care - every school surely has care at the heart, but if we don't take time to say it then we risk letting other aspects of our busy lives take priority. We care for each other, we care for our community, we care for our school, we care about learning. Fundamentally, as my friend Hywel likes to say, we are 'bothered' - the children in our care and the work we do matters to us. We want to work towards a time when people in our community say of us 'that school really cares' - not in a wishy washy way but because our work sings care in everything we do.
The more we think about Community, Challenge, Care the more we see that they overlap and work together. We care for our community. We challenge ourselves to do better because we care. As a Church of England School we are asked to consider a scriptural basis for our vision. We found the Bible verse Hebrews 10:24 thought provoking and inspiring - 'Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.' Good work has lots of different meanings in a school from the good work that the children do in their books to the good work teachers are doing to facilitate learning; from the good work of the PTFA to the good work of Elaine in the office making sure the right information goes to the right place. Dancing together in the morning is good work and mopping the hall floor in the evening is good work too.
The Chagfilm Festival has been running all week with all manner of wonderful films showcasing talent and diversity in many forms. Tomorrow, Saturday, there will be a showing of Peter Rabbit 2 for the children in the Jubilee Hall- I know a lot of them are really looking forward to it. You can still buy tickets and find more information here or you could just pop into The Globe or into Sally's Newsagents. In the evening there will be a fun fancy dress parade where people can dress up as characters from movies - minions, gangsters, superheroes - you name it. It should be lots and lots of fun. Meet outside The Globe at six.
Don't forget about the screening of Peter Rabbit 2 on Saturday. You can buy your tickets here.
It’s a delayed welcome back newsletter—you would have had one last Friday were we not up at the Church with our Year Five and Six singers taking part in the Whiddon Autumn Festival.
With the government restrictions being relaxed we were able to welcome four young professional musicians into he school to work with the children to learn a song written especially for the occasion. In the evening some of those children came up to the church for a practice then performed as part of the concert. We could not have been more proud.
After a long time where we couldn’t do many of these things it was just lovely to get back into doing the sorts of things that connect us to our community. Thanks to Freddie Crowley, once a pupil of this very school, for organising the festival and making sure our children were involved. Thanks also to Mrs Armstrong who helped keep a watchful eye on the children and enjoyed being on stage with them too. Most of though, thanks to the children who showed themselves up as true #ChagfordChampions.
Thanks to the PTFA
Huge, huge thanks to everyone who has run an event, volunteered to help out, donated prizes, bought a raffle ticket or, in any other way, helped out with PTFA fundraising events. Our wonderful new public address system on wheels which is giving such joy at the start of each day came from that money as did the visualisers which are now in every classroom making it possible to share picturebooks, children’s work, objects from the natural world and teacher modelling on the big screen—these devices are a real game changer in the classroom and we wouldn’t have them without the wonderful work of the PTFA. Look out for more exciting fruits of your fundraising coming soon and news of some exciting upcoming events.
As you will know rules and regulations around covid have mostly been lifted and we have returned to a much more ‘normal’ version of school life.
We have ‘unbubbled’ the playground meaning that all children can play together as before which is a source of great joy. We are having whole school assemblies again. Our start of the day routine on the playground with music and dancing allows all the children to be together and to start off our learning in a really joyous way.
We are still asking children to sanitize their hands on entry and regularly through the day and staff are wearing face coverings in communal areas such as corridors, though not in class. The most important thing we can do at school to stop the spread of the virus is make sure all areas are well ventilated. That means we keep windows and doors open enough that there is fresh air replacing itself throughout the day. This might mean that, as the weather starts to become more autumnal, it could feel a little chilly in class—children will want their school jumpers!
New protocols mean the school is very unlikely to close a class due to covid, individuals awaiting a PCR test result or who have tested positive are asked to isolate as before but siblings, unless they are showing symptoms, are able to attend as normal. The school no longer has the responsibility to contact close contacts of people testing positive—that has gone to the Test and Trace service now. If you or someone in your household tests positive, test and trace will help you identify people who have been close contacts over the last few days and who should get themselves tested. Only if a very significant portion of a class or of the school tested positive at the same time would we be asked to close a class. We take our advice from this from Public Health England.
Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions, we can’t promise to have all the answers but will we do our best to give you a sensible response.
Choking Hazards in Packed Lunches
Just a reminder that we ask parents and carers to consider the safety of items that go in to school lunch boxes and playtime snacks.
We get a bit worried when we see grapes and cherry tomatoes and other round items that size as we know how dangerous they can be if a child inhales them by mistake. These items are so much safer when they are sliced in two.
Similarly we worry about peanuts, cashews and the like—as well as the choking hazard we worry about our children with nut allergies. Nuts are a great source of protein so we understand why, especially for vegetarian children, they are an important of the diet but perhaps they could be kept for meals and snacks at home?
Our Morning Routine
We have loved seeing how quickly the children have got used to our new morning routine. They enjoy having a play together before the bell is rung and are coming to line up so quickly—especially brilliant Year Four this week. Seeing them dancing together—led by the amazing Mrs Armstrong (what a great addition to our school she is) - makes me very happy and proud to be Principal of this lovely school. Teachers tell me that having the children lined up and calm before they go into class is making for a calmer and more orderly start to the day.
Thanks to the parents who suggested we use the big top gates to let the main school in leaving the lower area to the early years foundation stage children—that has made things much calmer for the youngest children. We have added the orange site fencing just to try and make sure we don’t see climbing up or jumping down from that wall—we hope to replace it with something a bit more attractive before too long.
One more thing—a big thank you to everyone who has heeded my request that we keep dogs off the school grounds. It slightly breaks my heart as I enjoy meeting people’s companions so much but there is no doubt that some of the children are feeling more comfortable as a result and I can feel a bit easier letting children run and play in the beautiful gardens knowing the possible hygiene issue is resolved. Thanks all.
Margo and Mr Whatsit
recommended age 4+ 50mins family show
Do you have an imaginary friend? A little piece of mischief only you can see?Sophia’s imaginary friend is called Mr. Whatsit. No matter where Sophia finds herself living, he’s always there with a new joke to tell and a new game to play.But when Sophia moves into her new foster home, Mr Whatsit finds himself unimagined! Now Sophia has a new imaginary friend – the glamourous, grown-up Margo.Can Mr. Whatsit’s childish playfulness keep him from being unimagined for good? And with her imaginary friends competing against each other, will Sophia manage to find her forever home?PaddleBoat Theatre Company present an interactive make-believe tale where the real and imaginary collide, and friends are never far away.
You can see Margo and Mr Whatsit at the Jubilee Hall in Chagford on Saturday November 3rd. Tickets available from the library
Check out these opportunities for Saturday Morning Junior Tennis Coaching at Okehampton and District Tennis Club.
Click here to read this week's newsletter, most of which is a Sports Day Photo Special.
On Thursday 8th July we met to give a space for parents and carers to consult on the school' proposed Relationships and Sex Education Policy. The policy has now been adopted and can be found under 'policies' under the 'Key Information' tab - I will link to it here too. Added for your interest is the slide deck Mr Finch used to lead the meeting. Do take a look and get in touch if you'd like to learn more.
We all managed to join the excursions to the swimming pool on Thursday – actually a first for me too, as due to Covid, swimming was paused last year. What a wonderful resource for the school to have on its doorstep and yet another string to the Chagford bow!
On Tuesday, the echoes of children’s singing in their collective worship in the amphitheatre with Miss Rowe, wafted through the early sunshine; spirituality was in abundance. It is an exciting prospect for the future to connect our Trust family of six church schools more closely and I have been speaking with members of the Exeter Diocese about planning ahead to one day, when times allow, to find our place within the wider CofE school family of 133 Diocesan schools.
What a delight to see the front gardens of the school bursting into leaf and flower – such a beautiful panorama for any passer-by or visitor to the school. A huge thank you to our wonderful team within the Gardening Committee who continue to work so hard to keep it looking fantastic. The children skip through the pathways at the beginning and ends of the day – just joyful!
I am sure you will join me in welcoming Mr Finch back to school on Monday 28th June. I am sure he has been very much missed by all of the children and staff. Mrs Robertson is also expected to return to school following a short period of absence on Tuesday. I know that Hawthorn class will have missed her and will be delighted to have their teacher back in front of them.
This week Year 6 had the opportunity to sharpen their cycling skills and earn their Bikeability Level 1 and 2 badges. Thanks to their instructor, Margitta, they learnt a huge amount about how their bikes work, how and when to change gears, how to signal their intentions to other road users, when to give-way to traffic, what road markings and signs mean and much, much more! All of the Year 6 did our school proud, had a lot of fun and Margitta was very happy with their behaviour and respect for road safety. Well done Y6! “Bikeability is fun and I learnt a lot about being safe on my bike!” – Charlotte G
Year 4, 5 and 6 Cricket Coaching
Over the course of the summer term, children in upper Key Stage 2 will receive expert cricket coaching from Chagford Cricket Club’s very own cricketing superstar, Andy Manning! Andy has shown us how to bowl, field and bat as well as play some really fun games! “It’s a lot of fun and we got a taster for what the game of cricket is really about.” – Rosie P
Personal Items and Toys
It has once again been brought to our attention that, unfortunately, we have still had a number of toys and personal items being brought into school from home, including the odd electrical device. Sadly, aside from the obvious risks of damage, loss or causing a distraction, it is also causing unnecessary fallouts and squabbles amongst the children during playtimes, which then results in the item being confiscated and causing further upset to the children. Please can we request your continued support on this matter, with regular bag checks etc, to ensure that items from home aren’t sneaking their way in and causing issues during the school day - many thanks for everyone’s help with this!
Oak Class – Blast off…..
“We had an exciting start to this week in Oak Class. The children were filled with awe and their drinks bottles with air, after our exciting online session from Wonderstruck. In the session, the wonderful Peter demonstrated how to build aeroplanes and rockets from paper and a humble straw. We used our bottles as a launcher and once our projectiles were loaded, it only took one short, swift squeeze and we were away!
The initial build process was fiddly at first but once the Oaky dokes got their basic chassis constructed, they used their new-found knowledge of the forces: thrust, lift and drag, to make slight adjustments and improve their designs.
As you can imagine, the classroom was like a pre-Covid Heathrow without an air traffic controller!
Mr Frewin tried his best but he left his ping pong bats at home and therefore had no control whatsoever. Most of his time was spent dodging supersonic straws and dishing out sticky tape so unfortunately no photos were taken. Sorry!
It was a super afternoon and fun was had by all.”
Mr Frewin and Miss Barton
Children in Hawthorn and Birch have been working hard on their Tutankhamun masks over the past few weeks with Mr Dray, and they are coming along fantastically. It has been so lovely to watch their progress and to now see the end result – superb effort! Also, a big thanks to Mr Dray for all of his hard work with this project, as I know he has provided a big helping hand along the way!
Thank you for your support in helping us to ensure that our Chagford CE Primary children are smart and well-presented in school uniform each day.
We now have a number of clothing items without owners, piling up in lost property, most of which are, sadly, unnamed. It is such a shame to see so many items, quite often new, looking sad and destined for the second hand shop. It is especially difficult for us to match these up with their owners when they are unlabelled, and even trickier for the children when they are trying their best to rummage through to find something. We fully appreciate that names wear off and labels lose their sticky over time. However, if everyone could please try to periodically check that names are still legible, this would really be appreciated.
May I wish you all a restful weekend and we look forward to seeing you next week for another packed agenda of learning and rich opportunities for our children of Chagford.