Another beautiful week here at Chagford Primary. A special shout out for the moon which has been as beautiful as I can ever remember seeing it. The early mornings just before we let the children onto the playground have been gorgeous with crispy, crunchy frozen grass and sunlight just starting to wash over the hills towards Castle Drogo. What a privilege to be here.
Year Two News
I wrote to parents of children in year two earlier today to let them know about an exciting new addition to the class structure and the staff team here at the school which will be coming into effect after half term. It's no secret that our Year two cohort has grown over the last few months and it is now at the size where we have enough pupils to employ another teacher and to split off Year Two from Year One making our school a true one form entry.
Of course this is an upheaval for the children which we would prefer not to have had to make them go through mid year. The Year twos will miss their Year One friends and vice versa, and those Year Two children who have been studying in Year Three have done incredibly well there gaining in confidence from the increased level of challenge and revelling in the Key Stage Two curriculum. We will be absolutely respectful to the children's feelings and do our best to manage a calm and orderly transition.
Our new staff membre is Ana Quieroz. Ana gave me a few words to introduce herself to you, this is what she said;
My name is Miss Queiroz and I'm really excited to be the new Year 2 teacher! I wanted to tell you a little bit about me before we meet in February. Teaching has always been a passion for me. My career in education began in Brazil, where I trained to teach science. In England, I worked as a TA and later as a teacher at different schools in Devon, where I supported children of all ages. Wherever I went, I did my best to foster an environment in which all pupils felt safe and confident to participate, make mistakes and learn from them.
In my spare time, I like playing with my two cats, taking long walks, reading and meeting up with friends. When the weather is good, I enjoy kayaking and gardening. I also love talking about Brazil, where I'm originally from and sharing interesting facts about my culture.
I look forward to meeting all of you and working together!
Thanks so much for welcoming me into your lovely school!
Helen Gilbert from Med Theatre joined us at school on Thursday to lead a workshop for Year Four. The class worked outside in the Forest School area to generate ideas then came back inside to write. They are invited to take part in a poetry competition looking for verse inspired by the beautiful Teign Valley.
The competition isn't just for children, there are categories for young people and adults too - why not have a look at the competition and see if you'd like to take part - just click here OUR RIVER - Med Theatre
Got something for the Newsletter?
A parent caught me after school today and gave me something to think about. She suggested running a competition for parents and carers to contribute something for the newsletter - the winner gets the glory of seeing their words in print and one of our much sought after 'Chagford Champion' certificates. I might even buy them a drink at the pub.
Of course that got me thinking - one of our key values at Chagford Primary is 'Community' and this newsletter could be a great way to reach out to other people in the community. If you'd like to write a piece for us that would be absolutely lovely - whether that's about an interest or a campaign, a poem or some nature writing - that would be great but it would also be fine if you'd like to give me details of a community event or group that would be fine too. Just email it to me email@example.com with 'Newsletter' in the subject line and, presuming it's appropriate, I will include it in the next letter.
The Ethos Group are a gathering of people who come together once every few weeks to help to set the direction for the school and help to devise actions which will help us to embed and express our values. We would love the group to be truly reflective of the diversity of our school community. That means we want people of different faiths and none, people with a range of philosophies and outlooks. If you have an interest in being involved do have a word with Mr Finch or drop him an email. We have some dates sorted out for the rest of the year and we'd love to welcome you to a meeting to see if you'd be interested in coming more regularly.
It is very important that children get seen by the dentist regularly. I know from my own experience how hard this has been during the pandemic and how backed up some of the dentists are. I am reasonably forgiving over appointments that really have to happen during school hours. I would say, however, that by far our preference is for dentist's appointments and other appointments such as opticians and so forth to happen out of lesson time so that children don't miss out on parts of a sequence of lessons. The example I like to give is of a series of lessons in which children will plan, draft, redraft and publish a story. If your child misses the lesson where the children plan out their story they may only have missed ten percent of the teaching but they will struggle to take part in the rest of the sequence. If our teachers a re doing their jobs well their teaching isn't a series of stand alone lessons but a journey through a cohesive whole. So, of course, if your child needs an appointment and there really isn't any time they can go, we are going to say 'yes' but if it's possible to make an appointment that doesn't disrupt their learning we would be grateful if you could take that instead.
We have a new display up in the little corridor outside the hall. For mysterious reasons we have started receiving postcards, letters and messages from some of the UKLs most interesting and talented writers. We've collected these together and now we have a whole board full of messages from our favourite novelists and poets. Have a look at this display and see if you or your children know any of them - they all come with the Mr Finch seal of quality. There's still space for a couple more authors so, if you can think of someone who ought to be up thre let us know, we can but ask!
The wonderful poet Dom Conlon sent us this poem from his book with Viv Schwartz 'This Rock That Rock - Poems Between You, Me and the Moon. It remembers a story from astronaut Charile Duke about a question and answer session with a group of children. They asked all the usual questions - what did you eat?, How did you go to the loo? What did it feel like? - until one child asked a very different question.
Did you meet my grandma on the Moon?
She was like roadside dust,
when I last saw her,
gathered upon the bed
as my family and I
saying our goodbyes
until the white winds changed
and she was gone,.
Did you meet her on the moon -
she'd have risen to greet you
lifted by the ancestors
who once held her as a baby
an she'd have looked at you
as she used to look at me
when I sat upon her knee
to tell her of the dreams I had
of becoming an athlete leaping
across continents or
a racing driver turning
the circle of this world in my hands -
but that was when she was here.
So did you meet my grandma on the Moon,
and did you tell her of your dreams?
On Tuesday of this week we worked together with Paul Martin of Devon Wildlife Trust to plant a new hedgerow alongside the fence by the amphitheatre. Every child in the school from EYFS to Year Six planted a tree so that's one hundred and fifty new trees in our grounds. We chose tree species that would directly benefit wildlife and bring beauty into the grounds- hazels for the nuts, elder for the berries, maple for the glorious autumn colour - and we avoided things with thorns so as to make sure we aren't risking too many scratches.
I like to invite the children to think about how the hedge will look when they are grown ups, and how it might look if they have children who come to Chagford Primary School some day. Perhaps their children will be able to pick elderberries and sit in the shade of a tree their parent planted. This new hedge and the new mural in the hall feel like real promises to the future of the school and to the community.
We were especially pleased with our team of Wildlife Champions who worked as runners throughout the day to fetch groups for their chance to plant a tree and who helped the younger children - superstars every one.
Huge thanks to Devon Wildlife Trust for facilitating this project.
Information for Parents/Carers-Attendance
We have recently updated our attendance procedures across Dartmoor Multi-Academy Trust. The link between a child’s attendance at school and improved outcomes and life chances is well documented. We want to help all children and young people to fulfil their potential and get the most out of their education.
In line with our policy and government expectations all schools have the following procedures:
· If a child’s attendance starts to drop the school will speak to the child/parent and discuss the reason for absence and any support needed.
· After 10 sessions of absence, you will receive a first attendance letter (there are 2 sessions in the school day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon).
· After 15 sessions of absence, you will receive a second attendance letter and you will be invited to have a meeting to discuss how we can best support your child to attend school more often. You will also be offered an Early Help meeting.
· If your child’s attendance does not improve you will receive a third attendance letter and the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) will be informed.
Of course, there will be unavoidable absences for illness or medical appointments, but we want to minimise these where possible. Pupils and families will not be penalised for legitimate non-attendance due to Covid 19.
No term time holidays will be authorised unless there are exceptional circumstances. Every day in school counts, even a small drop in attendance can lead to a child missing a significant part of their education.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with school at any time if you have any queries around attendance expectations and procedures.
It’s Not Ok—campaign
This week, the whole of our Trust have launched the, 'It's Not OK' campaign across all its schools to say no to all forms of sexual violence and sexual harassment. Children at St James have talked about different ways they are kept safe in school as well as the characteristics of positive relationships. We have revisited the NSPCC Pants Rule and are proud that our children know who they can talk to should they feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any time.
For further information about how you can keep your child safe, please visit underwear-rule-parents-guide-children-autism.pdf (nspcc.org.uk)
Changes to the self-isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19From Monday 17 January, people who are self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after 5 full days if they test negative with a lateral flow device (LFD) test on both day 5 and day 6 and they do not have a temperature. For example, if they test negative on the morning of day 5 and the morning of day 6, they can return to their education or childcare setting immediately on day 6.
The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. All test results should be reported to NHS Test and Trace.
If the result of either of their tests is positive, they should continue to self-isolate until they get negative results from two LFD tests on consecutive days or until they have completed 10 full days of self-isolation, whichever is earliest.
Anyone who is unable to take LFD tests or anyone who continues to have a temperature will need to complete the full 10 day period of self-isolation.
Further information on self-isolation for those with COVID-19 is available.
This new advice has been added to the school's updated Risk Assessment which can be found here.
Dogs on the School Site
Huge thanks to everyone who has remembered that we are asking to keep all dogs off the school site. There are issues of hygiene - we want our children to be able to play freely on the site without the risk of coming across something that might make them sick or worse, we have issues of allergies and we have some children who are very scared of dogs and for whom it can compromise their feelings that school is a safe place. Thank you so much for you support and cooperation in this matter.
Happy New Year! I have a very strong feeling that we are owed an absolutely stonking year so my heart is full of optimism and positivity for 2022.
It's easy to be positive at the moment with the new mural in the hall that fills my heart with joy every time I go in there. If you haven't had a chance to see it yet do take a peep in through the doors of the hall and feast your eyes on the colours, the shapes and the three bounding hares.
Our mural was created by artist and illustrator Anna Higgie who has painted works for multinational businesses and huge festivals and who did this for us at barely a snip of her usual fees. You can have a look at Anna's website here. She put her heart and soul into the job pulling some very long days to make it work. Anna was assisted by Bruno's mother Ione. The project was paid for from the proceeds of the auction of promises that took place way back before the pandemic so, if you were involved in that event, give yourself a pat on the back - it was very worthwhile. Thanks to the team who ran that event and raised the money and particularly to Ione who coordinated Anna's project and Casper who provided and erected the scaffold towers.
The children have been blown away by the mural and I've heard lots of excited talk about it - favourite colours, favourite shapes, the meanings and names of the hares. What a lovely welcome back to school for the new year.
Welcome to Miss Pollard
It has been just wonderful to see Miss Pollard settling into the Early Years Foundation Stage area. She is a terrific teacher and a great positive force. The children seem to have taken to her immediately and the atmosphere in the room has been an absolute pleasure to see.
We have had no positive tests at all amongst staff at school over Christmas or up to now. We currently have two children isolating after positive tests over the school holidays. This is atypically low nationally at the moment and things could change very quickly however, for now, we are very thankful to be able to run the school almost normally.
As the omicron variant is so very contagious we are being very careful indeed and not letting visitors into the school unless there are very specific reasons why they should be in the building. Sadly this means no volunteers just at the minute - we will be back on that project as soon as we can safely relax that protocol.
The government advice no longer recommends keeping children to 'bubbles'. Instead they recommend keeping a flexible approach so it may be that if staff need to isolate and there are small numbers of pupils in the class that we amalgamate classes. We would let you know if we were doing that. Hopefully we will all remain well and there will be no need for such an action.
In school we ask the adults to wear masks when in communal areas but we don't ask them to wear masks in the classroom. We keep classrooms well ventilated and that means they can be a little chilly so it is worth sending children in with a hoody or other warm layer they can slip on if needed. If you or your child have any of the symptoms associated with covid please do book a PCR test and get it checked as soon as possible and do, please, let us know what is going on for you.
Before Christmas we had a plan to work together with Devon Wildlife Trust and have each child plant a tree along the fence line bordering the amphitheatre to create a new hedgerow. sadly the weather was very rough the day we had it planned and the wildlife trust staff were advised to cancel b their bosses. I'm glad to say that we are back on for next Tuesday and by the end of that day we hope to have one hundred and fifty baby trees settling their roots into our soil. It might be wise for children to wear stouter shoes than usual or to bring a pair of wellingtons on Tuesday as some of the flimsier trainer style shoes we see on the playground may struggle with a spade.
The vast majority of parents and carers are making sure that their children are in school by ten to nine ready for the bell that calls the children to line up. We would love to see the number of children arriving after this time diminishing so that we can all start the day together with positivity and togetherness. The side gate is locked by nine and after that children are asked to come to the front of the school to enter through reception. Of course we all have days when we can't din our glasses or we meet an HGV reversing past Sandy Park but as a general rule we would like to have all children on the premises by ten to nine so we start the day in an orderly way.
At this time of year it's a good idea to slow down for a minute and think about what we are grateful for. I know how blessed I am to have the support of so many people here at Chagford Primary.
First of all I want to say a big thank you to Shauna Pindard who has been teaching our Reception Class this last half term. Shauna has done a sterling job, she has improved the standard of the provision that the children receive, she has ensured they have made excellent progress - particularly in their phonics - and has been a friendly and kind member of staff right across the school We will really miss you Shauna.
Next I want to say a huge Thank you and well done to Miss Paddon and Miss Simpson, both started with us this year and both have made a real impression on us. They have maintained positivity and raised expectations. I take my hat off to both of them - I'm not sure I did so well in my first year of teaching.
Of course I have to say a huge thank you to Mrs Armstrong who has come into our school and quickly put her mark on it. She has been singing with the children as well as creating opportunities for great writing and helping the children to become really proud of their presentation. She has also helped me in every way. We are so lucky that she has come to us, she is, in one child's words 'a total legend'.
I can't go any further through my thank yous without saying a proper thank you to all the brilliant parents and carers and members of the community who play an important part in the life of the school. Thank you to Mel Holyoak, Chloe Brooks-Warner and Sue Bifani for all their work with the PTFA, to Phillipa O'Brien for the magnificent Grotto. Thank you Emma and James and all the members of the Local Stakeholding Board who challenge us, hold us to account and have our backs when we need support. Thank you to Paul Seaton Burn and other members of the church community who help us express our identity as a Church of England School by coming into school to lead collective worship, welcoming us to the church and who are there to lend an ear when I need a thoughtful conversation. Thankyou to The gardening group who do so much to make our school a beautiful palce to be - and especially to Nicky Scott for helping us to get the Ridan composter up and running again.
I need to say thank you to every member of staff whether they clean the school, support children, supervise lunchtimes, support learners, run the office, take care of maintenance, or any of the other strange and wonderful roles people play in schools. It's a surprisingly big team for a not huge school and everyone in it plays an important part. Thank you to each and every one.
lastly, but certainly not least - thank you to the parents who send their children to Chagford Primary and to those children who come along. It's one of the happiest moments of my day each time I unlock the gates and greet the children as they run into school. I couldn't be luckier. Parents, thank you for trusting us with your children. Children, thank you for being you.
The Grand Christmas Raffle made just over £1000 for the school which is absolutely incredible and will go a long way in helping to support and enrich the Children’s experiences and learning. Huge thanks to everyone that bought tickets and to the generous people and businesses that donated such brilliant prizes. Thank you!
A big thanks also to Friendly Faces and the team at 56 The Square who made £221.50 for the PTFA selling mulled wine at Chagford’s late night shopping events.
We are so, so lucky to have amazing energetic people running our PTFA - as head teacher I am moved every day by their generosity with their energy and their time. The money the team raises, with the whole community's support, makes a real difference to the quality of education we are able to offer at Chagford Primary.
As we head into the new year with a surge of covid cases in our community and beyond it is hard to predict what the start of 2022 is going to look like. To me it seems very, very unlikely indeed that our government will impose another general lockdown but it does seem likely that, should the surge be as large as many are predicting, we might see a return to 'bubbles' and classes learning from home for a while to stop a cycle of infection.
We at the school are doing everything we can to break the cycle of infection in school - we are taking lateral flow tests regularly, we are taking Key Stage One and Key Stage Two for Assembly separately, staff are wearing face coverings in communal areas and so on.
If cases in school do spike and we are advised to send children to learn from home for a week or for however long, it will be important that children are ready to go on Google Classroom straight away so I really do advise you to check children's log in details are still working and to let us know if they are not. If we can fix that ahead of time your child will have a better experience if we do have to go online.
We currently have one child isolating at home following a positive PCR test, there have been no further cases in that class so we do not believe that the school was the location of transmission. We are aware of many cases in the town and in the community so we know that it's important that we, and the rest of the community, remain vigilant.
The Jesus Room Poem
Last week, at our outdoor carols and poems event, the Year Sixes read a number of poems related to Christmas. One really stood out for me. This poem, by Christopher Woodland, was new to me - perhaps it is familiar to everyone else and I'm just late to the party, but it reminded me of Eliot's Little Gidding, which is one of my all time favourites, and reminded me how Christmas can speak very deeply, if we let it. The message of Christmas, the sacred come to live amongst us, can speak to us whether we are Christians or people of any other faith, whether we are pagan, or humanist or people who profess no faith at all. I wanted to share the poem with you all and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The Jesus room is not a chapel
Or a church or a shrine
Or anything like that.
It is not even sacred ground
in town or garden.
The Jesus room is inside the head,
inside the heart, inside the body,
Inside the feelings, but no one knows
Quite where the exact location is.
It is not really a room at all
And the Jesus discovered there
Does not come care of religious dogma
Or some archbishop or priest
Or politician or minister
Or anybody like that.
Indeed when you go into the Jesus room
You will find no one there,
Only space… emptiness… energy.
You will, however, feel the vibration
If you are very still and quiet.
And as you tune in to the power of the place
You will sense a presence, a mystery,
You will hear the poetry of the Jesus room.
By Christopher Woodland.
Christmas Eve Carols
Paul would want me to remind you of the Carols at the church on Christmas Eve. I very much hope to be there myself and would love to see members of the school community there. We will sing a mixture of carols old and new in what I am told will be a welcoming and informal atmosphere. The event has been moved outdoors in response to covid regulations which should, if the weather is kind, make it feel even more special. The even should start at six but do check ahead of time in case any details have changed. It is broadly possible that some people might choose to cross the road to the pub after the singing which could be very jolly.
Christmas Card Competition
Many of our children took part in a Christmas Card Competition to design the card for our friends at helpful holidays. Manna Hine from Beech Class won with an absolutely delightful Christmas scene which made us very happy. Manna won a set of the cards to send and a book token. Even better, as the winning school, Helpful Holidays gave us a book token for one hundred pounds which I took straight up to Astor's Bookshop and exchanged for a great stack of books which we wrapped and gave to the children as a Christmas gift. Thank you so much to Helpful Holidays - it was lovely to be able to do this.
Carol Concert and Santa's Grotto
It was such a huge pleasure to see so many children, parents and carers at our outdoor carol concert on Thursday. We may have got a little damp but my word it raised the spirits. The teachers, led by our wonderful Mrs Armstrong, had been practicing the songs with their classes for the last few weeks meaning that every corridor I walked down was filled with Little Donkey or some other Christmas classic. The work certainly paid off and I was really impressed with the children, especially considering the conditions. We intend to record and share the Year Six children's poetry reading - they did an amazing job but it was hard to hear over the sound of rain pattering on anoraks and we really want you to be able to hear them.
Thank you to everyone who came along. Next year we hope we'll be able to host you all in the hall but, if we can't, I'll be happy to sing with you all outside again.
Huge Huge thanks to Lotte's mum Phillipa who did an exceptional job or organising a fun and very covid secure Santa's Grotto as part of the late night shopping event on Thursday. It filled my heart with happiness to see so many families queuing up the road for a little bit of Santa's time and a big slice of Christmas magic. Phillipa has been organising this for, I think, six years and she more than outdid herself this year. I saw a lot of happy little people clutching cuddly reindeer and the parents seemed to have been more or less undaunted by the lenghty wait - it seems santa was up for a bit of a chat with everyone who came through. Thanks to each and every person involved in this lovely endeavour - Philippa, the elves, even good old santa himself.
Celebration of the Earth
Following the COP26 meeting in Glasgow the church here in Chagford has started hosting 'Celebrating the Earth' events for the whole community - not just for regular churchgoers but for anyone who would like to take part in a contemplative celebration of our shared home. The first of these took place in early December, celebrating Winter Trees. One of our Year 3 pupils took centre-stage, processing up the aisle behind the Yule log, and presenting the yule to the audience. This took courage and confidence, and we are extremely proud of her for not faltering, even when her mischievous headdress decided to fall off mid-sentence!
Do look out for more of these events - we hope, as members of the community and as a school to be more involved with them as we go on.
At the time of writing we have no confirmed cases of covid in the school but do have one pupil awaiting the results of a PCR test. We will of course let you know straight away if that test does come back positive. WE are alos aware of a number of positive cases in and around the wider community so we are not in any way complacent. In line with the raised level of cases in Devon and in line with government guidance we have taken a few steps to increase our covid security at school.
Sadly, for the time being, we have had to cut down on visitors to the school. We are not allowing people into school unless they already work here or have a very strong need to be in the building. This means that just in the very short term we are not able to allow parent volunteers in the building. We wonder if there might be a way to involve reading volunteers online. Our colleague Miss Robertson has been teaching individuals and small groups on line for a few weeks now and it has been hugely effective. If you would be interested in piloting this and we have processed your DBS do please get in touch.
We are now insisting that adults in the school wear face coverings in all communal areas such as the foyer, corridors, hall and staffroom. We do not ask children to wear face coverings.
For teachers having close face to face interactions with children we are strongly advising the use of a visor to protect both parties.
Staff take two lateral flow tests each week - most choose to take these on Sunday and Wednesday. Colleagues who work across schools - such as Miss Jordan our brilliant French teacher and people in leadership positions across the trust are taking daily tests to ensure they don't carry the virus between school settings.
While we do not expect another lockdown as we had last year and the year before we have to accept that it is at least a possibility that children may be learning from home again at some point in 2022. To ensure we don't miss a beat if individual children, classes or even the whole school is asked to learn from home we would like to try and make sure that every child has access to their google classroom account. We will be communicating on this next week but it would be immensely helpful if you could work together with your child to make sure they have access to their username and password and attempt to log in over the weekend. We will be able to reset passwords where necessary and to confirm accounts for pupils who have started at the school since the last lockdown.
Just to reiterate, we aren't expecting another lockdown and we don't have access to any special information on this but, should anything happene to necessitate learning from home again, we would like to be ready to go - not on the back foot!
There are just a few days left to enter the Chagford School PTFA Grand Christmas Raffle! Thank you to those that have already bought tickets, the draw takes place on Wednesday 15th at 8pm.
Be in it for the chance to win some brilliant prizes:
Chagstock 2022 weekend family ticket
One night in a luxury handcrafted Shepherd’s Hut
Two Bridges cream tea for two
Hill and Coombe 4kg organic beef box
The Dartmoor Shepherd hot water bottle cover
Load of seasoned barn stored logs
Fat Mouse Diary £30 voucher
Folklore £20 Voucher
Dartmoor’s Daughter £20 voucher
Black’s Delicatessen Goodie Bag
Plus prizes from Uptown, Bay Brows and Beauty, Bloom Hairdressers, Fare of the Field flowers, Chagford, Made by Morwenna, Chagford Pharmacy, Chloe Brooks-Warner Jewellery and more!
Thank you so much to our incredibly generous donors.
Tickets are only £1 each, simply follow the link to Rafall.
Please share far and wide! Thank you for your support, all funds raised go directly to supporting our local School and enriching the Children's experiences and education.
Carol Singing Christmas Eve
If you enjoyed the Christmas carol concert on Thursday evening you really must make an absolute appointment to come along to the carol singing at the church on Christmas Eve at six p.m. The event will be held outside to ensure it can be covid secure. It would be wonderful to see a good contingent from the school there. The Reverend Paul assures us that there will be a joyful and inclusive vibe and a good mix of carols for all tastes. What a lovely way to make Christmas Eve special and to take a little time out of the day to celebrate with the community and reflect on some of the universal messages of Christmas.
We are looking forward to our very well ventilated and socially distanced Christmas Event next Thursday. Starting from five o'clock each of the classes will sing Christmas songs and our year Six pupils will read some Christmas poetry. The PTFA will be helping to make us all feel extra seasonal. We think the event will last around three quarters of an hour. After that we will return all children to their parents care and invite families to walk up into town with us where Santa will be in his grotto and all sorts of good things will be going on. We will hope to find a quiet spot to lead some carol singing and hope that some families will choose to join us for that. If you have friends or neighbours you think might enjoy the event please do invite them along. We would love it to be an event for the whole community.
This year Father Christmas will be visiting Chagford as part of late night shopping on the the 9th of December. He’s setting up his Grotto at 14 The Square, next door to The Three Hares Gallery. He is looking forward to see everyone there! Don't forget to buy your tickets for the PTFAs online Christmas Raffle.
Our SENDCO, Chloe Bennett, asks that people make a note of her email firstname.lastname@example.org. Her email has recently changed and there is a risk that emails sent to the old address may not reach her.
Church of England Advent Calendar
If children are getting excited for Christmas and you'd like to create opportunities for a daily reflection on the true meaning of the festival and ideas for a daily activity, why not take a look at this online Advent Calendar from the Church of England. Each day you can click on a window to reveal a verse of scripture with a link to Christmas and a suggested activity which might be crafts, drawing, writing or musical.
Family activities Advent calendar | The Church of England
Reverse Advent Calendar
Mr Finch would like to invite you to take part in the 'Reverse Advent Calendar'. Each day during Advent I put aside a gift to donate to the food bank. Sometimes it's shampoo or shower gel, sometimes something to make life with a small baby easier - nappies, wipes or little snacks, sometimes it's a christmassy treat. I like to take these along to the food bank on the last day it's open before Christmas.
Would you like to join with me in this? Drop off any gifts to the office and we'll see they get to the food bank in time to brighten someone's Christmas Day.
Over the Christmas break the amazing mural artist Anna Higgie will be working in school to create a huge artwork in the school hall. We are very, very excited indeed to see what she produces. Thanks to Ione for organising this. Check out Anna's inspirational website here.
Spare Shoes and Baggy Trousers
At Chagford Primary we are very proud that our pupils go out play in every kind of weather. We want them to have access to the outdoor spaces all the year round. At this time of year however we do have a problem with children getting very damp and muddy at playtime - they can be very uncomfortable as a result, some parents are less patient with children getting their shoes and trousers muddy each day than others and our cleaners find the mud trodden into the carpets more than a little irritating.
For the coming weeks we would encourage children to bring a change of shoes to school which they can wear outdoors at break and lunchtime if they are wanting to play on the field. We suggest they also bring a pair of extra baggy tracksuit trousers to pull on over their uniform to save them from the worst of the mud.
Have you seen the new playhouse in the Foundation Unit garden? It's just amazing and the children have loved playing in it this week. A thousand thanks to Henrietta and her partner who spent most of last weekend building the house and getting ready for the children. It's a spectacular addition to the area.
Thanks also to Bella's dad who has given us the car seats we need for our play car project. Let us know if you would enjoy joining us to build a car on a pair of pallets.
Favourite Author Competition
Mr Finch wanted to find out who the children's favourite author's were so he set a competition for them to take part in. With prizes for Key Stage One and Key Stage Two it was all to play for - all they had to do was create a sheet saying who their favourite author was, give some information about the author and say who they would recommend that author's books to. We had entires celebrating some of the best known authors; Jacqueline Wilson, JK Rowling, Dav Pilkey of Dogman and Captain Underpants fame and 'Tom Gates' author Liz Pichon all made appearances. Even more heartening were some slightly less well known authors - Chagford's own Roland Chambers for example. The purpose of the competition was to give every child a chance to think about favourite authors - some said it was very hard to choose which of their many favourite authors to focus on: music to my ears!
We were pleased to see so many different authors represented - our children have real passion for their favourites and must be reading widely to have encountered such a range of different authors and genres.
It was very hard to make a final choice of winners but in the end we decided to give the KS1 prize to Tabitha for her clearly very heartfelt tribute to Andrea Beary who write Rosie Revere - Engineer and Ada Twist - Scientist amongst other books. The Key Stage Two prize went to Benji for his page on Willard Price - author of thrilling wildlife adventures. Two very different authors but two very passionate readers.
The purpose of the competition was to give every child a chance to think about favourite authors - some said it was very hard to choose which of their many favourite authors to focus on: music to my ears! At the end of the day, we don't minf if it's fiction or non-fiction, graphic novels or poetry, the argos catalogue or football annuals. What our children read for pleasure is up to them and we want every one of them to find something they love to read.
We would appreciate it enormously if parents and carers could make an absolute habit of booking school meal preferences online for every day. We lose good learning time every morning going through choices child by child and this sets back the start of the day. It would make every teachers life a little easier and every child's learning day a bit more effective if we could remove the need to go through the rigmarole of lunch register in class. If you aren't sure how to book lunches or are unclear on how to check the menu, pop in to the reception or give us a call - Elaine will be happy to talk you through it.
Christmas Lantern Parade
We are in the final stages of finalising the School's Contribution to the late night shopping extravaganza on 9th December. We are thinking that we will have an event here at the school where the children can sing and speak poetry without too much crush and noise so that we can really hear and celebrate them. After that, in their parents care rather than ours we will head up into town together and make some joyful noise. Mr Finch and Mrs Armstrong will bring their accordions along and we hope parents, carers and pupils will join us in some Christmas songs.
We had the school photographer in school today taking individual pictures of each of the children and group photographs of siblings. We are very embarrassed indeed that we didn't manage to get news of this to you before the day. The booking was made before the summer and somehow didn't synch to our diaries for this year. Huge apologies for this. Fortunately the children were in their smart school uniforms and any who were not looking smart were able to borrow from the supply of spare uniform we have to sell. The photographer from Tempest was an absolute miracle worker making sure everyone looked their best so, all in all, I think no harm was done. Children are bringing home their proof photographs for parents and carers to see either today or Monday and I understand all ordering is done online. There was a large number of children absent today due to sickness so it may be that we look into having the photographers back later in the year to snap up those who were away today.
Broken Glass in Play Park
A member of the public has alerted us to the presence of broken glass in the playpark and told us of a recent incident where a young child cut their hand whilst playing there. Worryingly, there seems that some children who have been playing up at the play park have been finding bottles in the bins or nearby recycling bins and playing games with them that end up with bottles getting broken. I don't need to tell parents just how worrying and dangerous this is - the possibilities for serious injury are genuinely high if children are playing with glass and interfering with bins and kips. We will speak about this in school but we would advise parents and carers to speak to children about this too.
Snap Chat and Social Media
A parent contacted us in concern to say that their child had spotted a friend's post on SnapChat - while otherwise entirely innocent had included information which made their home easily identifiable. We include internet safety in our Computing and PHSCE curriculum and teach them to think very carefully about information that they share online - including images. In a world where many thousands of people might be able to see an image we share, we have to assume that just one or two of those people might want to do us harm.
SnapChat sets a lower age limit of thirteen years so no children at Chagford Primary School should have their own Snapchat account. The same is true for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We do not believe that children of Primary age have the social development to safely negotiate the complexities of Social Media and we know of too may children whose lives have been a misery through cyber bullying - we really do encourage all parents and carers to ensure they are fully aware of and fully in control of what their children are doing online. Let us know if there is an appetite for a parent/carer workshop on this subject - we'd be very happy to run one.
You can find advice from the NSPCC here.
A call out for donations if you have any of these items and would like to donate them to the school.
The fabulous Chagford Primary gardening group have been cracking with bringing our raised beds back to life. After a long period of neglect over the pandemic the beds are now receiving life giving care in the form of layers of cardboard which is blocking light and helping the perennial weeds to dies back and make better life choices. The cardboard will break down into the soil and eventually we will be able to use the beds again making sure that every child can experience the joy of planting, nurturing, harvesting and enjoying. Thanks to the team.
Children in Need
Children came to school today dressed in clothes that make them happy to mark Children in Need. They brought in money to donate to the charity and a little bit more to buy cakes kindly provided in a Bake Sale by the very wonderful Oak Class. The Bake Sale alone raised £106. I can't wait to hear how much the whole day raised when we've had a chance to bring it all together and count it all up. A special shout out to Ed and his amazing inflatable Alien outfit. I think he made us all happy.
Late Night Shopping
Late Night Shopping is back again on the 2nd, 9th and 16th of December. It will be lovely to see the town bustling and full of life and a great opportunity to support some local businesses that you don't always get to in your busy lives. Santa will be receiving visitors in his grotto on the 9th in aid of the PTFA so do give him a visit. Around that time there will be a lantern parade and singing from the children - we'll confirm dates and times for that when we have it a bit more settled.
Celebrate a Life and add a stasr to the Memory Tree while raising funds for cancer research and for Hospicare.
Thank you to the very kind people who have offered to volunteer at the school. We are busily processing DBS checks and references to make sure we stay within Safeguarding regulations and will be getting them into school to work with the children as soon as possible.
If you would like to volunteer to help out do have a word with us. We'd love to recruit people who can give some hours each week to read with children, to help supervise playtimes and lunchtime, to support outdoor learning and to run clubs after school. One little boy has very specifically asked if there could be an after school art club so if you know of anyone who might enjoy running an after school art club one day a week do please let us know. We'd love to host one.
Call out for donations
This week we are particularly looking for...
Last one - and this sounds a bit mad but go with me - broken paving slabs suitable for crazy paving as we work on the labyrinth in our new peaceful, mindful area. We'll also be asking children to collect 'special stones' to add into this so keep your eyes open!
As you will know we recently changed our school vision statement to 'Community, Challenge, Care' - Challenge is right in the heart of that and this week our Year Sixes made me the proudest principal in Devon - maybe in the world. They have written simply stunning poems taking Kit Wright's 'The Magic Box' as a model and have risen beautifully to the challenge to take care not only over the sense of the words but also over their presentation. The children are just so proud of their work and so eager to share that I couldn't pick just one or two for the blog - they all had to be there. I hope we can share this work with parents soon - you would be very, very happy with your young people. I'll admit to having a tear in my eye as I looked through this work - it just goes to show what Mrs Armstrong and I always say - when you raise the challenge the children will rise to it. We are investing in some fountain pens now and there's mutterings of a calligraphy club to be started soon.
This time of year I drive to Chagford from my home in Crediton in the dark and it's just starting to get light as I wind through from Whiddon Down. I don't mind though as it gives me some absolutely stunning views. I love the wreaths of mist and how they drape themselves across the fields. I doubt there are many other schools with such a beautiful view from their play field.
We were very impressed and moved by our pupils' respect for the two minute silence on Thursday. At the end of playtime - just before eleven - we gathered them together and stood together to observe the act of remembrance. Some of the more keen eared children were able to hear The Last Post drifting down the hill from town.
The school will be represented at the church on Sunday by a group of Year Sixes who have practiced a poem to read. Mrs Armstrong will be there with them and would be very glad indeed to see any other children from the school who would like to attend the service of remembrance led by the Reverend Paul.
Children in Need
Next Friday is Children in Need Day.
We are asking everyone to wear something that makes them happy and to bring a donation for the charity. What makes you happy can be different for everyone - some people might like bright colourful colours, other people might like comfy tracky trousers, another person might feel happiest in their school uniform - whatever makes you happy is fine with us.
At the end of the day we will have a Cake Sale organised by Oak Class - all other families are very welcome to bring cake along too! Do bring a little money along at pick up time to buy a little snack.
Come and Work at Chagford Primary
We will very shortly be advertising for a new teaching assistant and for two new Mealtime Assistants to join the team at the school.
We would be immensely grateful if you could put the word out far and wide so we can get some great applicants in. The teaching assistant job is being advertised as one one year fixed term contract, they would most likely be working with Key Stage One (that's Year One and Two) and would need to be a very flexible person able to work with groups large and small and turning their hand from teaching phonics to helping with PE to sorting book bags - every day is different. You don't necessarily need experience to do this job but you do need an ability to get on with people and a positive 'can do' attitude.
Mealtime Assistants work through the children's lunch times to supervise the hall, watch over play and ensure everyone is safe.
We have a work party organised for tomorrow morning - there's a good few jobs to do so do come along if you can. If the weather is dry bring a paint brush or gloves and secateurs. If you have any outdoor paint in really bright colours - even just the end of a pot - do bring it along and we will try to rainbowify the EYFS area's fence. If the weather is really foul we might give it a miss.
You will know that the church has been filled with light and sound these last few weeks creating an environment for contemplation on our responsibility to our planet. Oak Class took a trip to the church to look at the art installations that have been created and to add their thoughts and wishes for the future. They were so enthused by the visit that my heart sang a little. Well done Oak Class and thank you to the church for the warm welcome.
Composter and Litter Picking
We are super proud of our Litter Picking volunteers who managed to gather a whole sack of litter and rubbish from around the school playfield this week. Especial thanks to Benji who brought the group together and even brought his own litter picker to school. Thanks also to Surfers Against Sewage for the gloves and rubbish sacks.
Also this week old friend of the school Nicky Scott got the Ridan Composter going again with the help of our new 'Little Rotters Club'. All the food waste in the school - from potato peelings to half eaten fish fingers, can go into the big magic Ridan which is insulated such that the composting food waste can get to a really good temperature. It's great to think we'll be putting far less waste into landfill and that we'll be able to produce our own, rich, soil conditioner.
Disabled Parking Space
A very passionate plea here. PLEASE can people leave the two parking spaces marked as disabled free. We do have members of the school community who need access to these spaces and if someone parks there 'just for five minutes' and that is the time that the people who need the space arrive then it causes real distress. We have looked into purchasing more signage but if you just remember that the two spaces nearest to the school reception are out of bounds except for the people with blue badges then it should be simple. Please leave those spaces free for those who really do need them.
Devon Wildlife Trust
We've been really lucky to have Paul Martin from Devon Wildlife Trust working with us to help the children learn about the rich natural life around and about in our grounds. Paul worked with groups of pupils on Monday. They became nature detectives to work out what had happened to the green woodpecker whose feathers Paul had found on the ground. The evidence pointed towards a sad end in a foxes jaws. They also investigated some of trees in the grounds including our friend the big old oak. We thought of questions we could ask about the oak - how old is it? How did it come to be planted there? How many creatures live amongst it's branches and leaves?
Paul will be back regularly for a while culminating, we hope, in a grand tree planting day as we create a mixed native hedgerow along the fence protecting us from the drop into the amphitheatre.
Fantastic to see Chagford children out and about taking part in sporting fixtures. Just a few months ago it seemed impossible that these things would ever start up again and now they have - it's great a great experience for the children. This week Mr Frewin took one group of children from Year Three and Four to a football competition in Tavistock. On Thursday he took another group of children to a Cross Country competition at Castle Drogo. I don't think I've ever seen a teacher as proud as Mr Frewin was when he got back to school after those events. Absolutely splendid effort from the children - they are true #ChagfordChampions.
Thank you to those that attended our PTFA AGM on Wednesday. It was heartening to put together what we all managed to achieve over the 2019-20 academic year despite many challenges. It was wonderful to see some new faces too. If you’d like to be involved in any way please contact Chloe (email@example.com), everybody is welcome!
This Christmas will see the return of Santa’s Grotto on Chagford’s Late Night Shopping evening on 9th December alongside a school lantern parade. We will also be running a Grand Christmas Raffle, if you are able to donate a prize or have a contact who may donate a prize please get in touch. We will be asking for smaller donations to make up the popular Christmas hampers also. Thank you!
Parents – Your school needs YOU!
There is a vacancy for one Parent governor to join the Local Stakeholder Board for the Three Hares. Local governors are a vital part of the Trust’s connection with schools and community and Parents are an important voice within the governance structure.
To qualify as a Parent governor, you must have at least one child on the school roll and must be eligible under the national governing body rules.
Nominations are now open, until close of business on Friday 26th November.
All nominations will then be put forward to a parent vote, which will take place electronically.
The nomination form must be completed in full, and can be found on the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust website:
Margo and Mr Whatsit: Paddleboat Theatre Company
PTFA News - Autumn Festival and AGM
Thank you to everyone that came along and supported our School Autumn Festival. We had a wonderful day and raised a brilliant £1178.61 for the school.
Huge thanks to those parents, grandparents and friends that helped on the day, Jill Millar and Ralph Mackridge for the loan of the Apple Press, A.L Martin and Sons for a great deal on their delicious Old English sausages, Thomas’ Bakery for a discount on rolls, Pam of The Fruit Loop for lovely English apples at cost, Julia of Beachwood Bakery who did her very best Prue Leith and judged our Cracking Chagford Cake Scoff and provided winners’ vouchers, Max H and Lucy for setting up their fabulous fruit kebab stand and a few very generous families who donated all the food, drink and prizes. It felt very special to hold an event in our fabulous school grounds again for such a joyful occasion.
We need you! To keep running our School PTFA successfully, raising money and putting on events such as our wonderful Autumn Festival, we really need more helpers. There are many ways to be involved without signing your life away to the PTFA! Baking a cake, donating a prize, helping at events, designing posters, sharing ideas….
The PTFA is holding its AGM on Wednesday 10th November in the school hall (or outside of the weather allows) straight after school pick up at 3.45. Children are welcome to come to play together/read/draw etc. and there will be cake! We are hoping to get through our AGM business and move fairly swiftly onto Christmas plans. Everyone is very welcome to come along and hear about how the PTFA has helped the school already this year and our future plans. If you can’t make it but would like to be involved in any way, please email Chloe (firstname.lastname@example.org) to join the PTFA contacts list. Thank you!
Volunteering at Chagford Primary School
Are you interested in volunteering time to support at Chagford primary School? Perhaps you would like to offer to hear children read, running or helping to run an after school club or to help supervise at lunch time. During the pandemic we haven't been able to invite parents and carers in to play these roles but we think now the time is right to get going with volunteering again.
We will be sending a form out on paper for people to express an interest in volunteering. We will need anyone who is going to be working with pupils to have a full DBS check. There is a cost to this which we will happily met but as it is not cheap we will need to ask the people whop we get checked to make a regular commitment - perhaps two hours a week.
Look out for that form and do consider if you would like to come and help out and what you might be able to offer.
Read Write Inc 'Book Bag Books'
We have had difficulty getting Beech Class children's book bag books changed as often as we should have. We would like to apologise for that and we think we now have a better system running and this problem should not present itself again. Do please let us know if your child's book has not been changed in a week - our school values are community, challenge, care and we absolutely want to be challenged to get this right.
The Read Write Inc Book Bag Books are an odd sort of book. They exist to help the child focus on and practice a particular sound and a particular spelling pattern. If the story in the book is about a frog who sat on a log and made friends with a dog then that book is really all about 'og' and we want the child to read that book till they are absolutely confident with the sound and spelling patter 'og'. That means the sometimes (ok - quite often) the RWI books aren't absolutely thrilling in terms of plot development or character - those aspects of reading aren't the point of them.
Of course, we want all our children to have a love of reading and, for all their many strengths, the RWI books won't do that by themselves. Every child needs a mixed diet of 'phonically decodable' books which build their skills and confidence in reading - that's what the Read Write Inc books do - and exciting, funny, engaging, interesting, silly, moving books which build the love of the holistic aspects of reading.
I think of the Read Write Inc books as the equivalent of practicing my scales or learning to use a tool. Practicing the C major scale or how to use a file is not exciting of itself but it's a necessary part of building towards playing in an orchestra or making an amazing sculpture. And, of course, there is a great satisfaction to learning to do something really well, even if it is just playing a scale or using a tool. I see children who are immensely proud that they can read to me from the RWI Book Bag Book even if, in terms of literature, it's pretty thin stuff - they are looking at marks on a page and turning them into sound and meaning, and that is pretty amazing of itself.
We ask that you read each book that comes home a few times - at least three - until the child is really confident and no longer stumbling over it - particularly the sound and spelling that book is focussed on. We also hope fervently that you'll be spending some time every day enjoying great books together. Poetry books, story books, non-fiction books, funny books - all sorts of books. We need both sorts to build a confident passionate reader.
If you'd like us to run a workshop on reading with your child just say - we would be very happy indeed to do so whether for a handful of parents and carers or for a whole throng.
With covid restrictions increasingly lifting we are able to increase the range of clubs we are offering to pupils.
You will have received a letter inviting children to sign up for an after school choir club with Mrs Armstrong on Mondays. Mr Finch will be starting Samba Club after school on Thursdays and you will receive a letter to sign up for that very soon. We have our Saints Sports Club on Mondays and Craig's Football Club on Fridays. We also have more clubs coming along soon. Our ideal is that every child in the school will be able to access a club that appeals to them each term. If you have an idea for a club you'd like to offer please let us know and we will see if we can work to make it happen.