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.