On Tuesday evening (10th November), we were pleased to welcome many parents to a virtual ‘Teams’ meeting to follow up on our first meeting held at the start of term in September. Please find below some notes from the meeting, which we would like to share with you all, especially if you were not able to attend. These will also be available to view on our Facebook page.
SCHOOL UPDATE – Tara Penny/Elizabeth Underwood
Feedback suggests a renewed positivity as a result of this new dialogue between the school leadership and parents.
School Library Service
Thanks to two generous donations from Chagford parents, we are delighted that the school library service has now been reinstated at both Chagford and at North Tawton. Book boxes of the recommended reading titles, as well as topic boxes to support learning in the wider curriculum have been ordered.
School Grounds development
A Gardening Committee has been formed and has started work. Chantal Sorell has been involved. We have explored the vision for the school grounds together.
Trees from Woodland Trust have arrived. Preliminary work to prepare areas of the school is taking place in readiness for planting.
Having launched our new curriculum, the next stage is to thread outdoor learning through it – this is a task for staff, with specialist advice/involvement.
We have appointed a Premises Officer – a shared role across the Three Hares and St James currently. His role, when he starts, will be to manage the buildings’ compliance, maintenance tasks, health and safety etc.
Year 3 teachers
We are pleased to have two teachers who will take over the teaching in Year 3. This means that Tara Penny can focus entirely on her leadership role as Head of School, driving the implementation of the curriculum, and further improving standards. Lisa Rowe will also be able to extend her specialist music teaching across all classes in the school. This will also facilitate some release time to enable subject leaders to drive improvements in their curriculum throughout the school.
Following the success of the arts auction, the PTFA have managed to secure an additional £1500+ from Gift Aid.
Murals to enhance the interior environment of the school are to be commissioned for school. We have an artist who will design a bespoke mural reflective of Chagford’s location within Dartmoor.
The Arts Fund will also be used to enhance the library, to create an inspirational space to promote the love of reading.
Enhancing the environment within the sensory room will also be funded from the Arts Fund.
We are hoping to add some sculptures to the outdoor areas.
Since launching the new website, significant work has taken place this term to ensure that the website is compliant with the content that it displays. In addition:
Teachers are in process of being trained and are developing their skills to provide class blogs which will provide feedback about learning that has taken place during the week, along with some photos of activities, displays, samples of work etc. This is especially important as parents now have limited access to classrooms due to Covid.
A Three Hares Update blog will also be a feature, keeping the link with our other two schools alive.
Within the curriculum section, an overview of planned learning across all subjects is available to parents on the website under Key Information. As the curriculum is implemented fully, this will be updated.
School IT equipment
This was a concern expressed by leaders at our last meeting. Since then, we have heard that the DMAT have approved use of our capital reserves to purchase a class set of 32 chromebooks. This will mean that computing can be delivered properly with all children in a class having access to their own device. A ‘Buy Your Own Device’ scheme is in process, but the DMAT are going to implement this carefully, probably from Sept 2021 for some year groups.
Teachers are being trained in the use and delivery of Google Classroom. This will enable children to access learning set by their teacher in school and at home. Children will all have their own Google email address and be taught how to use it to access work in school, in the first instance and then homework activities.
The aim is that, should we need to close a class bubble or a full school lockdown be necessary, learning can continue effectively and efficiently.
New staff laptops have been purchased using capital reserves, meaning all teachers will have a new device with which to deliver quality teaching and learning.
Our Vision Statement
Our Vision Statement for Chagford and the Three Hares primary schools is being worked on at the moment. We want it to reflect our school and community values. Parents and the community will be involved. Our ethos forum will also be re-established shortly, where discussions around pertinent questions will take place to further develop and explore our school’s ethos.
Cross in School Hall
We have commissioned a cross to be made for the School Hall. We would love for it to be made from a large piece of locally sourced wood. If anyone knows of or has a large piece of suitable wood, please let us know! (We have noted the details of the three offers made via the meeting’s online “chat” - thank you!)
Pupils on roll
We have an admissions number of 30 children in every year group. We are working hard to attract more families to come to the school.
This year, only 9 children joined reception but 19 children left Y6 to move on to secondary school in July – a drop of 10 pupils. There were some families who left the area over the summer period or elected for home-education. One family was unhappy with the school provision and moved to private education. An exit interview took place with the parents.
We have some new children joining the school between now and January. This provides challenges due to mixed age classes which are reaching capacity. Elizabeth and Tara are developing a strategy with our Local Academy Committee which plans for an increase in numbers. Every child that joins the school brings additional income the following academic year.
With this second lockdown we have had to make some temporary changes to our provision of extra-curricular clubs and activities in line with government guidance. We hope that these will begin again in December, if lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Children’s ideas include a swimming pool and more playtime, which are common requests by nearly all school councils!
Playtimes, especially during this time where bubbles have to be kept separate, need to be enhanced. Additional resources have been ordered and will enable different bubbles to keep their own equipment separate.
We have a new phonics programme, Read Write Inc. which comes with wonderful new books, book-bag books and teaching resources. Due to Covid, we have not been able to have the face-to-face training, so being reliant on online training and videos has made the launch a little slower than we had wanted. However, phonics teaching is still taking place and the transition to the new scheme is planned.
When training is complete, and the scheme is fully launched, parents will be invited to attend a workshop (Reception/Years 1/2) so that you will be able to support your children at home.
Although Christmas celebrations will be a little different this year, we are aiming to do as much as we can, within government guidelines. Lisa Rowe is planning another Chagford spectacular which will result in a socially-distanced performance for children, parents and community to enjoy.
FUNDRAISING - Mel Holyoak
Fundraising to date:
LOCAL ACADEMY COMMITTEE – Emma Neath
Parent Governor elections have not yet been completed as we are due to meet with parents of South Tawton and North Tawton next week, in the same way as we have done at Chagford. The process to elect Parent Governors will happen soon after that.
QUESTIONS AND CLOSING COMMENTS
Chris Mount – Chagford Cricket Club. We are in touch with Chris to discuss re-establishing the School’s association with the club following lockdown. Chris is keen to offer his services as a professional coach across the Three Hares, as well as an extra-curricular club, and participation in OCRA matches. The school has already established contact with Chris in this respect.
Thank you to all the parents who were able to attend the meeting and we look forward to the next occasion, at the start of the Spring Term.
Thank you for your continued support.
Elizabeth Underwood and Tara Penny
13th November 2020