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ST PETER’S SCHOOL GOVERNORS

NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2020

 

A  BIZARRE YEAR CONTINUES

The school has undertaken some extraordinary work to keep the children safe and to reassure parents. I was personally thrilled by the response from parents to my request for assistance for the thermal imaging equipment (over ÂŁ6k!) which gave parents the confidence to return children during the last few weeks of the Summer Term. By the end we were at 97% attendance, significantly more than any other state school in the country to my knowledge. This work has continued this Term with similar levels of attendance. I know the children are thrilled to see their friends, new teachers and support staff again and I was able to visit today for the first time since February to see all the children in action, clearly already happy, settled and learning.

For all this we have to give the greatest possible praise to all the staff, especially the Headteacher and teaching team who have worked so hard throughout the last 6 months. I must also thank the parents who have felt so confident in the school’s arrangements. I have heard nothing but praise from them for the efforts made by all concerned.

The catering and school meals team, led by Steph, has coped so positively with ever changing requirements in an extremely difficult environment to produce and supervise the meals provision. Their work has been both extraordinary and exemplary. I must also pay tribute, on your behalf, to our Site Manager, Errol Strachan, the office staff who have kept calm and carried on and the LSA teams who have been amazing. We are truly blessed to have them all!

 

GOVERNOR UPDATES

We had our last School Development Day on Thursday, April 4th 2019 and should have had our next on April 2nd 2020. Of course, this could not take place. This was especially sad for this year’s School Council, who had worked so hard with me to research their ideas ready to present to the Governors. I am delighted that we were able to take their views on board and the Governors were able to agree sets of Priorities for the current year at a subsequent “virtual” meeting. Our first meeting this term will be this Thursday September 17th, now using Teams. No (entirely) new Governors have recently joined us but Mrs Matthews, from Class ML has joined us as the new Staff Governor, replacing Mrs Kingston, who left at Christmas. We would thank Mrs Kingston both for her contributions as Governor and also for her work as our Social Secretary. She will be a hard act to follow!

 

SCHOOL ASSOCIATION (SPSWSA)

Yet again thanks to all of you who continue to support the wonderful School Association in raising the funds to allow us to remain an Outstanding School. It has been a very difficult year for them since March with hardly any of the plans made being able to be executed. At this time I do not know what funds were raised but it will not come close to the £50k+ that has been managed for the last many years. I must pay a particular final tribute to the work of Vicky Dorrington (Chair) and Kim Johnson (Vice Chair) and their team. As many of you will know, 2019/20 was the last year when these two wonderful inspiring parents were “at the helm”. They have now passed over to Becky Assenheim, Claire Restall and Carly Mahone from September. They all made a great start with refreshments at the Fun Run/Sponsored Event for the Festival on Saturday. As ever, I cannot speak highly enough of the value of the work all the parents do in supporting their children’s school so well. THANK YOU. I would wish the new Team every success in continuing this excellent work.

 

PARKING

It has been a great start to the new school year. The scheme to have the staff parking at the back of the Church park, showing STAFF notes in their windscreen has enabled double parking in the last rows and given an extra 14 places without blocking.  Each day that I have been there, all cars have been able to be accommodated and no tempers have been lost! Thank you most sincerely for your cooperation

The path down to Weald Park was further improved by our friends at Brentwood Council so that it is fully passable for buggies etc in all weathers. I have walked it to check! A parent, Mr Stefan Reade, continues to liaise with the Park and has the means of securing the “inner” park, so there is space for upwards of 60 cars every morning and afternoon. The Park is also planning to increase security in that area very soon, hopefully.

We have supplied the Park with details of new parents who wish to use this facility. If you wish to take advantage, please contact the School Office when advised! Places are now allocated for this term but we hope to offer more for the Spring Term. Historically, with all this space, we have, in the past, had irresponsible parking on Wigley Bush Lane, endangering the lives of our children. I am advised that there is far more consideration this year and the addition of yellow lines at intervals has greatly improved the Lane being passable. Please do keep this up at all times to keep your children safe. I am sure no parent would be the cause of injury to another child – or their own.

In short, please think carefully about the needs and safety of us all.

 

STAFFING

 There has been one new member of staff, Miss Stone who has class 1S, as we continue to increase our pupil numbers. When I started as a Governor, we struggled to admit 45 children and had less than 315 on roll. For the past several years, we have had over 200 applications for places. All the new staff and the 62 new Reception children seem to have settled in very well in their first term and are making great progress, according to the reports which have reached me.

 

CELEBRATIONS-AGAIN

We now have 388 on roll and three new classrooms in the last 3 years.  We still need one more space in order to be able to accommodate the 420 children as a final target. Mr Gunn and I are both passionate that this should be a Church School but also, even more so, a Community School. For all but a very few children, we have achieved the aim of admitting all the catchment children every year. This has been very expensive – the last additional classroom, completed by the Summer half term, cost £90k – and we are not a private school! The funding for all this is mainly due to the efforts of the School Association but we have had some very generous personal donations.

In that context, we hope that the new Swimming Pool will be able to open around the end of the October half term. I went inside recently and it is stunning! It will be a substantial and valuable addition to our provision for many years to come. It has been made possible by the generosity of Blueprint Properties, the company owned by one of the parents.

 

FINALLY – AUTUMN 2020 AND ON

 As I write, on Monday September 14th, I do indeed feel almost cheated by the Coronavirus pandemic. It has changed life as we know it. Easter was silent in church and any rejoicing at Resurrection was muted as we were daily advised of the rising death toll across the world. I had to write to advise that the Patronal Festival would certainly not be on the weekend of June 26th to 28th.  Tentative plans were made for a date in September and a few events took place last weekend. I hope that you managed something of a break over the enforced last 6 months, whilst managing to juggle home educating, home working and caring for your nearest and dearest all at the same time. At least the days remain warm but all seem fearful for the days ahead.

A final personal note. Two years ago I said that it would be my last year as Chair. I was persuaded to stay on for a further year and, strangely, the highlight for me was the last day of the Summer Term, when I was privileged to be asked to lead the Leavers’ Service and also to take an active part in the final Leavers’ Evening. Both were magical Events, for which I must thank the inspirational 2020 Y6 Leavers’ parents. They made the day so special for their children. I have now been persuaded to stay on, if elected, for a further FINAL FINAL year, God willing!

It remains a wonderful school in which to be involved!

 

Chris Luck Chair of Governors

September 14th 2020

 

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