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Newsletter Autumn Term 2021

first half

I hope that everyone has had a restful summer and managed a few days away. I cannot tell you how touched and surprised I was with everyone’s generosity at the end of last term. I used the vouchers to get some paddle boards. They have been a life saver keeping the family entertained after we had to cancel our holiday.

We finally got some clarity on the 16th of August about what the restrictions in school will be from Monday. So here goes:

Things will pretty much get back to normal. The school day will start at 8:45am and finish at 3:10pm. It has made life easier in the car park having everyone finish at the same time. It might sound strange but having some people arriving and others leaving caused more issues. The juniors will still have the same teaching time as lunch is now 50 minutes instead of an hour. This again worked well as we stagger the lunches.

There will be no bubbles so clubs can run again and so can worship each day. We have decided to still use the large main gate as the entrance as it just makes more sense than the small side gate. In the mornings we will still group the children in year group waiting areas, again this caused less issues with children running into each other in the mornings. We would still ask parents who are waiting with their children to let the children come into school before you leave the school. This just makes life easier and safer for the children.

If there is a confirmed case in the class, the children and staff will not have to isolate. Instead, they will have to take daily tests. We will of course keep you informed if there are any cases so you can make your own decisions. If there are more than two confirmed cases in a class, then we have to get further advice and we may have to go to home learning in that class for the required period.

If your children do have to isolate, then there will be work on the website. It is under COVID and is the Autumn term work.

There will be no requirement to wear masks in the playground, but we ask parents not to come into school unless they have an appointment. If you do have an appointment, then please only come in through the main office.

We all do have to remember that it is still out there, and we all need to still act responsibly so that we can have a normal year. We cannot insist, however we would ask all children and family members to have a lateral flow test on Sunday. That way we know that we are starting school from a position where we are all clear.

Breakfast Club

This is now back up and running for all years each day. It will be in the infant area- same as pre COVID. It runs from 7:30am. Breakfast will again be provided. You just need to ring the bell by the infant doors, and someone will let you in.  If the sliding gate onto the playground is closed, please just come in, but if you could close it on your way out that would really help us.

Safeguarding

The safety and happiness of the children is our number one concern at school. The staff are trained each year so that we make sure that we are vigilant and always listen to the children.

I am the lead for safeguarding and Mrs Reynolds is the deputy. We have more thorough training every two years and then train all the staff in school each year. We also get updates from Essex County Council on things we should be aware of.

Some of the relevant topics are County Lines and also peer on peer abuse.

These might seem a million miles from us however peer on peer abuse can happen at any age. We need to make sure that the children know it is right to tell someone if anyone touches them or says things that make them feel uncomfortable. The most vulnerable groups are children with learning difficulties and girls.  If we teach the children now, firstly to respect each other and secondly to always tell, then the children should be in a good place for secondary school.

As well as the work we do through the curriculum, we have booked in the Two John’s to deliver the safety training. For some it will be the first time you have heard them speak. For others it will be a relevant top up. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to attend. No matter how young your child is. You need to see what is coming and what threats there are to our children online.

The Two John’s are police officers who specialised in tracking predators online. They deliver honest advice about how we can keep our children safe. It personally has really helped my family. The date is 29th November.

Behaviour

The behaviour of the children in school is something that we are very proud of and one of the reasons that the children do so well here. We have a clear behaviour policy where poor learning behaviours, disruption, rudeness or violence are simply not tolerated.

If the children make the wrong choices and disrupt the class on a low level, then they will be given a warning. If it continues they will get a yellow card as a further warning. If they persist then this moves to red. A red card means that they miss their play time and you will be informed by the class teacher as to why they have lost their break. If they get a second red card in a term then I will contact you to discuss the behaviours.  If the child continues and gets a third, they will be removed from the class for a period so the other children’s learning is not impacted. With our children a yellow is usually enough and then they work hard to come off it.

If the child makes a more serious wrong choice such as swearing, being rude to an adult, any racist, homophobic, or threatening behaviours then they are sent straight to me. Each incident is then thoroughly investigated and depending on the severity, a sanction will be imposed from missed breaks to exclusion.  As a parent I know that no one likes it when their child is in trouble and the initial reaction is often one of hostility and anger.  However. it is important that you back the school and deal with the issues at home as well so that they do not reoccur.

Uniform

We are back to normal service with the uniform. This is something that we are really proud about and it does make a difference to the children’s learning behaviours.  We expect all children to be in full school uniform each day. This includes caps, berets and blazers. On PE days the children will get changed in school, rather than come in in their kit. For PE the children should have blue shorts- with the lines going down and a red PE top.  A school hoody should also be worn.

No trainer socks should be worn, and only black sensible school shoes are permitted. Long hair should be tied back- boys and girls – with a gingham, plain blue or red small bow used.  If hair is cut short, then it should be no shorter than a grade two.  Please stick to the uniform of the school.

There has been a bit in the press about uniforms and the cost. We do try and keep the number of logoed items to a minimum. We also have a great second-hand uniform department that is run by the school association. The uniform in there is high quality, often brand new. To help with costs please also label your uniform. I had to get rid of a lot in the summer as it had no names on so we could not return it. If anyone struggles with the costs of any aspect of the uniform, then please do not hesitate to contact me so we can help in confidence.

I know that there have also been supply issues with some of the uniform. Please do not panic as this is not your fault. If berets are not in stock then you cannot wear one so please don’t worry; they will be in in a couple of weeks. It also seems that book bags are out of stock as well.

Clubs

The clubs were obviously hit hard last year with lock down and year group bubbles. We lost several providers due to the restrictions making it not economically viable. We are hoping to replace these clubs, but we have to make sure that the providers are safe and provide value for money. An initial list has been circulated with the clubs that the staff are running along with football, basketball and rugby. I hope that as the year progresses then the number of clubs will increase.  Unfortunately there will be a delay to choir starting, due to staff absence.

Building work

As always it has been a busy time at the school with a number of projects that we have been running. It has been a really hard time to do any work as there have been shortages of materials, which have set us back.

The pool is amazing and nearly there. It will be ready for swimming after half term. We have also had a new classroom built for the year 2. This is a little behind schedule- but again is an amazing space. This should be ready in about three weeks.

We have had a new storage shed fitted on the wasted ground behind the astro. This will mean that the resources are much more convenient to access.

The solar panels are now fully functional and provide a lot of free electricity for the school.

We have also had a booster fitted so we can get Wi-Fi in the first aid hut on the playground. We have a new app that records all the incidents that require first aid. This means we can analyse who is coming and where the injuries happened much easier. It also has a great feature that sends you an email if your child has a minor head bump. If you get an email to say your child has banged their head, please do not panic. This is just replacing the bumped head letters. If it was a serious head injury, we would call you personally.

Packed lunch and Natasha’s Law

We have just sent out the packed lunch policy for you all to familiarize yourself with. Please can you make sure that you stick to this as we have some very vulnerable children in school. One slight lapse could prove fatal. Make sure that there are no nuts in any product you bring into school.

Playtime snacks should only be fresh fruit- no packets unless they only contain fruit pieces also please do not send your child with breakfast bar type snacks.

There is also a new law coming in in October called Natasha’s law. This is to keep people safe when packaged products are broken up into individual portions and then given out. I have included the guidance that we have got.  The parts that will directly impact you as parents are when you send sweets in for birthdays- keep them in packets. The second is if we do a cake sale and you bake, you will have to include the ingredients on the cake.

Iain Gunn

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