Early birds and night owls
I am aware that there is high demand for places in before and after school clubs. Governors were made aware of this in our first meeting of the Autumn term. I do not underestimate how hard this is for working families but this does not mean we have any immediate solutions. Our lead governor for resources is going to support the admin team to see if efficiencies can be made in bookings, reducing challenges to families and the substantial administrative costs of our managing the club.
As communicated earlier this term, we cannot use our delegated budget for the education of all children for before and after school care for some. This means the club operates as a business; it must fund itself and currently does so. Increasing size requires capacity in administrative staff, child care staff, premises and cleaning all be increased. We are currently unable to fill all the mid-day assistant roles we would like and posts starting early in the morning and finishing early evening with a long break in the middle might well be hard to fill. The administration of the club alone takes many days work in a week with many different voucher schemes, reconciling the accounts, managing daily lists of children and responding to the many emails and questions we receive.
I have also mentioned at the KFA AGM that this might be a possible long term fundraising project if, and only if, any provision could have benefit for children who do not use the club. However, the KFA could not fund raise alone for the space a larger club would need. School leaders must put first and foremost the educational provision in school which is our core business.
Despite the challenges outlined above, I would like families to know that this is receiving our attention and will be discussed in the new year with senior leaders and governors.
Meanwhile I would like to thank you for your cooperation and understanding. Please remember that the frontline staff you encounter whether in the administration or care for children have no responsibility for the number of places and I appreciate you not taking out your frustrations on them.
Staff and I have really appreciated the kind messages of support which have been passed on to relevant staff. With the first performances today I am hopeful that everyone who logs in and/or watches the online recording will find something to bring them some Christmas cheer. We are also hoping to photograph all the children performing on the day and will post these privately on Google Classroom.
Many thanks, Catriona Stewart :-)
from the governors
Dear parents and Carers,
The ongoing coronavirus situation is a big concern, especially in schools. The priority must be the health and safety of the staff, children and the wider families and carers. Only this evening the Government have imposed further measures to try to reduce the spread of the virus. Whilst we all hoped that this Christmas would be more ‘normal’ the Omicron variant has unfortunately put a stop to that.
We recognise Christmas performances are important for children, parents and families and part of the calendar that we all look forward to and that this is disappointing for all of us including the school who had made efforts to Covid proof this by having separate class shows etc., but the current increased rates make the decision to move online the right option. This still allows parents and carers to see their children perform albeit virtually.
We support the head in this decision and thank those that have acted with kindness and support despite their disappointment. We also thank the KFA for their support at this difficult time.
Some parents/carers have contacted the head to express their upset regarding the Christmas Performances being shared online instead of being live performances. Whilst we support your right to comment and express frustration, this has now become untenable. The headteacher has explained carefully why she has made the decision she has and any further comments received will not be commented on or responded to. The Head, as I’m sure you would expect, and support is busy supporting children in their education.
We wish you and all your families a wonderful and healthy Christmas,
Lesley Nelson (Chair of Governors) and the Kingsmead Governing Body
Following the Prime Minister's press conference and the presentation by Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, I have reluctantly taken the decision to not have children playing instruments outside in the run up to Christmas. This has been explained to children who understand it is to reduce risk of them having to isolate over the holiday. We will hopefully be able to ask some of the more professional folk helping with recordings to make recordings of the Recorders on Friday and Band. The KFA cake sale will be taking place in classrooms in order to avoid crowding on the playground.
Face masks when outside of normal working areas and on the school grounds alongs with the one-way system remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Thank you for your support.
thank you kfa
I would like to thank the KFA and in particular the chair and a parent who has volunteered to come in on two days to record children (the KFA funding where the parent volunteer is unable to be in). Thank you too to another parent who has volunteered their support. Their useful and kind efforts mean that children's performances can be shared with you in the best way possible.
Children may not be performing to a live audience but they will be stars of a silver screen. Younger children have missed nursery performances and have been unlikely to attend theatre productions the past few years. Mrs Cotton was wondering if, by performing for a video, then being able to watch themselves performing, they will have a better understanding of performance and so, when they can perform live, the experience will be better for them and the audience. It is an interesting point. Not to say that we are not very disappointed that we won't be doing a live performance this year but I appreciate Mrs Cotton reminding me that that there is little in this life that is 100% terrible.
Christmas performances - response to disappointed parents and carers
I have noted comments from a few emails expressing disappointment a the decision I have taken in respect of Christmas performances. In truth, we too are disappointed that performances staff have worked hard with their classes on are moving online. We are planning to do this as well as we can with a live and recorded performance. I would like to thank the KFA who have worked fast to find people who can record performances (twice, one live streamed and one with close ups) and do a more professional job that we education staff could manage. Thank you so much Mrs V and your team of volunteers, you are priceless.
I have taken the decision today in the light of the data on infection here in school, locally and nationally. I keep abreast of what scientific advisers from SAGE, other scientific voices and politicians are saying. I keep abreast with my own union, the NAHT; our General Secretary Paul Whiteman has written to the Secretary of State:
“I can honestly say that the feedback we are receiving from school leaders is that the pressure on them and their teams is higher now than at any point in the pandemic. The testimonies I have received from our members in the last week or two paint a picture of a system where many schools are coming under unsustainable strain. They are doing everything in their power to continue to provide the best education possible, but I am deeply concerned at how fragile the current situation is.”
As has been the case since March 2020, messages are mixed. As headteacher I must put my moral and civic duty must be a higher priority than my rights, liberties or indeed popularity. I take my job seriously and make decisions having balanced risk with benefits in the situation I find myself.
With a whole class performance, it's not reasonable for the families who are willing to come into school (even if having taken a lateral flow test or wearing a mask - both of which would be impossible to enforce), to come into school when the children of families unhappy with the risk (given their circumstances) are in the hall. I have to consider the welfare of all the children, all the families and all the staff. Many in our community want to minimise the risk of spending Christmas in isolation. Many want to reduce the risk to them being unable to see their own extended families over the holiday. Staff and families have critically vulnerable relatives in their household; meaning that positive tests mean not only their ten day isolation but also loved ones having hospital treatment and appointments for very serious conditions delayed until the whole household are clear from infection.
I note the comments that the pubs, restaurants and so on are all open but have to say that, be that is may, I lead a place where most people are unvaccinated minors and where we have loco parentis. Therefore it's arguable that I have more responsibility and should exercise more caution than if I were a pub landlord. Adults make a decision to go to the pub. Children's school attendance is a legal requirement.
Children who have special parts will still play those parts. Performances have not been cancelled. I know some teachers have already discussed with children and I know in one class the children were unanimous that they'd prefer to do their show online and reduce the risk of having to isolate over the holiday. There will be a Live performance streamed via Google classroom and we will also provide a recorded one with close ups. Children's disappointment will be mitigated or increased depending on how the adults who care for, guide and support them in school and at home respond. If we encourage them to be disappointed while accepting the situation has been made with the welfare of everyone in mind their emotional wellbeing will be better than if they think it is just unfair.
I understand that many families will be disappointed, some will be disappointed and disagree with the action I have taken today. Whether you agree or disagree I would ask that you respect the decision.
email re performances
Dear parents and carers,
Mindful that infection rates are concerning and families will want to see relatives over the holiday, I have reluctantly taken the decision to move the concerts, starting this Friday, online. We will keep to original timings and are hopeful that we can do a Live Google Meet where children can wave at family at home (will post on the Google classroom) and also a recording to share.
This decision has not been taken lightly. We have consulted with colleagues in other schools and considered the current infection data in our school. It comes down to the fact that we would not want any family to be isolating over the holiday due to having mixed and want to do everything we can to give everyone the best possible end to 2021.
Recordings will be shared on Google Classrooms and so children and families will need to have logged on to access them. This means the recordings are private for those in the class to watch and no one else on the Internet can view them.
Not every family has completed our annual data collection form so I am sending a quick form for EVERY FAMILY in respect of Christmas performances this year.
It is really important that you complete the form below if we are to include your child. We will be collating information tomorrow afternoon and any child not on the list will be off camera throughout. We are not taking responsibility for children off camera because their family completed the form after we have looked at the data Wednesday afternoon. Any families who have already made the decision to withdraw their children from Christmas productions do not need to complete the form.
Last year children shared their art and a whole school film. We had hoped this year to be able to offer live performances as single classes but infection rates are high and the news on the new variant isn’t great.
If anyone is better than us amateurs and would be able to help with the recording, please let me know. We’re not expecting any Oscars but will do our best.
I am truly sorry for the disappointment this will cause but if it means one grandparent isn’t spending another Christmas on their own I think it is a price worth paying.
pupil behaviour - update
Dear parents and carers,
This is to inform you that since the email yesterday, I have had the opportunity to discuss the specific matter regarding the latest communication I have had with families regarding Facebook.
My letter was the most recent of a number of communications written over many of years. Talking with folk yesterday evening and again this morning, it seems that it is generally a useful and supportive platform for many of you and I do understand that my experience seems to have been different to yours. The people I have discussed the matter with understand how my experience, when I am brought into Facebook matters at work, has been only times when it has been the cause of anxiety and distress, sometimes severe.
The reason I did not address the concerns in the particular post brought to my attention was because the school's policy is not to respond to comments on social media and this will continue to be the case. In this we are no different from other schools. My lack of comment in the letter does not mean that we do not take your concerns seriously. It was to set out the channels which will mean parents' and carers' concerns can be heard, considered properly and acted upon. This will never be via social media.
I would like to assure you that pupil behaviour is our highest priority. Our policy is revisited annually with staff training and ongoing discussion from every September start of year. Every incident of children hurting others that we are aware of is recorded and treated very seriously, in line with our policy for confidentiality.
I will be communicating further with parents and indeed children early in the New Year on this as we move in assemblies and the social, moral, spiritual and cultural (SMSC) curriculum to caring for other people. A new year, resolutions and looking forward is likely to be far more effective than in the fortnight before Christmas when children are already excited.
Excited or not though, do be assured of our taking pupil behaviour seriously and when a child intentionally harms another through verbal or physical aggression will continue, in line with our policy and behaviour principles as it has since we opened in 2004.
Thank you for your support and wishing everyone a happy weekend.
A shared understanding is the most useful and kind thing adults can bring to the table when children need support.
We would like to welcome back Dr Duberley and thank Mrs Redmond for her work in Hen-Harriers.
educational enrichment - trips and visits
Educational Enrichment, sometimes thought of as the 'fun stuff' might be thought of an add-on to learning, something extra. Since 2004 when we opened our school though, enriching the curriculum has been a core part of life in school, fundamental to enjoying learning and achieving at Kingsmead. It is something that has been very hard hit by the pandemic.
In March 2020, as the storm clouds of Covid gathered, Lower Key Stage 2 went to Liverpool for the biannual (every two years) Arts Trip, the last before lockdown. A morning in a world class gallery followed by and afternoon concert by a world class orchestra is a highlight of Lower Key Stage 2 and I'm delighted to inform you that details of this year's trip, March 2022, will be sent out shortly.
Since the pandemic hit museums and galleries have been closed. Young Shakespeare went virtual, not because they weren't travelling but because of Covid rates in our area. Sports competitions went online and children were restricted to learning in class groups. Therefore for the past two years families have had less experience of trips and visits but thankfully, enrichment is returning. With children having had fewer opportunities to be out and about over the past two years it is also more necessary than ever.
Like all public sector services, schools operate on tight budgets. Enriching the curriculum is something for which we often need to ask for voluntary contributions. By law, schools cannot ask for payment other than a voluntary contribution other than in very limited circumstances. One is music lessons in school and the other is for food and lodging for a residential visit. The enrichment we can offer relies on the parents and carers who value and support it.
Some events like Young Shakespeare in Upper Key Stage 2 have been funded fully by the KFA meaning we don't ask for contributions from families. Others, like some parts of the Arts Trip to Liverpool might be partly funded. When we do ask for a voluntary contribution we only ask for the cost for your own children. Some children are funded through pupil premium for free school meals. Other families apply for a bursary and this is funded through School Fund. No one is expected to directly fund anyone else's children through the voluntary contribution. When children come from split families we think it reasonable to ask the other parent, with whom children don't live, before considering any application for a bursary. This means the limited funds we have can be shared fairly with those in most need receiving most help. We expect every trip and visit might involve a reasonable financial loss to the school; the value of the experience outweighing any loss.
Nevertheless, when planning trips we have a fiscal responsibility to ensure that the event is viable. This means we need to have a good idea whether the trip will be supported by enough families through voluntary contributions and if not, what the loss might be and if it is reasonable in terms of cost/benefit. For residential visits both benefits and costs are high.
Residential visits involve a deposit, while we would return deposits to families if a trip didn't go ahead, the deposit we have already paid to secure the visit to the Conway Centre is non-refundable. If a residential becomes unviable we can give the Conway Centre sufficient notice and carry forward the deposit already paid to a future visit. If we miss that deadline we lose the very large deposit we have already paid. We use the part of the payment we can ask for - food and lodging - as a deposit from families to make a best guess as to support for the trip and voluntary contributions to follow. We know who has asked for bursaries and who receives free school meals and so can take an informed decision. An important part of our ethos and curriculum is the notion of everybody which is why we offer support and bursaries beyond pupil premium funding. However, our resources are limited and demand is increasing.
Organising a residential visit for ninety children is nothing like booking a holiday for a family. I have been doing both for close on three decades and one is significantly more onerous in work and time, thinking and planning, than the other. We keep costs as low as we can for example by staff undertaking the additional work outside their usual working hours without overtime payment; there is no time-off while on a residential visit. When planning this year's visits we also have a responsibility to children in the future. If we lose a significant amount of money because of families not supporting with their voluntary contributions, we would have to question offering similar events in the following years.
My expectation is that the Conway residential will go ahead this year. As per my email to families of children in year 5 and 6, the booking and intent to support the trip by payment of the deposit by the deadline will secure children a place. We will not be accepting late bookings as this makes the financial planning for this and future residentials impossible to manage.
School trips and residential visits in particular stand out in children’s memories. They are wonderful opportunities for all children providing experiences we could otherwise not get. This is why admin and teaching staff undertake the considerable additional workload and in the case of our teaching colleagues, considerable unpaid overtime to facilitate them.
Engagement with our enrichment curriculum leads children out into the world. Past pupils have gone on to sing at the BBC Proms a the Royal Albert Hall, play with the Halle, Liverpool and National Youth Orchestras. One is off to Florida to begin a career in musical theatre. Another is working for the Canal and River Trust. One ex-student, who I hope the Kingsmead children will meet at the Conway Centre, was inspired by our residential there to become a teacher of outdoor and adventurous activities and works at the Centre. Enrichment is not a bolt-on, something for when the 'proper learning' is achieved. It is among the learning all children are entitled to and serves them well long after they leave primary school.
Thank you for support, Ms S :-)
cold weather in covid times
Throughout last winter we had to balance minimising spread of infection with the temperature inside in school. School staff and adults at home share responsibility for children learning in healthy conditions while in school. School staff have been provided with CO2 monitors for classrooms and offices and asked to keep rooms well ventilated. Having low and high level windows really helps with this by enabling air flow that keeps the environment healthy.
Children should come to school prepared for a cooler working environment (wooly tights, vests, skins, joggers, a fleece and leggings all help keep small bodies warm without the need for coats indoors. For outside a warm coat, hat, scarf and gloves make playtimes more enjoyable. We do play out in all but the wettest of weather. Children are more comfortable, Covid or not, when they do not come to school with bare legs in winter.
Our uniform policy means that children following it will be warm enough indoors. Please look at it. Apart from dressing for the weather, children don't like being asked daily about earrings, non-uniform PE kit and branded clothes. Part of our policy for supporting social behaviour is relentless routines and one of the relentless routines is that when staff notice a child flouting the uniform policy we will ask questions and challenge why they are not complying with a very reasonable policy that includes a lot of choice.
With thanks for your support,
covid matters - important reading
Please see our updated FAQ on Lateral Flow Testing. We are very grateful to the many of you who test regularly - yourselves and your children. The FAQ page explains why this is so important for maintaining the best outcomes in health and our core business, education. I have asked the families of one class to consider a test this week; this doesn't mean that we have reached a threshold (that's a more formal letter as you'll all know from last half term). It does mean I am taking cases in school very seriously and if you're wondering why please see the two graphs as of today below.
We are responsible for providing the best education we can in the circumstances we are in. Obviously when teaching staff in particular contract Covid, this takes them out of class for a t least ten days. Even if we were to disregard impact on their health and wellbeing (which we don't), children will always be affected. Colleagues who do not know children cannot provide the same quality of education as those who do.
Interested in caring for yourself, others and the local environment?
free courses for adults wanting to help their children in school
KFa & Christmas events
Kingsmead Friends Association
First a huge thank you to Mrs Visscher who has taken on the chair of the KFA role from Mrs Kew. A big thank you to Gemma for her work chairing the KFA before and throughout the Covid period. Not easy. On 2nd December the KFA will hold its AGM, here in school from 7pm. All are welcome and we will provide refreshments. All parents and carers automatically become members of our registered charity when they enrol their children in school. Some families participate actively, organising events that children and families enjoy as well as raising much needed funds for school. Without this small army of volunteers, many of the resources and experiences children enjoy, from trim trails to Young Shakespeare, subsidised trips to EYFS bikes, i-pads to an all weather sports pitch would not have been affordable. We hope at this AGM to meet new people interested in enhancing their children's school experience in a practical way and being an active part of our school community. The KFA is also supported by a data base of larger group of parents and carers who support with particular events: attending and running stalls at discos, fairs and other KFA events. Without their support the core group would not be able to provide all that they do.
Naturally, the usual work of the KFA has been limited during the pandemic. But we did do Christmas cards last year as we are doing again this year.
Given local rates it is not going to be the time for a large gathering at a Christmas Fair this year. Instead, Mrs Visscher is supporting staff in school in providing a Christmas Crafts Day, on Thursday 16th December, here in school. Unlike the Nativities and Carols, this will be winter crafts and so people of all religions and none can join in happily. Details of this, an event during the day, and an optional event after school for children, in their classrooms, will follow in due course.
Other Christmas Business
Mrs W is also planning for distanced Christmas performances where we can invite families in. Each performance will be a single class in the hall with time and cleaning between. We are doing a class in each phase per day in order that costumes that are shared will have been quarantined at the very least overnight (the risk on soft material is much lower). It will be lovely to welcome back live audiences for the first time since 2019. All Christmas event dates, including lunch, have been published on the school calendar at https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/communication-letters-home/diary-dates. Click on the dates of performances to see when your children's classes are performing. The Band will be playing carols for you all on Wednesday 15th and Recorder and String groups (quieter instruments less suited to playing outdoors) will make recordings to share).
One thing I'm rather pleased about is that Christmas is very much beginning the Friday before the final week of term and so learning should be able to continue with fewer interruptions and excitement about Other Things right up to the end of term, helping children's learning and achievement.
Thank you to the volunteers and colleagues in school for their imagination and preparedness to provide lovely Christmas / Winter celebrations, adapted to the times and full of promise for a fabulous end to the Autumn term.
Ms S :-)
The Health and Safety Team want you and your families to be safe this Bonfire Night. We recommend you follow the advice of Cheshire Fire and Rescue and the Health and Safety Executive.
Bonfire Night Events
‘Firefighters in Cheshire are urging people to celebrate Bonfire Night, and the time around it, at an organised event this year, in a bid to keep people and property safe.’
Cheshire Fire and Rescue have a Bonfire night - list of organised events in Cheshire which can be found here: https://www.cheshirefire.gov.uk/home/bonfire-night-list-of-bonfires-in-cheshire
Organising Firework Displays
Firework displays should be enjoyable and spectacular occasions – but they obviously need some responsible planning. If you are organising a major public event, you will clearly need a robust and detailed approach to planning as well as professional involvement. Further advice on organising firework displays can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/explosives/fireworks/index.htm
Sparkler safety advice
The Health and Safety Team also occasionally get asked at this time of year around giving sparklers to children. Sparkler safety advice can be found here:
As we have received no new reported cases over the half term break and one suspected case (where parent does not want child to be tested) the measures we have been taking were deemed by Public Health to indicate an appropriate response to the case data presented. As we no longer reach the threshold Public Health have proposed to close our outbreak case and have requested the school notify us if we meet a future threshold.
Public Health have recommended that the following measures remain in place:
monitor case levels to determine whether threshold is met
issue regular reminders to parents/carers and staff to be diligent looking out for symptoms; if anyone has symptoms or is generally unwell with cold-like symptoms, headache and/or body aches – advise to get a PCR test
2 x weekly LFD testing for staff
suggest to parents/carers - LFD testing for a total of 10 consecutive days in addition to a PCR test (on day 3-5 after first exposure) for pupil household contacts (please see letter to headteachers dated 20.10.2021). A child can continue to attend school if their results (PCR & LFD) are negative
if cases start to rise, reinforce messaging to staff and parents to look out for symptoms, incl. wider symptoms, and get a PCR test
maintain good levels of ventilation, use CO2 monitors where available to identify poor air quality
maintain good levels of cleaning
maintain good standards of hand hygiene (all staff and pupils)
Therefore from today, we have resumed eating school lunches in the hall for children in KS2. Music is back in place, subject to ventilation and distance. In short, the September plan is sufficient to reduce risk.
Thank you to all those who have supported our work and especially those continuing to show they understand that the pandemic isn't over yet by wearing a mask to protect others in the community.
fao all parents and carers
We are asking all families to note that their children should remain with them while on the school grounds before being handed over to teaching staff and at the end of the day when handed back into your care. If you want further information regarding this please see the letter attached.
Please also note that if older children from High School are bringing younger children to school because High School has an INSET day, they should wear a face covering and not bring friends with them. I was in discussion with Health Protection at CW&C yesterday who noted the very high rates of Covid in schools. We are doing our bit in school to minimise infection and need the partnership and support from everybody if we are to be as successful as we can be.
health protection - update
I have spoken to Health Protection today. With many children's isolation ending in the holiday, if data over half term indicates it is safe enough, we should be able to resume Key Stage 2 Covid plans as of September. This includes eating a school lunch in hall, having live assemblies (distanced and ventilated) and children can play across the three phase classes at break time. Swimming and music are expected to resume as in September and this will please year 4 who are desperate to get the instrument business sorted!
We will make a final decision on Monday 1st November when I'll send in the latest data. Therefore it is extremely important that should any children test positive over the holiday you email email@example.com. Please include the child's full name, class and year group. We can then have real time data to share with our colleagues at Health Protection and make an informed decision for Tuesday. Unless you hear otherwise (late Monday or early morning Tuesday after the break) it's reasonable to assume that for all children we can go back to the September arrangements.
We would really appreciate adults on site continuing to wear a face covering. At very little personal cost, it is a pro-social sign to children and adults that you know Covid is still with us and that everyone has a part to play in keeping everybody safe and school running with as few restrictions as possible. A massive thank you everyone behind a mask - we've all got great at the eye-smiling thing! One thing that's been reliable and predictable over the past years is that we will always put children's needs before adults and if one person wearing a mask means one child escapes infection that is worth it IMHO.
Many thanks, and wishing you all a restful break. I am sure many of you will have already had your plans changed due to Covid and the third wave of infection. Some because with Covid in the household you have had no choice. Others will be wanting to minimise their family mixing given the current data.
Here's hoping, Ms S :-)
In High Schools, children are expected to test twice a week at home. Given the situation in our primary school and Northwich as a town I know many of you are testing your younger children at home and for this we thank you.
Given the current rates, we do encourage home testing and report results twice a week, at home, throughout the October half-term school holiday and take a test before returning to school. All results should be reported to the NHS (Google report a coronavirus test), even if your result is negative or void.
By testing your child twice a week over half term, you will help us to reduce transmission of Coronavirus, keep us and all our children as safe as possible, schools open and minimise disruption to their education and to you and your household.
Thank you for your support.
Message on Google classroom for older children about Restrictions in Key Stage 2
I know some of you older children may have been disappointed to be eating back in class and playing as single class groups again. I am sorry and hope for better news from our friends at Cheshire West and Chester Public Health tomorrow. We would like to thank you for being so sanguine about this and accepting it with such good grace. I am hopeful that we may be told we can relax after half term but will take the advice of the people who work in health and know more about coronavirus and how it spreads than I do.
Thank you to the children who are not able to use the hall because of Upper Key Stage 2 maths needing a bigger space to keep classes distant.
Lee Robertson, our PCSO is doing some distanced assemblies for Key Stage 2 tomorrow. He wants to talk to children about Halloween and Bonfire Night. Lee has an important job in keeping us safe, but he can only do this if we know what we need to know. We will sit classes distanced and have windows and doors open. We have to balance the risk of coronavirus with risks to you of being out at night or being injured from fireworks or bonfires.
If Lee doesn't mention hedgehogs can you remind your parents and carers that, if you're having a bonfire in your garden, hedgehogs use them for nests so give the bonfire a poke inside with an umbrella or a stick to give small animals sheltering inside a chance to escape before you light it.
Lots of your parents and carers are wearing masks to school. Can you please thank them from the governors and me. It's a small way of showing we are caring for other people as well as offering a bit of protection for ourselves.
Love, Ms S :-)
update on enhanced measures due to covid
Further to letters and emails yesterday I can confirm that the overwhelming majority of mitigations recommended by CW&C Outbreak Management team have been implemented. Music and enrichment clubs are suspended for the remainder of the half term.
Today I have discussed some of our particular situation with Public Health and how we can prioritise our core business, education, alongside mitigating risk of Covid infection.
Mathematics lessons - We proposed to continue to teach UKS2 (year 5 and 6) in a Year 5, Year 6 and Year 5/6 group. Because this involves children from all three classes we will teach Year 6 in the hall with 3m distancing between class groups; Year 5 will be taught in a double classroom with distancing between class groups and the year 5/6 class is smaller and can be distanced in Mrs McHugh's classroom. Each room will be well ventilated and surfaces wiped before and after use. Public health have agreed this is a reasonable measure to balance keeping children safe alongside their education.
Early Birds and Night Owls - We haven't the space or staff to run separate class or phase before and after school care for working parents. The club are taking measures to keep children as separate as possible indoors and be outside as much as possible. However, it was agreed that risks to families from not being able to work due to lack of childcare must be balanced against risks from infection. Therefore there is no intention at the moment to restrict access to before or after school childcare.
A review will take place on 21st October when a decision will be reached as to whether we continue, increase or relax current restrictions.
threshold letter for whole school
I was informed today of the requirement to send the letter here to all parents as we have reached the threshold. Tomorrow I will take advice regarding before and after school care for children in Key Stage 2 (the six affected classes). Parents in LKS2 and UKS2 will also receive a letter by email informing them of what we and families need to do next.
We are sorry to bring this news and our thoughts are with all those affected. We wish you all a speedy and full recovery.
covid rates in school and contact with CW&C public health
We have been contacted by Public Health as Covid rates in school have now reached a threshold where they need to look at data and track us more closely. I have shared our most recently updated risk assessment where you can see the measures taken since rates have been increasing highlighted.
Please note that, just as in every bus and train station and in shops, theatres and other crowded places we ask that you wear a face covering on the school grounds. Although outside the grounds are narrow and get crowded. Please think if you might do this, out of consideration and care for other people and feel able to support us until local rates decline and we are having far fewer people in school contracting Covid.
Please also note the FAQ and information about keeping children off school with wider symptoms that may be Covid (headache, nausea, sore throat, runny nose)
Parents' Evening tonight has no substantive risk that is any higher than what staff are experiencing every day. Most adults are double vaccinated and therefore a well ventilated classroom, mask wearing and social distancing will be sufficient. Teachers were given the option of moving to online meetings at their own discretion.
Many thanks, Ms Stewart :-)
covid rates and mrs Helliwell
Please note the news of 30th September and do not send children into schools with symptoms of Covid. If children have what you think is a cold, please consider giving them a LFT (lateral flow test) and looking for a negative result before sending them into school.
hardship and food support over half term
We know that with increasing food costs and the £20 uplift to Universal Credit being cut, it is not easy on a low income. Our page Financial Hardship shares information on sources of support. Today I was contacted by Mid-Cheshire Foodbank; the foodbank is getting in touch with referrers who in school are Mrs Rutter-Brown and myself.
With some Government grants for Covid school meals and our own funds, we have been able to support with holiday meals with vouchers and have some capacity for the immediate future. However, the Foodbank has been going some time and is more long term than other support. A Foodbank referral is online and confidential; the foodbank take some details and arrange a convenient time for you to collect. They also include vouchers for fresh produce.
We are collecting for Mid Cheshire Foodbank for the next two weeks and hope children and families will join in this year's Harvest Collection. They tell me they are well off for beans, tinned soups and pasta but hygiene, sanitary wear and nappies are always as much needed as food.
In Big Sing, children have been learning some Harvest songs, some old favourites like We Plough the Fields and other newer ones about fluffy cauliflowers and radishes. From the word Harvest you can make the word 'share' and 'have' and will be referring to this in assemblies during the last week of term.
Whether giving or receiving this Harvest, I am hopeful children can all agree that when communities share what they have they will be kinder, stronger, safer and happier.
And if you are struggling, please come and see Mrs Rutter-Brown or myself for a confidential chat to see if we can help.
Ms Stewart :-)
parents and carers evening
Please see the letter attached. Parents and carers will know their children best. If you think it appropriate your child attends, please feel free to bring them along. This could certainly be the case for older children.
Operation Encompass - working with cheshire police
Please see the letter attached regarding how information may be shared by the police with leaders in school in the event of a call out to a home in respect of domestic incident.
The images below offer cold comfort that infection rates could be on the decline. They are not and are concerning. While we hear less about the NHS being under pressure from Covid, their recovery and ability to give timely treatment for other illness, including life threatening conditions like cancer, require that we all accept that we're not out of the woods and to pill together. Children under 18 are no longer required to self isolate if a member of their household contracts Covid. In school we respect that families will be responsible and do their best. We would respect and authorise absence and do our best to provide good home learning should a family be concerned that they've been unable to distance themselves from children having tested positive and keep children off until they had had a negative lateral flow or PCR test. Equally, we respect those who make a different choice.
We do have people off with Covid at the moment. Staff and children have contracted the disease since the pandemic started, some have had no or relatively mild symptoms but some have been seriously unwell and even ended up in hospital. It is vital that we all remember that in a pandemic absence will increase and that Covid has many different symptoms including those associated with the common cold, especially in children. Attendance is so important for learning and achievement and days lost are always regrettable. But far fewer days are lost to children learning (and adults going to work whether because they're unwell or caring for a sick child) when those children with symptoms of illness - headaches, upset tummies, runny noses and so on, are not sent into school but given time to recover safely at home. To this end I have updated the FAQ page:
Thank you for your cooperation.
Ms Stewart :-)
keeping ourselves and others safe and happy
First, can I ask all dog owners to ensure their dogs are under control at the gate to school. It's lovely for children to see the dogs in the morning and children (and me) who don't have a dog can have a nice trouble free stroke of doggies before and after school. That said, not all people are comfortable around dogs. Some children and adults can be fearful and of course no one wants their trousers mistaken for a lamp post.
Below is a note I put out for children on Google Classroom today.
Next week is cycle to school week all over the country. We hope everyone will want to get involved. If you leave the car at home and walk, cycle or scoot to school next week the Green Heart Warrior (your Eco Group leader) will be counting. At the end of the week we will celebrate everyone's commitment to caring for their own health, the health and safety of others and the environment too.
Remember to hop off bikes and scooters before coming through the gates as this cares for others and also remember when coming out of school that however skilful you are, you can't predict who's driving so older ones take care and younger ones stick with your folks!
Let's see if we can beat all previous records. If you live further away, off Kingsmead and the surrounding streets, you can join in by ensuring your family parks in the Regency Square car park and walking in - we will count this. This means it is perfectly possible for a class to get 100% of sustainable travel next week.
We may well be indulging the class that heads the leaderboard with a small chocolate treat. We will ensure it's small enough not to compromise healthy eating and it will be a small thank you for the class who joined in with maximum gusto and who will have made the most healthy journeys to and from school.
Many thanks for reading, and also thanks to everyone still popping on a face covering and respecting the one way system. We know there are schools with multiple children off in the same class. We are blessed with really good ventilation in classrooms and so have thus far avoided the worst. But we're not complacent and thank you all for your contribution too.
Ms S :-)
I have been sent a photograph of parking with a silver car parked up on the pavement. I have sent this to the PCSO who I know is monitoring driving and parking around school. While we cannot be held responsible for people’s actions beyond the school gate we do take our children’s safety seriously and will do all we can to challenge antisocial and dangerous parking (and driving) where it places children at risk. As we have no authority outside of the school gates, this means sharing information with the local police, who do.
email re future of kfa
Dear parents and carers,
I am contacting to let you know that Gemma Kew, who has chaired the KFA for some years, has stepped down. We do have a core group including a treasurer, secretary but no members of the core group feel they can take on the Chair role as well. Under the charitable terms of the Kingsmead Friends Association, this means that the group will be suspended and unable to operate.
This would be a real shame; from the Young Shakespeare Company to subsidised visits and trips out of school (such as the Lower Key Stage 2 Arts trip which we hope to get up again for Spring term) reduce significantly the voluntary contributions we ask for from families. Equipment like the trim trails, stage, EYFS bikes and i-pads have been funded. The KFA have been key in ensuring that Kingsmead children have been less impacted by central government cuts to budgets than they otherwise would be.
No less important is the contribution the KFA makes to us as a community school. Fairs, discos and other events are really enjoyed by children who see their school not only as a place of learning but a place in their community.
Gemma has agreed to support a new chair this term but her changing work commitments mean that unless a new chair (or co-chairs) put themselves forward, the KFA will cease as an entity. We do hope that some one or people will consider putting themselves forward. Mums and Dads have made an excellent contribution to the school since 2004 some serving for one or two years, others for a longer period so be assured, it’s not something you are signing up for for life!
Every parent and carer is automatically a member of the KFA when they join the school and therefore all are eligible to stand for Chair. You can find out more at https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/about-us/kfa. The KFA now have a list of over 100 volunteers and a core group who take on responsibility for particular events such as Christmas and Summer Fairs. So the role of chair is certainly not about doing it all yourself. It’s more about meeting and supporting an existing team, welcoming in new members. If you’d like to find out more please contact me and let us know some times you can meet Gemma and myself. In the event of more than one Chair coming forward we will ensure a fair and transparent procedure.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Catriona Stewart - headteacher
The deadline for applications is 31st October. Applications after this date will be considered late and only be considered after on time applications have been allocated places.
Most of our children transfer to the County High School Leftwich. Leftwich High is an oversubscribed school and less likely to be able to consider late applications.
If parents need support with applying for a place please contact us for support asap and before the 31st October deadline.
before and after school club - email to families
Dear parents and carers,
I hope you have seen my letter of 9th September regarding before and after school care for children (see below).
This email is to request that, if the session you want is full you only email firstname.lastname@example.org to request that your child is put on the waiting list. We will contact you should the place become available. Mrs Oliver was responding to emails from 8:15 to almost 3pm today and has other duties in addition to before and after school childcare. Emailing administrative staff to ask what they suggest is asking them something they really can’t answer. It is their job to administer the provision we can provide and we have no more knowledge about wider childcare than anyone else.
We worked very quickly when Superkids ceased trading to provide key worker families with childcare through the pandemic including several school holidays. Staff have worked hard to provide not only good quality childcare and refurbish the environment but leaders have also done this at a lower cost to families than in March 2020. Space is limited, and just like places in school and clubs, we cannot guarantee places to everyone who wants one but promise we will do our level best to do so.
If unable to book the session/s you need email email@example.com and ask to be put on the waiting list.
We will contact you if a place becomes available, taking the waiting list in order of when the request was made.
All the above does not negate the fact that I appreciate how very hard it is being a working parent and the importance of childcare. One thing we are looking into is holiday provision. I am sorry I am not able to offer the solution we would all want; to increase the club size quickly and easily. Please do read the letter of 9th September; once the situation became apparent we communicated with families to let them know what we can and can’t do. This has been added to the Autumn term agenda for governors but without substantial capital investment it is difficult to see how provision can be expanded.
With kind regards,
annual data collection and relationships and sex education
The office are sending out new forms for annual data collection. Please fill in as soon as possible as we need this data to provide the best provision we can for your children and ensure we comply with your wishes where there is parental choice.
PHSE (Personal, Health and Social Education) has been compulsory in schools since 2020 but was always part the Kingsmead curriculum so was no change for us. Within it is RSE (Relationships and Sex Education); it is here that families have some choice. Where content is also part of the Science or Relationships curriculum (reproduction, different types of relationships) this is now statutory and it is a legal requirement for this learning to be part of the school's curriculum. Our curriculum was developed in line with latest guidance (we are members of the PHSE Association which quality assures materials) and families were invited to an information evening which included seeing some of the materials used in March 2020. For a very small number of lessons, generally with the oldest children) there may be a very small amount Sex Education content not linked to Relationships or Science and parents may withdraw their child from these sessions. We would ask if considering this, you speak with Mrs Hammond (PHSE lead), Ms Stewart or Mrs Rutter-Brown first. There is good data to suggest that young people are not only safer but in fact less likely to participate in sexual activity when young if they have had good RSE teaching in school.
Thank you for your time completing the form.
Ms Stewart :-)
Music in School
There are four places where you can find out more about music. This letter is about Key Stage 2.
cheshire west and chester council offer of support for family cycling
Bike to School Week (27 September – 1 October) is a week-long event that is celebrated across the UK to encourage families to cycle and scoot to school. It's a great way to celebrate the huge benefits an active school run brings including the positive impact on children’s health, wellbeing as well as the environment.
CW&C council have been really encouraged to see many more children cycling to school recently, and support all efforts to increase this whilst ensuring the safety of our children on the roads. We will be promoting Cycling Week in school through assemblies etc. Public Health England tell us that air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK and the best way to keep children safe is to keep traffic on roads to a minimum.
One of the most important safeguards when encouraging pupils to cycle to school is professional Bikeability cycle training, which is delivered free to schools across the borough for children in year 5 and above by our partners BikeRight! We would like to thank our council for funding this at a time when budgets are so tight. It shows the importance CW&C places on caring for residents wellbeing and the environment.
To support Bike to School week, Cheshire West and Chester Council is also offering free Family cycle training sessions bespoke for each individual family to help with riding skills and knowledge. The session, which must include one adult, will help people living in the same household to cycle together. The training will enable families to plan enjoyable group rides, switch from driving to cycling the school run, help other family members to develop their cycling skills and grow their confidence.
Please be assured that BikeRight! have robust social distancing and hygiene protocols in place and all the training is delivered outside in small groups, following guidelines issued by The Department for Transport and The Bikeability Trust.
Cycling is an all-year-round activity and the training will continue throughout the winter. Funding is currently in place until March 2022, so please take advantage of this and book your free Bikeability training in school to be delivered from November onwards by contacting BikeRight!: Cheshire West and Chester (bikeright.co.uk).
Ms Stewart :-)
early birds / night owls
We are aware that Night Owls is at capacity and do appreciate the challenges this brings working families. The attached letter explains why it is not possible to increase capacity at the moment and can promise no quick fixes, this will be brought to the attention of governors this term. Ms S
importance of ventilation
This clip from BBC Breakfast explains why ventilation is so important in the coming months. While it's less of a problem in the weather we are currently enjoying at this time of year the temperature can dip suddenly. It is really important children are dressed for the weather outside and wooly tights, leggins and joggers as well as vests and layers, will keep them warm when in class with more windows and doors open. We are asking teachers to have a minimum of two ventilation points to outside (e.g. an upper and lower window) as well as keeping external doors ajar. Staff will be wearing thermals and fleeces and we encourage everyone to wrap up in cold weather.
We are asking Northwich Schoolwear to include warm joggers and fleeces into the menu of things you can order online or pick up at the old fire station.
helping your child to read in school and at home
We are delighted to be offering the Helping Your Child to Read session for families again this year. We would encourage you to take a look at the letter and consider coming along. Reading is the gateway to all subjects in school and the number of books children read outside school is one of the biggest indicators of their future success in education and work. Reading with your child can also be one of the most joyful aspects of childhood, for children and their carers.
Please see the letter below. I omitted to inform you that from this year I will be working four days a week. I haven't been part time since my 31 year old was a baby so this is a New Venture! Mrs Rutter-Brown is Acting Headteacher on Monday and so I leave you all in more than capable hands. I would like to thank our governing body for considering my request to support my work life balance over the coming years.
lunchtimes, using the hall and attendance from september
Some assemblies will be live in the hall from September. The hall will be well ventilated and in assemblies (including Key Stage 2 Big Sings) there will be no more than one phase (three classes) at a time. Children will be sat at a distance from other classes. We will be teaching children to listen live and participate more actively than is possible in online assemblies. EYFS, KS1, LKS2 and UKS2 will all have an assembly on a current theme which will start in September will be caring for ourselves. A big benefit is that Mrs Rutter-Brown and I can tailor content more effectively for different ages and the very youngest will also have a short session in the hall every week. We will continue with an online assembly, meaning children will have two a week. We are hoping to alternate this with Community Assembly at some point this year. Fortnightly community assembly was in family groups (the same as Sports Day teams) of children in year 1-6 with the oldest children leading the session and siblings in a group together. We do need to consider the guidance and impact of schools reopening before rushing ahead, however keen we are for Community Assemblies to restart.
We are delighted to inform you that we are planning for children in Reception and Key Stage 1 to all eat in the hall from September. None of the children have eaten in the hall, in larger groups for a long long time and all will have experienced fewer opportunities for eating in cafes in recent years. Eating in a large group in public has its own manners and skills and it is useful and kind for us to be teaching children these in the first weeks back. We will be playing quiet music, just like in many cafes. Firstly, we aim for children children to master eating with their mouth closed, using a knife and fork and clearing up after themselves. Once this learning is secure, we will move onto having a quiet conversation while eating without spraying food on the person you're talking to or disturbing other people's lunches! Conforming to basic manners is an important life lesson, serving children well out in cafes and when eating at other people's houses as well as here in school.
We expect that the hall eating will take longer than it did before the pandemic as children are unused to it. We also have PE and music lessons as well as assemblies back in the hall so it's in regular use. This is why we will be expecting the children in Key Stage 2 children to eat packed lunches outdoors or in classrooms, supervised by midday assistants. Quiet music and the same cafe culture manners will be in operation in classrooms as in the hall. Children having a school lunch will be eating in the hall so we can return to plates and a better quality of hot food at lunchtime.
Senior leaders will be working in the hall through lunchtime while these habits become embedded and we can all relax. Families can help by expecting good manners at home - children who can sit at a table to eat, use a knife and fork and not talk with food in their mouth full will mean we can relax far sooner than if school eating is a strange and alien experience!
We are also looking forward to more music and clubs taking place in the hall, at first in phases.
Please note that our Attendance page has been updated. Children have all had their education disrupted to some degree and attendance this year is more important than ever. I was mindful last term that many children hadn't seen their extended family for a long, long time. With us just returning from a six week holiday we do not expect to be dealing with term time holidays. Therefore I will be obliged to follow sanctions including the issuing of fixed penalty notices wherever appropriate.
I hope this reassures you that we have been thinking about and responding to the government's relaxation of restriction while also mindful of your children's education and safety. We are plotting course, events may require us to change course but this is where we are at the moment!
We are so looking forward to seeing you all soon! Happy (bank holiday) Monday, Ms S :-)
preparing for a happy and safe return
The September risk assessment for families is now available and I hope it will be useful and reassure people that a happy and safe return is being planned for. The images below show that rates remain high. Risk to the NHS has been mitigated with most adults being vaccinated and children of 12 and over have been offered a vaccine. This reduces the risk of serious disease to individuals. However, we still do hear of people who have contracted Covid despite being double vaccinated and sadly some will develop serious disease, develop long covid and some will die. Vaccination reduces risk to ourselves and others considerably but like everything else in life, it can't be 100% guaranteed.
Government guidelines have relaxed considerably since 16th August, including the requirement for self isolation of close contacts and this needs to be reflected in our planning. As communicated previously, we prioritise the actions that impact most on children, their achievement, happiness and welfare. Therefore we will be allowing children to play together outside within a phase: EYFS, Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2. We hope more clubs will be running, across phases and are hopeful of more opportunities for residential visits and trips this year. We are continuing to ask adults to wear masks on the school grounds as this will reduce risk of infection. We ask that families continue to socially distance from staff to keep everyone as safe as possible and minimise disruption to children's learning though staff absence.
We do want to return to more face to face meetings and parents' meetings. Meet the Teacher this year will be online and virtual and recorded. An unintended positive consequence of virtual meetings was greater participation in this last year with families able to watch at a time suitable to them. Parent and carer meetings can be face to face but adults will need to wear a face covering and socially distance from staff in a well ventilated room. Families will continue to have the option for virtual meetings with their children's teachers.
RED ADMIRALS (and an elephant hawk moth) 2021
The newsletter will tell you more about the Red Admiral prizes for excellence. Every year a prize is awarded to a boy and girl in each year group with one additional award for a Marvellous Migrant (someone who joined our school after Reception). The important thing is that there are no outsiders and everyone could, by their own endeavour, win a book prize. Winners might be nominated as Red Admirals for personal, social or academic endeavours. In each phase teachers nominate a shortlist of children from whom winners are decided. All exemplify one or more of our core values: caring for themselves, others or the environment, usefully, kindly and unlimitedly!
As with the Oscars, Nobel prizes, the Turner and Booker prizes, there are always more worthy people than prizes. But this year was these children's year and their book prize was very well deserved.
All the books were on the subject of Evolution, connecting back to the Belonging art project, now on display in the hall where children's drawings of living things from lyme disease to leopards, ebola to echinacea, nawals to Norwegian forest cats and giraffes to garlic mushrooms, each circle of life containing a human, show how we belong in nature.