spring Term 2022
WhatsApp and other social media
Mrs Rutter-Brown has, today, spoken with some older children regarding another incident (out of school) of inappropriate language and images shared on a WhatsApp group. The children in the group all know each other through school and while we cannot take responsibility for their online behaviour, we can be useful partners with parents and carers when online activity becomes a safeguarding concern. As we have shared before, it is our professional view that children of 4-11 are too young for social media. We help them learn safely through using Google hangouts linked to Google classroom. Today I learned from Mrs R-B that WhatsApp has been reclassified to an app suitable for people aged 16 or older. Therefore, if any children have WhatsApp on their phone I would recommend removing it and monitoring their phone use closely.
We have reminded those concerned that they are responsible for what they post and what they reply to. Instead of replying, they know they should 1) take themselves out of the group and 2) tell a parent or carer.
Sadly and all too often, our experience in school of children's online activity out of school tells us that they have in their hands technology that they are just too young to understand. They have little grasp of the implications of what they post or respond to and the groups they are in. They cannot and do not use apps like WhatsApp safely. In primary school this mostly ends up with children having a conversation with Mrs R-B or me in their lunch or playtime. If they do not learn from these and choose not to adapt their online conduct this can lead to serious trouble in adolescence. High schools often have more draconian consequences, the police may become involved if the law (under the Malicious Communications Act) has been broken or (and this is at least as damaging for their mental health) ostracism from their peer group.
As ever, our thanks to the child who did take their responsibility to themselves and their peers seriously. They did the grown up thing and told their parents. Thanks to their parents letting us know, we've been able to inform all the families of the children involved.
Our children leave us aged 11. We would advise parents and carers to visit or revisit our e-safety page, updated today.
Due to the number of positive Covid cases in school, in both children and adults, we are continuing to be monitored by CWAC Health Protection Team and are implementing further restrictions as outlined in the letter. Four classes - Ladybirds, Bees, Hen Harriers and Sparrows, now meet the threshold set by the government. Cases will be reviewed on Monday 21st March and if cases continue to rise further restrictions may need to be implemented at short notice. Please keep your children at home if they have any of the three main symptoms and get a PCR test before returning to school. If siblings have Covid please read the advice in the letter and help us to reduce the transmission in school to prevent further restrictions being put into place, which will impact on future planned events.
We have a couple of exciting art projects coming up that would benefit from some things families might have in a shed and have no use for. Next term we are focussing on caring for the environment. A big part of caring for our world is reducing waste - which brings me to two Art projects this Summer.
Making a Joyous Machine - I am planning an Art Club for children in every phase where, over April and early May we can make work with a zero carbon footprint, using waste materials. For the machine things of the following nature would be very welcome: bicycle and other wheels, chains, metal tubing and plumbing, whisks and broken instruments. Having made our machine, we can use the sculpture as inspiration for making drawings. We are hoping, Covid-permitting, to have a Saturday Big Draw in school where children, ex-pupils and adults to drop in an draw - connecting. Some of the work will be used for our contribution to the Northwich Education Partnership Art Trail with a theme of Connection from 24th May.
Abstract Art in UKS2 - linking to summer term learning about Exploration, including Earth and Space, children in year 5 and 6 will becoming abstract expressionist artists! Mrs Roberts is developing a really exciting and inspiring plan for the children. It would help to have a wider range of paint for mark making than the usual school stuff. If you have some household paint (any colour and type - gloss, enamel, emulsion - all welcome!) that you don't need any more it would be very useful to our UKS2 artists. We would also make use of household paint brushes that are past their best and no good for beautiful decorating but which might make interesting abstract expressionist marks!
Please bring donations of paint for my attention to the office.
Many thanks, Ms S :-)
email re Covid threshold
Dear Parent and Carers,
As you are aware from previous emails we have an increasing number of positive covid cases in school, with both children and staff. Due to the number of cases we have met the threshold set by the government so have to implement some additional measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
Unfortunately that means we are going to move next weeks parent's evening to telephone calls instead of face to face meetings. You do not need to rebook your time, appointment times will remain the same and your child's class teacher will call you on the number provided on your child's data sheet. If you have had a recent change of number please contact the office so they can update your details.
Teachers will communicate any other changes that are class specific with you via your child's google classroom, so please ensure you check this regularly.
We know that many parents will be disappointed with this change, as are the staff, as we would prefer to be able to conduct parent's evening face to face but we must reduce current transmission.
Further changes may still have to be implemented at short notice as we are continually assessing the situation and bringing in additional measures as advised by public health.
update on LKS2 liverpool trip
I am so very pleased to be able to inform you that Health Protection Outbreak Management have agreed to bring forward our review from 17th March to 15th in order that our trip to Liverpool can go ahead (should cases be under control).
I am asking you to support additional measures for the trip so we can be useful and kind visitors to Liverpool.
It would be helpful if all children in year 3 and 4 take a lateral flow test (LFT) the morning of the trip so that we can be reasonably confident that no one on the trip is likely to be infectious.
Some children are used to wearing masks and if yours is, you might want to consider them wearing one for the coach trip to and from Liverpool. In a big concert hall and large gallery spaces it won’t be so important in the places we’re visiting.
It is likely that some children might not be out of isolation by the time of the trip and will miss out. I will be sharing the Walker Art Gallery trail with families after 16th and they will have listened to some of the music from the concert in class. But with tickets for the 16th it is not possible to postpone or rearrange for another date so we must proceed as planned. Nevertheless this may well be disappointing for some children. Quite how badly the children take it will very much depend on the messages they receive from the adults around them. We will be offering lots of sympathy and empathy but also giving the message that it is better to miss something, however much you’ve looked forward to it, than spread a disease that can make some people very ill.
I did hear of some social media chat with parents from many different schools, some giving very different messages to ours. We each work in our own communities; other places might not have lots of children off with Covid. As you know, I am something of a pedant about attendance! I also know that the best way to achieve high attendance is by children remaining at home when they are infectious, whether norovirus or coronavirus or flu.
I am keeping everything crossed, hoping that I am proved wrong and that we have a full compliment of Cuckoos, Hen-Harriers and Sparrows next Wednesday!
Ms S :-)
Covid update about incidence of covid in school
Since receiving updated guidance from CW&C and DfE, we have noted an increase in cases in school. We are restricting one class to eating in their classroom and playing in a separate area of school, where a large group of children are absent having tested positive. This is not the class impacted by staff absence.
We are suspending planned updated guidance, relaxing expectations around mask wearing and the one way system which will only come into place once numbers have declined. I hope that families will appreciate this is a sensible and proportionate measure given the current circumstances in school.
FAO FAMILIES OF children in sparrows
Responding to events in ukraine
Usefully, kindly and in an age-appropriate manner - we are inviting everyone to wear blue and yellow next Tuesday.
We have been thinking in these last troubled weeks, of how, as a primary school, we should respond as events in Eastern Europe unfold in a way that few of us expected. Children do not live in vacuums and often pick up on more than we adults might realise. Discussing issues like war and climate change can be frightening for children but not discussing them can leave an equally anxious hole, one which can be too easily filled with rumours and inappropriate information.
In school we do have families with relatives in Ukraine and Russia and our care for them must be useful and kind and unlimited. While Ukrainians fight bravely, many Russian citizens have faced arrest for speaking out against the Putin regime where protest and speaking out carry great personal risk.
We have chosen not to talk directly with younger children about Ukraine but to support those affected and keep out sharp eyes and ears so we can respond appropriately. If children are raising things, this should not be ignored. If children are not raising things, it is not always appropriate to deal with them overtly.
Older children are different; they are more often online, attending to TV programmes like BBC Newsround (I hope) and interested in the world (I hope). Therefore it is important to note events and help children process them. We have used Tune on Tuesday and the Wednesday Words this week to touch lightly on events in Ukraine. This has been alongside learning in SMSC (social, moral, spiritual and cultural) learning for Fairtrade Fortnight which is in its second week. Mrs Hammond has collated resources for teachers to consider not only about this event but more generally for when children are afraid of what they hear on the News.
We know older children are hearing and talking about the events in Eastern Europe. It is likely that some younger children will too. Oxfam and other agencies who work in both education and disaster relief say that the important thing for young children is to feel they can do something positive, take a small action. This can help them process difficult ideas while reducing fear and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. It can also show much needed solidarity with friends at home and abroad more directly affected. I know prisoners of conscience do take comfort and solace from knowing they are not forgotten and some notice their conditions improve as a result of people far away showing they are bothered about them.
So, to support our children in taking a small positive action to show their care for others and process the events safely, we are inviting everyone to wear blue and yellow next Tuesday. Families of younger children don't want their children exposed to any information about a war in Eastern Europe this can equally be called a 'wear blue and yellow to welcome in the Spring' day. I will be posting on Google classroom later today but will be leaving it to the parents of younger children to discuss anything other than the welcoming in Springtime.
We're not collecting any money in school but are sharing this fundraising website https://gofund.me/22b0fbf1 which is getting close to 30,000 donations at the time of writing.
There is more information at Help for teachers and families to talk to pupils about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how to help them avoid misinformation. - The Education Hub (blog.gov.uk).
Kind regards and special good wishes to all our families with relatives in Eastern Europe at this anxious time.
Ms Stewart :-)
local authority send inspection
The Local Authority is currently engaged in an Ofsted inspection of provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities. As part of the inspection, parents and carers are invited to submit their views. You can find a link in the letter.
My apologies for the upset some people felt when attendance letters went out last week. It was certainly not our intention. Due to the pandemic many more letters went out than usual, including to some school staff, this despite lowering the threshold from 95 to 92%. The attendance letter used a master copy from previous years and in hindsight, the attendance ladder which we use in normal times should have been removed. This was my error. I hope the text reassured the overwhelming majority that the letter was for their information.
The letter also thanked all those families where attendance was affected because of their decision to isolate children while Covid was in the household and protect others from infection. This absence for this was authorised.
Governors met last week. They noticed and commented on the good overall attendance figures in school. Lower than in pre-pandemic times for sure, but not significantly so. Kingsmead families have sustained good attendance over many years and we were coming from a long history of very good attendance in school.
We know that families also place a high value on education and their child being in school as do school staff and governors. This partnership has seen the school maintain very high attendance over many years, despite norovirus outbreaks and the pandemic. I hope this message reassures parents and carers of our appreciation of their commitment to high attendance (including keeping children at home who have infectious conditions).
Kind regards, Ms Stewart
early birds and night owls
We do understand the frustrations and difficulty when people are unable to secure they places for childcare that they need. Paul Tuohy, our lead governor for Resources, has shared with the Governing Body the outcomes of his survey around booking.
Thank you to all the families who shared their thoughts; this will help us going forward as we look at the booking system. I also want to let you know that we are aware that the booking system is less problematic than the fact that demand outstrips supply. Contrary to the views expressed by some, it is not the case that Superkids had more spaces. They were registered for thirty children, the same as we offer in Night Owls. We understand that some childminders have ceased trading due to the pandemic, more people are now back in work and the club is popular and cheaper than the childcare provided pre-pandemic.
Increasing capacity is not a simple matter. The Night Owls room does not have physical space for more than thirty children. This means that our options are to provide an alternative space within existing space in school or fundraise for a new building (we cannot legally use school budget for the education of children to fund what is a business providing a service for working parents).
Please do note that the office staff you email and telephone have absolutely no control over places. The school office is a busy place and colleagues front of house have a difficult job at the best of times. Mrs Cocker, Mrs Oliver and the team do their best with phone calls and emails from frustrated parents and carers but they cannot offer places that aren't there. We released the places at the last moment in the office working day, 4pm. Office staff work part time and are paid part time and colleagues spent a lot of time last week, working beyond the hours they were paid for to help with Night Owls and other matters and for this I thank them.
I assure you that Governors and school leaders will consider options available to us. The provision of education is our core business and this will always have to be our number one priority. However we know that childcare here in school is what many working families want and need. I assure you that it is receiving our attention and we will communicate further as soon as we are able.
Information shared with headteachers by Dr Matt Butler from Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge.
Dr Butler has been keeping headteachers informed throughout the pandemic and has shared some interesting insights in the coronacast last Friday. As a result of listening to a health professional on Addenbrooke's Covid team, I have updated our FAQs.
This includes mask wearing (and why we ask adults to wear masks outside at drop off and pick up). I have also passed on his information dispelling the myth that a more contagious but less deadly virus is a positive thing.
There are now two epidemics: Delta to which the unvaccinated remain highly vulnerable and Omicron which is spreading among those who have had Covid once and the vaccinated and boosted. You can listen to Dr Matt yourself on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=Jq-zldIVw9U and he's well worth a listen.
Please take a few minutes to read the updated FAQs as the better informed we are with expert advice the less vulnerable we are to misinformation and complacency. This will keep us all as safe as we can be, attendance of staff and children as high as it can be and minimise impact on children's enjoyment and achievement in school.
Thank you for your cooperation and support,
Lower key stage 2 arts trip to Liverpool
This is a real highlight of the Year 3/4 cultural experience. The trip takes place every two years and we are really looking forward to taking everybody. Please read letter attached, complete the form (noting deadlines) and make voluntary contributions unless requesting a bursary.
New guidance for January
Please read the January document with important information including that we are now expecting face coverings to be worn on site and arrangements for those who are exempt or unwilling to do so.
The images below have been part of the information we have used in making this decision.
Important information on school priorities for the months ahead
First a warm welcome back and I hope every family enjoyed time together and some rest and recuperation over the holiday. Some plans will have changed last minute but nevertheless I hope you all managed to have a happy holiday in spite of any Unwelcome Events.
Covid and risk assessment
Schools have been very much in the News. The leadership team and staff will be meeting this week to finalise the latest updates to the risk assessment which will be shared with you in due course. Expectations are unchanged with our one-way system and mask-wearing on site remaining in place for the foreseeable future. The evidence on masks is uncontested by scientists - they do make a difference, especially when alongside ventilation and people with symptoms remaining at home.
As in the NHS, the biggest risk at the moment facing schools this term is the impact of staff shortages. There is a recognition from the Department of Education that schools may need to move to a mix of face to face and online learning if there are not enough staff to keep provision safe. Our highest priority is remaining open and delivering on site education for all our children. Therefore we all have a moral and civic duty to minimise infection and keep enough staff in school to provide education and care for children.
Please do not send in children with symptoms that may be coronavirus. Keeping people with symptoms out of circulation will reduce infection and increase overall attendance for both children and staff.
We will continue to respect families who choose to isolate their children due to a household member being infected with coronavirus. Equally, we respect those who choose to send their children into school, as is their right.
The school is well ventilated and will be colder, especially in the next three months. Children will need layers to keep warm in class and outside. I would suggest a vest, polo shirt, sweatshirt and fleece with leggings or joggers to be warm enough and in school uniform. Our uniform suppliers sell black fleeces or a plain, unbranded black or navy fleece may be worn in class.
As in the NHS, none of the services and provision we provide in school are unimportant. However, resources are limited and look to be more so with increased staff absence likely. The school budget cannot meet all covid related absence with the use of supply teachers (who are already in increasingly high demand). Therefore we will be increasingly looking to cover absence with our existing staff, through overtime for part time workers and redeploying people where this is possible and appropriate. Maintaining face to face education and keeping all classes open is our priority. Some provision may well need to be postponed or cancelled for example some SEND support, ELSA provision and Covid recovery groups.
Our focus for the Spring term is Caring for Other People. We have heard a lot of 'No one is safe until everyone is safe' and it is clear that it will be through collective endeavour and through everyone's sense of their personal responsibility and duty that we will be able to do our very best for our children in the coming months.
Children's agency - their right and responsibility to participate usefully and kindly
The children have an important part to play in our collective endeavour and personal responsibility. This will be the theme of our SMSC (social, moral, spiritual and cultural) learning in assemblies over the coming weeks and the Blog for families which will be published tomorrow.
We are upping expectations of behaviour and from the Autumn Term, when we encouraged children to consider the impact of their pro-social (and anti-social) behaviour on their own wellbeing, we will this term move to asking them to consider its impact on other people. As with last term, we avoid terms like 'reward' and 'punishment' as with these power and control lies with someone in authority. We use one term - consequences - with these it is the child who has the control and power, to choose the consequences they enjoy or accept the less welcome ones.
We will be explaining and teaching the children how home and school have to be different in what we can accept and the Blog explains more about this. I hope you might find a minute or two to read it. We thank you in anticipation of your support and I make this promise. When we challenge unkind, rough or other poor behaviour we have the interests of each and every child in mind and at the fore. Children have a right not to be hurt through rough play and unkind words, said as a 'joke'; they have the right not to have their learning and achievement disrupted. Children also have a right to learn that outside the family, the values may be the same or very similar, but that our conduct needs to adapt to a bigger group and to people we are not as close to. What may be useful and kind inside the family may not be so in the classroom. The Blog explains how.
Happy New Year and looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.
Ms S :-)