severe weather warning
Please click for the risk assessment we have in place for next week. Families have some actions too!
Dear colleagues, parents and carers,
This email is to communicate current thinking for Monday and Tuesday next week. We are aware some schools and nurseries are closing.
Our building has classrooms facing North, reducing impact of glare on windows. The school also has insulation which we are hoping will keep some heat out. This won’t mean we can keep the building cool but we are very hopeful of it being manageable with some adjustments to the day.
Parents and carers are asked to ensure that all children:
Have sun cream applied in the morning
Bring a sun hat to school
Bring a full water bottle
Ensure skylights (which face south) are closed - electric lights will be used
Skylights will be open slightly to enable air circulation but lower windows may be closed if the heat is too strong. We are hopeful of ventilating classes as the North side of the building is in shade from the building.
Reduce break time if necessary (with special attention to the KS1 afternoon break which may not be outdoors)
Not take children outside for PE
Ensure children are brought in pronto at 8:40am and released pronto at home time to help parents and grandparents etc. who are collecting.
On the south side of the building there will be greater impact from hot weather and rooms have electric fans provided.
There is a Recorder concert in the hall on Monday and parents and carers of children in year 3 are warmly (!) invited. We will limit the rest of the audience to children in year 2 (who will be learning the recorder in September).
With these measures in place we are confident of being open Monday and Tuesday as normal. If anything changes we will inform families by text or email.
Kind regards, Ms S :-)
COVID - advice on absence
Restrictions on Covid infection having ended and tests now charged for; absence from school is very much up to individual consciences. We very much want school attendance to be as good as it can. We know that when individuals remain at home when they are most likely to infect others, overall attendance rates are improved. Therefore we advise the following:
Adults and children who have symptoms of Covid should take a test if they can.
Children should remain off school for three days following the test (or their first day of symptoms if the choice is made not to test).
Adults should remain away from the school for five days following the test (or their first day of symptoms if the choice is made not to test). We will be expecting all staff employed in school to treat this as an instruction and not advice.
Adults who return to work after five days should consider wearing a mask when indoors or outside when the playground is busy until they test negative or after ten days (whichever is sooner).
All children should have tissues in school and be taught by parents and carers to catch it, kill it, bin it.
Adults will be seen wearing masks in school; this might be for their and others' safety and they are supported in doing so. Masks are not worn in class unless an adult has had Covid or there are cases in their household. Adults wearing masks have the full support of school leaders.
We rely on support in the community to keep infection rates as low as possible. Thank you for your cooperation.
Ms S :-)
before and after school care - booking for september
Dear parents and carers,
A couple of emails have come out from the office today in respect of September bookings. I appreciate that childcare is a priority for working parents but I do need to ask for your patience and support.
School Comms tell us they cannot enable bookings for Reception parents until September; this is outside of our control; Reception parents 2022 have been informed about this. Because bookings will need to be done manually and will take time, please bear with us; we have no idea how many bookings people will request. School Comms are also having essential maintenance today, this means we cannot release dates today but will be from 6:30 tomorrow (Wednesday). Hopefully and notwithstanding essential maintenance by companies we use, we will return to the penultimate Monday of every half term at 6:30. Please note, none of this is anything we have any control over.
Mrs Taylor, who will be our School Business Manager from September, is working with Arbor (our information management system provider) to look at potential for a new booking system. However, changing IT services takes time and is not something we can put into place immediately.
Emailing in and phoning will delay our work in sorting bookings and trying to ensure that families who need child care can access it. Please note, childcare is an important but only one part of our work; our core business is education for children. We take responsibility for helping families in this respect but space and staffing rations mean we will never be able to guarantee a limitless supply.
Thank you for your understanding.
Summer holiday meals update - GOOD NEWS!!!
We have news from Cheshire West and Chester Council that additional household support fund have been made available to councils. We have been informed that there will be funding for school holiday meal vouchers. Each free school meal child will be allocated £60 of holiday meal vouchers which is great news and we will have them for you before the end of term. We know this is less per week than the government have previously allocated but it's a lot better than we had expected.
There is some funding within the allocation for families in facing financial hardship but those whose children do not receive free school meals. If your family is on a low income and will be facing a big challenging feeding your children over the Summer break, please come and see myself or Mrs Rutter-Brown for a confidential chat as we can help.
It is lovely to be able to bring what I hope is some welcome news.
Ms Stewart :-))
Classes in the final two years of primary school are organised differently to those for younger children. The rationale behind this is explained in the attached letter to families of children in year 4. It is shared here as it may be of interest to parents and carers of younger children.
SUMMER holiday support for people on low incomes
There is no funding for holiday food vouchers for families whose children receive free school meals this Summer. We will not be sending home vouchers at the end of term.
The last funding we received for food vouchers was Easter. As we had already bought vouchers for our families by the time we learned the funding had ceased, we were happy to be able to support families over the Summer half term. Without funding though, we just haven't the budget to do so in future.
I know the Summer holiday can be tough for families with limited means (whether receiving free meals in school or not). There is some support in the community and our website page is a good place to find links to help that might be available.
I am sorry for what is undoubtably bad news. If you are worried about the Summer holiday and need support, please get in touch with myself or Lisa Rutter-Brown. All conversations will be in strict confidence.
Ms S :-)
This is an update, to let you know that rates of infection are increasing. With the current wave, it seems that adults are more affected than children. Supply teachers are very hard to get and staff absence has disrupted the transition days for one class. We will make our best efforts to enable children from this class in September to have spent some time with their new teacher before the end of term.
This may mean you see more adults in school wearing masks. Some will want to protect themselves from catching Covid. Others, like me when I am back in school, will want to protect colleagues and children given that the isolation period of ten days no longer applies.
before and after school care
The terms and conditions reflect an analysis of places taken this year and demand. As with any optional and non statutory part of school provision, we cannot guarantee places where demand exceeds our capacity but assure families that in the coming year, as we have done this year, we will do our best.
Ms S :-)
SUMMER FAIR - thank yous are due
Massive thanks first to the KFA, Mrs Visscher and the team who worked so very hard to make our big event after the pandemic such a good day.
The KFA took the decision to not charge entrance this year, recognising that as well as raising money for school, their important work as volunteers is also to help Kingsmead be a community school in the true sense of the word. We were fortunate with the rain holding off (Mrs R-B never doubted it) and while not the sunniest day we could have, it was a really enjoyable Saturday.
Parent and carer volunteers in school are vital and remind us how lucky we are to have the great group of parents and carers we have. This partnership is so important and enriches the lives of all the children in school. I have been spending a lot of time visiting hospitals with my mum recently and can see the contribution volunteers make to the NHS too.
The playground is full of things the KFA have provided over the years, physical equipment for play, experiences like Young Shakespeare and sometimes more routine things when school budgets are tight like books, i-pads and Maths equipment have all enriched children's enjoyment and achievement in school. We could not do all we do without them.
I would like to thank everyone who helped by coming along and enjoying the fair, including some ex-students; it's always lovely to catch up with past pupils. Thank you too to all the staff who came along on their day off.
But thank you especially though to the KFA parent and carer volunteers as these folk not only came along and worked hard on their weekends but I know had put many hours of planning and preparation to the event, to say nothing of the clearing up and putting everything back afterwards. Their contribution is of enormous value, never taken for granted and appreciated by us all.
Ms S :-)
Musical Instruments in year 4
Year 3 are coming to the end of our First Access free year of instrument tuition with Mrs Harper. From year 4 some continue to play in the recorder group and choose a string, wind or brass instrument to learn. To help children choose an instrument we are opening on Wednesday 22nd June from 6pm (to help working parents) and inviting children with parents and carers to come along, find out more and try some instruments out. Some teachers and older children will be about to help them have a go and hopefully have a good idea of what they'd like to learn.
The opportunity for a try out is open to all but places are limited by the spaces teachers have. Children and parents need to understand the importance of being really committed. There is no easy path to being a musician and if they have not enjoyed their recorder lessons (or practiced at home) a more difficult and technical instrument is unlikely to suit them. There is a financial cost to lessons from year 4 and you can read more on our website page https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/curriculum/arts-culture/music-lessons.
We look forward to seeing you on 22nd.
vouchers for school meals during school holidays
Our website page https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/financial-hardship provides up to date information on where families can find support in the community and from Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The half term holiday was the last time we will be able to provide supermarket vouchers for school holidays.
Families in receipt of free school meals for their children (not Reception -Year 2 universal free meals which every child receives) have received, during the pandemic, vouchers to cover free school meals during school holidays. Schools were asked by government to administer these, rather than the benefits system.
Funding for holiday meals ended on 13th April. The school received a letter on 25th May to say we would not get funding for holiday meal vouchers for half term, beginning 27th May. As we had not wanted to wait until the last minute, we had already purchased vouchers for families. These were distributed for Summer half term to families and the cost will be borne by us in school.
We know that times are hard for everyone and that the those on the lowest income are the hardest hit when food and fuel prices rise. It is with regret that we cannot fund future school holiday vouchers without the funding from government to cover the costs.
staffing news and update on before and after school care
Mrs Cocker, our School Business Manager who began working with us when the school opened, will be retiring in August. Mrs Cocker has given eighteen years of loyal service to the children, families and staff at Kingsmead Primary and we will be very sorry to say goodbye, while wishing her the very best for the next phase in her life which we hope will be long, happy and restful too. From September, Mrs Sam Taylor will be taking over as SBM. Mrs Taylor has been working in school for time and her appointment will secure a smooth transition. Mrs Taylor has already had a big impact on school business, bringing in a new management, Arbor, to replace SIMS. This is already showing great benefits in ease of use for teaching and support staff. It also offers some promise for the future in terms of offering payment and bookings, which we are looking into.
We have been considering the views of of families who were unable to get the places in Night Owls they needed. We want to serve all our working parents and carers and are looking to chart a path that may well not be anyone's first choice but will take account of everybody.
We are looking at options for policy on cancellation (which is having the unintended consequence of block booking followed by cancellations).
It is likely that costs will rise in line with our food and energy costs (and staffing should the government issue a pay rise for support staff - something as yet unclear). We will keep costs reasonable and are very mindful of the impact of the cost of living crisis on some families.
We will be retaining the 4.30pm pick up which is very helpful for families who work locally, including single parents and others on low incomes.
We are looking to see if the new information management system Mrs Taylor has introduced (this feeds into the SchoolComms that families use at the moment) will enable us to improve payment and bookings from September.
We are considering how we can increase capacity without detriment to other aspects of our service to all children and families. I am not sure if everyone is aware of the fact that we have increased provision from 30 to 35. We have also taken measures this term to support families by having a temporary increase in capacity. Please note this is less problematic when weather is fine and a more sustainable solution is being looked at for September.
I hope this reassures families that all our children and all our families, whatever their income, whether working, not in work or partly in work are all of equal value and importance in school.
Have a lovely week with your children and I look forward to seeing you all a week Wednesday.
Ms S :-)
thank you for making the jubilee celebratons so special
Yesterday was incredibly special with parents, grandparents, children and staff, all together on the field, mixed up and a bit chaotic for the first time since Christmas 2019.
The mix of music took us back through the Queen's long reign and paid tribute to the four countries that make up our United Kingdom. It was really special to hear the children sing with such gusto! Music and singing were one of the subjects most affected by the pandemic and restrictions. Equally lovely was hearing young musicians including the Wind Band and String Orchestra and ... for the very first time, The Orchestra with string and wind instruments playing together (necessitating a lot of sharps for us in the Brass and Clarinet sections!)
But no concert or performance can be a concert or performance without the audience. Thank you to everyone who came and showed such appreciation for our efforts and those who came in for a shufty round school afterwards. Mrs W and I are planning to record some highlights the week after we come back when we prepare for the Summer Fair on 18th June and the first Royal Cheshire Show since 2019 on 22nd which we'll share with you on Google Classrooms. A big thank you to Mrs W for what I know are Extremely Cunning Arrangements - everyone having a part written for them they can play and everyone getting a bit of the tune so no one goes home grumpy. Thanks too to Mrs Vine and Mr Williams for dealing with the wires and knobs outside. They negotiated power failure and, such was my faith in their expertise, I did not panic at all!
Jerusalem, accompanied by the strings was a marvellous thing to hear sung outside in our green and pleasant grounds! Learning traditional stuff connects children with older generations, their past and parts of our culture which become shared heritage. I love William Blake's Jerusalem; some of the words may be just a bit bonkers (Jesus paying a visit to the West Country) but it brings together traditionalists and progressives, small C conservatives and Eco-activists with a patriotic call for 'mental fight' to bring about the 'green and pleasant land' Blake wanted England to be. Ending with the National Anthem and our children knowing two verses (which is one more than most folk at an England football match) has, I hope, sent us all off for half term uplifted and looking forward to a good holiday.
Ms S :-)
Booking before and after school care
We apologise for the difficulty people had last Friday and ask for families' understanding and partnership.
Jubilee Celebration - plan B
If it rains next Wednesday we have a contingency! Hopefully not needed.
We are really looking forward to seeing people in school next Wednesday afternoon and after school sharing books with children and having a shufty round school. Prayers for fine weather gratefully received. That said, we need a contingency plan for rain. Drizzle is manageable but instruments, 320 children and heavy rain are not suitable for outdoor promenade concerts! We do not want to disappoint anyone and so we have Plan B.
If it's going to be heavy rain, we will postpone the event with parents and carers, on the field and in school until Friday 10th June (first Friday back after the holiday). On the Wednesday we'll record children singing and performing in the hall so people have something before the Jubilee Bank Holiday.
Ms S :-)
Parent carer forum
Cheshire West and Chester Parent Carer forum
Following the survey of parents and carers across the Local Authority, the PCF are sharing the outcomes from the survey and the Ofsted visit.
jubilee celebrations next wednesday
Next week we are inviting families in to celebrate the Queen's platinum jubilee with us. From 1:45 parents and carers can come onto the school field (bring a blanket to sit on) and children will perform songs and music from the seven decades of Queen Elizabeth's reign. After the event, parents and carers may choose to take their children home as usual or come and have a look around their child's classroom, spend some time with children looking at their work and having a look in around school which will be open.
We really look forward to - finally - welcoming everyone in for an informal shufty!
Ms S :-)
Further to my message on Key Stage 1 and EYFS Google classroom, I would like to reassure parents and carers that children are not playing in the area where work is taking place. We have changed routines to ensure that the children are not accessing areas close to where work is taking place. We took advice from Pentagon Play around more enhanced fencing and they advised against for health and safety reasons. Children were all in assembly on Monday when routines and expectations were explained.
We are hopeful that by seeing the work, children will appreciate the work in providing enhanced play and the funding from the KFA. Pentagon Play did not have any availability for our work to be done during the school holidays.
Please be reassured that how the fences look when you bring and collect children are not as they are in the day as they are moved to allow parents and carers access. Also be reassured that we have enhanced supervision during playtime and lunchtime.
Many thanks, Emma Miller - Key Stage 1 leader
supporting sporting behaviour and participation at playtimes
Mixing at playtimes has been overwhelmingly positive with just a few consequences that need our attention. In Spring consultation, over 90% of parents and carers responding supported our upping expectations around useful and kind play and not tolerating aggression whether in games or anywhere else.
We have noticed that in the mixed playtimes, using the MUGA, this is overwhelmingly used by boys playing football. We know we have some excellent female players, indeed one of the most skillful footballers in school is female (she knows who she is!). Observing children at play, it appears that when football games are mixed, some girls are choosing not to play, perhaps because of the physicality or the fact that some boys appear reluctant to include and pass to girls. Therefore from next week, on Wednesdays, there will be a session for Key Stage 1 mixed and then girls only for Key Stage 2. There is no reason for us to consider boys only sessions as we have no evidence that boys feel unable to be included and use the area when girls are playing. This is in line with an increasing number of children's sports clubs. Before puberty, there are not the physical differences that require sport be single sex but girls only opportunities increase girls' access to physical activity where mixed access does not reduce boys' access.
We are beginning a card system for playtimes. If children play roughly which may 'accidentally' hurt someone, they will receive a 'yellow card'. Two yellow cards mean a red and a ban for a period of time from the place or places where the unkindness or aggression took place. Older children understand the red/yellow card business well and it is mainly for their benefit; some of the older children seem to be finding it more difficult to play usefully and kindly than younger ones where who scored what and getting the ball is less important than the fun of the game and playing together.
We continue to inform all parents and carers of when a child has been involved in an aggressive incident in school as over 90% of parents and carers supported. Mostly this information will be shared through their Google classroom. Be reassured that these messages appearing in the stream are private. Only the children involved and their families will be able to see them. Sometimes, teachers may want to speak in person in which case they will call or make an appointment to see you. Parents and carers may also make an appointment to speak with us.
Many thanks for your continued support,
aDVICE from public health - scarlet fever
There is a rise in cases of scarlet fever in the North West so keep a lookout for symptoms and contact your GP if you suspect you or your child has the illness.
• a sore throat
• a characteristic fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel.
If signs of scarlet fever are suspected, it is important to contact your local GP or NHS 111.
The illness is usually mild but early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important as it helps reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and the spread of the infection to others.
Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.
Scarlet fever is highly contagious and spread by coughing and sneezing.
To limit the spread:
• wash your hands often
• do not share eating utensils with an infected person
• wash or dispose of handkerchiefs and tissues contaminated by an infected person
• be aware that people can catch scarlet fever by inhaling airborne droplets if someone with the illness coughs or sneezes in the air near them
• use a tissue to catch, bin and kill germs.
I am delighted to be able to share that Mrs Green is expecting a baby in the Autumn. She expects to be with us for the full first half term before starting her maternity leave. We are recruiting for a maternity cover post for Mrs Green's absence.
Women can work right up to pregnancy should they choose to. Some infectious conditions, for example rubella and slapped cheek syndrome, are higher risk to pregnant women and their unborn children. Therefore we are asking that you notify us immediately of any such condition in your family that children may bring into school. It won't prevent children accessing learning with us but would help us take some additional precautions to keep Mrs Green and her baby safe.
I am sure you'll all join me in wishing the whole family the very best.
Ms S :-)
attendance Spring term
Our Spring term attendance is published at https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/attendance-times-of-day and the impact of Covid infection last term is very clear. This is why we delayed the relaxations we'd hoped for in January until the first week back after Easter had given us time to consider current absence of staff and children.
I know that Kingsmead families place a high value on school attendance and few children have poor attendance without an exceptional medical reason. Thank you for your support in sustaining the best attendance given the circumstances. Children do not learn as well when their study is disrupted by absence; poor attendance impacts on children's enjoyment and success in school.
Covid infections locally have resulted in our attendance Spring 2022 being the lowest it has been. Ever. This is not a matter of blame and almost all has been beyond anyone's control. Nevertheless, the figures show that it is vitally important to keep attendance as high as we can which we will do this by:
Keeping children who are infectious off school (covid symptoms recommended 3 days, vomiting and diarrhea 48 hours)
No unauthorised absence
Some families have been many years without seeing loved ones and some planned school holiday trips were impacted by infection or restrictions abroad. This has been taken into account when (in very exceptional circumstances) authorising absence or making a decision on whether to issue a fixed penalty notice.
However, with travel restrictions over, the two week holiday just gone, half term and a long Summer holiday coming up we are expecting a dramatic reduction in requests and in respect of term time absence, expecting business as it was before the pandemic.
Thank you for your support,
Ms Stewart :-)
and Summer term assessments
Every summer, teachers gather evidence from children to assess what they know, can do and understand from the year's learning. For most children these are part and parcel of the school day and therefore carry no additional stress or threat. This includes the year 1 phonics screening check, end of KS1 assessment in English (reading and writing) and Maths, the Year 4 multiplication screening check and end of KS2 assessment in English (reading, spelling, punctuation,vwriting) , Maths and Science.
You can find out more about assessment at https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/curriculum/assessment.
For children in year 6, it is impossible to make end of KS2 assessment part and parcel of daily learning. With the SATS being taken in the same term as children are considering their transition to High School, it can be problematic for children's wellbeing if they are not supported usefully and kindly by their peers and the adults around them. Which is why I have written to year 6 children in the run up to the tests and why we will be reminding them that their best is always good enough and that we are always proud of their best efforts.
Relaxation and mixing - what joy!
We are delighted to share what I hope will be the final document to inform you about covid measures in school.
We would like to thank all our stakeholders: children, staff, families and governors for their fortitude and tolerance of changes, disappointments and restrictions over the past two years. With almost thirty years working in education, I have never known anything like it in terms of a workplace having to be hyper vigilant in response to quickly changing circumstances, public health and government guidance. I am hopeful that we can all enjoy the Summer term, together, in a slightly less controlled manner.
Ms Stewart :-)
Learning to swim is one of the most important thing children learn, one of the things that can literally save their life. As we are so close to the lovely river Weaver, it's something governors have always prioritised for Kingsmead children with children starting early and having swimming lessons for three terms over three years: years 2, 3 and 4. With Sir John Deane's up the road, we had kept costs low for school by walking to and from the baths, meaning we have never requested support from families.
With Sir John Deane's pool closed throughout the pandemic, Mrs McHugh was quick off the mark in securing places at Brio this year. With the pool hire and lessons being an increase in cost alongside the need to provide coach travel, costs have increased enormously. In the short term, we took the decision to bear the cost and not ask families for a contribution to the travel cost. We had been hopeful of a return to being able to walk to swimming lessons in September. However, with the decision having been taken not to reopen Sir John Deane's swimming pool we have had to consider swimming lessons in terms of cost to the school budget. Therefore the governors have agreed that we make a termly request of £10 for children having swimming lessons for this year. This is being set up on School Gateway and we really appreciate the contribution of every family who make one. Year 2 are going swimming this term and we would be equally appreciative of any family children who've already benefited from the swimming at Brio feeling able and willing to contribute.
With Sir John Deane's looking to be closed long term, Mrs McHugh is planning for the next academic year and we will keep you posted.
Thank you for your ongoing support of school swimming lessons.
Ms Stewart :-)
Spring term newsletter
A big thank you to all the young reporters and journalists for their contributions to a busy term