From Monday 25th January, staff at St Peter’s Catholic Primary School have the option to take Lateral Flow Tests at home in order to see if they are asymptomatic carriers of the Covid-19 coronavirus. These kits have been offered to all primary school staff in England from the NHS and DfE, and are voluntary for staff to take. The thinking behind the testing offer is to detect individuals who, although positive with Covid-19, may not be showing symptoms but could still be contagious. Given that positive cases of Covid-19 amongst the staff and pupil cohort at St Peter’s has remained exceptionally low when placed in the national and global context, it is not expected that there will be many if any asymptomatic positive returns. Staff are advised to take these tests twice a week, every 3 to 4 days, on days when they attend the workplace. Staff are also advised to take these tests first thing in the morning in order to reduce to a minimum the time gap between the test and attending the workplace, and so reduce the chance of unknowingly contracting the virus. This very short time gap between testing and starting the working day could present staffing challenges if we get late notice of a colleague not being able to attend work. Also, we would need to engage in the usual track, trace and subsequent self-isolation of individuals who may have had contact with a positive Covid-19 case, even asymptomatic ones. As you would expect, we will do all we can to minimise staffing disruption on children’s education, be that in school or at home, and will engage fully with all required actions in the event of any positive Covid-19 case being reported to us by individuals who have been on the school site.
Mr R Cunningham
And so we come to the end of the first full week of majority remote learning in this second partial closure of mainstream schools in England. I am so pleased to hear of the ways in which the children have adapted once again to new styles and routines of learning, and that we have been able to enhance the remote learning experience for our pupils. On behalf of colleagues, may I also thank parents and carers for the many kind words and messages of support as we swung with great speed and at short notice into a new way of doing things, once again!
One of the flaws in these lockdowns is that they can have the effect of not just isolating us from transmission of viruses, but also isolating us from the reality of the situation right here in our local area. By sticking to the rules of staying at home and only venturing out for the truly essential, and one could be forgiven for choosing not to tune in to daily news bulletins, we can be shielded from the stark horror of Covid’s impact in our community.
Several families who have needed to make use of the emergency in school provision for essential workers are employed in the health care sector, and in particular the Queen Alexandra hospital in Cosham. I have been a customer at this stunning establishment many times over the past 21 years, ranging from routine matters and family member check-ups, to trips to paediatric A&E (on one occasion as a parent and Headteacher at the same time when my daughter sprained a wrist in school – how embarrassing!) and a 9 day stay thanks to a burst appendix in 2017. Whilst experiences will differ, I have to say that I have never once been disappointed by the entire staff and their absolute professionalism throughout every contact I have had there. And right now, the staff at QA and other health and care settings, amongst whom we can all count family members of our school community, are under immense pressure, greater than was ever seen in 2020.
To that end, I urge everyone to act not just to the letter of the law, but also within the spirit of the law, when it comes to following the latest lockdown regulations. Whilst it is permitted to exercise with one person from another household, is that absolutely essential for people to do at the moment? Whilst a range of shops remain open for necessary products, do we need to shop as a family group at the weekend? We should all reflect upon the words of Professor Chris Whitty when he said last Sunday that “Any single unnecessary contact you have with someone is a potential link in a chain of transmission that will lead to a vulnerable person.” (Full statement here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/statement-from-chief-medical-officer-professor-chris-whitty-on-national-alert-levels ) If we stay at home and, as the Government says, manage our behaviour to “act like we’ve got the virus”, then we will do our part to protect the NHS, save lives, and bring schools closer to full re-opening for all pupils.
And to close by bringing it back to school, thank you to families of essential workers who have had a really hard look at their weekly routines and only made use of the in-school provision when absolutely necessary. This is a key part in keeping the school staff safe, and so making them more able to keep the school open in these emergency times. Looking ahead, please only make use of the in-school provision when no other option is available, and let the school know immediately if you need to cancel booked places due to changing work patterns. A huge amount of planning for the following week goes into the numbers submitted by the 1:00pm Thursday deadline, so we are not able to accept any late requests made after that time.
Your patience and support are, as always, much appreciated by everyone at St Peter’s.
Mr R Cunningham
This is not the start of term that I would have wanted, or indeed that I expected given Government assurances at the turn of the year that schools were a priority and that primary schools would remain open. However, we find ourselves in lockdown 3 and working exceptionally hard once again to meet the needs of all in our school community. Do please be aware that the staff in the office are exceptionally busy fielding calls and emails on an enormous range of issues. Occasionally it may take time to get through on the phone, and requests made by phone which require a response by email may take some time to action given the current workload. Your patience with and politeness to our colleagues in the office is appreciated.
Equally, all classroom staff are now operating in two learning environments; the real here in school and the virtual on-line. This is alongside planning and resourcing all of the children’s learning and then assessing the work that is submitted by all of the pupils. Families who are learning remotely are asked to pose any questions about learning tasks using the chat function on Microsoft Teams rather than ‘dialling in’ using the call function. Teaching staff will then work through the requests as they come in with replies that may be through the chat or the call function as appropriate. Please remember that colleagues are juggling a number of demands with their classes, so responses to queries will not be immediate.
Having both professional and domestic experience of remote learning, I know that it is challenging for families and can at times be stressful. Please be assured that all colleagues are working as hard as they can, and are constantly exploring new avenues of learning and communication which may take some time to bed in, so again your patience and politeness is appreciated.
With this latest enforced partial school closure we are seeing immediate high demand for in-school places to allocate to the children of key workers and those deemed vulnerable. Indeed the anticipated pupil numbers on site could very soon be so high as to defeat the very purpose of a partial school closure as a means of securing social distancing and household lockdown. Therefore, please remember that in-school provision should only ever be used by those who qualify where it is absolutely necessary, and where adults are engaged in essential work leaving them with no alternative but to send their child to school. Adults who work part time should only book on the days when they are at work, and families should try their utmost to secure domestic arrangements before reverting to booking a school place. Whilst this may sound restrictive, it is an essential element of keeping the school site, with the children and the staff in it, as safe as possible.
Finally, looking back to last term, may I offer huge thanks and congratulations to all in St Peter’s for all the fundraising they undertook. The staff raised £107 for Macmillan nurses through a socially distanced coffee morning in September, Year 4 raised over £40 for Guide Dogs, the school raised an impressive £605 for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, and over 400 cans of food were donated to the school to pass on to the Waterlooville Food Bank. Many thanks to you all.
Mr R Cunningham
St Peter’s reached the end of the autumn term 2020 still working hard to maintain the traditions of Christmas. This week the children in Year 2 celebrated a Christmas liturgy, and pupils from Key Stage 2 joined forces to produce an on-line version of our usual Christmas carol service. Meanwhile, having watched a CAFOD Christmas Assembly that was shared nationwide, our pupils produced their own candles with messages of hope to show the optimism that can be had, even in 2020, when we look to the Light of the World in Jesus Christ. A display of their work is shown here.
In other news, we did uphold 2 other essential festive traditions in St Peter’s. Performing to just one year group at a time with the classes seated separately, 2 actors from the Treehouse Theatre Company were able to stage a pantomime for all of our children. The Elves and the Shoemaker, staged 7 times in 2 days, proved a wonderful end of term treat. And thankfully, over 2 days (madly the same 2 days as the panto!) Mrs Gray and the amazing catering team laid on Christmas lunch with all the trimmings and a lot of cake for the children.
Thank you for all of the support and prayers for the pupils and staff of St Peter’s over 2020 – we wish you all a happy and holy Christmas, and look forward to a successful and prosperous 2021 at school and in the community.
Mr R Cunningham
The special celebrations of Advent are now well underway in school. The Year 1 pupils, pictured below, performed their wonderful Nativity play which, as is the fashion and necessity this year, will be shared by video to families in due course.
All the pupils in school watched a special Light of Hope assembly from CAFOD this week, and were inspired to produce works of art showing candles with words of hope written on them. These will be used to make an in-school display, as well as sharing some for display with local community groups.
Three children received special awards for having their Christmas card designs chosen to be used as the official school and parish cards this year. Well done to Liberty and Marta in Year 6 and Phoebe in Year 4 for their winning designs. Thank you as ever to Mrs Pearson for organising the art work, and thank you to all of you who were able to purchase your child’s Christmas designs and raise money for the Friends of St Peter’s.
Please remember in your prayers this week 9 pupils from St Peter’s who will be making their First Holy Communion at St Edmund’s Parish in Horndean. It will be quirky to celebrate a First Holy Communion Mass in during Advent rather than the height of summer, a bit like a winter wedding I guess, but it will be a special day for all of the families involved none the less.
The festive feel will continue next week with Christmas lunches on Monday and Tuesday (thank you Mrs Gray and the catering team as always), a Year 2 Advent Liturgy, and the production of the Key Stage 2 Christmas Service for broadcast on You Tube by the end of term.
Mr R Cunningham
It was a delight to be able to watch our Year R pupils perform their Nativity play this week, all be it under different circumstances this year. The children did 2 performances, and for each we were able to invite one other year group to be the audience. It was strange to see the Year R children performing on the stage at one end of the hall, and pupils from Year 1 and then Year 3 seated at the opposite end of the hall with a 6m gulf between performers and audience, but the show must go on. The second show was recorded, and that will be available for Year R parents to view on-line in due course. Thanks go as ever to the staff who prepared the Nativity play and the families who provided costumes, and of course well done to the children of the Reception classes for staging such a heart warming show.
The week ended with STEM day for the children, so check out class blogs for images and reports of the Science and Technology investigations that the pupils undertook.
And finally, thank you for all the cans of food that came into school for Christmas jumper day NEXT Friday 11th December – we will continue to take donations over the course of next week and add them to the Christmas tree after an appropriate time.
Mr R Cunningham
The Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust have forwarded the following link via Hampshire County Council. This COVID video is for families of Primary aged school children, and the children themselves, which they have asked to be signposted to parents and carers.
Mr R Cunningham
Things went a little bit technicolour this week at St Peter’s. On Monday 16th November, as part of a national anti-bullying initiative, pupils and staff took part in the annual national ‘odd socks day’. This launched a two-week period in which teaching and learning at St Peter’s stresses even more than usual the fact that bullying has not place in our school, our communities or our lives. Inclusion and equality are key elements in all that we do at the school, and pupils are regularly made aware that diversity makes us stronger together, rather than setting us apart from one another.
The following day, pupils in Year 4 had their ‘Heads Up for Guide Dogs’ day. This was a deep learning day on the training and work of assistance dogs for those with restricted or no sight, and to mark the even children wore bright head gear or even (temporarily!) coloured their hair in return for a financial donation. The year group managed to raise over £40:00 to fund the training of a guide dog in the future. Well done to all of the pupils who took part in these initiatives, and thank you to the staff for organising and taking part. My personal thanks also goes to Kiwi Parade Gloss for the shine on my shoes!
Mr R Cunningham
During their RE lessons recently, pupils in Year 3 have been thinking about what they would take with them were Jesus to appear before them and ask them to follow Him. One pupil decided they would pick up their house keys so that they could always return home if they wanted. However, the child did then go on to explain to me how those who followed Jesus when He was here on earth left everything in order to take up His path, realising that they needed nothing to answer the call of the Lord. This week Year 1 celebrated their autumn Liturgy in ever more peculiar circumstances, as under the latest lockdown rules the school is sealed off even to parish priests and lay chaplains. The pupils led a beautiful liturgy on November and the month of Holy Souls, presenting their views of heaven which included clouds, rainbows and an awful lot of pets and animals. We held in our prayers all those loved ones who, whilst not in heaven, still feel far away from us during this latest period of Covid-induced separation.
Meanwhile, all pupils in the school observed a 2 minute silence at 11:00am on 11th November in honour of the fallen.
Year 2 marked the remembrance event in the prayer garden at the centre of the school.
Please don’t forget to share our promotional video with any families you know who may be looking for a school place in Reception Year in September 2020: https://youtu.be/VcBQmkaKxm4 Families of children aged 5 and above are also welcome to contact the school on 023 9226 2599 should they wish to join our waiting list for additional school places when they arise.
Mr R Cunningham
Pupils in Year 5 this week have been able to make a contribution to the local community in the form of a window display for the annual season of remembrance. Following a request from Co-Operative Funeral Care in Cowplain, Mrs Pearson arranged for the children in Year 5 to use their art lesson to produces images on the theme of remembrance. A selection of their work now forms the window display for the Co-Operative Funeral Care in Cowplain, and we thank them for the poppy pin badges that were given to each Year 5 pupil. An equivalent display is also on show in the windows of the Unity Building here at St Peter’s, which you will be able to see when you access the school site. This Sunday will see a very different format of the annual acts of remembrance across the country and the world, and in school on Wednesday 11th November we will hold a two-minute silence in honour of the fallen. The following prayer will be used with the pupils:
We entrust to you, eternal God,
those times when we can see only shadows
and lose sight of the hope to come;
the times when suffering seems so senseless,
life so fragile, war so unstoppable and death so permanent.
Bless us with the assurance that you are in all things,
the tragic and the beautiful,
the nightmare and the dream,
the light and the darkness.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ
the peace of the world, today, tomorrow and forever.
Mr R Cunningham