Hello to all the pupils at St Peter’s.
Slowly but surely the spring flowers are starting to make their appearance, just in time to welcome back your bright and smiling faces on Monday 8th March.
I am sure you will outshine even these beautiful blooms, and we all can’t wait to welcome you back to school on Monday.
Stay safe, have a lovely weekend, and we’ll see you soon at school!
Mr Cunningham and all the St Peter’s staff
Mr R Cunningham
I never thought it would come to this – tuning into BBC Parliament at 3:30pm on a Monday afternoon, 22nd February to be precise, to listen to a Prime Ministerial statement. And then as for cheering when he announced the full re-opening of all schools with effect from Monday 8th March, well, I really truly honestly never thought it would come to that! Information on the return to St Peter’s for all pupils on Monday 8th March will be shared is a separate letter, and we can’t wait to welcome the children back to school.
During this week, all staff at St Peter’s received refresher training on cyber-safety and the many potential pitfalls of the on-line world for children that go hand in hand with the benefits of the internet. The training was delivered by our on-line safety consultant Lee Haywood, and he will be available for parent consultations during our remote parents’ evenings of 21st and 28th April – booking details to follow in early March.
For now, though, here is a link to Lee’s company website Parent Zone, which will be of interest to all families with children and teenagers at home:
Mr R Cunningham
Inspired by the current cold snap, the children in Year 4 (aged 8 and 9 years old) at St Peter’s created these stunning winter tree silhouettes and landscapes.
Having mixed remote and in-school learning for the best part of 6 weeks now, pupils and staff alike are ready for a half-term break before a partial return to school on Monday 22nd February. We remain ever hopefully of a wider return of more pupils to school from Monday 8th March, Covid permitting.
Mr R Cunningham
Over the past fortnight in Religious Education, children in Year 3 (7 and 8 year olds) have learnt about the Bible story of Samuel being called by God, and how at first he mistook it for the summons of his master Eli. Building on the instruction Eli gave to Samuel of “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”, the pupils reflected on the difference between hearing and listening. By linking this to their own lives, and usually involving instructions from their parents that they may have heard but not necessarily listened to, the children were able to understand more fully how important it was for Samuel to listen to God’s call rather than just hear the voice of his master. As we continue this period of partial school closure, and this work being done by home learners as well as school attendees, the need to listen to the true word of the Lord is perhaps a good way of helping us to balance out some of the more “catastrophising” news reports that we still hear about education. We all have a lot to learn from the children in Year 3!
Mr R Cunningham
It’s Children’s Mental Health Week 1st -7th February… so it’s the perfect time to be thinking about your mental health and your wellbeing.
In school we talk about wellbeing a lot and it’s such an important thing to take care of… just as important as your physical health. This last year has been really difficult for everyone and there have been so many changes for you all. You’ve all accepted and embraced them and done your absolute best and we are so proud of you all for that.
This year’s theme for Children’s Mental Health Week is ‘Express Yourself’ so we want you to get creative and celebrate all the amazing things about yourselves. We are going to create a fabulous display outside the Pumpkin Room called ‘Reach for the Stars!’ but we need your help.
We would like you to do the following:
- Draw around your hand and then cut it out.
- On your cut out hand, write down some amazing things about yourself – your skills, strengths or talents, or amazing things you’ve done (e.g. some brilliant school work, helping your family, learning a new skill, sending a gift to someone to cheer them up etc). Anything amazing that you’re proud of!
- Decorate your hand and make it look beautiful!
- Take a photo of it and send it to us at: email@example.com
We look forward to seeing all of your amazing creations!
Mrs Byrne and Mrs Chapman, St Peter’s ELSA* Team
(*Emotional Literacy Support Assistants)
For more information about Children’s Mental Health Week, please visit: Parents and Carers – Children’s Mental Health Week 2021
Please remember if your child is in Key Stage 1 they should be aiming for 3 hours remote learning each day and if your child is in Key Stage 2 the expectation is around 4 hours. This time frame reflects the amount of time pupils spend learning in class each day and so it is important that your child does not go over this daily recommendation as given by the Department for Education.
There is no expectation that pupils must complete every task and activity set.
If your child is finding some of the work too challenging then they should access the support resources that your child’s teacher will have provided. Please do not worry if your child does not complete all of the activities for a given lesson; they can always come back to that same activity the following day. It is important that your child works at an appropriate pace for them on the tasks set, even if this means they do not get to the end of that lesson. Children will find the process and practice of learning at home very different, so taking a measured approach to the amount of time they spend on a task will be important for their well-being and happiness. Spending time really understanding and practising a new skill is just as important, and prioritising dedicated reading time each day (from a page not a screen) is a great way of reinforcing learning and reducing anxiety. A simple timetable for each day will also help save pupils from spending too long on one subject. When it gets to the end of your set time for a particular lesson, make sure your child stops (even if they have not finished all tasks) and has a break before moving on to the next subject. Please encourage your child to join the live teacher sessions each day where the class teacher will clearly explain the learning for that day and answer any individual questions your child may have, as well as providing pastoral contact.
Mr Crozier Mrs Knight
Deputy Headteacher Assistant Headteacher
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