Head’s blog

Week 5 – Michaelmas 2020

Michaelmas - Week 5

With one week left until half-term, I write with information about the changes to the routine following our well-earned break! Thank you for all of your support this week and well done to the staff team. We have been recruiting and interviewing for maternity covers and for a new Librarian, and I am delighted with the
new appointments – watch this space. I have been running many future schools’ advice meetings with parents on Zoom and continue to tour (socially-distanced) prospective parents. It certainly is not quiet here at St Peter’s and, to top the week off, we greeted you with banana costumes…..! Thank you on behalf of
Young Minds for raising over £900. A great start. I can’t wait to see what we can do with the PTA Land’s End to John O’Groats family challenge. We can do this!

We are getting increasing interest, from parents based in Exeter, in particular, for a regular bus run every day, bookable on a term’s basis: We are looking at extending our transport offering to be able to facilitate this for more families. Please let Mrs Morrison know by email emma.morrison@stpetersprepschool.co.uk) if you are interested in this. We would engage a Dartline bus and it would be a service payable upfront for the term. If not used, we would not be able to refund on a day by day basis. This is common practice at most schools.

This week we say farewell to Margaret Whitlock, who leaves us to support her family through a difficult time. Margaret was instrumental in turning the former School Office into a Library and making it a real hub of reading, at the heart of St Peter’s. I would like to thank her for her ‘can do’ attitude and outstanding
organisation and display making! We will miss you Margaret – good luck!

Changes after half-term
Because of the darker days and colder weather soon facing us, we are going to streamline and speed up drop-off and pick-up. It will be busy at first, as we get used to the new timings, but I feel confident that it will be an improved system and mean less waiting outside for pupils and staff. The most important changes
are the start and end of day timings for Years 1 and 2, which bring them in line with the usual school day. We are also extending our curriculum offering on our timetable.  Details to be found in our newsletter.

Have a super weekend.

Mrs Charlotte Johnston


Week 4 – Michaelmas 2020

Michaelmas - Week 4

We are now at the end of Week 4 and I have been in contact with many Headteachers across the country as they deal with the impact of the pandemic on school life. One Deputy Head in London has had positive cases in Year 2 and Year 5 (siblings). This has resulted in the entire Year 2 bubble and the entire Year 5 bubble, as well as the breakfast club and after-school club bubbles, being sent home for 14 days, along with associated teachers and TAs – a total of 90 people. The switch to remote learning for these pupils was immediate. At St Peter’s, we have had staff who have to be at home while family members await tests (which are extremely difficult to come by), while other staff and pupils have had temperatures or coughs and have had to take a test and await results. We have had no positive results. If we do have a positive test for Covid-19 I will make sure to inform the community. However, it is not policy to inform parents if a test is being carried out, as this could come very onerous! We are very vigilant here and keep up-to-date with any changes in Government policy or guidance.

The main priority and focus for schools in dealing with the situation is to have small, contained bubbles, which we are doing here at St Peter’s, and a flexibility to move to online learning, which we also have at St Peter’s, as well as quick and informative communication. The latest information from the Government, as
well as the rule of six, means that some tweaks will be necessary here. We ask all external visitors to wear masks, as well as those parents who need to get out of the car to hand over children in Nursery and Reception. It is essential that you, as parents, are responsible with your families at home, abiding by the
new laws to keep our staff and community safe. This means that there should not be parties or sleepovers which would involve more than six. Thank you for your understanding.

Thank you very much indeed for the feedback completed in the parent survey sent last week. We are taking on board the feedback, as well as that from staff, and will be addressing issues in the coming weeks. We are, of course, planning for the days shortening, as well as more difficult weather, ahead. I can tell you
that we will move to more regular timings after half-term, with a 16:00-16:20 pick-up for Year 1 to Year 8, in particular. We are also moving towards more choice in the dining room and the introduction of some bubble activities in the 16:00-17:00 slot. Year 7 will be soon split into their two classes. The timetable will be adapted so that we can reintroduce drama, computing and religion & philosophy as well as the more traditional Games slots which will allow us to move to match play when permitted. More information is to follow.

Mrs Charlotte Johnston

Week 3 – Michaelmas 2020

Michaelmas - Week 3

Story time and bubble parties in the sunshine are the theme of this week’s newsletter. Every class and tutor received a surprise on Monday morning to
celebrate such a tremendous start to the term. The tutors had Wispa bars and the children bubble fans, which were received with much glee, jumping, clapping and popping!

I have loved visiting all the bubbles and reading stories, this week, starting with Nursery on Monday and then Reception on Tuesday, Year 1 on Wednesday and Year 2 on Thursday. I am so impressed with how all these Pre-prep children have got back into the swing of school life. They are making the most of the opportunities and learning, learning, learning.

The weather has been just glorious, a ‘golden’ September, which has meant news writing on a Monday is filled with stories of sandcastles, boating, fishing and crabbing. What a lucky lot they are! The games’ fields have been filled with much energy as the children have loved getting stuck into rugby, hockey and
fitness again. Lunches have begun again in the Dining Hall, a process of reintroduction which will take time as we adapt to the new cleaning/bubble regime. But, overall, this has started well.

Thank you to those of you who have taken your child for a haircut. I have definitely seen some improvements!

Mrs Charlotte Johnston

Week 2 – Michaelmas 2020

Michaelmas - Week 2

I have spent lots of time with the children this week: a leaders’ lunch today; admiring the Queen Victoria portraits in Year 2; listening to the drumming in Year
3; chatting to the pupils at drop-off and pick-up and talking to lots of children (a lot) about Benji the puppy, who I introduced to them all at break times this week. Although still rather frightened of any children (I had to carry him over my shoulder during dog walking club last year as he refused to move), there is progress being made and it is true that school dogs are wonderful for the children. I now know an enormous amount about all of your dogs at home!

Progress has been made on lunches and we trialled the use of the Dining Room, this week, for Pre-prep and Lower School. All pupils will be having proper lunch in the Dining Room from Monday, with Nursery in a slightly more temporary arrangement. But, all children will eat at tables with proper cutlery and more
hot food will be introduced into the menu as we work through the COVID-19 procedures. The children will be organised into super bubbles (Pre-prep, Lower School and Upper School) for lunch times. Thank you to the catering team and the staff for getting this in place by week 3. I know that the cleaning staff,
in particular, are very pleased!

Schools across the country are now open, with their new operating procedures, and it is interesting how interpretation of the guidelines differs depending on the location, size and organisational structure of each school. Difficulties this week have been in the speed of getting tests done if anyone displays symptoms but, hopefully, this is being addressed by the government. To reiterate, if a child does present with symptoms (a fever, a new persistent cough or lack of smell/taste), we will be contacting parents to take their children (and siblings) home for a test. We do understand the inconvenience of this for families; however, we must ensure that we keep the community safe. We would not inform parents if another child in the year group has symptoms, but we would if there was a positive test, as per our policy.

A final word on HAIRCUTS! Some of the children are looking very ‘Devon wild’ with long hair hanging in their eyes. Boys and Girls need to have hair out of their eyes for learning. Please do take your children to the hairdressers this weekend and tutors will be following up in the next couple of weeks. I will be buying a
supply of clips and Alice Bands over the weekend for boys and girls alike, if they can’t see their work because of their hair!

I wish you all a super weekend with your families.

Mrs Charlotte Johnston