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Head’s blog

Lent Term 2021 – Week 1

Lent - Week 3

Welcome back for the Lent term and Happy New Year to you all. We welcome new members of staff and 12 new pupils. We have a new testing centre being set up, a skeleton staff onsite looking after key worker children and all other children remote learning at home.

Well, here we are again! Week 1 of Lockdown School. This one slightly different, however, as we had only 12 hours to turn it all around. We have gone back to the timetables when we were last in lockdown. We are doing our two-week review, with surveys going to parents, pupils and staff next Thursday, and already have
some things that we will be looking at: with some ‘Live’ optional activity sessions for Music and Sport, particularly, happening in the afternoons which the children can log on to if they wish. It is good to mix things up and keep things fresh and your feedback is very welcome; but please wait for a week and feedback in the survey, that will give us all time to get things bedded in. Do make sure that the children log in to story time every afternoon, whatever their age. We are mixing things up this year with different readers from myself, to Mrs Ball, Mrs Wellington-Smith and our new Librarian, with lots of fun ideas as to how the children can join in. This will all start from next week, with tutors getting it going this week.

I am well aware how difficult it is homeschooling, particularly when you have more than one child, different in age, and are trying to work yourselves. It is a tough situation. Well done to all for getting through the first week and thank you for the support. You will have received an important letter from Mr Middleton with
regards to fees. Our thoughts go out to some of our parents whose children we are looking after at key worker school, who are working on the frontline at the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital and working with the enormous roll out of the vaccination program. One parent vaccinated 400 people in two days last week. I have offered the school site to the vaccination program and know that other schools have done the same. The sooner we get those vaccinations done, the sooner we can get back to normal.

We welcome new members of staff: Mrs Stevens, HLTA, and Ms Hodder-Williams, Librarian, as well as Mrs Pettet in Year 4. Miss Green has had her baby, Zachary Joseph Ashley weighing in at a mighty 9lb 1oz on 27 December. I am sure you will join me in offering our congratulations.

I will sign off by saying that St Peter’s was the first to get all children back on site last year following lockdown and please rest assured that, as soon as we
are allowed, we will do the same. Remote Learning Guides are being sent out separately today, where all the information you need can be found in one
place.

I wish you a happy and safe weekend with your families.

Mrs Charlotte Johnston
Head

Michaelmas 2020 – Week 12

Michaelmas - Week 12

Thank you to the PTA for their secret visit last weekend for a socially-distanced decorating committee and purchasing the wonderful Christmas tree and outdoor
lights for the main house. The children and staff could not believe it when they arrived to such beautiful decorations on Monday morning. We would like to say a
big ‘thank you’ to Mrs Falloon and St Bridget Nurseries for kindly donating our large outdoor Christmas tree. Don’t forget to look at our Christmas Newsletter, where you will find a 15% discount code for St Peter’s families to use on trees at St Bridget. Here is a little video of some children saying thank you and for all of you to be able to see the decorations!

We are very grateful to Gareth Steenson for running a Google Meet with the children next week to show them his medals. They are all very excited! Good news about a vaccine this week. We look forward to moving back to normality next year. I have an end of term letter, which was sent out earlier today, outlining some minor plans and changes, as well as a summary of staffing news. We will keep the online calendar for one more term, with a return to the printed one in the Trinity term 2021.

The Pre-prep Nativity is being shared this week – feel free to watch at home. The children and staff will all enjoy watching it in school as part of the Christmas festivities next week. Quite frankly, I think it is an absolute triumph!! There is more information in the School Notices section of the newsletter.

Have a super weekend with your families.

Charlotte Johnston
Head

Michaelmas 2020 – Week 11

Michaelmas - Week 15

It has started to get a bit chillier and children and staff are wrapping up warm for drop-off and pick-up. We are, for the most part, healthy and hearty, although
some in the community have been felled by a particularly nasty tummy bug this week. Christmas plans are afoot, with trees arriving this week and a safe, ‘Covid
friendly’ Christmas Christingle service, on the last day of term outside, which will replace my favourite event of the year: our candlelit service in Exmouth Holy
Trinity church. I think Mr Hoban’s vision has taken inspiration from the great tradition of Christmas Day Carols at the Bridge Inn in Topsham. Mr Hoban will be
on the accordion and we can’t wait. Our theme will be ‘Focus on the Light’.

Please see our plea later in the newsletter for any standing event-style outside lights that you may have knocking around in the garden; or large battery operated candles that you wouldn’t mind us borrowing, would also be welcome. It would be lovely to create a real effect. We will be sharing videos and photos for parents to see and also the amazing Pre-prep Nativity video, filmed last week, and put together by the talented Mr Brett in the Marketing Department.

I have loved watching ALL of the House singing competition entries today. Thank you so much for your support recording the children at home. They are a delight to watch, from Nursery all the way up to Year 8. The winner will be announced in our end of term final assembly and we have given the children one more
week to do entries now they have seen their friends. We have Carol Singers at the front door, Christmas outfits, siblings together, dance routines and some incredible musical performances. Well done to the Scarth family for a once in a lifetime family entry; even the dog wore antlers!

As you will have read, Devon is moving into Tier 2 when we come out of Lockdown next week. Please can I remind parents that it is essential the rules are followed at home, to allow us to keep things going here at school? People are not allowed to visit each other’s houses indoors. This means, unfortunately, no
playdates or sleepovers. Thank you for abiding by these national rules to keep everyone safe.

Look out for our school Christmas Fair Newsletter, which we will send out separately today, with discounts for families, as it would have been the onsite event this weekend.

I will finish by sharing with you this beautiful view from the school yesterday.

Charlotte Johnston
Head

Michaelmas 2020 – Week 10

Michaelmas - Week 10

Thank you to all the parents for their feedback in the survey I sent out last week.  We are responding to this, particularly with regards to providing plainer choices
alongside our new menu. Some parents have asked about whether St Peter’s will be purchasing our own COVID-19 testing kits. At the moment, the answer is ‘no’. The problems we were experiencing at the start of the term with parents unable to book tests has now been solved and it is possible to now book a test immediately. Our experience is that results are coming back much more quickly, usually within 24 hours, which is much more manageable. The other problem with ‘bought in’ tests is that they would not be valid from an insurance point of view, meaning that tests would have to run alongside those done by the NHS anyway. Therefore, we will continue to follow the government guidance and ask those with COVID symptoms to book an NHS test.

Well, it has been ALL ABOUT the nativities, this week.  A highlight every year, the Early Years and the Pre-prep nativities are a showpiece of thoughtful tableau, wit, sparkle, Christmas magic and heaps of fun. We would normally have warm mince pies and mulled wine, a full lighting rig and programmes. It is a very special St Peter’s event. And this year, in a global pandemic, do we cancel it?? NO WE DO NOT.

The nativities are still happening, combined into one, all credit to the amazing team and all happening virtually. We have a green screen set up in the Wessex Hall, a new video camera and a creative and innovative script written by Mrs Bruce-Jones. We still have a stable and we still have the story of the Nativity. At St Peter’s, we will not let ANYTHING stop our Christmas traditions! The children are all working incredibly hard. On a recent walk round, I came upon some examples of outstanding technology being used to support learning. In Year 5, self-directed learning in a WW2 History lesson saw children conducting and sharing individual research; A Maths ratio lesson in Year 8 on recipes saw the children moving seamlessly from Chromebook guidance to written examples. Year 4 have filmed their Heroes presentations and Mrs Hurley has put them on a website for the parents and staff to view. I read Reception a story over Zoom using an interactive story book, which they have then been able to reread over the week. Technology is embedded in so much of what we do now and there are benefits in terms of learning and experience.

 

This week, we launch Atom Learning: a new online learning platform, which Mrs Ball makes reference to in her blog this week. The really exciting thing about this, and new technology coming into the education sector, is that it is ‘adaptive’. This means, if a child keeps getting the answer right, they will be automatically moved onto more difficult questions and, if they don’t, they will be given easier ones until these building blocks are secure. Each child works at their own pace. A truly individual approach which will see accelerated individual progress.

Have a lovely weekend.

Charlotte Johnston
Head