Head’s blog

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

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

Week 9 – Michaelmas 2020

Michaelmas - Week 9

It has been a super week, culminating with Children in Need today which included a fun assembly (in bubbles) led by our Heads of School, Max and Megan.
The highlight for the week, however, was the beautiful and poignant Remembrance Service led by Dr Evans. We stood in our bubbles and the children had all made poppies. It was the first time in a long time that we were able to be together, standing as one community, and it was very special, particularly when a CTCRM helicopter flew low over us at 11:00. We aren’t sure if they did it on purpose having seen us line up earlier, but it really was extraordinary.  Congratulations to Bertie on playing the Last Post so well.

Rehearsals are going well for the Nativities this week and activities have started with a bang. Thank you to your patience with us, as we bed this in logistically. I know how thrilled the children are to be having their Friday and after school activities and it does feel like St Peter’s is getting back to normal life …. slightly!
We have had a new company come and take individual photos of the children this year. They were a very impressive outfit and spent more time with the children creating some really fantastic shots, both individually and with siblings. Do make sure to look for the card your child came home with on Monday, which will give you the unique code for the website.  We can help if it has been lost! Click on the image and it will bring up all the options.  There are some tremendous ones – thumbs up, cheeky hands in pockets, siblings grinning standing back to back. We are thrilled and I am sure they will make tremendous Christmas

Our thoughts are turning towards preparing for Christmas here at school. We are happy to advertise any goods, gifts or services in a special ‘Christmas Fair Newsletter’ which will have discounts for St Peter’s families. If you are interested, please let us know via hmoffice@stpetersprepschool.co.uk. Due to the lockdown, the PTA is not able to run the Lands End to John O’Groats, but will launch a fitness challenge in the New Year.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Charlotte Johnston

Week 8 – Michaelmas 2020

Michaelmas - Week 8

Well, off we go again into another national lockdown. Thank goodness we can keep school open. There is much evidence to show nationally from the previous lockdown that children simply do not make the same progress when working from home. It showed the importance of the teacher in the classroom, the importance of the children being with each other and the importance of social development, which of course we all knew! In this new lockdown, we do have new regulations around face covering wearing for Years 7, 8 and staff, which I have communicated separately. As you know, we are following strict policies and procedures and thank you to all parents for their support of the staff team.

St Peter’s has been a hub of activity this week. We have welcomed three new pupils and three new staff. We have all enjoyed some new food, with the herby ciabatta crumbed chicken, bonfire chilli and toffee apple crumble being particularly enjoyed by everyone, staff and pupils alike! Thank you to Mrs Richards and
her team for working so hard. You will notice gradual changes over the next few weeks.

Friday activities have started this week and the PTA funded Home Economics Room has been used by Year 6 to make some banana muffins. Plans are in place for Christmas biscuits too. I am so happy to see how excited the children have been.  We have had to cancel any prospective tours for new families due t o the new lockdown. However, I have enjoyed videoing a virtual tour of the grounds, which we are able t o send on to families enquiring about St Peter’s. Year 5 had a wonderful day themed around WWII, thanks to Mrs Colwill and Mrs Evans who organised such fantastic learning opportunities. I popped in to see a Morse Code workshop and some seeds being planted in a ‘Dig for Victory’ session. The first Student Council meeting was undertaken in one of the Marine tents (socially distanced).

I’m delighted to share some staffing news: Mrs Stoyles has had a little girl! Phoebe Rose (pictured right) was born on Sunday 1 November, weighing 7lb 7oz. All are doing well. This half term, we are delighted to welcome two further new staff to St Peter’s. Mrs Jane North will be working as a Teaching Assistant in Reception to cover Mrs Stoyles’ maternity leave and Keith Barnard is our new PCV Driver, taking over from Mike Chalmers when he leaves us next week. I know you will make them feel welcome. Mrs Nic Lingard leaves us this week following 15 years at the school on the catering team. We wish her and Mike well in their retirement.

Do take a look at the activity programme which starts next week be tween 16:00 and 17:00 for children to take part in new adventures and opportunities. Well done to Mr Budgett and all the staff team for getting this off the ground.

Charlotte Johnston