I am starting to feel that it is a badge of honour to reach the end of a half term and to still be in one piece, leading a happy, successful school. As we reached the Christmas holidays I was grateful that we had only had the one COVID case in school. This half term has been an entirely different affair!
We have now had eleven cases connected with the school since January and almost as many staff told to isolate through the NHS app. It says a lot about the calibre and team spirit at OWPS that we have managed to get through the worst of this without faltering. I sometimes feel that my team must be made of rubber as they are so flexible! I am always proud to be the Head of such a great school but this is truer now than ever before. I am also grateful that we have such a fantastic relationship with parents and families and we hope that you still feel part of what is happening in school.
There has been a lot in the press recently about lost learning and the need for children to catch up. I’m not sure how anyone can accurately predict, let alone measure, what children have not learnt or missed out during the last year. I think it is dangerous and alarming to sow the idea that children haven’t learnt anything whilst they have been out of school. This is not what we discovered when the children came back last September.
As teachers, our job is to find out where the children are at, work out where we can get them to, plan the route and then help them to get there. But that isn’t something new, it’s what teachers do week in, week out. It is our bread and butter. When we reopen fully, hopefully on March 8th, we will welcome the children back with open arms and then decide whether we need to adapt our plans. Thankfully, the work we did last year on re-planning our whole curriculum and designing Knowledge Organisers for the children has meant that we know exactly what the next steps are in each subject, how they build on what has gone before and prepare the children for what is coming next. If you haven’t already, please check out the Curriculum area of our website.
There has also been a lot said about the effect of lockdown on children’s mental well-being. I remember that last September we were worried that the children who came back to school would be a pale shadow of their former selves. That wasn’t the case at all! They were just as bubbly, funny, silly, engaging and wonderful as always…which is a reflection of the love and support they had received from you.
We have always been a school that values developing the whole child, and not just their academic achievements. It would have been easy to only concentrate on providing online, academic learning this term but we wanted the children to have other things to remind them of Orton Wistow, which is why our ongoing work on mental health and well-being is so important. We have had a Well-being working party for over a year, looking at how we can develop this area for staff and children. This year, things have moved up a gear and we have a number of initiatives to help develop children’s creativity, fitness, imagination, all while having fun. Please check out the mental health and well-being area on our website as well as the regular section in our newsletters.
Our Feel Good February Team (Mrs Francis, Mrs Fincham and Mrs Kaur) are doing a fantastic job of thinking of ways to promote good mental health. As you could see from the film of Mr Marks and I reading the winning jokes last week, they really did make me giggle. (I have made my family watch the film and sent the link to my dad!) Thanks to the initiative of Mrs Schneider, our Digital Lead, our work came to the attention of the Peterborough Telegraph, and this week was picked up by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire because it links so well with their Make a Difference: Happy Heads campaign. When they called me to ask for an interview they asked me about why at OWPS, we thought mental-health and well-being were so important. I told them that one thing I had learnt early on in my career is that you don’t tend to see parents because they have a concern that their child hasn’t reached an academic target, you hear from them when their child is unhappy at school. As a parent I feel the same. You can’t flourish at school (or probably at work as well) if you are not happy and settled. We may not always get it right (children are complex, unpredictable things!) but we will always do our best to put things right if a child is unhappy.
When school reopens fully we will, undoubtedly, want children to complete academic work, but we will also find time to share stories, play games and have fun. I hope that when restrictions are lifted for us all, you will also make the most of getting out and about and reconnecting with loved ones.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank Mr Newton for his hard work as Acting Y3/4 Team Leader whilst Mrs Fidgett has been on maternity leave. I’m sure when he said yes to the post he hadn’t anticipated what an eventful twelve months lay in store! I would also like to thank Mrs Chapman for her commitment and hard work whilst teaching the Flamingoes class. It has not been an easy time to join a new school, especially one in a different part of the country, but Mrs Chapman has made it look easy. We are pleased that she will still be with us for two days a week after half term, one day when she covers the Flamingoes class for Mrs Fidgett. Finally, we are looking forward to having Mrs Fidgett back in school as we have missed her!
I hope that you have a restful half term and that the weather means that we can get some fresh air. I haven’t forgotten the amazing weather we had last March/April and hope that we can have a repeat this year. I plan to switch off from work completely and to catch up on some DIY at home…as well as some knitting!
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
In this section, you can see the learning that children are doing both at home and in school. It includes new experiences and skills gained at home as well as home learning set by OWPS.
Friday 12th February is Chinese New Year and marks the first day of the lunar calendar. Celebrations usually last for 16 days, including the Spring Festival and culminate in a Lantern Festival.
We are coming to the end of the Year of the Rat. The new lunar calendar, which is celebrated on Friday, will see the start of the the Year of the Ox.
In the past, the Year of Ox occurred in the following years: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009. Were any of you born in the Year of the Ox?
The next time the Year of the Ox occurs will be in 2033!
How has OWPS been celebrating Chinese New Year?
This week, children learning at home and in school were able to watch a special assembly about Chinese New Year by Miss Tansley. You can learn more about The Year of the Ox by clicking here to view the video.
Children have also been learning about Chinese New Year in lessons and making crafts. The children in Foundation Stage enjoyed making a Chinese lantern and Chinese Dragon for Chinese New Year.
Virtual Way to Celebrate Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year celebrations are a little different this year. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, many festivities and parades around the U.K. (including Peterborough) are unable to take place. Instead, the celebrations have moved online.
Royal Museums Greenwich are offering people the chance to book FREE tickets to view their online celebrations for Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year facts and traditions
A live Lion Dance and Music
Storytelling - The Legend of Nian
Craft Activities to try at home
Tai Chi and Qigong demonstration
To find out more and to book a FREE place, please click here.
Photo by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash
Art Challenge - Week 3
By Mrs McIntosh, Art Lead
Each week, Mrs McIntosh sets the OWPS weekly Art Challenge. The aim is to encourage OWPS children learning in school and at home to be creative. Everyone is invited to take part.
You can post your art on twitter using the hashtag #OWPSARTCHALLENGE.
First, we take look at what the children created in response to last week's challenge, and then we find out what Mrs McIntosh's NEW challenge is for week two.
On Wednesday 10th February, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire invited Mr Eardley for an interview. The host of the morning radio show, Dotty McLeod, spoke to him as part of the Make A Difference: Happy Heads campaign.
The campaign shares stories of hope on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. The aim is to 'Make A Difference' to those in need of support. Dotty wanted to hear how OWPS is supporting children's Mental Health.
Mr Eardley told her about Feel Good February and how it is helping children at OWPS.
Alex in Year 5 also took part in the interview. He described how he has got involved with Feel Good February.
To hear the full interview, you can click here, sign in to BBC Sounds and fast-forward to 1:32:00. It is available for twenty-eight days.
Mr Cowles has recorded a new video giving details of this week's fitness challenge. How many loops can you do of the circuit in 1 minute! To view the video, please click here.
Mr Cowles has also compiled some February Keep Active Challenges, one for every day of the month. Why not have a go at the daily challenges during half term?
Share Your Progress
No matter which Fitness Challenge you do, keep sending us your results so that we can celebrate your achievements!
Tweet your results #OWPSFITNESSCHALLENGE. You can also email us at email@example.com. Please remember to state that you give your consent for photos to be published on the website and in the newsletter if you choose to send us a photograph.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
World Book Day 2021
By Mrs Edwards, Reading Lead
On Thursday 4th March, Orton Wistow Primary School will be celebrating World Book Day.
Class teachers will be in touch after half term with plans for each class. The aim is that Thursday 4th March will be a day on which the children will be able to choose their learning from a variety of activities.
We hope that this will be an opportunity for a reduced screen time day that offers a chance to explore and enjoy books!
We will be trying out the new 'Virtual World Book Day Tokens' too!
To discover more about World Book Day 2021 and to visit the website, please click here.
Photo by Olga Tutunaru on Unsplash
Mental Health and Well-Being News
A weekly section on how to maintain good mental health and well-being.
Disclaimer: Orton Wistow Primary School does not endorse any products, services or activities that appear in the Community section of this newsletter, and is not responsible for any contract entered into by either party. Given the current circumstances, we would recommend all parents check with any providers regarding the status of these services, activities and clubs
Coming Up in School!
Updates on what is Coming Up in School will recommence after the national lockdown ends.
If there is anything that you or your child would like to share with us for the newsletter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please clearly state in the email if you give your consent to photos being published in the newsletter and on the website.
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