I’m sitting in my office on Wednesday, the 24th of November, and I’ve just been outside to see the children taking part in our Great Britain challenge. It’s cold, it’s a bit grey, it’s muddy underfoot but the children were running around with smiles on their faces, determined to do their best to raise the most sponsor money for their chosen charity and their year group. I’ve also just watched our eco-warriors and Ms Porter receive the Bronze Healthy Schools award. As I speak, in the background I can hear children rehearsing the songs for performances later this term.
All in all, the autumn term in school is continuing the way it always does and we pride ourselves on the rich, interesting and challenging curriculum we offer all children. Although you hear about these things in newsletters and tweets, and hopefully your children tell you some of the things they have done when they come home from school, I am aware that some of you have had a very arm’s length relationship with the school. Covid measures have meant that we haven’t been able to have you in school as much as we would have hoped and for the parents in Year 1 and the FS, you have only ever known us in COVID times.
Earlier this week I told staff that I thought we were entering the part of the academic year when cracks can start to appear. We all get a little bit tired at this point in the term and the dark mornings and evenings and colder weather do not help. As magical as this festive period is in primary schools, it’s also one of the hardest parts of the year because there’s just so much to do. Christmas decorations, nativities, productions, sponsor days and Christmas lunches don’t just happen – they take a lot of planning and hard work. Having picked up on some other things happening out of school, I wonder whether it is also the time of year when cracks start to appear for some parents.
I know I date myself as being slightly older than the dinosaurs when I say that I miss what used to happen when I started teaching. Back then, there would be discussions on the playground and that was where it would end, with one or two parents voicing their thoughts. You would not have had twenty or thirty people having a collective chat. Now, with the advent of WhatsApp and other messaging services, parents can engage in a discussion with a large number of other parents from their child’s class or year group. I’m sure this is great when it comes to little reminders about PE day and organising events after school.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve written to parents about the dangers of discussing the school on social media. Past events have taught us that this is an area with potential risks and I asked parents at the FS Parents’ event in June to be responsible and sensible when engaging with discussions online.
This week I heard that there has been discussion among some Foundation Stage parents who are disappointed that, although the nativity is still happening, it won’t be performed in front of them. Instead, parents will be sent a film of the nativity which they can watch as often as they like. I understand this frustration but hope that parents know we have to act on the advice of the Local Authority and Public Health England. It would have been easier to cancel the nativity rather than to film it, but we have decided to carry on so that the children have this experience.
I am conscious that the reputation we are building with our newest parents is not what they would have experienced in a normal year and that these parents do not have the benefit of knowing all the things that we usually do. New parents to the school are learning what we are like and we are learning what they are like too. This is harder to do when you can’t meet face to face. We are grateful that the FS Curriculum evening in September was still able to go ahead face to face.
You only need to look at the school calendar for the year ahead to see just how much we do as a school. Every single event only happens because staff are willing to go that bit extra. You couldn’t begin to imagine the additional workload that is created by organising a Curriculum Evening, a residential trip or an assembly.
Whilst it may be some time before the Local Authority and Public Health England say that we can have parents back in school, what I do know is that staff are working hard to make the school better and better.
We will endeavour to do as many events as we can this year and, where possible, we will invite you in to school to join us. However, I have a duty of care to the 420 children in school and the 70 staff and I will always follow the advice I am given from outside agencies when it comes to COVID measures. In the last five weeks alone, we have had five positive cases among staff and sixteen among children. Thankfully, we have been able to cover classes because staff have been willing to give up their release time so that other classes can be taught by a Wistow member of staff. I also heard today of a school that has not been able to find a supply teacher after ringing three agencies and another that had to send a class home as they had no one who could teach them. You can see why I want to keep everyone safe and COVID out of the building!
Along with all staff, I genuinely hope that we can see some restrictions being lifted at the start of next term and we look forward to seeing you in school. It has felt too long!
This week we have been learning about our local area as part of 'Understanding the World' curriculum. During free flow play Elliot busied himself at the creation station, he remembered the different points of interest we saw and could add some to his picture.
From Tuesday 30th November until Friday 3rd December, the Book Fair will be coming to OWPS.
RNIB Stamp Appeal
This festive season, OWPS is collecting stamps to help raise money for Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
If you receive cards and letters through the post, please can you save the stamps and place them in our collection box in the front office at school. We will recycle them to the RNIB for much-needed funds for their services.
How stamps make a difference
By collecting stamps you're helping to break down the barriers that stop people with sight loss living life to the full. The RNIB accepts all stamps: new or used, first or second class, foreign, first day covers, presentation packs or albums. Stamps are sold by weight and they raise £20 per kilogramme of stamps, so it's a brilliant way to raise money.
Old and foreign currency
You can also support RNIB by donating disused or foreign money.
If you have any surplus foreign currency from overseas trips, or any unusable old British currency hiding at the back of the drawer, they would love to receive it!
As we hope you all know, we are a school that believes very much in the importance of reading. As ever we are continuously reviewing our approach, considering impact, and identifying areas of success as well as things we want to improve. As such the pupils and staff are being surveyed about their thoughts on reading in school. We would like to hear your thoughts too. The survey should only take a few minutes and will hopefully provide us with some insight into where we are with reading. The questionnaire will be accessible for 2 weeks and I will then analyse the data and share our findings once all surveys are completed.
Simply click on the link below to access the questionnaire:
Thank you so much for all your support for Children in Need on Friday 19th November 2021. We are delighted to announce that the children raised a total of £581.50. Thank you so much for all your donations!
Thank you if you have already emailed in details of your child's achievements this month. There is still time to let us know your child's achievements before next week's edition of the newsletter. Here is a reminder of how you can get in touch...
At Orton Wistow Primary School, we recognise that success comes in all different shapes and sizes! We celebrate the children's achievements in school in the Achievements section of the newsletter and website.
Many of the children, however, are also achieving things outside of school. We would like to recognise those successes too.
It might be that your child has passed a music or dance exam, gained a karate belt, starred in a show, volunteered, taken part in a sporting event or done something that they didn't think was possible!
If you would like to share your child's achievements with us so that we can celebrate their success, please complete the Celebrating Success form. Alternatively, you can contact us at email@example.com. Please remember to state if you give your consent for any photos to be included in the newsletter and on the website. Contributions will be considered for inclusion in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
We look forward to hearing about your children's extra-curricular achievements!
As the weather turns colder, we thought it would be useful to remind you of the arrangements regarding snow days at the school. An email was also sent out earlier this week.
On very rare occasions, it is necessary to close the school due to unforeseen circumstances, such as adverse weather conditions where there is a health and safety issue or when staff cannot reach the school. We recognise that parents appreciate advanced warnings when this happens but hope that you understand that the unpredictable nature of weather means that we often have to make a decision on the morning in question.
If it is necessary to close the school, we would contact you via Parent Mail and Twitter and would add an emergency message to the front page of our website. We also inform local radio when we have to close in winter, and they broadcast this. If you do NOT hear from us, you should assume that the school is open – even if other local schools are closed!
If you have any questions regarding this, please contact the office.
Children who missed the flu vaccinations on 18th October 2021 and who have already handed in their consent forms will be given a flu vaccination on 3rd December 2021 when the vaccinations staff return to school at 12.30pm.
Recycle Print Cartridges and Raise money for OWPS
If you have any empty ink cartridges, you can bring them in and leave them in the collection box at the front of the school.
We will receive money for the ink cartridges, and you will be helping the environment with your recycling. Thank you.
Dogs at the School Gate
This is a gentle reminder to all those who bring dogs that wait outside the school grounds that some adults and children can be unsettled if the dogs bark at each other.
FOWS Christmas Fayre Cancelled
Hopefully, you have already seen the FOWS Facebook posts and Tweets regarding the cancellation of the Christmas Fayre. In case you haven't FOWS would like to let you know that in light of the continuing pandemic & the high number of cases within Peterborough itself, they have taken the difficult decision to cancel the Orton Wistow Primary School Christmas Fayre on the 3rd December. This is very unfortunate as it is a much loved & popular event in our school calendar, however, FOWS feel it is the right course of action at this time. The FOWS Children's Christmas Sale on 10th December (held in school time for children to purchase Christmas gifts if they wish) is currently still due to go ahead.
School-aged children and young people (primary and secondary) who are in receipt of benefit-related free school meals can receive 4 sessions at one of the Peterborough holiday provisions at no cost during the Christmas holidays.
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
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.
You can also contact us at email@example.com if you have any comments or queries about the e-newsletter or website. We look forward to hearing from you!