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WEEK 7 - Friday 23 October 2020
At the end of a half-term that has felt like an entire school year, I would like to take the opportunity to celebrate the achievements that the entire Penshurst community have shown since we returned in early September.
Firstly, Penshurst has stayed open for all pupils. I know that, through absolutely no fault of their own, many schools have sadly been forced to ask pupils to stay home and we are never complacent about our own chances of staying open all year but we are still delighted that we have kept learning going for the past seven weeks. This has taken a huge toll on the staff who are exhausted. When asked what their plans are for the next week, they generally say, “nothing. Sleeping.” They have earned their rest and will come back, refreshed, to do it all over again in ten days time.
Which brings me to the pupils. Sadly, I have not been able to visit Penshurst as much this half term in order to keep staffing bubbles intact. However, Mrs Spencer has kept me fully informed about the way in which the pupils have responded to the changes to our school. They have shown such resilience and maturity beyond their years and we are incredibly proud of them.
At these times, it is more important than ever that we keep our communication channels open and that you are able to receive messages from us at all times. Our use of instant messaging and email is invaluable. Please always remember to update us if you change your telephone number or email address. Please also remind friends who also have children at our school to do the same. Remember that, if you use the Parent App to receive messages, then you must switch on your notifications to receive our communications.
Finally, when we send you a message, you will not be able to reply to it. If you wish to contact the school, please always use the email@example.com address.
I am incredibly proud that we have been able to provide unbroken education for your child these past seven weeks. I thank you for your support and hope that you and your family enjoy a lovely half term together.
Take care and stay safe
I hope you are enjoying the beginning of your half term and that the children are taking a well-deserved break. Teachers have been busy in school today working on our development plan for the year and organising our curriculum priorities for each year group. It has been a pleasure to see all of the children back in school learning about their year group themes and enjoying being back with their friends. I have watched lessons on the Hull Trawlers, famous illustrators, Barnum, diversity, land use, couture fashion, consumer choice, Peter Rabbit, people who help us and civil rights to name just a few and it has been fascinating to watch our children debate first world problems, extend their knowledge and learn new skills.
We have reached the halfway point of this term unscathed and I thank you all for your help in keeping our school safe. Fortunately, the weather has also been on our side over the last few weeks and we've not encountered the normal 'Hull Fair' bitterness; however, the rain is sure to descend upon us after half term and I would like to remind you of arrangements for collection at the end of the day. Currently, we run a 20-minute collection window from 3-3.20 and over the past 7 weeks this has become a much quicker process with nearly all children picked up by 3.10. Therefore, after half term we will narrow the collection window from 3.00-3.15 to shorten the time children are outside. We reserve the right to lengthen the stagger if the site is too busy. Please remember that if you have children in Year 1 and 2 and want to pick them up from their classroom, you must use the Penshurst Avenue entrance.
A couple of housekeeping bits... There has been a slight increase to school lunch prices of 15p which will make meals £2.25 per day after half term. Children should still bring as little as possible into school as we are so limited in space in the classrooms due to the way we have to position tables and chairs at the moment. Children should bring their PE kit on a Monday and take it home on a Friday and should bring a water bottle every day (bottles should only contain water).
Thank you for your cooperation regarding Parents Evening appointments which appear to have run very smoothly. Teachers have commented on how easy the system was and how lovely it was to talk to every parent about how their child has settled back into school. Many of you have started to ask about Christmas arrangements and all I can say at the moment is that we are working on how we can still do all of our lovely Christmas activities safely. It may be that we will be recording productions and asking for permission for your child to take part so we can share these special moments with you. Rest assured that Christmas will certainly happen at Penshurst! The good news is that PHE have now said it is safe for children in Early Years and KS1 to sing again as long as they are following social distancing rules and facing forwards. Singing is so important for young children so this is much welcomed at Penshurst and means we can sing all of our phonics and times table songs again! Some of you also asked about SAT's and at the moment we have been told that Y2/6 SATs and Y1/2 phonics screening will go ahead as normal beginning with Year 2 phonics in November as they missed the June screening. We will of course let you know if we receive revised guidance.
All that remains for me to say is, have a lovely half term and I look forward to seeing you all again in a week's time.
Head of School
WEEK 6 - Friday 16 October 2020
Well it's Friday and once again I have no idea where the week has gone! I have been fortunate to watch many super lessons this week and have especially enjoyed watching Year 1 learn their sounds in their Read Write Inc. lessons. It is amazing to see how far the children have already come in their reading in just six weeks.
It has also been a pleasure to talk to the children about their lead texts in their theme lessons. The children were so incredibly knowledgeable about their novels and were obviously hooked by the stories. In Year 6, the text 'Wild Boy' seems to have been particularly engaging and I have enjoyed talking about the writer's intent and vision with the children.
When talking to the Y2 children, I'm afraid we didn't do much delving into their learning as the main topic of conversation appears to be missing teeth at the moment! I was reliably informed that, 'its ok to lose your teeth once as they will grow back .If you lose them again the tooth fairy will be cross as she is busy and you will just have to do without teeth for ever and ever and ever.'
Transitions in and out of school are still smooth despite the downturn in the weather and we hope that we will not have to make too many amendments to collection arrangements. Please remember if you have a child in Years 1 or 2, you may wish to swap to the Penshurst entrance to pick them up as you can therefore collect them from their classrooms instead of the KS1 playground which avoids the youngest children standing out in the wet weather.
On this note, please can I ask you to be vigilant when parking near the school. At the Penshurst Avenue entrance there should be no parking in front of the school gates or on the zig zags on the road. I have received a number of complaints from parents and residents regarding the parking on Penshurst Avenue and I am concerned that I have seen some very dangerous parking on corners and pavements. While I appreciate that many of you need to get to work, it would be fantastic if more of you could park away from school and walk to the gates or indeed if you live in the surrounding streets, to walk to school. I know many parents have informed the council and PCSOs of the problem and ticketing did begin on the Winthorpe Road side of school last week. Thank you to those who are helping by not parking in the bays near school at the Winthorpe entrance; this has made this side of school a lot safer for the children coming in and out of school.
On the KS1 playground we have made a minor adjustment in moving the year groups around so that the older year groups are now nearer the gates as many walk home on their own. Just keep an eye out when you collect as you may need to wait in a different area of the playground.
The colder weather has seen the return of gloves and scarves; you may wish to consider the old fashioned approach of putting the gloves on elastic to avoid them going missing. I'm pretty sure children eat gloves at this school as we seem to be constantly searching for lost woollen items!
Have a lovely weekend
Head of School
WEEK 5 - Friday 9 October 2020
Next week marks the beginning of our Parent Evening appointments which last over the last two weeks of half term. Similarly to our normal Parent Evenings, appointments will be limited to five minutes and are intended to be a quick catch up on how your child is doing in school and any areas of concern or celebrations that either teacher or parent would like to discuss. If there are issues that need further discussion, the teacher will book you in for another phone call.
Please bear with us regarding swapping home reading books as we are limited to how many we have in school. We are having to isolate books each week before giving them back out again - that's 500 reading books in isolation each week! If you find yourself without a home reading book for a day, please use Reading Eggs to access a book or in turn, read recipes, newspapers, magazines etc. Any reading is beneficial.
'Pupil of the Week' certificates will be coming home from now on as they are laminated, quarantined and disinfected. We are still trying to use online forums for all of our communication and it will be very rare when any paper makes its way home.
Behaviour in school has been very good on the whole and children have settled in well. We are just having to remind a couple of year groups about the importance of walking safely back and forth to the dining hall. We will practise this with these year groups to ensure all procedures are being followed correctly.
As the weather turns, please ensure your child brings a coat every day and that they have an outdoor PE kit with them. We will try to take the children outside for PE as much as possible. With movement in class being limited at the moment, due to forward facing desks and limited sharing, it is really essential that the children get as much time as possible outside at lunch and break to run around.
I would like to finish by saying how very proud I am of the children who, in these challenging and different times, have adjusted so well. As I walk the corridors, I see engaged and happy children, learning and laughing. They are a credit to this school and yourselves. Now that the controversial jacket potato has made a return, the only thing missing is the singing. Let's hope that also makes a triumphant return very soon!
Have a lovely weekend
Head of School