Monday 14th December 2020
After a challenging week personally, I am excited to be able to return to school tomorrow to enjoy the end of term festivities and the final build up to Christmas. It has felt like a long time away, but I am chomping at the bit to return and to see everyone. I would like to pass on a huge thank to Mrs Myers for stepping in so brilliantly during my absence and to whole staff team for the amazing job that they continue to do.
End of term – Friday 18th December
Last week, the Department for Education (DfE) announced that they were giving permission for schools to close on Thursday 17th December instead of the previously scheduled date of Friday 18th December. In order to achieve this, schools were being encouraged to bring forward a training day to make Friday 18th December a non-teaching day with schools closed to all pupils and staff.
The main reason for this proposal is because school staff responsible for contact tracing are being asked by Public Health England to make themselves available for six days following the closure of schools. As things stand, this means that these staff members will need to be available to work up to - and including - Christmas Eve. From a well-being perspective, by closing a day earlier on Thursday 17th December, these staff would not then have to maintain their availability beyond Wednesday 23rd December.
At Collingham, we are remaining open on Friday 18th December and we will see out the autumn term in the same way we have always intended.
Throughout 2020, we have made a commitment to our children and families to remain open at every opportunity. It is imperative that the children are in school to learn and spend time with their friends whilst ensuring that parents are free to be able to work and run households. There has been enough disruption through school closures, self-isolation and collapsed bubbles as it is so it is just not right to take another day away.
Christmas Performance DVDs
Following the recording of our Christmas performance a couple of weeks ago, I am delighted to inform you that the DVDs of this have now been delivered to school and they will be ready to send home with the children on Wednesday afternoon.
This has been an unusual year and - whilst we were disappointed that we could not hold our normal Christmas performances with all of our parents in attendance – we were really pleased to find a way of sharing something different with you all.
Thank you so much for supporting the children with your £5 purchases of the DVD as this has raised a grand total of £577.20 for a charity chosen by our School Council. As always, we are incredibly grateful for your kindness and generosity. We hope that you enjoy the performance and I am sure the children will love seeing themselves on screen!
Christmas Jumper Day
Tomorrow (Tuesday 15th December) will be our annual Christmas Jumper Day to raise money for ‘Save the Children’. All the children and staff are encouraged to attend school wearing their festive-attire. We kindly request a £1 donation to participate if this is at all possible.
Be a Santa to a Senior
Over the past couple of weeks, the children have been making lots of creative items to donate to ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’. These are to be used as gifts for elderly residents within our local community to put a smile on their faces.
The items were a small gesture to make a difference to anyone who might be experiencing loneliness at Christmas time. This will have undoubtedly been compounded even more this year with the lockdown situations and the continuing challenges of the pandemic.
On Friday, the items were collected from school by Heather Welsh of ‘Home Instead Wetherby & North East’. She was absolutely blown away by the quality of what the children had spent time making and said to the staff in school that they were the best she had ever received. Later in the afternoon, Heather took the time to email me. She said:
“I have just been to your school to collect the items for ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’. Wow! What an amazing collection. I am totally overwhelmed by the amount of such lovely baubles, cards and calendars that are included in your generous gifts for the elderly within our community. We will be sorting these out on Monday and delivering them straight away. I hope everyone at Collingham has a very Merry Christmas!"
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 27th November 2020
November has certainly been a testing month, but I hope that we can look forward to December with renewed optimism once our Year 3 class return to school on Monday. The timing could not be better with us having our Christmas performances recorded and then the start of our Christmas preparations can well and truly begin.
Thank you for responding so quickly to the permission request for the filming of the performances on Monday. From your responses, we have been able to submit an order for the DVDs and – including a small contribution to a chosen school charity – these will be sold at £5.00 each. This is a much lower amount than I had originally anticipated. Next week, parents will be sent a link through School Money with a total amount for the number of copies requested. The children have worked really hard to learn lines for songs and poems in such a short amount of time and – whilst this is not the full on theatrical performance of previous years – I know that you are going to really enjoy seeing all of your children perform from the comfort of your own home.
The class teachers have reported that they were really pleased with how the parent consultation evenings went this week. The technology in school was really kind to us on Tuesday before then starting to play a little bit of mischief on Wednesday. We have battled through a lot worse this year so there was absolutely no way we were going to let a few gremlins in the system disrupt these important meetings. It has been so disappointing that we have not been able to welcome you in to school so far this year, but I am delighted that we have been able to maintain communication throughout. The parent consultation evenings are such a crucial opportunity to keep you informed and they were a high priority to be retained in whatever format we could manage. I hope that you found them useful and thank you for your patience should you have faced any connection issues.
Have a fantastic weekend.
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 20th November 2020
I have been reliably informed that today is officially five weeks until Christmas Day so that means we have four full weeks left at school. We were delighted to welcome our Year 1 children and staff back to school today following their collapsed bubble and period of self-isolation. We have really missed them, but the children have worked incredibly hard with their remote learning and they can be proud what they have achieved. Thank you to Miss Thackray, Mrs Hesketh & Mrs Naylor for providing such detailed work for the children and for maintaining their enthusiasm for learning.
I had pre-empted situations such as this where certain bubbles may close on multiple occasions and I was anxious about the wider impact that this would have on our children and our families. The bubble collapse model was put in place by the government to try and ensure that schools remained open to the majority of its pupils for as long as possible. With COVID-19 still prevalent in society as a whole, the prospect of having to follow through with these procedures was sadly always going to be high. It was the primary reason for me communicating the procedures so early with you on 15th September so that all parents could begin to make contingency plans.
It has been an unenviable position when collapsing the bubbles I have needed to so far across school, but it is my duty to follow government and public health guidance when there is a confirmed positive case. I sincerely wish things were different and that everyone remained in good health for the duration of the school year; however, it is a sorry fact that more of us are likely to contract this virus over the winter months. We have to hope that the illness remains mild for those who do contract it and we have to continue to be resolute in the belief that we will come through this period despite the worries and frustrations that we might be experiencing at the moment.
I would love to be in a position to say that we will have no more bubble collapses, but I have to be honest with you in saying that they remain a distinct possibility for however long we are navigating a way through this awful pandemic. I look forward to a day next year when coronavirus is well and truly behind us and we can start to be more positive about our futures - both in school and in our day to day lives. I have been incredibly grateful for all of the support you have offered to school since March. Thank you for your patience with all of the actions that we have already taken and also with those that we might be expected to take throughout the remainder of this academic year.
We look forward to welcoming back Miss Richardson, Mrs Crabtree and all of the Year 3 children on Monday 30th November. We are all right behind you!
Ofsted Interim Visit – Thursday 12th November 2020
I wanted to give you a brief update regarding the Ofsted Interim Visit last Thursday.
It was an intense day (6 hours) with the remote format, but I was really pleased with how everything went. It was well supported by the inspectors and they got a real sense of our 'can do' mantra here at Collingham. This was not an inspection as such and was more of a fact-finding mission for Ofsted in relation to COVID-19 and to see how schools are coping during the pandemic.
Topics of conversation were: context; attendance and behaviour; safeguarding; and curriculum. Questioning was challenging as you would expect, but we had a huge amount to share as a result of all of the hard work the school has put in to the past 7/8 months. For me personally, this was my first proper experience of Ofsted as a school leader so I enjoyed the scrutiny in readiness for a full inspection in the future.
The final meeting of the day was 'curriculum' and in this meeting I asked for all of the SLT to be in attendance. In a full Ofsted inspection, middle/senior leaders would lead the curriculum discussions rather than the HT/DHT and so I wanted this to be a shared experience for them. The meeting was supposed to be 1hr 10 mins, but it turned in to a two-hour meeting as the inspectors were getting so much valuable information from our team. There is no way they could have been anything but blown away.
In these interim visits, there are no judgements or evaluations made. In our feedback session on Thursday, the inspectors made no personal comment or reference about anything we had said during the day. They simply explained the process of reporting back to stakeholders in the form of a letter. This was a little disappointing as it would have been nice to hear some sort of personal comment, but I suspect that any comments could be deemed as 'evaluating' or 'passing judgement' which Ofsted have reassured schools they would not be doing at this time.
There will be a letter published before Christmas, but this will not really give much of a reflection of our school. I have read 20-30 reports from other schools - who have been through this process already - and they seem to be extremely generic. After reading 7/8, you can start to predict what the bullet points might say.
As soon as I have received a version of the letter that can be shared, I will ensure that you all receive a copy.
Collingham Christmas 2020
I just wanted to confirm that Tuesday 15th December will be our main celebration day for Christmas this year.
This day will be our 'Save the Children' Christmas Jumper Day with suggested £1 donations if at all possible.
We will also have our usual Christmas dinner on this day albeit held slightly differently to normal years. A letter will be going out shortly from the school office inviting children - who do not normally have a school lunch - to receive one on this day.
Finally, with no trips, visitors or class parties this year, as a result of the national situation, we felt it was important that we tried to make sure that this Christmas remained special and memorable for all of the children. Therefore, in the afternoon, we have arranged for our school to be part of a Virtual Christmas Pantomime which will be 'Sleeping Beauty'. This will be personalised to our school and it will be shown simultaneously in all of the classrooms at 1.30pm. I hope that this will soften the blow of not being able to dance around the school hall, participate in games or eat copious amounts of party food!
As an addition, on Monday 14th December, we have also arranged a Zoom event in the classrooms for the Reception & Year 1 children (both classes separate) called 'The Littlest Elf Returns'. This is a Christmas-themed puppet show specifically aimed at the younger children with lots of fun and interaction throughout.
Anti-bullying Week 2020 – ‘United Against Bullying’
As always, our school marked the importance of Anti-bullying Week with all of the children and staff wearing odd socks on Monday to celebrate individuality and difference. This year's theme was 'United Against Bullying' and many of the classes completed some activities to learn about and promote this important message.
Below you can find out about what some of the classes have been doing:
Reception started the day with a special assembly with Mrs Myers who told us about what bullying is and why it is so important that it never happens to anyone. It is really important that we unite together to stop it happening. Next, they had lots of fun dancing to a song by ‘Andy and The Oddsocks’ about how we are all special and should respect each other’s differences. Then they watched a short film and talked more about bullying and how we must never do it and, instead, how we must always be kind and caring towards each other.
All of the children designed a superhero bracelet. We encouraged the children to choose someone that they don’t know quite so well so that they could make a new friend. They told each other how to write their names and they had to ask each other what their favourite colours were. They all worked together really well and it was lovely to listen to the children getting to know each other a little better.
Year 1 had a remotely-held Microsoft Teams Meeting with Miss Thackray and Mrs Naylor to discuss how they can be a kind friend and what to do if someone is not being kind. The Year 1 team were blown away by the responses of the class and - in each meeting - the groups of children were coming up with the same answers. Year 1 then had an activity to do at home which looked at celebrating differences. They certainly looked like they had fun completing the tasks.
Year 2 talked about what 'anti' means. They discussed what bullying is and how we can spot it and - most importantly - STOP IT! We talked again about being ‘unique’ and that we celebrate differences. We designed some odd socks to show it’s ok to be different!
BBC Children in Need 2020
Last Friday, our school raised an incredible £345 for this year's BBC Children in Need Appeal. Thank you so much for your generosity in raising such a brilliant amount. With this being an important fundraising event in the school calendar, some of the classes were learning about the reasons behind why we take part and made links through the PSHE curriculum.
Reception children found out about Children in Need and Pudsey Bear through a PowerPoint, a story and some songs. They talked about how the money we have raised will help children around the United Kingdom. The children loved making their very own Pudsey Bear ears!
In Year 1, they looked at the ‘taking notice’ strand of the 'Five to Thrive' activities which are all based around improving children's well-being. The taking notice strand was all about having time to stop and reflect on our thoughts and feelings. The class had some quiet time so they could reflect and be mindful. Some of the activities Year 1 chose to complete were mindfulness colouring sheets, creating a calming den, completing some calming yoga and creating a feelings picture. Year 1 really enjoyed this task to end a busy week of remote learning!
Year 2 talked about why we were in non-uniform and that the money raised was going to Children in Need. They watched the video of Sam and Alex and how amazing they were. In the video, money was going towards supporting 'Rainbows' – a centre for children with special needs. They then watched a Powerpoint about Amrit - a little girl who didn't think she was very good at anything. Amrit realised that she was amazing at baking and her friends helped her to understand that we all have 'gifts'. Year 2 discussed how everybody is special and has special gifts. Year 2 retold the story of Amrit and how she had her own bake sale to raise money for Children in Need.
Year 3 were busy last week celebrating Children in Need. They discussed certain aspects of life that we can sometimes take for granted. They reflected on the things that we should be grateful for as some children are not as fortunate as us. After a whole class discussion, they designed a Pudsey Bear by writing all of the things that they were grateful for. In addition, the class engaged in several activities aiming to promote positive mental health such as chocolate meditation, 'Just Dance' and writing positive notes for their learning partners to read.
Dress-down Fridays for staff
The pandemic has been a huge challenge for all members of society, but in addition to considering the well-being of children and parents, it is vitally important that the staff are well-considered also. It has been a testing few months in school and we are looking at ways that we can maintain and improve both morale and motivation throughout this period. As one small gesture, from next Friday, staff will be encouraged to 'dress down' on this day each week. I wanted to let you know just in case you wondered why we were all turning up in jeans and trainers!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 6th November 2020
It has been a busy first week back at school and I am utterly bewildered as to how it can be Friday once again. We have not had a full compliment of children this week, with Year 3 remaining in isolation until the end of today, but we looking forward to welcoming back Miss Richardson, Mrs Crabtree and all of the Year 3 children from Monday. They have been missed by all of us in school.
On Tuesday evening, I happened to see my first Christmas advert on the television. Every year, these seem to appear earlier and earlier and - at risk of sounding like a bit of a Scrooge - I have to say I am one of the first to complain about this. However, on this occasion, I felt completely differently. The advert instilled a sense of hope and positivity that I think could easily be overlooked when the news is so full of unwelcome and worrying headlines. With this in mind, today's blog is going to a 'positive zone' only! Despite the challenges we face, there is still a lot to be thankful for and there is a lot to look forward to.
It is also important to remember that we can all still make a significant difference to others and, in the lead up to Christmas, this is something that I am keen for us to hold at the forefront of our minds.
On Tuesday, we changed our school lunch provision to the new 'hot box' menus. This now means that we are able to provide much more substantial meals than has been possible so far this academic year.
The ‘hot box’ meals include many that the children enjoy including spaghetti bolognese; chilli con carne; pasta bakes; chicken curry and rice; sausage and mashed potato; and roast dinners. There are two hot choices every day – one meat and one vegetarian – as well as an additional sandwich/wrap option for those who would prefer this instead. Meals have been served in takeaway boxes which will retain the heat better than the paper bags that have been used so far.
I took the opportunity to have school lunch myself today and I have to say that I was really impressed. The food was hot and the meal was definitely filling. Thank you to Mrs Proctor and her team in the kitchen for facilitating these changes as I feel it is going to be much more beneficial for the children as we start to approach winter.
If you would like to take advantage of the new school lunch offer then please email the school office to request a change from packed lunches.
Well done Emma and Sally!
A huge congratulations to both Emma Anderson and Sally Weaver (Year 1 & 3 parents) for completing their marathon around Collingham and Wetherby on Sunday 25th October. What a brilliant achievement and thank you so much for completing this on behalf of our school. I hear the weather was favourable and that you even had a welcome party waiting for you as you crossed the finish line. That must have been so rewarding to see everyone there cheering you on. I think you have probably set the bar now for future fundraising activities. Could the 'Collingham Marathon' actually become a thing???
A couple of weeks ago, our PTA - Friends of Collingham School (FoCS) – created a GoFundMe account (*please click on the link below) to invite donations from parents, family and friends in support of Emma and Sally’s amazing gesture and to help top up the PTA’s funds at a time when they are unable to hold normal fundraising events. As of today, the grand total raised is a staggering £2,961!!! This has absolutely blown us away! Wow!
Thank you so much to everyone who has made a donation. The amount raised is beyond anything we could have hoped for and it will make a huge difference towards helping us continue to provide the best for the children at Collingham School at a time when the increased costs associated with COVID-19 create so many additional pressures. We are incredibly grateful!
Anti-bullying Week 2020 & Odd Socks Day
Monday 16th November marks the start of Anti-bullying Week 2020 and the theme for this year is: 'United against Bullying'.
The children will be learning about various topics around what bullying is; how to be a good friend; discussing the different types of bullying; exploring ways in which we can stand united against bullying within our school community; and embedding the idea of collective responsibility being an effective approach to tackling bullying.
As part of this learning and to raise awareness, we would like all of the children to come to school in odd socks on Monday 16th November. Odd Socks Day is designed to be fun. It is an opportunity for children to express themselves and to appreciate individuality and uniqueness.
Be A Santa For A Senior
We have been approached with an initiative this week called 'Be A Santa For A Senior' that helps support elderly residents in the Wetherby area who might be experiencing loneliness at Christmas time. This year, loneliness will be compounded even more with the lockdown situation and the continuing challenges of the national situation.
I think this is an absolutely fantastic idea and it is something that I have already committed us towards supporting.
During the week beginning 30th November, each class in school will dedicate 1/1.5 hours for a creative/craft activity so that the children can make an array of times that can be sent to elderly residents within our local community to put a smile on their faces. All the items we make will be quarantined before we send them to the project by their 11th December deadline.
It is incredibly important that - as a school - we lead by example to support community projects such as this and that we encourage the children to think of others in a different way to how we might normally.
The items made would be a small gesture, but I know that they will make a huge difference to someone's day. That is incredibly special!
Christmas Performances 2020
Before half-term, I eluded to us ensuring that we were going to try and make this Christmas a memorable one for the children at Collingham School. With no trips or visitors being possible at the moment, we wanted to be able to still celebrate Christmas properly and make sure that the children still had some exciting activities to look forward to.
Over the next few weeks, we will release different aspects of our plan, but today, I am pleased to confirm that we will continue to hold our annual Christmas performances - albeit in a different way to previous years.
During the week beginning 30th November, we have arranged for a film crew to join us in school to record the performances in both Rec/Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. From these recordings, a final edit will be created that we will then be turned into a DVD. This will be made available for parents to purchase from school. The DVDs will be made available at cost plus a small donation included to help support a nominated school charity. Every Christmas, your generous donations on the door have raised a significant amount of money for good causes and we wanted to still be able to do this at such a challenging time.
In a few weeks, we will contact you again with further details as to how you will be able to purchase these DVDs and we hope that you will enjoy the Collingham Christmas Performance 2020 in the comfort of your home for this year only!
Have a fantastic weekend!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 23rd October 2020
After a rather lengthy blog last week, you'll be pleased to hear that I intend to keep today's significantly shorter!
I wanted to offer my huge thanks to everyone in our school community for pulling together with unwavering positivity and for seeing us through this first half-term. There has never been a half term that has presented such an enormous level of challenge, but every child, every parent, every grandparent, every member of staff and every governor has played such an important part in getting us to today. I make no apologies for repeating myself as I am so proud to be a part of this school and to work with you all.
Throughout the past seven weeks, we have been tracking all cases of self-isolation amongst the children and staff. This week, I was interested to establish exactly how COVID-19 had impacted on us in terms of numbers and this information can be found in the table below. Over a quarter of the children have experienced a self-isolation period of varying length with virtually all of those tested returning a negative result. So far since March, we have only had one positive case directly connected to school. This is testament to the efforts we are all making to comply with government guidance and it is the reason why we remain so keen to keep all of our systems working as efficiently as possible - in particular with avoiding the mixing between bubbles.
A quarter of our staff have also been required to self-isolate and the impact of this has been huge at various points. This is in addition to the normal day-to-day absences. However, we never let this impact the day to day running of our school with the focus always being on providing the best for the children on each and every day. I am a firm believer in there being a solution to every single problem faced...sometimes you just have to spend a bit longer thinking of the solution! So far, this has rung true and we have been able to find cover for all situations presented to us. It has to be said that our parents have played an important role in this. A massive thank you to Mrs Harkins, Mrs Loughran, Mrs Richmond for all of their help with volunteering at lunchtimes as well as Mrs Stubbs and Mrs Bolton who are now familiar faces in school through working in different classrooms. This sense of community spirit and support for the school cannot be understated at this difficult time. It really is humbling.
In terms of attendance, if COVID-19 is removed from the equation, our overall attendance figure is actually higher at this point of the year than it ever has been before. Whilst I am aware this may sound like a little bit of political spin, it is important to recognise this as the majority of children seem to now be in school unless being required to self-isolate. When it has been necessary to keep children off school, we are incredibly grateful for your support in terms of following the guidance and in helping to keep all members of our school community safe.
I have to say that the Year 5 children have led by example this week by working incredibly hard with their remote learning on Google Classroom whilst experiencing the frustrations of self-isolation. They have demonstrated so many of the qualities we expect of a child at Collingham through immersing themselves in learning, having courage to push past doubts and fears and showing the determination to keep going even in the most challenging of circumstances. Google Classroom seems to have worked really well in mirroring the curriculum offer that would have been provided in school as well as offering the perfect forum to promote and maintain high levels of interaction between children and teachers. If any of the Year 5 parents have any feedback regarding our remote learning offer then we would be really grateful to hear from you by email. We aim to release a short survey on the return to school in November for you to complete also.
Last week, I informed you that we were in the process of writing a remote learning policy and I was hoping to be able to send a copy of this to you this week. The policy has been a more significant piece of work than I had originally envisaged and - whilst I am pleased that this has now been completed - it will need to go to both our school staff and our governing board for approval first. Once this has happened then I will be in a position to ensure you all receive a copy. This will now be at the start of the first week back after half-term.
Finally, on our return, the countdown to Christmas will well and truly begin. This is always a really special time in school, but unfortunately we will not be able to hold all of our traditional events such as the PTA Christmas Fayre or the Christmas performances.
However, I am delighted to inform you that CHRISTMAS IS NOT CANCELLED! We are making some grand plans for a special Christmas that will be memorable for all of the children. It is the least they deserve. There is a lot to arrange, but all will be revealed soon!
Have a fantastic half-term! See you all on Tuesday 3rd November!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Thursday 15th October 2020
Well, what a difference a phone call can make…
Yesterday, I spent the entire morning writing this blog; I uploaded it to the school website at lunchtime; and I was ready to notify parents in the evening that the latest update was ready to view.
Let’s just say that I had to remove it rather swiftly!
This morning, I have started afresh as the notification of a confirmed positive case in school at 1.30pm yesterday afternoon meant that we collapsed our first bubble at Collingham School and brought the full impact of this national health emergency to our own doors for the first time. How quickly things can change in these strange times…
Firstly, I am sure you will join me in wishing the Year 5 child concerned a speedy recovery. The impact of collapsing bubbles will be felt widely across our school community, but there is nothing more important than the health and well-being of the children at this time. This must be our first thought in these situations.
In addition, Mr Duffy and Mrs Grange will be now be required to self-isolate - for the same period as the children - simply for the job which they undertake on a daily basis. In addition to the children, I have always been concerned about the significant impact of collapsed bubbles on teaching staff and their families. Staff might need to self-isolate on more than one occasion this year and that will potentially present a whole host of different consequences for them going forwards. Every individual has their own set of family circumstances that will cause them to worry at this time. I would like to extend our best wishes to both Mr Duffy and Mrs Grange as they now strive to deliver remote learning for the Year 5 children up until half-term.
There have been a huge number of confirmed cases at schools both locally and nationally over the past six weeks and, unfortunately, this is now the new normal within education settings. Even in my role as a school leader, it has been noticeable that positive tests have been creeping up on our community over the course of a few weeks: first with local schools; then amongst our parents; then children with high school siblings; and finally a confirmed case in our school. Whilst we would have obviously preferred to not collapse a bubble, there was sadly a feeling of inevitability that this scenario would impact us at some point.
All of our internal procedures have been in place to deal with a collapsed bubble since the start of the school year and there was a definite sense of calmness in implementing them yesterday afternoon.
try and reassure them about what would happen in going home and over the next couple of weeks. The children went home at 3.20pm.
For me, speaking with the children was the most important part of the process. The children had a lot of questions for Mr Duffy and myself before they left. We answered these openly and honestly, but I expect that there will have been a few more questions for their parents when they got home. The children were incredibly mature and everyone in school was extremely proud of their reaction as there would have been some undoubted anxieties.
I also want to thank the Year 5 parents for their speedy, calm and positive reaction to the news of this bubble collapse. Together, we were able to ensure that the children all got home safely once the school grounds were clear. The support from our parents was – as always - hugely appreciated.
Having now gone through this process for the first time, I have learnt through first-hand experience exactly how all of this works with PHE/DfE and I have been able to make some tweaks to our procedures going forwards. Whilst I would love to not be required to go through this again - because it means that everyone in school is well – we have to be realistic in the sense that the local/national picture does seem to be deteriorating and it is likely that - despite our best efforts in school - this might happen on more occasions yet. However, we are ready!
I felt it was important to respond to the events of yesterday with the entire school community, but it has led to today’s blog suddenly becoming significantly longer than it was before. Please bear with me!
I am extremely aware of the high volume of admin that is pushed out to parents from school at the moment. Whilst I am afraid this is unavoidable given the circumstances, my main objective for today's blog was going to be as more of an information sharing exercise in order to deliver some important messages all in one go!
So let’s try again!
Just a reminder that school closes for half term next Friday 23rd October.
Monday 2nd November will be our second training day of the year so school will reopen for all children on Tuesday 3rd November.
The Government have set a deadline of 22nd October for schools to have a full remote learning plan in place to support children who might be required to self-isolate or in the event of collapsed bubbles as a result of confirmed positive cases in school.
Since the very beginning of term, we have been working extremely hard on trying to create the best offer we can by utilising our technological resources; our staff capacity and expertise; and our modest school budget.
Approximately 10 children have been required to self-isolate through displaying COVID-19 symptoms themselves or as a result of someone in their household doing so. All of these children have received negative results before returning to school. In addition, we have now obviously been required to collapse our first bubble in Year 5 with nearly 30 children now off school.
For all of these affected children, we have already put remote learning in place well in advance of the Government’s date next week. Work is being set from the second full school day of self-isolation using Google Classroom. This means that if we have discovered that a child has entered self-isolation on the Monday then work has been provided at 9.00am on the Wednesday morning. This allows class teachers time to make the necessary arrangements to add work to Google Classroom, but also time for any possible COVID-19 test results to return with a – hopefully – negative result.
Following a reminder to parents last week, we now have 85% of the children in school linked to their classes on Google Classroom. In the event of a collapsed bubble, such as yesterday, the class teachers will release a video at 9.00am every single day that checks in with the children and sets the work and expectations for the day. The teachers will then monitor Google Classroom throughout the day to release work; interact with the children; and to provide feedback on work submitted to them. A letter with full details regarding this offer and a new Remote Learning Policy will be sent to parents next week.
The ‘Home Learning Hub’ that was used previously will be rebranded as the ‘Remote Learning Hub’ for this academic year. This will have links to the class webpages and it will useful links to external websites that can be accessed for interactive games and resources to support learning. This includes PhonicsPlay, Purple Mash and SumDog.
SumDog in particular proved really popular with a number of parents and children during the school closure period. It was extremely useful for teachers as it allowed them to monitor engagement and track work being completed by the children. I appreciate this was not for everyone, but with such a limited choice of purposeful online resources to choose from, SumDog was certainly one of the best and at that time it was free – always my favourite!
In readiness for any for any required remote learning, we have purchased a full licence for the maths aspect of SumDog for 2020/21. This was at a cost of £730, but we are extremely grateful to the Friends of Collingham School (FoCS) PTA for covering this expense for us at a time when our finances are continuously being stretched to survive the day to day pressures of coronavirus. This resource definitely helps to add an extra dimension to what we can offer the children if they are away from school and I am confident that they will enjoy using it.
Parent Consultation Evenings
I am delighted to confirm that we have finalised our plans for the first parent consolation evenings of this academic year despite being unable to welcome parents in to school at this time.
The dates for these will be Tuesday 24th November (4.30-7.30pm) and Wednesday 25th November (3.30-6.30pm).
We will once again be offering appointments via the Eduspot online system as this was so successful last year when we introduced it for the very first time. Appointments will be made live to parents next Thursday 22nd October and you will receive a link to your mobile phone email address which will take you to our online booking system to select a time convenient for you.
A letter will be sent out to parents with full details on Friday, but I wanted you to have these dates at the earliest opportunity.
New Computer Suite and iPads
A HUGE thank you to the school PTA – Friends of Collingham School (FoCS) – who have donated a mind-blowing £21,000 to help fund the purchase of 32 new desktop computers and a class set of 32 brand new iPads complete with protective cases. We are delighted to have been able to finally revamp the technology we have available for the children to use in school as this simply would not have been possible without the incredible financial support from the PTA as well as all of our parents who support the events that are run.
The previous machines in school were over 10 years old and had started to pose a security risk as their operating systems were no longer supported for update with Microsoft. It would have taken years to stagger the introduction of new computers and iPads with school budgets across the country completely stretched. We are so fortunate to have been in a position to complete this project in one go because of your support and generosity. It really is incredibly humbling.
The computers and iPads were all delivered in the summer and over the past few weeks Mr Duffy and Schools ICT have been installing them in readiness for full use with the children after half-term.
To ensure the computer suite really looks the part, we have also invested in new blue computer chairs - that actually spin! This is a significant upgrade on the drab-looking classroom chairs that were there previously. Along with the overhaul of the school library earlier in the year, I am sure you will agree that this important area of school is now looking fantastic!
In addition to the amazing help from the PTA, I would also like to thank Mr Duffy and Mrs Azimikorf for their hard work in researching, resourcing and ordering all of the equipment that was needed. It was certainly no mean feat whilst in midst of everything else that has been going on.
School fundraising –a marathon effort!
As already mentioned, we are always blown away with the support of our parents. I have had several conversations already this year about how school can be supported financially at a time when we cannot hold popular fundraising events such as Movie Night, the Christmas Fayre, the Quiz Night and - the world-renowned – Easter Bingo. These events raise thousands of pounds every year to help support projects that enhance learning for the children.
The rainbow themed non-uniform day this Friday 16th October is an example of a new way of trying to bring in money and I know that consideration is being given towards other events that could be held as alternatives.
That being said, I have today learnt about two parents who are really raising the stakes with their fundraising ideas and who have decided to take on the challenge of running a full marathon in support of our school. This certainly takes creativity to a whole new level!
Sally Weaver and Emma Anderson (Year 1 & Year 3 mums) have decided to run a marathon around Collingham, Wetherby and other surrounding villages on Sunday 25th October in aid of the PTA and the school. They should have been competing in the Amsterdam Marathon this coming weekend, but with this now cancelled, they have decided to take on the challenge locally instead.
A GoFundMe account (*click image below) has been created and both the school and the PTA would be incredibly grateful for any donation you can offer that can help us at Collingham, but that equally celebrates the amazingly kind gesture of Sally and Emma.
Good luck to both of you from all of us at Collingham School and thank you in advance for anyone who may be able to donate.
Sadly, our annual autumn term school photographs have now been postponed until next year. We were unable to ensure the safety of staff and children as large groups would be required to congregate in the school hall. We will be looking to arrange a new date at the earliest opportunity and once the national picture has settled down a little bit more. I am sorry for any disappointment that this may cause, but thank you for your understanding.
Water bottle holders
With school investing heavily in new reading books over the past six months, we have unfortunately had a number of books spoiled by leaking water bottles being carried inside reading bags. As a solution to this problem, Kool Kidz in Wetherby have sourced some red water bottle holders that can be attached to school reading bags. These are now available in the shop for £2.50 each.
Coronavirus Information – School Webpage
Due to the sheer volume of information that has been required to be sent to parents since the start of the pandemic, I have decided to create a dedicated page on the school website to archive a lot of the documents that have been sent out. By having these all in one place, this should make it easier for parents to find the important documents they might need.
This includes some NHS tools to help recognise the symptoms of coronavirus; our school flow diagram to explain the required procedures in the event of children needing to self-isolate; and past letters and documents that might be useful.
I have also added a copy of our whole school risk assessment that will continue to be reviewed at regular points of the academic year.
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 2nd October 2020
After a rather busy start to the new school year, I am delighted to be able to sit down and finally write my first blog of 2020/21.
It has certainly been a start with a difference and the most unusual way to kick things off that I have ever experienced in my career. There was a huge amount of discussion and planning involved in ensuring that we could reopen to all year groups on 8th September and I am delighted that everything seems to have gone smoothly. I was always prepared for the need to tweak a few things once we incorporated 200 children and 200 parents in to the mix, but your patience and support has been gratefully received. The longer these measures remain in place, it will be natural that we all become a little bit comfortable with them. It might just be necessary to refresh everything at various points to ensure that everything is working as effectively as possible.
Today marks the end to the first full month back. Every day feels like a new challenge and it is difficult to look too far in to the future. Whilst we have so far managed to keep all bubbles open, we have faced both staff and pupil absences as a result of them having to self-isolate. As of today, we have not had any positive cases directly connected to school since the start of this crisis back in March. The end of each week feels like a small success in terms of everyone staying fit and healthy. In time, this may unfortunately change, but we will never allow for complacency to set in and we will ensure that we maintain the same high standards we set ourselves in implementing all of our safety procedures for as long as is necessary.
As a small school, the impact of losing just a couple of staff members is felt massively. However, I am always humbled by the attitude of everyone here at Collingham to help out and pick up additional responsibilities to ensure that school can function in the most efficient way possible for the benefit of the children. This doesn't matter if it's a lunch duty; opening gates; covering a class; or cleaning the toilets. Everyone puts themselves forward for any job that will help to minimise the impact of any absence. The staff in school are under huge pressure to ensure that the children catch up following the lockdown/school closure period, yet they also do everything within their powers to maintain the integrity of the class bubbles and to keep the school functioning normally. I could not be prouder of the team we have at this school.
There have been some moments already where the responsibility on both myself and the staff - in relation to COVID-19 - has felt immense. We are constantly being expected to reflect and adapt in accordance with the ever-changing national picture whilst maintaining our determined focus on learning. However, for every one of these moments, I have realised the importance of taking a step back and spending time observing the children: playing with their friends on the school field; smiling as they bounce in to school each morning; and the bustling classrooms in every corner of the building. Yes - these are challenging times - but for much of the day, the children are non-the-wiser about what's going on in the wider world and they are enjoying their time back in school with their friends and teachers. This - quite simply - makes everything worthwhile. The children are really happy and long may it continue.
Today, we were able to hold our first whole school celebration assembly on Zoom. As always, this was connected to celebrating our RESPECT code and was an opportunity to recognise the achievements of the children in relation to this over the past week. In previous years, we have called this our weekly 'leaf assembly'. Leaves were written by teachers and I would read them out to all of the children in the school hall. Children with leaves would receive a gold sticker and their leaves would be displayed on painted trees on the wall.
However, earlier in the year, we realised that many parents never got to see these leaves and that often the children could not remember why they had been awarded one. By the time parents visited school, the leaves on the wall had become a little bit tatty or had fallen off altogether. We have therefore decided to replace the leaf assembly with a new certificate assembly. This means that we can still celebrate the children's efforts in relation to the RESPECT Code, but now they can physically take home a certificate that they can share with you. Today's assembly celebrated 'positivity' and children were given awards because of their enjoyment of learning and for approaching everything they do with enthusiasm. Keep an eye out each week to see if your child has received a certificate in school.
When writing our Christian Vision Statement at the end of 2019, we collectively felt that the school RESPECT Code was in need of freshening up in order to reflect how the school had moved on over time.
The RESPECT Code is used to promote and maintain consistently high standards of behaviour and attitudes in all areas of school life; to develop respectful, considerate citizens beyond the school; and to provide a whole school articulation and shared language for discussing and promoting positive behaviour principles for learning and for life.
We felt strongly that there should be greater emphasis on resilience, equality/fairness and selflessness. There have been some tweaks to the twelve Christian values included on the RESPECT Code: 'creativity' and 'joy' have been replaced by 'justice' and 'service'.
In terms of the word RESPECT: 'Relationships', 'Standards', 'Positive and Enthusiastic' and 'Together' have been replaced by 'Resilience', 'Service', 'Positivity', 'Empathy' and 'Togetherness'.
We feel these changes strengthen the promotion of social, moral, cultural and spiritual development within a framework of inclusive and distinctly Christian values to develop our children as good British citizens with a clear understanding of right and wrong.
The new RESPECT Code is now on one single page and sits in unison with our Christian Vision Statement. You can see the differences between the old and new versions below:
Old RESPECT Code
New RESPECT Code
Over the past 9 months, the school hall has been completely refurbished with a brand new parquet floor; new doors; and a lick of paint, using funds granted by the Diocese. This was completed in the summer holidays. The painted trees on the walls have finally gone and a disused hose reel that has been an eyesore in the corner of the room for the best part of 30 years has now been banished forever!
It is disappointing that we are unable to invite parents in to school at the moment, but I thought you might like to see the end result as we are really pleased with the work that has been done. The school hall is the focal point of the school building so it's really satisfying to now have it looking back to its best. We look forward to welcoming you all back soon!
Nasal Flu Immunisations
Nasal flu immunisations are being administered in school on Monday for those who have signed up online. If you signed up and you have since changed your mind, you must contact Intrahealth directly on 0333 3583 397 option 7 then option 2 to withdraw permission.
Have a fantastic weekend!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Tuesday 30th June 2020
As the summer holidays fast approaches, we enter one of the busiest periods of the school year in order to get ready for September. Today’s blog is a bit of a mixture of celebration and administration, but I think this is a useful forum to pass on some key messages at this time.
End of Year Reports
On Friday 10th July, we will be sending home an end of year report for all of the children as has been traditional. This will be in a much shorter format compared to previous years, but we felt it was extremely important that the teachers had an opportunity to write to all of the children in order to celebrate their achievements throughout the year.
Unfortunately, in line with government expectations, there will be no individual subject assessments for 2019/20. This is mainly down to gaps in curriculum coverage and an inability to complete end of year assessment tasks with the children - both as a direct result of the school closure.
For Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, all reports will be sent home with the children on the day. They will also be given a report for any sibling that is currently not back at school. Any remaining reports will be posted out to parents.
PTA Donation - New Computer Suite
Last week, we received the incredible news that we are set to receive a £20,000 donation from the Friends of Collingham School (FoCS). This huge sum is to subsidise the refurbishment of our computer suite where the current machines are now over 10 years old and running a now-defunct operating system.
The money will allow us to buy 32 brand new computers, keyboards and mice and to also replace the current classroom-type chairs for proper computer chairs. All being well, these will be ready to use at the start of the new school year.
Fortunately, there will be a large portion of the funds leftover and this is going to allow us to also buy a brand new class set of iPads. Again, this is to replace some very old devices that we have in school.
It is incredibly exciting that we are able to update our technology offer, but this would simply have not been possible without the incredible support of our parents. In the past year, we have had the Collingham Real Ale Festival, the circus event, a Movie Night, the annual Christmas Fayre, the brilliant disco with - the one and only – Mr Shuffles, and a highly entertaining Quiz Night! All of these events have made a vital contribution towards the huge figure that has been raised overall.
Thank you to each and every one of you who have helped to make all the events such a huge success, but particularly to those parents who have given up their time to get involved in the running of them. We are really grateful for everything you have been doing to help benefit the children at our school.
School Library and whole school reading offer
Before the school closure, we were working hard to promote a culture for reading in school where all children read for pleasure. As a part of this, we invested £10,000 to revamp our entire reading offer for the children, including: new books to meet the phonetic needs of the children in Early Years and KS1; brand new reading scheme books such as Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cat; and a complete overhaul of the fiction and non-fiction books in the school library.
We had found that so many of our books were old, tatty and discoloured. They were certainly not books to engage and enthuse young readers. We therefore felt it was the least the children deserved for us to buy completely new books throughout school.
We now have a brand new shelving unit full of new books that have been separated into sets based upon different phonic sounds to help support early reading.
Our school library has also had a makeover with – sadly - scores of books being only fit for the bin and brand new books bought to replace them. A huge thank you to Mrs Myers, Mrs Questa, Mrs Grange and Mrs Wood who worked really hard during the school closure period to bring the library to life. Sadly, because of the pandemic, the children have not had an opportunity to explore all of the exciting fiction and non-fiction texts now in there, but as soon as we return properly then I am sure that the children will be blown away by the books that they will discover.
Class email addresses
To maintain contact between teachers, children and parents throughout the school closure period, we created some new class email addresses. The teachers have really enjoyed reading about everything the children have been doing at home and looking at all of the fantastic photos that have been sent in. Many of these have been used in the blog over the past few months. I hope that you feel the email addresses have been helpful during this difficult time.
We will continue to keep these email addresses open for the remainder of this academic year; however, these will be deactivated at the start of September when we hopefully have all year groups coming back at school. This is in the interests of staff well-being. We politely request that parents revert to emailing the school office should they wish to discuss or raise anything with the class teachers. Thank you.
Monday 7th September will be our first training of the 2020/21 academic year. Therefore, all being well, the first full day back at school for all year groups will be Tuesday 8th September.
On Monday, we sent out some dinner money payment reminders for our Year 6 children and also for some of our Year 3/4/5 children who still owe for meals taken before the school closed back in March. We politely request that all payments are made before Friday 17th July.
Some refunds are due for children in Key Stage 2 and these can either be carried over to September or refunded by Leeds City Council should you wish. All refunds for Year 6 children will be made after Friday 17th July.
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Monday 8th June 2020
Last week, we successfully reopened our doors and welcomed back the children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. I have to be honest - this was a bittersweet moment - as it was fantastic to see these children returning with such beaming smiles on their faces; however, we were sadly still missing all of those from Years 2/3/4/5 who are unable to rejoin us at this moment. This has been a small step towards normality in the longer term and - for all of us at Collingham School - the return of each and every child cannot come soon enough. Only then will our school have truly emerged from the other side of this crisis.
I would like to thank all of our parents for their unwavering support and patience. Those in Rec/Y1/Y6 for following all of our new timings and social distancing guidelines to ensure we can get the children in and out of school safely and to those in Y2/3/4/5 for continuing to approach home-learning with such positivity after ten long weeks when keeping the children motivated can be such a huge challenge.
In today's blog, I wanted to celebrate some of the activities that the children in Y2/3/4/5 have been enjoying over the past few weeks. I hope that you are able to share these photos with all of them to try and raise their spirits a little. I appreciate what a difficult time this is and I know from seeing older siblings dropping off younger brothers or sisters each morning that the children are desperate to return.
At the end of this week, we will be ensuring that we try and maintain contact with all of these children in new ways for as long as school closure remains in place for them. This will include telephone calls from class teachers and video messages through the class pages so that the children can hear a voice and see a face. It is imperative for us that these children are not forgotten and that they still feel very much included at our school. They may be out of sight, but they are most definitely not out of mind!
Please don't forget that if you would like to share anything that the children have been doing at home then photos can be emailed directly to the teachers using the class email addresses. I plan to continue sharing these right up until the end of the academic year. The photos always bring a smile to our faces!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 22nd May 2020
It has been an extremely busy couple of weeks making preparations for a potential reopening of school on Monday 1st June for the children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. I am pleased to confirm that everything is now in place should we be given the green light to open our doors and full details regarding our arrangements were emailed to parents in these year groups yesterday evening. There was a 90% uptake of places, which was really pleasing, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming these children back to school.
For children in Years 2/3/4/5, the immediate future unfortunately remains unclear. The government ambition is for these year groups to return for four weeks in the lead up to the summer holidays. I have to be honest that I am concerned at this time about how we will be able to facilitate this. A lot will depend on what the government guidance instructs. In the arrangements to bring back Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, we are using every single classroom in school and every single member of staff available to us. Should the remaining year groups be asked to return then we simply would not have the space to accommodate everyone and especially if the maximum class size continues to be set at 15 children. The only way forward that I could see in these circumstances is that year groups were brought in on some sort of rota rather than being in school every day. I am hopeful that we will have more information on this to share with you soon.
As soon as Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 return, this will bring the home learning provision for these year groups to an end. Parents who have chosen not to send their children back will be able to access work and resources through BBC Bitesize and The Oak National Academy. I am afraid that due to the commitments of staff working full time in school, it will not be possible to maintain previous levels of home learning on the school website.
In Years 2/3/4/5, the home learning offer will continue, but the class pages will now only be updated once a week rather than twice. Again, these teachers will be working full time in school, although release time is being provided to ensure that they have the capacity to provide work for these children. Home learning sections of the website will be updated by 9.00am every Friday with activities to be used during the following week.
As with previous school holidays, there will be a short break from home learning for half-term. We will inform you shortly when the class pages are next updated. We hope that you have an enjoyable week and that you are able to make the most of the glorious sunshine that is forecast.
Stay at Home 'Virtual' Sports Day 2020
In my previous Headteacher Blog, I regretfully informed you of the need to cancel our traditional Sports Day that was scheduled for Wednesday 3rd June.
Whilst this was hugely disappointing, I am delighted that I can now reveal the full details about our first ever Stay at Home 'Virtual' Sports Day to replace our usual event.
Mr Elliot and James H (School Sports Ambassador – Year 6) have been working on plans to keep all of the children active and to maintain some level of competition between our houses – even if from a distance!
The Virtual Sports Day will run throughout half-term (Monday 25th May to Friday 29th May) and - with your assistance – the children can record all of their scores on the sheet provided and once completed these can then be emailed to Mr Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any photographs of the children participating then please feel free to send these in alongside your completed record sheet.
Full details can be found below. Good luck everyone!
Have a fantastic half-term!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Thursday 7th May 2020
This is the end of our fifth school week since we closed to the majority of the children, but it has definitely felt like a lot longer.
In my house, the honeymoon period is well and truly over and it is proving ever more challenging to motivate my boys to complete their home-learning. For them, the novelty of lockdown has worn off and the warm sunshine outside is a constant lure to play in the garden rather than to get out the maths books. Being a headteacher/teacher with your own children makes absolutely no difference when you are a parent first and foremost. Also, trying to keep up with the day job in terms of the day to day running of the school whilst ensuring my boys don't 'kill' eachother has been a particular challenge. Today, I have put my terrible artistic skills to some sort of use by supporting my eldest son to create a collage of Andy Warhol's 'Vesuvius' and with my youngest son I have battled to remove him from FIFA 2020 on the X-Box in order to write a factfile about Saltwater Crocodiles. As much as I love them and have tried my hardest today, I am currently counting down the hours until their bedtime!
Does this sound familiar?
Throughout all of this, we keep going back to the word 'unprecedented' and I don't think that word has ever been used so widely as it has for the past two months. It is certainly the most fitting to describe the current situation. Once we were notified of a school closure, our mission was to put out a balance of work for you to use at home to support with learning rather than to deliver an entire curriculum to your children. All families will be different and their individual circumstances will dictate how much or how little work they will be able to complete with their children. All you can do is what you can actually manage to fit in during these challenging times. There is certainly no judgement from us on what you are able to complete. I hope you have found the class pages useful as well as - for those who want more - BBC Bitesize and the Oak National Academy. You will likely be facing the same challenges to encourage, motivate and enthuse your children as the length of the national restrictions continues to increase. Try to stay positive and remember that you are doing both your best and what is best for your family right now.
All children in the United Kingdom are in the same position as our own and will undoubtedly have been impacted by these school closures in some way, shape or form. The education landscape is going to look very different in the immediate future as we try to address what is the challenge of a generation. I want to reassure you that whenever the children return to school, we will have a meticulous plan in place to support each and every one of them and to address their needs - educationally, socially and emotionally - following these 'unprecedented times'.
On Sunday afternoon, I am anticipating an announcement from the Prime Minister that will include his plans for the phased reopening of schools. This might possibly be from Monday 1st June. Once received, we will immediately 'kick into action' to find the best way forward for Collingham School and with consideration to all of our children, parents and staff. I hope to be able to bring you some news as soon as I possibly can.
Thank you for your continued support and patience.
This year, the traditional May Day Bank Holiday was moved to this Friday in order for everyone to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day. On 8th May 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced on the radio at 3.00pm that the war in Europe had come to an end following Germany’s surrender the day before. This was an emotional day and one that so many people across the world had been hoping and praying would arrive. Huge crowds came out in celebration and street parties were held across the country.
Back in March, we were already discussing about how we could mark the occasion in school, but our plans were sadly undone with the unfolding events of the past seven weeks. I know that the teachers have been sharing activities on the class pages and I am sure that some of you will be planning on celebrating at home whilst taking advantage of the fantastic weather that is forecast.
It’s an incredible twist of fate that we should be celebrating such a significant event from the past as we continue to work through such a significant event in the present. It is a great opportunity to remember the huge sacrifices that were made by those people living in 1945 to bring peace and freedom to the world; however, we may also feel we are currently making many sacrifices ourselves, but this time, for the benefit of our own health and those around us.
With school still providing childcare throughout this crisis for some children of key worker parents, Miss Hicks and Mrs Shaw have worked throughout the week with Lydia and Emily to create Collingham School’s own contribution towards marking the occasion tomorrow. A huge banner has been unveiled at the front of school and I am sure you will agree that it looks fantastic. If you haven’t seen it already, I have included the photos below.
I hope you have an enjoyable day should you be celebrating.
Collingham Kids' Rocks
Now, we have always known that Collingham kids rock, but now we actually have Collingham Kids' Rocks.
Ben (Year 2) and Alex (Reception) - under the watchful eye of their mum - have been incredibly busy over the past few weeks decorating rocks to hide around the village. The colourful stones have been placed in secret locations and they encourage the finder to post a photo on a new Facebook group before rehiding the rock. So far, over 100 people have got involved and have joined the group. Ben and Alex would love for even more to join in and create their own masterpieces to hide.
It's such a great idea and certainly boosts the motivation to get out on that daily walk and spot one of the hidden treasures. It's also a really lovely way for everyone to keep in touch and to give a break from a 'virtual' world that can be dominated by screens.
Ben and Alex are so excited every time someone uploads a photo of one of the rocks. If you would like to join in then more information can be found on the link below:
Well done Ben and Alex! Your amazing creativity has brought a smile to so many faces in Collingham! You can have 5 powerhouse points each (and I'll save one for your mum too!).
Training Day - Monday 1st June 2020
Monday 1st June 2020 has been designated as our fourth training day for this academic year. Should the Prime Minister announce that schools can open to an increased number of children from this date then I have taken the decision to cancel this training day and to open school for any children who might be allowed to attend.
Sports Day 2020
I am sure it will not come as a huge surprise to learn that our annual Sports Day will, unfortunately, be cancelled for this academic year. This was originally scheduled for Wednesday 3rd June 2020 and it is always such a popular event in the school calendar for everyone in our school community.
However, I am excited to inform you that - despite this cancellation - Mr Elliot is currently putting together plans for our first ever 'virtual' Sports Day with full details being announced next week.
Have a fantastic weekend!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Wednesday 29th April 2020
Firstly, I hope this finds you all well and that you are all managing to cope with the demands and challenges that you face during this school closure period.
At the moment, I am sorry to say that the education landscape is no clearer, but I am hopeful that - in the next couple of weeks - the government will start to release some information around its future plans to begin reopening schools to more pupils. As soon as I have any information, I will of course be in touch.
Last Monday, I emailed all parents with details about the expanded ‘BBC Bitesize’ website that was now offering a range of new online lessons and videos to support with home learning across the curriculum. There was no expectation for parents to take advantage of these, but I felt that they will have been useful if this was something that you felt would help to support you.
In addition to this, the government have also recently launched the Oak National Academy which aims to deliver 180 sequenced video lessons each week across a range of subjects for every year group (Reception to Year 6). There is also a plan of video lessons and resources to support three hours of learning a day for primary pupils. As with BBC Bitesize, this is not compulsory, but if you feel such lessons would be beneficial for your child/children then please access this free resource on the below link.
The teachers continue to report how much they are enjoying receipt of all the emails from parents and children to share some of the learning and fun that has been happening away from school. If you haven’t had an opportunity to contact your class teacher yet then I would strongly encourage you to do so as they are really looking forward to hearing from you. They can be contacted on the following emails:
A couple of weeks ago, I put together a gallery of photos that had been sent to the teachers in order to spread some positivity and to put a smile on everyone's faces. I enjoyed looking at these so much that I have collected some more photos to share with you today. I absolutely love how - even though we are all facing unprecedented challenges - the happiness of the children can still shine through. Take a look at what the children have been doing!
Well done to all of those who feature above and also to all of you who are working so hard at home!
We are really proud of you!
Thank you for everything you are doing to support at home and please continue sending us your photos. They really are fantastic!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Monday 6th April 2020
Firstly……I won’t mention it if you don’t!
It was another busy week of ‘home-learning’ and the teachers have been inundated with photographs of the children enjoying both structured learning and other fun activities with their families.
I wanted to use this week’s blog as an opportunity to celebrate some of the things that the children have been doing at home. The photos that you have been sending in have really brought a smile to our faces and I hope that they do the same for you too. Please continue to send these photos into us as hopefully there will be opportunities to share more of them with you over the coming weeks.
Let’s see what has been happening in your homes…
Well done to all of those who feature above and also to all of you who are working so hard at home!
We are really proud of you!
Unbelievably, today is officially the first day of our Easter Holidays. Following the learning that was added to the class pages last Friday, these will now not be updated again until Tuesday 21st April at 9.00am so as to ensure that the teachers can enjoy a break themselves. Any emails that you send over this period will be responded to on this date also.
I know that it is unusual circumstances, but on behalf of everyone at Collingham School, I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a Happy Easter.
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Monday 30th March 2020
It is incredible to think that just over a week ago we were preparing to close the school doors for the ‘foreseeable future’. This created huge uncertainty for all members of our school community, but we have been steadfast in our belief that whilst this period would undoubtedly be a challenge – we will come through it.
Each day, I have been overwhelmed by stories celebrating the strength of ‘human spirit’ during this time of crisis. Over half a million people signing up to join the NHS’s ‘volunteer army’; children drawing pictures and making gifts for elderly residents in self-isolation; and entire streets singing happy birthday to youngsters unable to go outside and celebrate properly. Such tales restore your faith in humanity.
I remain hopeful that despite how awful these events are across the world right now – some good will come out of them.
Having been in school every day last week, it was a strange feeling to be walking around a near-empty building. The sooner we can get back to working at full capacity - with over 200 smiling faces – the better for everyone. The most important part of our school is missing right now and we look forward to welcoming the children back soon. Collingham School just isn’t the same without them!
I am sure it has been an unusual week for the children who have been taking part in ‘home-learning’ for the very first time. The hub went live last Monday morning with the class pages ready for 9.00am the following day. As of today, the school website has had nearly 2500 hits in the past week so I can only assume that you’ve all been incredibly busy! The teachers have been working hard to keep the class pages maintained and to provide you with activities that you can use. These will be updated once again tomorrow and Friday before a two-week hiatus for the Easter holidays.
The teachers are reporting that the email system we set up between home and school seems to be working well. It has given you a direct link to ask any pressing questions and it has also provided an opportunity to share some of the learning that the children have been doing. In my next Headteacher Blog, I hope to be able to celebrate some of this fantastic work with you all.
We have tried hard to put the right things in place for you to support with the children’s learning at home; however, as important as this is, I also hope that you get to spend some quality time together as families.
Home-schooling will bring pressures of its own and even more so when some of you are trying to work from home. With two boys myself, I can testify to this! I can assure you that being a headteacher makes absolutely no difference at all when trying to encourage your own children to avoid the lure of the X-Box or iPad and to get out the reading books, maths worksheets and spelling lists.
Skills in English, maths and science are essential, but so too are life skills. Learning is much more than just a school curriculum so remember to enjoy the ‘simple’ activities together like baking a cake, going for a walk, writing a letter to someone, building a den, planting some vegetables, completing a puzzle, playing a board game or even washing the car.
The most important thing right now is to continue showing love to your children and to continue supporting them through what will be one of the most challenging periods of their entire lives.
You must look after yourselves too. Minimising stress is absolutely vital at a time like this for your own mental health and well-being.
However, if your legs are aching as much as mine from the ‘help’ of Joe Wicks then maybe there are alternatives to support with this as well!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 20th March 2020
Throughout the week, we have been inundated with kind messages of support and thanks at this challenging time. I apologise that it has not been possible to reply to all of these individually, but they have been hugely appreciated by everyone in school. Many of them have been shared with staff and they have certainly given an extra boost to morale. It has been a fast-moving chain of events over the past week so thank you for both your patience and understanding. It hasn't been easy for us in school, and I certainly know it hasn't been easy for you too.
It is incredibly surreal to think that school has now closed for the 'foreseeable future', but I hope that our new 'Home Learning' hub on the website will help to support you over the coming weeks and months.
As a team, we have been absolutely blown away by the resilience and courage of the amazing children at Collingham School. We are so proud of each and every one of them. They have continued to immerse themselves in their learning and ensured they have had smiles on their faces despite the turmoil on the outside world. We are certainly going to miss them and we hope that we will see them all again in school very soon. In the meantime, we will look forward to seeing what they have been doing at home as you share some of their work through the new class email addresses.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the amazing team of staff. I am humbled to work with such incredible people who continue to astound me on a daily basis with their unwavering positivity and their mindset of 'going the extra mile', They continually put others first and are always on hand to step in to support in times of need - even if it is to the detriment of themselves. Their own resolve has been tested over the past few weeks and I believe that we will be an even stronger team for having stood up to all of these recent challenges. Well done everyone and thank you for all of your hard work!
Wetherby Food Bank Donations
Today, we had a non-uniform day to mark the final day of school. Instead of the normal monetary donations for an event like this, we accepted donations for the Wetherby Food Bank. At this uncertain time, it was important that we thought about those in need and to boost the supplies of the food bank who will likely be extremely busy over the next few weeks. We ended up with an amazing collection of items that will be really gratefully received in order to support vulnerable families in our local community. Thank you for your support and generosity.
The 'Home Learning' hub will be completed over the weekend and will go live at 9.00am on Monday 23rd March.
The class pages will then be updated with work for you to access at 9.00am on Tuesday 24th March. Please continue to check these pages for activities that you can complete with your children every Tuesday and Friday onwards (except for school holidays).
Please take care of yourselves. On behalf of everyone at Collingham School, I wish you all the very best of health and good luck with all of the learning that you support with at home. If you need anything, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Remember: "It's not goodbye, it's au revoir!"
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 13th March 2020
This will be the third ‘Headteacher’s Blog’ of our trial period and – bar a slight technical hiccup with the hyperlink last week – it seems to be going well so far from school’s perspective.
On Friday 14th February, the website statistics show that the page had 131 individual views. Last week, Friday 6th March, there were 226 individual views. I am really pleased with these numbers and I am hopeful that this might be the right way forwards.
I will look to send out a short survey before Easter in order to gauge parental opinions. Thank you for taking the time to read the information that has been sent out so far.
Christian Vision Statement
Over the past few months, the whole school staff, school governors and a pupil panel have worked on developing a brand new Christian Vision Statement for our school. This has taken a huge amount of time and work to write something that we feel really reflects what we want to achieve at Collingham.
As a Church of England school, the vision statement sets the direction of the school and articulates our promotion of strong Christian values. It is aspirational and it aims to motivate and inspire all members of the school community.
Our new vision statement is based on the long-standing school motto of “We are family; All are welcome; You are loved”. The children say this every day at the end of the school prayer, but over time it seems to have lost its meaning and become simply just words. When I arrived at Collingham, this powerful motto really struck a chord with me and it made me realise instantly that I wanted to be the headteacher of this amazing school.
The vision statement is 50 words; it is split in to three sections to represent each element of the school motto; and it also has clear biblical literature embedded in to it. It has been structured to lead with God's love; then what we create; what we offer; and then what we do for each child. Finally, we ended with the 'result'.
This week, the children have been learning the meaning behind our vision and some of them have been trying to learn it off by heart. It has been really positively received and I am delighted to be able to share the final version with you today.
The vision statement will underpin everything we do at Collingham: through the RESPECT code; our curriculum; and all of our policies. I hope that you feel it already reflects our school community as we try to build even further on what we already have. As a result of writing the vision statement, it has led us to making some tweaks to our RESPECT code. I look forwarding to sharing this with you - and all of the children - next week.
Through God's love, we create a happy and nurturing learning community.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Valuing individuality and embracing equality, we welcome all with respect and compassion into a safe environment where everyone can flourish.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”
With love and trust, we empower each child with the confidence to be everything they dreamed of – and more.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
In the press!
We made it in to a couple of the local newspapers for the exciting events around reading last week.
Friends of Collingham School - Easter Bingo
Our annual Easter Bingo event (organised by the PTA) will be taking place on Monday 30th March. This will be split in to two separate sessions – one for Rec/KS1 children and one for KS2 children. Further details will be released shortly regarding timings and ticket sales.
On Friday 27th March, we will holding a non-uniform day in school. Rather than a monetary donation to participate, we kindly request that children donate a chocolate Easter egg that can be used as a prize at the Easter Bingo. Our aim is for every child to be able to leave the event with a chocolate treat. Thank you in advance for your generosity and support.
We have set a date of Wednesday 3rd June (am) for our annual Sports Day. As always, we will be keeping everything crossed for good weather, but as we all know, this isn’t always guaranteed. A reserve date will be set very shortly also.
Have a great weekend!
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 6th March 2020
Yesterday, we had a fantastic World Book Day in school and it felt like an incredibly busy day with lots happening from start to finish. The children and staff looked amazing in their costumes and this created a really exciting atmosphere in school to celebrate our passion for books.
We had a special assembly to start the day where we were all able to share our outfits and attempt to guess which book characters we were dressed as. We talked about our favourite books and I even had the opportunity to share one of mine: “Jack and The Flum-Flum Tree” by Julia Donaldson.
As last year, the children brought in books that were wrapped up in paper and that had just the blurb written on the outside. The activity created a lot of discussion amongst the children and they really enjoyed having the opportunity to select books that they might not necessarily have chosen off the shelf. This helped to reinforced the important message of 'never judge a book by its cover' and hopefully it allowed the children to discover a brand new author.
Following the book sale we held a few weeks back, the school council went to Waterstones in Leeds with Mrs Myers and Mr Elliot to spend the money that had been raised. This had also been generously topped up by some very kind grandparents connected to our school who gave the children an extra £100 to take with them. The idea was that - from the sale of all the old books - we wanted the school council to be responsible for selecting all the new ones. I understand they did a brilliant job and most importantly – they stuck to their budget! If only the same could be said for Mrs Myers and Mr Elliot!
In the afternoon, we were joined by Tom and Iain from Harrogate Town Football Club who have been running the Premier League Primary Stars reading programme with a small group of Year 3/4 children over the past four weeks. They shared what is involved in the programme to the whole school and brought some special visitors with them – including the club mascot Harry Gator - to talk to the children about reading.
Simon Weaver (Manager & Collingham parent); Josh Falkingham (Captain & Midfielder); and George Thomson (Midfielder) joined us in the hall to answer some questions from the children about their favourite books. There were some brilliant questions with the best surely being: “If you had to pick a football team of story characters, who would you pick as your goalkeeper or striker?” George took the floor for this one and had clearly given it some serious thought: “The BFG as a striker to get on the end of all the crosses in to the box!”
Afterwards, Simon, Josh and George went to three of the classes to spend some time with the children; to read them a story; and to even sign some autographs. It was a fantastic experience for the children and they really enjoyed having members of a professional football club reading to them. It was certainly a powerful image to encourage any reluctant readers. The players will continue to visit over the next two Thursdays so that all of the classes in school will have had the same experience.
In addition to Harrogate Town visiting, we were also joined by Alec Shelbrooke (Member of Parliament for Elmet and Rothwell) and Councillors Robinson, Stephenson and Firth (Harewood Ward). They came along to enjoy what the children had been doing for World Book Day and to also see how we have been spending money – including a donation from the ward councillors - on improving our book offering for the children. They were really impressed with the progress being made in the library and on the huge quantity of books that are ready to go on the classroom shelves before Easter. In wholly undemocratic fashion, Councillor Firth received the nomination from his colleagues to fill one of our last reading volunteer spaces and took time to read a story to the Reception children.
Finally, to end the day, we were joined by yet even more visitors as we welcomed some of our parent volunteers to come and read to the children. We were incredibly grateful to Mr Anderson, Mrs Audsley and Mrs Pickersgill for giving up their time to share stories in the classrooms. It was particularly special for the children to listen to stories from different adults as opposed to just from their class teachers.
I would like to thank Harrogate Town Football Club, the local Harewood ward councillors, Alec Shelbrooke, Mrs Myers, all of our staff and all of our parents for their support in helping to make it such a memorable day for everyone at Collingham. We hope that it’s another step towards encouraging all of the children to read for pleasure more often.
Have a great weekend.
Mr Cook (Headteacher)
Friday 14th February 2020
In recent weeks, I have been thinking about the role and purpose of our fortnightly newsletter. It's a brilliant way for us to pass on some key messages from school and to keep you updated about all of the exciting things that are happening in your children's classes. However, I am conscious that with so many teachers keen to share this information then it can become particularly lengthy to read from a parent's perspective.
I am therefore looking to trial a new approach by writing a fortnightly blog on the school website to ensure that you still receive some of the important updates and messages. In the short term, an email will be sent to all parents on each of these Fridays to notify that the blog has been updated.
In terms of all the updates from the classrooms and celebrations of learning, we will ensure that all of this is included on the class pages. https://www.collinghamschool.com/year-pages/ We would then send home a half-termly newsletter that is much shorter than the current format.
The aim is to continue to provide the current level of information, but in a way that cuts down on the amount of admin both in school and at home.
I accept that the school website has not been used to its full capacity in recent years and I feel that it could be used in a much better manner in order to communicate with our parents. There is still a necessity and role for emails about the most important information, but in terms of the school newsletter, it will be interesting to see if this proves more effective. Before Easter, I would be keen to seek your opinions about this and to consider whether this is the best way forward. If you have any feedback, over the next half term then I would be grateful to hear it.
The fortnightly newsletter has been sent out today as normal, but I look forward to trialing this new approach on Friday 6th March.
Have a fantastic half-term.
Mr Cook (Headteacher)