It has been really lovely to welcome back our pupils this week! For most of them, this was the first time that they have stepped back into the school for nearly 6 months. We were expecting many worried and anxious children who were concerned about returning to school. However, it has been fantastic to see that, within minutes of coming back, children were happy, laughing and delighted to see their school friends and class mates. Of course, there are new routines, timings and rotas for them to get used to but there are still many aspects to school life that haven’t changed. We really hope that the terrific start back to school will continue and feel confident that we will all quickly settle back into our new routines. It’s great to be back!
Over the summer holiday, we have continued to improve the school site, with more developments in our outside learning areas. The latest piece of work has been to add some lovely signs in our school orchard that will help children to understand and appreciate the natural environment better. Signs to help the children look out for some of the bird life, mini-beasts, flowers and trees they can see have been put up. We hope that these will add to the whole experience of being in our school orchard and allow the children to appreciate the outdoors even more.
Last week saw the last part of our playground redevelopment take place, as both playground areas had bright, new markings put onto the surfaces. The designs were chosen by our School Council, just before the school had to close in March.
Pupils looked at many ideas and created a design for the lower playground that included a range of different games like snakes and ladders and hopscotch. There is a also a target throw design and a fantastic exercise trail. On the top playground, we have kept the yellow multi-sports court area and next to this, added some coloured dash markings that could be used for a range of different sports activities.
The markings are made of a special plastic material that is carefully laid out in the shape of the design. The coloured plastic is then stuck to the playground surface by heating it, causing it to almost melt into place. While the plastic is hot, small plastic ‘beads’ are sprinkled over the surface which stick to it, giving the surface an anti-slip grip. It has been a long wait to finally get the playground finished, but we are delighted with the end results!
We are really looking forward to September when, after many months, we will start to welcome back all of our pupils once again! On 23rd March, we closed our doors to all but a small group of pupils whose parents are key workers. The school has remained open, for our key worker pupils and more recently, pupils in YR and Y1. We have stayed open through the Easter and May half-term holidays and, since June, have seen the number of pupils in school increase to just under 30.
Throughout all this time, teachers have worked incredibly hard – planning work for children to complete at home, marking the home learning, posting up videos, contacting every pupil in their class to make sure they are ok, and teaching those in school as well. Other staff have been coming into school really early every morning to clean every table, chair, door handle, work surface, floor, toilet and piece of playground equipment.
Throughout all this time, parents have tried their hardest to juggle working from home, whilst helping their children to keep their learning going and complete the home learning activities being set by school – in some cases several schools, since they have children going to different schools.
Throughout all this time, children have had to try and adapt to ‘school’ taking place on the kitchen table and doing so much more work on a computer screen. They have missed running around in the playground, missed their singing in whole school worship times…and missed their friends.
It has not been the same – nothing like the same.
We ARE returning in September! It won’t be like normal – in fact, many of the ways that we do things will be different. However, we ARE coming back to be a school…together, at Beckley, pupils and staff, friends. Although we don’t quite know how we might all feel – we will enjoy seeing each other smile, laugh, making jokes, being happy when we achieve and being kind to one another.
It will be great!
The hours and hours of sunshine over the past few weeks have caused an explosion of growth in thte school orchard and vegetable garden! During this lockdown period, our group of Key Worker pupils have spent a lot of time gardening in the orchard – weeding, watering and generally looking after the raised beds, fruit trees and flowers planted. A variety of fruit and vegetables were planted in the spring and are now looking very healthy, with a good crop to come – carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins, potatoes, raspberries and strawberries!
As well as all the fruit and vegetables in our raised beds, we have several of our fruit trees growing heavy with fruit for a month or two’s time – apples, pears and figs are all looking promising!
One problem is water! We use a huge tank to collect all the rain water running off the roof over the outdoor area in Acorns – the tank holds 1000 litres of water, and was full at the start of lockdown. However, with barely any rainfall since then, the tank is now empty and so we are having to use water from the sinks in the classroom.
By the way – the raspberries taste fantastic!
Over the past year, a group of pupils, staff, governors, parents and people from the local community have been working together to help the school develop a new school vision. Our new school vision has now been approved by the Governors and we can begin to introduce it to the wider school community. There are 3 parts:
- Our strap line – ‘Let your light shine’ – a single phrase that sums up the school vision
- Our school vision statement – roughly 50 words that describe what our aim is for everyone linked to the school
- Our mission statement – a more detailed explanation of how we believe we can achieve our aims.
The most important thing about the school vision is that it isn’t something that just gets put on a wall or appears on the school website and is forgotten about! We truly believe that our new vision describes what is really important to us as a school and we will be working hard to make sure that everyone linked to the school is familiar with the vision, agrees with it and applies it to all aspects of school life. Whether we are pupils, parents, staff or people in the local community – we believe that the school can help all of us to ‘shine brightly’ in whatever we are doing!
Last week, some of our pupils from Acorns class returned to school as part of the gradual releasing of lockdown measures, introduced to help manage COVID-19. We have worked hard to create new procedures for parents dropping off and picking up their children so that everyone remains safe, and we have been delighted with the way this has worked. Parents bring their children through the main gate, one at a time where they are met by Mr Thurston. He takes the temperature of each child and they clean their hands with an anti-bacterial wipe, before they walk around to their classroom.
In Acorn’s class, the children each have their own table and their own ‘pack’ which contains pencils, pens and all the things they will need. The children are using the various outdoor spaces as much as possible and are really enjoying the opportunities to be outdoors. After lunch, the Reception children are being met by their parents and finishing ‘school’ for the day.
Talking with parents and the children themselves, many of the initial worries about being back in school and moving out of the ‘family bubble’ have been overcome already. It is so lovely to see the children’s smiling faces again!
Shortly after we went into lockdown, there was a discovery made in the Acorns outdoor area. Underneath an upturned red storage box in the outdoor area, we discovered that a pair of Wagtails had made a next and had laid 5 eggs! We have been keeping a very careful eye on the next and watching to see how the adult birds have been sitting on the eggs to incubate them.
Today, we discovered that the eggs have hatched and we now have a nest of very newborn, tiny chicks! The adult birds will now be taking it in turns to look after the nest and go out of the box to collect food, as their babies will need almost non-stop feeding. It is wonderful to see something like this so close to where we are out playing in the playground, and amazing that the birds have stayed on the nest with all out noisy playground activity so close by!
Pupils from across the school were excited to start up our new ‘Garden Club’ two weeks ago. With a wonderful bunch of willing parent helpers, the children began by clearing the raised beds and preparing the soil for planting. It was wonderful to see how engaged the children were as they weeded, dug, fetched and carried through the wet and muddy orchard. We are all looking forward to seeing the new shoots emerging as we move towards the warmer, sunnier and…hopefully drier time of the year!
‘Which book have you come from?’ was a question heard over and over again yesterday, as the staff and pupils at school celebrated World Book Day! The entire school dressed up as a character from a favourite book for the day and took part in a range of learning activities linked to the theme. In the afternoon, classes joined together to share with one another about their favourite books, and listen to each other read a passage from it. We have never seen so many ‘Harry Potter’s’ in one place before!