NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES

The last 40 newsletters, published via the School Jotter app are available by clicking the links below.

The news feed also contains updates on more incidental events in our school. 

You can find a complete archive in the app itself.

Go here to read/download the latest newsletter.

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Latest Newsletters

  • 13 May 2022
    Week 33 - 13th May

    This term feels extraordinarily short - we have just two weeks left before the mid-way break and still a lot to fit into them!

    This week's newsletter contains advance notice of some dates for next half term, and national assessments, as well as information about a community social we're planning for 15th July.

    We will need volunteers to help with this, to bolster the ranks of core PTFFE members who will do most of the organising but can't run everything on their own. Please consider helping out by volunteering to put a short shift in on the griddle, the tombola or the uniform stall if you can!

    Have a great weekend,

    Mr Spencer and the staff at Fir Ends

  • 03 May 2022
    May Online Safety Newsletter

    The latest online safety update is attached.
    This month covers topics such as tik-tok, sources of information to support discussions about online sexual harassment and ways to reduce the number of inappropriate pop-up adverts that children may be exposed to online.

    Our Monday afternoon adult learning course for the final half term will be focused on online safety. Details to follow.

  • 01 Apr 2022
    Newsletter: Spring into Summer

    With the end of a tumultuous spring term upon us, just as the season itself is getting underway, there are changes to Covid guidance and updates about progress evening bookings, swimming and suncare to share.

    There will be a paper copy in bags too.

    Hopefully the Easter break will see the sun return - and stay - and you'll be able to enjoy some grand days out.

    Have a great break, and we'll see you all back here on the 20th!

    Regards,

    Mr Spencer and all the Fir Ends Staff.

  • 31 Mar 2022
    APRIL E-Safety Newsletter

    This month's newsletter covers ways to manage parental controls for popular consoles, tips for making children's use of youtube safer and some useful links to help teach children how to spot 'fake news' online.

    Click the link to view it.

    A recent Ofcom survey of online habits found that '70% of adults were confident they could spot misinformation - but only 20% could correctly identify the tell-tale signs of a genuine post. Among 12- to 17-year-olds, these proportions were nearly 75% and just over 10%.'

    There is an interesting BBC news article based on the results of the survey here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-60854885

  • 25 Mar 2022
    Reducing offset between infant and junior school days

    As you may have recognised, this week is the two year anniversary of the start of the impact of covid on schools.

    One thing that it led to was the introduction of staggered school days for infants and juniors, and now that we're being encouraged to live with covid, the need for these is reduced. After Easter, the return of normal school days is also preferable.

    In the interests of trying to maintain the traffic benefits at the end of the day we will trial keeping a five minute offset next week, as noted in the attached letter.

    Also attached is a reminder of arrangements for tomorrow's cross country event at Lanercost for those of you who are able to attend. We're hoping for some silverware in at least one category :-)

    We hope to see lots of you tomorrow but have a great weekend, whatever you're up to.

    Regards,

    Mr Spencer and the staff at Fir Ends.

  • 16 Mar 2022
    Public Health update

    As you may be aware we have seen high incidences of covid cases in EYFS and upper KS2 over the past ten days.

    Public Health have advised that the picture is similar across Cumbria, and there are some key notes about the dominant variant to share with parents:

    1. Common symptoms are reported to be headaches, runny noses, sore throats and ‘feeling a bit waffy’.
    2, Symptoms are typically appearing 3-4 days before a positive LFT result is shown.
    3. PCR tests taken very early in the symptomatic phase may not detect the virus. Waiting a day or two is advised.
    4. Reinfection within 40 days of a previous infection appears to be increasingly common.

    Fortunately, infection remains a mild illness that is mostly little more than an inconvenience for a week or so.

    Whilst we are seeing high infection rates, it remains unlikely that we will have to consider class/school closures to manage these. Measures such as bubbling and increased testing can control onward transmission in school; although bus journeys do present a risk of broader transmission.

    We do anticipate that class 2 pupils will be the next in line in the current wave of infections, as a result of sibling and contact transmission.

    We have been able to cope with periods of covid-related staff absence to date, but as there appears to be no guarantee that prior infection will protect staff in the longer term, we ask that all parents remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to limit the potential of onward transmission.

    If children (and parents) have ‘cold-like’ symptoms, even if these are mild, they should be considered ‘unfit for school’ and daily testing is advised for up to a week from the development of these symptoms.

  • 11 Mar 2022
    EASTER BREAK - Cumbria's Holiday Activity and Food Programme

    Cumbria's Holiday Activity and Food Programme has launched its official Easter offer.

    Between the 10th - 15th March 2022, the offer will be exclusively open to children with a Free School Meal entitlement, giving them priority for places. Children with a Free School Meal entitlement will be able to book activities for FREE using the code HAF 1.

    From the 15th March onwards, the offer will be opened up to encompass all eligible children, with most activities also being available to book (for a cost) for non-eligible children / young people.

    Just like with the Winter programme, schools have an important role in ensuring that children and families are aware of the free activities they can access over the school holidays.

    As such, we are asking that schools print out the e-leaflets below (double-sided) and ensure that those children / young people eligible for Free School Meal entitlement receive a leaflet showing what's available in their district.

    The Carlisle District newsletter is attached.

    Visit cumbria.gov.uk/holidays for further information about the programme and to search the range of activities on offer.

  • 09 Mar 2022
    Parental Controls Guidance Booklet

    This booklet is a treasure trove of information on how to manage parental locks and what to consider if your child asks for access to a popular social media app.

    Probably not something you'll read in one sitting, but a useful reference!

  • 09 Mar 2022
    KNOWSLEY E-SAFETY NEWSLETTERS - MARCH

    The online world that children inhabit seems to evolve every week, and we understand how hard it is for parents to stay one step ahead of them. The same applies for staff in schools!

    We discussed this at a local heads meeting this week, where most schools reported the same challenges. in particular, we all seem to have children who are carrying online disagreements on during the school day and parents who are asking for advice on how to effectively manage and monitor their child's online behaviour.

    We already have a suite of tools that we use in school to educate and inform children, and the computing and PHSE curriculum does a lot of the heavy lifting here.

    Guiding parents is less simple. Most of the materials to support this are difficult for time-pressed parents to absorb or assume more background knowledge than they may have. The annual digital parenting magazine is a useful thing, but once a year is nowhere near frequent enough.

    To help, we've signed up for the monthly Knowsley E-Safety newsletter. This will offer a digestible chink of information to support parents and the March copy is attached.

    We also hope to be able to run a session for parents in the near future to help bring you all up to speed on general e-safety.

    If you have any questions (or suggestions) relating to e-safety please ask - we may not have the answers but will do our best to work out where they might be found!

  • 07 Mar 2022
    Public Health - Letter to Parents

    The attached letter has been issued by Cumbria Public Health to reflect the approach to Covid-19 infections that will be in place until April 1st.

    As previously noted, it is relatively simple. The legal requirement to isolate has been removed, but Public Health advice remains:

    1. If someone has recognised Covid symptoms (fever, cough, senses) they should have PCR test and isolate until the results are received.

    2. Anyone who tests positive with a PCR test should isolate from others for 5-10 days with release after two negative LFT's.

    3. LFT home testing is now advised only for outbreak control and to release those who have had a positive PCR from isolation. It should not be relied upon as a general check for children who have a fever. The advice has reverted to what it was last year; get a PCR if you have classic symptoms, even if an LFT suggests you're negative.

    4. Close contacts do not have to self-isolate, even if they are household contacts.

    5. All forms of free testing will be withdrawn from 1st April, assuming no changes before then, but LFT tests can still be ordered online and from pharmacies.

    Despite (maybe because of) the simplicity of the current guidance, and particularly the household contact advice and removal of widespread asymptomatic testing, we are seeing cases rising across the school already.

    This is likely to be the case throughout March, and we are reliant on parents, pupils and staff getting (PCR) tests promptly if they have classic symptoms to slow it down and prevent disruption.

    Please remain aware and alert for symptoms - one child/staff member having a day off whilst awaiting test results remains preferable to an entire class having to be off across a period of a fortnight to three weeks or having to close the school to control an outbreak.

  • 02 Mar 2022
    UKRAINE - A child appropriate news report

    We subscribe to First News, a newspaper written for children, and use it across KS2. This ensures that our pupils develop an awareness of world issues whilst also regularly seeing great examples of chronological reports!

    This week, First News will publish in depth coverage of the conflict in Ukraine and they have distributed this early so that subscribing schools can share it with parents to support discussion. This is a great way to support children who may be worried about what they're seeing in the 'adult news', with the issues pitched at a more appropriate level.

    The Ukraine coverage is attached and there is also an option for parents to sign-up for a free copy of this week's full newspaper at this link:

    https://bit.ly/UKRAINENEWS

  • 25 Feb 2022
    WEEK 22 - a little bit of the latest news

    Hello,

    Whilst there wouldn't normally be a full page newsletter this early in the term anymore, the big news events this week mean it is useful to cover them in this format to ensure all parents are aware of them. Please click the 'attachment' link to download the newsletter itself - although we're sending paper copies home too.

    We are still awaiting a formal PH update regarding Covid in schools but the main things to note are:

    * People with Covid or Covid symptoms DO still have to isolate at home
    * LFD tests are no longer advised for routine home testing - PCR tests are the de facto test again
    * Close contacts do NOT have to isolate at home, even if there is a case in the household
    * Additional symptoms have been added to the list (see below)

    We are aware of a number of community cases that have emerged towards the end of this week, and it is certain that there will be cases throughout the school over the coming month and that children (and staff) will have to isolate at home as a result.

    Please remain alert and follow the national guidance fully.

    Meanwhile, there is some good news to share this week too:

    The playtrail drains are in, and whilst the horrendous rainfall last week inevitably overwhelmed them anyway the ground conditions are significantly improved. Rubber surfacing is planned for next month.

    We have received delivery of new archery equipment, and will be able to teach children how to cast an arrow this term!

    Plans for KS2's athletics event in June have progressed further and it promises to be a very exciting week of sport.

    And we're looking forward to celebrating World Book Day next Thursday, with a display of vegetable/rock based book characters.

    Later that evening there will also be a PTA meeting online, which all parents and friends of the school are welcome to join.

    Have a great weekend,

    Mr Spencer and the staff at Fir Ends

    SYMPTOMS_______________________________

    The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a recent onset of any of the following:

    * a new continuous cough
    * a high temperature
    * a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

    If you have any of these symptoms you should order a PCR test. You are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people while you are waiting for the test result.

    Other symptoms linked with COVID-19 include:
    * shortness of breath,
    * fatigue,
    * loss of appetite,
    * muscle ache,
    * sore throat,
    * headache,
    * stuffy or runny nose,
    * diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

    Any of these symptoms may also have another cause.

    If you are concerned about your symptoms, or they are worsening, contact 111 or speak to your GP. In an emergency dial 999.

    There is additional guidance for people who have been informed by the NHS that they are at highest risk of becoming severely unwell and who might be eligible for new COVID-19 treatments.

  • 24 Feb 2022
    What changes from 24th February mean in practice

    As you will be aware, the Covid-19 isolation rules change from legal requirements to advice today, Thursday 24th February.

    The government has updated the advice to schools and to people with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 online. This will next be reviewed around April 1st.

    Further information from Cumbria Public Health specifically for parents of school-aged pupils is expected by the weekend.

    In summary, under the new guidance, anyone with suspected symptoms of Covid 19 is still advised to:
    1. Stay at home
    2. Arrange a PCR test
    3. Avoid contact with others until the results are received.

    Anyone with a confirmed case of Covid-19 is advised to:
    1. Isolate for at least five days, and up to ten
    2. Have two consecutive negative LFT's before returning to work/school.

    Schools have been advised that they can refuse entry to any pupil who is suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19 in the interests of protecting other pupils and staff from infection.

    Please remain alert and use common-sense if children are unwell. Parents should refer to the national guidance and contact 111 for advice if they are unsure if their child's symptoms require a PCR test to be arranged.

    SYMPTOMS_______________________________

    The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a recent onset of any of the following:

    * a new continuous cough
    * a high temperature
    * a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

    If you have any of these symptoms you should order a PCR test. You are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people while you are waiting for the test result.

    Other symptoms linked with COVID-19 include:
    * shortness of breath,
    * fatigue,
    * loss of appetite,
    * muscle ache,
    * sore throat,
    * headache,
    * stuffy or runny nose,
    * diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

    Any of these symptoms may also have another cause.

    If you are concerned about your symptoms, or they are worsening, contact 111 or speak to your GP. In an emergency dial 999.

    There is additional guidance for people who have been informed by the NHS that they are at highest risk of becoming severely unwell and who might be eligible for new COVID-19 treatments.

  • 23 Feb 2022
    World Book Day - 3rd March 2022

    With World Book Day almost upon us, and after missing last year due to Lockdown 2.0, attached is an overview of what's involved in a 'vegetable diorama', with pictures from 2020!

    We are looking forward to seeing what a weekend of creativity produces this year - and it's good practice for the decorated egg competition at the end of March!

  • 11 Feb 2022
    Week 21- Spring term summary

    It's been a busy six weeks, but we've reached the end of the first half of spring!

    As always, we thank all our parents for the support from home with everything that makes our lives easier in school: making sure children have the correct PE kit on the correct day; remembering to bring a charged chromebook back each morning; and, of course, your continued efforts with homework and periods of remote learning when they have arisen!

    Two years on, despite the ongoing impact of covid, we've got off fairly lightly again for the most part, and the outlook for next term seems promising.

    It has been great to wander around the school this term and see how well children are doing in all subjects, and particularly their enthusiasm and outcomes in music and art. My office has given me a front row seat for Class 1's foray into rock music, and today's impromptu karaoke concert has been very entertaining! In class 3, pupils have produced impressive hand cast pots and still-life drawings.

    We're in the process of getting the raised beds ready for the growing season and looking forward to the first flush of spring growth blooming in the flower beds and hedgerows over the next week or so.

    Attached is a summary newsletter with information on things that will be coming up in spring B, and the online calendar is being updated to reflect these. A paper copy will also be sent home in bags to ensure that all parents see it!

    School restarts after the half-term break on Monday 21st February.

    Have a great week, during which we hope you get an opportunity to do some of the things that your families haven't been able to do for the past year or two!

    Regards,

    Mr Spencer and the staff at Fir Ends

  • 08 Feb 2022
    Family Action - Winter News

    Family Action provide a wide range of services to support local families, particularly those with young children; details can be found in the attached newsletter.

  • 14 Jan 2022
    COVID UPDATE: 14 Jan 2022

    COVID UPDATE- 14 Jan 2022.

    At the end of week 2, we are seeing an increase in confirmed and possible cases across the school.

    As of 14th January, we have a number of staff and pupils isolating; either due to +ve tests or household contacts. Classes 1 & 3 are directly affected at this time and we anticipate that more pupils will test positive over the weekend.

    Fortunately, we have been able to manage staff absences using existing personnel. This has, however, meant that planned learning has had to be adjusted to accommodate this, and pupils may have had a number of different teachers this week!

    Whilst the change to (possible) 5-day limits on isolation from next Monday will be very helpful in the event of further staff absences, it does create challenges and we expect to see similar situations throughout the spring term.

    PH have offered advice on thresholds at which specific controls should be introduced if cases continue to rise. Whilst our number of infections is currently at 'Tier 0', the controls we are already using, which include keeping pupils in class bubbles and advising face coverings for all adults, represent Tier 2.

    In light of this, even if numbers increase significantly, the current measures ought to remain sufficient.

    Should we reach Tier 3 we may close bubbles for 2-3 days to break transmission cycles, and require -ve test results on our return. As in previous instances, provision for key workers and vulnerable pupils would be made if this occurs.

    Closures of bubbles may also be required if staff cases escalate and make it difficult to operate safely with all pupils onsite.

    Looking ahead to next week it would be helpful if all parents could arrange for LFT tests to be taken, at the very least, on Monday morning.

    This will help to create a firebreak across the weekend, and remove asymptomatic cases from circulation next week.

    We do now have a healthy supply of LFT test kits after a delivery yesterday. These now come in 'family packs' of 20 tests. They can be ordered online (see the links tab in the Jotter or Scholarpack apps for the link).

    On a more positive note, I'd like to congratulate all our Year 5&6 pupils, who successfully passed their Bike-a-bility tests this week. It was great to see them looking increasingly confident as they headed out onto the main road each morning and I hope that they remember everything they have learned as they become more independent as cyclists!

    Please keep us informed of any symptoms or +ve test results over the weekend, and remember to register LFT test results on the national system - just google 'report a covid test result' if you're not sure how to access this.

    Otherwise, we hope you have a GOOD weekend!

    Mr Spencer and the staff at Fir Ends

  • 05 Jan 2022
    PRIMARY MATHS COURSE STARTS NEXT WEEK (10 JAN)

    Despite the general uncertainty in the world, the adult learning team are still delivering sessions and our next parent primer - Primary Maths - will start next Monday as planned.

    Sessions run from 1:30 to 3 pm and the final 20 minutes involve working with your child(ren) to put learning into practice.

    Covid safety will include LFT tests prior to attending, socially distanced seating, hand gel and face coverings (required on arrival and departure, optional whilst seated)

    This 5-week course will cover the skills and knowledge that develop as maths skills progresses from the basics learned in Year 1 to the written methods applied in KS2.

    It is an opportunity to revisit vaguely remembered learning from your own school days so you can support your child(ren) as they go on the same journey.

    To book a place, either leave your name on the online form (https://bit.ly/FIRadultlearn) or phone/email the office to let us know you'd like to attend.

  • 03 Jan 2022
    Director of Public Health - letter to parents

    The attached 3-page letter summarises local approaches to testing and isolation for reference in the event of a household case.

  • 03 Jan 2022
    Happy New Year

    Happy New Year and welcome to 2022.

    All being well, the new term will commence as intended on Wednesday, but in light of the current case rates nationally, we will reinstate some precautions to manage the risks associated with these.

    The attached newsletter sets out the steps we'll take from the start of term. These will be reviewed each Monday. In addition, we may reinstate a slightly staggered end to the school day to assist with avoiding onsite congestion.

    The Director of Public Health has also written to parents setting out the local advice on isolation in the case of a positive result. This will be distributed separately.

    If you currently have a household member who has tested positive and have an isolation period underway, you can let us know via email on Monday, but the office will be staffed on Tuesday when we can be contacted by phone.

    Hopefully, however, we'll see virtually everyone on Wednesday!

  • 16 Dec 2021
    MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    We've reached the end of another school term, and almost the end of another calendar year. Although the current situation suggests another rocky start to the New Year, at least we're all better prepared for it this time round.

    It's been lovely to be able to invite parents to join us to watch an EY and KS1 nativity performance over the past fortnight, and we hope that the KS2 carol singers warmed a few hearts at the end of the school day this week too.

    On behalf of everyone at Fir Ends, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

    We look forward to seeing everyone again in 2022!

    All the best from Mr Spencer and all the staff at Fir Ends

  • 14 Dec 2021
    CCC Adult Learning programmes for 2022

    As you know, we've had the adult learning team run parent-focused sessions throughout this term.

    These will continue into the new year with Mathematics as the focus of the spring term. As adults, the last mathematics we remember learning is what we learned at secondary school. However, the primary years put a lot of foundations in to support that, which are second nature to (most) parents, but are all new to children!

    From Monday 10th January a five-week course focused on all the maths strategies expected by the end of KS1 will be running, again from 1:30pm to 3:15pm (ish).

    This is particularly relevant for parents of our current cohorts right up to Year 4, as the pandemic has inevitably led to gaps in pupil progression through the strategies and methods that are usually taught.

    Further details will follow.

    For now, the Adult Learning team have asked us to distribute their 2022 leaflet of courses covering a wide range of subjects. It's attached here.

  • 14 Dec 2021
    FAO EARLY YEARS PARENTS ATTENDING THE NATIVITY ON 15th DECEMBER

    Whilst the Early Years nativity is still able to go ahead under current guidance, the rapidly changing situation over the past week has made controls for Covid ever more important.

    The attached letter indicates expectations for audience members.

    Please ensure that anyone who is attending is aware of these.

    Whilst the limit of two tickets per family helps to reduce numbers in the hall, it is arguably mixing before and after that presents the greatest risk.

    On arrival, please queue with social distancing of approx. 2m and avoid congregating after the show.

    We have a supply of lateral flow tests available for parents to order online: https://bit.ly/FIR-LFD-ORDER

  • 01 Dec 2021
    YEAR 5&6 - UPDATE

    Some brief information is in the attached newsletter on a number of things relevant to year 5&6 pupils.
    * Maternity Leave starting
    * Bikeability reminder
    * Year 6 curriculum testing
    * Dukes Barn Residential

    (Updated to remove an errant comma!)

  • 30 Nov 2021
    Free School Meals & Pupil Premium - are you one of the missing 15%?

    A significant part of the government strategy to improve educational provision is linked to the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG) funding. In 2020-21 they spent approx. £2.4 billion on this grant alone.

    To allocate the grant at school level, the government refer to eligibility of Free School Meals (FSM). The more pupils who are eligible for FSM, the more of the PPG that school will receive.

    Over recent years we have seen a steady decline in pupils registered for FSM, and an inevitable decline in linked PPG funding. In 2021-22 we will receive PPG funding for less than 4% of pupils in comparison to a national average of 22% and a Cumbrian average of 18%.

    Naturally, it may be that our community is just ineligible for FSM funding, but it may also be possible that those who are eligible are unaware of this, or not registering for other reasons.

    For example, the fact that all infant children receive funded meals through a different grant may mean that some families don't even consider registering until KS2, or mistakenly assume that FSM funding stops in Year 3.

    The attached newsletter offers further information on FSM and PPG. If you think you may be eligible, we encourage you to complete the online application. You may also be eligible for support with school clothing costs as an added bonus!

    As always, if you require further information, just ask Mr Spencer or Mrs Schollick.

  • 12 Nov 2021
    PROGRESS EVENING BOOKING INFORMATION (Reception to Year 6)

    We are trialling the Schoolcloud system for progress evenings this term.

    Details are in the attached newsletter and the system will be open for bookings from 18:00 on Friday 12th November (today).

    You should be able to set up your account ahead of time so you're ready for bookings opening. We hope that it proves as easy for parents to access as it was for us to set up!

    Those of you using the app will also have noticed a series of shorter news updates during the week.

    These will be used to replace the weekly newsletters reducing the amount you have to read in one go and allowing links to be embedded in them. Longer newsletters will still be published, but less frequently.

    Anyone not using the app can still find the news updates on the school web page as they are published there at the same time.

    Feedback on how useful and accessible you find this approach would be helpful.

    As always, have a great weekend.

    Mr Spencer and the staff at Fir Ends

  • 12 Nov 2021
    Progress Evening Bookings - Years R-6

    As online progress meetings will remain a feature of school life for the foreseeable future - and have many benefits for parents and staff too, we are going to trial the Schoolcloud system for our upcoming progress meetings. (November 30th and December 2nd)

    This has been used successfully by other local schools and promises to be a much smoother experience than our website booking system and Zoom efforts were over the past year.

    The system is being set up for trial now and you will receive further information on how to make and access online progress meetings when it is ready to use.

    We understand that online meetings may not be practical or preferred for everyone and will accommodate limited face-to-face meetings and phone calls in addition to the online option.

  • 01 Nov 2021
    Week 8 - Lots of things to start the new half term

    Hello, and welcome back to Autumn B - seven busy weeks running up to the (whisper it) Christmas break.

    The well-thumbed Smyths catalogues are evidence that attempting not to mention the word until late-November is futile, but we do have a lot of November to get through in school before we will be ready to start thinking about festive celebrations!

    Lots of things covered in this weeks first newsletter, including dates for progress evenings later this term and plans for returning some sort of Christmas performance to the calendar. As is now the norm, both are heavily dependent on the ongoing covid situation but, whilst we've already started this half term under the shadow of positive cases, we feel much more confident about being able to plan for things like these this year!

    This morning's technical glitches with Scholarpack and ParentPay appear to have been resolved but please do let us know if you experience any further issues so we can bring them to the attention of their technical teams.

    Hopefully the clouds have wrung themselves dry and we'll see some good weather this week, but please do get children in the habit of preparing for the worst that Cumbrian skies can throw at the ground.

    Have a great week,

    Mr Spencer and the Fir Ends staff.

  • 15 Oct 2021
    WEEK 6 - THINGS

    Another week done, and the weather has improved today too!

    In the last 30 minutes we have been advised of a positive Covid result affecting class 2 (year 3&4).

    Based on average incubation times, this may lead to further cases being identified from Sunday onwards.
    Please remain alert for any symptoms and, if unsure arrange a PCR test.

    Please remember that LFT tests are not advised by Cumbria PH for children under 12, but can be useful in detecting asymptomatic cases despite this. Prudent LFT testing is helpful where there is an increased risk of infection but should not replace PCR testing.

    This week's newsletter reiterates some recent news and has details of the PTFFE autumn competitions running next week, Air Ambulance date for after half term and information on the next adult learning courses.

    All of these dates can, of course, be found on the calendar in the app and on the website too.

    We're looking forward to singing some harvest songs and dressing up for an early Halloween dress rehearsal next week.

    Have a great weekend, and we'll cross everything and hope that we can make it through the final five days of this half term without further cases!

    Mr Spencer and the Fir Ends Staff

  • 12 Oct 2021
    8th and 15th November - Hearing Readers

    The Cumbria adult learning team will run a short 2-week course focused around skills to help parents when listening to readers.

    Sessions will be on Monday afternoons, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. The last half hour is intended to involve a shared activity with your child(ren).

    The course will focus on how to identify and correct mistakes and how to help children make more progress as readers. It is appropriate to parents of children of all ages - reading aloud is always a good thing to continue, right up to year 6.

    It is also useful to anyone who would like to volunteer to support reading in school by volunteering to listen to children reading in future.

    This course will be followed by a four week programme on Phonics for Parents.

  • 11 Oct 2021
    Updated version 2: Cumbria Public Health - change to isolation arrangements

    Note: this message has been reissued with version TWO of the letter after it was updated this evening to make it easier to understand. The overall guidance remains the same though.

    Over the weekend, PH have issued new guidance to schools regarding isolation of household cases. This is to limit the spread within Cumbrian schools, which currently account for the majority of cases in the county, and reduce the broader risks to staff and the community posed by this.

    PH now advise that children isolate at home for a minimum of 5 days after a positive within the household and only return if they have had a negative PCR on the fifth day.

    A letter from Colin Cox is attached, explaining the change.

    We are aware that schools local to us have had a number of cases over the past week, so please remain aware of any changes in your children.

  • 08 Oct 2021
    Week 5 - Things

    Five weeks down (plus those strange two days in week zero) already but it barely feels like we've been back a fortnight!

    This week's newsletter includes information on plans for harvest this year, how to find the school calendar and an update on our playtrail fundraising.

    Despite the weather, we've had a good week in school, and it has been great to see upper KS2 sports teams in action again - football last weekend and netball today. It remains to be seen how the netball team will get on but the football team's progression to the semi finals against strong competition was testament to their determination and teamwork. Most of them have another year with us so we're hopeful of medals next time!

    Some pupils will have had copies of the consent forms sent home this week if they aren't already on record - so most of nursery, some Reception and a handful higher up. These cover various consents that make running the school easier as well as informing us of your preferences when it comes to things like photographs. Please check bags and return promptly if you can.

    Photographic permissions include the annual PTFFE calendar, and it is assumed that if you have given consent for images to be used in offline media controlled by the school you are happy for your child to be included in this but parents also have the opportunity to opt in/out of this each year. Please watch out for a text/app message early next week regarding this as we will be arranging the photoshoot!

    We have remained fortunate not to have many incidences of covid this week, but are aware that schools around us are reporting cases in the past day or so. Please stay aware and do what you can to help to keep it out!

    Also, it's time to get the Halloween costumes out of storage - or start planning a new one. After enjoying it so much last year, we'll be having another spooky Halloween Dress Rehearsal on Friday 22nd.

    Have a great weekend,

    Mr Spencer and the Fir Ends staff

  • 01 Oct 2021
    WEEK 4 - Things

    Hello,

    With week four, proper October weather has arrived and reminded us what Cumbria is usually like after what feels like a long period without much rain! Thank you to everyone who has made sure that children are prepared for anything the skies can throw at them this week.

    As always, we will aim to have children outside whatever the weather (within reason) so water-resistant coats with hoods are an essential item from this point forward! As with everything else, children WILL lose these at some point so making sure they're clearly labelled is also of great importance.

    We do have welly racks all over the school, so if children have a spare pair that they can leave here, please make sure they're well-labelled (inside AND out, on both wellies helps!) and send them in.

    If you're looking for handy labelling options for other items (gloves, scarves, socks... ) the PTFFE get a small commission from every purchase of Stikin labels: www.stikins.co.uk/?NAME-LABELS=7296
    (if prompted for a school code when ordering it is 7296).

    Indoors this week, we've had a squad of keen librarians tagging books and tidying shelves and it was fantastic to see children able to get in there and choose a book yesterday.

    I won't spoil the reveal in the newsletter itself, but we're also hugely grateful to all our families and anyone else who sponsored pupils for their daily mile's last week. They've surpassed our expectations with an impressive amount raised already.

    Children should have a QR code for ordering the photographs taken by Heidi today - she made the session a lot of fun and you should have a great selection of snaps to choose from. She'll be back later in the year to take whole class photographs and will capture any individuals missed today at the same time.

    Have a great weekend, despite the weather!

    Mr Spencer and the staff at Fir Ends

  • 24 Sep 2021
    Letter to parents from Director of Public Health

    Attached is a letter from Colin Cox regarding the latest guidance to schools for self-isolation following positive sibling tests.

  • 24 Sep 2021
    Week 3 - Things including new self-isolation guidance, governor update, PTFFE uniform

    Already at the end of the third full week of school - and the season is on the turn. We've been managing various winter illnesses in school and the EYFS staff, in particular, have been affected by those this week. Hopefully we'll avoid too many more of these as the term progresses.

    Public Health Cumbria have updated guidance to schools this morning, reflecting high rates of infection in schools across the county. As a result, they now advise that children with household contacts DO self-isolate and have a PCR test at least 3-5 days later, and before returning to school. Although we are currently covid-free here we are aware that William Howard is dealing with an outbreak already and expect that to affect us via older siblings over the coming fortnight.

    We are keeping a close eye on developments whilst we try to decide on the best course of action for traditional calendar events. Harvest seems likely to be a 'children only' event for schools this year but we remain hopeful that something Christmassy will be a practical proposition later this term.

    Something that may have passed parents by is a change to the term dates for Cumbria. Friday 17th December has been taken off the calendar as a result of the creation of a national holiday for the Queen's Jubilee in 2022. The reasons are complex and linked to contracts of employment, but mean that the Autumn term now ends on Thursday 16th December!

    It's great to see a quick uptake of the new Scholarpack App. When this reaches a critical mass we should be able to start sending reminders without punitive costs, but please remember that the website and jotter app also have a calendar of events, including reminders of days for recorder lessons, etc. The onsite Outdoor Ed calendar for KS2 will be finalised shortly and added to that. Also look out for the date of an upcoming PTA AGM - currently being finalised.

    Already on there is a 'Halloween Dress Rehearsal' for the last day of this half term. We're looking forward to 'spooking up' the school entrance again and having a mini-costume competition before we break for half term!

    We also have individual and sibling photographs on the agenda next Friday. Older and younger siblings are welcome to come to school to be part of these between 8:30 and 9:00, although we will need to implement some simple covid control measures (i.e a queue outside) this year.

    Have a great weekend.

    Regards,

    Mr Spencer and the staff at Fir Ends

  • 15 Sep 2021
    Week 2: Comms update; illnesses in circulation; SpaG for Parents community learning course; sponsored miles next week; Good to Grow; what's on at AFS club.

    Hello,

    Click the link for a midweek update with things for parents to know, including information about our first community learning course aimed at parents - KS1 SPaG.

    Despite an early scare last week with positive covid results, we seem to have remained symptom-free since then, which is reassuring. Inner-city schools seem to be reporting a different picture, however, so please remain alert for signs that children have symptoms.

    Other childhood illnesses are making the most of the contact between children, however. There is a particularly nasty cold circulating, as well as a vomiting bug that has sudden onset.

    If the pandemic response has taught us one thing, it's that taking poorly people out of circulation slows and prevents the spread of illness - please keep poorly children at home for an appropriate length of time, especially in the early stages of illness. If unsure, phone before you send them in so that we can discuss whether it is appropriate.

    Elsewhere, some information on next week's sponsored miles event and an invitation to use Morrisons' 'Good to Grow' app when you shop to help us stock up on gardening kit. We are still collection the Houghton Hall vouchers too!

    Regards,

    Mr Spencer.

  • 14 Sep 2021
    WEEK 1 - SPONSORED MILES FORM

    In case you missed it - or it got lost in the Friday kerfuffle - a copy of the Sponsored Miles form is attached.

    This contains information explaining what we're hoping to raise funding towards, and the sponsor form on the back.

    New paper copies can be collected from school if preferred.

  • 14 Sep 2021
    WEEK 2 - KS1 & Year 3 parents - SPaG Adult Learning course starting 27th September.

    Many parents commented during and after the periods of remote learning last year that they had found supporting pupils with some aspects of the curriculum bewildering as they were far removed from their own knowledge and experience.

    Although we hope that remote learning is a thing of the past now, we have arranged for Cumbria Adult Learning team to run some curriculum skills courses over the coming year. These will offer you opportunities to learn more about different aspects of the curriculum alongside other parents.

    Sessions will run on Monday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30pm and have different themes each half term.

    The first course is aimed at parents of pupils in years 1,2&3.

    One of the most challenging areas for a generation of adults that wasn't formally taught any of it was Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. This is relatively new to the primary curriculum and poses some tricky expectations of knowledge and understanding, even at KS1.

    We think that pupils in Years 1-3 will find it more tricky this year due to the time missed as a result of Covid, so support from knowledgeable parents at home will be a useful tool in our recovery box!

    It's a five week course, starting on Monday 27th September.

    If interested in joining, please contact the office - or fill in the online form (see the LINKS section of the app) or cut and paste this link: https://forms.gle/qR1trGr6SdQsbEE68.

    Note: Reception parents may also find it useful, since being able to talk about SpaG from an early point in reading development will undoubtedly help children understand it better later on.

  • 09 Sep 2021
    GOVERNORS - INVITATION FOR APPLICATIONS FOR VACANT PARENT GOVERNOR ROLES

    As noted in newsletters towards the end of last year, we currently have vacancies on the Governing Body for parent governors.

    A letter explaining the role and how to submit an application is attached.

    Paper copies of the attached file will be sent home to all families tomorrow; it is a procedural requirement that we ensure that all parents see the information and have the opportunity to apply.

    If applications from interested parents exceed vacancies, an election will be arranged.

    The deadline for applications to be received is midday on Tuesday 21st September.

  • 08 Sep 2021
    Week 1 - Silent SMS pings, Covid information, traffic request

    Just a quick midweek update to explain why your SMS pings have fallen silent! It will also be sent out on paper to make sure all families receive a copy.

    We currently have three active Covid cases and there is some information on what this means in terms of actions that will be taken and sensible things parents can do with poorly children to help avoid 'outbreak' status.

    Find the attachment link to view it!

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