Weekly Update: 15 January

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Firstly well done for making it through Week 1 of online learning!  We have had almost 100% attendance this week for pupils working from home which is fantastic.  There are a few changes and updates to make you aware of this week;

Photos

As with the last lockdown period, we are keen to share some of the amazing work that is going on at home through our Facebook page.  Teaching staff will share these with me at the end of each week.  If you prefer the photos that you have sent in not to be shared, please make teaching staff aware.  Pupils will not be identified by name in these posts.

Expectations for work

Where the emphasis last lockdown was very much on consolidation, we are hopeful that this situation will be as temporary as possible and will endeavour to keep up with as much teaching and learning as possible.  In light of this, we have revised our suggested timescales that pupils should be working each day.  Please keep in mind that these are guidelines.  The health and wellbeing of all, including parents, is paramount at this time and if at any time, you find that this is too much, please get in touch.  All work is posted each morning at 7am which will hopefully allow time for getting the day organised.  Due to staffing implications, it is not possible to release work any earlier than that.  If it is easier for your child to work a day behind to allow you to organise the night before, this is an option as well.  As long as pupils attend their meets at specified times, we can be flexible where required.  From next week, the advised times for school work will be as follows;

Literacy (Reading, Writing, Listening and Talking)

  • 20-30 minutes: P1-P2 
  • 30-45 minutes: P3-P4
  • 45 mins -1h15: P5-7

Numeracy

  • 20-30 minutes: P1-P2 
  • 30-45 minutes: P3-P4
  • 45 mins -1h15: P5-7

It is also recommended that as part of their health and wellbeing, pupils take part in physical activity each day between Joe Wickes, Highlife Highland, Active School and the PE grid, there should be plenty of options to suit everyone.

We also issued an art grid last week with suggested activities which pupils can choose to do, one per week.

There are additional tasks in a grid on the homework section of the website should you require these.

Google Meets are in addition to the timings suggested above. 

This is an ever changing landscape and will continue to evolve as time goes on.  Some teachers are currently putting together work packs of textbooks etc. which may help to reduce screen time and also help with consistency and routines that pupils are familiar with.  We will be in touch with further information around these. 

Teaching staff continue to be available on email during school hours, except when they are providing in school supervision.

Where there are any questions or concerns about any school related matters, these should still be directed to the school using the correct channels and parents are reminded that discussing these over social media is neither appropriate nor productive.

Burns Day Focus

With Burns Day approaching next week, information is attached regarding a competition and some additional activities to celebrate the occasion. These are completely optional but will provide a focus and some motivation away from Literacy and Numeracy.  We look forward to seeing your entries!

In School Provision

The school continues to be open for the pupils of Keyworkers and for some vulnerable pupils, however, as you will be aware from the media, there are concerns, nationally about the numbers attending.  In light of this, we have been tasked with reducing our numbers and ensuring that Keyworker places are only being used by those in the new Keyworker categories 1-3 advised by  the Scottish Government and only at times when both parents are required to be out at work, rather than working from home.  Individual parents have been contacted about this however, if you have specific questions, please contact the school.

Once again, we thank you for your continued support in home learning and for your understanding and patience in this ever changing scenario.

As always, please be in touch with any questions or concerns.

Regards,

Sara

https://portreeprimary.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/robert-burns-competition.pdf

Update from Highland Council

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Happy New Year to you all! I hope you all enjoyed a restful Christmas.

Please see attached letter from Nicky Grant, issued just now, with updated information about extended school closures and remote learning.

As intimated before the Christmas break, the school holiday has been extended for pupils until Monday 11th January.  Remote learning will begin on 11th January and will now continue until at least the end of the month.  School staff are back at work tomorrow and will be planning for online learning.  We hope to have an update on these plans to all parents by Friday 8th January but ask that in the meantime, you please ensure that you can access Google Classroom and get in touch with Class Teachers if there are any difficulties in this.

The school will be open only for vulnerable pupils and children of key workers.  Please note that vulnerable children have all been contacted by the school and key workers have been in touch to identify their need of a space.  In light of the latest lockdown and Stay at Home guidance, Highland Council have now stated that a place in school will only be available when there are no other possible solutions for childcare”.  For parents working from home or where only one parent is classified as a key worker, parents are asked to reconsider their need for a place. As indicated in the attached letter, the school will be running on skeleton staff as per the Scottish Government guidance and contacts are to be kept to an absolute minimum.

For parents that have requested key worker places, these are required to be reviewed and we ask you to please reconfirm which days that a space for your child is absolutely required. Pupils should only be attending only when required to allow parents to go out to work.  This may mean that you only require a space for certain hours of the day or certain days of the week.  Please get in touch as soon as possible to confirm your requirements in light of the guidance issued above.

We will send out guidance as and when it becomes available but please do get in touch with any questions or concerns.

Regards,

Sara

https://portreeprimary.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/letter-from-nicky-grant-1.pdf

Update:Announcement by the First Minister

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As you know, the First Minister announced at the weekend that there will be some changes to the way schools return after the Christmas break.  Tomorrow, (Tuesday 22 December), a letter will be issued to all parents and carers of children and young people in Highland schools to give you the key information about this.  Please do not contact the school today about the new arrangements, to allow School leaders and staff to focus on planning for the new term.

Weekly Update: 18 December

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While there may be bits of information going out next week, this will be our final weekly update of 2020!

The Christmas concert will be available for viewing on Google Classrooms from 2pm this afternoon.  We apologise again for the delay, however, technology was no cooperating yesterday at all.  The thought of attempting this with current restrictions against singing, dancing, piping etc.was a daunting one, however, thanks to the creative efforts of staff, the continuing enthusiasm of pupils and the technical skills of Mrs MacDonald, this was made possible.  The concert has been shared with local care homes today which has been very much appreciated. 

Pupils in the school have been involved in writing to care home residents with Christmas cards and letters and have also been decorating boxes which will be used for hampers and food parcels that are being delivered to members of our community over the coming days.  The children have taken great delight at being able to share the spirit of giving, especially in these challenging times.

On Monday we will have the online panto Cinderella which will be streamed to all classes. Primary 6 will have their party on Monday and Primary 7 on Tuesday.  Tuesday morning we will have our online Christmas service and hope to take the pupils on a festive daily mile to spread some Christmas cheer through the village.  Pupils are invited to take in any festive hats or accessories that they may have on Tuesday.

The lining of the car park at the Community Centre intended to take place on Monday has now been postponed until Tuesday due to the weather forecast.  It is possible that this may be delayed again.  Arrangements for diversions will be as they were during recent car park works and this will be signposted when the works take place.

School will finish next Tuesday 22nd December at 3.30pm.  The school lunch option that day will be a packed lunch and will be served in classrooms rather than the canteen.  The new term will begin on Wednesday 6th January.

There are several coughs and colds going around at the moment, however, while we realise that most of these are normal for this time of year, we are required to be vigilant with our risk assessments and to follow the national protocols around Coronavirus prevention.  Any child who develops a new cough should not come into school until NHS inform have been contacted for further advice.  This is quite often a quick process using an automated phone line which can advise what the next steps should be.  In some cases, pupils have been asked to be tested, in which case the entire household should isolate until results are received.  In other cases, the advice is that a test is not required and that pupils can return to school once they are well enough to do so.  We fully appreciate the inconvenience that this process can cause, however, this process must be followed in line with national guidance and in the best interest of keeping everyone safe.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions regarding this.

All that remains is for me to thank you all once again for your support over the past few months since we have returned to school.  Working with your children is a privilege that I am more grateful for than ever.  They continue to amaze me with their resilience and their enthusiasm.  While I realise that Christmas for many of you will be very different this year, I trust that you will enjoy some rest, time spent with those close to you and the joys of the festive season.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy start to 2021!

Regards,

Sara

Weekly Update : 11 December

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We are well into the festive period and such,  please find a few reminders and information below;

Upcoming Events

This week we have been busy filming our Christmas concert and also enjoyed our Christmas dinners.  A huge thanks our canteen staff for a lovely Christmas lunch which was enjoyed by pupils and staff alike. Christmas parties will start next week and pupils are invited to come to school in their party clothes on the day of their party.  We are very grateful for the Parent Council have supported our Christmas activities financially and also to the local coop who are providing juice and crisps for our Christmas parties!

We anticipate that our virtual Christmas concert will be available on Google Classrooms on Thursday evening .  Thursday at 7pm would have been our Christmas Concert event at the High School but instead we hope you will be able to watch and enjoy the event as a family.  Grab some Christmas goodies and enjoy the festive entertainment.  The concert will be shared with the residents of Home Farm and Budhmor later in the week as well as those who attend Taigh Na Drocaid.  Our pupils have been very busy writing letters and creating Christmas cards which are being delivered to the local Care Homes and also to Alzheimer Scotland.  We are also involved in decorating hampers which will be distributed to members of our community by a group of locals over the coming weeks.

With thanks to the Parent Council and the Fat Panda, we have been able to send vouchers packages for a number of families in our school community who have been nominated to receive these.  Many thanks for your nominations and to the Fat Panda and the Parent Council, together with local members who have so generously provided these.

All classes will view the online panto, Cinderella on Monday 21st December with Christmas treats provided by the canteen and on Tuesday 22nd December which is our last day of term, we will watch an online Christmas message from one of our  chaplains, Gary Wilson and will also have a walk around the village to wish the community a Merry Christmas.  Pupils are invited to wear Santa hats or other festive accessories to help spread some Christmas Cheer.  School resumes for pupils and staff on Wednesday 6th January.

Christmas Cards and Gifts

A reminder that if pupils wish to write Christmas cards or their classmates, the last day for these to be sent in will be Friday 18th December which will allow them to be quarantined and handed out before the holidays.  Please remind pupils that they should not be handing these out themselves but instead using the systems set up in classrooms.

Some parents have been in touch to enquire as to whether they are able to send in Christmas gifts for teachers.  Given the current restrictions, any parcels being brought into school need to be quarantined appropriately for 72 hours.   While staff are prepared to manage this if preferred, we would encourage you to consider not sending in staff gifts but instead, making donations to local charities if you wish. 

School Photographer

We have had some enquiries about school photos, however, due to not having visitors allowed in schools, we have not been able to offer school photographs this year.  School photographers have only been permitted in schools, such as the high schools, where there is a legal requirement for schools to hold current photos or such things as Young Scot candidate cards.  This is something that can be revisited if and when restrictions allow for this.

Parental Engagement

We hope to be able to provide further information or arrangements to discuss pupils progress with parents early in the new year and appreciate your patience while we have awaited Council guidance on this.

Regards,

Sara

Weekly Update: 4 December

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Despite these different circumstances, December seems to be just as busy as usual!  Just a few reminders in this week’s update;

Christmas Events

First of all, a huge thank you for your support of our Tartan Day.  We raised over £200 towards Christmas events!

Concert Filming

Filming for our virtual concert takes place on Monday this week for P1-3 and on Tuesday for P4-7.  Teachers will have been in touch with any particular clothing requirements etc.  Any piping/chanter pupils who wish to submit a video for the concert can send these to Mrs Matheson before the end of the week.

Christmas Lunches

Christmas lunch for P1-3 will be held on Wednesday 9th December and for P4-7 on Thursday 10th December.  Christmas lunch will be traditional roast turkey with all of the trimmings with vegetarian/vegan options available.  On the Wednesday, Christmas dinner will be the only option for P1-3 pupils and the option for P4-7 will be hot dogs that day.  On the Thursday, Christmas dinner will be the only option for P4-7 and the option for P1-3 will be hot dogs.

Christmas Jumper Day

This coming Friday, 11th December is Christmas Jumper Day.  Pupils are invited to wear a Christmas jumper instead of school uniform, in return for a donation to our chosen charity.  This year the proceeds from Christmas Jumper Day will go towards Skye Counselling Care.  This is an invaluable service that has helped so many of our young people and is very dependent on charitable donations.

Parking and Drop Off

The drop off zone should be back to normal this week after roadworks during last week.  Parents are once again encouraged to use this to avoid congestion around the school at the beginning and end of the day.  A reminder also that the bus lane should only be used by buses and not by private vehicles.  We appreciate you cooperation in this.

As always,  please get in touch with any questions and/or concerns you may have.

Regards,

Sara

Weekly Update:27 November

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As we quickly approach December, there are quite a few items to draw your attention to this week;

Tartan Day in aid of School Funds

In order to mark St Andrews Day on Monday, we will be holding a Tartan Day at school.  Pupils are invited to wear tartan in place of school uniform; this can be a small splash of tartan or kilted out from head to toe.  We are hoping to use this event to raise some money to fund upcoming Christmas Events; craft mornings, panto, Christmas parties etc.  Pupils are asked to make a donation, regardless of amount, for the privilege of the non-uniform day.  These will be collected on Monday morning.  We thank you in advance for your support in this.

Christmas Events

As part of our virtual assembly next Wednesday, we will be switching on the school Christmas lights to mark the start of December and the festive season. An updated December calendar is attached.  We have added two events on the final day of term, Tuesday 22nd December.  We will have an online Christmas Service that morning and will then take the pupils on a Christmas walk through the village.  Pupils are welcome to wear Christmas hats, tinsel etc. to help spread some Christmas cheer through the streets that morning.  Due to these two events, we will have our online panto on the morning of Monday 21st December.  The canteen staff will provide some Christmas goodies to classes that morning.

Pupils wishing to give out Christmas cards this year will be able to do so within their own classes.  Each class will have a system in place which will allow for cards to be handed in by Friday mornings to be given out each Monday.  This will ensure that all cards posted will have been quarantined over the weekend before being handed out.  We will not be able to give cards out with pupils own classes.

Christmas lunch for P1-3 will be held on Wednesday 9th December and for P4-7 on Thursday 10th December.  Christmas lunch will be traditional roast turkey with all of the trimmings with vegetarian/vegan options available.  On the Wednesday, Christmas dinner will be the only option for P1-3 pupils and the option for P4-7 will be hot dogs that day.  On the Thursday, Christmas dinner will be the only option for P4-7 and the option for P1-3 will be hot dogs.

Classes are busy preparing for the recording of our virtual concert and class teachers will be in touch if any particular clothing or prop items are required.  We will be able to record strings pupils in school, however, due to risk assessments around chanters and pipes, these are currently not permitted in school.  Pupils wishing to participate in the concert are asked to record their songs at home and email these to Mrs Matheson by Tuesday 8th December

Wet Weather

We continue to be required to have pupils outdoors as much as possible.  With the very wet weather we have had we are finding that many pupils are coming back into class with very wet feet.  Waterproof footwear is advised where possible, however, we would also request that all pupils have a spare pair of socks which they can leave in their trays at school in case these are needed.  P1-3 pupils have previously been requested to have a full set of clothes to change into and we thank you for sending those in.  If pupils in P4-7 could each take in a spare set of socks or wear waterproof footwear for outdoors, that would be appreciated.

Drop Off Zone

As part of the ongoing construction work around the Community Centre, resurfacing works are expected to take place from 30th November – 4th December.  We realise this will impact the school drop off zone and have agreed with Compass that parents will be permitted to use the diversion in place, pictured below and that pupils can be dropped off at the entrance to the car park.  A footpath will be retained from that point up to the existing footpath and Compass will ensure that personnel are present when construction vehicles are there to ensure safe crossing.  We appreciate that this is less than ideal, however, these works were intended to take place over the October holidays and were unable to proceed at that time.  Please see the following information from the project coordinators below and thank you in advance for your understanding of this.

Park Road will be closed to traffic (Monday – Friday) commencing 30 November with a diversion in place to allow cars to access the Car Park  between the new LSHA development and the Community Centre. Access to pedestrians will be maintained around the existing footway network and depending on the exact stage of works a crossing (pedestrians) may be permitted from the Car Park under control of the contactors traffic management.

Homework

In accordance with our school homework policy, homework will be reduced through the month of December and will consist mainly of reading.  We hope to be able to provide some photos on Google Classrooms over the month of December to provide you with an idea of classroom life at PPS.  We appreciate that the lack of open events and parents evenings has limited your ability to see classrooms in person and hope that this will be useful.

As always, we thank you for your ongoing support and ask that you please get in touch with any questions or concerns that you may have.

Regards,

Sara

Weekly Update:20 November

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Quite a brief update this week as there have been quite a few emails through the week about various things.

Just a reminder that homework is currently issued via Google Classroom.  If you have any trouble accessing this, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can look into this.  Homework will be reduced during the month of December in line with our Homework Policy, however reading tasks will still be issued on the Classroom and we also hope to share some photos to give you a glimpse into classrooms in the absence of open events and parents evenings.

This week we held our school Youth Speaks event for Primary 7 and we are delighted that a team consisting of Isla Preston, Donal Preston, Penny Meekings and Lucia Cecchini Fraser will represent us at the wider Skye event which will be held, virtually, on 1st December.

Calendars of event in November and December are attached above.  There are no changes from those that were issued last week.  I will try to highlight changes/additions as they come up.

Regards,

Sara

Weekly Update:13 November

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As we come to yet another week, there are a number of weekly reminders to make you aware of.  In order to try and keep track of a busy couple of months, I have prepared monthly calendars and attached these above for reference.  There are likely to be additions and changes to these and we will make you aware of those as soon as they come up. 

First and foremost – a huge thank you to everyone for your amazing support of Children In Need. It is so refreshing, in these changing times, to see that the enthusiasm of our pupils and families in supporting these worthy causes is just as strong as ever! We will update our Facebook page later today with some photos from today.

With the winter weather appearing, a reminder of our arrangements for Adverse Weather are detailed below. 

Adverse Weather Arrangements

It is the responsibility of parents or carers to decide if a pupil should attempt to travel to school, by transport or on foot, in adverse weather conditions.  The council encourages full attendance at school but in severe weather condition the safety of pupil is much more important. 

Parents and pupils are often concerned about content that may be missed, but this should not over-ride good judgement.

Communication

Every effort will be made to keep parents informed of details of school closures, early closures etc. brought about by adverse weather.

When the school is not going to open, this will be communicated by the school Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/portreeprimary/ on the Highland Council Website www.highland.gov.uk/schoolclosures and on the schools telephone information service line, which is available by dialling 0800 564 2272 and entering the school’s PIN 042810

Bus Pupils

Parents should note that the final decision on whether it is safe to operate rests with the driver of the school transport vehicle.  Therefore there may be occasions on which a school is open but some routes, or part of routes, are unable to operate.

When weather conditions are poor, parents should ensure that children are met at the “drop off” point, especially where public service transport it used.

In the event of the school closing early due to adverse weather conditions, the three schools in Portree will make a collective decision about whether buses will be called early.

Where this is the case, school staff will make every attempt to contact parents directly to ensure pupils are to get onto school transport.  In cases where parents cannot be contacted, pupils will not be put onto busses but will be kept at the school for collection.

All Other Pupils

In the event of the school closing early due to adverse weather conditions, this information will be shared as listed above.  We ask parents to share this information widely and to make arrangements to collect pupils from school as soon as possible.  All pupils are to be collected via the school reception.  Once school transport has been arranged for pupils travelling by bus, and if the telephone lines allow, parents of pupils still at school will be contacted directly to ascertain arrangements for collection.  Often adverse weather can also mean a loss of phone lines and in this instance, staff may use mobile phones to contact parents.  It is essential that we hold up to date contacts for all pupils  Pupils will not be permitted to walk home unless that has clearly been stated by parents.

Please discuss this with pupils so that they are aware of what their plan is if this circumstance were to arrive.  For pupils who are permitted to walk home in this situation, class teachers must be given this permission in writing.

Virtual Concert

You will be aware from previous emails, that we are working on putting together a virtual Christmas Concert.  In addition to this being shared with parents, we hope to offer it to Taigh Na Drocaid, Home Farm etc.  We would normally visit to present some Christmas songs etc but thought that this might be a nice way to engage when we can’t be present. As previously mentioned, please let us know if you would prefer for your child not to be involved in this virtual performance. We also hope to involve some pupils in writing cards and letters to some of the residents in these homes over the festive season.

Given that pipes and chanters are currently not allowed in school, we would still like to include these performances in our virtual concert.  Piping pupils are encouraged to take a video at home and send this to myself so that it can be included in the performance.  

Our days for filming on 7th and 8th December and class teachers will be in touch if pupils require any particular clothing or props on those days.

Internet Safety

Internet Safety continues to be part of our Health and Wellbeing Curriculum at school. However, recently there have been some incidents in school that have begun on social media and gaming platforms outside of school.  A reminder of the Net Aware website https://www.net-aware.org.uk/ which provides the most up to date guidance for parents around content and restrictions of the ever changing online world.  In particular, some of our pupils have been involved in a Call of Duty game which has an age rating of 18.  We try to contact parents when we become aware of this as in some cases, pupils have gained access to these without realising how age inappropriate these games are and without parents knowledge.  If you have any concerns around this, please get in touch.

Youth Speaks

Primary 7 pupils have been busy preparing their Youth Speaks entries for presenting in school next week.  We are hoping to select a team of 3 to represent PPS at the upcoming, virtual Youth Speaks competition which will take place on Tuesday 1st December.

Homework

We hope that everyone has been able to access weekly homework tasks via Google Classroom.  As per our school homework policy, homework will be reduced in the month of December and will just include reading. 

Parent’s Nights

While there was some mention that Parent’s nights may be able to proceed, virtually, this month.  The Council are still in the process of trialling different methods for this and as such, Parent’s night appointments will not take place this term.  We will update you on this once we have further guidance from the Council.  We hope that, through the month of December, we can share some photos on Google Classroom to give you some insight into what classrooms, displays etc are currently looking like as well as a sample of classroom activities.

As always, please be in touch with any questions/concerns.

Regards,

Sara