Author Archives: Gary Avery

End of Term Newsletter

Farewell to 2020!

As we reach the end of this term, I find myself pausing, for just a minute, and reflecting on the end of my first full term as Headteacher. I am immensely proud of the achievements of the children and staff; together they have had a hugely successful term and helped me to accomplish what I set out to achieve: a safe return for all, a focus on quality teaching and happy children. Our final assessments for this term already indicate that we have gone a long way to closing gaps that appeared due to the children missing many weeks of education in the first lockdown and I must thank the school staff and the children for all their hard work and efforts – it has really paid off! I must also thank you, the parents and wider community, for your continued support. It would be wrong of me to suggest that everything has gone smoothly since September, and I very much appreciate your patience.

There are a few other items I need to bring to your attention, and these are listed below.

School Meals

Just a reminder that if you want your child to have a hot school dinner for the 1st week of term then these need to be ordered by 30 December.

Staff Changes

Mrs Read, our school finance officer, will be leaving us on January 18th to start a well-deserved retirement. In her short time with us, she has made a real difference to the way the school is run financially, and we are all going to miss her very much.

COVID update:

1. Contact Tracing

Public Health England have asked schools to remain contactable for the first SIX DAYS following school closure at the end of term to assist with contact tracing.

Therefore, we are asking you to continue to notify us of any positive cases with children registered at East Claydon School up to and including Wednesday 23rd December.  It is possible that I may have to advise you to isolate your children. Please notify the school via the office email: If your child shows symptoms or is having a test at any point, please let us know so that we have advance warning of any potential positive cases.

The office email address will be monitored regularly over the school holiday.

2. Self-Isolation Timescales

From, 14 December 2020, the period of time for self-isolation has reduced from 14 days to 10 days. You should self-isolate if you have been in contact with someone who has received a positive test result of Covid-19 or you have been notified through the track and trace system.  Households should self-isolate if someone within the household develops any symptoms of Covid-19 and continue to do so for the 10-day period unless a test shows a negative result.

And finally…

All that remains is for me and all of us at East Claydon School to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

November Newsletter

Baubles not Bubbles!

It has been a very busy term in school and we had to adjust again to the changing demands of the pandemic on life at school. The staff and I thank you for your continued support and understanding through all the changes and adjustments we have had to make.

Our thoughts start to turn towards the end of term and how we adapt the normal ‘traditions’ in the light of the restrictions we find ourselves under. Unfortunately, it is not possible to run many of the traditional events in a ‘COVID Secure’ way but I know the class teachers have plans to share a small element of Christmas cheer with you from the children – keep an eye out for details.

I am also working with the Friends Association on how we can safely allow the ‘Elves’ to decorate the school for the children and this is likely to be on the 4th December.

There are a few other items I need to bring to your attention and these are listed below.

Seasonal Flu Vaccinations

Please make sure you have filled in the online consent form to confirm whether or not you would like your child vaccinated as part of the school session on 1 December. The form has been sent out via email and also posted on Dojo.

COVID mitigations

Children who have to isolate at home will be set school work via Google Classroom.

Please can parents observe the social distancing requirements when attending the school for the morning drop off and afternoon pick up. I know it’s difficult sometimes as we have small access points but we are trying our best to facilitate as smooth a process as we can to help you.

I would also ask parents to continue to mitigate the risk of spreading infection outside of school as far as possible. We are very grateful to you for all you have done so far in this regard but I am equally mindful that there are some schools in the local area that are finding it increasingly difficult to function due to the sheer number of pupils and staff that are required to isolate.


I would be grateful if parents could refrain from parking across the vehicle access for both the school and our neighbouring farm. I appreciate that it can be tricky to find a parking space at either end of the day but I am also keen to avoid an accident occurring.

School uniform

We have collected quite a few unnamed jumpers and cardigans which the children have left behind over the course of the term so far. If you think your child is missing an item of clothing, please contact the office to let us know and we will try to reunite you. Please can you also make sure any items of clothing that come into school are clearly marked with your child’s name.

School meals

I am delighted to inform you that we have now secured a new school meal provider; St Pauls will join us from the beginning of the spring term. This will allow us to reintroduce hot meals at school. St Pauls use a different electronic ordering and payment system (Wisepay) than our previous provider so we will need to set that up. The office will contact you to resolve any outstanding balances on ParentPay over the next few weeks. Please bear with us while we work that through. An example menu for January is attached to this newsletter so you can see the range of meals available next term.

I am also very grateful to Lynda Thompson who stepped in at short notice and has provided us with fabulous packed lunches this term.

Pupil Premium

The Pupil Premium is a Government scheme that provides funding to schools for pupils whose parents receive one of a number of qualifying benefits The school can use this money to raise the attainment of low-income pupils and close the gap between them and their peers.

All children in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools in England are eligible for free school meals. Parents will need to apply separately for the pupil premium if they think they might be eligible.

If you want to check your eligibility please download the form from the link: Pupil Premium form

The school will automatically get a pupil premium amount if the child is eligible for free school meals.

There is also a Pupil Premium scheme for Early Years. Although there is no monetary value for parents, pre-school will receive additional resources to support your child’s learning. If you think you might be eligible, please follow this link: Early Years Pupil Premium

Fundraising success

Lastly, I wanted to say a big thank you to you and all the children for the brilliant support you have provided for both the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and also the Children in Need Campaign.

We have collectively managed to raise £184.06 for the Poppy Appeal…… and £120.10 for Children in Need. In such difficult times, this is extraordinary and very humbling.

All the staff at the school thank you for your support and forbearance this term as we navigate our way through the pandemic as best we can.

Remembrance Day

At 11:00am today, the school observed an impeccable 2 minutes silence to remember the past bravery of all men & women, and the sacrifices made for our freedoms by them.

We will remember them.

Newsletter October 2020

A strange term!

In so many ways, school feels exactly like it should do. The children are fully settled into all the new routines and they have been working hard in class. The strangest thing is that a school that is built on the strength of its relationships with the community, has not been able to welcome you in and share the success of the children with you. This is one thing I am very mindful of and one of my priorities next term is to ensure that we can share with you the amazing things the children have been doing in one form or another.

Buildings Update

Over the summer, work was successfully completed on the school hall and Mrs Bearman transformed it into Swallows temporary classroom. The picture does not quite do it justice as it is a fabulous space for children to learn.

As I write this, we are still waiting for formal planning consent for the new classroom building.  The Diocese and I are in regular contact and they are working hard to resolve the final sticking points. As soon as we get any further information I will, of course, share this with you. At this stage, it is fair to say that the new building will not be ready for the January term and our temporary arrangements will need to continue for a little while longer than planned.

School Lunches

For the second time, a provider who was willing to take the school on after the October half term has now informed us that they are unable to provide us with school meals. Due to this, I need to extend the current temporary arrangement into next term and I apologise for any inconvenience this causes. If you wish to order a packed lunch next term, please complete and return your order forms by Friday 23rd October.

Please can I remind you that we are a ‘nut free’ school.

Collection / Drop off

I am delighted with how well these arrangements are going and I wanted to say ‘thank you’ for your continued support and patience. As the weather becomes a bit more changeable, I would like to draw your attention to the ‘wet weather plan’ so that children are not lining up on the playground at the end of the day in awful weather.

  • Pre-school children are collected from their playground door.
  • Puffins and Swallows are collected from the main reception door.
  • Woodpeckers and Golden Eagles are collected from the side door of the Verney building.

When we trialled the arrangements, they worked well and as it becomes colder and darker, we may use this option increasingly frequently to ensure that the children remain warm and dry. In these current times, all we ask is that you continue to social distance from other parents while we get your children to you.


Please can I remind you to phone the school 01296 712765 or email if your child is not going to be at school. When these have been reported on Class Dojo the teacher has not always seen the message as they are busy getting ready for the day’s lessons in the morning.

Parents’ Evening

As you will note from the diary dates we are planning to have parents’ evenings for children in Reception to Y6  on Tuesday 3rd & Wednesday 4th November. Current guidelines are that we will need to carry these out ‘virtually’ or by telephone so your child’s classteacher will be in contact with you to book in a time.

Maths – Home Learning

We have been working hard encouraging all our children with their home-learning. All children have been provided with their DoodleMaths logins and the older children have their TTRS rockstar names! Some serious battles have been going on with this, including Samuel O and Julia B who have been rocking out at all hours trying to improve their instant recall! A BIG shout-out to Callum D who successfully completed his DoodleMaths Summer challenge – your badge will be with you very soon!

Sporting Competitions

With Covid, we are unable to compete as we have done over the last few years with our small school partnerships. Most children have loved being able to go to The Buckingham School or Sir Thomas Freemantle to participate in these events. This year – we can still do it, virtually!! The children in Key stage Two competed in a cross-country challenge. We timed our runners and submitted our times to be compared with our local schools. We will also be doing some tennis challenges in our PE lessons. Again, results will be shared with our partnership and hopefully we’ll have some more tennis success, just like our finalists two years ago!

Golden Eagles

Golden Eagles have launched themselves into their USA topic and have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the geography of the country and then zooming into New York for some close-up learning, including a virtual tour through the streets of Manhattan! Some beautiful artwork has also been created and makes a wonderful display in our room. As part of the topic, the children have immersed themselves into our class book, Holes. They are totally gripped and can’t wait for each new chapter. The writing being produced has been incredible, including a report on the deadly yellow-spotted lizard! In Maths, we are conquering bigger and bigger numbers! We have worked our way through place value and are happily working on our four operations. There has been so much wonderful learning going on in our classroom – we can’t wait to show it off to you all soon!


This term we have kicked off our learning with an amazing topic – Our Restless Earth. I have been blown away by the enthusiasm of the children as they have started finding out about volcanoes, rocks, earthquakes and tsunamis around the globe.  As ever, we like to make our learning practical and have consolidated our understanding of what makes up the earth by creating our own models with clay!

We have been reading The Firework Maker’s Daughter to inspire our English sessions. The children are loving the story, have come up with VERY interesting ways to celebrate our learning and written some persuasive letters! In RE we have explored Hindu murtis and had some lovely meditation sessions. All this in addition to our VERY focussed maths and grammar recovery programme. The children have been wonderful to teach, very receptive and hard working. It is lovely to be back!


Our first half term in Swallows has been an exciting journey back in time to ‘The Great Fire of London’. We have compared past and present London and even designed a new London of 1666, with separated buildings, stone houses and a new St Paul’s Cathedral. Our ‘mini-me’s’ helped us gain a real perspective of what it may have been like walking through the streets 334 years ago!

We have also been learning about the human body in science, comparing humans to other animals. We were super ‘hooked into’ the story of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch’ where we wrote about the character’s adventures, painted scenes from the story and made collage lighthouses. Swallows are currently finishing off the half term looking at the life of a Victorian hero ‘Grace Darling’ and finding out about the RNLI and other emergency services.


Puffins have had an exciting start to the term by finding out all about themselves. The children have painted portraits of their faces and created a picture of their face using buttons, making sure they have chosen the right colour buttons to represent their eyes and hair.

As well as finding out about their bodies, the class have explored their senses. They particularly enjoyed making potions using different smelling ingredients! They even played a Guess the smell game!

After finding lots of ways to move their bodies, the children enjoyed making moving people using split pins and even made their own skeletons linked to the Funny Bones story.

In maths the children have measured their height using socks and spent time matching the socks and other objects. They then went on to sort objects including a variety of special buttons linked to the beautiful story The Button Box.

Alongside all of these activities the children have enjoyed a multi-sensory approach to learning their phonics by writing their sounds in sand , herbs, play dough and pipe cleaners. They have also enjoyed using magnetic letters to build simple CVC words.