All schools within The Corinium Education Trust have endeavoured to retain some semblance of normality throughout the pandemic and each one has been creative in responding to calendared events.
‘I have been incredibly impressed by the resilience of our staff across all schools and how innovative they have been in rising to the challenge of celebrating Christmas with all the constraints that COVID-19 has brought. I am especially grateful to our headteachers and their staff who have been concerned to ensure that no one misses out!’ Chiquita Henson, Chief Executive.
As our only Church school in our multi-academy trust, Siddington C of E Primary School, led the way. Headteacher, Katie Cook, explains:
‘Christmas is always a special time in school and this year has been no different. Our Christingle Service took place online, with Reverend McKenzie presiding, as she would if we had been able to visit the Church. The children made their Christingles in class and discussed what each part of the Christingle represented. Each class lit one Christingle in the service, and we watched the flames as we took time to reflect on how we can each be a light to someone experiencing dark times.’
In the build up to Christmas, children at Siddington C of E Primary School also enjoyed watching a virtual pantomime and attending a popcorn club where they watched a Christmas film with the friends in their ‘bubble’. The Year 3 and 4 children completed an online ‘experience Christmas’ where they learnt about the real meaning of Christmas. The traditional school nativity also moved online this year, with parents joining us from the comfort of their own homes. Each bubble learnt the Makaton signs for a Christmas Carol that exemplified a part of the Christmas story.
One pupil said, ‘It is great this year because we can have everyone in the performance.’
In between the children performing their ‘signed’ Christmas Carols, the oldest pupils in the school told the story of Jesus’ birth. Year 5 and 6 also performed ‘Silent Night’ on the hand bells.
‘Our nativity concluded with a signed rendition of ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’. We now are all looking forward to the New Year and all that 2021 brings.’ Katie Cook, Headteacher.
Emma Morrogh-Ryan, Headteacher of Kemble Primary School, anticipated Christmas being very different for us all. However, she tried to ensure that all pupils were able to enjoy the usual activities with a twist!
‘All members of our school community worked hard to make the last special week of the term fun and meaningful,’ explains Emma Morrogh-Ryan. ‘The Reception parents still got to see their children in the Nativity as the whole school were involved in ‘A Very Kemble Christ-mask’ which was recorded and shared with parents.’
Furthermore, at Kemble Primary School, a delicious Christmas lunch was served to each bubble and a Christmas jumper day raised over £300 for Save the Children. As an end of term treat, everyone went to the panto virtually as Years 5 and 6 watched ‘A Christmas Carol’ live from London’s Old Vic and the rest of the school watched ‘Peter Pan’ performed live from the Barn Theatre, Cirencester.
‘The staff even prepared an end of term entertainment to share on the last day, so while the year may be ending differently many things have stayed the same,’ added Emma Morrogh-Ryan. ‘We look forward to hopefully returning to more normal school times in 2021, although we have enjoyed the challenge of bringing together our school community this Christmas.'
Staff at Chesterton Primary School also worked hard to maintain a sense of normal for all the children including the Rising 3s and Pre-School children who posted letters to Father Christmas, and there was great excitement in Pre-School on Monday 14 December 2020 when the post lady arrived with a letter and parcel in return from Father Christmas to let the children know he was coming to visit soon.
Karen Venner, Headteacher, explained. ‘We were pleased to welcome the elf on the shelf who visited the school and continued to get up to his normal Christmas mischief! While we were all at home sleeping, the elf stole Christmas presents, had snowball fights and even wrapped up the whole of Mrs Boulton’s desk. We have kept everyone connected through a daily elf diary on our school Facebook page.’
Pupils at Chesterton Primary School shared the magic of Christmas with Abbeyfield Nursing Home by providing them with Christmas pictures to decorate their conservatory to cheer up their residents. The school also took part in the Cirencester Town Advent Calendar and the teachers put the finishing touches to their class Christmas videos which were shared on Chesterton Primary School’s website for parent and pupils to enjoy!
The Expressive Arts Team at Cirencester Deer Park School worked with the pupils to produce and release a delightful Christmas Album. The album featured traditional carols and new songs to celebrate the festive season and, sadly, replaced the school’s annual Carol Concert in the Parish Church.
‘We didn’t want to cancel all Christmas-related things in Expressive Arts, so instead the team worked hard behind the scenes to create tracks for pupils to work with and record themselves singing at home. I am really appreciative that Miss Faux and Mr Cook were able to create this album in such a professionally sounding way. It was a great way to keep the festive spirit going at the school and show the pupils that despite the challenging year we have all had, there is still lots to enjoy and celebrate.’ Frances Gleed, Head of Expressive Arts.
Pupils at Deer Park, like those at Kemble Primary School, were also able to enjoy a Christmas lunch, albeit scaled down from normal, and many took part in the school’s colourful charity Christmas Jumper Day on Thursday 17 December 2020.
‘As a result of everyone's hard work, two important charities - Cirencester Foodbank and Save the Children - will benefit from the benevolence of all those who contributed. At this challenging time for so many individuals and families, both within our local community and further afield, the impact will be felt even more greatly. At the end of this difficult year, it is another reason to feel extremely proud of our school community!’ Glynn Reed, Assistant Pastoral Team Leader.
"At the end of a challenging and tiring term, it was great to be able to celebrate something as a whole school, whilst supporting two very important charities!" Charlie (Year 10).
Following the meetings of The Corinium Education Trust’s Board of Trustees and our Members in December 2020, at which Chiquita Henson, CEO, presented a round up of the term’s activities, Graham Russell, Chair of Trustees, commended everyone on their achievements:
‘Thank you to all Corinium Education Trust colleagues. You have all been incredible in how you have supported our pupils during this unprecedented year. You have all been immense in how you have developed new ways of working whether teaching or cleaning or cooking or pastoral support or as a Governor or in whatever is your role. You have all been resilient in the face of huge new demands on top of the normal. The Board of Trustees is in awe of your collective achievements; your passion for providing opportunities for young people; and your sheer hard work. Please accept a huge ‘thank you’ from the Board of Trustees to all colleagues within the Corinium Education Trust. Please ensure that you take the opportunity for some rest and renewal over the seasonal break. It has never been more vital that we all look after our health and wellbeing.’