All posts by jemmanicholson

Welcome Back – September 2021

I hope the summer treated you well and you managed to get away (at least in your head!) for a while. Whilst staff and pupils prepare for a return to ‘normality’ it is important to remember that we are still within a pandemic.

This blog post will just outline some of the Covid-19 measures we are talking as we prepare for the children to return on Thursday.

The website page with links has been updated – and can be found here. Current government advice carries recommendations for schools to help mitigate risks – but gives us no direct measures that we must follow. As such, and with help from our Health and Safety partners we have a comprehensive risk assessment which has a common-sense approach to what is possible within our school community.

Some measures in place include:

  • minimising visitors into school (parents will only come on site with an appointment, for example)
  • Ensuring adequate ventilation as far as possible
  • An outbreak management plan to ensure that we are prepared in the event of an ‘outbreak’ (Defined as five cases which are likely to have mixed closely)
  • Maintaining hygiene for staff and pupils – including regular surface cleaning and the washing of hands
  • Regular testing for staff

However, it is not all about the pandemic!

There is much to look forward to this year – we welcome Miss Raymode into Class 1 – who will be teaching alongside Mrs Grayson this year. We also have the pantomime to look forward to – Humpty Dumpty – December 2nd!


Class 1 and Class 2 – PE days are Monday and Wednesday

Class 3 and Class 4 – PE Days are Tuesday and Thursdsay

Children need to be in PE Kit on these days.

Dates for your diary

The Parent Google Calendar can be found here

‘How we use phonics to teach reading and writing’ – Tuesday 14th September – 9am – Parent Session for Class 1 and Class 2 parents.

‘How we use Google Classroom and Google Apps’ – Tuesday 21st September – Parent Session – mainly for Class 3 parents (or Year 3) – but anyone can come along if they want a refresher.

PSHE at Castle Carrock School

What is PSHE?

PSHE stands for Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education. It is a subject which is ‘non statutory’ within the English Curriculum, but nevertheless is given high status. This means that schools and teachers can personalise provision for their pupils and ensure that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to make good decisions and to understand the world around them.

Our Curriculum

We use guidance from the PSHE Association (which is part funded by the government). This guidance splits the curriculum into three main areas:

  1. Health and Wellbeing
  2. Relationships
  3. Living in the Wider World and Being a Responsible Citizen

Health and Wellbeing

This area teaches children about their health; how they can look after their bodies and how to make the right choices about food, for example. It looks at emotional well being – at developing strategies for dealing with stress and how to maintain their physical health. In Key Stage 2 it also explores puberty, sex and relationship education and drugs.

Our children learn about road safety, both walking and cycling. About who can help them in an emergency. We meet those in the community who support our health and wellbeing such as doctors, police officers, mental health nurses and even mountain rescue groups. Some lessons will involve written work; writing letters or thinking about problems from others’ perspectives.


This area of the curriculum has recently undergone some changes – for us in primary it is about how to build relationships, how to recognise and manage emotions as well as how to respond when relationships are negative or risky. Within the new statutory framework children are taught about diversity and equality.

Much of the ‘relationship’ aspect of the curriculum is taught through modelling behaviour, stories and expectations. Discussion in class, especially in Key Stage 2, can unpick these areas and we also welcome visitors in school – such as the Carlisle United Community Team – who explore diversity through recognisable aspects of team work and team games.

Living in the Wider World

Within this category the children learn about their community, about their rights and responsibilities. About the importance of looking after our environment, responsible actions and how they can contribute to their society.

Within school we encourage discussion around recent events – watching the news and planning within our topics ways in which recent events can be taught. We look at class and group rules, including a school council and the Key Stage 2 Rotakids Group. As with other areas of PSHE assemblies are important and provide the chance to tell stories and to hear from visitors.

Across the Curriculum

Lots of our PSHE curriculum can also be taught cross-curricular. In science for example we also look at how we can keep healthy or what types of food our body needs. Teamwork is explored in PE and aspects of living in the wider world fit into many areas of the curriculum.

‘Catch Up’ and Lost Learning

For me, and many teaching professionals- the political rhetoric of ‘catch up’ and ‘lost learning’ is unhelpful to schools and insulting to families. Our brilliant staff work with the children every day to ensure their progress and to develop their curiosity and we know that we know that every single one of our pupils here at Castle Carrock had a different experience of lockdown. Our children have returned to school with different levels of learning, different experiences and a wider variety of interests than ever.


The priority for all schools is to make sure that our pupils are safe, and happy – this is a prerequesite for learning! As we are a small school we know our pupils really well and we recognise the changes in their well being. We can signpost families to services that may help, and we ensure that our children feel listened to at school. Books and stories can help, as can time with the adults in school. Time to play and express their feelings and emotions with one another, rebuilding friendships is also very important. We have invested in quality texts and resources that promote conversation and can support the children in learning how to express their thoughts. We have also given plenty of time to play, exercise and take part in school sports- using professional coaching staff where appropriate.

Quality not Quantity

Our staff are best places to support their pupils – and so we have spent some of the catch up funding ensuring that staffing is optimal and that teachers have the time to work with the pupils they know will benefit from this. This also means supporting staff to access training for some aspects of the pandemic. Whether it be adapting teaching for remote learning or supporting children’s mental health.

Some ‘interventions’ for the children in the form of pre-teaching (reviewing the lesson content in a basic from prior to the lesson) or individual focused work has been organised for some childen and if your child is benefitting from this then this will have been discussed at the meeting last month.

Adapting and Resourcing

As the pandemic continued, and school began to plan for both home and class based learning it became apparent that high quality resources, and adpating resources, would benefit our pupils. Online learning resources such as Spelling Shed, Times Table Rockstar and Espresso Learning have proven vital. We also bought into written work books such as White Rose Maths, and comprehension texts. These resources ensured consistency for the children at home and at school – maintaining challenge, vocabulary and, in the case of Spelling Shed and Times Table Rockstar, giving children a fun way to practise key skills. These resources now need to be maintained for the next year (and maybe beyond) as we aim to provide stability during the uncertain months ahead and ensure that any home learning resources have a similar feel and consistency to those in-school.

Links and Further Reading:

March 8th

Cautious Optimism – that seems to be the phrase everyone is using right now, and it stands to reason. As we come out of this second period of home learning we are all anxious not to find ourselves in this situation again.

As school opens up to all pupils on the 8th of March we are hoping for lots of optimism. We look forward to welcoming our children back and to have our school filled with happy, smiling faces once again. We know how hard learning from home has been for many of you, the juggling of roles, organisng time and trying to tick all the boxes. Planning and teaching those at home is not easy for staff either, and relying so much on technology does not come naturally to many of us.

From Monday, March 8th then, school will be opening as it was before the January lockdown. Key Stage 1 (along with EYFS) and Key Stage 2 will be two separate bubbles to enable clear track and trace in the event of any infection. Key Stage 2 will enter school via the gate on the field. School will finish at 3:15pm with afterschool club and breakfast club operating as normal.

Other risk-mitigating measures will continue:

  • Handwashing (which should be second nature!) will continue as before, and windows and doors of classrooms open to ensure ventilation
  • No items will be permitted from home – such as toys – with books and homework left for 72 hours before being looked at.
  • On PE days children will need to come into school in their PE kit – this is because we have to be much more careful about how we use space.

When we return our focus will be on allowing the children to reconnect with peers and with their teachers. Routines, learning behaviours and school expectations will be a priority – alongside the personal, health and wellbeing elements of the curriculum. The teachers will quickly grasp where the children are within their learning, and a focus on confidence and the ‘basics’ will allow us to plan topics and their curriculum for the future.

‘Lost learning’ is not always a useful concept; nor is the idea of ‘catch up’ – we know that the children will all have been doing things differently whilst at home, and we are aware that some children will have had challenges to face. There is a chance to talk to your class teachers on March 23rd and 24th – this Parents’ Evening will be online / by phone – and will give both yourselves and the class teacher the chance to share concerns, challenges and to discuss how your child has settled. Year 6 parents will have the chance to talk about the plans for transition to secondary school and I have already been in touch with the Year 6 parents regarding any concerns and questions for this.

We remain optimistic that we will be able to continue our return to normalty as the government has mapped out.

As usual, if you have any questions please get in touch with the school office!

Keeping Active!

The importance of keeping active for our health and mental wellbeing.

This lockdown is definitely more dark and dreary than the first one in March. During the summer it felt easy to get outside; we were able to have running challenges, to play games outside and when we had finished work we still had hours of daylight!

However it is important to keep active, and whilst it may not always be possible to get outside there are plenty of other ideas that will help you to keep active. I thought it might be useful to collate some ideas here – and, whilst it may not be possible to recreate PE lessons at home, your class teachers over the next few weeks will be setting some home challenges to give your family a bit of a movement focus- and there will be a few links shared on facebook.

You can also try some dance classes at home – Oti Mabuse has some fabulous ‘Kids Dance Classes’ on her You Tube site.

One of Oti Mabuse’s online classes.

The aim here is just to have some fun – keep your spirits up – and remind our children how important it is to keep fit and how much better it can feel when you are active! Take a look at some of the links below.

Links to Activity Sheets for the different age groups.