English teacher writes cycling adventure book
Nailsea School head of English and resident cycling obsessive, Paul Jones, has had a book published telling the story of his bike journey from Land's End to John o'Groats.
The book which is attracting rave reviews is a lyrical is a personal account of his expedition, and looks at the history of the trip considering cyclists like the incredible Eileen Sheridan who covered the distance in under three days in 1954, or current men's record holder Michael Broadwith who did it in a scarcely believable 43 hours.
Mr Jones reaches even further back to the very first attempts in the 1880s, where the trip was undertaken on penny-farthings on dusty tracks, to recount their amazing efforts.
Cornwall to Caithness
Initially Mr Jones took the journey as a simple way to frame the narrative and ‘active research’ to help write the book, however as the trip commenced the content soon developed into a deeper search for meaning and self-discovery, played out on the road from Bodmin Moor to the Cairngorms and the Caithness coast.
The book is about courage, obsession and joy, but above all else, it explores what journeys mean and why we do them.
Mr Jones joined the Nailsea School English department in September 2020, and he is already making a big impression on students.
He hopes his publishing success gives them something to aspire to:
'End to End is about hope and ambition, but also how we cope when things don’t go according to plan. This applies to all of us; it is the journey that matters and with hard work, self-belief and aspiration we can experience success – but it might look a bit different to what we expected when we started out!'.
The book has received great reviews with French literary giant Paul Fournel.
He said: "It is a brilliant book, a triple trip: one on the road, one in history and one into the author's mind."
End to End is published by the Little, Brown Book Group in hardback and available in bookshops now including Waterstons priced £16.99.
Children starting school in September 2021
Nearly 96 per cent of on time applicants in North Somerset have been offered their first choice school for reception classes in September.
North Somerset Council executive member for education Catherine Gibbons is the Labour Party ward councillor for
She said: "There is a drop in birth numbers for this cohort which is significant when compared to last year with 162 fewer on-time applications but I'm very pleased we have been able to offer places to such a high proportion of children at schools their parents have chosen for them."
2,049 applicants have received their first preference, 67 their second and five their third meaning that 99.3 per cent received one of their three preference schools.
The 15 applicants not offered one of their preferences have all been offered the next nearest school with a space.
Any applicants not offered their first preference have the right to appeal. The appeals process has been very successfully heard via Teams and over the phone during the past 12 months due to Covid restrictions.
Light fantastic show at Nailsea School
Neighbours of Nailsea School were warned to please not worry if you hear things going bump in the night or see strange flashing lights on Saturday evening, March 6 - aliens haven't landed.
Wildseed Productions is doing some more filming at the Mizzymead Road school today including some night scenes for the next Netflix blockbuster called The Last Bus.
Crews from Bristol based Wildseed Studios Film have been using the comprehensive school site which will feature in a new sci fi 10-part series called The Last Bus.
The Last Bus is an action-packed, futurist road trip adventure about a group of mismatched school students who band together to face a fearsome machine intelligence.
Neighbour Pete Main captured the light shinning into his back garden, Charlie Britton took the video and Nailsea School publications and development officer Fiona Davies took the amazing top photograph - thank you everyone.
Scroll down on this page to read in full about the original filming featured in November 2020 on Nailsea People which also appears on the Breaking News 2020 page.
Baa baa babies
Baby lambs have appeared at Golden Valley Primary School in Nailsea.
The newcomers belong to farmer Rob Dean whose mum Debra is deputy headteacher at the Nailsea Park school.
Mrs Dean said: “We have six lambs, belonging to my son Rob, that we have brought on to a section of our school field for a few weeks.
“These are all bottle lambs, which have to be taken from the ewe when she has triplets or does not have enough milk.
“The children are enjoying feeding them each day and taking their turn to come into the enclosure to pet them.
“Last year, we also brought in two ewes with their lambs, which we may do again once they are born if we have enough grass!
“This provides an excellent opportunity for the children to interact with nature and take their minds off other things at this time.
“We will keep them here for when the whole school community return and they will no doubt make that transition easier for the children who have not been here for a while.”
All pupils can return to school from Monday, March 8.
Secondary schools are allowed to stagger the return over a week, to allow Covid testing to be carried out.
Students will be tested three times in the first two weeks and then two rapid tests to use each week at home.
Clubs for children in school buildings - both before and after normal school hours - will also be allowed to resume from March 8.
Other children's school activities - such as sport - can also restart.
Primary school SATs will not go ahead this year, nor will phonics or timetable testing.
In England, A-levels, AS levels and GCSE exam have been cancelled with teachers' estimated grades to be be used instead.
Schools will able to use a combination of mock exams, coursework and essays when deciding what grade to award.
Results will be published earlier in August to allow time to appeal.
Teachers' grades will also be used to replace written vocational exams. .
Learning about the outdoors while indoors
Online free lessons for primary schoolchildren has been created by Surrey teacher Kayleigh Brake and her colleagues where young people can learn about the great outdoors.
Kayleigh Brake said: "With a couple of colleagues we have created Channel 5 Live YouTube lessons for primary aged children.
"My nephew and nieces go to Nailsea primary schools and will be tuning in."
Starting on Tuesday, February 2, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is running free live classes.
The link to the website is https://www.field-studies-council.org/primarynaturelive.
Kayleigh added: "Please register here for each episode as it means we can send you resources for each session as well as a free ID guide and a welcome pack.
"Registering also means that your children can pre-submit questions for me to answer live and ask for some shoutouts.
"To all of you homeschooling, you are doing an AMAZING job!
To learn more go to https://youtu.be/jRHsiIbz50s.
Business support schools
The Lighthouse Schools Partnership has received generous donations of nearly 500 computers from local organisations to help support pupils struggling to access their remote learning from home.
The LSP has 24 schools in North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, with children currently accessing their learning from home due to the current national lockdown.
That makes more than 20 per school.
North Somerset schools include Backwell School, Flax Bourton CE Primary School, Northleaze CE Primary School, The Whiteoak Academies of Hannah More Infant and Grove Junior schools, The Federation of West Leigh Infant and Backwell Junior schools, Wraxall CofE Primary School and all the Portishead schools secondary and primary.
However some families are struggling to fully access the remote teaching and classwork being set due to a lack of appropriate technology at home.
LSP CEO Gary Lewis said: "Our schools have worked incredibly hard to adapt their curriculum and embrace technology to teach our pupils remotely this term.
"These additional devices will allow a large number of our children to keep up with their studies and progress.
"Education and the routine of learning and seeing classmates and teachers is incredibly important for the mental wellbeing of children during this ongoing pandemic and will of course benefit their futures.
"I would like to thank Boeing and Hargreaves Lansdown for their generous gift”.
The ‘digital divide’ means that children can fall behind in their learning and social development.
The Department for Education has a system to allow schools to apply for laptops for those most in need.
However there are children, who do not meet DfE criteria, who are trying to access their live learning via a parent’s mobile phone, or shared laptop.
This makes home schooling and working from home an even bigger challenge for these families.
Boeing contacted TLS and offered laptops to be circulated to those struggling to access their schooling from home.
Boeing Defence UK managing director Anna Keeling said: “I am delighted to be supporting the Lighthouse Schools Partnership during this challenging time.
"Our employees have always had a strong community spirit, and aligned with our values, we saw an opportunity to reach out and provide local young people with essential computer equipment to support their learning.
"It is vital that students have the tools to be able to continue their studies and maintain contact with their school while at home.
"I am proud of the team at Boeing Defence UK who prepared and delivered 100 laptops to the LSP during lockdown.
COMPUTER BUFFS: Students Josie in Year 5 and Henry in Year 3 being given a donated laptop by Yatton Church of England Junior School headteacher Jo Keeble
"We will always look for ways to support young people in Bath and Somerset when we can.”
LSP business partner Hargreaves Lansdown has also donated Chromebooks for vulnerable and disadvantaged students to use.
Hargreaves Lansdown chief people officer Heather Cooper said: “We’re delighted to be able to support children in our community as part of our wider pandemic response plan.”
Nailsea School has launched a GoFunding appeal to buy more computers for its Laptop Lending Library.
Its target is £3,000 has been surpassed within days of the launch.
This Digital Inclusion Project is to help students working online from home during lockdown.
While it is going well some families are finding digital learning is more of a challenge sharing from phones, tablets, or struggling with IT that works intermittently.
The school received 50 laptops from the government, had a further 13 donated by its PTA, and received Covid19 funding for a further 10.
Most of these 73 laptops have been loaned to families struggling to work online, with only a few left in school on reserve.
With an average of three new requests a day the comprehensive school needs to raise money for more laptops.
Click HERE to donate.
Laptop lending library
New Year, New Start, New Partnership
Nailsea School has joined with many Somerset schools to be part of the Wessex Learning Trust.
This includes Cheddar secondary school Kings of Wessex Academy and several nondenominational and Church of England primary schools in Somerset.
Wessex Learning Trust strives to provide outstanding learning opportunities by creating centres of educational excellence that meet the needs of all children aged two to 19-years.
Its website blurb says ‘each individual academy is encouraged to maintain its own distinctive ethos, be at the centre of their community and raise aspirations and achievement. This is achieved in two ways: firstly, through excellent teaching to inspire curiosity, unlock talents and realise potential; and secondly, by ensuring high quality care, guidance and support that ensures the personal development and welfare of each child. By working together, we believe we can harness the talents of all our staff, share good practice between all our academies, and share resources that enable us to concentrate on delivering excellence in education’.
Nailsea School is the 14th school to join the Wessex Learning Trust, and the second secondary school to be added to its portfolio.
The benefit of joining a MAT (multi-academy trust) means that teaching and learning expertise can be shared across sites and that financially the school will benefit.
A number of collaborations have already begun with teachers sharing best practice across departments including in science and English.
Nailsea School chair of governors Jo Hopkinson said: “After three years of discussion and interviews with a number of trusts, we feel incredibly positive about the Wessex Learning Trust and strongly believe that this is the trust most aligned to the ethos of Nailsea School.
“Partnerships are already being made between governors, senior staff and middle leaders and we are confident that this is a very positive move for the whole of the Nailsea School community.”
Wessex Learning Trust chief executive who was formerly head teacher at Kings of Wessex Gavin Ball said: “We welcome Nailsea School to our Multi Academy Trust family, we encourage our schools to be at the centre of their community and raise aspirations and achievement.
NEW ERA: WLT CEO Gavin Ball, and Nailsea School head Dionne Elliot
“Nailsea School’s ethos of ‘Aspire Believe Succeed’ and its focus on the wellbeing and happiness of each child, sits brilliantly well with our own values.”
Nailsea School head Dionne Elliot said: “It is an exciting time for Nailsea School, it is a partnership that will allow us to enjoy our own identity, while being a part of a bigger organisation.
“The Wessex Learning Trust will bring lots of advantages to the school, with staff benefitting from professional development opportunities, sharing positive experiences and joining in new initiatives.We are looking forward to working with our new colleagues in what will be an interesting year.”
Nailsea School looked at a number of MATs before deciding on the Cheddar based organisation as being the right fit for the school.
The partnership began this January 2021.
Backwell School joined the Lighthouse Schools Partnership Multi-Academy Trust in January 2018. This MAT is made up of 18 primary schools and three secondary schools across North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset.
Pupils learning online
All primary and secondary schools have closed, after the country moved into a third national lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said schools will need to offer remote learning until at least mid-February and GCSE and A-level exams face cancellation for a second year, according to The Telegraph.
Mr Johnson said the new measures were necessary 'because we have to do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease'.
Only vulnerable children and the children of key workers will be allowed to attend schools for face-to-face learning, and early years settings such as nurseries will remain accessible.
However, Mr Johnson remains 'very cautious' about the timetable, with restrictions being lifted as a 'gradual unravelling'.
Those entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them during closures, and more devices will be distributed to help remote learning, according to Mr Johnson.
The Government had insisted schools would remain open only a day before the new measures were announced, reassuring parents it was 'safe' to send their children back for the start of term on Jan 4.
But the move prompted backlash from four national teaching unions, who called for the delay seen across London to apply to all schools in England amid concerns the new strain of Covid-19 poses a threat to teachers.
The Department for Education (DfE) said children with at least one parent or carer who was a critical worker could attend class - even if parents were working from home.
It came after concerns were raised about the risks of transmission of Covid-19 amid reports that more than half of pupils were onsite in some primary schools.
A DfE spokesperson said: "Schools are open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. We expect schools to work with families to ensure all critical worker children are given access to a place if this is required.
"If critical workers can work from home and look after their children at the same time then they should do so, but otherwise this provision is in place to enable them to provide vital services.
Every school had been instructed to draw up plans to ensure children continue to receive an education even if they have to stay at home.Mr Johnson said on the announcement of closing schools: "I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe to children."
"The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.
"All schools will remain closed until mid-February, with the possibility that these measures could be extended further.
This means most secondary school pupils will stay at home until at least February half term.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, announced on January 6 that GCSE, A-Level and AS exams will not take place this summer.
TESTING TIMES: Nailsea School staff set-up its 'lateral flow testing facility' for Covid 19. Pupils of key workers in school who have completed consent forms will be the first to be tested. Mass student testing is due to take place when they return after the February half term
Exams will be replaced by teacher assessments, with Mr Williamson saying that the government 'will put our trust in teachers, rather than algorithms'.
The Education Secretary has also stated that the Department for Education and Ofqual had already worked up a range of options.
Details are currently being fine tuned, but it will be a 'form of teacher-assessed grades, with training and support provided to ensure these are awarded fairly and consistently across the country'.
First day of term 2021
Primary schools can open as planned in North Somerset next week, but most secondary school students will see the new term begin later in January.
Following recent government announcements about changes for the start of term, there will be staggered return dates for secondary schools.
Only vulnerable children and those of key workers will be able to return to school from next week on Monday, January 4, which will be onsite, for face-to-face teaching.
Exam year students will also be able to start their new term from home with remote learning from Monday, January 4.
Term will start online for other students the following week, from Monday, January 11.
Exam year students will be able to join vulnerable and key worker children onsite and all other year groups will be online at home.
All secondary school students are currently expected to be able to return to the classroom from Monday, January 18.
Students who attend primary schools, special schools and the Voyage Learning Campus should return to school as planned next week.
For more information see the government guidance by clicking HERE.
The government says the extra week and time learning at home will give schools the opportunity to put in place systems to start offering rapid testing to staff and students.
It confirmed schools' staff will be eligible for weekly rapid tests while students will be able to have two tests three days apart when they return to face-to-face education.
If students are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive they will also be able to access testing every day for seven days to potentially enable them to remain in face-to-face teaching as long as they have negative test results.
North Somerset Council executive member for children's services Catherine Gibbons is the Labour Party councillor for Weston-super-Mare Milton.
She said: "After a very disruptive year for our young people's learning, we hope testing will now enable more students to remain in schools-based lessons.
"A regular testing regime will also provide reassurance to staff and families that infections will be detected swiftly to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
"My plea to government is that our schools are given the necessary resources to enable them to carry out this additional work.
"They've already had a lot to deal with this academic year and we need to
make sure teachers can focus on teaching."
Council leader Don Davies is the independent councillor for Pill.
He said: "Testing in schools may help to reduce the spread of infection in our community.
"The tests being made available are the rapid lateral flow tests which can give results within about half-an-hour.
"They are intended for people who show no signs of the virus and will lessen the risk of transmission caused when the infected person isn't aware they're infectious while carrying the virus.
"With more testing taking place among younger members of our community, and mass vaccination under way beginning with older and more vulnerable residents, it's starting to feel like we might be able to get back to doing more things normally from mid-2021.
"But we still have a long way to go, and for the time being everyone, regardless of age or circumstance, needs to continue to practise the coronavirus golden rules of hands, face, space.
"Please minimise your contact with others to reduce risk of transmission and plan to have a happy and safe New Year celebration at home."
Students returning to school from Monday, January 4, onwards can also be assured that normal home to school transport arrangements will be in place. Although the numbers of students returning on day one to secondary education will be lower, North Somerset Council will ensure that all services are running as normal.
GOOD ELVES: Wow for WOWSA which is The Whiteoak Way Schools Association which acts as the PTA for Hannah More Infant and nextdoor Grove Junior schools at Whiteoak Way, Nailsea. This year has been a challenge for schools to raise monies with no Christmas discos or fundraising quiz nights. The WOWSA committee wracked their brains for a novel approach to raise some much-needs funds while entertaining the children in a Covid-friendly way. The goal is to raise £4,000 cto but tablets for a classroom. So the team dressed as Elves and made an amazing £1,200 in sponsorship. There is still time to donate HERE at its GoFunding page. Organiser Shelley Forbes said: "Thank you so much everyone we made an amazing £1,200 to see Santa’s Elves and thanks to the wonderful team for dressing as Elves to help raise money for the school."
CLASS CHALLENGES: Covid-19 turned 2020 into a torrid time for schools with challenging rules to implement, lockdown, re-opening and bubbles being sent home for their own safety. Children missed classes, classmates, lessons (not necessarily in that order), teachers had to adapt to distance teaching and even more stress and strain. Exams disrupted, proms and sports postponed until goodness knows when but hopefully 2021 will bring a glimmer of good cheer. To download Nailsea School December newsletter with has good wishes sent by parents to staff, pupils and governors on its front pages click HERE.
Fairfield gets festive 2020 style
School children at Fairfield School in Backwell have been getting into the festive spirit with a series of Christmas activities.
The festivities were enhanced by a special visit from Father Christmas who arrived at the school on his horse and cart and made a circuit of the car park and school drive so all the children were able to see him.
Organised by teachers at the North Somerset independent school, the visit also saw Santa leave chocolate treats for the pupils.
The annual Christingle Service looked a little different this year due to coronavirus restrictions but Fairfield School head mistress Lesley Barton said: “We pre-recorded our Christingle service in our separate bubbles this year and then put the separate recordings together to make the service.
"We had readings, a song and an explanation of the meaning behind the Christingle by our Year 6 children.
“The children also made Christingles and then watched the service with their lit Christingles in their class bubbles. We missed being all together but we were still able to enjoy the magic of the service!”
The Key Stage 1 Nativity Concert was also adapted this year in keeping with restrictions.
The Nativity was filmed outdoors and the finished recording was then sent out to parents.
Children in Early Years also recorded their Nativity concerts and the final service of term was a pre-recorded Carol Service which told the Christmas story through Bible readings, poems, songs and carols.
Children from all year groups were able to contribute to the recorded service and several delivered beautiful solos or instrumental pieces.
Mrs Barton added: “We were so glad we were able to find a way for parents to watch the lovely Nativity plays, Christingle and the Carol Service remotely.
"Although unable to celebrate together this year, we still shared the magic of Christmas and maintained our sense of community and mutual support.
SCHOOL SANTAS: All the children from Farifiled School from Lambs to Year 6 will be putting on hats and tinsel for a one mile Santa run around the school on Friday, December 11. They are fundraising for Children's Hospice South West. There might even be a few staff making an appearance through the afternoon! Please help us to support our local charity and get us into the Christmas spirit. Click HERE to donate or learn more
NAILSEA SCHOOL PTA CHRISTMAS TREE SALE
Nailsea School PTA is holding a Christmas tree sale on Sunday, December 6, at the Nailsea School car park
Collection of pre-ordered trees is 10am-noon but it is also open for on the day purchases 12.30–2pm.
This year for the first time, Nailsea School PTA are selling luxury Nordman Fir Christmas trees.
They are excellent quality and are lower shedding than other varieties.
Trees can be pre-ordered for collection on the day by emailing email@example.com.
Last date for pre-order is Saturday, November 28.
Payment details will be provided on receipt of your email and a confirmation email will be sent once your payment has been received.
All pre-ordered trees will be ready