For an oversubscribed school, it’s felt a bit like the Marie Celeste here at St Peter’s lately. I have found empty desks, abandoned chairs and deserted classrooms, and have tried not to take it personally!
The truth behind these absences lies not in any sort of great escape, but in children from St Peter’s experiencing learning enrichment in different environments over the spring term. On Monday this week, pupils from Year 6 worked in the Oaklands Food Technology Department to prepare Greek food as part of their work on the study of ancient Greece. They brought their wares back to eat in their classroom, but by the time I got there it was all gone. All I was left with was the tempting smell of Greek salad and a pile of empty plates!
Not to be outdone, the Year 5 children have been having lessons in programming at Oaklands over a series of weeks. As you will know, we do a lot of work in school on how to stay safe on-line and how to avoid or report any instances of unpleasantness in the cyber-sphere. However, this enrichment opportunity for Year 5 puts St Peter’s pupils in a strong position for ‘digital literacy’, which was recently mentioned in the press as being as important for children today as traditional literacy and numeracy. This goes alongside that other essential life skill of swimming, which Year 5 have been doing weekly at Waterlooville leisure centre this term.
Lower down the school, we recently sent a Year 2 group to Crookhorn to take part in Professor Cranium’s Maths Challenge. This annual event brings children together from local primary schools to tackle a series of mathematical puzzles in a competition setting. Our team came second in the competition, which was no mean feat given the number of schools involved and the fact that the top 3 places were only separated by 2 points!
Feeling in need of a little culture? Well, once again, St Peter’s pupils have been out and about showing off their talents. Over 50 pupils took part in the Oaklands Dance Celebration this week, performing in front of a packed auditorium alongside students from Years 7 to 11 at Oaklands. This was the result of a several week long after-school project with Oaklands dance students, and was a really uplifting experience for all involved. We are also entering the season of external music exams at this time of year, and I have just been told that 4 pupils who took recorder exams all achieved distinctions. Well done to them, and we look forward to awarding their certificates in school in due course.
So, is it any wonder that I sometimes can’t find full classrooms with all of this going on? I must, then, offer enormous thanks to all of the staff who work so hard to create these life enhancing enrichment opportunities for our pupils. I am lucky to be leading such a great team of dedicated and enthusiastic professionals.
Mr R Cunningham
My plans for the whole school assembly on Friday were changed, as you would expect, by the events which took place on Westminster Bridge and outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. In keeping with many other institutions, we flew our Union Flag in the central quad of the school at half-mast on Thursday as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives, and those who were injured, in the senseless attack. Then, on Friday morning, I decided to focus not on the attack itself, but on the ways in which we, as people made in the image of God, can work daily to resist the tide of division and hatred that often seems to overwhelm society.
The assembly started with a world map, and the pupils were asked to raise their hands to indicate where they were able to trace some of their family heritage in personal or older generations – it was a truly global gathering of very excited and proud young people! We talked about how in today’s world people from all over the planet spend their lives living side by side in all corners of the globe. Attention then turned to our school mission statement:
“To walk hand in hand with God, loving Him, loving each other and loving ourselves, doing our best with the gifts He gave us to make the world a better place.”
I asked the children to think especially about how they could carry out the underlined sections of our mission statement in their classrooms, on our playgrounds and in their homes. I explained to the children, in two parts to match the two age groups of the different Key Stages in school, how shared values of democracy, respect for law, mutual tolerance and the defence of personal liberty are the foundations and strengths of our modern society.
We then finished with the following prayer, which you may wish to use with your children if they have been affected by what they may have seen of events in London this week
Let us pray…
For the people who died in London on Wednesday
For the people who were hurt in London
For the friends and families of all of the victims
For the brave people who helped at the scene
For the loving people who are caring for the victims
For peace in our lives, our country and our world
We make this prayer together in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Mr R Cunningham
As I sat down to write this week’s blog, I was worried that Year 2 were being used as a cost-cutting alternative to grounds maintenance. I saw the pupils scouring the grass quadrangle outside my office window picking up all manner of small greenery. It turns out, though, that rather than being put to work by Mrs Layton and Miss Allen as human lawnmowers, the children were looking for signs of spring as part of their science work. So with strict instructions ‘Not to pick anything in a pot that looks like it has been planted by someone!’, the pupils set out to gather daisies, light green leaves and fresh grass to take back to class for analysis. As we progress through the rest of the term, outdoor learning will play a larger role in the Secret Garden, the grass quad and the school field, with staff making the most of the wonderful site we have here at St Peter’s.
The other sign of spring was the first of two events by The Friends of St Peter’s being hosted in school on Thursday and Friday. On the afternoons of these days, The Friends sold lovingly made and carefully selected Mother’s Day gifts to children so as to make Sunday 26th March (write that date down, gentlemen, if you have not already done so!) that extra bit special for mum.
Coming up very soon, on Saturday 1st April, is the second Friends spring fundraiser of the Easter Eggstravangza, taking place here in school between 1:00pm and 4:00pm. This event combines Easter craft making and an around the grounds egg hunt to make for a fun time for all the family. Tickets remain available with enquiries to be made at the school office. Looking ahead still further, the St Peter’s Fest date for 2017 is Friday 9th June from 5:30pm to 8:00pm, this year with a wild west theme, and details will be published over the course of the summer term.
And of course, the final sign of spring which I am looking out for this weekend is an English victory over the Irish in Dublin to win the grand slam in the Six Nations rugby tournament. Well, here’s hoping!
Mr R Cunningham
This week started with two very long days for my teaching colleagues as Parent Consultation Evenings took place on Monday and Tuesday. It is no mean feat to arrange over 300 family appointments over two nights, and as well as passing my thanks to the staff who worked so hard, I must also thank the parent and carer attendees who were patient when timings may have slipped and small booking mishaps occurred, which they always do no matter how tight the planning. If any family was unable to make an appointment, or unable to attend, then please do not hesitate to contact school to arrange to meet with staff to discuss your child’s performance and progress. Later on in the school year families will have a chance to visit classrooms and look in detail at the work that has been done in books since September, and a warm welcome is extended to all of you on these evenings.
This week has seen curriculum enrichment for the Twenty First Century as Year 5 worked on a coding session with the computing staff at Oaklands, the first of three such sessions designed to make the most of secondary school expertise and resources and deepen our pupils’ experience in new areas of learning. As well as thanking my colleagues here who arranged this cross phase project, thanks also to Ms Crane (Head of ICT at Oaklands), Mrs Riddle and Mrs Rowsell who, along with Oaklands’ IT support team, were such great hosts to our pupils.
Fundraising for Lent continues apace, with fish related themes in some areas of the school to help CAFOD’s Little Fish into Big Fish campaign, whilst the school staff will be donating money to fund school places for children in our partner Diocese of Bamenda in Cameroon. Well done in particular to the pupils in Year 4 who had a Dressing Up Odd day; they turned up in all sorts of crazy colours, outfits and accessories to really stand out from the crowd and raise awareness as well as money.
Mr R Cunningham
Did everyone have a restful half term break? I do hope so, because here we go again!
Our spring term 2 session started with an inspirational assembly from CAFOD representatives Isobel and Patrick Flynn, who launched the Big Fish Lenten Campaign. After a fascinating assembly (I never knew that dredging the bottom of a large fish pond will give you a rich fish manure for your soil!) the children have been encouraged to raise funds for families in need in Zambia.
I am sure that the children of the St Peter’s community will set their energy and prayers towards this project.
Meanwhile, the staff at St Peter’s will be responding to the Bishop Philip’s call to raise funds to sponsor the education of children in our partner Diocese of Bamenda in Cameroon.
In addition to our commitment to alms giving in Lent, we were able to mark the start of Lenten season with an Ash Wednesday service led by Monsignor Jeremy and Father Vitalis. Information about all of our Lenten work is available on the RE blog.
Meanwhile, the school went costume crazy for World Book Day, with a whole host of literary characters appearing for a day of school and stories. Even the staff dressed up, but sadly as I was at a conference my Dumbledore outfit will need to stay in the cupboard for another year. The book theme didn’t end on Thursday though, as Mrs Domblides arranged for an author visit from Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore on Friday afternoon where we had not only our Year 6 pupils but also children from 5 other local primaries. It was a great event, and a good reward for the Year 6 pupils who have been working hard on practice SATs this week, so thank you to Mrs D for all her hard work and inspiration this week.
Mr R Cunningham