Fake News

Now I am not really one for practical jokes (I tend to find them frustrating and sometimes more than a touch cruel), but in the name of learning I will confess to condoning two curriculum ‘wind ups’ this week.  Teaching colleagues in Years 4 and 6 asked me if we could stage announcements about changes proposed for St Peter’s as a means of provoking outrage and indignation amongst pupils which would lead them to improve their persuasive writing, reasoning skills and communication.  Year 4 pupils were informed of plans to reduce morning playtime to a 5 minute drink and toilet break, and lunch to a 25 minute refuelling stop, whilst I gravely announced to Year 6 that we intended to sell the school field for use by an electricity company and for the construction of new homes.  The Year 4 project was aided by a formal letter allegedly written by me to go to all families, and Year 6 were further convinced of my field selling plans by the cordoning off of a large section of the field to allow for ‘surveying work’ to begin.  The responses from the pupils were a mixture of shock, dismay and rebellion; chants were prepared, letters were drafted and placards were planned.  I for my part made sure that parent mails to families in Years 4 and 6 were sent to both allay fears of terrible change and also to try to get people on board with the project if debates continued at home.

These exercises revealed two things to me, both of which I knew already but which are always beneficial to have reinforced.  Firstly, it was wonderful to see how quickly, sensibly and passionately the children became engaged in an activity which revolved around their school and what they see to be the great benefits it provides.  Our children clearly recognise and enjoy the value of the social interactions at break and lunchtimes, and the wonderful resource that we have in such a large and diverse open green space in our school field.  We are very lucky as a school to be able to offer the children the time and space to learn and grow outside the classroom in both structured and free-time activities, and long may this continue.  Secondly, the exercises revealed the creativity and commitment of the teaching staff at St Peter’s.  Add to this their willingness to actually encourage a situation where they are working with lots of livid children, and we are fortunate indeed to have at St Peter’s such a wonderful teaching team.

Mr R Cunningham

Headteacher

Easter

So we reach the end of the second term at St Peter’s for the 2016-2017 academic year.  Once again in recent weeks, St Peter’s has risen to the challenge of raising funds for good causes.  With their penny-based efforts, the children have raised over £250 to send to Cafod’s Little Fish into Big Fish Lent campaign, and the school staff have donated over £140 to the Diocesan Bamenda appeal to enable schools fees for 7 children to be paid for a year in our sister Diocese in Cameroon (see my blog from 3rd March 2017). 

Meanwhile, the Friends of St Peter’s are delighted to announce that the Easter Eggstravaganza raised an incredible £1,160 for school project funds.  I must express an enormous thanks to all of the families who volunteered and gave of their time and energy so willingly in all that went into organising the event.  The travelling book fair was able to raise £255 in commission which has been spent on new library resources, so thank you to Mrs Moore and volunteers for organising the sales. 

And finally, on the last day of term the school was able to officially donate to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance a cheque for over £790 raised in our December fundraising sponsored run (see my blog from 9th December 2016).  The Air Ambulance team delivered a great assembly for the whole school, hosted a special Q&A session for Year 6 with two of the specially trained Air Ambulance medics, and then treated Years R and 1 pupils to an action packed and super informative ‘Be a 999 hero!’ session to teach them about how to get help in an emergency.

Of course, this week in school we have continued with the children’s Lenten journey, with Stations of the Cross for all children.  The pupils in Key Stage 2 followed a route around the school grounds to reflect upon the different Stations of Christ’s Passion, whilst Key Stage 1 and Early Years pupils had a reflective service to focus on Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and act of love for all mankind.

So it only remains for me to wish you all a restful, holy and happy Easter, and below you will find a reminder of the services over Easter for our two local parishes

Mr R Cunningham

Headteacher

Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Peter the Apostle, Waterlooville

Thursday 13 April

8.00pm Maundy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Friday 14 April

10.00am Good Friday Stations of the Cross for parents and children

11.15am Ecumenical Procession of Witness begins at Sacred Heart

3.00pm Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion

7.30pm Prayers around the Cross (informal service of readings)

Saturday 15 April

8.00pm Easter Saturday Vigil

Sunday 16 April

8.30am Easter Sunday Mass

10.30am Easter Sunday Mass

St. Edmund’s, Horndean

Thursday 13 April

4.00pm Children’s Stations of the Cross

7.30pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper followed by Adoration

10.00pm Night prayer and watch until 12.00 midnight

Friday 14 April

10.00am Good Friday, Churches Together Walk of Witness from Blendworth Methodist Church

3.00pm Good Friday Liturgy of the Passion

Saturday 15 April

7.00pm or Sunset, The Easter Vigil

Sunday 16 April

8.30am Easter Sunday Mass

10.30am Easter Sunday Mass

 

 

Is there anybody here?

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

Headteacher

 

 

St Peter’s unites with the nation

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.
Amen

Mr R Cunningham

Headteacher

Spring into action

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. 

FSPMDS

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

Headteacher

 

Adding to education here and abroad

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

Headteacher

Back to the business of being busy

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.

Big fish at St Peter’s Primary Waterlooville

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.

http://www.bamendaandportsmouth.com/education.php

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

Headteacher

 

 

Time for a rest

I must thank colleagues in Years R, 1, 2 and 6 who all hosted parent information events this week.  If you were not able to attend, please do not hesitate to make contact with your child’s teacher who will be able to provide you with any information or material that you may have missed.  Year 4 ended the week by going completely Goofy.  And Mickey, Minnie, Donald and endlessly Princess, as they had a Disney day on Friday.  Well done also to the pupils in Years 5 and 6 who celebrated a wonderful Mass on Tuesday with Fr Jeremy, where once again we were joined by a large group of family members.  As I always say though, please do not worry if work or other commitments keep you from joining these events; we know how much home support goes into preparing children for these occasions, and we know that everyone in the community is with us in spirit when we gather to celebrate, pray and worship.

Our latest newsletter for the month is available on this website via

http://www.stpeterswaterlooville.co.uk/index.php/letters/newsletters/1122-newsletter-february-2017/file

And that’s it, another half term gone!  Whilst I was out on the playgrounds for end of the day dismissal on Thursday, there was a hint of spring in the air, and on the lawn just in front of the hall windows, the daffodils are venturing forth to burst into bloom any day now.  So, as we say farewell to winter, and prepare for longer days and brighter sunshine, what better way to spend a half term week than relaxing, enjoying some fresh air and passing time at leisure with our families and friends.

Enjoy the half term break

Mr R Cunningham

Headteacher

 

 

Essentials and extras

This week has seen the second round of pupil progress meetings in school between the Senior Leadership Team and class teachers.  It is our termly opportunity to focus on the progress of each child and decide upon targets and techniques that will make for further academic gains in the coming months.  As is often the case in such meetings, the role of the Headteacher is to always ask for ‘a little bit more’, and with everyone at school already working hard I know that I am like a Formula 1 team manager who wants to shave fractions of a second off each lap time for the sake of marginal gains.  However marginal these gains may be, though, their impact can be great; on the race track it is the difference between winning and losing, in the classroom it is the difference between meeting ambitious learning targets or falling frustratingly short of them.  So, now that we have a renewed sense of what each pupil can achieve as their next step, they will find the expecatations of staff going up a notch or three in the coming weeks.  You can support this by adding to the process with consistent home learning.  This does not need to be huge amounts, and should not make learning a horror for children or families alike, but devoting a set time several days a week to support school learning will really make a difference.  10 minutes of reading, spelling memory games after tea, or setting mini maths challenges into daily tasks around the house all add up to those small steps making a big difference.

Praise this week needs to go to pupils who have flown the flag for St Peter’s in other local schools.  Year 4 sent a team of keen sportspeople to Horndean Technology College for a Tri-Golf tournament, where the boys team brought home a well-deservde silver medal.  Year 5, three pupils (pictured below) gave an exceptional account of themselves in a CAFOD public speaking competition on the topic of ‘What’s for Dinner?’ at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Fareham.  Well done then to all the pupils involved, and thanks to Miss Rayson (Tri-Golf) and Mrs Edge and Miss Fleming (CAFOD public speaking) for devoting their efforts towards these enriching activties.

Cafod public speak

Mr R Cunningham

Headteacher

Science, space and super spuds

Well done to Year 5 for boldly going where no pupils have gone before, this school year from St Peter’s at least, and making the trip through the wind and the rain to the Intech Science Centre just outside Winchester.  Thanks you to the staff and volunteers who made this trip possible.  The Year 5 pupils have been astounding me in recent weeks with incredible home learning work on the planets and life in space.  The space topic has inspired the children really well, and who wouldn’t be hooked into doing maths based upon planet temperatures in Star Wars!  Some great models and information posters have been made about our solar system by Year 5, some of which are on display in the school foyer, but you will need to be quick to see them as Year 2 Titanic models are ready to set sail for centre stage during next week.

The talent in school is not just limited to classroom lessons and home learning though.  Pupils in Mrs D’s after school Story Time Club have put together an hilarious story of their own based upon a well-known series, writing ‘Supertato – Classroom Chaos’ in the autumn term.  This amazing publication has been granted the honour of sole residence on Mr Cunningham’s Wow Work! wall outside my office (see below).  In addition, the publication was well received (and reviewed) by the Supertato authors themselves who wrote a wonderful letter to the Story Time Club pupils at the start of the term.  To top of this triumph, ‘Supertato – Classroom Chaos’ was the most borrowed book in our school library in January, so well done to all the pupils involved.

Supertato

And finally, in the sporting spirit of fair play and neutrality, I hope that any of you who are interested in rugby enjoy all that the Six Nations has to offer, and may the best team (as long as they play in white and have a red rose emblem) win!

Mr R Cunningham

Headteacher