This week, Miss Atkinson attended her first Forest School Leader training session at Hill End.
“I've had two action packed days in the cold but wrapped up warm, I learnt many new skills. I was shown how to safely use loppers to cut willow and how to use a knife to whittle. I can successfully make a clove hitch knot and a figure of eight knot and can now identify woodland management methods such as pollarding and coppicing.”
Age UK Oxfordshire Christmas Cards
Our children and families have been very busy, kindly helping to make Christmas cards which will be sent out in goody bags along with other treats, to those people who may be lonely, isolated or vulnerable this Christmas. Thank you to everyone who has generously given their time and creativity to help brighten someone's Christmas this year.
Our Christmas flourishing tree was switched on this afternoon to the delight of all at St Mary's. The homemade decorations from the children looked splendid and it's 'beginning to look a lot like Christmas' at school.
Forest School Training
For several years now St Mary’s has been proud to offer Forest School as part of our rich and varied curriculum. These sessions take place at Cogges Manor Farm and are a wonderful opportunity to motivate and inspire our children in the natural environment.
This year we are delighted to announce that Miss Atkinson is training to become a Forest School Leader through Hill End Outdoor Education Centre. This rigorous training programme requires her to attend training days and complete several units of study and assignments. Once qualified, Miss Atkinson will be able to lead our children as they learn, not only about the world around them but how to take natural risks. We look forward to hearing about Miss Atkinson’s adventures as she embarks on her qualification.
Remembrance Day 11.11.20
On Remembrance Day each of our classes took part in the commemorations by honouring those who have given their lives in service. It was a moment of peacefulness and reflection across our school. Taking their inspiration from the 1915 poem, In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, our Year 2 children wrote poems that reflected the solemnity of the occasion and hope for the future.
Blue Cross Visit
Year 1 have had a wonderful virtual visit from Gemma from the Blue Cross animal charity. The children prepared for the visit by compiling a list of questions for Gemma to answer and sending them to her in advance. As you’d expect from our curious Year 1s the questions were diverse, ranging from ‘When animals are sniffing where does the smell go to in their bodies?’ to ‘Are dogs friends?’ Fortunately, Gemma was able to draw on her expert knowledge to answer them all.
Year 2 Jamboree
Our Year 2 leavers who moved on to The Batt in September, returned to St Mary’s last Friday for a special leavers’ jamboree held in the playground. Due to the current pandemic, the children had not been able to come together before the summer holidays to celebrate their special time at St Mary’s. It was wonderful to welcome the children back, dressed in their party best, for an afternoon full of music, party activities and fun. A special thank you to Mr Wakefield who captured the celebrations with a series of wonderful photographs that were later shared with parents.
As part of the party, the children took part in a ‘hook the duck’ to win a biscuit and a spin the wheel to win an ice cream or lolly – everybody won! The children also received their unique St Mary’s autograph book and pen. Finally, each child decorated their own pebble with their name and, after a final prayer, these were placed under our flourishing tree so that we can remember them in times to come.
We are an ‘Excellent’ Church School!
On 11 March 202, St Mary’s school received a formal inspection under the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS). I am delighted to announce that that St Mary’s has been awarded the highest possible grade of ‘Excellent’ with an additional judgement of ‘Excellent’ for Collective Worship.
Year 1 have been studying space as part of their topic this term, ‘Moon Zoom’. And surely, (except for a St. Mary’s rocket trip!) there could be no better way of experiencing the galaxy than by journeying into the sky and seeing the stars close up which we did with a visit to a mobile planetarium.
Our Year 1 class enjoyed a morning at Henry Box School, joining in a Dance Festival with children from some of the other Primary Schools in the Witney Partnership.
The theme was 'Where the Wild things Are' and they had a wonderful time recreating movements of the sea and building a forest around Max, the boy in the story. Of course, they also practised their roars!
This week our children enjoyed participating in our Australian Wildlife Fundraising event organised by our School Council. This was an initiative inspired by Jessie in Reception and our correspondence with The Australian Embassy.
The children had great fun jumping like kangaroos, wiggling like wombats and climbing like koalas. Many thanks to all of our families for supporting the inspiring children of St Mary’s to look beyond themselves, ask ‘big questions’ and think globally about life. You raised a magnificent £154.61 for the WWF's Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund.
On Monday, the Year 1 children completed their 8 week course of Forest School with Mr Hazel, our Forest School Leader. They have had a wonderful time getting out in the fresh air and learning in the outdoors. The weather hasn't always been kind to them but they have made the most of every opportunity.
This week they enjoyed some time on The Leys as the windy weather meant Cogges Farm was closed. However, they had great fun making their own parachutes and seeing how far they travelled in the wind. They also wore blindfolds and had to listen to instructions from their friends. Next half term sees the first group of Reception children venturing out as they start Forest School.
This half term the Year 1 children have been learning all about superheroes. On Wednesday they came to school dressed as a superhero and what a lot of interesting costumes were worn including vets, police officers, nurses and a teacher!
To enhance the experience the class were joined by a number of real life superheroes who came to share their expertise or 'superhero powers' with the class. The children were inspired by the visitors who included a trauma nurse, a policeman, firefighters and PCSOs. The firefighters brought their fire engine with them and the PCSOs brought a police van and car.
As part of this topic the children will be learning about the life of Florence Nightingale, retelling her life story, finding out what made Florence so heroic and comparing her with modern day heroes.
This week the Year 2 children had their last session in either circus skills or bike skills. Some of them had never ridden a bike before so it was wonderful to see their improvement and courage in trying out their new-found talent.
Next half term the groups will swap over before receiving their bike and circus skills stickers for their individual booklets as part of the St. Mary's Adventure Plus Award.
Last week, our Reception class was delighted to receive a personal letter and certificate from the Australian High Commission in London. This was in response to a card made by the Reception children to the people of Australia, to express their sadness and concern at hearing of the many bush fires raging through the country. This initiative was prompted by Jessie (aged 4) who had heard the news of the fires. Together, the Reception children agreed that they should ‘do something’. This was an incredible example by the youngest members of our school community in looking beyond themselves, asking ‘big questions’ and thinking globally about life – what wonderful children!
恭喜发财 or ‘happiness and prosperity’ to all our friends! This morning our children enjoyed a fabulous assembly led by Charlie’s Mummy as part of our Chinese New Year celebrations. Mrs. Garratt and Mrs. Wang (Stella and Sabrina’s Mummy) gave an interesting presentation on Chinese culture and the story behind the naming of the years - 2020 is the Year of the Rat.
A delicious smell of oranges permeated the hall this week as our children prepared their Christingles with the support of our wonderful parent helpers. The Christingles were made in readiness for our final service of the year at St Mary’s Church.
During the service, Rev’d Ross spoke with the children about the relevance of the Christingle and how it reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world. Our school choir performed a special compilation of festive songs before the Christingle candles were lit and we all joined together in singing the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’. As our service concluded, we were reminded of the wonderful year we have had as a school community and we were able to wish all our families a very Merry Christmas and peaceful New Year.
Today staff and families donated presents and extra special food gifts, instead of Secret Santa, to The Besom Witney. The charity make up special hampers for those in need in the local community. Julia Morgan from The Besom Witney collected the gifts and quoted one recipient as having said "The Christmas hamper from Besom gave me hope and faith in the most difficult time of the year. I was feeling lost and abandoned but the surprise hamper restored me from being sad and put a smile on my face. Thank you so much".
On Thursday the children gave two wonderful performances of 'Its a Party!' to a packed out St. Mary's Church. There were delightful moments of tenderness alongside joyful singing from everyone. Such performances require a huge amount of organisaiton and a big thank you must go to Miss Atkinson for the directing of the production and Miss Reynolds for coordinating the music and singing. Thank you to all parents for helping your children learn their lines and songs. Finally a thank you from St. Mary's Church for the generous collections received after the performances. Congratulations to all the children and we hope you enjoyed watching at least one performance.