As you will be aware, we have received the news that all schools will be closed from Friday 20 March until further notice. We will continue to offer a limited service to vulnerable children and those of critical key workers at St Mary's.
Although the school will be physically closed, Mrs Sarah Costley (Office Manager), Ben Whittaker (Administrative Assistant) and myself will still be accessing emails from both school and home.
For further information on coronavirus symptoms including how to prevent the spread and what to do if you suspect you or a family member may have the virus, please follow advice at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
In these unprecedented times we want to remind all our families that you are part of our wider school family and that we will hold you all in our hearts and prayers until we return together.
With best wishes,
Sarah Grier Headteacher
Mobile Planetarium Visit
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.
The children learnt about the sun, solar systems and the different phases of the moon. Mythological figures were used to illustrate tales from Ancient Greece and finally a full northern starfield was projected as an introduction to navigating the night sky.
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.
Gemma from the BlueCross animal charity in Burford visited Year 1 today as part of this term’s topic, Paws, Claws and Whiskers. Unfortunately, their educational dog was injured so Gemma brought along an animal puppet to explain how to look after and care for pets.
On Tuesday, Year 1 met lots of exotic animals during their visit from Amate Animalia. The visit helped to enrich the children's learning and was part of their topic 'Paws, Claws and Whiskers'. The children learnt many interesting new facts. Did you know that a chameleon can only change to a lighter or darker shade of the colour that it is and isn't able to choose a colour to blend in with its surroundings?
The Friends of St. Mary's arranged the collection of a beautiful Christmas tree which was generously donated by B&Q. They had also arranged a Christmas decoration competition so once it was up in the school hall, all the entries were hung from the branches. The children gathered together for an official 'turning on the lights' ceremony which was a lovely 'ooh, ahh' moment! The four winners of the competition were awarded their prizes and stood proudly by the tree. Many thanks to The Friends of St. Mary's for organising a wonderful start to our festive celebrations.
On Friday 29th November, Fiona, our local PCSO visited Year Two to talk to the children about road safety. Fiona’s visit was linked to our PSHE lessons in which we have been learning about rules including safety in the home and how to use the Green Cross Code when crossing the road.
On Friday, during our sweet themed Science Day, there was a buzz of excitement and curiosity as the children participated in various practical investigations to predict, examine and observe the properties of different types of sweets.
Year 2 examined which sweets would float and sink in water but they had the added challenge of considering how to make it a fair test. Year 2 also compared if bags of ‘Haribo’ sweets all contained the same quantities of each type of sweet. Year 1 combined mathematical learning to help them classify sweets and make their own puzzles using different shapes. They also discovered which sweets could stretch, twist, squash or bend. Reception class observed what would happen to sweets when they were placed in water. They also thought of their own ways to sort sweets and had a competition to see who could build the tallest tower using pieces of fudge.
Opening the door to welcome our families was a strangely spotty experience this morning. Either measles had swept through the school over night or it was ‘Children in Need’. The children assured me it was the latter as they had been visited by Pudsey bear earlier in the week. I am delighted to let you know that in our celebration assembly I was able to announce to the children that, through your generous donations, the school raised over £108. Thank you to everyone for supporting this event.
On Sunday, two children from Year 2 and Mrs. Grier joined the remembrance day service in recognition of the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces, past and present. The children helped lay a wreath on behalf of the Witney Partnership Primary Schools which was a great privilege. On Monday morning, the whole school joined together with members of the community and St. Mary's Church to lay a wreath on behalf of St. Mary's Infant School. The sun shone and despite a chilly wind, the children observed the two minute silence with respect and sang 'Peace, Perfect Peace' beautifully.
Over the past couple of weeks our families have generously been filling a shoebox with love for the charity Teams4U. The shoeboxes are filled with toiletries, stationery, hats, gloves, may be sweets, small toys and even Christmas decorations. The shoeboxes are collected by the High Street Methodist Church where a dedication service will be held this evening before they are transported off across Eastern Europe for those children less fortunate than our own. We managed to collect nearly 50 shoeboxes which will hopefully bring some joy and spread our message of love, this Christmas.