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.
On Wednesday, Year 2 entertained members of our community at the monthly Seniors’ Lunch at St Mary’s Church. Singing acapella, they delighted their audience with renditions of ‘Autumn Days’ and ‘Give me Oil in my Lamp’.
As ever, Miss Reynolds insisted on audience participation much to the merriment of all. I was so very proud of our children who brought some autumnal cheer to the lunch party.
On Tuesday we were joined in Collective Worship by Julia and Paul who work for the Witney branch of the charity ‘The Besom’. Julia and Paul shared with us the incredible work The Besom does in our local community and how it provides for individuals and families in times of need.
They told the children how they pass on good quality household items such as furniture, children's clothing and toys and pass these onto people who need them. They also explained that they distribute gifts of food. Throughout the year we will be encouraging our children to engage with the charity’s work, (which is also supported by St Mary’s Church) to develop our children’s understanding of the importance of living well together and caring for our community.
Yesterday, we had a ‘Stay and Play Open Morning’ for prospective parents. Our Year 2 children stepped up to the mark and, in pairs, toured our guests around the School and into the Reception class. The feedback from prospective parents on their guides was a pleasure to hear and I warmly congratulate our Year 2 children on greeting our visitors with such confidence and speaking so eloquently about the school. Here’s an email we received from one of our visitors.
‘Just emailing to say thank you for the lovely open morning today. We enjoyed looking around and will definitely be putting your school on our application. We felt a lovely warm and welcoming vibe. Very impressed with the year 2s too. So polite and courteous for their age.’
We were delighted to be approached by Esme’s Mummy who asked for our support in raising awareness of the work of the Deaf Association. We were keen to help as the charity provides practical and emotional support to deaf, hard of hearing and deafened children, young people and adults across the Cotswolds and Gloucestershire.
So on Tuesday we all came to school wearing our‘loudest’ clothes in exchange for a donation to the charity’s fundraising efforts. Our families were amazing and raised an incredible £132.28 for the charity. Well done everyone for sharing your love and kindness across our community.
On Monday, the Reception Class went on an autumn walk to The Leys. The children were able to collect conkers, sticks and leaves to take back to school as well as spotting other natural objects such as feathers, snails and mushrooms.
The children demonstrated their curiosity by asking and answering questions such as ‘Why do some conker shells have prickles but other shells are smooth?’ and ‘Who has been eating the conkers?’ as well as ‘What does the bark feel like?’ This was a wonderful opportunity to experience first-hand the natural changes that occur in the autumn season.
On World Mental Health Day, we spoke to the childrenduring Collective Worship about how looking after ourselves includes our minds as well as our bodies.
We reflected that our Happy School Rules and value of Love means that we know how unique and precious we all are. We finished by listening to some quiet music, looking at our lit candles and thinking of all the special people we have in our lives.
As part of our topic on ‘Street Detectives’ Year 2 went out and about exploring for signs of geography and history in our local environment. This included a visit to the Witney and District Museum where we found out lots about the history of Witney.
We learnt about local industries including blanket and glove making, and saw old photographs and maps of the area. We were very excited to find a section all about the Witney train station, trains and railways.
On Wednesday 3 October,we held our Harvest Festival Celebration at St. Mary’s Church, Witney and what a joyful occasion it was! Led by Rev’d Toby Wright the children shared in the message of thankfulness for the generous gifts we receive from God.
The children rejoiced in the message through songs including ‘We put on the Harvest Table’ and ‘Let’s Celebrate’. Prayers were said by Year 2 including a poem especially written for the occasion by Helena. Mrs Grier gave a reading from Psalm 65 which expresses thankfulness for God’s blessings. Our school community brought to the service generous donations of food which were distributed throughout Witney on our behalf by the church.
On Monday 30 September, staff and governors joined together for training led by the Oxford Diocese. As a church school, this year we will receive a visit from the inspection body of the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools. As ever, we will prepare for this by doing what we do best which is ensuring that our school vision is at the heart of everything we do.
The training, led by our Diocesan Adviser, was a valuable opportunity for us to share key documents and reflect how we can best live our vision through our value of Love. As a reminder, we have sent home to all familiesa postcard with details on of our three school priorities for this year and our vision statement.