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.
On Monday, Mrs Grier accompanied our Year 1 children to Forest School with Mr Hazel our Forest School Leader. All our children at St. Mary’s have eight forest school sessions throughout the year as we value the opportunity to get out into the fresh air and have time for learning in the outdoors.
This week the children were inspired by the art work of Andy Goldsworthy and everyone had a wonderful time creating designs with leaves, twigs and other natural materials. The time to listen, reflect and share moments of peace was also woven into the afternoon making it a special occasion to come together.
Wednesday was the perfect day for our Sports Day and the children participated in every event with enthusiasm and full of team spirit. The Sporty Strawberries were triumphant as the overall winners. A very big thank you to Miss Atkinson for organising such a superb morning with some different challenges for the children to tackle.
We were also very lucky to have several Year 10 Sports Leaders from The Henry Box School who not only helped us out on the day but also on our rehearsal morning, so a huge thank you to them as well. We hope they will be able and willing to come back again next year!
The Year 2s went on an action packed trip to Warwick Castle to conclude their learning for the topic, 'Towers, Tunnels and Turrets'. The weather was glorious which meant that we could see for miles once we reached the top of the tower.
On Tuesday all our classes took part in a fantastic ‘materials’ workshop presented by Ian from Science Oxford. The session began with the children thinking about what a ‘material’ was and which materials were in their classrooms and why certain materials were used for certain jobs e.g. why is a table made from wood and metal and not paper and string.
On Tuesday, the Year One class had a wonderful trip to Lea Wood on the Filkins Estate for a fantastic day outdoors in amongst the bluebells. We went on a walk hunting for woodland creatures and had to make it through the Troll Trap safely.
The Reception class were very excited to visit Farmer Gow's this week. We were able to bottle feed lambs and kids as well as taking part in the feeding of the adult sheep and goats. We even got to cuddle the chicks!