This week, we have been helping others.
We have collected over 50 shoeboxes of presents which will be collected by T4U next week and delivered to young people in need. At the end of the week we got dressed up/wore our own clothes raising more than £200 for Children in Need. Thank you, children and families, for your generosity.
But it wasn’t just the young who benefitted from our children’s kindness. The elderly residents of Merton Place Care Home also had brightness brought to their afternoon by children in Years 5 and 6. In their topic the children have been learning about World War II and, as part of the work, learnt the wartime classic ‘We’ll meet again’ with sign language accompaniment. They visited Merton Place on Thursday and performed the song for the residents. Da iawn Blwydden 5 a 6.
As we race through November we are planning to make this ‘The Best St Joseph’s Christmas Ever’ - Cyngor Ysgol (School Council) have already come up with some fantastic plans. If you have any ideas to make it a really special time for children, staff and the wider school community, please let us know. (Ideally we are looking for ideas that don’t cost a lot of money or involve too much work resulting in grumpy children, parents/carers or staff!)
Welcome back after the half term holidays and I’m pleased to say, on the whole, it has been a peaceful return to classrooms and learning.
During the week, I’ve been delighted to see so many individual acts of kindness, care and empathy. I’m not going to list them (or give examples) but will say that they include examples from children to children, children to staff, staff to children, parent/carers to staff and vice-versa.
As we prepare for Remembrance Sunday, in a world again desperately divided by war, these acts of unity must be noticed, cherished and celebrated.
Mr J Wilkinson
If you’d to know what the new Curriculum for Wales looks like, in a Catholic school, take a look at the photos above.
Guided by Miss Copp, we have transformed our curriculum planning, with Religious Education at the core to meet our mission - to ‘Grow in Love’. In the past we focussed on scripture and read stories of people doing good things guided by that scripture. Our revised curriculum is far less passive - in Religious Education it is all about ‘Faith in Action’. So, what better way to show we understand Jesus’ message to serve others, than by playing games with, and reading to, residents of our nearest care home, Merton Place? The residents enjoyed it, the children enjoyed it and the staff from both settings felt very proud.
This is faith in action.
This is the new curriculum.
This is ‘grow in love’ in 2023.
These are difficult times - for our school, our country and the world. The news bombards us with problems and we know so many people in our community are battling with their own difficulties. In school, there are also many challenges. What can we do?
On Wednesday we held our Governors Annual Report to Parents, which was attended by a small number of parents. The meeting is an opportunity to reflect on the previous school year and consider what is going well and what needs improving. Thank you to those who were able to attend and for the points raised. One of the key issues debated was how we can better engage the whole community. We hope to find ways to make more people feel like they belong to St Joseph’s and that they can contribute to its success and improvement.
Following this meeting, the Governors met to discuss school development planning. In the current climate of budget and staffing reductions, combined with increased pupil needs, the word ‘development’ can sound a little over ambitious. We really need to consider how to keep providing what we do, with ever decreasing resources. Thank you to our Governing Body who continue to commit their time and energy to this cause.
Today, it was Polling Day. Every class voted for their representatives on Cyngor Ysgol (School Council) and Eco-Council.
Those elected onto Cyngor Ysgol will consider how the school can improve, in the same way as the Governors. This is a big responsibility. Congratulations to all who were elected - your classmates have put their trust in you.
Our Eco-Council will try to ensure that we do our bit to meet the demands of Pope Francis’ recent publication ‘Laudate Deum’. As we announced those who had been elected in Assembly, you only had to look out the window to see the urgency of the climate crisis - Brackley Avenue had been turned into a river.
So, with many challenges ahead (both big and small) thank you to the people (both big and small) who step forward to contribute to change. It may be difficult, and at times seem impossible, but working together we are strong.
Mr J Wilkinson
We held the Annual General Meeting for our PTA today which marked the end of an era and the beginning of something new. Below is my Chairperson’s report, which was presented at the meeting.
In 2023, the PTA was able to return to normal functioning, following several years of Covid impact.
In the year 2018-19, over £18,000 was paid into the PTA account and over £8,000 paid out. In 2021-22 just under £2,000 was paid in and just over £2,000 paid out. This year over £16,000 was paid in and over £13,000 paid out.
As most people are aware, budgets across education are being severely squeezed and the work of the PTA has provided valuable funds to support activities and purchase resources that would otherwise not be available.
We have paid over £1000 towards transport for trips which provide a vital (expensive) part of our curriculum provision. We have also paid over a £1000 to transform our library with a mural by local artist Gary Drew. Reading was a big focus on our school development plan and post-Covid recovery. We also funded hoodies for our Year 6 leavers.
The main fundraisers during the year have been school discos (split into Foundation Phase and Key Stage 2) plus the Christmas and Summer Fairs. We have benefitted from over £500 in parent donations and a grant from Gwynt y Mor for £750.
We have also raised over £600 for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
It has been fantastic to see the PTA able to resume ‘normal activities’ but the year has not been without its difficulties. Despite the best intentions of everybody involved, relationships in our school/parish community have been strained and our sense of community tested.
I have served on St Joseph’s PTA for over 20 years - in that period there have been many highs and lows but the last few years, in particular, have seen a very strong committee work hard to support a school challenged by funding cuts and Covid.
As Chair, I would like to thank each and every individual who has given their time and effort to make this so effective.
It is now time for someone else to take over and ensure the continued success of our PTA. I have no doubt that the pressures on our community and the funding difficulties will continue - the school will continue to need every bit of support that the school/parish community can provide. It will also be vital that we continue to strengthen relationships with the parish.
I wish the newly elected Chair and committee all the best and will ensure that school fully supports their activities.
The following people have been elected to form the new committee. Good luck and congratulations.
Chair - James Brownsell
Secretary - Alpa Bisarya
Treasurer - John Cooper
Committee Members - Pauline Jesudason, Nyssa Richardson and Alison Laing
Mr J Wilkinson
I guess, like most workplaces, school is very busy. You don’t get much time to stop, look and think. We are all reminded, for our own wellbeing, that we should take time to explore and notice the beauty of our natural world. (And, of course, we couldn’t live in a better place to do this) In school, sadly sometimes buried under the planning, teaching, learning, assessment and busyness are moments of beauty - things that stop us in our tracks and demand we take notice. This week, there have been many of these moments. For example, a child in Reception who loves and identifies numbers up to 100 or the care shown by children in our CAFOD club. How about the big(ger) brother, leading the little brother to the happy routines of the school day or the Year 4 child suddenly declaring ‘I get it. I love Maths’. Or a final example, the Year 2 child who wrote the fantastic poem below. We do a lot of moaning, as teachers, but we know we are so lucky to be always just a moment away from another beautiful discovery. We could have listed hundreds more examples, but thank you to every child, this week, who has made an adult stop, smile and take notice - you keep us all going.
It’s not so long ago that lunchtime could have been viewed as a break from education - a time where the staff had a rest and the children ran around. However, with pupil wellbeing a major focus in the new Curriculum for Wales, lunchtimes have become an important part of the curriculum. But why?
Firstly, it’s about food and healthy eating. With the introduction of free school meals for all pupils we are seeing children try new foods and consider the importance of their choices. With most children now having ‘cinio poeth’, it is more important than ever that those children who prefer ‘brechdanau’ are provided with a healthy packed lunch. We all know what children are like when it comes to sweets and chocolate, so it would be really helpful if parent/carers could avoid filling lunch boxes with treats. It’s hard to get a small person to finish their broccoli when the child next to them is tucking into a Twix! We are grateful to the kitchen staff, who have adapted smoothly to the increased numbers and work so hard to cater for all dietary requirements and are delighted to see so many children enjoying a healthy hot lunch.
When the plate is clean, it’s time for play. For some, this is the highlight of the day. They have many friends, the skills to socialise and every playtime is a joy of creativity, exercise and laughter. This is not the case for many children who find play difficult. They may struggle with social skills, communication, self-esteem or regulation of emotions. It is lunchtime when they learn to overcome these difficulties and are helped by other children. Of course, things go wrong, there are arguments and tears, but this is learning. I have been particularly impressed, this week, with the way our eldest children have helped some of our younger children. They have provided the unconditional love in which others, who have been struggling with play, can grow.
This is why lunchtimes are such an important part of our educational curriculum. They are a time to ‘Grow in Love’.
Our GIFT Team, with Miss Copp’s help, have created a wonderful new Prayer Trail around our school. Take a look…..
Last week we celebrated a very special mass in memory of Mrs Gelezinis. We were joined by her family as we prayed and sang some of her favourite hymns to Mary. The following lovely words of tribute were read by Jac, on behalf of the children….
‘Hello everyone, I’m Jac and I was lucky to be in Mrs Gelezinis’ class last year. She helped us learn, made us laugh and always put us first. I’d like to share some of the happy memories that Year 5 & 6 have of Mrs Gelezinis.
It’s impossible to think about Mrs Gelezinis without thinking about reading. She was always so patient with us when we struggled with a word, it’s a miracle she never lost her patience! Our time spent reading was special. She always encouraged us and always took the time to ask how we were.
I’m sure there is not one person who can remember making Peppermint Creams with Mrs Gelezinis. They were so tasty and she made it so much fun. If you were lucky enough to help her wrap them, she made sure we pinched a couple as part of her ‘taste test!
As you can imagine, Mrs Gelezinis name has caused a few of us some problems. It’s tricky to say, never mind spell!! She even let some of us call her Mrs Lamborghini because we couldn’t say her name, and she didn’t mind at all.
There aren’t many Evertonians in St Joseph’s. But thankfully for Matthew McDonald, Mrs Gelezinis was a huge fan. He can recall the countless occasions where they only had to rely on each other for the support they desperately needed.
Mrs Gelezinis has played a special role in our time here at St Joseph’s - from knitting, to giving the best advice, we always knew Mrs Gelezinis was someone we could rely on.
We miss you Mrs Gelezinis, we appreciate you and we will never forget you. Thank you.’
Thank you to all parishioners and School Governors who came along to our Coronation Lunch. Thank you to the Kitchen team for biscuits and cake. Thank you to Year 6 pupils who served our special guests. Thank you to the staff team for your usual flexibility and positivity. Finally, specials thanks to Mrs Aspinall and our Year 6 bakers for the fantastic scones.