This week we started an extended project working with the Dementia Ward at Colwyn Bay Hospital. The initiative sees Dementia patients learning alongside young people over a series of sessions. It has already proved successful in other areas of North Wales and is of huge benefit to the wellbeing of the patients.
On Thursday, we took four Year 6 pupils to the first session where they learnt all about the prehistoric creatures living in Doggerland. They were able to handle actual mammoth teeth, tusks and even view strands of their fur. At the end, working alongside the patients they created model mammoth skeletons using twigs.
It must have taken some bravery from our pupils to be learning in a hospital ward, with older people they had never met, some obviously struggling with their health condition but the children were fantastic. They were mature, respectful and enthusiastic throughout - a genuine credit to their parents and our school. They have all requested that they return again, next week.
Thank you to Colwyn Bay Hospital for this opportunity and the children for making it such a success.
Thank you to everyone who joined in with our Healthy Half last weekend by going for a walk. The staff almost reached their 100 mile target but not quite. We will all try harder with this weekend’s challenge - more news of that later.
In school this week we have been talking about having a healthy diet especially eating more vegetables. So, on Thursday we did a quick spot check to see what percentage of pupils are having some vegetables for lunch. The results can be seen below.
Well done to Year 3 who, as you can see, were the best vegetable eaters on the day (mainly carrots). We will keep checking over the next few weeks (and give Year 5 a chance to show that they love vegetables but just struggle with carrots!)
So to this weekend’s challenge - we’d like families to join us in eating more vegetables and encourage you to share your veg-loving pictures on Facebook.
Next week, we will be trying to get healthier by taking more notice of beauty around us.
This half term, we are going to get healthier. The staff are taking the lead, with the support of the School Council, to plan five weeks of activities for adults and children. Some will take place as part of classroom based learning, some will be part of the wider curriculum and some will, hopefully, take place at home. You are all welcome to join us.
The first week is about moving more. The children have been out walking and the council have requested some extra playtimes! This weekend we’ve asked the children to go for a walk and share their pictures. The staff are aiming to complete 100 miles over the weekend (collectively!)
Next week, we will be trying to eat more healthily. Please help us by encouraging this at home. The council would like a competition between classes to see which class eats the most fruit and vegetables in school.
The following week will be about taking notice of the beauty in our environment. After that we will be strengthening our relationships with the people around us. Finally, in the last week of half term, we will be doing something to pamper ourselves.
We will keep you informed of how things are going and would be delighted if you join in with the themes each week.
It’s been a very busy few weeks as Autumn term came to a close with the joy of Advent. There’s been too many things to describe in detail, so here’s a wonderful Christmas List….
Thank you to everyone who gave their best to make this wonderful time. Children made us smile and cry, parents/carers have been so supportive (and far too generous with gifts) and, as always, every member of staff has given their all for your children. Now, you’ll have to forgive me for picking out one person for a special Christmas mention. Miss Copp has not only been teaching full time but has also been lead our choir on their performance tour of the Bay, organised and lead mass and the Carol service and provided the inspiration and planning for our fantastic Christmas Tree Festival. Miss Copp brings something special to St Joseph’s.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you and your loved ones are happy and safe over the holidays.
Mr J Wilkinson
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.