School News (101)
St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School in Garforth were very honoured to receive a visit from Theresa May, Prime Minister. The visit took place under high security in February as part of a school INSET day. The Prime Minister had a round the table discussion with senior leaders and teachers from the school. She was keen to understand the positives and challenges of the current primary education agenda. Staff took the opportunity to give examples of the challenges in the current system for all teachers as well as celebrate the strengths of St Benedict’s. The visit was a real recognition of the great community of St Benedict’s in its staff, governors, children, parents and the wider community.
Through Mission Together, the children’s branch of Missio, children everywhere live out their mission: to share God’s love with the whole world. In a unique exchange of love and friendship children pray for and share with one another. Pope Francis has made October 2019 an Extraordinary Month of Mission during which he calls us to make a special effort to share God’s love around the world. No one is too young or too small to take part.
To mark this special occasion, Mission Together is inviting children in England and Wales to design a postcard, showing how Mission Together helps children all over the world, by feeding hungry people with food and hope; offering those who are thirsty water and faith and helping people who are sick with medicine and prayers.
The theme of the design is: ‘Our Mission: To Share God’s Love with the Whole World’. The competition is open to all children living in England and Wales aged between 5 and 14.
For information about the competition please visit www.missiontogether.org.uk/pupil-postcard-competition and to find out more about the Extraordinary Month of Mission please go to www.missio.org.uk/emm
In June 80 children from seven schools in Swindon and Malmesbury, Clifton Diocese, gathered together in joyful celebration for a Mission Together Animation Day. The morning was spent with children making friends with one another, engaging in group activities, and reflecting on their role as ‘children helping children’ with Mission Together, the Pope’s official children’s charity for overseas mission.
Through the day children learnt that even though they are all unique individuals, they can make a big difference to building God’s kingdom when they act together and support one another. The Good News Bracelets made by the children, reminded them of the hope and love they bring to other young people around the world who are living in poverty when they pray and share- as Jesus taught.
The sessions were followed by an afternoon Liturgy led by Missio’s National Director, Fr Tony Chantry and Missio’s Diocesan Director for Clifton Diocese, Fr Gary Brassington. The chaplaincy team from local secondary school, St Joseph’s Catholic College, Swindon helped the Liturgy to run smoothly with the addition of their prayers and reflections.
Many congratulations to all the pupils and students for their words of wisdom and thoughtfulness as they carried out their tasks. Thanks also to the staff - teachers and chaplains – who generously gave up their time to help organise the event and who provided inspiration for future Mission Together animation days. Final thanks goes to Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, Swindon for hosting a wonderful day.
At the start of May, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to pray the Rosary for peace. Around the same time Mission Together, the Holy Father’s official children’s charity for overseas mission, paid a timely visit to St Mary’s Primary School (Batley) to deliver a special assembly. St Mary’s has a long tradition of reciting the Rosary with its pupils in May, a practice fondly remembered by ex-pupil and Mission Together education team member, Claire Colleran.
Claire was delighted to have been invited into her old school at the start of Lent to speak to pupils about Mission Together and how, as children helping children through prayer and giving, they can share in the mission of the Church and deliver God’s love to all people, everywhere, just as Jesus taught us.
Following that assembly, St Mary’s had adopted Mission Together as their Lenten charity and helped raise funds by selling the charity’s Mission Rosaries. Although Mission Together was just one of a number of the school’s Lenten charities, St Mary’s still managed to raise a wonderful £350 to help children living in poverty overseas.
Claire was invited back in to St Mary’s to collect the cheque and to lead a Marian inspired Mission Rosary assembly. Parish priest Fr Eamonn Hegarty came along to bless the children for their efforts to share God’s love with others through their support of Mission Together.
RE Coordinator, Mrs Jennie Blanchfield, said of the visit; ‘The children fully embraced Mission Together and its concept of children helping children. They could see through their prayers and giving that they can make a small change to children's lives all around the world. They were totally committed to collecting as much loose change as possible to put in the Mission Together Boxes.’
Father Eamonn Hegarty added, "Once again the children of St Mary's have shown how generous they are."
Mission Together supports the physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing of children around the world. If you’ve been inspired by St Mary’s efforts and would also like to encourage children to help children, contact missiontogether.org.uk to arrange an assembly, or download user friendly assemblies (including the Rosary assembly delivered at St Mary’s) and other resources from our website.
To mark the centenary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero, schools in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle are this year focusing attention on the life and martyrdom of the Salvadorian Archbishop. As part of their commemorations St John’s Catholic Academy, Bishop Auckland, organised a programme of events for their Year 10 students, inspired by Romero’s words ‘Aspire not to have more, but to be more’.
Missio, the Catholic Church’s official charity for overseas mission, was asked along to St John’s to take part. Romero’s links with Missio and his time as the charity’s National Director in El Salvador, were highlighted through presentations and workshops. Highlighted also to pupils was the powerful example set by Romero; to observe the world around them and consider their role within it, inspired by the Gospel and strengthened by faith.
St John’s chaplain, Mrs Emma Ramsey said of the day, “We wanted to provide our students with the opportunity to reflect on the paths they take, the choices they make, and the qualities needed for themselves and others to lead a truly fulfilled life. The students gained a lot from Missio’s input. They heard about what the charity does to enable those less fortunate than ourselves to have access to the things we take for granted.”
Missio was also invited to take part in St Anthony’s Girl’s Catholic Academy, Step Up To Life Mission Week, led by the Diocesan Youth Ministry Team. Inspired by the week’s theme – forgiveness - Missio facilitated workshops which explored the importance of mercy and peace in our efforts to build God’s Kingdom at home and overseas. Pupils engaged readily in discussion and activities; considering practical ways in which they can become missionaries of God’s love and producing on occasion some impressive visual representations of God’s kingdom. Built with the help of Missio’s red boxes.
Missio would like to thank St John’s and St Anthony’s for their welcome and support. Their missionary efforts bring to mind more inspiring words from Blessed Oscar Romero:
“Let us not develop an education that creates in the mind of the student a hope of becoming rich and having the power to dominate. Let us form in the heart of a young person the idea of loving, of preparing oneself to serve and giving oneself to others.”
Like most primary schools this time each year, thoughts turn to the Nativity play and the various stresses surrounding it. These include organising dozens of sheep, shepherds and angels, getting all the lines learnt and of course, deciding who’s going to play Mary.
At Catholic schools, the Nativity play is understandably a really important part of their year, but with over 60% of the pupils at St Mary’s and St Peter’s Catholic Primary school in Bradford being Muslim, you might think including everyone in this festival is a challenge. For them however, the truth is it simply isn’t.
Last year the school had children from different faiths and nationalities take part in their Nativity and this Christmas it will be no different.
By including children and families of different faiths, the school believes that they are not imposing Catholicism on them, but are sharing the gift of faith. At St Mary’s and St Peter’s , non-Catholic children are never forced to make the sign of the cross and when they pray it is made clear that children can pray to their own God.
Julie Holland, Head teacher at St Peter and St Mary’s believes that clarity with parents is by far and away the most important element of getting parental buy-in to the school’s ethos. Before children even start she sits down with prospective parents and is crystal clear about how the Catholic faith is fundamental to everything that is done by the school.
Julie commented: “For the vast majority of non-Catholic parents, this is perfectly acceptable, moreover it is the emphasis that we put on faith which makes our school such an attractive option for their child. Many think that to create religious tolerance you must remove it completely from the public sphere, but if anything we show that by being open about your own faith, parents of different religious convictions feel that their faith is respected. You don’t create religious tolerance by saying faith is something that should be kept behind closed doors.”
Julie believes that for a lot of parents, the popularity of a Catholic education among non-Catholic parents goes down to key basic principles, including, respect and good behaviour, attitudes which she considers are promoted by all religions. The values and expectations we set continue when the children are at home.
But what is the impact on the children? Looking at the experience of St Mary’s and St Peter’s, it is extremely positive. From an early age children interact with others of different religions. What’s more the school has fostered an atmosphere where children feel comfortable talking about religion and discussing the big questions about God and human dignity with those of other beliefs.
Julie concluded: “This year proud Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh parents will watch their child celebrate the birth of Christ in our Nativity. For both parents and pupils alike, this religious diversity is normal, something which I am proud to say has been achieved through an unapologetically Catholic education.”
Press Release 17 March 2016
This morning pupils at St Benedict's Catholic School, Garforth, Leeds had the opportunity to show the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne their sporting skills.
The Chancellor visited the school following his announcement in yesterday's budget to double the amount of funding dedicated to sport in every primary school. He watched demonstrations of netball and gymnastics by the children. He was able to chat with the Pupil Sports Council over a healthy breakfast.
Mr Kieron Flood, Headteacher of St Benedict's Catholic School said "Sport is an important part of the curriculum here at St Benedict's. We believe that promoting a healthy lifestyle through active participation in sport and PE will ensure that children will develop a life-long love of sport through their physical literacy. Our pupils look forward to joining in the wide variety of activities and are extremely proud of their own achievements and the achievements of other children in their school".
"We were pleased to welcome the Chancellor to St Benedict's as it provided the pupils with an opportunity to demonstrate their sporting skills and tell him personally about their success in a range of sporting competitions".
The academy encourages all pupils to have a healthy body and healthy mind so keeping fit through a wide variety of activities is important to the whole academy community including staff. The school is involved not only in the usual team sports, the highly competitive 'Skipping Festival' held between the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Leeds is a particular favourite of the children.
The academy uses the current sports premium funding to ensure that every child has the opportunity to join in sporting activities with a series of professional partners including Liz Jarosz, a PE teacher from St Wilfrid's Catholic High School and Sixth Form College, Featherstone, another academy in the trust.
The academy has achieved the Gold Activemark and is particularly proud of former pupils who have been selected to play for England All Age Wheelchair Rugby team and a visually impaired pupil who skateboards in national competitions – real success stories for those talented children.
Notes to Editors:
1) St Benedict's Catholic Primary School is a popular, oversubscribed Catholic academy in Garforth, a town on the outskirts of East Leeds in Leeds Local Authority.
2) The academy was a founding member of the Bishop Konstant Catholic Academy Trust that comprises 2 high schools and 10 primary schools. It was established in November 2012. http://www.bkcat.co.uk/
3) The Headteacher of St Benedict's is Kieron Flood who is a Local Leader of Education and has successfully supported a school in the trust that was a sponsored conversion to academy.
4) The funding enables the academy to provide continuous professional development for staff to improve the teaching of P.E. in school and in turn enhance the experience and learning opportunities for all pupils. Sports specialist teachers and coaches are working alongside class teachers in lessons and providing provision of sports for after school clubs. In this way, children are gaining new skills and experiences and teachers are learning new techniques and knowledge to aid their professional development in teaching sport and PE. This develops an understanding of the importance of a healthy lifestyle through active participation in Sport and PE. Children will develop a life-long love of sport through their physical literacy.
5) The school is one of 94 schools in the Diocese of Leeds, The Bishop of Leeds is The Right Reverend Bishop Marcus Stock
Newman University’s Teacher Education programmes have received high recognition in all categories in its latest Ofsted report.
Ofsted inspectors have graded teaching at Newman’s School of Education “good”, reaffirming the University’s status as one of the UK’s leading institutions for excellence in teacher training.
Dean of Education, Professor Stephen Rayner, said: “We are delighted with the acknowledgement throughout the report of the inspiration and impact our work has on our trainee-teachers, newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) and the children and young people whom they teach.
“Newman trained teachers acquire a diverse range of skills and experience during their time with us, which helps prepare students to meet the demands of teaching in today’s challenging educational environment. It is evident from this extremely positive report that our students’ passion and desire to continually improve their teaching skills are in demand by employers who recognise the high calibre of our student-teachers.
“We would like to congratulate our Initial Teacher Education (ITE) team and to thank our partner schools for their support during the inspection process.”
Katie North, a Primary ITE student at Newman, commented about the standard of teaching from a first-hand perspective: “Staff at Newman truly do take the time to get to know you on an individual basis. This has had a positive impact on my confidence levels, and hence improved my personal quality of teaching in the classroom.”
The School of Education at Newman University has trained teachers for over forty years and has an established reputation in teacher training, excellent education research, and teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
The report highlighted several key areas of strength relating to the primary and secondary programme inspection including:
- High-calibre trainees and NQTs who demonstrate exceptional professional attitudes. They share a passion for teaching and a desire to continually improve their teaching skills. They are held in high regard by local head teachers.
- Exceedingly strong centre-based training, which blends theory and practice flawlessly, is complemented well by specialist and enhancement learning opportunities. This accounts for trainees' and NQTs' strong subject knowledge and their confidence and competence in teaching across the primary and early years curriculum.
- The partnership enjoys a good local reputation for nurturing well-prepared teachers who are an asset to schools. Head teachers are overwhelmingly positive about the calibre of NQTs, who consistently demonstrate exceptional professional attitudes, and share a willingness to seek advice and learn from others. Trainees emerge from the different training programmes as well-rounded, resilient and enthusiastic professionals who make a difference to the schools in which they work and the pupils they teach.
- A particular strength of the training programme is the enhancement and specialist weeks. These events ensure trainees become steeped in their specialist subject but also open their eyes to a broader range of teaching techniques. The opportunity to visit schools in Sweden to explore the impact of Forest Schools is just one example, among many, of the excellent learning opportunities available to trainees.
- The outcomes for trainees are good. Trainees' attainment is high, especially through the School Direct route, where around three quarters of trainees were judged outstanding at the end of their training in 2015.
- Careful vetting of the quality of the placement allows trainees to gain experience in schools in more challenging circumstances.
Notes to editor:
Newman University is a Catholic higher education institution based in Bartley Green, Birmingham and historically enjoys one of the highest graduate employment rates of any higher education institution in the country.
Founded in 1968, Newman was awarded University College status in 2007, receiving full university status in February 2013. With a strong reputation for teacher training, it also offers a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and foundation degree courses covering a range of subjects, primarily in the fields of humanities and social sciences.
It was recognised in the Top 10 UK universities for quality of teaching in the Sunday Times Good University Guide 2013 and is one of a select group of 15 higher education institutions to gain three ‘high’ ratings in the Which? University Guide.
Newman also enjoys a burgeoning reputation for research, with some outputs being recognised as ‘internationally excellent’ in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (REF2014).
Newman is named after Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801 – 1890), one of the intellectual greats of the nineteenth century. While proud of its Catholic heritage, the college welcomes staff and students of all religions and backgrounds.
On 22 June 2015, four children from Our Lady of Pity Primary School in years 5 and 6 won the UK Mathematics Challenge at Birkenhead School against other local Wirral Primary schools.
The UKMT Team Challenges promote mathematical dexterity, teamwork and communication skills. They also give pupils the opportunity to compete against pupils from other schools in their region. Activities included a group round, cross-number and a mathematical relay.
Singapore mathematicss techniques are currently being implemented at Our Lady of Pity and the children had great fun using Singaporean methods to answer the questions.
Katie Hogan, a trainee teacher who led the children from Our Lady of Pity said, 'this was a fantastic opportunity for the children to demonstrate their mathematics skills in a competitive environment. All of the children thoroughly enjoyed the day and we would like to thank Birkenhead School for organising the event.'
Notes to editors:
Following an invitation from the School Parliament, local MP Mike Kane visited Saint Paul’s Catholic High School in Wythenshawe where he spoke to a group of Year 9 and Year 10 pupils about his role as an MP.
After talking about his experiences, Mike then opened the floor to questions from the students. As expected from Saint Paul’s, the questions dispelled any lingering myths about political apathy amongst the young. Topics covered a wide range of current affairs with the pupils showing that they have a very lively interest in politics and what is happening in the world.
Ms Una McCaughey from Saint Paul’s said: “The question and answer session was fantastic, it was a heated debate and an amazing experience. Mike Kane said he'd happily take some of our pupils to be part of his future campaigns!”
“The pupils asked some very thought provoking and apt questions; they engaged really well and I was proud of them,” commented Mrs Fiona Minshall, Head Teacher at Saint Paul’s. “They had obviously given some thought to their questions and I think it’s excellent that they are interested in, and have a passion for, politics and current affairs.”
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Notes for Editors
- Saint Paul’s received congratulations from the Rt Hon David Laws MP Minister of State for Schools when they were recognised as one of the 100 most improved schools in the country.
- On 1st April, 2013 Saint Paul’s Catholic High School joined with St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School and St John Fisher and Thomas More Catholic Primary School to form the Wythenshawe Catholic Academy Trust (MAT – Multi Trust Academy). St Elizabeth's Catholic Primary School later joined the Trust.
- Saint Paul’s was the first school in Manchester to be awarded Engineering College status.
- The work of Saint Paul’s drama teacher, Ms Ellie Brookes, was recognised with her winning the much coveted North West Teacher of the Year Award. Also Head of Humanities at Saint Paul’s, Ms Ursula Gallagher, gained third place in the Outstanding New Teacher of the Year category of the Northern Area Teacher of the Year.
- Lively approaches to teaching maintain vigour and ensure that firm foundations are established for higher level work. The school has a modern approach to learning supported by a programme of constant refurbishment and development of its facilities and resources.
- The aims of the school are to:
- Teach and foster a Christian perspective in all that it does
- Provide teaching of the highest calibre
- Promote excellence in all areas
- Develop the ability, talents and character of each pupil, enabling them to make their own unique contribution to school life
- Encourage boys to play their part in helping the community run smoothly and effectively, by taking on responsibility and leadership