A Special Week

We have had such a special week filled with special people and random acts of kindness. Our assembly was all about service and living humbly and I can think of many examples of this that have been noted during our first week back.

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I have not long been back from spending time at ‘Play Football’ where Mrs Hamer and Mr Gilmour are raising the profile of support for Syrian refugees. The teams may well still be playing their tournaments, enjoying being in each other’s  company.

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If any of you have toys or unwanted clothes-especially men’s  clothing, this would be gratefully received. Our refugee community are also in desperate need of baby nappies. Any unwanted men’s trainers would also be appreciated as the Syrian refugees are now fully involved in playing football. I have had the privilege of being surrounded by such polite and respectful gentlemen and I know that links will continue to strengthen. Thank you to Mrs Hamer and Mr Gilmour, who have put so much time and effort into making this afternoon so memorable and enjoyable. Mr McGill played too and it was great to see staff showing support.

My morning began in school for our Remembrance Service Family Mass and our children had created beautiful and poignant poems to display in church. It was when these were being taken up with the Offertory that I realised how much effort goes into each Family Mass. I thank all staff who continue to give their extra time and care for these events. We are looking forward to our next Family Mass, where our school band will be playing at the very end. As I tried to envision where the drum kit and 24 children would sit, complete with instruments and music stands, I decided it best to work out this logistical nightmare another time! I have, however, managed to secure a team of parishioners who are willing to carry the pieces of the drum kit over to church with us. That is half the battle! More information will be coming soon.

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Our trip to the Mosque was amazing and I received a kind email from Amjad, who gave  our children an in depth tour and answered some fantastic questions.  He spoke of how respectful and well behaved our children were. His emails always end ‘with peace’ and this is something the world certainly needs more of.

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We have another exciting week ahead. Mr Gilmour is taking his class to look at Taiwanese Art at UCLAN and the juniors are going to the cinema on Tuesday as part of their film club studies.

Thank you to our fantastic PTFA, who led another successful and enjoyable event on Friday evening. Your work is greatly appreciated.

I am looking forward to a septic tank meeting and observing the creativity that exists at St.Francis’ for another super week ahead.

 

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Simply Sensational…that’s all I can say!

 

These videos speak for themselves. Our children really are sensational stars. We couldn’t be prouder of our children and I am sure that you will all agree that they have put so much effort into all of the performances. Our band were absolutely wonderful and we had brilliant soloists, duets and audience participation! I have to say that I have been excited all week waiting to see our Glee club debut and it was a treat. After only four rehearsals of an Annie medley, children were so animated in their performance. When I saw the delight on our Year 1 children’s faces as they performed, I couldn’t help but see some future actors and actresses.

I thought about the whole concert later on in the day and I realised that I had taken for granted the amazing behaviour of the whole school and also from our Nursery and Pre-School children. They sat in awe of our older children performing for almost an hour-hardly moving a muscle. It was a lovely atmosphere and I thank our staff who put hours of preparation, creating arrangements and backing tracks etc for our children to enjoy and shine in performances like today.

This afternoon, Mrs B-M got a phone call and I went into Fairsnape Class to take care of her UFA group as she took the call in my office. Ironically, I opened the door quickly and almost fell into the classroom, who were in the middle of a First Aid training group. One little boy wore a sling that had been perfectly assembled by another pupil. I was pleased that Mrs B-M came back quickly as I have had terrible first aid training experiences in the past involving slings. I have never been able to master the art of putting on a sling but I am willing to join Mrs B-M’s future first aid for children UFA group to improve.

I had a horrendous evening in school on Wednesday as our Mad Science after school club literally made me quite mad! Accidents happen but a messy accident it was! Oil and water mixed was spilled on the hall floor and walked all over. I haven’t dealt with oil and water combinations on wooden floors before and I don’t ever want to again. Some parts were like an ice rink. It isn’t what you need at 5.30pm on a Wednesday evening. Luckily, after a phone call to our cleaning company, buffers, water hoovers (I think that is what they were) arrived with two men who looked like they meant business. Within half an hour on Thursday morning, our hall was restored to our usual slip free surface. Accidents happen. It reminded me of the time when the ink bottle exploded in Mr.Gilmour’s classroom in the middle of an art lesson. He came out of the room with a blue beard and a smurf like appearance. I will not say any more.

Mrs Hamer met Prince Harry this week. Genuinely kind people are treasures and Mrs Hamer is one of these. She has set up a football club for Syrian refugees and she instigates and undertakes many fundraising initiatives to help them. Mr Gilmour plays football. Apparently he is semi famous as he once showed someone video footage of himself playing in a match. He and Mrs Hamer have joined forces to create a wonderful experience for the Syrian refugees. They will be playing a series of matches together -Mr Gilmour’s friends and the Syrian team at Tulketh on Sunday 12th November  starting at 2.00pm. We will be having a clothes, baby nappies and toys collection that week in school to help the refugees. More information will be coming soon.

Thank you to members of our PTFA who have been helping in school this week. It is very much appreciated. Our Open Afternoon was successful and it was lovely to hear so many positive comments.

Mrs Rossall has mastered the art of uploading videos onto our website following a masterclass from Miss Stewart. I thank her for taking the time to put these videos from today onto this blog. More will follow when I master the skill!

I wish you all a lovely half term break. We return to school on Monday 6th November.

 

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Wear it Wild Day IMovie…

This week has been great. The children are so helpful and they never cease to amaze me with their initiative and care for others. When I look onto the playground at break times, I see many older children interacting with and being great role models for our younger children. Today has been ‘Wear it Wild Day’ and our children were very keen to make an IMovie to mark this exciting day.

Armed with an iPad and great leadership skills, a small group of children organised others to create this fantastic movie to sum up our great day. Many of you know that I am a huge animal lover and I am so pleased that the children in our CAFOD club wanted to get on board with this super initiative. The children looked great. I on the other hand didn’t-not in comparison to Miss Stewart, who I think was horrified when she saw how other staff had more ‘casual’ efforts. The giant frog costume was indeed ‘giant’ and she was indeed very hot throughout the day! She would win first prize in any dressing up contest.

Last week, we had our PE screen installed and the song ‘Que  Sera  Sera’ stills echoes in my head!

That was the song the installer sang as he connected the wires under my desk 6 hours later from when the work began at 8.30am. Whatever will be will be? Now, I happen to have seen many Doris Day films and I do love the song- however, the electricians had been in and out of my office for 6 hours. One of whom had a very eclectic mix of repertoire. The two men had come from Liverpool to install our curriculum enhancement and I don’t think I have every been in a close space for hours with a person who sings without much rest. I was so excited for the children to have the outdoor resource installed by lunch time that I sometimes found myself humming along to the man as I worked in my office.
It was quite pleasant up until a point! Five hours later and my patience for song was dwindling and I had just about  had enough after 6 hours. The installers payed such attention to detail and ensured we were completely satisfied that I cannot fault the service at all. I think we sometimes get used to our personal space and have a need for stillness-one thing we don’t get enough of.
On the Friday evening, we went to Lancaster Cathedral for the annual education mass and Bishop Michael spoke about St. Bruno. St.Bruno loved stillness and time for quiet reflection.  Mr. Gilmour and I had been to the Catholic shop at Ingol to gather some resources for prayer bags to aid stillness and reflection so it was quite a coincidence that this was a topic that Bishop Michael had spoken about.  Each class now has a prayer bag filled with different resources to aid praying and stillness as a family and these are given out on a Friday and brought back into school on a Wednesday. We do hope you enjoy sharing time for prayer together.
As I write this blog, our children are coming back to school for the disco. Our PTFA have again worked so hard behind the scenes to give the children a real treat. Thank you to all. Team efforts are very much appreciated. We learned about St.Teresa Martin, who did little things with great love and we celebrated ‘Little Way Week’ on our mission to make a difference by our little acts of kindness.  Many people involved in our school and wider community support St.Francis’ by the frequent little acts of kindness and they really do make a difference.
We are all very excited to see our children shine in the music showcase concert next Friday at 10.30am. You are all most welcome to join us.
Have a lovely weekend.

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Seriously…it wasn’t boiled!

Today, Father Sony came to see Beacon Class and Mrs Kerr has been up to her old science tricks again! Father Sony came outside to do morning playground duty with me and all ran calmly and smoothly. Children were playing beautifully together and some were arriving with pretty handheld baskets or other exciting looking containers. A pumpkin passed me on my way out of the door and children were smiling. Mrs Kerr was smiling, as were all staff outside.

The children came in and I took Father Sony to Beacon Class-only to find a problem in the corridor. A rather worried looking pupil was panicking as others looked on not knowing what to do. It was then when it started to seep! When I got to the root of the problem, Mrs Kerr’s class had been undertaking another egg experiment. I was lucky (!) to have caught the broken and unboiled egg just in time for the pupil to stop being upset. I managed to get to the sink in Fairsnape Class relatively quickly, but my dress did need a quick wipe down. Mrs Kerr and Mrs B-M found this all very funny but you know that this is all very typical at St.Francis’!

And then I saw my lunch…

I removed the foil and uncovered my plate to find this…

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I think it was a sign from above telling me to smile. I am not sure if Mrs Keenan created this smiling masterpiece on purpose but it did the job! The sausages were great!

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I found some recent pictures that made me smile. I am sure you will agree that this has been a busy half term so far. We had a wonderful St.Francis Mass yesterday and the whole day was filled with creation workshops. Mr. Gilmour has added pictures to the RE section regarding the feast day.

We have an INSET day tomorrow. Have a lovely weekend. I do hope to see you all on Sunday for Family Mass.

 

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Celebration, song and Welcome assemblies…

What a super week we have had.

I have thoroughly enjoyed spending quality time with the children in a new club led by the children for the children. CAFOD Club is the newest addition to the school week, alongside a return of Reading Club and Chess Club. All of these are afternoon clubs but they are the discreet things that make our school run like clockwork.

Miss Taylor has been hiding a big tin from me since I started at St.Francis’ and I was horrified that its contents had not been put to good use-until yesterday!

Inside the tin are many different badges and pin badges for the children to wear. This triggered a discussion for even more new clubs and roles in school. Children are great organisers and they love to do it. Mr.Gilmour is going to arrange sports captains next week and I am excited to be giving more star awards out soon. Children have been creating posters and sign up sheets for the new clubs and I know they will be fantastic at running them. Our Welcome assembly was gorgeous. Year 6 led the assembly and Year 5 buddies gave out certificates to their buddies.

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The school band were amazing this afternoon and we even had little Dingle Dangle Scarecrows, who sang and performed brilliantly. Well done to children in every year group and well done to readers. Year 5 prayers were wonderful. Thank you to all who donated cakes to sell for Macmillan Cancer Appeal and food donations. We will send the food to Ingol food bank soon.

Yesterday, I took two children to Our Lady’s Catholic High School for our annual Year 7 Welcome Mass. It was great to see the Year 7 children so settled and happy…I also saw staff and children from our small school cluster group. You may remember the Year 3 Open Air Mass we held at our school in 2015. We planned and led a whole day of activities based on Creation and then we had an open air Mass and invited children and staff from eight other schools. Our children still join together with the children from the other small schools. We had a day at St.Mary’s Lea Town not too long ago. This was to learn about world religions and we have plans for every year group to take part in joint trips throughout this school year.

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We said a fond farewell to Mrs McDade today. We send our love, prayers and thoughts with her as she embarks on a new adventure in life. She will always be part of our St.Francis’ family.

Have a lovely weekend everybody.

 

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I Was Glad…

Many things in life are a mystery. We can’t always comprehend things because the world is a bigger place than we can imagine. When you play ‘Pooh Sticks’ alongside a river and see a crawfish for the first time as a child, it is special. When you see a baby’s first tooth appear and the same child’s adult tooth appear, it is equally as amazing and special. Many things in life are like chapters in a book and we have begun our new school year chapter. I was fortunate enough to go on holiday this Summer and two words kept coming to my mind throughout: grateful and glad. Hayley Mills played a little girl in a film called ‘Pollyanna’ and she was always glad. She spread her happiness to everyone she met because of her high spirit and positivity. Glad seems to be a word underused these days. John Rutter’s version of ‘I was Glad’ is one of my favourites and I am glad every day I come to St.Francis’ school. I am glad that the new starters have settled in well and I am glad to see so many smiles every day on our playground. I am also glad that my new ‘gritting machine’ has arrived as this will save me a lot of time and heat loss during the frosty months.  Miss Taylor and I were accused of ‘online shopping’  because of my excited ‘ooohs’ and ‘that one looks a great price-let’s buy it now!’  until the member of staff caught sight of the many varied gritting machines! When I say machine, it resembles a wheelbarrow with a hole in the middle, but I’m sure it will be an excellent addition to the school team!

In a world where solidarity, support and kindness are needed more than ever, I hope that we always stand together this school year for the ones who matter the most to us-the treasures that are our children.

Let us keep high spirits and positivity this school year. Every day counts and we always aim to bring sheer delight and joy to our children, staff and community. A Catholic school matters the most because we make Christ’s teaching and love known to all and, because of that, we try to make our world a better place. I hope that we feel grateful and glad for even the smallest of wonders and experiences because they all count and matter. It amazes me how much I know about the children because they tell me so much. School prepares children for their greatest aspirations. Let them be archaeologists, vets, teachers, farmers, hairdressers, comedians, astronauts and unicorn keepers ( just some things they have told me they want to be) . The world needs the greatest variety imaginable but let them do it as wonderful people who care.

For the first time in my life, I have been called a shepherd. Apparently, you just have to command sheep to go back in a stern voice and wave your arms behind them. This strategy clearly works! This is just a typical welcome back to school…

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Our new rabbits have settled in and they are being looked after by Pendle Class, Pre-School and the animal welfare UFA group.

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New starters are smiling and all classrooms are busy places again…

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Today, Year 5 are on a trip to Cobble Hey, alongside other schools, and we held our Jeans for Genes assembly.

On Monday, new Reception Class parents and families are invited to an official welcome assembly led by Year 6. This starts at 9.15am and all new starters will be presented with a certificate from their Year 5 buddy.

Next Friday, we have our Macmillan/Harvest celebration and food donated will be sent to Ingol food bank. The school band will be playing and Year 6 will be holding stalls to raise money for Macmillan Cancer research. Any cakes for donation will be gratefully received. Please send any spare tinned food and non perishables in next week.

You are all welcome to come into the school hall on Tuesday at 3.30pm for a ‘calculation station’ workshop event. This is informal and you can visit year group tables with examples and information about how we teach mathematical calculations throughout the school-this is for all year groups starting from Pendle class. We have put our calculations policy on our website for you to see the progression with examples of how to do them.

Have a lovely weekend.

 

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Pen Pal friends in Kenya…

You may remember that last year we had a very special assembly delivered by Mr Alan Whelan. Alan is an author, a book editor and a very keen traveller. He has been working to support the development of a school in Kenya and we are helping too.We have gathered old resources and books to send to the children in Kenya, who have very little, and we have become pen pals with the children.

Beacon Class have been the first class to write letters and send pictures to the children and we will be extending this to the whole school. Jesus taught us to share our light and to love our neighbours. The Shalom Academy are trying to expand and provide education for children who cannot access it without support, love and encouragement. Families are too poor to send their children to school, as many schools charge a fee but Shalom Academy provides a service and a right for children in Kenya. A right to an education.

Alan Whelan and his wife are fundraising to help build a new school for children and their dedication is humbling and inspirational. We are humbled to have links with children in Shalom Academy.

Mrs Whelan has come to take the resources directly to Kenya.

 

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If I had to pick the highlights…

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There have been so many highlights of the school year that it has been difficult to choose a few. Our Year 6 class have been exemplary in every way and they have set such a high standard for other children to follow. We had many things going on in and around school in the last few weeks. Year 6 went to The Cottage for lunch, we went on a whole school trip, we celebrated many whole school prayer and liturgy opportunities, strengthened our links with children at a school in Kenya, played football and netball against Year 6, were awarded a Laudauto Si  award from CAFOD, got 3 rabbits for school (courtesy of our Year 6 leavers), created a ‘buddy bench’  (courtesy of Mrs Unsworth) and much more. We have had some incredible support from friends and families of our school and we give thanks for the many talents and gifts we have all been given. The school band are amazing. Mr. Warren will be continuing with us next year and we now have more brass players than ever.

When you have no option but to wait for building work to commence, it can become a little frustrating but we can assure you that we are working alongside LCC throughout the holidays to secure a start on our return to school.

On the last day of term, our leavers did a ‘staffroom sketch’ and it was hilarious. We forget how much children pick up on and they have been very observant throughout the year. It was when Jess walked on wearing a high vis vest, wellies, hard hat and a fishing net that I knew she had to be portraying my life at St.Francis’ and it was worrying!!I feel that I have unblocked far too many drains, rescued far too many bats, birds and toads, cleaned up too many cow pats and fended of far too many sheep! For those of you who have met me, you will know that these typical jobs of a Headteacher ( or my Headteacher role) are all in my bag of tricks and I can conquer most things. I have conquered nappies and car seats and very small children who ping my tights and laugh hysterically as I read them a story.  I have conquered power cut problems when children are about to sit their SATs.

I have yet to conquer creating a ‘rabbit welfare’ group for the holidays. This is a huge hint that we are reaching out to parents who would like to volunteer in looking after our new rabbits next half term holidays. You may think this is very soon in advance but I know what could potentially happen if I do not have a rota firmly in place! Year 6 gave us 3 rabbits and a beautiful 2 tier hutch, with a gold plaque on the door engraved with the names of the Year 6 leavers. I haven’t seen the rabbits yet but I know the children will love them very much.

Below, you will see me trying to get a reoccurring tiny fruit bat off my dress. It seems that, after drinking a lot of water from a wet paper towel, a tiny fruit bat will suddenly come to life! I am not keen on bats but I must do my duty. You will also see what I love about our school-a variety of activities…

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Class pages always show you so much about topics and ‘Learning Logs’ tell you what your children will be learning on a weekly basis but we will be sending you half termly curriculum learning overviews beginning  in September- on paper! These will also have dates for your diaries (particularly relating to your child’s class) and will be an addition to the monthly newsletter.

I cannot believe how much the children grow. Our Year 2 stars will be moving into juniors and our EYFS children will be in Year 1. The time has flown by and we couldn’t be prouder of them all. Our 12 new starters have already familiarised themselves with the classroom and their teacher, Mrs Davies, and we know that our new Year 6 class will be fantastic, sensible and caring in their new roles as children leading children.

We congratulate James Gornall and Libby Riley -our new Head boy and Head girl- and Henry Coupe and Charlotte Coupe as our Deputies. What wonderful role models they will be. Our school is a democracy and we teach this within our British Values curriculum. The children all listened to Year 5 speeches and they all voted to ensure the process was fair. There will be many roles in school for all Year 6 children to lead and use their initiative to further improve school.

Sports teams have been amazing this year, musicians have flourished and the progression and standard of art skills have been outstanding. Children have immersed themselves in Shakespeare and the Beacon Class play was breathtaking. The standard of singing was first rate. The children amazed me!

Children who took part in ‘St.Francis’ Got Talent’ were absolute stars and UFA groups have been thoroughly enjoyed by all. I wholeheartedly thank all staff who work tirelessly in creating and maintaining an amazing learning environment, enriched with active learning opportunities. I thank the parish and parents who continue to speak of our school so positively and thanks to our PTFA. The list could go on. For all volunteers, your work with our children is greatly appreciated and we thank your support.

We look forward to September. Until then, have a safe and relaxing holiday.

Good luck Year 6- enjoy your next adventures and always believe in yourselves.

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To Year 6-CONGRATULATIONS!!

Preparing children for life is what school is about-this should put things into perspective.  For those of you who know me and understand my philosophy on education, this letter will come as no surprise. It isn’t often that I can discuss my views on education and my views on the testing process and current testing systems. If you walk into our school and visit classrooms, you will find creativity, children being listened to and lots of smiles and active learning. Our Year 6 children didn’t bother at all when it came to taking their SATs because they were thoroughly prepared and had been for some time. Learning didn’t change for them. They continued to thrive on a creative curriculum, where writing is exciting and grammar is taught through songs and dance moves! When children are excited and motivated to learn, they will thrive. Happiness first and all else will follow- under a blanket of excellent teaching, learning and care.

Yesterday, our Year 6 class received their SATs results-and a covering letter…                                                  `

 

To our wonderful Year 6 children,

I write this letter to you all to congratulate you on your wonderful achievements over the past year: you have worked so hard and we are all so proud of you.

Not every skill in school is tested and they cannot all be measured. SATs didn’t test your enthusiasm for animal welfare or how great you are at Judo. They didn’t test your kindness towards others and they didn’t test how good a swimmer you are or what incredible knowledge you have about History. They didn’t listen to you perform in a concert and make us all laugh and they didn’t see you helping the younger children in school. SATs didn’t see your compassion for the elderly and they didn’t ask you what YOUR dreams and hopes are.

You tried your very best and no one could have asked for more. Some of you will have found you have passed all of the tests or passed some. I would like to tell you that not one of you scored ‘below’ (which means that the scores were too low to meet the scale). This is a huge achievement in itself!

We have our own standards and they involve how we conduct ourselves in this world and how we have integrity and enthusiasm to work hard for what we want. Children, you have to believe that you can do anything if you believe you can. The sky really is the limit and you must listen to this.

Keep your unique personalities and spark. Keep your smiles and your kindness. Keep your manners and your exciting hobbies. Keep your high spirits and take these things with you to High School. You are about to have a wonderful summer break and then you embark upon a great adventure.

We couldn’t have asked any more from you and we are all very proud. You are truly amazing.

Good luck on whatever path you choose. Make the right choices and know that ‘If you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t.’ Always think and BELIEVE you can!

You can find your results on the next page. A scale score of 100 or above means you have met the threshold and passed the test. Anything close to this is brilliant-especially as SATs are now a lot harder than they used to be.

I am privileged to have known such a wonderful Year 6 Class.

Well done all of you!

 

 

For parent information, we are SIGNIFICANTLY ABOVE NATIONAL AVERAGE with the following % achieving the expected score:

SPaG =100%      Reading= 90%    Maths= 90%    Writing=80%

Congratulations Year 6!

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Den Day, Saws and Here’s One I Made Earlier- or did I?!

Save The Children Den Day has been ‘awesome’ and certainly a day the children will remember forever..

Collaborative learning is always a valid experience. Maths skills have been heavily put to the test and Geography skills have been at the forefront. Key Stage 2 explored natural disasters and the challenge for the whole school was to creatively engineer a structure that stands from easily sourced materials. The children learned how fundraising will help save children globally and appreciate the many opportunities and blessings we have. The groups were given a price list and they could spend their first £350 on what they calculated to be the most value for money. The children planned,designed and discussed.

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And then the fun really began…

 

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We loved to see parents on the fields at the end of the day looking at the dens. This just shows how much the children have enjoyed the day. We ate lunch outside together and teachers even gave up their planning time to spend the afternoon engrossed with the children. Days like these do not plan themselves and I thank all staff for the hours of planning and effort that has gone into this special day. You are wonderful. Our Football and Netball teams are wonderful and so are the staff who give their time freely. It was such a joy to be able to support them at Barnacre this week. 2nd and 3rd place after competing against bigger schools is amazing!

I,on the other hand, have been quite the opposite. In fact, my day has been photographed and it does seem that I have done alot of sitting back and enjoying the freedom of outdoors. Now, I have many ideas but the problem is sometimes the execution of these ideas. That is when I tap into other people’s talents and pretend (for the photograph) that I have had maximum practical input. I have been teaching for two weeks-yes two- so when I decided we need a water system making for the class it only seemed fair that I had a rest. I then had another rest when I wanted two benches making after seeing the children’s incredible benches created today. Surely I could do the same…it seems not but Miss Dickinson has a little saw.I had a little pink saw and was integral to the process. I think you will get the gist of the day…

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If you look closely, you will see how integral I was to the bench making process. I even didn’t sand it all down or move the tree trunks! I am so blessed to have the best team ever and the greatest children and parents that anyone could wish for. When you sit back and think about life, we are very lucky. The children we were raising money for today are not as lucky. A super day like this for us is only a dream for others. I will always be thankful for even the smallest of blessings. Have a lovely weekend. I hope to see you for Family Mass and First Holy Communion this Sunday in church. The children will be having a celebration after First Holy Communion and you are all invited. Mrs Rossall has been running the First Holy Communion and Confirmation sessions for a long time. Again, she gives her evening and weekend time freely in order to do this and to support children and families. Thank you Mrs Rossall. It is very much appreciated and thank you to Joan Moran and other volunteers.

 

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