I am delighted, and somewhat relieved, that we have made it through the term to Christmas. Although the pandemic is over, we have seen much illness among the children and staff. I think the childhood illnesses that used to be minor ailments have come back and since no one has been touched with them for a few years, we are all being hit harder than usual. I hope everyone who has been absent over this past week or so will be better soon and able to enjoy Christmas with family and friends. And, we all hope that attendance will continue to improve in the New Year.
It has been great to see many of our traditions coming back this term. Having parents in school again is marvelous. The Art Exhibition proved very popular and the children were thrilled to show their work not only to their parents but to all the visitors to the gallery. Parents and carers also enjoyed the opportunity to see their child’s classroom and workbooks; hearing so much about school, it is good to see what the children are talking about. Then we have had: our Advent Mass; Early Years Liturgy; Advent Waiting; Nativity in Church; Carols by Candlelight; Christmas Disco; and, ending today with Christmas Dinner for everyone in school. Sporting inter-school activities and competitions have also resumed this term, and our programme of Out of School Hours Learning Activities has begun with more to follow next term.
In our curriculum too, we are returning to educational visits, family at school and gift day experiences where children work with each other across school, and enhanced opportunities, for example, engaging with members of the parish and community. However, we are conscious that our children today are not yet back to the fluent, confident, self-regulating learners that we knew before the pandemic. Mental health and wellbeing, independence, being sociable and collaborative learning all seem to have suffered during these few years. In school we are seeing: children taking more pride in their learning, but wanting to improve their presentation; children going deeper in reasoning but being held back by a lack of instant recall of simple facts, such as Times-tables knowledge; children wanting to extend their concentration but finding a lack of perseverance hinders their progress. I’m sure at home too, you will have noticed how this terrible pandemic has and continues to affect almost all aspects of life. In school, we are very grateful for your efforts as we try to re-imagine normalcy: supporting children with space and time-keeping for home learning, but never ‘doing-it-for-them’; demanding daily practice of the basics of reading and number facts, recognising that nothing is really more important; expecting full attendance, while appreciating that the demands of school need children to be well to do their best, so early-to-bed is the school-days mantra.
Christmas Mass Times
Across our parish there are opportunities for Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve, Saturday, 24th December and Christmas Day, Sunday, 25th December as indicated:
- Christmas Eve at St. John Vianney Church: 3.30pm Carols followed by Mass at 4.00 pm
- Christmas Eve at St. Joseph’s Church: 3.30 pm Carols followed by Mass at 4.00 pm
- Christmas Eve at St. Patrick’s Church: 5.30 pm Carols followed by Mass at 6.00 pm
- Christmas Eve at St. Mary’s Church: 5.30 pm Carols followed by Mass at 6.00 pm
- Christmas Day at St. Patrick’s Church: 9.00 am Dawn Mass
- Christmas Day at St. Joseph’s Church: 10.00 am Day Mass
- Christmas Day at St. John Vianney Church: 11.00 am Day Mass
As ever, our children are excited for Christmas, as they should be! I am very grateful for all the Christmas cards and I will remember everyone at Mass on Christmas morning. Please keep the children, families and staff of our setting in your prayers among a rather long list of the needs of our world at this time. We hope that some of the world’s problems may begin to improve in 2023 and we pray that our children continue to grow and develop into people we would want to know and trust to care for us and our world.
John L. Hardy (Head Teacher)