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Parish links to our Catholic school..., by Mr Hughes

Date: 24th May 2017 @ 6:12pm

Sometimes people ask us, what's so different about a Catholic school? Well, for us, the school is part of a group of wider communities. First of all, we are part of St Mary of the Angels' and St Saviour's parish community. Thats why the parish priest Father Louis and the Deacon, Tony Hunt are an integral part of our school. We believe that each individual in our school is unique, and made in the likeness of God. We don't just care about their academic progress in life - we care about their spiritual progress in this life and the next. That's why we follow Jesus' first and most important commandment - Love God and Love your neighbour. The children came up with our Mission Statement - Love Jesus, love learning, love life'. It was affirmed by staff, parents and governors; and we really try to act out this ethos in what we do daily. We're also part of our wider Diocese; and then part of the Catholic Church as a whole, and the world wide Christian faith.

This week, Bishop Mark, Bishop of Shrewsbury, visited our parish to bless our new shrine to Our Lady of Fatima, one hundred years exactly since the miracle at Fatima in Portugal. It was a joy to see the church packed, many of our children there alongside other parishioners, many of whom have grown up in the area for 80 years or more. We were united in prayer, respect and love. This week, our grandparents have been invited into school for 'stay and play' sessions - and no doubt, the pupils will be spoiling them! We're that kind of school. We believe the Holy Spirit watches over us all.

Our governors have certain responsibilities that County Primary schools don't have, as we are a Catholic school. For example, our governors are the employers of all the staff. They are responsible for the upkeep of the buildings. They also take full responsibility for the admission of pupils to the school. Yet, it's much more than that. People choose to come to this school because they like our values, they feel that the Catholic ethos is somehow important to them, even if they don't go to church. The school is full every year. We have children of different faiths and they are so welcome. We are happy to learn about other faiths; we do this across the terms; and we're asked by God to share our faith with others, which we do.

Please know that your church (whether you live near St Mary of the Angels or St Saviours) is just that.....YOUR church. Father Louis doesn't want anyone to feel excluded. He wants each of you INcluded. Please join us, every Sunday. Make the parish-school lifelong bond a reality for your children, for your family. Even if you haven't been to church for a long time, please step back in; there's a warm welcome for you. We also have a programme for friends to join our church; some parents are doing this now, becuse they asked us recently.

You may well find that something which has been missing from your life will restore your faith in mankind - and in God. We thank the Lord for watching over us all at St Mary of the Angels.


Term time holidays....good or bad?, by Mr Hughes

Date: 15th Feb 2017 @ 3:23am

Holidays in term time are in the news. A father has taken the case to the High Court. Is it right for parents to be fined for taking their children out of school? Does it matter? Should schools have more discretion? There are many questions & arguments around this topic...many people feel strongly, one way or the other.

What we know at St. Mary's is this. Even a few days out of school can hinder your child's progress. A junior class this week was learning long division. Who has nightmares from their childhood about learning such content? I do! In short, there's a lot of content in our Maths curriculum; if you miss it on a holiday, you come back to school lacking that confidence; feeling that you aren't quite 'up with the pace'....that you are playing 'catch up'. And it's not easy, as a child; because the rest of the class have moved on, to the next concept.

And thats just by missing one subject, Maths. Maybe in English, you've missed grammar lessons on the use of apostrophes. After all, we teach this right from the age of 6 now. And then there are lessons on History, Geography, Science..and much more....imagine that feeling of having missed a chunk of it - and being behind. You can see how those who are never absent from school do achieve more highly - and crucially, have more confidence and higher self esteem.

I grew up in Anfield, Liverpool, in a council house, with my four brothers and sisters; and a mum and dad who had no qualifications. We went to a caravan in Prestatyn, North Wales every year for summer holidays, had little money; but we were very happy. But you see, lack of money doesn't mean lack of expectations. The point is that my mum and dad never allowed us to have term time holidays - because they valued education too much; and I bet it was the same for many of you. I was basically sent to school feeling ill at times! And it was fine, because I had no permanent damage (!) & I was hardly ever off so I did well in school, against the odds; and that helped me to to get a great did all my other brothers and sisters. This is the way school works. If you're there more often, you do better. End of. I can say that after 30 years of working in education. We see it all the time here; everyone who works in the school agrees with this.

We have 13 weeks of school holidays per year. Please use them. Term time holidays do damage your child's achievement; and also their confidence. Look at the bigger picture and listen to the professionals. The teachers organisations are all saying the same thing. It's not about court cases, bolshy headteachers or parental rights - it's about individual pupils and helping them to be the very best that they can be. I am often looking at our children in classes, achieving highly; and thinking 'will one of them be a future headteacher of St Mary of the Angels?' If they keep coming into school every day, I dream that one of them will! (And they'll probably do a better job than me!!)

UPDATE; 28/4/17. Following the recent court case, where the Supreme Court ruled against parents' taking their children on term time holidays, fixed penalty notices and prosecutions will return in Cheshire West and Chester. More details about how this works, in the 'Parents' tab on this site, in the section 'Holidays and Attendance'.

Thanks everyone. R.H.

St Mary of the Angels Primary School, Rossall Grove, Little Sutton, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH66 1NN