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Education Sunday 2021

From Mrs Mannix Headteacher,

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Axminster

As we step into this academic year, I sincerely hope that we will say good bye to Covid and the many demands it has placed on our school community.

Without dwelling too much on it, following the lockdown in March 2020, so much stopped. It affected two academic years, closing down so much of our school life and the experiences of our children and community.  

To say that everyone was ready for the summer break in the hope of returning to an autumn term with more normality is perhaps the understatement of the year.

During the summer holiday I visited the two Liverpool cathedrals.

The Anglican Cathedral is the largest cathedral and religious building in Britain, and the eighth largest church in the world. It has a traditional Gothic form but actually the design was drawn up in more modern times.  The completed design was agreed in 1903 with work beginning in 1904. The cathedral was built in several phases and was finally completed in 1978.

The sense of scale within the building is incredible.  It creates a sense of awe and wonder. A sense of God.

  

The Catholic cathedral could not be more contrasting. Built of grey concrete it is circular in form.   As you step inside you are faced with a huge conical form rising upwards. It is filled with light, shining from the thousands of stained-glass windows.  At the cathedrals centre there is a sculpture raised up high: an immense steel crown; the thorned crown of Jesus. 

This is the largest Catholic Cathedral in the UK.

There are 13 chapels around its perimeter.

Both Cathedrals had complex journeys from conception to reality. I wanted to focus a little on the story behind the Catholic Cathedral.

Liverpool has the highest percentage of Catholics than any other city in the UK. In 1847 with a surge in Catholics who travelled from Ireland, the then Bishop decided that it was time for Liverpool to have a cathedral. Although a lady chapel was built it didn’t get any further due to the demands on the diocese to build schools, orphanages and churches for the growing Catholic population.

In 1922 the then Bishop raised again the discussions about having a cathedral in the city. By 1933 an ambitious plan was underway.   Almost £1million had been raised by the Catholic population.  This was a time of struggle and monies were raised from very local people making extra ordinary sacrifices and church communities holding fund raising events. In the next few years, the foundation stone and the crypt were completed but the finished building costs were now estimated at £27 million.

With the second world war and the challenges of its aftermath the project was again shelved.

In 1953 the original ambitious plans were scaled back but eventually a new bishop decided that scaling back the plans would never make a viable project so he had them scrapped and the plans were re started. He stated that the project must be realised within five years and come in at a cost of £1m.

Despite the seeming impossibility of this the building work did begin in October 1962.

Less than five years later, on the Feast of Pentecost, 14 May 1967, the completed Cathedral was consecrated. 

The completed Cathedral of Christ the King is a dramatic icon of faith, architecture, and human endeavour. An awe-inspiring landmark on the Liverpool skyline. A breath-taking expression of possibility: God’s possibility.

The journey from the first idea for Cathedral to the final completion tells a story of challenge and determination. It reminds me that a straight forward path is not always possible. It strengthens me to know that the people of Liverpool realised the project despite the challenges.

Looking forward into this year we sincerely hope that the story of Covid is behind us and that we will be learning to live alongside it rather than stopped by it. 

At the beginning of the Covid journey during and following lockdown 1 there was a national dialogue considering what we might learn, what we might take away from this experience.

For me, for our school, I would hope that it has strengthened people’s understanding that the school experience is so much more than subjects and lessons. 

At the very end of last term, we started to sing again in school and to hear the sounds of music lessons.  It lifted and moved everyone.

At the very end of term we had a mass here in church for our Year 6 pupils. We were able to invite Year 6 parents and the Year 5 pupils as this allowed us to maintain hubs within the church space.  As a congregation we sang three hymns. 

Hearing the children singing was very emotional. 

At the sign of peace the children turned to each other and immediately there was a hub bub of sound and an energy with such joy as they turned and smiled and greeted each other: Peace be with you. 

It was such a restorative moment. Such a moment of something important being recognised.  

I love the fact that the two Liverpool Cathedrals are at opposite ends of the same street:  Hope Street.

Certainly, we have stepped into this new year with hope. 

Hope in the secular sense is recognised as a source of well-being.  It gives us a strength that our actions matter, that we can overcome, thus motivating positive actions. 

Hope in Christianity is the bed rock of faith. Hope is the birthplace of Christian self-sacrificing love.

Our children are fortunate to know the God of love. To be immersed in the love of Jesus: who doesn’t hold grudges, who doesn’t count the wrong choices but allows us to move on, who is by our side through whatever.  A God of hope and possibilities.

I have been reminding the children that none of us is perfect.  Some children take me up on this, proclaiming with some indignation that in fact they are perfect!

I explain that God teaches us that we are each unique and loved.    That there is nothing we can do to put us outside of God’s love and as importantly there is nothing we can do to attain more of His love.  He loves us because we are.  

I want them to be released from the burdens of feeling that they have to be perfect. I want them to know that we can get things wrong and move forward, we can learn from this.  As a school our teaching and learning approaches are all based on being prepared to have a go, to not be put off when we are stuck or get things wrong. Perfect learners can find the world a stressful place.  God loves us wherever we are. 

Often the Prodigal Son is remembered because he came back to say sorry and thus his father forgave him.  In fact his father had forgiven him before he returned. His father prepared a feast out of his own delight at his son’s return, at the fact that he was, not because of what he had achieved or not achieved.

God’s love is a constant source of hope and strength. 

We are not Mary’s Community School, we are St Mary’s Catholic school; we encourage, support and find ways for the community of St Mary’s to be a community of hope and love.

As the prophet Isaiah said; those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.

Our oldest pupils are in Eagle Class – I think that is very fitting.

This year we have furthered developed our Gift Team; the children who bring God light into our school through their actions and words.  Our Year 5 leaders will be Gift Team Ambassadors and have accessed training and have been commissioned by the Bishop to this role.  We are looking forward to finding ways for them and all of our Gift Team volunteers and all of our children and adults to know God’s love and to shine in his light and love.   

We look forward to spending more time with our parish community this year and will hold you in our prayers.

Thank you for listening.

Corpus Christi

It’s almost impossible to imagine what it would mean to give our flesh for someone to eat. So try to imagine the effect which the words we’ve just heard would have had on a group of Jewish people. For them, as for us, cannibalism was a subject to be avoided.  For most of us even thinking about eating the flesh of another person makes us feel sick.

But, there’s more.    It was, and still is, against the Jewish Law to eat the flesh of an animal from which the blood hadn’t been properly drained. And yet, here’s Jesus giving his friends wine to drink which he says is his blood.

So then, how can we take these difficult words?  What do they mean for our relationship with Jesus?

Well, first of all perhaps we need to face up to the fact that even modern religious practice makes use of ancient imagery, and it’s a basic biological fact that everything that lives, receives its life from another life.  Many religious rituals testify to this, and it was common for pagan religions to hold sacred meals in which the community shared in the life of either their god or their enemy.  The logic being that by eating their god, the worshipper shared in the divine life, whilst eating the enemy eliminated his or her power.

Christianity borrows this concept in order to speak of the way in which believers take divine life into themselves.  The beginning of St. John’s gospel tells us that at the incarnation the “Word was made flesh”.  This is the same as saying that the flesh of Christ contains God’s life for us all.

It’s easy to understand that food and life go together.  Unless we eat physical food we die.  Physical food symbolised by bread, which will of course eventually rot and decay, sustains our physical life, which as we know, ends in death.  This is the bread which Moses gave to Israel in the desert.  Living bread for the Christian community, which is the new Israel, sustains a lasting life that triumphs over death.  If we want lasting life we must eat this bread of life.

God the Father gives Jesus, the bread from heaven.  The work of Jesus is to give lasting life to believers.  This is what God has commissioned him to do.  Our work is to believe in Jesus, because only then can we benefit from the joint work of Father and Son.  Eating and drinking can be understood as taking the very life of Jesus into the centre and core of our hearts.  We need to saturate our hearts and our minds and our souls with Jesus, the very life of God.  We need to be so filled with him that his very essence becomes a part of us. 

Jesus told his disciples to believe in what God was doing for them through him. Belief was to be work for them.  Belief is work for us too.  All the work that we are required to do is to have a certainty in our mind and heart about God and God’s Son.  And yet we continue to find this difficult.  Some Christians think that they aren’t doing enough, and some no doubt, think that they’re doing more than enough.  And both of these mistaken positions are based on works; the good and the bad things that we do.  But the centre of our Lord’s teaching is really quite different. 

Bread can’t be shared until it is broken.  Wine can’t be drunk until it’s poured out.  We take the bread and drink from the cup with the knowledge that it was shared with us out of love, as the ultimate sacrifice for humankind from God. 

The heavenly food is made available through the breaking and bleeding and death of Jesus.  This sharing of himself is sacramentally embodied in the Eucharist, and Jesus explains that through the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood, we will be raised up with him on the last day.  It’s his promise to live through us as we receive him.

Jesus said: “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Our tradition values the sacraments.  Jesus himself took bread and broke it; he poured out wine and offered these things to his followers with the words “This is my body” and “This is my blood”.  He told them and he tells us through them to keep on breaking, pouring, eating and drinking in order to remember him.  And when we go back to the words “do this in remembrance of me” in the language which they were first written, there is very good reason to believe that they mean “do this to make me present”.

Remember this when you come for communion in a few minutes time, for as you do you are completing all the work which Jesus requires.  Work which will draw you ever more deeply into the mystery of Christ and keep you in eternal life. The life of heaven which begins now, not after you’ve died.

In the Eucharist Jesus invites us through love, to the beginning of the fullness of life that only the Son of God can give. A beginning which will lead, through death to a life more glorious than anything we can imagine.  Can we pass up such a love as this?  Can we honestly turn away from the one who gave himself for us so completely?  

Amen.

May ’21 News Update

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School Axminster

Living, loving and learning with God

Pentecost on the Horizon

As talk of coming out of lockdown progresses and we begin to make small steps to relax our practice the church year has been a great source of strength and encouragement.

On the 4th January we had a training day for staff and everything was focused on next steps. That evening the Government announced a third national lockdown with schools open for keyworker and those pupils with a need to be in school.   Over that half term we had about half of the children in school and half out of school accessing school learning.  On March 8th all children returned. 

It was a confusing time for children. Yes, many were in school and yes all had access to learning and a way to directly contact their class teacher when they weren’t in school. Yes, we were available constantly if parents had concerns or questions…. but it was not what we all needed.  We were all ready for more normal.

Easter People – a people of Hope 

Before we broke up for Easter, we really wanted the children to have a strong sense of hope.  In the true spirit of Easter, we talked to the children about Easter people, those Christians who live a life of gratitude and joy for what God has done through Jesus Christ.

We had celebrations and talked to the children about the exciting possibilities ahead.  We also shared lots of chocolate eggs!

On our return we came back quickly to a very settled and happy community. The children now have access to the field most days (although the weather has not been overly kind this month).  We have also added lots of Mary images and added flowers around school as part of The Month of Mary.

We have also been replanting in the raised beds and pots around school and introducing a wider range of play equipment throughout May.  It feels like life is coming back.  Hope is alive.

As we approach Pentecost, we are planting more flowers around school and have some rainbow and flame coloured play resources to share with the children for a special Pentecost day on Monday 24th May.  This coming Friday we will be adding new rainbow bunting in the outside area ready for Monday. 

I like to think that the timing of Easter and Pentecost and the beginnings of the relaxation of Covid restrictions are no coincidence.  It is helping my sense of joy and my desire to reach out and witness as a person of hope. It is reaffirming my own faith in ways that I never expected.

More steps to a new normal

In the last few weeks, we have introduced children’s book bags back into school so that they can take home their reading book and return it each day.  Volunteers are starting to return.  Music one to one teachers are now back in school.  The piano is now facing forwards with the words ‘Music is alive at St Mary’s’ once again visible.  On Tuesday mornings you can hear singing in our school.   It is wonderful!

We are hoping that it won’t be long before we can plan a school mass again in church.  From where we have been in the last year and the small steps out of lockdown it does feel now like it could be a long time coming but it is ahead of us and we are all looking forward to it happening.

Change Makers

We are growing happy, motivated children who work to be the best they can be for themselves and for others – we are growing change makers.    Here are a few of our projects that are helping to bring this to life.

School success – Unicef Rights Respecting Silver Award

We are very pleased to have achieved the Unicef Rights Respecting Silver Award.   We have been working on this for two years.  The assessment was on Monday 14th May.  We sent in lots of paper evidence to the Unicef Awards assessment team and then had a half day assessment where staff and pupils were asked lots of questions.

This has been an important way to evidence how important each child is to us.  It is very much an expression of our core values to have justice and compassion at the heart of everyone’s thinking.

Summer Challenge for Bristol Hospital

One of our youngest pupils, Poppy, should have started in school last September but due to a complex heart condition has been unable to join us this year.  Poppy has had two long stays in Bristol Children’s Hospital this year. 

Her family are extremely grateful to the hospital for their expertise and care as well as their ability to offer the family a place to stay in Bristol so that they could be near to their little one as she went through a challenging operation and long recovery. 

We are very hopeful that Poppy will be able to join us in September to re start her school journey.

To thank Bristol Children’s Hospital all of our children are running daily to raise money for the hospital. 

See the photos and information on another website page. 

Gift Ambassadors

You will remember that some of our children were disappointed they were not chosen as school councillors and asked how they could make a difference themselves to school life.  From this the Gift Team was born: children keen to shine God’s light into our school.  Before lockdown they came up with ideas to bring light: often fund raising and ways to reach out into the community.   During lockdown they have been working to be especially kind and have also tried to be accepting of all of the restrictions that have affected them: not seeing family and friends, no birthday events with friends, no sleepovers…. big events in little people’s worlds. 

Going forwards, this year, a group of our Year 4 pupils are taking part in some training and will be commissioned by the Bishop as Gift Team Ambassadors.  They will coordinate events and support school liturgy and the prayer life of the school. 

First Communion

We have a group of pupils who were working towards their First Communion.  This was stopped due to Covid restrictions but we are now talking to Father Anthony about a possible date to take this important sacrament before the end of this school year.  

Please keep our children in your prayers and we look forward to sharing more information soon.

Wishing you a very happy Pentecost from all at St Mary’s School

Run to Tokyo – Fundraiser

St Mary’s Summer Challenge for Bristol Children’s Hospital

When children found out that one of our youngest pupils had spent much of this school year in hospital, they decided to do something to make a difference.

Poppy should have joined us in September but due to a complex heart condition has needed to spend time in Bristol Children’s Hospital.

So, this summer our whole school is running our daily mile with more energy and focus to try to cover the 6,000 miles from our St Mary’s in Axminster to the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.  Later in the term we also hope to hold a sponsored bounce with a plan to raise as much money as possible.

We are all really pleased that it looks as though Poppy will be able to join us next September and that she has had excellent care in Bristol.

We will let you know how many miles and how much money has been raised later in the term. Continue reading Run to Tokyo – Fundraiser

The Annual Ecumenical Initiative – Thy Kingdom Come

This novena of prayer runs from Ascension Thursday through to Pentecost Sunday.  Within this prayer, individuals are encouraged to pray for 5 nominated people they know that they would wish to bring closer to Jesus.  Complete details, along with a Novena prayer are detailed below for your newsletters, parish websites etc.

Thy Kingdom Come

Once again the annual International Ecumenical Initiative of Thy Kingdom Come is promoting a novena of prayer from Ascension Thursday through until Pentecost Sunday, introducing more people to Jesus.

This year it is encouraging us all to pray particularly for a minimum of five nominated friends or relatives, on a daily basis, that we wish to bring closer to Jesus.

Bishop Mark has taken the lead on this evangelisation initiative and this can be viewed on the short clip at:

Further information and resources are available at the Thy Kingdom Come website:

Novena Prayer

Lord Jesus,

We pray for the confidence to be missionary disciples, sharing your Good News of salvation with those we meet in our daily lives.  We bring before you in prayer those who have never known you, that the light of your truth may penetrate their minds and hearts, and those who have grown lukewarm in their faith that they may be reawakened to your graces.  We commend to you those in need of your mercy that they will know the joy of your forgiveness (name the five people you want to pray for).

We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Deputy Head Teacher Vacancy

St Boniface’s College is a Roman Catholic Christian Community.

It is committed to striving for excellence in all its members through the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum involving spiritual, moral, cultural, academic, social and physical education, delivered to the whole young person.

All teaching and learning is done within the teaching of the Catholic Faith.

Notre Dame School is an optimistic school promoting Christian attitudes a school where every person belongs a school which values learning and high aspiration a school which rises to challenges and celebrates achievement

Notre Dame educates the whole person: head, heart and hands

DEPUTY HEADTEACHER

(L16-L21) £61,166 – £69,031 required for September 2021

Plymouth CAST is seeking to appoint an outstanding, enthusiastic and dedicated individual to be based at St Boniface’s College and join the Senior and Executive Leadership Team working across Notre Dame Plymouth and St Boniface’s College. 

The successful applicant for this post will:

  • be a practicing Catholic, committed to upholding the Catholic ethos of the schools
  • be a visionary leader, motivator, communicator and role model for staff and students
  • be able to demonstrate successful leadership and management skills at a senior level which inspire respect and commitment and evidence previous success in delivering improvements and implementing & managing change
  • be enthusiastic and have the ability to inspire staff to meet the academic and pastoral needs of our students
  • be a talented and skilled communicator who can adapt and respond positively to the changing educational environment and be resilient to the demands of leadership
  • use data to monitor progress, set targets, raise standards and challenge performance
  • be a passionate teacher who leads by example and is committed to high expectations
  • ensure that every student is valued and supported to achieve the very best that they can.

The successful applicant will be responsible for:

  • Professional, operational leadership at St Boniface’s College and strategic leadership within both the SLT and the Executive Leadership team across St Boniface’s College and Notre Dame developing and implementing policies.
  • The specific remit and responsibilities will be confirmed on appointment and tailored to the strengths of the successful candidate, however the successful candidate will be the strategic lead on the following areas of whole school responsibility: behaviour, ethos, pastoral care and staff leadership and cross-school responsibility: Pupil Premium, or Spirituality.
  • Leading and developing the pastoral life of St Boniface’s College to encourage student leadership, student aspiration and student voice.  Leading and supporting staff to consistently implement effective strategies in respect of student behaviour and student wellbeing
  • Parental engagement, maintaining excellent home-school relationships, representing the school and Plymouth CAST in public forums to promote applications for student admission to St Boniface’s College
  • Demanding ambitious standards for students, instilling a strong sense of accountability in staff for the impact of their work on student outcomes and behaviour

As part of our Executive Leadership Team you will contribute to shaping the School Improvement Plan, policies and procedures and share responsibility for day-to-day management of our schools.  You will also hold a teaching timetable of 14 – 18 hours per fortnight.

We encourage interested applicants to read the Welcome Letter from the Headteacher of St Boniface and Notre Dame to find out more about the role prior to applying.  Applicants should include a third referee within their application to provide a faith reference.

Applications should be submitted using the TES application form on this site. 

Please be aware all communication will be sent via the TES portal to the email address linked to your TES login.

Advertise from:          28th April 2021

Closing date:             Monday 10th May 2021, 10am

Interviews:                 Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th May 2021

This advert is also published at: www.ndonline.org and www.stbonifaces.com and www.plymouthcast.org.uk and www.teaching-vacancies.service.gov.uk

From Rita Bellini

Our Garden at 6am Thursday 22nd April looks at its best this time of day when the sun is shining. Looking from our bedroom window from left to right the sun firstly hits the bare branches of the large oak tree two doors along and the yellow magnolia stands brightly in front. Next it rests upon the rusty bark of the firs at the end and the pink magnolia, doing so well this year, with the plum blossom in front, and then on to the magnificent flowering cherry. The flowers are not all out yet but the bronze leaves are beautiful.

In the background, there are seats ready for our coffee breaks from where we can have a different view, and there are glimpses of the red leaved acer. Still looking further on to the right, in the distance is a rhododendron, pink budded opening to white. A lilac, pale mauve, is starting to open and we can just see some of the red leaved crab apple. Just at the corner of my eye is the apricot tree which seems to have a good crop of tiny fruit forming.

At ground level, all around are the last of the daffodils, some dead heading to do there, and for-get-me-nots, and a few tulips. The grass/moss/weeds, recently cut, is very colourful and lots of primroses and primulas are self-seeding everywhere. There are other shrubs like the tree peonies, abelias, viburnums and others that will delight us later in the year.

What we can’t see until we go outside is what a lot of varied ground cover we have in the beds, called weeds! It is a pleasure to sit with a cup of tea admiring it in the mornings. A good start to the day!