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St Mary’s is a Catholic school which seeks to live out the values of Jesus Christ. We promote these values by our words and deeds, and Catholic doctrine and practice therefore permeates every aspect of the school’s activity. We provide a Catholic curriculum, which is broad and balanced, recognising that every pupil is unique and is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). Our curriculum is designed to enable every pupil to discern their vocation and to be well-equipped to follow it as active citizens in service to the world.

Catholic Religious Education is the “core of the core curriculum” (Pope St John Paul II) 4 and the foundation of the entire educational process. We also provide a wide range of extra-curricular activities and strong pastoral support. We incorporate democratic principles, value the rule of law, support individual liberty and foster a community in which different faiths and beliefs are respected.

Adapted from the Catholic Education Service guidance materials for schools

Democracy

 

Democracy is an intrinsic part of the structure of St Mary’s. From their first days in the school, the children are invited to have a voice and share their views and offer feedback on their experiences.

As well as offering feedback, pupils are asked to share their ideas and help to shape the future of the school. Recent examples include pupils being involved in the recruitment of the new head teacher and deciding on the names of the school house teams.

St Mary’s encourages its pupils to become involved in the school council and other leaderships areas such as the B-Team who focus on equality at the school.

In 2016 the school invited year 6 pupils to put their names forward to be house captains and the rest of the school helped share the job description and person specification for the role. Invited speakers and class debates are commonplace.

In 2017, the children were asked to vote on a new school jumper!

Case Study: Commonwealth Week 2018

In May 2018, the school celebrated the shared values of the Commonwealth whilst enjoying a range of creative and sporting activities linked to the member nations.

The children began their day with assemblies focused on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law and then experienced workshops that celebrated the diversity of the Commonwealth. Two high-profile athletes, Dr Emmanuel 'Mani' Nartey (Ghanaian Judoka) and Siobhan-Marie O'Connor (Olympic and Commonwealth swimmer), shared inspirational stories and talked of their experiences.

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Ex-pupil and Olympic swimmer, Siobhan-Marie O'Connor, spent time talking with the children about her experiences of the Commonwealth from the 2018 games which were held in the Gold Coast. She has agreed to be our St Mary's Sports Ambassador.

Mutual Respect

 

Our school celebrates its inclusiveness and this is driven by a very clear mission statement. Annually in September, staff and pupils review the golden rules to ensure that core Christian values (including respect) underpin the way that behaviour is managed throughout the school.

Our Chaplaincy team regularly plan events to support charitable works, including CAFOD and other such organisations. The pupil voice is key to stakeholders and the school’s leadership regularly review practices based on pupil interviews and questionnaires (e.g. playground improvements 2015 and playtime restructure in 2017).

Collaboration is a key part of the way we work and our school enjoys close links with a variety of schools, state-maintained and independent, as well as partnerships with the local authority and other organisations. In Spring 2017 the school will start a full consultation and review of its anti-bullying policy.

Case Study: B-Team

Our local authority, B&NES, has invested a great deal of time working with schools and organisations on ensuring equal opportunities for all.

Kate Murphy, PSHE Consultant, has worked with schools around the county developing equality teams and focusing on schoolwide projects to help improve our young peoples' understanding of equality as well as the teachers and support staff.

Our children developed their own team, the 'B' Team, which stands for 'Be The Best You Can Be' Team. Their first project was to look at playtimes and they worked alongside our PE coordinator, Mrs Pecchia, and developed a set of playground rules following a consultation with their classmates.

The next phase of their work was to review how playtimes were structured and they introduced the new role of 'lunchtime helper' where members of the team helped support in the dining hall during the lunch hour. This included a reward system where diners were offered raffle tickets for good manners and positive behaviour. Six names are drawn each week and each child can invite a family member to lunch on Friday.

This group's work continued and they helped Mrs Pecchia establish new lunchtime activities which were managed by the upper KS2 children.

All in a day's work for our 'B' Team!

Individual Liberty

St Mary’s encourages all pupils to be independent learners and from their first few days in our Reception class they are being nurtured in the skills of evaluation, reflection and review. We believe in active formative assessment strategies and plan opportunities for pupils to grow their independence and take more ownership of their own learning journey. As well as supporting their academic studies, we develop personal reflection through class-based sessions, collective worship and through prayer and retreat opportunities. Our school aims to help pupils focus on their own vocation beyond primary school through close work with partner schools.

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The Rule of Law

In 2015, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School embarked on a full review of its behaviour policy starting with a governor review of its aims and objectives. Teaching and support staff working together to share experiences and successes thus revising the policy which was then taken to the pupils for discussion and feedback. The new policy reinforced a consistent approach across the school with clear rules based on the new school ‘golden rules’. Each class also sets its own classroom charter which complements the whole-school rules. Throughout their times at the school, pupils have the opportunity to explore the need for rules with specific focus in RE when contemplating the 10 commandments and the Precepts of the Church. Our youngest learners meet members of the local police team on an annual basis and we have also welcomed representatives of the transport police team into all of our classrooms. Our school’s Christian values inspired the development of the Rule of Law in English Law which is held in high esteem across the world.

Tolerance

The distinctive ethos of our Catholic school celebrates the differences in our wonderful world. Our community is very diverse and all the way through the school our pupils learn about different faiths, beliefs and cultures as well as learning the important skills of respect and tolerance. Religious Education provides our pupils with a deep understanding of their own faith as well as the faith and traditions of different communities in the UK and beyond. Much of our work centres on the teachings of Christ through the parables and our children explore stories such as The Good Samaritan and The Women at the Well.

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