With Lent having begun on Wednesday, we wish each person in our school community a blessed Lenten season.
While many pupils in the school have joined us from our Catholic cluster primary schools, we have very many joining us from other schools locally, nationally and internationally, and each year we typically admit pupils from about thirty-six different primary schools! We are very proud of this and of the varied experience that our pupils bring into the school.
One of the consequences of this diversity of background is that there is also cultural diversity. Amongst our school population, as our pupils know, more than forty-six languages are spoken in our pupils’ homes. We have found numerous ways to celebrate this and the cultural experience that sits behind it and this will feature heavily in our annual Festival of Peace, for which we are currently preparing and which will take place at the end of this term.
Also in connection with the diversity of our school population, Bishop Vaughan engages in – and indeed in some cases leads on – professional learning on the subjects of diversity and anti-racist practice. We have recently broadened the scope of this work as a consequence of listening to our pupils and their families about their past experiences and about what is important to them. The school has long been engaged in work to broaden its curriculum by teaching more and better about Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic histories and experiences, through shaping of the Curriculum for Wales for our school. We have also recently set up a group that we have named the Diversity and Anti-Racist Action (DARA) Group. We aim that there will be pupil, parent/ carer, teacher, support staff, community and Governor representation on this group and we look forward to welcoming you to events, to sharing resources with you and to updating you on our work as this progresses.
Another consequence of drawing pupils from so very many primary schools is that there will be a varying degree of knowledge about the liturgical year and our practices throughout it. While all who join our school will be doing so with an understanding of the values that underpin our school community, the nature of the school year and its reflection of the liturgical year may be unfamiliar to some families. This half-term’s Acts of Worship therefore focus on Lent, and our pupils learn about Christ’s time in the wilderness and about Lent in the early Church, as well as about the history behind Shrove Tuesday, the Carnevale and the events throughout Lent. They learn in our assemblies of how Lent can be considered a time for a ‘spiritual Spring clean’ and they spend time praying the Examen at the end of each Friday.
We were delighted to welcome so many families to our parent and carer revision workshops prior to the half-term break, these having been set up to aid parents in supporting their children throughout the exam preparation process. Pupils were pleased to receive their revision support packs containing lots of useful stationery for use when revising … plus some treats to enjoy when studying! During the evening, Mrs Owen and Mr Davies, the Deputy Headteachers, joined me in welcoming parents, exploring key aspects of cognitive science – looking at how we learn best, and in discussing the experience of supporting young people throughout a pressurised time. It was truly a pleasure to engage in these discussions.
We were also pleased to launch our first issue of the parental ‘First Educators’ newsletter (https://www.bishopvaughan.co.uk/resources-and-newsletters), this being entirely separate from the main school newsletter which covers the full range of school news (https://www.bishopvaughan.co.uk/newsletters). Our First Educators newsletter is devoted entirely to curriculum and learning news and is intended to provide our parent and carer community with important and useful updates in these areas. We hope that you will enjoy reading them.
Finally, the half-term ended for pupils with a fundraiser for those affected by the Turkey-Syria earthquake. With their characteristic generosity and compassion, they raised a significant sum for this cause. The half-term ended for staff the following day, due to the INSET day calendared for training throughout the Diocese. All staff participated in professional learning delivered by Ten:Ten and organised in collaboration with the Catholic Education Service and our Diocese. Ten:Ten’s name is drawn from the scripture passage John 10:10 - “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” This is, of course, our school’s mission statement and core to all that we do.
We look forward to sharing news with you about the Festival of Peace that will end the next half-term and in the meantime, I wish all pupils and their families a successful new half-term and, as mentioned previously, a blessed and peaceful Lenten season.