Coronavirus Updates

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Here are some great resources we have come across in the past week… As always, we hope that you may find something that you would like to explore together with your child but we are aware of the fantastic home learning you are undertaking through Purple Mash, BBC Bitesize and TimesTable Rock Stars. Well done everyone!

Thank you for your kind words and messages of support, we really do appreciate your encouragement and hope that we will soon be back at St Catherine’s for at least some of the summer term.

Phonics - Little Sutton Hub, supported by the Department for Education, will be sharing daily phonics lessons for children in Early Years and Year 1, beginning today;

Music – BBC School radio has a collection of cross-curricular content where you can learn about subjects across the curriculum through musical activities;

History – Every Wednesday, the English Heritage are inviting families to join them live on Facebook from 11.30 for a chat about some of history's most fascinating topics! This week, you can find out about Hadrian’s Wall and the Romans;

Online safety - The national Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) team have shared their third #OnlineSafetyAtHome pack, with new activities for parents and carers to use at home. To support parents during COVID-19 and the closure of schools, CEOP we will be releasing new home activity packs each fortnight with simple, age appropriate, 15 minute activities you can do with your child to support their online safety at a time when they will spending more time online at home. NationalOnlineSafety.com have produced some helpful Parent Guides about some of the more common apps being used, such as TikTok, Zoom and Houseparty, which can be found on the online Safety page of our website

Coronovirus Lockdown – We have come across a selection of free books/texts that help to explain the current lockdown to children; Illustrated by the illustrator of the The Gruffalo, Axel Scheffler, Coronovirus: A Book for Children is a factual question-and-answer picturebook published by nosycrow.com. Staying Home by Sally Nicholls and Viviane Schwarz is a short picture book (by Andersen Press) that depicts what life is like for a family of racoons in lockdown as they look forward to a time when it is safe to be together again.

For older children, the Literacy Trust has shared The Book of Hopes: Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain Children in Lockdown (published by Bloomsbury), with contributions from over 110 writers and illustrators, including Lauren Child, Anthony Horowitz, Greg James and Chris Smith, Michael Morpurgo, Liz Pichon, Axel Scheffler, Francesca Simon and Jacqueline Wilson. Twinkl – have released home learning and school closure packs for every year group for those that are looking for additional activities and worksheet style tasks. https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resources/parents Whether you’re doing lots of activities at home, working little and often or finding some days a challenge to open that book or log on, please know that you are not alone in your feelings. This is a strange situation for us all and we are all doing the best we can.

We are in this together.

School Opening for children of Key Workers and Vulnerable Children

I have been asked to draw your attention to the following Government guidance, relating to additional provision of places for children of families who are entitled to this;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/ guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

I have also been asked to point out that “If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.”

The guidance reminds parents that “Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.” I would like to draw this to the attention of parents as something to observe during the period of school closure. In plain language, pupils should seek to avoid extensive or close contact with their friends during the time schools are closed. I recognise how hard this will be.

The Government guidance for parents also states that “If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.” In order to do this was have placed on our website a message that most schools will be open for entitled children on Monday, and that we will provide a list of exceptions and alternative arrangements on Sunday.

St Catherine’s will be providing places for children who meet the above criteria from Monday 23rd March although we will not be open during the Easter holiday period.

As we will not be providing places for children over the Easter holiday period, you may wish to refer to the above information.

Farewell for now

You will all be aware that from today, our school will be closed in order to support the country’s efforts to limit the spread of Coronavirus. It is very strange to be writing this but, as yet, we do not have any indication as to when we will be able to reopen. In order to keep families informed, we intend to provide regular updates on our website and Facebook. Please continue to follow the government’s guidance about how to keep yourself and your family as healthy as possible and do encourage your children to spend time on school work – ideally, some time every day.

Thank you for your kind words and messages of support, we really do appreciate your encouragement and hope that we will soon be back at St Catherine’s for at least some of the summer term.

Welcome from the Headteacher

Welcome back after the Easter break, I hope that you and your family have managed to find a way to enjoy the lovely weather and appreciate the signs of spring all around us.

It will obviously be a very unusual start to the summer term. Whilst the school remains closed to the majority of children, we will be restarting ‘Cool Club’ for those whose needs can only be met by this provision

The challenge of motivating children to resume their studies when at home is considerable, although I have been delighted with the response to work set by staff for children on Purple Mash and Times Table Rockstars. Teachers have been able to communicate with individuals in their class via blogs or email (via Purple Mash) and the response to the daily family challenge activities has revealed a wonderful creativity within the school community. Please continue to encourage your children to access learning in this way; in addition, I would like to draw your attention to lessons that are being broadcast daily by the BBC (access to the video lessons via the red button) from 20th April, which will enable your children to join a virtual classroom every day.

Although we are not physically together at this time, I would like us to consider our Christian values for the summer term – Humility for the first half and Courage for the second. It strikes me that over these unusual days, we have all had to act with a degree of humility in acknowledging our need to submit to the restrictions that have been imposed on us for the good of the country. Regardless of the way we respond to this; with resolve, determination, frustration or any other understandable emotion, we’re all in it together, which forces us into an equal position of dependence and trust. It seems entirely appropriate for the value for the second half of the term to be courage. I think we will continue to need courage as we explore a new way of being when the restrictions are gradually lifted and we discover the way ahead together.

The British value for the term is ‘Tolerance (although I prefer to use the word acceptance) of different faiths and beliefs’. It is clear that everyone – of all faiths or none – has been challenged by the circumstances we have been experiencing over the past weeks. For some, it will have been their faith that has given them the necessary strength to face the days, others may find different sources of hope and comfort

I hope that it won’t be long before our school is able to reopen and we’re together as a school community again. Until then, I’m reminded of the section in our school vision; At St Catherine’s, ‘…we aim to develop independent children who are equipped for the world they are living in, prepared for the challenges of the future and who strive for excellence in all they do’

I look forward to seeing you all again soon, and being able to see and hear how our children have met and risen to the challenges we have all faced throughout this unprecedented time.

Mrs Wallis

Headteacher

What's been going on?

School Choir

Last week, I invited the school choir to take part in a 'virtual sing' and they have been busy videoing themselves singing along to songs. We have combined their efforts with some of the amazing photos sent in of your home learning since lock down began. We hope that the video will help to motivate you in the coming weeks as lock down continues.

If you would like to take part in the next 'virtual sing' then all you have to do is practice at home and ask an adult to help you record yourself singing along to this song. It's a song we love to sing at St Catherine's although please don't clap along, just record your voices and remember to smile! Once you are happy with the recording then your adult can send it to Mrs Catherall (admin@stcaths.herts.sch.uk) who will send it on to me. (You may need to send it as a link to the file rather than the actual file - both Google Photos and iCloud offer this facility).

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Learning together

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.

Here are some of the resources/tips and ideas you could try at home...

When reading, children could try to find words that contain the sound they have been learning. Some children could then try to sort words with the same spelling pattern (e.g: play, away / maze, craze / rain, strain) and see if they can determine which spelling would be the 'best bet'. For example, does a spelling pattern appear more often at the end of the word.


Mrs Jaggs' helpful tip; When helping her little one learn their tricky words "I put some on post-it notes and stuck them on the cereal cupboard door. A bit like a secret code he has to say them each morning before he can open the cupboard. I'm going to change them weekly, so he doesn't get bored and we can work our way through them'.


Book Reviews

Cogheart, by Peter Bunzl, reviewed by Ms Maud (recommended for year 6 readers)

Cogheart is a sort of mash-up of science-fiction and historical fiction that would appeal to readers who like both. It is set in Victorian England but involves 'mecahnical' characters alongside human ones, who travel around in giant airships known as zeppelins. The mechanicals are sophisticated robots who, despite being made of metal, have their own thoughts and personalities. The story centres around a girl called Lily, whose father disappears suddenly and who is being chased by frightening silver-eyed men. There are some really bad baddies in this book as well as plenty of pulse-raising action and adventure as Lily and her friends try to work out what happened to her father and why they are being pursued so relentlessly. Will they survive to get the answers? I couldn't possibly tell you...!

The Jolley-Rogers and the Cave of Doom by Jonny Duddle - Reviewed by Mrs Lines

The Jolley-Rogers are a family of pirates. On a day trip to the beach, they discover a cave full of treasure. When his parents fail to return from the cave Jim Lad goes to investigate. He finds they have been bewitched and also falls under the spell. It is down to the family dog, Bones, and Jim Lad’s friend Matilda to rescue the family from the three Sea Hags who have enchanted them. Will the unlucky pirates ever make it back home?

I enjoyed this book a lot and I particularly liked the rhyming spells. It made me laugh and was exciting. My favourite character was Matilda because she is very smart.

I think children in years 2 and 3 would like this book. Don’t be put off by the number of pages! There are lots of fabulous illustrations on each page. If you enjoy this story then look out for others in the series including The Jolley-Rogers and the Pirate Piper and The Jolley-Rogers and the Monster’s Gold.

Murder Most Unladylike - by Robin Stevens, reviewed by Mr Scott

This is a murder mystery story set at a school. Hazel and Daisy set out to investigate the murder of their teacher - Miss Bell. Although I was initially unsure about this book, I have to say...I loved it! As the two main protagonists unravel clue after clue, the tension grows and I couldn't wait to finish the book.

The story is filled with both suspicious and funny characters who really bring the book to life. The two main characters - Hazel and Daisy - form an excellent but unlikely duo. I also enjoyed reading about the many grumpy teachers at the school - nothing like St Catherine's!

This story is the first offering from a series of books by Robin Stevens and I am sure the others are just as good! I would recommend this book to children in Year 6.

Pax by Sara Pennycracker - Reviewed by Mrs Lines

Peter and his pet fox Pax have been inseparable since Peter rescued Pax as a cub. As war moves closer to their home Peter is forced to return Pax to the wild and is evacuated to his grandfather’s house hundreds of miles away. Will Pax survive in the wild? Will Peter settle into his new life?

This is a wonderful book that tells how the two best friends set out to find each other again. The narrative switches between Peter’s and Pax’s point of view and uses beautiful language to describe their incredible journeys. Will they ever be reunited? Once you start reading this, you won’t want to stop!

I recommend this great book for year 5 and 6 readers. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Review of The Origin of Species - Reviewed by Mrs Tye

This is a great book. It’s easy to understand and explains in a fun way the story of how animals and plants changed over time to adapt, survive and live in the world we know now. It’s an interesting and easy introduction to Darwin’s theory of evolution. The colourful illustrations and diagrams are very good and clearly show the differences and changes in different species over thousands of years.

I think this book may appeal to readers within ages 8 to 11 and would encourage children to ask lots of questions, leading them to explore this subject further. It would be a great addition to any science lesson. If read together with younger children within a group or one to one, this would promote great conversations. A lovely book.

Review of The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo - Reviewed by Mrs Lines

Edward Tulane is a toy rabbit. But he is not just any toy rabbit. He has china arms and legs and a handsome china face. His ears and tail are made from real rabbit fur. He is much admired, but the person who admires him the most is Edward himself. Edward is owned and loved by Abilene Tulane but Edward loves no one but himself. As the Tulane family set out on a long sea voyage Edward is lost! How will he survive?

This is a lovely story, which follows Edward’s difficult journey. He meets many people along the way and we discover how each of them change him, not just his name but how he feels about the world and himself.

I would recommend this book to year 3 and 4 children. There are some challenging words but I think you will be pleased that you kept going to the end. I would also recommend this to adults – lots to thinks about and beautiful characters.

Review of The Golden Butterfly by Sharon Gosling - Reviewed by Mrs Atkinson

The main character is a girl called Luciana, who lives with her grandparents in Victorian England. After her grandfather, the famous magician the Magnficent Marko, dies, his greatest rival Thursby turns up at her house and threatens to destroy her grandfather’s reputation if they refuse to let him search for the key to the Magnificent Marko’s most famous magic trick, the Golden Butterfly.

Luciana and her friend Charley set out on a quest through London to find the clues to the Golden Butterfly before Thursby gets there and along the way also uncover the secrets of her own family history.

The Great British Spring Clean
Mother's Day celebrations
Mother's Day celebrations
Mother's Day celebrations
Mother's Day celebrations
ITV filming our fight against vegetables!!!
Songs and Sunflowers

This Term's Value

For the first half of the spring term, our Christian value is compassion. We will be looking closely at the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke chapter 10, verses 25 – 37) where Jesus surprised his audience by casting a person largely regarded by them as inferior, as one who exemplified what was right – in contrast to the priest and Levite who ignored the suffering of the injured man. Through considering this story, we will explore how we live our lives and what it means to demonstrate true compassion towards our friends, those in our school community, our town and in the wider world.

This parable also links well with this term’s British value, recognising the importance of ‘Individual Liberty and Mutual Respect’. The importance of accepting one another, acknowledging, recognising and celebrating our differences will be explored. In addition, we will also be reflecting on our responsibility as a school to address issues of bias and racism, demonstrating a respect for all members of our school and the wider community regardless of faith, race or belief.

Hope is the Christian value for the second half of the term. As we approach Easter, we will be thinking about the example of Jacob from the old testament. Using resources from the St Alban’s Diocese Education team, we will join with other church schools in the diocese as we consider their Lent theme of ‘God in this Place’.

If you would like the opportunity to share your faith or culture with the school, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Mrs Wallis to discuss an opportunity for you to do so.