A Year in the Life of St Mary’s School
At St Mary’s, we believe that our faith helps to shape what we do. We value the time to come together to reflect on the Gospel and on the topics we are studying during our Religious Education lessons.
On Mondays, we gather together as a whole school to share and reflect on the Gospel reading from Holy Mass the day before.
On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the Junior and Infant classes come together to reflect on a topic or special date within the liturgical calendar. Each class, led by the children, share bible readings, their work, sing hymns and offer prayers of the faithful.
We also take the Junior children to St Mary’s Church where they celebrate Mass with the wider community in our parish.
Here are details of some of the special events that take place throughout the school year to supplement our teaching of Religious Education.
Mass at St Mary’s Parish Church
Every year the children join as a school to attend Mass in St Mary’s Parish Church to celebrate special feasts and seasons.
· Feast of the Immaculate Conception
· Ash Wednesday (Mass for KS2 and special in-school ashes ceremony for infants)
Mass in St Mary’s School
· First Holy Communion
· Leavers Mass
The Growing in Faith Team and other pupils from the junior school (KS2) are involved through preparing the space, reading the readings, offering up the prayers of the faithful and taking up the offertory. Everyone participates by joining in with all elements of the Mass including the joyful singing, responses and prayers.
Children volunteer from the Lower Junior and Upper Junior choirs to lead and sing hymns during the Mass. Miss Haynes helps them to prepare.
As the celebration of the Mass is very holy and special, we do not take photographs.
Not only do we raise money every year for different CAFOD projects, we also reach out to the local community for donations of food, clothes and toiletry items for the Ace of Clubs, a homeless charity located beside St Mary’s RC Church.
Sarah Miles, who coordinates this project, visits our school every year to raise awareness and to talk to the children about how their contributions help the homeless people who come to the centre for support. Children also visit this project to see, first hand, how it serves others. During our Harvest Liturgies, we display terms contributed from each class. This year, we donated 35 crates of items to the charity. They were very grateful and we thank our families for their generosity.
The Month of the Holy Rosary
As October is the month of the Holy Rosary, children are invited to honour our lady by praying the Rosary in Mr Griffin's classroom every Monday, Wednesday and Friday before school.
Year 5 Retreat
Every year the Year 5 children spend a Friday evening in school to participate in our annual Year 5 retreat. After some ‘get to know each other better’ games, the children spend time in quiet reflection to enhance and develop their relationship with God and to explore a chosen theme.
Our local parish priests, Father Richard and Father Casper and Mr Griffin speak with the children and give presentations on relevant themes.
We include ‘Lectio Divina’ as part of the retreat timetable and after a period of reflection on the chosen passage, we join to share a meal (pizzas prepared by the children) in the school dining hall.
Every year, we join numerous schools and organisations to support the Link to Hope Charity by sending shoeboxes filled with useful and gift items to families in Romania and other Eastern European countries.
This initiative is very special to our hearts and the children take great delight in planning what to put in their boxes. We have a special ‘Shoebox Liturgy’ where the children bring their shoeboxes to be collected. The junior children help to fill a van that goes to Europe to deliver our gifts and spread joy to others. We always receive a letter of thanks with pictures and information on the people who receive the boxes.
Every November, to mark the month of the Holy Souls, we come together as a school to remember our loved ones who have died and to remember the lives lost during the first and second world war and all conflicts since then.
Each class fills in a remembrance card to include family members or friends or someone they have heard about who has died. This is compiled into a book of remembrance which is displayed during and after the liturgy.
At 11.00 am we join with the rest of the nation in observing the two-minute silence to remember and honour those who have paid a price for our freedom.
Every Christmas, we have a Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception), Infant (KS1) and Junior (KS2) celebrations. These are very joyful and prayerful celebrations of this wonderful season.
Nursery & Reception
The children narrate and perform the Christmas story for the infant children and their parents. Music is led by our music co-ordinator Miss Hume and the children do actions during the hymns and songs.
The infant classes, Year 1 & Year 2, gather together in St Mary’s Parish Church to celebrate the Nativity. They perform events from the Christmas story and sing Christmas carols. They present a matinee performance for the school and an evening performance for the parents.
The children in years 3 and 4, and their parents gather together to sing Christmas carols around the large Christmas tree in the small playground.
Upper Junior children gather together in St Mary’s church for a formal celebration of the Christmas story through music, drama and scripture readings. A matinee performance takes place in the Church for the rest of the school and parents, governors, clergy and friends attend the evening service.
Every year our Junior choirs join with St Mary’s parishioners in celebrating Christmas with vulnerable and elderly members of the community. A special meal is shared whilst the choir provides musical interludes by singing Christmas carols.
Collingwood Nursing Home
Each Christmas, the Lower Junior Choir participates in an outreach project that aims to connect the school with older members of the local community. To this end, the choir presents a concert performance of Christmas carols. Afterwards, the children and the nursing home residents share celebratory food and drinks.
Royal Trinity Hospice Christmas Carol Service
St Mary’s school has a longstanding relationship with the Royal Trinity Hospice and is honoured to be invited to participate in a special ecumenical service of Christmas remembrance with the Royal Trinity Hospice. Our choir perform at this prestigious event, which is attended by nationally renowned media personalities. The event is a highlight of the Christmas season for the whole Clapham community.
Lent and Easter
Ash Wednesday Mass
To mark the beginning of Lent, we take part in a special Ash Wednesday Mass, led by Father Richard, in St Mary’s church. Children from the Upper Juniors read the readings and the prayers of the faithful and children from the Lower Juniors take up the gifts for the offertory. Miss Hume leads the school choir in singing the responsorial psalm and hymns and Miss Vasylenko plays the piano. Altar servers from school assist Father Richard in the celebration of the Mass. We receive ash on our foreheads to remind us to be sorry for our sins and we are all encouraged to fast, pray to God and give money and help to other people.
Ashes for Infants
Foundation stage and Key Stage one children attend an afternoon service in school led by Father Richard. He marks their foreheads with ashes and reminds them that the ashes are made from the burnt palms from Palm Sunday the previous year. They too are reminded to fast, pray and to give to others.
Every spring term, we hold a reconciliation service for the Junior school, within the season of Lent. Priests from the parish visit the school to share in our liturgy which focuses on the forgiveness that comes from Christ. The children take part in a symbolic washing of the hands which reinforces their understanding of how Christ washes away our sins. Following this, the children are invited to go to confession.
The children derive great pleasure in fundraising for our chosen charities during Lent, as part of our focus on almsgiving during the season. Each class takes ownership of their fundraising endeavours by finding creative ways in which to raise money. Past activities have included:
· Cake sale
· Shoot the goal
· Guess the sweets in a jar
· Find the treasure on the map
We have raised money for many charities dear to our hearts, including:
· Mary’s Meals
· Aid to the Church in Need
· The Little Way Association
To mark the closing of the Lenten season, both Infants and Juniors have a special liturgy which recalls the final moments of Our Lord’s passion and death.
The children tell the story of Holy Week through music, drama and scripture readings. Each class prepares their own scripture reading which they reflect on prior to the liturgy. They prepare a dramatic presentation of their reading to show to the infant classes and their families.
In the weeks leading up to the Junior Lenten Reflection, the children reflect upon the journey that Our Lord took as He carried His cross.
During the Lenten reflection, pupils, their parents, staff and governors gather together in St Mary’s church and the Juniors narrate The Way of the Cross through mime, music and prayers.
Easter Bonnet Parade Foundation Stage
After the Easter holidays, Foundation Stage retell the story of Easter through music and drama.
Parents and families attend this presentation and children wear their own specially decorated Easter bonnets for the occasion. Later on in the day, Foundation Stage pupils parade around the playground presenting their bonnets to the juniors.
Whole School Easter Celebration
As Pentecost approaches, the whole school gathers in the hall to recount the events which occurred between Our Lord’s Resurrection and the feast of Pentecost.
Each class prepares a reading which they present to the school through drama, music and scripture readings.
As a school we like to celebrate with the children who have made their First Holy Communion each year.
To this end, we celebrate Holy Mass in school and the first communicants play a key role in assisting at the Mass by reading the Word of God, presenting the offertory gifts and serving at the Mass. Parents, staff and children gather for a celebratory party afterwards.
Feast Day of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
As Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is the Patron of our school, we celebrate this special feast each year by uniting with the Redemptorist priests in an outdoor procession to honour Our Lady. The Rosary is said and the beautiful story of the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour retold.
Moving Up Assembly
To mark the transition from the infants to the Juniors, the Year 2 children gather together to reflect on their experience in Key Stage 1.
They present their memories to their families and the other children in the school in a variety of ways including, prayer, singing, playing musical instruments and drama.
Year 6 Retreat
Every year, the Year 6 children attend a retreat in the monastery at St Mary’s Church.
This is a time of prayer and quiet reflection where the children grow in their faith and love of God. They reflect on their time at St Mary’s and on the exciting journey which lies ahead in secondary school.
During the day, the children attend Holy Mass, spend quiet time in the presence of Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration and can avail of Confession.
Year 6 Leavers Mass
To say goodbye to our Year 6 children and to celebrate their time at St Mary’s, we celebrate a special Mass in school, led by Father Richard. The Mass is attended by staff, junior children and the parents and families of Year 6. It is a time of great joy as they look forward to their new school and it is also a time to appreciate the sadness of leaving. The Year 6 children and their siblings play a significant role in assisting Fr Richard during the Mass and at the end, the Year 2 children present them with a card wishing them well for their future.
Year 6 Graduation and Party
As the children in Year 6 prepare to leave St Mary’s Primary School, parents and families join the rest of the school in congratulating the children at the Year 6 graduation ceremony. The children are recognised for their many gifts and talents and afterwards, a celebratory party takes place in the school hall giving them and their families a chance to say a final farewell to the staff and children.
Year of The Word
This year is the Year of the Word: The God who Speaks and the children have taken part in liturgies and activities to mark the beginning of this special year.
During the Autumn term, we study Judaism and the children in the lower juniors visit a synagogue. In the spring and summer terms, the children study other religions, so that they gain a good knowledge of Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.