In its inspection report, dated May 2010, Ofsted recommended that the school should look to further improve:
‘pupils’ awareness and understanding of life in a multicultural society, developing the school’s contribution to community cohesion by improving links, with communities in contrasting parts of the United Kingdom and abroad.’
In response to this, the school’s Community Cohesion Focus Team (comprising of staff, pupils, parents and governors) has been meeting regularly to further promote community cohesion by planning activities and establishing links with other communities. In addition, a Community Cohesion Policy has been introduced, a copy of which can be viewed here: Community Cohesion Policy
For St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, the term ‘community’ has a number of dimensions including:
• the school community – the pupils it serves, their families and all the staff. This includes the link with our parish church;
• their parents, carers and families, the staff, Governing Body and the community users of the school’s facilities and services;
• the local community – Christchurch and the people who live or work in the town;
• the community of Britain;
• the global community.
Community Cohesion at St Joseph’s
St Joseph’s is an active member of local cluster, Diocesan and county networks of schools. This includes working closely with schools in East Dorset.
Through a wide range of charity fundraising, the school supports worldwide agencies including Cafod, Samaritan’s Purse (Operation Christmas Child) and Cabrini as well as local charities and responding to global emergencies.
In March 2011, the school held a ‘Wear your Wellies to Work’ day in aid of the Christchurch (New Zealand) Earthquake Relief appeal, and the children learnt about our twin town on the other side of the world.
The school has been working on a project with HOPE – a Bournemouth based charity which supports the homeless. The children have grown seedlings for HOPE’s allotment, raised money and learnt about how the charity helps people who are finding life tough.
The school is linked with its name sake in Keighley West Yorkshire with classes exchanging letters, photographs and projects. We have strong reciprocal links with the parish welcoming parishoner volunteers into our school and through our support of the food-bank based at St Joseph’s church.
The children regularly benefit from curriculum enhancement weeks. During ‘One World Week’ in 2011, the children learnt about the lives of people living in Ghana through a PTA funded exhibition from DEED.
During Summer term 2012, we held a Dazzling Diamond Jubilee day to celebrate the Queen’s special anniversary which included each class exploring the family tree belonging to our Royal family. Following on from this, our community cohesion team decided to prepare for a family heritage week the following term.
This was launched with a special summer holiday family challenge which was taken up by the majority of our families. Working as cross-generation teams they researched, prepared and then presented an amazing range of family heritage projects. Some were paper based family trees, photo albums, interactive maps and collages; others were three dimensional models and power-point presentations. We were overwhelmed by the positive response and feedback from families. Many reported spending time chatting about their heritage and several found out some really exciting family history. These projects were all in place for the school’s heritage week in the autumn term celebrating the cultural diversity of our school families. In excess of 70 countries were recorded as being represented in our school community heritage. Parents were invited into school to view all the project work on our international party afternoon.
Party afternoon evolved as a result of several families expressing a desire to provide food from their heritage for the children to sample. Each family was invited to send in simple food items which represented either their heritage or a family favourite. From fruity welsh cakes to spicy treats from Goa, the children tucked in and enjoyed widening their culinary knowledge. They also dressed up in costumes either to represent a country from their heritage, an occupation from their families past (or present) or from an era they were studying in school. The quality of conversations and opportunities for learning through experience and fun were electric.
All this fun and frivolity was set in our school heritage week which featured a number of other powerful ways to explore culture, community and heritage. The children took part in a variety of activities and sessions including the following:-
I love my hair and skin – based on some age appropriate stories and picture books, the children celebrated the differences in hair and skin, colour and texture. Activities using skin tone pencils, felt, cardboard and paper, samples of products used for afro- Caribbean hair and lots and lots of mirrors provided the opportunity to explore and create human features of all shapes and colours.
Food from around the world – this focused on linking simple geography, maps, food samples and family meals. KS1 focused on familiar and unfamiliar foods and many children sampled things they had never previously tried. KS2 covered these aspects and then looked more closely at food miles, carbon footprints, sustainability and fair trade.
Puppets from around the world – a selection of engaging, colourful and accessible puppets were used to retell cultural stories from all over the world. Drama, play scripts and characterisation activities followed as well as links with the societal or cultural differences. From Rama and Sita to Peter and the Wolf, the children enjoyed learning through puppets and story-telling.
Sing a long a St Joseph’s – this term’s sing-along focused on singing a range of fun songs from all over the world. Pupils and staff joined in with percussion instruments and actions when required!
Visiting parents – a wonderful, brave army of parents and grandparents volunteered to come into school to talk to the children about their family heritage. Amongst others, the children heard about life in parts of the USA, Goa, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Africa and the Philippines. Several visitors talked about life not only in a different part of the world but what lead to their family moving to Christchurch in Dorset as well as how things have changed in one particular place over time. Artefacts, photos and clothing from around the world was displayed, discussed and celebrated.
The whole school community were delighted with Heritage week and the impact it had on the children. The following are some of the most positive outcomes of the week:
- parents reported enjoyment of family heritage project and the high quality conversations they had had with their children.
- many children found out things about their families and heritage that they did not previously know
- greater awareness of the huge range of differences in faces, skin and hair – many children with minority hair types were seen to be visibly proud and keen to show, discuss etc.
- enhanced understanding that families can come from many different backgrounds and how they may move to new locations.
- an understanding that some foods are typical of a country or region and how these may have been embedded in what they would understand as modern English food (especially take-aways).
- a new school flag, designed by the competition winner in a challenge to design a flag representing the school community and its diverse cultural heritage.
During ‘Citizen Week’, spring term 2014, the focus was on improving our pupils’ awareness and understanding of life in a multicultural society and developing the school’s contribution to community cohesion by improving links with communities in contrasting parts of the United Kingdom and abroad. Each class chose a contrasting locality to study comparing our town of Christchurch to another town or city in the UK.
For example, in Year 3 the class started the week by finding out some interesting facts about Newcastle. Next they used Google Maps to compare the locality of Newcastle to Christchurch. They found out that whilst lots of things were the same there were also some things that were different. For example both place have schools but Newcastle also has a large university! During the week they also learnt about the Geordie dialect and that some of the words they use in Newcastle are different to how we would say them in Christchurch. On the Friday each class gave a short presentation about what they had learnt during the week.
In key stage 1 the children studied what it means to be a citizen. They were encouraged to think about where they are citizens of; Europe, the British Isles, UK, England, Dorset and Christchurch. In assembly they began to think about what makes a good citizen; someone who helps the community in one of many different ways.
Some of the Ducklings children looked at the transport in London and treated the school to a brilliant film show where they acted out a trip around London from the viewpoint of their big red London bus. They also had a taxi driver, who showed us the sights and we even spotted the Queen with her crown jewels. Buzzards looked at Belfast. Many of the children became quite fascinated with the history of the Titanic being built there and the amazing modern building they have built to house the Titanic museum. They went on an on-line tour of the city and found out about the large leisure venue called the Odyssey. They watched a DVD about their local area of Christchurch and compared how many places of interest we have in our local area.
Swallows researched the City of Birmingham and considered some of the similarities and differences between Christchurch and Birmingham. The class had discussions about the facilities available to the citizens of Christchurch compared to those available to the citizens of Birmingham. Some of the leisure activities in Birmingham made the children quite jealous. But then they considered how Christchurch offers them different kinds of leisure activities like going into the New Forest and how we can reach some beautiful beaches very easily from Christchurch. We also have a ski centre and lots of places to go for cinemas or shopping within about half and hour’s drive.
During the week, a number of visitors came to speak to the children about how they serve the wider community.
Fire safety Officer – The children were reminded about fire safety at home and were encouraged to think about elderly relatives and neighbours and whether they had smoke alarms. They had lots of fun seeing if they could put on a fire fighters uniform in record time!
Guide Dogs for the blind – The children loved the visit from Amber and Sapphire and were able to ask their owner John questions about how the guide dogs are trained and how they could support the charity and help people who are blind.
Life boat Crew – Two of our parents shared their experiences of working on the local life boat. The children were inspired by the dedication and commitment to the community that life boat crews make.
First Aid Training – KS2 were fortunate to receive First Aid training during the week and this will be a wonderful asset to the wider community and their families as they all received their certificate.
E Safety – Technology enables us to improve our links with other areas of the UK and the wider world but it also comes with responsibilities and our visiting Police Officer reinforced internet safety to the children.
The children enjoyed a very busy week and became more aware of how they can be a good citizen and thought about future careers that would serve both our community and communities abroad.