School Newsletter Monday 11th January 2021
Dear Parents and Carers,
Thank you for your patience over the last week. For the parents of workers critical to the COVID response and EU transition, I apologise for delays in bringing children back to school. As detailed last week, I wrote a separate letter to you outlining what the arrangements are for accessing school places.
On Monday evening, I directed all parents to the school’s remote / home learning organisation on the school’s website class pages. I hope that you have not found accessing these difficult. Please contact the school office if you have any problems and we will endeavour to rectify these as soon as we can.
As well as organising school places and staff deployment for the children of critical workers, staff have used the days of emergency closure last week to refine our plans to support learning over the next term.
This revision aims to better our provision from the last “lockdown” and hopefully make this experience more supportive for our families. Our primary goal continues to be supporting children’s emotional wellbeing alongside developing learning.
Timetabling Learning
So that we can manage both staff time commitments in school and the needs of children learning at home, we have formulated a weekly timetable that will guide our provision. We have added more detail to this so that you can see what you might expect from us. In this timetable there are fixed events that both children at home and in school can join. Beyond live sessions, this timetable could be used to help structure your day at home. We fully appreciate that those working from home will have differing demands and may need to be more flexible in how days are organised.
Marking and ongoing learning
As with the first “lock down,” teachers are asking children to:
  • E-mail them one piece of writing and maths recording per week for marking. Feedback on this piece of learning will be provided in the following week.
  • Read each day
  • Practice their number bonds or multiplication tables each day
  • Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity (walking, cycling, jogging)
Free School Meals
For those children not in school and entitled to free school meals, we will be preparing lunch boxes across the week. If you would like to access these please contact the school office and we will let you know the collection arrangements.
Website updates
Over the last week and over the weekend we have updated a number of school documents to reflect the current pandemic restrictions. These can be found on the school website and include the following pages:
  • Information to support learning: Home school partnership agreement update to reflect the school’s partial closure and provision for vulnerable learners and children of Critical COVID Workers
  • COVID-19 Information Page: Updates to the school VOVID-19 Risk Assessment and Management Plan
  • Class Pages: Updates to your child’s learning for the week, live lesson links and school worship links
  • School Information / Policies: Updates to the school’s Business Continuity Plan
Staff and pupil absence – a polite request
Now that we have returned to school and the school is open for a number of key children, it is essential that parents with children in school are extra vigilant about the health of their children. We currently have three staff absent because they are either unwell or are waiting COVID test results. Their absence will have a direct impact on provision and means that staff in school will be stretched to both support learning in school as well as for those at home.
The more children we have in school, the greater the likelihood the new variant will spread. For this reason, please only send your child to school if you genuinely need the place and are working or recovering, and have been supporting the COVID or EU transition response. Please do not send children to school if you have doubts about their health.
Children and adults are infectious 48 hours before even when they display mild symptoms. Not sending your child to school when they are under the weather means you are protecting others in our community and enabling us to keep the school and classes open for those that need the provision.
I appreciate that these are difficult and worrying times for everyone. I thank you all for your patience and support. We truly value your positivity and cooperation and wish you all a safe and healthy week.
Yours sincerely,
Paul Bacon

News and Parent Information 

(week beginning 16.11.20)

This part of the school website aims to provide parents with the day to day information they need to know what is going on in school and also to support their children and the work of the school.

 Week Three - Term 2

Dear Parents and Carers,

It was nice to see so many parents at our parent forum this week. Our newsletter is slightly shorter this week but does contain information that will be of value to you all.


This week we recognised Anti Bullying week and encouraged children to join the national initiative by wearing odd socks. Monday’s worship looked at the importance of friendship and reconciliation as a first step in preventing bullying from starting in the first place. Class worship explored what we mean by bullying and in Gospel worship Mrs McDonagh explored Matthew 25: 31-46 and the importance of the message, “Anything you do for others, you do for me.”

 Playground equipment:

Thanks to the hard work of the PTA, we are pleased to announce that new playground equipment will be installed shortly in the KS1 playground. This is very exciting news and on behalf of the children, I wanted to thank our brilliant PTA and Borough Lands Chippenham for supporting this equipment. Installation will begin before the Christmas and everything should be in place for the start of Term 3.

 School Dinners:

From next week we will be stopping the sandwich option as a school lunch time choice and re-introducing baked potatoes and filling, or a warm pasta pot as an alternative choice to the school main meal. We hope that this will better reflect the season we are in and give children something warm to eat as their mid-day meal. An updated menu is attached.

 Parent Teacher meetings:

As outlined last week the dates for these have been adjusted to last night and Tuesday 24th November. The reason we did this is so that parents of children in Years 4, 5 and 6 would know who their class teacher will be from January 2021. If you had your meeting last night, I hope you found the meeting useful and that the appointment went smoothly. If you have any feedback with how your meeting went or was organised could you please let us know. This is the first time we have done meetings like this so if things have or haven’t worked it is important we know so that we can make appropriate adjustments.

 Arrangements for classes (January 2021)

A letter detailing classes and teachers for January 2021 was distributed to you all this week. As outlined, these changes mostly affected children in Year 4, 5 and 6 but the changes in class teachers may affect other classes too. If you attended our Parent Forum on Wednesday, I hope that this and/or the letter has provided the information you needed.

As a reminder, the new arrangements for classes will start from Monday 30th November and will be as follows:

  • Year 1:   Mrs Smith supported by Mrs Keane for some of her Deputy Head Teacher responsibilities.

  • Year 3/4: Mrs Johnson

  • Year 4/5: Mrs Essex and Mrs Gabriel

  • Year 5/6: Mrs McDonagh

A reminder that the school will be closed to all children on Friday 27th November to allow us to ensure classes have the right sized furniture, resources and other equipment ready for Monday 30th. Staff in our Nursery and Reception Classes will use this time to complete paediatric first aid training.

 Relationships and Health Education

I am sorry that I needed to postpone this meeting. This area of our curriculum and also school organisation is very important and I wanted to make sure that it had all the time that it needed. I will be revisiting this area on Wednesday 2nd December. I have posted a draft of the school’s new policy on the website and I encourage you all to look at this. As this policy is very much linked to the schools and Catholic Churches values, I hope that as many parents as possible will be able to attend this. This meeting will also be the first step in our consultation with you linked to how you as parents would like us to develop the Sex Education element of the Relationships and Health Education Policy.

 Take Care,

Listening to news coming in from other Chippenham schools, I am very aware that there are increasing reports of COVID-19 cases and bubbles or settings having to close. Having to do this is something we all want to avoid. As transmission rates in our locality seem to be increasing, I would ask everyone to be extra vigilant and if there are any doubts about the health and wellbeing of your family, stay at home and get a test.

Doing this at the earliest point will help us control any outbreaks in school and most importantly allow us to keep hubs and the school open for as many children and staff as possible.

I also ask that all parents and carers remain vigilant at pick up and drop off and ensure that physical and social distancing in maintained.

Upcoming events:

 Tuesday 24th NovemberParents EveningWednesday 25th NovemberSession 5 Parent Forum and Information Session @ 6.00pmFriday 27th NovemberTD Day - School Closed to pupilsMonday 30th November

New Class Structure begins

Flu Clinic

Wednesday 2nd DecemberSession 6 & 7 Parent Forum and Information Session @ 6.00pmWednesday 16th DecemberWhole School Christmas LunchFriday 18th DecemberEnd of Term 2

Thank you again for your patience and understanding in these times of uncertainty and change. As staff, we value your support and positivity and it is a continued privilege to be able to work with your children. Wishing you all a healthy and happy weekend.


Yours sincerely,

Paul Bacon

See below an important message from the Headteacher, Paul Bacon:

Dear All,
I’m writing to inform you that from September St Mary’s Catholic Primary School will combine the Nursery and Reception classes into an EYFS unit rather than two separate classes. This is important to the school from both a learning and resourcing context as it gives us greater flexibility to meet the needs of all children in the EYFS.
As part of this process, the school will also be looking to change the way the finances for the nursery children are managed and change the status of the nursery from school to Governor led from 1st January 2021. Doing this will necessitate a change to the school’s age range from 3 – 11 years to 4 – 11 years. This e-mail is sent to interested parties to inform them of this intention.
As the school is a voluntary aided, this change is permissible as a non-statutory activity provided the school has followed due process and enabled comment prior to a final decision.  This e-mail highlights that the IEB and I have placed a link to a more detailed rational for this change on the school website and we invite comments should interested parties wish to do so.
Details of how to share views are included in the above link.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Kind regards,
Paul Bacon

Further information can be found on the school website under News and Parent Information

Congratulations to St Mary's School on a very successful Section 48 inspection last term! Well done to all involved. After the turmoil of the last few years this is very well deserved!

 St Mary's Catholic Primary School was built by the Order of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God who are the owners of the site and buildings. The school was built to serve the families of the Parish of St Marys, and many of the  current parents were pupils themselves of the school. The SMG order has now decided to hand the trusteeship of the school to Clifton Diocese, in line with other Catholic schools in the DIocese. The Order continues, however, to retain ownership of the buildings and the land. The school has strong links with the parish and the parish priest is a regular visitor there to celebrate Masses and to attend school events. The school aims to provide children with a firm foundation of faith, confidence and a love of learning as a basis on which to begin their journey through life.

Further information about the school, and the School Mission Statement  can be found on the school website:

Some of the SMG sisters with Father Millett. From left to right: Sister Kathleen Coleman SMG, Sister Mary Whelan SMG, Father Millett (Parish Priest), Sister Margaret Doyle SMG, Sister Mary Dunlea SMG