Posted in Thoughts

‘What is Christmas like at RAMJS?

When asked the question by our Chair of Governors, Ken Wales, ‘What is Christmas like at RAMJS?‘ it seemed the perfect topic for our school blog.  Not only do I get to think about my favourite season, I can link it to one of the greatest books I believe was ever written, ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Hark, the Herald Angel sings as the colourful lights start twinkling as school transforms into a winter wonderland, adorned with Christmas trees, tinsel and all things festive.  This is not the true meaning of Christmas you may be thinking but when we think about the context of the school, this is as equally important for us as exploring the faith elements of Christmas in a Methodist school!

For many of our children, Christmas is an integral part of a religion different to their own. The Christmas cards and decorations may not be included in their own homes.  The sheer joy that twinkling lights and the pleasure of gift giving or receiving is something that may not be experienced (in a Christmas sense) outside of school but is something that teaches a wonderful message to all our pupils; tolerance, respect and the enjoyment that can be gained from shared experiences. 

As Fred says to his uncle Scrooge when referring to Christmas, ‘though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!’

This sense of the ‘shared experience’ is never limited solely to Christmas! We celebrate Eid, Diwali and Chinese New Year with equalled enthusiasm and pleasure as we revel in the opportunities our diverse and multicultural context affords us.

For the RAMJS family, our school values, especially Respect and our golden thread of ‘doing all the good we can’, becomes a real-life experience as we encourage and experience the sense of joy that these festive, celebratory seasons bring.  This can be felt in the giving of a Christmas Card and wishing Merry Christmas from a Sikh child to a Christian child or the jolliness of sharing Christmas lunch between a Muslim child and non-faith member of staff; at RAMJS we embrace our differences to enhance our own lives and the lives of those around us.

“Every traveller has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”

Charles Dickens

Fred and Scrooge

As we prepare for Christmas, the nativity and the beautiful range of Christmas Carols become a learning opportunity for all.  Whilst enhancing our performance skill we are also branching beyond our school walls by singing to our local community, bringing festive cheer to Morrison’s or local Nursing Home.  Our annual Cards of Kindness, written with genuine love and care, are sent to our community members who may be most affected by a sense of loneliness at Christmas. Receiving a response of heartfelt joy from our recipients only sweetens the knowledge that we have done something special for another human with the sole purpose of bringing happiness.

‘Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business.’

Marley’s Ghost

Scrooge and Marley

As early as July we are making requests to Cash for Kids and Fulwood Methodist Church to access donation that can be gifted to our families in need; ensuring that no child has the experience of a present less Christmas.

We talk about the true meaning of Christmas and the importance of Jesus.  We find common ground in our shared understanding of who Jesus was both to a Christian and a person of a different culture and faith.  We find the similarities between our faiths in school, especially the shared understanding that helping those less fortunate than ourselves serves to make the world a better place.  We draw on our comparisons whilst recognising the religious similarities between Christmas and the important festivals within different cultures. We embrace how Christmas brings out the best in people.  At RAMJS, the twinkling, brightly decorated message is clear; Christmas is a time to care for each other and share in a time of year when we are perhaps a little kinder, more thoughtful and most of importantly of all, sharing in humanity as equals, with goodwill to all.

“But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time . . . as a good time . . . the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave . . . ”

Ebenezer Scrooge

Scrooge and Tiny Tim
Posted in Reading

Reading for Pleasure – Part 1

So what do we mean when we say “reading for pleasure”?

Some would ask “is there any other kind of reading?”

For these people, any text is an invitation to read. The back of a cereal packet whilst waiting for the kettle to boil; the abandoned shopping list left behind in the trolley at Morrison’s; the sign on the car park at the docks that tells you “This car park closes at 8 pm. The barrier will be locked until….”. I’ve read that sign about a thousand times; I clearly don’t need to read it every time I park there and I’ve even tried forcing myself not to but I just can’t. If words present themselves in front of me, I just have to read them – interesting or not. I read every word on every sign that I pass on the motorway. In fact, it annoys me if a truck gets in the way as I pass the sign. 😂

Now I realise this doesn’t sound much like “pleasure” and I’m possibly starting to sound a little odd at this point 🤣 but bear with me because it’s an oddness that I’d encourage absolutely everyone to embrace if they can. Reading these mundane notes, signs etc is pretty involuntary to me. Reading is my ‘me time’. I like to ‘read for pleasure’ in any spare moment so it’s no surprise that it’s leaked into my ‘not-so-spare’ moments too.

When we send a reading scheme book home with your child, we like them to show willing and read a few pages at home. We’d like them to read with you if possible (we’re aware of course that this can be tricky – even teachers skip this some nights with their own children!). There is purpose behind the reading schemes of course; they are banded and the vocabulary and phrasing are chosen very carefully to show improvement in your child’s reading skills over time. Reading schemes will always be an essential part of reading in school.

However, these books are not ‘reading for pleasure’ items. They’re not a substitute for your child finding a book at the library that they are just dying to read. They’re not the book that has been hyped by their classmates and has a waiting list to borrow. They’re not the start of a lifetime love of reading. For this, we need to look elsewhere…

Some of your children may have mentioned our school Reading Club/Book Chat. We’ve been running these for the last term on Thursday and Friday afternoons and I can honestly say that it’s by far the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in any school. I now have like-minded little people who will happily indulge my love of book chat for an afternoon and who have created the absolutely perfect atmosphere to do so. They’re so enthusiastic about the group and this is rubbing off on their classmates. They just can’t stop reading and I have absolutely no wish to slow them down at all. Reading like this gives them the opportunity to use their imagination, to explore new ideas, to visit new places and to meet new characters. It improves their well-being and empathy. It helps them to understand their own identity, and gives them an insight into the world and the views of others. It’s also just plain, good fun – for them and me! For this reason, we’ll be doing all we can to give children opportunities to read for pleasure – including enrollment at the local library.

Of course, not everyone is so in love with books and reading – I’m going to chat more about that in part 2 – but if you’re a reader who would like to give us a recommendation, know more about ‘reading for pleasure’, or even join us on one of our book chats, please leave a comment because we’d love to chat – especially if you bring a book! 😊

Mrs France – RAMJS Reading Team

Posted in Uncategorized

Digital Leaders Special: Why is computing in education so important?

Here at RAMJS our mission is to become masters of technology, not slaves to it. Technology is everywhere and plays an important role in our lives now, as it will increasingly do so in the future. We want to be creators not consumers who aimlessly scroll the web and ‘play’ on an iPad. Rather than being mindless ‘users’, we are looking to be innovators, designing and creating the next big app, game or website!

Some schools think as we were online during most of lockdown for lessons from home, children have ‘done’ plenty of computing and it’s not a priority. Here’s why we think this is wrong and computing is so important to our futures.

As a society we are becoming increasingly dependent on computers and technology. If lockdown showed us anything, it is that being digitally literate and learning to use new technologies rapidly is essential.  In 10 years’ time it is estimated 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills. In the not-so-distant future, it is estimated there will not be enough developers and programmers to keep up with the technological demand in our world. We will be the generation to create and code driverless cars, assistant free shops and things that haven’t even become an idea yet. Computing isn’t something you can learn once and know everything; technology is constantly evolving, upgrading and improving. Even Mrs Tipton needs to keep learning!

Computing and digital technology is driving amazing global changes.  We need to ready ourselves  for life in a quickly, advancing technological world. It is essential we are digitally literate. It is a life skill! As well as the importance of computing knowledge, the subject also breeds resilience and perseverance with no programmer or developer able to create complex code without some serious debugging to get to their perfect end goal. Computing is rich in complex knowledge. It combines science, maths and engineering – encouraging logical thinking and creative design. The skills from computing are transferable across the curriculum; they are used across subjects like reading, writing and art. We like to use technology to show off what we have learnt in history, geography and science. It is not a stand alone subject. We are green screening in history, 3d printing in DT and creating movies in literacy lessons.

But with such quickly evolving technologies, it is essential as part of our learning that we have the opportunity to learn about the possible risks and pitfalls of it; the dangers of using the internet, social media and email. Education is the key to preventing many of the issues we see with tecnology. We are acquiring key life skills, from avoiding scams and phishing attacks to keeping passwords secure. Computing lessons are enabling us to have a more pleasant experience when we choose to be online!

So as Digital Leaders’, we hope you can now see why we think computing lessons really should be seen as a priority in all primary schools!

Mrs Tipton