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St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School

“I have called you by your name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

Chaplaincy News Archive: 2018-2019

CAFOD is supporting the RE 'Come and See' Curriculum at St Thomas Aquinas School

CAFOD offers a huge amount of really helpful learning resources and St Thomas Aquinas School Bletchley have been using some of these in the ‘Come and See’ RE curriculum around the ‘Universal Church’ theme this term.  Cathy Stormonth – CAFOD Education volunteer was invited to deliver some workshops and writes:


‘I have been working with Karen Hackett the RE Co-ordinator and we chose to deliver workshops to Years 6, 5 and 2 around some global themes.’


Year 6 - The Work of the Worldwide Christian Family for the ‘Common Good’ using CAFOD as an ideal vehicle for this.

Pupils were asked ‘Is there a need for CAFOD?’ and given some shocking global statistics to help answer the question.

  • 767 million people live on less than £1.40p per day.
  • 63 million children will not attend school this year.
  • 663 million people do not have access to safe drinking water.
  • 2.3 billion people do not have access to a household toilet.
  • 1.06 billion people have no access to electricity.

It made pupils reflect on their own lives and count their blessings.  One pupil said, ‘I will make sure I do my best at school because I am very lucky to get a great education when so many other children won't get the same chance'  Year 6 pupils also noted that there are 7.6 billion people in the world and 1.27 billion of these are Catholics. This prompted pupils to deduce that with numbers on this scale it might be feasible for the Catholic Church to help and support some of the poorest and most vulnerable people globally – and of course they are right.


Pupils investigated some key motivation themes focussing on the work of CAFOD and put them into priority order. Table spokespersons explained why they had chosen their priorities which prompted discussions. Another pupil said that, 'Hope for a better world' was a good motivation but he also said, 'Actions speak louder than hopes and hope is good but taking action to help people who live in extreme poverty is better.' Everyone agreed. The workshop ended with a game of CAFOD 'Who wants to be a millionaire?' and a final prayer.


Teaching Assistant Mrs MacQueen was impressed with the quality of discussions and said, ‘The year 6 children really enjoyed the CAFOD session, learning the various statistics about poverty in our world really opened their eyes to the magnitude of the problem. They are thoughtful and caring children and their answers to different questions showed me how deeply they think about issues that not only affect themselves but also others.'


Year 5 Stewardship of the World

Year 5 pupils had just started their RE module on 'care for our common home' around the theme of ‘Stewardship’ and it is linked closely to Climate Change. Cathy Stormonth the CAFOD Volunteer threw out a challenge to Year 5 pupils to 'Become Zero Heroes'. When the world we live in is changing because of climate change we need to speak up now to look after our world. Cathy encouraged pupils to join the CAFOD campaign to look after the world by becoming a Zero Hero and try to make the local MP join in and do the same.


What is Net Zero?

CAFOD are calling on the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2045 at the latest. This means only putting the same amount of emissions into the atmosphere as we take out. For example we can reduce the amount of fossil fuels that we burn and protect and plant more trees which take in carbon dioxide as they grow.  Pupils were shown some example Zero Heroes from Peru and how they are transforming their school and local communities. St Thomas Aquinas pupils were impressed.  Pupils were made aware of the impact of global temperatures rising. With just a 1.5 - 3ºC rise over the next 20 years, sea levels would also rise and put an extra 200 million people at risk of their homes and their lives being displaced.

Pupils were dismayed to hear how changes in weather patterns have caused both drought and flooding in different parts of the world. Droughts in East Africa means fewer crops have grown and food is scarce. Food prices are so high that people can’t afford to eat and malnutrition and illness follow - driving people to move to find food. Where there have been floods crops have been washed away and food is hard to grow when weather is this extreme.  Pupils were asked to reflect on their lives and suggested small steps they could take both at home and in school to play their part in confronting Climate Change.

Pupils finished their workshop by writing letters to Mr Iain Stewart the local Milton Keynes MP. These letters were posted to Mr Stewart with a covering letter from the school Eco-Committee inviting him to come to school and work with our school on the Green Flag award.  So 30 Class 5L letters are on their way to Mr Stewart. We hope he responds soon and tells us how we can all work together to tackle Climate Change and achieve the Green Flag status. Mrs Jenna Greaves was very pleased how the workshop went as part of the school's aim to be a greener and more eco-friendly school.


Year 2 Focus on World Treasures - Water

Water as a very precious resource.  Pupils were asked to imagine what it would be like to live without easy access to clean water. We often waste water by keeping the tap on when we brush our teeth or fill the bath too high. We tried to imagine our lives if we had to fetch and carry water everyday just to keep alive.  Pupils watched a film 'Walking for Water' about a little girl who spent all day fetching and carrying water walking in bare feet 4 miles to a muddy waterhole. It’s always the girls who have to collect water, walking miles which takes most of the day. This means that they can’t go to school or play.  Pupils said that this wasn’t fair and it made them feel sad. Pupils were also concerned that the water hole had dirty water and were worried that it might make people sick.  We had a practical session where pupils felt the weight of a water bucket that girls had to carry great distances and pupils were horrified!  Some of the pupils tried to lift up the larger adult water container that held about 20 litres of water and found it difficult to manage. It really made them treasure the fresh safe water they have to drink every day by simply turning on the tap. 


Pupils watched another film about a village in Uganda where CAFOD had put a water tap with clean fresh water. It made such a difference to the whole community and many more children were able to go to school - especially the girls. Pupils cheered up when they heard that CAFOD was working with so many partner organisations worldwide to help local communities have access to deep wells which provide the fresh, clean and safe water families need to survive. Mrs Mitten the class Teaching Assistant was pleased to see how interested pupils were in learning how important water is in all our lives. She was very pleased that the children asked so many astute questions and how they began to appreciate how lucky they are to have such easy access to water anytime. 


Mrs Hackett head of RE said ‘The children fully engaged with the videos and stories of real children from around the world and they are often surprised and concerned at how those children’s lives are so different to their own. The children were inspired to make a difference to the lives of their brothers and sisters in faraway places. Mrs Cathy Stormonth made it really clear as to how our small actions, kind deeds and loving prayers can make our wonderful world a much fairer place for all. Thank you.’ 





Father Wayne Coughlin came to school as part of our World week celebrations. He spoke about Pope Francis’s charity, Missio and the work that they do to help children in developing countries. We learnt about Sandra, a 10 year old Iraqi refugee who now lives in Jordan but owns very little and who dreams of going to school. Missio now help her family and she has a much brighter future.  Fr Wayne asked the children to pray for these children as part of the ‘Children helping Children’ campaign.


Pope Francis said “Dear children, our hands are a symbol for our hearts and only open, generous hearts can change the world… Show me your hands.  Are they closed and selfish, or open and generous?”

Mini Vinnies Tambola

On 24th April, Mini Vinnies held a Mini Tambola in school as part of the Easter celebrations.  All children were given a ticket so that they could participate in this exciting event. This was to say thank you to all the children and parents for their continuous support towards the Mini Vinnies' projects.


Mini Vinnies Book Sale

As part of our World Book Day celebrations, Mini Vinnies held a book sale for Sepo and raised £400! Thank you for your support.

Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes

Mini Vinnies organised a special assembly with Rev. Steve Summerfield from WNSMK.  WNSMK provides supervised overnight accommodation to homeless and vulnerable people who would otherwise be rough sleeping during the extreme winter months between early December and mid-March each year. They work in partnership with several Milton Keynes churches that provide their facilities free of charge.


WNSMK reached out to the Mini Vinnies to collect toiletries and the Mini Vinnies responded by collecting over 600 items.  We are immensely grateful to parents and staff members for their generosity and support.


Christmas Project

Our Christmas hamper appeal received a resounding response. We are immensely grateful for your generosity and support.  Members of the S.V.P (Saint Vincent De Paul society) handed the Christmas hampers to deserving families in the community.


Mini Vinnies 2018-2019

Mini Vinnies is the children’s group of St. Vincent De Paul Society (SVP). They are a group of primary school children that get together to help those in need within the school and local community. On 4th December, the Mini Vinnies had the 2018 Commissioning Ceremony. Mr. John Scott (local S.V.P president) and Mrs. Patricia O’Rourke were special guests.


Mr. Mundy, Head Teacher, lit candles as a sign for the Mini Vinnies to spread their light to the community. Mrs. Hackett, RE Co-ordinator accepted paper cut out hands of the new Mini Vinnie members, on which were inscribed different ways they could make a difference to the community. Mrs. O’Rourke presented badges and Mr. Scott presented certificates on making their Mini Vinnie pledge. The ceremony ended with the whole school singing a positive and energetic song ‘Yes Lord’ to engage our hearts and minds.