Care in the Community Ethos at Therfield First School
At Therfield First School, we highly value being part of a close-knit, village community. In turn, the local village is proud to have our school set within it. A big part of our school ethos is in enabling our pupils to recognise the positive impact that they can have on those around them. This includes those within our immediate school community, those in the local area and those in the wider world. We undertake many opportunities to make a positive impact to others through our numerous 'Making a Difference' projects, valuing the important gift of giving. Our children quickly recognise how good they feel when they can make a difference to others. The many ways in which we do this includes:
* Annual Harvest Gift-of-Giving project
* Monthly GAP sessions - 'Generations at Play'
* Regular visits to play games or sing to the elderly at local nursing homes
* Litter picking in the school grounds and across the village
* Purchasing, making and donating items for schools in deprived areas in other countries
We also make maximum use of our idyllic village setting as part of our Bringing Learning to Life school motto. We regularly visit the local church for special services and to perform our Christmas Nativity in. Classes take part in local walks to provide a practical real-life backdrop to learning. We regularly engage with the village residents to support our learning, i.e. canvassing views via questionnaires and inviting villagers into school to share our learning with them. We are also exceptionally lucky to be visited each week by Alfie, our reading dog, who lives within the local village.
Read below to find out a little more about each of the above.
Introduced by the Headteacher in 2015, every October, the whole school takes part in our Harvest Gift-of-Giving project. During this time, all children are involved in making 'gifts' in huge quantities. Previous examples of these have included posies of flowers, cupcakes, shortbread, cookies and over 400 scones! (for an afternoon tea gift package). Once made, the children are involved in bagging the items, writing personalised tags and wrapping everything together with 'Therfield' purple ribbon. The gifts always look amazing. The next day, in small groups, the children hand-deliver the gifts to every house in the village - that's over 160 gifts made and delivered! Our children greet the residents with smiley faces and cheers of 'Happy Harvest'. In response, we are inundated with phone calls, emails and cards of Thanks from the villagers, often hand-written directly to the child that made their package. Our children get a real sense of pride for making a difference to someone's day and recognise the positive impact that a gesture, gift or smiley face can have on others. Harvest is one of our most celebrated and much-loved times of the year.
Monthly GAP sessions were introduced by the Headteacher in 2016, in collaboration with the village Chapel, located directly opposite the school. For one hour, during the first Wednesday of the month, a year group of children at a time would make their way over to the Chapel to play traditional board games and puzzles with the more elderly or isolated members of the local community. During the session, the children would enjoy great inter-generational conversations with the many attendees. A particular highlight for all was stopping for a cup of tea or hot chocolate, accompanied by a homemade cake or biscuit, curtesy of the Chapel volunteers. It was always an absolute joy to see GAP in action. Both children and attendees gained so much from these sessions. What a brilliant way to boost everyone's wellbeing through the gift of time and attention. Throughout the year, each year group of pupils had numerous opportunities to attend and lead the GAP sessions.
Unfortunately, we had to stop our GAP sessions during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are very much looking forward to re-commencing our sessions in October 2022.
Groups of children and staff regularly visit the local care and residential nursing home to spread a bit of Therfield joy and cheer.
Local Care Home:
Through forging links with Age UK, pre-pandemic, our Year 4 pupils would attend a one hour session each half term at the local care home in Royston. Led by the Head, pupils would visit during the popular '10 to 3 club'. Attendees were typically aged between 80-100 years. Our children really got to know the regular attendees and would spend time talking about and comparing the different ways of life, past and present. Our children would also take part in team games, such as BINGO, or large-scale Snakes and Ladders; with the children often being the eyes, ears, voices and hands for the attendees. It was magical to see the friendships form and everyone involved greatly looked forward to the next session.
Residential Nursing Home:
Supported by our specialist music teacher, differing groups of children and staff regularly visit the local residential nursing home to sing and entertain the residents. The children usually make small gifts or take bunches of flowers to brighten up the residents day. Key times for visits include Easter, Christmas and Remembrance Day.
We take great pride in our school and in looking after the environment. To support this, our Year 4 Eco-Warriors regularly litter pick across the school grounds. Half termly, they extend this beyond the school gates by litter picking across the village. This is a highly anticipated activity and our young leaders feel very proud when they come back to school brandishing full bags of items that can now be recycled. Duckpuddle pupils also engage in this activity during their topic 'Our Village'. Litter picking is just one of the many pledges that they make to support them in earning their Green Blue Peter badges.
This activity is recognised and celebrated by the residents who live in the local village. Often, a high number of our pupils will join the villagers when they organise their village litter picking session on a Saturday morning. Would you believe it that a number of our children have previously added a Litter Picker to their birthday or Christmas wish list!
We are ecstatic to be visited weekly by the wonderful Alfie as part of the ‘Read to Dogs’ therapy scheme. Alfie is a gorgeous Goldendoodle who lives in Therfield with his mummy, Sue. Alfie loves to hear our children read and our children LOVE to read to Alfie. Our children are very excited when it is their turn to read and all children have at least one half term reading weekly with Alfie each year. Before he leaves, Alfie takes a tour around the classrooms to see what all the children have been learning.
Wherever possible, we try to make a difference to the wider community too. In recent years, this has included forming a relationship with a school in South Africa as part of Rooks Nest's 'Making a Difference' topic. Not only did they make connections through writing letters and sending videos about our school experiences, but as a school we were able to fundraise money to send the school six iPads, writing and drawing equipment, educational posters and provided financial support for pupils to receive additional 1:1 tutoring.
We also annually collect donations of food, clothes and furniture, which are shipped as part of a larger consignment to an orphanage and school in Ghana.
Recently, we instigated a collection to support those impacted by the war in Ukraine. We extended our collection to the local community and were overwhelmed by the donations given by parents, staff and the local villagers.
We take part in a range of charity themed days/events to fundraise for local and national causes. Events have included non-uniform/dress-up days for Comic Relief, Red Nose Day and Jeans for Genes Day. We also take part in sponsored events, cake sales, singing as a whole school inside Tesco Extra in Royston and collect donations during our nativity performance. For Harvest we host an annual whole school breakfast where staff donate the food items and breakfast donations are made to a chosen charity. We regularly support our local Home-Start charity which is so very much appreciated by their outreach support team.