St Joseph's in The Park is an IAPS for Girls and Boys aged 3 to 11years in Hertfordshire.
About the school
St Joseph’s In The Park is set in beautiful parkland in the village of Hertingfordbury near Hertford. It is an established independent school with a distinct family ethos, offering a vibrant education to boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 11. The school encourages children to discover, explore, develop and be happy and provides excellent pastoral care. It is special because of the relationships between the people that make up the community: children, parents, past pupils, staff and governors. Our ISI inspection report bears out this belief and judged us to be 'Excellent in all areas'. The school fosters a strong sense of belonging and prides itself on a child-centred approach to education. Learning is fostered in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, and within an environment where fear of failure is banished and reinforced by positive learning experiences. The school prepares pupils for their secondary school entrance examinations and secondary education. The children at St Joseph's In the Park achieve great success and leave school full of self-confidence, having developed the courage to discover themselves and most importantly, to be the best they can.
The Reception Class of St Joseph's In The Park held a splendid Pre-Wedding Reception for their teacher and Head of Early Years Miss Ruth O'Brien.
15th October 2020 — Miss O'Brien has had to re-arrange and downscale her wedding plans seven times due to the Covid-19 pandemic so this was a wonderful surprise. She was even more delighted when her husband-to-be arrived to join in the celebrations.
Ruth O'Brien has worked at the school in Hertingfordbury for three years, and is marrying Sam Jack on Saturday 24th October. Sam is a medically retired veteran of the 33 EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Royal Engineers who suffered a serious head injury and lost his right eye after taking a ricocheted bullet to the head in 2009 in Afghanistan. Sam was in the army for 3 years and then spent two years rehabilitating. He has done a lot for charity, particularly Help for Heroes who supported him on his long road to recovery.
The children wore their smart clothes and each brought a flower to make up a bouquet for their teacher. They enjoyed a feast, a game of Mr & Mrs, then watched Ruth and Sam cut a splendid cake and take to the dance floor for their first dance. The children joined in with the dancing and even had a disco and some formal wedding photographs. They made cucumber sandwiches for afternoon tea and enjoyed balloon games to round off the day. Headmaster Douglas Brown presented the couple with a card and gift from the school and wished them well for the upcoming wedding day.
Virtual Learning - How St Joseph's In The Park Responded to Covid-19
Headmaster Douglas Brown introduced a custom-tailored distance learning strategy at St Joseph's In The Park in response to the first lockdown and has now created a virtual learning platform in order to navigate the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19
6th October 2020 — The school was quick to plan in order to continue to give the best possible outcomes for children and over the Easter holidays staff accepted the challenge by setting up learning platforms to engage children in a broad and diverse curriculum. Additionally, the situation gave teachers the opportunity to teach small groups of children and to really cater for their individual learning. In the younger years teachers continued to hear children read one-to-one. The children also benefitted from a plethora of activities to stimulate their independent learning and they responded enthusiastically to the increased creativity allowed by thinking 'outside the box' to produce films and models or to send videos of their 'thinking' (especially in Maths) to showcase their learning. Examples of the wonderful learning taking place were then shared through class blogs so that peers and family did not miss out and were able to praise and encourage their ideas. Parents also reported an increase in their child's organisational and ICT skills as they had to manage their workload and upload their completed work.
Importantly, the platform also allowed direct communication with families and enabled teaching staff to support them during this difficult time or to draw attention to some aspect of their child's learning or to just give them an immediate, gentle reminder that their lesson had started on Zoom!
During lockdown classes prepared assemblies to deliver to the whole school as normal or the Headmaster led an assembly via YouTube. Even staff took part in their own short videos to highlight that, despite such unprecedented times, we could all still have 'fun'. Early Years even held their own virtual Sports Day! One-to-one peripatetic music lessons continued during lockdown for children learning the violin, piano, woodwind, brass instruments, drums and for singing lessons. Children were set fun music challenges such as to play their instrument blindfolded, balancing a book on their head or playing upside-down. Older children recorded their Stomp style rhythmic composition which was then merged to made a big class stomp. Younger children made their own instruments. Extra-curricular activities were not ignored. As well as posting daily challenges the school set up clubs to encourage the children to learn new skills and to develop existing ones. Clubs encompassed fitness, art, Lego, STEM and photography.
Throughout this time the staff team supported each other and collaborated on providing the best possible learning experience for the pupils. They have risen to the challenge and been creative, innovative and shared best practice.
The school is now using Google Classrooms as a learning platform for Years 1-6 to ensure continuity of education and to deliver innovative and engaging lessons as we navigate the current uncertainty. This virtual learning experience essentially replicates real school online and, when needed, children can follow a normal timetable with lessons delivered face to face using Zoom.
The day begins with registration and may start with an assembly. Whilst the children in Early Years may enjoy story time, older children have the chance to watch lively, age appropriate science experiments via Zoom. Crossfit sports lessons are also included in the timetable. Collective worship continues to be delivered by the local church team ministry each week via a short film. Speakers from local charities such as SafeSpace and The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign have also produced video footage to be streamed to our individual classes.
The Headmaster has worked with Jane Simister, an educational expert who promotes intellectual character and independent thinking and the staff have benefitted from inset and continuing professional development run by Jane. He believes that it is important for children to be aware of the demands of the world that we live in to help them cope should they be faced with a 'panic' situation. This approach has proved more important than ever in the current pandemic situation and helped children to be independent learners, allowing them to solve problems for themselves rather than relying on others or adults to do the work for them.
The school continues to embed learning habits in the curriculum in order to build a 'growth mindset'. Five key learning habits - Flexibility of mind, persistence, reflectiveness, curiosity and good judgement help the children to think outside the box and explore their creativity, demonstrate a thirst for knowledge and have the freedom to make mistakes and adapt accordingly.
St Joseph's In The Park Appoints New Forest School Practitioner
John Mould joins St Joseph's In The Park to head up the Forest School. He believes learning in the great outdoors reaps huge rewards for children and that they learn through discovery, exploration and curiosity.
24th September 2020 — A new Forest School practitioner and Year 1 teacher has been appointed by St Joseph's In The Park. John Mould comes from Woolenwick Infant & Nursery School. He believes there are huge mental health benefits to outdoor learning. "The world outside the classroom offers a wonderful opportunity to play and learn in a stimulating environment and helps children to gain knowledge and understanding of the environment, sustainable living and the eco-system they live in."
As a qualified Forest School practitioner it is his aim to ensure that the varied natural resources in the school woodland are used to stimulate creative thinking, problem solving and skill development from an early age. Forest School takes a key role in the curriculum and the school places enormous value on the children being able to spend as much time outside and in the fresh air as possible. The school is fortunate to have woodland areas and extensive grounds in a parkland setting. Starting from Nursery and Reception age, the children's minds are ready to be 'flooded' with experiences that just cannot be taught in the classroom. The children learn early movement skills such as climbing trees safely and managing their own risk, whilst progressing up to lighting fires, roasting marshmallows, den building, knot tying, wood cutting and whittling. They can even use equipment such as saws and drills that in some cases, children would only access in secondary education.
"Studies have shown that children do not always learn best solely in the classroom environment and offering practical and outdoor learning can help keep them stimulated and physically active while learning." A study by the Forestry Commission identified positive benefits such as social skills, language and development along with physical skills.
"Providing opportunities to develop skills in co-operation, communication, problem solving, risk taking and leadership are all part of a child's development and outdoor learning facilitates this in spades," concludes John Mould.
A Special Prize Giving Event Thanks to Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE
Baroness Floella Benjamin made Prize Giving extra special for the pupils of St Joseph's In The Park this summer.
11th July 2019 — The children of St Joseph’s In The Park enjoyed a heart-warming and inspiring Prize Giving ceremony with a twist thanks to Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE. Floella used her acting skills, singing talent and natural warmth and generosity to make the event a very special day for pupils and parents. Each child who received a prize also received a ‘Floella hug’ – an uplifting change from the traditional handshake.
Baroness Benjamin told the children about her life lesson 3Cs - Consideration, Contentment and Confidence. If they can be considerate to others, content with life and have confidence in themselves and their abilities this will help them throughout their lives.
She explained how she had experienced bullying and discrimination in her early life and how the 3Cs had helped her to overcome difficulties and to achieve success and happiness. She used her considerable acting skills to tell the story of The Three Little Pigs. “Never do things by half and always do the best you can just as the clever bricklaying pig did.” She finished with a moving performance of the song ‘Smile’, composed by Charlie Chaplin, which also had a powerful message for children and parents.
Baroness Benjamin is Trinidadian-British and well known as the presenter of Play School and Play Away. She is an actress, author, broadcaster and parliamentarian who was made a life peer in 2010, has a strong interest in primary education and supports many charities. Headmaster Douglas Brown thanked Floella and said that it had been a truly memorable and inspiring day for the whole school.
A Winning Performance from St Joseph's In The Park at STAHS Book Festival
A group from St Joseph’s In The Park were delighted when celebrity actor Simon Pegg chose them to win the Readers’ Theatre Competition at the recent STAHS Children’s Book Festival and presented their prizes.
19th June 2019 — The girls faced stiff competition from several school teams who were invited to act out a children’s book with no props, only limited movement on the stage and good use of their voices. Simon Pegg complemented them for working well as a team, with good expression, performing creatively and really bringing the story alive for the audience.
Isla, Maisie, Sophia, Alice and Grace chose ‘Bumble Bear’ as their story and devised the performance as a group in the week leading up to the Festival. All recently took LAMDA exams and this helped their teamwork and imagination.
The girls were excited to meet the superstar actor, writer and comedian and famous authors including David Baddiel, Robin Stevens, Jonathan Stroud and James Mayhew who all took part in workshops and readings at the inaugural Book Festival.
Celebrating Scholarships and Secondary School Success at St Joseph's In The Park
Year 6 pupils celebrated their recent scholarship and secondary school success with a week of activities and trips outside the classroom. The school's wide and varied curriculum with interesting trips and activities brings education to life.
30th March 2019 — Year 6 pupils at St Joseph’s In The Park recently achieved scholarships and places in a wide range of excellent independent and state schools across Hertfordshire. Three children were awarded scholarships. Amelia (academic, Queenswood); Sonny (sports, Haileybury) and Zachary (music, St Edmund’s College). All pupils received offers from their chosen schools including Bishop’s Stortford College, Broxbourne, Dame Alice Owen, St Chris, Haileybury, Mount House, Presdales, Sherrardswood and Queenswood.
Headmaster Douglas Brown congratulated all the pupils. “The staff are very proud of the children’s achievements and recognise all the hard work they have put in this year.”
Year 6 celebrated with ‘Opportunities Week’ – a chance to experience life outside the classroom with visits to the Houses of Parliament; a day behind the scenes at Stansted Airport; Indoor Skydiving at Milton Keynes; Crossfit training in St Albans and a day out at The Edge where they tackled one of the largest high ropes courses in Hertfordshire.
“It is important for the school to provide a great deal more than just exam success, we offer a wide and varied curriculum, enhanced by a diverse and complementary extra-curricular programme which is designed to equip children for the modern and changing world. Pupils are encouraged to develop learning habits; such as curiosity, persistence and independence which will stand them in good stead for future careers. The focus of any curriculum should not simply be on attainment, but on producing confident, well-rounded children who can contribute and have a value in society,” said Douglas Brown.
Finding out more
St Mary's Lane, Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire, SG14 2LX