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.
Families enjoyed Forest School sessions as the summer term began and Covid restrictions eased.
29th April 2021 — St Joseph’s In The Park school opened its Forest School area to toddlers, parents, grandparents and carers as the Covid lockdown restrictions eased this Spring to run successful free outdoor toddler groups for local families.
“We thought how nice it would be to open up our Forest area for the little ones to explore with their relatives, carers and friends, particularly as they have not been able to socialise with other children in the lockdown period” said Headmaster Douglas Brown.
John Mould the teacher who heads up the Forest School welcomed everyone and encouraged them to explore the outdoor area and initially to walk around, climb safely and to gather sticks and leaves. He has planned a series of activities to sit alongside exploration including finger painting, craft, music and dancing.
He explained how the Forest School ethos is child centred, allowing them to learn through discovery, exploration and curiosity. The school places enormous value on outdoor learning and encourages the children between the ages of three to eleven to get outside to learn in all types of weather and all year round. Children develop early movement skills such as climbing trees safely and begin to manage their own risk in structured lessons. As they grow in confidence they can progress to den building, knot tying, wood cutting and whittling. Children who may lack confidence in a classroom setting often thrive outdoors as a new set of opportunities opens to them. Important life skills such as teamwork, risk management and independent learning are just some of the benefits gained from woodland activities.
Everyone was delighted to be able to get out in the fresh air and to do something a bit different. Some children were a little shy to begin with but soon grew in confidence and the carers said how good it was to see new faces and to have a chance to chat while enjoying the outdoor space.
Celebration of Scholarships and Secondary School Success
The Year 6 class of St Joseph's In The Park have recently celebrated being awarded scholarships and secondary school places at excellent senior schools across the county.
18th March 2021 — St Joseph’s In The Park is pleased to report a very successful year for the Year 6 pupils who have gained entrance into a wide range of independent and state senior schools across Hertfordshire. Five scholarships were awarded: Eden (Academic, Bishop’s Stortford College & Music, Haileybury); Elaine (Music, St Albans High School for Girls); Isla (academic, St Edmund’s College); Kerensa (sports, Mount House). For the third year in a row, the school gained a 100% pass rate for Haileybury which is a great achievement. Children will move on to St Albans High School for Girls, St Edmund’s College, Bishop’s Stortford College, Haileybury, Queenswood, Aldenham, Mount House, Presdales, Gosfield, Broxbourne, Richard Hale, Chauncy, Chancellor’s and the King’s School, Harpenden.
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. I really believe the scholarships awarded demonstrate that as a school we truly add value to all our pupils and offer an all-round education.”
“It is important for the school to provide a great deal more than just exam success. We are proud to be a non-selective school offering 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 are adaptable and can contribute and have a value in society,” said Douglas Brown.
Lockdown meant that Year 6 could not make the trip to London to visit the Houses of Parliament and have a tour, but Julie Marson MP joined them by Zoom for a lesson to tell them all about UK Parliament.
10th February 2021 — Julie Marson MP for Hertford and Stortford visited the Year 6 class of St Joseph's In The Park via Zoom for an hour long lesson on the 5th February.
The class were due to visit the Houses of Parliament and to have a guided tour which wasn't possible due to lockdown, however Julie Marson gave them a fascinating insight into Parliament and her role as an MP.
The children were interested to hear Julie's story - how she became a Member of Parliament, what it is like to work in the House of Commons and the highlights of her work so far. A Q & A session followed where they had the chance to ask her questions on topics which particularly interested them.
Mrs Marson was elected as MP for Hertford and Stortford in 2019 and told the children that it is a very rewarding and interesting job as she represents her constituents in parliament and tries to help individuals and the community with problems or issues that arise such as flooding, crime, planning, education, health and welfare. She did not come from a political background, her Grandfather was a docker in the East End of London and she was born in Barking and was educated at the local grammar school. After university she had a successful career in the city working in finance. After having her son she ran charities, served as a councillor and then a magistrate which sparked her interest in politics. She wanted to do more for people who had a hard start in life.
She explained that few people watching politics on tv get to see how much cross party work goes on behind the scenes in parliament and in select committees. She sits on the Treasury Select Committee and has interviewed the Chancellor and the Governor of the bank of England.
Mrs Marson gave an in depth introduction to the Houses of Parliament including the history of Westminster Hall and a description of the House of Lords and House of Commons. She explained how the MPs in the House of Commons are all elected and represent their constituents. The House of Lords is the second chamber of UK parliament with around 800 members. The majority are life peers but many members are active in their careers whether in business, culture, science, sports, academia, law, education, health and public service. They bring this knowledge to their role of examining matters of public interest that affect all UK citizens. She described the last state opening of Parliament, where she was lucky enough to be in the right place to see the Queen sitting on the throne in the House of Lords and black rod walking through the corridor.
The Q & A session was very informative. Children asked some searching questions. Here are some examples:
Q: What is it like to work behind the scenes in the building itself?
A: Thousands of people work in the building. Julie has got lost in the corridors and offices but you know when you're in the House of Commons as the carpet is green and in the House of Lords the carpets are red. There is an underground tunnel which connects Portcullis House, the modern office building to the main Palace of Westminster. There are several restaurants, a hairdressers and a gym as the MPs have to live there all day while votes are going on and they need to be within 9 minutes of the Chamber. A division bell begins to clang throughout the Palace when a vote is called and there is a mad rush to reach the voting lobbies.
Q: What has been your toughest moment as an MP?
A: The first time I had to stand in a chamber and ask a question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I was nervous but it turned out well in the end.
Q: Do you feel as though you can make a big impact on the choices the government makes?
A: Yes. MPs do get to advise and give their opinion to government ministers every day and that can make a big difference to legislation.
Q: When will children be able to go back into school?
A: The government and every MP is working hard to get schools and education back to normal for everyone as we know it is very important and a priority.
Q: Do you get a chance to meet well known people?
A: I regularly meet the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers. When Priti Patel the Home Secretary visited Bishop's Stortford to meet the Chief Constable of Herts Police I accompanied her when she met new police recruits on a socially distanced visit.
Q: I am concerned about homeless people, particularly in the light of the pandemic situation. What is the government doing to help them?
A: The government have spent £400 million in 2020 on helping homeless people. Bob Blackman MP has introduced a Homelessness Reduction Act which means that councils now have a legal duty to look after homeless people.
Covid-19 has meant that many more constituents have needed help and advice and have contacted their MP for support. In 2020 her office answered 26,000 emails so they are very busy. Julie is immensely proud of sitting on the bill committees and seeing positive changes this brings for people.
The Year 6 teacher Paul Ross thanked Julie Marson for taking the time out of her busy day to join the class and said how much they had enjoyed finding out about the working life of an MP and how parliament works.
The Headmaster and teachers at St Joseph’s In The Park have been delighted to receive many messages of thanks from parents as remote learning returns in lockdown at the start of 2021.
20th January 2021 — Parents have sent messages of thanks to teachers for a good start to remote learning as the new year begins in lockdown.
“Most of our children will not be on site, but this does not mean that education, teaching and learning stops. The school day continues online. We have a proven virtual learning platform and teachers continue to deliver class lessons, much as a normal school day runs, live via Zoom from home or school. They are committed to providing the best possible learning experience for the pupils with creative, innovative lessons and by sharing best practice,” comments Douglas Brown who has received emails from grateful parents.
The school introduced a custom-tailored distance learning strategy in response to the first lockdown and 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. This virtual learning experience essentially replicates real school online and children can follow a normal timetable with lessons delivered face to face using Zoom. Children all have a live Zoom maths and English lesson each day. They have regular assemblies which the Headmaster pre-records and they also join in a collective worship on google classrooms with videos recorded by Reverend Stewart or Tracey Plumpton from the St Mary’s Church team in Hertingfordbury. Reception children have a weekly booklet of varied tasks and are following their timetable with daily Zoom lessons and a mix of home learning tasks to help bring the valuable practical aspects of Early year teaching into their homes. They also enjoy a daily story time with their classmates.
Each week a child from each class is nominated by their teacher to receive the Headmaster’s Award for outstanding work or for their positive attitude to online learning. Certificates are emailed home to the recipients each week. Music lessons continue virtually with peripatetic music teachers on a variety of instruments including piano, drums, guitar, brass, woodwind and violin. House competitions continue with the Headmaster’s ‘Lockdown Challenges’. Loyola, McAuley and Benet will try to win the John O’ Groats to Land’s End House challenge which encourages children to run, walk or ride their bike, record their distance and share with the class teacher. The whole school has 14 days to travel 874 miles from the top to the bottom of the United Kingdom. CrossFit and exercise sessions are enjoyed by all age groups.
Parents have commented on how they like the clear, simple and calm approach the teachers have taken. Class teachers collaborate with the children, assisting them to become independent learners and to take the responsibility for learning at their own pace. The use of technology helps to broaden the curriculum and helps children to explore new areas, to navigate and gather information.
The school remains open to children of key workers and the Kindergarten and Nursery department remains open as normal with the dedicated catering team still working hard and cooking delicious meals each day.
Thanks from Parents – Remote Learning
“We just wanted to say thank you for ensuring such a quick and smooth transition back to remote learning. Our daughter is really enjoying it and she has a real sense of control over her work…… Great for her and us!
“Although this term has been somewhat different to the norm, I am so thankful for your support and thank the teachers for making all the children enjoy school as much as they do. So very proud of how the school days have been structured and maintained throughout this time.”
“Dear Mr Brown and staff, I wanted to say what an amazing job you are doing, school communications have been clear, non alarmist and factual. Thank you for keeping the kids happy, safe and calm, teachers…… You and your staff always do a fabulous job, but especially at this time I wanted to say it is appreciated.”
“Mr Brown – thank you for keeping the children/school in a safe environment. The letters and updates that you have sent have been amazing. So much to keep on top of and these just make my life so much easier, knowing what is going on and coming up in the near future.”
“Thank you for sending the Headmaster’s award through. My son was so proud to receive it and it genuinely made the whole family’s day! Thank you to Mr Brown and all the teaching staff. Year 4 and Year 2 have had an amazing start to this term in challenging times. The thought, effort, patience and kindness from the teaching staff has been incredible – it’s hugely appreciated.”
“Please pass on our thanks to everyone involved in making such a special memory. Considering all the difficulties with Covid in 2020, we weren’t expecting a play at all, so to be able to join in remotely was just lovely and hugely appreciated.”
“I think you as Headmaster and all your staff are all doing a wonderful job at trying to keep our children as safe as possible. You all put yourselves at risk every day and have to go home to your families and I can appreciate that this is not an easy time for you all. We would just like to say a huge thank you to you and all the staff at St Joseph’s for all you are doing as well as all you have done since this all started.”
“Just a quick note to say how incredibly impressed at how you and your team have dealt with this chaotic time. My daughter has been calm, she has understood and not been upset with the changes made. This is down to you and her teachers at St Joseph’s In The Park.”
Teachers' Top Tips for Parents When Children are Remote Learning:
1. Create a space for everyone
Sharing the same space is never easy. Try and let older children have their own space, especially if you are also working from home and have telephone calls and meetings all day. Together, work out the most comfortable and quiet space for your child to take part in online learning and then let them take ownership.
2. Be kind to yourself
Incorporate self-kindness into your learning schedule. Parents and children should organise a timetable and structure your day so that you have specific slots every day for eating (maybe even together), exercise, staying connected and just relaxing. Resist the urge to feel that you should be working every minute of the day.
3. Eyes Down
When you are not involved in focusing your eyes at ‘online’ screen lessons, give your peepers a rest. Resist crashing out in front of the TV or reaching out for the games console. Instead, look ahead, notice the world outside your window, strengthen your eye muscles with simple exercises and let those eyes truly have ‘downtime’.
Keep a routine and schedule small breaks throughout the day.
Get outside for some exercise if possible, or if the weather is really bad exercise indoors, even dancing is great to do.
6. Focus on Relationships
Research shows that children will work hard for their teachers, be cooperative and follow rules and routines if they perceive parents to be supportive and caring.
7. Stay Positive
Children look to their parents to figure out how to react to new or intimidating situations so try to stay positive about distance learning. If a parent is enthusiastic about online learning, then the children will be more excited and motivated.
A Creative and Magical Christmas at St Joseph's In The Park
The Headmaster and teachers at St Joseph's In The Park adapted the Christmas celebrations so that children and parents could still enjoy the festive season despite Covid restrictions.
10th December 2020 — Parents and Grandparents at St Joseph's In the Park were still able to watch their children perform the traditional Christmas nativity. They joined the pre-school performance via Zoom in the classroom and the infant parents could watch their children on stage from the comfort and safety of home. The little ones could see their parents and grandparents join them on the screen in the classroom and occasionally couldn't resist a little wave mid performance. Each nativity was also filmed for the parents to download.
The traditional carol service moved outdoors from the usual parish church to a magical 'Carols by Candlelight' service in the school's woodland forest school setting, all lit by tea lights.
Children and staff also took part in a charity fundraising Christmas jumper day and raised over £1,250 for Save The Children. GSK have kindly matched this sum and made the total over £2,500. The school also donated new toys and presents for the Salvation Army's Christmas appeal which were delivered to the Salvation Army church in Welwyn Garden City and will be distributed to children who might not otherwise receive a Christmas gift.
The Headmaster Douglas Brown said that he was pleased that the teachers had been able to adapt the Christmas celebrations so that children and parents could still enjoy the festive season despite the Covid restrictions. "Thanks to the hard work, dedication and commitment of the staff, we have kept the school days as normal as possible for children and parents and we have enjoyed the magic of Christmas at the end of term."
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.
Finding out more
St Mary's Lane, Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire, SG14 2LX