Those Present for infant and Junior chat: Tricia Opalko, Sarah Armstrong, Dean Bickford, Julia Evans.
Part 1 Discussion Topic: RE
Once the governors had introduced themselves, Mrs Opalko explained to the children why they were there and that the governors wanted to discuss both RE and reading. The children were excited to talk to us.
Infant Children (Year 1 and 2). What is RE and do you enjoy your RE lessons?The children told us that it is a time when you worship God. “It is a Holy subject”.
All the children said they enjoyed RE. They told us that their lessons were fun but hard work as sometimes they had to do lots of writing.
The children seemed to enjoy it most when they were read bible stories by their teachers and when they acted them out.
Some lovely comments of particular note were: “I like RE because I like it when we get to pray”: “I like RE because I want to be a better follower of Jesus” and “RE lessons calm me and I find them relaxing”.
Do you go to our church?
“Yes, we went recently and talked about the Stations of the Cross”. The children told us that one class had been over to do some drawings.
The children gave us lots of examples of when they went over to the church. Other than beginning and end of term masses the children also go on a Tuesday morning (class rotation) to the normal 9.30 mass. They all knew Fr Liam and said he comes in to talk to them when they have a Tuesday mass. He explains the gospel reading in advance.
The children in one class talked to us about the “parable of the talents” they had recently discussed with Fr Liam. They told us what they learnt with one child commenting, “We have learnt that you shouldn’t hide away your talents”. They then went on to discuss the many talents they all have!
Junior Children (Year 4 and 5).
When asked, all the children knew that RE stood for Religious Education.
Do you like RE?
All the children said yes but for various reasons: “Because you see things from a different perspective”; “We get to develop a bible story that we have already worked on before”; “it is nice to learn about the stories of Jesus”; “I like to hear about the miracles” and “I like learning about different religions”. Although one child told us that it could get boring sometimes as the same story is revisited year after year. The governors and children then went on to discuss that on many occasions the stories are part of the liturgical year and so this is unavoidable.
The governors probed further on the other religions the children learn and one child told us they had visited the local mosque last term.
One child said they found applying the gospel stories to their life today hard. We asked if they get any help with this. The response was “Yes, the teachers are very helpful”.
The children told us they had RE once a week, collective worship twice a week, hymn practice once a week and assembly.
How does RE impact your life?
Some of the responses were very humbling: “You get ideas from Jesus on how to live your life”, “The targets in assembly are good for you to work on”, “It teaches you how to be good and happy”.
When do you go to our church?
Similarly, the junior children told us they go to mass at the beginning and the end of term, on feast days as well as certain Tuesdays (again, Fr Liam comes in before to discuss the readings in advance). They told us recently they went to Reconciliation. The children had also been over to the church to study the Stations of the Cross.
Part 2 Discussion Topic: Reading
Infant Children (Year 1 and 2).
Mrs Opalko then explained to the children that the governors would also like to hear about their reading.
Do you like Reading?
All the children said yes. The children liked reading in the main because they enjoyed exciting stories. The majority prefer fiction. Although one child said they preferred non-fiction as they enjoyed learning about something new. Most of the children said they read to a parent and their parent also reads to them. One child said they particularly enjoyed reading the Famous 5 series.
Do you enjoy your school reading books?
Most children said yes. One child particularly enjoyed the Project X series. They discussed the Biff and Chip books and most of the children in year 2 had now moved passed them. The children told us they had a mixture of books to take home. Year 2 children told us “We have two books to take home on a Monday and then one on a Friday”.
One child didn’t like reading “Because you don’t get to choose”.
Finally we asked the children if the teacher read to them. “Yes, every day at the end of the day. We are reading Matilda” was the response.
Junior Children (Year 4 and 5).
Do you like Reading?
“I absolutely love reading. I enjoy stories and enjoy escaping” was the response from one enthusiastic pupil. All of the children said they enjoyed reading. However, some said it depended on what they were reading. We were told that they like a mixture of non-fiction and fiction. They like adventure books and favourite authors seem to be Roald Dahl and David Williams.
One child told us occasionally they don’t like the school reading book. We asked what they did when this happened and the child told us that they would tell their TA and they would normally give them a different book.
A couple of year 5’s told us about the school library. They said there was a wide range of books and they use the library regularly. We asked if there were enough books and we were informed, “There are loads!” These same children told us they are trying to prepare a list of class recommended books, categorised into genre following a suggestion by Mrs Opalko. For example, if the children were looking for a humorous story or adventure they would know what to pick. The children are also encouraged to give their friends recommendations.
Mrs Opalko asked the children to tell the governors about paired reading. They told us that every Friday the Year 6 pair with Year 4 and Year 5 with Year 3. The younger children read to the older children and the older children then help when necessary and ask them questions about the book. When asked, one year 5 child told us that they also benefit from the arrangement as they have to think in advance of a question and know the answer, “which is tricky”!
When asked about the recent author visit (Kieran Larwood on 13th March) the children were all very excited to tell us about it and how much they had enjoyed it. They told us “It makes us want to read other stories by the author”. The children were excited that we have some more upcoming visits by authors.
Finally, the children told us that their class teachers read to them. Most had just finished reading ‘Podkin One Ear’ by Kieran Larwood.
As you can tell by the length of this document the governors gleaned a lot of useful information from the children during the chat. We are, as always, hugely grateful to the children for talking to us so honestly, confidently and willingly.