Dear Parents,

I hope everyone enjoyed ‘Our Christmas Story’ this afternoon, thanks to Miss Crowe, and appreciated the message the children shared: that Christmas is not about one day in December but is about how Jesus’s coming changes us and through his love, we change the world.

This year we have been collecting gifts for older members of our community. Next week children will be ‘being Santa’ and like St. Nicholas, they will deliver these gifts, in their case to care homes, to be given secretly to people who would otherwise not receive a present on Christmas morning. We have been thrilled by how generous people have been and very humbled by everyone’s willingness to donate at this time. I appreciate this is a difficult time of year, and even more so than usual during the financial crisis we are enduring as a country. We try as much as possible to minimise the cost of schooling, funding events in school, such as the discos and parties, educational visits and visitors to school from money raised by raffles, teachers and very generous donors, but this does limit what is possible. However, I think you would agree from our Gallery Evening, the most important purpose of schooling – the learning of children – is remarkable!

Christmas Celebration

Christmas Parties & Discos

On Monday, 18th December we will be hosting our Christmas parties and discos in school, as follows:

Bay Room, Nursery, Reception, Years 1 & 2, come in party clothes and will enjoy their party and disco during the day;

Years 3, 4, 5 & 6 come to school in uniform and can either change in school, or can ‘pop’ home at 3.00 pm to change for their disco starting at 3.30 pm. Parents should collect their children from the playground at 5.30 pm. (If children are making their own way home, expect them shortly afterwards.) Although the children in Years 3-6 had voted for an outdoor ‘festival-style’ disco this year, sadly due to the endless rain we have had, the lawn is saturated and will not be firm enough on Monday, so the disco will be in the hall.

Remember, Rock and Puddle room enjoy their party on Friday, 22nd December.

Gift Day: No Electricity Day

Our ‘Gift Days’ this year are focusing on the impact we have on the environment. Therefore, on Thursday 21st December, we are devoting one of our ‘Gift Days’ to recognising how reliant we are on the ‘gift’ of electricity, by trying to use as little as possible. So, on the shortest day of the year, we will be trying not to use lights, avoiding using computers & screens, photocopying machines… We hope this will be a fun day, when children will be amazed by just how reliant on electricity the world has become and the difficulty this creates in trying to address the environmental crisis. You might want to try this at home over Christmas, even a short time without lights, television, wifi… can be both a struggle and hilarious. (Remember don’t switch the fridge off!)

Carols by Candlelight

It seemed appropriate to end our ‘No electricity day’ with our Carols by Candlelight. As usual this is an opportunity for everyone, parishioners, family & friends to join together to sing traditional communal carols in our garden. Even without electricity we will be able to make soup, as usual, to warm us before we start. So, arrive from 5.30 pm for soup and carols will follow at 6.00pm. We expect to be finished by 6.30 pm.

Christmas Dinner

Again, on Friday, we will be celebrating with Christmas Dinner in our ‘Families at School’. Whether having a school meal or bringing a packed lunch, we sit together, children and adult, hosted by our ‘hoofies’ to share crackers, jokes and chat. Children can wear a Christmas jumper or anything Christmassy for the day, but please don’t buy anything just for the day, simply repurpose something such as a bright t-shirt or jumper.

Term Dates

School breaks for Christmas at 3.15 pm on Friday, 22nd December, 2023 and returns for Spring Term at 8.45 am on Monday 8th January, 2024. Holiday Care and Daycare re-open on Tuesday 2nd January, 2024. All other term dates can be found on our website. (Be careful to use our website, as you know, our dates are not in line with Hartlepool LA this year.)


Advent Carols & Christmas Mass Times

The Parish of the Holy Family’s Advent Carol Service is on Sunday 17th December at 4.00 pm in St. Joseph’s Church. Then across our parish there are opportunities for Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve, Sunday, 24th December and Christmas Day, Monday, 25th December as indicated:

Christmas Eve at St. John Vianney Church:            Mass at 4.30 pm

Christmas Eve at St. Joseph’s Church:                      Mass at 4.00 pm

Christmas Eve at St. Patrick’s Church:                      Mass at 6.00 pm

Christmas Eve at St. Mary’s Church:                         Mass at 6.30 pm

Christmas Day at St. Joseph’s Church:                     10.00 am Day Mass

Parent Governor Vacancy

There is a vacancy on our Local Governing Committee for a parent governor. We are very grateful to Mrs. McCarthy who has previous undertaken this role for many years, while her children were at our school. It is not an odious task, as there are now only three meetings per year. To go forward for election the parent needs to agree to DBS checking and be nominated by a number of other parents. If you would like to talk to me or the Chair of our committee about what is entailed in the role, please call or make an appointment.


I am sure you will have seen all the recent coverage in the news concerning the increase in legal cases regarding regular attendance at school. At our school, I have never known such high numbers of children falling into the persistent absence category, which means that they miss more than 1 day in 10, sacrificing their welfare and futures. Another reason for absence seems to be a ‘holiday’ in term time that may be relaxing and timely for adults but is anything but educational for children. Some parents say to me that their child’s attendance is so poor because they don’t like coming to school. However, when I investigate, I find they enjoy school. It is not knowing what is happening, not having friends because they don’t see them regularly enough to maintain the friendship, and, because they have missed so much, always feeling the children in their class are getting on with learning better than them. We find that all children have a love/hate relationship with school, but those who come every day learn more, have more friends and achieve their potential.


For the vast majority of our children, the loss of learning I have talked about since the end of the pandemic, is forgotten. You and they have worked very hard to recover and in achievement we are seeing the rewards of that in school. I would also like to share that children seem to have grasped the idea that learning begins by ‘getting it wrong’ so that they see the need for learning and the point of practise. This is certainly impacting positively on the pace of learning and the rate of progress, as exemplified by the end of Key Stage 2 SATs results, that our children took with them leaving in the Summer. Interestingly enough, the attendance of this class had not fallen since before the pandemic and they were the best attenders last year, which may partially explain the reason for 96% of them exceeding ‘expected’ performance across the curriculum.

As ever, our children are excited for Christmas, as they should be! I am very grateful for all the Christmas cards and I will remember everyone at Mass on Christmas morning. Please keep the children, families and staff of our setting in your prayers among a rather long list of the needs of our world at this time. We pray that our children continue to grow and develop into people we would want to know and trust to care for us and our world.

Yours sincerely

John L. Hardy (Head Teacher)