Community engagement is a key priority at Cardinal Newman School. We work closely with a number of groups and organisations in the local area to support them in their day to day running and also as an intervention tool for students who need additional support. Students have the opportunity to develop their key skills and give something back to the community. Over the last academic year, we have worked with the following organisations:
- Memory Lane Cafe at St Thomas' church - students supported on the coffee morning, making drinks and playing games with local dementia sufferers. At Christmas, students held a fun quiz.
- Ashfield Care Home - students sit with residents at the care home, providing conversation and games for the residents.
- Coundon Park - students work alongside the Park Rangers to tidy up the park and plant new trees and shrubs
- Litter picks - as part of our eco-school status, students regularly take part in litter picks in the local area.
- Warwickshire Wildlife Trust - helped us to develop our pond and wildlife area in school. Students have built bird boxes and tidied up the school site, with their support.
- Creative Kindness - local organisation, who come into school and complete activities with students, such as Peace Doves, Memory Boxes, Large Poppies, Peace Wreaths and Bird Feeders, some of which were given to members of a Dementia Café, and others displayed around the school or given to teachers to show appreciation.
Please find below some photos which outline some of our recent activities.
Queens Canopy Tree Planting
On 10th February 2023 students were pleased to receive the gift of a new tree, in recognition for their work on environmental projects.
Coventry’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Kevin Maton, along with Coventry’s Park Rangers, presented and helped students plant the tree on our school grounds as a legacy for future generations.
The new tree is a Whitebeam (sorbus aria) and was donated to Coventry by the Queens Green Canopy – a nationwide initiative created to mark the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which has been extended by His Majesty King Charles.
The Lord Mayor said: “It’s an honour to be able to gift this tree to students of Cardinal Newman for all of the hard work they have shown in helping our environment.
“The tree is a fitting gift and reminder of the efforts they have and continue to put in to reducing the impact on the environment that we all make.”
We are really proud that we have been able to part of this event and look forward to continuing our environmental work as we move through the academic year.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (WWT)
Thanks to Players of People’s Postcode Lottery the Wildlife Trust are able to work with schools in Coventry, Nuneaton and Bedworth for free. Over 2 academic terms they will work intensively with Cardinal Newman to support their outdoor learning. They will provide teacher support and CPD and
also provide resources to help get children and young people outside and connecting with Nature. We will go den building, build bird feeders and learn about nature. This will help to increase student’s nature connectivity and also pupil wellbeing. Once the sessions are finished WWT will leave a learning box for the school to use in the future including activities such as a bug hunting set and den building tarps. This will support our development of our Forest School and pond.
Cardinal Newman have been visiting Ashfield House residential home and made a positive impact on the residents. Feedback from the home: “Students are very enthusiastic to talk to the residents and find out their likes and interests, the residents look forward to the students visiting and show a lot of interest in the students when they are here”. The residents love the visits and in particular enjoyed the pupil’s company at their Valentines party.
Pupils were brilliant in creating decorations with Creative Kindness earlier in the week and provided drinks and sweet treats for the residents.
As a school we are committed to ensure that our school is an eco-school. In September 2022 we were awarded the Eco Schools green flag status. Students formed an eco-committee and set up an action plan of activities that they would introduce into the school to make it more environmentally friendly.
Pupils collaborated with the Geography Department to conduct an environmental review, assessing how eco-friendly the school is. They reviewed everything from the school’s recycling practices, to energy usage, to how environmental themes are covered in classrooms. Building on their findings, the pupils and staff planned a year of activities that would up their green-credentials. The group connected their work to 3 Eco-Schools topics: Energy, Litter and school grounds. Students are taken into the local area to complete litter picking activities and we emphasise the importance of taking pride in the local area We are very proud of their achievements.
RHS Five Star Gardening School
As a school we are committed to encouraging students to understand the importance of the outdoors and students are able to regularly take part in gardening and nature activities. Students have helped local park rangers to tidy up Jubilee Wood, set up bird boxes around the school pond and help with planting on the school site.
We also feature on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website, where you can read more about the contributions that we have made as a school to the Coundon Park Peace Orchard: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/Coventry-Peace-Orchard. Students help to tidy up the park at different points throughout the year and each July Year 7 attend a Peace Picnic. Students at the school are heavily involved in the upkeep of the Peace Orchard, with jobs including pruning the apple trees, cutting back the wildflowers, planting spring bulbs and litter picking. More recently we have set up a project with city-based group ‘Creative Kindness’ where students created sustainable decorations to hang in the trees. As part of the Coventry Peace Festival, on Sunday 6 November 2022 the community were invited to the orchard to hang hundreds of peace ribbons and share their messages for peace.
Memory Lane Café:
Students have been working hard at our Thursday morning memory lane café. Students provide tea/coffee/cake for the visitors, which takes place at St Thomas' Church every fortnight on a Thursday. Students also created activities, crafts and quizzes for the visitors to take part in. Our visitors have thoroughly enjoyed the event and its great that students have had the opportunity to give back to the local community.
A local community group, Creative Kindness has been working with some of the students from Cardinal Newman since October 2022. During this time students have been working with the group making crafts such as Peace Doves, Memory Boxes, Large Poppies, Peace Wreaths and Bird Feeders, some of which were given to members of a Dementia Café, and others displayed around the school or given to teachers to show appreciation.
The students also worked collaboratively on a Holocaust Memorial Banner which was proudly displayed in the school, incorporating thoughtful messages of remembrance and hope.
Members of Creative Kindness have also benefitted from these sessions, see the quotes below from the group:
“I love working with the students and am really impressed by their thoughtfulness and compassion.”
“Since Creative Kindness has been approached to work with a group of students at Cardinal Newman our sessions have not only enhanced the students learning but also the Creative Kindness Leaders’ personal well being too.
We learn from each other. I firmly believe that curiosity, play and creativity is part of ALL of our lives.
The students we have worked alongside each week, I feel, have become more confident. This in turn has helped develop their social and interpersonal skills with their peers and adults within the group. In nurturing these skills, it will equip the students to gain confidence to make links with the wider Community (eg. giving their crafts to Care Home Residents, teachers, Peace Orchard) “
“Building relationships is so valuable and being in a small group enabled that.
Engaging the students in a range of activities either for different areas of the community or for themselves and their families”
“Fostering a sense of pride in their work as they care for their school community...making bird feeders and helping to tidy the edges of the school pond... “
“For me, the aims of the project are twofold. It enables pupils who are not able to cope with consecutive periods of academic study to talk to each other and us, not just about the project but also to share other experiences/feelings. They can also feel a sense of achievement in the end product, knowing that it is going to be displayed and valued in their community.”
Some activities have linked in with The Community Dementia Cafe they have been involved in, such as making crafts from paper., choosing from a range of quotes, (following a theme of positivity and kindness) to write on them and sharing them with the people attending the café, has enabled them to realise the impact their work has. A regular small act of kindness makes a difference to others. Feeling a sense of pride and worth may not be something felt often in a typical school setting but it is felt in our small groups and gives us a real buzz.