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At Valley Invicta Primary School at Aylesford, we take pride in working with our local community. Click on the titles below to find out more about all the projects we have been involved in.
Charities Through Curriculum
A whole-class, knowledge-rich fact file about African animals, which all children contribute to. Each entry into the book is presented as a pop-up art gallery, along with the artwork produced, to sell to parents to raise money for an African charity.
Present a whole-class booklet and campaign to raise funds based on animal mistreatment in chosen country within Europe to help raise awareness and direct them towards local animal charities.
Run a campaign linked directly to the Fairtrade Foundation.
Cross-curricular writing to include writing in role as a banana as it makes its journey from start to finish.
A toy drive in aid of Save the Children.
Hunting awareness campaign.
Children In Need
In November, we raise awareness for Children In Need. Children have a fantastic time dressing up in their Pudsey Bear outfits, covering themselves in spots or wearing their pyjamas (and of course onesies) to school. Children also have great fun placing their donations on our Pudsey Bear. Thank you parents, carers and guardians for providing brilliant outfits as well as for your donations that will go on to help vulnerable children all across the UK including children with disabilities, children in need of bereavement support and young carers.
You can donate all year round by following this link: https://donate.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk
Children’s Mental Health Week
A special message from HRH The Duchess of Cambridge:
To mark the start of Children’s Mental Health Week, The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of Place2Be, has sent a message of support encouraging children and parents to find ways to share their thoughts and feelings, particularly during such a challenging time.
During the video message, The Duchess highlights the crucial need for parents and carers to look after their own mental wellbeing, and the impact that this has on the children in their care.
Last year, Her Royal Highness launched her landmark survey on the Early Years, ‘5 Big Questions on the Under-Fives’, which aimed to spark the biggest ever conversation on early childhood that will ultimately help bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come. The research revealed that whilst 90% of people acknowledge that maintaining parental mental health is crucial to support the health and happiness of their child, in practice the majority of parents struggle to prioritise their own wellbeing.
The theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is ‘Express Yourself’ and focuses on the creative ways children and adults can share feelings, thoughts or ideas through art, music, writing, poetry, dance, drama, photography and film, or just doing activities that make them feel good.
In the message, The Duchess of Cambridge said:
“This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is all about expressing yourself – about finding creative ways in which to share your thoughts, ideas and feelings. So whether that’s through photography, through art, through drama, through music or poetry – it’s finding those things that makes you feel good about yourself.
“And while this is Children’s Mental Health Week there has never been a more important time to talk about parental wellbeing and mental health too. Last year you told me just how important this was that many of us find it hard to prioritise. This is a hugely challenging time for us all so please look after yourself too. Find those ways in which to share your thoughts and your feelings or find someone to talk to because we really do need to be the very best versions of ourselves for the children in our care.”
Her Royal Highness has supported Children’s Mental Health week since it was launched by Place2Be in 2015 to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.
HRH Queen Elizabeth II
On 6 November 2019, all of our pupils had the opportunity to see Her Majesty The Queen when she visited The Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) in Aylesford.
The village provides housing, welfare support and care to more than 300 people with connections to the Armed Forces.
The Queen opened the new Appleton Lodge care facility and visited the Centenary Village housing project. She also placed soil into a hole containing a time capsule, which is not to be opened for 100 years.
Over 20 parent volunteers and 30 staff accompanied the children, from Reception to Year 6 to this once in a lifetime opportunity. They even managed to see Her Majesty the Queen being taken to her helicopter, and taking off, once her visit was complete.
This event sees us come together with the local community, every year, to provide food parcels for the elderly and war veterans living in the local area.
Previously, Tesco bakery has baked us some fantastic display bread and the whole school has decorated boxes and brought goods in. These are ususally then sorted by Year 6 and distributed to our neighbours in the local area.
Lockdown is having a devastating effect on children and young people’s mental health. It’s been unbelievably hard, but together, we can make a difference and show young people they are not alone.
The focus and positivity that we get from taking part each year is fantastic. In the past we have sold cakes that have been cooked by pupils and parents, sold yellow ribbons as a symbol and groups of young people have given up their time to create posters and spread the word around school.
The focus and positivity that we get from taking part each year is fantastic.
We started this process because of the increasing number of pupils who were reporting mental health related issues. Often these pupils had struggled to be seen by a GP or a counsellor outside of school and needed someone to listen and accept that something was wrong. We are one of the fortunate schools that has an excellent team who are skilled and empathetic. But not every school is so lucky and not every pupil feels strong enough to take that first step to ask for help. #HelloYellow is often a catalyst in getting pupils to see that asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of - in fact it's the best thing that they can do.
#HelloYellow is often a catalyst in getting pupils to see that asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of - in fact it's the best thing that they can do.
Although we are limited this year as a result of COVID-19, our pupils’ enthusiasm was not. Each class was keen to outdo the other in wearing something yellow that is spectacular and demonstrates our commitment to recognising the struggle that people are facing each and every day.
We are looking forward to a time when everyone respects the feelings of others and shows understanding to their peers.
Lipscomb Cars Ltd
We are very lucky to have a relationship with our local car dealership who very kindly provide our Year 6 with prom cars so that all pupils can go to the ball in style.
We work closely with our Youth Engagement officer for Tonbridge and Malling, PCSO Toni Matthew who helps us understand topical issues around knife crime, common assault, shoplifting and peer pressure; who is legally responsible and more importantly who to turn to if you’re in trouble or feel worried.
We have reached out to all of our local feeder schools and keep in touch for open mornings, parent workshops and school readiness CPD. We invite them to visit our school regularly in the summer term, working closely to help pupils, staff and parents understand the expectations for school readiness.
M&S Volunteer Day
As part of Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June 2019), five members of M&S staff came along to help revamp the outside space at Valley Invicta Primary School at Aylesford.
Amber, Mandy, Gemma, Isla and Tina, along with a few other volunteers from the school, spent all day on Tuesday 4 June repainting the driveway fencing, planting flowers in the forest school to attract bees, and installing hedgehog houses and wildlife cameras.
We are looking forward to welcoming them back to the school in the future.
Our pupils created some beautiful artwork for Maidstone Hospital, which is now being displayed in Covid Vaccination Hospital. We really hope the pictures cheer everyone up and that they brighten up the environment!
Every year, a local magistrate visits Year 6 at school where they explain the legal system and their work. The children, after learning that from the age of 10 years are legally responsible, interact enthusiastically and ask relevant and thought provoking questions. This is followed by a visit to Maidstone Crown Court where the pupils find out about Court itself and speak to a judge. They particularly enjoy sitting in the judge's chair, trying on their wig and standing in the dock!
This brilliant scheme sees supermarkets work with local organisations such as schools, charities and care homes to give away their unsold fresh food so it doesn't go to waste.
Our school receives regular donations from Aldi and M&S Food which we use for breakfast, school lunch and extra snacks for pupils.
We have also packaged some of the food into parcels to distribute to individuals and families in need, within our local community.
Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI)
Year 6 pupils work with the Royal British Legion Village in Aylesford, part of the Royal British Legion Industries, to support some of their ex-service men in a community exercise. These men are from Mountbatten Pavilion, a purpose-built centre to house young men suffering primarily with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Initially, this came about from delivering Valley Invicta Primary School at Aylesford’s Harvest baskets, which nearly all went to the RBLV. However, two years ago, we had a surplus and asked if we could donate this to Mountbatten Pavilion. We engaged with the men who were staying there at the time and from this was born a desire to work with these young soldiers to bring them something to look forward to each week.
It took a number of personnel working for the RBLI to orchestrate our wish as many aspects of the risk assessment had to be taken into account, not least that loud noises could trigger a PTSD episode and whether it would in fact be a viable option to have 34 ten-year olds in the same room as these ex-soldiers. For this we have Maria Gallego, the Community Health and Wellbeing Officer to thank. We are extremely grateful for her dedication in making this happen.
Eventually, we were told this would be acceptable and we were given the green light to go ahead with our visits, which would be every Tuesday afternoon. The children were very excited to be able to take part in these visits and that our proposed plans had come to fruition.
So, every Tuesday afternoon, we walked up to the RBLV and so began our wonderful relationship with these men. Initially, both the children and the ex-service men were all a little wary of one another, but this didn’t last long! Soon, everyone was engaging with each other and lovely friendships began to blossom on both sides. We loved learning about the history of the men we were working with, they would tell us about their lives before, during and after being in service and we made biographies about them. We were lucky enough to meet some of these men each week we went; Chris, Abby, Nathan, Steve, Paul, Mick and Carl and they began to look forward to our visits as much as our pupils looked forward to seeing them.
We engaged in a number of activities such as: they taught us how to march properly; how to salute and raise a flag on their flagpole; we took part in exercise drills used in the army training; we helped decorate their Christmas trees and communal areas; we sang and learnt carols; we made Christmas wreaths together for their tables when the men had their Christmas dinner and we played games organised by the veterans. We continued our visits throughout the Autumn terms and so for over twelve weeks we engaged with the men who gained companionship, a stronger sense of purpose and a break from their normal routines as much as we gained from learning discipline, resilience and friendship from them.
We are grateful that our Year 6 pupils get to meet these wonderful people, who can share their life experiences with us and help one another to be the best we can be.
You can read a wonderful thank you letter from the RBLI and watch our brilliant RBLI assembly here.