St Anselm’s RC Primary School
St Anselm’s RC Primary School admission criteria can be found on the school website: www.stanselms.wandsworth.sch.uk.
Headteacher: Ms Hattie Elwes
Tel: 020 8672 9227
Mass Attendance Forms
Throughout the course of the year we will periodically ask you to complete Mass attendance forms, the purpose of which is to confirm weekly Mass attendance of families who will be seeking a Priest’s reference for entrance into a Catholic nursery, primary, secondary or sixth form school for their child/children. Our objective is to be fair to everyone. Announcements will be made at the end of Mass and forms can be found in the new halls. One form per child should be completed and returned to the box provided. We understand this can be inconvenient, but it does also mean a lot of extra work for the parish team. Your cooperation is appreciated.
Voices of the past and visions of the future
The following article originally appeared in St Anselm’s Millennium Parish Magazine, published in 1999.
Children participate in a culture of respect in which the value of each individual is celebrated
Whenever people come together to review the years past, a great deal of nostalgia and sentiment creeps in. Children in their review of the past have no such deference: the past, for them, is viewed firmly in relation to their own short life and to their parents talking about the ‘old days’.
It appears that the millennium offers an instant passport to looking back and using the past to inform us about the present and the future. For those of us continually involved in the education process, the temptation to look back at our own ‘millennium moments’, as morning television calls them, is very tempting. The past few years have been periods of great change, with schools increasingly being made to be publicly accountable and providing answers as Society reviews its requirements for the education and training of its future citizens.
If schools of our past would wonder at our system of organisation and the improvements in the living conditions of the pupils, they would no doubt equally extol their own virtues for the improvements they made in the light of the living conditions that they had to work with. They would quote the dramatic improvements in ragged children and their families and they would see periods of great prosperity in their rigid class structures and role expectancy of every man and his place in society.
Those of us who are able to remember chunks of our immediate past often hanker back to days when ‘June was blazing, times might have been hard, but you could get an evening out and still have change from half-a-crown’. In other words, we allow ourselves to dream rather than face reality.
It is, however, this capacity to dream that is at the heart of education and is very much part of the human spirit.
In 1990 Cardinal Hume gave a talk to an ecumenical conference and reminded us of the huge task that schools have when he said: “Schools should produce young people with ideas and dreams, with a vision of what they want to achieve in life, who have a strong sense of service, of care and compassion for those in need, and who have above all a love of life, a zest for living life to the full. To achieve this, schools must be concerned with the education of the whole person.”
Previous generations found that they could express these voices from the past, voices from their inner thoughts, in an easier manner:
You wonder that my tears should flow
In listening to that simple strain;
That those unskilful sounds should fill
My soul with joy and pain –
How can you tell what thoughts it stirs?
Within my heart again?
You wonder why that common phrase
So all unmeaning to your ear,
Should stay me in my merriest mood,
And thrill my soul to hear –
How can you tell what ancient charm
Has made me hold it dear?
You marvel that I turn away
From all those flowers so fair and bright
And gaze at this poor herb, till tears
Arise and dim my sight –
You cannot tell how every leaf
Breaths of a past delight.
Oh, these are Voices of the Past,
Links of a broken chain,
Wings that can bear me back to times
Which cannot come again –
Yet God forbid that I should lose
The echoes that remain
Adelaide Procter 1825-1864
If the Victorians could be in touch with with their ‘voices’, they did so because they understood the certainty of their own condition and their place in society. For us, this century has unfolded with less and less certainty and so as we attempt to legislate and regulate for our human condition the obvious starting point is the education of our young people.
From the 1940s until the 1980s it took one Education Act to set the tone for the education climate; since then it has taken almost one a year. The main problem has been the absence of what to teach in real fundamental terms for developing children’s skills into the 21st Century.
We have seen the implementation of National Curriculums, school reviews, league tables, regular reports, SATS, information communication technology, attendance tables, self-financing of schools, target setting… The list can go on and on. Over the whole process we have monitored the system and made it comply with business practice and the latest management trends from our commercial colleagues. All this has happened without giving thought at times to what we want for the most important part of the process – the development of the spiritual and moral education of the whole person.
Here in our small school, following the traditions of our earliest founders – the La Retraite Sisters – we still concentrate on the self-worth of the child, with governors, parents, teachers and children participating fully in a culture of respect in which the value of each individual is celebrated and affirmed.
Furthermore, the beliefs and values we communicate are inspired by the prayer life of the school and our belief in and observance of the rites, practices and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. To make this work, a partnership with the home and the parish has been an essential part of our listening to our ‘voices’ and taking forward the visions and aspirations of our future generations.
As Catholics, we don’t have all the answers to these fundamental questions, but we do have ways of exploring our views of the world that allow us to think more deeply about the key issues of our society. Our story as a group over these 2000 years of our history has been to offer examples of original thinking when the world offers, at times, alternatives and often ‘interesting’ points of view about the nature of our society.
The education process may have changed, but we still have children who join the school with their individual cultures and backgrounds and intellects. Our main task is to blend together our views so that within our educational framework children can strive to develop their full potential and ultimately be prepared with the necessary skills for life and availability for the job market.
In the world that children will inhabit it is likely that we are talking about Euro-society, where someone from one culture could move just as easily in another. We have aspirations for this future – excitement and challenge, with new opportunities for peace and discovery, if not in the geographical sense then at least in the medical, universal space and the communications spheres. We are asked to use our fallible human reason to deal with the truths revealed by God.
This essential question of whether human fallibility is qualified to deal with matters revealed by God is at the heart of questions asked by our school’s patron, St Anselm – questions that are as valid now for us as they were in the 11th century. Anselm put reason at the service of his faith; he did it at a time just after the first 1000 years of our history of great change and great challenges for the future. He did so with great confidence and great joy.
His life was one of learning – one of joys and sadness and a life played out at the top end of the then-known society, not only in England but also in Continental Europe. He was a true European, a man suited to being a monk and writer rather than an administrator. He was a man who came to see his responsibilities as pastor to his monastic community as being of great importance and he strove to find in all his duties a deeper understanding of faith.
Anselm was at heart a Benedictine who lived the life of prayer, which simply said “he may use well the things of earth and love the things of heaven”. In our life in school and in our listening to our voices of the past, and in particular in this millennium year, we should consider how well we use the things of earth as a consideration of our human greatness.
So Christian soul, here is the power of your salvation,
the cause of your freedom,
the price of your redemption.
You were in bondage;
But you have been bought back.
You were a slave;
Now you are free;
An exile, you have been brought back,
Lost and you have found.
Dead and you have been restored to life.
(St. Anselm, “The Meditatio”)