A group of Year 6 children from St. Marys & All Saints have enjoyed the trip of a lifetime, to Finland.

The 13 youngsters from St Mary & All Saints C of E Primary School were taken by their headteacher Mr Matt Parting to Finland for a week of outdoor activities.

They spent five days at the Adventure Apes Centre, in Kuusamo in the North of the country, where they were able to enjoy sledging, a snowshoe expedition, cross country skiing, ice skating, a sauna, and ice fishing.

“This trip was a real celebration of the direction the school is now taking,” said Matt Parting.
“The whole school now has a growing expectation of what we can achieve. Going to Finland was basically impossible for us, so we did it to show that we can do more than is expected of us."

The event was made possible by support from the Adventure Apes Centre in Finland, and Reading Boys School, which partners St Mary & All Saints in its Fullness of Life curriculum.

The grammar school supports the youngsters with weekly canoeing sessions, and welcomes its P6 children for elective education.

“They can learn anything, from philosophy, to mechanics, to cooking,” said Matt.
“Our Fullness of Life curriculum is about broadening horizons, and this trip gave the children something really big to aim for.

Adventure Apes Centre hosted the group at cost price, and Reading Boys School paid for the trip.

“It was very generous of them both and meant that we only had to pay for flights,” Said Mr. Parting.

"The impact on the school has been quite amazing. Everyone in the school community feels very much that they have been to Finland, not just those 13 children. And younger pupils are already excited about when it will be their turn. For those on the trip, their Finland adventure has been life-changing."

Asked what difference it has made to them, the youngsters said that they would now be willing to try new things, they felt more confident, and were ready for adventure.

“It was wonderful to see these children outside their normal environment enjoying everything new,” said Mr Parting.
“On the frozen lake when we were ice-fishing, their faces were a picture. It felt very, very special, and that, actually, this was life in all its fullness.”

The school’s motto, which Mr Parting brought with him when he became headteacher two years ago, is a Bible verse.

“It’s ‘Jesus said ‘I have come that you may have life in all its fullness’ – John 10:10, and it’s not just written on our school walls, it’s actually happening,” said Mr Parting.

When he arrived, he says he chose just three rules, by which the school now lives: Be kind, be curious, be ready. Kindness is now evident throughout the school community.

“Finland celebrated the fact that we are now an aspirational school. It was amazing to return to the parents who had brought balloons, flowers and banners to welcome the children home. I was knocked out by the gratitude and the appreciation from them, and the sense that, for them, something special had happened.

“We’d like to thank Heidi Savolainen at Adventure Apes Centre and Reading Boys School for making this trip of a lifetime possible. We’re already planning a repeat visit, and I think I have already secured funding for next year, which is really exciting. We’d love to find a sponsor for future visits. It’s the kind of thing that a local company or fundraising group could perhaps help us turn into an annual event".

For more information, contact Matt Parting or visit: www.stmaryandallsaints.co.uk