You may perhaps be wondering why I have a strange man on my first Newsletter of the school year. Those of you who were able to come to our Curriculum meeting yesterday evening will recognise a pedagogic hero of mine – Dr Yeap Ban Har – a great mathematician and it has to be said, a wonderful Teacher. I was able to use some of the video clips which Dr Yeap has made to explain some of the fundamental principles which underlie the teaching of mathematics. These included the importance of understanding that things cannot be counted, added or subtracted if they do not share the same noun. Sometimes you can change the noun, for example, the denominator in fractions to make it the same so that it can be worked with. If this cannot be done, however, the problem will not be able to be further simplified. One glue stick and three pieces of chocolate will remain as just that. Or in other terms – x + 3y. We were able to look at some other strategies such as part-part-whole notation for number bonds and bar modelling and I hope that the evening proved to be useful.
Newbie or an old-hand, the children have all settled really well and quickly into school and it has been great to see them all again after the summer holidays and hear their news and it has been lovely to meet our new children too. I am sure that there have been lots of tired little people as they get used to the more structured school day after the holidays. I hope that you are able to have a good rest this weekend ready for another great week of learning!
So much has happened in such a short space of time that I didn’t know where to start. Sports Day was fabulous, thanks to Faith Golding. The children participated with great enthusiasm and I think that every one of the children enjoyed themselves along with family and friends. We have got some very fast future athletes and some great throwers! As you can see, our Summer Concert was just gorgeous with everyone taking part. Just look at these lovely girls just singing their hearts out! Mrs Miller, Mrs Rowntree and Irene Notley worked so hard with the children for their performances and it really showed.
Today in the Pre-Prep we are having a cake-sale on behalf of WWF. It sprung from Sheba and Joey’s ‘In The News’ presentations and the passionate interest that the rest of the children took in them. As a result the Year 2 class have been learning about the plight of the polar bears and rhinos all week and they will be sharing their research at Celebration Assembly. If you feel able to make a donation to their cause it would be greatly appreciated and we look forward to seeing you at our Assembly later on if you can make it.
We have had a great couple of weeks in Pre-Prep rehearsing for our Summer Concert and Sports Day in the mix of everything else! The above picture can be viewed as an advert for our concert, with its theme of Flight. The EYFS took this to heart. They have so enjoyed singing the songs in their singing lessons that they have spilt over into their everyday lives. Of course, if that happens, you then have to act them out and have the props to do so. That is what has happened above with the kite making. All will become clear at the Summer Concert! Please remember that you are all invited, along with families and friends. There will be a cream tea afterwards and I know that the children would love to welcome you all!
We look forward to seeing you.
I really can’t believe that it is half term already and this week has been as busy as all those which have gone before. The Reception and Nursery classes became a part of a Vet Club on Thursday morning. Luke and Cordelia Gamble and Lou Peddle came in from Pilgrims Veterinary practice to speak to the children about looking after pets. The children in the Reception class have been learning about looking after themselves and animals and Mrs Kendall’s puppy, Rosie, needed to have her final immunisation. So we were lucky to have real Vets to run a great session for the children along with a proper Veterinary Nurse. The children were able to dress up as if they were going into the operating theatre and were shown a picture of a Guinea Pig called Harry who had had an abscess removed the previous day – they even got to see the abscess in a sample tube! They were shown some of the different dressings that an injured animal might have and were able to try some if they wanted. Emily’s mummy was concerned that she had really broken her arm when she came to pick her up! After they had observed and examined Rosie ,the children were able to meet other, more unusual pets. Noah had kindly allowed his rats to visit us for the morning and Lottie brought in her tortoise. Year One had a great Thursday too. They went to Portland Bill Lighthouse and fully explored it. Apparently the lightbulb was ‘enormous’ and comes all the way from America! The children loved the trip. Mr Godfrey, who was in charge, commented on the super behaviour and manners of the children. He added that he had a lot of schools and children to make a comparison with! Well done Year One.
Apparently, inspections are like buses – they come in pairs! This is certainly the case in the Pre-Prep! As you know, last week we had our ISI inspection and this week we have had an Early Years Advisory Officer from Hampshire LEA inspect and moderate our assessment process in the Reception class. As you know the results of the former are still under wraps but I am happy to report that for the latter we were told that we were a pleasure to visit and that we were a ‘hard-working, professional, knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated team’ and that there were no recommendations to improve our practice. Good to know isn’t it?
Having said the above, I know that there are some concerns regarding the number of accident forms which we give out each day. Please rest assured that this is not a reflection upon our supervision, or the children in the Pre-Prep. Where you would possibly tell your child that they were just fine and send them back off to play, we are duty bound to follow through every injury which is reported to us as if it could result in something more. Therefore bumps, scrapes and head injuries are all reported to you because of the extremely remote possibility that they could be a break or concussion or develop into a severe infection. All accident forms are then collated and analysed to determine if a certain child is being hurt more than another and if so why. We also have to identify if there are problem areas where children are particularly prone to hurt themselves and then address this issue. These little accidents happen no more than is perfectly normal when children play together but because of our Safe-guarding responsibilities we have to respond in a different way. I hope that this makes sense to you. If not, I am more than happy to discuss this further.
As you know, I make it my business to see that the learning and personal development is always outstanding throughout the Pre-prep and I have to say that this week, with the ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) Inspectors in the school, we have continued to maintain our exceptionally high standards. Whilst doing nothing different to their usual fabulous teaching, my staff have all felt rather stressed (to say the least!) and I would like to thank them all for their excellence.
So what have we been doing? In Year Two, inspired by Oran’s ‘In the News’ on Fidget Spinners, the children have been learning the art of persuasive letter writing. Do you think that I should ban the Spinners from the Pre-prep or not? The children had lots of good arguments for both sides of this conundrum but I have to say that I have decided that they will continue to be allowed in school. The Year One class have been learning about how to be a Good Friend and it has been great to see this outside the classroom in their play and their general behaviour. They have also been designing and making Ice-cream Sundaes and having seen these for myself I have to say that they looked amazing but sadly, there wasn’t any left over for me to be able to have a taste! The Reception class have been very busy this week too. There has been some wonderful collaborative work – putting on plays for each other, investigating 3D shapes, great maths and some wonderful play up in the Forest. The Nursery have spent a lot of time in the Forest School too. They have been working on Traditional Fairy Tales and there has been a lot of wonderful role play in the woods as well as in the classroom. All in all, great learning from each and every child – just as you would expect.
This week has been another wonderful one of active learning outside the classroom. Year Two went to Blashford Lakes on a Habitats field trip and they all had the most fantastic time. Joey talked about it non-stop for the entirety of our long drive home and I know from many parents, and the children themselves, that he was not the only one who not only loved every minute, but gained a great deal from the experience. The Reception class also had a trip this week – they visited Alderholt Mill. They were able to see the mill wheel in action and they saw for themselves the process by which flour is made. As a lovely finalé they were all invited to Beatrice’s Granny’s house, who lives nearby, for drinks and biscuits, which was a real treat and our thanks go to Mrs Connock for her generous invitation. They came back with flour and wheat for sensory play and as I write, the Pre-Prep is being filled with the aroma of baking bread!
You may have read in Mark Hartley’s Half Term letter that there are a few staff changes afoot in Pre-Prep. Jo Humphreys has been offered the position of Head of Early Years at Stroud school and she will be starting there in September. Very many congratulations Jo! As a result, Sarah Holdom will be moving into the Reception class as their full time teacher and I will work alongside Lucy Wells and Jane Rogers in Year One. I will also continue to oversee the EYFS as the Foundation Stage Co-ordinator. In addition, Ella Ridge, whom some of you may recall from when she did her student placement with us, will be joining us as a Nursery class Teaching Assistant next week.
Please don’t forget to check our Twitter Feed for ‘in the minute news’ and information!
I know that I am guilty of repeating myself but we have had a great start to term. Year Two began with a Geography Field Trip to Fordingbridge and they will be off to Blashford Lakes on Tuesday. They are exploring habitats and the Great Outdoors and they have a couple more trips coming up that I know of to support them with this. The Nursery have been out to visit the wonderful blue-bell wood at Lopshill Farm at the kind invitation of Mrs Coward. I have to acknowledge our grateful thanks once again to Mrs Coward for hosting us, as our children were there just recently for the Holiday Club and the Nursery frequently visit. As you can see, the Reception class have been out and about too. We always follow their interests as you know, and next week they are off to Alderholt Mill, which is rather exciting. It is British Bread week and we have been learning about Living Healthily. Year One also have some trips coming up, starting with a ‘Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch’ Picnic. Lots of other learning has been taking place. Year One have been learning about Vincent Van Gough this term and his wonderful ‘Starry Night’ paintings have inspired their wave drawings and prints. Coincidentally, all the other classes have been working on shapes this week and it’s amazing to see the variety of different ways in which the same subject can be taught. As always it looks as if we’re going to have a very interesting term!
Look at that blue sky!
Year Two had the most wonderful day yesterday at Stonehenge – I know because I was fortunate enough to be able to go along too. When we arrived, Chris, one of our Education Guides, told us all about the difference between a Myth and a Legend. Just to refresh your knowledge, a Legend is a story which has come down through the ages which has been embroidered over time. It may also contain a message such as ‘determination pays dividends’. A Myth is when a story is completely fabricated and often contains elements of magic or a fantastic beast or two. The children then had to make up their own story to explain Stonehenge. They did this using Lego to build the beginning, middle and end of their stories and they had some great ideas! (We are now very keen to obtain some of these wonderful educational Lego kits for ourselves.) We visited the stones twice – once before writing the stories to be told about the associated myths and legends, and again in the afternoon to learn more about the stones themselves. You may also like to know that the children were brilliantly well behaved and their enthusiasm and curiosity were favourable commented upon. All in all it was a great day packed full of great learning!
There is rather a Literacy focus to this week’s Newsletter. Above you can see that I have unusually chosen a picture of some class work rather than a picture of the children themselves as it just gives you an insight into how we work sometimes. This poem was produced by Year One. The previous day they had been out to the woods to find snowdrops which they then photographed and did observational drawings of. Back in the classroom, the children thought of ways of describing the snowdrops and contributed their ideas, and you can just see these initialled on sheets of paper on either side of the finished poem. These were then put together to produce the poem at the top of the page. The children were then challenged to go through this process on their own and write their own poem and this resulted in some rather lovely pieces of work. Throughout the week there has been a great deal of writing taking place as you would expect but I want to tell you about that which has been happening in the Reception and Nursery classes. We have been thinking about ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ this week, and these little children have written kind letters to a range of people throughout the school as it is important to acknowledge the often unseen work which people do for us. Another example of this have been visits from Mrs Dure-Smith and Mr du Luart who came in to talk to the Early Years children in their native language as a part of International Mother Tongue day. This was very much appreciated by all of us. Thank you! Now, at the latter end of the week we are off to see ‘Room on the Broom’, and the school is full of very excited children all looking forward to going on this adventure together! We will all draw on this for some fantastic learning next week across the curriculum and it will also herald World Book Day which is next Thursday. I better go or I’ll miss the mini bus! It’s all go in Pre-prep!