Whitehill Junior School Blogs

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Truly Inspirational!

We’ve made it! The end of another year at Whitehill. Another incredible year which has seen some wonderful achievements. I hope you have kept up to date with them all by following us on Twitter and reading these weekly blogs. This happens to be blog number 169 that marks the end of four years; the four years which today’s Year 6 leavers have been at Whitehill.

Keeping going until the very end, there has been quite a lot of sport this week starting on Monday with a Rounders competition which we hosted. As a few schools had pulled out, we were able to put two teams in the tournament and were obviously delighted when we finished first and second. Well done to all our players, you played very well indeed. Not quite up to the standard of the staff team… but you’re getting there!

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Whitehill School of Performing Arts

With only one week to go until the end of another academic year, life at Whitehill continues to be full steam ahead. On the agenda this week has been Achievers’ Assemblies, Year 6 Productions, Orchestra Performances, Transition Day and a Year 6 Party.

Last Friday’s Achievers’ Assembly was postponed until Monday due to dress rehearsals. It was certainly worth waiting for as we were entertained by Thomas (Yr 6) playing the piano and Abigail (Yr 6) who danced for us. Both were really impressive and added weight to my belief that over the last few weeks we should have referred to ourselves as ‘Whitehill School for the Performing Arts.’ I also had the pleasurable task of presenting Ella R (Yr 6) and Beth (Yr 5) with Headteacher Commendations. Well done, girls.

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Here, There and Everywhere

We continue to drive forward to the end of the year with immense pace. On Monday we were able to release our Ofsted report from our recent inspection. I have already spoken about the intensity of the two-day inspection and we are taking a great deal of satisfaction from getting the inspection converted from a ‘good check’ to a full inspection – for the right reasons. We were very pleased with the way the report reads and it highlights just how outstanding the provision is at Whitehill, thanks to my amazing staff team. I must also thank all the parents who completed the Parent View questionnaires for us. We had 137 responses and the Lead Inspector couldn’t believe how many we had and how positive the responses were. We will move forward with our development areas now, neither of which were a surprise and continue to provide a quality education for all our pupils.

We have been joined by Shaun all week, a Year 10 pupil from Hitchin Boys’ School. He has completed his work experience with us and has been based in 6CB. He has been helping out with final preparations for the school show which was right up his street, as he took the lead when he was a Year 6 at Whitehill. He played the role of Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2013.

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"Spread the Conversation"

I was in school briefly on Monday morning before heading off site with the rest of the Leadership Team for our final strategic planning day of the school year. The focus of this meeting was twofold; we needed to look carefully at support staff deployment for September and also get the key dates in the diary for the school’s self-evaluation cycle and subject specific weeks. It might not seem like a lot to sort but I can promise you it is the hardest of the three offsite days we have each year.

We are very fortunate as a school to have so many support staff all of whom contribute so much to the pupils’ education and development. I sit in far too many meetings where other heads are talking about having to reduce additional staff numbers and it is imperative the necessary action is taken at central government level to address the critical levels of school funding. I have a meeting very soon with Bim Afolmai, our new local MP, and it will be interesting to hear what his thoughts are on this issue.

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Out With the Old...

I seem to be experiencing that strange phenomenon at present whereby time is going both very quickly, with deadlines arriving left, right and centre but also very slowly, when I needed something to arrive in my inbox. I blame the fun of last week and trust that an equilibrium will be found sooner rather than later.

We kicked off this week with the final secondary school transition meeting, this time with Hitchin Girls’ School. It was another very productive meeting and all Year 6 pupils have now been spoken about to their new schools which will hopefully ensure a smooth transition when they start in September.

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Who Needs Sleep?

When I arrived at school on Monday morning, albeit at 2.30am, my diary for the rest of the week looked very clear and I thought I would have plenty of time to prepare for presenting at a writing conference on Tuesday and also for trying to add my head’s comments to the pupils’ school reports. Well, it didn’t turn out like that and after only 14 hours sleep since last Saturday I can go home and perhaps enjoy a glass of wine and get a good night’s rest… What’s that? The Year 6 are arriving back at 1.30am? Oh well… summer holidays soon.

Anyway, the Year 6s got away bright and early and despite using up a complete supply of sick bags during the ferry crossing, were settling in at Chateau Beaumont before we knew it. I am sure you have enjoyed the photographs on Twitter from what has clearly been an amazing week. My thanks go out to all the staff who have made this experience possible and have been on duty 24/7 for the last five days. I can see by the positive responses on Twitter just how much everyone has appreciated it. I am sure I will get to hear a lot more about the week over the remainder of the year. I hope the pupils can get some well-deserved rest over the weekend as they have a play to practise from Monday.

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"A Pleasure to Read!"

We returned on Monday morning to begin the final half term of this academic year. Seven weeks to try and fit everything else in which still needs doing. Hold on to your hats and let’s go…

The weather has been very changeable this week but it stayed dry, long enough on Monday morning for us to have our whole school photograph taken. I have seen the proof and it does look really nice. The current Year 6s were Year 3s when the last one was taken and so it will be lovely to compare the two photos when they are placed side by side. Details as to how you can get hold of a copy will be sent out shortly.

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Not What I Had In Mind!

Despite the pupils not being in school today, it’s been quite a busy week and therefore I thought I would take the opportunity of a quiet, pupil-free school to get this week’s blog written on Friday as normal. It’s amazing how much work you can get done when there are no pupils (and staff for that matter) in a school!

The Circus was in town last weekend and started with a show on Friday evening. Despite the rain we had last week, we were exceptionally fortunate when we needed it to be dry for the shows. On Saturday, we had the addition of a BBQ and several bouncy castles to occupy and entertain us before the sell-out show at 2.00pm. It was a lovely couple of days and it was great to be able to meet some of the prospective Whitehill parents and possible new Friends’ Association committee members. Those who attended on Saturday were also treated to a star performer… with a bucket on his head! I did mention in The Comet recently that I wanted to perform on a West End stage; this was not what I quite had in mind. Thank you to everyone who supported the event and you hopefully saw our tweet sharing the news that we made over £1200 profit; all of which will go back towards supporting projects and events in both Highbury and Whitehill.

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Big Top Entertainment!

The weather is certainly not being kind to us this week as we get ready for the first of two Circus performances, however we did manage to get enough sun to complete the two cricket tournaments for our Year 5/6 teams. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the breaks in the clouds I can see at the moment turn into prolonged periods of dry weather.

The reports from the two cricket competitions were all very positive with both our boys and girls winning many of the matches they played. The boys’ competition was at Letchworth Cricket Club on Tuesday with Mr Miley and Miss Eaton looking after proceedings. Although the team didn’t progress beyond the group stages (finishing second in their group) they played very well. They just needed to protect their wickets a little more as in this form of the game every wicket results in a five run deduction. A little more ‘Boycott technique’ was needed, perhaps.

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A Testing Time

So after a relatively quiet weekend, for once, the two main things we focused on this week at Whitehill have been the Year 6 SATs and the Year 4 Residential trip to Overstrand. Both have gone very well indeed and I post this blog as I wait for the Year 4s to arrive back in school.

We have no choice over the Key Stage 2 assessments the Year 6s complete and there is a great deal of very mixed press as to their validity and purpose. These weekly blogs are not the vehicle for expressing my personal views on them but from a school perspective, we ensure our amazing Year 6 cohort are totally prepared and not fazed by what they might face. Indeed, the Year 6 team go out of their way to make test week as enjoyable as possible, starting each day with a musical breakfast. I must admit I was a little bemused by Mrs Bailey’s choice of music but all seemed to enjoy 1980s ‘pop’! I’m clearly too used to Classic FM now.

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A 'Hokey Cokey' Week

I hope you all enjoyed the bank holiday weekend and had some quality family time. As I mentioned last week, I spent three days in Telford at the National Association of Headteachers’ Annual Conference which proved to be a very enjoyable few days. As suspected, due to the announcement of the general election, there were some people who didn’t come along to address us, however we did receive a visit from Jeremy Corbyn… very interesting.

It’s been an unusual week in school with pupils in for two days, out for one and then back in again on Friday. We still managed to celebrate a lot in Achievers’ Assembly today so we must have packed a lot in.

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Four Years Running!

It was another busy weekend of sport at Whitehill with one of the school’s netball teams taking part in their end of season tournament and then on Sunday, it was my turn as I took part in this year’s London Marathon.

The school was a hive of activity on Saturday morning as the teams and supporters turned up to compete and it was a wonderful morning of school sport. The sun eventually came out and our team went from strength to strength, winning all their league games. The top four teams then took part in the semi-finals which saw us play against St Andrew’s. Despite going a goal behind the team dug in and eventually won to set up a final against a very strong Offley team. Again, we needed to come from a goal down but did so to win the tournament outright. Well done to all our players and also to the staff team who have been working really hard to coach them this year. Whitehill has now won this particular tournament four years in a row. What a great achievement!

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#14128

Welcome back after the Easter break which I hope was relaxing and provided you with the opportunity to spend some quality family time together and enjoy some of the lovely weather we had.

I would like to start this week’s blog with an apology for something which is totally out of our control. With the announcement of the General Election set for June 8th, you would have received notification from me on Wednesday that we will probably need to close the school again as we are set to do on May 4th. I totally understand your frustration and anger (in some cases) and I would like to assure you we are as annoyed as you with the fact that we need to shut. There is just no way we can safely run the school when half of it is being used for voting and members of the public are on site.

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"All the World's a Stage"

Another weekend and another group from Whitehill were hard at work. This time, Mr Miley, Mr Gentle and Mrs Bryan were at Wilshere Dacre School to support the football ‘A’ Team as they took part in their End of Season Rally. Due to other commitments, I was unable to attend but was kept informed by text and also the reporting skills of Mrs Granhed who took up the mantel of chief tweeter. It was an excellent tournament and despite an early upset, the team went on to win the remainder of their games, including the final which meant we did the double in these Rallies winning both ‘B’ Team and ‘A’ Team competitions. Well done to everyone who took part and also thank you to all the parents who also gave up their time to support. I’d say it’s been a pretty successful season, wouldn’t you?

This week has been about all things ‘Shakespeare’ as the school immersed itself in a whole host of different learning experiences linked with The Bard.

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A Week of Travelling

Last week’s mammoth blog went online before I set off to Newcastle for the National Trampoline Finals and so that is where this week’s will start. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin.

It was a long trip by car but I had Mr Miley and Miss Eaton for company (when they weren’t asleep!) and we eventually met the trampolinists and their parents for dinner at the hotel where we were all staying. I managed to sneak in a training run around the streets of Gateshead; for those of you who have never been to Gateshead, I can confirm it is very hilly! The competition started early on Saturday morning and our two teams were in action in the first two flights. All of the girls bounced brilliantly and when the final scores were announced, the ‘novice’ team had finished sixth and the ‘intermediate’ team had finished third and therefore received medals. Both teams can feel very proud of their achievements; sixth and third in the whole country is an amazing achievement. Thank you to all the parents, too, for their vociferous support. Mr Miley and Miss Eaton are already thinking about next year’s competition! I should also say well done to Hitchin Boys’ School who secured third place with one of their teams, all of whom were ex-Whitehill boys!

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A Whirlwind Week!

I spoke last week about ‘the calm before the storm’; well the storm has well and truly arrived now and this week has been a whirlwind.

First thing Monday, the booking system for this term’s parent consultation evenings went live and judging by the number of appointments booked the majority of you have found it straight forward. At the time of writing this blog, 90% of pupils have had an appointment booked. The number of calls into the office also appears to be less than in previous years and so it would appear to be working reasonably well. If you haven’t booked your appointment yet, there is still time and if you are having problems, please do come in and speak to us.

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The Calm Before The Storm!

We had a slightly quieter start to the week this week in terms of how full my diary was but that didn’t mean the pupils weren’t engaged in exciting opportunities. It was certainly the ‘calm before the storm’ as we head towards the end of the term. I think I have one spare morning between now and Easter.

The Upper School classes were all involved with a maths workshop at some point on Monday. The NRICH Workshop, arranged for us by Dr Christie, saw the four classes involved in a range of practical mathematical investigations. They had to work in teams not only to solve the problem but also explain how they came to their solution. I was challenged by Mr Mills (Junior) to have a go at one of the particularly challenging ones but decided that ‘I was busy’. This day supported perfectly the way the maths curriculum is developing with the need for pupils to be able to apply skills rather than just ‘solve sums’.

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Recycled Success

Once again, staff and pupils have been putting in a great deal of overtime and spent much of last weekend taking part in a number of different events. We like to keep busy!

Last Saturday morning, a group of Year 3 girls took part in a multisport event hosted by Kingshott School. The girls had been practising hard in order to compete in hockey, football and netball matches against teams from three other schools, including the hosts. It was a wonderful morning and the feedback I was getting throughout was so positive. The parents got a special mention from the staff who reported back to me and so thank you for all your enthusiasm too. There were no winners and losers as it was played very much as a festival but Poppy and Bethany received special certificates from the organisers for their wonderful attitude. The only issue all morning was with the girls’ first attempts at wearing gum shields for hockey. Despite me thinking that they would have no problems fitting the gum shields in their mouths considering the amount they like to chat, they all found it a little awkward and spent quite a lot of time stopping themselves gagging, or trying to find it after it fell out! I’m sure they’ll get the hang of them.

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Miss Hudemann says, 'Hi!'

It would only be right to start this week’s reflections with a mention of my visit to New York over half term and the opportunity to catch up with Miss Hudemann again. It was lovely to see her and to get the chance to visit her school and chat with her and other teachers in the British International School of New York. She is currently teaching Year 3s and is clearly enjoying the experience and opportunity. The location of the school is quite something, with her classroom overlooking the East River which separates Manhattan and Brooklyn. I hope you managed to see some of the photographs I tweeted whilst I was there. We are not jealous at all… honest! Miss Hudemann and Mrs Walton are currently liaising about setting up a link between our Year 3s and her Year 3s which will add another dimension to our ‘international’ curriculum. We will keep you posted.

We were back in school on Monday which is a great cure for jet lag! I managed to have a chat with several pupils in Upper School whilst doing break duty on Monday and it is clear that they got up to some exciting things in their week off. It is always good to talk with pupils and this is why I run ‘Hot Chocolate Friday’ each week. Next week’s invites have been sent out today and I look forward sharing a drink and biscuit (or ten) with next week’s group.

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Rockin' All Over the World!

I mentioned in last week’s blog just how busy the weekend was going to be and it certainly was. It began early on Saturday morning when Miss Eaton and Mrs Small travelled to St Albans to support some of our Year 5 and Year 6 pupils competing in the County Cross Country Finals. It was a lovely morning (although the car parking was very frustrating from what I understand) and the pupils all competed very well indeed, with some excellent individual performances. The final places have not yet been received in school but all the pupils can feel very proud of their achievements.

No sooner had Miss Eaton got home (after struggling out of the car park) than she was off out again with Mr Miley and me heading to Cannock in Staffordshire. Having performed so well in the Regional Competition in December, two teams had made it through to the Zonal Finals: Under 11 Novices and Under 11 Intermediates. Saturday evening was spent relaxing with the staff, pupils and parents enjoying pizza at a local restaurant before heading back to the hotel for an early night. Sunday started quite early for the ‘novice’ team. The team members were Lily (Yr 3), Hannah (Yr 5), Sanaa (Yr 5) and Lara (Yr 6) and all four pupils performed really well indeed. A special mention should go to Hannah whose score for the two bounces was the third highest out of all the entries in her category, including those entered as individuals. In a very competitive group, they finished second overall and have therefore qualified for the National Finals to be held in Gateshead on March 18th.

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