7% Left

At the start of this week, we still had 10% of the academic year left. That is quite a sizeable chunk of time in anyone’s books. 10% is a decent portion. That is, until you look at what we are trying to pack into that 10% and then you have a little panic. Having ticked off a fair few things this week, we go into next week with 7% of our year left! We will win; I’m sure of it and spend the first few days of the holiday wondering how.

Sitting down with a good book seems like a lovely thing to do when we are so busy

My assembly on Monday morning was taken by two librarians from Hitchin library who introduced this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, ‘Ready, Set, Read’. The challenge kicks off on 8th July and pupils have brought home a flier giving you all the details. I hope some of our pupils will once again get involved and we can celebrate their achievements in one of our Friday assemblies in the new year.

Phase were in again for the last time of the year to work with Year 6s and focus specifically on transition. The more support pupils are given the better, as it is a big step in their educational journey. To commemorate Phase’s 20th anniversary, we were presented with a rose by Kieran, one of their directors and this will take pride of place outside the front of the school when we have re-potted it. Our relationship with Phase is very strong and their work across Hitchin has supported many, many pupils over the last 20 years.

Kieran form Phase talks to Wilde Class and hands over the celebration rose

I sat and watched from my office on Tuesday morning as the Year 6s walked up the hill for a fun day at the swimming pool. The chat on the playground before school was who would win the race between Mrs Bailey and Joshua. I can announce that Joshua won (by some considerable distance, I believe). Mr Mills Jnr then took up the challenge and restored the staff’s honour. Regardless of this friendly competition, the feedback from the staff was that it was a brilliant morning with this exceptional cohort. Actually, it wasn’t just the staff who said this. I have since received some feedback from a member of the public who wanted to wax lyrical about how impressed she was with this group of pupils as they conducted themselves in the vicinity of the church.

I had the pleasure of a visit from a group of Year 4s on Tuesday morning who have been doing some wonderful work in science as well as other areas of the curriculum. They all received a Headteacher’s Award and there was an additional, special ‘Happy Birthday’ certificate for Dimitiris.

I was channelling my inner Keith Brymer Jones again this week as I popped up to help Apollo Class with their Grecian urns. There’s a joke in their somewhere. I was really impressed with the way the pupils thought about their pot and applied what they had been shown to produce some lovely work. Solomon and Finley are two of many worthy of a namecheck.

The Year 5 clay work was really impressive

Straight after school, Miss Gooderham and a cricket team headed over to Weston Cricket Club to play against Weston School. It was another good game and when I was looking at the scoresheet that evening there was evidence of some very consistent bowling.

On Wednesday morning, we held the first of a series of music ‘concerts’ which will be taking place in the coming days. I am starting to think with all that appears to be happening we could begin to market them as a Hitchin-based Promenade series like those at the Royal Albert Hall. This one featured the orchestra and pupils who learn a string instrument in school. Next week we have the ‘big one’ – our music festival. What started as a simple concert appears to have become very complex and logistically it has been very hard to organise. Thank goodness for Mrs Burniston and her logical (and very patient) brain who has put the whole thing together, together with Miss McConnell Smith, on behalf of the Junior Leadership Team.

A very enjoyable concert

I had a lovely game of chess at lunchtime against Riley (Year 4). I had promised him a game several months ago and I was determined to have at least one match before the end of term. Perhaps we will be able to squeeze another in before we break up.

I wasn’t able to go along and support the girls’ rounders festival after school as I was in a safeguarding meeting but Miss Gooderham gave me a rundown when she got back to school. Well done to the team and thank you as always to the parents who helped with lifts and supported.

Girls’ rounders success

We received confirmation that we have reaccredited with our Platinum School Games Mark. Although we knew this after reapplying last year – the award lasts two years – it is still lovely to get an updated badge and also be told by our local organiser that school has gone even further to be inclusive and increase participation. Huge well done to all of the staff for their hard work in this area and especially to Miss Gooderham and Mr Henderson.

It was lovely to visit Orville Class this week and see how they are progressing with their design and technology projects. Their models are very well constructed and show a great deal of technique. As you will be aware, learning walks are a great way of gathering evidence of progress and pupils learning new skills and so I enjoy doing them. To ensure I knew that the pupils had learned how to drill accurately, Mrs Locke kindly left evidence for me to find on the art table at the back of the room. I think Mr Waluk has now managed to fill in the holes!

I bet they drilled some really accurate holes!

I don’t have much to report about Thursday morning other than Mr Waluk and I were locked in a room with a member of staff from Herts County Council to complete our health and safety audit follow-up. That’s probably enough on that matter – it’s hardly the most riveting of topics! And of course, I didn’t let him to talk to Mrs Locke!

There was another rounders festival on Thursday after school at St Mary’s. This time it was the turn of the boys and they returned triumphant having won all three games.

Three out of three for the boys

Achievers’ Assembly on Friday morning was its usual fun affair. As well as the sports reports, we also celebrated Yahya’a (Year 6) swimming success from when he represented North Herts last week. We had many Hitchin Belles show off their many trophies from a very successful season and Leo (Year 6) spoke well about his team, Wymondley Park and highlighted others in the school who have had a successful season. There were also some very successful dancers who have recently been awarded certificates in Modern and Tap.

Swimming success for Yahya

The usual awards were handed out as follows: Water won the House Cup; Mayan won Class of the Week and Aztec won the Wombles.

All that work Finley but still Apollo didn’t win the Womble!

This afternoon, pupils brought home their end of year reports (except for Apollo Class who have already received their ‘almost end of year reports’ just after Easter). I enjoy reading them through and reflecting on the year the pupils have had. The effort on show across the year by the pupils is impressive, matched only by the effort the staff have also put in. Truly a team effort.

Of great interest, no doubt, was the announcement of which class the pupils will be in next year. They have all been told and details are included in the report. I have also updated the school website and our virtual tour so that you can watch the short biographical videos of the teachers in their (new) classrooms.

To give you the wider picture, for 2023/2024 the class structure looks like this:

Year 3 – Aztec Class – Miss Smith and Mrs Bradshaw
Year 3 – Mayan Class – Mr Denney and Mrs Williams
Year 4 – Lamarr Class – Mrs Davies, Mrs Cornell, Mrs Keeling and Mrs Chillery
Year 4 – Orville Class – Miss Payne and Mrs Vernon
Year 5 – Apollo Class – Mrs Bailey, Miss Henry and Mrs Lomas
Year 5 – Voyager Class – Mr Lord and Mrs Wells
Year 6 – Kahlo Class – Mr Wells and Miss Creese
Year 6 – Wilde Class – Mrs Bryan and Mr Mills Jnr

You will notice couple of new names in this list and we are really excited that Miss Smith and Miss Payne are joining #TeamWhitehill. Both Mr Denney and Miss Smith have already been up to Highbury to meet with the Year 2 teachers and to hear all about their new pupils.

Another action shot from the rounders

That’s it for the week. Current parents and carers will be receiving (almost) daily updates from me with reminders of key events and information. Sorry about this but I think it is best whilst we are just so busy.

The key events for next week include two transition evenings for pupils joining us in September. We will be seeing Highbury Yellow Class on Monday and Green Class on Tuesday.

We have several more music events including the BIG ONE! The main music festival takes place on Wednesday after school.

Our dancers are performing at Hitchin Girls’ School gym and dance display for two evenings and an afternoon on Wednesday and Thursday.

We have Chris Mould coming to talk to the whole school on Wednesday morning before spending time with both Year 4 classes as they have been looking at a version of the Iron Man, which he has illustrated, in their English lessons.

I am in two meetings at exactly the same time next Thursday morning. Both via Teams and both requiring interaction. This could be fun or a complete disaster.

And then on Friday, straight after school, we have our Friends’ Association Summer Social!

What a week! I’m turning my phone off now, as my dad will be sure to call later!

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

Precise percussion!


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