A Family Business

Similar to last week, this blog starts with a football rally at Wilshere Dacre School on Saturday morning. It was another lovely morning for the girls’ team this week, to take part in a series of friendly matches to get the season underway. The players all did so well, conceding only the one goal in their five matches. I was particularly impressed with Summer who we discovered had a ‘Rory Delap type’ throw on her.

Thank you to the family and friends who came along to support, including Archie (now Year 7) who was there to support his cousin and who was as polite and cheerful as he always was when he was a Whitehill pupil. It was also lovely to chat with some fellow Manchester City supporters in the form of Lizzie’s grandparents who were visiting from ‘up north’!

A great morning’s football

I talk quite often in these blogs about Whitehill’s love of reading and the fact reading underpins much of what we do. There was a lovely example of someone being caught up in a book on Monday lunchtime. So much so, that he simply couldn’t put it down, even whilst he was eating!

Just couldn’t put it down

I have spent quite a bit of time in recent days watching our amazing site manager, Mr Waluk, make changes to the area outside the main entrance. On Monday, the project moved forward considerably and by Tuesday, it was almost complete. Those of you who pick up from Cookie Club will definitely get to make use of the final installation which is receiving some last minute treatment.

I caught up with Mrs Locke on Tuesday morning who came back to visit and have a conversation around her next project. I then spent what time I had left (I mean, Mrs Locke can talk!) carrying on with my ‘year start to do list’. I wonder how long I can keep that list going before I have to refer to it as my ‘year end to do list’?

At lunchtime on Tuesday, I popped outside to see what the pupils were getting up to and what clubs were being run. The Lower School tag rugby club was very well attended and it was lovely to see some Year 6 pupils helping Miss Gooderham and Miss King. There is a festival next week and we have a couple of teams taking part. Judging by what I saw on Tuesday, our teams will do very well indeed.

Some active maths

I also took a few pupils to the pond to see what signs of life we could find. Bailey (Year 3), Freddie, Brooke and Phoebe (Year 4) had a net each and we did some pond dipping. It is pleasing to see that our fish have not become heron food since we had the big pond clear out. We also saw quite a few frogs who are probably getting ready for their winter rest. I have no doubt we will be back with this group and perhaps others in the coming weeks, whilst the weather is still conducive to this type of activity.

I continued with a science theme on Tuesday afternoon for a few minutes when I assisted Mr Lord and Voyager Class with their experiment on air resistance. I had only popped in to remind Mr Lord to do his register and I am glad I did. I ended up watching him drop eggs out of his classroom window with parachutes of increasing size attached. Now usually, when we do experiments in primary schools, we know what should happen but invariably, it never does. Mr Lord’s experiment, on the other hand delivered perfect results and the largest parachute did save the egg from destruction. As Kit pointed out on our way back into class, it was an ‘eggcellent eggsperiment’. And you thought my joke last week was bad!

Year 3s hard at work

On Wednesday, as I was walking through the school, I was drawn to Lamarr Class who were doing music. The prospect of 30 pupils playing the recorder is enough to fill you with dread, however, the way they were playing along to Abba’s Mamma Mia was actually really impressive. Year 3 were playing untuned percussion in their lesson in the studio and then upstairs we had Year 5s playing flute and clarinet. Our music curriculum is certainly rich and varied.

Thursday, and Thursday morning in particular was simply manic! Apologies for not making it out onto the playground but I had several visitors all arrive at the same time and I simply was not able to split myself any further.

We welcomed a new pupil into Voyager Class and I couldn’t be more proud of the way the Year 5 pupils made her feel welcome. I like to think of ourselves as an inclusive school and Thursday highlighted that for me. It would be wrong to single out specific pupils as they were all amazing, but Jasmine and Zehra do deserve a special mention! Thank you girls. Fair play to Mr Lord too for his creative use of technology and google translate!

All this was taking place at the same time I was trying to meet with an adviser from the local authority regarding the support we give to our wider community. With reference to the previous paragraph, the adviser did wonder if we had staged the whole thing. After an initial meeting with the staff team, he spent the rest of the morning with the senior leadership team. He then spent lunchtime and the majority of the afternoon corroborating what we had told him by talking with groups of our pupils. I think he left impressed and Bailey (Year 3) certainly made his mark.

Collaboration in Year 6

Just to add to the chaos, we had electricians in on Thursday afternoon upgrading the group room and tidying that up for us, whilst ADT turned up for the annual alarm service. As I said, manic!

All of this meant that I wasn’t able to get to watch any of the football at Highover School but I was reliably informed that both teams played very well indeed. The boys’ team drew 1-1, with Aidan (Year 6) making some great saves in goal. The girls’ team won 3-2 thanks to goals from Evie and Abigail (Year 6). Hopefully I can get out to the next fixtures.

Football v Highover this week

As someone who tries to be on the playground as much as possible, I was absent again on Friday morning. I had a breakfast meeting at Hitchin Girls’ School starting at 8.15am and was then at Highbury for our Friends’ Association AGM.

I was invited to the morning briefing at HGS as a trustee but also for a celebration. Some of you may recall my daughter ‘Miss Mills’ as a TA in Aztec Class when the now Wilde Class were Year 3s. Kerry moved on after that year, to HGS as a Learning Support Assistant (TA) and has been there ever since while she thinks about what to do next (she now has a plan). Today, she found out that she had won ‘National Teaching Assistant of the Year in a Secondary School’ and was presented with her trophy by the organising body. Education really is a family business at the moment.

National Teaching Assistant of the Year in a Secondary School – Well done, Miss Mills!

I left the Girls’ School and then headed straight to Highbury to take part in the Friends’ Association AGM. I am so grateful for the incredible work the committee and friends do for our two schools particularly around the social side and linking the two schools together. Today, Mrs Avey and I each received ‘cheques’ for £6500. That is a fantastic amount and plans are already in place for how it will benefit the pupils and school. Thank you again to all involved.

These two meetings meant that I couldn’t lead Achievers’ Assembly either but I did get to hear about it. Music was provided by Ellie (Year 6) and Lottie (Year 5). Mrs Burniston sent me messages straight after saying how well they both played.

Thank you for playing

This week’s Class of the Week went to Orville. Apollo won the Wombles and Fire won the House Cup. We also celebrated a few more running club certificates and our first two Silver Awards. We also celebrated Arthur’s (Year 4) player of the match award, having scored three goals last weekend, on his birthday! What a result!

A calming way to end the assembly

I was back in time for Biscuits with the Boss however and spent a lovely 20 minutes at break time with six more Year 3 pupils who shared their thoughts on the first four weeks at Whitehill.

Looking at my diary for next week, I will certainly be able to see some sport for sure. There is a netball fixture against Our Lady on Monday after school at home and on Wednesday and Friday, we have football fixtures against St Ippolyts and Ickleford. Again, both at home. There is also an upper school rugby festival on Tuesday and a lower school rugby festival on Thursday.

In an earlier blog, I mentioned a new club Mr Lord has introduced called ‘four square’. On Friday afternoon, we have our first inter-school fixture in this new game, at St Ippolyts School.

On Thursday next week, we are being visited by a headteacher from a school in Nottingham who will spend the day with us. I first met this headteacher at a national lacrosse finals (we did beat his school) and would meet up regularly at similar sporting events. Since then, we try to meet up to chat about ‘all things education’ once a year but since the pandemic, it has been a struggle to coordinate diaries. I am delighted that with six days to go, we are still ‘all systems go’. My plan will be to walk and talk and see Whitehill in action and then perhaps pop over to the rugby in the afternoon, as he is as passionate about sport as I am.

That is it for another week. After the hectic nature of the last two days in particular, I will try to put my feet up for some of the weekend but Miss Gooderham is playing in the FA Cup on Sunday and so I am sure I will end up there cheering on Stevenage.

Whatever you all have planned, I hope you have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

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