A Life of Its Own

After morning duty on the playground my first job on a Monday is a whole school assembly at 9.00am. I literally run from the playground, pick up any assembly notes I have prepared and go down to the hall and talk with our pupils. This week left me a little upset. For the first time ever, I picked up my story, went to read the opening sentence a realised I couldn’t. Why? It was blurred! I may finally have to give in and admit I need glasses to read slightly smaller print (or perhaps even reasonably-sized print). Either that, or it’s to the photocopier to blow it up!

The heron has been quite hungry this week

Having received little sympathy from Mrs Lanni and Mrs Granger in the office (I thought they were my friends) I was online for my first of several meetings this week. Although it is still beneficial to meet in person at times, the advantages of a ‘zoom’ are numerous. Time and money saved from not travelling are wonderful.

Phase joined the two Year 6 classes on Monday afternoon and as always, the feedback from staff and pupils was very positive. The team do such a good job in schools across Hitchin and the relationships they develop with pupils in the primary age range mean when they meet again in secondary school, they are comfortable and confident to share their thoughts and ideas. I am really grateful to Kieran, Emily and their colleagues for their support.

Before the end of the day, I had one final meeting with three firefighters from Hitchin station. I had asked them to spare some time to carry out and update our fire and arson audit and share any words of wisdom on ensuring our practice and policy were as good as they can be. The fact that one of the firefighters was a current parent and one was a former Whitehill parent, the ultimate question and final check had to be, ‘are you still happy to send your child to school?’ Of course the answer was ‘yes’, which means that we have got our practice right. I have spent a lot of time dealing with health and safety audits recently and it is quite satisfying when you realise you know more than you think about the strangest of regulations.

Huge thanks to Mr Weir helping out this week, cutting back some overgrown branches. On a H&S front – note the safety glasses! Well done, Mr Weir!

Science in Year 4 this week was all things ‘poo’ related. We do such pleasant topics don’t we?! They were looking at the way we consume food and what happens on its journey from mouth to waste. Mrs Vernon took great delight in bringing Ben to show me his work and he certainly deserved his Head’s award. I still remember the time when I joined this lesson a few years ago now and had a pupil carrying out the experiment shout across the room to me, ‘Mr Mills, will you help me poo?!’

This is such a fun lesson

Mr Derrett, Head of Physics at Hitchin Girls’ School was in on Tuesday morning teaching science to Wilde and Kahlo Class. It was a lesson and a series of practical tasks based on electricity. I popped in to see both sessions and it was amazing. The pupils were so engaged and clearly having a lot of fun. The highlight had to be the demonstration with the Van de Graaff generator showing the effects of static electricity. What isn’t there to love about seeing Finley’s hair starting to stick up and take on a life of its own?!

Thank you to Mr Derrett from HGS for working with the Year 6s

We are very fortunate to have the relationship we do with HGS who are also working on a weekly basis with a group of upper school pupils teaching Latin as an extra-curricular activity.

Static electricity at work

I lost my chair for one morning this week as Aaliyah presented me with her ‘Have Mr Mills’s chair for the morning’ voucher. I think she enjoyed the comfort during her maths and English lessons.

Aaliyah with my chair. She looks quite at home, don’t you think?

I was back in Kahlo Class on Tuesday afternoon to carry on with their technology project. I know I have mentioned this before but I continue to be impressed by the way the pupils work; the way they interact with each other and their generally cheerful attitude. Great progress is being made and I enjoy my time with them. I must mention a few pupils in particular, including Jessica who is an amazing role model; Ethan who took it upon himself to try something a little more challenging and make it work and Sarah who decided to turn her model car to a ‘beast’ clearly designed to take out anything in its way. Keep up the great work, Kahlo Class.

Great progress in Kahlo Class

Our Year 6s are a wonderful cohort. Wilde and Kahlo Classes are a pleasure to work with and I am not surprised by the number of Headteacher Awards I am handing out each week to pupils in both classes.

Having said that, all our pupils are amazing! Profound Individual Growth? 242 examples every week! I enjoyed the company of six Year 3s for another ‘Biscuits with the Boss’ on Thursday morning and had a blast. They tell you so much and share their thoughts so honestly. Even more impressive is being able to say so much whilst consuming so many biscuits washed down with several cups of Mrs Lanni’s hot chocolate.

A group of Lower School pupils (or Under school if you’re Freddie R, Year 3) took part in a dance festival on Wednesday. Thank you to Miss Gooderham for taking them and for sharing the outcome of their work. They all did so well and picked up the Christmas themed choreography very quickly. Special mention has to go to Teddy (Year 4) who just shone in the final dance – what a mover!

Our Year 3 and Year 4 dancers

We finally had some better, albeit cold, weather this week. This meant that I was able to get the telescope out again. The moon was full; Jupiter, Saturn and Mars were as clear as anything. It was just perfect. I hope those of you who were able to join me had fun. I love it when an adult expresses their amazement and excitement at seeing Saturn’s rings for the first time, for example.

The views have been so good this week

We had another set of prospective parent tours on Thursday afternoon and I was proud to show them around. It might feel a little manic at the moment in school but all of the classes were productive and the class reps superb. Although I probably say quite a lot when walking around, the pupils and teachers sell the school and I could remain quiet. At this point in my blog, Mrs Lanni will now text me and say something along the lines of ‘I wish you would!’

The lesson on the digestive system always produces such great reactions

Our Year 3s have been working so, so hard on their production and on Friday morning they got to perform it to the rest of the school. This was the first of four performances and they all deserve so much credit. I can’t wait to welcome parents next week for shows two, three and four. I particularly like the fact that the pupils are so proud when I ask them what part they are and they respond with ‘Alien Number 5’, or ‘Narrator Number 3’. If you have a ticket, you are in for a real treat and perhaps one or two surprises.

The dress rehearsal meant that there was no Achievers’ Assembly this week. We will pick up awards and certificates again next week. I am not sure whether I should let Mr Lord know this or not, but if there had have been one, he would have won the Womble this week. Oh dear, can he maintain these standards for another week?

As soon as we finish here this afternoon, I am heading up to Highbury to join in with the Friends’ Association latest social gathering. The summer ones have been so successful and I am looking forward to supporting the latest, Christmas-themed event. I hope many of you will be able to join us and share some Christmas spirit whilst supporting our two schools. Year 6 pupil and talented pianist, Joshua, will be entertaining us at some point during the event and so make sure you are around when he does. He is special!

Despite working hard on their play, the Year 3s have still been busy in class

Next week is the last full week before the break. I have already mentioned the three performances but before we get these started, I am going with the Year 3s to Highbury to watch their Christmas performance. I am also pleased that they will be coming down to us for the matinee on Monday afternoon. This is the first time we will have been able to do this since 2019 when the Year 3s were in Reception!

We have our Christmas lunch on Wednesday. Pupils (and staff) are invited to wear, should they wish to, a festive jumper or top on this day with perhaps a hat. There is no compulsion to do so and there is no cost if pupils do. Usual uniform applies apart from the jumper.

On Thursday we have Anthony Glenn in school to entertain us and on Friday we have our Achievers’ Assembly with our first ‘Wall of Fame’ awards of the year. More about these next time.

So that’s your lot for another week. Have a great weekend and I hope Goslings had a very successful Ofsted today (they’re getting closer)!

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

Mr Lord using a piece of vintage teaching equipment, an OHP, as a resource to show night and day

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