All The More Challenging

Two weeks done and we are going strong. From Monday next week, we will begin our two-week timetable and lessons will begin in earnest after our soft start but for now, let me reflect upon the second week of the year.

All smiles in Year 3

I wasn’t in school much on Monday, as I had to attend several safeguarding meetings in Stevenage. Before I went however, I did take my assembly where the focus this week was twofold. I spoke about our Core Purpose of Profound Individual Growth and reflected upon what that looks like for pupils and how the Year 6 Leadership Team candidates might weave that into their speeches. I also reminded (or introduced) pupils to our THINK acronym for interacting with others. This features a lot at Whitehill and posters are around the school. I will continue to refer to it regularly whenever I am drawn to some unkind or hurtful language (in person or online). 

Whenever I am out for a day or a significant part of the day, I like to have a wander around the school upon my return. Monday was no exception and that included me stopping by to watch a bit of the first netball club practice of the year. Mrs Bryan, Miss Payne and Miss King have begun the process of developing the teams to try to win back the rally trophy we said goodbye to last summer. There was certainly a lot of potential on display.

Squad Practice

I visited the classrooms again on Tuesday morning and was impressed with the productivity on display. Apollo Class were creating freeze-frames focusing closely on emotion generated form facial expressions. William must learn to look more serious!

There was a new club on offer on Tuesday lunchtime and I had to go along and have a go. Mr Lord has introduced a ‘Four Square’ club to Whitehill and he already has his eyes on some inter-school competition. Four Square is a game I first played at the end of year staff party and is a close-quarters game where players have to make their way from the ‘Jack’ square to the ‘Ace’ square by bouncing the ball in their competitors’ squares. If they then miss it or cannot return it to a different square, they are out and everyone ‘moves up’ a square. Someone else then comes in, in his or her place. It sounds far more complicated than it is!

A new club for Whitehill

Year 3 were off out for the first time in their Whitehill journey on Tuesday. They visited Wymondley Woods and, judging by the feedback I received from the staff and the pupils, they had a very good time. They also managed to avoid the rain which replaced the extreme heat. I enjoyed looking through the photos from the trip and have already selected a couple to update those in my office. I am not sure if the one below will make the cut for my office wall, but it did make me laugh! What was the purpose of the visit?

A woodland walk? Really?

I kept going with start of the year ‘paperwork’ on Wednesday and managed to highlight quite a few items from my ‘to do’ list. This also included adding things to the list which I had just finished, just to give me the satisfaction of crossing them off. You all do that, right?

This is what I expected to see evidence of!

Every Wednesday afternoon, I try to meet (albeit virtually) with my Chair and Vice Chair of Governors. This week we had our first of the year and were able to talk over the building projects from the summer holidays as well as the amazing data from the end of last year. Being part of Whitehill is much more than SATs results as you all know, but when the DfE send through provisional data for last year’s Year 6s that puts progress in the top 5% of the country, you can’t help but feel quite proud.

I popped outside after school on Wednesday to see what the pupils who attend Cookie Club were getting up to. Miss King had joined the staff this week and was playing a game of cricket with some of the pupils. I can’t resist joining in whenever I see a spot of cricket being played and it was when I did just that, that I received either a compliment or an insult. I’m still not sure! A certain Year 5 pupil who will remain nameless (but he might have a twin brother) remarked to Miss Creese that my fielding, ‘wasn’t bad for someone who is 50!’ When I told him I was 54, I think he was even more impressed! It’s moments like this which make the job so enjoyable! I won’t tell him I then had to go back to my office to lie down and recover!

Year 3 were proud of their handy work

On Thursday, we had our Junior Leadership Team hustings and interviews. 19 Year 6 pupils put themselves forward to stand this year with all of them working over the last week and a half with Mrs Burniston to perfect their speeches. They all did so well to talk with such confidence (even if they were slightly nervous) to the whole school and then have a chat with my Chair of Governors and me.

Once all the votes were counted and we had our four pupils for the year, we had an extra staff meeting after school to decide upon the other positions of responsibilities. These are the House and Sports Captains. This is always a very interesting conversation made all the more challenging this year by having such a girl-heavy cohort and some very talented individuals.

Well done to the following pupils who were presented with their badges (how long before they lose them?) for 2023/2024 in a special Achievers’ Assembly on Friday morning.

Junior Leadership Team: Milly, George, Jemma and Libby

House Captains: Jacob, Martha, Addi, Chloe L, Tilly B, Nihal, Bella, Nandi

Sports CaptainsSophie, Henry, Dylan, Joseph, Millie, Maya, Jacob, Oona, Evie, Abigail, Summer, Alex

School Council Chair: Tanveer

The first job for the new Earth House representatives was to collect the House Cup this week.

When it came to Class of the Week, it really could have gone to any of the classes. The teachers are always very honest with their feedback about how the pupils have done as a group each week and without fail, all of the staff were so positive again. I then have to add in what I have noticed as I have visited the classrooms or perhaps what Headteacher’s awards I have handed out. It was such a tough decision. Taking that into account,  it was Voyager won Class of the Week this week. The Wombles stayed in Year 3 but went next door to Mayan Class.

At break time on Friday, six pupils joined me for the first ‘Biscuits with the Boss’ of the year. I am going to try and be better at making this happen more regularly this year but this week I invited six new Year 3s along for a chat, some hot chocolate and of course a biscuit or two. It was a lovely 15 minutes listening to how they feel the start of the year has gone.

Exploring the school grounds

Tomorrow we have our first football fixtures of the year with Miss Gooderham taking a team to the Early Season Rally hosted at Wilshere Dacre School. All being well I hope to pop along and see how we get on. I think Miss Gooderham is quite excited by this year’s team!

Looking ahead to next week, I am out a couple of times. On Tuesday morning, I am at Hitchin Girls’ School for a meeting with their PE department in my capacity as a trustee of HGS.

My other adventure out of school next week is to accompany Mrs McConnell Smith into London on Friday as we have been invited to talk to some trainee teachers by our former deputy head, now ITT lead for a trust, Mrs Beresford. It will be lovely to see her again.

That is it for the week. It has been a highly success five days and I would like to finish with one more ‘shout out’ for the Year 6s who put themselves forward for a job. I recognise some will be a little disappointed that they weren’t successful on this occasion but they can all feel very proud with how they presented. It might well be that their pledges are still used.

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

A productive week

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