An Easy Option

I have mentioned to a few parents I have spoken to this week how I have spent the majority of my time sat at my desk in front of my computer (getting a numb bum!). This time of the year and these few weeks in the middle of the last half term require me to do a lot of ‘stuff’ in my office. Reports to write; governors documents to prepare; information to set up for next year – it all takes time. This does mean that I can’t do as much of the fun stuff, like visiting classrooms and chatting to pupils. Before my dad gets too excited, however, that I might end my blog here, there are other ways for me to find out what the pupils have been doing!

I think even the parrot was laughing at my shirt!

My assembly on Monday covered two subjects. Firstly, it was another ideal opportunity to remind pupils of our ‘THINK’ message when talking with friends, whether that be in person on via some form of social media. The more we remind pupils the more I hope it will become second nature to take a second before saying something they may regret or my upset a friend.

The other half of the assembly introduced the pupils to another competition being launched today they can get involved with supported by our friends at Stonegate Estates. This time around, the theme is linked to the upcoming women’s football World Cup starting next month and there are again separate competitions for Lower School and Upper School pupils. Once again, the prizes are definitely worth winning.

On Monday afternoon, Mrs Winter came in to talk with pupils in Mayan Class about her life in Brazil. This linked beautifully with the pupils’ topic on rainforests and according to Mr Denney, generated some very interesting questions.

There was a great deal of group work and collaboration taking place in Year 4 and Year 5 on Monday too. Pupils in Orville Class were investigating sound and in particular looking at how sound is generated and sound waves. I am surprised they didn’t investigate the noise coming from my office as I was getting very cross with my computer keyboard. Put it like this, Mrs Granger has now bought me a new one which works properly and the old one has been ‘disposed of’!

I have seen a lot of good feedback about Year 5 this week. Linked with their topic on Greek Myths and Legends, the pupils have tried to create ‘Minotaur mazes’; something they discovered was harder than it looked.

On Tuesday, the same pupils were making mythological masks based on a template idea from Darrell Wakelam – a cardboard and masking tape artist based in Charmouth. Mrs Vernon was so impressed with the work of both classes that she sent him a short clip of the work they had done and received this lovely bit of feedback from him. ‘Wow, Mrs Vernon, they’re great aren’t they! Such diverse and individual outcomes. Really top work, they should be very proud of these.’

Some wonderful work in Year 5

I have no doubt the pupils are proud of their work but I can safely say that Mrs Vernon, Mr Lord and I are exceptionally proud!

Feedback from the Year 6 team suggests that rehearsals for the production are going very well indeed. That being said, I am not sure what is going on here with Ben. Is it a costume or is he channelling his creative side? Whatever it was, he certainly made a mess! (I promise I won’t tell Mr Waluk!)

Creativity can be messy! Well, certainly in Ben’s case it is!

Having spent the first two days of the week in my office, I was let out for the day on Wednesday when I was invited on the Year 3 trip to Shepreth. After the initial shock and subsequent remarks over my rain forest inspired shirt, the day was amazing.

Going by train is such an easy option and, given the cost of coach travel at the moment, significantly cheaper. The staff at the station also look after us very well – even accompanying us on the way there to help with the unmanned crossing at Shepreth Station.

The way to travel

The day was spent in our small groups looking around the park and regularly arriving back at the freshly shorn alpacas or the red pandas. Mrs Small and I had a lovely group who were enthused and knowledgeable. Esme, for example, earned house points for knowing the collective name for a group of owls! I think I am also right in saying that no member of our group asked ‘is it lunch soon’ at any point around the morning’s stroll.

I think they appreciated their haircut in this heat

Perhaps the most interesting part of the day – and I suspect the most interesting part of any school trip – was the gift shop. Each group had their allotted time and (fortunately) we were last – just before the journey home. The parent tweets on Wednesday night and the following morning summed up the visit perfectly but I think there is a serious point to the gift shop debate. One member of my group was spot on when he looked around and quite confidently shouted, ‘Everything in here is so expensive!’ What was not expensive were perhaps the things that featured on many photos on our timeline this week, and no, I don’t know what they are either. These places know pupils visit and they know they will spend their money. Would it not be fair to ask them to think about producing some form of souvenir specifically for children on visits that actually commemorates the trip and is not instantly forgettable ‘stuff’? Anecdotally, the worse place for this is Harry Potter Studio Tour, just in case you are interested.

Mrs Small and I had a lovely group

To end this section on another positive, the whole cohort were amazing and I am placing on record now that they would give our current Year 6s a run for their money in three years’ time. Thank you for a great day!

An amazing cohort and a headteacher in an ‘interesting’ shirt!

Miss Gooderham (and a couple of other staff members who shall remain nameless) got a lift back up the hill when we arrived in Hitchin as she were heading straight out again for a cricket match against Purwell. From the feedback received, it was a great game resulting in a narrow win. Well done, Girls!

Thursday saw me back in the office and back stuck at my computer. We had the writing moderator in to work with our Year 6 team and Mrs Burniston, checking through our teacher assessments of Year 6 writing. It was a very intense day and I may even go as far as to say more intense than our two day Ofsted. A lot has to do with the approach taken and the working relationships but by the end of the day, the process was complete and another tick can be added to another list in the folder, ‘jobs to do before the end of term’.

Indi taking it all in

Achievers’ Assembly on Friday morning was another fun affair. Music was provided by Liam (Year 6) who played his guitar beautifully.

Beautiful guitar playing by Liam today

The regular awards were given out in the following way: Lamarr won Class of the Week; Earth won the House Cup and the Wombles went to Kahlo. The teachers’ submissions for class of the week this week were amazing – every one of them. Have a look on twitter, as I will share some of what they said about each class.

We also presented some medals and trophies from recent competitions out of school and were all exceptionally impressed with Arthur (Year 3) who spoke so eloquently about his football team. Several members of staff came up to me afterwards sharing their enthusiasm for the way he spoke.

Pretty much straight after assembly I headed out to a Headteacher consortium meeting; the last of the term. There was plenty on the agenda, including saying ‘bye’ to a few experienced colleagues who have decided that enough is enough, or that they have done long enough. If only!

The pupils’ favourite

I was back straight after lunch; straight back to my desk’; and straight back on the ‘to do’ list. You may get a sense from this blog and some of the moaning I am doing that I am indeed related to my dad!

Anyway, looking ahead to next week where I will hopefully be able to get away from my office and get into classes, we have a week of pupil progress meetings; a chance for teachers to get together and talk with colleagues about the pupils in their classes and the progress they have made this year.

Phase are in for Year 6 for the final time this year looking at transition. All being well, they are then off to the swimming pool on Tuesday.

I have what looks like a riveting morning on Thursday when we review our Health and Safety audit with someone from the Local Authority. It’s been a long year working through this action plan!

On the sports front, we have a cricket match on Tuesday away at Weston followed by rounders fixtures away at St Mary’s on Wednesday and Thursday.

Perhaps the main event of the week (for some) is on Friday when the school reports will be coming home, together with confirmation of which teachers your children will have moving forward. I am also hoping to coordinate an update of the website and virtual tour to reflect this information. I know it is a topic of conversation each year!

Excited to be heading to the zoo

I will end this week’s blog with a lovely message received anonymously on Wednesday – National Thank a Teacher Day – which stated:

“Thank you for all you do for the Whitehill family – your pupils and families and your colleagues – today and every day. We truly appreciate the hard work, dedication and commitment you give without question, and always with a kind heart and a smile. #teamwhitehill is a team like no other!”

It was very much appreciated!

Have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

Amazing work in Year 4 based on the Iron Man

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