Time is passing us by far too quickly at the moment; publishing this blog means we must be at the end of another week. Worryingly there are now only five weeks left until the end of the academic year yet there is still so much the staff team want to achieve. We have had our Year 6 pupils back for two weeks and all seems to be going well. We are evolving in the way they are supported on a daily basis and the staff are working hard to ensure they are engaged in meaningful work within the constraints imposed upon us. We have been chatting daily as a team about what else we can do and I will be writing to Year 6 parents shortly with a plan to make lunchtimes a little more interesting!
Two of our Year 6 pupils, Jude and Niamh, have been asking for contributions for their respective projects and I have been pleased with your support. Thank you on their behalf. Jude is putting together a Whitehill Cook Book and is currently collating recipes from pupils and families. We have seen lots of families cooking together during lockdown and many of you have sent in recipes you have been practising. I will keep you informed as to the book’s progress but I believe there is still time to get recipes submitted. Feel free to send them to me at consult@whitehill and I will send them over to Jude. Niamh is turning her plans for a music festival into a virtual festival and we will be sharing her finished project with Whitehill families shortly. Both pupils will be using these projects to raise funds for local Covid related charities.
On Tuesday, we had a real treat in school; or should I say ‘over’ school. Mr Denney was not on duty in school but spoke to me about the possibility of visiting at 1000 feet. We weren’t able to announce it in advance because it was subject to Luton air traffic control granting permission to enter their airspace. Mr Denney remained on the end of a phone as he took off and as he approached Letchworth, we got the green light. One tweet later and a delay in pupils going back in at the end of lunch and we had a perfect show. What was lovely was that many of our families not currently in school got to see the flypast too. One thing which stood out for me and which some of our parents noticed was how impeccably the Year 6 pupils watching, maintained their social distancing. One of the photos posted by Mr Denney highlighted this perfectly. So much so, that I think all were able to identify exactly where they were standing. So in the course of the academic year, we have had a spitfire and a grasshopper entertain us. Can’t be many schools which can say that!
During the week we were joined just outside the school gates by Coby, a stone snake which has continued to grow over recent days. I have no idea where it came from but it certainly is a bit of fun. I popped out on Friday morning to make sure it was OK. If you are passing, please feel free to feed it!
The Year 6s have been very creative this week. Pupils have been engaged in bridge building (with spaghetti), creating soundscapes in drama and on Thursday, took part in a variety of PE activities. This is on top of some 3D maths, poetry and longer pieces of writing. Samantha’s short story was lovely to read and certainly deserved the Headteacher’s award I presented to her.
I’ve been outside most lunchtimes chatting with pupils and playing football with Lucy and Amy-Louise from Pod 1. I haven’t quite worked out the rules of the games we have been playing but it has been lovely to spend some time getting to know them and talking about ‘stuff’.
Pod 5, our key worker pod, changes on a daily basis as parents’ shifts vary. Those who were in on Thursday had a real treat when Madame Skinner paid a virtual visit and led them in a game of French lotto. It was lovely to see Madame Skinner again and I know some other teachers have ‘booked’ her to visit their pods in the coming weeks. We all long for the day when we can welcome back our many friends who come in to support the teaching within our rich and varied curriculum.
Thank you to all who completed the recent parent survey on life since lockdown. We discussed the results at a governors’ meeting on Wednesday evening and will be feeding back to the teachers on Monday. We are delighted with the information we have gathered and it will certainly be used as we move forward over the next five weeks and also when we return in September. We are looking with interest at the ‘even better ifs’ as there are lots of great ideas and suggestions which might support our practice and help make the learning experiences for our pupils even better.
I have been visiting the different Google Classrooms again this week, as has Mrs Beresford. I also left some feedback for some of our Lower School pupils on their other digital platform, Edmodo. There was a wonderful video from Bella (Year 3) showing the clock she had made with the help of her dad. Sophie and Edward (Year 3s) also showed their creativity with their clocks, including one made out of Lego using Roman Numerals. Eoin (Year 3) continues to share photos of how his tadpoles are growing; they now have four legs. It is lovely to see the enthusiasm pupils have to share their experiences and even more impressive to see how supportive their peers are with their feedback. It’s a really collaborative and caring environment.
Thank you to those of you who have kindly sent in food parcels this week for the staff. They are always appreciated and are usually gone by the end of the day! We’ve enjoyed flapjack from two different sources and rocky road.
Looking forward, there is some key information coming home in the coming days. We are currently planning for ways in which to get Year 3, 4 and 5 pupils back in school before the end of the term. We are clearly waiting for the promised update from the DfE early next week but we are trying anticipate how we might be able to see all our pupils, in some way, before the end of the term. We are also preparing for September and I will be sending out a letter next Friday giving the moves the classes will be making and which teachers they will have. This is traditionally done when the reports come home but as I mentioned in the Covid-19 blog on Thursday, because this will be spread over several days this year, I thought it better to send a letter out in advance.
The other major piece of work we are doing is preparation for the current Year 2s transferring to Whitehill. Clearly this will be different than in previous years but we hope the work we have been doing will help pupils make the move, not just this year, but in future years too. Mr Lord, Miss McGurk and Mrs McConnell Smith have been very busy filming and editing a series of videos which will be put on the school website under a new ‘Transition’ tab. All aspects of school are being covered; no one has escaped the camera and we have even managed to collar a couple of current Year 3s we have seen walking past school to record a few bits and pieces. Again, I will let you know when this goes live.
I have already had one online meeting today with officials from Herts County Council and before I head home this evening I have another with fellow headteachers from Hitchin and Harpenden who will be joined by our MP. I have two messages for Bim to take away today. Firstly, to confirm what I was saying last week with regards allowing headteachers to make the key decisions in relation to the their settings. Secondly, to see if we might be able to get the DfE to stop with the overcomplicated daily return which takes in excess of 30 minutes to complete. I can but hope!
That’s it for another week. Busy times ahead with clocks seemingly speeding up!
Have a great weekend.