Answers on a Postcard!

This week was a very interesting and productive week for our Year 5 pupils as they took part in a series of themed lessons and days all based on their science topic of Earth and Space. In fact, in a couple of hours the pupils will be returning to school for the last set of lessons and activities to complete the week. We bring them back in the evening so that we can get outside (weather permitting) and have a look up to see some of what their teachers have been talking about all week. With a clear sky, they would be able to see the moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn as well as a host of amazing stars. There is also a low pass of the International Space Centre. We will all be keeping our fingers crossed but not sure we will be that lucky. We will be tweeting throughout the evening. As well as the weather being disappointing, the current Covid restrictions mean that we can’t do the final usual part of the evening which is a sleepover (or ‘wake-over’ for most). I have no doubt the pupils will still have a great time however, and I am grateful to the teaching team who have given up their Friday evening (of lockdown) to teach the equivalent of another day.

Over the course of the week, activities have included moon phases (through the medium of Oreos), large scale orbits, space themed choreography and junk modelling. On Thursday, they had a VR experience which looked like so much fun, that the staff queued up to have a go at lunchtime and after school. I took delivery of a fantastic telescope to use with the pupils, thanks to Dr Ray (our Chair of Governors) and her husband. I am delighted that we have been told we can keep it for a few more days to see if we can use it in more optimal conditions. As well as this week being a lot of fun, there was so much learning taking place which of course, was the ultimate goal.

Learning about orbits

On Monday afternoon, it was the turn of our Year 4 pupils to take part in my ‘Millsy Monday’ assembly. It was a lovely chat this week, particularly when we started talking about William Morris and the Victorians. The pupils could answer all my questions and also see how different aspects of the topic are linked. I also asked them about my thoughts and plans for Christmas and so if it all goes well, they can take the credit. Of course, if it doesn’t quite work, I will take full responsibility.

I feel I have spent a little too much time in front of a screen this week, or on the end of a phone. The majority were productive conversations including one with our school improvement partner who is also a lead Ofsted inspector. You may have noticed how much reference I make in these blogs to our curriculum offer at the moment. It is a key focus for our development plan and I am really excited by the work we have done and how this has transformed the learning experiences the pupils are having. Huge credit to the teachers for this; it’s has been, and continues to be, a big piece of work for all.

One of my favourite photos from this week – a very professional looking film studio

On Wednesday after school, I met with the owner of a local company which specialises in acoustics and sound systems. Thank you to Elliot’s dad (Year 4) who put me in contact with him. It was fascinating seeing him work which included firing a starting pistol six times and then testing the reverb in the hall. I hope we will be able to see this project through as it has the potential to make a significant difference to the quality of the sound in this much-used teaching space.

I have mentioned the telescope we are hoping Year 5s can use. On Thursday after school, we got a break in the cloud and I was able to let Cookie Club attendees have a look at the moon through it. It was such a clear and detailed image which brought our space related topics to life.

Isla (Year 4) having a close look at the moon whilst at Cookie Club

The other event on Thursday after school, behind closed curtains, was the filming of the staff dance which I mentioned last week. It was filmed in sections (for obvious reasons) and the footage is now with Miss McGurk and Mr Lord to edit. As soon as we have a finished film, I am sure I will be able to persuade the staff to let me share it with you in some way. It was great fun to do and we clearly have some talented movers in our team (I am not including myself in that group).

Our Achievers’ Assembly was extended this week in order that we could celebrate the poems submitted in this year’s National Poetry Day competition. We were hoping that local poet and judge, John Gohorry would be able to join like the classes do but for the first time, the technology let us down and we couldn’t make the connection. We were frantically working behind the scenes to make it happen but to no avail. I am sure we can get a video message from him in due course which we can share with the pupils.

There were lots of certificates awarded to the highly commended entries from across all four year groups and then a special certificate and a prize given to the four winners. In Year 3 it was Maya; Year 4, Alexia; Year 5 Robyn and in Year 6 it was Nate. Well done to all four winners.

We celebrated some Athletics badges in Year 3 and Year 6 as well as presenting the usual three trophies. The Class of the Week went to Orville Class (although I was tempted to take it off them again when they decided to play Baby Shark in their music lesson!). Our House Cup was won by Fire House and Wilde Class won the Mr Waluk Womble Award. Our music was provided by Eddie (Year 5) who was just amazing playing the piano. Again, well done to all of you who were celebrated this week.

A Year 3 history lesson, looking to create a giant timeline

As well as helping out in the dining room this term, in recent days I have had to take my turn as an MSA outside too. Apart from being very cold and on most days a little damp, it has been great to chat with and see the pupils at play. There was a great deal of mischief today as I took delight in playing a few pranks on Ayden and Charlotte (Year 5); they were great sports!  

Looking ahead to next week, the diary looks reasonably quiet after the busy nature of recent weeks. Tuesday looks the busiest day for me with a two hour performance appraisal meeting in the afternoon. I will be joined by governors and our improvement partner to review the past year and to see how I have done… answers on a postcard please! Our Head Boy and Head Girl will be attending the virtual transition conference on Thursday which, this year, is being run by Hitchin Girls’ School in collaboration with the other two local secondary schools.

Year 6 have been learning about DNA

We finish the week with our usual celebrations in our Achievers Assembly. I wonder if Mrs Bailey and Kahlo Class will try this week’s tactics of kind messages written in Polish to ‘persuade’ Mr Waluk that their class is the tidiest each day? It didn’t work this week!

I’ll stop there for this week. Firstly, because I need to get ready to help the Year 5 team and secondly, to see if I can get back in my dad’s good books by writing a little less for once. After all, it is Christmas soon and I want a nice present… or should I just say present?

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

“It’s as if I can touch it!”

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