The last blog of the term and the last blog of 2020. Anything interesting happened this year?
I should probably run a competition for you to describe this year in five words. Why not use the comments’ facility at the bottom of this blog and I will pick my favourite (and most creatively appropriate) as a winner. I will announce the winner at the start of next term and make sure a suitable prize finds its way to you. Good luck!
It has certainly been interesting; challenging at times but on the whole very successful. I remember very clearly travelling to London on Sunday 15th March and spending the whole journey writing my notes for a staff briefing we had on the Monday. By the Friday we were ordered to close to all but key worker pupils and the rest, as they say, is history.
Over the next 17 term-time weeks and three planned holiday weeks, we delivered a range of blended learning opportunities for all our pupils, never really closing and learned very quickly the benefits and opportunities of Google Classroom. #teamwhitehill rose to the challenges and now think nothing of delivering lessons remotely themselves or to pupils who are needing to isolate. Seeing pupils engaging with their learning from their kitchen or virtually join the Christmas lunch has been inspiring and impressive.
Even when I slipped in a memo stating the BBC were coming in, or the Leader of the Opposition, the staff smiled and said, ‘why not’. Our mantra over this whole time has been ‘how do we make this work?’ and I am sure you would agree with me when I say that all of my team, from my colleagues on the leadership team to Mr Waluk and his team; from the classroom teachers to the teaching assistants have done just that.
Thank you to you, too, for the lovely messages of support you have sent in or for the kind words shared with me whilst I am on the playground in the mornings. They are really appreciated and all are shared with the staff. When we’re feeling a little jaded, reading a positive email lifts the spirits.
“… Whitehill has been the one positive consistent this year.”
“The school has maintained its caring, positive and ambitious attitude.”
“Life couldn’t be better as he loves your school.”
“It is yet another example of how brilliant your staff are.”
“Keep doing what you are doing… other schools could seriously learn a lot from what I have seen from Whitehill today.”
“Credit where credit is due, you guys are a real class act.”
The pupils have remained focused and engaged this week, with classes splitting time between Christmas activities and their usual timetable.
On Tuesday, the Year 3 films were ‘released’ after the final (and very late night) editing had taken place the day before. I hope you have managed to watch them and, like me, have been really impressed with the way the Year 3s had learned all their lines and risen to the challenge. Huge thanks to Mr Lord, Mr Wells and the Year 3 team for making this work. As with the usual performances, we would like to make a donation to charity as part of this project and therefore if you would like to contribute, there is an option on School Gateway. Money received this year will be going to Hitchin Foodbank, which we know is getting a lot of use at the moment.
This term, some of our Year 3 pupils have been learning BSL with Mrs McKenna. On Monday, all the Year 3s had a go and learned how to sign ‘We Wish you a Merry Christmas’. Of course, I had to join in and learn a few more signs. Later in the week, I noticed other classes, including Apollo Class learning the same song. It’s really quite inspiring to see so many pupils being enthused by this.
Both our Year 4 classes did some Victorian themed food tech on Tuesday and Wednesday, when a well-known Victoria Wood sketch provided the title for a tweet or two. I must admit it did smell lovely and Mr Denney confirmed this when he decided to try some for his lunch.
Year 6s from Wilde Class performed their raps as part of their music work and showed great use of technology as well as compositional talent. Artist, Charley Harper, provided the inspiration for the Year 6s in Kahlo Class as they created their own version of these iconic scenes. These were later turned into calendars and looked really striking.
Pupils in Aztec Class teamed up again to have another go at their ‘blindfold art’ which is a fun way to develop communication skills. Henry was at home but that didn’t mean he couldn’t take part as, once again, we made use of the Chromebooks and he partnered Jacob who was in the classroom. Henry also joined us for lunch via his screen, positioned at the head of the table. He looked quite the statesman.
The whole school enjoyed their final Activity Afternoon (or morning) in the sunshine on Thursday. I think at one point, every pupil was outside enjoying the fresh air. Huge thanks to the staff who came in on their days off to facilitate this and also to Mr and Mrs Wells who, with their ‘Blueharts’ hats on, coached hockey all day.
In the absence of our usual annual visit to St Mary’s Church we held a special Achievers’ Assembly in school on Friday morning. Interspersed between the many awards and celebrations, some of our Year 6 pupils, who were my live audience this week, shared some seasonal poems and readings.
Music was provided by Monty who got us in the mood as he drummed along to Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ and recreated a scene from Love Actually! He certainly woke everyone up! This week’s Class of the Week was Mayan Class and the House Cup was awarded to Fire. The final Womble Award of the term went to Lamarr Class which meant they had their name added to the end of term prize raffle. Every time a class won the Womble, their name was added to the hat; the more times they won, the more names went in. The prizes for winning this term went to the pupils and staff of Kahlo Class. Thank you, on behalf of Mr Waluk and his team, to you all for keeping your classes as tidy as you can.
We presented this half term’s sports awards which were shared across all four year groups and also handed out 18 gold medals to pupils in Year 4 who had finished first in a Sports Partnership cricket and speed stacking competition across other schools in the district. Particularly impressive was Grace whose time was quicker than any pupil across all four year groups in the whole of North Herts.
As I near the end (yes, dad, not long to go!) can I thank you for my cards and presents. They are really appreciated and I can guarantee that at least one will be opened by around tea time (if not sooner)! On behalf of the staff too, thank you for your generosity and support.
Don’t forget my competition; five words to sum up the year. Send in your answers via the comments’ box below (or via twitter). I’ll let you know if my dad enters and keeps his insult down to the five words.
And finally, have a merry and safe Christmas. I will keep key updates to a minimum and post them on the Covid blog if needed. See you all on Monday 4th January.