‘Ave It!

My blog this week is published as I sit in a conference room in sunny Telford on day one of the NAHT annual conference. Having been in school for the other four days I can still reflect on the week and I have been in communication with school today to find out who won our regular awards and also to see who entertained everyone at the start and end of the assembly. More about that later.

Monday was a very busy day for me moving from one meeting to another. At one point I got a message to call the regional director of Ofsted; I have never been more pleased to get a message like that, just to give me an excuse to have a break. If you are now expecting me to say something about our report, I can’t (well certainly not recounting the days chronologically) but it can’t be long now until we receive our report. The statutory timings are coming to an end.

Wonderful work in Year 4

I met our (relatively) new Police Community Support Officer on Monday and naturally showed her around the school. She hopes to get involved with aspects of school life and so you may also meet her in community events for example. She showed a great interest in the pupils’ work when we looked around and it was lovely to see our Class Reps engage with her. I was a little worried however, as to how guilty Mrs Locke looked when she saw an officer in uniform, as soon as we entered Orville Class! Perhaps it’s best I don’t know!

We had a meeting for our Year 6 residential after school on Monday which was well attended. I am looking forward to going on this trip again and it was exciting to see what activities have been planned for this cohort.

Don’t forget to pack the toothbrush!

Apologies for not being on the playground every morning this week. I have missed my morning chats but will get back on it next week. Several off-site meetings meant I was late into work and so couldn’t be there for morning duty. The welcome I get from the cheery Year 5s when I open the pupil entrance sets my day up well.

After school on Tuesday, I didn’t need to be in the staff meeting and so was able to go and watch the last boys’ football match of the season and therefore the last football match at Whitehill for our Year 6 pupils. The weather was kind (it was warmer) and it was a really enjoyable match. Whitehill ran out comfortable winners against Breachwood Green, with Leo scoring at least four goals, I believe. Miss Gooderham’s one touch challenge was accepted and completed successfully and so I wonder what the prize will be for the team.

Thank you to the Year 6s who have represented the school so well

I was called upon to do an impromptu interview on Three Counties Radio on Wednesday afternoon. It was related to the story in the media about schools having to cut school trips and visits due to increasing strains on budgets and cost of living increases. The key message I wanted to get across was the benefit of the residentials, particularly in Year 6 and particularly considering the significant social and emotional impact of Covid. We have had to cut some of the day trips we run as they cease to be cost effective but we will do our best to protect the residentials and I am very grateful to parents for their support with these as they recognise the benefits (and not just because they get a child free week!). The pot is finite however, and as the current Year 3 parents can confirm, we have recently canvassed their thoughts on the Year 4 residential for 2024.

Proud of their work

I have seen some lovely Year 4 work this week. Nathan brought me his science book and Sophia, Jacob B and Stanley brought me their extended writing books. It was just wonderful to celebrate the progress the pupils have made. Thoroughly deserved Headteacher’s Awards were handed over (and the obligatory biscuit).

You may have seen on twitter Mr Denney and a group of helpers planting seeds outside the front entrance. I know there are additional plans to increase the flora in parts of the school in the coming months.

Who’s doing the majority of the work?

After school on Wednesday, I popped my head into the Year 3 maths challenge we were taking part in. Our Year 5s did very well earlier in the year and made it to the finals. Fingers crossed the Year 3 teams are equally as successful.

Our Year 3 mathematicians

I also took time to watch some the two girls’ football matches we were hosting. Again, for our Year 6s, this would be the last time they represent the school at football. Both games were enjoyable to watch and the girls were certainly enthusiastic. Miss Gooderham had to split herself between two pitches and so huge thanks to Vincent Kompany – I mean Mr Bradshaw – who imparted his Burnley FC inspired wisdom and looked after one of the teams. I was also impressed with Summer (Year 5) who recreated the John Smiths adverts from old, every time she got the ball in defence. ‘Ave it!

I am sure Eva should be listening to the tactics too!

Thursday gave me a chance to get a few loose ends tied up in school and also have a little look at some of the lessons taking place.

Mr Bradshaw channeling his inner Vincent Kompany (He’s a Burnley supporter!)

It was interesting watching the PE being taught to lower school. I saw golf, tennis, cricket and athletics. I then had watched some wonderful geography being taught to Year 5s by Mrs Burniston and Mr Lord. They were looking at erosion and made a working model to show this process. There was some wonderful vocabulary being used.

Looking carefully at the effects of erosion

I also ventured into Year 6 and saw some science and was given a lesson by Kamila into how the eye works.

The ‘B’ Team netball rally finally took place having been postponed from before Easter. You have to feel for the players (and the staff) who got drenched! There was no doubt the results were rain-affected but everyone can feel very proud with the way they played and more importantly, how they have progressed over the course of the year. Thank you to the parents who supported at this rally and also to everyone who has supported this season. 

Pupils appeared to enjoy the discos on Thursday evening and as always, a huge thank you to the Friends’ Association committee and their supporters. I am also extremely grateful to the staff who gave up their evening to support. The fact that they gave up additional hours on a day allocated to industrial action is certainly not lost on me.

In my absence, Mrs Burniston took Achievers’ Assembly this week. Music was provided by Isla (Year 6) who played the clarinet which, to quote Mrs Burniston, included a ‘lovely bit of Abba’. Pupils also listened to Liam (Year 6) who played his electric guitar.

There were quite a few sports reports, including a special one celebrating Miss Gooderham’s County Cup win last Sunday. 

Class of the Week went to Voyager; Aztec won the Wombles and Fire won the House Cup.

Looking ahead to next week, we are in school for only three days due to a bank holiday and an INSET day.

More geography – this time in Year 3

It is going to be interesting after school on Tuesday as the staff have their rearranged staff meeting looking at using the new orienteering course around the school grounds. Part-funded by the Friends’ Association, it will be good to get this course being used by our pupils and then potentially other schools from around Hitchin.

The Year 5s are out on Wednesday carrying out a river study. I have seen what has been planned and it looks to be a very comprehensive and interesting day of fieldwork.

On Friday, we will announce the winners of our King’s coronation competition supported by Stonegate. The entries have all been scrutinised and the shortlist is now being considered carefully. I have already had several emails from the judges stating that they are finding the job extremely difficult!

That’s it. A published blog whilst I am listening to keynotes on funding and pay settlements. I am going to need a drink later!

Have a lovely (longer) weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

Mr Lord explaining the task to Voyager Class

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