Biscuits and Biscuit

The Year 6 pupils have been doing their SATs this week. As I am sure you are all aware, these are a set of statutory assessments designed to measure the outcomes and progress of pupils as they reach the end of Key Stage 2. The pupils have worked so hard to be ready for this week and they will do well, I have no doubt.

I heard a comment the other day that perhaps Year 6s do too much in the way of assessment. I am not sure if this reference was ‘in general’ or specifically related to Whitehill but it did interest me. I am particularly proud of our approach to assessment (having done some work with the University of Durham on this very subject) and the way it is woven into our curriculum. Unlike many schools, the curriculum offer for all pupils, regardless of whether they are in Year 6 or Year 3, remains consistent regardless of SATs or any other forms of assessment. The pupils study the full range of National Curriculum subjects across the year and there is never any narrowing as they get older. You only need to look at the displays in the classrooms to see this. There aren’t many schools who offer their pupils 2½ hours PE per week, for example. Only last week, Year 6 spent the afternoon at the theatre. Long may this continue.

Some practical maths work in Year 3 this week

I have spent quite a bit of time in recent weeks with my NAHT hat on, supporting colleagues from across Hertfordshire. I become a sounding board for fellow school leaders who have found themselves in dispute with their governing bodies or in the middle of complaints. One call on Monday afternoon took two hours just to establish a timeline of events. I mention this here for a couple of reasons. It continues to provide you with information around what I do each week (which is not drink coffee and eat biscuits as some pupils would suggest). In addition, it provides me the opportunity to thank my governing board and our parents for their support and positive working relationship. It makes our job so much easier.

When not supporting the Year 6 team this week or on the phone, I have tried to get out and about to see what the pupils are learning.

We had a good result for our school council this week. In their meetings with Mrs Burniston, they had asked for the school to get new trays and new cutlery from Herts Catering as the current ones were looking a little ‘tired’. The final part of the plan came to fruition on Monday, much to the delight of the pupils. We also got a new dishwasher in the kitchen to keep the new stuff sparkling! Well done and thank you to our school council.

What was planned to be a flying visit on Tuesday afternoon to Aztec Class ended up with me staying for well over an hour to join in some technology / artwork using clay. I had so much fun and was so impressed with the way the pupils listened to instructions and focussed on the quality of their work. They were making ocarinas and it was not an easy task. Despite wearing an apron, I still managed to get clay on my shirt, on my shoes and on my face. The pupils on the other hand were far more methodical and careful. I need a few more lessons.

I really enjoyed my time with Aztec Class this week

It was Mayan Class who impressed me on Wednesday morning with their sensible attitude towards their work. I popped into their classroom whilst Mr Denney was talking to someone to see all of the pupils fully engaged in what they needed to be. No fuss, no sound. House points all round!

Awesome work!

I have been banned by Mr Mills Jnr from entering the hall when any aspect of the Year 6 production is being rehearsed. Whether that is a scene rehearsal or individual singing practice. It is really hard, especially when he keeps telling me how good the pupils are already. I will do as I am told, of course; have you seen the size of him?!

I had to pop up to Voyager Class on Thursday afternoon to see Biscuit the snake! Tom wanted to show his pet python to the class and gave a great talk to his peers whilst his dad brought the snake in for pupils to see and touch. It was a great experience, but I would suggest that Mrs Wells might offer an alternative description of the opportunity!

Biscuit the Python meeting Tom’s classmates

Although we have not had any other assemblies this week due to the tests, we did have our Achievers’ Assembly on Friday. As always, there was plenty to celebrate including the regular awards being distributed as follows: Both Wilde and Kahlo won Class of the Week; Apollo won the Wombles and Earth won the House Cup.

Music was courtesy of Jude (Year 4) and Tara (Year 6) who both sang for us. We presented Daisy (Year 3) with her LAMDA exam certificate for which she received a distinction. There was a swimming award for Matilda (Year 4), a Tae Kwon Do medal for Elizabeth (Year 5) and an end of season rugby medal for Freddie R (Year 4).

A lovely start to our assembly

We handed out this half term’s School Games Awards who all receive a certificate and a medal. Well done to: Seb, Katie (Year 3), Arthur (Year 4), Lizzie, Niamh (Year 5) and Jemma (Year 6).

I am not sure how it has happened but next week is the last week of the half term. It is also going to feel quite strange around the school, especially from Wednesday.

On Monday, the Year 6s will be heading off to the Isle of Wight for their week-long residential. This will be the last time (for the foreseeable future) that we use this centre for our Year 6s. We have made the decision (for a number of reasons) to switch companies and locations and have already booked next year’s residential for our current Year 5s.

Two days later, on Wednesday morning, the Year 4s go on their adventure to Overstrand for three days on the North Norfolk coast. And yes, we have already booked next year’s trip for the current Year 3s but will be keeping with our current provider.

For those left in school, there are two sporting events to look forward to. We have a cricket team taking part in a competition on Tuesday and then a hockey team competing at the county finals on Thursday.

THank you for sharing your knowldge, Tom

The other key event for Year 5s is their music assembly on Wednesday afternoon. Many of you will know that we provide woodwind tuition for all Year 5 pupils in either the flute or clarinet. For as long as I can remember, this has been with Mr Brunton – an amazing musician. Wednesday will be his last visit to Whitehill – hence the reason for the early assembly – as he will leaving this current role at half term. Mr Brunton has inspired many pupils over the years and he will be sorely missed.

That’s it for this week. Another blog but one which perhaps reflects on ‘events in general’ more than usual.

I will see you on the playground on Monday morning, particularly if certain football results go they I hope. If they don’t, I will see you in July!

Have a great weekend and I hope the packing goes well for our sixes and fours!

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

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