Cash It In

Monday morning saw me post our final ‘tweet’ as we committed to swapping over to Instagram. It has been used, and I believe appreciated, for many years – certainly the 11 I have been at Whitehill – but the platform has become a little clunky in recent months and a change is as good as a rest. As we waved ‘goodbye’, we already had 248 followers on Instagram and I am sure this will increase as trips and visits take place in the coming weeks and months. Certainly amongst the staff, we feel it is a move for the good. Mrs Jarman put an ‘idiot’s guide’ (no offence meant) together to help those who might need it. A copy can also be found on the school website.

An amazing start to the week but I should have remembered, ‘red sky in the morning…’

A huge congratulations to our trampolinists who headed to Solihull on Sunday for the zonal finals of this year’s competition. We had five gymnasts compete and they all can feel very proud of their achievements which we celebrated in our assembly on Friday. The girls’ team qualified for the nationals, finishing first overall, with Oona and Eleanor (Year 6) also qualifying as individuals. A special mention to Poppy (Year 5) who stepped in for the injured Chloe (Year 5) and did so well. Thank you also to the parents who were there supporting as always and to Mr Lord for giving up another weekend to ensure we could take part. The nationals take place in Telford in the middle of March.

Before Sunday, however, I have to mention the great fun that was had at the O2 on Friday night. A group of pupils joined just under 8000 others to form a mass choir and enjoy an evening of Young Voices music. Most of the evening from my perspective was spent trying to locate our pupils amongst the masses and then share this knowledge with the parents who came along to support. Thank goodness for Mrs Piggins’s green jumper which allowed the choir and staff to spot us. Huge thanks to Mrs Burniston, Mrs Jarman and the other staff who gave up their day and night to ensure we could participate. 

They are in there, honest!

My assembly on Monday reminded the pupils of the need to take care with the way they present their work. Not just in terms of their handwriting but also with other aspects of their work such as spelling, diagrams, sticking in sheets and drawing tables. They responded well to the questions and clearly understand the need. As they came into assembly, I had a message to get them thinking on the screen which read, ‘ef yoo kan rid ths plez pt yo wyt rm in er’. I was impressed how many did. Would you have?

On Monday afternoon, I headed over to the University of Bedfordshire to work with some third year trainee teachers as they prepare to start applying for jobs and go for interviews. I took Miss Payne along with me this year so she could share her experience of her interview at Whitehill about a year ago. It was another enjoyable afternoon and I wish all of the students the very best of luck as they embark upon their teaching careers. It only seems like yesterday I got my first post at a school in Luton.

Much of my free time on Monday and Tuesday saw me reading and preparing for interviews of a different sort. On Wednesday, I spent most of the day at Highbury supporting the governors in their bid to secure a new headteacher for when Mrs Avey retires at Easter. Schools interview for staff regularly but it is quite a rare occurrence, particularly in Hitchin, to interview for a head. Mrs Avey, as you will be aware, has been at Highbury for 18 years. It was a robust day and of course it is for Highbury to share the outcome amongst the school community. I look forward to establishing a relationship with the incoming head.

An other photo from our O2 trip

In my fun little advent calendar before Christmas, Bartosz (Year 5) won Apollo Class an extended break. He tried to ‘cash it in’ this week on Tuesday but the rain put pay to that. They certainly didn’t want an extended wet break (neither did I). He has it back in his pocket again, metaphorically speaking, to cash in when the weather is a little more pleasant. I still have a few other prizes to honour when the pupils want to use them, including a class non-uniform day and cakes for the class.

Mr Denney has been sharing the plans for our upcoming science and computing week which is scheduled for the week beginning 26th February – the first week after half term. It looks like it is going to be another packed week and certainly one filled with a great deal of excitement and, without giving too much away, a few bangs!

There have been a couple of early football fixtures in the calendar since we returned to school but weather has put pay to these. Hopefully, moving forward, we will be a luckier and the teams will get to play again.

On Wednesday afternoon however, the weather was not an issue as we had an indoor athletics team compete in the first of two competitions. The team competed so well and were even more excited to meet up with a former classmate, Ethan, who moved away from Whitehill at the end of last year. The second of these competitions, with a different group of athletes, takes place next Friday.

Go Joshua!

I presented quite a few Headteacher’s Awards on Thursday morning for a whole variety of reasons. Amongst the recipients were Joseph and Samuel (Year 4) who had been so helpful after school on Wednesday when they could see me trying to collect in play equipment left out at lunchtime. Without prompting, they went around and gathered up quite a few additional items that could easily have become forgotten. Esme (Year 4) received one for some lovely writing and Willow (Year 5) for some incredible artwork.

Some of the amazing artwork in Apollo Class

I also had a group of girls from Aztec Class who came with their cave painting work which they were rightly very proud of. Well done to Sooriya, Ella, Emily, Ivy, Imogen and Ambar.

Talking of Aztec Class, I decided to join Miss Smith on Thursday afternoon and watch the majority of their Activity Afternoon. We started with dance under the expert instruction of Mrs Jarman. Inspired by their cave paintings, they constructed a series of motifs and worked really well together. Zico was particularly impressive and Logan’s group showed great thought with their overall choreography.

Aztec Class listening carefully to Mrs Jarman

From dance, they headed outside to cricket and again, they worked well on using a ‘straight bat’. Oliver caught my eye in this session and with Zico, received a Headteacher’s Award.

We have had the language leaders in from Hitchin Girls’ School this week teaching a little bit of Spanish to our upper school pupils. The sessions were good fun and it is always nice to see some former pupils return.

Music in our Achievers’ Assembly this week was provided by George (Year 6) who played his guitar for us.

George entertaining us all at the start and end of assembly

We celebrated our trampolinists and of course, presented the usual three awards. Class of the week this week went to Lamarr. The Wombles are going to spend the week in Aztec Class and Air won the House Cup.

Straight after assembly, I had a consortium meeting with other headteachers from across Hitchin and the neighbouring villages. It is a good opportunity to see where everyone is at; share some concerns and perhaps offer a few solutions.

Across the week, a group of Year 5 pupils have been attending training to take over the role of the school’s peer mediators. I think there were some nerves initially but they grew into the sessions and have had a good time learning how they may be able to support other pupils in the school to enjoy happy playtimes.

Year 3s having fun at lunchtime

Looking ahead to next week, my diary looks a little full. I have a meeting with Herts Catering and another related to the DfE’s ongoing school condition surveys. We have a local adviser coming in to follow up a visit he made in the Autumn Term related to pupil premium spend and then on the 1st February, I have an Eastern Region NAHT call (February already?!). I have also put my name forward for a Year 6 to Year 7 transition working party which meets for the first time this coming week. Why do I do these things?

Throw into the mix four days of sport with a couple of Wix Cup football matches, some dodgeball and another indoor athletics competition, it is going to be a busy week. I list all of this now to pre-warn my dad in anticipation of next week’s blog!

Our Friends’ Association are currently working on their next event, a quiz night to be held at Whitehill on Friday 9th February starting at 8.00pm. Details are available via Classlist with tickets costing £10 each. I hope you will be able to join us.

That is it for another week. Over halfway through this half term! That is scary.

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

Simply stunning!

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