Great Ambassadors

I will start this week’s blog with an update to the ultimate question from last week. Would I be able to teach my dad how to get onto Instagram so that he can continue to see what we get up to and the amazing work the pupils do at Whitehill? Short answer… yes! Success! Even though it was on the same day that he had had another hospital visit and anaesthetic, he seemed to cope reasonably well. That being said, don’t be surprised if some of you end up being followed by him by mistake.

Our Instagram account has gathered pace this week and we have reached more than 200 followers. I sent out another reminder on Monday about the switch from X and I think we are at the point where we will stop using our former platform and account next week. We have the choir out until late this evening and so will use both Instagram and X to give travel updates but from next week, we will only use Instagram.

Some great partner work in Year 3

My assembly on Monday morning was all about choices. We explored some easy choices, such as which fruit pupils would choose for example but did then go onto some much more challenging decisions which had a moral dilemma attached to them. The reason behind this theme was to explain to pupils that some tough decisions need to be made in school when they pick extra-curricular activities and that doing both is very rarely an option when they occur on the same day.  Even if not now, when pupils get to secondary schools they will have lots of this type of decision to make. I was impressed with the pupils’ explanations and honesty.

One of the many clubs the pupils need to choose between

I gave another parent tour on Monday for a family wanting to join Whitehill. It is lovely to be popular but a little frustrating when you have no control over who gets a place and when. As a maintained school, all our admissions are handled by the local authority and it is probably fairer that way. I had a lovely email later that day where the parents were so complimentary of our class reps, from Year 3 through to Year 6.

I have been chatting to a few parents since we returned about the Christmas break about my feeling of feeling slightly robbed by the fact it was only one whole week. Even though it was the same number of days, having three weekends as opposed to two, always feels a little longer. On Tuesday, I was part of a consultation for term dates in 2025/2026 and was much happier with what I saw. If nothing changes, I think my staff will be particularly happy with the summer break at the end of that academic year.

Having been out of school for Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, I returned and spent some time visiting the classes to see what they were getting up to. This is what I really miss when I am ‘out of the office’.

Four and six figure grid references were being taught in Lamarr Class and the OS map being used was that of Snowdonia. I love this part of North Wales and so took great delight in disturbing some of the pupils and sharing my tales of visits to this national park.

Year 3 were having another music lesson, learning more musical notation and playing a few more notes on the recorder. Once they worked out which was their left hand and which was their right hand, it all became so much easier for them. “No! Your other left hand!”

Music lesson in full swing

Gymnastics has featured on quite a few social media posts this term and I visited another Year 5 lesson being taught by Mr Lord and was once again very impressed. The quality of instruction and the quality of performance were both very good indeed. I wonder if we have some future Olympians amongst this cohort.

Mr Lord has been busy this week launching a couple of eco-based competitions with pupils and letters have gone home in relation to these. We are going to be collecting used batteries so that they can recycled correctly and the second is a poster competition based on saving water. Both initiatives offer prizes for the school and individuals.

I wasn’t able to take Achievers’ Assembly today and so Mrs McConnell Smith took it in my absence. I like to know what has happened and who has been celebrated and so feedback was shared with me.

Wilde won Class of the Week, Mayan won the Wombles and Air won the House Cup.

This week, the music was provided by Tara; she sang at the end for us and rightly received a Headteachers’ Award.

Tara entertaining the pupils in assembly

The reason why I wasn’t able to take the assembly was due to me being at the Priory School with Aidan, Evie, Ellie and Tanveer. Four Year 6 pupils (who were not in the O2 choir) who took part in a transition conference. This was an opportunity to hear form Year 7 pupils who have recently moved onto this phase of their education as well as staff from our three local secondary schools. Our Year 6 representatives will now feed back to their classes about what they have learned. They were great ambassadors.

I was impressed by our Year 6 ambassadors

The choir headed off to the O2 after break today and I am heading down to London by train to watch the concert. I am hoping there will be a space on the coach to bring me home later this evening. I think I mentioned this to Mrs Burniston?!

Good luck to our trampolinists who are competing in the zonal finals on Sunday. Other commitments mean I am unlikely to be able to get there now but I have pencilled in the date for the national finals and will keep my fingers crossed that we progress through.

Looking further ahead, we have HGS language leaders visiting on two occasions next week to work with our Year 5 and Year 6 pupils. They first visit on Monday before returning on Thursday afternoon.

I am at the University of Beds on Monday afternoon to facilitate some mock interviews with their final year trainee teachers who will all begin hunting for their first teaching job in the coming months. Miss Payne is going to be joining me for this.

We have a couple of sporting fixtures next week. We have a football match after school on Tuesday and have been invited to take a second team along to a sports hall athletics competition on Wednesday.

A teacher’s job is never dull!

I am out all day on Wednesday, basing myself at Highbury for a day of interviews as the governors look to find a replacement for Mrs Avey. Chatting to her this week, she shared with me how real she feels it is all becoming now. It must be so hard. I wonder when that will be me?

The other key event for a group of Year 5 pupils will be their mediator training taking place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. When trained, this group of pupils will take over from the Year 6s and become our new peer mediators. I am sure they will learn so much from the training.

So that is it for another week. I am currently on the train to London for tonight’s Young Voices concert, about to join an NAHT meeting via zoom. I hope the tech plays ball.

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

A small reward for their hard work

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