If you don’t ask…

Welcome back after the half term break. I hope it proved to be successful for you all and if possible, you managed to get some quality family time together. Whitehill School was busy over the course of the week as was Whitehill Road.

Hitchin Holiday Camps held another successful four-day camp for local pupils and having popped into school a couple of times, I could see the pupils involved were having a fun time. It is lovely to see this venture take off in the way that it has but knowing Mr Lord and Mr Maydom like I do, I can see why it is so popular.

Year 3s as active mathematicians

Access was a challenge as they dug up and re-laid Whitehill Road. I mean, it needed doing. It now is pothole free and much less dangerous to drive on. I just hope the cars that drive down the road towards Mr Waluk and his crossing, do so with a little more care than when I was watching them in the weeks before we broke up when he wasn’t there.

You may also have noticed that our three playgrounds have been cleaned. This took significantly longer than relaying the whole of Whitehill Road – twice as long, in fact – which clearly shows how dirty the playgrounds had become. And there was me thinking that Mr Waluk and I would be able to do it one weekend with a couple of Kärchers! We just need the nice weather now so that we don’t bring dirt from the field onto the playgrounds when doing PE.

The extra day was a bonus although the staff were being productive getting ready for the second half of the year.

It was lovely to see the pupils and parents on the playground on Tuesday morning and to catch up with events of the previous week. I do enjoy my chats and in some cases, ridiculously hard quiz questions courtesy of the Spier family!

Mr Derret demonstrates before the pupils have a go themselves.

Year 5 pupils were treated to a science practical on Tuesday morning courtesy of Mr Derrett from Hitchin Girls’ School. They have been looking at the heart in science and Mr Derrett led a session where the pupils were able to dissect a lamb’s heart and see for themselves the features of the heart they have been researching. I joined Voyager Class when it was their turn and was impressed with the sensible and precise way they went about their work. We have a couple more sessions with Mr Derrett in the coming months, including an opportunity to work in the science labs at HGS. Always a favourite if you get to use a Bunsen burner!

Maya and Tilly work carefully on their dissection

I did venture round all of the classes during the day to see what the pupils were doing on their first day back. Aztec Class were extremely productive looking at data handling in maths, as were the Mayans, and it was interesting to see Bella’s use of an image for an ice cream in her pictogram. She chose a cherry! Apparently you always have a cherry on top of an ice cream!

I wrote to parents of pupils in Apollo Class on Tuesday to share with them the news regarding the teacher who will be taking over from Miss McGurk when she goes off on her maternity leave. It has required a great deal of planning but I am delighted that Mrs Vernon has agreed to put her teacher hat on again for me. This provides great continuity for the pupils who worked with Mrs Vernon when they were in Year 3.

Year 4s as composers in music

On Wednesday morning, I was locked to a screen as I attended a virtual headteachers’ update run by the local authority. I am not a fan of these, but with so much going on at the moment around budgets etc. I thought it best to gather as much information as I could.

I have continued to carry out several tours of the school this week with visitors and continue to be so impressed with the pupils who stand up and talk with my visitor as the class reps. From Year 3 through to Year 6, they are all so articulate and proud of their school. In turn, I am proud of them!

There was a much anticipated game of Jenga on Wednesday lunchtime with Willow and Charlotte (Year 4). I had forgotten how much fun this was, especially with the bigger, outdoor set. It was a long game and the stack got quite high before my error caused it to topple. I need a rematch. I think this could become a regular activity although I think I need to practise.

The tower got much higher than this!

I was chatting with Brooke (Year 3) after school on Wednesday about some cooking she had done at home with her mum. A delicious shepherd’s pie apparently. Much to my delight, on Thursday morning, a portion arrived ready for me to heat up for my lunch. I can concur, it was delicious! Moral of the story? If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Phase were in working with Upper School pupils on Thursday afternoon looking at the impact of inappropriate mobile phone use and social media. We all know, of course, that there are minimum ages for many apps that are well above primary school age. We equally all know that sometimes pupils will still have access to them. When used well, mobile technology can be great. What Phase were doing was reminding them of what can happen when it isn’t used well. These sessions were followed up later that evening with a parent session.

An informative parent session delivered by our friends from Phase.

After a 2½ hour meeting – locked to a Zoom screen – on Thursday afternoon, I had to split myself in several directions to try and see a bit of everything that was happening. There were netball matches against Ickleford which resulted in two wins for Whitehill.

Final squad instructions from Mrs Bryan

We had two teams taking part in a Year 5 maths challenge against schools from across the county and, for the first time ever, across the Atlantic. I believe there was a team from Bermuda taking part this year.

The questions certainly were a ‘challenge’

The recycled fashion club had its last ever session in preparation for this weekend’s show at St Chris. I have my ticket and so all things being equal I should be there to support.

And, as seems to have become a bit of a tradition now, a group of Year 3 Cookie Club attendees wanted to put on a play for me. This week’s offering was an abridged version of Grendel.

I was off site on Friday morning and so Mrs McConnell Smith took Achievers’ Assembly for me. As soon as I was back in school she was able to fill me in with all that was celebrated. Music this week was provided by Nevaeh and Ariana (Year 3) who sang and played the violin.

Nevaeh singing to the school in Achievers’ Assembly today

The House Cup went to Water; the Wombles went to Mayan and Kahlo won Class of the Week this week. I am glad I didn’t have to decide this last award as it would have been almost impossible based on my visits to all of the classes over the last four days.

The finals of the District Athletics scheduled for Friday afternoon had to be postponed due to a gas leak at the venue but have already been rescheduled for 10th March.  The team competed so well in the heats that they are bound to do well. I will keep everything crossed!

Next week is Shakespeare Week at Whitehill. Across the week, we will collapse the usual timetables to give over more time to all things Bard related. Highlights will include the return of Anthony Glenn to perform Romeo and Juliet, as well as lead some workshops for pupils in Upper School.

We have already seen Shakespeare-themed potatoes arriving in school – fortunately Asda aren’t rationing these as they are tomatoes and cucumbers. There are some amazing Bottoms on display in the dining room!

One of many Bottoms on display in the dining room

Kahlo Class will be putting on a workshop performance of Macbeth to parents and other pupils on Thursday afternoon as a form of class assembly. I hope parents of pupils in this class will be able to join us. Exact timings will be shared by Mrs Bailey.

Here’s another!

In addition to all of this, there are also several sporting fixtures including football matches against Samuel Lucas.

That’s it for the week – the first of the second half of the Spring Term. It might only have been four days, but I’m exhausted!

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

Shame we don’t have the telescope at the moment.

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