It really feels like we have had such a productive week. Not only have the pupils been really busy and really successful during lessons, but there have been lots of other activities and events worth celebrating in this week’s blog.
The start of the week saw me receive two video messages in support of the staff dance group who are working on an entry for the Hitchin Strictly Dancing competition. A former pupil of mine, Stacey Dooley, who won the real ‘Strictly’ in 2018 wanted to provide some encouragement for the staff, some of whom (me) are struggling slightly. It was very well received. On Monday afternoon, I received another message from Stacey, this time with a video from her Strictly partner, Kevin Clifton. Both were lovely, but rather frighteningly, they have asked to see a video of our final dance. No pressure! I have no doubt we will share the video with you too! Unfortunately, we have just been informed that the competition has had to be postponed but the staff have decided they have put enough effort in already and want to finish the project.
I spent a few hours on Monday morning looking for quotes for a replacement sound system for the school hall. I am currently liaising with a few companies but the lockdown has meant it’s not as easy to engage with people as it usually is. It is made a little harder as companies are not able to visit at the moment to see for themselves what I am trying to describe in very untechnical language! I am determined to find the right solution for us and use the Friends’ Association money to support this project.
With pupils needing to isolate from time to time, we made the decision to purchase a few additional Chromebooks which we will be able to lend out to families should they not have access to digital technology, allowing access to the live lesson streaming. Our IT technician commissioned them on Monday afternoon and Mr Lord delivered the first one to a Year 3 pupil on Monday evening. The pupil was live on Tuesday morning accessing the teaching and keeping up with his peers. Should your child ever need to isolate and access to technology is challenging, please do get in touch and if we can help, we will.
The photographer returned on Tuesday to take our class, club and team photographs. Miss Gooderham had everything under control and ran the morning superbly with minimal disruption to the lessons. As with the individual photographs, the school office will be in touch in due course to let you know how you will be able to review and perhaps purchase any of them. One of the photographs will be unique and a poignant memory of the pandemic and lockdowns in that one of the pupils will be in her class photo thanks to the fact she was present via the medium of Google Meet. Well done Mr Denney for coming up with the plan!
Mrs Beresford and I spent some time on Wednesday visiting the classrooms, before and after lunch, to see what the pupils were getting up to. We saw some great learning and teaching taking place with maths, English, art, music, RSHE, history all on show. Lamarr Class deserve particular praise for their William Morris artwork as well as their maths. Kahlo Class also deserve praise for their maths. I had a great conversation with Daniel (Year 6) about methods for adding and subtracting fractions; he’s a very able mathematician! Another lesson-based treat for me was the visit of Orville Class who wanted to show me the toothpaste they had made. It was foul! I think I will stick to Colgate! That being said, the pupils were able to tell why it contained salt, baking powder and various flavourings!
Other curriculum based successes included the poems written by Spencer, Aidan and Matthew in Apollo Class. Daya (Year 6) wrote an amazing speech which she came and shared with me based on the work they are currently doing on Shackleton’s Journey. We asked her to read it for us so we could share it on twitter; I hope you managed to see it. Aztec Class received a whole class award for their English work based on Julian the Mouse. Whilst chatting with the pupils, I managed to have a look through their books and was so impressed with the overall presentation and quality of handwriting.
Wednesday was a particularly successful day. At 11.00am, we held our minute’s silence which was impeccably observed across the whole school. To bring the silence to an end this year, we were treated to the Last Post played by Agnes (Year 5) on her trumpet. She did so well and has been booked for the same time next year. What was particularly impressive was the fact she had to learn a new note and spent Monday night learning it so that she could take part in this special occasion. Thank you, Agnes.
On Wednesday afternoon, Year 4s took part in a Diwali dance workshop brought to us via West End in Schools. It was a wonderful session for both classes and again, the results have been shared with you all via twitter. I wasn’t able to see any of the lessons myself, but the dancer who came to lead sought me out at the end and asked me to pass on the fact she was so impressed with the work the pupils did and, some might say more importantly, their manners and work ethic. Well done, all and thank you to Mrs Davies for organising.
The final aspect of Wednesday which I really enjoyed was my second session at our sign language club. This week, we finished the alphabet so that we can finger spell words as well as learning some key signs for meeting and greeting people. It is my intention to produce a few short videos of the pupils using BSL on our school website and twitter for all of you to see how impressive they are.
I spent most of Thursday in virtual meetings which has sort of become the norm now but I am looking forward to attending a real meeting at some point in the future, just for a change of scenery and perhaps some nice biscuits! The other significant event on Thursday is the fact I have now run out of Lego cards. They have all been given out; thousands and thousands of them! We do have some open ones left which Mrs Cook and Mrs Lanni have sorted and therefore should you need specific cards to complete a set, please do ask in the school office and we might just have the ones you are looking for.
Friday’s Achievers’ Assembly had the added element of this term’s Wall of Fame Awards. These awards are presented in English, maths and science to one pupil from each class to recognise effort and achievement over the term. The pupils receive a certificate outlining the reasons for winning and their photograph is placed on our Wall of Fame display. Well done to everyone who won an award this time around, including the family winners in science of Silvia (Year 3) and Alicia (Year 5).
The music this week was provided by Liliana on the trumpet; we’ve had quite a week for brass music. The House Cup was awarded to Fire House with all four Houses sharing just under 2000 points in the space of a week. The fact that so many house points were issued should tell you how hard it was to select Class of the Week. Once again, all teachers were highly complimentary about their pupils and the way they have worked. The decision was really tough but in the end went to Voyager Class who have had to impress three different teachers over the course of the week, in Mrs Cornell’s absence. There was one final piece of information from Mrs Beresford this morning which swung it for me in terms of how they have been able to adapt quickly and with no fuss. I would like to give a special mention to Apollo Class too, the other Year 5 class, who have come back after half term raring to go and have risen to the challenge of Upper School. Well done all!
The other award presented this week was our new ‘Mr Waluk’s Womble Award’. I was delighted that Mr Waluk happened to walk past the hall just as I was about to announce the winners and so he was able to hand it over himself. Thanks to Madame Skinner and a very generous member of the Hitchin community, as well as the certificate, we now have two Womble toys (Orinoco and Madame Cholet) to present as the trophy which the pupils keep in their class for the week. This week’s winners were Orville Class. The school is certainly looking tidier in the evenings which helps the site team no end.
Before looking ahead to next week which is quite a special week for our Year 5 pupils, I want to look further ahead to Christmas. Sorry, I know it is only November. The Year 3s are working so hard to produce this year’s version of the Christmas production and are in the stages of filming now. It will soon go into the editing room and will be ready to share in December. It looks really professional in the studio at the moment. I have also been asked whether the pupils who want to, will be able to bring in Christmas cards this year. The short answer is ‘yes’ and we have come up with a plan as to how this will be managed safely and within the guidelines. I will write home shortly to outline just what we will be putting in place.
So, the main event for next week is our space-themed week for Year 5. The teaching team have been working hard to put together an exciting week full of space related learning. I don’t want to give too much away at this stage as I think there are a few surprises in store but it promises to be great fun. On Friday evening, the pupils are going to return for some more activities and although we can’t do the actual sleepover element of this night, there will still be pizza! Keep an eye out on twitter for photos from this project.
As part of our Achievers’ Assembly next week, we will be announcing the winners of the poetry competition which we ran over half term. The entries have all been read and the winners’ certificates written. I look forward to presenting these next Friday.
As always, thank you all for your ongoing support and positive feedback. We are working in strange and challenging times but school feels great and the pupils are just awesome!
Have a great weekend!