Welcome to the first blog of this new academic year. For those of you who are new to Whitehill this term, this weekly blog will give you news and updates related to the most recent week in school, as well as a ‘heads up’ as to what the pupils and I will be getting up to in the following week. I try to keep them lighthearted and upbeat with separate newsletters used to relay more important news items as and when they are needed. Regular readers will also get an understanding of the relationship I have with my dad, who loves the school but moans like mad about the length of these weekly offerings! I can’t help it if we do so much, can I?!
I am starting my ninth year as Headteacher here and haven’t missed a Friday blog yet. This is blog number 315! No wonder he moans!
The staff were in for INSET on Wednesday and we welcomed pupils back on Thursday. The school has been a hive of activity over the summer break with quite a few projects being completed. We have now had solar panels installed courtesy of a local authority project which means there is no cost to the school, only savings. That being said, from the day after they started generating, the weather has hardly been the lovely summer weather we longed for. Yes, it was our fault! There is still a little more work to do on these but they are up and running and generating electricity.
The new fencing by the Year 3 area looks lovely. It is just what I wanted and fits in perfectly with the other external fencing on Whitehill Road. We even got Goslings a new gate to finish off that whole side of the school.
On the field, we have had the seating area completely replaced as well as the two shade sails and repaired the surfaces underneath the artificial grass areas the pupils enjoy using. Round by the pond, we have provided a better and more aesthetically pleasing edge. We have also completely revamped an old mud / weed bed and turned it into an outdoor classroom which can be used when teaching outside. All in all, I would say it has been a very productive and successful six weeks.
Much of our INSET day was focusing on the year ahead and reminding ourselves how we used to run things prior to March 2020. Of course, we have also had to maintain more recent practices as we invent and establish our ‘new normal’. I wrote to parents just before the start of the year and will update you again in the coming days.
Thursday was wonderful! To welcome the pupils back to school; to see so many smiling faces (and that wasn’t just from the parents who were getting some well-earned peace and quiet). I also enjoyed my morning chat with parents and, on Thursday, some former pupils who hadn’t yet started back at secondary school.
Most of my time on Thursday was spent visiting the classes to see how the pupils had settled. I was very impressed! Across the whole school, the pupils were engaged and enthused. Our new Year 6s seemed to have all grown up considerably over the summer. The Year 3s looked that little bit taller than they did when they visited in July and when I asked them at the end of the day if they were going to come back, they all said ‘yes’. That can’t be bad.
On both Thursday and Friday, I held whole school assemblies which had all the pupils in the hall. This was the first time since Friday 20th March 2020. It was quite a special moment and I am pleased we are now allowed to do this under the updated guidance. The sense of community, #teamwhitehill, is so important.
Across both days, I had the pleasure of handing out several Headteacher’s Awards. Henry (Year 4) was my (very) able assistant in Thursday’s assembly, as he showed courage and determination to ‘cross a bridge’. Eddie (Year 6), one of our amazing pianists at Whitehill, entertained and impressed the pupils in Achievers’ Assembly. Other pupils who received these awards were Ella (Year 4), Chloe (Year 6) and Tanveer (Year 4). I have no doubt these will be the first of many awards handed out this year.
I’ve already mentioned Friday’s Achievers’ Assembly which is our opportunity to celebrate successes from the week. If pupils pass music exams or win sports awards for example, both in school and out of school, I am happy to present these in front of their peers. Pupils just need to ask. We also present three regular awards: the House Cup; the Class of the Week trophy and the Womble Award. The only one we presented this morning was the House Cup which went to Fire House. In the absence of House Captains at the moment, Mrs Bailey, Mr Wells, Miss Creese and Mrs Bradshaw received the trophy on behalf of the pupils.
We also celebrated all those pupils who had taken part in the summer reading challenge this year. Darcey (Year 4) proudly showed off the certificate and medal the pupils received for engaging in this project.
Looking ahead to next week, as we continue with our ‘soft start’ activities, the Year 4s are in for a treat with the Dino-Dig workshop on Monday morning. We have the school photographer in on Wednesday and then on Thursday and Friday, our Year 6s visit the Henry Moore Foundation. I am quite excited as I have been invited to accompany one of the classes on their trip.
The majority of you follow the school twitter feed which is another way of finding out what your children are doing on a daily basis. Even if you are not a big social media user, following just Whitehill will allow you to see photos and updates during the day but also provide you with updates relating to school trips for example. Of course, any information I need all of you to read, will be sent out via SchoolComms. If you have any questions about any of our communication channels, please do ask.
Before I finish, can I remind you to order your school lunches if you haven’t already done so. Any problems, please contact Mrs Lanni in the school office.
That’s it for week one. A relatively short blog which will keep my dad reasonably happy at the start of the year.
Have a great weekend.