Off We Go

Last Saturday, I joined Mrs Bailey, Mrs Davies and Mrs Lomas for the Recycled Fashion Show at St Chris. It was the first time the event had run since early 2020 and it was good to have been able to run this club again and enter the competition.

A trio of Year 6s on the catwalk

It is a very long day for the pupils and the staff – especially on a weekend – and I am sure there could be some efficiencies in the actual event. That being said, our pupils, as always, were a real credit and looked so good on the catwalk and under lights. After much deliberation on the part of the four expert and field-leading judges, we had several entries in the shortlist and even more exiting, we had the overall winner in the junior category.

Modelled by Ed and designed by both Ed and Liam (Year 6), the costume based on the life of a hermit crab impressed the judges and the boys were presented with their prizes. I am so pleased for both of them as for most of this term, I have been referring to their carefully crafted shell as a giant ham. That will teach me!

Ed being presented with his prize

Before you move forward with the rest of this blog, a message for my dad. It is long and so why don’t you read it in a couple of sittings! Right, for the rest of you, off we go…

This week was one of our curriculum themed weeks at Whitehill with aspects of our timetables collapsed so that time could be given over to all things Shakespeare related. It’s been a great week and there has been so much creativity on show across all eight classes.

Shakespeare Spuds continued to be brought in which have proved to be a talking point for visitors. Anthony Glenn who came in to perform, spent time photographing them to share with other schools and to highlight our pupils’ talents. The number of Bottoms on display has increased – all shapes and sizes. We have also seen a significant number of Julius Caesars with fatal stab wounds and lifeless expressions. They were all so good! Ethan (Year 4) did a particularly impressive representation of Richard III and brought in his version of the story to show his inspiration. Thank you to everyone who got involved – I think Mrs Burniston has managed to share all of them via Twitter.

The Shakespeare Spuds have been so popular

After my Globe-themed assembly on Monday where I shared my ‘interesting facts’ about this theatre – many of which I was pleased to see the pupils knew, I spent the rest of the morning reading application forms and shortlisting candidates for next week’s interviews. We have a strong field.

Much of the rest of the day involved meetings and so it was lovely to be visited by some Year 3 linguists from Mayan Class. Liam and Lottie, amongst others impressed me with what they could remember and also their accents which are certainly a lot better than mine. Despite doing languages at school, my accents tend to resemble Del Boy’s more often than not! Mange Tout!

One of our netball teams travelled to Weston after school and returned triumphant after a very high-scoring match. Well played to all involved.

Well played – will soon be time for the rally

Whilst they were there, I was invited to watch the latest dance choreographed at our after school dance club. The pupils knew I would like it as it was from a musical – Matilda – and they weren’t wrong. Chloe (Year 4) showed some real attitude (despite what it looks like in this photo) and Brooke (Year 3) led from the front; not an easy place to be.

Revolting Children!

Anthony Glenn, as I have already mentioned, was in all day on Tuesday to perform for the whole school and then to facilitate some workshops with our upper school pupils. His play this time was Romeo and Juliet which was very well received, as they always are. He is so clever in the way he weaves in original text and then explains it, whilst at the same time using humour, even in something traditionally so tragic.

Anthony Glenn gets support from the pupils

His workshops were equally as enjoyable and gave the classes the opportunity to work on aspects of different plays. I saw Wilde Class learn a little detail about Romeo and Juliet and then Kahlo Class got some additional motivation for their Macbeth performance.

Macbeth still with his head!

It was lovely to welcome parents and other family members of Kahlo class into school again to watch the ‘workshop’ production of ‘the Scottish play’ which was really enjoyable. They ran it twice, first to lower school and then in the afternoon to upper school and family. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend. I hope the beheading of Ethan wasn’t too scary for you.

The cast of the Scottish Play

The pupils have really been inspired this week and another example of the work is on display in Kahlo Class with their 2D and 3D art. Kamila, Ed, Sarah, Leo and Tabitha all received Headteacher’s Awards for their amazing work. One of Kamila’s pieces is the title photo on this blog. Isn’t it amazing?

Some more of Kamila’s work

We had our annual visit from the school’s Attendance Improvement Officer (AIO) on Tuesday to talk through our data and in particular pupils who are deemed to be ‘persistently absence’. This term is given to any pupil whose attendance is less than 90%. It is a national issue at the moment and something which evidence points to having a significant impact upon outcomes. Our attendance data is very good and we tend to be significantly above national but there are always one or two exceptions which our AIO might follow up.

Over three lunchtimes this week I have played Willow (Year 4) at chess. That wasn’t three games, it was one very good game. She is quite a talent. It took all my effort to beat her and we have already challenged each other to a rematch.

In previous blogs and updates, I have mentioned the generous support of Stonegate Estate Agents for Friends’ Association events. Earlier in the week I had a meeting with them and also one of their marketing gurus to see about some other potential avenues of support. I am really excited by one of the ‘projects’ we spoke about but for now, I am sworn to secrecy! It will be so much fun if it comes to fruition.

After school on Wednesday, we started a new club for pupils in Year 4. Two parents, Mrs Chown and Mrs Dent, who happen to be photographers, offered to run a photography club for us. The first session was great fun. We looked at framing shots and then completed a photography scavenger hunt. Teddy and Stanley showed some natural ability to capture some very creative shots. I am looking forward to next week already.

Sharing some of the photos taken in session 1

Well done to Fynley (Year 6) who was featured in the Comet this week having completed a 30km running challenge throughout February to raise funds for Myeloma UK in memory of his late grandmother. He raised just over £1500 which is a fantastic achievement.

After school on Wednesday, Miss Gooderham took one of our football teams to Samuel Lucas School for a match. It was close fought on a very challenging pitch and despite a great goal by Leo, Samuel Lucas ran out winners. We have a couple more football matches after school today, again against Samuel Lucas, for two more of our teams.

The question is, can you spot Freddie who usually photo-bombs the team pics?

I used to dread seeing the word ‘recorders’ on the Year 3 timetables but I have to say after this week, I might need to change my mind. Although I didn’t get to see the lesson first hand, I did have my office door open and didn’t need to shut it! I have promised to visit next week and get a closer look. Perhaps I might even join in.

Another pupil to give a ‘shout out’ to is Jacob S (Year 5) who has impressed both his teacher, Miss McGurk, and his clarinet teacher, Mr Brunton, this week. For that reason, I too am impressed. Not just because of the quality of his work but also, and particularly commendable, his attitude and support of others. Well done, Jacob.

Huge thanks to Maya for stepping in at the last minute

Achievers’ Assembly was again its usual fun event. Music this week was provided by Maya (Year 6), Stephanie and Matilda (Year 5). Stephanie and Matilda sang for us at the end of assembly and despite their nerves, did so well. Maya, in the absence of the pupil who signed up, stepped in at the eleventh hour and played the piano. Huge well done to all three.

A lovely duet at the end of Achievers

We celebrated the success of the Year 5 Maths Challenge pupils I referenced last week and announced the amazing news that Team Apollo have made it through to the finals which will take place in a couple of weeks’ time.

The regular awards were distributed as follows: Class of the Week went to Mayan; The House Cup was awarded to Earth and Wilde won the Wombles this week.

On Sunday afternoon, I will be watching Stevenage Women FC as usual but this week, Miss Gooderham has arranged for some of our girls to act as mascots. It should be great fun for them and I am sure we will be able to capture some photos of their exciting afternoon. Fingers crossed for another Stevenage win!

Next week is manic! Actually, I find myself saying that quite a lot at the moment. But seriously, next week is REALLY manic for me!

The end of Romeo and Juliet… or how I currently feel!

It starts on Monday with a day of interviews for a teacher vacancy we have coming up. Mayan Class will be getting involved in some way and I think it will be lovely for our candidates to work with this group of pupils. I wonder who they would pick.

We have a sports festival for the whole of Upper School on Tuesday afternoon at Hitchin Girls’ School. Depending on meetings not over-running, I might see if I can pop up and catch a bit of it. It might also be weather dependent, as I received a warning from the Local Authority today to be mindful of potential ‘heavy snow’. I really hope this is them being over-cautious. I really don’t have time for snow.

On the sporting front, we have football, two netball tournaments and the district indoor athletics finals. Our dancers are also in St Albans on Thursday for the County Dance Festival and due to a governors’ meeting in the evening, I will be attending the matinee.

It is the turn of the Lower School to visit HGS on Thursday afternoon for a similar festival to the Year 5s and Year 6s and after school we have some pupils taking part in a badminton festival. I told you the week was manic.

So, the end of a great week. I do like a bit of Shakespeare, even if it has resulted in Year 3s randomly insulting me with their finest Tudor vocabulary. I will see some of you on Sunday and then again, bright and cheerful on the playground on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

Photography Club at work

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