Photo Finish

We come to the end of the first of two shorter weeks in school having been interrupted by a polling day. For staff, we take it as an INSET day so that there is no reduction in the number of teaching days the pupils receive. That being said, it is still an inconvenience. For me, this day was spent travelling to Wales for four days of NAHT business and it is from the Celtic Manor Hotel where I publish this blog.

As I mentioned last week, my diary at the start of the week was reasonably clear. That time allowed me to catch up on some admin tasks, including publishing the term dates for the academic year, 2025/2026 (just in case you were planning something). It was also a time when our computer technician was able to install my new PC which is really exciting.

With some slightly nicer weather, I did spend some time outside at break and lunch to join in a few games and chat with pupils. William (Year 5) and Lily-Ann (Year 4) kept me busy at break on Tuesday with a game of ‘piggy in the middle’.

One of our weekly ‘paired reading’ sessions took place outside this week. You can see that we have all been desperate for a spot of warmer weather.

We had two teams taking part in the County’s Year 4 Maths Challenge after school on Monday. Representing the two classes, the eight pupils did very well indeed. We now need to wait to see if either team progress through to the final but with Lamarr’s team scoring particularly well, we have our fingers crossed.

Well done, Year 4s. Fingers crossed now.

Miss Smith sent me some wonderful artwork from a number of the Aztec Year 3s. The work in their sketchbooks was impressive and nothing makes me happier than a pupil – in this case, Emily – stating that it was her best ever piece of art. I agreed, it was amazing.

Great work in the Year 3 sketchbooks

I was back in Aztec Class on Tuesday afternoon, chatting with the pupils about a wonderful science experiment they have been conducting. Looking at the ideal conditions for growing plants, Sam J was able to talk knowledgeably about the effect of growing plants in the dark. Kai also impressed with his explanation as to how a flower changed colour when it was left in coloured water. Impressive work, Aztec Class!

Pupils in Aztec Class have impressed me this week

Mr Lord sent Igi, Amelia, Caitlyn, Stanley and Avleen (Year 5s) to me so they could show me some history they had been working on. They presented their Ancient Greek research through drama and it was so clear and easy to follow. Definitely worth their Headteacher’s Awards.

Another job I had to do this week was to take delivery of the SATs papers for this year’s Year 6 tests. I reflect every year on the position we find ourselves in with these tests; the ridiculous levels of security and scrutiny we have. Please don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of assessment. I have done work with the University of Durham on assessment. Our pupils always do very well in their assessments. What gets me is the amount of money that is spent on administering these tests. For example, £22million is spent annually on just postage! The other issue is the way some use the results and crudely place schools in league tables. Perhaps the powers that be need to read Simon Sinek’s book, The Infinite Game.

Anyway, back to life at Whitehill…

On Wednesday morning, whilst doing my usual playground duty, Zofia (Year 3) came and showed me a book of Polish stories and in particular the ‘Dragon of Krakow’. This was on the back of a conversation I had had with her about my recent trip to this wonderful city and how much I had enjoyed it. Dziękuję Ci, Zofia.

The Dragon of Krakow

Mr Wells visited Hitchin Girls’ School this week to talk with the maths department in his role as one of our maths coordinators and to see some teaching. This visited was reciprocated on Wednesday when Miss Kirtland came to Whitehill and visited some classrooms to see maths being taught here. She was exceptionally impressed with what she saw.

We had great fun on Wednesday lunchtime using a timing app with some Year 3 pupils which records photo finishes and enables you to accurately track where someone came in a race. I have no doubt it will come out again as it was such a laugh, especially as Sam J took the phrase ‘photo finish’ literally and turned and smiled for the camera, rather than trying to cross the line first! He’ll learn.

Smile for the camera!

Miss Gooderham took a group of pupils to Letchworth Tennis Club on Wednesday for a tennis competition and chatting to the pupils upon they return, they clearly had a great time. 

In my absence on Friday morning, Mrs Burniston led Achievers’ Assembly for me. Even if I am away from school like this week, I like to be kept abreast of what we have celebrated and so she kindly sends me a summary.

The regular awards were distributed as follows: Earth won the House Cup; Aztec won the Wombles and Orville won Class of the Week.

Our music this week was courtesy of Harriet (Year 5) who played some beautiful pieces on her cello as the pupils came in and left at the end. As well as the sports reports, we celebrated Ettie and Autumn’s (Year 4) swimming awards.

As I indicated at the start, next week is also a four-day week with Monday being a Bank Holiday. The Year 6 teachers will presumably be wanting to spend a little bit of time prepping the pupils for the SATs but have something far more enjoyable to look forward to in their trip to Theatre MK (Milton Keynes) to see the touring production of Aladdin; a show which is getting great reviews.

Our Poetry Post club will be out and about on Tuesday delivering their poems to our neighbours but more about that next week.

On Thursday, I have a prospective parent tour and so look forward to our wonderful Class Reps talking to our visitors about their school.

That is it from me. I am about to start the final meeting of the day before it all starts again tomorrow. Please wish me luck for my return on Sunday and pray that the traffic gods are kinder than when I returned from Cardiff in November.

Have a great long weekend.

Best wishes

Steve Mills



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