PSQM Gilt!

I have to start this week’s blog as far back as last Friday when the Friends’ Association hosted a joint schools’ community event at Whitehill. We were blessed with wonderful weather which meant we could make use of the space and just relax. Given the events of the last 18 months it was the perfect tonic and there was a great atmosphere. Thank you to the dedicated committee members who worked so hard to make it happen and thank you to all of you who came along to support. I did write to parents earlier in the week, a copy of this letter can be read here.

Sam Lewis entertaining the crowds at last Friday’s social event

This afternoon, I joined the Friends’ committee for their AGM as they look reinvigorate the Association. I hope you will look out for the future events and also requests for help. If we all do a little bit, it won’t be long before we are raising valuable funds to help both Whitehill and Highbury Schools. Money which will all go back to provide additional resources for all our pupils. And, hot off the press, it was announced in today’s meeting that despite all of the recent restrictions, each school will be presented with a cheque for £2500 from last year’s events. That is incredible and very much appreciated.

Back to this week, even though we officially entered autumn, we continue to be blessed by pleasant weather; long may it last. It is certainly helping generate lots of electricity!

Perhaps the best news of the week was the email to confirm that we have been re-awarded our Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM Gilt). This award recognises the teaching of science across the whole school and is thoroughly deserved. To receive the ‘badge’, Mr Denney had to put together a submission (as well as lots of other tasks) which I would urge you to have a look at. I have put a copy on the school website which can be accessed by clicking the award logo below. I would like to thank Mr Denney for his incredible work with this project and of course, all the staff who teach the lessons on a weekly basis.

On Monday afternoon, we welcomed back staff from local charity, Phase, who work with our Year 6 pupils over the course of the year, in anticipation of the move they will make to secondary school at the end of the year. Both Mrs Bailey and Mrs Bryan agreed that it was lovely to actually have the team visit in person this year after only seeing them on a one inch digital square for the last two years.

Tuesday was an exceptionally hectic and intense day! I spent it working with Martin Roberts, our School Improvement Partner who also happens to be an Ofsted Inspector. His support is excellent but you do feel like you are being scrutinised. We spent time visiting every classroom and he really enjoyed chatting to our class reps as well as other pupils who felt like joining in the conversations. He remembered Ed (Year 5) from when Ed was a Year 3 in Aztec Class and to ‘keep it in the family’ we spent time chatting to William, Ed’s younger brother, who has just joined us. We spent a great deal of time looking at the science work Voyager Class were doing outside as they examined the speed at which objects fall.

Which falls quicker and why?

He was very complimentary about the school (as he always is) especially the way the pupils appeared to have settled back in. One of the areas we gave a lot of discussion to was reading and in particular ‘early’ reading. This is something we are acutely aware needs some attention as we look to plug the gaps for our youngest pupils who have missed so many opportunities over the last two years. It is in hand and we will get there!

One strategy we will use in school to promote reading for pleasure and to share stories is to do our ‘paired reading’. This is where Year 5 pupils read with and to Year 3 pupils. There was so much ‘book talk’ as this happened for the first time again on Tuesday.

Paired reading between Year 3 and Year 5

Wednesday felt a little quieter and this did afford me time to catch up on some paperwork. My ‘To Do’ folder seems to be gaining weight at a fair rate of knots.

We took delivery of all the new flutes and clarinets on Wednesday morning which meant that the Year 5s got to play their chosen instrument with Mr Brunton on Wednesday afternoon. Considering this was the first time the majority had even handled one of these woodwind instruments, they did very well in playing their first note.

Apologies to anyone who has not been able to get through to the office at any point this week. I was left in charge on a couple of occasions and so anything could have happened with the phones. I am hoping we will be back to full strength next week. I am hoping… and you are too, most probably!

Some great work in Year 6 this week

I was out of the office on Friday morning as I attended a breakfast meeting in Hatfield. I am part of a PE Advocate group which is a team of Headteachers from across the county who meet with the local Sports Partnership and also the Youth Sport Trust to discuss and then promote good practice. It was great to actually attend an in-person meeting again.

Mrs McConnell Smith was left in charge of our celebratory Achievers’ Assembly, in which Eoin (Year 5) provided the musical entertainment, playing his clarinet. There were plenty more bronze certificates to applaud which led to Air winning the House Cup. The Class of the Week was Mayan and Aztec won the Womble Award. We again celebrated anyone who had been ‘Caught Being Kind’ over the course of the week.

As soon as I got back into school I was zooming into the local Headteachers’ consortium group to talk through local issues and to reflect upon the start of term.

Tomorrow morning, Wymondley Park Under 10s make use of the school facilities since moving their home ground to Whitehill. Although I am not able to come along and support this week, I do hope to be able to attend a few home matches over the course of the season. We wish them all the very best.

Thank you to everyone who supported last week’s Friends’ event

Next week’s diary looks very busy for everyone.

On Monday afternoon, the Year 3s are heading off to Wymondley Woods for a bit of a field trip and then after school, Year 6 parents are invited to attend a meeting to introduce the residential to the Isle of Wight planned for next May.

Miss Gooderham is out on Tuesday afternoon with three Upper School tag rugby teams for a local festival and is then out again on Thursday for a Lower School festival. I hope to be able to sneak out for some of the time (weather and work permitting) to see how they get on.

After school on Thursday, the Year 4 team are holding their parent information session for the Overstrand residential which takes place in the same week as the Year 6 one. School gets very quiet that week.

Whilst it feels like we have only just started back, please look out for information coming home shortly about our parent / carer consultation evenings scheduled for the week before half term. In addition to the online meetings, there will also be a chance to come into school to have a look at your child’s books and see some of the work they have been producing.

That’s it for another week. I am having lunch with Mrs Beresford tomorrow and am looking forward to hearing how she has settled in her new role in a school in London.

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

Further investigation by the Year 5s

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