Space Week (and lots more besides)

Another week and another blog. It is also the second Friday in a row where I was out of the office and taking part in a series of meetings with the NAHT. This week I was in Cambridge but have managed to get back in time to publish this and also get ready for the return of the Year 5s. More about this later.

As much as I enjoy the work I do with my professional organisation, there is always a little bit of me that gets twitchy when I am not at school. There is absolutely no need to be like this as the team in school are so good but even so… I am sure you understand what I mean. November is awful for taking me away from the school and next week I am in Cardiff for two days but fortunately, one of those is the INSET day on Friday and so I am only missing one day in school.

I did manage to get back from Stratford last Friday in time to see a bit of the netball match against St Andrew’s and saw two good games although I should have listened to Miss Gooderham’s advice when she suggested I might have wanted a coat.

It was an early start for our Year 5s on Monday as they started their themed space week with a trip to the National Space Centre in Leicester. It is a great trip and not too far for pupils to travel. Judging by the photographs, the pupils loved engaging with the exhibits – especially those which meant they could press a button!


I had another set of parent tours on Monday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed myself with the group I had this week. Edie (Year 3) was on form as a ‘rep’ in the hall when we stopped to watch some of the play rehearsal and I was pleased I was able to let a special visitor from Highbury Nursery, Ruby, go in the stage and join in with the performance. I wonder if she will be doing it for real in four years’ time?!

Our Junior Leadership Team helped load up Mrs McConnell Smith’s car on Tuesday with the generous donations of pre-loved winter clothes, which were then transported to and gratefully received by the staff at Needham House Hotel. This has been a lovely little project to kick off their year.

A successful JLT project

I had a meeting with Mrs Avey on Tuesday morning and in the afternoon, I ventured up to Year 5 to see some of the space-themed games the pupils had made and brought in. Each year we are blown away by the creativeness and quality and this year is no exception. Jasmine, Teddy, Kieran’s games were amongst many I had a little go of.

Inspirational Year 5s

It was a fortuitous visit as I also got to present some Headteacher’s Awards to Kieran, Sophie, Harriet and Alfie form Apollo Class for their recent extended writing.

I was working late on Tuesday and so after the staff meeting and after clearing up a few loose ends in my office, I took advantage of a clear night and took the telescope out. After a last minute tweet offering this opportunity to others, it was lovely to be joined by Samuel, Tommy, Katie (Year 3), Niamh (Year 5) and Millie (Year 6) and of course, a few parents! Saturn, complete with rings and Jupiter, complete with moons was clearly visible. The hardest thing is being able to use an eyepiece and so after a few false starts, I think I am right in saying all who had a go got to see our intended targets.

The Year 5s got even closer to the planets on Wednesday morning when the all engaged in a VR experience flying their spaceship across our solar system. It was so funny watching the pupils as what they were experiencing was also projected onto the screen in the hall so we could see where they were looking. It is always lovely to see someone take part in this kind of experience for the first time.

This looked like so much fun!

 Miss Gooderham was out after school on Wednesday with two football teams taking part in the district round of the ESFA national competition. Both teams played very well indeed but the games were too short to really get going. Not only that, the teams only got two games due to timings. I had a good chat with Evie on Thursday who articulately shared her frustration with me and I know Miss Gooderham will follow this up with the powers that be.

If only the games were longer

I was kept updated with the matches as I was in a meeting in County Hall. It was an interesting meeting as all bar one of the attendees joined virtually and so I travelled all the way to Hertford when I could have stayed in my office. Oh well, I know for future. That being said, the meeting with county representatives of educational unions was very informative and highlighted concerns and current ‘headaches’.

Mt venue for Wednesday’s meeting. County Hall, Hertford.

I received a call from Mr Lord’s classroom after break on Thursday asking me to visit again but this time to see some of the science they were doing all linked with their space-themed week. They were completing a series of experiments designed by the ESA (European Space Agency) looking at the properties of materials that could be used when building a rocket. As I was meeting with Mrs Burniston at the time, she joined me and we were both really impressed with what they were doing and also how they were able to explain the outcomes of their practical work. I was particularly impressed with the experiment looking at thermal conductivity.

This was a great lesson!

Thomas (Year 4) came to show me some very impressive spelling work in which he had used stop motion animation to ‘write’ his spellings out. Some wonderful creativity on display.

The other sporting event this week was the cross country competition at Knights Templar School on Thursday. We had four teams taking part and did so well. All four teams can feel very proud with their team position with the Year 5 boys finishing first and the Year 6 girls finishing second. Individually, there were also some amazing performances with Connor and Kieran (Year 5) finishing first and second respectively. Edie (Year 5) won her race by a very long way and Evie (Year 6) finished second in her race. Well done to all our 16 athletes who were celebrated in Achievers’ Assembly on Friday morning.

So much success at the cross country

It was a second consecutive Friday where I was unable to lead my favourite assembly as I was in Cambridge. Of course, I asked to be kept updated so I can acknowledge the successes across the school.

First place for Edie!

The school enjoyed music from Charlotte (Year 5), Eleanor and Silvia (Year 6) who all played the piano. You can’t beat live music!

One of our talented pianists

There were lots (and lots) of certificates including swimming and running. In fact, when Mrs Burniston was filling me in with the details of this morning, she used the adjective, ‘bajillions’! That is a lot!

This week’s Class of the Week was Apollo and they did the double by winning the Wombles too. Air won the House Cup.

I have already referenced the science in Year 5 several times in this blog and in a few minutes the pupils from this cohort will be returning to take part in their space evening. How else can you really teach ‘space’ and the night’s sky without being in school at night? The staff have prepared a whole range of activities for them (including food) with a talk from a doctor of astrophysics live from Chile and a more local presentation from science teacher, Mr Jackson, from Hitchin Girls’ School. There are also other fun sessions and fingers crossed there will be some breaks in the clouds so we can use the telescope. (I will keep you updated)

It goes without saying that we are extremely grateful to the Year 5 teaching team and other staff members for giving their Friday night and the start of the weekend to make this event happen.

A successful space week for sure

On Sunday, I hope to be able to join Mr Lord at the first round of this year’s national trampoline competition, which takes place at Hitchin Boys’ School. A nice local venue for this first round.

Looking ahead to next week which is a shorter, four-day, week, we begin fairly quietly. I have some more prospective parent tours on Tuesday – class reps get ready. On Wednesday, there is a handball tournament in the afternoon and I have a governors’ meeting that night.

The next morning, I need to be in Cardiff for 8.30am and so it will be an early start for me as I try to avoid the M25 / Heathrow / M4 carpark! I will be there for two days, returning on Friday afternoon but with Friday being an INSET day, I won’t be missing another celebration assembly. I just need to work out when to post next week’s blog – I mean, I couldn’t give my dad a week off, now, could I?

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

I saw this in my hotel and thought it was worth sharing! Have a lovely weekend.



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