Stand Up and Breathe!

When your watch spends the whole of Monday telling you stand up and go for a walk, whilst at the same time, hinting you may want to ‘breathe’, you can tell it was a mad day. Before I reflect upon this, Sunday was awesome!

Miss Gooderham had arranged for members of the girls’ football squad to act as mascots and player escorts for Stevenage Women’s FC home game. Unfortunately, Miss G was injured and so couldn’t play but it did mean she could look after the girls, do a warm up with them and make sure plenty of photos were taken. It really highlighted what a lovely family club Stevenage Women FC is and judging by the volume of noise coming from the crowd, the girls enjoyed the 4-0 win.

What a great opportunity!

One of our girls wasn’t able to attend, however. Evie (Year 5) was also a player escort at a football match but she was asked to attend the Chelsea v Arsenal cup final and as much as we love Stevenage, this was an offer she couldn’t refuse!

So, Monday morning. It all started reasonably normally in as much as we had prepped for a morning of interviews and the candidates had all accepted. We assembled early to talk through the process; make sure we all had the necessary paperwork and reflected upon the amount of biscuits and coffee we might get through.

At around 9.50am, just as we were expecting to chat to our first candidate, Mrs Lanni knocked at the door to announce Ofsted were on the phone. Of course I reacted with something along the lines of, ‘Are you taking the ….. (insert own word here)?’ She wasn’t!

Cheesy Balls! (Not one of the words you should insert into the quote above!)

Thus began the hectic day of managing four lesson observations and interviews along with Ofsted preparation (there is quite a lot to do) and two telephone calls with our inspector lasting around two and a half hours. I also needed to relay messages to staff as to what the foci might be and what the day would look like. We have been ready for this day – perhaps not both things to occur simultaneously – and so it was just a case of doing what we believe we do well.

As far as the interviews were concerned, all of the candidates understood that there might be a delay in confirming an appointment but I am pleased to say that it has now been made and I have written separately to parents and carers to confirm details. It was a very strong field.

Unfortunately, Ofsted rules mean I cannot really divulge any of the goings-on in this blog – much to the relief of my dad who now realises this could be a slightly shorter version this week. In the coming weeks our report will be released but as it is an ungraded inspection, it won’t have much detail in it at all. Thank you to all of you who submitted feedback via the Ofsted Parent View website. It does now mean we won’t need to ask you to complete a further survey in the coming weeks.

So what else did we do this week?

We did have to cancel the Upper School visit to HGS on Tuesday afternoon to take part in a sports festival. We will look to rearrange as not only is it good for our pupils, the sports leaders were using it as a way of assessing themselves. Miss Gooderham is talking to the PE team at the moment.

Some friendly competition!

The sports event after school did go ahead, however; two football matches against Highover. Although a little busy, in and out of meetings, I did manage to pop out and watch some of the matches. Both games finished with 1-1 draws and I was impressed with the players across both teams. Even the sun came out for the matches which made a pleasant change to the snow at lunchtime.

Day two of the inspection on Wednesday meant we did need to postpone the ‘A’ Team netball rally. We couldn’t have everyone turn up at school with supporters etc. during the school day. Thank you to the other schools, who were due to take part, for your understanding with this. As it happened, the weather might have actually been another reason it needed to be postponed. Again, a new date is being worked out and will be shared as soon as we know what it is.

Photography Club continued on Wednesday afternoon and I am grateful to Mr Denney for stepping in and supporting. I did pop in and out to see some of the session on composition but needed to attend several other discussions going on. I will be back on it next week.

Photography Club – Session 2

On Thursday, a group of Year 5 and Year 6 girls headed over to St Albans to participate in the County Dance Festival. As I had a governors’ meeting that night, I went along to watch them perform in the matinee. It was such a well-choreographed piece and huge thanks must go to Mrs Davies and Miss McGurk for running this club. I have no doubt the parents who went along for the evening show would have been equally as impressed.

Our dance was just amazing!

In addition, we had a group of Lower School pupils take part in a badminton festival at Knights Templar School where they learned many new skills, including the fact that a racquet also makes a very good guitar – well according to Thomas B (Year 3) it does!

Not quite sure that is right, Thomas!

We were joined by two of our governors on Friday morning to spend some time with me and also to have a wander around the school. Two days of inspection won’t stop me wanting to show the great work going on, on a daily basis to anyone who visits. I was pleased Mrs Dorrell and Mrs Cox also joined in our Achievers’ Assembly.

This week, music was provided by Year 4. Kit and Lottie took turns as the pupils came into the hall. Kit made his first public performance since starting to learn the trumpet a few months ago and Lottie played the piano for us. At the end of assembly, a small choir of pupils from Orville Class sang and did so well. A special mention to Caitlyn who signed the chorus of the song as well as singing all the words. Very impressive!

The Orville Class choir

We gave out a number of individual awards including to Isabella (Year 3) and George (Year 5) who came first and second in their category at Crufts yesterday. The Wombles this week went to Apollo Class and Fire won the House Cup. In a break with tradition, I presented the Class of the Week trophy to #TeamWhitehill – my amazing staff team who absolutely ‘smashed’ Ofsted this week!

On Friday afternoon, our athletes took part in the district indoor athletics finals at Fearnhill School. At the time of finalising this blog, the results weren’t in, but I have been keeping a close eye on the tweets and it looked like we were doing well. Fingers crossed for team success!

Our athletics team just before the finals started

Looking ahead to next week, we have some sports fixtures to look forward to, including netball against Our Lady School and skateboarding workshop for some of our Upper School girls.

Year 4 have a singing workshop on Tuesday afternoon and the staff meeting next week is a practical session looking to make use of our new, full-site orienteering course. It is also nice to know that I don’t need to think about the possibility of ‘that phone call’ anymore!

What a great week! And now time to have a great weekend!

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

All comments (1)

    Not quite on our doorstep, but these monthly “park-o” events in and around cambridge are a great intro to orienteering for anyone interested:

    Joseph tried it at the Feb event in Cambridge and really enjoyed it (helped by being fastest round the short course with a friend!)

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