The Best Bits of My Job

I have to start this week’s blog with reference to two particularly successful sporting events which took place last Friday night and over the weekend.

I mentioned how I was heading over to Fearnhill School last Friday evening for our heat of the district indoor athletics competition. It brought back memories of when I used to take teams out and about and these events are always so exciting. Miss Gooderham had picked a great team, with each and every member contributing to a convincing win for both teams. When the results were announced, the scores for the field events were quite close but our performance on the track was simply outstanding.

Post event debrief!

I hope you may have seen some of the videos of the events which I posted on twitter. I tried taking photos but the pupils were just too quick and I ended up with blue blurs. When Leo (Year 6) crossed the line in the final event of the evening the results were confirmed. We will now take part in the district finals in a couple of weeks hoping to win through to the county finals. I just hope I am free so that I can go and watch!

Great race… rubbish photo!

On Sunday, Mr Lord was in Leicestershire with our trampolinists for the zonal finals of this year’s schools’ competition. I did say I was hoping to get there but I wasn’t able to make it work and so had to rely on texts and tweets.

An amazing competition!

Once again, all of our ‘bouncers’ did very well indeed and although we didn’t quite get any individual competitors through to the national finals, both of our teams qualified, finishing first and second overall. Mr Lord was rightly very pleased indeed and even more excited by the size of the trophies we won for our cabinet. I just hope they fit on the shelves. Well done to all who took part and thank you to the parents who supported; it is very much appreciated.

Nationals here we come

I suppose it is also right to say at this point, particularly in light of Wednesday’s national industrial action in many, many schools, how grateful I am to all of the staff in #TeamWhitehill for giving up so much time (including at weekends) to provide rich, extra-curricular opportunities for our pupils. I know by the comments I receive from parents, that you appreciate it too.

So much sport!

Sport continued on Tuesday afternoon when Miss Gooderham took a couple of dodgeball teams over to Letchworth for a festival. Competition was fierce and if you look at some of the photographs so were the throws!

Solomon takes aim!

After school on Thursday, something equally as competitive but probably a little less dangerous took place as we had several Lower School pupils taking part in a speed stacking competition. I remember Evie (Year 5) blowing everyone away last year with her incredible dexterity and coordination and the reports from this year’s competition were equally as impressive. I am pleased to say Alfie (Year 3) appears to be following in Evie’s footsteps.

Well done Alfie!

We celebrated this, as well as the dodgeball, trampolining and athletics in this week’s Achievers’ Assembly.

I had another trip out this week when I visited Giles Infant School in Stevenage with Mrs McConnell Smith. Although a different phase, it is nice to get out and have a tour of other settings and I hope the Headteacher we were visiting found our input supportive. She is doing an amazing job!

I joined Mrs Granger in a Teams meeting on Wednesday morning as our auditors fed back their findings after several weeks of scrutiny. The report was exceptionally positive and I really grateful to Mrs Granger for all her hard work in managing our finances so well. It looks like the only ‘recommendation’ they can give us is that I forgot to sign one document. I have now taken it upon myself to sign any piece of paper I see lying around just in case.

Cas from Hitchin Museum visited again on Thursday morning to test a new workshop she has been producing on skeletons. They got to compare and contrast different types of skeleton and also think about animals which perhaps have different forms of protection. Both Mr Wells and Mr Denney reported back how much the pupils enjoyed these sessions and so I think the workshop got the Whitehill approval. I did have to laugh later in the day when Mrs Kealey tweeted that she was so impressed with the work the pupils were doing, even though she was slightly worried that her daughter wasn’t holding the x-ray the right way up… Mrs Kealey’s occupation? A radiographer! Extra homework required, I think!

Which way up is it, Katie?

This week and in the coming weeks, I will be showing quite a few visitors around the school, for a variety of different reasons. There were three this week alone. I was so impressed and so proud in each and every classroom. The class reps jumped up and engaged the visitors; the pupils were focused and clearly enjoying their work and the work in the pupils’ books was sound. This is one of the best bits of my job!

Some of the work I did see, which resulted in a whole class Headteacher’s award, was the Grendel illustrations produced by pupils in Aztec Class. The way Isabella (Year 3), for example, was able to draw the dog looking away was incredible. I could go on, which is why all of the pupils, Mr Wells and Mrs Bradshaw got a sticker.

On Thursday morning I joined one of the Year 4 targeted teaching groups for their maths lesson. I tagged along with one pupil in particular as he showed me how he would answer some quite tricky word problems. I was impressed at his mental maths skills and the way he could calculate in his head, answers I had to work out on paper.

Shakespeare continues to inspire our Year 6 pupils. Once again, artwork based on the three witches from Macbeth was amazing and I have no doubt several examples will find their way onto my office wall. There was also some lovely artwork produced by pupils in Year 4.

Year 6 artwork

I mentioned last week about my 11 x 12 failure in Orville Class. I am pleased to say I managed to get all 100 questions answered correctly this week in the two minutes I was given. So did Avleen which means the pressure is ramped up next week as we go head to head, against the clock. How many can we both do in 90 seconds? When I chatted to her she looked pretty confident and so I am starting to get a little worried. I have no doubt Mrs Locke will let you know the results… particularly if I lose!

Can’t wait until Monday!

In Achievers’ Assembly this morning, as well as celebrating all the sport we have been doing, we also presented the regular weekly awards.

Mrs Locke learning a lot from Mya!

Class of the Week went to Orville; the House Cup was awarded to Water and the Wombles went to Aztec. In Mr Waluk’s absence this week, it was left to my daughter to decide which classroom was the tidiest when she came in to help me with some cleaning duties (the fact she was a TA in that classroom has left me thinking there might have been an element of bias).

Lovely artwork in Year 3

We had three musicians this week to entertain us. Sophie (Year 4) and Cecily (Year 3) played the piano and Thayalan (Year 3) played his flute. They all did so well.

Straight after school this evening we have our first Lower School (aka Under School according to Freddie (Year 3)) football match with pupils form Year 3 and Year 4 playing a match against Mary Exton. Tomorrow the sport continues with several pupils taking part in a cross country competition in St Albans. It’s all go. On Sunday, Miss McGurk and Mrs Davies will be taking our dancers to the dress rehearsal in St Albans, as they continue to prepare for the County Dance Festival taking place in March. Remember what I was saying about how great our staff are?

Believe it or not, next week is the last week before half term; the mid-point of the school year… already.

We have named next week our ‘feeling good week’ as we look to engage in different wellbeing activities at various times across the five days. On Wednesday, we smash many of the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ as we take part in our Sponsored Sportathon in aid of the David Leach Recovery Fund. Thank you to those who have already donated via the School Grid link Mrs Granger opened on Monday. The Junior Leadership are going to be talking about this event when they take over my assembly on Monday.

Milly’s dismount in gymnastics

Upper school pupils will be having workshops on Tuesday led by the NSPCC as part of the week’s initiatives.

Continuing with the ‘keeping active’ theme, we have netball against St Andrews on Monday; football against St Francis on Tuesday; netball against Highover on Wednesday and football against Pirton on Thursday. You can tell the nights are getting lighter again.

One thing I am looking forward to on Wednesday next week is the chance to have one more technology session with Kahlo Class. The front wheels have finally arrived which means we can finish off the cars we were making before Christmas. Seeing some of the results from Wilde Class, the front wheels soon became the back wheels when motors were not wired up correctly.

Composing and performing are key parts of the music curriculum

I am slightly nervous as to how full my diary is looking for next week but then if we can get to Friday in one piece, we can have a few days off to rest and recharge for the second half of the year.

And finally, the pupils will be introduced to a recycling scheme we are running from Monday in an assembly next week. More details will follow but we are collecting plastic bottle tops. Once we have enough they are retrieved and the school will benefit by receiving some furniture for school made from recycled plastic. Start saving now!

More artwork in Year 4

How long before I get the phone call from my dad this week? He doesn’t always moan… actually, scrub that… yes he does!

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

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