Think of me

It has been a relatively quiet week in terms of entries in my diary but it is incredible how quickly that space can be filled with impromptu meetings or routine work that ‘just needs finishing’. I have no doubt that as the term gathers pace, these opportunities for time to ‘just do’ will decrease and so I should make the most of them.

We welcomed a new pupil to Whitehill on Monday morning who joins one of our Year 6 classes. Serena was made to feel very welcome by her peers but I was particularly impressed with Maya who acted as her mentor and showed her the ropes. They both visited me on Monday afternoon to show me some work they had been doing in science, which also included a title written in Serena’s native Cantonese. I too had a quick lesson in writing the numbers one through to five.

It was like a botanical garden in Apollo Class this week

I sent out the first update of the term earlier in the week with a few reminders. The key announcement was our plan to move over from X to Instagram as our social media platform. I explained my reasons in the update and I hope it proves to be the correct move for the school. Judging by the response on Tuesday when I sent out the news, I suspect the transition will be quicker than I first thought.

I briefly mentioned in last week’s blog some organisational changes I have made to lunchtimes. This has meant that I have been outside (with my big coat on) watching what happens in this more unstructured time, seeing what the pupils get up to. The pupils are creative in their games and on the whole do tend play very nicely together. Freddie (Year 4) spent a great deal of time showing me his latest gymnastics skills and Jude (Year 4) showed me a card trick he had learned. This time outside also showed me the challenges some pupils have with ‘refereeing’ their own games and this is something they are going to need to practise as they move onto secondary school where supervision in between lessons is minimal. We have a bit of time yet!

To ensure these lunchtimes run smoothly, I have enlisted some Year 5s to ring the bell and fetch the different classes. I have quite a few volunteers to put on a rota but at this early stage, a huge ‘shout out’ must go to Lizzie who is just incredible; so reliable – perhaps I should put her on the payroll.

We might not have been back that long but I have already handed out a few Headteacher’s Awards. Artie (Year 3) received his for a very creative and well-structured poem. Several Year 5s from Voyager were sent to me for their work in geography and I have now challenged them to learn all 50 states in the USA. The map work they showed me was very impressive.

Stanley looking quite pleased with the work his group were doing in Geography

My regular visits to classrooms this week have also provided me with the opportunity to see some lovely artwork in Year 5. The work, inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, has already made it as a display in Apollo Class. I enjoyed popping into Aztec Class to see their recorder lesson with Miss Smith and Mrs Jarman and was impressed how quickly they were picking up the skills of reading music.

A sneaky peak at some of the Year 5 artwork

Our PE provision is excellent at Whitehill and I loved watching some of Year 5s gymnastics lesson this week. Admittedly, I was slightly confused how one particular Kealey twin could have been in two places at once, until I realised that Year 5 had mixed the classes and both boys were in the same lesson!

Some lovely gymnastics in Year 5 this week

I saw some more Year 3 poetry on Thursday morning when Roque, Sam J, Logan, Freya W, Imogen and Emily from Aztec Class brought their compositions to me for a Headteacher’s Award each.

Despite the cold, I thought I would venture outside on Thursday afternoon to watch some of the Lower School activity afternoon which, for part, was being led by sports leaders from HGS. The Year 11s did such a good job and it was nice to see Mimi and Dulcie return to lead sessions they would have been part of themselves more than five years ago.

Achievers’ Assembly on Friday morning saw Mayan win Class of the Week, Earth win the House Cup and Orville Class win the Wombles. We also celebrated some swimming certificates with Freya and Daisy (Year 3) and also climbing with Silvia (Year 6).

We enjoyed music from Ariana (Year 4) who played the piano for us. Well done to everyone who we celebrated this week.

There was much-needed hot chocolate and biscuits at break time as six more Year 3s came along to my office for Biscuits with the Boss.

Looking ahead to next week, the diary is starting to fill up again. I am out of the office for meetings on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning and have another prospective parent tour on Monday morning. Whilst we have no vacancies in any year groups at the moment, it is good to have a healthy continuing interest list with still more families enquiring about spaces.

I am not sure if the light is going to allow it, but I notice there is the first football fixture of 2024 on Wednesday afternoon; a Wix Cup match against Highover.

The main event for some next week is the annual trip to the O2 for the Young Voices concert. It is a long but hugely enjoyable day for the pupils and all being well, I will get the train at the end of the day to get to Greenwich in time for the start of the concert. I do have an online NAHT National Executive meeting to ‘attend’ at 3pm and so I may need to plug my ears in and hope we don’t pass through too many tunnels!

On Friday morning, I am looking at the possibility of taking four Year 6s to represent their cohort at a local partnership secondary school transition conference. This would be an opportunity to hear from some current, local secondary school pupils and to ask them questions about moving schools. They would then be tasked with feeding back to their peers back at Whitehill.

That’s it for another week. I have mentioned the move away from X to Instagram already and so please think of me as I attempt to teach my dad how to switch to this platform too. This could take some time… and a lot of patience! Do not forget ‘whitehilljunior’ on Instagram will ultimately be where we post all of our social media updates. Make sure you apply to follow as soon as possible.

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

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