‘Vibrant, happy learners…’

As many of you will know, we currently sponsor Miss Gooderham at Stevenage Women FC and so I will go to many of the matches to cheer her and the team on. It was lovely this weekend to be joined by Ettie (Year 4) and her dad who also came along to support. Miss Gooderham was able to arrange for Ettie to be the team mascot, leading the players out with captain, Amy Makewell.

Mascot for the day

Despite the result not going Stevenage’s way (it finished 1-1), and despite Miss G not scoring – I’d promised Ettie extra house points if she did – it was still an enjoyable afternoon and Ettie got to have her photo taken with her favourite player at the end of the match.

Miss Gooderham and Ettie after the match

Year 6s have had a few visitors this week, joining them for workshops or teaching opportunities. On Monday, Phase returned as part of their planned programme of visits to deliver a session on Christmas.

On Tuesday morning, Mr Derrett, a science teacher from Hitchin Girls’ School and regular ‘guest teacher’ came along to deliver a session to both classes on electricity. Feedback from both sessions reported great enthusiasm and engagement. I managed to get a glimpse of the classes working and particularly enjoyed the static electricity experiment and the opportunity to use the Van der Graaf generator. One of Mr Derrett’s helpers today was former Whitehill pupil Sophie who is now in Year 12! Where did that time go?

Chatting to Mr Derrett later that day, he was keen to point out that, ‘[he] was also delighted with the conduct and attitude of both of [our] classes – role models for [our] school.’

I really do value the opportunities to engage with teachers from our local secondary schools and of course, given its proximity (and other links) HGS in particular. Mr Derrett will do further work with other classes later in the year before, I believe, our Year 6s will have the opportunity to have a science lesson taught in the labs at HGS towards the end of the year (hopefully using the Bunsen burners).

Strong links between HGS and Whitehill

Year 6’s final visitors saw the return of the sports leaders from HGS to deliver a PE session on Wednesday morning as part of their qualification. It was a lovely morning, weather-wise, and so a bit of brisk exercise first thing in the morning was just perfect.

A lovely crisp morning for a spot of PE

I had my final ‘official’ prospective parent tour of the year on Tuesday morning and spent most of the time playing hunt the pupils. We found Year 3 in the hall putting the finishing touches to their production and once again, I heard exactly the same song as I have heard every time I’ve walked into a rehearsal. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the show.

Year 4s were out and about in Hitchin, visiting British Schools Museum and then doing a local history walk which was slightly abridged due to the weather. There were Victorian style lessons on the ‘three Rs’ and I could not help noticing that one of our pupils was made to wear the dunce’s cap. Thank goodness times have changed. I am not sure if any of our Year 4s disgraced themselves that much that they were given the cane but I can tell you that our long-suffering blog ‘moaner’, my dad, once got the cane at school for being nosy!

We did find some lovely learning taking place in Year 5 and Year 6, in class, and the class reps did themselves proud as always. I don’t always receive written feedback after one of my tours but I did today and I couldn’t have asked for more. Amongst other things, this parent, who happens to work in education stated that, ‘The school is everything we want for [our son], when he starts with you in September. Vibrant, happy learners and staff…’ I’ll take that!

My ‘pop-up’ advent calendar made further appearances on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. The first a little ‘competition’ to guess the name of a chocolate bear. There were two to be won with each person – young or old – being given two guesses. Logan (Year 5) won one quite early on with a correct guess of ‘Buddy’. The second one was won just before registration by Millie (Year 6) who correctly guessed ‘Poppet’. Scrooge’s chocolate coins were given away on Thursday.

Guess the name of the bears

One of our extra-curricular opportunities is Bonkers for Books – I am sure you can work out the theme. On Wednesday lunchtime the pupils who attend, under the expert guidance of Mrs Vernon, held a book swap. This was an opportunity to bring in a book that is no longer being read and exchange it for a new one. Another reading based initiative which highlights our love of reading at Whitehill. I was presented with a book by Tilly (Year 6) which she recommended I read and I will do just that.

Most mornings this week have seen me glued to my computer whilst Mrs Lanni and Mrs Granger, with a various collection of visitors, have been making pompoms! Don’t ask! For that reason, on Wednesday afternoon, I thought I would have a wander and visit a few classes.

Some creative art and some creative photography by Mr Mills Jnr

Wilde Class were doing art as part of a ‘free art’ session. This is a new initiative, which comes on the back of a governor pupil voice and also subject development by Mrs Bailey, our art lead. It gives pupils the chance to have some directed time to be creative in whatever medium they choose and apply skills taught in more structured lessons. I have to say, the results in Wilde Class were eclectic!

One of the Year 6 ‘free art’ creations

I popped into Orville’s computing lesson where the pupils continue to look at using logo. I had a good discussion around procedures to draw circles as well as looking at a few crazier designs which perhaps revealed the inner workings of some Year 4 minds. I must admit, I was slightly disappointed that not one pupil had heard of Spirograph. Do you know what I am talking about?

I had a lovely discussion with Zofia, Zoe and Molly (Year 3) about the work they have been doing in French. They all received Headteacher’s Awards following some conversations in French, Polish and German.

Whilst I was visiting lessons, Miss Gooderham took a group of lower school dancers to a workshop organised by our local sports partnership and led by Imagination Dance. It looked like great fun!

A fun dance workshop for some of our Year 3 and Year 4 pupils

Having promised to do much better this week and actually make it to the whole of Maths with Munchies, I failed again! Not a complete failure. I made it to the last ten minutes. So once again, sorry, Mr Wells. It is the last session next week and I have tasked Amelie (Year 3) with reminding me and coming to find me next Wednesday after school to make sure I am not late. Don’t let me down, Amelie!

A lovely bunch!

I received an update from the Friends’ Association on Wednesday on last Friday’s Christmas Fair. It was a very successful evening and it was wonderful to be in the presence of Father Christmas and Princess Elsa. Thank you to everyone who supported and also our little band of Year 6s who ran a couple of the stalls. I am pleased to report that the current total raised is in excess of £2500 with still other money coming in. Amazing!

I caught up with Mrs Locke again on Thursday afternoon which was lovely but I was also grateful that she had to pick up her children from their school at 3.00pm! Have I ever told you she can talk?! Seriously, it was lovely to see her again and we made sure we popped up to her old class to see them, under Mr Lord’s expert guidance doing some sewing.

We also visited Kahlo Class to see their creations during the ‘free art’ session. I was really impressed with the work they were doing. Jude’s clay troll was brilliant, as were some of the other models being produced.

I was at Hitchin Girls’ School on Friday morning doing some work in their classics department. That did mean I wasn’t able to watch the dress rehearsal of the production, It’s Chri-i-i-stmas! The feedback I received when back at Whitehill was amazing and I now can’t wait to watch it several times next week.

Because of the dress rehearsal, there was no Achievers’ Assembly this week. We will have a special double celebration next week with a few additional end of year awards.

Friday was a lovely morning! Mr Denney caught me preparing for the day ahead

Next week is the last full school week of 2023 and it looks very festive indeed.

We have three performances from our Year 3s. One on Monday afternoon and two evening performances on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Our Christmas lunch is on Wednesday and pupils are invited to wear a festive jumper or festive hat if they wish to. On Thursday morning, Anthony Glenn is returning to put on another one of his festive shows for the school.

That’s it for this week. Seven and half days to go. Have a great weekend!

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

Our new ‘guard cat’ who clearly thought it was warmer inside than out in the rain on Thursday afternoon



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