Violet Won!

Another short week completed and some lovely weather to accompany it. Perhaps we will have a summer after all.

My four days in Wales at the end of last week and over the weekend on NAHT business were very interesting. My base for the three nights was the Celtic Manor Hotel – home of the Ryder Cup in 2010 – and it was so nice. There were obviously other guests staying at the resort, including a certain Bruce Springsteen who was performing in Cardiff. A few colleagues sought out that selfie opportunity but as I hadn’t seen him in a West End musical, it wasn’t something I felt the need to do.

On the business front, as I was there for work, we did hear from the new Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Martyn Oliver. He announced some changes to the inspection process from September but not the one many school leaders were hoping for. I wonder when a team will visit us again after the positive report we received in March 2023. It could be anytime now.

    Sir Martyn Oliver speaking at my recent conference

Tuesday saw the culmination of the Poetry Post Club project that has been run by Mrs Vernon. At lunchtime, pupils set off to deliver the beautifully written and illustrated poems to our neighbours around the school. The reason? To share some happiness and raise a smile. We received some lovely feedback from parents on our social media as well as emails and letters from people not connected with the school.

Such a wonderful initiative

For example, we received this from a recipient of Lyra’s (Year 6) poem:

“I have just returned from work (at a school) and found your wonderful letter. It certainly made me smile and made me think what a fantastic idea you had to share your special poems. I am very grateful to you for delivering the beautifully written and illustrated poem entitled ‘The World’.  I shall keep it amongst my poetry books, of which I have many. Thank you again for sharing your poetry. I wish you every success with your future work at school.”

Spreading a little happiness

I talk regularly about the many extra-curricular opportunities our pupils have and am always grateful for the staff’s commitment in ensuring this remains the case.

I have mentioned the West End already in this blog and on Wednesday afternoon, the Year 6s got to experience the next best thing when they went to Milton Keynes Theatre to watch the touring version of Aladdin. Having seen this show when it was in London and reading the reviews of the tour, I knew the pupils would enjoy the spectacle. I imagine it has motivated them even more as they prepare for their summer show.

Our Year 6s at Theatre MK

The feedback from the staff who accompanied the pupils was so positive and they all referenced how engaged the pupils were, with several desperate to get up and join in. Not only that, the pupils behaved impeccably which can’t be said for all schools who attended. That being said, I see it with adults when I attend the theatre and so perhaps it all comes down to role models.

You have to love live theatre

I wonder if we can make a theatre visit a more regular opportunity for pupils during their time at Whitehill? Food for thought.

As the Year 6s headed off to Milton Keynes, I made the most of the nice weather on Wednesday lunchtime and went outside with the other pupils. You may have seen some evidence of me accepting a challenge from Violet (Year 3). I did race her… she did beat me… and in race two, I did tweak a muscle! I clearly forgot how old I am and the fact that I actually need to warm up these days! I regretted it on Thursday morning, that’s for sure. You may have seen me limping on the playground.

Not warming up was one such decision!

It has been lovely to see the two Year 3 classes enjoy some science work outside on the bank opposite my office this week. I did check, and guessed correctly through their actions that they were looking at pollination.

Such a great way to teach pollination

It has been a busy week for Headteacher Awards. Several pupils from Aztec Class brought me their sketchbooks and chatted about some wonderful artwork they have been doing. Mayan Class also visited to share their artwork. I saw Lottie, Kira and Ryan (Year 5) who wanted to share with me their extended writing. Mrs Bailey had remarked on its evocative nature and she wasn’t wrong. Some impressive work.

On Thursday, Wilde Class enjoyed a non-uniform day and the weather was perfect for them too. This treat was thanks to my Christmas advent calendar and the day where pupils got to pull a prize from the lucky dip. I have one other prize still to honour which will be Logan (Year 5) being Headteacher for the day. We just need to tie up our diaries.

We had a cricket match after school on Thursday in perfect cricketing weather. I wasn’t able to watch on this occasion but know that they tried their best against a very strong opposition. Onwards and upwards.

Mayan Class enjoying storytime in the sun

I was back at the front of Achievers’ Assembly on Friday – my favourite assembly of the week. That being said, I did have to pop into singing assembly on Thursday and it sounded so good!

Our music was provided by Ariana, Julia and Lillian (Year 4) who sang for us. Ariana sang a solo at the start and Julia and Lillian sang a duet from Matilda (another West End reference) at the end. They all did so well.

There was plenty to celebrate, as always including another set of running medals. We were very well represented at last weekend’s collection of Hitchin road races and as with the recent London Marathon, the pupils all did very well indeed. We also celebrated some Hitchin Rugby Club medals for pupils who have played their last tag games and now move on up to contact rugby.

The regular awards were awarded as follows: Fire won the House Cup; Kahlo won the Wombles and Aztec won Class of the Week.

Looking ahead to next week, the main diary entry as far as the Year 6s are concerned is SATs week. A week of statutory tests which all Year 6 pupils will be doing in schools across the country. I have no doubt our pupils will do as well as they possibly can and once over, can get on with enjoying the rest of what Year 6 has to offer.

A huge thanks to Crystal Bathrooms for our new kit – we love it!

I appear to have two nights of governors’ meetings. One at HGS and one – the budget setting one – at Whitehill.

On a more exciting front, I am off to the theatre on Monday to see Operation Mincemeat, having been lucky in a recent ticket lottery. Doubly exciting as it is in one of only three theatres I am yet to visit in London’s West End. Two more to go!

Have a great and hopefully sunny weekend!

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

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