What an Amazing Week!

What an amazing week! It has been an incredible five days and therefore really hard work to keep up with all the photos and tweets from across the three school residentials as well as the active learning happening in Year 3 this week.

What has pleased me the most and meant that I have been a particularly proud Headteacher this week has been the proactive approach by every member of the Whitehill School community or #teamwhitehill as we now refer to it. As I have said on a number of occasions, it is exceptionally easy at the moment to say ‘no’ or ‘we can’t’. Saying ‘yes’ requires a little more thought and a few more conversations and questions along the lines of ‘how do we make this work?’ My team are prepared to support me with the latter and in fact drive this proactive approach which has meant we have had: 174 pupils take part in residentials; four pupils have a very active week in and around Hitchin and 60 pupils running (literally) all over the school in a very active week of learning.

It is important we remain vigilant and work within the guidance but there is now flexibility within this guidance for those who want it. We need to recognise the significant disruption (note, I don’t say loss of learning) that our pupils have had and do everything we can to bring back some consistency and stability as well as supporting well-being and social interaction, the two real aspects of children’s education which have been affected. If we take our current Year 5s, for example, the last full year they had at Whitehill was in Year 3, their first year and they are now preparing to enter their final year.

Thank you to the parents, too, who have trusted us and backed us throughout the last fifteen months. I know through talking with many of you in recent weeks, our approach has received a great deal of support.

Year 6 Residential – Isle of Wight

I was in school early on Monday morning as we got ready to say bye to the Year 6s first. I was then back home again a few minutes later as Mr Mills Junior had forgotten to pack towels! I was back in time to hand them over before his case was put on the coach and they departed for Portsmouth. As they were heading south, an hour later, the Year 5 pupils were arriving at school, ready to head north to Norfolk. Both groups made very good time and were soon settling into their respective bases in the Isle of Wight and Overstrand. Over the coming weeks, I will set up galleries on the school website with many of the photographs which have been taken so that you can have a look at what other cohorts have been getting up to.

On Tuesday afternoon, my diary was looking a little quiet and so I thought I would head up to Overstrand to join the Year 5s for the evening. Like them, I made very good time and was on the centre in time to see the last rotation of activities (in the rain). I think there were a few double takes as I suddenly appeared and they weren’t expecting it. It was wonderful to be able to join them for dinner – the food in Overstrand is lovely – and then go with them to the evening camp fire. Around the camp fire, riddles and jokes were shared and I even understood some of them. I have led many school residentials in my time as a teacher and I am acutely aware of how ‘interesting’ bedtimes can be. Fair play to the Year 5s on Tuesday night; they were in bed and asleep in a timely manner which meant I too could get some much needed beauty sleep.

Year 5 Residential – Overstrand

Wanting to be back in school to see the Year 4s off, I was up and out by about 5.00am and was back in Hitchin just after 7.00am. By 9.30am we were waving ‘bye’ to another 59 pupils as they set off and by the look of the photographs from the second half of the week, took the sun and dry weather with them. That meant we were left with just 60 Year 3s and our select group of Year 6s in school. It was far from quiet, however, as Mr Lord and Mr Wells had set up an orienteering / scavenger hunt type activity for the pupils to do throughout the whole school site. For the majority of pupils, because of ‘bubbles’, they had not visited some of the other classrooms since joining Whitehill and therefore it was exciting for them to have free rein. Dr Ray, our Chair of Governors, visited for a meeting and got a glimpse of what the pupils were getting up to.

Year 4 Residential – Overstrand

Some very tired, and perhaps still a little damp, Year 5s returned just after 4.00pm. Whilst the other cohorts away get half term to recover after they return, our Year 5s were in school on Thursday morning looking bright eyed and bushy tailed (almost) but had a slightly easier day. There was certainly no maths nor English on the timetable. What there was, however, was an opportunity to plan and then deliver a carousel of sports activities to our Year 3 pupils all afternoon. Mrs Small was so impressed with the ideas and flexibility shown by the pupils she recommended them all for recognition in Friday’s Achievers’ Assembly.

During this assembly we were also treated to a dance by Martha and Milly from Year 3. They had worked on this all by themselves and rightly received their Headteacher’s Awards for creativity. Well done, girls. I was lucky enough to win the Womble which might indicate how messy some of the other rooms were and I decided not to award the other cups this week as it was such a ‘different’ week.

Mr Waluk checking my room with a magnifying glass before awarding me the Womble this week!

On Friday, I was invited and took up the offer of joining the Year 6 select group for a party. Choosing not to go to the Isle of Wight, these pupils have worked with Mrs Vernon all week on a variety of creative projects which included venturing out and about (in the rain) and ordering supplies from the Tesco delivery man. I am sure they have had an enjoyable time; they always seemed to smiling.

Our Year 6 ‘Select Group’

Later this afternoon, the Year 4s will be back at school and then two hours later, our final group will be back and then we can lock up and enjoy a thoroughly deserved half term break. Let’s hope this slightly drier, warmer weather will stay with us.

We return to school on Tuesday 8th June (as Monday 7th is an INSET day) for the final six weeks of the academic year. 29½ school days left! At the end of this first week, we will be presenting our Wall of Fame certificates again, which is always a lovely addition to our celebration assemblies.

Thank you for all your continued support; I hope you all have a well-deserved break!

Best wishes,

Steve Mills


All comments (4)

    Thanks so much for getting the children on their residentials this year – they’ve had amazing time and I’m so grateful to all the fabulous teachers and staff who made this happen.

    Thank you to the outstanding Year 6 team for a great trip. Lots of stories here tonight!

    Thank you all for going ahead and making the residential happen. Alexia absolutely loved it all. Such a great shared experience for all of them, after a discombobulated year.

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