Who Am I To Argue?

One of the first jobs I have each Monday is to go through my email inbox for anything I might have missed over the weekend or for those I read but knew could wait for a response. One such email this week came from Downing Street inviting me to a reception next Wednesday at Number 10. I have accepted the invitation from the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, as it should be an interesting evening. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Teaching Awards Trust and having been fortunate enough to win a national award in 2009, I have been invited to join in the celebrations. I might also look for an opportunity to share my thoughts with those from the DfE; it would be rude not to!

Year 6 and Year 5 both had visitors on Monday afternoon. Our friends from Phase were in Year 6 for the first of four visits across the year. Phase work very closely with all schools within Hitchin and in particular the three secondary schools. By coming in now, as the pupils are already thinking about next year, they can begin to build up a relationship, which may prove useful from Year 7. ‘Resilience’ was a key theme for this visit.

Local artist Lena giving Sophie some feedback

Art was the theme of Year 5’s visit as the pupils got to work with local artist, Lena Stogneva. I visited one of the sessions and was impressed with the way the pupils embraced the themes and styles and listened carefully. Joshua and Sophie looked to be right at home with the task in hand.

A whole-class art project

Although we are only just into October and the weather has been more summer term than autumn term, the Year 3s had their first opportunity to think about Christmas on Tuesday morning. Our youngest cohort are always responsible for the Christmas production, which we get to see in the weeks leading up to the break. I am not completely au fait with the story at this time but I do know it contains some interesting stage designs and a few optical surprises.

I have made a concerted effort to meet with the Junior Leadership Team this year and had another meeting on Tuesday. There was no set agenda this week but I was pleased the team came with an issue, which had been brought to them by their peers. By 3.15pm that day, a change had been made and the ‘problem’, I hope, rectified. One item which I have also been asked to put on next week’s agenda is ‘hot chocolate’ for those in attendance. Who am I to argue with Libby?

I had a staff meeting after school and so wasn’t able to join Miss Gooderham and our girls’ football team for a fixture against St Mary’s. I did catch up with Ava-Lily and Millie (Year 6) when they returned and could tell by the smiles on their faces that we must have played well. Later confirmation from Miss Gooderham including details of Evie’s hatrick and some amazing throw-ins from Millie was great news indeed.

Seventh heaven!

There is so much pupils can do locally around Hitchin and the Year 3s were out and about on Wednesday morning taking in the library and museum. Both Mr Denney and Miss Smith said the pupils got so much from the visit but what was particularly special was the feedback we received from members of the public as 60 pupils walked down Windmill Hill. It is comments like this which mean so much to me. I reflect often on the society’s modern trend of tacit approval and vociferous complaints. You can see it on social media all the time. Therefore, when someone makes a point of letting you know when something has gone well, it is particularly special.

Year 3s enjoying their lunch on Windmill Hill

Despite the drizzle, I watched the Wix Cup football match against Purwell after school. It was such a great game and a first class team performance. So unusual to see in school fixtures but there was real game management to protect the lead they worked so hard to achieve. The final score was 1-0 which means the team progress to the next round, with Aidan shining in goal with some phenomenal saves.

A great team performance

Headteacher’s Awards were handed to each member of the team and they joined several other recipients this week. Harriet (Year 5) demonstrated her cello playing in class (to which I was invited) having recently taken delivery of her (new to her) nineteenth century instrument. She can produce such a lovely tone. Kit (Year 5) also received an award for playing his tuba in a brass assembly on Thursday morning. Some eagle-eyed followers might have been confused by the initial tweet which suggested he might have been playing a rather large fish thanks to some suspect autocorrect replacing the ‘b’ with an ‘n’!

Well played, Kit!

 Martha, Jemma and Charlotte (Year 6) all came with their creative spelling work which featured stop motion animation and food. I also presented awards to Sam, Joseph and Brady (Year 4) for some accurate and independent maths work. Billy (Year 5) performed his beautifully crafted (and presented) poem for me and so rightly deserved his award. Samuel, Molly and Luca (Year 3) were given their awards for their work around Julian the Mouse.

Well done to these and any others who were sent for recognition this week. It is always pleasing to see my supply of certificates shrink, as it must mean pupils are working hard.

Listening attentively in the library

I was out on Thursday afternoon in my HGS trustee role, spending some time seeing how music is taught at the Girls’ School. Music is particularly strong at Whitehill and to see the progress into secondary school was interesting. In a Year 9 lesson, six out of the 22 students were ex-Whitehill and I saw them practising their keyboard skills playing a piece of blues music. Helena and Molly, with their respective partners performed for me and were really good. After a lovely chat with head of music, Mrs Scott, I stayed to watch a little bit of the senior orchestra practice where a further two former Whitehill pupils were playing. It was a lovely afternoon!

Freddie (Year 4) was involved in a friendly tag rugby match against Purwell with some of his year group after school and so it was obviously referred to a as an ‘under-school’ fixture. This and all of our sporting outings this week were celebrated in Achievers’ Assembly on Friday morning.

Miss Smith showing the pupils what was expected

Another pupil I would like to give a ‘shout out’ to this week is Alex (Year 6) who went along with Miss Gooderham on Thursday to help with the rugby. He has been a great ambassador in Year 6 to date and continues to impress on and off the sports field.

Music was provided by Tilly and Ellie (Year 6). Tilly played the piano for us at the start of the assembly and Ellie played her guitar again. Thank you to these two pupils who I believe were drafted in at the last minute to play for us.

This week’s regular awards were presented as follows: Aztec won class of the week and did ‘the double’ as they won the Wombles too. Air won the House Cup.

We presented some more running club certificates where the distances are starting to mount up. We already have a couple of Year 3s who have reached their 10k.

I had another six Year 3s for biscuits and hot chocolate at break time and discussed a whole host of things including lessons in school; hobbies out of school and trips. It was a lovely 20 minutes.

Next week is the last week before we break for half term. How did that happen? We have our open afternoon on Monday starting at 2.30pm, where parents can come and have a look at the classrooms and their children’s books prior to the two consultation evenings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Year 5 artwork was so good

Monday is the last day for pupils to bring in their Christmas card designs and these can be sent into the office.

Over the course of the week, Year 3 will be taking part in their ‘big dig’ project and as one of their sites is on the bank outside my office, I will have a prime viewing spot. If the weather is pleasant, I might even venture outside and watch from the new bench.

We are hosting a KS1 sports festival on Wednesday afternoon and I am sure some of our Year 6s will be involved with that. I won’t get to see much of this as I have my little trip into London as I have already mentioned.

On Thursday morning, Lamarr Class have the first class assembly of the year which will be enjoyed by parents and some of the other classes.

There are three sporting fixtures next week with a football match against Purwell on Monday; a netball match against Highover on Thursday and another football match on Friday where the opponents are Samuel Lucas. All three fixtures next week take place at home so I will do my best to get out and watch.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills

The end of a great week in Year 3 and across the school

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