Headmaster’s Bulletin – Edition 11
I am sure you will have noticed some rather dashing (or terrible, depending on your opinion), hirsute top lips being sported by some of my colleagues. Mr Salt explained to me that fun as the moustaches have been to grow, our colleagues who have successfully cultivated one primarily wished to raise money in support of men’s health. Specifically, this has been for the Movember Foundation in its fight against prostate and testicular cancer, and to raise awareness of mental health issues generally. Any donations would be gratefully received. Please click on the link below if you are interested in donating.
More maths news from Mr Campbell now. The Primary Maths Challenge is another national mathematics event that takes place every November and is aimed at pupils in Years 5 and 6. There are 25 questions, written by the Maths Association, which are aimed to test problem solving and reasoning skills. The pupils need to combine their mathematical knowledge with their logical thinking skills to win either a bronze, silver or gold certificate. The questions are designed to encourage pupils to think laterally as well as to encourage enthusiasm for mathematics overall. We sent out a Tweet about this earlier in the week but for those of you who missed that, this year Hampton Prep achieved 10 gold placed winners, 17 silvers and 16 bronze placed winners from the 60 boys taking part. The Maths Association will invite the top 1,932 pupils from across the country (and from a large number of international schools as well) to take part in the bonus round in February. Fingers crossed we will be sending a couple of Hampton Prep pupils selected to compete in this prestigious event, once decisions have been made!
I fell into some chat with Mr Hole and Mrs Lehti-Crees at lunch today, about their Year 4 maths lesson that had taken place this morning. For the entire lesson boys had been expected to talk about the mathematical notions that Mr Hole had planned for them to cover. The talk was heavily directed by both Mr Hole and Mrs Lehti-Crees and ultimately boys were encouraged to justify, out loud to each other, their mathematical reasoning. Up until the last 10 minutes of the 80 minute lesson, no one was writing anything down!
One of the features of our curriculum that marks us out somewhat, as I understand it, is the time we devote to the teaching of the core subjects of English and mathematics in Years 3 – 6. This does not make us an academic hot-house of course, because all our pupils cover far more material in a whole host of varied lessons other than just lessons in those two areas. With the time we have in English and maths here we simply do not just ‘do more sums’ or ‘do more comprehensions’. In other words, we do not ever work with pupils to pump them full of content in isolation from the development of the skills we know they need to apply it. If we did, this would most certainly result in weirdly, intellectually distended and academically fragile creatures, rather like the sorts of very spindly-stemmed and artificially enhanced horticultural specimens one does encounter in actual hot houses! Their flowers look pretty for a moment – a day or two at most – but rarely continue blooming quite so prolifically when planted out into the wilds of a real garden.
Mr Hole, Mrs Lehti-Crees and I spent some considerable time analysing the value of mathematical talk, and how it had manifested itself this morning with Year 4. I was fascinated to hear them explain the difference they had seen that plenty of number based thinking and talking had made to the pupils’ developing understanding of the concepts covered. This sort of approach to mathematical mastery through mathematical talk takes time, and that is the only reason we have greater amounts of it here for English and maths built into our curriculum. This proposition is also embedded in the programmes of maths teaching in highly performing international educational jurisdictions such as Singapore and Shanghai. I am very glad that it is a feature of how we teach maths here, on our little coin de la rue too.
We all enjoyed two particularly noteworthy performance events here this week. The Pupils’ Informal Concert for this half term took place on Wednesday afternoon, with 40 boys joining in. This is precisely twice as many as we had performing in the equivalent concert 12 months ago, which only goes to show the tremendous surge of interest in all things musical that has been happening here recently. James Nunn made history as the first ever boy from Year 2 to play in front of the large audience present. Parent and LAMDA teacher, Mrs Gavin, had organised for some of her pupils to perform spoken word pieces in between the musical items and this excellent new development also added to the enjoyment of the event for us all. Building self-confidence in all our pupils matters a great deal to me; being able to step up in front of family members and friends and play an instrument or recite a passage of text is, in my opinion, one of the really useful ways we can do that.
The wonderful Pre-Prep pupils also delighted a full house in the James Hall on Thursday as they presented their Christmas Production. If the Pre-Prep pupils’ tale is to be believed, the secret really is out now as to what all the toys get up to, which Father Christmas lays under the tree, when no one is looking! A special further vote of thanks from me to one of our parents, Mrs McMonagle, who stepped in to play the piano for rehearsals and the show itself this week at very short notice.
Our splendidly decorated Christmas tree is now up in the James Hall at the Prep and there were at least half a dozen mums (no dads this time – maybe next year?) installed in the Prep library this morning running a ‘Secret Santa’ event for pupils to buy gifts to put under trees at home for their own parents. This event is coordinated by members of your Parents’ Association and the boys enjoy it hugely. As one of the statements designed to reflect our ethos explains, at our School ‘we rely on each other’ and it is always so reassuring to know that we can call for assistance from you, our pupils’ parents, when circumstances require it.
Have a great weekend,
For most of the year groups things have started to wind down with regards to fixtures over the past week. The U10s having finished their schedule, whilst the U9s and U11s have one more fixture each next week against Willington.
However, the opposite can be said for the U8s as they all played on Tuesday, a selection of boys play today and all the boys play again next Tuesday.
On Tuesday this week we hosted four teams from Staines Prep. We were a little worried they weren’t going to make it at all; what with the rather inconvenient sewer collapse, that I am sure you are all too aware of. Twenty minutes after our scheduled kick off time and there was still no sign of them. However, to their credit that kept battling through the chaos and arrived with a couple of very jaded teachers and large group of very enthusiastic boys.
It turned out to be a very successful afternoon for our boys and we won all four games with relative ease. As I recall it was at this time last year that I started to see some obvious progression in the ways the boys performed in Year 3. There started to be much clearer structure in their play and the same can be said this year too. The boys are developing an understanding of the concept of positioning and the need to pass the ball to those in space. Sometimes the passes still need to be more accurate; but seeing the boys look up and try and play the ball into space, is for me, the sign that things are starting to click.
It can sometimes feel like a long road to get to this point but with the help of my ever enthusiastic and committed department, I feel as though we are now making some headway.
Teaching young boys (or individuals of any age for that matter) can often be a frustrating experience. I often have to consciously remind myself not to coach them through every aspect of the game. We can’t do it for them and it is through making mistakes that they will learn.
If they are forever waiting for us to tell them what to do next, they will never progress and I suppose that is true of all aspects of growing up. Some wise words of advice are a must, but by the time the game comes around it’s too late; what will be will be. As far as I am concerned, the least said from me or anyone else the better. As tough as it is, by that point they are on their own!
So I have two more matches left to try and be good and keep quiet. Today we take an A team and a B/C mixed team to Claremont and then on Tuesday we will take all the boys to Willington. After that it’s time to get the rugby balls out.
I hope you all have a great weekend.
In assembly this week Headmaster’s Commendations were awarded to Monty James (4S) For consistent helpfulness and assistance to the games staff throughout the term and to Ryan Dorey (6C) English: For making tremendous effort and progress with creative writing this term. Well done boys!
Today sees the end to our Autumn Term CCA schedule, there will be no Co-Curricular Activities after today!
The superb performance of The Ordinary Ox from the children in Reception, Years 1 and 2 made our week. We never fail to be impressed with the resilience of our children – this week they faced so many last minute changes, which they just took in their stride. One of our school mottos reads, ‘we rely on each other’ and special mention must go to Mrs McMonagle, as there is no doubt in our minds without her help, the show quite simply would not have gone on. We are hugely indebted to her and cannot begin to thank her enough for her amazing support.
To order a copy of The Ordinary Ox DVD online through The Projectors please click here
Today the girls and boys in Pre-Prep visited Secret Santa and we witnessed the great joy they experienced when selecting gifts for their loved ones – a very big thank you to all the mummies who made this event so special.
Next week, it will be the turn of Kindergarten; we look forward to seeing their performance of ‘Donkey for Sale’. Please note the blue side gate will be open from 11.00am on Wednesday 6 December to allow parents and guests entry, as the performance takes place in Kindergarten at 11.15am.
In assembly yesterday, the Courtesy Cup and Badge went to Reuben Nicholson for his sunny bright outlook, cheerful greetings and beautiful manners, and Stars of the Week to the following pupils:
Year 2: Aron Drishti for working really hard this week, especially in English!
Year 1: Charlie Freer for fantastic singing and effort during the school play.
Reception: Freddie Richards for being a star in our school play – singing beautifully.
Here’s what we’ve been up to in class …
Kindergarten have been focusing on health and self-care. We read Oliver’s Vegetables and talked about the importance of why we need to eat lots of fruit and vegetables in order to stay healthy. We practised cleaning teeth – using a toothbrush, we made circular movements to clean black pen (representing plaque build-up) off a laminated picture of a tooth. In circle time, we discussed why hand washing and exercise are both so very important in maintaining fitness and health. We made movable skeletons, using split pins to join bones together and, in art, made 3D angels to form part of the scenery for our Christmas Show and Christmas robins with handprints as wings. We enjoyed visiting Prep to watch our friends in Reception, Years 1 and 2 perform The Ordinary Ox – needless to say, we all sat beautifully and were a captive audience!
Our topic next week is Christmas and we look forward to seeing you at our Christmas Production at 11.15am on Wednesday 6 December.
We are so proud of all the boys in our Reception class who sang beautifully in our Christmas Show. What superstars! A lot of our week was taken up with rehearsing for the play and the children really impressed us with their patience and commitment to making our show a success.
This week, we continued with our mathematical focus on time and looked at recognising and ordering the days of the week. We researched and sorted animals that come out during the day, and those that are nocturnal. We read the story Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep by Joyce Dunbar. The boys spoke about their evening routines and the things that make them happy at bedtime. We loved hearing about special cuddly toys, favourite stories and cuddles with family. On Friday, the boys spent a very happy time choosing gifts for their nearest and dearest at our Secret Santa event. Their faces, when they returned laden down with gifts, were a picture!
Year 1 have been learning all about fractions this week in maths. We have learnt how to divide shapes into two equal pieces to make halves and into four equal pieces to make quarters. We made our own paper pizzas, choosing different toppings for each fraction. At the end of the week, we looked at finding halves of numbers up to 20.
In English, we have been learning ‘ee’ and ‘ea’ and thinking about words that contain these sounds. We also revisited writing sentences that make sense, using a capital letter and a full stop.
This week in maths Year 2 have been learning about position and direction. We have revised left and right and have learned clockwise and anti-clockwise. We have used grids to follow and write directions.
In English, we began learning about traditional tales. We did some drama imagining that we were the villains in some of the tales (such as the big bad wolf) and we had to make up excuses for why that character had been mean – for example, the wolf might have accidentally sneezed and blown the pigs houses down because he had a cold!
In Life Skills, this week we thought about people who keep us safe and what to do if we need help. We have begun to learn about treats from the past in topic – the children are looking forward to baking some treats of their own next week.