Headmaster’s Bulletin – Edition 13
“You’re drifting….!” was the cri de coeur that I heard being bellowed at the top of his lungs, by a member of staff teaching rugby to our boys in Carlisle Park on Monday afternoon – towards the end of our first day back this term – as I approached the gate from the school side. I could not see the colleague in question but I was fairly certain, from the way in which I had heard him communicate it, that drifting was definitely not what he was after. I made my way through the gate and onto the path that surrounds the park, en route to the Pre-Prep. Having recognised the colleague’s voice, I was then delighted to see him and his charges tearing up and down the rugby pitch, practising a range of important skills, with no drifting in sight as far as I could tell. His impassioned plea had been listened to by his charges and their learning behaviour had changed. No rules broken on this occasion; so far so good.
At the very end of the holidays I bumped into the mother of a boy here in the Prep, outside Bushy Park, after a very bracing walk which I recognised she and her daughter had enjoyed too. Her son was not with them but was, she assured me, “sort of” looking forward to coming back to school. “There comes a point where they just start to drift a bit, don’t they Mr Smith”, she explained by way of how keen she was at least, I am assuming, for him to come back to the cut and thrust of school life. I did not linger to pursue this with the mother in question but I got a sense from her that although she felt a few abstract thoughts and behaviours were not necessarily a bad thing, perhaps her boy could now do with being encouraged (by someone else) to remember how to benefit from a bit of focus.
I have been thinking about this notion of just drifting aimlessly, or flouncing about with inchoate, distracted thoughts in one’s head, or wandering off-piste, or perhaps just not concentrating in general and actually therefore not doing what is widely and commonly expected of one. I have been especially conscious of this notion in light of our assembly theme for this half term, which is ‘Breaking the Rules’. Much can come from letting our minds wander, I am sure of that, and there is always some lesson to learn once we know we have done something we should not have done. I worry that on occasions children can become a bit unstuck however, if that absent minded behaviour leads them into making a mistake they could have easily avoided, especially as far as their relationships with each other are concerned.
We have very high expectations for your children here, both in terms of their developing personal progress and their effort and academic attainment and I hope there is much to be gained by them from actually doing as they are told on occasions, listening carefully to what we say, and learning from all the opportunities that we lay before them. I recognise too, of course, that much of what will influence their development will also come from the eventual crystallisation of our input and their own thoughts, feelings and ideas. It is very important to me that we can let them drift sometimes – but only a bit really, and only ever in the hope that something good will come of it.
Plenty of Year 6 boys are in the thick of the 11+ entrance exam season at present (whilst some, of course, are not) and vague expressions on faces and glazed eyes and an absent minded demeanour in general are not what we are seeing from them. In fact, it is quite the opposite! I am really proud of all the hard work the boys in Year 6 have completed so far, with plenty more to come no matter what route they are pursuing ahead of their entry to Year 7 and no matter where they will go to school in September 2018.
Further to the letter I sent you this morning, I have some additional staff news for you now.
We welcomed back Mrs Jenny James this term, who had been on maternity leave for a year. Mrs James is a Year 6 Form teacher and teacher of mostly mathematics in the Prep. Mr Billy Zander replaces Mr Sweetland for this term only as one of our Gap Year Teaching Assistants. Mrs Zoe Sheehan, one of our lunch time supervisors in the Pre-Prep and Prep, resigned from her post as she and her family have relocated to Norfolk; we are aiming to fill that role as soon as is practicable and it will be covered by colleagues until we do.
Finally, you may be interested to know that the School features again in the latest edition of Attain Magazine. You may recall that we featured in the Summer edition last year. Boys in the Prep should have brought a print copy of the magazine home with them this afternoon and Pre-Prep pupils will receive theirs on Monday. We also tweeted a link to our article on page 21 but in case you missed it, and your family’s print copy is still at school, you can access the digital version by clicking on this link:
May I wish a very happy New Year to those of you whom I have not yet seen in person, and as ever, have a great weekend.
Things are well under way in the sports department and tomorrow sees us compete in our first fixtures of the year when the U10s take on Newland House. Next week then sees every other age group play their first rugby match of the season. The U9s are in a tournament on Tuesday, every boy in the U11s will be involved against King’s House on Wednesday and both the U9s and U8s are playing against Bishopsgate on Friday.
This has given us very little time to prepare the boys and establish our squads but I think we are just about there and I have really enjoyed the games sessions this week. The attitude and application of all the boys has been superb and It has been great to see such competition so early on in the term.
We know how much the boys enjoy their rugby and although winning is not our main priority, we want to make sure all the boys are receiving high quality coaching that prepares them in the possible way for the matches they play in. All the staff in the games department feel the same way. This is why if you had been walking your dog in Carlisle Park last Thursday, you would have seen ten teachers rolling around in the mud; learning some new drills and preparing themselves for the new season. Some of the participants were in the prime of youth, some weren’t, but everyone got stuck in and engaged fully in the drills that we were learning. It reinforced to me how enthusiastic my department are and I have no doubt that they will be just as enthusiastic when it comes to coaching your boys.
I sent out an email at the start of the week with regards to kit and specifically base layers. Base layers are permitted and that includes tights as well as tops. They should reach the IRB standards as detailed in the attachment to the email and they are permitted for fixtures as well as games. In addition, please don’t forget to send your son to school with his track suit, specifically the bottoms, which we ask all the boys to put on as they go back into the school at the end of each session. The track suit is also particularly important for fixtures, so that the boys can remain warm if they happen to be on the side lines at any point.
I look forward to seeing many of you over the coming weeks at the numerous fixtures that are scheduled. I really appreciate the effort you make to come and watch but more importantly the boys love it. Let’s hope for a really successful season.
In assembly this week Headmaster’s Commendations were awarded to Ben Crook, Leil D’Souza, Alistair Hill, Tom Keen and Edward Reilly (All 5C); Christopher Bathurst, Max Duggan and Daniel Gray (All 5H) For amazing effort and progress in a creative writing task for English. Well done to those boys!
The Year 5 boys kicked of with the first cake sale of the term today with any money raised going to Senahasa Trust and Planting Promise.
Please note all CCAs will commence from Monday please refer to the CCA list for those activities that are only for the first half of term. If you have any queries please email Mrs Parkinson on firstname.lastname@example.org
A very warm welcome back to school and a very happy and peaceful 2018 to you all! We are pleased to report the children have returned to school and have settled back so quickly in to school life.
In Mondays assembly, Niam Thakrar-Vara (Year 2) was awarded an ‘Outstanding Player’ certificate for his tennis skills. In order to achieve this accolade, Niam demonstrated that he could serve, hold a rally of 25 and understood the rules of a tennis match – it is important to note here, he even beat his coach in the match!
Spring Term House and Vice Captains were announced in assembly, too and they are as follows:
Red Team: Captain – Ruark MacDonald and Vice-Captain – Aron Drishti
Blue Team: Captain – Teddy Clarke and Vice-Captain – Stephen Zhang
Green Team: Captain – James Nunn amd Vice-Captain – Johnny McMonagle
Yellow Team: Captain – Harriet Dumbrell and Vice-Captain – Aarav Tegginamath
Today in assembly, the Courtesy Cup and Badge were awarded to Tanushh Vaghelaa (Year 2) for always being so kind, helpful and polite to everyone at Pre-Prep.
And Stars of the Week to the following pupils:
Year 2: William Dumbrell for trying really hard to get his common words completed quickly and carefully in the mornings.
Year 1: Ayaan Jadoon for excellent sentence writing in his common words book.
Reception: Krishi Parmar for a super piece of work about winter – super copy writing and a lovely drawing showing him enjoying a hot chocolate. Well done, Krishi!
Here’s what we’ve been up to in class …
It has been lovely to see lots of smiles and enthusiasm from the children as they returned to Kindergarten after the Christmas holidays.
In class, we have been looking at the signs of winter. We have discussed what clothing we would need to wear to keep warm, as the weather gets colder. We have compared many different materials of clothing and, as a class, sorted them into groups that would keep us the warmest and driest in winter.
We have an igloo in our role-play area and this has inspired the children to think about animals that live in cold places. We talked about how they keep warm and survive in such cold climates. One of the animals that the children discovered and showed a particular interest in was, the Emperor Penguin. We found out that the Daddy penguin looks after the egg until the chick is hatched whilst Mummy goes off to sea! We were excited to find that they are taller than we are and some children worked together to paint a life size Emperor Penguin. He looks very much at home next to our igloo. We will be continuing this theme next week
We have had a fabulous start to the spring term in Reception. The children have come back to school well rested and full of stories of the most wonderful Christmas holidays. They all seem to have grown a few centimetres and returned to class focused and ready for learning; we are so impressed, well done, Reception!
We have been busy creating beautiful winter pictures this week – bare, spiky trees using charcoal and white chalk, and round snowmen using paint and different sized brushes. We have talked about the seasons and looked carefully at our outside environment to notice changes to the world around us. We wrote about signs of winter and what we liked most about this season – lots of the children are hoping for snow this month.
We also all wrote special New Year Promises – you’ll be pleased to know that lots of the boys promised to help more around the house; folding their clothes, putting dirty clothes in the wash basket, and helping to prepare the tea. We do hope that you see plenty of these promises in action! Do let us know! This week we have started our Supersonic Phonic sessions, which the children have all loved – these small group sessions enable the children to take part in guided reading and targeted phonics work. In mathematics, we sang songs about the days of the week and months of the year and worked hard to put these in the correct order.
‘Show me the Money!’ has been the focus in maths this week in Year 1. The children have enjoyed recognising all the different coin values, making amounts up to 20p and finding change from 10p. Any opportunity you have to bring money into the real world, whilst at the shops or in a restaurant – please do!
We began our ‘Weather Experts’ topic this week and enjoyed looking at the different types of weather we see in the UK. If you have any photos of you and your child in a particular weather or climate, please bring them to school for our display.
We read Handa’s Hen in English and used a variety of adjectives to describe the different animals within the book. We also sequenced the story Bringing the rain to Kapiti Plain, using pictures and words, focusing our attention to the rhyming words within the text.
After a very cheerful return to school, Year 2 got stuck straight back into the curriculum this week. In maths they have been revising place value. This has involved ordering numbers and working out where numbers would go on a blank number line. In our problem-solving lesson on Friday, they had an investigation involving odd and even numbers.
In English, the children wrote recounts about the wonderful things they got up to over the Christmas break. We also revised pronouns and have been learning about homophones.
We carried out an investigation in science to find out what type of paper is the most absorbent; this involved using pipettes to drop water onto different types of paper. We found out that the first famous person we are learning about in topic is Nelson Mandela. We were all (teachers included) astounded that when talking about Africa as a continent, Fred was able to list all of the countries in in Africa. We learned some facts about South Africa before learning about Nelson’s life and how he stood up for what he believed in, showing great resilience and determination.
We would like to wish you all a wonderful weekend.