Headmaster’s Bulletin – Edition 14
We have all enjoyed a week of calm and steady academic purpose and endeavour this week and I am very pleased about that indeed! There is an awful lot that goes on at our school, but from time to time I am a great believer in the value of a ‘heads down and let’s just get on with some excellent work’ approach. It seems this has certainly been the case here this week.
Mrs Tinkler has been considering the many ways in which both she and Mr Ford might seek to enhance the pupils’ efforts and progress at our school. To that end, Mrs Tinkler has been leading the charge on tightening up the routines we have in place so that the boys in the Prep are always ready for learning. In consultation with my colleagues and me, over recent months she has been overseeing the introduction of a good number of systems and procedures which mean we have all seen the boys settle ever more swiftly into academic tasks, both before and after breaks. On a personal level, I have noticed in particular how much calmer our lunch times seem to be so far this term. There is still the usual very interested chat going on between the boys but the volume has been consistently lower – we are all working towards ensuring this remains the case, going forward. These may seem like relatively minor adjustments to what we do, but I know this sort of small scale tinkering can have a strong, positive impact on pupils’ progress.
It has been very interesting to hear some feedback from Mr Ford today, at the conclusion of his first full week in our midst. Both he and I share a strong belief in doing things around here such that our pupils get to learn a lot of “stuff” but they also learn how to grow in all sorts of invisible but nonetheless very important, non-standardised ways. Mr Ford is a great fan of developing independent intellectual curiosity. In other words, he is keen for our boys to be as self-motivated as they can be, in part because they understand the intrinsic value of trying hard and doing well when faced with challenging academic material.
Specifically, when referencing independence, it is the development of the boys’ initiative that Mr Ford has been discussing freely with me and one or two others here this week. We aim to focus on ensuring that we are not “spoon feeding” the boys. Our hope is that they are indeed thinking for themselves, as well as being prepared to have a go and take a risk with an intellectual challenge, when circumstances require it. For instance, when our boys are clearly a bit stuck on something I am fond of telling them that they should just have a go, as we are interested in guesses at our school, more so than believing our first answers will always be perfect.
Of course, we are here to answer our pupils’ questions – whatever they may be – but thinking for themselves should be their first line of intellectual defence. As ever, it will be a great help to us here if you can emphasise this idea at home. It is immensely exciting for us to have new colleagues join the school and share their love of learning and guide our teaching in this way. We are all looking forward to hearing more from Mr Ford as the term rolls by.
Have a great weekend,
In assembly this week a Headmaster’s Commendation was awarded to Ben Beesley (6J) for an admirable initiative, assisting his community to experience a cleaner environment by litter picking in his local area over the holidays. Along with his brother Max Beesley (4S) who was undertaking this task as part of his L.I.O.N award, the boys went out while walking the dog and collected over 10 bin bags full of rubbish! Their efforts also caught the attention of the Surrey Advertiser and the boys subsequently spoke to a reporter about what they had done and why, and they may be featured in an article printed with some photos. Well done boys!
Also, whilst we are on the subject of a cleaner environment, at Wednesday pick up time this week, braving the elements, Rocco Freedman and Xavier McGuire (both 4H) set up a stall under the bike shelters at Prep to sell their reusable metal straws. Raising money for the Marine Conservation Society, the UK’s leading marine charity, at £2 each you will never have to use a plastic straw again! Stock is currently held in the Prep School Office if you would like to purchase any more. Well done to these boys for undertaking such a fantastic initiative!
How delightful for us to welcome Mr Nicholson to our assembly on Monday morning, as a teacher of philosophy at the senior school, he not only enhanced our understanding of this subject area, but also very cleverly linked it to this term’s theme ‘fear’. Through one of the enchanting stories from Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series, ‘Dragons and Giants’, he explored a number of philosophical questions, for example, what it means to be brave and does being brave always mean the same thing? The children thought about examples in everyday life and Mr Nicholson congratulated them for being such excellent philosophers. An enormous thank you to Mr Nicholson for being so generous with his time. If there are any other parents who would be willing to contribute to this half term’s assembly programme, please do speak to Mrs Murphy – we would love to hear from you!
In Mr Smith’s assembly today, the adults were very brave in sharing their fears with those present and we acknowledged that not everyone is afraid of the same thing – what makes one person scared, can be no big deal for someone else.
Awards were presented to the following children in Year 2 for completing the Judo course: Toby Bradbury, Harry Cole, Ahaan Shankar, Harry Morris, Alfie Linehan and Eddie White.
Two of our pupils enjoyed a holiday on the slopes learning to ski at Ecole de Ski over the Christmas period, achieving the following medals: Matthew Holmes (Reception) – Green Mouse and Asher Holmes (Year 2) – Snowman.
Miss Goscomb was also on hand to announce the School Councillors for the Spring Term. Class representatives will be as follows:
Reception: Arthur Connor and Viaan Nichani
Year 1: Emin Onemli and Daniel Fitzpatrick
Year 2: Joshua Hill and Harry Sinnett
Our new Councillors had a productive first meeting today and have been tasked with researching a nationally based charity that we can raise money for this term, deciding on some new CCAs that they might like at Pre-Prep and thinking of some new ideas for Golden Time activities. We look forward to hearing their ideas in due course.
This week the Courtesy Cup and Badge were awarded to Arthur Connor (Reception) for coming in every morning with a cheery smile and polite “good morning, how are you?” – well done!
and Stars of the Week to:
Year 2: Harry Cole for always following the Golden Rules and being an excellent role model to his peers.
Year 1: Freddie Richards for returning to school with a fantastic attitude towards his learning. Keep up the great work!
Reception: Sam Wiggins for his excellent winter poem, using adjectives. And also approaching school life with a sunny smile and positive disposition.
Here’s what we’ve been up to in class …
Kindergarten have become Polar Explorers this week. We have explored the different types of animals that live in the Arctic, looking at how they keep warm. Hiding in and around the classroom were a variety of Arctic animals that the children trailed using binoculars and their exploring equipment. They used an ‘Animal Spotting’ sheet to record their findings and helped each other to find elusive animals. Our igloo was a focal point in the classroom with the children using this space to prepare for their expeditions. We discussed how igloos are made and from what materials. This led us in to a fun and informative science investigation where, as a group, we discussed how ice begins. Many of the children were able to tell us that water has to freeze in order to become ice. Therefore, we did exactly this and filled some ice bags with water and placed them in the freezer overnight as suggested – they felt this was a cold place just like the Arctic. The next morning, we observed and discussed the changes that had occurred and used the ice cubes in our polar small world play whilst observing the changes. The topic gave us the opportunity to discover new words and their meanings, for example, words such as liquid, melt, solid, migrate and hibernation. It was lovely to hear some of the children use these words spontaneously in their play.
Next week our topic is ‘The Solar System’.
In Reception this week, we immersed ourselves in poetry. We read a variety of winter poems and discussed how some words make us feel. We became poets ourselves, and wrote and illustrated our own descriptive winter poems, using adjectives to talk about special times that made us think about winter. We loved hearing about soft snowflakes, slippery ice skating and sparkly snow – all very poetic descriptions.
In our phonics sessions, we learnt the new digraph ai and practised forming these in the cursive style. We also focused on recognising and spelling ‘tricky’ words – these words are not phonetical and cannot be sounded out. We also learnt a very catchy song all about the tricky words ‘she’, ‘we’, ‘no’, ‘I’, ‘go’, ‘he’ and ‘the’ … don’t let them trick you! 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 have been working on subtraction – we worked practically using plastic bears to answer simple take-away problems. We also had a go at recording these on whiteboards using number sentences. We also experimented with freezing water – the children helped to pour water into gloves (to make Jack Frost hands) and there was then an anxious wait while the freezing process took place. We talked about liquids and solids, and used describing words to talk about the gloves at each stage of the process. Next, we made predictions about the best conditions for melting – ask the children our findings!
Year 1 have been learning all about money this week in maths. The children have identified the British coins and have been adding amounts together, as well as finding change. Any real opportunities at home to both pay and play with money would be extremely valuable for the children, as well as fun! Next week, we will be moving on to learning about 2D and 3D shapes.
In English, the children have been reading counting stories set in Africa. They have been busy working on writing their own versions, using capital letters, full stops, finger spaces and adjectives. Today the children completed the illustrations for their individual books, which we hope to put on display very soon.
Year 1 are getting into their new humanities topic for the term, Weather, and have identified lots of different weather types and recorded these in pictures. They are all hoping for some snow soon! In life skills, the children had a really mature conversation about what is fair and unfair, and is/why fairness important. We will continue to talk about this theme every day, relating it to everyday situations. In science, we continued learning about everyday materials. The children worked with a partner to randomly select a material and then search the classroom for an object made from that material. This is definitely a game you could try at home!
In English this week, Year 2 have been busy writing their alternative versions of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, following the plans they wrote last week. They had to try hard to remember to include ‘super spelling’, ‘perfect punctuation’, ‘heroic handwriting’ and ‘delicious detail’. There are some rather interesting storylines, including Evil Red trying to blow Grandma up with dynamite, Little Red attempting to poison Grandma and the Big Friendly Wolf accidentally eating Little Red because he thought she was a juicy red apple!
In maths, the week began by revising how to use a one hundred square to add and subtract two digit numbers. We then moved onto revising money and making different amounts using various combinations of coins. We finished the week solving all sorts of money problems that involved giving change and playing shop.
Science this week was an investigation into which sort of paper was the most absorbent. The children had to decide on a hypothesis before planning and carrying out their test, recording their results in a table and writing down what they found out.
In RE, we began our focus on Judaism by learning about Jewish symbols, their Holy book and their special building (the synagogue).
We continued our work on Samuel Pepys in topic by learning more about the Great Fire of London and acting out scenes from Pepys’ diary. Next week our next ‘Inspiring Individual’ will be revealed…!
A final word about parking, it has been noted that some parents are turning a blind eye to the parking restrictions that exist outside Pre-Prep, parking on the zigzag lines when it is illegal to do so. Please do be mindful of this in future.