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Headmaster’s Bulletin – Edition 17

This Week

Dear Parents,

We had a very reflective time in assembly this morning in the Prep as Mr Ford set out for the boys our expectations for them all when their reports arrive home at the end of next week. As you know, we send our reports home at this point in the school year for two reasons: they will have summary views of the progress we believe your sons have made so far. Just as importantly (more so, perhaps?) they will contain clear advice for the boys’ next steps for learning. We hope this advice will also be sufficiently broad enough to last well into the next academic year. I do not believe it is useful to send reports home on the last day of the school year in July, when the opportunities for the child receiving it to do anything about what is advised within it will only present themselves two months later. We would be grateful please, if you could gently chat with your son about the report that is to come. Ask your boy where he thinks his strengths currently lie and what sort of advice he thinks his teachers will be sending home next week and then of course compare that with what actually turns up.

Those of you who follow us on Twitter will have doubtless noticed that we have ratcheted up our tweeting activity over the last week or two. Both Mrs Tinkler and Mrs Murphy are now dab hands at tweeting! It was ‘Safer Internet Day’ on Tuesday so we used our own Twitter feed to showcase some of the excellent advice that boys and colleagues came up with in order to demonstrate how important it is to stay safe online. There were one or two bits in the press about safe internet use that day too. Mr Darmon comes at this from a different perspective in his Sports Bulletin (tab above). There is a link below to a useful article from the BBC in case you missed it:


Mrs Tinkler and the members of her Pastoral Review Committee would like to thank very much indeed those of you who took part in the recent survey she sent to all parents. Mrs Tinkler and her team looked at all views submitted very carefully and she and I then reviewed the data together in some considerable detail. This is terrifically helpful as of course all of this information will feed into the overall findings as they are now emerging. These in turn will be corralled into a set of recommendations to direct the continuing development of the pastoral care we aim to provide here.

I suspect the irony was not lost on many of you last week when, after explaining how important attention to detail is, I then incorrectly stated Year 4 had visited the Reading Museum. It was of course Year 5 (whoops!) Apologies.

Have a great weekend,

Tim Smith


Sports News

It has been a strange week as we have not had access to Carlisle Park due to the pitch conditions. Therefore, we have been using Hatherop Park, which clearly has taken some logistical planning and a fair bit of ferrying around of the boys. I don’t have children myself, but I certainly have some sympathy now for those parents who spend the majority of their free time dropping off or picking up a child from one sporting event or another.

In addition to Hatherop Park we also used Hampton School for our U8 A-D fixture v Willington. School. Hampton were extremely generous in allowing us to use one of their rugby pitches, especially considering they too are battling the elements and doing their best to preserve the quality of the playing surface. Therefore, I hope we didn’t cause too much damage.

It was a set of really tight fixtures with Hampton Prep just coming out on top. However, it is clear to see the overall skill set of the Year 3 boys is improving. I took them for a short, sharp, improvised session on the school field last Friday, in the midst of the cold blast and I was very impressed. Their handling, particularly on such a cold day was really good and there was a great enthusiasm for being outside, running around and being competitive. Considering the conditions this was great to see.

On the same day as the U8s played at Hampton all the U9s travelled to Willington to play. It was once again a very tight affair in the A team game, with the Hampton Prep boys winning 4-3 in the last minute of the game. The C and D team also won, with the B team losing narrowly. The one aspect that has really impressed me with this age group has been their attitude and ability to tackle. As mentioned in previous weeks, I am very aware of how daunting tackling can be when it is first introduced, but these boys have really embraced it and as a year group they love to get stuck in to the contact aspect of the game.

At this point we are still unaware of the situation next week in relation to Carlisle Park but if we cannot use it then we will have to postpone House Cross Country on Monday. Obviously we will let you know as soon as we possibly can. With regards to our home fixtures next week we have kindly been offered the use of Twickenham RFC and so for the U9 fixtures on Tuesday and the U10 fixtures on Wednesday, this will be our venue.

Tomorrow the U9s travel to King’s House for a full A-E fixture which always proves to be a tough but enjoyable afternoon and it will be a good test of their skill and development to date.

I was interested to read the findings from the UK’s four chief medical officers and also in a separate study a few weeks ago by leading paediatricians as to the effect of screen time on children. As mentioned earlier, I don’t have children but I know full well through spending time with my nieces and obviously here at school, how much children are attracted to the ipads/laptops. Also what a tremendous tool they are in education.  The studies were clear that spending time in front of a screen itself is not damaging and that children need this exposure in a society and generation where this will undoubtedly be the primary way to engage with each other and generally exist. However, the danger comes with what children are therefore not doing, as a consequence of being sat in front of a screen. Exercise being at the forefront of my mind.

It is so vitally important that a large chunk of time is set aside each day for children to be active. As I mentioned before Christmas, it is obvious to me that there has been a steady incline in the weight of children and an unhealthy trepidation to the feelings associated with being physically stressed through exercise. I am also falling foul to spending too much time in front of a screen and I am all too aware of how much better I feel psychologically when I have exercised. Therefore, sitting down to watch the rugby will be my treat this weekend and my screen time will have to be earnt. I’ll let you know how next week.

Prep News

In assembly this week Headmaster’s Commendations were awarded to Tom Chance (4H) For explaining a 2-page, comprehensive, systematic strategy for completing the Book-Free Friday activity; Oscar Bayliss, Rocco Freedman, Josh Gibbins (all 4H) and Jasper Miles (4S) For producing a detailed account of the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Man in a scroll format; Sebastian Woods and Alessio Carraretto (both 5Ca) For being kind and thoughtful towards another pupil when they were feeling unwell. Well done to those boys!

This week year 3 have been practising their bed making skills in readiness for their residential next week:

Year 4 had their chance to sample some new books at their reading cafe this morning in the James Hall:



Pre-Prep News

What a busy week it’s been! Not only have we enjoyed celebrating Chinese New Year but we also took part in Safer Internet Day 2019, which similarly occurred on Tuesday.  Thousands joined forces to promote the theme ‘Together for a better internet’. With the help of characters, ‘Digiduck’ and ‘Smartie the Penguin’, all classes, Kindergarten to Year 2, have explored vital messages about keeping safe online, as well as the importance of consent (which we have understood to mean permission). To reinforce key messages, we learned and sang a little ditty – do ask your child if they can remember the words and perhaps they sing it to you this weekend?

Internet safety is a hot topic in the news this week.  We would encourage you to take a look at the following: United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers’ commentary on ‘Screen-based activities and children and young people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing: a systematic map of reviews’ – in particular, on page 7 you will find some sensible tips for balancing screen use with healthy living.

Mr Darmon, Head of Games, has written to parents in Years 1 and 2 about House Cross-Country due to take place next week.  Weather permitting, it will take place on Monday afternoon (11 February). A quick reminder, the children must come to school dressed in their games kit, that is, white t-shirt, shorts and trainers, but they must also wear their track suit over the top of their kit, as it will no doubt will be cold in the park!

We will take the children back to Pre-Prep once they have completed their race, therefore, our collection arrangements remain as normal. If, however, you would like your child to remain with you for the remainder of the afternoon in order to watch older siblings run their races, then please let your child’s Class Teacher know in advance.

School Council met this week and made some important decisions about their next fundraising event. Having raised money for a local charity in the Autumn Term, they are going to support the national charity ‘Mind’. The children have a good idea as to how to raise the money… watch this space for more information!

This week the Courtesy Cup and Badge went to Daniel Fitzpatrick (Year 1).  Miss Page chose Daniel as he always comes into school with a cheery smile and asks the adults, “How are you today?”.

and Stars of the Week went to the following pupils:

Year 2: Ahaan Shankar for always contributing interesting and valuable points to discussions.

Year 1: Edward Wijnand for making good progress with his reading. He is now reading expressively – keep it up!

Reception: Matthew Holmes for working really hard and listening well during class teaching times.

Our round up of the week …

Kung Hey Fat Choi from Kindergarten!  This week, we have enjoyed celebrating Chinese New Year in style.  Highlights of the week have included enjoying tastes of China – we sampled prawn crackers and noodles, and also took home fortune cookies and could not wait to read our special secret message.  Our role-play area was restyled as a Chinese restaurant, so naturally we had a go at using chopsticks! Fine motor skills have similarly been refined, as we created colourful dancing dragons.  How lucky were we that Joseph very kindly brought in a very fragile Lion head to show us at circle time – and even luckier for us he made it dance!

Alongside this, we have continued to enjoy our space theme and really enjoyed the story ‘Whatever Next’ by Jill Murphy. Having talked about what we would like to take if we journeyed to space, we decided it would definitely be a torch, story, sandwich and a drink.

Our enthusiasm for space does not abate – ventures in to space continue into next week.

Reception too have been busy celebrating Chinese New Year. We have spoken about the story of the great race – and the children were interested to learn that each year is assigned an animal according to the Chinese zodiac. We enjoyed reading this online story: – at the end there is a link to find out the animal that corresponds to the year you were born.

We spoke at length about how Chinese New Year is celebrated, and the traditions and customs that make it such a special festival.  We were delighted to welcome our catering assistants, Shirley and Sau, into our classroom who read us a special Chinese story about ‘Nian the Monster’.  They told us that the only way to overcome Nian was through loud noises and the colour red, and this is why Chinese New Year is celebrated with fireworks and red lanterns.  They also so kindly brought a lucky red money wallet filled with gold chocolate coins for each boy, what a treat!  We watched some exciting (and very noisy!) video clips of dragon dances. Inspired by what they had seen, the children made their own dragon puppets, and had fun using them to perform in their very own dragon dance around the classroom!

In Literacy, we have practised our list writing skills – thinking about using our phonic skills to listen for all the sounds in a word. In our phonic sessions, we learnt the new digraph ‘ie’ and also a song about vowels.

In mathematics, we focused our learning on money – recognising coins and talking about their values.  We have been playing shop – counting out coins to pay for items in our Chinese restaurant.

Please remember to return your permission slip for our library trip if you have not already done so.

Next week, we look forward to learning all about dinosaurs.

This week, Year 1 have been weighing items in maths by using balancing scales. We chose various objects from the classroom to place in one side of the balance, and worked out how many cubes we needed to balance it. We also read scales in different increments and had to work out if the scale was jumping in twos, fives or tens. This was definitely quite tricky, but the children coped really well and enjoyed the challenge!

In our science lesson, we were thinking about which materials are waterproof. The children tested different materials by dipping them in water and seeing if the water was absorbed or not. The children worked really sensibly and made some great predictions before carrying out the test!

In English, we read the story ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!’. The children wrote their own bossy sentences, capitalising the words that they wanted to emphasise. Examples included: ‘Eat your dinner NOW!’ and ‘Go to your BEDROOM!’.

As per Mrs Murphy’s note in a Bulletin earlier this year, please may I remind you that there should be no keyrings on your child’s book bag. Thank you.

In topic this week, Year 2’s new inspiring individual was revealed as Leonardo da Vinci. We had a very deep discussion about why he is still considered one of the most intelligent people to have lived because of the expertise he had in science, architecture, engineering and art to name a few. We then spent time learning about and looking closely at the Mona Lisa. This afternoon, we learned how to draw portraits and drew some self-portraits, thinking carefully about trying to make them as realistic as we could. Linked with this, in art with Mrs Murphy we have been busy painting our own willow pattern plates – these are impressively intricate and will be on display in our classroom soon!

In English this week, we heard a story called ‘Bob Man on the Moon’ by the author Simon Bartram. We had great fun getting into character pretending to be Bob and writing diary entries from his point of view all about what it is like to work on the moon. Today, we wrote a book review of the text. We will be hearing more ‘Bob’ stories next week.

We have been busy weighing things in maths this week using kilograms and grams, on balancing scales, kitchen scales and digital scales. We have also been converting between grams and kilograms. Our problem-solving lesson involved weighing Haribo sweets before scaling up the weights.

In science, we learned about natural and manmade materials, comparing the properties and uses of these. In RE, we had a fun chat about weddings after learning about Jewish weddings and the traditions that take place as part of the ceremony.

Have a super weekend!

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Tim SmithHeadmaster