Headmaster’s Bulletin – Edition 31

This Week

Dear Parents,

The sun is shining – at last – and I believe we are due to have fine weather tomorrow for our annual Parents’ Association Summer Fair. I am so looking forward to it, as it is always such a cheerful occasion with so many of you coming along with your children and families. I know the boys enjoy it very much! I must of course remind you all to park considerately and safely when coming to the Fair tomorrow. Please do be mindful of not blocking any neighbour’s driveway. The HPPPA have done an incredible job, as ever, working away behind the scenes to bring it all together and I am very grateful for that. ‘Collaboration’ at its finest!

On Monday this week, in my assembly on the theme of ‘collaboration’ I fear I may have further cemented the cult of personality that appears to have developed (in the boys’ minds at least) in relation to my “hand built Italian sports car”! My aim was to explain how the different component parts of any motor vehicle working together can be likened to how I hope we all work together here at school. We were then hugely privileged to hear from Dr Parthipun, a Prep parent, in assembly on Wednesday, who works as a Consultant Paediatric Interventional Radiologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital. In addition to a riveting explanation of what Dr Parthipun’s work involves, the aspect of her presentation that really stood out for me was how clear she made it to us all that even incredibly talented medical experts such as herself and her colleagues will always seek to learn more by talking to and collaborating with one another. Mr Chilcott and the boys in 5Ch picked the theme up this morning and had us rolling in the aisles as they presented what the word ‘collaboration’ means to them. Again, my own personal top takeaway from their exceptionally amusing assembly was the way they emphasised that knowing how to collaborate well will always help when – not if – we ever get or do something wrong.

Elsewhere there has been somewhat of an ‘arts’ focus for plenty of boys here in the Prep this week, with a goodly amount of scientific activity thrown in to boot.

The Year 6 Leaver’s Programme continues apace and the boys thoroughly enjoyed their trip to the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond on Tuesday. The boys saw – and in fact one or two even took part in – a highly interactive and unique re-imagining of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. I hope they will remain suitably inspired by the show and have excellent memories of it, for they will undoubtedly encounter even more of the Bard’s great works in Year 7 and beyond.

The Prep Art Exhibition has been on display for the last two days in the James Hall. Mrs Howell always makes a point of sending boys down to see me with examples of some truly wonderful art work produced during the course of the year, usually with a strong recommendation from her for boys to receive a Headmaster’s Commendation! I have been delighted however to see so much terrific artistic work all in one place and very glad that the boys’ imaginations have been firing on all cylinders this year.

This week the Year 4 boys went on a school trip to Chiswick Pier. Once both groups had completed the morning’s tasks it was time to pull on the wellingtons and head down to the river itself. Luckily the tide had gone out by this point and both classes were able to wade deeply across the sandy shore line to pools of water left behind by the receding river. Equipped with fishing nets, the boys’ biological understanding was amplified as they got stuck in and began their river dipping with a vengeance. They found species of crabs originating from China, shrimp and even an eel! During the afternoon both classes took part in different experiments trying to ascertain how clean the Thames is, the movement of the tides and the wildlife around the river. Overall, the trip was an excellent educational experience which gave everyone, including the staff, an opportunity to discover something new.

Year 5 had an amazing science trip to Hampton School yesterday, largely focussed upon measuring the changes in temperature of some endothermic and exothermic reactions. The room was literally fizzing as the magnesium ribbons reacted with hydrochloric acid. A number of exciting demonstrations then ensued, the epitome of which was seeing a thin film of propanol being ignited which produced a 1m jet of flames that shot out of the vessel in which it had been contained. Needless to say, the boys were all suitably impressed!

All boys in Years 3 – 5 very much enjoyed their ‘go’ at virtual reality today. Mr Hynes, a Prep parent, very kindly brought in his team of experts and a number of virtual reality headsets and boys experienced moving around in and zooming off to all sorts of alternate realities, all whilst remaining firmly grounded in the Prep library however! The future of this sort of tech, its pace and rate of change and development and its impact upon education is hard to accurately predict in many ways but virtual reality will, I am sure, become an increasingly viable means of exposing pupils in all sorts of schools to all sorts of as yet unimagined experiences. It was a real thrill to experience it for ourselves today.

On Tuesday this week we had our so-called ‘moving up day’ and welcomed all the new boys from their various Pre-Preps and Primary Schools who will be with us in Year 3 in September. I was especially pleased to see how swiftly the new boys seemed to settle in and it will be great fun as ever to see them back at our School at the start of next term.

As per our calendar, on Monday evening next week we will be hosting an information evening for parents of boys who are currently in Years 3 & 4 (who will therefore be in Years 4 & 5 from September 2019). Mrs Tinkler, Mr Ford and I will outline how our team here aims to prepare boys for transfer to Senior School at 11+; this will include a brief overview of what you as parents might like to be thinking about and doing over the next couple of years. This presentation evening will be an adapted version of what we have traditionally explained to parents once their sons reach Year 6. Numbers of you did however explain to us, via the Pastoral Review survey we sent round in Term 2, that you would be glad to have a presentation evening like this as early as possible in your son’s Prep School career, hence us bringing this forward considerably. As the years roll by, the senior team and I will naturally return to much of what we aim to cover on Monday evening anyway, as we meet with you all on an individual basis to talk about individual boys and the Senior School that will, we hope, be best for him.

If I do not see you at the Summer Fair tomorrow, have a great weekend,

Tim Smith

Headmaster

Sports News

We really haven’t had much luck with the weather this cricket season. On Tuesday we had to cancel our scheduled U9 fixture v The Mall and despite our best efforts we only get through 7 overs in our U10 fixture v Surbiton on Wednesday, before the rain just became too heavy.

However, we did manage to fulfil our U10 A&B fixture v Staines Prep on Monday with two strong wins and on Saturday the U10 A and U11 A games v Newland House were also completed with both teams winning.

Today the U11 cricket team departed for their tour to Guernsey where they will be hosted by our friends at Elizabeth College Junior School. The boys will play three matches over the course of the weekend before they return on Sunday. Mr Wales and Mr Ford have accompanied the boys and I am sure all concerned will have a relaxing and enjoyable weekend. We look forward to hearing all about it on Monday.

As we draw towards the end of this year, my attention turns towards the next academic year and how we as a department can move our boys on further. We spend a lot of time in school teaching our boys to be independent and this is particularly pertinent to me in my role as the teacher in charge of the LION award. Yet, when it comes to sports fixtures I don’t think we are ‘walking the walk’. I feel as though the more we instruct the boys from the side lines, the less the boys are independently making decisions and therefore not developing the skills necessary to improve their performance.

If the boys are always waiting to be told what to do, how will they ever improve and be able to perform when we are not instructing them?

It is also important that the boys enjoy their sport and for many having parents and coaches constantly giving them instructions, causes pressure and anxiety to perform and feelings of inadequacies when they don’t. With this in mind, as of September there will be a code of conduct in place in relation to what we say from the side line, that will apply to parents and staff alike. The aim being to improve pupils’ decision making and make fixtures an event that all boys can enjoy without feeling overwhelming pressure to succeed.

I am not suggesting that we have a culture of pushy staff or parents who are negative on the side lines. The vast majority of comments we make are well intended and invariably do lead to the boys producing a performance that is positive. However, I am just not sure that we are doing the best by our boys by taking this approach.

There is a tremendous amount of research on this subject and the following are some of the negative impacts on the children when overloaded with instructions.:

  1. It reduces problem solving skills
  2. It decreases decision making skills
  3. It reduces creativity in young players
  4. It reduces child’s enjoyment
  5. It increases the pressure on the child
  6. It increases anxiety in the child
  7. It prevents children from mastering life skills
  8. It decreases the ability of the child to cope independently

In a recent research project by Gordon MacLelland, there were 134 direct instructions yelled on to players at an under 8 football match and a 100 instructions in the first half alone in an U10 football match. It seems inconceivable that the children could even process all these instructions, let alone see how they could be helping the children in question to progress independently.

I will obviously give you all more information when we return in September, but I hope you will all join me in embracing this new approach. If you have any questions in the meantime, please do get in contact.

I write this penultimate bulletin looking out over the lake at Queen Mary’s Sailing Club, as the Year 6s complete one of the last events of their leaving programme. A lovely relaxing afternoon for me. However, things are a little busier back at school, as Year 3s are taking part in a charity tennis tournament, which was the brain child of Daniel O’Sullivan Sanz. He approached me to see if he could organise this tournament to raise money for a charity called Momentum and at the same time fulfil the requirements of the Community Service section of his LION award. He has put a lot of effort and hard work into the administration side of the tournament, producing entry forms and certificates and he should be proud of what he has achieved. A special thanks must go to Miss Barton and the other GAP Year Teaching Assistants who have organised the format and are running the tournament.

Next week sees House Cricket for Years 5 and 6 taking place on Monday. Sports Day on Tuesday. Cricket fixtures v Claremont for Year 5 and 6 on Wednesday and some fixtures v Surbiton for Years 3 and 4 on Friday. Still two weeks to go, still plenty of sport to be played. Have a great weekend.

Prep News

Here are a few snaps from Year 4’s trip to Thames Explorer on Wednesday:

Year 6 continued their leaver’s programme with a self defence course this week:

Pre-Prep News

It’s hard to believe that this is the penultimate bulletin of the school year – where has the time gone?

Next Friday, the Pre-Prep School Council are holding a ‘Kids Rule’ day in aid of Save the Children.  By making a £1 donation, the children ‘will be allowed’ to break certain rules.  These include allowing everyone to wear their own shoes, coming to school without a tie for the day, giving the children the opportunity to award team points and, furthermore, they will also help to write the bulletin.  All in all, it promises to be a fun day and, of course, is in aid of a worthwhile cause close to our hearts.

Our class assembly programme has continued at quite a pace this week seeing both Years 1 and 2 delivering very interesting and thought provoking presentations.  Miss Page and Miss Goscomb explain a little more below but I have to say, it has been great to see the children ‘collaborating’ and delivering poignant messages to our School Community.

Just in case you haven’t yet seen the School’s Twitter account, I would encourage you to take a closer look.  Pre-Prep appears in the feeds from time to time – for example, featured this week have been Kindergarten’s outing,  Year 2’s scooter training and, of course, our class assemblies.  One feature that we all would have dearly loved to have seen, of course, is Sports Day.  Sadly, however, this was just not to be this year.  Unfortunately, we are not able to re-schedule for a third time, as there is so much coming up between now and the end of term (a mere nine and a half days) both here and at the Prep department.  I should like to apologise for the inconvenience caused to those of you who have taken time off work twice – safe to say, we are all hugely disappointed.

On a more cheerful note, however, we are all very much looking forward to the Summer Fair tomorrow – don’t forget the gates will be open from 12 noon until 3.00pm.  We hope to see many of your there and if you haven’t signed up to take a turn on a stall, it’s not too late!

This week, the Courtesy Cup and Badge was awarded to Jack (Reception) for his cheerfulness at all times and his lovely manners.

and Stars of the Week to:

Year 2: Harry M (2 stars) for making superb progress with his handwriting

Year 1: Mylo for his excellent contributions towards our class assembly, which was all about looking after our planet.

Reception: Viaan (2 stars) for his fantastic independent writing about the story ‘Mouse Paint’.

 

In assembly today we also congratulated Arith (Reception); he received a certificate for completing his level 1 climbing award.  We enjoyed sharing a photo of him on the climbing wall – well done, Arith!

Also, many congratulations to Daniel (Year 1) for achieving his 5m award with good technique; he will be moving up to the ‘Intermediate Swimming’ group – very well done!

 

Here’s what we’ve been up to in class …

Kindergarten have had a ‘bugtastic’ busy week! Monday saw us making all kinds of minibeasts out of modelling clay. We practised our rolling and curling skills, shaping snails and spider’s bodies using our hands.  Once dry, we painted them and gave them some bug like googly eyes.

On Tuesday, Kindergarten had a wonderful morning with their new teachers’ in Reception; they enjoyed finding their way around the new classroom but also painted symmetrical butterflies and had to cut and stick a symmetrical ladybird.

Kindergarten thoroughly enjoyed their class trip to Bushy Park Stockyard on Thursday. Maggie, our guide, took us to a pond where we went pond dipping for creatures that live on top of and in the pond. Using a net, pipettes, spoons, magnifying glasses, magnifying pots and pallet, we were able to look very closely at our findings. We found many different creatures including fish, water boatman, pond skaters and water snails! On our way to the meadow, Maggie gave each group a green and brown colour matching swatch. We had to find the variety shades of greens and browns in the environment to stick on our swatches. We then had to hunt for minibeasts under logs and in the grass. We found so many interesting things to examine under the magnifying glass, including a mummy spider carrying an egg full of her babies, a grasshopper, ladybird and even a brief glance of a cricket before it hopped away! We enjoyed our picnic lunch outside, before travelling back to school.

What with Mufti Day on today, it’s been an exciting week at school!

Our topic next week is butterflies and we also have a bee-keeper coming to visit us on Tuesday.

Our focus in Reception this week has been colour. The children have enjoyed talking about their favourite colours and have used descriptive vocabulary to write their own rainbow colour poems. We read the book ‘Mouse Paint’, where three little mice get up to mischief jumping in pots of primary coloured paints! The result is secondary coloured puddles of paint and also fur.  This led to an exciting afternoon colour mixing with paint, which the boys thoroughly enjoyed.  In literacy, we wrote letters to the Troll to tell him how he should have let the Three Billy Goats Gruff cross the bridge, and how in future he should really be more kind!

In mathematics, we have continued to be busy collecting and organising data via bar graphs and tally charts. We found out that the most popular colour in Reception is red. We have also used our shape and colour knowledge to create and continue repeated patterns. Next week we are looking forward to learning about minibeasts.

Year 1 have been busy practising for their class assembly this week, which took place yesterday. We discussed as a class what topic we would like to cover in our assembly, ideally linking it to our special word for the term, “collaboration”. The boys agreed that they would love to talk to the other pupils in Pre-Prep about climate change and give some tips about how to look after the planet.

During the assembly, the children read the story ‘Dear Greenpeace’ by Simon James, which we enjoyed reading last week in class. They then went on to explain who Greenpeace are and talked about ways to protect our planet from becoming too damaged. Some of their top tips included: reuse plastic and paper waste to make new things such as bird feeders or paper to draw on, invest in a reusable bag instead of a plastic one, swap plastic straws to either paper or metal ones and don’t spend too much time on electronic devices. All the boys performed their lines brilliantly and were very informative. They have also made some posters that will be displayed around the School. Well done!

In maths, we have been practising a range of skills including doubles, halves, multiplication and division. Everyone is becoming more confident with the multiply and divide symbols and are able to solve such calculations using their fingers and knowledge of counting in 2s, 5s and 10s. Next week we will be continuing with halves and finding quarters of amounts, too.

This week, we have also enjoyed writing letters to Greenpeace asking questions about nature, making puppets to explore shadows and learning all about the British Values.

We have continued hearing the story of ‘The Magic Finger’ in our Year 2 English lessons this week. We enjoyed the story and acted out scenes from the book where the ducks are in the Greggs’ house. Today, we wrote reviews of the book.

In maths, we have continued our work on data handling by looking at and interpreting bar charts and pictograms, including those that went up in increments of more than one.

We made the plants for our rainforest dioramas in topic – our shoeboxes are now looking very bright and colourful! In science, we revised what things plants need to grow and have planted our own broad beans using a method called hydroponics. We have also set up an investigation growing cress to check that plants definitely do need water, soil, sunlight and warmth to grow.

On Thursday, we were very excited to have some scooter training from Richmond Borough. We learned all about how to stay safe when scooting and also some good tricks for slowing down.

Today, we presented our assembly focusing on special memories from our time in Pre-Prep, as well as talking about the things we are most looking forward to when we move on to Year 3. Amongst them featured the trips that the children have been on and subjects learned about at Pre-Prep, and we heard that we are all looking forward to making new friends and being able to play football at playtime next year at Prep!

Next week will be our last visit to the Prep library so please remember to return any borrowed books.

See you at the Summer Fair tomorrow!