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Headmaster’s Bulletin – Edition 17

This Week

Dear Parents,

On a bright, sunny morning, the boys in 6C really cheered us up in assembly today, as they paid homage to the wonderful world and work of Dr Seuss. None of us are too old for an amusing and cleverly crafted riddle-like poem, and the Year 6 boys had not only learnt one off by heart, they had adapted the style of Dr Seuss to let us in on a few secrets of their own regarding how to keep going when the going gets tough! There was a ‘no holds barred’ approach from them at one point, I have to say, as one or two lines of their poem made it clear that sometimes things simply will not always go our way, and that life can at times be tough. They did, nonetheless, finish their performance on a high and reminded us all that if we really dig deep, we are bound to have reserves we can draw from to help us overcome our struggles – it was very stirring stuff!

Mr Ford talked to all the boys this week about overcoming individual struggles. He conducted a ‘live’ experiment in his assembly to demonstrate that surface appearances are not always what they seem. His assembly was a timely reminder for staff as well as boys that even if we see our friends bravely persevering, we should try to remember that we all have a breaking point too, in a way. I hope that at our School, we avoid arriving at that point more often than not, due to the kindly and cheerful ways that our friends remember to intervene and support us, as they see fit.

I have a naturally restricted capacity to concentrate on a lot of emails and reports and budgets and plans and documents; I am not afraid to admit that having to do so eventually overwhelms me at times. One of the best aspects of my job therefore is the opportunity it affords me to leap up out of my chair and wander off through our lovely buildings to observe what really matters here i.e. what it is that our pupils are learning!

This week alone, I observed Year 6 boys putting the finishing decorative touches to some rather sombre but also very amusingly ironic epitaphs, which they had “etched” onto model tombstones, draped with rather melancholy looking ivy and sad looking moss, to add to the maudlin atmosphere. Year 4 boys had built small steam powered “Putt Putt Boats”, as part of their scientific investigations into different states of matter. Some of them were merrily motoring about in great vats of water in the DT/Art room and some were, er, not! Year 5 boys had been crafting their own fish-based tessellations in maths, as well as investigating and plotting rotational lines of symmetry onto images of plants and flowers and Year 3 boys had been looking at rocks and soil and other earthly materials, and had even managed to “dig up” (make!) their own dinosaur fossils.

This week we also had seven of our boys invited to do the Primary Maths Challenge bonus round. This is an international event, run by the Mathematical Association, which focuses on tricky problem solving. Often quite abstract in nature, these questions do not clearly tell the boys what to do; they must choose which tools to get out of the toolbox themselves. Our boys were part of the 2,000-odd 9 and 10-year-olds invited to take this special bonus round. We eagerly await the results!

Boundless enthusiasm and genuine delight in their endeavours accompanied all this excellent work this week. Seeing it all in action has definitely helped me to return to my desk and persevere with some of the less obviously thrilling aspects of Prep School life…!

Have a great weekend,

Tim Smith

Headmaster

Sports News

We have had a busy week on the rugby pitch, with every boy in the school getting a game. On Monday the U10s travelled to The Mall, on Tuesday the U8s travelled to Surbiton, on Wednesday the U11s travelled to Willington and today sees the U9s host Willington and the U8s host Newland House.

I have spent a lot of time coaching the U11 boys but Wednesday was my first opportunity to see them play and I was really pleased with their performance. I think it would be fair to say that rugby is probably not their strongest sport as a year group. However, they have embraced the coaching sessions and their hard work definitely paid off on Wednesday, with three out of the four teams winning.

We have been pretty honest in the A team squad about our strengths and weaknesses and we all agreed that their contact skills and in particular the breakdown, is not their strong point. Therefore, with that in mind, we have been working hard on keeping the ball off the floor and off-loading out of the tackle, so as to reduce the amount of rucks that take place in the game.

This has resulted in other challenges, such as needing to improve our handling and alignment and we are by no means where we want to be yet. However, two good wins have helped breed confidence in the squad and it was great to see some good running rugby yesterday on a perfect day for such an approach.

The key to this has been the boy’s maturity in evaluating and accepting what they are not good at. This is a key skill in life. We all need to identify our weaknesses, accept them and establish how to overcome them. This may be to work harder to improve them, it may be to find a different way to operate to get around them (like the U11 boys) or to surround yourself with people that can do things you can’t.

A great example of this is Jurgen Klopp the Liverpool FC manager. When discussing his recent success, he explained how he is aware of what he is really good at, and conversely knows what he is really not very good at. Therefore, he ensures that he surrounds himself with people that can do the things he can’t.

What this really means, is he is not afraid to admit to what he can’t do. Last week I talked about boys not wanting to make mistakes and on occasions not attempting to do things for fear of failure. This is the next step in the process and something we are keen for the older boys to recognise before they leave to start their senior schools.

The other fixture I attended this week was the U8 block fixture against Surbiton. I refereed the D team game and was inspired and exhausted in equal measure by the whole affair. What was inspiring was the kind and generous attitude of all the boys involved from both schools and how they played for the pure fun of it. However, trying to get the boys to remember which side they should be standing and even to which end they should be running was the exhausting part. Nonetheless loads of fun.

Next week the U11s play away to Wetherby on Monday. On Tuesday Wetherby U9s come to us, whilst (in a change to the calendar), one U8 team will be away to Wetherby. On Wednesday both the U11s and U10s play against TPS and finally on Friday the U8s will run out against Willington at home.

After that it will be time for a well-earned rest.

Have a great weekend.

Nick Darmon

Head of PE and Games

Pre-Prep News

Members of staff shared recent personal experiences with regard to ‘perseverance’ in our assemblies this week. We decided no matter what it is we choose to persevere with, the buzz that comes with achieving something new feels so very good. On that note, Miss Page recounted her initial feelings at having joined a netball team – the first few weeks were nerve wracking and she experienced ‘butterflies in her tummy’ but, a few weeks in and she’s loving it!  Mr Smith has persevered with perfecting the perfect poached egg to accompany his weekend breakfasts. Miss Johnston, after much effort and determination, has completed a Rubik’s cube. Mrs Doyle, despite setbacks with her planting arrangements in the garden, has not given up on her goal of achieving a gorgeous garden.

 

Talking of trying new things, the boys in Year 2 had the opportunity to get involved in a writing project and many of them chose to do so.  We heard this week that all eighteen will have their work published in a Young Writers Anthology – many congratulations to the following:  Anirudh, Mylo, Thiyaan, Arjun, Daniel, Arthur, Yusuf, William, Jonah, Jonny, Emin, Krishi, Freddie, Rishi, Aizhou, Aryan, Edward and Robert.

Congratulations to Arjun (Year 2) for his participation in a charity tournament at his Martial Arts Class last weekend.  He won three medals in total, 2 silver and 1 bronze, for his technique, ability and combat against other children – very well done!

Safer Internet Day takes place next week on Tuesday 11 February 2020 – please be assured we will talk to the children about this vitally important topic in a very age-appropriate manner.

This week the Courtesy Cup and Badge went to Yuchen (Year 2) who was selected for always greeting the teachers with a cheery, “Good morning! How are you?” – what super manners!

Stars of the Week went to:

Year 2: Yusuf for working hard during lessons this week and completing his work in the time allocated.

Year 1: Keyan for an excellent persuasive sentence in English.

Reception: Henry for his fantastic effort with his reading and learning sight words.

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

The aliens have landed! Kindergarten received a letter this week together with lots of miscellaneous objects being dropped in the playground. The letter was from aliens, saying that whilst they were flying over Planet Earth the night before, they accidentally dropped some things from their spaceship; however, they only wanted the magnetic items returned – so we were on a mission to help our alien friends.  We used jumbo magnets and magnetic wands to identify the magnetic objects, sorting them into two groups. We then searched for more magnetic objects within our classroom, but we were very careful not to go near the computers (as one child said, “they will lose their ideas”).  We noticed that if we held the magnets together one way, they stuck to each other, but, if we turned them over, they moved away from each other; this meant they repelled!

We focused on the story, ‘Alien Loves Underpants’ by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort and read it lots of times – ‘granny’s spotted bloomers’ always got the best reaction! We then sequenced the story using picture cards – we just loved the rhyme in this book and this led us to look at, and think about, different rhyming words.

We created our own planet that we chose to be green and called it “Ping Pong Pang”. Our planet is home to 2D aliens that we made using foam shapes, googly eyes and lots and lots of glue.  Before our aliens moved onto their new planet, we had great fun thinking of names for our aliens. We wanted to talk to the aliens but sadly they were too far away on their planet, so we recorded messages for them on our talking tins – our talking tins are little voice recorders and by pressing the correct button, we recorded messages for the aliens.

We also made alien masks and puppets in the making area. We learned to take turns and to share as we played ‘the alien pair game’ and ‘alien bingo’. There was great excitement as we worked hard to get a full alien board.  The space rocket left our role-play area this week but is coming back soon as a pop-up alien pant shop!

Our topic next week is focused on the book ‘Whatever Next’ by Jill Murphy.

Brrrrrrr, it has been a chilly week here in Reception. We have taken a trip to Antarctica to meet some penguin friends! We have been reading lots of penguin stories this week, using them to inspire our independent writing. We wrote about what could happen if a penguin came to stay; some children thought they would have fun with their penguin at the swimming pool, some decided to feed him fish fingers, and one little boy decided that he would take him straight back to Antarctica! We read an information book about penguins and learnt some penguin facts – we learnt that daddy penguins carry the egg on their feet for two months, with no food at all before the egg is ready to hatch – we all thought that sounded like a very tough job indeed. We experienced what it would be like balancing an egg tennis ball on the top of our feet, and how penguins keep warm together by constantly moving in a huddle. We were really impressed with the children’s ability to recall the facts they had learnt … so much so that we awarded them all ‘penguin expert’ certificates!

We enjoyed making 3D penguins, which can stand up, helped to develop our skills using the stapler, scissors and glue – we talked about different joining and fixing methods and which were most appropriate for this job. The boys also enjoyed sculpting and painting a clay penguin.

In mathematics, we have done lots of counting on and back – using the number line and hundred square to answer one, two and three more/less questions. We began counting in 2s and talked about this as an efficient method of counting larger groups of objects. We also had great fun using the IPad’s to play the Subtraction Train game.

Year 1 thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!’ by Mo Willems. The children then wrote sentences using conjunctions on how to persuade their grown-ups to let them stay up late. It turns out that some of the children in Year 1 do not like going to bed early! Later in the week, we wrote ‘shouty sentences’ using capital letters relating to not going to bed and a pigeon story. At the end of the week, the children followed a set of instructions to draw their own pigeon. Next week, we will be reading, ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!’

In maths, we have been revisiting counting in 2s, 5s and 10s, thinking carefully about counting in groups with the introduction of arrays. Next week, we begin to think about multiplication when we begin grouping in small quantities and further work on understanding arrays. At the end of the week, we will be thinking about sharing small quantities.

In science, Year 1 have continued their work on materials. We read the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs’, thinking carefully about the materials they used to build their houses. The children then worked in small groups to build their own houses out of bricks (Lego), straw and wood (lollypop sticks).

We continued our work in ICT using PurpleMash to learn about algorithms. Over the past couple of weeks, the children have learnt about the importance of accurate instructions and discovered how a set of instructions can alter a result. This week, we used the arrow keys to move our way through a maze.

Year 2 spent this week planning and writing letters the Queen, thanking her for allowing us into her home, Windsor Castle, last week and they told her their favourite part of the castle. In hope of receiving a reply, they have asked many questions using correct punctuation. We have been learning about the prefixes un- and dis- this week and how these change the meaning of words when added to the start. We have also been learning about plurals, including some of the trickier and more unusual rules such as one foot, two feet, one wolf, two wolves and one baby, two babies.

Our maths lessons this week have been focused around measurement, specifically mass. The boys have read the weight of items, converted grams into kilograms and solved some complex problems about mass. Next week, we will be returning to multiplication and division, with a focus on missing number problems, such as ? X 5 = 40 and ? ÷ 2 = 10.

Ahead of Safer Internet Day, the children have started to create ‘How to stay safe online’ posters on PurpleMash and will finish these next week by retrieving their saved work. They have also started to create some beautiful lion pictures in art with Mrs Timba, which are going to look amazing. On Tuesday, they learnt how to draw a simple electricity circuit using the correct symbols and today they have enjoyed learning about the Queen’s official jobs. We are looking forward to having a special treat next week to mark the filling of the class marble jar!

headmaster's picture
Tim SmithHeadmaster