Friday, 29 September 2017


I wonder how many times we ask children what they want to be when they grow up? If you're like me, I suspect many times. It's a wonderful question to ask, and invokes many imaginative and endearing answers. It's an excellent conversation starter with children, and of course we all remember what we wanted to be when we were younger. Indeed, it is so good for our creativity to live in a world of imagination as young children. I spent days during the holidays pretending to be.....

A Headmaster (I know, very unusual and potentially imagination limiting!).

I spent the last two days backwards and forwards from Edinburgh at the 125th annual IAPS conference.

The IAPS (Independent Association of Preparatory Schools) is an association of the top 500 Independent Junior and Prep Schools worldwide, a group that we are very proud to be part of. The common mission of schools within IAPS is to promote the core values of Preparatory School education, such as kindness, consideration, risk-taking, curiosity, collaboration and independence, to name a few. Do watch the IAPS video at the end of my blog for a flavour of what being part of IAPS stands for.

Our conference theme this year was 'Leading Inspirational and Aspirational Schools', a very pertinent theme as we enter the fourth industrial revolution, a point made by our first speaker, Dr. Harvery Lewis, an aeronautics scientist. He spoke of the likelihood of 35% of UK's job market at high risk of being automated by 2033, the year our current Year 1s enter the world of work. Yet, despite this sobering thought, a recent survey commissioned by Deloitte, found the following to be in the top ten the most important attributes for our children to have in order to thrive in this period of exponential change:

1. Active listening skills

2. Problem sensitivity

3. Speaking skills

4. Critical thinking skills

Despite our new digital era, the skill of coding was 120th in the list, something I fully expected to be much nearer the top. When explained, it made perfect sense: there is no point teaching children how to use new and emerging technologies, as by the time they put their skills into use, we will have moved onto new technologies and advancements. Far more important, is teaching children how to learn and engage critical thinking skills. Skills such as problem solving, risk taking, understanding failure, curiosity and resilience are the skills that will remain constant and be needed more than ever as our children enter the world of work, whether this be involved with automation or in a job that hasn't given way to robots.

Of course, this sparked great debate amongst the 500 or so Heads with regards to knowledge based curriculum vs. skills based approach to learning. Of course, knowledge is important as it provides the inspiration for children to think, however equally important is the development of reasoning skills, problem solving and judgement of what to trust and what not to trust.

This provides a tremendous opportunity for educators around the world, and of course that includes us at St Leonards, in continuing to promote self-discovery in learning, and the expansion of a child's meta-cognition. Many of you will have an understanding of Bloom's Taxonomy.

If we see base knowledge as the 'remember' bar at the bottom, it is then what children do with that knowledge that creates higher-order thinking skills, expands brain capacity and develops these critical skills.

There is one final skill we must focus on in preparing our children. This is the skill of reflection and contemplation. I think this image conjures up a wonderful - and perhaps idyllic - notion of a child reflecting on a day of soaking up knowledge, creating something extraordinary with that knowledge, expanding his / her imagination and curiosity, and creating answers to many self-constructed questions.

So, perhaps asking what a child wants to be when he / she grows up is meaningless we should instead be asking what they want to do. We will find it could capture their imagination much more, and contribute to the life-long learning process.

Through our curriculum and ethos, we focus on these critical skills, as does the IAPS, and there was a genuine buzz yesterday amongst Heads from across the UK that far from being apprehensive about the challenges ahead with artificial intelligence and super intelligence, we have an enormous opportunity to prepare to thrive and grab the opportunities that come their way in 2033.

Wishing all St Leonards families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures (and their imagination) take you.

William Goldsmith

Day of Languages

The European Year of Languages 2001, jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union, was successful in involving millions of people across 45 participating countries. Its activities celebrated linguistic diversity in Europe and promoted language learning. Following the success of the Year of Languages, the Council of Europe declared a European Day of Languages to be celebrated on 26th of September each year.

For the first time, the Junior School joined in the celebrations, taking it a step further by making it An International Day of Languages, which better reflects the diversity of our beautiful school.

For the whole day, children from Year 1 to 7 have been able to experience an array of activities relating to language learning: a sign language workshop led by Mrs Palmer, a t-shirt design contest, a singing the world workshop, language games and activities, mini language lessons taught by our native Y12/13 students, a whole school quiz and of course, they were able to enjoy some delicious foods from around the world, brought in by our generous parents.

The day was a successful one and hopefully will have broadened the mind of our children who will continue embracing internationalism.

Sports round up


The U10 Dream Team had a great afternoon on Wednesday.

In their first match against Kilgraston, Captain Anna Black scored with less than 20 seconds on the clock. Melissa Alexander got the second in the fifth minute and Anna got the third in the seventh minute. Polly Morris opened the scoring in the second half, Anna got another a few minutes later and Emily Logan closed out the game with the sixth goal. Final score 6-1.

The second game against Craigclowan was a fast paced end to end battle. Polly got her stick on the ball in the circle and a defensive player assisted it into the goal. All level at half time. Anna scored the winning goal. Final score 2-1.

The U12's had a close game against Kilgraston losing 2-1 Millie Love scoring. They came up against tougher opposition in the form of Craigclowan going down 4-0, Charlotte Mcfayden making sure it wasn't anymore with a strong defensive performance.

The boys played Clifton Hall on Wednesday and enjoyed a thrilling match.


Year 2 had a wonderful morning at the Preservation Trust Museum in St.Andrews. Exploring and handling objects from the past has helped us to understand what life would have been like for our Grandparents and Great Grandparents. We look forward to welcoming family members into our class to discover more.

Year 2 develop their hockey skills


Congratulations to the following who were given awards in Assembly:

Headmaster's Commendations:

Tyler Conway - excellence in Maths

Charlie Vincent - Work on Homework Heroes for 'Unit of Inquiry' on Rights and Responsibilities

Years 1-3 Pupil of the Week

Year 1 - Annie Pennycook

Year 2 - Isabella Timmins

Year 3 -Grace Hewitt

Spirit of St Leonards Award - Alina Khudkyk

Using Conkers to work out 64 + 49

Following the success of last year's Open Days, our school Open Morning will take place on Saturday, 7 October 2017. Children in Years 4 -7, as well as the Senior School are requested to attend, looking smart in their school uniform, for a morning of fun learning activities. Inquiry lessons will start at 9.30am and finish at 11.30am. I also invite parents to use the event as an opportunity to see the school in action and visit the different areas and departments within our beautiful campus. The morning will start at 9.30am with a short welcome from Dr Carslaw and myself, followed by a tour of the Junior / Senior School, finishing in St Katharines Hall for refreshments. Further details will follow next week, but I do urge you to join us. We ask that pupils arrive at school by 9.15am. Buses will be operating with the normal morning times, and will depart St Leonards at 12.30pm. Pupils can be collected from 11.45am. A letter outlining the events on Open Morning will be sent to Parents on Monday, 2 October.

We wish the following a very...

Many Happy Returns to the following for the week ahead: Shreyas, Kyle, Ryan, Hayfaa, Zachary, Magnus



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