The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 18 January 2019

Exploring the Great Outdoors

Headmistress's Introduction

"Some of the best classrooms and the richest cupboards are roofed only by the sky." - Margaret McMillan

The air may be crisp and clear and the temperature just a "wee bit nippy", but that has not dampened the enthusiasm of our boys and girls, still cheerful arriving in the morning in their shorts, kilts and socks, nor the wonderful learning that has been going on outside the classroom.

This week I have come across Year 6 heading out on a coastal walk; children in Year 5 testing parachutes from the steps of Hepburn House; a class reading ‘The Iron Man’ on the beach, and Year 3 setting off on an ABC walk across the East Sands, hunting for things beginning with each letter.

I caught up with Mr Barrable this week to discuss learning outside the classroom, which has been a great driver for the Junior School in the last year. There are five main strands that we cover: Beach School; outdoor learning experiences which are linked into the general curriculum; trips, visits out and visitors in to school; residential experiences; bushcraft. We discussed some exciting future developments including an upcoming poly tunnel and the general importance of learning outside the classroom. Thank you to Mr Barrable and all of the staff for flying the flag for this important aspect of the children's learning.

One of my previous schools won national awards for its 'Forest Schools' and outdoor learning. There are so many benefits, including increased engagement, real life application opportunities, deeper learning, an increase in pupil well-being, self-esteem and focus. We will continue to broaden and develop this important aspect of school life at St Leonards.

As David Polis so poetically explains, ‘Let them look at the mountains and the stars above. Let them look at the beauty of the water, the trees and the flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.’

Game, Set and Match

The U11 teams were away for matches this week against Clifton Hall in Edinburgh.

The U11 girls’ hockey team lost in the final minute of their game 3-2. Rachel scored both goals either side of half time.

Meanwhile, the U11 football team faced very tough opposition from Clifton Hall and lost out 10-1. Archie scored for St Leonards, receiving the ball on the half way line and attacking hard to find the back of the net.

Well done to all of the pupils who took part in what were some challenging matches this week. Remember that we learn as much about ourselves, our team and the game by our defeats as we do by our triumphs. Onward and upwards. I look forward to watching our Junior School teams develop as they continue through their programme of Spring Term fixtures.

Spotlight On...

There is never a dull moment in the Junior School, and I am delighted to share just some of the fantastic learning experiences and events that have happened this week:

The boys and girls in Year 2 were exploring the idea that ‘things don’t move by themselves’. As part of their new Unit on simple machines, they began by investigating the forces that power many of these machines. The children categorised objects that they found around the school according to whether they were powered by a push, a pull, or a push and a pull. When I popped in to say hello, they were combining Maths and Science skills as they sorted objects into a large Venn diagram on the floor.

Also in Year 2, the children have been looking at the inclined plane, building marble runs of different sorts in the Junior School corridors, and exploring the effect of gradient on speed of travel. Their teachers were certainly very impressed by the great teamwork demonstrated by the class.

Year 3 had a visit from Mr Knight, the Domestic Bursar, who explained all about the different safety signs that they might see around the school. The pupils learnt that a green sign means ‘safe condition’, blue signs mean ‘mandatory, you must do it’, yellow signs mean ‘warning’, and red signs can either be triangular meaning ‘warning’, or circular, meaning ‘you must do something’. Mr Knight also told the class about how members of staff have to complete Risk Assessments for school trips and events. Following on from the talk, Year 3 looked in more detail at signs they might see whilst out and about.

In keeping with the school's proud history of lacrosse, Year 3 headed out onto Big Field this afternoon for a lesson with coach Dave Best. What a brilliant session they had!

In Year 5 the children were designing, making and testing parachutes. I was so excited to have a visit from some of the children in Mrs Sneddon’s class, who explained the process that they went through to make their parachutes. Well done to everyone, and I hope the parachutist landed safely!

I had a wonderful visit from Saydee and Emily in Year 4 this week, who came to show me their interactive poster on light and shadow. They had compiled interesting facts, photographs and some interactive sections to hold the readers’ interest. It is super to see research conducted and knowledge applied in this way. Some of the greatest scientists in the world are female. Perhaps we have some of tomorrow’s great thinkers, inventors and researchers right here in front of us.

Eve Moran, Junior School Headmistress

A Note from the Lower School

The fantastic holiday may seem in the dim and distant past, but it has been a great joy to see all children and staff eagerly throwing themselves into the new term. We have been delighted to see that the children are all raring to go. Whilst it may be shorter term, it is high on impact, so brace yourselves!

The very nature of the PYP means that trips and visits can be arranged even at the last minute as our Units evolve. In the case of Year 1, we visited Linsey’s Shoebox on South Street this week as a way to begin our investigations into the use and purpose of different materials (nothing to do at all with my personal love of shoes!) and we plan to use the experience to help us turn our role play area into our very own shoe shop. If anyone has an old pair of shoes and/or a shoebox that they would like to donate to our ‘shop’, we shall happily accept all donations!

It was Beach School week for the Lower School, with both Year 1 and Year 2 using it to further investigate their new Units of Inquiry. Year 1 were establishing what materials were on the beach and deciding if they were natural or manmade, as well has having an engaging if somewhat disbelieving conversation about the link between sand and glass, whilst Year 2 were exploring gravity and levers.

Beach School will now occur on alternate weeks on whichever day best suits the focus, weather and tide, so do please ensure that your children are prepared for the vagaries of our climate! If this ‘outdoor kit’ can be kept in school, it greatly aids all aspects of our Outdoor Learning curriculum. Thank you in advance and lets hope for terrific weather all term!

Beach School and trips aside we still have our core objectives. Below is an outline of this week’s learning in English and Maths:

Year 1

  • English - Focus Phoneme; Key words – up dad; To begin to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction books, and start to recognise key features of non-fiction books. To begin to understand the difference between fact and fiction.
  • Maths - To continue to develop our problem solving ‘toolkit’ in order to begin to solve real world problems; To begin to understand the concept of symmetry both identifying it and completing simple symmetrical patterns.

Year 2

  • English - Phoneme – ‘a-e’ (cake, lake, make); To begin to be able to write instructions.
  • Maths - To further develop our understanding of subtraction: subtracting single digits from a teens number followed by subtracting ten from a teens; To begin to identify patterns and strategies when subtracting; To consolidate the language of subtraction and apply to problems; To be able to distinguish between the processes of addition and subtraction; To be able to tell the time in both analogue and digital with focus on o’clock and half past.

Year 3

  • English - Phoneme ‘ire’ (Fire! Fire!); To begin to understand the nature of homophones and practise the correct use of the most common ones e.g. there, their and they’re; To begin to plan their own stories.
  • Maths - Focusing on multiplication initially with consolidation of x 2, x 5,and x 10; To understand that multiplication is the repeated addition of groups; To know x 2, x 5 and x 10 by rote and solve problems using these tables; To understand pictorially what multiplication ‘looks like’; To begin to build knowledge of x 3 and x 4.

I write about our key objectives weekly in order to provide you with a valuable insight into the week your children have had, as I fully appreciate that this is sometimes not their preferred conversational gambit at the end of a day; lunch and playtime are so much more exciting! It strikes me though, that this is the merest hint of all the learning that goes on. It may seem repetitious but then so does building a house as row upon row of bricks is added. This is precisely what we are doing in the Lower School. We are laying secure foundations for learning and we build according to where each individual needs to go next.

I am continually amazed by the progress our children make and the connections they find in all areas of the curriculum, which is a testament to the diligence of the team and the enthusiasm of both the children and parents.

A happy weekend to you all from the team!

Claire Boissiere, Lower School Coordinator

Spotty Book Nominations

The following fantastic pupils have been nominated in my 'spotty book' this week:

William and Nihal: Nominated by Miss Moran for finding a pound coin in the playground and bringing it straight to her. You have shown that you are responsible citizens, and I am proud of you. If anyone did lose a pound coin last week, then please see Mrs Dewar.

Theo, Rory and Ethan: Theo nominated Rory and Ethan for being great conversationalists and all round fantastic friends. I have often seen the three you chatting together at playtime and in the CDR. Many a friendship is founded on the art of a good conversation. Well done.

Grace and Anona: Grace was nominated by Anona for picking her up when she fell down on the way to lunch. Thank-you for looking after your friend Grace. It is important that we all take care of each other.


Congratulations to all of the children who have had a birthday this week. I hope there were plenty of good wishes, celebrations and surprises for you. It was my birthday this week too, and I was treated to an impromptu song and three cheers from some of our Year 6 boys. Thank you, gentlemen.

Here is a mind-bending birthday thought: today you are the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you will ever be so do make the most of it!

Happy birthday to: Alastair, Lucy, Ramsay, Angus and Euan.

Celebration Assembly

The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday. Thank you all for your hard work and achievements, we are all extremely proud of you.

Ryan for writing a mature, dystopian opening paragraph to his imaginative story.

Eliza for richly retelling the first chapter of 'Granny Nothing' from another point of view.

Ting for writing an exciting, tense opening sequence to her imaginative story.

Harry for ambitiously adopting and maintaining the distinctive dialect of a dog in his first-person writing.

Sofia for adding great humour to her retelling of the first chapter of 'Granny Nothing'.

Oscar for super focus and attention to detail when working on symmetry in Maths.

Kyle received a Spirit of St Leonards Award for being extremely kind and helpful when working with one of his peers in a literacy lesson this week.

William for making a great effort to ensure that his new teacher felt welcome.

Evie for having a positive attitude on her return to school, and for the way in which she has helped to motivate others in the class with her enthusiasm.

George for having a positive attitude on his return to school, and for the way in which he has helped to motivate others in the class with his enthusiasm.

Thea was Year 1 Pupil of the Week for returning to school not just with her usual enthusiasm for all activities but with extra care and thought to the needs of others. Thea has displayed excellent manners with her friends, as well as being helpful and kind.

Cara was Year 3 Pupil of the Week for helping another pupil who was stuck on her Maths work. Cara quietly got up from her seat and went to help her classmate, not by telling her the answer, but by showing her how to work it out. She is a delightfully kind girl, who will go out of her way to help others.

Monty was Year 2 Pupil of the Week for showing great sportsmanship to his peer group during games and commending his neighbour on good performance, rather than trying to outdo him. Well done Monty!

Reasons to be Cheerful

This week's ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ story is centred around an email and a visit that I had from two of our Year 7 pupils. Paddy and Magnus showed great initiative in approaching me first via an email and then by arranging an appointment to discuss the possibility of a school talent show. They were well prepared with a full plan and presentation, and plenty of convincing thoughts and ideas. I love to see examples of pupil enterprise. Skills such as these will go a long way no matter what career path you decide to take.

I can't give too much away as everything is in the early stages of planning, but I was extremely impressed with the boys’ ideas and the manner in which they presented them to me. I believe I may have found some talent show kindred spirits, as it is an event that I have thoroughly enjoyed hosting in previous schools. Watch out Ant and Dec because Paddy and Magnus may be coming for you! We will keep parents and pupils updated, but it might be worth beginning to think about your acts for the auditions!

Have a wonderful weekend, and in the spirit of this week’s newsletter do try to take a moment to explore outside in your gardens, on the beach and in the countryside of this wonderful part of the world we are so lucky to call home.

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