Exploring the Great Outdoors
"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.
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!