A NOTE FROM EMMA AND WILLIAM
A warm welcome back to school to all STG children in the final term of this academic year! Whilst many of you continue learning at home, children in Kindergarten, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 have had their first week back at school.
To those of you who are still at home, we are so proud of the way you have got back into the swing of things. Your efforts this week have been just great and, as every week passes, the work, inquiry related construction and inventions you come up with are bursting with creativity. Well done to you all and thank you for keeping the St George's spirit burning in your homes.
On Wednesday, 18 March, we notified you that we were to close from Friday, 20 March. This gave us two days to close our school to most learners, plan for a comprehensive remote learning schedule and prepare to open to key worker children of all ages.
To achieve this in 48 hours was no mean feat – except, of course, that we had been planning for this eventuality for much longer. Our transition to remote learning took time and work, but went very smoothly (thanks, in no small part to our families, children and of course teaching teams). Preparing to re-open our school however, has been much more complex.
Except again, that’s not the whole story. Like most schools across the country, we have remained open throughout the term during lockdown. At St George’s, we have looked after 18 of our pupils, some coming once or twice, some with us every day, as a significant number of our parent body are employed in the medical field and other key roles in the campaign to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. Then, as now, our parents rely on us to enable them to work.
Deciding to re-open wasn’t really a difficult decision for us. We missed our children very much and we knew they would benefit hugely from the opportunity to spend some time in person with their teachers. Understandably, not everyone felt secure in sending their children back, so the challenge has been making it all work in such a way that the children felt happy and safe. The priority, at the forefront of our planning, was for the safety of our children, their families and staff.
We’re lucky that our class sizes are already small, and so while some classes have been split, the majority of children have been able to be in their form groups which has provided some welcome stability. We have staggered break time and lunch time and each year group has been given a different drop off and collection time.
Our children sit at their own desk or table in the same classroom each day and stay within their maximum 15-pupil “bubble” throughout. We have asked them to do their best to stay two metres apart at all times and have put in place clear signage to help them do this – but we understand that sometimes this won’t happen due to their age and stage. We won’t be reprimanding anyone who accidentally gets too close – some of these children are only three years old!
As well as keeping them safe from a COVID-19 perspective, it’s really important that we provide them with reassurance and support their well-being. We will comfort children if they need us to and tend to them if they have an accident.
In addition to this we’ve got rid of soft furnishings and un-washable toys and are have increased cleaning in areas of high contact. We’ve also cut down the number of things children need to bring to school and are asking them to come in clean home clothes each day.
We know it’s a lot to take in for our children – not to mention staff! A lot of work has gone in to ensure that we can provide a sense of normality in a time that is anything but normal! There’s been a lot of publicity about what people can expect in a socially-distant school and we’ve seen some quite natural concerns about how this may affect children.
While things will look and feel different, we will be doing everything in our power to provide our children with some continuity, but more than that, excitement at being back at our wonderful school. It won’t just be the strange, corralled childcare that some fear – it is proper school done differently. At the end or our first week back we feel that the measures put in place are working well. It is good to have our building filled with the sound of children’s voices and laughter. ‘Normality’ amidst unprecedented abnormality!
Our teachers have busily put together timetables for the next half term. We are really excited that as well as including some enriching, stimulating topics, this will be be a fantastic opportunity for them to connect together again before September and the move to their next year group, or in the case of our Year 8s and some Year 6 children, the move to their senior school.
While we are confident that our children have not been missing out in terms of their education, as we have been able to provide them with an excellent experience from home, school is about more than that. Our sense of community throughout this period has been incredible and I know it will continue. Social aspects – missing friends, interacting with other children and their teachers – are hugely important.
At this point, we don’t know when further year groups will be able to return, so there is a clear benefit to us all getting used to a new way of working. Children are hugely resilient – it is often the adults who struggle with change. We have faith that our entire school community will adapt to this new change as well as they have to remote learning. To those in school and those still learning at home, we remain connected.
We would like to extend a particular thank you to our families who remain at home. We know so many of you will be eager for your children to return, as we are sure they will be too. Your continued connection to the school is greatly valued and whilst we await any further announcements from the Government, we are scenario planning.
Have a great weekend.
Emma and William
Friday Celebration Assembly
Congratulations to these children in the Pre-Prep who have received awards this week!
Jack C: Jack arrives each day with a cheerful smile. Thank you Jack for making us all feel happy!
Benjamin F: For being such a happy and kind little boy. He likes to compliment his friends when they do clever things.
Effy A: for being such a kind friend and always inviting her friends to play.
Toby D: for coming back to school with great confidence and being an excellent role model for his friends.
Henry M: for his beautiful Matisse snail picture
Alex D: for the care he took over creating his Matisse collage.
Henry G: for his super snail work this week.
Arthur W: for showing fantastic enthusiasm for being back at school and for completing an excellent snail lifecycle.
Neev KS: for being so good at widening his circle of friends (and for keeping Mrs Evans company)
Alannah G: for a wonderful approach to remote learning. Alannah has consistently produced excellent work and excelled in her maths.
Koroush S: for playing his violin to his classmates on the live call on his birthday on Monday. He was amazing!
Alexander B: for excellent work and always giving full concentration to everything he does.
Giles V-G: for outstanding writing this week - a diary entry as Kevin the Koala.
Francisco V B: for working so hard this week but especially for his creativity throughout remote learning: puppet shows, Lego building and detailed drawing.
Aarohi K: for writing an amazing character description of Kevin the Koala and for excellent handwriting and presentation. A big improvement Aarohi!
Harry D: for being a horticultural expert during remote learning, and this week for a wonderful piece of diary writing about Kevin the Koala.
Rosalie A: for drawing a beautiful picture of a bathing machine using charcoal.
Hannah F: for brilliant geography work comparing beaches.
Daisy H: for super effort in maths and doing practical activities involving work on volume.
Reuben C: for great maths work and competing the extension tasks.
Georgina F: for creating a wonderful piece of art using leaves as we are learning about Andy Goldsworthy.
Jojo R: for his enthusiasm towards his work and sharing his flip book making skills.
Jamie B: for his lovely letter about seaside holidays in the past.
George P: for his green tree frog shelter project made from recycled pipes.
Julia J: for putting lots of thought into the questions for her letter about seaside holidays in the past.
Freddie J: for his enthusiasm in our class meets and for sharing his musical talents.
Thomas D: for a well-designed collage of an Aztec eagle.
Albie S: for a well presented non-chronological report about DJ Marshmello.
Cicily W: for completing all work to a very pleasing standard and taking great care with presentation.
Kyan W: for super work in both English and maths and for completing extra maths questions.
Miles J: for working hard in all subjects with pleasing results and in particular with regard to maths questions and challenges.
Prep School Awards
Congratulations to these pupils who received their awards today:
Head Master's Commendations
George H: for brilliant creativity, creating an Iron Man out of different materials.
Gracie M: for creativity - her model of the Iron Man, then creating a PowerPoint to show how she had made it.
Jennifer W: for beautiful work in Spanish.
Lara H and Ebbe K: for excellent French work.
Raphael K: for completing some beautiful history work - writing an imaginative saga to explain the origin of a Viking god.
Lara H: for her fantastic diary and record for the STG Pioneers Award and for her effort in art and English.
Bikram and Jeevan H: for building a truly impressive WW2 tank model.
Harrison B: for creating a very detailed and genuine looking WW2 model tank which moves.
Evie C, Loic C, Liv D, George H, Isla M, Tilly W, Barney W, Lily D and Charlie H: for writing an outstanding and beautiful report, having done an observation of a habitat grid in the garden (excellent inquiry focus)
Theo H: for constructing a Viking longboat, having watched construction videos.
Isaac S: for excellent engagement during the week.
Alma S: for excellent effort put into the Pioneer Award diary. It shows she has been working really hard on her skills and hobbies.
Radley H and Ethan F-G: for engagement in the STG Award Explorer.
Spirit of St George's Awards
Charlie H, Radley H, Sarinnah SMB and Matilda U-I, and James and Harry E: for raising money for their various charities. Read more about their efforts below.
Mr Tony Whennell
In last night's concert Alex Warnes dedicated his piece to Tony Whennell, a woodwind teacher at St George's for many years until he left in 2018. Tony will be remembered for his cheerful demeanour and for organising trios and quartets of Christmas music at lunchtime at that time of year. He very sadly died in April, having contracted Coronavirus. Alex's piece is here:
Congratulations to all those who performed in our third 'virtual concert'. It can be watched here:
During the glorious weather at half term STG children and families made the most of being outside, whether it was messing about on the river (lots of that), enjoying a trip to the seaside, getting involved in garden projects or exploring the countryside.
Gardening has become a very popular activity and more time at home has allowed more time to sow seeds and watch plants grow.
Prior to half term, we were very grateful to Mrs Gregory for putting together a video of Year 1 children during the lockdown period. They were very excited to do it and it can be viewed here:
On Monday remote learning through the STG Connected framework resumed for the other year groups. The Year 2 topic is the seaside and the children have produced some wonderful seaside dioramas and seasides in jars!
Year 3 have produced some beautiful Aztec designs, created an Aztec menu and in science they thought about plants that could grow on the rainforest floor.
Inspired by reading 'The Iron Man' by Ted Hughes, Year 4 have also produced some powerful looking - and somewhat intimidating - iron men.
We are very proud of five STG pupils who have given their time to raise money for the charities which have a special meaning for them. James and Harry E organised a charity cupcake sale during half term in aid of Alzheimer’s Society and managed to raise just under £550 including gift aid. Sarrinah SMB and Matilda U-I raised £690 in an online Minecraft session. The proceeds are being shared between a local food bank and a children's hospice. Charlie H did a “Musical Marathon” raising money for the Anaphylaxis Campaign and managed to play 67.6 pieces of music on three instruments in under 2.6 hours - an amazing feat of endurance! Finally, on Friday of half term, Radley H successfully completed a tough 10 laps around Dorney Lake to raise £451 for the Berkshire NHS Trust. Very well done to all of you!
This Week's Podcasts
In this week's first podcast Mr Wilson interviews Geoff Thomas (@GeoffThomasGTF), the ex Crystal Palace captain and England International. Geoff talks about his career as a footballer and his battle with Leukaemia. This is an inspirational story on one man's fight for life and his subsequent fundraising for Cancer Research.
Our second podcast this week is an interview with Trevor MacKenzie, the award-winning Canadian author, educator and speaker. He speaks to Mr Wilson about inquiry-based learning in and out of the classroom, inspiring wonderment and discovery in children, and the ways in which education must change after the current COVID crisis.
STG Art Gallery
We have been impressed by the number of photos of works of art sent to connected@ this week. STG children have explored their ideas by experimenting, inventing and creating their own varied works of art using a range of materials. Here are just a few.
SOuL Outdoor Learning
The activity Mrs Onions would like to highlight this week is called 'Blindfield'. It is great for families out together in the garden, or maybe in a local park, traversing a home-made obstacle course, relying on instructions. The task looks great fun to do and, in brave families, for Mum or Dad to be blindfolded and guided through the course by their children!
Answers to Week 5 quiz: red kite, blackbird, blue tit, magpie, nuthatch, partridge.
Do you know the names of these growing vegetables?