The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 16 March 2018

The Greatest Advice on Earth: Be Curious


“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

Stephen Hawking died on the anniversary of the birth of Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most famous scientists, and historical figures, and there is no doubt that he now takes his place as one of the greatest scientists we will have ever known. I certainly expect all school-aged children across the world to remember his name and achievements throughout their lives.

Along with countless others who have gone before them, some might even draw inspiration from Hawking and become scientists themselves, excited by his theories. His book, ‘A Brief History of Time’, will now be flying off the bookshelves in shops as people clamour to get a sense of their understanding of ‘the black hole’, and they - like me - will, I am sure, struggle to understand even the simplest terms of his research. Amongst this complexity, when asked what advice he would give young people now, Stephen Hawking simply said “be curious”. Whilst much of his writing was inaccessible to many (part of the aura that surrounds him), how wonderful that our children have the simplest of messages from one of the greatest people they will have hear about: Be curious. Look up. Don’t give up.

I spent Tuesday in Edinburgh attending the final training session of a course I shall be delivering to parents from April, ‘Raising Confident Children’ (more details to follow next week). During a discussion, we were asked if this applied to us:

  1. We predominantly played outside during our childhood
  2. We played out of sight of adults.
  3. We played risky games.

Without exception, every hand went up in the air.

We were then asked whether we remember playing with something expensive as children. Not a single hand went up. We found this to be a particularly salient point that play had changed so much in 30 years.

It is reported that Stephen Hawking never really excelled at school and certainly wasn’t seen as a brilliant student. He didn’t care much for working within the four walls of a classroom, and preferred to spend time outside, and focused his energy on inventing things, and developing his interest in astronomy.

A great deal is written about the importance of play, especially in early childhood, and how encouraging freedom, a love of the outdoors, time spent pottering and creating things develops critical skills such as problem solving (and of course the art of defining problems), social skills, creativity, emotional regulation and a devotion to helping others.

Recent research has highlighted the decline in children playing outdoors in the United Kingdom, with one study showing that 75% of children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. You do not need to look very hard to find an abundance of literature extolling the benefits of children getting outdoors and engaging in play-based exploratory learning.

“They said Stephen Hawking had two years to live in 1963. They said Stephen Hawking would never speak in 1985. He stuck around until 2018 with one of the loudest voices on the planet. Nothing kept him from his dreams." - Adam Best

Stephen Hawking is an inspiration to us because he defied the odds and refused to allow his debilitating condition to defeat him, however he is also a great source of inspiration to our young people, because he first realised his dreams as a child through discovery, dreaming of inventions, curiosity, constant questioning and allowing his mind to wander. He has never cited his successes in Pure Maths, Geometry or Academic Astro-Physics as the springboard for his initial journey in physics, more his love of wondrous discovery.

Whenever I address the school and look at 157 young people, I know I am standing in front of the scientists, authors, musicians, sportswomen and men, thinkers, artists and entrepreneurs of the future. I don’t think this because they are showing promise in Maths and English (though of course this helps), it is because they too are curious, imaginative, have a love of play, and - for most - a love of the outdoors.

I’ll finish with the 2008 Hovis Advert. It bears little relevance to Stephen Hawking or Science, but I think it encapsulates his whole point of growing up with an appetite for curiosity and a thirst for discovery:

Wishing all St Leonards families a happy weekend, wherever your explorations take you.

William Goldsmith


U12 HOCKEY WIN | Congratulations to the U12 girls who won their hockey match away at Clifton Hall on Wednesday with a final score of 4-1 to St Leonards! Sophie opened the scoring early in the first half, with Millie scoring a hat trick in the second half.


YEAR 2 ASSEMBLY | Year 2 led an assembly on Wednesday as they come towards the end of their inquiries into 'Stories from Around the World'. The boys and girls have discovered that stories are always changing as each storyteller adds their own ideas.

The children put on a fantastic performance of two stories. First, 'The Little Red Hen', an old traditional tale thought to have originated in Russia, then a modern retelling of this story called 'Mr Wolf’s Pancakes', by British author Jan Fearnley. These two stories share the same plot and moral lessons, but with many differences along the way. Remember: be kind, help other people, and wolves aren’t always bad!


BOYS' HOCKEY | Our U12 boys played away in Edinburgh on Wednesday, where the St Leonards side took part in a triangular fixture with ESMS and Fettes, losing 1-0 to Fettes and drawing 1-1 in their second game. Well done to the boys on a terrific team effort and to Scott for scoring a top goal!


MAKING MUSIC | With the end of Spring Term fast approaching, the boys and girls in Years 4-7 grasped the opportunity to show off their musical talents at Thursday morning’s Informal Concert in the Auditorium.

Edward was first to perform, playing the ‘Gypsy’s Song’ on the piano, before a very patriotic number from Sam with ‘God Save the Queen’.

The concert then took a turn towards stage and screen; Alastair performed ‘America’ from West Side Story on the violin, Riya sang ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ from Toy Story, and Will and Henry followed with ‘Food Glorious Food’ from Oliver!

The String Group impressed with the final piece of the morning - a rendition of ‘Feel It Still’.


DRAGONS' DEN | This week it was Jen's turn to pitch to the 'dragons'. She presented her 'fan'-tastic idea to the class, targeting dog owners with her perfect pet invention. Jen's design was for a device, where the dog walks in one door, sets off a sensor, which then turns on fans to dry your pet in just two minutes! She had even thought to include an absorbent mat to catch all the dirt and protect the floor from wet paws!

Everyone thought this was an amazing invention, especially as, Jen explained, it comes in three different sizes to suit all breeds!


The following pupils received certificates and awards at Monday's bumper Celebration Assembly:

The winners of the World Book Day Costume Parade were: Erin in first place, Eva in second place, and Harry in third place. The first prize for best staff costume went to Mrs Lindsay.

Headmaster's Commendations were awarded to Lana, Alfie, Emil and Archie for working diligently and displaying a wide variety of knowledge in the last Unit of Inquiry, and producing a superb mind map; Verity for consistently embracing all Homework Heroes activities and tasks, and producing varied work, always to a high standard; Zahara for writing a wonderful story having watched an animation; Ting for coming up with 'Baking Llama' as part of the Unit of Inquiry Homework Heroes task, and pitching her company idea in a 'Dragons' Den' scenario, giving an excellent presentation and even making some dairy-free lemon shortbread for the judging panel; Thea for her commitment and hard work in Maths over the last two weeks, especially showing her understanding of money and completing tasks accurately; Sal for her exceptional effort in Homework Heroes tasks, designing a credit card, cash machine and money; Kai for showing excellent group work skills and engaging in group discussions, contributing a great deal to the class; Cameron for completing detailed work on an information poster on Henry VIII, and delivering an excellent talk to the class, which left everyone captivated; Sophie, Nadja, Elisenda and Edward for completing an imaginative task for German homework, which involved baking; James and Paula for writing and illustrating a wonderful book called 'The Jolly Postman'; George for outstanding work in division in Maths; James and Cara for completing the First Minister's Reading Challenge; Anna for producing a wonderful poster on hieroglyphics.

Awards for Pupil of the Week were presented to Monty for working extremely well independently to complete his Inquiry tasks and for trying very hard with his writing and spelling; Cara and Meredith for consistently, and with quiet determination, working hard all term; Sophie for her thoughtful and measured contribution to the class.

Spirit of St Leonards Awards were presented to Hamish for his hugely positive interaction with a guest speaker, for asking pertinent questions and engaging in the opportunity; Molly, Melissa and Ewen for working really well with the Year 3 boys and girls during their weekly Buddy Time; Katie for always being ready to help by lending a hand; Eabha for showing tremendous courage, resilience and a fearless approach to a swimming gala, in which she competed and achieved a personal best; Sal for showing great kindness to another pupil who slipped and fell in the playground; Lewis for choosing to spend one of his 'snow days' clearing a path and driveway (twice) for his 90-year-old neighbour.

Melissa for taking part in the qualifying heats for Level 4 gymnastics in Perth and coming first. We wish her all the very best for the Scottish Finals this Sunday, 18 March.

Angus and Verity received certificates for judo, in recognition of their promotion to the grade of 2nd Mon.

Bronze Stars for 50 House Points were awarded to Evie, Hari and Anna. Silver Stars for 100 House Points were awarded to Emily, Grace, Alanya, Charlie, Freddie, Harry, Joe, Shreyas and XiuRong.

Jonny and Evie were awarded 'Artist of the Month' certificates for February, in recognition of their expressive paintings.

All those who took part in 'Perform In Perth' last week were presented with their certificates, with many pupils receiving more than one award! Particular congratulations goes to Ingrid, Sophie and Hannah, who were awarded Honours certificates at the festival. Just 11 coveted honours marks were awarded across the whole of the festival and of those, 5 were won by St Leonards pupils!

Mrs Stewart praised this year's very strong performances in categories ranging from poetry to prepared reading. Well done to all our talented speakers!


STRINGS CONCERT | The Junior Strings Concert on Tuesday was a great success. The Year 2 violinists started off a wonderfully varied programme of performances, playing 'Rhythm Train', with a solo from Ruben. Next to perform was Evie, who played a South Indian tune called 'Saraswati', Anona chose a traditional Hungarian piece called 'Friday Evening', and then it was the turn of Miss O'Brien, who wowed the audience with 'Praeludium & Allegro' by Kreisler.

Shelagh then played 'Stamping Dance', before Mark stood up to perform 'Raggle Taggle Gypsies' by Wedgewood. Elisenda showed great talent with 'Romance' by Baklanova, whilst Xiurong chose a piece to reflect the recent winter weather, playing 'Song from the Snow'.

The final solo of the day was 'Allegro', performed by Charlotte. Two ensemble pieces rounded off a fantastic Strings Concert; Eilidh, Charlotte, Elisenda, Helena, Brendan, Ruby and Marina were accompanied by Mr Irons, Mr Shiells and Miss O'Brien in their rendition of 'Feel it Still', before the String Club took to the stage, treating everyone to three tunes: 'March' from Jouda Maccabeus, then 'Menuet' and 'Final' from 'The Royal Fireworks'.

A huge round of applause to all of our Junior Strings players!


A fabulous Assembly from Year 2 on Wednesday served as a reminder of just how confident and engaged our Lower School pupils are. It is always so rewarding to watch each class develop and flourish throughout an academic year. We are all extremely excited to see the much awaited performances from Years 4-6 and Year 7 in their respective shows next week as our younger pupils very much look up to those in the Years above.

The Lower School key objectives this week have been;

Year 1

  • Mathematics: To consolidate knowledge of counting in twos and consolidate their work on odd and even numbers.
  • English: The children have been writing instructions for creating a bird feeder.
  • Phonemes ‘ar’, ‘oy’ and ‘oi’.

Year 2

  • Mathematics: To consolidate conceptual knowledge of the two times table. To begin to know the two times table by rote and link this to prior knowledge of doubling. To begin to understand the multiplication symbol.
  • English: To identify, investigate and understand story structure; beginning, middle and end. To create their own story maps with a clear beginning, middle and end. Phoneme ‘igh’.

Year 3

  • Mathematics: To continue to be able to use multiplication knowledge to divide numbers and begin to identify remainders. To consolidate knowledge of symmetry.
  • English: To be able to write a report. In grammar they are securing their understanding of the difference between adjectives and adverbs and using them to expand sentences. Phoneme ‘ou’, ‘ow’.

Year 3 are heading out for a 'Beach Walk' on Monday morning. . This is a preliminary visit to allow the children to explore what the beach environment has to offer before all the Lower School embark on regular ‘Beach School’ sessions next term. Year 3 children will therefore require their games kit, coats and suitable footwear on Monday morning but we ask that they arrive in uniform as they are leading our Assembly on Monday to bid farewell to Nurse Legge.

Years 1 and 2 had a fantastic opportunity to attend a puppet show performed by the Senior School on Friday and therefore we shall be rescheduling their initial ‘Beach Walk’.

Once again, my thanks to all parents who have sent their children with additional outdoor kit and footwear. This week, the children have been out amongst the trees and bushes which our grounds have in plentiful supply and it is wonderful to see them utilising and exploring the natural environment in their creative play.

Do please extend an invitation to our rescheduled Year 1 Open Morning, this Sunday, 18 March from 9:30am, to anybody who may be curious to find out more about all that St Leonards Junior School has to offer.

Wishing you a fantastic weekend and hoping to see many of you at the Easter Egg Hunt also on Sunday.

Claire Boissiere, Lower School Coordinator

We wish the following a very...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Mohamed, James and Shelagh.

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