The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 10 March 2017

May I start by congratulating all those who have taken part in the Perth Festival over the last two days? To learn a poem or piece, rehearse it and stand up in front of a large audience of other children and parents, takes considerable courage, and I have heard outstanding reports about all those from St Leonards who have taken part in this. It is a tremendous skill and I know they will have all gained a great deal from the experience. I would like to thank Laura Stewart, our inspirational Junior School Drama teacher, for her input and for giving so many of our children a voice. My diary is already blanked out for next year's festival, so Laura and I can attend and join the celebrations.

In amongst “Hammond’s £2b tax raid” and "Gunners thrashed in humiliating Champions' League exit", a headline caught my attention this morning, which read “Why not keep the World Book Day ‘party’ going all year round”? In this article, a Head of a School who enjoyed similar book related jamborees as us last week, seeks to implore children and parents to make a concerted effort to keep our children reading every day of the year. If there was ever a reason to do so, research in 1987 found that just 20 minutes a day of reading meant a child would encounter over 1,800,000 words a year. I have been delighted to see our children continue to read this week, and I awarded a great number of certificates and book tokens to the winners of our various competitions last week.

Our Ballet Dancers took their exams this week.

It has been a very purposeful week at St Leonards as you will see from the articles below. In addition to the Perth Festival, Music and Ballet exams, and great success on the games field on Wednesday, our children have once again demonstrated a great breadth of interest and engagement. It has also been one of those glorious weeks where I have had the pleasure of being shown a huge number of pieces of work by the children, some for Headmaster’s commendations, others simply because of the pride of their teachers and them and because they have passed my door and wanted to show off their hard work.

I spent Thursday morning with Year 1, and for me this stands out as one of the absolute highlights of my time at St Leonards so far. After break we headed out for a nature walk around the grounds to find evidence of wildlife. The absolute joy we all had for forty minutes on Mentone (the playground between us and the CDR) and outside the Dining Hall, looking for and finding worms, birds nests, rabbit burrows, woodlice and evidence of squirrels scratching the tree trunks, was palpable. We were all lost in the euphoria of being outside, focusing exclusively on nature, listening only to the sounds of birds overhead, and surrounded by bluebells, daffodil buds and everyday wildlife that we take for granted, and hardly notice. I was particularly struck by the excitement of the children heading outside, yet their calmness and genuine desire to discover as much evidence of wildlife as they could. There was also a deep sense of their appreciation of nature, that as we went back into the classroom, it was as if we had been on safari in Kruger Park, not simply to the walled garden!

My plans for outdoor learning, and the introduction of ‘Beach School’, are well documented, for living and working in these stunning surroundings lends itself so well to learning outside. However, it was the extraordinary sense of enchantment that our Year 1s felt going outside to look for everyday nature that has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on the importance of getting outdoors and teaching children basic nature studies, and how to look after and respect the wildlife and fauna on our doorstep. As I looked round the wooded area opposite my study, I imagined a storytelling yurt, area for a fire pit to have ‘Numeracy and Smores’, and what we can do to create the most wonderful, yet basic, outdoor classroom. There is increasing evidence to show that giving children opportunities to be outside helps with all aspects of childhood development, and with no barriers to participation or success, this approach is completely inclusive. Outdoor learning plays a major part in our strategic development at St Leonards Junior School, and I can’t wait to share my ideas with staff, pupils and parents. We must never allow ourselves to become blasé about our immense coastal location; I know several Heads who would make a swap in a heartbeat.

I wish you all a very happy weekend. I should imagine the headlines on Sunday will depend on the result at Twickenham, well certainly the back page headlines. For the first time ever, I shall be watching the Calcutta cup in Scotland, and I pledge to wear a Scotland rugby shirt with pride should the very best (or worst) happen.

William Goldsmith

PS To tie in with our focus on 'Growth Mindset' in the Junior School, please click on the link below for a video by Richard Winston.

Mixed Hockey success


It has been a busy and extremely successful week for our girls and boys on the sporting front.

On Sunday, 9 pupils represented the School at the Scottish Prep schools Cross Country event at Belhaven School. Tom, Magnus, Henry, Luke, Ewen, Paddy and Katie all did extremely well. Special mention goes to Ashton who finished 3rd in the U12 Boys' race; this is a tremendous achievement.

Playing against Lathallan on a very stormy Wednesday afternoon, our U10 mixed hockey players enjoyed a thrilling afternoon battling the wind and rain. The U10 'A' team had a convincing win, with Lucca, Ewen, Luke and Eva scoring two goals each. Meanwhile, the spectators were treated to a nail-biting 'B' team contest, with goals from Cameron, Paddy, Polly and Thomas. The final score was 5-4. Our first mixed hockey fixtures proved to be a huge success, and it was super to have so many pupils involved.

Katie took part in the Belhaven Cross-Country event on Sunday


Human rights, particularly those relating to women and to children, are at the heart of Y7’s current Unit of Inquiry in Language and Literature. As you can imagine, the girls have been especially outraged at some of the examples of gender inequality and discrimination we have read about in our class novel, Parvana’s Journey. This week we were fortunate to have Mrs Mackenzie speak to us about the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the progress of different countries on their journey towards the elimination all forms of discrimination.

Some fascinating questions were posed and addressed. What rights are we entitled to as children, as adults, as elderly people? Which rights are the most urgent? Are all rights equally important? When can our rights be withdrawn?

The questions just kept coming and we are most grateful to Mrs Mackenzie for helping to advance our understanding of these important issues.


Year 2 were treated to a fascinating workshop by Dr Tony Crook (George's dad) on Monday. Our 'Unit of Inquiry' is into stories from around the world and he spoke to us about how stories are used by the tribe that he lived with in Papua New Guinea as a means of sharing wisdom. The children had the chance to climb through a door board and examine an impressive array of bows and arrows. Some of these artefacts are now on display in the Year 2 classroom if you would like to see them and learn more.


After postponing the Year 6 Coastal Walk due to inclement weather earlier in the term, Year 6 had a beautiful, sunny spring day to explore the East Sands and coastal path as part of our Unit of Inquiry. We were looking for evidence of weathering and erosion and the human measures taken to reduce their effects. We took photographic evidence of weathering and erosion and considered the factors which cause the rocks of the Earth’s crust to change gradually over long periods of time.


The Year 3 children continue to investigate different forms of communication. They have created cave paintings, hieroglyphic writing and applying their knowledge of circuit building in order to send messages using Morse Code.


Linked to their Unit of Inquiry, 'How We Express Ourselves, Ms O'Brien gave a presentation to Year 5 which described how different composers and violinists expressed themselves in different ways through their music. She showed Youtube clips of various string quartets to demonstrate how they played their instruments in different ways to create moods and feelings. She demonstrated how different composers created music to document their lives, expressing their experiences, thoughts and emotions. From swinging microphones over amplifiers to create feedback, to making glasses of water 'sing', Ms O'Brien introduced Year 5 to a variety of musical experiences that they shall not forget in a hurry!

Year 5s putting their 'Unit of Inquiry', Expressing Ourselves, into action!


On Thursday Year 1 took a nature walk around the beautiful surroundings of the school to see if they could spot any animals and plants, for their 'Unit of Inquiry', Sharing the Planet. They were asked to look for wildlife to find out about the habitats around us and to think about the ways in which animals protect their young in these habitats. They saw plenty of birds, and thought about how the parent birds protected their babies by finding suitable nesting sites. They looked under stones for small insects and talked about how the insects kept safe in these places. When they got back to the classroom, the children made posters to represent the habitats they had seen and used their phonic skills to label the different things within these habitats.

Introducing Libby, Miss Nejman's new puppy, to Year 6

MAKE A CONNECTION | Thank you to everyone who has attended our Make a Connection Drinks Receptions so far. This week's event in Broughty Ferry and previous events in Newport and St Andrews have proved to be good opportunities for current and prospective parents to mingle. We still have the following drinks receptions taking place (above) and we would be delighted to welcome you and a friend. Next week is in Stanley at Mrs Pennycook’s house – do join us!

Wishing the following a very Happy Birthday

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Fearne, Molly, Rachael, Mia and Mohamed

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