The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 25 May 2018

Firing up a passion


'What does it feel like when you’re dancing', the judge asks Billy Elliot at a last ditched effort to fire up some passion from an unlikely candidate for the Royal Ballet School at the end of a pretty disastrous audition.

'Dunno', replies Billy. For whilst dancing transports him to somewhere very special, he has never been asked to articulate this before, not least he has developed his passion and skill in a mining village in County Durham, a world away from the Royal Ballet School.

Finally, Billy elaborates: 'Dunno. It sort of feels good. It’s sort of safe and that… But, once I get going, I sort of forget everything. I sort of disappear. I can feel a change in my whole body. I’m just there… I have this fire in my whole body. I’m flying… like a bird. Like electricity… Yeah, like electricity.'

Do watch the clip, below. It is an incredibly powerful song and moment in such a moving show.

We all have passions in our lives, and it is wonderful to see the children truly engrossed in passions they have, whether this be on stage, performing in a concert, on the football or hockey pitch, playing tennis or indeed reading. There is nothing more exciting than engaging a young person in discussion about something that truly excites and enchants them. Indeed, just listening to that child getting more and more passionate about the subject, it really is one of the joys of working with young people, and you as parents must get a thrill when they develop a passion.

For me, Arthur is utterly passionate about tractors, and whilst this is a very common interest in three-year-olds living in a rural area, and not perhaps as deep as ballet or music, it still gives us great pleasure to see his excitement and genuine interest at the sight of a tractor. Indeed, at the Fife show on Saturday, Arthur, dressed in his Massey Ferguson overalls (he has worn these every day for two weeks), spent an hour and a half sitting in the driver’s seat of a Claus tractor (little did we know he had also found the owner’s supply of sweets and was happily munching away on these). I look forward also to Arthur developing this and other interests, and perhaps even taking after one of my own great passions: music.

Many of you will know that I have music, mainly choral, playing in my study for much of the day. The very long-suffering Alison puts up with this more than anyone, and has on many occasions had to rush through to listen to (what I find) an exciting moment of Tallis and pretend she is as excited as I am!

I have my father to thank for my passion in both orchestral and choral music. He encouraged me as soon as I showed the remotest interest, starting my pretty vast collection of classical music with the Sunday Times Music collection, a range of CDs on promotion in the early 1990s. I was perhaps a little unusual being a young boy with an interest in classical music, but my father celebrated this and my passion proudly grew as a result. Catherine and I have very different tastes in music, but have now developed a mutual interest in each other’s preferred genres, possibly Catherine more than me as she is slightly more open minded than I am. (I am often to be found in the study listening to something written in 1550, whilst she is sewing next door listening to Adele) I can’t wait to begin to nurture whatever our children have an interest in.

My reason for writing about this follows a performance yesterday morning of one of my favourite pieces of music, played exceptionally well by one of our pupils. A piece for violin, I lost myself as it was being played and it really fired me up. Yeats famously said: 'Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire', a statement I hold very true to our job as teachers, where we should ignite a passion in the charges we teach and watch as their interests soar. It took a great deal for Billy Elliot’s Father to embrace his son’s talent and interest in the 1980s, and as times have changed it is far easier for all of us to steer our children to follow their interests, and with the right encouragement see those interests turn into life-long passions.

Before closing, I will overindulge and share three pieces of choral music that I listen to every Saturday morning as I take Patrick on a walk above Kincaple to admire the magnificent view over West Sands and beyond:

I wish all St Leonards families a wonderful Half Term break, wherever your adventures, interests and passions take you.

William Goldsmith


TECHNO CHALLENGE | On Thursday we welcomed visiting teams from 13 local schools for the 22nd annual Techno Challenge Day. The initiative was started in 1996 by Mrs Ann Massie, former Head of Maths at St Leonards, who created the event to bring teams from local schools together for a day of science and technology problem solving activities.

The visiting teams of Primary 6 pupils toured our beautiful campus, taking part in a range of challenges including using iPads to design animations, building working models and the highlight of the day, the Maths Relay in the Main School Hall.

In the final challenge, the teams set about solving a series of 30 Maths questions in a race against time, with pairs of pupils scribbling furiously to submit their sums to the invigilator before starting the next task.

With the correct answers counted, the results were in, the winners of this year’s Techno Challenge were announced. Craigclowan Preparatory School from Perth claimed the top spot in the “large schools” category, closely followed by St Leonards Junior School as runner-up. A fantastic effort from our team!

In the small schools category, the winning team was Strathkinness Primary School, with Crail Primary as runner-up.

All pupils demonstrated fantastic teamwork and problem-solving abilities throughout the different tasks and left with their St Leonards Techno Challenge goodie bags as a memento of the day.


YEAR 2 WEAVING | Year 2 were busy weaving in the outdoor classroom on Tuesday afternoon, using brightly coloured wool and found objects such as leaves, shells, sticks and grass, to create individual woven boards and construct their own woven den in the trees.


INFORMAL CONCERTS | As is now a tradition, we finished the week before Half Term with two terrific Informal Concerts, with Years 4-7 performing in the Music School Auditorium on Thursday morning, and Years 1-3 taking their turn earlier today.

At the Year 4-7 concert, the String Club opened with Habanera, and Alina was our first soloist, playing the Sandman’s Lullaby on the piano. Second to take the stage was Jennifer, who performed Hot Chilli on the flue, then it was Nicholas, who played a super rendition of House of the Rising Sun on the guitar.

Maya delighted the audience with Foggy Dew on the flute, Lana played Ecossaise on the violin, and Polly played Lightly Row on the piano. Zachary’s performance of Wiegenlied by Schubert was wonderful, Finn added a touch of jazz with Funk It on the piano, then it was time for the Brass Ensemble to stand up and perform Kum ba Yah.

Alyssa’s piano piece was Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Riya was our second vocalist of the morning, singing A Million Dreams from the musical The Greatest Showman. The programme continued with XiuRong on the piano, Brendan’s performance of Mozart on the viola, Alastair on the piano playing La Donna e Mobile, and Eva on the bass guitar.

Angus played The Merry Peasant Returning from Work on the piano, Brodie performed Popcorn on the violin, and then Logan livened up proceedings with a 2/4 March on the snare drum. We were certainly all wide awake after that!

Two final performances from Luke on the piano and Charlotte on the violin rounded off a lovely morning of music.

This morning parents, pupils and staff took their seats for the Year 1-3 concert, which opened with a wonderful performance of the Arctic Monkeys song Brick by Brick, performed by Year 1.

A series of soloists follow, with Evie on the violin, and Nikolas, Mia, Ruben and Kamilah on the piano, before Evie was joined by Anona for a duet on the violin. Anona stayed on the stage for a solo performance of Cheeky Monkey, then it was time for some tunes on the recorder, started off by Anna, then Paula and James played their pieces.

Grace rounded off the solo acts with Chopsticks on the piano, the Year 2 violinists showed off their newly acquired skills, and two songs closed the programme, performed by all the children in Years 1-3. First we heard Watch Out, followed by a Jamaican folk song, sung as a round, and with that, we ended the first half of Summer Term on a high note!


FOOTBALL FUN | The St Leonards B team, aka the ‘Leos’, played away on Monday evening at the St Andrews Rotary Primary Schools Football Tournament. An admirable performance from the St Leonards side!


YEAR 5 BEACH SCHOOL | As part of their Unit of Inquiry on 'Diverse Scotland', Year 5P have been down on the beach recreating iconic landmarks in the sand. We had Edinburgh Castle, a map of Scotland complete with rivers, farms and fish farms, all sculpted on the East Sands! A great way to end a unit and start the Half Term break!


The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday:

Grace for her work on endangered animals in the Unit of Inquiry, and for supporting WWF by adopting a dolphin.

Hari for creating an endangered animal quiz book.

Evie for researching and creating a magnificent poster on parrots.

Clara for writing a chapter book on the importance of brushing your teeth.

James for being motivated to write his own version of the next section of the class novel, and doing so with enthusiasm and real focus, and for leading a discussion group with maturity and sensitivity as the pupils shared their versions of the story with one another.

Harris was Year 1 Pupil of the Week for his excellent attitude towards independent tasks, and for super engagement and effort during an inquiry lesson to design a shelter of his own.

Paula was Year 2 Pupil of the Week for always putting others before herself and being a super role model to her peers.

Rachel was presented with her gymnastics medal during Celebration Assembly.

Nikolas was awarded a Spirit of St Leonards Award for displaying real kindness and thoughtfulness to others.

Silver Stars were awarded to George, Tyler and Angus.

A Gold Star was awarded to Harry.

The following pupils have collected 100 Good Marks: Adam, Rory, Oscar, Kabir, Francis, George, Angus, Anna, Emily, Grace, Harry and Nihal.


GEAR CUBE | Year 5 were tasked with solving the XL Gear Cube on Wednesday and after a fair amount of battling, success! Well done to our outstanding problem solvers!


BOARDERS' DINNER | The Year 7 boarders were treated to a special dinner at Dr Carslaw’s house on Tuesday evening. Mrs Carslaw very kindly hosted the pupils for a delicious meal, and it was a lovely opportunity for all our youngest boarders, including some relatively new to the school, to get to know each other.


GARDENING CLUB | Members of the Years 1, 2 & 3 Gardening Club have been very active this week, sowing seeds, potting on young plants, and creating liquid plant food using nettles. The children are running a plant stall in the Junior School in order to raise funds for future gardening projects – please do drop in for a browse!


15-MINUTE HAMLET | Year 7 were busy rehearsing for a 15-minute performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ on Tuesday morning. By all accounts there were lots of top acting skills on display, including a very dramatic ‘stabbing’ on stage!


YEAR 5 BANNOCKS | Mr Barrable’s Year 5 class gathered in the outdoor classroom on Tuesday morning to whip up bowls of bannock mixture, which they then cooked over the fire pit. These traditional Scottish snacks tied in perfectly with their Unit of Inquiry about Scotland!


BAKE SALE | Lana’s Stand Up To Cancer Bake Sale on Monday was absolutely superb, with tables of cakes and other treats as far as the eye could see! The total amount raised for Stand Up To Cancer was an incredible £367.37! Thank you to all who baked and bought cakes on the day!


Another jam-packed week in the Junior School taking us towards a much anticipated half term. All children who played and sang in the informal concert this morning were amazing, not just in terms of their playing but also the very fact that they were prepared to get up and give things a go, the very embodiment of our ethos at St Leonards.

I have enjoyed seeing and hearing about the treasures Year 1 found on the beach this week, found myself pondering what the appropriate number of children in one tree might be and marvelled at the various mini-beasts and plants that I am shown on duty. Learning is active and by that measure our children are learning a very great deal indeed.

Our key objectives this week have been:

Year One

  • Maths: To revise methods of addition of numbers within 20 and beyond. To begin to solve word problems involving addition.
  • English: To develop their ability to write instructions by writing their own instructions for building shelters.
  • Phonics: Revision of long vowel sounds 'ee' and 'ea', and tricky word revision.

Year Two

  • Maths: To be able to identify and use 'less than' and 'greater than' signs. Division using concrete materials, and making links between multiplication and division.
  • English: To read and appreciate poetry by various authors, exploring the structure and rhyme within a selected poem.
  • Phonics: 'oi'.

Year Three

  • Maths: To continue to consolidate knowledge of fractions and finding fractions of numbers, as well as investigating common equivalent fractions.
  • English: To be able to use 's to show belonging. To continue with the class text and accompanying comprehension, focusing on full sentences. To read and discuss as a class 'Dear Greenpeace', which links with Year Three's Unit of Inquiry.
  • Phonics: 'ear' for 'air'.

All the Lower School staff wish you and your families a terrific week learning together and we shall see you on Monday, 4 June.

Claire Boissiere, Lower School Coordinator


ART EXHIBITION & PA SUMMER DRINKS | You are warmly invited to join us for the 2018 Art Exhibition Preview and PA Summer Drinks on Friday, 8 June from 5.30pm - 8.30pm. Enjoy live music and creative cocktails as you browse this year's exhibits!

We look forward to seeing you there!


BOOK LAUNCH | Following Robert J Harris's visit to St Leonards Junior School earlier this month, the St Andrews author is launching his new Richard Hannay novel 'The Thirty-One Kings' at Waterstones on Market Street on Friday, 1 June.

All are welcome to join Bob to celebrate the launch with drinks, snacks, cake and a talk all about his latest book!

We wish the following a...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday: Archie, Anna, Harry and Eabha.

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