The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 8 September 2017


Catherine would tell you that I have selective hearing; Arthur certainly has selective hearing. He will ignore our pleas for him to come up for bathtime, or when we try to coax him out of the barley field by our house, or even entice him in for his supper. Mention 'Paw Patrol', 'Hot Chocolate' or 'Cake Baking', and his ears prick up and we have his instant attention without a hesitation. It is the rather curious development of a child's brain that helps them distinguish what is really important for them, what is worth paying attention to and what to let pass through without seemingly registering!

In a world dominated by social media, instant results and gratification, being able to listen is one of the most critical skills when growing up. By listening, I don't necessarily mean paying attention in class (as important as that is), I mean actively listening when in the company of family, friends, colleagues or clients. As we become prone to limiting our discussions to 30 character tweets, text messages or subject line emails, the art of engaging in conversation is often lost.

When training older pupils to be 'Peer Listeners', Catherine and I used the following acronym to help children understand how to be an active listener: FELOR.

F - Face the person you are talking to

E - Eye contact is crucial to ensure the other person knows they have your full attention and you are listening

L - Lean in - it draws you into their conversation

O - Open posture - Arms folded is a barrier, instead open yourself up to the conversation.

R - Relax - if you are relaxed, it shows you are not focused on anything else other than the discussion you are having.

Do take time to practice this with your children (and yourselves?) over the weekend.

I spent a very happy lesson with Year 2 yesterday. Their brief was to ask me lots of questions about my role as a Headmaster. What is easy, what is difficult, whether being a Daddy or Headmaster was more challenging, what part I enjoyed most and least etc. Little did I know that afterwards, their task was to write down and illustrate what I did. It transpires they didn't listen to much of my role, apart from sneaking into the staff room after break and pinching biscuits, and singing loudly down the corridors! I have been well and truly rumbled...!

My discussion with Year 2 led to some reflection on what is actually a hugely important part of my role: listening. In amongst my other responsibilities, a large part of my day is spent listening to children, staff, parents, prospective parents, members of the wider community, visitors and external agencies. It is only by stopping and listening that you are able to take the 'temperature of the school' (to coin a Napoleonic phrase) and steer the ship accordingly. I always tell visitors to the school that my principle role is to 'set the tone for St Leonards Junior School'; I can only do this by truly listening to others. My job is certainly not the only one where this is important, and there is no doubt that the art of active listening must be central to the development of a child's soft skills, or character.

Next week will be 'active listening week' here at School, and I know the children will feel genuinely enriched by stopping and taking time to listening to one another. Not only will it show they genuinely care. I think they will be enriched by what they hear from one another.

Wishing all St Leonards families an enjoyable weekend, wherever your adventures take you.

William Goldsmith

PS I can already hear Alison muttering to herself as she reads this next door that I really am not in a position to offer guidance on listening!

Our 'Celebration Assembly' on Monday mornings are always a highlight of the week, as it gives the entire school an opportunity to collectively celebrate individual and collective successes. Our first assembly of the term included presentation of LAMDA certificates (some exceptional results in last term's exams), Music Exam results and a number of Headmaster's Commendations for work completed during the summer holiday.

We also presented our first 'value driven' awards of the year:

Year 1 Pupil of the Week: Eleanor Henderson

Year 2 Pupil of the Week: Mohamed Attia

Year 3 Pupil of the Week: Emily Anderson

Spirit of St Leonards Award: XiuRong Gong

Recognising a 'Blue Peter Badge' is always thrilling, however having two is extraordinary. We were delighted to congratulate Cameron Duncan on his second badge, this time for creating a comic strip about a mad scientist.


We were tremendously proud of the Year 7s who had put themselves up for nomination to become one of our House Captains for this year. They wrote very genuine letters of application to the Headmaster, before giving excellent presentations in Assembly on Wednesday in front of the school. Their peers have voted, along with the staff, and I shall consider their applications and votes this weekend, before announcing our 2017-2018 House Captains early next week. Whatever the outcome, they all have considerable leadership potential and we are lucky to have such a strong year group as role models at St Leonards.


On Tuesday Hamish Sneddon visited the Year 5 children to talk to them about Storehouse, the local food bank charity that we will be supporting at our Harvest Assembly on the 20th September. Hamish spoke to the children about why we have food banks and how they support local people in our community when life becomes harder than normal. This charity is a very worthy cause and we hope you will be able to support it by donating to our collection this year.

U11s and U9s Rugby vs. Fettes

On Wednesday afternoon we had the first rugby fixture of the term with home matches against Fettes. For the first time we had a development touch game with 'U9' as well as a contact 'U9' match and an 'U11' match. All teams narrowly lost out but it was a great effort from all the players.

Year 1 go treasure hunting on the beach

With the sun shining this week, Year 1 decided to go on a sound hunt. Where best to go but the beach? They hunted and sorted for objects beginning with 's', coming up with 'smooth', 'stones' , 'stairs', 'seaweed', 'sea' and of course 'sand'! Mrs. Fynn was delighted when some of the children began to practise writing the sound in the sand and so they all lined up to have a go! They then drew objects beginning with 'a' and practised drawing that sound together as well. Year 1 is really the place to be!


The Year 3 children have been very busy using their skills as communicators and developing their ability to be open mined through a variety of group tasks. They have been working together on their story writing skills where each group chose a different genre and were set the task to create a storyboard to share with the class.

They have also been working in pairs measuring a wide variety of objects in centimeters and meters and creating meter fish for our aquarium!


Following the success of last year's Open Days, our school Open Morning will take place on Saturday, 7 October 2017. Children in Years 4 -7, as well as the Senior School are requested to attend, looking smart in their school uniform, for a morning of fun learning activities. Inquiry lessons will start at 9.00am and finish at 11.30am. I also invite parents to use the event as an opportunity to see the school in action and visit the different areas and departments within our beautiful campus. The morning will start at 9.30am with a short welcome from Dr Carslaw and myself, followed by a tour of the Junior / Senior School, finishing in St Katharines Hall for refreshments. Further details will follow but I do urge you to join us.

Harvest Festival Collection

25% of young people living in St Andrews rely on food banks for food and basic household goods, and we once again looking for donations to give St Andrews Store House following our Harvest Festival. Hamish Sneddon will be joining us for our Harvest Festival Assembly on Wednesday, 20 September. which will be led by our Year 5s and the pupils that attend Bible Unwrapped activity. Please do donate generously as you have in previous years, and we have a special plea for household goods (bleach, window and bathroom cleaner, cloths etc.), which are equally as important. If any parents can lend us hay or straw bales for the assembly, we would be most grateful. Parents and friends are warmly invited to the assembly, and coffee will be served afterwards.

We wish the following a...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Charlie, Alfie, Brendan


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