The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 27 April 2018

A Force for Good


I spent yesterday in Leamington Spa (nightmare to get to from here) at the HQ of IAPS, the group of prep schools that St Leonards belongs to. During the meeting, we heard from a fellow Head, Marcus Culverwell from Reigate St Marys, who gave an excellent presentation on ‘Education for Social Responsibility’. IAPS represents 600 of the top prep and junior schools worldwide, all of which have made a pledge to 'provide a challenging, purposeful education that makes an enduring difference to a child’s development'. At the heart of every IAPS school will be ‘education for social responsibility’ (ESR): the promotion of wellbeing, the rights, responsibility, knowledge, skills and opportunity that will enable young people to be valuable and constructive members of society” (IAPS, 2014).

The main purpose of Education for Social Responsibility is to understand that the children we are teaching - the next generation – are going to be the ones to solve some of the greatest problems and challenges that we face, which can be argued include:

  1. How to deal with our unsustainable, unhealthy and unfair global education system.
  2. Our impact on planet Earth.
  3. The impact of food, fresh water, fertile soil and productive oceans running down.

These environmental, social and economic issues will provide extraordinary opportunities for our children as they grow up; opportunities that will break down cultural and geographic borders, but ones that they need to be well prepared to face, define and solve.

In 2012, the Royal Society published a paper called ‘People and the Planet’, in which they warned: 'the next 30-40 years provides the opportunity to move towards a sustainable economy and a better world for the majority of humanity, or alternatively the risk of social, economic, and environmental failures and catastrophes on a scale never imagined'.

With this in mind, I joined twenty other Heads yesterday in total agreement with Mr Culverwell that we have a responsibility to put ‘Education for Social Responsibility’ right at the heart of our schools. It is absolutely no good teaching our children knowledge and skills without making connections to real life issues that they will be well placed to deal with. When a child tells me they want to become an engineer when they are older, or wants to solve a world problem, I take them seriously. If we harness their ambitions, moral compass and desire to help deal with the cost of an unethical economic system, then we must do all we can to promote them.

Bankers, lawyers, hedge-fund managers and traders will still be needed to contribute to society, but so will people to bring creative ideas to ensure future global stability. Over 70% of all top judges have come out of the independent sector, and have therefore most likely attended an IAPS school. This is out of a population in the UK where only 7% are educated privately. This suggests that children educated in our schools have a high probability of going on to influential positions. If this is the case and if we harness their interest in addressing issues of social, economic and environmental concern now, then we will be educating the next generation to be a ‘force for good', the very ethos that underpins IAPS, whereby children learn to make a positive difference, the effect of which will last for generations.

Do watch this clip, which highlights the impact of the fashion industry:

By sheer coincidence, I had the pleasure of seeing ‘Education for Social Responsibility’ first hand on Tuesday afternoon. A group of Year 7 pupils had found a seagull with a broken wing on the playing fields. I was approached by them and was prepared (I am ashamed to say) to bustle the children straight to Latin and think nothing more of this. I was frowned upon and persuaded to act on this.

After a phone call to the RSPB, an hour’s mission to put the bird in a dog cage, and two hours' spent waiting for the seagull to be collected, I found I had learned a great deal from these girls. They assured me that missing Latin had nothing to do with their plight, as they merely wanted to help this bird. Imagine what these children will be capable of in 15 years’ time, but only if they are taught properly to understand these key issues we face, and are equipped with the confidence and core belief to do something about it. Now that is exciting, not only for the children, but for us as schools.

Through our PYP and MYP ‘Units of Inquiry’, we are perfectly placed to continue to give an insight into current world issues. We intend to do this. Mr Culverwell has produced a very useful guide for IAPS Schools, and I do urge you to read this:

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

William Goldsmith


SUMS IN THE SUN | Year 5 have been working on ‘area’ in Maths and to make their learning more real and practical, the class took their measuring instruments outside into the playground. The boys and girls began to find the area of a variety of objects including the swing seats, the bench, the area of a step on the slide and the area of the grow bag.

Some of the numbers were beginning to get quite big and calculators were going to be required! Everyone enjoyed being out in the lovely April sunshine and making their Maths real.


BUSHCRAFT CLUB | Tuesday saw the first meeting of the Bushcraft Club, which is open to children in Years 4-7 (although is already oversubscribed!) and aims to familiarize them with the basics of bushcraft. Through a range of fun and practical outdoor activities, the children will develop an enhanced connection with nature, as well as building confidence and resilience.

The club is led by Mr Barrable and will run throughout Summer Term, with boys and girls learning how to build and set up shelters, light fires using a variety of materials, and prepare and cook food over a fire. The group will also learn to use hand tools, such as knives and saws, safely, and have a go at simple orienteering.

With a goal of camping out in the school grounds later this term to work towards, each meeting of the club will prepare the children for a night outdoors, during which they will prepare their own dinner and breakfast before breaking up camp before school starts the next day!

In their first meeting this week, Mr Barrable laid out the goals of the club, explaining about the different skills they would be covering, as well as emphasizing the importance of safety in all of the club’s activities. The session was a fantastic introduction to bushcraft; a fire was lit using deadfall wood collected by the children, who then cooked bannock on sticks over the flames, which was then enjoyed with butter and strawberry jam!

Here’s to a busy term of bushcraft!


NATIONAL SELECTION | Special congratulations goes to Charlotte in Year 7, who has been selected for the National Children's Orchestra of Scotland. Charlotte, who is a very talented violinist, will attend an orchestra camp in Glasgow during the summer holidays, and has already attended a residential course with her fellow musicians in Stirling. A truly fantastic achievement!


CRANNOG CENTRE | Friday has been particularly busy in the Junior School, with the Year 7 trip departing for Normandy first thing, lots of our young golfers taking part in the St Leonards Junior Golf Championships, our singers away at Fettes for the Prep Schools Orchestra Day, and Year 5 out at the Crannog Centre in Perthshire. There's never a dull moment!

Year 5 had a wonderful time touring the Iron Age dwelling and learning what life would have been like 2,500 years ago when communities lived in these ancient loch dwellings.

It looks like the weather took a turn for the worse on the way back to school and everyone was glad to be warm and comfortable on the bus rather than out in the April snow shower!


GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS | We had a record turnout for the St Leonards National Junior U9, U11 & U13 Golf Championships on Friday, with 172 players from across Scotland signed up to play on the Balgove and Strathtyrum courses.

Full list of results to follow!


PREP SCHOOLS' ORCHESTRA DAY | A group of musicians from the Junior School travelled to Fettes in Edinburgh on Friday, where they joined forces with pupils from other schools for the Prep Schools' Orchestra Day.

Alastair, Shelagh, Lana, Ruby, Marina, Millie and Elisenda spent the day rehearsing for what promises to be a wonderful combined concert at Fettes later today!


AROUND THE GROUNDS | Year 1 took full advantage of their beautiful surroundings on campus to explore a range of buildings as part of their learning for the current Unit of Inquiry, Where We Are in Place and Time. Before setting off on their walk, they predicted the materials they thought they might see including bricks, cement, glass and tiles. They also discussed the purpose of the buildings in school such as areas to learn, play, eat and work.

While carrying out their walk, the class were amazed to find out that there are some very old buildings at St Leonards. They particularly enjoyed looking for clues to show change over time, including changes to shape in the sandstone and the differences between the windows in the old and new parts of the school. They will use all the information they have gathered to make a timeline of the buildings found at school, and eventually to plan and design a shelter of their own.


The following pupils were presented with certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday:

Edward, Alanya, Mark, XiuRong, Eliza, Nicholas, Jennifer, Zachary, Eva and Maya received their ABRSM certificates, recognising a fantastic set of results in their recent music exams.

Holly was Year 1 Pupil of the Week for showing an excellent attitude and genuine excitement at returning to school, and for a truly impressive piece of design work, which showcased her skills and knowledge about materials and their properties.

Hayfaa was Year 2 Pupil of the Week for showing great enthusiasm at the start of the new Unit of Inquiry and for contributing a great deal to the Wonderings Wall.

Evie was Year 3 Pupil of the Week for making a super start to the term, and for showing open-mindedness and cooperation with others in the class.

Mohamed received a Headmaster's Commendation for a research project on ladybirds, and speaking so confidently about his learning. Mohamed's award was also presented for his superb journal about a surprise holiday to Egypt.

Cara was awarded a Headmaster's Commendation for producing a wonderful PowerPoint presentation full of 'wonderings' and for presenting her findings about insects.

Euan received a Headmaster's Commendation for the imagination deployed in creating 'George', a homework hero 'bot' who helps children with their homework to assist busy parents!

Logan received a round of applause at Celebration Assembly for collecting 100 Good Marks.


EDIBLE GARDEN | On Wednesday, Year 2 had a wonderful morning at the university’s Edible Gardens at Albany Park, near the East Sands beach. The boys and girls were met by university students and two Education Officers who work for both the Botanical Gardens and for Transition, the university’s hub for sustainability activity in St Andrews, supporting the community in low-carbon living. With their help, the class proudly became ‘super sustainability warriors’!

The children learned about the importance of growing fresh, local food and gained the knowledge and skills to grow parsnips, kale and potatoes using a ‘no dig’ method. They were shown how to use a variety of gardening tools safely, and did lots of weeding, planting and harvesting vegetables. Everyone had the chance to eat some greens and the group went home with a big armful of kale!

We are really excited about developing a small market garden within the school grounds, and have gained some great ideas for plants that we want to grow. We plan to dig some vegetable beds beside the Junior School so that we can get growing!

Any contributions from kind parents of either compost or well-rotted manure would be extremely welcome and help our plants to grow happily.


BOOK AID COLLECTION | A big thank you to everyone who donated to this year’s Book Aid collection in the Junior School! A total of £123.77 was raised through a series of fun events and activities, including the wonderful World Book Day costume parade last term!


EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA | The sun shone for the Great St Leonards Egg Hunt (take two) on Saturday, after snow postponed the original event. Everyone had a fantastic time searching for clues in the grounds before tucking into lots of lovely homebaking and chocolate treats in St Katharines Hall.

A big thank you to the St Leonards Parents Association for all their hard work and dedication to ensuring the 2018 Egg Hunt was a success! The Retreat Café looked particularly splendid with cheery red polka dot tablecloths and lots of lovely spring flowers!


Welcome back to what promises to be a busy, sunny and immensely enjoyable culmination to our academic year.

I hope that unlike me, you and your children managed to find all the Easter eggs you had hidden in your garden (one evades me every year, I anticipate somebody in my family locating the egg with its melty contents around about June) and you all had a fantastic break despite the occasionally challenging ‘spring’ weather.

We are all full of vim and vigour and as you will have heard from Mr Goldsmith, ‘Beach School’ and all aspects of our outdoor learning programme are well underway.

May I please remind everybody that with scheduled ‘Beach School’ having commenced last Wednesday with Year 3, we need to be mindful of our geographical location and therefore the need to prepare for every weather contingency! PE kit, waterproofs, waterproof footwear, sun hats and sun cream are going to be essential this term, as are extra socks!

Ideally this outdoor learning kit would be in school at all times in order that children are ready for anything on any given day. I appreciate that there is a lot to remember but a reasonably sized games kit rucksack can hold a great deal and it would be a shame for children to miss out on terrific experiences due to lack of suitable clothing. Year 2 are at the beach next Wednesday, and Year 1 the following week.

All the Lower School team appreciate your continued assistance and support as we roll out our outdoor education programme. It is a terrifically exciting time for us all, with such fantastic resources right on our doorstep, from our beautiful grounds to the beach and everywhere between. We are increasingly linking the children’s learning to our outdoor space and knowing we have your support in opening this critical avenue of learning is incredibly important to us.

The children are all well underway in their new Units of Inquiry already. New reading books have been issued and all aspects of our curriculum are in full swing. The Lower School objectives this week have been:

Year One

  • Maths - Investigating weight. Year 1 have explored the units of weight, compared weights and started to weigh accurately in grams.
  • English - Focusing on sentence writing this week, the children have consolidated use of capital letters and full stops and begun to expand sentences using connectives while describing their houses.
  • Phoneme 'oo', 'er' and 'ar'.

Year Two

  • Maths - This week the class have been ordering and sequencing numbers to 1000 as well as exploring weight.
  • English - Researching ladybird facts has been the focus this week using ICT and information books. Having recorded key facts, the children have been creating their own information posters.
  • Phoneme 'ow' as in 'low' and 'flow'.

Year Three

A plea: please could all Year 3 children remember to bring in a shoe box!

  • Maths - Investigating money this week, the children have begun to select appropriate coins in order to pay for goods as well as beginning to develop strategies for determine change.
  • Literacy - Having begun their new class text ‘The Aardvark who wasn’t sure’ the children have been reading with expression, exploring new vocabulary and answering comprehension questions in full sentences.
  • Phoneme - 'ear'.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Claire Boissiere, Lower School Coordinator

We wish the following a very...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead (and this week): Grace, Katie, Nadja, Meredith, Tom, Abbie, Tyler, Calum and Clara

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