The Voice of St Leonards junior school

Friday, 6 October 2017


Dear Mama,

I am having a lovely time here. We play football every day here. The beds have no springs. Will you send my stamp album, and quite a lot of swaps. The Masters are very nice. Please excuse this bad writing, but I am writing it in Prep, under rather bad conditions, also, and an excuse is that someone is singing downstairs, and the noise closely resembles that of a fly’s kneecap, rattled about in a bilious buttercup, both having kidney trouble and lumbago.

We played Brien House yesterday but they beet (sp) us 4 goals to none, but they had such a tall goal keeper that his head could touch the top bar of the goal. A man called Mr. Nicholl gave us a fine lecture last night on birds, he told us how owls eat mice. They eat the whole mouse, skin and all, and then all the skin and bones goes into a sort of little parcel inside him and he puts it on the ground, and these are called pellets, and he showed us some pictures of some which he has found, and of a lot of other Birds.

Please could you send me some conkers as quick as you can, but don’t send money, just send them in a tin and wrap it up with paper.

I hope you’re alright. I think this is the longest letter I’ve ever written to you.

Love from


Roald Dahl later conceded that letters such as this (dated 1925) that he wrote weekly from his Prep School in Weston-super-Mare were closely scrutinised by his “revolting Headmaster” and so he had to write “nice things about school”!

I remember writing and receiving letters from my Parents every week at School; indeed my Mother still has these. Whilst I am sure the Headmaster of my school never did read what we had written each week, we always supposed he did.

Focusing on letter writing is a far cry from my recent Blogs about robots and artificial intelligence, but I feel very passionately that it is a skill that is still hugely important nowadays, and we are in danger of losing the art of sending a handwritten postcard or letter.

There are two reasons why I sincerely hope our children will continue to write letters:

1. As young people become so used to “pinging” a quick email, typing at lightening speed; sending emoji laden messages; limiting their correspondence to 15 character tweets and WhatsApps; sending predictive video and image messaging, there is the danger that their written language becomes much less formal and contains more slang. We only need to check ourselves when we write an email to one another to notice replacing ‘Dear’ with ‘Hi’, and ‘Best Wishes’ to ‘Thanks & Ta (or even TTFN)’ to realise how quickly we lose clarity and precision in replacing the pen with a keyboard.

2. The aesthetic value of handwriting still has great appeal. There is something rather impersonal about sending a quick thank you email to someone. A handwritten note automatically expresses true gratitude, thought, individuality and expressiveness. To take the trouble to choose a suitable card or letter, then write a neat and carefully crafted letter, for the recipient to then receive either by hand or through the post, is far more genuine than a ‘ping’ in one’s email inbox.

My colleagues and I absolutely love receiving postcards from children after the holidays, and I recently received an outstanding thank you letter from a Year 7 following a recent camping weekend. Carefully written and authentic, it is a letter I shall keep in the top drawer of my desk in my study here at school, alongside a letter I received from my Housemaster twenty years ago. One files emails away never to be read again, yet a handwritten note rarely gets discarded to the bin.

Communication is now so easy with mobile phones, email, Skype etc. This means that there is far less reason to write a letter which is a huge shame. We have letters from some of the greatest figures in history and they provide such a rich insight into life in previous eras, and I hope the next era will not be exclusively remembered through a digital footprint left by our children.

Whilst I hope you will forgive the absence of a hand-written thank you note, I wish to pass on my very grateful thanks to all St Leonards families for their support with Open Morning tomorrow.

William Goldsmith


Please do take time to watch this short clip, which was shown to the school in Assembly on Wednesday morning.

Team-work was our theme, and as this clip demonstrates, true team work take the form of collectively overcoming obstacles, embracing challenge and showing perseverance.

U9 Rugby vs Fettes on Wednesday


The following presentations were made in Assembly on Monday morning:

Year 1 Pupil of the week: Matilda Gilbertson

Year 2 Pupil of the week: Cara Easton

Year 3 Pupil of the week: Anona Steven

Spirit of St Leonards Award: Ingrid Moreno-Faulds

Headmaster's Commendations:

Anona Steven for creating a poster showing why people come to St Andrews

Hari Dhasmana for creating a poster showing why people come to St Andrews

Tom Logan for a creative autobiographical vlog having studied Roald Dahl's Boy.

September 'Artist of the Month': Esme MacMillan-Doran, for a truly expressive piece of work, developing ideas of a large composition to describe her identity (see title picture).


On Thursday, Year 5 welcomed 2 PHD students from the University of St Andrews International Relations Department, Lina Malagon and Flaminia Incecchi. Lina was originally from Colombia and Flaminia was from Italy.

They came to talk to the classes about International Relations, Amnesty International and the Rights of the Child, all linked to our Unit of Inquiry “Who we Are”.

Our guests began with the introducing the Rights of the Child and what every child is entitled to.

The right to a name and a country.

The right to education

The right to medical care

The right to clean water

The right to live in a warm and comfortable home.

The right NOT to work

The right NOT to live in poverty.

The children were then asked to create a new “friend” and to name them. Each child wrote down what rights a child was entitled to around their new friend.

Then the class was split into two. One half represented Colombia, the other half Scotland.

We then compared the rights of the children in both countries, some of the statistics were quite eye opening.

In Colombia not every child has the right to an education compared to every child in Scotland.

100% of children in Scotland have the right not to work (except in class and doing homework in case there is any confusion here!)

10% of children in Colombia work.

Scottish children all have access to clean water, 28% of children in Colombia do not.

Then the statistics made us all begin to think. The right NOT to live in poverty effected both countries, 38% of children in Colombia live in poverty, a shocking 28% of children in Scotland live in poverty. 37% of children in Colombia do not live in a warm and comfortable environment with 10% of children in Scotland also living without a warm and comfortable environment. This made us all really think.

The classes really enjoyed their activities with Lina and Flaminia, they realised that they could make a difference to many lives if they wanted to in the future. Through organisations like Amnesty International anyone can make a difference.


The Year 3 children have been researching why people would visit and choose to settle in St. Andrews. On Thursday they ventured to the Museum of Golf to find out about the history of golf and how St. Andrews became the home of golf therefore, attracting people from all over the world to visit. The curator of the museum, Hannah Fleming very kindly led a workshop for the children and allowed us to handle some of the exhibits…..including an exact replica of the famous Claret Jug!


Year 6 are creating an installation to highlight the enormous problem of plastic pollution across the world's oceans. They constructed marine life from plastic bottles and packaging they collected, working collaboratively in small and large groups to create a whole class piece that I hope has raised the school's awareness. They are also making posters and information sheets with facts about the issues involved.
Year 3 with their Ladybird hotel
Helena has been selling cooking apples from her Garden to raise funds for the 'Scottish Air Ambulance', together with recipe cards she has produced. They are going fast, so do come and get yours next week. Well done to Helena, House Captain of Harris, for this initiative.
U9 Rugby vs. Fettes Prep
We wish the following a very....

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Francis, Nicholas and Helena


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