The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 23 June 2017

BEHIND THE STUDY DOOR

I have never been in a school where the quality of art is so high. Every single day I am mesmerized by the standard, variety and energy of the art work on display in our hall and corridors. Yesterday evening’s Art Exhibition was a wonderful occasion for so many Parents, Pupils and Staff to enjoy looking at work produced by every single child here, and in many cases there were 3 to 4 pieces of work on display from each child. The artwork is remarkable, and I know I can speak for everyone who has seen the exhibition, that one could be excused for feeling they had stepped into the Tate Modern, National Portrait Gallery and the V&A all merged into one.

Why is art so important? Why does this exhibition of work stretch well beyond the subject? What impact does this have on the children?

1. Every single child at St Leonards is an artist. Fact. I cannot differentiate the work from year group to year group, or those who consider themselves talented at art, and those who don’t. Many of the pupils will have joined St Leonards, or perhaps come into this academic year, not believing they have a talent in art. I doubt very much that the children would have imagined the high praise they will have received by all those who have seen their work on display. Our dynamic Head of Art, Miss Adele Neave, has approached this completely differently. She firmly believes that every child is an artist and has proved this. Over the course of the year, she has encouraged those who didn’t believe they had a skill, motivated those who were perhaps a little more reluctant, and given everyone the self-efficacy that they are an artist. One of my favourite sayings is “I can and I am” (James Shone), and I know many of our children will end the year with more confidence in their own abilities than when they started through their success in art. Adele’s deep rooted philosophy that every child has a talent in art has given all 155 pupils a sense of purpose, pride and confidence that stretches well beyond her art studio.

2. One of the great educational initiatives of the 20th Century was the emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), a response to a decline in pupils taking forward their studies in Maths and Science. Quite rightly, STEM has been a major focus in many schools, and as such we have seen a resurgence in these critical subjects, especially amongst girls. What is missing from STEM? The all-important A – Arts. Never before has there been so much uncertainty in the UK education system than the position of Arts currently. Music is at risk of being squeezed out of the curriculum, and here in Fife many schools do not now offer any Class Music. Art is being discredited as a core academic subject, and History of Art as an A-level has only just escaped a purge. Never before has STEAM been more important, and it is critical that the Sciences and Arts have equal importance in our education system. If there is anyone that thinks otherwise, I urge them to come and see our exhibition. Our pupils haven’t just created pretty pictures and art work, every single picture has a deeper meaning and understanding behind it. Take, for example, our Year 6 project on saving water; the children have learned far more about water inequality in the world by engaging in this project than if they followed a textbook. Every project undertaken by our pupils this year has a strong educational backbone to it, and the pupils have learned a great deal.

3. I talk a lot about the importance of developing creativity, imagination, innovation and curiosity in children. These are not only interesting and lively skills to acquire, but they are essential in the preparation for life beyond school. I saw parents yesterday utterly captivated by individual artwork, and if I had a pound for every time I heard one of those four words uttered yesterday, I would now have built the Tate Modern here at St Leonards. For many pupils, this artwork will have taken them into new, exciting places and unleashed swathes of imagination. This is not only key for a happier life, but also engaging a part of the brain that performs a critical function.

4. A key facet of the IB is developing a strong understanding of ‘who you are’ and ‘how we feel about the world around us’. On talking to Adele about her passion for teaching Art, she makes it clear that this compassion and empathy lies at the heart of her approach, and you can see this in much of the work on display, both in the Junior School and Senior school.

As teachers we seek to inspire our pupils. Every child will have been inspired by their art lessons this year, and we in turn have been inspired by all they have produced. What a wonderful circle to be part of.

William Goldsmith

ART EXHIBITION

Thank you to everyone that joined us yesterday evening to celebrate the work of our very talented boys and girls at the opening of their very own Junior School Art Exhibition. It was a wonderful chance for parents, friends and family to view the impressive from every single Junior School child – we are immensely proud, as a school, of their work and are already looking forward to next year’s event. Thank you to Adele for transforming the Junior School display boards into a creative hub of excellence.

YEAR 1 - 3 CELEBRATIONS

Our Year 1, 2 and 3 classes were celebrated yesterday in their very own special assembly. We listened to every pupil's highlight of their current school year, and their plans, hopes and dreams for their new class, when they return to school in August. The children enjoyed watching themselves, and each other in the video presentations they had made earlier in their classes. The assembly closed with a song directed by Mr Shiells, followed by certificates being presented to our boys and girls - they had time for a very quick photograph, all smiles...!

CYBER SPACE

A major focus of Year 7 Language and Literature this term has been the novel ‘Hacker’ by Malorie Blackman, and earlier in the week we were delighted to have a visit from Malakai’s father, Mr. MacKenzie. His fascinating talk on Cyberspace and Cybersecurity was of great relevance to our Inquiry Unit and of great interest to the pupils.

Mr. MacKenzie described his role as a computer security consultant and the challenges of his work which multiply daily in view of the growth in the number of devices we use and the speed of technological advances. Whilst a huge advocate of innovation, he alerted us to the darker side of the web – viruses, malware, worms, Trojan horses and spyware, to name but a few forms of hacking. He demonstrated how to recognize suspicious activities such as phishing, honeypots, and brute force attacks making us realize that these practices do occur in real life, not just works of fiction.

His valuable advice on staying safe online prompted many of us take steps to choose stronger passwords and review our settings and anti-virus software. If you are looking for any safety tips or are thrown by words like patching, bitcoins, encryption and ransom ware – just ask year 7. Our sincere thanks again to Mr. MacKenzie for sharing his valuable time and expertise.

LAST STRING CLUB

String Club enjoyed a traditional ice cream treat from Jannettas in their final lesson of the term – congratulations to our Junior School string team this year, for demonstrating such excellent performances.

YEAR 7 SLEEPOVER

Last week, our Year 7s spent time in the Senior School as part of their induction organised by Head of Years 8 and 9, Mr Dan Barlow. For their final treat of the 'Moving Up' experience, the group enjoyed an outdoor ceilidh and a school sleepover! Look how excited they are! Activities followed outside, to soak up the beautiful summer weather, before more fun team games happened in the house. Then it was story telling with tasty snacks and delicious midnight hot chocolates to enjoy before bedtime. This final part of an action packed induction week for our Year 7s was a success, but there were some rather sleepy children returned home on Saturday!

SWIMMING CHAMPION ABBIE

Many Congratulations to Abbie in Year 4c, who competed in the Cupar Swimming Club Championships and won not one, not two, but three medals! Abbie came 1st in the Under 8 Breaststroke and Front Crawl races and 2nd place in the Under 8 Butterfly stroke. We are immensely proud of Abbie for doing her very best and swimming ahead of the pack. Above is a photograph of her with all her silverware!

YEAR 3 UNIT OF INQUIRY

As part of Year 3's current inquiry into how farms produce goods and services for our community, we were delighted to recently welcome Mr Smeddle to our class for a workshop on how to make butter. The children managed to create butter from locally produced cream and learned about the processes used at the The Peat Inn. We thoroughly enjoyed tasting the class-made butter with home baked bread kindly brought in by Alfie. Many thanks to Mr Smeddle for taking the time to visit and talk to us.

SLJS END OF YEAR CONCERT

The SLJS End of Year Concert will take place on Monday, 26 June at 7.00pm. We look forward to celebrating the end of term and listening to the sweet sounds of the instrumental ensembles, choirs and our Year 7 selected soloists. Please do join us in the Music School Auditorium – friends and family members are also very welcome to attend.

HOLIDAY PLANS - KINGS CAMP

It is almost time to think about the Summer Holidays! Kings Camp are returning to St Leonards to run their wonderful children's camps. This year, they are running play sessions from Monday, 3 July to Friday, 4 August. Join us for an exciting itinerary of games, activities and lots of fun! As some of you ill already know, each week is packed with an amazing range of sports and activities with theme days, challenges and the end of week Kings Games. Held in and around our school campus, our Kings Camp attendees enjoy playing outdoors in the sunshine on our playing fields, as well as on the tennis courts and in the 25m swimming pool. For more information and to sign up, please visit the Kings Camp booking website by clicking here.

CHARITY CYCLE

Mrs Palmer and Miss Dawson are cycling 80 miles from the Forth Road Bridge to the Tay Bridge on Saturday, 24 June (tomorrow). They are raising money for the East Fife and Scooniehill Riding for the Disabled Centre. If you like to sponsor them and support their efforts please speak to them before the end of term! Good luck Mrs P and Miss D!

Many Happy Returns to...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday: Hector and Lucy

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