The Voice OF ST LEONARDS JUNIOR SCHOOL

Friday, 16 June 2017

BEHIND THE STUDY DOOR

“Apart from anything else, we should never lose sight of the level of fun which should exist in all of our schools”.

This was how Tony Little, the recently retired Head Master of Eton, ended an inspiring speech on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for educators, schools and young people. It is perhaps curious that he should end highlighting the importance of fun in schools, for fun is a word that we wouldn’t necessarily expect when talking about education. Somehow, the word fun seems to dumb down learning slightly and we tread very cautiously when referring to lessons, schools and education as fun, instead using words such as creative, imaginative, inspiring, interesting etc. Tony Little is quite right though, for all the challenges ahead to ensure pupils have the right set of skills to succeed in an increased global world, for all the pressures of exams which might or might not lie ahead, for the commitment of schools to ensure children go confidently into a world which is less certain and we know will have to overcome tremendous challenges, we must never lose sight that school must be a fun place to be.

When we think of some of the greatest characteristics someone can have, we often rank possessing a sense of fun alongside kindness, thoughtfulness, sincerity and authenticity. Young children are great fun, being around our own children is tremendously fun, and as we get older we never lose the sense of having fun as an important facet of life. Why then, should fun be taken out of schooling and education, simply due to the perception that it somehow takes away the serious part of learning.

I am stressing the importance of fun, because I found myself – with true conviction and meaning – saying to our new parents joining St Leonards yesterday that we are a fun and forward thinking school, and it felt entirely right to highlight this.

I then walked around the Years 1-4 classrooms and saw, with huge pride, the children having fun with their new class teachers.

I pondered this as I made the 4 ½ minute stroll to the beautiful East Sands beach, where 42 Years 4 and 5 children were having enormous fun designing their beach sculptures on the theme of Anthony Goldsworthy.

This morning I spent a little time with our Year 6s at Belmont, the activity centre where they have been based for two days. If I could describe in one word their experience, it would be fun! I could go on, and I know I would find that every day our children are having fun at school and during the learning process. Does this mean they are not developing core skills, challenging themselves, taking learning seriously or indeed learning anything at all? Of course not, at Belmont the Year 6s will have learned a great deal about themselves, been taken our of their comfort zones, had to develop tolerance, team work, helpfulness, to name a few skills. Our beach project required a knowledge of the artist in question, creativity and development of working together, and our new pupils (and existing pupils ‘moving up’) will have taken themselves well out of their comfort zone and overcome the anxiety of starting somewhere new.

Catherine used to teach at one of the UKs most academically selective independent schools, and I always found it fascinating that their opening line on job adverts for all teaching posts was: “we require an outstanding individual to join our fun… school”. Promoting our schools as places of fun is essential if we are to uphold the personalities, sheer curiosity and enthusiasm of our children when they arrive in Year 1.

Our new Year 1 pupils demonstrated their own individuality, charisma and sense of fun today, and they can be sure that their journey through St Leonards will, amongst many other things, be great fun.

If I can be forgiven for appalling use of grammar, ‘have a fun weekend’.

William Goldsmith

Year 6 trip to Belmont Activity Centre

The Year 6s have enjoyed a fantastic three days at the Belmont Outdoor Education centre this week.

Enjoying a range of outward bound activities, the children have had a wonderful time and learned a great deal. I would like to pass on my enormous thanks to Dianne Cormack, Nicola Nejman and Kenny McDonald for accompanying the trip and giving the children a most memorable 72 hours away.

Eva Smeddle: “I loved the challenge of the Crate Climb. It was so wobbly and I managed 9 crates high!”

Elisenda Tortajada: “I thought climbing the tower to the Flying Fox would be difficult, but I did it! The Flying Fox was epic!”

Corinne: “I learned that teamwork always helps to achieve our goal. The problem solving activities were great and we all worked well together.”

Angus Graham: “I would like to thank Mr McDonald, Miss Nejman and Miss Cormack for taking us on this wonderful trip. Even though I didn’t feel great, I still really enjoyed the Mohawk Walk activity.”

Helena Flynn: “I enjoyed the Nightline activity because I was trying to overcome obstacles whilst wearing a blindfold.”

MOVING UP MORNING

We were delighted to welcome all our new pupils joining the school on Thursday morning for our Years 1-3 'Moving up Morning'.

The Years 1-4 class teachers organised a range of activities to welcome the children into their new classes, and there was a wonderful atmosphere in the school.

We cannot wait to welcome all our new pupils to St Leonards and feel sure they will have an immensely happy time in the St Leonards community.

Meanwhile, our Year 7s spent the day in the Senior School as part of their induction organised by Head of Years 8 and 9, Mr Dan Barlow.

Engaged in tours of the school and a range of team building activities, our top year much enjoyed their day, which included meeting the new pupils joining Year 8.

We hope the Year 7s enjoy their Ceilidh and Sleepover tonight.

Year 4 and 5 spend Thursday morning on the beach

On Thursday Morning, armed with buckets and spades (some garden variety), Years 4 and 5 walked down to East Sands and made incredible sculptures on the beach.

They had looked at images of work by the artist Andy Goldsworthy before hand, hatched plans in groups and then worked hard over 2 hours to create their finished pieces of sand art.

Andy Goldsworthy uses nature to make his art, the photographs he takes of what he makes are the end product, which are exhibited in galleries and collected together in publications. He likes to use natural shapes as a basis for his compositions – spirals, wavy lines, circles, so we tried to do the same.

We took photos of our sculptures and they will be on display in the exhibition which opens on Thursday.

YEAR 2 VISIT TO CAMBO HOUSE AND GARDENS

Year 2 have been thoroughly enjoying learning about the relationship between plants and minibeasts and on Wednesday we travelled to Cambo Estate, Kingsbarns to explore the gardens with their education team. We hunted for minibeasts and plants in the woodland armed with sticky boards and bug pots then explored their newly created discovery playground, working with one of the gardeners to sew seeds, build a minibeast hotel and make stone insects. We had a picnic lunch, complete with marshmallows toasted on a campfire, then were shown around the walled garden by the deputy head gardener who talked to us about how to use companion planting to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects into our gardens.

We had a wonderful day!

YEAR 1 HAVE GONE MARBLES!

This week Year 1 have been designing and making marbles games. Meredith's mum came into the class to show them how to play two games. They had fun playing the games then used the ideas to design their own games. The class then worked in groups to make their games. They have had lots of fun making and playing their games and will be making boxes and rules for the games next week. Many thanks to Meredith's mum for giving up her time to work with Year 1.

GOOD LUCK TO MAYA AND KATIE

We wish Maya and Katie all the very best of luck this weekend as they perform in St Andrews University production of 'The Little Vixen' in the Byre Theatre. Next weekend they will be touring with the production to Berwick Upon Tweed. The girls have given great commitment and hard work to this production, and we wish them both well.

ANOTHER AWARD FOR EVIE

We reported on Evie's riding successes last week, and we are delighted that she has secured another riding victory.

Evie says: "I had to do dressage to win all these rosettes. You have to make your horse do a slow move trot and turn your horse left and right and do 20 meter circles. I felt very nervous, which makes your horse feel nervous, but we did brilliantly. I rode on Toffie and Lottie. They are sisters."

We wish the following a very...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday: Rory, Ishbel, Oscar and Hector

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