BEHIND THE STUDY DOOR
After a glorious summer, during which I expect our families have spent a great deal of time outside - perhaps on the beach - and as we continue our focus on ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’, it might come as a surprise to you that my first blog of the academic year focuses solely on the indoors.
We too have spent a summer immersed in the outdoors here in beautiful Fife, and now the season is changing and I sit here at 8.00pm in my kitchen, curtains already closed and that lovely autumnal chill engulfing us. Like many families, it seems an appropriate moment to reflect on the summer past and begin to plan our family activities as we head into autumn and winter.
It won’t have escaped your attention that the arts subjects are in great danger throughout the UK education system: pupils sitting GCSE, Highers, Advanced Higher and A-Level Music are way down, throwing this subject into jeopardy. The anticipated E-Bacc (not to be confused with the International Baccalaureate, which champions the Arts) is set to almost entirely leave out Music and Design-Technology, amongst other subjects. Primary School Funding for arts across the UK, including Fife, sees continued cuts. This is of great concern, and some influential figures from the arts world amongst others have joined a call to action to deal with this great issue. Sir Simon Rattle, the Musical Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, has gone as far as stating 'the future may be uncertain and difficult for the new generation, but unless they have access to a vital cultural education they will be utterly unprepared for what this new world may require'. Writing in The Times, Alice Thomson worries that without the arts 'children are being turned into robots', whilst Sir Alan Ayckbourn said 'if we exclude our children from an arts education, they will grow up with neither and understanding nor appreciation of anything other than the purely material'.
We do not need to be a stones throw away from St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern, the Royal Albert Hall or the West End to give our children an appreciation of the arts. Indeed, within an hour of St Andrews, we have the most incredible opportunities on our doorstep to expose them to eye-watering experiences. Far from trying to ‘preach to the converted’, I wish to encourage our families to set themselves something of a cultural challenge this year, as we are.
So, here goes. A list of ten recommendations, all within an hour from us:
1. For some of our older children: 13 September, 7.30pm Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Younger Hall - a programme that includes Mozart, Beethoven and Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto.
2. Now until 14 October, Rembrandt exhibition, Scottish National Gallery (Edinburgh)
3. The V&A Dundee, opens 15 September, with their inaugural exhibition: Ocean Liners, Speed and Style
4. 8 September - 11 November, Brick City at Verdant Works, Dundee. A celebration of some of the world’s most iconic buildings recreated in Lego.
5. Suitable for our younger children: 6 October, 3.30pm (just after Open Day!) Screening of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, Byre Theatre
6. Suitable for our older children: 26 October, 7.30pm Tenebrai, Younger Hall - part of the St Andrews Voices Festival: “We Will Remember Them’, a varied programme of choral music to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I.
7. 18 November, 3.00pm War Horse, Usher Hall. Michael Morpurgo narrates his book, accompanied by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. or
8. 18 November, 2.30pm and 7.30pm, Russian State Ballet Caird Hall (Dundee) Swan Lake, Russian State Ballet
9. 19 December, 7.30pm, Dundee Symphony Orchestra and Nicola Benedetti Caird Hall (Dundee) Bruch (Violin Concerto N 1)
10. 20 December, 7,30pm, Royal Scottish National Orchestra Caird Hall (Dundee) The Snowman (screening with live orchestra)
These might be a far cry from Celtic vs Rangers, Scotland vs South Africa at Murrayfield, messing about on Elie beach, or indeed a Katy Perry concert, however if there is one thing I have learned from a career working with young people, it is that they all respond to quality, and I have no doubt they would leave an SCO concert, the V&A and an exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery truly inspired and enriched by the experience.
Whether it be one of the above events, or indeed something completely different, I would love to hear from a child about their experience of a concert, play or musical, exhibition or museum visit.
Wishing all St Leonards families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures take you.
HOUSE CAPTAINS | It has been an very exciting week in terms of our Junior School House system, with elections for House Captains taking place, the results announced, and the welcome new addition of our Sorting Hat Assembly, which saw the Year 1 boys and girls put into Mull, Lewis, Harris and Skye by our very own talking Sorting Hat!
After much deliberation, and incredibly strong speeches from those standing for positions during Wednesday morning's Assembly, the following pupils were chosen to lead their Houses:
Congratulations to our new House Captains and Vice House Captains, and a huge well done to all those who put themselves up for nomination!
After Assembly, it was a chance to take House photographs, which will be displayed on the House boards in the Junior School. We are looking forward to the arrival of our new House badges in the next couple of weeks!
MUSA VISIT | On Tuesday morning Matt from MUSA came to talk to Year 3 about life at school and university during medieval times.
The class started with a game trying to work out which items existed in medieval times, sorting out pictures into ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles, considering things such as beer, TV, flushing toilets, knights. It was a lot of fun!
Matt then talked about what a typical day at school would have been like. The children were interested to learn that school would only have been attended by boys, and that they would have been up from 5am until 10pm at night with a mixture of schooling, resting, praying and eating. They went to church seven times in a day!
The boys and girls learned about the ‘black stone’, which students sat on to do their exams. These were oral exams, and parents and other students might have attended to see how you performed, with the schoolmaster asking you questions.
To end the session, Matt showed the children how to write letters in Medieval calligraphy, and they made their own bookmarks with their names beautifully written on the parchment.
Thank to Matt for a really fun and informative morning!
BEACH SCHOOL | This week the children in Years 4 & 6 took advantage of the sunny weather and ventured onto the East Sands beach for some shelter building activities. The children have recently been ‘buddied’ up with partners from another year group with the aim of building teamwork and leadership, as well as problem solving and communication skills.
This week they took to the beach to build shelters using poles, rope and tarpaulin. They also had the opportunity to create 3D maps of places they were familiar with, using finds from the beach.
Their teachers were very impressed with the success of their shelter building attempts, and the 3D maps were original and extremely creative!
WHERE WE LIVE
WHERE WE LIVE | The boys and girls in Year 3 made a pictograph of ‘Where we Live’ as part of their Unit of Inquiry looking at St Andrews, and who travels to St Andrews for school each day.
Pupils in the Year 3 class travel from all over Fife to come to St Leonards!
JOBS AT THE HARBOUR
JOBS AT THE HARBOUR | Miss Fisher’s Year 2 class walked down to the harbour in St Andrews on Wednesday to find out about the different jobs people do there. They chatted to people who were working at the harbour and asked them questions about what they were doing, and what tools and equipment they use to do their job. Everyone was very friendly and shared their knowledge with the boys and girls, who then came back to school to share their findings!
"This lady looks after the shop." - Eleanor
"She sells ice creams, floats, toys, boogie boards and crabs and lobsters." - Tilly
"She asks people what they want. She is a good communicator!" - Amber
"She has to be kind to her customers. She has to sell them stuff. She has to know about money." - Harris
"This man was the leader of his family." - Eleanor
"The Scottish families are called 'clans'. He came from the Stewart family." - Harris
"The two feathers mean he is the second in charge." - Ramsay
"This is where the lifeguards work." - Olivia
"The lifeguards throw a ring into the water to save people who are stuck in the water." - Adam
"Lifeguards have to be good at knowing how to drive a boat and how to speak nicely to people." - Rodrigo
"This man goes fishing for crabs." - Amber
"He has to drop the lobster pots into the water. They use bait to get the lobsters and crabs to go in. He uses a crane to lift the pots out of his boat." - Tom
"He had just been scraping barnacles off his boat!" - Olivia
"The plumbers were checking the numbers on the water meter." - Olivia and Ramsay
"We looked inside and saw the numbers." - Monty
"They said there were spiders in there!" - Amber
PONY CHAMPIONSHIPS | After months of hard training, Anna and Emily qualified for The Pony Club Championships in Cheshire, and the Scottish Horse of the Year Show in September. The girls made the journey down for the championships during the summer holidays, and came a very credible 9th in their heat. That translates to them being in the top 20 junior teams in the UK! A fantastic achievement - well done Anna and Emily!
START OF SCHOOL
START OF SCHOOL | We were thrilled to welcome the boys and girls back to school for the start of Autumn Term last week! For some, it was their first day at school, joining our new Year 1 class. For others, it was their first day at St Leonards, coming into classes across Years 2-7!
We hope everyone is settling in well so far, and that the children enjoyed their brain food (aka bananas) and hot chocolate as they arrived for the start of the year!
NEWS FROM THE LOWER SCHOOL
Hello and welcome back to our returning lower school families and an almighty welcome to our newest members of this very special community. What a week it has been! All classes have been continuing to get to know each other, devising class charters and generally finding their ‘new year group feet’.
Year 3 have been getting used to their new responsibilities as top of the Lower School, Year 2 have been having a very exciting time, weighing and measuring themselves as they put together some very special time capsules, and Year 1 have continued the amazing adventure that is every new school day, what with Swimming, Music, Drama, and Games added to their repertoire.
Everything for the Lower School really came to an amazing climax on Friday for the Year 1’s with the most amazingly exciting ‘Sorting Hat Assembly’, where the eager and slightly awed class were individually placed into their new houses. Their House will be their extended friendship group for all the years they are with us. Such a special day and one that will be remembered by us all for a very long time.
After such a hectic week of ‘firsts’ for us all, the team and I wish you all a very peaceful weekend.
Claire Boissiere, Lower School Coordinator
SUMMER SNAPS | We have thoroughly enjoyed receiving your pictures from over the summer and learning about all the exciting adventures our Junior School families have had during the holidays! Here are just some of the brilliant photos we’ve received so far.
It looks like James (Year 5) has found his calling as a ferry captain! Here he is helping Georgios to transport tourists between Pedi Bay and Agia Nikolaos on the Greek island of Symi!
Meanwhile, Ben and Archie had a brilliant time at Tree Zone Ness in Aviemore. They are pictured here high up in the trees during one of their adrenaline-packed activities.
As well as qualifying for The Pony Club Championships over the break, Anna and Emily have been busy helping out at the Browns’ strawberry farm and had a super time!
Xiurong put her violin lessons at school to good use during the holidays, busking on Market Street to raise money for charity. Xiurong raised an impressive £150 for TCCL Lodge in St Andrews, and entertained plenty of passers-by with her musical repertoire.
Rachel hopped onto a Harley Davidson for a charity track day, and Lana attended the European Championships in Glasgow!