“Let us remember: one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” Malala Yousafzai, UN Youth Assembly 2013
In October 2012, a masked Taliban gunman shot fifteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai on a bus as she travelled home from school in Pakistan. She was targeted because she had spoken up for the right of girls to be educated. After surgery and months of rehabilitation in Birmingham, Malala and her family settled in the UK. She has since received the Nobel Peace Prize for her continued advocacy of girls’ education, and is now studying at the University of Oxford. Her story is certainly inspirational.
On Thursday, at our World Book Day Assembly, we were delighted to welcome Book Aid International Ambassador Dr Alice König to speak to the children. She posed two questions to the children: “Can your Granny read?” and “Do you think girls should be allowed to read?”. The majority of us have never even asked these questions, but Dr König’s thought-provoking assembly on the work of Book Aid International challenged all of us (and especially the girls among us) in the Junior School to pause and reflect on the immense privilege that we have in being able to access books and education so freely. Here at St Leonards, the pupils read and access countless books every day, before going home to bookshelves that are full of wonderful reads. We really do take reading for granted.
Dr König explained that, through the provision of books, Book Aid International offers the chance for people to learn, imagine new possibilities, and shape their futures. In a year, Book Aid International make it possible for 28 million people to access books in libraries, schools, universities, hospitals and refugee camps across the world. St Leonards has contributed to this effort and, over the past five years, has sent 266 books to different countries across the world, that have been read by thousands of people. As Malala articulated at the UN Youth Assembly in 2013, books and education really can change the lives of individuals and the world. We are therefore delighted to continue to support the provision of books across the world through our partnership with Book Aid International.
Each year on World Book Day, the children dress up as their favourite book character and give a small donation to the Book Aid International. There is always a fabulous array of costumes at the Character Parade – and this year was no exception! I was amazed at the imaginative array of costumes paraded. This was just one of many events that made up Book Week 2020 in the Junior School. It has been a superb week of reading on the sofas in the foyer, in classrooms, at home, and in the outdoor classroom, in addition to an author visit to give an assembly and various workshops, class visits to Waterstones, and the inaugural House Read-A-Thon. Below, you can read more detailed write-ups of these events.
Let’s not take books for granted, but remember that being able to read is an immense privilege and continue to partner with charities that are combating illiteracy around the world. As Malala so profoundly said, “one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world”.
Pupil of the Week
Spirit of St Leonards
Book Week has been a blast! Pupils and staff have been busy celebrating and enjoying reading in the run up to World Book Day 2020. Below you can read about the various different initiatives and activities that the pupils have enjoyed!
VISITING AUTHOR | The Junior School was delighted to welcome back the author Mr Robert Harris to speak about The Scarlet Phantom, his latest book in the Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries series in their assembly this week. Mr Harris has spoken to pupils in the Junior School twice before, and he explained to the children that his previous visits to St Leonards had even inspired the name of one of the characters in his books: Constable Pennycook!
In addition, Mr Harris helped the children in the Junior School to collectively devise an imaginative, unusual, and entertaining story. He invited pupils up to the front to present three different options of main characters, main events, and concluding events to the rest of the school. The children then voted on each of these options. It was decided that the main character would be a football-playing ant, that the main event would be said ant entering a magic washing machine, and that the story would end with the ant encountering a enormous octopus!
Mr Harris then asked various different children to help him flesh out the story, for example it was decided that the ant would be called Charlie, that he played for Celtic, and that he would encounter the octopus after being flushed through the pipes from the washing machine into the ocean. The children had a fantastic time - there were lots of giggles and squeals as the hilarious plotline took shape.
Afterwards, there was the opportunity for pupils to have their books from the Artie Conan Doyle and Loki series signed by Mr Harris. Years 3 and 4 also had a writing workshop with Mr Harris, whilst Years 5 and 6 had a Question & Answer session with the author. It really was a fantastic start to Book Week - many thanks to Mr Harris for taking the time to come and speak to the children!
Stories in the Sunshine
STORIES IN THE SUNSHINE | Mrs Fynn treated some of our younger pupils to some stories in our Outdoor Classroom this week, making the most of the beautiful sunshine. There were stories read every lunchtime this week by teachers in the Junior School!
Year 2 also made the most of the sunshine this week and, armed with tartan rugs and books, they disappeared down to the beach for story time on the sand with the sounds of the waves in the background. Inspired by one of the children, who came to World Book Day dressed as Peter Pan, one group read an excerpt from JM Barrie's Peter Pan and Wendy, whilst the other group enjoyed Charles Kingsley's Water Babies. The children loved the idea that you can read almost anywhere... in a teepee, on the beach, around the fire pit, or even on top of a mountain. They have definitely caught the reading bug this week!
Reading and Reviewing
READING AND REVIEWING | Year 4P couldn't wait to get reading their books that they had purchased from Waterstones earlier this week. They have had an amazing week of reading, sharing stories, writing reviews, and even dressing up.
Walk to Waterstones
WALK TO WATERSTONES | This week, all the Junior School classes have taken a trip to Waterstones on Market Street to browse the different books that are on the shelves. The children behaved impeccably well, and did St Leonards proud. The children were also able to exchange their £1 World Book Day tokens to buy one of the special World Book Day books (see below), and also experience the delights of a book shop! We hope that the children enjoy reading their new books!
Trek to Topping
TREK TO TOPPING | Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Peter Pan, Spiderman, Pippi Longstocking, a princess and Wonder Woman were just a few characters from Year 2 who were seen crossing St Andrews in the sunshine on World Book Day. Year 2 were lucky enough to lose themselves in the magic of Topping & Co, the bookshop on Greyfriars Garden. Topping & Co describes itself as a 'haven for bibliophiles' - if you haven't visited before, it is well worth a visit! At Topping & Co, the children were immersed in the wonderful story of 'The Bear in Chains', taken from The Dragon's Hoard: Stories From the Viking Sagas by children's fantasy author Lari Don. Inspired by the Scottish landscapes and local legends, Lari writes mystical stories about familiar and unfamiliar historical tales of Scotland, as well as stories taken from the legends of the nordic regions. The children then swapped their book tokens for an exciting tale of their own to enjoy at home. It really was a fabulous afternoon!
CHARACTER PARADE | There were some fabulous costumes at the Junior School World Book Day Parade this year. The range of characters was vast - from the Gruffalo to Harry Potter, Where's Wally to Billionaire Boy, and everything else in-between!
The money raised from the parade went to Book Aid International, a charity which supplies carefully selected, brand new books to community libraries, schools, refugee camps, hospitals, prisons and universities. They also run programmes which give teachers and librarians the skills to support readers, and children in particular.
This year, the Junior School were delighted to welcome Dr König to present at their World Book Day Assembly. Dr König delivered an engaging and thought-provoking assembly that helped the children to understand the life-changing impact of being able to read and having access to books. She told the stories of two individuals (60 year old Florence who lives in Kenya, and a teenager named Lydia who is from a small village in Uganda) who had received books through Book Aid International. This helped the children to understand the life-changing impact of books. Since 2015, St Leonards have raised £531.17 and this has translated into 26 brand new books which have been read by thousands of readers. Many thanks to Dr König for taking the time to come and speak to the children, and for delivering such an inspiring assembly.
Gruffalos and Snails
GRUFFALOS AND SNAILS | Year 1 have been book crazy this week, just like all the other classes in the Junior School! They very much enjoyed their walk, in the beautiful sunshine, to Waterstones at the start of the week to spend their World Book Day Vouchers and peruse the other books that they could purchase at a later date.
Having concluded their fabulous work on 'The Three Little Pigs', Year 1 have been looking at snails and gruffalos in Julia Donaldson's fantastic books. They even had a go at making their own models of the animals! Don't they look fantastic! Year 1 have also been superbly spotting rhymes in Julia Donaldson's books, and were fascinated to learn that Axel Scheffler, who illustrated The Gruffalo, always includes an illustration of the Gruffalo in some form when illustrating subsequent books... happy hunting!
READ-A-THON | Miss Brannen has organised a Read-A-Thon in the Junior School. Each pupil has been asked to read at home for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, with their parents signing a slip to confirm the exact number of minutes that they have read for each day. These totals will be counted up for each individual pupil, and then collectively as houses. The results will be plotted on a massive wall chart in St Katharines Hall by the House Captains. The deadline for collecting reading hours has been extended until the end of the weekend - please do encourage your child to read lots over the weekend. The winning house will be announced next week. Will Harris, Skye, Mull or Lewis be victorious? Watch this space!
SUPERB SWIMMING | Emmy recently competed in the 92nd Step Rock Club Championships, and swam exceptionally well! She won a gold medal for the breastroke race, and four silver medals in other races. Well done, Emmy!
Fabulous Fire Pits
FABULOUS FIRE PITS | This week, Year 4 headed down to East Sands for a workshop on building a fire pit with Mr Barrable. They learned about clearing the surrounding area, digging a large dent into the ground, gathering kindling wood and fire wood, and lighting the fires. They listened very carefully and paid close attention to Mr Barrable, knowing that when they were back in their classrooms they would have be set the task of writing the instructions down. To finish, the Year 4 pupils enjoyed toasting marshmallows on sticks over the fire which were delicious! Many thanks to Mr Barrable for taking the time to prepare and deliver such a fabulous workshop.
WELLBEING WEDNESDAYS | The Peer Listening Team welcomed Mr Durward to their weekly meeting during Wednesday breaktime. Mr Durward kindly answered all the questions that the children had prepared, explained his new role as Deputy Head (wellbeing), and also shared his top tips when dealing with friendship issues across year groups. Many thanks to Mr Durward for taking the time to meet with the team - they look forward to welcoming him back to the Junior School very soon!
PUPIL-LED CONFERENCES | Earlier this month, pupils in Years 7 delivered some wonderful pupil-led conferences. The pupils truly demonstrated the traits of the IB learner profile, most clearly being risk-takers, communicators, and reflective individuals. The conferences allowed the pupils to showcase their schoolwork to their parents, in a departure from the traditional format of parent-teacher meetings. The pupils led the discussions and their learning goals using their portfolios, thus enabling them to take more responsibility for their learning through evaluating and reflecting on their successes and challenges in a more formal setting. The MYP places the pupil at the heart of the interaction between parents and teachers, and research has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of pupil-parent-teacher interaction in this way.
Mrs McGregor, MYP Coordinator, remarked that it was "really encouraging to hear the pupils speak so eloquently about their learning, reflecting on their strengths and challenges, and coming up with solutions to progress in the future. A highlight of the week was facilitating the Skype conferences for our overseas pupils for the first time, and listening to them discussing their work in a mixture of English and their mother tongue."
We look forward to seeing the parent homework tasks in the coming weeks. Many congratulations to all the pupils involved - it really was a wonderful set of conferences!
RAPID RUNNING | St Leonards pupils performed outstandingly well at the recent Cross Country meet against Lathallan with the U9 boys', U11 girls', U13 girls' and U13 boys' teams all winning their team events.
Particular mention must also go to Cara who won the U9 girls' race, James, Alex, Patrick and Freddie who came 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively in the U9 boys' race, Willow and Isobel who won the silver and bronze medals in the U11 girls' race, and Alastair and Logan who came 1st and 3rd in the U13 boys' race. St Leonards won the overall meet with 108 points to Lathallan's 112. Very well done to all those who participated - a superb effort from all runners!
Fantastic Facial Expressions
FANTASTIC FACIAL EXPRESSIONS | As part of their Unit of Inquiry on Communication, Year 3 have been working on their facial expressions in Drama. Expressions enable us to convey lots of different emotions without saying a word, and are therefore vital in communication. Year 3 are conveying lots of different emotions in these photos - surprise, fear, and grumpiness to name three!
BARRABLE'S BEES | Earlier this year, Mr Barrable established a Beekeeping Club at St Leonards, and each class in the Junior School visited the hives to learn about bees and beekeeping. The two hive Queens were named after the inspirational female figures Amelia Earhart, the pioneering aviator, and Beatrix Potter, the much-loved children's author.
In the Autumn Term, we realised that both Amelia and Beatrix had been infected with the varroa mite. The varroa mite looks like a brown crab and is about 2mm long. The mite can live on the back of an adult bee for two years. In Winter, it feeds off the bee's blood and, in Summer, it sneaks into the developing brood and reproduces. The varroa mite doesn't kill the bees straight away, but rather passes on the disease which shortens the life span of the bees.
Sadly, the Amelia bees just got weaker and, as happens with many other colonies, collapsed. What happened here at St Leonards is unfortunately very common - varroa mites have now been transported to every country in the world, except Australia, on the backs of honeybees. This was very distressing news for the Mr Barrable who has investing a great deal of time, energy, and care into setting up the Beekeeping Club.
However, we are pleased to report that our other hive, Beatrix, is doing really well. We will be looking to replace Amelia with a new hive later this term, and will need to find a new colony name. If you have any bright ideas, do let your class teacher know!