Friday, 19 May 2017


A curriculum fit for a truly global world

“Schools should develop knowledge, skills and values needed for securing a just and sustainable world in which all may fulfil their potential and challenge injustice and inequalities” (Oxfam, 2006). This powerful statement from Oxfam certainly creates a very pertinent point of education fit for the 21st Century: that we are educating the next generation to be brought up to quietly do the right thing, and make a positive impact on their lives and the lives of others. I have written before of the enormous opportunities our children have which will empower them to break down cultural and geographic borders and open up global connections we could only have dreamed of, and as such we need to ensure they are taught the correct set of skills – a very special set of skills – to thrive in a truly global world.

Hotly contested issues within education come and go, but there is no doubt the contentious debate between traditionalists who favour a knowledge content curriculum, and the more progressive who champion a skills based approach to learning. I feel Oxfam have got it spot on here in promoting skills, knowledge and values in equal measure.

I recall a Prep School Head once bemoaning a knowledge based curriculum that felt that school was the “place where you are introduced to the great mysteries and wonders of the world – and then tested on what you can remember of them”. There is no doubt that knowledge is important and we must encourage our children to fill their heads with all sorts of information. Equally important is the learning of times tables, spellings, mathematical concepts, language and literature. Where we have gone awry I feel, is our obsession in measuring what pupils know. Surely what is more important is to observe the number of exhilarating moments when pupils realise how much more there is in the world for them to discover. This is lifelong learning, and this is developing a genuine love for learning. The Leading Philosopher, Professor Grayling, supports the view that pupils need to discover new knowledge, apply it within their creativity and imagination, and then communicate what they have learned with others. I would also argue that if you have this, you also light their fire to continue their ravenous pursuit of more knowledge, and so the cycle of learning and skills progression begins. This is nothing new. The Ancient Greeks devised a curriculum based on a Trivium of Learning: Grammar (the acquisition of knowledge); Logic (doing something creative with this newly acquired knowledge); and Rhetoric (communicating your ideas to others). Why have we deviated off this wonderful notion of adding our own personality and flair to knowledge?

The Economist has just released cutting edge research from industry leaders. ‘Driving the skills agenda: preparing students for the future’ highlights the core skills needed by our pupils to thrive. As you will see from the chart below, problem solving convincingly leads the way. In the research paper, Dr. Helen Soule argues that communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and innovation are the core skills needed to flourish in the exciting world our pupils will enter. However, these skills cannot be taught in isolation, and nor can be taught without sufficient content knowledge.

These 21st Century skills demand a 21st Century education, where these skills are taught to complement knowledge and schools move away from the factual regurgitation of subject matter. Sir Anthony Seldon famously said: “Schools of tomorrow should be teaching pupils that there are no right answers, there are only good and bad questions and better and worse answers”. Every day as I welcome our pupils to school armed with their knowledge, imagination, curiosity and personal agenda for what they will achieve in the classroom, I know our international curriculum is the answer.

It must be noted that a move towards a skills-based, inquiry led curriculum such as the IB is nothing new. Writing in 1960, Carl Bruner (a highly respected philosopher and educationalist) empathically wrote: “the first object of any act of learning, over and beyond the pleasure it may give, is that it should serve us in the future. Learning should not only take us somewhere; it should allow us later to go further more easily”. How I interpret this is exactly what I love on a daily basis with the PYP and MYP: it generates a life long love of learning in our pupils, a learning that will extend way beyond education as a means to an end to getting a 2.1 at Warwick, this is deep learning which will create the problem solvers, imaginative thinkers, and creative doers of the future.

Howard Gardner's theory about multiple intelligences. All Children are intelligent.

I haven’t mentioned the third facet of Oxfam’s agenda: values. These are vital, and as important as knowledge and skills is developing a strong moral compass and social responsibility to be an outstanding citizen. However, it’s been a hugely successful week at St Leonards and there is much to read in this Newsletter, so enough from me for now.

William Goldsmith

Years 1-3 Informal Concert

With solo performances, the Year 2 Violin Ensemble, and a rousing finale from the Years 1-3, we were treated to a superb informal concert on Friday morning. With enormous encouragement and nurturing from the Music Department, each and every child performed with great confidence. Well done.


One of the great merits of our Informal Concert series, is the onus is entirely on the pupils. They sign themselves up to perform (Mr Shiells informs me the sheet was full within minutes, as would be expected for an Ed Sheeran gig!) and take responsibility for their instruments and music on the day.

The range of instruments and level of performances vary, but they all have in common one defining factor: the confidence and desire to perform in front of their peers, parents and wider school community. I greatly admire the Music Staff in lighting the fires which inspire the pupils, and to the children who perform for keeping this passion and energy lit.


We are all so proud of Corinne, Eva, Rachel, Faye, Izzy, Elisenda, Melissa and Harriet for representing St Leonards at the Perth 'Gymfest'. This is the largest non-competitive display festival in Scotland, and our girls did extremely well, standing out amongst over 40 other teams. It is a great credit to the hard work, determination and fearless spirit amongst the girls have displayed. Congratulations!

Hands up if you love Monday Running Club!
Our Running Club is making full use of East Sands Beach. What a way to start the week!
Congratulations to our Year 4 team who won the East Fife Tennis Tournament on Wednesday. They have qualified for the regional final on Wednesday, 31 May!
Grandparents Afternoon | Tuesday, 23 May 2017

We were absolutely thrilled to welcome over seventy Grandparents, Relatives and Family Friends to join us for our inaugural Grandparents Afternoon on Tuesday. As the sun poured through the clouds at 2.00pm, our guests arrived to be met by their excited hosts, eager to tour them around their school.

At 2.45pm we were treated to a short, informal concert, after which we enjoyed a sumptuous afternoon tea in the Central Dining Hall.

Everyone had a splendid afternoon, and our children acted as wonderful hosts to their guests.

The children are rightly very proud of their school, and we in turn are so very proud of all they achieve here. Grandparents, extended Relatives and Family Friends play such a large role in watching and guiding children as they grow up, and it therefore so fitting that St Leonards welcomes them all into the School Community.

We would like to thank all our guests for making the effort to join us on Tuesday, to Paul Shiells, Fiona Love and Melanie O'Brien for a superb concert, and to Laura Paterson and our outstanding Catering Department for putting on such a glorious afternoon tea.

It took Year 1 less than 5 minutes to walk to the beach from school

As Wednesday was such a beautifully sunny day, Mrs. Fynn decided to take the learning outside of the classroom and take Year 1 down to the beach.

While they were there, the class enjoyed exploring materials and structures as part of their Unit of Inquiry, Where We Are in Place and Time. They built shelters using sand, thinking about the best sand to use for building and how they would protect and decorate their shelters. Some of the ideas included a shelter for a crab which protected them from their predators, a shelter for elves, with a doorway and a balcony, and a shelter with a moat. The children even dug deep enough to find water to fill it! Most importantly of all, the children enjoyed taking time out from the classroom to have fun with their friends and develop their teamwork skills. How lucky we are to be so close to such an amazing place!

Bugsy delights audiences in the Byre Theatre this week

The St Leonards production of 'Bugsy Malone', performed in the Byre Theatre, has once again showcased the outstanding Drama and Theatre Productions we enjoy here. For this production, four Year 7 Pupils: Beth, Lexie, Soraya and Joe, joined the cast and performed exceptionally well. After months of dedicated rehearsal time, we are immensely proud of them for being such an important part of the production. Many congratulations to the cast and production team for a magnificent production.


(from left): Mr. Morris making on-minute ice-cream using single and double cream, icing sugar and liquid nitrogen; Finn and Pollu pouring liquid nitrogen over a balloon, cooling the air inside and shrinking the balloon.

Mr Morris (Polly's dad) from the Chemistry Department at St Andrews University paid a visit to Year 5 to demonstrate energy changing from one form to another. The activities ranged from adding Sulphuric Acid to sugar to make a carbon-like substance (and an incredible smell!) and making 'one minute ice-cream'! The boys and girls had a great time investigating energy changes and Mr Morris very generously gave out Royal Society Of Chemistry pencils and Super Scientist stickers.

Our U12 Boys enjoyed a closely contested game against Riley House on Wednesday, Jack was the top bowler, and good batting performances were put in by Bruce, Tom and Cameron.


Many thanks to Dr Vilnay who presented an assembler on 'Unsung heroes of STEM'. The children recognised Archimedes, Darwin, Einstein and Newton, however, they unsurprising had not heard about the lesser known scientists. Abertay University are running a poster competition to celebrate these unsung heroes, many of whom have masterminded products we use on a daily basis or have saved our lives. We wholeheartedly commend this competition to our children, and ask that anyone interested contacts Mrs Pennycook.

Cameron brought in his boomerang that was given to him as a gift. As part of our 'Unit of Inquiry', Year 5 are learning about types of energy and energy changing from one form to another. Cameron explained that we use mechanical energy to throw the boomerang, the boomerang had kinetic energy whilst in flight and the force of gravity acted upon the boomerang bringing the boomerang towards the ground.

We wish the following a ....

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead... Edward and Lily

We congratulate our Year 7s who sat the DELF Speaking and Written French examinations on Monday, and send our very best wishes to the Year 7s heading to Normandy on Sunday for their French trip, accompanied by Mr. Bosphore-Ward, Miss Bossard, Miss Cormack and Mrs Donald. We wish them well on this exciting experience.

Not to be outdone by his brother, Charlie, Freddie has been on the hunt for large pinecones!

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