The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 11 May 2018

Getting the Very Best out of Everyone


As I write this after break on Friday morning, I can barely keep myself at my desk. Everything is telling me to leap out of my window (ground floor) and join our Year 6s who are reading their class novel, ‘Homecoming’ by Cynthia Voigt, around the fire pit. They are absolutely captivated, not only by the gripping tale, but because they are outside in nature, sitting on the logs, each enjoying a toasted marshmallow, surrounded by the smell of burning wood.

Our Outdoor Classroom is complete as of 9.30am today, when the tarp was hoisted up by two very kind dads who came to our aid. I couldn’t be more excited by this new addition, and I know that it will be well utilised by all our classes. My very grateful thanks to our magnificent PA for their very kind donation of the fire pit and tarp.

We are absolutely committed to outdoor learning in the fullest sense. Beach School is well underway, and I had the great pleasure of observing our Year 5s, who spent Monday on East Sands creating structures inspired by their visit to the Crannog Centre. Their teamwork, focus and energy was palpable and I could see that, by taking the learning outside, this experience got the very best out of them all.

The results of a recent large-scale piece of research conducted by Dr Simon Beames of Edinburgh University have been released this week. Dr Beames looked at ‘out of classroom experiences’ at Gordonstoun School, and tracked the longer-term impact this had on students, past and present. From the 1,183 participants in this survey, 94% said that out-of-classroom learning experiences had an overwhelmingly positive influence on their personal growth, while 74% said it had a positive influence on their career path.

Do have a look at his research, below:

Having read this research with great interest this week, I found another statistic that worried me greatly. In a recent article in The Times Educational Supplement, it was reported that 90% of primary school teachers felt the SATS tests (sat by pupils in Year 2 and 6 in England) were having a detrimental effect on the children’s emotional wellbeing, whilst 87% were concerned that the tests have harmed children’s engagement and motivation.

What a stark contrast. Learning should be about building memorable experiences for children. These memorable experiences should build up a love of learning, confidence and personal and emotional growth. I believe learning outside the classroom will provide these positive memorable learning experiences, whereas putting children of primary age through needless tests will not only ignite unnecessary anxiety, but lead to unremarkable, yet unforgettable experiences, for all the wrong reasons.

Information is available at a touch of a button, so why should we waste a child’s formative educational experience by providing nothing but a knowledge-only curriculum in a traditional classroom setting? We must seek to engage the heart and brain to promote a true love of learning, genuine curiosity and imagination, and free our children from the constraints of a 19th century curriculum that is still being recycled in the 21st century.

We seek to engage the heart and brain through taking learning outside the classroom. Our Year 6 pupils will remember every word of the passage read to them around the fire pit this morning. They will have connected what they were hearing with the natural surroundings, and I have no doubt they will have explored the story in a much deeper way than were they sat in their classroom. Fundamentally, they will have absolutely loved the lesson. And what is wrong with connecting learning with enjoyment?

In the book ‘Outside’, the introduction opens with: 'There’s a huge world waiting for you out there. We hope you have lots of adventures’. Learning must be one of those remarkable and unforgettable adventures.

Wishing all St Leonards families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures take you.

William Goldsmith


NORMANDY TRIP | The Year 7 pupils have now returned from a six-day trip to Northern France. Pupils and staff participated in a range of fun and exciting activities to immerse themselves in French culture, history and the French language.

One of highlights of this European adventure was a visit to an authentic French crêperie, where pupils baked their own bread from scratch and enjoyed a range of delicious crepes for lunch. Pupils also put their tastebuds to the test at the local snail farm - c'est delicieux!

The atmosphere was buzzing at the beeswax museum as pupils crafted their own candles by hand and donned bee and beekeeper costumes to perform a dramatic beehive role play.

With their newly acquired bee wings attached, pupils soared to new heights at supersonic speeds on the rollercoasters and log flumes of Parc Bagatelle.

To further satisfy their appetites for adventure, pupils were treated to a hearty continental breakfast, a picnic lunch and three course dinner every evening - bon appétit!

Mr Donlon would like to thank all staff, parents and pupils involved with the Year 7 French trip. Special thanks go to Mrs Pennycook, Mrs Donald and Miss Cormack.


BUG HOTELS | Year 2 are currently inquiring into ‘the interrelationship between plants and minibeasts’, and on Monday morning they went out into the woodland area to create bug hotels using clay and found objects, such as sticks, shells, leaves and flowers.

Some of the children then experimented with creating pots, which they left to bake in the fire pit.

The boys and girls were joined by Year 5 pupils, as well as some of the guests attending the Junior School Open Morning, and finished the session with toasted marshmallows – delicious!


JKDA DANCERS | It was a big week for our Junior School dancers who sat their dance exams on Tuesday! After many a lunchtime session learning the moves in St Katharines Hall with JKDA, the girls had a chance to show off all their training with brilliant performances all round.

Everyone demonstrated wonderful skills on the day!


SALTERS' FESTIVAL OF CHEMISTRY | Two teams of year 7 students attended the 2018 Salters' Festival of Chemistry at Edinburgh University last week, where they undertook two lab-based challenges and watched various exciting chemistry demonstrations.

Team 1 (Katie, Nadja and Corinne) were the winners of the ‘Salters' Challenge’ and all seven St Leonards students enjoyed the opportunity to practice Chemistry in a real university lab!


TOURIST OFFICE TRIP | Year 5P visited the St Andrews Tourist Office on Thursday afternoon as part of their Unit of Inquiry on Diverse Scotland.

Maureen helped the class so much with lots of information on the centre and what they do. St Andrews is the hub office for the whole of Fife, as there are no other offices in the area.

Maureen explained about all the different things that the Tourist Office can do for visitors, not just in St Andrews but across Scotland. They book accommodation, buses, trains and ferries, they can plan routes for tourists to make their way around the country, and they can arrange tours, reserve tickets for theatre shows, places of historical interest and much, much more.

Maureen showed the children all the brochures, which are mostly free to take to help tourists decide where they want to visit. The boys and girls were lucky to be given a few examples away with them!


BOOK FAIR FUNDS | This week's Junior School Book Fair raised £531.33, bringing our total to £1,248.25 to spend on new titles for the shelves! A big thank you to the parent volunteers for all their hard work!


YEAR 1 BEACH SCHOOL | This week it was the turn of the Year 1 class to enjoy an afternoon of Beach School. The class have been learning about shelters and before they set off for the beach, they discussed the different reasons for which we need shelters.

They discussed the need to stay safe and warm, the need to be protected from the weather and using shelters as a place to sit and relax.

When they got to the beach, the class carried out a group salvage hunt for materials with which to build their shelters. They searched for wood, seaweed, pebbles, shells and rope. When all the items were gathered, they set about creating their shelters.

Mrs Fynn was amazed to see the range of shelters created using their beach finds. There was a den for sleeping in, an inventive wind break and even a home for a crab!

Lots of fun was had by the whole class and there were many opportunities to develop vital skills of communication, problem solving and team-work.


AUTHOR VISIT | On Thursday morning, local St Andrews author Bob Harris visited the Junior School to give a dramatic re-enactment of his zany Norse god trilogy, including 'The World's Gone Loki'. The children in Years 4-7 thoroughly enjoyed his vibrant presentation and snapped up many of his books after the signing at the end of the session, including some of the Artie Conan Doyle titles!


The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday:

Freddie was Year 2 Pupil of the Week for being an outstanding inquirer during the recent class trip to the Botanical Gardens.

Polly received a special mention for achieving her personal best in ice skating at the Murrayfield Open last weekend. She is now skating at level 3 out of 10.

Jonny received a Headmaster's Commendation for researching and creating a magnificent poster on insects.

Katie, Nadja and Corinne for winning the Salters' Challenge at last week's Salters' Festival of Chemistry at Edinburgh University.

Cara for creating a poster on the ladybird, woodlouse and worm.

Ingrid received a Headmaster's Commendation for using nail varnish to create a magnificent piece of artwork portraying pollution in our seas and oceans.

Grace for researching and creating a poster on 'Toxic Sea', inspired by David Attenborough's Blue Planet series.

Madison received a Spirit of St Leonards Award for spending Easter Sunday volunteering for Scottish Autism at the MacTuff Kids event, helping to raise £263.86 for a specialist mattress to support individuals with autism.

Clara was Year 1 Pupil of the Week for setting an excellent example to others.

George was Year 3 Pupil of the Week for his super work in Maths, willingness to be involved in all tasks, and for consistently showing a caring attitude towards his peers during group work.

Cara received a Headmaster's Commendation for her project on butterflies and ladybirds.

Music certificates were presented to Edward for achieving a Merit at Grade 2 jazz trumpet, and Ezra, for achieving a Merit at Grade 1 piano.

Annie, Clara, Harris, Holly, Matilda, Monty, Olivia, Ramsay and Tom have all collected 100 Good Marks.


AT THE ADAMSON | Year 4 were welcomed at The Adamson in St Andrews on Tuesday to learn more about the nutritional choices at the restaurant, as they continue to investigate their central idea 'our health is influenced by the choices we make'. The boys and girls explored different fruit and veg, prepared a whole chicken and even learned how to make a mocktail!

Everyone then sat down and enjoyed a feast before designing healthy eating posters.

We are so fortunate to have had so many parents willing to assist in our Units of Inquiry. Year 4 have enjoyed a terrific array of experiences and Tuesday’s trip is another that will remain with the class for some time to come.


SWEET AND SAVOURY TREATS | This term, the children in Years 1 to 3 have been given the opportunity to take part in the Junior School cooking activity. Each week they will be trying out new recipes, both sweet and savoury, under the supervision of the school’s Catering Manager, Mrs Paterson. The children will also be given a tour of the catering facilities and will learn about the ingredients used in the food they eat every day at school.

So far they have made some fresh cheese and ham pastries, as well as some sweet chocolate crispy cakes!


Without wishing to sound like a broken record, it has all been about Beach School this week with both Year 1 and Year 3 taking their turn on Wednesday. In our Lower School Assembly, we were treated to Holly, Jonny and Rory sharing the stories they believed might lie behind some special artefacts they found on the beach. We had the remains of a pirate picnic, fossilised rhino blood and a fabulous crystal! So much creativity derived from our unique outdoor classroom. The children are becoming better equipped for these expeditions and ultimately these will occur on any given day when a teacher feels the beach lends itself to a lesson. Thank you again for your continued support. Year 2 head off again next Wednesday and I’m sure they will have much to report back on.

The Lower School key objectives this week have been:

Year One

  • Mathematics: Learning to tell the analogue ‘o' clock’ and half past time and applying this to class daily routines.
  • English: To be able to write instructions using the practical pizza pitta making the class did on Tuesday.
  • Phonics: Focus on common tricky words.

Year Two

  • Mathematics: To be able to order and sequence numbers to 1000 and find numbers halfway between. To begin to understand the concept of division as ‘sharing out’ using concrete materials and linking with multiplication.
  • English: To be able to independently research bees using ICT. To begin to create their own comic strips.
  • Phoneme: ‘ou’.

Year Three

  • Mathematics: To be able to identify right angles and to begin to distinguish between acute and obtuse angles. Fractions work is on-going as the class continue to identify fractions as well as fractions of numbers.
  • English: Creative writing based on Beach School finds. Grammar has been focused on proof reading. Having reached chapter 4 of the class text, comprehension and reading aloud skills are continuing.
  • Phoneme: silent ‘c’.

The pupils in Year 3 are treating us to a ‘Wear it Wild’ day next Friday, 18 May, when all the Lower School are invited to dress as their favourite animal for a 50p donation to the WWF. This fits in with their Unit of Inquiry, in which they have investigated various endangered animals.

Have a terrific weekend!

Claire Boissiere, Lower School Coordinator


OPEN MORNING | On Monday morning, we opened our doors to prospective pupils and their families, who spent a few hours touring our beautiful grounds and experiencing Beach School in action down on the East Sands. We had a brilliant turnout and thoroughly enjoyed welcoming our visitors!

A big thank you to everyone who helped out on the day, and particularly to the Year 6 and 7 tour guides who did a fantastic job of showing off St Leonards!


BAKE OFF | Do you have what it takes to be Star Baker? Lana in 4P is organising a Bake Off and cake sale on Monday, 21 May to raise funds for the charity Stand Up To Cancer. Any cakes and treats to sell will be gratefully received, and please do remember to bring in some money to spend on something sweet to eat on the day!

We wish the following a very...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Paddy, William and Edward


Tullibole Castle near Kinross will host the Wildhood Children’s Festival on Saturday, 9 and Sunday 10 June. Please see the posters below for full details of this two-day event with (optional) camping.

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