The Voice of st leonards junior school

Junior School Newsletter | Friday, 20 January 2017


Term is well and truly underway now, and it is great to see the children getting back into the routines and St Leonards continues to buzz. I am delighted that so many children take part in the after-school clubs and activities, and to have the school still full and alive at 5.30pm each day is just wonderful.

Plans for the Year 6 inventions

I have absolutely loved looking through many book reviews and project work undertaken by pupils during the holidays, indeed it is one of the highlights of my role. Our third Unit of Inquiry for the Primary Years Programme is well underway and the Year 7s have started their new units with equal enthusiasm. I have the great privilege of shadowing all the classes this term. Getting into the classroom is so refreshing for me as this is right at the heart of what we strive to achieve as a school, and it is a delight to watch the children at work. I started with 6C this week, and have spent Tuesday and Thursday morning immersed in their study of inventions. So engrossed was I in making cubes out of straws that I completely forgot to undertake my main purpose which was to observe how the children were working together! Having researched famous inventors, the children watched a clip from a 1985 episode of ‘How stuff works’ where the very first inkling of a digital camera was being uncovered (right at the start of the floppy disk days). They then came up with their own inventions to solve a problem of 2017, with their presentations filmed this afternoon. The skills this exercise covered are numerous, but the sheer enjoyment the children got from all they were doing was just great to see.

Year 6 busy making cubes out of straws

Another highlight this week was the homecoming of our U11 boys football team who played Clifton Hall on Wednesday. The elation in their faces indicated that something truly exciting had happened. 3-1 down at half-time, they went on to draw 4-4 in what was a nail-biting game. Whilst it is right to celebrate the result, the real victory here was the sight of these chaps who returned feeling like the Leicester City players having won the FA cup! They had played a closely contested match, kept their heads held high and battled on in the face of failure. This was the theme of my assembly on Wednesday morning, when I spoke to the school about four immensely famous and successful individuals who have confronted and overcome failure in their journey to great accomplishment in their fields.

(FROM TOP LEFT): Bill Gates, JK Rowling, Jo Pavey, Walt Disney. All enjoyed tremendous success, but put their ability to accept and learn from failure as core reasons for this

I shall be launching our House Creative Writing competition on Monday, details of which are below. In addition to each child submitting a story on behalf of their house which will be read by Catherine and myself, every pupil will enter the BBC Radio 2 500 words competition. There is no better way of letting the imagination roar than through story telling, and I cannot wait to read 149 different stories, all reflecting the interests, individuality and quirkiness of our pupils.

May I also draw your attention to our Burns competition, run by the St Andrews Burns Society? We are delighted to be entering the competition this year, and I invite children in Years 5,6 and 7 to choose a poem by Robbie Burns to learn, rehearse and perform in front of the external judges and school. As a naïve Englishman, I wouldn’t presume to advise on suitable poetry and I am sure you will all have inspiration for your children. I do urge you to encourage the children to enter this competition, for public speaking is such a great skill to harness at this age.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend,

William Goldsmith

PS. As part of our assembly on Wednesday, and tying in with our theme on Growth Mindset, may I encourage you to watch the clip below.


As part of their 'Unit of Inquiry', How the World Works, Year 1 have been learning to be scientists. On a trip to the Dundee Science Centre this week they took part in a workshop to carry out investigations. They used their senses to make observations, made notes and even set off a chemical reaction! The children all agreed that the museum "was great" and are looking forward to applying their new investigative skills next week as they choose the best materials for making winter clothing.

Year 1 visit the Dundee Science Museum
The U11s enjoyed a thrilling 4-4 draw at Clifton Hall on Wednesday


Major Usmani visits Year 4

Word had reached higher levels that our Year 4s were in urgent need of some dental hygene intervention, and so the Army dispatched Major Usmani to St Leonards to spend an afternoon with our boys and girls!

The children enjoyed a fascinating afternoon learning about dentistry, oral hygiene and our teeth. Major Usmani brought a number of implements and objects with him, and the children greatly enjoyed a hands on session. We are most grateful to Major Usmani for giving up his afternoon and providing such an entertaining and educational insight for our Year 4s.

"We learnt that the first part of the tooth is called the enamel, then comes the dentine and then the pulp". Maya

"Wisdom teeth are called wisdom as you get them usually when they are older. When you get older you get wiser." Shreyas

"I learnt that gum disease is really disgusting!" Alanya

"If you don’t brush your teeth properly you will have a red gum". Logan

"What I enjoyed was eating the purple disclosing tablets and then brushing my teeth". Rachel

"We asked Major Usmani how many filling he has and he said ‘none’." Ben

"When he needs his teeth checked his wife does them". Emily


Year 4 Sorting packaging according to their own criteria as part of exploring the processes involved in making products.

Year 4 tune in to their Unit of Inquiry
Year 7

Heroic Efforts from Year 7

Our current inquiry theme in Year 7 involves examining the roles of heroes and villains in literature – from novels and poetry to short stories and in the media. Earlier in the week pupils were tasked with producing a flier to promote a food or drink product using a superhero or cartoon character for inspiration. While the artwork is impressive in itself, their catchy slogans, quirky quotes and original ideas are well worth a look and on display on the top floor of Hepburn House.

In conjunction with this, heroes have been very much a focus in recent Latin sessions as the children have researched key figures in the Trojan War, assessing their merits and impact on the conduct of the fighting and its aftermath. Their legendary exploits have a timeless appeal and can still teach us important lesson today.

In PSHE we have also been thinking about how both good guys and bad guys can influence our lives and how as the top year group, they themselves can act as positive role models for the younger members of the school.

Year 1's Ice Caves

Year 1 have started their new 'Unit of Inquiry', How the World Works, and have been talking about cold places. In a few weeks they will be using their Science skills to carry out investigations on materials we can use to keep us warm so they have thought about what it is like to be in a cold place, who might live there and what we might see in that landscape. The class have created an ice palace. Using phonic skills to create signs and word cards, art and design skills to make snowflakes, they have experimented with blending techniques. The class got some of their ideas from the story Big Bear, Little Bear and they really enjoyed making pictures to retell the story. A busy week for Year 1!


We will be launching our House Creative Writing competition on Monday. Every pupil will write their own piece of fiction on any theme. Class teachers will be providing guidance and the only rule is it has to be under 500 words (less as deemed appropriate for our younger years). Catherine and I will be judging the entries based entirely on the imagination and gripping nature of the story. The top five for each year group will be asked to produce a neat version for display, and possibly bound in a St Leonards story book. In addition to this, all stories will be entered to the BBC Radio 2 500 words story competition, run by Chris Evans. Do see their website for further information:

The deadline for entries is Monday, 20 February, with results being given on Wednesday, 15 March.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. (Albert Einstein)

Many Happy Returns to...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday: Milli, Jonny, Ingrid and Eric

Access to Week 2 Mailing

Please click on the link below to access:

- Next week's Menu

- Next week's music timetables

- Diary Dates

- Burns Recitations and Creative Writing competition letter

- Invitation to Year 7 Parents to an MYP focus group meeting

Headmaster's Blog: Swallows and Amazons vs. Minecraft


One day workshop for children ages 8 and above, of Grade 2 standard and above

We have received details of this workshop on Sunday, 26 February at St. George's School, Edinburgh. It is a super opportunity for instrumentalists to get together for a day of ensemble music playing. For further details and an application form do pop in to Alison in the Office.

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