The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 19 January 2018


Habits of Mind

I was interested to read in the press today, that one fifth of UK primary school pupils have hopes of becoming a sportsperson when they are older. I was also delighted to read that 10.91% wish to be a teacher. Becoming a vet came third, with a career in social media and gaming a very close fourth. Of course, this option simply didn’t apply to us when we were growing up. The closest we had to social media was Game Boys and Ceefax! It is interesting, though hardly surprising, that in this day and age hopes of becoming a firefighter, singer, celebrity of some sort, dancer or police officer have been trumped by a career in digital media.

Of the more exhilarating professions to choose, I came across in a post on Twitter from the Head of West Rise Junior School - a place that puts huge emphasis on outdoor learning, risk-taking and vocational studies - sharing the news that one of their ex-pupils is now running a 3000-strong buffalo herd, following her affinity with the water buffalo at the school. This girl, now a farmer, was clearly taken by the school’s commitment to exposing children to ‘land-based education’, and how wonderful that she has realised her potential and is now engaged in doing something she found a passion for.

West Rise puts outdoor learning at the heart of the curriculum, not only to give children the opportunity to be with nature, but because they firmly believe that the experiences outdoors will help them to develop core skills for the future. In the case of the farmer, it was a passion for vocational education, however in the case of preparing children to be successful social media experts, games developers and sportspeople, it is developing a very special set of skills to prepare them to be creative, imaginative problem solvers. This is where I believe outdoor learning comes in, and why I want to put it at the forefront of school life at St Leonards.

There has been interesting research linking the 16 ‘Habits of Mind’ from Art Costa to outdoor learning (see links below), which gives us plenty of motivation to get our pupils out into the fresh air as much as possible. Persistence, flexibility, meta-cognition, problem-solving, questioning, communication and gathering data through all senses are just some of the 16 core habits.

16 Habits of Mind, Art Costa

By getting children onto the beach, building dens and fires, and discovering nature around us - all activities that even those who love gaming a little more will enjoy - and by taking our curriculum outside the classroom we can help them to develop these key skills, which will, in turn, help them to forge careers in gaming (flexible thinking, problem solving, creativity, collaboration) or professional sports (growth mindset, persistence, management of impulsiveness).

Outdoor learning links directly with all the key skills, character strengths and habits that we aspire our children to develop, and whilst the beach might not be so tempting as we see temperatures drop below freezing this week, I look forward to seeing these skills come alive through our plans for outdoor learning in the Junior School.

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

William Goldsmith


YEAR 7 DISPLAY | The walls by the entrance to the Junior School are awash with colour thanks to the creative talents of Year 7! A rainbow of beautiful illustrations has been putting a smile on everyone's faces as they walk along the corridor!


VIKING LONGSHIP | Year 3 had a great time dramatising the book 'Hiccup the Viking' by Cressida Cowell in class this morning. Here they are as the crew of a Viking longship! All aboard!


DESTINATION SPACE | Year 1 wrapped up warm on Wednesday morning for their first school trip of their new Unit of Inquiry. The class travelled to Dundee Science Centre to explore the exhibits and take part in an interactive workshop called 'Destination Space'. Their mission: to find out how astronauts stay warm in space!

The boys and girls loved learning all about the materials used to make space suits and there was even a chance to try them on!

They also found out about the food astronauts eat in space and how they perform basic tasks in a zero-gravity environment. Everyone agreed the trip was lots of fun and there will definitely be plenty more adventures to look forward to as the unit continues!


ABRSM AWARDS | The Spring Term started last week with a string of successes as pupils in the Junior School were presented with certificates recognising their achievements in a variety of different instruments in the recent ABRSM exams.

Zachary Sewell achieved distinction in his Grade 1 alto saxophone exam, Eilidh Jarrett passed Grade 3 violin with merit, and Maya Usmani collected her certificate for Grade 2 guitar. Certificates were also presented to Luke Farquhar for gaining a distinction in Grade 2 jazz piano, and to Brendan Hawley who passed Grade 1 viola with distinction.

Congratulations also to Isha Bhaska who achieved distinction in Grade 2 piano with Trinity College, and to Finn Bell who passed Grade 1 Music Theory with merit.

Super achievements all round!


POP ART | Year 3 have been busy coming up with colourful pop art designs, which are on display in the Junior School foyer. Here are Angus, Jonny and Anna showing off some of the class's creations!


LEARNING LINES | The boys and girls in Years 4-6 are hard at work rehearsing for this year's play, Ali Baba and the Bongo Bandits. This morning, Polly and Anna were busy reading through the script to learn their lines, ready to impress the audience when the show comes to the stage in March!


The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday:

Nihal received a Headmaster's Commendation at the end of last term for his work on explorers, which he completed for Homework Heroes. Nihal has made progress with information on explorers who visited India and the life of Vasco da Gama.

Rachael received a Headmaster's Commendation for a story she wrote last term called 'A Yeti's Story' about someone who is stuck in the Everest mountains and who used growth mindset to get through.

Sam for producing a fantastic video about ocean danger.

Amber was this week's Year 1 Pupil of the Week. She was awarded her certificate for settling so well into her new class, following class routine and trying her best in every activity.

Molly was awarded Year 2 Pupil of the Week for engaging in super inquiry work on simple machines during the holiday.

Angus was awarded Year 3 Pupil of the Week for showing enthusiasm towards the new Unit of Inquiry.

Rory received a Headmaster's Commendation for designing a poster showing the dangers of the Cape Horn.


PYP UPDATE | Following our wonderful PYP accreditation in December we have hit the ground running. The report outlined many commendations which will be shared in due course and also some helpful recommendations that we will implement and embed. We are very fortunate to have so many specialists in our school community, and to further increase the collaboration between the staff, we held a ‘speed dating’ session with all teachers involved in the delivery of the PYP. This provided a perfect opportunity to talk through the units for this term and think about how to generate ideas to collaborate with the class teachers. There was a fantastic buzz in the hall with many rich and creative ideas being shared!

Year 1 got off to fantastic start this term and travelled to Dundee Science Centre this week, where they explored different materials and found out how things change.

Year 2 are also following a Science theme looking at how machines work and the impact they have on our everyday lives.

The boys and girls in Year 3 are learning about making a safe environment, which will see them looking at strategies needed for personal safety, local safety and global safety.

The first Tuesday of term saw an authentic and rich learning environment for Year 4 when they took full advantage of the power cut and quickly made connections with their Unit of Inquiry on light.

Continuing with the Science theme, Year 5 are learning about energy and forces, while Year 6 are embarking on one of my favourite Units, entitled ‘Inventions have an impact on the world around us and how we live our lives’. I love how this unit looks at how technology has changed lives forever, not just in a positive way but also the negative impact this can have. They will also go on to look at the ethics of consumerism.

All of these units are thought provoking and designed to enrich young minds. They can be enhanced further through talks, visits and demonstrations, so please do get in touch if you, or anyone you know, has expertise they would be willing to share.

- Julianne Pennycook, Deputy Head, Junior School

We wish the following a very...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Jonny and Ingrid


ST LEONARDS EQUESTRIAN | The first competition in the calendar this year is the Kilgraston Scottish Schools Equestrian Championships, which will be held at Howe Equestrian Centre on Saturday, 1 March. The event involves both dressage and showjumping.

Could any parents and pupils who would like to represent St Leonards in equestrian this session please contact Miss Gillian Wilson in the Chemistry Department to register their interest (g.wilson@stleonards-fife.org).


Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.