St Leonards Junior School headmaster's start of term letter: January 2017

Dear Parents and Guardians,

A very Happy New Year to all St Leonards families and welcome back to the new term. I have enjoyed hearing about some wonderful family adventures and trust that everyone had a good break and some time for rest and relaxation. It has been a greatĀ first week back and theĀ brisk, cheerful learning which characterises St Leonards is very much in evidence.

The sheer joy of learning by the sea. PE on East Sands today

After all the successes of last term enjoyed by all pupils in their own individual achievements and goals, and in pursuit of team endeavours, we can look forward to another busy term. Our beginning of term CPD sessions for teachers affords us the opportunity to enjoy thought-provoking learning, and Monday was no different. The Middle Years Programme teachers undertook an exhilarating day of training which encompassed approaches to learning and teaching as well as the culture and ethos of the IB curriculum. I have spoken before about the opportunities we have to teach a forward-thinking, innovative and fun curriculum (and I use this word with caution), and Monday gave us all affirmation that we are on the cusp of an immensely exciting period of development with our approach to learning and teaching. If you have 11 minutes to spare, I urge you to watch Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk on changing educational paradigms. It certainly got us thinking on Monday.

INSET sessions fuel us teachers to think outside the box, reinvigorate our planning and devise some of our own targets for the year ahead. I spoke to the children in assembly this week about their own New Year resolutions. One of mine was to stop eating biscuits and cakes in our staff room here, something I managed until 10.00am on Monday! I challenged the children to add a very important resolution to their list and one they can easily stick to.

My message was inspired by this wonderful card I received during the holidays. If we imagine ourselves like parachutes, and stay open by believing in ourselves, remaining optimistic and not feeling restrained by those around us. With a growth mind-set, positive attitude, following of role models and providing encouragement and kindness to all those around them, I know the children will all achieve their own goals and aspirations this year. If they feel their own parachute is being closed, they should open it up again with this positive mind-set.

There will be plenty of opportunities for the children to open their parachutes in all areas of school life this term. On the academic front we are now in our third Unit of Inquiry for Years 1-6, and I am delighted with the progress and genuine commitment to curiosity and intellectual discovery from the pupils. Today I have seen what our Year 1 pupils have achieved through their writing, and Mrs Fynn and I are staggered by the progress they have made. I can't wait to follow the progress of all our classes and pupils over the next 11 weeks. Our Year 7s continued to be challenged and inspired within the Middle Years curriculum and I know there will be more creative work produced by them. On the sporting side, we have much to look forward to with hockey and lacrosse fixtures, cross county tournaments and continued celebration of all that our pupils achieve out of school with golf, gymnastics, swimming, rugby and much more. I was very struck by the high standards from the Music and Drama departments last term, and cannot wait for our concerts and Years 4-6 play at the end of term. I also wish all those taking part in the Perth Festival the very best of luck. The Senior School production of 'Les Miserables' comes to the Byre just after Half Term, an ambitious and magnificent production which demonstrates the extraordinary talents and passion within our performing arts department. Book Week comes to the Junior School on 27 February, with five days of competitions, story-telling events and literacy foci, culminating in our World Book Day on Thursday, 2 March. You may have spotted two debating events in the calendar: the second of which will be a Year 7 debating workshop afternoon, followed by a whole school debate. I am very keen on debating and the enormous benefits the skill of public speaking has in terms of confidence and motivation. As usual, our wonderful PA have a raft of events organised, including our much revered family Ceilidh on Friday, 27 January.

Year 1 have been making pictures to retell the story of 'Big Bear, Little Bear'. They have also created an Ice Palace, using Phonic skills to create signs and word cards.

As I outlined last term, I plan to conduct a parental consultation towards the end of this term to glean your views on areas of school life. In addition to the development of IT, the St Leonards Award and continued embedding of the Primary Years Curriculum, the consultation will feed into our development plan moving forwards.

There is much to do this term - for the pupils, staff and school, and I am delighted by the eagerness by the whole school community in embracing all that we want to achieve. With this in mind, I would like to thank you all for your continued support for the school and my colleagues, it is very much appreciated.

Finally, I strongly encourage you to watch this clip. It is bound to bring additional cheer to the family this weekend.

With very best wishes,

William Goldsmith

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