Friday, 24 January 2020

Pushing Boundaries

Headmistress's Introduction

The fear of failure and uncertainty is ingrained deep within us and so, if we are honest, each one of us would choose to remain within our comfort zones. At the same time, we have all faced and will continue to face challenging scenarios in which we are pushed into the unknown. Our natural reaction is to panic – our thoughts go something along the lines of “I can’t do it… I want to do it… but what if I fail?”. Yet pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones is essential for our personal growth and education – it is only through challenging experiences that we develop problem-solving skills, creativity, and intellectual independence. It is only by crossing into the realm of the unknown that we can realise the extent of our capabilities, and experience the enormous sense of pride and achievement that comes from overcoming fears and perceived limits.

This week, I witnessed some of our Year 7 pupils push themselves out of their comfort zones when they led our Celebration Assembly. As these pupils stood before a sea of expectant faces on Monday morning to award certificates and commendations, they were naturally nervous – and a couple of them even looked terrified. Yet, after the assembly, they were beaming from ear to ear as they reflected upon what they had just achieved. The pupils spoke with real confidence, and it filled me with an immense sense of pride. I asked the pupils if, when they joined the school, they would ever have thought that they would lead an assembly… they immediately shrieked “no way!”. These pupils really had pushed themselves out of their comfort zones, and it was only by doing so that they were able to achieve far more than they could have possibly imagined. To see pupils grow in confidence and abilities over their time at the Junior School, to push themselves out of their comfort zone, and achieve things that they never thought possible is certainly the most fulfilling part of my job.

We must keep encouraging our children to expand their sense of possibility, to aim high, to push themselves out of their comfort zone (both inside and outside the classroom) because, as the well-known adage says, “the only limits in life are those set by yourself”. I look forward to encouraging and observing the children at St Leonards as they continue to push themselves out of their comfort zones, and celebrating with them as they achieve things that they never thought possible.

Julianne Pennycook

Maths, No Problem

MATHS, NO PROBLEM | A huge thank you to the parents who attended our 'Maths, no Problem' workshops this week. We were thrilled by the number of parents who came to discuss our Maths Scheme, and delighted by the conversations it elicited, the fears it dispelled, and the entertainment it caused. We will be hosting another event in the Summer Term.

Miss Boissiere, Acting Senior Teacher

Celebration Assembly

CELEBRATION ASSEMBLY | This week's assembly was led by Year 7 pupils Skye, Shreyas, Eliza, and Lochie. They did a magnificent job of handing out the Commendations and Pupil of the Week certificates, and spoke with real confidence from the front. Many congratulations to them, and also to the following pupils who were given awards during the Celebration Assembly:

Alex received a Commendation for settling so well into his new class, and for being willing to enter into all activities with great enthusiasm and good humour.
Bethany received a Commendation for designing and making a teddy bear using a sewing machine, and was Pupil of the Week (Year 2) for excellent, confident counting in French.
Cara received a Commendation for her enviable, balanced approach to learning - listening to the teacher, thinking for herself, responding appropriately, reflecting on her attainment, and helping others without any prompting.
Christina was Pupil of the Week (Year 3) for helping the Year 1 girls play nicely together in After School Club.
Elin received a Commendation for learning to use a sewing machine and using it to sew a halter neck dress.
Ellie received a Commendation for her upbeat and positive demeanour each day - she always has a smile, and has worked very hard during her first week back.
Eva received a Commendation for coming back to school with a hard-working attitude, and trying her very best with every activity this week.
Freddie received a Commendation for drawing a detailed and accurate diagram on how to create the colour spectrum using a prism.
Hari received a Commendation for being a thinker during problem-solving activities, inquiring into mathematical conundrums, and critical thinking skills.
Ishbel received a Commendation for including relevant and interesting detail in her writing, particularly when writing about herself during the lesson on paragraphs.
Madison received a Commendation for her caring attitude and immense support, both academic and organisational, so freely and willingly given to Mrs McKimmon and Year 4C last week.
Marko received a Commendation for being such a focused and active participant during the Lacrosse coaching sessions.
Rachael received a Commendation for her caring attitude and immense support, both academic and organisational, so freely and willingly given to Mrs McKimmon and Year 4C last week.
Scott received two Commendations. His first Commendation was awarded for his enthusiasm and accuracy as a Commentator during lessons about the weather in French last week, and his second was awarded for doing a super job as a most conscientious Buddy to Alex.

Stellan was Pupil of the Week (Year 1) for producing a fantastic piece of 'have a go!' writing about what makes him happy, complete with finger spaces. Last, but by no means least, Brodie was awarded a Commendation for having a caring attitude and being immensely supportive to Mrs McKimmon and 4C last week. Congratulations again to all the pupils who received awards in this week's Celebration Assembly!

Sporting Successes

Smiles all round in the 10 and Under girls' hockey team!

SPORTING SUCCESSES | Congratulations to the 10 and Under girls' hockey team who beat Riley House 6-0 on Monday afternoon. The goal scorers were Eabha, Sanna, Katie, Lucy, and Abbie. Well played, girls!

A stellar effort from the U12 girls' hockey team on Monday afternoon.

Whilst the U12 girls lost 5-3 to Riley House in a very competitive game on Monday afternoon, there are still many successes to be celebrated. Well done to goal scorers Rachel and Emmy, and also to Sal who had a great game and was named player of the match.

The victorious U12 girls' hockey team.

On Wednesday, the U12 girls played against ESMS in a tightly-contested fixture. The final score was 4-3, with St Leonards coming out victorious! Well done to goal scorers Emily and Thea, and particular mention to Eliza who sneaked in the winning goal with just seconds to go!

Experiments and Aliens

EXPERIMENTS AND ALIENS | Year 1 have been hard at work as our Unit of Inquiry gathers pace. The children have decided that they wish to create a Science Lab in our role play area in order to experiment with the materials that they have been learning about. Should you have anything suitable, then please do bring it into the classroom next week (especially after discussion with your child, as they seem to have very clear ideas about what they want)!

Year 1 have read Pants, by Nick Sharratt this week.

English has involved a great deal of discussion about pants this week - amongst other things, we have established that wood and glass are not great materials for making pants! After reading the hilarious books Pants and Party Pants by Nick Sharrat, we designed our own pants before writing descriptively about them. In fact, our pants were so incredible that they aliens who famously love underpants (reference: Aliens Love Underpants, Claire Freedman) couldn't resist a visit!

There have been some terrific adjectives used this week: flowery, stripy, and patterned to name three.
Maths has been all about subtraction, with some tremendous stories about subtraction written by the children.

A quick reminder that Beach School for Year 1 is on Thursday afternoon, so please do remember coats and wellies and keep an eye out for general lost property. Our class is a bit concerned that the aforementioned aliens might be responsible for the disappearance of a number of jumpers... but hopefully we can find an alternative reason and reunite them with their owners.

Miss Boissiere, Year 1 Class Teacher

Beach Games

Year 6 had a great time on East Sands this week creating their own games.

BEACH GAMES | The sun shone for Year 6 Beach School this week. In groups of four, the children were tasked with creating a game to be played on the beach. There were some very entertaining and imaginative ideas including golf-themed games, target throwing, and crab walking. The pupils then had to teach their game to another group, to highlight the importance of carefully listening to instructions.

Miss Majcher, Year 6 Class Teacher (Supply)

Ingenious Inventions

Year 3 enjoyed their games session in the sunshine!

INGENIOUS INVENTIONS | Year 3 have also been inventing games this week in their Games session with Miss Carroll. While inventing their game, they had to decide on what equipment to use, name their game, and also create rules to ensure that their game was safe and fair.

Mrs Beebee, Year 3 Class Teacher

Medical Professionals

Nurse Young explains the different ways to take medicines.

MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS | Year 3 had a visit from St Leonards' Lead Nurse, Lara Young, as part of their Unit of Inquiry. She spoke to the children about why we take medicines, different types of medicine (liquid, tablets, creams, drops, injections), and how to take medicines safely. Medicines must be stored correctly, kept in date, out of reach of children, and children should never take any medicines unless an adult they know gives it to them. Nurse Young also spoke to the children about First Aid, and how this is given to someone who is hurt or ill. Nurse Young also explained that it is important for the children to learn how to call 999 to help someone if they are very poorly, and she is planning a return visit to go through some different scenarios that the children could learn from and make a difference in, if they had to call for an ambulance.

Next week, Dr Muqit will be visiting to show the children how to deliver CPR.

Mrs Beebee, Year 3 Class Teacher

BETT 2020

Miss Brannen experienced Class Virtual Reality whilst at BETT 2020.

BETT 2020 | This week, Year 5 Class Teacher Miss Brannen travelled to London to represent St Leonards Junior School at the the leading education technology show, BETT 2020. Below, she reflects upon her experiences:

"It was an amazing opportunity as I was able to network with educators, companies, and technicians from across the globe. I even had the chance to listen to Brian Cox OBE, who was the keynote speaker. I focused on the primary education stands and found some wonderful futuristic inventions that would enhance learning. I also had the opportunity to test new and interesting educational tools. The Class Virtual Reality was a particular highlight - it is breathtaking how realistic it is, and the opportunities it provides students to experiences terrains, places, people and animals. After the event, I was able to share ideas with our IT Coordinator and suggest gadgets and educational technology that would enhance learning in the Junior School."

Burns Day

Year 7C presented a fabulous Burns Celebration Assembly!

BURNS DAY | The Junior School celebrated the life and works of Robert Burns on Friday. The day started with a Burns Celebration Assembly led by Year 7C, including a fantastic Address to the Haggis by Archie and Izzie, a beautiful solo sung by Jennifer, and a recitation of two Burns poems ('A Red, Red Rose' by Kai, and 'Tae a Mouse' by Elisa). Many thanks to Mrs Stewart who coordinated and organised the various components of the Assembly.

The children then were treated to an entertaining retelling and recitation of Burns' poem 'Tam O'Shanter' by Mr Simon Lamb, former teacher at St Leonards Junior School and poet. The children were captivated by his vivid and engaging recitation - there were a multitude of cries, squeals and giggles from the boys and girls of all ages!

Mr Lamb delivering a poetry workshop to the Year 7s.

Years 4 to 7 enjoyed poetry workshops with Mr Lamb for the remainder of the day. He explained his journey from loathing to loving the poetry of Robert Burns, unpacked the difficult language in the poem 'Scots Wha Hae', encouraged them to read excerpts of Burns' poetry aloud, and then did a writing workshop with them. Thank you so much to Mr Lamb for taking to time to visit the Junior School - the children all had a fantastic time!

Touch of Tartan

A 'touch of tartan' to celebrate Burns Day.

TOUCH OF TARTAN | As part of their Burns Day Celebrations, the pupils were allowed to wear a 'touch of tartan' on Friday. There were some excellent kilts, sashes, scrunchies, headbands and skirts on show!

Poetry Performance

POETRY PERFORMANCE | Simon Lamb is performing at The Little Theatre, Dundee on Saturday, 28 March 2020. If you missed him in St Andrews in November, this is a great chance to hear his work including an extended extract from his new poetry pamphlet Cathedral Sky. Suitable for all ages.

These Are The Days That Count

Some highlights from the Year 6 adventures at Loch Eil.

THESE ARE THE DAYS THAT COUNT | The Year 6 trip to the Outward Bound Centre at Loch Eil was a first for St Leonards, and was the culmination of a year of planning and preparation. It was designed to complement the annual Year 7 trip to the Ridgeway Centre, and to provide a range of experiences that the children could draw upon and then extend in the following year. The week was planned around a night expedition, in which the children would prepare, pack, hike, and then spend the night in a bothy – all in winter conditions. All of the activities on the trip, both leading up to and after the night expedition, were focused on promoting teamwork and the importance of connecting with nature.

The key themes for the week were fun, effort, respect, and resilience. These were tied into each and every activity, from the lighthearted to the more challenging.

Fun: our week at the Outward Bound Centre was, above all, meant to be fun. It was essential that the children had a positive experience, and were able to realise their capabilities in the outdoors.

Effort: it was essential that each individual tried their hardest in all the different activities, worked together as part of the team, listened, and was organised. This was especially important for the night expedition. Effort is what makes ‘type two’ fun so immensely worthwhile.

Respect: this component had two parts: respect for each other, and respect for the environment. Our week involved working with peers, and therefore respect for each other was needed to ensure that all activities had a successful outcome. Respect or the environment meant that we needed to be mindful of where we were, and it was a large part of our John Muir Award.

Resilience: it was inevitable that elements of our week in Loch Muir would challenge each child in a different way. For some, it was being away from home for four nights and battling with feelings of homesickness. The night expedition was a challenge for all the children, since they had to complete a hike with a rucksack on and then sleep in a bothy (not as comfortable as their normal sleeping conditions!). But, for each step of the journey, they had their friends and teammates with them!

Here are some reflections from the Year 6 children:

“No matter the weather (and instead of watching the TV), we went out and we felt better about ourselves, and if we struggled we kept pushing ourselves harder and harder.” Evie

“If you are one of those kids that is really small like me, don’t think that you can’t do anything challenging because at OUTWARD BOUND everything is suitable for your size or age - you just have to put the effort in!” Rory

“When we did an activity called Jacobs’ Ladder, when I climbed up to the fifth bar the space between the upper bar was even taller than me and the person next to me couldn’t do it either, so I gave him a leg up the he helped me and we made it to the top eventually.” Hamish

“I will take away happiness, confidence and courage. I have learned so much about myself, my friends, and my survival skills. It was tough but fun, and that’s what made it special. I will miss everyone there especially Craig, our instructor. I am so grateful for this great experience and I would come again in a heartbeat. Thank you!!!” Cameron

“I have built up my stamina and have realised that I have a lot of different skills for loads of different activities that I have never seen myself do! The instructors were incredible and I was super lucky to get Craig as my instructor! He always challenged you but never pushed you out of your comfort zone, and when you were stuck he always encouraged you to reach your goal.” Conor

“I really enjoyed Loch Eil. I especially enjoyed camping in the bothy because it was like we were having to be independent, and when we did Jacobs Ladder we had to help each other. I had an amazing time.” Alyssa

“I thought Loch Eil was great because we got to learn about the environment and get used to getting our nails dirty, we did things like: scrambling, a zip line, and Jacob’s Ladder. They were all good fun, and I would like to say thank you to all of the staff!” Verity

“Loch Eil has changed me! I have had so much fun and realised how capable I am at adventures! I am proud of getting through camping and not starving. Also, I realised the most wonderful thing in the world: THE VIEW. It was amazing, so many mountains, trees, cliffs, and most importantly snow! Thank you to all the people who made this amazing experience possible.” Cecilia

“I loved my time at Loch Eil and the views were amazing! The mountains were lovely when we went scrambling and there was also lots of snow! The hardest thing was doing the leap of faith. It was so high and scary, especially because it was wobbling as I moved. I have had the best time and would be happy to go back soon. Thank you to all the staff for making this an excellent week!” Shelagh

I am incredibly proud of all of the Year 6s. They dealt incredibly well with a challenging night expedition, took the weather in their stride, and the staff and instructors at Outward Bound were mightily impressed by the keenness and enthusiasm of the children.

Mr Duncan Barrable, Head of Outdoor Learning

Sunlight and Shadows

Year 4P made the most of the winter sunlight on East Sands this week!

SUNLIGHT AND SHADOWS | Year 4P headed to East Sands for their first Beach School of 2020 to explore how light creates shadows and reflections. The children created and compared shadows, reflected the sunlight using mirrors, and measured how far their reflections could travel. A very productive afternoon experimenting, well done Year 4P!

Mrs Arkwright, Year 4P Class Teacher

Melodious Music

This week, in their Music lessons, pupils in the Junior School have been trying out different instruments - from clarinoes in Year 4C to violins in Year 2!
Wishing the following pupils a very...

A very Happy Birthday to Eliza K, Ruben and Logan! We hope that you all have a lovely day!