Taking Pleasure in Performance
"If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
How time flies when you’re having fun! I can hardly believe I have already reached the end of my first Half Term at St Leonards. Thank you to all of the children, parents and staff who have made me feel so welcome and settled.
This week, the Junior School has been filled with music. It started with Zachary in Year 7 playing us all in on the saxophone to Celebration Assembly on Monday morning, and ended with the children performing in two outstanding Informal Concerts.
Many took extra opportunities to practise throughout the week and I was delighted to hear some incredible melodies flowing down the stairs of Hepburn House as pupils rehearsed solo and group performances in the music rooms above. Performance, whether solo or ensemble, is such an important part of becoming a musician, and indeed of developing important life skills (confidence; communication; self-presentation; teamwork; time management; self-discipline), and I am extremely proud of every one of our children who has played and practised hard this week.
There has been a great deal of research conducted by academics about the importance and effect of music and musical performance on brain development.
A study by scientists at Northwestern University in Illinois found that the brain ‘boost’ given by learning a musical instrument in childhood continues into adult life, whilst a study conducted at the University of Amsterdam proved the benefits of structured music lessons in enhancing children’s cognitive abilities.
Language-based reasoning, short-term memory, planning and inhibition, all of which can lead to improved academic performance, were found to be significantly improved by the study and practice of music within the curriculum.
This morning I hear every single pupil in Year 2 stood up on stage in the Auditorium and played the violin. They have been learning for just three weeks, so to take part in their very first concert is an incredible step, and one which I hope will go some way towards developing in them a love of music, as well the confidence, and willingness, to try new things.
We have an incredible 120 budding musicians in the Junior School, and I very much look forward to hearing more from them as they continue to play, learn and develop those key skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
The composer Michael Tippett once said, “music is a performance and needs an audience”. It was wonderful to see so many parents showing their support and appreciation in the Music School Auditorium, and I was immensely proud of the children, who listened politely and applauded every one of their peers. I am sure that our musicians were equally grateful for the support of such a rapt and attentive audience.
Music feeds the soul and the spirit but also the mind, and as we go into Half Term, I hope that lots of you will take some time to make, listen to, and appreciate music.
I look forward to seeing you all after the holidays, refreshed and ready for another exciting term at the Junior School.
Eve Moran, Junior School Headmistress
Year 6 Unit of Inquiry
YEAR 6 UNIT OF INQUIRY | Year 6 have had a busy first half of Spring Term investigating how erosion affects the natural world and man-made structures. As part of our Unit of Inquiry, we have been on a coastal walk to the Maiden Rock to look at the effects of erosion on our coastline, and we studied how erosion has affected man-made structures in the area around the school and St Andrews Cathedral.
Science investigations have been carried out to look at the properties of different types of rock. Pupils also carried out research in to areas such as wind and water erosion, glaciers and building materials. Some building plans and models of buildings have been constructed as part of Homework Heroes tasks. One even has a working doorbell!
Miss Cormack, Year 6 Class Teacher
Year 3's SFRS Visit
YEAR 3'S SFRS VISIT | Watch Manager Mark Leavey from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) came to visit Year 3 on Monday to talk to the boys and girls about being a fire fighter and how to keep safe at home.
Mark has been a fire fighter for over 20 years, and he and his teams attend lots of different situations, not just fires. They deal with chemical incidents, animal rescues, road traffic accidents and even flooding.
Mark told the children that the most important thing he has to do is make sure his crew are safe before they enter a building. His job is to make sure that no-one is in the building first, and then the checks that his crew have all their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) on correctly, making sure that no skin is exposed. Each fire fighter has a buddy to make sure that they are fully covered. This is very important as a house on fire can reach over 600°C!
Most importantly, Mark asked the children to check if they all had smoke detectors in their homes. These should be placed in hallways and escape routes in houses. They should be checked weekly that they are still working – ‘Thumbs Up Monday’, he called it, when you press the button to test your alarm.
He also talked to the children about having a Fire Action Plan in place at home in case of a fire. This is a very important plan, and one which all families should discuss together.
Mark explained that he would be very happy to be contacted by any families who do not have smoke detectors in place. The SFRS will come and assess the house and place them where they should be free of charge.
It was a very informative talk and the children asked lots of interesting questions.
As you can see I had the pleasure of wearing the PPE (minus the breathing apparatus), and I can tell you it is very heavy and cumbersome. The men and women of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service must be extremely fit to wear it whilst dealing with fires and other incidents!
Mrs Beebee, Year 3 Class Teacher
HOCKEY HIGHLIGHTS | Well done to the U10 girls’ hockey team who were victorious in their game against Ardvreck yesterday! A hard-fought match with great goals from Eabha, Lucy and Rachel resulting in a 3-2 win for St Leonards. The U11 girls went down narrowly 2-1 to the visiting side, but a good team performance and top goal from Thea.
Year 4-7 Informal Concert
YEAR 4-7 INFORMAL CONCERT | Thursday morning’s Year 4-7 Informal Concert took us from South America to Egypt, Italy, France, and even Neverland, giving the programme a very international flair.
String Club started off with ‘El Pajaro Carpintero’, we heard ‘Kwanzaa’ from the Guitar Club, and Sam was our first soloist with ‘Egyptian Level’ performed on the piano.
The audience thoroughly enjoyed the series of fantastic solos and duets that followed. Thank you to the following performers, who took to the stage to provide us with a brilliant morning’s entertainment: Tom, Ed, Isha, Polly, Sam. Zachary, XiuRong, Lana, Poppy, Calum, Grace, Maya, Jennifer, Alastair, William, Shreyas, Harry, Luke, Alyssa, Finn, and all the boys and girls who played as part of an ensemble as well.
Building Pulleys in Year 2
BUILDING PULLEYS IN YEAR 2 | As we come towards the end of their Unit on Simple Machines, Year 2 have been learning about pulley systems. On Wednesday morning, they began by building simple pulleys, which they then linked to their current work in Maths by measuring out lengths of string and ribbon.
The boys and girls were then treated to a fantastic workshop by Dr Vilnay (Michelle and Jonny’s mum), who is a Doctor of Engineering. She talked to the class about the work of an engineer, and then introduced the story of Archimedes’ Feat.
Archimedes was a Greek mathematician who is credited with improving on the pulley systems already in existence at the time when he lived c.287-212 BC. He added further pulleys to create a compound pulley system that, so the story goes, he demonstrated by moving a fully laden ship singlehandedly across a bay, while remaining seated some distance away.
Year 2 replicated Archimedes’ feat in the classroom using a compound pulley system and a ship built from an upturned desk. Using this system one child could easily pull a cargo of 3 shipmates across the classroom floor!
Miss Fisher, Year 2 Class Teacher
Electricity in Year 3
ELECTRICITY IN YEAR 3 | To round off our Unit of Inquiry, Year 3 have been looking at electricity and electrical circuits. The children were testing which items were good for conducting electricity and which items were good for being an insulator.
They discovered that items made of metal made the circuit connect and the bulb light up. Items made of rubber, plastic, glass, wood or cork did not make the bulb light, hence they were good insulators.
Mrs Beebee, Year 3 Class Teacher
STORY WRITING | Year 4 have been working very hard during creative writing lessons this week. They are using storyboards to plan an adventure story. The boys and girls will then proof their work, using a rubric, to ensure they have included all the correct punctuation, paragraphs, spelling and, of course, descriptive language to build images through their words. Keep up the hard work Year 4!
Mrs Arkwright, Year 4 Class Teacher
POOL PARTY | Year 3 rounded off the first half of Spring Term with a fantastic Pool Party this afternoon. Everyone had loads of fun splashing around with inflatables in the swimming pool to celebrate the start of the holidays!
Year 1-3 Informal Concert
YEAR 1-3 INFORMAL CONCERT | Thank you to the Year 2 violinists for starting off our Lower School Informal Concert this morning with a vocal and instrumental performance to the tune of ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor’.
The audience enjoyed lots of solo performances, plus a musical trio of Mia, Cara and Katya playing ‘William Tell’ on the violin.
A huge well done to our Year 1-3 soloists, who were: Paula, James, Mia, Cara, Katya, Hayfaa, Olivia, Monty, Holly, Jonathan, Amber, Sofia and Marta.
Year 3 played ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ using xylophone blocks and singing along, and all three year groups came together at the end for ‘Janie Mama’, sung brilliantly as a round!
Learning Outside the Classroom
Despite this being the last week of school, we have had a busy few days with our Outdoor Learning Programme.
BEACH SCHOOL | Year 5 Beach School on Monday involved the consolidation of in-class work on fractions. There were several activities and for one for which the children had to divide themselves into a series of different fractions, improper fractions, equivalent fractions and even mixed number fractions. This was an excellent exercise as not only did it involve a tangible link to fractional amounts but it also required a lot of teamwork to make it all work out!
AD VITAM | Our weekly Ad Vitam lessons often are concerned with the social and emotional aspects of learning. Preparing children for life is our ethos and our motto, and with that in mind we took to the beach. The pupils completed a series of team-building exercises, where the success of the team required everyone to work together, to listen to one another, and to communicate with their peers in a clear manner.
While the set task was easy, finding a way for their teams to agree on a strategy and then work together to cross a fictitious river was a lot more difficult! It was an enormously satisfying lesson to see it all come together.
RUNNING CLUB | Enormous fun was had by our runners this week, who took on the challenge of heading up the coastal path in the rain and mud. Great camaraderie on display, made all the more fun by adding two-way radio skills between the different groups!
St Leonards Polytunnel
ST LEONARDS POLYTUNNEL | We are hugely grateful to Mr Penman for his invaluable assistance with the polytunnel project. At the end of last week, a truck load of men, wheelbarrows and soil rolled through the Teinds Gate. By the time they all rolled out, they had put in place two beautifully laid out raised beds, lined with plastic and soil. Not only have that, but we now have a paved and gravelled walkway through the middle!
This means Phase 2 of our project is now complete and is in a very professional state. We couldn’t have got to where we are now without Mr Penman’s help. The next step is covering the ribs with plastic sheeting and we will start growing in early March!