The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 2 March 2018


As I write this, a tractor has just cleared the driveway to our farm steading, which makes it accessible by foot, never mind by car yet! The farmer has said he hasn’t seen snow drifts like this for fifteen years, and it appears this extreme weather has come as a surprise to everyone.

I sincerely hope you have all remained safe and warm at home with plenty of supplies, and have made the very most of the time off school to enjoy the magic that snow brings: snowmen, igloos, hot chocolate, snowball fights and quality family time (sometimes seen as a rare commodity nowadays). Thank you to all those who have sent me pictures of their activities over the last 48 hours, it seems like great fun has been had, and quite rightly so.

Shaun Fenton, the Head of Reigate Grammar School and incoming chair of HMC (The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference), has written about the importance of seizing this opportunity to enjoy family time together, and I commend his article to you. Whilst we have hunkered down, many of us will have read about the efforts of the emergency services, farmers, medics, and those supporting the homeless and less fortunate, to name a few, who have braved extremely dangerous conditions in the service of others. There is no doubt that having the opportunity to enjoy a rare snow day (or two) allows us to focus on what is really important in life.

In a climate that so often focuses on wrong in the world and problems we face in the UK, great examples of outstanding service have surfaced over the past few days. Whilst society struggles with the pressures of the NHS, a twitter hashtag #ThankYouNHS gives many examples of the lengths our doctors, nurses, hospital workers, surgery staff and paramedics have gone to in order to get to work and provide an important service to others. There has been a heart-warming story about scarves placed in Bristol city centre for homeless people, and local people who have come to the service of motorists stranded on Scottish roads, armed with water and provisions.

Kindness, selflessness and generosity of spirit are all learned character traits, and whilst much of our media brings us stories highlighting the very opposite of this, there is much more kindness in the world than we are led to believe.

Looking out for others, being proud of our duty to the world around us, and an acceptance that simple, kind acts go a long way, are all critical to learn from a very young age. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than hearing about these simple acts of kindness displayed by our children, both in and out of school. There is no doubt that kindness will have spread a long way this week, and once again I find myself reflecting on the extraordinary privilege my colleagues and I have in playing a very small part in teaching children the importance of service towards others. Many people bemoan the next generation as the ‘snowflake generation’ who lack resilience and have a sense of entitlement beyond their years. I don’t have any comment on this sentiment, but I do know that kindness will not run out, for we see extraordinary acts of kindness amongst the young.

Please do take some time to highlight some of the lengths ordinary people have gone to this week to help others. If the snowmen or igloos in your garden don’t warm your children’s hearts, I hope #ThankYouNHS will.

It is certainly a far cry from the planned fireside stories on the beach, part of our Book Week celebrations that were planned for this week, although we started the week with many competitions, visits from Alison Caldwell and Emma Sutton, and some of our class trips to Toppings. I have enjoyed seeing the pictures of our children reading in extreme places, and I do hope you have all enjoyed the opportunity to read together as a family, or even snatch some time yourselves to read.

I anticipate being back to normal next week, and amongst the usual business of term, I wish those participating in the Perth Festival and those taking their ABRSM exams the very best of luck. I find their courage and talent in the performing arts quite extraordinary.

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

William Goldsmith


YEAR 2 PUPPETS | On Monday morning, the boys and girls in Year 2 were visited by Sylvia Troon, a professional storyteller and puppet maker! Sylvia told a traditional Scottish folk tale, brought to life by her wonderful handcrafted puppets. Next, it was the turn of the children to have a go at making their own puppets!

Puppets featured again at Activity Time, during which the boys and girls used the Puppet Theatre to tell their own tales, as well as writing their own story books. We've certainly seen some clever creations and imaginative tales from Year 2!


ADVENTURES AT SANDY BAY | Book Week activities in the Junior School started with a visit from author Alison Caldwell on Monday morning. She came along to tell the boys and girls in Years 4, 5 & 6 all about the process of making a picture book, using her own series, the 'Rory and Ruby Adventures' as an example. The books are set at Sandy Bay, which is inspired by the beautiful beaches of St Andrews!

Alison explained how the books have developed over the years, adding a new friend for Rory, as well as Scruff McDuff the dog! Each class heard how Alison works with an illustrator and an editor to take the books from just one idea to a full, illustrated story.

Fully briefed in the ins and outs of proofreading, ghost writing and binding, the children then began to develop their own characters, settings, concepts and ideas for a story.

They came up with lots of great ideas and we are very grateful to Alison for her sharing her time and inspiration!


THE TOY BOX | Dr Emma Sutton visited the Junior School on Tuesday as part of the ongoing Book Week events. The boys and girls in Years 1-3 gathered to hear about a children's ballet called 'The Toy Box', which was written by the French composer Claude Debussy for his daughter, 105 years ago!

After listening to some of the music from the ballet, which was first performed by puppets, it was the children's turn to stand up and practise their moves in the classroom!

A big thank you to Dr Sutton for coming in to speak to us!


SNOW DAYS | We have really enjoyed receiving your snow photos from the last few days - lots of wonderful winter creations and even a handful of bookworms reading in the extreme weather!

With World Book Day yesterday slightly overshadowed by Storm Emma and the 'Beast from the East', it's super to see so many of our boys and girls persevering with their reading at home, inside igloos, and in the company of snowmen!

Kamilah and her brothers rolled giant snowballs before turning them into a pair of fantastic snowmen! Well done to Kamilah for persevering with her World Book Week plans. Here she is reading the 'Biggest Word Book Ever'!

The Lower School playground was the perfect setting for making snow angels! It was great to see the boys and girls wrapped up warm and ready to brave the elements!

Not wanting to be outdone by the children, staff in the Junior School have been having fun in the snow too! Mrs Beebee has been out and about with her dog in a snow drift, while Mrs Pennycook and Mrs McKimmon have been busy building snowmen!

Mrs McKimmon took Book Week and the Headmaster's proposed FirePit activity to the extreme... anything to win the staff Snowman competition!

In fact, not only has Mrs Beebee been out in the snow, she has built a snowman and...a snow seat! Here she is sitting down to a good book and a nice cup of tea. By the looks of it, that orange nose has been proving all too tempting for one furry companion!

Here's Mrs Fynn showing off her snowcat, complete with features made from driftwood and shells!

It is fantastic to see everyone making the most of the snowy conditions, so do keep the pictures coming!


BOOK WEEK | Mr Shiells did a fantastic job of keeping Year 2 entertained with his book reading in full fancy dress earlier this week!


GRAND DESIGNS | It's amazing what you can make with a packet of spaghetti and some marshmallows! Year 7 have been staying warm indoors and building their own grand designs in activity time this week.


A VISIT FROM MRS TIMMINS | On Tuesday, Year 2 had a wonderful visit from Bella and Paula's mum, Mrs Timmins, who shared a traditional tale from Colombia called ‘The Old Lady’. Everyone enjoyed acting out parts of the story!


Photographs of those who received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday will be included in next Friday's newsletter. On this occasion, the snow has beaten us, with staff unable to get in to school to access the camera!


THE GREAT ST LEONARDS EGG HUNT | The Great St Leonards Egg Hunt, organised by the St Leonards Parents Association, will take place this year on Sunday, 18 March, from 11am to 2pm at St Leonards Junior School. Join us for an egg hunt with clues around the school grounds, and collect a chocolate egg at the end! There will also be Spring Bonnet and Decorated Egg competitions, so please do come dressed for the occasion if you want to enter!

Teas, coffees, soup, hotdogs and delicious home baking will be available to buy. Tickets cost £3 per child. Booking is essential via www.trybooking.co.uk/2584.

We look forward to seeing you there!

We wish the following a very...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the Week Ahead: Sam, Tom, Charlotte, Archie and Annie.

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