The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 17 March 2017



Perhaps not a phrase you expect my preamble to start with this week! Before I introduce a new initiative to take off at St Leonards Junior School in September 2017, I urge you to watch this short clip:

I am absolutely certain this wouldn't resonate with any St Leonards families(!), but you might well be able to empathise with Riley and her parents, as seen in this clip from 'Inside Out'.

Our children are growing up in an rapidly changing landscape with extraordinary opportunities, opening up new horizons that they are incredibly fortunate to seize. However, with this comes an interactive world they are immersed in, a world that we couldn't possibly have comprehended. Children are reportedly taking in 285 new pieces of content each day (over 100,000 a year) through social media, the internet and constant news feeds. Whereas, not so long ago we would have relied on the 10 o'clock news and daily newspaper, we are now in a world where we thrive on instant communication, updates and cravings for new information. A breaking news story is old within ten minutes, we are very preoccupied with what people will think if we don't broadcast our daily lives on a Facebook or Twitter feed and there is a growing expectation to occupy every moment of our child's lives with activities, events, entertainment, stimulation and breadth of opportunities, for fear they might get bored, even for a single moment.

The overarching concern about this is the impact this has on our ability to stop, take time out and allow our mind to rest. There is no doubt that our concentration spans are not what they used to be. A single frame in a movie used to be well over 2 minutes, now our brains are ready for frames lasting only 30 seconds. In my keenness to follow educational twitter feeds (superb CPD for a teacher), I worry that I am more reticent read longer articles because they exceed 30 characters. For all the benefits of giving our children opportunity after opportunity, their brains are in danger of being hard-wired and full of clutter. It is essential that children learn to stop, unpack their minds on a daily basis and direct their attention to acceptance, rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen.

Mindfulness is growing in popularity in schools, not least as exciting new research proves that children who practice Mindfulness have greater cognitive and performance skills, and better mental, emotional, social and physical health. We are teaching our children to enter a rapidly globalised and changing world with excellent communication skills, an awareness and empathy to others, kindness, and calm problem-solving skills. Introducing Mindfulness at the age of five develops this, and curiosity, kindness and acceptance.

Our approach to Mindfulness will be very simple: to introduce stillness to the day, whereby the children will stop and be. From here, we will build up Mindfulness sessions, with the aim of helping children concentrate and learn better, cope with stress and anxiety and fundamentally feel happier and calmer. It will be a time in the day to train their thoughts to let go and enjoy being in the moment. This isn't a radical step, nor is it anything soft and fluffy: this is an essential step in hitting pause for a brief moment each day, allowing our children's minds to stop buzzing from one thing to another.

May I encourage you to read the following paper by Katherine Weare, a leading expert in children's emotional wellbeing and mental health. In it, she outlines the benefits of Mindfulness and de-bunks some of the misconceptions surrounding it.

I would also recommend you try this simple Mindfulness exercise with your children:

Wishing you all a happy weekend.

William Goldsmith


On Wednesday, we held a Commonwealth day hockey tournament for the Year 6 & 7 girls and boys. We had 8 teams competing in a round robin event. There were no winners in the end as we were sticking with the traditions of the Commonwealth Games also known as the Friendly games and it was more about fun and participation. The pupils were split into their teams and had to make their countries flag for the opening ceremony. The matches were played in the spirit of true sportsmanship and all involved enjoyed.

The Year 5 String Quartet performed 'Chinese Street Festival' by Mary Cohen, on Tuesday morning. They will be performing this during the Easter Mix Concert next Thursday
U12 Boys Hockey vs. MESM


After seeing the fascinating array of bows and arrows brought in by Dr Crook as part of his workshop on Papua New Guinean culture and story telling traditions, both Ruben Loe and Rory Koenig were inspired to bring their own bows and arrows into school. We persuaded Mr Baxter to incorporate these into his games lesson this week, to the children's delight. Thank you for being such a good sport Mr Baxter!


On Wednesday, I was delighted to present certificates to all those who took part in the Perth Festival. In amongst the presentations, we were treated to performances by Corinne, Verity, Eva, Harriet and Niamh.

Once again, many congratulations to all those who took part. As Mrs Stewart commented on Wednesday, it took enormous courage and determination to stand up in front of an audience in Perth to deliver their poems.


Year 5 were delighted to welcome Mark Richardson (Ruby's Father) on Thursday to speak to the class about his line of work. He deals in pieces of art from many periods and he brought in a few art prints by Tretchikoff and a collection of glass by Hospodka. Both originated behind the iron curtain but only Tretchikoff became well known and wealthy in his lifetime, whereas Hospodka’s work has only recently been attributed in the West after his death. Mr Richardson talked about how both artists used different means of expressing themselves, one via painting the other through designing glasswork after being restricted by the Russian State. Year 5 thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and Mr Richardson very kindly gave everyone a copy of the 'Chinese Girl' by Tretchikoff for the pupils to take away. Unfortunately, it wasn't the original!



Mr Tim Rhodes (Father of Evie in Year 7 and builder extraordinaire) joined Year 6 yesterday to share the evolution of the Abbey Park housing development which is opposite the school on former St Leonards land. As part of their 'Unit Of Inquiry' studies, Year 6 are researching how building designs are dependent on environmental factors and human ingenuity, we certainly found evidence of both within the Park. Mr Rhodes talked through the initial plans and 'Big Think' that enabled the architect to draw up plans for the development and, with some of our own designs, guided us through the materials required and human skills involved in the execution of the designs. On visiting the site we saw how the materials were used to ensure the longevity of the designs and sustainability of the land through human intervention; how water, which is in plentiful supply, is removed from the ground to prevent flooding and the reasons behind why certain materials were chosen. Overall, the visit was highly beneficial to deepening our understanding of how man and land can co-exist to provide housing that is sympathetically designed but uses features to ensure a modern, long lasting design is enjoyed in the beautiful environment of St Andrews.

Year 7 learning about breathing in Drama
A stunning early evening for football club
We wish the following a very...

Many Happy Returns to... James and Shelagh


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