Friday, 24 March 2017

Please watch these two clips from concerts this week.


I hope you have watched the two videos above before you read this opening message, if indeed you plan to read what I have to say!

Eton College, arguably the world's most famous educational establishment whose alumni include no less than 19 British Prime Ministers. Approximately 150 miles to the East of Eton lies Passmores Academy, an 11-19 comprehensive school serving a large area of Essex, where the Head (Vic Goddard, an inspirational and compassionate Head Teacher) is committed to help his pupils make something of their lives.

Two very different schools in terms of their foundations, bricks and mortar and opportunities within school for extra-curricular pursuits. However, their culture, values and ethos are identical: that a school is a "total community" , whereby the young people understand the importance of a framework of shared values within a community, and that staff, parents and the wider school community are just as valuable in this process. The success of Passmores Academy and Eton College are in no small part down to their commitment to:

- Caring for the needs of individual pupils

- Encouraging outstanding relationships between Parents, Pupils and Staff

- Encouraging respect for individuality

- The development of skills such as respect, tolerance, courtesy and responsibility for others.

Why have I chosen these two schools in particular? Tony Little, the recently retired Head of Eton College, and Vic Goddard, the Principle of Passmores Academy, have both written inspirational books about their approach to education. Two very different schools, one shared vision and direction.

There have been four events this week that have afforded me the opportunity to consider St Leonards as a community with Pupils (crucially), Parents and Staff working together as a cohesive and caring community:

The 'Great Easter Egg Hunt' on Sunday, organised by our superb PA, encapsulates all that is wonderful about St Leonards. I will never forget the atmosphere here, with children of all ages, parents, staff and even visitors scrambling around the grounds on an idyllic Spring day. All you could hear across the grounds was the sound of laughter from all involved. An example of parents coming together to strengthen a school community.

The finale of the Strings Concert on Tuesday afternoon saw a performance given by 36 string players in the Junior School, led by Melanie O'Brien and Robin Bell. What was particularly memorable about this was the sight of the Year 6 and 7 pupils sharing their music stands with Year 2 pupils. A sight of true companionship, support and role modelling.

As I write, the Years 4-6 (70 pupils) are coming to the end of a day of rehearsals for 'Pirates of the Curry Bean. No mean feat for Laura Stewart, Fiona Love and Anna Palmer or the children concerned, but I gather the teamwork today has been extraordinary.

And finally, as you know we have come to the end of an HMI inspection this week, and as I reflect on the feedback we have received this morning (and will be communicated in full to Parents once the report has been finalised by HMI), I couldn't be prouder to lead a team of committed, affable and dedicated teachers, who strive for the highest standards of learning and teaching, but also provide huge support and encouragement to one another. A further ingredient for a successful school.

The benefits of a total school community where pupils, parents and staff all buy into a set of shared values and ethos distinct to the individual school are striking: strong community and friendships, a nourishing and stimulating environment and essentially the right environment to enable pupils to lead happy and fulfilled lives.

It is a pleasure and a privilege for Catherine, Arthur and I to be part of this very special school. Through this shared commitment and link between children, parents and staff, we are able to provide a happy, secure and purposeful environment in which children can be nurtured and inspired. Embedding the important values of hard work, kindness to others and making the most of opportunities comes from all those involved in the school.

I hope watching the videos of our Boys' Choir and String Group have inspired you - what better way to start the weekend than relive what our young people are capable of achieving as part of a group.

Wishing all St Leonards families a super weekend

William Goldsmith



Year 5 visited the Byre Theatre on Wednesday as part of their Unit of Inquiry 'How We Express Ourselves'. Mr Stephen Sinclair, the General Manager of the Byre gave Year 5 a tour of 'behind the scenes' areas including the Control Room, back stage, the Deputy Stage managers control desk and the dressing rooms. Some children even tried out microphones and head-sets and wished all patrons of the Byre Café a good morning over the PA system! Many thanks to Mr Sinclair for a most informative and fun tour of this terrific local arts venue.


On Thursday, Year 6 explored the town of St Andrews identifying buildings by their age, signs of weathering and erosion and elements of human ingenuity and intervention. Engaging with the key concepts, we looked at the form and function of some of the buildings in town and reflected on changes to them. This was followed by discussions of the causes of these changes over time. The pupils connected prior learning on types of rock to the buildings in front of us and this enabled further identification of possible areas of concern when building and maintaining such large structures.


It has been a busy week in Year 2 as we continue to develop our understanding of stories from around the world. On Tuesday we were visited by storyteller and puppet maker Sylvia Troon who introduced us to some of her hand built puppets and showed us how to tell stories visually using the Japanese kamishibai technique. She then helped us to make our own wonderful and characterful puppets out of all sorts of recycled materials. We have been using puppets to create and tell stories in the puppet theatre in our classroom throughout this unit.


Yesterday's Informal Concert once again saw some tremendous performances by individuals and groups. It is lovely to see the journey that some of the Children have taken over the years and where the hours of dedication have got them to the stage they were performing yesterday.

We couldn't have been prouder of the performances that took place and are genuinely in awe of their ability, confidence and the resilience to keep going even when it doesn't quite go to plan.

Debut performances from the guitar group and pipe drummers, three solo singers, violinists, pianists, music from Harry Potter to Coldplay, and the grand finale of the boys choir did not disappoint 'Revolting children'; thankfully just in name!


On Tuesday morning the Year 4’s caught their lunch and battled blizzards to visit Holyrood Palace. Surprisingly, this was a first for every single person on the trip but we all agreed that it certainly wouldn’t be our last. Linked to our Unit of Inquiry investigating ‘Where we are in Place and Time’ we handled artefacts from the past and established their use at the Palace before being taken on a personal tour.

We were amazed by the Great Gallery: ‘The biggest room in the Palace’ – Alanya ‘It has 95 paintings which were kicked and sliced in an English Battle’ – Ben. We were impressed by the enormous tapestries: ‘The tapestries were amazing!’ – Shreyas. We were baffled by the big trousers: ‘If you wore a lot of materials you were showing you were wealthy’ – Ting. And we were skeptical about whether we really saw David Rizzio’s blood: ‘He was stabbed 56 times!’ – Emily. What we all agreed was that it was a terrific place to visit and gave as a real feel for life at court during Mary Queen of Scots’ turbulent life. Well worth a visit!


For their Unit of Inquiry, Sharing the Planet, Year 1 have been finding out about the ways adult animals care for their young. On Thursday they carried out an investigation to see which materials would protect an egg if it fell out of its nest on a windy day. Each group wrapped their eggs in different materials then took turns to drop the egg from the top of the slide. Amazingly, all eggs survived the fall so they concluded that all of the choices were suitable for protecting the eggs. Never a class to shy away from tricky concepts, Year One even made predictions, discussed what made their test fair and evaluated what they had found out. A truly egg-ceptional bunch! Thanks to Eva and Corinne from Year Six who dropped in to help.

Many congratulations to Harriet, Corinne, Melissa and Eabha for their performance at the Primary Level 2 Gymnastics Competition on Sunday.


On Wednesday Rita Dhasmana shared with us the tale of the god Hanuman and his role in the story of Rama and Sita. We learned that both chess and snakes and ladders are games that originated in India and had great fun playing with a caram board. Inspired by the images of Indian kings and queens we made Indian headdresses and decorated them with jewels and feathers.


As part of their Homework Heroes tasks, Charlotte had made a very detailed tree house (complete with hammock and solar panels), whilst Roy has made a splendid Faberge egg!
We wish the following a very...

Many Happy Returns to the following children this week: James and Henry


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