The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 24 April 2020

Same but Different

Headmistress' Introduction

We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a different journey.’ Unknown Author

The past month, without doubt, has been an unprecedented and challenging time for each one of us. We now experience social distancing, are restricted to just one outing per day, and must only make essential trips to the supermarket. Whilst we have been physically separated, there has certainly been a wonderful sense of unity here at St Leonards — our community has pulled together to ensure that school will continue, albeit in a virtual manner, and also to care for boarders who cannot return home and the children of key workers. We have also experienced this sense of togetherness and unity as a nation each Thursday evening, as we join together to applaud the key workers who are working tirelessly to fight the coronavirus pandemic, each and every day.

Whilst we have all been sailing through the same storm, our journeys and experiences through these unchartered waters are not identical. There will be individuals who have felt lonely, stressed, and overwhelmed, those who have been directly affected by the coronavirus, those who have lost loved ones, and those who may be enjoying the slower pace of life and the time that they have gained to pursue new hobbies and spend with family. Our emotions and feelings may even have evolved and changed over the days and weeks that have passed. Please be kind to yourself, and to others that you speak to and interact with, remembering that each one of us is experiencing this storm differently. In particular, do not feel pressured by the perfect pictures of harmonious homeschool life that you see on social media… you simply did not see the carnage that took place before or after! The reality of juggling work, homeschooling, and the uncertainty surrounding the current times (not to mention the constant snacks that we have to give our children!) is tough. Take each day as it comes, and be encouraged that each day is one step closer to a new ‘normal’.

I have been so impressed this week at how quickly our children have jumped into their new learning environments, and also taken on the ownership of their learning by looking up their own timetables and organising their work. I have particularly loved listening to the Year 1 pupils engaging with lessons and turning their microphones on and off when they want to speak! The fabulous work that is going on at home has been demonstrated by the large number of commendation nominations from staff that have hit my inbox this week — keep up the great work!

I have appreciated receiving lots of constructive comments from parents about St Leonards Connected thus far, and to hear their suggestions for improvements and changes. Please do keep in touch with your feedback on our virtual learning provision, and also please share pictures and stories of what you have been up to. I really would love to see what the children have been up to in their classes, as well as developing new skills or simply reconnecting with some old hobbies.

Some virtual learning housekeeping: we kindly ask that parents do not stay for the duration of their child’s lesson. Once your child has successfully accessed the Meet, please can you step back from the screen to enable us to foster independence and to ensure that the other children are not distracted. In addition, please can we request that children join the Meet at the scheduled time and no more than a few minutes in advance. The teacher will always be the last one to leave, so if your child has any questions then they are able to ask these at the end of the Meet.

Take care and stay safe.

Julianne Pennycook

Welcome Back

WELCOME BACK | We hope that you have had a good first week back at school, and are enjoying school via St Leonards Connected. In case you missed it, here is Mrs Pennycook's Beginning of Term Assembly. As normal, she will be leading a Celebration Assembly each Monday morning with Commendations, Spirit of St Leonards Certificates, and a reflection to focus your minds for the week. The virtual assemblies can be accessed via ManageBac.

Key Worker Care

The children drew some lovely pictures to show their support for key workers.

KEY WORKER CARE | St Leonards was delighted to provide care for the children of key workers over the Easter holidays. The children played lots of different games outside including dodgeball, line tig and some very competitive rounds of Hide and Seek. The lovely weather also enabled the children to enjoy lots of outdoor pursuits - some particular highlights were picnics and Easter Egg hunts in the playground, walks on the beach, and sandcastle competitions. Ruben and Stellan even managed to save a mackerel that was stranded on the beach!

Their days also included some quieter pursuits such as story time, chatting, building Lego models, playing Snakes and Ladders, and lots of arts and crafts projects. On the last day of the holidays, the children enjoyed making egg box monsters and egg box ladybirds.

"I have been really impressed at how well cared for and entertained the boys have been over the Easter holidays at school. The boys have enjoyed going and haven’t seen it as a negative that they have had to continue going to school through the holidays due to their grandparents not being able to travel to look after them during the pandemic. The teachers have provided fun and stimulating activities for the children and I’d like to thank them for all their hard work." 

Many thanks to Ms Hill, Mr Olliver, Mr Strong, Mr Parsons, and Mr MacGregor who willingly gave up their time to care for the children over the holidays.

Pupil Spotlight: the Pennycook children

This week, the Pennycook family have been hard at work in the St Rule kitchen.

PUPIL SPOTLIGHT | In our weekly newsletters, we have decided to introduce a new section entitled 'Pupil Spotlight' to hear from some of the children and their experiences of virtual learning. To kick us off, the Pennycook children have shared some reflections on their week and have given us a brief insight into their new daily routines.

Would you like to feature in the new section of the Junior School newsletter entitled 'Pupil Spotlight'? If so, we would love to hear how your week has been, your reflections on working from home, your favourite activity from the week, what you are missing most about school, and finally any additional messages that you would like to share with friends, peers, and teachers alike. If you are interested, please do contact Mrs Dewar via email. Your submission could either be in a written format with photographs, or alternatively you could share your reflections in a pre-recorded video.

Teacher Spotlight: Miss Boissiere

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT | Each week, we will be interviewing one of the Junior School teachers to hear about their experiences of lockdown, their tips for home working, and their favourite activities to help them relax and unwind.


I am delighted to have the spotlight shone on me this week as we introduce a new feature for the Junior School Newsletter. I have decided to sum up my lockdown life so far with a series of photographic snapshots.

As I said to the children in my assembly this week, at times this period can be daunting, exhausting. The key for me is to take things one day at a time. I try not to overthink, to do my best, and remember that life at the minute is extraordinary. Keeping my children secure, happy, stimulated, and mentally content is the goal - everything else is secondary. We try to take time to have mindful moments, to relax, and bring what is a fundamentally stressful experience back down to earth. For example, we enjoyed building an indoor den!
The prospect of homeschooling my children and teaching my Year 1 class was certainly daunting. Some days it is wonderful, but it doesn't always work well!
In my house we have a 'post it plan' to structure homeschooling: pink are tasks which must be done that day, yellow are tasks to be completed that week, green post it notes are 30 minute play tokens and orange are 30 minute screen time tokens which can be taken when there is not a 'live' session!
Baking seemed very important to us, although my enthusiasm waned once I realised that flour was secondary to toilet paper! Not one to be defeated, we managed to source our ingredients and have baked like fiends. Happily, Joe Wicks and Mr Baxter have been on hand to assist with any overindulgence. My boys have found it absolutely hilarious to watch me bunny hop, karate kick, and attempt various press ups daily! The horror was real when I struggled to walk for two days after my first session but I genuinely haven't laughed quite like that for many years. Laughing together uproariously is a wonderful medicine.
Our daily walks and bike rides during the holiday allowed us to explore previously untapped parts of our neighbourhood.
I also love cooking, and this extended time at home has allowed me the luxury of cooking fresh, increasingly complex meals even of a weekday evening although I know a couple of small boys who still want pizza, sausage rolls and spaghetti hoops - who knows, this experience may change them!
I have been playing lots of Swingball - I look forward to it becoming an Olympic sport!

Chaotic is how I would describe life just now. Tiring, challenging but also in a strange way, deeply rewarding. I am so inspired and impressed by the way in which all our children have risen to this extraordinary challenge and I, for one, am relishing a truly novel experience. I am not sure that I have ever worked with such consistent intensity, but am hopeful that as this continues, and then concludes, I will have modelled how to rise to a challenge, embrace change and embody adaptability. I very much look forward to seeing you all when we return to school at some point, yet to be decided, over the coming months.

St Leonards Snippets

ST LEONARDS SNIPPETS | This is another new section in our newsletter. We would love to hear about the varied projects that our pupils have been occupied with over the course of the week, both those set by class teachers and those which pupils have decided to embark upon themselves. Please do send in pictures (with a short blurb) of your literary, artistic, sporting, construction, culinary, or conservation projects to Mrs Dewar.

Ting (Year 7) embarked on an ambitious and imaginative project to make a picnic bench for squirrels using wood and tools that she found at home. The end result is fabulous - we are sure that squirrels will love meeting their friends around it to enjoy the tasty treats that Ting has left out!
Lucy and Evie (Year 6) have signed up to learn British Sign Language using an online course. Fantastic effort, girls!
Kamilah (Year 4) has been busy baking - doesn't her banana bread look delicious? If you have some overripe bananas in your fruit bowl and would like to recreate it, Kamilah uses Nigella Lawson's recipe and then adds her own special twist - a sprinkling of chocolate buttons on top!

Charlie (Year 6) and his brother enjoyed creating a waterpark experience in their back garden, using their swings and a water sprinkler! What a great idea!

Superb Sports Skills

SUPERB SPORTS SKILLS | Thank you to everyone who submitted videos for the trick shot/skills challenge in the final week of the holiday. There were some hugely impressive skills demonstrated and imaginative trick shots amongst the entries, and we are delighted to announce that the Junior School winner was Ben B (Year 7) who kicked a rugby ball into a moving bin!

Money and Minibeasts

MONEY AND MINIBEASTS | This week, Year 2 have been learning about money in Maths, and so Miss Fisher tasked them with setting up a shop of their choice. They then had to work to add up different amounts and select the coins that they would use to make these totals. There were a variety of different goods for sale, ranging from teddy bears to cereals, and cars to chocolate bars.

Year 2 would certainly make fantastic shopkeepers - their produce was well labelled and set out very neatly!

This week, Year 2 started a new Unit of Inquiry which explores the relationship between plants and minibeasts. The pupils have enjoyed being green fingered, and have planted some seeds in a variety of different containers.

Claudia has been sowing carrots, and Dylan used some recycled milk cartons as planters - what a great idea!

Spirit of St Leonards

Thea, Sanna, James, Monty, Emily, Holly, Eleanor, and Harris were awarded Spirit of St Leonards certificates for helping to make over 130 Easter cards for the residents and care workers at Balnacarron Care Home, Gibson House, and St Andrews. The cards were delivered by The Hamish Foundation along with Easter Eggs, which had been donated by Morrisons. A huge well done to this group of pupils for showing a very caring attitude and bringing a smile to the faces of the residents of the care homes.


Adam received a Commendation this week for the fantastic model that he made for his Unit of Inquiry work.
Ed received a Commendation for baking a fantastic birthday cake for his mum's birthday.

Clap for Our Carers

CLAP FOR OUR CARERS | Each week, members of the St Leonards community join with the nation in thanking our key workers as part of the #ClapForOurCarers initiative. A huge thank you to all the NHS and other key workers who are working tirelessly to fight the coronavirus pandemic from all who are part of the St Leonards community. Your hard work, dedication, and perseverance and are so appreciated and we support you. In case you missed the videos from the past few weeks, here they are below.

On Thursday, 26 March the St Leonards community joined the nation in the first of the Clap For Our Carers events to say a HUGE thank you to all the NHS workers who are working tirelessly to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

This week, some of our Year 12 TOK (Theory of Knowledge) pupils connected from across the globe on our virtual learning platform, to show and share their appreciation for our incredible key workers. We continue to admire the efforts and spirit of key workers and NHS who are spearheading the nation's fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the holidays, St Leonards welcomed a small community of children to school to help support our key worker parents during this challenging time. Last Thursday, these children recorded a special message to say 'thank you' to the NHS.

The Pennycook family also recorded a heartfelt message to thank our key workers over the holidays.

Finally, a few weeks back our Piping Scholar, Alfie Love, recorded a Scottish salute and sincere thank you to all NHS and key workers on behalf of the St Leonards community. He joined The National Piping Centre with his rendition of 'Scotland the Brave' to applaud the dedication and perseverance of our key workers.

Abbie H, Skye T, and Claudia B have all recently celebrated, or will celebrate over the coming week, their birthdays. We hope that you enjoy celebrating your special days!