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The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 11 January 2019

Celebrating New Beginnings

Headmistress's Welcome & Introduction

"There is nothing more special than meeting new people, hearing their stories and being inspired."

An extremely warm welcome back to one and all. Many of you have been very kind, asking me how I am finding the very first days of my new role. I am pleased to announce that I have enjoyed a brilliant first week and am definitely still smiling! St Leonards is an inspiring school and families, Members of Council and staff have been incredibly supportive and welcoming – it is a privilege to work here and become part of the St Leonards community. Of course, the most wonderful thing of all has been meeting the children. They are a credit to you as parents, and to the school. I hope that you are all extremely proud of them because I know that I shall be the proudest Headmistress in the land with these children and staff to lead.

Thank you to those who attended the Start of Term Assembly on Tuesday morning. ‘New Beginnings’ was our theme, focusing on friendship and kindness. Every child has now received a personalised postcard, with a handwritten note and a fact about myself, and I am thrilled to report I have already received a flurry of responses. I have quickly discovered that the children are brimming with exciting interests and talents. One owns pet rats, another had her hair cut for charity, and someone else recently won a national show-jumping competition! I am going to put all the cards on display in the foyer shortly, so please do come in and have a look. These facts represent the beginning of a new relationship that I hope to develop and nurture with every child.

This term, my focus will be on getting to know and understand the school, so that I can gain a clear view of its many strengths as well as any areas we may wish to develop even further. I will be talking to staff and pupils and will shortly be sending out a questionnaire to parents. I shall also be observing our teaching and learning, and travelling in and out over the course of a day with a child in each class so that I can really have a sense of a day in the life of a pupil. I have many ideas and aspirations for the future, but first I want to take time to clarify these, and to gather the thoughts and opinions of stakeholders. I will also be linking in with my wonderful colleagues in the Senior School, with contributing to the overall vision of St Leonards in mind. I will be using this term to this end, and will of course feed back to you later on in the year.

We will get to know each other well over the coming months but, first and foremost, I would like to let you know that, for me, a school belongs to the children and families in it. I am committed to ensuring that all of your children have a wonderful learning experience at St Leonards, and l know that positive parent partnerships are vital. We are a team around the child, and very much their support network as they explore and weave their way through the world. I will always make myself available should you have any concerns to raise, questions to ask or ideas to share. Often the people using the systems or receiving a service have the best ideas, so please do let me know if you have any thoughts or ‘light bulb’ moments to add into the development pot - the door is always open.

I very much look forward to getting to know you all as we work together to ensure that each and every child has a wonderful future ahead at St Leonards Junior School and experiences the best education possible.

Happy Hellos

May I take this opportunity to say hello and welcome to our new staff and children, who have joined us in the Junior School this term.

Mr Simon Lamb takes over from Mrs Teresa Fynn, providing maternity cover in Year 6C. Mr Lamb joins us from Wick in the north of Scotland, and is an extremely talented teacher and a keen story writer and reader. As I walked past his classroom this week, I was treated to some excellent behaviour for learning as the children were inspired by some rather dramatic story telling. I know he will be an asset to the team.

Mrs Marije Sneddon has also joined the team this term as a Year 5C Class Teacher. Originally from the Netherlands, Mrs Sneddon arrives with extensive teaching experience, high expectations and lots of enthusiasm for St Leonards. We are so pleased to have her, and also wish her well in her new post.

The Junior School roll at St Leonards continues to grow, and we are delighted that Grace Halden and Daniel Whiston have joined us this term. Welcome to the St Leonards family. I look forward to getting to know you, and wish you many happy years at St Leonards.

Teachers Learn Too

Whilst parents were busy getting the children ready for the start of Spring Term on Monday, staff took part in an INSET Day training session in St Katharines Hall. Part of the session provided an opportunity for members of staff to share their professional learning journeys and experiences at St Leonards. We each mapped out when our St Leonards journeys began, and added in all of the changes and events we had seen and celebrated since then. This was a fantastic ice-breaking activity which demonstrated the wonderful spread of teachers in the Junior School, each of whom has incredible and varied experiences to draw upon. This activity gave me an insight into the history of this wonderful school, and great optimism about what we can all achieve together.

Eve Moran, Junior School Headmistress

Spotlight On...

Every week I would like to pick out some of the incredible things that have been happening in the Junior School this week. I popped into Year 1 to find Mrs Lindsay and the children busy sewing some mittens. I wonder if this is perhaps in anticipation of some cold weather ahead? Their stitches were beautiful and the level of concentration in the room a sight to behold.

In Year 4, I found the boys and girls engrossed in their new class reading book all about an owl who was afraid of the dark.

Meanwhile, members of the Running Club are certainly not afraid of the dark! They donned their head torches and ran all the way along the East Sands and up the Fife Coastal Path to the St Andrews Holiday Park and back. I may have to look out my trainers and join them in the weeks ahead.

In the Lower School Playground and outside around the wider school grounds, it has been wonderful to see all the smiling faces back for the start of what is set to be another busy, but most certainly fun, Spring Term.

Outside the Classroom

In terms of our Outdoor Learning, the Spring Term is an exciting one; the Winter Solstice has passed and the bulbs are beginning to push back the earth with their new green shoots. We have a lot planned both in an out of the classroom this term. Our Eco Club will start up in earnest and will be at the forefront of our plans. The Club has already started taking suggestions from interested pupils, and we are making plans for meaningful changes in how we run things at St Leonards, such has reducing our dependency on single use plastics, improving recycling and 're-wilding' areas of our schools to attract insects and pollinators.

Phase 1 of our Polytunnel Project is complete and we are now at the stage of building the raised beds and laying out the interior of the tunnel. From there we can cover the frame with plastic and start growing! Many thanks to the parents, teachers and pupils who have been involved in getting us to where we are now!

Beach School starts up again next week. Please check the Spring Term Calendar for when your children are scheduled to go to the beach. The weather is, as always, very changeable and it is important that children come with the appropriate gear. This ensures that they are as comfortable as possible and the learning activities that are planned will be that much more accessible to them. Wellies, rain jacket, gloves, woolly hat and waterproof trousers are recommended.

Looking ahead to after Half Term, we have our 'Fish, Chip and Film Night', which is a wonderful event that raises funds for our Ridgway Trip. We also have our inaugural 'Door-to-Adventure' planned. This is a new series of micro-adventures designed to find adventure just beyond our front door. More on this soon!

- Duncan Barrable, Head of Outdoor Learning

Spotty Book Nominations

I have introduced my ‘spotty book’ to St Leonards. This is where I keep any nominations that the staff or children make about one another. This week I have nominations for the following fantastic pupils:

Nikolas (Year 4) - Nominated by Miss Moran who spotted him reading a book to a group of other children whilst waiting sensibly on the sofas in reception. I am so proud of you Nikolas and must ask you to read to me too sometime!

Alfie (Year 5) , Aidan (Year 4), Freddie (Year 3), Ruben (Year 3), Annie (Year 2) - Nominated by Miss Moran for untangling her helium balloons before her first assembly. Thank you masters of knots. I would have been in a muddle without you. Phew!

Sal, Eliza and Emily (Year 6) - Sal was nominated by Emily for helping her feel calm and settled and being a great friend. Emily nominated Sal for also being a fabulous friend and they both nominated Eliza for the same reason. Friendships are wonderful things! I am pleased to hear that you have people who are there for you. I hope you friendship continues to grow throughout your time at St Leonards.

Birthdays

Happy Birthday and three cheers to all of the children celebrating in January. This week we have said Happy Birthday to: Will, William, Jimmy and Rakan. Maya, Freddie, Thea and Simon all celebrated their birthdays during the Christmas Holidays. We all hope that you had a wonderful day!

Reasons to be Cheerful

Finally, there are so many reasons to love being a teacher but one of the most affirming is the simple joy and privilege of being surrounded by young individuals as they grow and develop. I like to have lunch with the children whenever I can and visit the classrooms every day to see what is going on. I never fail to leave with a smile on my face after the conversations and discussions we have. I would like to leave you with a selection of my favourite quotes from some of this week’s conversations. As adults sometimes we forget the simple joy and importance of curiosity, of stopping to notice, ask why or simply enjoy. Luckily, as teachers, we are surrounded by children who know how to do just that and we have the honour of facilitating this development as they grow. Below is a conversation I had with some terrific Year 1 pupils at lunch in the CDR this week:

Pupil 1: Miss Moran, in year one we are just so excited.

Miss Moran: Oh, wonderful, may I ask why?

Pupil 1: Because of all the jelly!

Miss Moran: Are you doing a topic about jelly? Was there jelly for lunch?

Pupil 1: Oh no, we just really like it because it wobbles and it's exciting. It's all about the jelly with us just now.

Pupil 2: I know, it's great but I don't know what my parents would say if I had it every day. They are dentists and they might say my teeth will fall out.

Pupil 1: Hmmm, well, maybe we could just watch it wobble?

Pupil 2: Yes, I wonder how long it could wobble for...?

Miss Boissiere, you have great conversationalists, children who clearly take notice, understand the dangers of sugar and are keen to carry out an experiment in jelly wobbling. They also demonstrate the key traits of the PYP learner profile: they are knowledgeable and reflective thinkers and clearly ready for some independent application. Now, if that is not a reason to be cheerful then I don't know what is.

Happy Friday one and all!

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