The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 4 May 2018

Behind the Study Door

"A kid today can likely tell you about the Amazon Rain forest - but not about the last time he or she explored the woods in solitude, or lay in a field listening to the wind or watching the clouds move" Richard Louv, author of the 'Last Child in the Woods'.

I do love Persil’s ‘Dirt is Good Campaign’. Whilst it is incredibly clever advertising for a washing product company, they have led a super campaign to promote the importance of play:

I am sure you have all heard of Sir Ken Robinson. His TED talk, ‘Do Schools kill Creativity?’; remains the most watched TED talk of all time, at over 50 million views so far. I have inserted the link into one of my blogs before, but if you haven’t watched it, I wholeheartedly recommend you do:

He has just released a new book, ‘You, Your Child and School’, in which he provides guidance to parents in how to navigate their child’s education. In this book, he devotes some time to promoting the importance of children engaging in play. He says the following: “perhaps the simplest advice I can offer parents concerned about preparing their children for the world is this: let them play more….I’m talking about inventing games on the spot with their friends, turning a pile of twigs into a fairy wood, or hiking along a stream to explore the wildlife there. Play is the work of a child, and children must have time, space and permission to engage in a variety of play in order to maximize the developmental benefits that play offers” (Robinson, 2018).

It is not just about learning key skills such as imagination, creativity, connection to the world or problem solving, but play is actually key to brain development. As you will see from the diagram below, from birth to 3 years of age, children are developing vital connections in our brain, called neurons. These are formed by experiences the child has, such as attachment, a sense of loving and a range of sensory experiences. If these experiences are not repeated, then the connection is pruned, therefore this process is dependent on our stimulation and environment. For example, if no one interacts and talks with us, we won’t learn to speak; if no one responds to our cries, we stop crying. Research has suggested that this rapid growth and pruning of connections only took place during the first three years of a child’s life, however recent study suggests that this process is repeated again during the early onset of adolescence. The development of the brain is also strengthened by a number of other factors, including play, and experts believe that play helps children develop an effective stress response system, which in turn leads to increased resilience and self-regulation (Perry, 2001).

Development of brain connections over time

Have a think about memories of your own childhood. What do you remember doing?

Did this memory involve:

1. Being outside

2. Being away from adults

At our ‘Raising Children with Confidence’ course yesterday, the participants unanimously found their memory had encompassed both these things. The importance of free, unsupervised and self-initiated play is so important; let’s not allow the next generation to be the ones who won’t have the memories of it we did.

Whether it be playing with sand, painting, climbing trees, chasing games, hiding games or juggling, I hope your children enjoy plenty of free play this weekend.

William Goldsmith


YEAR 2 ROCK POOLS | On Wednesday, Year 2 had a wonderful time exploring the rock pools that appear on East Sands Beach at low tide. As they are studying plants and minibeasts this term, the children were keen to explore the wildlife found on the shore. The boys and girls found crabs, lugworms, the shells of lots of different sea creatures, many different varieties of seaweed and a multitude of fast-moving shrimp. Freddie, Al and Mohamed also came back with collections of ‘crystals’ in many colours. They can’t wait to go back!


BRICKS AND MORTAR | As part of their current Unit of Inquiry, Year 1 had a visit from Mr Tim Rhodes this week, who came into class to speak to the children about bricklaying. Year 1 have been learning about shelters and have been investigating the best materials for building strong shelters.

Mr Rhodes gave a talk about the materials used to make bricks and mortar, and had very kindly brought in some small bricks and some mortar mix so the class could have a go themselves at building walls. The children found out about bonding bricks together to make their walls even stronger and they even worked out that they could build bigger walls, if they worked together. Thank you, Mr Rhodes!


BUTTERFLIES AT THE BOTANICS | Year 2 enjoyed a wonderful morning at the Botanic Gardens in St Andrews on Thursday. They discovered lots of unusual plants, found mini beasts and explored the beautiful butterflies in the Butterfly House.

The visit gave the boys and girls the opportunity to think carefully about the relationship between plants and mini beasts. Making wormeries, bug hotels and planting insect friendly plants are just a few of the ideas they are going to take back to the classroom!


The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday:

Eliza was Artist of the Month for March for her painting of a large-scale copy of the Japanese artist Hiroshige Ando's woodblock print of an 'Eagle over a Plain', and for her imagination and memory when painting the Isle of May, using a palette knife and thick paint.

Madison received a Headmaster's Commendation for producing a 3D poster, which effectively illustrated the alarming sugar content of some of the drinks and sweets we may like.

Katya for her holiday homework on insect research. Katya was also Year 2 Pupil of the Week for making outstanding progress with speaking and reading in English, beginning to grow in confidence to converse with her peers, and for contributing so well to all aspects of school life.

Bella and Paula for creating a series of poster boards on butterflies following a trip to Dubai.

Anna for her project on endangered animals. Anna also received a Spirit of St Leonards Award for showing real kindness to a child visiting St Leonards for a Taster Day on Monday.

Emily for her PowerPoint presentation on endangered big cats.

Rory for producing a wonderful poster on snow leopards.

Harry received a Spirit of St Leonards Award for showing real kindness to a child visiting St Leonards for a Taster Day on Monday, and for being a super guide, looking after him all day.

Kamilah received a Headmaster's Commendation for her holiday homework on insect research.

Olivia was Year 1 Pupil of the Week for working very well independently, an example being her willingness to work hard to write sentences and draw a fantastic picture to describe her house.

Saydee was Year 3 Pupil of the Week for getting stuck into all areas of school life this term, and for persevering with many new and challenging areas.

Bronze Stars were awarded to Amber, Abbie and Emil.

Silver Stars were awarded to Archie, Monty, Olivia, Holly, Matilda, Eleanor and Thomas.

Congratulations also to Anna, who has collected 100 Good Marks!


BEHIND THE SCENES | Have you watched our new Junior School video for our Open Morning next week (Monday, 7 May)? Filmed on a sunny Thursday, our short film captures a happy day in the life of the Junior School.

A special thank you to Marina in Year 6 for record her playing the cello for the backing track. She performed an elegant rendition of ‘Latin Nights’ and used the East Sands beach as her stage. Dog walkers and passers-by were entertained while we filmed the cello piece against a beautiful St Andrews backdrop. Well done to Marina and all of our Junior School stars.

We hope you enjoy and please do share!


SCORES ARE IN | Congratulations to all who took part in last week’s St Leonards National Junior Golf Championships on the Balgove and Strathtyrum courses.

The full list of results is now live.


COOKING CLUB | The new Cooking Club group had a great time this week making chocolate crispy cakes in the CDR. Their creations looked (and tasted!) delicious in their colourful paper cases!


A mixed bag weather wise this week but nothing stopped Year 2 from heading down for their first ‘Beach School’ session of the term where amongst other things they discovered an amazing array of shrimps! Some children were better equipped for the elements than others and this is one of our biggest challenges with trying to get our Outdoor Learning up and running.

Our ideal scenario, is allowing for the possibility of taking the children out whether it be the Beach or School Grounds on any given day as and when it fits with a lesson so we are continuously reinforcing the ‘Be Prepared’ motto with all the children in school.

Year 1 and 3 are beach ward bound next Wednesday and we have everything crossed for glorious weather……

Our Weekly Objectives:

Year 1

  • Maths – Having concluded weight with a delicious cookie making session, Year 1 are learning to name and identify the key properties of 2D and 3D shapes.
  • English – Using their estate agency role play area, the children have been writing in full sentences and beginning to include suitable adjectives.
  • Phoneme – Consolidation and revision of the phonemes to date.

Year 2

  • Maths – Taking multiplication further: beginning to investigate and explore a 3 and 4X’s tables as well as exploring grams and kilograms.
  • English – Work related to the book ‘What can you do with an idea?’ by Kobi Yamada. The children have been discussing and articulating their thoughts about where ideas come from and how to distinguish between a good or bad idea as well as what we must do to make ideas a reality. A deeply philosophical week for Year 2!
  • Phoneme – ‘ew’.

Year 3

  • Maths – building on their knowledge of money, the class have been adding amounts and calculating change. In addition, Year 3 have begun to identify fractions and understand how to calculate the fraction of a number.
  • English – The children have begun to identify synonyms and utilize the thesaurus. Their class text ‘The Aardvark who wasn’t sure’ and related tasks, continues apace.
  • Phoneme – revision of silent ‘h’.

Another fantastically busy week for our Lower School who are throwing themselves into and at everything with such enthusiasm. I delight at seeing the beaming faces of our children from whom everyday is such an adventure.

I wish you all a weekend full of your own adventures!

Claire Boissiere, Lower School Coordinator

Wishing the following a...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Eilidh and Eleanor


PA RAFFLE | The PA Online Raffle, St Leonards Parents Association's biggest fundraiser of the year, is now open! Be sure to buy your tickets to be in with a chance of winning one of this year's wonderful prizes!

Among the prizes waiting to be won, we have:

  • 4-night stay in a holiday home in Perthshire (sleeps up to 12).
  • Guided tour along Chain Walk, Elie, followed by cake and coffee at a neighbouring farmhouse.
  • Fortnum & Mason Champagne Breakfast Hamper.
  • Free personal training session.
  • Golf pin flag signed by Jordan Spieth.
  • Handmade ceramic from Siri Ceramics.

Tickets cost £5 each and can be bought at stleonardsparentsassociation.zaffo.com.

Thank you for your support!

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