The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 22 February 2018

Explore. Dream. Discover.


Feel the Rhythm; Feel the Rhyme; Get on up; It’s Bob Sleigh time”

To find real life examples of true grit, determination and growth-mindset, we need to look no further than the Winter Olympics. Athletes train for years in a variety of extreme conditions and within a precarious atmosphere, where the slightest setback can send them hurtling away from any chance of a medal, let alone a spot on the leader board. This requires extraordinary mental stamina and a great will to pick oneself up after setbacks.

Many examples of growth-mindset amongst athletes have been made into films, including ‘Eddie the Eagle’ and the great ‘Cool Runnings’, a clip of which we watched in Assembly on Monday morning. Indeed, ‘Cool Runnings’ was very nearly reenacted this week, when the Jamaican Women’s Bob Sled team reached the finals, despite overcoming significant adversity in losing their coach and also sled in the run up to the games.

One of the defining stories from Team GB this week has been the great sadness and disappointment for Elise Christie, who was disqualified from the 1000m heats, having suffered a similar fate four years ago in Sochi. The British skater, who succumbed to a catalogue of awful coincidences, made it clear that this year’s games do not 'define her', and she will come back stronger in Beijing in four years’ time.

Athletes who are at the very critical end of endurance, stamina and mental toughness are extraordinary role models to us in success and when they perform to our expectations. It is when they fail, suffer defeat or disappointment, or when years of hard work, determination and sheer grit are dashed in a moment’s poor judgement or third-party act, that they have the opportunity to show us humility, self-awareness and courage at its very best. One cannot imagine the pain and disappointment that Elise Christie is going through this week, but we all admire her courage, strength and inspirational response far more than we would have celebrated any victory she brought home.

Elise Christie, British Short Track Speed Skater

This is all very well, but our pupils are not competing in the Olympics today (although I hope many of them dream of this or its equivalent - performing in the Sydney Opera House; exhibiting in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art; pioneering leading scientific or medical research; leading Scotland to victory in the Calcutta Cup against England etc.), and what message can they take from Elise Chrstie or the 1988 Jamaican Bobsleigh team in living their ups and downs of life at their age? I think the key messages that we can give children every day are:

  • Follow and stand up for your dreams.
  • Be proud to stand out from the crowd.
  • Give everything a go.
  • When you don't succeed in whatever it is, dust yourself down and give it another go.

I was very taken by an article I read in The Daily Telegraph in November. It featured an explorer, Levison Wood, who started on a lifetime of adventure, inspired by losing his wallet as a teenager at Alton Towers. He provides us with a powerful quote from Mark Twain:

'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did… so throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.'

I hope our pupils do just this, and I will join you in being so very proud of them if I learn that they have inspired others through picking themselves up after defeat or setback.

Wishing all St Leonards families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures take you.

William Goldsmith


AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED | The boys and girls in Year 7C are much indebted to Nadja's father, Mr Bill Campbell, who kindly visited the Junior School during English on Wednesday, to share his extensive knowledge of Afghanistan with the class. Year 7C's current class novel, 'Parvana's Journey' by Deborah Ellis, is set in this beautiful but war-torn country and it was fabulous to hear from someone with first-hand experience.

As a United Nations Advisor, with particular involvement in the World Food Programme, Mr Campbell was well placed to describe the effects of war on Afghan children and talk about the very difficult living conditions which many of them endure. Access to human rights and gender equality issues are at the heart of Year 7C's current MYP Unit of Inquiry and Mr Campbell guided the class skillfully through some complex political, economic and social changes in recent years.

The pupils all agreed he was a marvellous speaker and storyteller - not a script or slide in sight - and his input has been hugely helpful in putting this wonderful book into context.

We are very much hoping Mr Campbell will visit the class again when he next returns from his travels!


YEAR 1 ROUND-UP | It has been a busy week for Year 1, who have been exploring everything from creepy crawlies to curling! The boys and girls have painted some fantastic pictures of animals and their young, looking at change as they grow.

On Thursday morning it was time for Year 1 to get into the spirit of the Winter Olympics! With the squash courts transformed into a curling rink, everyone had lots of fun sliding the indoor curling stones across the floor!


ROUND THE CAMPFIRE | Year 2 tuned into their new Unit of Inquiry, ‘Indigenous cultures create stories to enable them to explain the world around them’, by pitching camp in their classroom and gathering around a ‘campfire’ to play storytelling games! They explored the oral storytelling tradition, and discovered that stories change as they are passed on by word of mouth, as each person adds their own ideas to a tale and leaves out other details. Even well-known traditional tales are always changing!


FUN WITH FABRIC | Years 1-3 managed to get their hands on some fabric in the Lower School playground this week, with some very creative results! Here they are wearing it, playing with it and learning collaboratively outdoors!


BOYS' HOCKEY VS FETTES | Our U11 and U12 boys’ hockey teams travelled to Fettes on Wednesday afternoon. Congratulations to the U11 squad on their win – a great team performance! In the U12 match, Tom scored two goals for St Leonards. A great result!


HIGH FINANCE | Year 5P started their new Unit of Inquiry this week, looking at ‘How we Organise Ourselves’, with a game of strategy and high finance – Monopoly!

This, we hope, will give the pupils an insight into how to purchase properties, rent properties, and understand the meaning of money.

As is the way with Monopoly, this could go on for days!


PAST CIVILISATIONS | The boys and girls in Year 4 have been developing their knowledge as part of their Unit of Inquiry on ‘Evidence of Past Civilisations’. This week, they have been starting to make connections between historical figures and present-day societies.


The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Wednesday:

Zachary received a Headmaster's Commendation for writing a beautifully presented, well written and deeply researched introduction to Alchemy. Zachary has taken special care with his handwriting and illustrations.

Rachel for researching gravity on the Moon, and writing a well-informed PowerPoint presentation on the topic.

Lucy received a Spirit of St Leonards award for showing real kindness and consideration to another pupil in an older year group.

James received a Headmaster's Commendation for producing an extremely well written manual, following the Unit of Inquiry on Simple Machines.

Jack received a Spirit of St Leonards award this week for showing kindness, loyalty and true friendship to Cameron, who joined us for 3 weeks in January.

Hari was this week's Year 3 Pupil of the Week for his diligent approach towards class tasks and being able to work effectively with any of his peers.

Hamish was presented with his Trinity College London certificate for achieving Distinction in Grade 1 guitar.

Evie collected a record three Headmaster's Commendations this week for producing a wonderful account of a 'flying visit to London', which was researched thoroughly and presented beautifully; for creating a PowerPoint presentation about Mount Tiede, a volcano in Tenerife; and for her outstanding achievements in horse riding throughout the year. Congratulations Evie!

Eleanor was awarded Year 1 Pupil of the Week for working hard to improve her non-fiction book by adding fantastic writing and a super front cover.

Emily and Katherine were both presented with Headmaster's Commendations this week. Emily's certificate was awarded in recognition of a PowerPoint presentation she created on swimming pool safety. The project was thoroughly researched and contained clear imagery and instructions. Katherine's award was for producing a fantastic poster showing various safety signs.

Archie was presented with his first 'blue' Blue Peter badge. His drawing of Santa Claus with his reindeer earned him this terrific achievement!

Congratulations also to Cameron, who collected his gold gymnastics medal at Celebration Assembly this week.

Bronze stars for 50 House Points were awarded to Calum and Struan. Silver stars for 100 House Points were awarded to Alina, Bruce, Henry, Jack, Scott and Will.


CAVE COMMUNICATION | Communication is the focus of Year 3’s latest Unit of Inquiry and so far they have been looking at ancient forms of keeping in touch. The boys and girls have been creating their own cave paintings with Miss Neave in art, as well as learning about papyrus and hieroglyphics!


HOCKEY ACTION | The U12 girls played away at ESMS in Edinburgh on Wednesday afternoon, with a tough game ending with a loss for St Leonards. Well done to Corinne who scored against a very strong ESMS side!


PRINCESS SONG | The boys and girls in Year 1 dressed up in cool costumes for the Princess Song in Drama with Mrs Stewart this week! Don't they just look the part!


5P PARACHUTES | This week it was the turn of 5P to make and test their own parachutes. Here is one of them gliding gracefully down from the top of Hepburn House!


A warm welcome back to this action-packed half of term, which kicks off in spectacular style next week with our Book Week. As such, each year group is embarking on stories in one way or another, whether it be telling, writing, planning or reviewing to name but a few activities. Our dress-up for World Book Day is on Thursday, 1 March, but there will be events for all age groups throughout the week.

As the weather continues to show signs of Spring, we would like to extend the Lower School’s outdoor experiences even further and therefore would love children to bring in an additional pair of waterproof shoes or boots as well as, if you have them, waterproof trousers (we always have PE kit if need be) in case of inevitable mud or water accidents! Wherever we can, we will take our objectives outside, starting next week with our story time fire pit on the beach.

Year 1

  • Mathematics: To recognise, understand and create repeating patterns.
  • English: To begin to plan and write their own fictional piece of writing. Phoneme ‘igh’.

Year Two

  • Mathematics: To begin to understand the concept of multiplication.
  • English: Directly linked to their Unit of Inquiry, the children have begun to investigate the origins of storytelling specifically the oral history and identifying why stories have a variety of versions. Phoneme ‘ea’.

Year 3

  • Mathematics: Investigating 3D shape – building 3D models. Consolidation of 2,5 and 10 times tables and knowledge of 3 and 4 in readiness for division.
  • English: Understanding and using irregular past tense. Writing reports. Phoneme ‘k’.

Other matters

Could we ask that any children arriving late, enter school via Mrs Dewar’s office, making their arrival known and then immediately join their class. This is often in the classroom, but on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this is usually Assembly. Thank you for your understanding on this child safety matter.

Have a fantastic weekend in anticipation of a busy week ahead!

Claire Boissiere, Lower School Coordinator


The Great St Leonards Egg Hunt, organised by the St Leonards Parents Association, will take place this year on Sunday, 18 March, from 11am to 2pm at St Leonards Junior School. Join us for an egg hunt with clues around the school grounds, and collect a chocolate egg at the end! There will also be Spring Bonnet and Decorated Egg competitions, so please do come dressed for the occasion if you want to enter!

Teas, coffees, soup, hotdogs and delicious home baking will be available to buy. Tickets cost £3 per child. Booking is essential via www.trybooking.co.uk/2584.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Wishing the following a very...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Lewis, Cara and Sam.

Please do pass on details of our event below to anyone who might be interested in finding out more about St Leonards for Year 1 entry in 2018.

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