Mr Richards' words Lent week 2
Head of Junior Boys Mr Richards shares his thoughts and stories this week here >>>
Every week the Bulletin newsletter is sent home from the School Office highlighting important forthcoming dates and events, along with a round-up by Mr Richards of the week gone by. Read below recent messages from the Head's desk.
Head of Junior Boys Mr Richards shares his thoughts and stories this week here >>>
The picture here is a poem that was widely published and is dedicated to every child and adult all over the world doing homeschooling.
The run up to Christmas in a primary school is usually a rollercoaster ride of events. This week has certainly been a rollercoaster ride of emotions as well as events.
Ideas can come from many places and this week I was inspired by one of the boys and their parents singing this old favourite tune as they meandered their way through the car park and it created a feeling of warmth, family, tradition and high spirits within me. I had a quick look at the lyrics and it certainly is:
“It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go;
There's a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well,
It's the sturdy kind that doesn't mind the snow.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart”
Our sturdy trees in reception, the mezzanine, dining room as well as the soon to be erected ‘St Luke's Tree Trail’ competition tree (which will soon be in our driveway) which have all been decorated brilliantly are also festooned with the boys thoughts, dreams, wishes and thanks. They do make for some fascinating reading! I know Mrs Henley would certainly approve of the tasteful shimmering tree outside the office door. It has been a superb backdrop for the Pre-Prep Nativity narrators and Carol Service readers this week. Seeing our pupils and my colleagues patiently retaking films as unsuspecting peers walk past, working hard to deliver their lines with confidence, clarity, understanding and sparkle has been uplifting. Despite the obvious difference in settings and ambience everyone has pulled together as a great team to create opportunities for the boys to explore talents, take risks, develop skills and problem solve.
It was Socrates who called education ‘the kindling of a flame, rather than the filling of a vessel’. As educators at Junior Boys, we strive to ignite that flame in our pupils, and create a lifelong love of learning with breadth and depth at its core.
It is also important that we ourselves keep learning and maintain our passion. Mrs Ward and Miss Bharj are two such fantastic practitioners whom one might describe accurately as being at the opposite ends of their teaching journey but both epitomise the culture and ethos of our school and the commitment found throughout our staffroom. Mrs Ward has experience in abundance, 43 years at Junior Boys to be precise, and continually raises the bar; recrafting her schemes, embracing Google Classroom, championing every child and building confidence and relationships. Whilst Miss Bharj, now a student teacher, is demonstrating a wonderful approach to her development. An amazing ‘can do’ attitude, natural warmth and humility mark her out to be a gem in the making. Her university portfolio will be bursting by July but she has already taken a risk and provided us all with a stimulating and personal virtual assembly on Monday this week. Well done to Zak and Artie who helped as well.
‘Mission impossible’ was played this afternoon by Taimoor-Ali in our celebration assembly and it is the perfect link to start my words. New experiences can be challenging and tackling change can be daunting. However, we always welcome the opportunity here to widen horizons and to safely stretch our charges. As adults we have a responsibility to role model risk-taking, problem solving, bouncing back from mistakes and demonstrating that the outcomes are always worthwhile. Our first ever virtual parents’ evening was an example of how to empathise with the pupils and despite a few no shows on the arranged meets I believe the chance to see, discuss, listen and ask was appreciated on both sides of the screen. During the first lockdown our partnerships were strengthened and I know we all miss the ‘human element and ability to have a quick catch up’. Please be rest assured that we will continue to communicate with you effectively but please do contact the appropriate teachers directly with either academic or pastoral information that will help us guide, support and direct your sons’ education, progression and personal development.
Freedom was one of the words we developed during our Remembrance Service on Wednesday. The boys since half term have in PSHE, assembly and form times been involved in fact finding, reflection and discussion. This is to make them aware of the past, the present and, hopefully, to guide their future choices as well from a personal level and from a wider perspective. The service was a fittingly solemn occasion but our hopes and hearts were lifted by Ben’s amazingly empathetic solo, a rousing Years 3 to 5 version of ‘I vow to thee my country’ and a thoughtful Year 6 song to help us remember. This term’s house captains also provided some war poetry and learning along with colleagues. Thank you to everyone who stood so respectfully for two minutes. We raised £223.60 for the British Legion with a very enthusiastic wearing of red mufti. Well done everyone.
Fireworks, ‘Guys’ and bonfires seem to have been forgotten in the doom and gloom that the news of a new national lockdown thrust upon us. Our fabulous PTA were hugely disappointed not to be able to plan for or host the terrific event which brings our amazing community together. However, I am thrilled by the confidence, well-being and thoughtfulness that have bounced about the Junior Boys corridors and classrooms this week.
Harvest, helping, house events, healthy hostilities plus handwriting hassles, half term holiday, hopes and happiness have all helped to keep us all busy as we have hurtled towards the end of the week. Covid considerations certainly cause a different approach and outlook in all societies and communities but l am delighted that Junior Boys has remained true to its principles of Responsibility, Respect, Loyalty and Integrity throughout our return.
Tuesday afternoon was a joy to behold and not just because the threatening rain cloud slipped by without yielding its contents upon us. Our bulb planting extravaganza provided plenty of opportunities for collaboration, listening, coordination as well as care and attention. Thank you for providing the numerous array of digging equipment, gloves and bright footwear. The happy boys successfully planted over 2700 bulbs in about two hours and for many it appeared to be a first time experience and a wonderfully calm moment to sit and cultivate both our environment and friendships. Well done everyone. Hopefully the fruits of our labours will bear dividends in the Springtime.
In our Monday assemblies we have been thinking about what shapes us and how we grow, using the example of acorns turning into big oak trees and comparing them to young boys and a lifetime’s journey of discovery, chance and efforts that combine to make us who we are and what we become. This is also a theme of our PSHE topic. Similarly we could use the bulb planting experience and the growth, nourishment and care that needs to occur for the beautiful flowers to emerge. We look at our boys in this way. My colleagues care deeply about their charges and know them well. We know like the flowers, that each boy will emerge and show their true colours, talents and skills at different times. Some mature brightly and burst into early sunshine and face a few threatening frosts whilst others take more time and blossom more securely into constant sunshine. The point being, we are confident that we will create in each a love of learning that will stay with them for life and enable them to contribute and communicate effectively in the world that they will encounter.
Monday morning’s mirth at the Mezzanine was caused by a rather bizarrely dressed meet and greet team. There must be a punchline to the beginning of a joke, ‘What did the strawberry say to the banana and the carrot…’. well done Mrs Carter for making the boys think all week regarding their food choices.
On a more serious note at drop off in the morning please could the boys be escorted through the car park. The weather, visibility and surfaces will not be as helpful as winter arrives.
The amount of smiles and giggles we hear far out number the wobbles and other moments and one could safely conclude that the term has started very positively and that we are providing a stable, considered and thoughtful environment for the boys to enjoy learning and attending school. It is fantastic that Junior Boys does listen to its pupils and a quiet area has now also been established for those who prefer a more peaceful opportunity at breaktime. However, to double check, I asked a number of randomly selected boys across the year groups as they drove past me during car park collection duty, to write me a paragraph or two as extra homework, thank you; Ayden, Eisa, Flynn and Joshua. Here are their unedited responses.
"I like school because I learn about animals and vegetables. I love playing with all my friends. My teachers are really kind."
"I really enjoy school, it makes me feel happy and confident. The lessons are so much fun, my favourite lesson is Maths, especially when it is challenging. I am so glad to be back at school with all my friends."
"I had only just started Junior Boys before lockdown so I was just getting used to everything. I couldn't believe how much I missed my new friends and will always appreciate how hard my teachers worked during homeschool."
"I love being back at school because I get to see all my friends. It's great to be back learning new things, in ICT we are coding which is awesome. I'm finally enjoying football which I never expected. I hope the pool will open soon and fingers crossed clubs will come back to."
"I love being back at school as I can see all my friends and teachers. I really learned to value my friends during the time away. I missed spending time with them, there was no chatting over lunch, no running around at sports, no talking about what we had been up to and no solving problems together."
"Back at school, it is great seeing our teachers face to face and also doing lots of sport to get fit again. It’s much better being coached by our sports teachers and learning new things with friends rather than doing it at home alone. I really missed my teachers, they are all awesome. Teachers make learning so much more fun than mum and dad did."
"Junior Boys is the best school, it was a brilliant online school in lockdown but it's an even more amazing school now we are all back and learning together.
Opportunity has become a buzz word this week at Junior Boys. It has certainly been exciting to see in all areas of our curriculum that the boys and adults are adapting well to the changes, as well as thinking of ways to enrich what we do and being oh so flexible. We have embraced the challenge, and a ‘we can do it’ attitude.
One change at the start of each day has seen a slight alteration to the arrival process but the refreshing and cheery meet and greet still allows the boys to be dropped off efficiently, with reassurance, good hygiene and even time for a pupil-parental hug, or not! As the weather turns we will not be using the grass entrance to the temporary hand basins but we are already planning permanent replacements to be stationed under the Mezzanine walkway.
Pupils developing their independence bouncing into school has been a joy to see but has limited the odd conversation. Pleasingly our pastoral phone calls were used by many to keep the dialogue channels open. If you do need a quick catch up please do email the School Office or teachers to request a mutually convenient catch up, or you can pass on messages to the senior leadership team or the nurses at the gate. One topic from the calls that was raised was an adult yearning for books and less Google Classroom. Google Classroom has certainly proved to be a useful tool and benefit for many reasons. Please be reassured that teachers are still utilising all their skills to engage, hook, stimulate, encourage, provide challenge, feedback and build relationships within lessons. Watch out for the house handwriting competition that will allow us to develop fine motor skills, consider presentation and technique. I wonder if there should be a staff section as well?
Handwriting will be developed in form time whilst social skills and manners are often forged at lunch time. It has also presented an opportunity for some to be creative with dinosaur or regular and irregular shaped mathematical sandwiches plus other culinary delights. Thank you for remembering to adhere to the absolutely no nuts edict. My colleagues are also pleased that the assorted packed lunch boxes have also contained many healthy diet choices. Mrs Carter has also recently reminded us about the healthy eating Wweek next week. I am just pleased that my post lockdown return to refereeing fitness drive shed five kg and the banana suit will now fit more comfortably!
Reception this week got ahead of the game and had a wonderful soup tasting, making and hands on learning experience. A little too much pepper for my palette but great fun. There were quite a few birthday cakes this week too. Please do send in purchased and sealed nut free edibles for the class to celebrate if you wish, plus possibly one extra…