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Claires Court

Claires Court Maidenhead

from Nursery to Sixth Form

Mr Richards' Words Autumn 4

Little did I think that I would referring to a Robert Browning poem inspired by the artwork of Andrea del Sarto when I started my teaching career as a Head of Games! Sport is very high profile here as it is on show every day but it is equally important for us all to acknowledge and encourage the creative sides of our young charges. My colleagues are very committed, talented and very passionate about art, chess, drama and music at Junior Boys and developing an all round education.

All good teachers magpie ideas and strengths from their colleagues and one way for doing this is through lesson observations. When observing you look for many things. Pace, understanding, subject knowledge, questioning, pupil awareness and thinking time to name but a few. At Junior Boys we are creating time for the boys to reflect, digest and respond to teacher comments. They are also given guidance on how to critically analyse each other’s work within a positive framework of encouragement.

This all links back to the poem with the line ‘less is more’, so in an attempt not to write too much (again) I have asked others in my senior team to provide the wisdom and body of the Head’s Words.

Mrs Henry our academic lead explains. The ‘less is more’ approach gives the boys responsibility for their learning, whilst still being able to grow socially and spend quality time being children. At CCJB we develop the boy’s knowledge and skills so that they can become confident learners who can use a variety of skills to share the knowledge they have learned here at Claires Court. In our core subjects, we broadly follow the National Curriculum to ensure the boys have a sound understanding of Mathematics, English and Science so that they are well prepared for their transition into Year 7. We do though have the freedom to go off on tangents and be independent in our approach. We believe in boys being taught to the level that suits their capabilities and ensure that all the foundations are solid before moving forward. We challenge the boys by delving deeper into concepts, rather than simply moving on to the next one. We want boys to be motivated and enthused by what they are learning and encourage them to enjoy the process. In order to facilitate this we set homework for the boys that are designed to consolidate, extend or on occasion to help prepare for the material in the next lesson. We set tasks that should take no longer than 30 minutes. Please let your son’s imagination run wild if he is absorbed but please do not turn the dinner table into a battlefield.

Mrs Stay our Pastoral lead, on the other hand, certainly does not operate a ‘less is more’ approach in this essential area of school life. In fact quite the opposite. All colleagues talk daily and implement a wide range of strategies supporting individual’s needs and those of the wider community. Below is a little snippet of the areas of work that compliment and support our academic progress.

“The year has begun with democracy in action. An amazing number wanted to represent their peers on the Pupil Voice Council. Year 3 to 6 candidates presented electoral speeches and their classmates voted in a secret ballot to choose their rep. Staff commented on the quality of candidates’ speeches, which showed they had carefully considered why they wished to take this position of responsibility, and their willingness to take a risk. Those who were not successful have showed resilience and despite their disappointment have been very gracious and supportive of their friends”.

Our new thought provoking assembly themes, the social experiences on residential trips and the desire to provide and amplify pupil talents to boost self-esteem also underpins any academic progress. On occasion our pastoral cushion also has to catch and support others who are coping with other challenges. The richness and diversity of our boys actually adds much to our mix and the pupils gain so much from it. To help all pupils we will be introducing a new phrase into school life next week. Do ask your son about it and there is also a new, ‘I’d thought you’d like to know’ box in reception whereby notes from pupils to adults can be left.

Further additions this term have been the development of the vertical House system allowing the pupils to experience friendly rivalry and support each other across the years. Boys were elected by their peers but all of Year 6 regardless of being a badge holder are expected to be a role model. We look forward to House Maths, Art, Rugby and Quiz this term for starters. Dorney won the first coloured House disk for points accumulated last week.

Well done to those boys who hosted on Open Day today our guests were very complimentary about their guides. We also received many plaudits from the PGL staff for Year 5’s behaviour and have a go attitude last weekend. The highlight of a busy week was our Harvest Festival. It was such a marvellous occasion. The boys, as I said afterwards demonstrated their ownership of the Service, clearly understood the messages contained within it and presented it with dignity and much enjoyment. Thank you also to everyone for the very generous donations that we were gratefully received by Foodshare, Maidenhead and Windsor Homeless Project.

It is also very good to know that our staff room is enriched by multi-talented people. These extra strings to their bows help make them the wonderful teachers that they are. So good luck this weekend to Mrs Holder and her horse Danny. They have qualified, having negotiated a rigorous set of elimination rounds, to compete in the Petplan Area Festival dressage final at Widmer Equestrian Centre. They have also qualified for the London and South East dressage to music championships in Sussex in October at Elementary level. The challenge is now how to bring Danny to an assembly to enthuse the pupils like Odin has done previously.

Do enjoy the weekend and I look forward to a fantastic friendly festival of U9 rugby tomorrow morning. I am not sure my afternoon at Bristol in the Premiership will be quite as calm!

Dean Richards

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