We have got just two days left of our 'Hampshire to Hong Hong' virtual trek. Thank you to everyone who has made an enormous effort to help us collectively cover 12,644 miles so far. Can we reach the total of 15,967 miles by Sunday? Don't forget to keep logging your miles here.
The Nursery children were in high spirits this week as they returned to school. They had the excitement of not only seeing all their friends again, but also having an inspiring new classroom outdoors, complete with bell tents. They have spent the whole week outside, romping around the playing fields, rolling down hills, riding bikes and enjoying water play. There has also been plenty of opportunity for quiet time in the shade reading, painting and sticking, or working on their maths and phonics. It has been a real pleasure to see how happy the children are to be back and their enthusiasm has been contagious. All of us have felt our spirits lifted, not only because we are able to interact with the children face to face again, but also because of our glorious surroundings, which have enabled us to offer the children a magical experience and the freedom to explore.
Mrs Samantha Forster, Head of Early Years
Beaming smiles and squeals of joy have been rife across Reception this week as the children encountered a little taste of normality. They have built dens, designed waterfalls and made mud pies. There have been plenty of opportunities for creativity, teamwork and imaginary play. It has been a delight for all of us to observe children doing what they do best – exploring the world through play and interacting with their peers. Children are surprisingly resilient. Rather than querying why the environment or resources have changed, they have dived head first into a mini adventure. An adventure in which they have outdoor picnics daily and Forest School twice a week. What could be better! At the heart of this, they are learning how to be kind, be courageous and be the best that they can be, regardless of the circumstances.
Mrs Olivia Shepherd, Reception Class Teacher
I am not sure who was more excited to be back at school on Monday, myself or the children. As I opened the door to welcome the children, there was a sea of faces that could not wait to rush into the classroom and say hello to their friends. Although they have all seen each other virtually over the past few weeks, nothing can take the place of seeing a friend in person. Since then the classroom has been a hive of activity; constant chattering, peals of laughter and the hustle and bustle of children engaging in different learning activities. The excitement is infectious and I have been so impressed with how quickly they have adapted to the new normal. Through playing tree top trumps, building dens in Forest School and reading stories to each other, friendships have quickly been rekindled. It is only the absence of our online learners that makes the class incomplete. By home time today I waved goodbye to some exhausted but very happy children and it was apparent that all of our spirits had been lifted.
Mrs Georgie Hunter, Head of Year 1
Year 2 have come back from Half Term exuberantly, to use one of our challenge words that has been liberally sprinkled, by the children, into writing tasks this week. Indeed, all of the Year 2 classes have used the break to get outdoors and into the sunshine. They have often taken the ideas from our creative activities with them as can be seen in some of the wonderful work that has been sent in. One family thought they would go on a virtual trip to Spain over the break, and used the occasion to catch up with all the lovely Spanish activities from the term. However they spent their half term break, Year 2 have come back fully charged and raring to go. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the increased interactive form time that we are now enjoying and this feeling of being together again has lifted all our spirits. This is showing in the fantastically descriptive literacy work that the children are writing, the wonderfully practical maths of mass and the amazing creativity of the children’s artwork.
Mrs Stephanie Turner, Year 2 Class Teacher
The Year 3 children have returned from Half Term energised, passionate, animated and prepared. Adjusting to lockdown has been challenging for all in so many ways but Year 3 have been the catalyst to all things brilliant upon returning to online learning. The passion in their work, the excitement to communicate and willingness to take on challenges has been my energy. Adventures to the beach, visiting family members they’ve not seen for months, being in the same open space with their friends and getting that snapshot of being a child again has allowed Year 3 to hit the reset button and come back fully charged. As a result, the transformation has been amazing. Hard working, grown up children have returned. The foundation is in place. Their hard work has paid off. I no longer look at these children as Year 3s, but as Year 4s. I am extremely proud of everything they have done this year. How they have transitioned to learning online and become one of the greatest Year groups I have had the privilege or working with has been nothing but astonishing. What a year to remember. You have certainly lifted my spirits.
Mr Charlie Millsom, Head of Year 3
I loved seeing 4MPs faces this week coming back to our online lessons so full of energy and excitement, telling stories of their Half Term activities and of plans that they have made this week. What has made last week so much more special to them than the previous weeks is that they have been able to see their friends and family. Listening to the children chatting so excitedly about who they saw, who came over for an outside play date, who they went cycling with and who they met by the river was such a joy to hear. Two and a half months of not being able to see friends and family is a long time for all of us, especially young children. Their everyday activities of going for a walk, jumping on the trampoline and splashing in the paddling pool, suddenly became so much more exciting when a friend, a cousin or a Granny was able to join in too. The social interaction that they take for granted every day whilst at school has been missed so greatly and being able to see friends and family has never been more appreciated. The buzz as the children retell their stories is contagious and 4MP have certainly started this half of term with their spirits lifted and feeling excitedly optimistic about what else they may be able to get up to in the following weeks.
Mrs Charlie Peerless, Year 4 Form Tutor
Year 5 have certainly been busy over Half Term, spending time enjoying a game of tennis, gardening, trampolining and countryside walks in the amazing sunshine. Our Hogwarts theme continued throughout the week and the children have shown creativity and innovation in designing, creating and riding their own broomsticks. I so enjoyed seeing the incredible photos and videos that the children shared. The Highfield Quidditch pitch will soon be packed full of seekers, beaters, chasers and keepers. Surely there is nothing more ‘uplifting’ than flying on your own broomstick? Mr Evitt will be awarding Headmaster’s Commendations in next week’s assembly, so watch this space Year 5!
Miss Vivienne Liddell, Head of Year 5
It has been an absolute pleasure to welcome back Year 6. Their presence has brought the school back to life with lots of smiles and a lot more noise! Every afternoon this week, we have had the pleasure of welcoming many of the pupils back on site, all clearly delighted to be back with their friends, and all enjoying the sport as well as the creative activities lessons. On Wednesday, a collective effort of 152 miles was walked for our virtual trek 'Hampshire to Hong Kong'. Naturally, the school has had to implement stringent social distancing and hygiene measures to ensure the safety of pupils and staff, and all the children have been very sensible about staying a safe distance apart, even though it has at times felt a little odd. The children have spent the majority of time outside, and have been able to enjoy the school’s grounds in their ‘Form Bubbles’. We really couldn’t have hoped for a better start and are very proud of the way they have come back so positively after a long period of absence from the routine of being at school. The team of Miss Liddell, Mr Murphy, Mr Dilworth, Miss Stebbings, Mrs de la Haye, Mr Backhouse, Miss Gordon and Mr C-B have worked tirelessly in ensuring the children enjoy their time at school safely, and we are all looking forward to the next few weeks. Understandably, not all pupils are able to join us, for various reasons, and we will continue to make every effort to help them feel a part of this.
Mr Rob Dilworth, Head of Activities
It has been so lovely to return to rested, tanned and smiling faces. I'm so pleased we had the weather on our side over Half Term. Several pupils in Year 7 have sent me emails and photos of a day in their life with a memory which lifted their spirits. Activities ranged from making fridge magnets, to walking in the woods, paddle boarding and spending time with family members and beloved pets. Time to just be. What a gift. I am so impressed by how pupils used this time to connect with others and with themselves. Above are some happy scenes I'd like to share: Summer celebrating her sister Eve's Speech Day and making smart hats for her chicks for the ceremony! Bea didn't miss the opportunity to catch up with a friend and to enjoy the fine weather near Madrid, Spain where Bea lives. I wonder how she managed to float in the air over her lilo like that? Thank you for lifting my spirits with your positivity and can do approach Year 7. I know this next half of term ahead can feel daunting. Some of your siblings may have returned to school whilst you are still home learning. However, you are on the home stretch of the most extraordinary term any of us have ever experienced, keep up the fabulous work and keep shining. You should all be so very proud of yourselves. Remember your parents and your teachers are here for you; ask questions, drop an email, have a chat. I know I speak for all of your teachers when I say we would love to hear from you.
Mrs Olga Houghton, Year 7 Form Tutor
A few weeks ago, I asked the school to read a poem by Chanie Gorkin, written when she was only 17 years old. It is called ‘Worst Day Ever?’ and can be read in two different ways – from the top down, and from the bottom up, both with two very different meanings and messages. It is one of my favourite poems, and as a family, we have it up in our kitchen to remind us that each day can be seen and approached in two different ways; as something negative or problematic, or as something in which to channel optimism.
When asked to write about our Year 8s and the theme of ‘lifted spirits’, I immediately thought about how the children could have allowed the last few weeks to be dominated by a ‘worst day ever’ feeling, particularly when we consider what this term should have been for them all.
Put simply, however, the Year 8s could not have approached this situation with less of a ‘worst day ever’ attitude, and have continued to amaze us with their positivity, their resilience, their ability to pick themselves up when feeling down and their amazing spirit as a year group. Understandably, they have felt low at times, struggling with the feeling of being cheated of their final term at Highfield, and we have very much felt that alongside them. However, they have worked so hard at lifting their spirits, supported by their parents, peers, Form Tutors and teachers and I wanted to take this opportunity to praise them wholeheartedly for their approach.
To the children: In years to come, I will often speak about your approach as a year group, to inspire other children when they are finding things hard. This hasn’t been easy, and may even get a little harder, but keep those spirits high, Year 8: you’ve got this.
'Worst Day Ever?'
Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be attained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say
Today was a very good day
Now read it from bottom to top, the other way,
And see what I really feel about my day.
Mrs Alex Kingsbury, Deputy Head