Nursery Learning Out Of This World
One of the most rewarding aspects of working in Nursery is seeing how excited and engaged the children are when we base their learning around their own interests. This week, a simple question about the moon from one of the children led to a fascinating discussion and exploration of the solar system. The children gazed at some amazing images of all the different planets and learned why the Earth’s features help make it a suitable place for us to live. They were also shown some incredible NASA video footage taken in space and saw what the Earth looks like from a distance. Having had their curiosity piqued, the imaginative children drew and painted pictures of space, the moon and planets using what they had seen as a stimulus and produced some fantastic interpretations of their own. Discussion about our home planet then provided an opportunity to talk about how important it is to look after the Earth and the children discussed ways they can help protect it.
Sam Forster, Head of Early Years
Reception Rise To Online Challenge
It has been a busy eight weeks of online learning since the turn of the year, and the Reception teachers have been so impressed with the resilience and sheer effort that the children have demonstrated during this challenging time. Their constant enthusiasm for any task that they are given has been wonderful and it has been a privilege to catch a glimpse of their lives at home, seeing their special toys, pets or work that they are proud of. This week has certainly been no different and for, what we hope will be, the last week of online learning the children have enjoyed engaging in different activities based on the story 'What the Ladybird Heard'. Using ladybirds to represent doubles of numbers, making colourful masks and puppets, while also thinking about the different characters and their personalities, an array of skills have been used to create some fabulous pieces of work. We can't wait to welcome the children back to school on Monday, no doubt with huge smiles on their faces and a bounce in their step!
Georgie Hunter, Head of Reception and Year 1
Year 1 Prefer To Break Down Barriers
British values are well and truly at the heart of our education at Highfield and Brookham. This week, Year 1 have been focusing on the thought-provoking topic of 'individual liberty' and considering how even when people make decisions on our behalf, we have the right to voice our opinions about it if it affects our freedom. In particular, the children thought carefully about the recent news regarding changes in the Sharm El-Sheikh resort of Egypt.
"Egyptian authorities have recently completed a 22-mile wall around this tourist resort. Anyone entering the city by road will now have to pass through one of four gates equipped with cameras and scanners. The government believe it will help protect tourism at the Red Sea resort, which has faced many challenges over the past 10 years meaning fewer holidaymakers have been visiting the resort"
The inquisitive pupils took some time to discuss whether walls protect us or divide us. They began to consider advantages and disadvantages of building walls around tourist resorts, zoos, areas prone to flooding, and schools; notably sharing their opinions about whether building a wall around Highfield and Brookham would be a good initiative. The children voiced advantages such as keeping everyone safe but also identified many disadvantages such as stopping animals from roaming freely and breaking down connections with the local community by restricting visitors. In conclusion, they decided the negative impact would outweigh the positives which having an open-plan setting provides. But Year 1 did feel that walls can both protect and divide us depending on the location and circumstances in which they are built.
Eager Year 2 Pupils Are Technological Marvels
Year 2 are really excited about going back to school and have, without a doubt, been channelling that energy into their learning. Registrations have been lively affairs with everyone contributing and using the technology adeptly in ways that would have been unthinkable at the start of term. The feeling of community is so much a part of life at Highfield and Brookham that everyone has been really keen to ensure that this wasn’t lost while learning online. Therefore, each week, the children have been taking part in lessons covering spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development which enrich and broaden awareness of concepts such as liberty, by discussing whether walls protect or divide us, for example, a topic also covered by Year 1. In assemblies, the children are asked to consider matters such as these and other current affairs, as it is explained how they are relevant to all of us. Of course, joining in the celebrations of more than 100 countries for the literary celebration that is World Book Day is just one instance of how we take our part in the wider community, and have a lot of fun doing so!
Stephanie Turner, Year 2 Teacher
A Taste Of Global Citizenship For Year 3
In Year 3, we are always looking for ways that we can connect with others, reach out to others, and support them. The more that we understand each other and can communicate with each other, the stronger our relationships can be. This outward-looking approach is woven throughout our curriculum in all different areas of learning. As the children learned how to talk about the weather in Spanish this week, they were able to think about how a shared language allows us to talk to others and understand the message that they are communicating. It has also been fantastic to see some of the Year 3 children taking part in our international cook-a-long and exploring delicious cuisine from around the world. And the Year 3 children really pulled out all the stops as they transformed themselves into their favourite literary characters on Thursday to celebrate World Book Day. The books that the children shared were based in all different settings and cultures, giving the children the opportunity to explore the differences and similarities. The more the children learn about the world around them and their place in a global community, the better position they will be in to become responsible global citizens in the future.
Ellie Graham, Year 3 Teacher
Year 4 Make A Splash With Water Pumps
This week, the Year 4 children have definitely been playing their part in the wider community. As part of our stimulating topic on Africa, we have been looking into the work of well-known charities Water Aid and Action Aid and exploring their philanthropic efforts to bring about positive change in some of the continent's poorest communities. We paid particular attention to the development of vital rope pumps, which provide essential, clean drinking water in rural villages. Using their knowledge and understanding from this term’s Science lessons, the children then went on to design their own water pump, thinking carefully about how the pump would work and what type of filtration system would be used to clean the water. Some of the brilliant ideas generated were particularly creative with certain pumps being powered by seesaws, swings, and even bicycles. Others thought carefully about the climate in Africa and came to the conclusion that solar panels would be a good way of generating energy, thus allowing the pump to work. Genius! I think it’s safe to say that we may have some future aid workers in our midst. Bringing together cross-curricular links, the children will now be challenged to write accompanying texts in their English lessons, explaining exactly how the water pump works with a handy but detailed step-by step guide.
Rosie Dachtler, Year 4 Teacher
Year 5 Scientists Overcome The Odds
Science has gained terrific momentum over the Spring Term in Year 5; our 'Forces' topic enabling the children to learn and experiment in buoyant style. Despite the obvious challenges of home schooling, the children resisted the temptation to simply give up and found a multitude of resourceful ways to push on with their scientific aims. With recycling bins suitably depleted, the children fashioned frictional sledges, shaped streamlined ships, created cracking contraptions, and even experimented with mesmerising magnets. Rory Lett showed the gravity of his skills when modifying a sledge for a Brookham pupil, ensuring he increased the friction to slow down the moving object, while Eliza Palmer excelled when designing a clever ‘bell’ contraption, which used a series of simple machines to summon a snack - an essential piece of kit when working from home. Finally, Lloyd and Jamie attracted great praise through their beautifully presented research on Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei. What stars! Now, excitingly, we turn our attention to the skies as we begin our exploration of 'Earth and Space'. I am endlessly proud of all Year 5 have achieved in the past eight weeks, and I very much look forward to meeting them all in person.
Flora Aubrey-Thomas, Teacher of Science
Year 6 Relish Solving The Algebra Puzzle
6 set 3 have been tremendously communicative and responsive throughout our unusual period of online learning. Over the last couple of weeks, we have made a start exploring the wonderful world of algebra. Algebra is, of course, just Maths using numbers instead of letters. It's important to study it because it forms the basis for advanced studies in many fields, such as engineering, medicine and economics. It's also good to study because it reinforces logical thinking and because it's beautiful. We have been looking at how to write it simply and then how to calculate the value of expressions when we are told the value of the letters involved. Substituting numbers for letters in algebra brings together an understanding of algebra, the order of operations and accurate calculation. You can certainly never practice enough and to keep the children's learning momentum going we tackled a ‘Codebreaker’ where students have to crack the code to reveal an exciting secret message! As well as being a bit of fun, the great thing about this sort of activity is that it allows students to see when they have made a mistake and to go back and hunt it down without any help from the teacher, which is such a great way to learn, and it was fantastic to see so many of the class doing exactly that.
Sophie Lingham, Teacher of Maths
Year 7 Gain Understanding Of Global Issues
Year 7 have been busy studying tectonics throughout their online teaching this term; a topic that many look forward to covering. From learning about the movements of tectonic plates to the role that volcanoes have had on our very existence, the topic is full of fascinating facts and opportunities to discover something new. Part of the syllabus includes learning about examples of tectonic events that have occurred throughout the world and, this week, Year 7 have been learning all about the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti in 2010. Although this event happened more than a decade ago now, the effects of it are still being felt by the Haitian people. So students researched the quake, discussed it, and set about presenting their findings in a number of different ways. These included posters, PowerPoint presentations, mind maps, radio broadcasts and recorded news reports, all of which were well-constructed and full of detail - another fine reflection of just how well Year 7 have tackled 'Virtual Highfield'. And looking at such case studies is yet another opportunity to look at communities beyond our own, and to see how other people can be affected by events that they have little or no control over. As we return to school next week, there is a hope that we can start to move back toward a more 'normal' school life. While we are rightly excited and enthused by this, the opportunity to study what other communities have gone through, and continue to go through, is as important as ever.
Year 8 Take Exam Changes In Their Stride
Our academic scholarship candidates have had to cope with a raft of changes to exams and venues this term, with a number of exams being pushed back to next term. St Swithun’s and Marlborough have already completed their exams while Winchester College and Cranleigh are holding theirs in April. Some schools have already announced that they will be awarding fewer scholarships this year, making these awards once the children have arrived in September. As well as preparations for the core subjects, languages and humanities, our candidates for Winchester and Marlborough colleges are preparing for general papers in ethics, logic and current affairs. Considering this past year, it's likely our young academics will be facing some questions on global pandemics, healthcare, and the European Union! Once the exams are all over, we will embark on project work of their own choosing, as well as some educational visits once things return to normal. Sadly, the annual trip to Italy has again been postponed, but we will at least be able to provide some charity work and assistance at Brookham in the summer term.
John Mühlemann, Head of Scholarship