Competitive Edge

Competitive Edge
Highfield & Brookham Newsletter

Nursery Get Competitive Out In The Fresh Air

Nursery children have had a fantastic time out in the fresh air enjoying PE, showing their competitive natures in a race against the clock - and PE teacher Mr Ameir. The fun game, complete with oodles of enthusiasm and laughter, saw the excited children race to line up little colourful cones the right way as fast they could while 'naughty' Mr Ameir was busy turning them the wrong way up! The game was extremely popular with the determined children, who revelled in the competition as they battled to sort their cones before time ran out - which they happily did with beaming smiles on their faces. Another favourite part of the PE lesson was the multi-coloured parachute, with the children taking turns to run round to the other side of it to see who could get there first.

Lou Blackaby, Nursery Teacher 

No Growing Pains For Reception Children

Bright, eager faces have hurried excitedly into classrooms each morning to check the status of the pea shoots growing in trays in Polar Bears and Sun Bears. Remarks such as ‘they are germinating’, ‘I can see the stalks’, ‘they are shooting out’, and ‘look how big they are’ have been expressed with joy each day. The Reception children have collaborated to care for the vegetables they are growing - from working as a team to weed and prepare the vegetable patches and sharing and listening to each other’s ideas and prior experiences to building a ‘wormery’. Previous knowledge has been drawn upon with time for reflection and consideration about the details we know about growing. This absorption in their learning has deepened the children’s knowledge about the natural world around them. The three main factors which the children contemplated were soil and compost, sunlight, and water. When exploring compost and what makes good soil, they have observed their wormery and talked about the role of the worm in compost. Additionally, they have tested the PH of the soil in the vegetable patches and discussed the ideas of things being acidic and alkaline. Combining all this wonderful knowledge, the children have worked independently in tending to the vegetables growing in the classrooms. That said, there has been some competition between Polar Bears and Sun Bears - to see which class has the tallest pea shoots! The children deliberated why one tray may be taller than the other, considering factors such as sunlight, soil and watering. One tray of pea shoots was much taller. By contrast, one tray was much denser and had bigger leaves, and there was lots of discussion as to why this might be. Both trays received the same amount of water, both had the same soil. However, there was a difference as one tray was getting a little more sunlight which meant it was more dense than tall. With the debate over, the children were eager to taste finally some of the pea shoots - and they were unanimous in exclaiming how delicious they were!

Lucy Deary, Reception Teacher 

Year 1 Make Capital Gains With Great Fire Workshop

Through the exploration of historical artefacts and a plethora of hands-on resources, Year 1 took part in an exhilarating Great Fire of London workshop. Collaboratively, the children built London with mock-up houses, before engaging in role play to retell the events of the Great Fire. They became resourceful in their learning as imaginations and houses were simultaneously sparked and ignited. It was an opportunity to share their knowledge comparing life then and now, as they competitively strove to ask and answer questions to find out further facts. Afterwards, building on their learning in Science, senses were aroused as the children engaged in a carousel of activities. Their interest and enthusiasm shone through as they immersed themselves in the story, with each child interdependently playing a key part in unfolding the events of 1666. With school trips currently curtailed, the workshop lived up to its name and truly did make the classroom disappear!

Henrietta Platt, Year 1 Teacher

Soft Skills Used To Good Effect By Year 2

At Highfield and Brookham, we consider that the development of 'soft skills' will give us a competitive edge or advantage in the 21st Century. Skills like collaboration, resilience, creativity, problem solving and being resourceful are no longer 'nice to have' skills, we now consider them must-haves. We ensure our learning activities provide opportunities to develop these skills on a daily basis. So recently we have become absorbed in producing our own non-fiction texts. Using many features of this genre of writing, Year 2 have worked collaboratively to sequence the Easter story and then retell it to their friends, and they have worked creatively and resourcefully to design Easter cards and pictures from their own imagination. To top off our seasonal theme, today was our eagerly-anticipated Easter egg hunt, with the children excitedly charging around the school grounds in search of eggs and creatively solving problems to reach the highest eggs, therefore showing great teamwork. We have thoroughly enjoyed our three weeks back as a year group, learning and playing together.

Kerri Wilkes, Year 2 Teacher

Year 3 Make Healthy Progress Working Together

All of Year 3 joined in with our 'healthy breakfast', which is always a highlight of this year group's calendar. The children competed in teams to plan, cook and present a healthy offering for the first meal of the day, considering the balance of food on their plate, how they would prepare it, and how they would present it. And their fine culinary efforts were expertly judged by members of the Highfield staff, who were tasked with the challenging job of selecting the winning team. The competition of the healthy breakfast challenged the children to decide how they would work most effectively as a team to produce the best meal possible. At Brookham, one of the golden rules is to "be the best that you can be" and the Year 3 children have yet again showed that we are so often at our best when we collaborate and cooperate towards a shared goal.

Ellie Graham, Year 3 Teacher

African Adventure Ends On High Note For Year 4

As a fitting end to their ‘Africa’ topic this term, Year 4 came together to perform three songs they have been learning. These songs bring together the three primary activities in African music - singing, dancing and drumming. 4D were first to perform with a rousing Kenyan Welcome song, ‘Jambo’; 4SD then sang ‘Funga alafia’, a west African call-and-response song, and 4M finished with ‘Siyahamaba’, a South African hymn ‘We are Marching in the Light of God’. Although not a competition, it gave them the opportunity to discuss the elements needed to create a successful performance: singing clearly, communicating the message of the song, and listening and watching to stay in time. Considering they have only had a couple of weeks to choreograph their songs and rehearse together, they all performed with great energy and commitment.

Mary Hall, Deputy Head of Music

Year 5 Hockey Players Channel Inner Strength

It has been an absolute pleasure to coach the U10 Girls’ Hockey this season, even though it's been a disrupted one and a short one. As another successful Highfield Premier League (HPL) had come to a close, we took the opportunity to use the Year 5 Games session to look more closely at the importance of having a competitive edge in sport. Having witnessed moments in the HPL where the girls showed real grit and determination, I wanted to develop this further using small-sided games. We varied the pitch size and adjusted the teams to create an imbalance and overload on one side, which put the girls firmly to the test. Sometimes in sport you can feel like the odds are stacked against you or you have been pinned into a corner, so when faced with these moments you need to dig deep and find extra mental and physical strength to gain an advantage over your opponents. The small-sided games definitely brought this out in the girls and I saw a real passion to be competitive and play to the best of their ability, which was a fitting end to two fantastic weeks of hockey.

Fraser Murphy, U10 Girls' Hockey Coach

Positive Signs As Year 6 Boys Prepare To Step Up

The U11 boys brought their hockey season to a close with some fiercely-contested internal matches. Despite being the end of the season, there was no shortage of competitiveness on show as the Year 6 children took this chance to demonstrate the skills they have learnt over the past few weeks to play some beautiful hockey, which would have almost certainly contributed to a successful season had it not been interrupted. But what these matches have really shown is that, technically and in terms of desire, the boys are in great shape as they move towards the top year groups in the school.

Anthony Lewis, U11 Boys' Hockey Coach

'The Snow Goose' Inspires Year 7 Writers

Since returning to face-to-face learning, many pupils in Year 7 have been busy studying the text 'The Snow Goose' in their English lessons, which tells the story of an unexpected friendship between an artist who sets up a wild fowl sanctuary and a young girl who brings an injured snow goose to him to be rescued. The well-known story culminates in May 1940 with the famous 'little ships' rescue of almost 400,000 British soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk as the backdrop. The book is hauntingly atmospheric and Year 7 have looked at presenting factual information, trying their hand at writing their own symbolic description, re-telling a story in differing formats, and using the dramatic events of Dunkirk as a setting for their own imaginative writing. I have been so incredibly impressed with the way in which they have approached this unit of work and their enthusiasm for all the tasks they have been set.

Jane Hamilton, Year 7 English Teacher

Fond Farewell To Our Year 8 Quizzers

Despite all the annoying hurdles that we faced ahead of this year's House General Knowledge Quiz, we put on a superb event - in a Covid-compliant way, of course - that was a brilliant success. Sadly, for our Year 8 contestants, it was to be their final annual school quiz before heading off to pastures new, but that made it all the more special that we could stage it once more before they left. All pupils had received the initial questionnaire that they had to complete during Form time, which gave us the top-scoring pupils from each year group who would go on to represent our three school houses - Agincourt, Trafalgar and Waterloo. Filming took place on Monday afternoon in the Chapel, with only the select audience of Year 4 pupils in attendance to watch the drama unfold. Twelve lights, seven microphones, five cameras, two flat-screen TVs, one Mac and more cables than the O2 Arena later, we were ready to film. And the children did wonderfully well to adapt to the social-distancing measures and to answer some tricky questions as the pupils were split into year groups with questions adapted accordingly. It was a close-run affair with all of the young contestants demonstrating some excellent general knowledge, but it was congratulations to Trafalgar who ran out winners. A huge thank you to Mr Davies for his technical wizardry and to Mr Backhouse, who was our scorer. Now we can look forward to next year's quiz when we hope to have everyone back in the audience.

Richard Dunn, Head of ICT

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