Flexibility Of Mind

Flexibility Of Mind
Highfield & Brookham Newsletter

Nursery Nurtures Green, Green Grass Of Home

Armed with buckets and spades, the ever-inquisitive children have expertly dodged the showers and taken to the great outdoors to explore our fabulous gardens. The Nursery children worked diligently together in a wonderful show of collaboration to collect soil from the vegetable beds, patiently taking turns to fill their buckets. With great vigour, enthusiasm and focus, the young horticulturalists added soil to their little pots before sowing grass seed. Together, we thought about what the seeds might need to help them grow, and we decided that they would need sun and rain, and maybe even a few songs for encouragement. Surely the little seeds would thrive? Well, every day the children have helped each other to check the pots, watering them and looking for signs of life. And this week, upon our return to nursery after the long weekend, the excited children were delighted to discover that little green shoots had begun to sprout! Not unlike the little people in Nursery soaking up all they need like sponges to grow and develop, the grass gets taller and stronger day by day. So very soon it will be time for the children to practice some fine motor skills and give their pots a haircut! Using a scientific approach, we have looked for signs of other new shoots in the garden. With beady eyes and magnifying glasses, we discovered tiny seedlings in the planters and on the banks surrounding the Nursery. We are so lucky to have a new wild meadow planted right outside the classroom, so we are looking forward to watching it grow and bloom over the coming weeks.

Penny Hodnett, Nursery Year Teacher

Reception Rejoice In The Delights Of Dance

Dance is an art form but to dance is also intrinsically human - and it's something that the happy and expressive Reception children thoroughly enjoy every week, during both precious child-initiated learning time and in their ballet lessons. Led by Miss Millie, the children are gently encouraged to consider the three main elements of the craft and skill of dance; creating, performing, and appreciating. Through exploring and refining their own moves, the children are being reflective learners, adapting and thinking about how their performance can be improved. Performance may be dancing in front of one person or in front of the whole class, impromptu or planned. Either way, performance is about being seen by others, which requires the children to be an encouraging and supportive audience. Being a kind and fair critical friend is something that is definitely encouraged and embraced by all our excited young learners. Using the relating learning muscles, the children warmly celebrate each other's successes while also seeing new ideas which can then be incorporated into their own artistic performances. And it's certainly fair to say that the Reception teachers are regularly learning new moves from the children in their class!

Georgie Hunter, Head of Reception

Year 1 Work Together To Get The Ball Rolling

Collaboration is a key element of life at Highfield and Brookham, and there was certainly no shortage of effective working on show as the fascinated Year 1 children got their heads together to get to grips with the curious topic of gravity. The determined youngsters worked well in little teams to try to navigate coloured balls along a piece of moveable guttering. And it didn't take long for them to realise the benefits of supporting their peers to manoeuvre the guttering into the desired positions and, quite literally, get the ball rolling! The tenacious youngsters trialled a range of starting positions, using their newly-acquired knowledge of gravity to choose the best launch positions. Even with troublesome high winds putting a spanner in the works on occasion, meaning the children were surprised to discover that the balls would travel up the guttering rather than down it, the engineers of tomorrow were undeterred. After more head scratching and healthy discussion, the children cleverly worked out that this was because at times like these the force of the wind was stronger than the force of gravity. And as the children succeeded with their various routes, they added new elements of challenge to their courses such as catching the ball as it raced off the end of the guttering, carefully working as a team to ensure that the catcher was ready to scoop the ball as it rattled towards them. 

Olivia Shepherd, Year 1 Teacher

Jam-Packed Schedule For Year 2 Despite Short Week

I had to smile this week when one of the Year 2 children wanted to know why we have to be off from school on bank holidays (it’s so unfair!). Of course, that led to a discussion about the origins of May Day (probably a Roman festival), and the May Day bank holiday (workers’ rights). We are fortunate at Highfield and Brookham to be able to take the time to pursue topical matters that excite the children’s interest and that helps them understand more about their community, culture and country. Similarly, it felt very exciting and relevant to be electing our new House Captains at the same time as many local councils are holding their elections; and to relate that to our own positions of responsibility - School Councillors, Eco Warriors and Reading Ambassadors. The problem with a shorter week, of course, whether welcome or not, is that there is so much to fit in. Our computing block has got off to an absolutely super start, with the children quickly learning how to program floor-based computer bots, but as any computer programmer will tell you, writing algorithms and code is only the start. The rest of the time is spent on testing, retesting and debugging. It's probably a good thing, therefore, that the unit will last over several weeks as very few of our (soon-to-be) Roman-styled bots found their way around the narrow streets of Pompeii this week. Indeed, much time was spent fruitfully outside, practising giving detailed instructions to our friends, such as a robot would need. It might not have looked very scientific to an onlooker, but there was certainly method in it.

Stephanie Turner, Year 2 Teacher

Excited Year 3 Excel On And Off The Cricket Pitch

Eager young sportsmen from Year 3 swapped calculators for cricket bats and science books for stumps this week for the short trip to Godalming to take on their U8 rivals from Aldro School. And to say the boys were excited ahead of their first competitive cricket match,  proudly representing Brookham School for the first time too, would be a huge understatement. The school took three teams to Aldro, and all three played to an excellent standard and showcased all the skills they have learned since the start of the cricket season. We pretty much had four seasons in one day despite being in May - with sun, rain, wind and even hail - but the inclement weather failed to dampen the boys' spirits and they battled Aldro and the elements with great enthusiasm, a trait that will really stand them in good stead. Back at Brookham, the boys are now hungry to get back to training to prepare for the next match against Churcher's Junior School, which will feature boys and girls in mixed games. We’ve started on a high and we’re keen to keep it going. 

Adam Rigby, Head of Boys' Games

Improvement Clear As Year 4 Cricketers Warm Up

Looking out the window, you may be forgiven for thinking we haven't yet reached the cricket season. But we have, and in between the persistent bouts of unseasonably cold, wet, gloomy and downright miserable weather, Year 4 have made an encouraging start to life at the crease. On Thursday, Highfield U9s hosted three teams from old rivals Aldro, returning the favour after three compelling matches in Godalming a week earlier which resulted in wins for the Highfield U9B and U9C teams and a narrow defeat for the U9A team. This laid the foundation for a highly-competitive afternoon of sport, as both teams were looking to 'get even’ after last week's tight tussles. All three matches this week saw a great deal of progress from all teams, with far better batting and bowling. Unfortunately, despite a superb effort and significant improvements, it wasn’t to be Highfield's day. Yet despite the obvious disappointment felt by the boys, which demonstrates the desire and passion they have as a team, the matches usefully highlighted several areas the boys can focus on, such as backing up in the field and running between the wickets, which will stand them in good stead as the busy cricket season progresses.

Dan Bather, Director of Sport

Diligent Year 5 Have A Design For Life

Technical nous and a methodical approach has been at the forefront of learning for talented Year 5 Design & Technology pupils. Studying carpentry methods such as mitre joining and the work of great designers like Ettore Sottsass, the creative students were challenged to make either a tablet/phone stand or a picture frame. Incorporating Sottsass' Memphis Design pattern within their work, and using myriad shapes, colour and patterns, the children thoroughly pondered their ideas before setting out on the practical exercise with the help of tenon saws, pillar drills, jigs, and belt and disc sanders. While determined to produce a quality finished item, the pupils are fully aware that it is about the journey and not the destination, that their learning will be wholly enriched when undertaking proper research and taking on board other students' ideas. And manufacturing anything is very much a scientific process, which was highlighted by the practice of mitre drawing and measuring, while the repetition of such cuts allowed the students to learn what was successful and what was not when it came to using the various tools. With practice came a distinct improvement in precision, a notable feature as they diligently pieced together their products.

Jamie Dew, Head of Design & Technology

Things Brewing Up Nicely For Year 6

Year 6 have been learning all about micro-organisms, and as part of their investigation into useful microbes, 6set2 enjoyed making ginger beer. They mixed sugar, ginger, lemon juice and water together with yeast and then left the mixture in a warm room for 48 hours. The micro marvel then got to work with some fermentation producing carbon dioxide which made it fizzy. Each group brewed ginger beer in ideal conditions, but we also brewed some with carefully controlled variables so that we could observe the effect on the rate of fermentation. For example, some bottles were kept at 30C while others were stored at 20C so we could monitor the amount of carbon dioxide produced. The other curious variable we investigated was the ratio of yeast to sugar. Meanwhile, over at the Junior Boarding House, the junior boarders have been busy brewing beer, with Wilf H, Isobel S, Jack G, Oscar TE and Jimmy S carefully monitoring them so that we didn't have an explosion if the pressure got too high. And no matter the results of both home-brewing projects, which were indeed incredibly telling, everyone agreed after sampling that it was a very tasty way to study this fascinating topic! 

Andy Baker, Head of Science

Year 7 Learn The Formula For Spanish

How many of you have ever said “I was no good at languages at school”? How many of those of you who answered ‘yes’, however, were good at Science or Maths? Truth be told, you could certainly access languages in that case. This half term, Year 7 are working on embedding their understanding of how to conjugate the preterite tense in Spanish. Our main aim for the pupils in our language lessons is that they can leave us able to communicate in another language. Once they’ve got to grips with the core vocabulary, we then add in the grammar – the detail. Once understood, the process of verb conjugation is like an equation, you literally take all the relevant parts and stick them together. We use numerous methods to help them with this process, in particular today pupils were consolidating how the preterite tense is formed playing battleships: stem of verb + add person ending. They practised how to make an action in the preterite tense at the same time as finding their partner’s boats. Science meets language meets fun. This is how we embed learning from the start. The next stage will be to identify the verbs in a text and then going back through the process to understand why they look like they do.

Adela Munoz Garcia, Spanish Teacher

Year 8 Musical Marvels Counting Down To Hairspray

Creative Year 8 Drama students have been busy working on their moves for their end-of-term musical production of Hairspray. With auditions at the end of last term, we have been able to hit the ground running and start planning the big numbers during their Drama, Music and Keys lessons. This week, the pupils have tackled Welcome To The 60s, a song which features the whole cast and for many involves learning new skills of singing, dancing and acting and, most importantly, doing all three at the same time! Every rehearsal involves building skills for the future as, little by little, the Year 8s are building both their production and their confidence - and having a lot of fun along the way. Performing doesn't come naturally to everyone and often the best performances have emerged from something organic. There is some merit in being methodical and organised with the planning of a whole year-group production. But I disagree that if learning happens at random then it is harder for this to have an impact on the child's future, as it's often these magical 'lightbulb moments' that trigger desire and an enjoyment in an area that was once thought unattainable and which, in turn, gives those pupils the confidence to strive for more. Eli Atkins, who is playing Tracy's mum, Edna, in Hairspray, has totally surpassed himself with energy and enthusiasm both in his audition and during the rehearsals; Millie Alli's velvet-coated voice holds so much power and persuasion for her role as Motormouth Maybelle; and it's so exciting to see the whole cast rise to the challenge of this high-spirited and energetic musical. The very nature of a rehearsal is for things to go wrong and to find ways to make them right. From this, the cast can learn as a team how to replicate when things 'feel right' again and again, which in turn builds the feeling of success across the entire group. I'm so excited to see how the next few weeks progress and we are keeping everything crossed that the production will be able to go ahead as planned at the start of July. NOTE: Ticket details and timings will be released after May 17.

Sarah Baird, Head of Drama

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