Learning Is A Two-Way Street
Nursery Wowed By The Wonders Of Our World
If we could all see the world through the eyes of a child, we would see the magic in everything
Chee Vai Tang
Every week, day and moment in Nursery, the children see the world in all its wonder; this week was no different. The children have diligently explored their environment, immersed themselves in all areas of learning, engaged with their senses, discovered plenty and, most importantly, taken time to stop, gaze and wonder. Observing the trees and marvelling at the birds flapping in the branches above their heads or watching every last grain of sand as it pours from one vessel to another have been moments of sheer fascination. And the biggest ongoing lesson that the teachers can learn from the children is to slow down, seize the moment, and experience the wonder of what's around us, just as they do. Children get excited about their surroundings, no matter where they roam. They see everything with fresh eyes, happy in the knowledge that they will find something new and different every time they care to look, something which demonstrates an incredible ability to really pay attention to the world around them. Adults, on the other hand, look for things they know and expect or will naturally filter out extraneous information, such as an interesting pattern in the clouds, but young children don't yet know what is most important, so they take their time and use all their wisdom to make sense of what they see. As adults, we are often keen to rush on to the next phase, the next moment. Perhaps our new moto should be... slow down, stop, observe and wonder. If we can learn this lesson from the children, then maybe we too will see the magic.
Lou Blackaby, Nursery Teacher
Reception Have Got It All Mapped Out
There was great excitement when the Reception children were asked to stretch their relating learning muscles by collaborating with their partners on a map-reading exercise which took them from the classroom into our lovely grounds. They were immediately faced with decisions about which way around the trees they needed to go - was it left or was it right, was it around the bunker or through the bunker? Well, the little golfers in the group explained to the adults that people mustn't walk through the bunker, so that was definitely off limits! With 'X' marking the spot, the young adventurers purposefully homed in on their first port of call, which duly led to a second set of enticing clues. Having regrouped and decided on their best route, the children continued their journey, with one child taking the lead while the others kept their fingers firmly on their trusty maps to track their location. Managing the myriad natural distractions was easy for the children as they were so absorbed in their learning that their focus was firmly on getting to their destination. And exclamations of delight could be heard when various points of interest were identified on the map and facts about the environment were shared. In fact, one child educated the adults that squirrels like to strip barks off trees, not only for eating but also to try to find water in the hot months. Suddenly, the group hit a slight snag - they couldn't decide whether to turn left or right. But being the resourceful learners that they are, an excellent suggestion was made that perhaps they could split up - one group could take one route with one teacher and the other group could head off in the other direction. The vote was unanimous and this approach was taken, with the children agreeing who would take which route. Luckily, both routes ended up in the same place - at the fire pit in Forest School, where Sue, the friendly witch, had not only left a note but also flasks of hot chocolate and marshmallows. This exciting map activity not only developed the children's learning muscles, but they taught the teachers a few new facts too!
Georgie Hunter, Head of Reception
Year 1 Take A Step Back In Time
Year 1 were transported back in time with their nostalgic visit to the Rural Life Living Museum. As their first school trip in more than a year, there was plenty of excitement about the coach journey to Tilford, near Farnham, with some even hoping we would be going on a double-decker bus! With three workshops to engage in, both children and adults were educated about life in a bygone era. During the Wheelwright workshop, the children learnt how the materials needed to make wheels had evolved over time. And they were even lucky enough to have a go at making their own wheel as a group, working together as they got busy with hubs and spokes. Over in the school room, the children had a real eye opener as they quickly realised just how different classroom life was in yesteryear. With strict teachers and a range of astonishing punishments for those who weren’t silent or sitting up straight, the children were determined to be extra well behaved. They participated in a maths and spelling class, swapping pens and paper for slate boards and chalk to record their work. The amazed youngsters also discovered that wash day back then was a much longer process than it is today. From collecting the water from the well to drying washing on the line, it required a vast amount of manual labour, collaboration and time, and it was certainly a world away from today's labour-saving mod cons. Away from all the hard work and strict learning, and as with any school trip, the packed lunches were a big highlight with children tucking into tasty sandwiches and juicy fruit. We really had the most wonderful day, and we would like to thank the Rural Life Living Museum for allowing us to be the first school to visit the site since lockdown.
Olivia Shepherd, Year 1 Teacher
Buoyant Year 2 Designs Are Truly Ship Shape
Afternoons in Year 2 have been even more brilliant than usual this week, as we have started our new unit on design and technology. We set ourselves the task of designing and building boats out of junk modelling materials and a lot of sticky tape! We began our nautical project by doing some research into the science of buoyancy - or how things float - with the twin aims of making the boats both functional and stylish. A few children even brought in some prototypes of models that they had made at home. Tomorrow's engineers produced superbly detailed plans with a full lists of requirements, and then, of course, we couldn’t wait to get started. Working together in groups of twos and threes, the young shipwrights agreed to take the best parts of each design forward into a hybrid vessel that they could work together to build. It was fascinating to see how the children adapted their plans to the materials available, making various adjustments and fine-tuning their models. I marvel at how each child saw the endless possibilities in the piles of scrap and recycling – and this boundless imagination and creativity really gave the adults pause for thought. The resulting fleet looks very impressive, but the real test will come when they are launched next week. Watch this space...
Stephanie Turner, Year 2 Teacher
Year 3 Persistence Pays Off Ahead Of Somerset Trip
The resourceful Year 3 children have been busy preparing for their trip to Mill on the Brue next week. In readiness for their exciting voyage of discovery to Somerset, the intrepid pupils explored four methods of building campfires and decided, together in groups, which method they preferred. Armed with waterproofs, flints and the promise of marshmallows as a reward, each team applied their new knowledge as they attempted to light their fires. The weather was less than ideal, with the kindling being damp and the drizzle threatening to wash away any sparks, but the determined children continued undeterred. It was truly impressive and somewhat humbling to witness their grit and perseverance as the fires, one by one, smoked then burst into flames. I believe that the marshmallows they cooked on their own fires were all the more delicious for the efforts that had gone into their preparation - a lesson for us all, perhaps?
Sophie Delacombe, Year 3 Teacher
Year 4 Excel In Making Spreadsheets
The children in Year 4 have been learning about data entry into Excel, the make-up of a spreadsheet, and how to make the information stand out more clearly. I conversely have learnt that the children can spend an inordinate amount of time colouring in cells and rows with the most audacious colour schemes, inadvertently making the necessary information contained on the spreadsheet far harder to read. The lesson learned from this is that things being more colourful and creative, while invariably having their merits, is not always the best option, so we made the necessary changes to make our displays readable. We have discussed how the audience needs to clearly understand the information that we are trying to display and how best to achieve this. Linked with their topic of 'Around the World in 80 Ways', the project is nicely blending some transport facts with vital computer skills. Together we have explored, developing mouse and keyboard skills, how we best combine tables and a graph on a page and which graphs best represent the data.
Richard Dunn, Head of ICT
Expressive Year 5 Get A Feeling From Picasso
Pupils in Year 5 compared and contrasted Picasso’s Weeping Woman and Portrait of Dora Maar by discussing elements of shape and colour and how Picasso uses these to convey emotion. Gus Brennan pointed out that the triangles in Weeping Woman were like shattered shards of glass and showed deep sadness and grief. Very apt, Gus! The artistic pupils then went on to design their own cubist face, showing different emotions by considering line, space, shape and colour, and I am so looking forward to seeing the portraits develop. Next week, we will be carrying on this series in 3D, with pupils sculpting their emotive faces in clay. It is so important and healthy to discuss emotions with our children, especially after the various lockdowns and challenges that Covid has posed to families and young children. I was delighted that our pupils were able to share some of their innermost thoughts and feelings through their art in such a therapeutic way.
Olga Houghton, Head of Art
Year 6 Assume The Role Of The Teacher
In Year 6 English this term, we are busy studying the Louis Sachar novel Holes. In 6.3, we have been considering a deadly desert creature that Stanley Yelnats, the main character, might encounter. The creative children put their imaginations to work as they wrote an extra chapter for the story in which he had to battle the beast and we used these stories as a basis for some peer assessment. We talked about the importance of looking for the positives in any piece of work before the children took on my role as teacher in assessing one another’s work. They were even allowed to give plus marks. It was so rewarding to see how seriously they took the responsibility and how generous they were in finding the good in everyone’s work. They really began to see how much they could learn from their peers - and they taught me how to be a bit more generous in giving plus marks!
Katy Warner, Head of English
Many Positives For Year 7 Despite Late Loss
The battling U12A Girls' Cricket team found themselves in the unfamiliar position of playing under largely blue skies as they were narrowly beaten at home by Cranleigh on Wednesday. It was a tense and exciting match from the first ball of the day, with the visitors only winning through courtesy of some lusty late hitting. That Highfield lost by 17 runs is not wholly significant, the fact that they demonstrated good technical skills with bat and ball, were sublime in the outfield with some incredible catches and played with a tremendous team spirit with smiles on their faces was very significant. In the field, Highfield were quick on their feet and focused on the ball, stopping Cranleigh taking quick singles, and they picked up 12 wickets into the bargain. With the bat, Poppy and Kitty were particularly strong and hit the ball hard and found the gaps as Highfield seized the initiative in the early stages. It was only in the late stages that Cranleigh got on top, fittingly clouting the last ball over the ropes for six to wrap up an entertaining game. We certainly learned a lot from the match and it will stand us in good stead for the weeks ahead. And it's clear that the recipe for a great match is a healthy dose of awareness, a pinch of anticipation, a generous amount of team spirit, a top up of enthusiasm and joy, and a sprinkle of grace. What fantastic team players, supporting each other and enjoying the game.
Helene Pidebois, U12A Girls' Cricket Coach
Waterloo Win Year 8 Battle But Agincourt Win The War
The final leg of the Annual House Swimming Gala took place on Monday and it was clear from the off that the Year 8s were raring to go. As well as helping to decide the overall winner of year's gala, it was a great opportunity for the swimming captains to practice their organisational skills. The races themselves were all swum with huge determination, skill and speed, with the accuracy of the strokes really shining through. Waterloo were strong from the start, but Agincourt and Trafalgar certainly weren't just there to make up the numbers and were never going to make it easy for them. The noise from all the cheering poolside was deafening at times, especially during the last race which saw every child swim two lengths of freestyle for their team. And despite the best efforts of their rivals, Waterloo weren't to be denied and clinched victory in the Year 8 gala. But was it going to be enough to clinch the overall title and the cherished silverware? In a desperately close finish, just six points separated all three houses, with Agincourt (161) edging out Waterloo (162) by a single point with Trafalgar (167) a further five points back in third.
Sharon Simpson, Head Swimming Coach