Sunday, October 16, 2016

A tale of edible shoes and conkers...

Just as many parents learn the hard way to retain a healthy wariness of children suddenly going silent whilst playing in the next room...I now know to my cost that inaudible puppies should be treated with similar suspicion.  Pre-occupied with cooking lunch and completing various dull domestic chores I stopped tracking my pet raptor on Saturday morning......only to discover she'd decided to modify the design of one of my shoes. And did she display even a breath of remorse ...... hell no!

Still she has been a loyal companion this week on my morning runs before work. I guess if there is ever an acceptable time for a guy to wear lycra it's probably whilst the world is still cloaked in its sunrise gloom.  It's a good habit we've developed and also allows Yinka a longer 'walk' given that we run. Saturday started a tad more leisurely given it was the weekend.  We found mushrooms in the fields that I brought back and added to the chicken dish we had for lunch.  Chloe spent part of the day rehearsing for an upcoming concert at the Marlowe and is now out with a friend watching The Girl on the Train...I quite fancied going myself but I guess it will become another film I now have to wait to watch on Netflix.

This morning we visited Greenwich....

What threatened to be an event spoilt by the rain, turned out to be a special morning.  

Once I'd mastered the parking meter and gathered handfuls of the fresh conkers I found lying on the ground, a childhood throwback that I can't seem to let go, we spent a couple of blissful hours walking in Greenwich Park.  Delightful company and Yinka had a joyful morning, exploring a new world and meeting a fine vinaigrette of London's cosmopolitan canine mix.  She has a wonderful sense of adventure and whilst not quite sure not where she was, seemed determined to relish every moment.  Her highlight was undoubtably when she interrupted two teenage boys playing football.  She proceeded to entertain us all with an incredible level of ball control...robbing the ball back from them each time and dribbling away.  Great to see two older teenage boys giggling uncontrollably at a strange dog.  It was the sort of experience that just makes you feel good about the world and reassured that we should have a little bit more faith in the next generation than many do.  

And this afternoon we both fell asleep on the sofa watching the footie.....I couldn't have 'adopted' a more well matched beast...

So what of school I hear your roar in your best Lord Melchett voice??

School was good....

I completed the term one round of classroom visits and teaching and learning audits 

and saw so many positive things. Tuesday ended with a very useful Governor session on school improvement planning.  Wednesday featured an open morning for potential Reception parents.  All our visitors seemed very positive and two families decided to immediately transfer their children to our Nursery! Thursday saw two year groups out visiting Kent Life and Friday...?

Well, Friday was a really useful day.  Several members of SLT visited a local school we have been sharing ideas with to see their approach to maths.  It was a fascinating visit and we came back with some great approaches to now interpret and use with our children.  One of the key ways that schools in Medway will improve is through such collaboration.  We have already hosted teachers and staff teams here at Wainscott who have come along to look at our practice and next week we are hosting two further schools.  It's wonderful to see such genuine collaboration taking place and the real benefits it brings to the children.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Slugs and Workhouses.....

As the dimming light of Sunday evening greets me on the sofa, it must be time to fire up the trusty Mac and get Blogging.  Yinka has decided to ignore the Sofa Rule yet again and is lying next to me but somehow it seems churlish to enforce it as she slowly drifts off into her walk induced slumber. Chloe is upstairs revising for upcoming school tests....having recently been resuscitated by pitta and crumpets. And the weekend creeps quietly out of the door, tiptoeing its way into memory.

In truth we have had a quiet one for once.  No trips to London or dashes to for the tennis on Saturday afternoon, its been a weekend of walks and gentle chats.  Last night was teenage sleepover time here so Yinka and I had downstairs in the cottage to ourselves this morning until the smell of a fulsome breakfast woke them.  A friend popped round this afternoon for a catch up coffee and then dog walk time again.  

The week ahead promises to be just as busy as last week, which started with a morning spent in our Nursery, seeing how the children and staff have settled into the school year.  

Mrs Callaway and I joined our youngest pupils for a highly enjoyable walk through the Nature area, seeing what we could find to put on our journey stick....such a lovely idea to help the children sequence their walk.  

The first thing we spotted was one of our seemingly resident cats.  This lovely ginger cat can often be spotted on the footpath leading down from the main gate.  I've no idea why she was hiding in the bushes....unless it was the excited chatter and questioning of our young scientists that made her unusually shy!!

Once there we were greeted by several black and brown slugs, slowly doing their thing in the morning sunshine.

Onwards we ventured towards the Bug Hotel....where we found woodlice 

and then passed sloe, blackberry and wild rose bushes before reaching the logs.

I was also fortunate to visit Year 5 last week too.  They are currently enjoying their Victorians topic and spent Monday videoing clips of themselves as children in a Workhouse.  Clips they then used to support their writing later in the week.  Miss Brake has done a great job getting her classroom to look so Victorian with a schoolhouse for a book area, 

a Workhouse entrance instead of a door 

and getting the children to dress up at every opportunity to get them into role.  

They seem to be really enjoying the experience, which adds to the quality of their learning experience. 

We had a wonderfully well attended Parent Open Morning on Thursday.  It was great to see so many parents taking an active interest in their children's education and a great reflection on the energy and achievements of the staff team here, to hear so many compliments.  Whilst this was set up as one of our regular open events for existing parents it was noticeable that prospective Nursery & Reception parents also came along and even families with children in other schools, having heard such good things about Wainscott and looking to transfer their children.

The children had a Brass Band performance too last week from a company offering charged tuition and our new Sports Leaders and Ambassadors visited the Howard School for their training.

And the most memorable....well beyond school it was undoubtably returning home one night to discover a very quiet cottage and this sight....

Thankfully is was just Ribena....Yinka having discovered the bottle, chewed it open and then wisely decided to make herself scarce when her dad got home.....It would seem that she doesn't have a sweet tooth!


Saturday, October 1, 2016

One crocodile and a fox please...

After a birthday weekend, Monday brought with it the final day of our Roald Dahl exhibition of children's learning.  Many thanks to all those parents who were able to visit the hall.  For those of you unable to, much of the work will now be permanently displayed in the breakout space opposite the Year 2 classrooms. 

As you can see from their work, the children (and staff) really enjoyed the project which provided them with a rich variety of writing opportunities.

Our next whole school project will be World War One re-visited.  Last year we looked at Wainscott's contribution to the war through the lives of 7 young men.  This year we are looking wider at a range of themes both local and further afield.....details to follow.

I spent much of the week in the classrooms watching the teaching and learning.  

This is a regular part of my role, and other members of the school leadership team.  Looking at standards and working with staff to further develop and refine their practice.  It was a real pleasure to be in amongst the learning and seeing such great things happening across the school. 

Wednesday had more of a personal highlight, taking my daughter to the football....otherwise known as that shrine called the Emirates Stadium.  

It was for a Champions League tie against FC Basel.  A lovely evening, a 2-0 scoreline and we met up with a colleague head from Greenwich and his son....and even bumped into Mr Gear and Mr McGrath who also went.  

Thursday was our Harvest Festival.  Wonderful to see so many parents there joining in a school event and Rev Sue was overwhelmed by your generosity in donating so much to the Medway Food Bank.  Sue was a her usual fun self and refused to let the small matter of three injections at the dentist that morning stop her joining us.  

So a wonderful week ended with another first for Wainscott.......a crocodile and fox ordered as the centre pieces of our Roald Dahl it that doesn't tempt you to come along to the open morning next week then what will?  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Messing around on the water...

As September draws to a close and the autumn nights get longer I have become increasingly aware that my morning puppy walks across the fields resplendent in shorts and T-shirt will soon become another fading memory of summer....but not quite yet.  So just as age can be a process of denial so is my autumn...if I don't stop wearing shorts then perhaps it won't stop being late summer!  

So after a genuinely fabulous week I am sitting here blogging before our afternoon tennis lesson.  

Last weekend was my daughter's 15th Birthday.  

She seemed to enjoy herself. Loved playing tennis in the drizzle, meal in town with her friends, sleepover and then asked to go into London on Sunday to catch a Top Shop event, part of London Fashion Week, at Spitalfields Market.  

If you haven't visited Spitalfields then perhaps you should, full of interesting stalls and lots of different food stalls that aptly display London's wonderful diversity and ethnic breadth.  We went for Caribbean this time, the girls grazing on patties whilst I went with Jerk Chicken Curry.

We then decamped to Oxford Street for a spot of retail as Chloe went Birthday shopping before catching the fast train home via Yo Sushi.....and a phonetically challenged Costa Coffee outlet :))))

Monday started with an early morning walk with Yinka before school called.  A glorious way to begin the week......and a wonderful sunrise.

School itself brought the long awaited arrival of our new School Business Manager, Melanie Puttock.  Melanie's appointment is another important step in creating a modern school office to help take the school forward.  A huge thank you to Mrs Reeves and Mrs Lowery for running the school office and finances with a member of staff down for so long.  

And then to the highlight...three days on the water with a group of 9-10 year olds.

As I have mentioned before on my blog, a key element of how we will raise standards is through the quality of our curriculum and the experiences we provide for the children.  Not just what they learn but how they learn.  Our aim is to create confident, independent, resilient learners who thrive on the challenges new learning presents, secure in the knowledge that they have the capacity to succeed.  Our Year 5 trip to Bewl Water is directly linked to that.  Providing children with new experiences that will enrich them, taking them out of their comfort zone and enabling them to over come the challenge and succeed.  Great for self-esteem and confidence and once you've kayaked or sailed across a reservoir an exam or new maths challenge shouldn't hold quite the same level of fear.

It was an amazing trip, probably the most enjoyable and rewarding school residential I have experienced in over twenty years of working with children and one that will have had a huge impact on the children.  They were a fabulous group of children...polite, impeccably behaved throughout, empathetic to each other, collaborated and showed determination and stamina to succeed and overcome fear when it arose and master new skills when demanded.  

We started gently with a low adventure course aimed at team building and collaborative problem solving.....building their confidence and sense of partnership prior to hitting the water!

The first afternoon and last morning they went on a solo kayak or rowed an open canoe across the water.   (photos to follow)

Every evening the children went on a night walk around the reservoir, returning each time to hot chocolate and on the last night requested a scary bedtime story...bless!

Wednesday was without doubt the day everyone enjoyed the most....a whole day sailing in the autumn sunshine.  It was wonderful to see how far some children had come in a few hours from being anxious and reluctant to go on the water in a canoe or kayak to sailing, some solo, across the water....manipulating the toppers with confidence and control and loving every moment.

We started off by collecting the boats and various bits of equipment

Then each child was shown how to assemble their own boat...which they then did.....before being checked by the instructors

And then out on the water glorious September sunshine....utter bliss

We ended with a few water games....well with 30 children not wanting to leave the water a splashiest soon ensued!

A fabulous day on a memorable trip.

I returned early on Thursday as the school had been asked at the last minute to host a meeting for head teachers from our local consortium.  Sad to leave early but in truth the meeting should prove very valuable to our School.  The other schools agreed to set up some inter-schools sports competitions and further develop collaboration between teachers including I hope more peer observations across the schools.  These activities will all bring significant benefit to our children and the day was very successful and full of lovely compliments about our children and the school environment we have created.

Friday saw the culmination of our whole school project on Roald Dahl.  Every class having chosen one of his books and spent the first few weeks of term reading it and basing their learning around it.  An exhibition of their work is on display in the main school hall for parents to view until Tuesday morning...please try to come along.