Monday, November 21, 2016

Call that a storm Angus......

Whilst fully aware of the potential disaster that might become me should I mock the elements, I have to say that young Angus* was pleasingly underwhelming over the weekend.  In fact, my puppy caused far more mayhem in the village than the winter's first storm.   


Whilst the wind did wake us a couple of times during the night, the only visible damage was an old tree down on one of the side roads and an abundance of sticks for Yinka to play with on our Sunday morning stroll through the fields.  The orchards were surprisingly intact and many still fully leaved in their autumn finery.

It was however a quite welcome anticlimax after a hectic week at school.  It was a Chloe weekend for me, always fun but having a teenager daughter of growing independence means that I sometimes end up feeling one carriage removed from what's going. However, I'm not complaining given some of the very exciting events that have been happening at school lately.

The children recently finished their learning on World War One.  We will be leaving this theme now other than in one year group that covers it as part of the history National Curriculum.  It has provided us with some excellent learning opportunities and the children have really enjoyed using it as a vehicle for their maths, reading and writing in particular.  The display of their amazing work in the main hall illustrated just how much learning has come out of this topic.  It was wonderful to see how creatively the teaching staff have interpreted this aspect of history and exactly why we regularly chose exciting topics as a vehicle for the children's learning.  Many thanks to all of you who supported this and I hope you found the time to see for yourself first hand.  

Last brought it's own amazing highlight.....our children performing Shakespeare live on stage. 

Some of our junior children, many only nine years old, have been working on a shortened version of A Midsummer Night's Dream for several months as part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival.  

This is an annual event and culminates in the children performing live on stage in a local theatre.  They have worked so hard as a group of children and the opportunity to practice and perform has really helped their development.  This is exactly the type of event that we look to create for our children, one that both challenges and rewards them, builds their self-esteem as an individual and a learner and shows the whole school community the art of the possible. 

Mrs Froudist has worked tirelessly with this group of children, ably supported by parents and staff and it was a genuinely wonderful evening and one we will now look to be involved in year-on year.  

The next such event will be when our choir sings at the O2 arena in the Young Voices charity concert in January.  

They have been working on a selection of songs with Miss Dillon our music teacher and it promises to be another incredible night for all concerned.

On a more personal note, I was fortunate to spend time in the classrooms last week looking closely at the teaching and learning, especially for SEND and the Early Years.  It was pleasing to see so many good things happening across the school.  I was particularly impressed to see the impact our 'Switch-On' programme is having on many of our developing readers and writers.  It's clear how much they are getting out of this opportunity thanks to a combination of their hard work and the quality teaching staff are providing.  

I was also attended a very interesting course in London on growth mindsets run by Matthew Syed.  This is an area we are being to work on as a school.  There will be a presentation to parents on this in the New Year and I urge you to try to attend. 

It's a really interesting aspect of education that will really benefit our children's development and future success.

We have also been working very hard on the quality and range of recording going on in books and how children self and peer assess their learning.  We have had a session on this as a staff team last week, sharing best practice ideas and looking at what is working well and what needs further refinement.  It confirmed the progress we have made as a school and something I hope you will notice yourselves when you look at your child's books at the upcoming parent consultations.  

It was also anti-bullying week, something we covered during the week with all the children.  This included re-visiting our ongoing work on internet safety and cyber bullying.  

The week ahead will feature work on road safety as part of national road safety week in schools.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


I am fortunate to work with some fabulous colleagues, many with talents I can only admire and occasionally envy.  There are a few who also share my sense of humour, and one who should perhaps remain nameless, who even shares my enthusiasm for all things childlike.  Needless to say we both spent last week in an excited state, eagerly awaiting the weekend festivities.......Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night.  We had our now annual..."How much are you looking forward to Saturday night" conversation.  We also agreed it makes the top three of events we still enjoy as much as we did when children, after the biggie in December and birthdays.   So you can probably imagine my sense of disappointment that despite living in a village that hosts a wonderful display every year, I didn't actually get to see one.  Instead I stayed in to mind Yinka.  We sat watching the football loudly and then a film and give or take the occasional raised head and muffled brufff, the evening passed calmly. My daughter, very sweetly, took this photo and a few videos for me.

Thankfully I saw a few huge fireworks when driving up the motorway later on.  So, whilst not sating my annual need for a pyrotechnic fix, I did at least get to grin and ooh to some degree. 

In fact, it's been a fairly quiet time all round of late.  Yinka was spayed on the Monday of half term and so I spent much of the week puppy minding her.  She wasn't allowed out of the cottage other than for a couple of very gentle strolls at the weekend.  Today was the first time she's been out in the fields for a was like lunchtime after a week of wet plays. As a lovely retired lady we often meet remarked...."your dog is completely mad isn't she"...harsh but fair, as they say.

Perhaps the highlight of half term week was seeing my daughter drumming a couple of songs, in a band, on stage at the Marlowe Theatre.  She was excellent and made us all extremely proud of her.

The new term has started well with lots of visits and excitement already.  The whole school has been immersing itself in World War One again.  Unlike last year when we investigated the lives of young men from Wainscott who lost their lives in the War, this year each class are looking at wider topics linked to the event and will be displaying the range of learning that went on later this week in the main hall.  Please do try to pop along to see for yourself, before or after school this Thursday and Friday.

Staff have been hard at work putting up fresh displays in their book corners, on walls and even their are just some of them.

You will also notice in the entrance hall that we have taken out some of the older sports trophies and put them in storage and are using that cabinet to display some of the incredible art work that the children have been producing with the the help of Ms Storm, our new Art teacher.

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!