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Listen to Learn

Published on: Friday, September 14, 2018

Listen to Learn is a powerful mantra in teaching – or general life for that matter. Mrs Hardy has a quote from the Dalai Lama amongst the many on her wall which reads “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

This message was in plentiful supply today in a Year 4 PE lesson I watched and the children were excellent advocates for the benefits. The staff were constantly reinforcing the positives and highlighting WILF and WGLL – acronyms for What I’m Looking For and What Good Looks Like – and the children responded rapidly and demonstrated that when tuned in to the instructions, technical advice, opportunities to learn from other good examples and praise offered they learned most rapidly.

Talking of acronyms or initials, I was in the staff room early this morning and was privy to a lovely exchange. Schools are very strong on the use of staff initials in all administrative areas – some even become known by their initials. Anyhow, we have a few new monikers to get used to this term and one of our brilliant new team members was in front of the staff pigeon holes distributing sheets which had been labelled by initials. They couldn’t find the slot they were seeking to match the initials on the final piece of paper in their hand so inquired of the early morning coffee crew, “Whose initials are SCR?”. “Staff Common Room,” came the reply, “it’s the copy to go on the noticeboard!”.

Welcome Back!

Published on: Friday, September 7, 2018

Welcome to the first Friday missive of the year and a face-lift for our Prep Weekly Newsletter. Emma, my beautifully fastidious PA, has finally got her hands on the control panel of this publication and, once again, her magic touch has borne fruit! I hope you like the fresh new look.

Freshness has been a bit of a theme here, from paintwork to pupils to practices to people we have a crispness to our step as we embark down this year’s pathways.

Talking of steps and pathways, over the holidays Claire and I, with Joss and Hettie, walked the Saints’ Way from north to south coast of Cornwall. It’s something we have wanted to do for a number of years but never quite managed to squeeze in. Claire and I have always had a vision of a proper halfway halt in a characterful B & B with a charming meal, shower and proper bed. Joss suggested we might camp. We like camping but asked Joss how he intended to get the tents to the campsite for us – he looked at us as if we didn’t know the answer to 2 + 2 and derisorily said ‘We carry them?’. Anyhow, we did just that, had two good days, spent a giggly night in tiny tents and ended up a little aromatic with sore feet, yet our own small but important sense of achievement still resides with us.

On a much larger scale, and told to great effect in assembly this morning, Mr Hands shared his summer story of 6 days walking in the Atlas mountains, including reaching the summit of Mt Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.

He used his tale and photos to articulate the message that to reach a big goal you need to take it in achievable stages, you need the support and kindness of others and others will need you, you need patience and determination. Very often a shared experience has greater reward than one on your own and you must keep taking the steps along your pathway.

What a great message when we stand in the foothills of a whole year of school ahead of us.

Fabulous Food, Former Pupils and the Start of Some Fond Farewells!

Published on: Friday, June 29, 2018

This week has been as busy as you’d expect for this time of term with several special meals thrown in, too.

I have just had a beautiful lunch outside in our garden with all this year’s Head and Deputy Head Girls and Boys – what a pleasure to eat outside and thank you to Mrs Chippendale for such yummy food! The children were, quite rightly, all full of what lies ahead for them, with a few reminiscences about memories such as accidents, matches, School of Rock and past teachers thrown in. Along with the rest of Year 8 they’ll be terrific ambassadors for King’s Hall.

Earlier in the week, on Wednesday, we had a similar evening but for grown-ups. The inaugural Family Farewell Feast was a terrific occasion and the glorious weather allowed us to host it amongst the roses and splendour of the Inner Quad (‘we could have been in an Italian courtyard’ commented one guest the next day).This was certainly a warm hearted way to say thank you to families who leave us for the last time this term – some after making nearly 10,000 school runs over the last 22 years! One can only be in admiring awe of the stamina and commitment of the Drysdale family for that and the Thomas’s are not far behind at an impressive 18 years as parents here.

Working back to Tuesday evening, Claire and I hosted the Year Reps for supper as a thank you to those important bods who do such a great job within their age groups and the previous night we had dinner with the Headmaster of the College who was entertaining a former pupil returning from Hong Kong for the first time in 48 years! Mr Lui then visited us here on Tuesday morning to gain greater insights as he is involved in a project to provide better educational opportunities for disadvantaged children in Hong Kong.

Also this last seven days, we have properly made clear the Adventure Playground plans we have for the front of school – you may have seen the boards up by the Rose Garden.This is to be our Annual Fund project this year and we have already had a significant donation as well as several valued contributions from our Year 8 families.The idea of the Annual Fund is that it can enrich the lives of the children by providing enhancements to the site beyond the core provision from school fees. Bikes, weather stations, spotlights, archaeology pits, specialist sports equipment, printing presses, pianos and staging are all amongst items facilitated by past philanthropy.The structure is intended to be a modular construction and if we can raise as much as £50,000 we will be able create a stunning addition for the children.Attached to this email is a short project brief giving a little more insight and do contact Julian Mack if you feel able to support the project in any way.

The fab weather is set to create a lovely day for Sports Day tomorrow, so I’ll see those of you with Year 5 to 8 children tomorrow afternoon.

In the Presence of Impressive People

Published on: Friday, June 22, 2018

This week, which has had our fabulous Arts Week programme at its heart, has been one where I have found myself regularly in the presence of impressive people.

I watched Abi Elphinstone captivate our children with not only some insights about ‘finding a story in anything’ but also her very powerful message of relentless endeavour. Her natural charisma will have been inspirational to all those who spent time in her company.

The ease with which the West End in Schools Shakespeare group created an atmosphere of dramatic expression amongst the children was amazing, and equally remarkable was Mike Jones of Earth Wrights, who led the children very subtly to realise their imagination in making models of how an Adventure Playground might look here at the school.

Marcus Sedgwick connected with Year 8 via Skype from the Alps and just today we have had our own impressive people in Year 4 regale parents with a spectacular performance of Sleeping Beauty.

Just before the opening of the Science Faculty, we had a high octane performance with insight to the instruments from the King’s College Big Band – many of whom had been here at King’s Hall not that long ago.

Having the children, and ourselves, surrounded by so many examples of confident, persistent people who have followed their enthusiasms and hobbies and hence turned them into a fulfilling and purposeful way of life has been very uplifting.

I may see some of you this evening to enjoy this glorious spell of weather, otherwise have a lovely weekend before we enter the final leg of this academic year.

And so comes the summer...

Published on: Friday, June 15, 2018

After a slightly gentler week with various groups being out at different times, tomorrow we welcome back Year 7 who have clearly had an amazing time in Switzerland; no doubt we will get to see some evidence of their exploits in next week’s Newsletter. Year 8 had a terrific time in Devon recently as well as starting their post-exam programme which includes careers advice, First Aid training and an awareness of the Magistrates’ courts.

Just today, our Year 8 Common Entrance candidates have had their results. We are very, very proud of this cohort who have not only all passed to a range of schools but have put together a genuinely impressive set of grades.The academic journey that they commenced, as long ago as 10 years in some cases, has borne fabulous fruit as they have collaborated with their teachers over a period of time to maximise their potential. Sure foundations followed by increasingly aspirational targets and intellectual challenges have led them to this high level of performance and they now move ahead to take on future exams such as GCSEs with great confidence and a valuable experience under their belt.

Summer exam results mean that time is passing and we must be moving to the final weeks of the year. Can you still remember New Year? Well, before I write next week’s HEADlines we will have passed the longest day of the year: Thursday 21 June is the Summer Solstice and should see us enjoy approximately 17 hours of daylight.

This time of year sees our Arts Week start on Monday with all the excitement it brings and ending on Friday afternoon with the King’s College Big Band and the Science Boffins coming along to open our Science Faculty. Later that evening, you are invited to return to enjoy ‘Cocktails and Jazz’ with the Band regaling you further as you tuck into your picnic. Do reply to the links about these two events to help us plan appropriately.

Finally, I am told that a revamp of our website is going live today – I hope you enjoy the refresh!

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Open Day - 5th October

Our next Open Day will be taking place on Friday 5th October.

Open Days are an ideal way of looking around a school to see if you think this might be the one for you and your child.

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