HM Blog Archive
Hold on to Your Hats!
Published on: Friday, October 12, 2018
Hold on to your hats! It has been a pretty exciting time around school today as the wind whistles through all sorts of Georgian window and door frames! Children can become hyperactive around various situations (I don’t know if you’ve noticed that!) and being outside in strong wind is definitely one of them. Perhaps it’s a good thing that most of them have had games today, to let off steam and charge about.
I so enjoyed umpiring the girls’ hockey on Wednesday and my lesson rounds saw me in Year 2 maths earlier the same day learning about greater than or less than signs. Today I was with Year 6 science exploring more about indicators and their importance in helping us determine whether a liquid is acid or alkali and how concentrated it might be. Mrs Cole had her class boiling red cabbage to extract the anthocyanin that occurs naturally in its pigment and is an excellent natural indicator: I wonder if it was coincidence that we had red cabbage as one of the veg accompaniments for our yummy Friday roast!
The scrumptious catering was also an important part of Wednesday night when we had a lovely evening with some of our new parents to the school this year. Chief Pelican, Donald Rice, shared a very genial, convivial message of warmth and shared opportunity so I hope many of you will be able to engage in the occasional events that will crop up. You will have hopefully seen the Wine Tasting that follows on from our very popular Fireworks Party on 9 November, for example.
The wind seems to be getting stronger and the lights in my study have flickered a couple of times this afternoon: I’d best make sure I know where the candles are when I get home, maybe light the first fire of the season and hunker down whilst storm Callum passes through.
Open Minds and Open Day
Published on: Friday, October 5, 2018
On Tuesday evening this week, we held a ‘Teaching and Learning’ session amongst the staff. We hold these gatherings on the basis that we have open minds, are all ‘Life Long Learners’, that contexts shift and that there is an enormous amount of experience and wisdom within the staff body to draw on.
‘Hooks’ to capture the children’s imagination right at the start of a lesson and guided questions to pique their curiosity so they cannot resist seeking the answers themselves were the themes. Our brilliant Heads of Geography and Science led us through some of their examples and up to date research evidence before everyone broke into groups to exchange a myriad of their experiences: it was a very genial and positive hour.
Today was our autumn Open Day and we had a record number of people sign up for the day meaning there was a strong sense of common purpose all around. On top of a well organised day, excellent lessons to see, the lovely food, the art, DT, amazing labs etc, once again it was the children who received the greatest admiration from the visitors. From Tizian welcoming arrivals, through Elise and Oscar speaking from the heart with such humble assurance on to the Year 7 and 8 guides leading and answering questions with equanimity and poise it was a pleasure to know they are King’s Hall children – oh, and a dog! It was a lovely day to head into the weekend – one which sees some of the boarders head off to Cornwall and fingers crossed for some reasonable weather.
Published on: Friday, September 28, 2018
Democracy has been played out in tutor groups recently with the children putting forward their candidacy and then voting for their Pupil Council 2018-2019 representatives: during assembly on Monday we announced the election results. I talked about the privilege of service and urged them not only to act in support of ‘today’ at King’s Hall but also to consider creatively, confidently and expansively how they might impact our thinking for ‘tomorrow’ and the world beyond our boundaries. I showed everyone a company HR recruitment ad in which the company encourages employees with creativity, urgency, optimism, courage to seek solutions, resilience to embrace failures along the way and, finally, a strong sense of shared purpose to work side by side. Congratulations to those elected and good luck to them for the year ahead.
One of the messages from the annual IAPS Heads’ Conference from which I have just returned, was on a somewhat similar theme and one fairly oft heard in these current, more uncertain times. It is the need to be adaptable and resilient, to possess the capacity to cope when things don’t go according to plan, to remain purposeful in the face of adversity - how are you going to react if you find yourself in unfamiliar territory and without a map? Characteristics and attitudes we aim to cultivate in the children here at King’s Hall.
Tomorrow morning, as it happens, I do have a map – or a recipe to be precise – as a little crowd of budding chefs join me and Mr Morgan for our Saturday morning Cookery hobby: Thai Green Chicken Curry is on the menu and so I am pretty certain what’s for supper tomorrow night.
Communication is Key
Published on: Friday, September 21, 2018
At today’s Coffee Morning there was a wonderful buzz of chatter with people acquainting themselves even more closely with those they have seen occasionally at pick up times. This ‘buzz’ mirrors my own view that, as we reach the first small pause in proceedings, those who joined us in September became part of the furniture in double quick time and we now all forge purposefully onwards together.
I hope you, as parents, feel that you have connected with your child’s tutor/class teacher and that communication is already simple and useful as we head deeper into the term. This communication is important as part of our desire to work in partnership with you, bringing our experience and objectivity to the mix in conjunction with the parental instinct to support your children.
Whilst reading the recent edition of Attain, the termly publication free to IAPS (Independent Association of Prep Schools) member schools, I came across a couple of articles which I thought I would share with you.
The first article talks about this natural parental desire to seek the best for your child and how that stacks up against being overbearing and can sometimes cloud our better judgement. The author also takes umbrage with what he feels is the careless stereotypical label ‘pushy parent’. The other is about the challenge of how much autonomy to give your child? One of my favourite phrases to parents when wrestling about whether to accede to a child’s wish when you are not comfortable with the outcome is “Who’s in charge?”.
These articles provide food for thought and can be found by clicking this link and heading to page 3 for the first article and pages 35 and 36 for the second – do take 10 minutes to click and have a browse.
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!”.