Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Four seasons in one term.....

The last couple of weeks of weather reminded me of the chorus from a Crowded House song, 'Four seasons in one day'. It also aptly illustrates why so many ex-pats when asked what they miss most about England invariably say the seasons*.  We've now had snow showers, heavy rain, wonderful sunny afternoons and cloakroom areas that consequently resemble a teenager's bedroom.

Sadly in recent years, snow in a southern winter has become about as frequent as a balanced Brexit headline in the tabloid press.  In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking you'd fallen asleep and woken up in a world of psychological projection, what with Ofsted complaining about teacher workload, having singlehandedly been responsible for most of it, and Tangerine man suggesting that the best way to stop gun crime in schools was to have more guns! 

So yes, we had snow at last in the south.  Yippee.  Enough snow to build snowmen and, irony of ironies for a place with more 4x4s than a sheepdog trial, enough to grind the south-east to a predictable standstill for almost a week.  

We were even forced to close the school
for two days. This is always a decision taken with great reluctance as we fully understand the impact it has on parents.  It is about balancing genuine health & safety concerns and staff availability with the acknowledgement that if schools don't open, many parents can't get to work.  So, after two days and no real sign of further heavy snow we employed a late start and early finish for the last two days, a strategy that seemed to work well. 

That said, and however inconvenient it may be, snow is a truly magical childhood experience.  A childhood bereft of sledging, snowball fights, building snowmen and thawing out frozen fingers is like a childhood without a dog.....not really a proper childhood.  

For many of our children this may well have been the first year they experienced the thrill of waking up to a snow covered landscape. 

I always think of that scene from the well known children's book 'The Snowman' when on waking, the pyjama clad boy leaps from his bed to look out of his window, seeing the snowy carpet covering his garden and the fields outside....perfect.

So, hoping to establish a Wainscott school tradition for snowy days, we all went outside for the last hour to play in the snow.  Some children chose to build snowmen whilst the rest of them took on the staff in one almighty snowball fight....children against staff!  Talk about Custer's last stand, we were slaughtered and I ended up looking like a snowman.  All I needed was for someone to stick a carrot in my face!  When the parents arrived to collect their children we suddenly all had fresh prey and further fun ensued.  

We even witnessed the return of our beautiful purple crocuses in between the snow falls.  These were donated by The Rotary Club, a symbol of their success campaign to eradicate polio, and one we have supported as a school in the past.

In between our wonderfully variable weather, school life has proceeded, as busy and exciting as ever.  

As mentioned previously, a common feature of great schools is having a great curriculum to build the learning around.  As you will be aware we have put considerable effort into developing ours with this aim and our rich curriculum is reflected in our school environment.  We now have many schools coming to visit to see this first hand and to take away ideas that they can use to improve their own schools.  It is a real compliment to the staff here that our environment is seen so positively by professional colleagues elsewhere.  

One way that senior staff are able to ensure that this great practice continues to develop is through our learning walks around the school, identifying, praising and sharing best practice with all staff.  

To develop this further, we have recently introduced peer learning walks.  Every week a cross-section of teaching staff look at certain practice across the school, to discuss it as a group, chat with the staff concerned to discuss aspects, share and suggest ideas.  

This is one way we hope to identify and share great ideas and teaching approaches across the school and help staff at all levels understand what good practice looks like and what can be achieved with our children.  

We also try to ensure parents gain an insight into what their children are learning through our regular class assemblies.  We have had several of these so far this term and we hope you find them as informative as they are entertaining :)

On a personal level, I seem to have had the most wonderfully cultural few weeks .... but I think that's best left for my next blog.  


*A recent survey asked ex-pats what they missed about living in England.  The most commonly cited item was the seasons with the next most missed feature the NHS!


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Four seasons in one term.....

The last couple of weeks of weather reminded me of the chorus from a Crowded House song, 'Four seasons in one day'. It also aptly il...