As the nation prepared to complete the 2021 Census earlier this week, at Thomas Harding we decided to take the opportunity to teach our pupils about what the census is, why it is so important for local and national planning, and also what an incredible historical research tool it is! Of course, as always at THJS - we decided to do this through the lens of one of our values - EQUALITY. We therefore based our investigation around the question of: How can the census help us think about equality, diversity and representation?
We discovered that over the last century, as well as counting the number of people in the country to understand the size of the population, the census has developed its approach to finding out more information about how diverse the population is. This includes gathering information about where people were born, about their nationality, their religion, and their citizenship. Since 1991 the census has also asked about people’s ethnicity. This got us thinking...
Mr Turner set the whole school a special challenge: How diverse is Thomas Harding - and how does this compare to the diversity of Chesham? The pupils across school took on this mission in their maths lessons on Monday. They compared the data from their classrooms, and the wider school to the whole of Chesham. They then looked at the Census data for 1981 and 1991 and explored how the diversity of Chesham has changed over time.
We also set an interesting homework challenge. We were interested to find out how far back we could trace our roots in Chesham and the surrounding towns. Therefore, we asked the following questions:
Where did your family originate from? e.g. A different part of Buckinghamshire, the United Kingdom, a country/continent.
When did they move to Chesham and why?
We also asked pupils to find and bring in a copy of:
The oldest photo they could find of a member of their family.
When does it date back to?
Who is in the picture?
Where was the picture taken?
This resulted in some really fascinating tales. One of my favourites was from Jonny in 5C (see below) He discovered that his great (x4) grandfather started a business in a shop at the end of the same road the school is on! The shop still stands today, and is an estate agents. He discovered that this shop sold cornmeal and animal feed, and was passed down through generations of his family. He also found photos of his great, great and great grandfathers standing outside the shop.
His great, great, great, great grandfather appears in the 1891 census, and Jonny also has a photo of him, taken at his daughter's wedding in 1898. Apparently the house they lived in was pulled down - but would have sat where the chess medical centre stands today! Jonny said that he has been so interested and excited to conduct such a personal history investigation.
Interestingly, Jonny even managed to track down his late great (x4) grandfathers grave in Chesham, and brought in a photo of himself standing next to it proudly.
This has been such a worthwhile and meaningful enrichment day, we set out to promote one of our values (equality) and we have inadvertently also promoted another - Pride. Well done everyone! What a great team we are :) #TEAMTH
This work will contribute to a class map that we are compiling in each classroom, the map will display the diversity of the whole class. We will later incorporate these maps into a huge display - in the school library. We want to show everyone just how diverse we are as a community.
As I am always saying, we are 240+ very different people, but we celebrate those differences and we are all the same, we are all human and we are all EQUAL.
In the afternoon, the whole school focussed in on the types of historical research that can be undertaken using the census. We again used the lens of diversity and equality to find out about some of the more interesting lines of enquiry that we could find.
In Years 3 and 4, the children researched the life of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, an African girl who was 'gifted' to Queen Victoria and appears in the both the census for 1851 and 1861, as living with Queen Victoria.
In Years 5 and 6, they explored the mysterious and elusive life of the 'Lascars.' A lascar was a sailor or militiaman, they mainly came from the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia or other territories located to the east of the Cape of Good Hope. They were employed on European ships from the 16th century until the middle of the 20th century. If they were at port in England on Census day, then they were required to complete the Census - just like everyone else! This gives us a sneaky peek into a very diverse group of travellers who rarely appear in the historical records.
How wonderful it has been to welcome all of our pupils back to school on Monday morning. Like myself and the whole of #TEAMTH, I am sure you are hoping that this time it is for good and we can begin to
re-establish a sense of normality in our daily lives and our routines. The children have been incredibly happy to be back in school, and have settled back into learning well. Where there have been issues, they have been based around friendships and conflict resolution. This is to be expected of course, as remote learning does not (and cannot) effectively teach social skills.
We decided therefore, to hold a 'REUNITED DAY' on Monday to help children feel welcomed and settled back into school. The day started with 'Speed Friending' which enabled every single child in the class to hold a super-fast conversation with one other!
After break we asked each class to look at images related to being 'reunited' similar to the one below. We wanted children and staff to really think about what coming back together meant, to acknowledge the difficulties and success of lockdown and to be open about the difficult time that we have all been through, whilst feeling hopeful now for the future.
Each year group then worked collaboratively to create 'Reunited' images of their own which could be shared as a whole school response. We encouraged the classes to be creative and to explore the full range of photography skills, including looking at tone, composition and colour.
6th March 2021
This week everyone has been very busy getting our school ready to reopen to all pupils next Monday. As I am sure you can imagine, many classrooms have been repurposed as lesson creation studios and office spaces over the last term, as year group teams have worked incredibly hard to deliver lessons to pupils in their homes. Although I know it has been a very difficult time, I am sure that you will agree that our combined efforts have been hugely successful. Our children have adapted well and displayed a real enthusiasm about remote learning. What's more, we have also averaged a very healthy 97% engagement level overall!
Today marks the end of eight weeks of home learning and I would like to thank the whole of #TeamTH for their commitment and hard work in making this current lock down such a success for our pupils.
We have worked very hard to ensure that the school is as safe as possible for the return of all pupils, whilst keeping as many of the systems and procedures identical to the way that pupils will remember them from before Christmas. We have done this in order to ensure that pupils are able to settle back in to school routines as quickly as possible. We will still have separate play grounds for UKS2 and LKS2 pods, and staggered lunchtimes and home times to ensure that bubbles are kept apart during the school day.
On Friday, Each year group set a project for the children to complete independently. This allowed the children to have a more relaxed final day of remote learning, and it also ensured that staff had more time to complete all of the tasks that need to be done in preparation for Monday.
Each year group set a different project, which were all fabulously creative of course. In years 3 and 4, the children were able to choose from a range of activities on their 'Tic-Tac - Toe' grids. In year 5, children were tasked with projects related to their current science units. In year 5 this involved creating and describing a new planet and a creature that might live there. In year 6 the project involved researching about an animal of your choosing, and creating a response in the form of a presentation or quiz.
On Thursday we celebrated reading for pleasure with a virtual world book day. Each class were set a whole day of challenges with a reading theme, and there was lots of evidence of dressing up as our favourite characters from pupils and teachers - both at home and in school!
On Monday, we will be holding a whole school day of reunification and friendship. Following the results of the pupil survey, we have decided to welcome children back with a day of support, teamwork and class reconnection. Each year group is putting together their own mini curriculum for the day, which will include lots of opportunity for talking, sharing and working together. There will be a whole school art focus in the morning, which will have a photography outcome – which we cannot wait to share with you! Each class will also share trust and collaboration activities/games in the afternoon. I will fill you in on the events of the day in next week's blog.