18th September 2020
A Busy Week of Value Building and Kindness
What a busy but successful week It has been once again. I find myself reflecting on the term so far, and I feel incredibly proud of all we have achieved whilst also feeling amazed that it is only the end of the second full week of school. In this weeks blog, I thought it best to share some of the highlights of the term so far with you
Following a week spent learning all about the historical times we are living through, including what the coronavirus is, and comparing this pandemic to others that have happened throughout history, this week, we have been starting a pandemic of our own - a kindness pandemic! We have planned this around the idea of a ‘kindness boomerang’. Where we pass kind acts from person to person, until our whole community is being kind to one another. Each class has planned ways of spreading kindness within classrooms and school, and also across our community too! More details to follow, when all the kind acts have been completed.
We had 4 extra special T-shirts donated to the school, as part of our ‘Kindness Pandemic’. We decided to award them to one child in each year group, who consistently modelled kindness across the week, at a level over and above everyone else. It is a huge achievement to stand out for being kind, at a time when EVERYONE is being kind! Well done! I am so proud of you!
As you know, we have changed some of our values this year, in order to reflect the changing influence of the current world events, and the subsequent changing needs of our children. In order to ensure that the children fully understand what our values mean and represent, we held our second ever #aspire day on Monday this week.
Each year group were given one of our values, which they explored, discussed and learned about. They then went on to create an art display based around their understanding of that value. The school was buzzing with excitement during the afternoon, as the classes worked hard to bring our values to life through artistic endeavour. Although it is important I wear a mask and keep my distance when I enter classrooms, it is still very important that I do so, as the children are so excited to show me their work and explain their understanding to me. It proved to be a very valuable and well spent afternoon! We are now going to combine these individual pieces to fill the whole wall in the hall with an ASPIRE display. Watch this space (or our Facebook or Twitter feeds of course ) to see the finished results next week!
As a school, we have used the research of Barry Carpenter, to develop our own recovery curriculum, to reset, repair and rebuild our children as learners as they return from lockdown. The curriculum is based around two key texts – The Promise and Frog Belly Ratbone, which share a theme of regrowth and renewal after a period of bleakness.
This theme then extends into our ‘Aspire and Grow together’ garden project which also forms a significant part of the curriculum this term. Each class is using their art and stem skills to create pieces of work that will be added to the garden. It has been lovely to see children in the garden this week, enjoying the space and resetting themselves within a natural setting.
7th September 2020
Back to School - A New (and Very Welcome) Beginning.
What a glorious first couple of days we have shared as we begin the new term! On Thursday, we welcomed year 3 into the school on their own. We planned it this way, because we were very conscious that our newest children had not been able to enjoy our usual, comprehensive transition arrangements, and we wanted them to feel settled and secure as they started their time at Thomas Harding.
At the end of the first afternoon, Miss Thornhill and Miss Cappoci reported that the children had an excellent day, and judging by the tired smiles as they left, the children wholeheartedly agreed! They are certainly a confident and enthusiastic bunch! On Friday, of course the rest of the school arrived, looking apprehensive, but very pleased to be here! They have settled back into the familiar routines well, and it has been lovely to get back to a sense of normality.
I can assure you that the staff were also very excited to get back to teaching a whole class of pupils again and actually do the job they love, albeit with a few additional Covid-related complications. As always at Thomas Harding, we don’t say ‘no’, we say, ‘how can we make this work?’ I have to say that the passion, dedication and hard work from the whole team here in school has been phenomenal.
One of the adaptations we made for the start of the year was to separate arrivals across the site, with different year groups using different entrances and exits. It was clear by the fact that the playground was full by 8.35am on Friday morning that there was a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about returning to school. Enthusiasm from the pupils and, I suspect, enthusiasm from some of the parents who would be child free for the first time in six months!
Collection was not as smooth as we would have liked on Thursday after school, with a few teething problems, particularly in year 3. It did prompt a friendly reminder from me late on Friday and I am pleased that today has been much calmer and considerably less congested. Thank you for this; we do want to keep our school as safe as we possibly can and with your support, it keeps our staff feeling relaxed and hopefully you, reassured.
Walking around the school at various times throughout the last few days, I was so impressed with the way the pupils settled straight back in. Even our new Year 3s looked right at home in their classrooms and were taking part in some very interesting lessons. It is imperative we get the start of this year right more than ever and think really carefully about the way we support the pupils’ well being as well as their academic progress. Without the first, the latter will prove to be a real challenge. We have a clear plan for our ‘recovery curriculum’ and I am really pleased with our consistent drive to put the pupils at the heart of what we do. More details about the recovery curriculum and 'Aspire and Grow Together' project can be found on our website.
A real sense of the dedication of our staff team, can be seen in the development of our 'Aspire and Grow' garden project that has been taking shape over the summer holiday. On several occasions across the break, our staff were in school, landscaping the space to the left of the pond on the school field, ready for when the children returned. A huge thank you to those parents who contributed materials for the garden, and to the many spouses, brothers and children who accompanied our team as they worked to create the shape of the garden. The teachers and children have now taken on responsibility, for creating art work, STEM projects and other creative enterprises to bring the space to life. A special and huge thank you must go to Miss Arnott (seen above) who has driven this project and worked tireless hours (even roping in her mum!) to ensure that it was ready for the children's return.
We hope to unveil the garden to you, later this half term! So watch this space for updates.