It has been another busy week with so much to celebrate and enjoy in all areas of school life. The Golden Welly on the Front lawn this morning was a sight to behold. Blindfolded contestants with mixing bowls on their heads attempting to transfer cotton wool balls with a spatula – you probably had to be there! Many thanks to Mel Clark and Chellie Messenger for organising a great event and it was Windlesham in a nutshell – a great community and competitive spirit mixed with lots of fun and just a little craziness.
Throughout the week we have been exploring the concept of connecting with nature – the theme of this year’s national Mental Health Awareness Week. We are extremely fortunate to have nature in abundance at Windlesham and there is absolutely no doubt that the time our children spend outside, both in organised activities and free, unstructured time, is absolutely essential to their wellbeing and positive mental health. However, at times there may be a little too much nature with the rather persistent mole on the first tee causing our grounds staff a slight headache! With the introduction of timetabled forest school lessons up to Year 4 from September and the renewed focus on outside learning with the new learning areas, eco-courtyard and market garden, we are using the resources around us to great effect. Form times, assemblies, Knowledge Night and Chapels this week have all had a similar message; we want children to recognise when they are worried, anxious or unhappy and ask for help. The new Circle of Care on display round the school is a perfect signpost for pupils and I am pleased to announce that we now have two Independent Listeners to support our pastoral care. In addition to Kate Rainbow, Father Richard Harrison, current Chaplain of Lancing College joins the team and when possible, he will visit the school and quickly become a familiar figure to the children. Pupil wellbeing and positive mental health come in all forms and our PSHE focus this term is on healthy eating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle which we know can make a huge difference to our outlook and how we feel.
I was interested to read this week about a new report warning of concerns that the majority of children leaving primary school will be unable to swim a length of a pool by 2025. The figures from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Swimming and Swim England, show over 1.1m pupils are expected to leave primary school from 2021-22 to 2025-26 unable to swim one length unaided. The report calls on schools to run catch-up sessions for pupils who missed out on lessons during the pandemic aimed at those not meeting the curriculum requirements. It also recommends that physical education should be a "core subject" in the curriculum and that pupils' swimming skills be judged by inspection bodies. We are very lucky to have such a fantastic pool on site and I strongly believe that all children should have weekly swimming lessons as it is such an important life skill. From September, I am pleased to announce that we will be introducing our own Windlesham Swimming Scheme for children in Reception to year 8, building on essential swimming skills including diving and life saving with clear progression and targets. Children will receive badges and certificates to reward and encourage their progress and I am sure these will soon be highly valued and much prized.
Another busy and vibrant weekend awaits with our Challenge and Diploma programmes, House cricket matches and a full range of activities for our boarders. It is great to know that Windlesham weekends are still so much part of our full boarding ethos and enjoyed by large numbers of children.
If you can be anything in the world… be kind. Kindness underpins everything we do across the school and our pastoral theme of mental health has encouraged us all to think about not only being kind to others but also being kind to ourselves. Miss Rickaby and her form led a very poignant chapel service on Wednesday highlighting the fact that, whilst physical health is usually visible to others, our mental health is something that is not always immediately obvious. The children offered tips for good mental health and also encouraged everyone to take time for themselves, get outside, eat a healthy meal, get plenty of exercise and rest. Tips I know we could all do more of.
As you will read in the form sections, the department has been alive with problem solving and investigation this week, from testing how to join natural materials to wondering what would happen if all the flowers across the school were painted red! Can you imagine?! Needless to say the children have been totally engrossed in their learning activities and have been keen to share their successes with everyone who passes through. I hope you enjoy the gallery of our highlights from the week.
Lights.. Camera.. Action! This week’s child-led learning has led us in the direction of puppets, theatres and performances. We learned that there are four types of puppets and most of the children chose to make stick puppets or shadow puppets. This big interest inspired us to get the puppet theatre from the cupboard, set up the chairs, make tickets and create our own theatre. One of the favourite roles was being the theatre usher who led people to their seats, reminded them to put phones away and not to talk during the show. Another popular interest this week was games with rules such as Huggy Sticks and Sleepy Koalas. The children recorded their rules on paper so everyone knew how to play. Some games had as many as 10 rules! This complex play led to many opportunities for writing, communication and conflict resolution.
We have carried on with our topic of on the farm this week cooking cheese scones with Mrs. Messenger and learning where the milk, flour, butter, eggs and cheese all came from. Our farm topic will come to life next week when we visit Gallop’s Farm (Jasmine’s family farm) next Wednesday. We are still reading
Charlotte’s Web each day and the class has come to love the characters especially Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the spider, Templeton the sneaky rat and Fern, a kind little girl. Our phonics groups have continued to practice their sounds especially the digraphs ch, sh, th and ng as well as some vowel digraphs and using this knowledge to blend and read words. As the class reads the morning message, we search for keywords that we are learning to recognise on sight as they cannot be sounded out. In maths we worked on simple and complex repeating patterns by making our own and extending other patterns. We made patterns with Numicon pieces and as an added challenge added up what number we had all together. One particular pattern had us counting all the way to 128! In the garden, our seeds have sprouted and this led to sign making so that we all knew which plants were growing in which particular part of the garden. The children also wanted to add signs for digging areas, the bug hotel and the sand area. It has been a lovely, busy week!
Our nautical theme has continued with a focus on water safety and Mr Johnstone visited our classroom and answered our many questions about life onboard a Royal Navy ship, having completed 22 years of military service. The class could not believe that he was in the Navy for the same length of time that Miss Kelleway has been alive!! They were fascinated to see photos of the ship’s mess where 39 sailors slept in one room and of course, pictures of Mr Johnstone working in his galley; some children are now very keen for a ‘cheesy-hammy-eggy’ to appear on the Windlesham lunch menu after hearing that it is one of the most popular meals at sea!
We also learnt about the R.N.L.I. as an organisation that help us to stay safe around water. The children loved watching training videos of both the in-shore and the all-weather boats at Shoreham Lifeboat Station practicing their sea rescues. Just after the lesson about lifeboats, we headed out in our wellies to the forest for part of our D.T. lesson and noticed that Hennie has a perfect pair of bright yellow R.N.L.I. wellies!
In D.T. we were challenged to build a floating vessel made entirely from natural materials. Last week’s floating and sinking experiment saw wood declared as one of the more successful materials for boat-building and so where better than our own
Windlesham woods to gather our equipment?! The children were not allowed to use glue sticks, staples or sellotape to combine their materials. There were some interesting early designs that were quickly amended once the first prototype revealed that tall masts often caused the vessel to capsize. A couple of our girls used their knowledge of existing boat shapes; Genevieve based her design on a Viking longship, while Hali used a catamaran’s shape to guide her plan. All boats were particularly impressive - perhaps we have budding naval architects!
There has been uproar in Year 2 this week! At the beginning of the week, we found out that Mr Evans has tasked Mr Nuttall with the huge job of painting all of the flowers within the Windlesham grounds red. Poor Mr Nuttall - as if he isn’t busy enough! On Monday, we found him on his knees in the Italian gardens colouring in daisies with a felt tip pen. At this point, he begged us to help and we agreed. He was hoping we might help with the painting but instead, we decided to gather a counterargument to put to Mr Evans. We really didn’t think that painting all the flowers red was a good idea and after gathering information from a range of sources, we felt well-armed to support Mr Nuttall. Next week, we will be writing some strongly worded letters to Mr Evans to share our thoughts!
In maths, we’ve been tackling some tricky multiplication problems. We have been linking multiplication to repeated addition and really getting our heads around what’s happening with the numbers when you multiply. We’ve been practicing our times tables as we understand that in maths, these are the foundations of many calculations!
In our art session, we created beautiful watercolor silver birch trees using masking tape to create the tree trunks and branches. The result was very impressive and these tie in well with our nature theme.
We’re still on the hunt for butterflies… the cold weather really isn’t helping but the caterpillars we’ve been looking after in our classrooms have now turned into chrysalises and we can’t wait to see what might greet us on Monday!!
Miss Rickaby and Mrs Sutherland
Watch our weekly pre-prep photo gallery