Head’s blog

Forces Of Nature

Michaelmas - Week 7

Wind. Every teacher knows that something happens to children on windy days. Even, it seems the anticipation of the wind creates a certain wildness and need for expression not only in individuals but also whole classes. Forecasts for 50 mile an hour winds this afternoon mean careful planning in place to contain the small forces of nature we have in our classrooms as well as making safe the site and buildings. Some believe that children, when grouped together, can be particularly influenced by nature and the seasons. One teacher once told me, raising an eyebrow in the staffroom after a particularly challenging afternoon with her class of 30 Year 1 children, that things had gone awry because it was a ‘full moon’. How much of that I believed I can’t say, but it seems a marvellous excuse for a difficult afternoon!

This year the school is involved with some university studies. In our plan to establish St Peter’s further as a centre of excellence Dr Evans held a cluster group meeting for local Science teachers last week in our state of art laboratories.

Over fifty children took part in a food allergy survey for Exeter University and we welcomed Dr Pat Preedy, a Reporting Inspector for ISI who is working with our early years department on her research around ‘Movement for Learning’. I am excited that St Peter’s is taking part in current research around how children learn.

Our library is developing as a real hub of learning in the school. It is busy with earnest librarians, diligent homeworkers and cosy readers all who are greatly appreciating this new space in the school. Reading opens opportunities and ideas that you never knew were there and this leads on to our quote of the week.

And so we look towards the last week before half term. A talk for all parents of children of all ages this afternoon by Ian Wilmshurst from King’s Bruton on ‘Teenagers – How To Help!’. We look forward to a concert in our local community at Lympstone Church on Tuesday evening, a Halloween disco run by the PTA on Thursday and Harvest Festival on Friday.

Achievement: Dreaming (And baking) Big

Michaelmas - Week 6

We started our assembly on Friday discussing Achievement – our St. Peter’s value for this week. We discussed the possibility and potential of all of the children to achieve tremendous things and to ‘dream big!’.

We then welcomed in Exmouth RNLI to accept a cheque for £4000. I explained that never would we have dreamed of being able to raise so much money but that through all of the hard work of the community we have achieved great things. What then followed was a surprising turn of events.

Mr Munnings and Mr Simms (both parents and members of the lifeboat crew at Exmouth) revealed what our money had bought. Firstly, a ‘man overboard’ model which the crew use in their training. The school have now been tasked with ‘naming’ the model which I am sure they will enjoy! Secondly, a roll-up stretcher for use at Sea. Requesting volunteers (big ones), burly members of the 1st XV Rugby team stood up as I was asked to remove the heels and lie down on the stretcher to demonstrate its use! Many straps later I was escorted across the Wessex hall accompanied by processional music (thank you Mr Hoban) to the great delight of the children and staff. Note, if you will, the fear in my eyes!

Another highlight of Friday was the ‘tasting’ of the bake-off competition which the Boarders had loved on Friday night. Much tea was required to wash down the extensive offerings. The winner will be announced in assembly next Friday.

Open Day on October 7 was our most successful yet. Thank you as always to the wonderful tour guides in our Year 7 and Year 8.


Donkeys and developments…

Michaelmas - Week 5

Last week I was away in Edinburgh on the annual Prep School Heads’ conference. A busy and rewarding time with some very valuable seminars and lectures, the subjects ranging from careers advice for pupils to the art of delegation. Edinburgh was fantastic but I missed the children and everyone here and was very glad to be back in time for ……the DONKEYS!!! Just every so often something crosses your desk and as a Head you say ‘Yes! – this needs to happen!’ and so it was last year when the offer of the Donkey Roadshow came across my desk and marvellously we managed to organise it so that they could come. A tremendously energetic assembly and some very thoughtful and caring questions from the children as well as seeing real live donkeys at school was a huge success.

On the back of a wonderful cake sale it was a very busy, happy school to which I returned from the airport.

Before I left on Tuesday we held the first (newly named) Parent Teacher Association meeting (PTA) in the new Research and Learning Hub along with a presentation of future developments funded by the PTA. There was a record turnout with over 20 parents and teachers, operations and office staff taking part with a really positive, supportive focus on what we can do for the children. PTA events are run by the goodwill of the parents and staff involved and I am hugely grateful to them. The plans for the St Peter’s Summer festival are well underway with a family hog roast and barn dance looking to be particularly enjoyable! As you look to start (eek) thinking about Christmas shopping can I remind you about Easy Fundraising. A simple login means that for every penny you spend at a huge range of suppliers (Tesco, Amazon etc. etc.) money will also be raised for the PTA. To register, please visit: http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/stpetersprep

On Friday evening (following the donkeys), I was surprised to see a variety of small children passing my window totally camouflaged including war paint moving towards the campfire. Another tremendous session led by the amazing Mrs and Mr Lord (Sergeant Lordy) had the children from 8 – 13 making dens in the dark, covered in camo paint, and then warming themselves around the fire. What a wonderful way to spend an evening! Memories are made here. Thank you to all involved.

On Sunday evening we attended Evensong in Topsham where the St Peter’s Chamber Choir sang with the Topsham church choir. It was a truly uplifting evening as our thoughts turn to harvest and giving thanks. The John Rutter anthem was particularly beautiful in a really ambitious programme for the choir. Those Jaffa cakes were well deserved at the end of the night. And so another week done here at St Peter’s. Our new children and staff have settled in very well and we move onwards purposefully with learning and individual children at the heart of all we do. Our thought of the week focuses on nurture of mind, body and spirit and a weekend of music, sport, joy in animals and a wonderful church service certainly extol this particular St Peter’s value. ‘Time will expand’ – what a concept to ponder as we start our busy weeks.


Achievements and Endeavours…

Michaelmas - Week 4

Many congratulations are in order this week. Miss Ebony Paver, our Nursery teacher, has been awarded a 2:1 in her Early Years Foundation Degree. An effort even more to be celebrated as she studied for her degree over 3 years while working full-time! An exceptional practitioner, always with a ready smile, Ebony is well deserving of such an achievement. Congratulations to Mr Payne who has a new baby girl, Rosie and to Mrs Davies whose son George was born two weeks early last week. Our community is at the heart of life here at St Peter’s and one of our core values.

Our quote of the week, however, centres around our St Peter’s value of ‘Endeavour’ and was shared with the children before an uproarious Falkner house assembly on Friday. It is so important to teach the children that if they don’t quite make the A team or don’t quite make Distinction in their music exams they can pick themselves up and work hard to improve and try again. We talked about the relevance of the quote and it will be displayed around the school each week.

I very much enjoyed speaking to parents last week and will do later today on the subject of choosing Future Schools. Unfortunately, St Peter’s doesn’t go on to 16, although I am asked on a weekly basis, and there is an inevitable departure ahead. We talked through how scholarships work, what questions to ask on an Open Day and what to look for on the website and when viewing a school. I see parents throughout the week to talk to me about their children and future school plans. Please don’t think it is too early – if you have a question, just ask! Presentations are all uploaded onto the Parent Portal. Mr Lord also gave a presentation on eSafety and some tips to help parents at home with managing the ‘device war’. As always my tips are:

  • charge all devices in the kitchen at night
  • no devices in the bedroom
  • talk to the children about what they are looking at in an interested way. Learn from them
  • look at websites such as www.parentzone.com for advice and tips.

Stay and Play, our toddler group runs on a Thursday morning and is becoming very popular with the local community. We had over 20 families last Thursday. Thank you to Mrs Stoyles for planning and organising.

I look forward to seeing parents at our first PTA of the year this week where we will discuss development funding and plans for events over the year. The St. Peter’s Summer festival is starting to take shape!