his-master-voiceHeadmaster’s Voice

Last week the city of Brussels re-named one of its squares after Jo Cox, the Labour MP murdered by a right-wing extremist during the Brexit referendum campaign. It was a fitting tribute to a hard-working MP, who had once lived in the city.

In schools we have a duty to teach ‘British values’, we need to actively promote: democracy; the rule of law; individual liberty; and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

This afternoon our Year 7 & 8 pupils debated two interesting topics:

“Should we be scared of robots and AI?”

“Should female athletes get paid the same as male athletes?”

The debate over pay certainly brought heated discussion at the staff table over lunch!  Here lies the beauty (and frustrations) of democracy.  Staff were delighted at all teams involved in the debating and the audience participation.  In both debates pupils put forward articulate responses from both the opposing team and questions taken from the floor.  A ballot box was available for a secret vote.  The results were as follows:

“Should we be scared of robots and AI?”                                     YES (24 votes)   NO (7 votes)

“Should female athletes get paid the same as male athletes?”   YES (14 votes)   NO (17 votes)



Arush… ‘commanding the floor’ and delivering a fine speech.

The theme of Tuesday’s assembly was ‘not to fear the unknown, but to embrace it.’  Mr Ashwin explained to pupils how sometimes we have to step out of ‘our comfort zone’ and to prove it Mr Ashwin played the viola. (He has only been learning for 5 weeks, and despite a few wrong notes (!), got to the end of the piece….well done Mr Ashwin.)

I’m delighted to say pupils (from Reception to Year 10) have certainly ‘stepped out of their comfort zone’ this week and seized opportunities.

On Monday, Reception pupils went on a Bear hunt at the Arboretum on Carisbrooke Road. They acted out the story and took part in various activities associated with the book. The pupils then sequenced the story with their creations at school in the afternoon.

On Friday, the Reception children picked cooking apples in the school grounds and made apple and blackberry crumble to take home.



“We’re going on a bear hunt…”

Numerous year groups have participated in Geography Field trips this week.  Year 2 went for a very wet walk this morning around Great Glen as part of their topic on ‘Our Local Area’.  They posted letters addressed to themselves and then bought a snack from the Post Office and enjoyed eating it at the park! This afternoon they enjoyed plotting the local amenities onto a map.



Year 2 exploring Great Glen…

Year 8 pupils took part in Geography field work around Rutland on Tuesday and Year 10 students joined up with Dixie Grammar school pupils to complete GCSE coursework today.

For several pupils taking part in the vocal concert on Tuesday evening meant ‘stepping out of their comfort zone’.  Congratulations to all soloists who performed in that very special concert.

Thank you to all of the Pre-Prep pupils and staff for their charming Harvest assembly.

Head teacher’s Award:

Jack (Year 5) for improved presentation.

Year 2 Star of the week is Armaan.. for trying very hard in his swimming lessons.

Year 1 Star of the week is Yash for super writing about Warwick Castle.

Reception Star of the week is Aveer for being super organised!


It’s been a busy week.

Enjoy the half term break,

Mr J F Dobson


his-master-voiceHeadmaster’s Voice

I am fascinated in how and what children learn.

Twenty five years ago I was living and teaching in Hungary.  The ‘iron curtain’ had recently collapsed, the Russian language was no longer compulsory in Hungarian schools; Europe was awash with ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’.  This new era of openness did not however stretch to the History dept at the secondary school I was teaching at.  Here, students were not encouraged to ask ‘why’ certain events happened, they were told dates, they were told what happened and they were told to learn them.

Today pupils will still need to learn ‘facts’: from times tables to spelling patterns, from historical dates to Scientific formulas.  How we teach and learn varies from subject to subject and from pupil to pupil.  In the last two days I’ve been monitoring the varied approaches we take at Stoneygate from Reception to Y10.  I’ve witnessed so many different style of teaching and learning from text books to tablets, from ‘chalk and talk’ to pupil-led learning.  This week we have had pupils experiencing medieval history at Warwick castle and a pupil-led dissection of a sheep’s lung!

Kinaesthetic learning at Warwick….


Pupils finding imaginative ways to remember facts linked to physical processes and volcanic activity in Geography.

This week I’ve surprised pupils (and staff alike) by appearing in their rooms, Ipad in hand, to record the various ways we teach and the various ways pupils learn…apologies for the filming quality!

As a school we are currently looking at ways to improve mental arithmetic.  The Government is keen to follow methodology currently being used in South East Asia.  Learning times tables is important, but so too is the ability to use that information.  If an eight year old knows 12 x 3 = 36, can they work out… ‘if one mini-bus holds 12 pupils, how many mini-buses are needed to transport 40 pupils?’

Knowledge counts for very little if one cannot apply it.

This year we have already introduced Ninja Maths to boost mental arithmetic with our older pupils; post half term we will be introducing ‘Rockstar Tables’ for pupils in Years 2-6.  This is an exciting way to learn tables.

This week is dyslexia awareness week. For some pupils remembering and retaining these so called ‘facts’ is a challenge in itself. Tom Cruise had to develop his own method of remembering lines.  There is an obvious correlation between resilience and dyslexics- sometimes they have no option but to find other, more imaginative ways to learn and remember.  Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Mohammed Ali, Stephen Spielberg and Albert Einstein all showed great resilience and endeavour.  They were all dyslexic.

I have two reminders:

Please don’t forget to join Mr Ashwin on Tuesday afternoons in the hall (2.30pm) for the Stoneygate Community choir.  No auditions required…if you enjoy singing Abba classics in the car, then this is for you!

Could parents/pupils remember to support our Year 10 enterprise initiative by bringing in jars (& lids) which will then be sterilised before being used to produce the most delicious Christmas chutneys!

Stars of the Week:

In Year 2, Ketanndu was star of the week for a super Harvest acrostic poem.

In Year 1, Charlotte was the star of the week for her excellent general knowledge in Science and History lessons.

In Reception, Arjun was awarded star of the week for his outstanding listening.

Enjoy the weekend,


Mr J F Dobson