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his-master-voiceHeadmaster’s Voice

Happy New Year and welcome back to Stoneygate.

On Monday and Tuesday this week staff were involved in various activities: planning, meetings and INSET (IN SErvice Training).  On Monday, Ian Anderson (from Dragonfly Training) hosted an excellent session on ‘Stretch and Challenge’ at Stoneygate…and I’m delighted to hear that some of his practical methods are already being implemented.

Every school in the country can improve and schools should find time to discuss this issue.  On Tuesday I found myself both leading meetings and discussing issues surrounding “how to improve Teaching and Learning at Stoneygate”.  The topics varied from ‘When to introduce I movie trailers’ to ‘How we can inspire our pupils through comprehension’.

In one session we discussed pupil organisation.  For hundreds of years teachers have heard the lines, “I can’t find my pencil, sir” or “I’ve run out of ink, Miss”.

Teachers want to get on with the lesson.  Should we therefore have a permanent supply of pens and pencils in every room, especially for those pupils who struggle with organisational issues?  If we do, are we pandering to their needs and actually not helping develop their independence and organisational skills? As parents could you please check that your child has the correct stationery at the start of every term.  Yes, pupils will continue to lose pens and school will, of course, be on hand with a copious supply of ‘spare pens and pencils’.

Pupils ought to be taught the importance of responsibility and this was touched on in assembly this week. I spoke to the pupils about the origins of the word January and its derivation from the Roman God, Janus.  Janus, looked both to the past and the future; I then made the rather tenuous link between ‘looking both ways’ with regard to road safety.  The assembly was divided into three sections, with pupils watching age related material.

janus

Janus…

The clip below was shown to pupils from Year 3 upwards.  The series are quite scary in content, but I believe it needs to be, as we cannot allow our pupils to be complacent about road safety.

I ended the assembly by speaking to pupils from Years 7- 9.  For them, my biggest concern is walking and not concentrating.  There has been a huge increase in teenage related injury due to children not looking where they are going and not concentrating when crossing a road.  Too many teenagers are texting, playing games or switching music videos on their mobile phones and therefore oblivious to danger.

Last year Honolulu became the first major city to ban texting whilst walking under new legislation dubbed “the distracted pedestrian law”.  Police in Hawaii’s capital can now fine pedestrians up to $99 for ‘viewing a device whilst crossing a road’.  A sign of things to come perhaps?

Dates for the diary:
Tuesday 16th January- School shop & Year 6 Parents’ evening

Thursday 18th January- Forest school (Recpetion & Year 1)

Friday 19th January- Forest school (Year 2 & Year 3)

Monday 22nd January- Year 4 Parents’ evening

Tuesday 23rd January- Year 8 “Life on Earth” Challenge, Year 3 Parents’ lunch & ‘Half price Book Fair’ begins

Wednesday 24th January- SSA Quiz and Curry Night

I look forward to seeing many of you at these events; please do join us for the ‘Quiz and Curry’ evening… I can’t promise intellectual stimulation, but I can promise fun!

Mr Dobson

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HMV

his-master-voiceHeadmaster’s Voice

I am delighted that pupils and staff enjoyed ‘Scrooge’ on Wednesday; there are many lessons we can learn from “A Christmas Carol”.

  1. Listening is important.

Scrooge’s life changes after he has listened to the ghosts of Christmas present, past and future.  Yesterday, as I listened to our pupils sing, read and perform at St James the Greater, I felt truly proud.   It was the most uplifting service…

This morning we listened to two very different assemblies.  In the first assembly we listened to a number of pupils play a variety of instruments- guitars, ukuleles and recorders and we sang Christmas carols.  The  second assembly was a celebration of sporting achievements- Certificates were awarded to a number of pupils for a number of awards.

There were dance displays from Reception and Year 2 and a Taekwondo display from Eashan and Izzy.

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2.Value your colleagues.

Scrooge had a faithful employee in Bob Cratchit, but he treated him with disrespect. Scrooge rarely gave the man a day off and even begrudged him burning enough coal to keep warm while he worked.

I need to thank my staff.  It has been a long Advent term, with Mr Dobson (Scrooge) taking away the two week half term!  I do appreciate all members of staff at Stoneygate: the office staff, the site managers, the kitchen staff, the visiting music teachers, the TA’s and the teachers.  I would, however, like to give a special mention to my deputy, Mr Stocks.  Having been here for over 100 terms, his energy, humour and cricket knowledge have been a great support to me.IMG_0072

The dedicated Stoneygate staff have braved dangerous roads to get into work..but it has been worth it…and I thank them for it.

3.Plan for the future.

When the final ghost visits Scrooge, he takes him to a forlorn, unkempt grave site. When Scrooge sees his own name written on a gravestone, he begs the spirit to give him another chance. As a result of this insight, he is motivated to contribute to charity and to speak kindly to everyone he meets.

As a staff we have already planned many exciting activities for the next two terms!

Parents, pupils and staff, thank you for your support this term.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas…

Mr Dobson

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his-master-voiceHeadmaster’s Voice

As a school we want our pupils to show resilience and not give up (whether they are doing a maths paper or losing a sports fixture with five minutes to go), we also want our pupils to know that we are compassionate and understanding.  Pupils need to know that within Stoneygate they can express their emotions to either their friends or staff.

The British have often been accused of a lack of emotion and having a “stiff upper lip”; finding the right balance between being resolute and showing your emotions is difficult enough for adults, let alone pupils.  Recently I spoke to pupils about emotions and crying (and thank you to pupils from Year 9 for their drama).  We cry when we cut an onion, we cry whilst watching a sad film, we cry with joy at weddings, we cry with laughter, we cry with relief when winning gold at the Olympics…

Barack Obama’s speech on gun control…British Olympians

It has been a week full of emotion at Stoneygate.

On Tuesday evening I addressed our alumni on the topic of ‘Stoneygate’s Fallen heroes’.  As Headmaster and as an historian I felt great pride, humility and sorrow talking about young men who had died one hundred years ago in World War I.  What struck me about these young men were their attributes- these were young men who enjoyed their studies and sport.  Characteristics that are still important a century later.

Take, for example, the story of Guy Russell.  He was a natural athlete.

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He was captain of rugby in 1904 and two years later he captained the cricket team. (See image.)  Guy fell in love with his childhood sweetheart, Gladys Hitchin.  They eloped to Gretna Green, got married and had a brief honeymoon at the end of which Gladys said farewell to Guy as he left for war. Guy never returned.  He died on October 13th 1915 at the battle of Loos…on the very same day his wife gave birth to their son, Derek.

IMG_4135 Guy Russell, Captain of rugby and cricket…

Wednesday and Thursday were emotional days too.  I was very proud of all the pupils and staff involved in the Pre-Prep production, “A King’s Christmouse”.  The script, the stage, the choreography, the singing, the acting, the costumes..were all first class.  I hope you enjoyed the production as much as I did.

Today we experienced the joys (and some minor frustrations) of technology as we skyped Marvin B Elementary school in North Carolina.  Pupils from our Years 1 and 2 discussed cultural differences..

We asked about Thanksgiving; they asked about Christmas crackers.  I did explain that the joke was supposed to be awful.

Despite being on the other side of the Atlantic, we managed to sing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” at the same time.  We aim to develop this link with North Carolina in the future.

Finally, thank you to everyone involved in the Santa Fun Run today… in an age where we have to justify everything, how refreshing it was to do the Morris Mile with our Santa hats on…just for sheer enjoyment…my special thanks to the Stoneygate School Association for helping organise the post run treats: coffee, mince pies and hot chocolate…

In an emotional week, I was delighted to hear Chris Evans talk about us on his radio show this morning….

 

On Radio 2 this morning…”Robbie Williams, Dawn French and Stoneygate school”…not a bad line up.

Mr Dobson

HMV

his-master-voiceHeadmaster’s Voice

I’m always rather wary of statistics.

We know Manchester City beat Leicester City 2-0.  But how well did the Foxes play?  In this Budget week, will £2.8bn over the next three years save the NHS? I noted on Twitter this week that “teenagers who read in their spare time know 26% more words than those who do not”.

Schools can often become obsessed with  League tables and so Eton, St Paul’s, Winchester and as of this academic year, Wellington College, all decline academic information to newspapers on the grounds that they are “increasingly  irrelevant as they attempt to compare different qualifications.”

Below are some statistics relating to the teaching and learning of English and Maths at Stoneygate.  I am pleased with the results as they confirm something I already know i.e. that our pupils are making excellent progress and our staff are working hard to ensure that.  They do not however ‘paint a full picture’.  Assessments need to be used as a tool for teaching and learning.

When doing assessments in the first term, I am also wary that some topics have not yet been taught.  Year 2, for example have not studied geometry yet!

Pink column = National average; green column = Stoneygate Average

Year 1 English

Year 1 Maths

Year 2 English

Year 2 Maths

Year 3 English (Blue = National Average; purple = Stoneygate)

Year 3 Maths

Year 4 English

Year 4 Maths

Year 5 English

Year 5 Maths

Year 6 English

Year 6 Maths

Year 7 English

Year 7 Maths

Year 8 English

Year 8 Maths

Year 9 English

Year 9 Maths

 

Y9 Maths i

From Year 1 to Year 9 in almost every single section of English and Maths assessments we are ahead of the ‘national average’.

I am delighted with the findings, but not surprised.  These statistics only reinforce what I already knew….we must, however, not rest on our laurels, but continue to improve!

Stars of the week:

Year 1: Ketanndu for learning his lines for the Christmas play and learning his dance routine.

Reception: Hebe for a positive approach to her school day.

I will end this week’s blog with some cricket statistics: England have played Australia in 69 Test series, England have won 32,  Australia have won 32 and  there have been 5 draws.  England have won 18 series at home and lost 14; Australia have won 18 series at home and lost 14)..it doesn’t bode well for England down under!

Mr Dobson

 

HMV

his-master-voiceHeadmaster’s Voice

Last week I attended a Heads’ conference in Leamington Spa.  One of the key note speakers was Elizabeth Wright.  Elizabeth represented Australia at two Paralympic Games and won three medals.  At the conference she spoke on the subject of ‘Resilience, Well being and Success’.

elizabeth wright

On the topic of well being, she challenged adults in the room (and our pupils) to write down three things for which they are grateful for every day for one week.  After repeating this exercise for seven days, “research has shown that it can reduce stress and improve happiness” for months afterwards.  Perhaps today I’d like to thank…

  1. Soldiers past and present
  2. Our imaginative and talented pupils
  3. The generosity of the Stoneygate School parents

 

We began the week looking at the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele.  The battle epitomised WWI.  Due to torrential rain, the British and Canadian troops found themselves fighting not only the Germans but a quagmire of stinking mud that swallowed up men, horses and tanks.

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After 105 days of brutal trench warfare, the Allies finally recaptured the village of Passchendaele – but by then around a third of a million British and Allied soldiers had been killed or wounded in some of the most horrific trench warfare of the conflict.

We looked at examples of bravery, such as the fighter pilot Hardit Singh Malik.  Hardit had studied history at Oxford and played cricket for Sussex.  He flew over Passchendaele whilst in pursuit of the ‘Red Baron’.  Hardit, was unfortunately outnumbered in the skies and he was forced to crash land. There were over 400 bullet holes in his plane.  Somehow he managed to survive; he died in 1980 (with two bullets still lodged in his leg).

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Hardit Singh Malik, cricketer and fighter pilot.

Some of our Year 8 pupils have done some creative English based on their knowledge of the war.

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A poem written by Will (Y8)

Keeping with creativity, I would like to thank all those pupils who participated in the ‘Children in Need Spotacular Painitng’ competition- an art competition organised by our Year 9 Charity ambassadors.  It had one stipulation- the art work had to be spotty!

A spotacular effort!  Well done to all who entered.

Finally, I’d like to thank the Stoneygate parents.  I’d like to thank all of you who attended last night’s talk on ‘Stoneygate School and Secondary Education’; I’d also like to thank you for supporting our ‘Children in Need’ efforts, either through the baking or the buying of cakes.

We have currently raised over £350.

Stars of the week:

Reception: Aiden and Keira

Year 1: Zak  for Forest School; Leo for number bonds to 20.

Year 2: Georgiana for odd and even numbers; Jessica for learning her Christmas concert words; Rayyan for listening and joining in at carpet time.

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Have a good weekend,

Mr Dobson

 

HMV

his-master-voiceHeadmaster’s Voice

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

I agree with this phrase.  I also believe that progress is impossible without change. At Stoneygate we must (and do) apply both beliefs.

This term we have introduced a new online maths homework system and we’re delighted with the results.  Next week we will begin a more structured approach to ‘Forest school’.  Pupils from Reception to Year 3 will spend half a day in our beautiful woods in each of the four different seasons doing a variety of learning activities from team building to art.

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Creating our own outdoor classroom with our beautiful autumnal trees……

As a staff we review each trip- some we repeat and others are new.  Both pupils and staff thoroughly enjoyed the recent trip to Stratford which was a first.  In this academic year we hope to begin a Year 5 & 6 residential.  We already organise a successful Year 3/4 residential trip and language and choir trips for our older pupils, but we feel we could also offer a new trip.  I will keep you posted.

Another new venture will be our ‘Form lunches’.  We would like to invite parents , or if both parents are working  grandparents,  into school to enjoy lunch with both staff and pupils.  Mrs Whittle will be sending out specific invitations soon!

Finally, I’d like to introduce some new faces around school.

Mr Timson will be working in the PE dept under the guidance of Mrs Fielding.

Miss Alloway will be helping out in both ‘School House’ with some of our younger pupils and in the new build with some of our older pupils.

Miss Alloway & Mr Timson

Enjoy bonfire night, especially those who are attending the Rainbows event and please be careful with fireworks..

Mr Dobson

HMV

his-master-voiceHeadmaster’s Voice

This week I had a glimpse into what the future of education might look like.  I donned a virtual reality headset and began to virtually explore the solar system… I even had a ‘virtual PE lesson’ with my instructor telling me what to do.  It was truly incredible.  My thanks to James Bentley, a former LGS pupil, for talking to pupils from Years 7, 8 & 9 on engineering and technology.

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One pupil asked James, “do you think technology will replace teachers?”  Perhaps the question was aimed at me…

We have some inspirational Science teachers at Stoneygate: Mrs Johnston, Mrs Angel and Miss Harris.  Science should be interesting and experimental and not dull …and that is precisely what our Science department delivers.  Well done Year 7 for building/creating some wonderful projects linked to ‘Movement’.

We also tried something new this week- on Tuesday evening we held our first ‘Astronomy Masterclass’ at LGS. I would like to thank Mrs Angel and the Science dept at LGS for making this happen.

Pupils and parents enjoying the astronomy evening…

The importance of a balanced diet was the theme for one assembly this week, with Mrs Angel explaining the science and psychology behind eating.  “Why do children prefer dull coloured carbohydrates rather than the ‘rainbow plate’ option?”  Hopefully your children will know the answer!

Our second assembly of the week, led by Reverend Kim, had a Science/religious theme.  Reverend Kim spoke about the importance of light in the world.  She explained how Jack O’ Lanterns originated as a means of warding off evil spirits and the importance of light, metaphorically, for Christians.

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A Stoneygate pumpkin outside School House.

It has been a wonderful week, inspired by science.  It is therefore fitting to end this blog with the news that a note, written on hotel paper, by Einstein was sold this week for just over £1 million. Einstein, having just won the 1922 Noble prize for Physics, gave the note to a hotel worker, as he had no money to tip him. It reads: “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”

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The £1million note..

Stars of the Week:

Last week Imran (Y2)…. for making super electricity circuits.

This week William L (Y2) …. fantastic Veetacore tessellation.

Amy and Ethan (Y1)…for super writing about Warwick Castle.

Harveer (Rec)…for making excellent progress in reading.

Finally, thank you to our Y9 Charity Ambassadors and the SSA for organising a cake sale for the NSPCC.  We raised £240.38p

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Good luck to all the cross country runners tomorrow; I hope to see many of you at tomorrow’s Open Morning.

Kind regards,

Mr J F Dobson