Daneshill Diary 17/01/14

Headmaster’s Notes

Many of you will remember having a fascination for learning about dinosaurs, despite the fact that these creatures have been extinct for 65 million years. No-one has ever seen them wandering the earth, “not even Mr Spencer?” asked one quizzical junior pupil, who might be excused for having no concept of this significant length of time!  It is quite remarkable, however, that pupils who may struggle with some aspects of their phonics at such an early age have little or no difficulty grasping the highly complex, polysyllabic names (pterodactyls, brontosaurus etc) and are more than capable of pointing out the differences between the many species of dinosaur. This is one of the conundrums of the Early Years!

When introducing the topic of dinosaurs to such young pupils we should be mindful of the potential impact this may have on them, bearing in mind the scary nature of many of these predatory creatures. Mrs Smith informs me that by showing the children a short film about how these extinct creatures are bought to life in cinemagraphic detail, thereby reinforcing the idea that they are not real and definitively never going to appear in anyone’s back garden, helps the children to feel more comfortable and enjoy learning about how these animals lived.

As parents we have to be mindful of how our children may be exposed to images that are way beyond their comprehension and, therefore, may cause lasting anxiety and distress. Every day newsworthy images and stories can often be overwhelming to the young mind. It is, therefore, very reassuring to me that our staff in the Pre-Prep adopt such a common-sense approach when dealing with what might be considered sensitive material.

Mr Simon Spencer

Who Could Ask for More?

Cor blimey! Rehearsals are underway for the Senior production of Oliver!  There was certainly an unusual array of mockney cockney accents in the air as, for once, the pupils were encouraged to drop their aitches and indeed any final consonant.

Whilst rehearsing the workhouse scene, I suggested that the children should perhaps forgo their lunch to lend some authenticity to their portrayal of pale, starving paupers singing Food Glorious Food, as they all looked far too hale and hearty, but fortunately their acting was so good it wasn’t necessary!  Meanwhile, in the music room, the adult ensemble enacted a surprisingly realistic tavern scene, becoming quite rosy and raucous as if they had indeed imbibed a few flagons of ale.  Who needs method acting?

Well done to the cast on such a good start – consider yourselves ‘well in’!

Mrs Clare Mannion

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Monday’s assembly saw another venture into childhood with the reading of the modern classic, Giraffe’s Can’t Dance by Giles Andrese and Guy Parker Rees.  The story follows the fortunes of Gerald the Giraffe and his quest to enter the annual jungle dance.  Unfortunately, Gerald’s skill does not match his enthusiasm and he ends up being laughed off the dance floor.  However, after meeting a cricket and his magical violin, Gerald is transformed into a creature of elegance and poise as he wows the crowds with his moves.  The story raises a number of key life lessons for us all and the children were asked to reflect upon the importance of Gerald’s resilience and adventure in allowing him to overcome his challenge.  The final verse of the book is particularly poignant:

‘Then Gerald looked up at the moon and stars above… “we all can dance,” he said “when we find music that we love”. Quite right, Gerald!  

Mr Andy Webster

Class Reps Meeting 

On Thursday the Class Reps met for their first meeting of the new term. It was lovely to see so many Reps back after our meetings of the Michaelmas term as we had a busy agenda!  We were able to discuss a number of items connected to various activities across the school.  The minutes of this meeting are being e-mailed to the Class Reps from whom you can request a copy.  

These meetings are used as a forum to hear parental ideas and to answer queries. For example, this week we were all reminded of the need for Reception and Year 6 pupils to have their hearing and sight tests done, including weights and measures in Year 6.  This reminder emerged from a parental query about whether these tests were done in school or not.  After some investigation, the Reps discovered that this is a free service in state schools, but not to private schools.  However, you can still go to your local surgery and optician for free tests for this age.  

Many thanks to all the Class Reps for all the work they do in adding to our lines of communication.

Mrs Suzy Dixon

News from the Pre-Prep

A very Happy New Year to all the parents of children in the Pre-Prep.  We are delighted to say that the children have returned to school thrilled to be back with their friends, and they have settled down and produced some lovely pieces of work already.  They have shown real interest in the new topics that will be covered during the first half of this term. Very well done to the children who have already brought in books or information to share with their class.

I would like to take this opportunity to gently remind you that all snacks should be a healthy option of either fruit, vegetables, plain biscuits or crackers.  If your child participates in an After-School club they should also bring a small snack for their tea, which should include a drink.  We are aware that the majority of parents always follow these simple rules but it is very hard for the children if their snacks/tea are forgotten. Congratulations to the children who happily eat fruit every morning – some of their snack pots look really delicious!

Miss Bridget Bull

Nursery Corner

All of the children have settled well at the start of the new term.  We have welcomed three new children and are looking forward to two more starting in the next few weeks.

Our new topic for the start of term is ‘Transport’ – this perennial favourite has really caught the children’s imaginations.  We have turned our role play area into a train, complete with driver, timetables, a ticket office and maps.  There have been many interesting journeys planned this week, including one to Japan!!  We have a big display of vehicles that the children have painted and drawn passengers for.  Our literacy board has been covered with homemade rockets, an owl and a teddy (complete with colander helmet) going in a rocket on a trip to the moon.  This is all inspired by the book ‘Whatever Next.’

Next week we will continue with transport but this time by looking at where in the world we have gone to, or would like to go to, in an aeroplane.  We would very much appreciate it if you could let us know where your child may have travelled to in an aeroplane.  This part of the topic will link with the whole school “Subject in Spotlight” for this half term, which is Geography.  The role play area will be stocked with boxes, some picnic items, a colander and a teddy which will hopefully inspire the children to go on their own journey to the moon in a rocket.

We are still going outside as much as possible and will not be daunted by a little rain!

Miss Kate Flood

Sporting Fixtures

Boys                                                                Girls:

RUGBY TERM                                                            HOCKEY TERM

No fixtures                                                                Wednesday 15th January

                                                                                   U13 A vs. The Abbey                            D 5 – 5

                                                                                   U13 B vs. The Abbey                             L  2 – 3

                                                                                   U11 A vs. St Andrew’s                           L 0 – 4

                                                                                  U11 B vs. St Andrew’s                           L 2 – 3

                                                                                  U10 A vs. St Andrew’s                           L 0 -10

                                                                                  U10 B vs. St Andrew’s                           L 1 – 7

The PE department managed to dodge the showers this week to deliver our first full week of hockey. We’re pleased to welcome former GB Olympian Mr Kali Thakher to the team, and he has been coaching hockey in lessons and After-School clubs across all year groups. The children have responded brilliantly to Mr Thaker’s sessions, demonstrating an eagerness to impress and willingness to learn, and I am very impressed with how well the pupils have adapted to hockey so quickly after the netball term.

We have recognised a desire from the boys to play hockey too and we feel it is important they have the opportunity to experience the sport before they move onto their Secondary Schools. As such, we have decided to offer hockey to all of the boys in Years 4-8 as part of their PE lessons. This decision has been very well received and the boys have shown a great deal of enthusiasm for the sport.

The Year 3 and 4 girls were fortunate to take part in a hockey taster session on Friday run by former GB Olympian Mr Soma Singh, the Director of Sport at Lord Wandsworth College. Mr Singh was in the same Olympic squad as Mr Takher so we felt extremely honoured to have both these sporting stars coaching at Daneshill on the same day! We received great feedback from the pupils and feel their skills, knowledge and understanding of the sport have greatly improved. We are looking forward to seeing the Year 4’s in action in their upcoming fixtures in the next few weeks.   

Miss Kate O’Neill

The boys have started the Rugby term well.  Mr Croker has had an immediate influence and the pupils’ enthusiasm for the game has, once again, hit the ceiling.  With the pitches out of action we have been training on the astro but that has not dampened the effort, nor the skill factor. We have looked at closing the space and tackle technique in defence, and going forward and continuity in attack.  The matches next week cannot come quickly enough as the boys are eager to show their prowess.

Mr Scott Baldwin