Welcome back to a new school year. We hope that the new school year 20-21 has no disruptions due to covid. We have had another great week in school with lots of learning enjoyed by all. It has been great to see so many children starting the day with a run in my running club this week. I can see that I will need to up my game as they are much fitter than I am! Just a reminder that all clubs have now started. We offer a wide variety of clubs to enrich our curriculum both at lunchtime and after school. Please encourage your children to join in where they can.
As I write my newsletter, news is emerging of the cabinet reshuffle. Gavin Williamson has been relieved of his duties as Education Secretary. The new appointment is Nadhim Zawahi who has previously held the position of Secretary of State for Children and Families. I sincerely hope that he can cut through some of the ‘political red tape’ and put our children at the heart of Government policy.
This week our key Stage 1 children and Reception class had a visit from our local police officers who talked to them about how police officers keep everyone safe. The children even had chance to sit in the police car and sound the sirens!
Many of us may not be able to be with those we love during the celebrations over the coming weeks and during the twinkly madness of this time of year, we can often overlook the moments of joy and generosity that we so badly need this year.
Magic can be found in the smallest of things: the smiles on the children’s faces on Christmas morning, offering to help somebody or just picking up the phone and listening, sending a letter, sending somebody your favourite homemade recipe or dropping off baked treats (if it is safe to do so).
We must not forget to be generous to ourselves too. It’s no secret that if we are exhausted and struggling it’s going to be extremely tough to spread any kind of positivity or be there for those around us. We must focus on being kind to ourselves before we can share the same generosity to others.
When we return in January, the children talk briefly about their presents but what they have enjoyed most are the little things like staying up late on New Years Eve. They mention their presents briefly but for the most part Christmas is you, your time, routines and feeling safe. You are their favourite thing.
Have a wonderful safe Christmas everyone.
The children have been creating a display of poems, poppies and artwork in remembrance of our servicemen and women.
Outdoor Learning week
The children have been learning outside the classroom this week. We have been using the outdoor classroom at Crabtree woods, building fires, whittling sticks and learning about the pigs and hens.
Our amazing FOLHS organised a super pumpkin competition over the half term holidays. A video of the Halloween fun can be found below, please click on the 'Halloween fun' link:
What a fabulous day we had with our Year 6 children in Wendover Woods. It was great to get outside in the fresh air. The children followed an orienteering route around the woods using compasses and following directions. They looked for clues and answers to questions along the way. The children took part in the 'Go Ape' challenge. It was wonderful to hear many of our children encouraging others who were a little nervous of being up in the tree tops or on the zip wire. They supported each other and overcame fears. After lunch, the children took part in Mr Battye's 'Great British Den Off' where they created dens using the den building area. Luckily the rain stayed away and everyone came home feeling tired but with smiles on their faces.
Our Year 5 children took part in a Viking day to launch their History topic. The children looked fabulous dressed in their Viking costumes. They learnt all about what is was like to live in this part of History. Please look on the Year 5 class page for photos of the children learning.
Our Key Stage 1 children took part in a drama workshop this week. They learnt how to project their voices and how to perform to an audience.
Black History Month
October is Black History Month! We have been taking the opportunity to celebrate and recognise the outstanding contribution of black British people to our society. There has been a real buzz around our school with the sound of different music, children learning different dances, political debates and much art work. Please see the class pages for examples of some of the children's work.
Due to such generous donations from within our school community, we were able to support our local foodbank again this year. We received the lovely letter below from the Chiltern Foodbank thanking everyone for donating.
We are very excited to be launching our new forest activities this term. We have written risk assessments and policy documents so that we can ensure our children can get the most out of our lovely school environment and local area. We held one of our staff meetings at Crabtree woods and were privileged to be taken on a tour of the woods and facilities on offer for our children. We are very excited to be able to use the outdoor classroom, fire pit and all the footpaths and woodland areas to enhance the outdoor learning we have on offer at Ley Hill School.
Forest Mission Statement
“To provide the opportunity for all pupils to achieve their full potential by experiencing success and recognition for their valued contribution in a safe, calm, friendly, nurturing environment.”
The Forest School Ethos
Forest School is a unique educational experience and process that offers children the opportunity to succeed and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or other natural environment.
The Forest School concept originated in Scandinavia and was originally aimed at pre-school children. It was found that children who had attended forest school seemed to benefit in many ways. They arrived at school with strong social and communication skills, had the ability to work in groups effectively, displayed high self-esteem and generally showed confidence in their own abilities.
Since being adopted in the United Kingdom the approach has been used to deliver learning programmes to groups from pre-school age to young adults and across all abilities. Research has shown that the benefits identified in the original forest schools appear to benefit learners at all levels.
Forest School at Ley Hill provides opportunities for and encourages children to:
At Ley Hill School we aim to:
We are really looking forwards to enhancing our Forest school area and using our local environment to learn outside. You can find more information by looking at our Forest Activities page:
European Languages Day
We have had a super day celebrating lots of different languages. Have a look at the video link below for our work this week.
Jeans for Genes Day
We had such fun wearing our jeans to school to raise awareness of the great charity 'Jeans for Genes' We raised a whopping £220!!
Computing, information technology and digital citizenship
The computer science curriculum has changed in recent years, with an increased focus on the science of computing — on helping our children have a good understanding of how computers work in this highly digital age. Whether a child grows up to be a programmer or not (and in any case, career choices are a long way off for an eight-year old!), the skills within computing are useful because many of them centre around problem-solving which can be applied in many other contexts.
We have been delighted to see all the children using our new IT equipment which was installed and updated over the summer. We now have a class set of 30 laptops for the children to use both in the IT suite and in the classroom. The flexibility of being able to take IT to the classroom has been amazing. This means we can have research stations in the classrooms and children can access the internet or intervention tools without needing to share with a partner.
Our Wi-Fi survey was also completed over the summer which identified areas of the school which couldn’t access any Wi-Fi. We have now upgraded this so that we have full coverage across the school site. Existing computers have also been upgraded so that children can still access them in the IT suite.
Back to school September 2020
It is so wonderful to see all the children returning to school. What a joy to see so many happy, smiley faces.
Our Year 6 sports leaders did a fabulous job of organising our sports relief activities this year. The children have raised over £200 in aid of this super charity.
Beavers and Cubs
It has been fabulous to see so many of our children form part of the Tyler's Hill Beavers and Cub groups. The cubs came in to school on Tuesday evening to spend time in our school library. The cubs pack thought it would be a good idea to have a reading focus for their meeting this week as we were taking part in a reading enrichment week in school.
On Monday, the cubs led our whole school assembly to share the types of activities they do each week and the badges they work towards. Some of the cubs will be moving on to scouts soon and so more places are now available for new members. They meet every Tuesday so if you would like to join in please speak to Jo Kimber
Each Friday we celebrate all of our achievements in our assembly. Many children bring in achievements from outside of school too so don't forget to bring those Beavers and Cubs badges in to school so that we celebrate all your hard work.
World Book Day
What a fantastic book day we have had today. The children looked fabulous in their costumes which they displayed in assembly this morning. Children had the opportunity to swap books before playtime and learn all about new authors and different genres. After lunch our teachers read a book to a different class which was great fun. The children loved having a different teacher for part of the afternoon!
Our writing competition was a great success too. Whilst there were overall winners, all the staff commented on how engaged the children had been with the writing competition and in fact everyone who took part was a winner!
Children's book author, Tom McLaughlin came to school to inspire us all how to be a great author. We took tips from him about how to start our stories and we have used some of his ideas for illustrating too. Lots of children have been inspired to write their own stories in his style and our older children have been thinking carefully about characterisation, using the illustrations to help them. Thank you to Mrs Mortali for organising such a great day.
Internet Safety Day
The children have been learning all about how to stay safe on the internet and how to make a kinder internet.
Digital technologies provide us with a world of possibilities at our fingertips. Never before have we enjoyed so many opportunities to learn, exchange, participate and create. Yet, the internet also opens up certain risks to its users – especially the most vulnerable ones, such as children: privacy concerns, cyberbullying, disinformation, exposure to potentially harmful content and predatory behaviours, to quote but a few. How can we ensure access to a safe and stimulating online environment for the greatest number, where they can make the most of a wealth of opportunities, while at the same time mitigating its negative side-effects? Together, we have the power to inspire positive changes online and to raise awareness of the issues that matter to us by taking part in 'safer internet day'.
There are a number of leaflets for parents information on the e-safety section of our website.
Chesham Arts Speech Festival
Well done to all the children who took part in this over the weekend. We had the most fantastic day with many distinction and honours awards given to our children. We even have somebody representing Ley Hill School at the Elgiva!
Children's Mental Health week
Over the past few years, there has been a growing crisis within children’s and young people’s mental health. The most up to date national prevalence survey conducted last year suggests that 1 in 8 children or young people have a diagnosable mental health disorder. However, it is likely that mental health problems for children and young people are more likely to be much higher, some surveys suggest as many as 1 in 4 children are struggling with poor mental health.
The effects children and young people struggling with mental health problems are apparent in every classroom across the UK. The recent state of education report identifies that 79% of teachers in both primary and secondary schools reported seeing an increase in stress, anxiety and panic attacks in their pupils, along with as a rise in other mental health problems such as depression, self-harm and eating disorders.
In order to develop a whole school approach to support and nurture our children we have been working hard to make well-being visible. This includes promoting a 'growth mind-set' philosophy, notice boards and displays, positive role models and groups for our children, 'wobble' club, learning outside, school and class assemblies as well as through our curriculum so that we can prevent mental health problems developing.
It is important to us to keep mental well being high on our agenda so that it remains a priority at Ley Hill school.
At Ley Hill we love learning outside the classroom. The philosophy of forest activities is to encourage and inspire all of our children through positive outdoor experiences. Having developed a 'Forest School' initiative at my previous school, I am passionate about encouraging the children to participate in engaging, motivating and achievable activities outside. We all know that being outside and with nature, under trees or in the countryside has huge benefits for our health and mental well being. All of our children should be given opportunities to develop and participate in activities which promote the 'awe and wonder' of the world around us. Our children have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and cooperate with others. Evidence shows that learning outside the classroom develops self esteem and promotes healthy bodies and healthy minds.
I would like to develop this further at Ley Hill by timetabling a weekly session of outdoor learning for all. We have a wonderful space between the field and the playground which can potentially be used for den building, whittling sticks and building fires. With the woods behind the school just on our doorstep we will be able to take the children outside more frequently to develop these skills. With the support of our amazing PTA some of their funds this year will go towards purchasing a fire pit, den building kits and outdoor tools. I will be training all our staff on the forest school philosophy so that we can all get outside to learn. Chiltern Rangers will be used on a more an ad-hoc basis next academic year to provide some additional activities for us across the whole school.
As a school, we aim to develop:
Year 2's digeridoo workshop was a great success today. The children loved performing in front of the rest of the school and parents.
Our Year 6 children have visited RAF Hendon today. They have taken part in a vast range of exciting activities to enrich their creative curriculum this term. 2020 is the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the workshops were a celebration of the heroes of this pivotal event. They took part in hands-on explorations of intriguing objects, uniform and flight clothing. They also took part in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) workshop and will be bringing their learning back into the classroom to develop their knowledge and understanding of this time in history.
Our year 3 class have had a wonderful day learning all about the Bronze Age. Our visitor shared lots of different historical artefacts which has launched the children's topic and created awe and wonder about what life was like during this period of history.
What a busy Autumn we had! It is lovely to see the children have rested and enjoyed the Christmas break. They have all returned to school with renewed enthusiasm. We have launched our new PSHE curriculum this week. The term's theme is 'Goals and Achievements' and what a way to start the new year with lots of discussions about all of our goals for a new term.
The teachers will be attending a training course after school today. The theme is 'Curriculum retrieval' which will be delving into the way children remember facts over time. We are looking forward to some new strategies which we can use in the classroom.
Mrs Rennard, Mrs Bowen and I took the Reception class children through Cowcroft Woods and up to the church this morning for the Christmas story and craft making. We decorated the Christmas tree ready for our Carol Service next week. It was quite cold and muddy but we all wrapped up warm and cosy and wore wellies. Thank you to all the Mums that helped to make this a super morning.
Xmas decorations are up! We all had a fab Xmas Fete over the weekend. Thank you again to FOLHS for organising this and helping to raise funds for our school.
Crazy day in school today with crazy hair day! Thank you for bringing all the bottles for our Christmas Fete bottle tombola!
Feedback from our Learning Exhibition has been over whelming again. Thank you to everyone for such wonderful comments. The children have worked incredibly hard this week and are proud of their achievements. They always love to share what they have learnt with an adult. Thank you for coming along to see the children in their classrooms.
Today we all wore odd socks. What a wonderful way to celebrate difference during Anti Bullying week. There were striped ones, spotty ones, bright ones, walking ones, long ones, short ones, over the knee ones...all different but all valued!
Anti Bullying week! 'Change starts with us'. We have been talking with the children about what changes we can make as a school to remain such a friendly and supportive school.
We took one minute silence after playtime to remember our servicemen and women. Many of our children had been involved in remembrance services as part of their commitment to guides, Brownies and scouts this weekend. They showed such respect and understanding. Our Year 6 children have been selling poppies for the British Legion. Thank you everyone.
My first Ley Hill School disco! Such a lot of work goes into the organising of the school disco. Thank you to FOLHS for working tirelessly to ensure a great evening for everyone!
Today I spent a wonderful afternoon teaching in our Reception class. The children were all busy learning about friendship for our Anti Bullying week and were keen to share with me the characteristics of a good friend. I had a lovely afternoon!
Today Mrs Hillson and I attended the Early Years Head's conference. It was a great opportunity to share good practise with our Early Years colleagues in other schools.
I have had conversations with some of our children about how we can be a good friend. They were very keen to tell me what a Ley Hill friend looks like. They told me 'someone who listens, who shows kindness, who stops to help you when are hurt, who always makes sure you are not alone and who does the right thing at the right time'. They were perfectly articulate and told me that most people are god friends at Ley Hill. If someone isn't being very friendly they feel they can always ask an adult for help.
Smiles all round this morning for our school photos.
I had the chance to meet Mrs Birkett, one of our parish councillors, today. We had a long discussion about how we can tackle unsafe parking and speeding outside the school. We have some plans brewing!
In our school council meeting today, the children were discussing local charities and deciding who we can support.
Year 6 have been learning about Shakespeare's Macbeth with a workshop in the hall today.
Harvest celebrations took place today. The children performed beautifully during our Harvest service with songs sung (and even written by Year 4), Information given about to choose healthy foods (Year 2) How some fruits and vegetables are grown sustainably (Year 1) All about Fair Trade (Year 6) and information about the Food Banks (Year 5). It was a super celebration of our community and how our generosity goes along way to help others.
I have been observing lessons this week. Such great things are happening in each classroom. The children are keen and eager to learn and the more able children are challenged well to make even more rapid progress.
Today was the Ley Hill Challenge. Many visitors came to school to run either the 5K or 10K runs. (Some even ran both!!) I had a wonderful conversation with an ex pupil of Ley Hill who left the school 62 years ago! 'Best years of my life,' he said!
We had our first Learning Exhibition this afternoon. There was so much science on show. Year 6 had made bags of blood(!) and Year 4 were testing fruits to see if they conducted electricity. There was superb knowledge of the solar system and various projects on display too. Well done everyone!
We had our first school council meeting today. The children are really keen to make some environmental changes to our school. Watch this space!
I spent the afternoon with Year 1 and we learnt about different types of music and how to dance to the rhythm!
So proud to watch the boys football match today. They played so well as a team and showed such great sportsmanship. Well done Ley Hill!
Our new parent tours started today. It was lovely to show everyone around our wonderful school. I could see how impressed everyone was with our wider curriculum resources. We are so lucky to have so many useful spaces in school, an IT room, Food Tech room, a dining hall that is separate from the main hall, a quiet garden, climbing frames, new library and the KILN!
I felt so proud as I showed everyone around. The classrooms look amazing and the children talk eloquently and politely about what they are learning. It such a wonderful place to work and learn together.
Where did September go? One of the things I love most about my job is watching the children play on the playground at lunchtime. The children are so kind to each other here and share in many games and equipment. The older boys are really wanting me to purchase some new footballs. It has also been great to see the children play with the chess and the table tennis in the court yard.
I met with the 'Friends of Ley Hill' today. My goodness what a dedicated group you all are. I am amazed at the commitment to organise and develop fundraising ideas and community initiatives for the school. We had a good chat about the types of events that work well at Ley Hill with a few new ideas on the cards too.
Today I attended a Heads' curriculum development day in Aylesbury. Much of the focus was based on the new PSHE statutory requirements for a new curriculum in September 2020. I had chance to look at a number of PSHE resources which will continue to promote well being at Ley Hill School. I will be counting the pennies carefully so that we can update our resources!
I also had a very productive meeting with our Early Years adviser from County who has been working with the school to share her expertise within our Nursery and Reception classes. It was great to prioritise plans for the coming year for these classes.
Such a wonderful coffee morning at school today. This was in aid of Macmillan, the charity that supports families who affected by cancer. There were so many wonderful cakes! It was great to talk to parents who had stopped by to attend the coffee morning. I know that this will raise a great amount for such a worthwhile charity.
Today I ran an induction for our wonderful parent volunteers. This included safeguarding training for everyone who helps in our school. It was really great to see so many parents wanting to support our children either by listening to them read, organising DT projects or supporting our school trips.
Our Year 3 children spent the day at Celtic Harmony - another superb example of how our curriculum is enriched by trips at visits at Ley Hill School.
My first liaison group meeting in Chesham today. It was super to talk to the other Heads of our local schools. I can see that this will be a great team, working together for the best outcomes for all of our children.
Our Year 1 children visited The Open Air Museum today and learnt all about the Celts.
Today I attended an inspiration leadership conference at Charteridge conference centre. This was delivered through the medium of Shakespeare's plays which was great fun for all new Heads to Buckinghamshire!
It has also been Jeans for Genes Day and the children all looked great in their jeans, supporting such a great charity event.
Our Year 5 children have swimming today. They are developing their swimming style and strokes.
We also had our Governor teaching and learning committee meeting and were able to share the good progress that the children are making across the school.
What a busy day it has been! Our Year 3 children have been visiting Calcroft Woods to develop their Forest skills today. Luckily the rain held off and the children returned with lots of chatter and rosy cheeks! Year 4 have been to Chiltern Hills for a sporting event and Year 5 enjoyed a Viking workshop in school.
Today our Year 4 children visited the Verulamium in St Albans for the day. They have been learning all about the Romans. They can back with lots of interesting facts memorised.
We also welcomed our 'Open the Book' assembly team in to school to lead our assembly. The children learnt about the good Samaritan and how this story can relate to their own behaviour both in school and within the wider community.
Today I attended a 'Threshold of needs' conference. This outlines the best ways to identify children who may be vulnerable or need additional support in school.
'Meet the Teacher' and 'Meet the Headteacher' meetings were held this evening and went well. We have received such lovely feedback from both the staff and parents. I am starting to get to know everyone and put names to faces. It has been great to share a questionnaire with parents so that we can work together on a shared vision for our children.
How wonderful to see the children ready for school this morning. What a lovely welcome everyone has given me. The classrooms look bright and eye catching and we have been organising our new topics for the start of term.