Teacher, Mr Gane with Teaching Assistant, Mrs Hall.
What a wonderful end, to the strangest of terms – I hope you were able to zoom in to our virtual Christmas service this morning, which was a triumph of will over adversity! Most of the regular St Stephen’s trimming were on display, not least Mr Schumm’s Christmas suit, although alas with no Alastair sidekick for the full double act. Denis is a worthy foil, giving as good as he gets, and delivering a ‘kindly’ Christmas message to one and all.
Y6 do keep going right to the end, as no doubt you’ve heard… The children did their regular weekly spelling test today in English with some finishing off their Benjamin Zephaniah inspired poems too. His ‘No Problem’ poem, which the children analysed earlier in the week, confronts his experiences of racism and how he is now able to not let it affect him in his day to day life. As a result, the children have planned and wrote their own poems based on issues that are important to them. Once they were written, the class performed them with some powerful messages hitting home on majors issues including bullying, climate change, equality, coronavirus and racism – each spoke really passionately about their subject.
In Miss Marchant’s absence, Miss Charrington ably took charge of Maths next door this week teaching the children how to find fractions of an amount, dividing fractions by other fractions using our KFC method (keep, flip, change – so 1/5 divided by ½ is the same as 1/5 x 2). In my class the children enjoyed more challenging tests as their finale to fractions…. for the time being!
We have managed to finish off many of our other lessons this week by looking at the different UK coastal regions in Geography, creating our own Christmas advertisements in RE some on paper, others made video ads using the iPads, as well as discussing how to be a good friend and support those who are being bullied in Relationships and Health Education. Of course, it would not be the last week of term without throwing in lots Christmas activities to get everyone in the mood. Christmas Music, Christmas Jumpers, Christmas lunch and Christmas cards this afternoon.
Finally, I’d like to thank you all for allowing me to teach your wonderful children who have worked really hard under very different and testing circumstances. Sadly, they’ll be more of the same at the start of 2021 but hopefully, things will only get better – keep saying your prayers. Thank you also for the super generous gift, which will come in handy for more than a few more ties! Thanks for all the kind words in your cards and the wine and chocs too. I hope you all have a peaceful and very restful Christmases and look forward to seeing you at the gate again in the New Year.
Fractions, fractions and more fractions remains the order of the day in Maths. In addition to learning how to multiply fractions by integers and other fractions, the children in my group also started on dividing the same. It’s all very exciting stuff! And speaking Maths, I hope you might have seen the Parent Mail on the FREE Online Maths Tutor Programme from St Paul’s Boys School. This virtual maths mentoring programme provides students with on-demand, remote maths homework help: students simply snap a photo of their question to get help from a mentor right away, all via smartphone. Here’s a short video with more details from some of the student mentors on how it works. If you’re interested, please complete this consent form.
Continuing their poetry learning in English, the children were introduced to Birmingham born performance poet, Benjamin Zephaniah and his ‘dub poetry’. They listened to his life-story on Desert Island Discs learning that this dyslexic, ex-convict and advisor to Nelson Mandela, now holds sixteen honorary doctorates and has a wing named after him in Ealing Hospital in in recognition of his work. A definite late starter! The children listened to him perform his iconic work, ‘No Problem’ before analysing his non-standard English style and powerful themes.
On Tuesday afternoon we joined forces with our bubble-mates from Y6 Stevenson to perform our much practised Gaudete hymn and poem in the church, as our part in this year’s Carol Concert, copies of which will hopefully be available next week – see Parent Mail payments to order your copy. Back in the classroom the children looked at how the church ‘advertises’ or promotes Christmas. They came up with lots of ideas from flyers distributed to local house, posters outside the church as well as ‘events’ that might take place under normal circumstances such as carol concerts, Christmas dinners for the old and lonely, Christmas fairs etc etc. The children explored why the churches might do this and how these activities deliver the Christian message.
Thursday was DT Day, which saw the children learning all about levers and linkages, using fixed and loose pivot points; trust me, it really was much more exciting than it sounds! They used their new found knowledge to create then pop-up book style paper animations; some turned into Christmas cards. In Art this week, which was on Monday afternoon, the children advanced the paper modelling skills, crafting huge snowflake inspired stars – currently dangling from the classroom ceiling and soon to at a place near you.
Our singers were working overtime, as they always do at this time of the year, but sadly no visit to the old folks home or Westfield carol competition this this season, instead Mr Schumm rustled up a short showing on the main BBC News to be aired on the 6pm and 10pm bulletins next Tuesday or Wednesday. Miss Rachel and the School Choir were very excited; but not as excited as Mr Schumm.
Volts and amps, series and parallel – ask them whatever you want now as nearly everyone scored 8 out of 8 in our end of unit quiz in Science. …and speaking of scoring (nice link), the whole of Y6 enjoyed a wonderful Inter-Year Tournament at Play Football this morning. Organised by Claire and Alastair, we trotted expectantly down to Play Football in Hammersmith Park for the round robin five(ish)-a-side, duly togged up for the weather. For the record ‘The B Team’ consisting of Bea, Bethel, Bethany and Amelia won all four of their matches taking the Girls’ Trophy, while ‘Winner Winner Chicken Dinner’ with Jack, Kenzo Daniel, Gus, Deontay and Casper squeaked it on goal difference having lost just one match. What fun they had!
With COVID safety at the fore of all he does at the moment in place of individual Christmas cards, he would like to wish each and every one of you a Feliz Navidad. It’s Christmas Jumper Day on Wednesday next week, which is also Christmas Dinner Day when Cookie will be serving up a Christmas feast for everyone. Children on packed lunches are welcome to join us and should make payments via Parentmail. On Thursday, 17th at 6pm, the House Captains will be zooming a Christmas Quiz to your homes. This will be for all the family with grannies, grandpas, great aunt Gertrude all welcome to join us. More details to follow but think lots of fun, festive themed rounds and a Christmas goody bag, packed with delights, to make your little grey cells flex their muscles in readiness for the quiz. The cost of the quiz is £12 per family and this includes your goody bag! Then finally on the morning of the last day of term, Friday 18th at 9am in the school playground you are invited to come and enjoy a Carol Mash Up. Busy, busy, busy!
Enjoy the FOSS Scavenger Hunt on Sunday if you are taking part and have a super weekend,
PS The Cross Country will now take place on Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday.
Very short and sweet from me this week as, with the children practising their SATs techniques as well as their carol and poem for our Carol Concert next week, it’s been a bit of a slog, punctuated by Cricket, Gym, Kick London, Spanish and Music – all the nice stuff! The children should be very happy indeed with all of the hard work that they have put in, not just this week, but since September, which is now showing great dividends in their attainment – Stars of the Week one and all.
Thanks for your support with Mathletics, which this year seems to have been more of an issue for children than previously. As you know, we use the online system to set questions that link to the children’s learning in class for a plethora of reasons, not least saving the world’s paper and freeing up teaching assistants’ value time to work with your children in lessons rather than marking even more in homework books. Sadly, a small but consist cohort do not do their Maths homework, which is set each Friday and due ‘back’ by 9am the following Friday. I would be most grateful if you would check and ask your children explicitly if they have done this part of their homework, before signing their diaries as confirmation. Thanks as always to the quiet majority of you who consistently do it – you do not go unnoticed!
And finally, one change for next week. On Tuesday all KS2 children will be filmed (bubble by bubble) in the church for our Online Carol Concert, so they will need to wear their school uniform that day and bring their Gym kit to change into.
That’s it, enjoy a restful if chilly weekend,
British Dyslexia Association – FREE Online Seminar
For anyone interested, there is a free online seminar on dyslexia and anxiety this Thursday, 10th December. It is organised by the British Dyslexia Association and can be accessed
Following an initial grammar brush up on identifying the past, present and future progressive (continuous) tenses, for the rest of the week our English focus was on Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘The Kraken’. After analysing the Victorian language, the children recited the poem before then planning and writing a detailed description of the legendary creature. Inspired by his grot and polypi, they conjured up with their very own sea beastie planned and wrote a poem – we packed it in, with book reviews and a ‘Private Peaceful’ from Mr Schumm too.
In Maths this week both groups have continued to work their way through ‘fractions’ focusing on mixed numbers and improper fractions as well as multiplying and (in my group) dividing fractions by integers. Whilst the children have seen much of this in Y5, our work in Y6 aims to instil a greater depth of learning, challenging the children with word problems that are aimed at making them use the understanding they have in order to solve more complex problems – getting them ready for the practice SATs Week next week, brought forward due to Christmas preparations the week after… Watch this space.
Surprisingly, not all of the children completed their RE homework (part of) which was to watch adverts on TV. To much joy, therefore, we were able to watch some in class, which then enabled the children to ‘analyse’ the ads to find their messages. Of course there was lots of generic ‘goodness’, ‘kindness’ and anticipation of gifts, with – on Black Friday today – a big message to buy, but not a lot, or indeed anything at all, about the main man himself: Jesus. We used this to talk about the difference between a secular or consumer Christmas and a religious one, which we will continue working on over the next three weeks.
After the counties of the UK last week, in Humanities on Monday the children first learned the difference between towns and cities, before using atlases to locate the major UK cities on a map. Funnily enough, football supporters seemed to do very well. In was batteries, wires and lightbulbs to the fore again on Wednesday as the children investigated how the length of cable in a circuit affected the brightness of a bulb. They learned that energy dissipated as it travels through the wire, which they worked out was why wires sometimes get hot, so the longer the wires in the circuit, the dimmer the bulb.
The children are enjoying the government’s new ‘Relationship & Health Education’ lessons as we trial them before they become mandatory next year. Following ‘Me & My Relationships’ last term, our theme at the moment is ‘Valuing Difference’ which involves lots of very interesting discussion as well as role playing of challenging scenarios. Today in Art it was back to Cubism as the children completed their interpretations of Picasso’s ‘Dora Maar’ splashing on liberal amounts of brightly coloured contrasting paints. All very creative!
Finally, with Sunday the first of Advent, Christmas is coming, which means we are gearing up at St Stephen’s for as much as Covidly possible. The children have been practising their carols in Spanish and Latin, solos, reading and poems, as we prepare for a Carol Service with a difference – I hope you’ve seen Mr Schumm’s message and pencilled in the date.
Enjoy a restful weekend,
I hope you might have noticed a marked increase in the children’s persuasive skills over the past couple of weeks, as in English, we have now come to the end of our persuasive writing unit. Mr Schumm will now be ploughing his way through letters trying to persuade him to: allocate separate gender loos – with Y6 monitors!!; create a Y6 Hall of Fame; instigate daily Spanish lessons and loads of other wonderful ideas for his School Improvement Plan! The Grammar focus this week was Personal as well as Possessive Pronouns and Relative Pronouns. Next week it’s Poetry.
Speaking with a real life author is always fun, so on Wednesday (instead of Mr Schumm and ‘Private Peaceful’) Paola Somaini, a psychoanalyst and therapist, Zoomed in to the classroom to tell the children how she brought her long experience in discussing emotions and feelings into writing. Having read her book, ‘I Can See It with My Elephant Eye’, a light and colourful story addressing children’s fears and worries, the children asked her loads of great questions on both the content and process of writing.
Maths was adding and subtracting; fractions, fractions, fractions, fractions, fractions, Improper Fractions, fractions, fractions, Mixed Numbers with Word Problems involving fractions. And there’s more for Homework; set on Mathletics.
The religious theme for the year in Y6 is ‘Hope’, so in preparation for the start of Advent, the children this week learned about the symbolism of the Christmas Wreath and particularly the candles, which are lit in church on it each Sunday of Advent and finally on Christmas Day itself. Next week they will be examining TV adverts, so they were overjoyed when I told them that part of their homework was to watch telly….. they were less enamoured though when they heard that Mr Perry would like them to learn by heart the Y6 Bible verse – Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord:
plans to prosper you and not harm you;
plans to give you hope and a future.”
“So how many counties are there in the UK, or England?” came the question in Humanities this week. A quick check on Google gives a wonderfully British ‘grey’ answer with lots of variations to confuse young minds – Middlesex yes or no? More importantly though, was whether or not they knew any and could identify where they might be. The children worked hard using atlases to locate Cumbria, Rutland and Worcestershire before enjoying a quick fire ‘Find the County’ game on the Interactive White Board.
In addition to work on building their vocabulary on buildings and rooms in the house, in Spanish this week the children are also learning ‘Los Peces En El Río’, a traditional Christmas Carol, which they might want to practise.
La Virgen se está peinando
Entre cortina y cortina
Sus cabellos son de oro
Y el peine de plata fina
Pero mira cómo beben los peces en el río
Pero mira cómo beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer
Pero mira cómo beben los peces en el río
Pero mira cómo beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer
La Virgen está lavando
Y tendiendo en el romero
Los angelitos cantando
Y el romero florecido
Pero mira cómo beben los peces en el río
Pero mira cómo beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer
La Virgen está lavando
Con un poquito de jabón
Se le picaron las manos
Manos de mi corazón
Pero mira cómo beben por ver al Dios nacido
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer
And staying on song, Miss Rachel has them all singing like angels in Music – I listened to an amazing rendition of the medieval carol ‘Gaudete’ with a superb solo – it really took my breath away!
The children thoroughly enjoyed the Disney style, Pixar animation ‘Over the Moon’ for Movie Night on Thursday, which I trust allowed you all to prepare to enjoy the most popular ‘vin de primeur’, Beaujolais Nouveau – fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale annually on the third Thursday of November. Pictures on Twitter @StStephensLBHF . I’ll drink to that!
Friday was busy as ever and saw the children: whizz through some Science, learning to recognise and use the universal symbols used when creating electrical circuits; build on their learning from last week about Excel spreadsheets (for the boys) and hone their cricket skills (for the girls). We’ve moved on from our focus on the Face in Art to now looking at the body as a whole. To start this work on the Figure, the children studied Picasso’s painting of his muse ‘Dora Maar’. Considered to be part of the Cubism Movement and completed in 1937, the portrait sees Dora majestically seated in an armchair, smiling and resting her head on her hand. The face is shown in half frontal and half profile view, with a red eye and a green eye facing in different directions – the simplified Cubist body to seen from the front. As you might imagine, the children were quite undaunted by the whole concept and sketched out their own figures first in pencil, then outlined in black. Paint next week.
Enjoy the rugby; England vs Ireland, Channel 4 tomorrow.
Brush Up Your Shakespeare
It’s here! – Coram Shakespeare Schools Festival is staging an ambitious and exciting new initiative; One Night of Shakespeare, which will be broadcast live tonight at 7pm. They’ll have performance highlights from schools across the UK, interviews with outstanding teachers and appearances from celebrity patrons, including Harriet Walter and Alfred Enoch.
Can I really start off the blog with ‘what a busy week it’s been’ again….? Every week is a busy week here, and we’re in Lockdown 2! It was great to catch up with so many of you for Parents’ Evening on Wednesday and Thursday, and to share with you all of the super work and efforts of your children. On the whole, we are well on track for another impressive year, which does certainly seem to be picking up, albeit from a very low base!
So to matters in hand, or more literally, in the classroom. All of the children continued developing their understanding of fractions in Maths this week, as they compared different fraction using the lowest common denominator (LCD), although something new to those in my group, was comparing fractions using the numerator… ask them to explain, before we moved on to adding and subtracting fractions. In English persuasive writing is the order of the day with the children preparing to bombard Mr Schumm with their exquisitely crafted letters packed full of well-reasoned ideas on how to improve the school. I bet he can’t wait to receive those! Finally, the Book Reviews continued apace this week with some expert analysis by Phoebe, Bea, Arthur, Natalie and Andre followed by incisive questioning from their peers.
Part of our RE lesson on Monday included the story of Sadako Sasaki – a 12 year old from Hiroshima – and her paper cranes. Her dying wish for peace inspired your children to learn how to make her famous cranes, following the ancient Japanese legend which says that your greatest wish will come true if you fold 1,000 origami cranes. Some of those that the children made went home; some are in their RE books and others have been placed on the RE display board. More exciting perhaps, is that the School Councillors Sadie and Rufus have written to the Mayor of Hiroshima enclosing a hundred or so that we have asked to be add to others from around the world in the famous Peace Park.
Continuing the theme, on Remembrance Day itself, we watched Mr Perry’s special morning Assembly and listened to Luka and Malachi recite the poems they had especially written for the occasion to the whole school. Just before 11am we joined the live proceedings at Westminster Abbey, standing for the two minutes silence as Big Ben began to chime. I must say that the solemnity of the occasion was very well observed by everyone in Y6 Ayres. Later in the day the children learned about the ‘Unknown Warrior’ whose centenary is celebrated this year.
The children’s geographical knowledge was tested on Monday as we began our new topic in Humanities focussing on the UK. They learned about the composition of our realm before drilling down in to populations of the four countries it comprises, using iPads. In Science the children used batteries, wires and bulbs to make various different electrical circuits to investigate and test out their hypotheses around changes to the power or load on various circuits – lucky it’s so dark now by 3pm!
After putting the children through their ‘not so virtual’ 800m runs last week, Alastair put his feet up this week as the children led their own PE lesson on Thursday. With instructions create various different football training drills, working in groups the children created some spectacular drills to develop different aspects of the skills required. He’d better be careful or he’ll put himself out of business from what I saw! Meanwhile in Gymnastics on Tuesday, Paul and Fiona had the children working on various different ‘spot’ skills while in the morning Jonathan had them bowling a full 22 yards line and length – more practice required! This afternoon saw the first in a series of sessions until Christmas, for all the girls in Y6, when through an ECB initiative, Bryony the top women’s coach at Shepherds Bush Cricket Club gave bespoke coaching for our future Heather Knights, Tammy Beaumonts and Katherine Brunts.
Movie Night is next Thursday 19th November and the KS2 children will all be watching the Netflix family animation movie, ‘Over the Moon’. As the whole school is still unable to get together in the main hall, the children will watch the movie in the classroom and snacks will be delivered! Year 6 children should be collected promptly from the playground at 5.30pm, so enter via Lime Grove as normal.
Enjoy your weekend.
Online Festival for the Weekend?
Dan Freedman, creator of the Jamie Johnson series, will be speaking online at the Richmond Literature Festival, chatting with Moussa Samb about Jamie Johnson, writing and football on Sunday, 15 Nov at 12pm. Moussa is an incredible young man who, during lockdown, set up his own online platform so youngsters in his community could read books and not feel so isolated. He and Dan will be chatting all things JJ and will be taking questions LIVE from viewers during the event. The event is open to families everywhere!
Tickets are £6 but the whole household can watch and take part so hopefully Dan says, “we’ll make it good value. With any luck, it will sell out so here’s the link with all the info and to book tickets in advance: http://www.richmondliterature.com/dan-freedman.html”
This week, we celebrated ‘Parliament Week’ and in Y6 Ayres we began learning how our government functions as the children ‘worked’ as MPs online dealing with real ‘inbox’ issues, prioritising them and juggling their workloads. Then we were lucky enough to interview (via Zoom) not just one, but two MPs; Danny Kruger (Conservative) as well as Andy Slaughter (Labour) our local MP. The children fired off loads of great questions, getting a real insight into how, what and why our democratically elected representatives get up to.
Lockdown 2.0 sadly meant that the planned ‘virtual’ Cross Country planned at Wormwood Scrubs had to be cancelled, but that didn’t stop the children enjoying their regular Cricket with Jonathan, Gymnastics with Paul & Fiona and Cross Country/Playground with Alastair – what lucky children!
It’s been a week of starting new topics, which means in Maths we began by reviewing the children’s previous learning of Fractions and in English they began by finding features and techniques used in Persuasive Writing. The darker nights of the autumn term make the Science unit on Electricity more interesting – this week the children trawled their memories from Y4 to recall circuits so that we can soon get some hands-on circuit making with batteries, light bulbs and buzzers – bring on the night. Remembrance, is our theme in RE for this week and next, and saw the children learning about what it is, why we do it and how it is done. They listened to the poem by John McCrae…
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.
…before then writing one of their own. Malachi and Luka will read theirs for the Remembrance Day Assembly (on zoom) on Wednesday.
In Humanities, the children rounded off their learning from last half term on the ancient Greeks before they start looking at the geography of the UK next week. In Art too, we completed work displaced by a short-notice Drama session, last half term as the children learned about the work of Toyin Odutola, creating some amazing silhouette self-portraits.
Thanks for your understanding with the Spellings now being on ‘Google Classroom’, which is aimed at ensuring that your children are familiar with logging on to access work, in case of any future need this academic year or next. We will continue to do this for the rest of the year.
It’s great to keep in touch albeit briefly when I’m on the gate mornings and evenings, but will be great to catch up with you all online for Parents’ Evening on Wednesday and Thursday next week. If you have not already done so, please do make a booking now using the link. Also note therefore, that there will be no Maths Booster Classes on Thursday 12th.
So, that’s it. Have a great weekend at home decorating or gardening and see you on Monday.
We’ve made it to Half Term, hurrah!
For our celebration of Black Voices Week, in English the children continued their work on Fairy Tales inspired by the work of Jamila Gavin, planning then writing and editing their own fantasy fairy stories. For their sins – and to enhance the quality of their writing – they were required to include at least one example of the Passive Voice in their work, which they had perfected in the Grammar lesson on Monday. Maths continued all week, with Miss Marchant’s group completing their work on the four operations with a couple of very short assessment tests, while my group practised their calculating skills through a number of competitive challenges and quizzes.
Honing their historical skills, in Humanities this week the children learned about Primary and Secondary sources of information, before using both to gain a better understanding about the daily lives of the ancient Greeks; from clothes and entertainment to food and drink. They completed our RE unit by watching the story of the now iconic Neasden Mandir (Hindu Temple) from its inception in the 1970s to the commencement of building works in 1990 and consecration just two years later.
Then, on a rainy Wednesday, Mr Schumm’s reappearance in the afternoon, with the next instalment of Private Peaceful brought a much needed ray of sunshine. His Assembly on Thursday morning focused on the black footballer and WWI army officer, Walter Tull, whose remarkable and inspiring story was left buried until 1993. The children learned how this orphan boy was the first footballer of colour to play for Tottenham Hotspur FC prior to the Great War and then became the first black officer to lead his white soldiers in to battle. How, Mr Schumm questioned, was this story hidden for 70 years, and why? Being aware of our history, he continued, was important to all of our futures.
Coordinating our whole school DT Days is a HUGE job, so hats off to Miss Hall whose ‘Bags’ concept was a big hit and also to Mrs Hall (no relation) who led our class sessions here on Thursday. Before picking up their needle and thread, the children planned what their drawstring bag would be used for and who might use it in a true ‘user-led design’ fashion. They then used a running to sew up the sides of their fabric, making sure to leave a gap through which to thread the drawstring. As they worked industriously away, they multitasked by listening to the amazing Floella Benjamin talking about her life on Desert Island Discs recently. Well worth a listen if you haven’t already. Finally, an optional decoration was added – or not – and the results were nothing short of spectacular. Do I feel any move towards a ‘St Stephen’s Sewing Bee’? After the Inter-House Netball Competition in the afternoon (Aylward won for the record), in Music, Miss Rachel’s lesson had a Bob Marley theme with a twist at the end as the prodigious Kanneh-Mason family demonstrated their versitility with a classic/reggae mix of the classic, ‘Redemption’. What a super way to round off the day.
There was extra Humanities on Friday as the children learned about Abolitionism, or the abolitionist movement, that was eventually to bring about the end of slavery. Their focus was not on William Wilberforce but on the ‘freed slave’ Olaudah Equiano, whose bestselling autobiography is a wonderful ‘primary source’ of information about this ignominious period in our history. Even though they had a good idea of the themes, the children found many of the stories and attitudes of the time, quite incomprehensible. Then finally, to top off the week the children had a surprise session of drama with Mark – what a very lucky bunch they are!
Natalie and Elijah took the ‘Stars of the Week’ mantle today for their outstanding work this week, although it was once again another very hard decision to make.
One downside to being in Y6 sadly means that there is homework over the holidays… The upside, and there really is one in the distance, is that after the SATs in May, all homework stops. So this holiday the children are being asked to complete the five practice papers for the SATs tests: Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling; Reading Comprehension; Arithmetic (Maths 1) and two Reasoning papers (Maths 2 & 3). In addition they have been asked to prepare an oral book review, which will be delivered to the class as per the schedule below.
Finally, I should also remind you that applications for high school places – if you live in Hammersmith & Fulham – close on 31st October. Please ensure that you have completed your application by then and selected six schools in order of preference. DON’T leave any choice empty.
Enjoy the break,
Date Review by:
02-Nov Mon Sadie
03-Nov Tues Milla
04-Nov Wed Kenzo
05-Nov Thurs Jojo
06-Nov Fri Yakob
09-Nov Mon Natalie
10-Nov Tues Andre
11-Nov Wed Bea
12-Nov Thurs Arthur
13-Nov Fri Phoebe
16-Nov Mon Otto
17-Nov Tues Rufus
18-Nov Wed Eliza
19-Nov Thurs Daniel
20-Nov Fri Noah
23-Nov Mon Sophie
24-Nov Tues Luka
25-Nov Wed Adam
26-Nov Thurs Bethel
27-Nov Fri Rohan
30-Nov Mon Jude
01-Dec Tues Malachi
02-Dec Wed Redeat
03-Dec Thurs Thomas
04-Dec Fri Nobel
07-Dec Mon Jack
08-Dec Tues Elijah
09-Dec Wed Raphe
10-Dec Thurs Tim
Well, things are building to a crescendo as ever as we approach half term, with another super busy week at St Stephen’s.
In the classroom, the children learned to identify the subject and object of sentences in Grammar which will be very helpful for their work next week… On the more creative front and to coincide with our Black Voices Week celebration that starts on Monday, the children read the fairy tale – The Golden Carp – from the book ‘Blackberry Blue’ by Jamila Gavin. The story inspired them to delve into the recesses of their minds to come up with, what turned out to be, some very weird and whacky dreams, which they committed to paper.
Meanwhile in Maths, my class completed its unit on the four mathematical operations with not one, but two small tests, which Miss Marchant’s group have to look forward to next week. As the building blocks of all Maths, it is essential that each and every one of the children really have these basics well and truly under their belts before they leave St Stephen’s in July. The Maths homework – set on Mathletics – aims to reinforce the children’s learning in class and should be taken more seriously by some, who appear to be cramming it in late on Thursday night or even Friday morning. Your continued support on this would be greatly appreciated.
Standing up as part of a small a group in front of their peers, the children delivered the presentations they had researched and put together last week in RE. The attentive audience learned all about various different local places of worship: the faith group’s beliefs; the movement in numbers attending and their outreach programmes. I must say that the quality of the presentations was very high and we all learned an awful lot.
Thursday saw all of the children decked out in red as we focused the day around the Show Racism the Red Card campaign. After watching a powerful SRtRC film, I was hugely impressed by the maturity of the children’s discussion as they independently shared their experiences, thoughts and ideas. Finally, the children decided that they would like to recreated the end of the film with each one of them saying, “Show Racism the Red Card!”, which Mrs Hall filmed and was tweeted out to the world on the school’s account.
Ecuador was our country focus on Hispanic Day today, which after a quick rendition of old Cuban favourite El Bodeguero, saw the children taking notes from a very fast paced film about Ecuador and its people. Most sat transfixed and horrified as Sadie and I discussed the merits of the local delicacy, cuy (Guinea pig), just one (possibly the most) memorable facts they might have learned today. Cuy wasn’t on Cookie’s Hispanic themed lunch menu today, you may be glad to know. After lunch the children were in the main hall as Miss Veronica put them through their paces, brushing up their learning in Spain last year of the local Andalucian dance, the Sevillanas. Daniel and Sadie got a big shout out for their work on the dance, as do Otto and Jojo. Well done – what a fun day!
Enjoy tonight if you’re out with friends…. It may be some time.
Dear Parents and Carers,
I can’t let this week go by without mentioning, Nobel, who under the tutelage of a certain Mr Cookson last year, submitted his painting in acrylics of a horse’s head to the Royal Academy, no less, for consideration for its Young Artists’ Summer Show, along with 17,700 other young hopefuls. You’ll never guess what…. Nobel’s phenomenal painting was one of less than 400 to be accepted and will be on display for five weeks at the exhibition when it opens on 19th October. The Young Artists’ Summer Show is free to everyone although you do need to register in advance for tickets.
Back down to earth with a bump; the children in my Maths group this week have been familiarising themselves with factors and common factors, multiples, prime numbers, squared, cubed and triangular numbers too, which they have all loved (haven’t you), while those in Miss Marchant’s group have continued to develop their learning of division in all its guises. At this point I should mention that following our first assessments last week, Miss Marchant and I are pleasantly surprised at the current levels of Maths understanding, although there is no room for complacent. As such we will be starting a couple of after school Booster Classes after half term, which will then be increased early in the new year to give opportunities to even more children – we’ll be in touch. There will also be some movement between our Maths groups, so that every child is receiving the most suitable tuition.
And before I leave Maths, can I ask parents and carers to ensure that your children complete their Mathletics homework, which you are signing to confirm they have completed in their Homework Diaries. We do not want to go back to setting work on paper. The children should be: reading the questions online; accessing the animated ‘help’ if required; working out their answers on rough paper and then finally entering in their final answers. While Mrs Bouwman does run a Mathletics Homework Club on Thursday lunchtimes, this is primarily aimed at children who might have difficulty accessing the internet at home. There is not capacity for 20+ Y6s who have left their ‘homework’ until the last minute. Thanks indeed for your help and understanding on this matter.
The children really enjoyed writing their own autobiographies this week and I’m looking forward just as much to reading them all. We spent some time planning and drafting their four, five or six paragraphs, thinking about each sentence and ‘crafting’ each one to include subordinating conjunctions, fronted adverbials et al, before the children edited them and shared some with the class. Baroness Floella Benjamin’s story was a great inspiration for the children, and who knows, one day, one of them might be mooted as the new BBC supremo.
In Science the children learned about Carl Linnaeus, famous for his work in Taxonomy: the science of identifying, naming and classifying organisms. They learned a song to remember the family tree like classification structure: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species or there’s also the popular mnemonic “King Philip came over for good soup.” It made a dry topic a little more palatable.
The children travelled back to classical times, learning about the two famous city-states of Athens and Sparta in Humanities this week, as they compared and contrasted their different governments, economies and societies. Having written a letter home after a ‘visit’ to the two city-states, they were then treated to our very own in-class report from a crack Channel 4 News team (Elijah, Milla, Sophie and Malachi) and heard ‘first hand’ about the lives of the citizens in each place.
Miss Veronica stepped in to the breach on Tuesday and delivered a memorable Spanish lesson where the children discussed their siblings, pets and how they were feeling, rounded off with a game of bingo: all in Spanish. They found out that not only does Veronica support Real Betis, but has a pet ‘loro’ at home in Sevilla that can sing the club’s hymn…. So, as Betis is also my team, we decided that if the children learn the song and we send it to Veronica’s dad perhaps he’ll send us a recording of the parrot singing it!
Andre and Redeat join Nobel as our ‘Stars of the Week’ this week for their application and dedication to learning. Three this week – it’s always so hard to choose. I hope you enjoyed the COVID affected ‘Family Supper’ last night and for those of you who missed it, do take a look at the chef in action!
….and finally, on Thursday 15th October, we’ll be getting behind ‘Red Card to Racism’ day for the third year in a row. All children across the school are encouraged to come in wearing something red to show their support for the anti-racist movement. We will be having a special (streamed) assembly and the children will carry out an activity in class that will help their awareness of racism and how to deal with it. Next term, our ‘Relationships and Health Education’ learning unit is ‘Valuing Difference’, which will continue and develop Thursday’s conversation. Sadly, as we can’t collect with the buckets this year due to COVID-19, should you wish to/are able to, you are invited to donate via text. Please text ‘RED’ to 70470 to give £1, ‘RED5’ to give £5, ‘RED10’ to give £10 or ‘RED20’ to give £20 if you are able to.
Have a wonderful weekend.
The highlight of the week…. The inaugural Y6 St Stephen’s Conker Contest and definitely not, the inaugural SATs practice.
I have been so impressed with your children this week as they took on their first experience of sitting the tests that are still scheduled to take place in May next year. They all, without exception, had the temperament skills to ‘have a go’ which was our overriding message to them, particularly as there remain a few areas of the curriculum still left to cover in Maths. The results of these assessments will give Miss Marchant and I a good indication of areas of work that we might need to go over again as well as helping inform us which children might benefit from working in any particular groups in class, for interventions and/or Booster Classes, which will start after Half Term – we will be in touch.
Thankfully it wasn’t all SATs this week. In RE the children has a very special visitor, who has lived in Shepherds Bush for 66 years, who came to talk to them about the changes she has seen in the area over her life time – Mrs Connor. She spoke in general about how the shops used to be and explained that this part of London has always seen lots of different communities coming and going. She focused on places of worship close to our school some that have changed and ‘downsized’ like St Luke’s CE church on the Uxbridge Road and others that have sprung up and grown such as the Mosque and Muslim Cultural Centre just a few doors down. Also, as a past pupil of St Stephen’s herself, she told us that the whole school used to go in to the church for a service every Friday – how things have changed! The children then discussed how faith communities show and share their beliefs and faiths in the wider community, focussing on outward signs of faith; our Harvest Assembly which followed on Thursday, being a great example.
Mr Schumm turned up in the classroom on Wednesday afternoon to the delight of the children, a new regular feature – Headteacher responsibilities allowing – to continue the unit of work he started with the children during Lockdown, earlier in the year. Based on Michael Morpurgo’s First World War novel, ‘Private Peaceful’, the children listened first to the voice of a young soldier as he starts to recount 24 hours in his life at the front during WWI, before discussing the protagonist and other key characters in preparation for their work ahead.
We continued with the next Science lesson and then there was Spanish, Music, Gymnastics and PE as there always is here. The week was topped off with the aforementioned Conker Contest, which is the first ‘assignment’ for the crack new Shakin’ Stephen’s editorial team – full report to follow. In the meantime I’ll leave you with this from Miss Rachel… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gDzlK3w0vo What lucky children!
Finally, there’s a big well done to ‘Stars of the Week’, Luka and Josephine, who somehow managed to stand out from this very talented bunch in Y6 Ayres.
Have a super weekend.
WALK WITH US ON W/C 5 OCTOBER!
Get your happy feet on, it’s time to celebrate.
St Stephens has decided to take part in the greatest national Walk to School celebration, where pupils and grown-ups around the UK unite for one week of walking to school. Each pupil will be challenged to walk, cycle, scoot or park and stride to school every day for one week
Our five-day walking challenge aimed to be fun and engaging all week long, raising awareness and celebrating walking for all. Pupils will be well on their way to reaching their recommended 60 minutes minimum of physical activity per day before even reaching the school gates! Not only will it set them up for a positive day in the classroom, it will also help create healthy habits for life.
This year we invite you to join us in celebrating the incredible physical and mental health benefits walking brings to every individual.
Strong hearts, healthy bones, increased muscle strength are all well-documented outcomes of walking, but the benefits for the mind are just as powerful. Increased sense of calm and self-esteem, time to connect with friends, family and the natural world, awakened creativity and improved overall cognitive function! All that makes for a happy, healthy child set up for success in and out of the classroom.
Class teachers will be awarding daily house points to all those who walk, cycle, scoot or park and stride into school next week. Mr Schumm will announce the class winners in next Friday’s Stars of the Week Assembly. So check out the weather, waterproofs or wellies, cycles or scooters, jumpers and jackets – join us for Walk to School next week.
It’s been Election Week here for Y6 and following their superb filmed presentations the children of the school voted as follows:
Aylward: Thomas, Sophie, Lara & Gus
Crummell: Arthur, Malachi, Leila & Mabel
Liddell: Eliza, Beattie, Bethany & Shalomy
Wesley: Bea, Natalia, Felix & Ila
The standard of presentations was very high indeed this year and I must praise every single person who put themselves forward for what can be a very daunting challenge; win or lose, you all did yourselves proud!
Sports Captains were also selected this week based, not only on their love and individual ability in sport, but also on their ability to encourage and motivate other team members, as well as their organisational skills and ability to help Clare and Alastair prepare for events. So give a cheer to: Phoebe Jojo Noah SG from Y6 Ayres and Elina, Sophia, Ben, Luka L & Noah M from next door. Well done for shining in PE over the years and let’s hope that our much curtailed sporting calendar picks up later in the year.
More elections, this time to the School Council – a very influential organ – that works hard behind the scenes under Miss Mahon’s guidance. Each class elects Council Members, who from Y6 Ayres this year are: Rufus and Sadie. Congratulations and thanks in advance for all of your hard work.
Finally, the Editorial Committee for our school magazine “Shakin’ Stephen’s” was announced today too. Again, not only selected for their English writing abilities, but also for the creativity as well as their organisational skills and ability to work collaboratively as this project is totally independent of any teacher input! The budding journos are: Adam, Elijah & Eliza, plus three others from Y6 Stevenson.
…and we also had time for some teaching and learning!
In Maths we continued work on the four mathematical operations completing our review of methods of multiplication before moving on to ‘short’ and ‘long’ division – More on Mathletics homework. ‘Life in Trinidad’, the autobiography of Floella Benjamin whose birthday it was this week (71), was examined further with the children who investigated unfamiliar words and phrases and identified relative clauses, before writing a brief summary of her early childhood. Later in the week they planned their own autobiography and wrote an introduction paragraph.
The children have begun the first Y6 Science topic of the year, the somewhat dry ‘Classification of Organisms’ as well as continuing their work in Humanities learning all about the various different forms of Governments in the city-states of Ancient Greece. Using the work of Frida Kahlo, in Spanish this week the children developed their vocabulary of complementary colours while in Music Miss Rachel had them exploring various patterns and riffs using keyboards and xylophones.
I have been delighted with just how much effort the children have put in this week, they have really worked hard, which is great as next week will be their biggest challenge yet as we start our first run of SATs ‘familiarisation’.
Finally, Mr Schumm’s now famous online ‘Stars of the Week’ assembly highlighted the exceptional work of Rohan and Milla from our class – well done.
Rest up for next week; have a lovely weekend.
Dear Parents & Carers,
And so to the end of week two, the children are assimilating well in to the pace and expectations of Y6.
We have already come to the end of the first, very brief Maths unit on Place Value, an essential understanding of which is key to all going forward – and explains why we no longer use Roman numerals… Next up is a review of the four Maths operations to get everyone back up to speed.
The children have been reading extracts of Floella Benjamin’s ‘Life in Trinidad’ autobiography as a basis for their learning in English this week, as they have learned more about the features of biographies and autobiographies and begun writing paragraphs of each type. We will continue the theme next week.
Having started RE by focusing on our Y6 word: HOPE, the theme now until half term is ‘Understanding Faith in our Community’. This week, in a cross-curricula activity, the children used their geographical map reading skills to identify locations of places of worship in the locality, before then tracing their routes to school annotating any faith centres along the way. There is a special, COVID-19 secured, visitor joining us for the next lesson…
Perhaps the highlight of the week was the much anticipated House Captain presentations which took place on Wednesday afternoon and spilled over in to Thursday morning, such was the interest from so many candidates. Your children really did themselves proud, delivering thoughtful and inspired talks that included some zany fundraising ideas for many personally heart-warming and deserving charities. This year all of the presentations were filmed, so that ‘Housemates’ in other year groups could watch them safely in their classrooms. With 40+ films to get through, we have asked class teachers to get their votes to us by the end of Monday, so hopefully the election results can be announced on Tuesday. Really well done to everyone who took part.
Meanwhile in Art, with our theme of ‘The Face’, the children have been creating portraits using sharpies on acetate which was then positioned on a background of complementary colours which they had prepared – these are now proudly on display and look spectacular. Then, during the Art lesson itself this afternoon, we looked briefly at the work of Chuck Close, beginning a multi-coloured gridded background, prior to adding a simplistic over painting in water colours of a…. face.
Alastair and Clare have sent a Parent Mail about extra PE sessions that all Y6 pupils will take part in over the course of each week. Your child will take part in one mixed Y5/6 squad training session on either Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays between 9am and 9.30am – check your emails please as this starts this Monday 21st.
Finally, I neglected to mention our ‘Stars of the Week’ – Phoebe and Tim last week – how remiss, and this week’s pair Adam and Sadie. Well done you guys and keep up your superb start to Y6.
Have a wonderful weekend,
Dear Parents & Carers,
Can you believe that that little child who went fresh faced into Reception only six years ago is now in Year 6 – how time flies!
So with summer now officially over and tans (for what you could grab) fading, a very excited bunch turned in on Monday, ready and raring for the joys and rigours that face them in Y6. We’ve hit the ground running and written ‘letters to our future selves’ and poems in the style of Pam Ayres in English while cracking straight on in Maths with Place Value.
I for one have thoroughly enjoyed being back with a full class in Y6 and getting to know lots of new faces. It’s great to be back in the saddle after the hols and I’m looking forward to the challenging new work ahead – they all tell me they are too. The Homework Diaries seem to be a hit (so far) and I would be most grateful for your support in asking to see them each evening and initialling to confirm that work, especially some reading, has been carried out. Knowing how to manage this will set them in great stead for Y7, less than a year away now – gulp.
The children have had a busy week with lots to think about. We have focused on developing a ‘Growth Mindset’ – ways in which to have a positive approach to even the most dreaded of subjects while also not sitting on ones laurels. There are loads of motivational quotes around the classroom, one of which I have already had thrown back in my face!
I have no need to tell you that this whole COVID-19 thing has put a spanner in the works of our regular routine, but as ever at St Stephen’s we’re looking at solutions – hopefully we’ll be able to have our residential PGL next Spring and go to Whitby after SATs and France too.
And talking of SATs, as the children have been away from the classroom for so long, we have postponed for a few weeks their first Y6 assessments which will be based on the SAT format. These ‘mock’ tests help us to begin to identify gaps as well as helping the children get used to the SAT format and test conditions. We will use these practice papers as our assessments every half term and they will also determine your child’s group for Maths.
Finally, we will be having our house captain elections soon. Each house will have four Year 6 Captains who will help lead their houses in certain events and activities. Candidates will make a presentation to their Y6 Housemates on why they should be elected, which will be filmed and distributed to all of the lower years to watch in their own classes. Votes from each class will then be collated. This will take place on Wednesday afternoon, so they might like to start planning now – email any supporting PowerPoints to me on email@example.com . Below is a job description and a few ideas that might help.
House Captain’s Job Description
Thanks for your support and I look forward to the year ahead with you and your lovely children.
PS Don’t forget to join Miss Marchant, Mr Schumm and I for the Y7 Transition Meeting on Zoom at 6.30pm next Monday 14th September – see Parent Mail for the link.
Welcome to Year 6.
Please not that the children will need to come in to school wearing their PE Kits on Tuesdays and Thursdays which they will wear all day. They will NOT need their uniforms on those days.
Christmas holiday homework:
We have sent the children home with some practice SATs papers to do over the Christmas period. They should all have 3 Maths papers and 1 English Comprehension paper.
Please could these be done in timed conditions as independently as possible, so I can see the areas which we need to focus on more in class. Do by all means go over the papers with your children, but use a different coloured pencil of pen, so I can see the original work.
There is also live Mathletics, any Mathletics that have not yet been completed and Hit the Button should anyone want to do any extra!