Mrs Bickersteth’s Week in Review 19th May 2016

The Early Years Department at CHS is extremely fortunate to have such high academic attainment, alongside such a rich and varied range of learning experiences. The week began with Reception children going on a “Muddy Boots” outing as part of their Forest Schools curriculum and they then followed this up in the classroom by writing about their experiences during the outdoor learning session. I was impressed at the standard of writing that was taking place in the Reception classroom – all the children have progressed so well since they first joined CHS. Children in this class were happily using time connectives in their writing and checking their work to improve it. There were many impressive examples of handwriting seen. The Reception children have also been assessed using the Hertfordshire Reading Tests this week and it is clear from this that the children at CHS have a great head start, with all the children reaching reading levels beyond the expectations for their age.100% of our pupils achieved a reading age of over 1 year above the age related expectation; 70% achieved over 1 and a half years above and 5 children achieved a reading age 2 years above the age related expectation.

The high attainment in Reception is linked to the fact that at CHS children follow the structured phonics programme of Read Write Inc, which our Nursery children are also introduced to. This week evidence of how advanced the Nursery children are was seen by me when I observed a Nursery phonics session taking place in our lovely outdoor classroom. Mrs Hull led the children in a session in which children were able to recognise sounds and put these together to make words. The Nursery children are also working on their writing. It is also notable that all the children in Nursery know and follow the expectations for listening well and following instructions. They will certainly be ready to join Reception in September.

There have been some assessments taking place in the Preparatory and Junior departments this week. I have seen all the children working with concentration this week during any assessments. In Year 1 I saw the children listening to the instructions for their non-fiction writing task; it is a sign of the high expectations at CHS that all the children regularly have independent writing tasks in fiction and non-fiction, with teachers using this to track pupil progress and plan work accordingly to ensure continued progress. Pupils also have lessons with learning objectives in grammar, spelling and punctuation, which starts in Key Stage One, which provides a good foundation for when they go into the Juniors.

The Juniors have also been hard at work during their Maths and English assessments; in the lessons I have taken this week the children have had a positive attitude towards assessments and shown an understanding of how this helps both them and the teachers to know pupils’ strengths and the areas in which some more focused work is needed to make the optimum progress.

Children have continued to enjoy the extra-curricular side of school life. This week I have seen the popular after-school cricket club in action with Mr Rayner; knitting club, who are diversifying into other wool-related activities, ie. pom-pom making – as part of their preparations for their stall at the CHSA summer fete, with Mrs Smith; Year 4 concentrated on English skills in their 11+ club with me; the Year 5 11+ Club continued to work hard after school with Mr Jamieson; the dulcet sounds of the recorder club with Mrs Sillett were delightful to hear and  Miss Courcha’s art club continued with its enthusiastic participants. At lunchtimes, the children appreciate having some activities to attend as an alternative to being on the playground. In the Junior Department, the lunchtime Lego Club, friendship clubs, the open library session, chess club, speed stacking club and Prep computing club are all popular and children develop their social skills as they meet children from different year groups.

This week there have also been regular meetings taking place, including the weekly pastoral briefings which help ensure that all staff are aware of any pastoral maters and related care needed for any pupils; weekly whole school staff briefings; department meetings and a safeguarding team meeting.

In the Lower School assembly this week we heard some of the children reciting the poetry that they had prepared for their recent English Speaking Board exams so well; the Reception and Prep children were especially entertained by the lively renditions of the poems, some of which were: “Isabel “ by Ogden Nash; “Follow the Moon” by Marie Tully and “A Fox came into my Garden” by Charles Causley. Opportunities such as this help build children’s confidence, self-esteem and provide positive role models for children.

A team of Year 6 able mathematicians took part in an inter-schools maths competition on Thursday, and came back saying that they enjoyed the experience and had found it a good challenge.

An extended rehearsal for the Junior Production of “Alice in Wonderland” took place this week and I am so looking forward to seeing the play next week. On the basis of the performances which I have seen in the rehearsal, this will be a real treat for everyone.