Parents’ Newsletter autumn (2) 2018
I have very mixed emotions as I write this, my final newsletter to you all: great sadness at leaving the children, staff and parents, but pleasure at the thought I can spend more time helping my husband with his rehabilitation and indulge my role as a Granny.
My tenure as Head Teacher of Westbury House School has been an action-packed roller-coaster of a ride, with all of us working together to achieve the very special outcomes we have witnessed. I know that without the support of children, staff and parents, this would not have been achievable.
It is, without doubt, the right time for me to stand aside and let someone new take over the reins of control and continue to drive the school upwards in the relentless search for excellence in every area of school life. I wish Mr Stone well as he steps into the breach, knowing that I am handing over to a capable and experienced Head Teacher.
I wish the staff well in their personal future development as they continue to give of their best for all your children. I wish the children much success at both an academic and personal level and look forward to hearing about their future triumphs.
To all parents, a heartful thank you for the way you have enabled me to do my job.
Thank you, too, for the wonderful party you hosted to say goodbye to Mrs Murray and me on Wednesday evening. I know these things cause a tremendous amount of hard work and we both really appreciate all the effort that went in to creating such a special evening. We both had an amazing time and felt very valued and loved. Thank you, too for your generosity in the gifts you gave us – they were very thoughtful and much appreciated.
As you know, Mrs Murray also leaves this term to take up a Headship of her own school. After 19 years of sterling service, she deserves our heartfelt thanks for all that she has done and our very good wishes for her new job.
Over the time I have been at the school, it hasn’t mattered what I’ve asked of her, Mrs Murray has always been willing to step up: helping to install a small kitchen in the staffroom, carting furniture about, tiling the children’s toilets are just three things that really shouldn’t figure on a Deputy Head teacher’s job description, but which she willingly joined me in completing.
Her support of staff and the way she has fulfilled the main roles as Deputy Head have been exemplary for all staff. The inspiring way in which she has taught children in Nursery is outstanding. The many children who have passed through her hands are fortunate, indeed.
ILG and Mr Stone have tried a couple of routes to find a Deputy head for January. However, both have ended-up being unsuccessful. As you can imagine, these are very big shoes to fill and it is important that the right decisions are made. Once he fully takes up the reins in January, Mr Stone will make it a priority. He will keep you informed about progress with this critical appointment.
Changes happening at school over the Christmas break
There are a few physical changes that will take place at school over the Christmas break. These are things that Michael Stone has agreed with ILG as the first stage in a major renovation programme to the building with much more happening during the summer holiday.
Reception class will move into Year 1’s classroom. They will still mix with the older Nursery children each week, but they will have their teaching space away from the hustle and bustle of the Nursery.
The library and finance office will be returned to a classroom. Year 1 will move to this space, joining Years 2-5 on the same floor.
Finally, the library will move to the top floor, creating a larger space in which the children will be able to enjoy reading for relaxation as well as following the school’s reading programme.
All of these changes give us more options to provide a better environment for the children in which to learn, and I hope you will have a chance to come in and see the new arrangement next term.
School events this half term
Wednesday, 7th November - Forest School for EYFS and KS1
On the overcast but relatively dry morning of Tuesday 7th November, we set off for Bushy Park to observe the changes in nature as we move from late autumn into winter. Children were encouraged to notice the wonderful array of colour provided by leaves still clinging to mostly bare branches. They were also briefed about the changes in the animals, especially the deer, and warned to keep well away and watchful of the rutting stags.
The route taken by Year 2 through the bracken, oak, horse chestnut and lime trees proved full of interest in terms of bird life and stages of tree-development. Disappointingly, we only saw three male red deer with impressive antlers and a herd of leaping fallow deer at a distance.
The intermittent rain created numerous puddles for the children to splash through on their way to the Waterhouse Woodland Garden where a few ducks paddled in the stream and the plantation provided an even richer palette of autumn colour.
We rounded off the visit in the children’s play area where they were able to let off steam for a short while on the climbing frames, swings and slides. What an enjoyable morning out in the fresh air
w/c 12th November – UK Parliament week for whole school
The week of 12th-16th November was UK Parliament week. It was highlighted to the school in an assembly and the members of the School Council were introduced to the school. Mrs Venter spoke of the different roles within the School Council, and the children were reminded of the School Council Suggestions box near the front door.
The School Council have already had many wonderful suggestions and have debated these in their meetings.
During PSHE lessons, all the children discussed the subject of rules, why we have rules and how they are made in our school. We then discussed how rules are made in our country and how they keep us safe. We learnt about the UK Parliament - the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the process of making laws, voting and issues around democracy, British values and respecting other people’s freedoms in various spheres of life.
Friday 16th November – LAMDA exams
Once again, Westbury House was an examination centre for LAMDA exams. We haven’t had the results yet, but our children were very well received by the examiner who was charmed by them all.
Friday 16th November – Film Night Years 1-6
Thank you to the Friends of Westbury and Mrs Murray for hosting another successful film night for the children, who had a fun evening with their friends.
Monday 19th November – Years 3+6 visit to Shree Ghanapathy Temple
On Monday the Years 3 and year 6 children visited The Hindu Temple. Geetha kindly showed them around and chatted to them about The Temple, Hinduism and their community.
They spoke about many things and were able to spend time asking questions and finding out more about Hinduism. After chatting for a while, the children were fortunate enough to be able to try on traditional costumes during their visit and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
Wednesday 21st November – Forest School for EYFS and KS1
On arrival at Esher Common, everyone discussed the ribbons tied on the trees for the boundaries of our space that could be explored. After which, children went around looking for certain living creatures using clip boards with items to find, draw and tick off through the audit. On the audit were worms, spiders, millipedes, ants, ladybirds and beetles.
The children showed concern for the insects. They managed to find a couple of worms and watched them use their bodies to move around their environment.
They then found some rather large woodlice when opening up a rotten log that was moved and, in doing so, found a curled-up Hornet hibernating in the bark. Miss Susan moved the children back and scooped it up into the science container for the children to look at through the magnified lid.
They also found a black spider among the leaves. The children spotted some fungi on the log and discussed how they must not touch it due to it being poisonous. They also found mushrooms scattered around and discussed why they should not touch or eat them.
Thursday 22nd November – Y5 sports leadership training
Year 5 pupils all visited Esher College to participate in Primary Sports Crew Leaders training, delivered by coaches from Active Surrey. Six other schools took part and the children learned about the qualities necessary to become a good leader in sport. They were helped by some of the Esher College students who are also studying Sports leadership at the college.
The morning was spent thinking about values such as honesty, self-belief, teamwork, determination, passion and respect. These were demonstrated and achieved by having a go at a variety of problem solving and sport-specific activities.
By using the S.T.E.P. principles, the leaders will be able to plan and deliver activities for groups back in school. S.T.E.P. stands SPACE, TASK, EQUIPMENT and PEOPLE, which are the things that can be changed to make the activities inclusive and challenging.
We hope to see some of our new Year 5 Sports Crew Leaders organising a whole load of activities for our school from the New Year.
Tuesday, 27th November – Y3+5 visit to Fishbourne Roman Palace
Years 3 and 5 went to visit Fishbourne Roman Palace for the day. It began by going into the foyer and looking at the model of the Palace. After that, they made our way to the film room where they watched a super video all about the discovery of the palace and how the historians have found artefacts and protected the area so that we may visit. Later that morning, they went into classrooms to examine objects, dress up in traditional clothing, play games and generally learn more about the Romans and Fishbourne Palace. After lunch, they were able to look closely at the parts of the villa that have been preserved, particularly the wonderful mosaics.
Wednesday 28th November – Under-5 Jive
The children of our Reception and Nursery classes enjoyed an Under-5 Jive session with Miss Emma this week. The parents of our pupils were invited to join in the session and dance with their children to Miss Emma’s instructions. The morning was full of a range of movements and different styles of dance as well as the use of props to transform into birds and unicorns. The children thoroughly enjoyed their time with their parents and Miss Emma.
Under-5 Jive is also offered to the local community. Once the Reception and Nursery children were back in their classrooms, we welcomed children and their guardians into the school hall. Miss Emma then guided our guests through the movements so that they had the chance to dance to the music and transfer into the imaginary creatures. The session was enjoyed by all our guests and we hope to welcome them back along with any new under 5s who would like to join.
Wednesday 28th November – EYFS and KS1 – The Snowman
The children in Nursery, Reception and KS1 had an early Christmas treat this year. They went to see The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre. Based upon the book by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman transported the children and their families into the wintery world of a boy, James and his magical snowman. The Snowman was a heart-warming mix of dance, spectacle, storytelling, marvellous sets and music performed by the wonderful live orchestra.
With flying snowman and a surprise appearance of Father Christmas, the children were enthralled and had a very memorable theatre experience.
Monday 3rd December – KS1 Christmas carols at Nursing Homes
Years 1 and 2 delighted the residents of Brook House Nursing Home and Lynton Hall Nursing Home by singing some festive songs for them. The residents enjoyed the visit by the children and the children learned a little about sharing joy within the community.
Monday 3rd December – Y5+6 girls - football vs Jack and Jill
It was a pleasure to host Jack & Jill again for some friendly football matches. We were able to form two teams of 6 to play against each other at King’s College Sports Ground. Unfortunately, due to the recent rainy weather, the grass pitches were unavailable. This mean that we used two netball courts for the matches.
The girls had to overcome the damp conditions, which made the courts slightly slippery, and they all managed to play some fast and exciting football.
The A team outplayed Jack & Jill and won a convincing victory, which is testament to the progress that the girls have made in football. Well done girls.
The B team were unfortunate in that they just didn’t have many opportunities to shoot against Jack & Jill. The visitors won this game, but Mr Wood would like to congratulate all players for the character and hard work they demonstrated in the match.
Tuesday 4th December – Y2+3 boys - football against St Andrew’s and St Mark’s
St Andrew’s and St Mark’s School in Surbiton brought a team of Year 3 boys to play us on our slightly soggy pitch. They were a very strong team with a couple of excellent footballers. We defended magnificently and were able to win the ball in midfield and have a couple of fast breaks in attack. Unfortunately, we could only create one shot on target which was saved by their keeper. At the other end of the pitch, the opposition took many powerful shots and one went in. If it hadn’t been for our defence and for some excellent saves by Zain in goal, the score line would have been greater.
St Andrew’s & St Mark’s scored only one more and that was from an unstoppable penalty kick. Mr Wood is so proud of the performance that our boys put in, playing against a school who had the pick of 45 Year 3 boys to choose from. With some more fixtures in the New Year, the future is looking promising for this group.
Wednesday 5th December – EYFS and KS1 Nativity plays
Reception and Nursery delighted us with songs and narration about snow, snowmen and team work, as well as throwing snowballs at the audience! A Magical Christmas Journey was performed by Year 1 and Year 2. Three children went on an adventure to find a star for their Christmas tree. Along the way, they met up with the three kings, the shepherds and their lost sheep, the stars, angels and of course Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus.
The children sang like angels and thoroughly enjoyed these magical productions.
Tuesday 11th December – Y2 walk along New Malden High Street
This year’s walk was conducted as a survey of the shops and businesses on the High Street. The children wanted to see if the High Street has all the right types of shops for the local people. They completed a tally chart with various types of shops listed and enjoyed working out what category some of them fell into. By the time they reached the department store Tudor Williams, they were exhausted so watched a train snake its way along the railway bridge, pointed out the War Memorial in front of Waitrose after which they set off back to school. Next term, they will look at photographs and do a bit more research on the history of New Malden to assess how much it has changed from the small farming community it was before the coming of the railway in 1846.
Tuesday 11th December – whole school Carol Service
Tuesday’s carol service was a wonderful blend of touching moments and musical excellence. A very special evening, Mr Kargl is to be congratulated for his hard work and commitment to inspiring our children to create such a lovely evening for us. All the children performed beautifully, whether they were singing, performing poems or reading texts. Thank you everyone.
Wednesday 12th December – Y2 visit to New Malden Baptist Church for puppet show
Year 2 were invited to the New Malden Baptist Church for an interactive performance of the Nativity called the “Christmas Journey”. On arrival they were offered a light snack of biscuits and a drink, followed by a short craft-making session. They then “travelled back in time” to Nazareth to meet Mary. They were amazed at the appearance of the Angel Gabriel who announced that Mary had been chosen to have a special baby whom she and her husband, Joseph, should call Jesus because he was God’s son. Children also met a shepherd, the baby Jesus, Joseph and one of the wise men. The journey ended in the present time where they learned the meaning of the Christian symbols of Christmas with its message of joy, sorrow and hope.
Wednesday 12th December Christmas party organised by Friends of Westbury
Wednesday evening was a wonderful triumph of organisation by the parents who are members of Friends of Westbury. They hosted a party to say goodbye to Mrs Murray and Mrs Holiday and to celebrate the seasonal festivities. The atmosphere was electric, and an amazing time was had by all. Many thanks to everyone involved with staging this epic event.
Our beautiful carol service is the signal to me that I can start to think about preparing for Christmas at home. I refuse to consider it when the signs begin to appear in the shops in October or sometimes, even September! In my personal life, I am grateful for the reminder that we shouldn’t take things for granted but make the most of all opportunities and cherish those we hold dear.
I close with wishing you a peaceful Christmas-time and a refreshing break. Thank you for your support and kindness during my time at Westbury House.
Next term starts on Monday 7th January 2019