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Headmaster’s Blog

Many of you will have seen our recent ‘What’s behind the Wall?’ campaign, a short film put together by our Marketing Director, where in just a few minutes, a snapshot of Hall House is captured. It is with much pleasure that I have been invited to write the guest blog this week and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a little more of what actually does go on, ‘behind the wall!’

And so we find ourselves at the start of the final term of this academic year. A term where we all look forward to longer days and (hope for) better weather; a term where we are always surprised to find ourselves already in May and wondering where the year has gone; a term where we begin to prepare for smooth transitions into new classes and a term where we celebrate the huge achievements and personal development of all of our pupils before ‘letting them go’ (albeit just along the corridor, up the stairs or across the Green) and continue on the next part of their journey.

The Trinity term has got off to a flying start. The nursery children are already immersing themselves in their Traditional Tales topic, building houses made of straw, eating bowls of steaming porridge and looking to the sky to see why an acorn has dropped on their head! The nursery is gradually becoming a fictional world with the wonderful displays of children’s learning with which we have become so familiar.

Our Reception classes are becoming expert gardeners; sunflowers and beans have been planted and the classrooms are already reflecting the richness that cross-curricular learning brings, with a garden centre shop and café role play area (which only handles real money), story maps, non-fiction writing and some amazing and very large painted sunflowers. Oh, and the ‘fairies’ have moved in too… A family of fairies have set up home, complete with washing line and bunting. They have been leaving tiny letters for the children to discover each day and it is wonderful to witness the eagerness with which the children write them cards and messages and make little pieces of furniture and clothing for them. This is creative learning at its best, hooking the children in, inspiring, motivating and challenging them to take their own learning in different directions.

As we move along the corridor, the Owls and Hedgehogs are transforming their classrooms from ‘Castles’ to the ‘Seaside’. They are planning a visit to Exmouth Lifeboat Station and have some special weeks planned exploring the Hindu faith and also a Science investigation week. I particularly look forward to my visits to the Year 1 classrooms where I am always impressed to see what resilient and independent learners the children are; problem solvers, full of ideas and all immensely proud of, and keen to share their knowledge and achievements.

Upstairs in Year 2 Bayley the Barn Owl has already visited, launching the topic, ‘Fur and Feathers.’ A trip to Paignton zoo is imminent to support science learning on classification and a trip to RHS Rosemoor will follow later in the term. I particularly look forward to seeing the vast range of different ‘home learning’ projects that will find their way into the classrooms this term.

Last term you will have noticed from our Newsletter reports that we had a Pre-Prep focus on British Values and our children began to discover what is meant by Democracy, Individual Liberty, The Rule of Law and Mutual Respect and Tolerance and we considered how these values are reflected in the life we share together in Hall House. This term we are looking at the hugely important topic of Mental Health and Wellbeing and Mrs Pennington launched this for us in our Pre-Prep gathering on Wednesday afternoon. It is a theme that we will be developing throughout the term and your children will begin to talk about their ‘10 a day’: 10 things we should do daily, as cited by Early Help for Mental Health to aid our mental health and wellbeing. (https://www.devonchildrenandfamiliespartnership.org.uk/documents/2018/01/early-help-4-mental-health.pdf/ ) These are conversations that you can be having around the supper table; ‘How many of your 10 a day have you done today?’ Do look out for the posters that are displayed in each classroom and have those vitally important conversations with your children.

There have been some major developments in HH of late – most notably the Pre-Prep library and I do hope you have all had the opportunity to pop in and see it for yourselves. Today we have just taken delivery of some new brightly coloured and comfy seating to complement the beautifully simple wooden furniture that we already have. We were overwhelmed by the generous support that the parent body all gave to our recent Readathon event in association with FECS and Usborne books. We were able to purchase over £1500 of books which I am delighted to say arrived this week. They are all currently being processed and will soon be on the shelves for your children to borrow. Another new initiative is our weekly open library sessions. The first of which is for Parents and Pre-schoolers (anything from babes in arms – it’s never too early to start reading and sharing books with your child!) on Wednesdays from 2.45 – 3.15 pm and then straight after school open library for parents and children from 3.15 – 4.30 pm. Ms McConnell our school librarian is on hand to issue books and share with you ‘good reads.’

FECS have been hugely supportive to Hall House this year and provide us with all those little extras, most recently six ‘Beebots’ – programmable bees which support us in developing our coding skills. Year 2 have welcomed three ipads which are already being put to good use as children develop their research skills. This is Phase 1 of a FECS project to enable us to increase the ICT opportunities that we can provide in the Pre-Prep. A huge thank you to the FECS team for their gift of time and effort that they give to organising  fundraising events.

‘Behind the wall’, every day is busy and our days are never dull – life in the Pre-Prep is exciting, challenging and an awful lot of fun. A fantastic team of skilled and committed staff entrusted with amazing children and a supportive parent body makes Hall House a very good place to spend our days!

Liz Bowles

Head of Pre-Prep

3 May 2019
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