Headmistress’ Weekly Message – 10.05.2019

There has been a little break between news –  the carrier pigeons just didn’t want to carry messages from the woods where I was staying with Year 5 on their Bushcraft adventure last week. What a super time the girls, and boys, had. They tried new things and bravely went beyond their comfort zones in all manner of things. For some it was the first time away from home, others sleeping in tents or eating new foods, getting used to the dark and spiders not to mention the woodland noises of owls and deer. I was delighted to have the opportunity to go and see the children grow in confidence, develop new skills and have the chance to demonstrate leadership qualities in a non formal educational context.

This week it was the turn of Year 6 to go on their adventures and they have had a great time in Normandy. They have visited Bayeux, been biscuit making and visited a toffee factory; then on more reflective days they have been to see the remains of Mulberry Harbour at Arramanche, seen the film about D-Day at the Cinèma Circulaire and paid their respects at the war graves.

On Friday 3rd May Year 3 visited the Science museum in London. We loved travelling by public transport and arrived at the museum ready to learn! We spent a while exploring the museum looking at steam engines and the Space area. We then went to the Wonderlab which was fantastic, we got to experience all of the hands-on activities which included learning about forces, magnets, gravity, light any many more. We then got to watch a Science show which was all about fire and making things go ‘BANG’! Everyone behaved beautifully and were engaged all day!

Summer uniform, gosh this has opened up lots of conversations and it has led me to looking at the school uniform requirements in greater detail. It would appear that there are areas of inconsistency, confusion and, in conversation with parents, thoughts that aspects of the uniform could be improved. To this end I have spoken with Mrs Haley in her capacity of Chair of the PTA to ask if she could muster a group of parents from a range of year groups who would be willing to form a working party. They will meet along with some staff members, to look critically at our uniform and see if, where and how, improvements could be made.

On Friday and Tuesday all of the girls will have had a yoga taster session, after just 40 minutes we could see that the girls were relaxed and calm. There will be the option for the girls to have a short 3 week introduction to yoga as an after school club after half term – look out for the letter.

I heard on the radio that there was a study completed that stated that children now have less playtime than they did 20 years ago; and that this may impact on children’s fitness, well-being and social skills. It made me reflect upon how we help with our children’s well-being and mental health. The relaxed registration leading to lessons is a great start to our days, the girls having time to read, catch up or socialise quietly prior to learning gets them in the right mind frame, a half hour break with space to run, play and climb with plenty of playground equipment encourages imaginative play and raises the heart rate for the more energetic – as well as getting fresh air and sunshine. Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn. They learn so many things that they don’t even realise they are learning like problem solving and social skills. Again, at lunchtime the girls get a minimum of half an hour to play outside. Play times enable the girls to interact with different year groups, planning games, chatting and developing social skills as well as those of compassion and empathy. As well as this, all girls have the opportunity for plenty of sports so cardio fitness is maintained. We are fortunate to be teaching and learning on a site that has space, is surrounded by trees and has fresh air with which to fill our lungs.  Our buddy/ Sister system means that no girl need ever feel lonely as there is always a big sister to turn to or a little sister to help. Staff are all very aware of the pastoral and social needs of the girls, issues being raised at the daily morning staff meeting if necessary. Mrs Kimber is our Wellbeing Lead and will spend time helping the girls to express themselves through any difficult issues, but all girls also feel able to talk to any member of staff. All teachers know all of the girls, we are family. So, I don’t worry about a lack of playtime at Cumnor, I think we have the balance right and the girls benefit from that. I believe that pastoral care and wellbeing here is exceptional.

“Play is the highest form of research.”
Albert Einstein

Mrs Amanda McShane
Headmistress

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020 8660 3445