On the road to Rio!

As if we don’t have enough exciting sporting events to watch: the Euros, Wimbledon etc. then now have the Olympics nearly upon us too!

In true Gorse Hill fashion, we wanted to commemorate the forthcoming Olympics in style.  So, we invited Mark Foster, the Olympic swimmer to come in and talk to the children.  Some of you might know him from Strictly Come Dancing too.

He gave a very motivational assembly which encouraged the children to dream big and to aim high.  He also stressed the importance of hard work and determination in the face of adversity.  This struck a chord with the children as this is what we are all about at Gorse Hill.

Mark stayed for a while and joined in some of the dance workshops with the children.  Each year group learned and performed a dance associated with one of the many nations taking part in the Olympic games.  For example, the Reception children did the Samba as they are currently learning about the host nation, Brazil.

Mark also stayed on and officially opened our Forest School Area.  It was particularly funny to watch him struggle with the blunt school scissors in order to cut through the ribbon!  Mrs Bates was right we should have given him a pair of secateurs!

He really was  a lovely genuine guy who was interested in what we were doing as a school and the pupils achievements.  He got really stuck in with the dancing too!  Look out for him as he is part of the BBC commentary team for the swimming events in Rio.

He will be sending some signed photos of himself for the children so look out for those in their book bag.

Enjoy his motivational assembly below.

IMG_5761 from Nicola Nelson on Vimeo.

IMG_5762 from Nicola Nelson on Vimeo.

Ditch Doris Day!

We were pleased to welcome back Dave, our SUMO guy.  Unfortunately, this was for the last time as we have now introduced all six SUMO principles.

This half term sees us, ‘Ditching Doris Day!’  This means not sitting back and relying on ‘Que sera sera, what ever will be will be.’  Instead it is about encouraging the children to take control of their own destinies: think differently and dream big!

Dave produced a fantastic video show casing all of the children’s learning.  Enjoy!

It was a couple of months ago now when Miss Ostrowski came up with the brilliant idea of having a History Day linked to the Queen’s birthday.  As you know, I also teach in Reception and I just so happened to wonder out loud what I would wear on the day.  Miss Keaveney said that she has also been thinking about it and thought that as there were five Reception staff, we could come as the Spice Girls!

We very quickly assumed our roles – Miss Keaveney would be Scary, Miss Ostrowski would be Ginger, Mrs Heathcote would be Sporty, Mrs Barlow would be Posh and I would be Baby!

Then came the hunt for an outfit.  The Baby Spice costume was out of stock all over the internet but they did have her fantastic wig.  It came in good time.  My husband insisted upon trying it on and chasing our terrified kids all over the house.  I found a nice pink dress to wear (Baby Spice always wore pink) and already had some white boots from another dressing up day.

On the day, I don’t think Mrs Bates or the staff could quite take me seriously with that wig on.  The Reception children thought my hair had grown over night and when I took the wig off later because it was too hot and itchy, they thought I had cut my hair!  As for the boots, I wanted to take them off after 5 minutes.  They pinched my feet terribly!

None of that mattered.  We had a fantastic day that hopefully the children will remember for years to come.  I want to thank everybody who got dressed up that day: children and staff.  Of course a big thank you to you parents for all your hard work and contributions.

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Mud Pie Kitchens

On Thursday after school I was lucky enough to go on a training course at Wellfield Infant School in Sale.  The course was about Mud Pie Kitchens and I couldn’t wait. 

You see, it took me back to when I was a little girl.  I can remember spending hours in the garden mixing mud and water together to make mud pies for my Mum.  How many of you can remember making rose petal perfume in jars?  Great memories!

Earlier on this week, I had supported some of our Year 6 children whilst they were taking their SATs papers.  Testing has been around for many years now and has become part of the ‘norm’.  However, it also made me think about just how important it is for them all to have the time to be children, to make mud pies and potions and climb trees and the like.  Just like we did when we were children and hence the reason we have been so passionate as a school to secure the funding and realise the vision of having our own Forest School Area.

The course was excellent, everything I had hoped for and more.  Miss Graham, the Head Teacher is an Early Years specialist.  Her love of Early Years and mud pie kitchens really came across.  I learned lots of things that I hope to bring back to the mud kitchen area at GHPS.

But did you know,  studies have shown dirt to be good for you?  Apparently, there are different types f bacteria that are naturally found in soil which activate neurones to produce Serotonin.   Serotonin is a key chemical in many bodily functions as well as a natural anti-depressant.

In other words, dirt can actually make you feel happy!

Carpe Diem! Learn Latin!

This week has seen us welcoming back Dave and Jules to deliver our fifth SUMO principle: Learn Latin or Seize the Day!

This unit introduces the idea that change comes through action. New thinking on its own will lead nowhere it must be matched by action. Carpe Diem – seize the day encourages children to act upon their beliefs and rise to the challenges that face them. The sessions look at the factors which hinder action and provide strategies for moving forward. The aim of the unit is to move children from saying ‘I wish I had!’ to ‘I am glad I did!’

Again, I feel that this is a lesson most adults could learn from too!  It’s so wonderful to hear the children talking about SUMO and using the positive language that goes alongside it.

Dave and Jules based their work around the song that is in the charts at the moment.  I’m sure you will have heard it, its the one about being seven years old.  Of course, straight away this was a context that the children could really relate to.  They thought about what their lives would be like when they were twenty.  They acted out their dreams and aspirations through drama.  Dave also taught the children a rap, to remind them to give everything to the here and now!  The performances at the end of the two days of workshops, were amazing!

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Posh playground!

As if having our new Forest School wasn’t enough, the enhancements to the  Early Years’ Playground are also complete.  This was due to £10000 of Lottery Funding which was secured by school.

The children are already enjoying playing in the outdoor classroom shelter and using the new tough trays and easel.  We also have a new shed for storing the Forest School resources in.

We just need this beautiful spring weather to last so that we can get out and enjoy learning outdoors!

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Forest School! Ready, Steady, Go!

Thank you all the parents who have been giving me fantastic feedback about our Forest School Area.  It looks absolutely amazing and enhances both the appearance of our school and also the learning opportunities we can offer.

It seems to have been finished just in time for the lovely, warm, spring weather which couldn’t be better!  The staff and children can’t wait to get going!

We will keep you posted about the opening ceremony!

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Enriching the curriculum

I always said, that if I was lucky enough to get a management position that I would try and provide wider learning opportunities for the children alongside English, Maths and Science.  Therefore I was thrilled that we got an opportunity to work with Z arts and celebrate Chinese New Year.

The children had a truly wonderful morning.  They participated in an assembly where they learned about China and the different forms of art that it is famous for.  The highlight for many children though was finding out which animal of the Chinese zodiac they were born under.  They were then encouraged to take on the characteristics of that animal, it was a funny sight!

Afterwards, the children took part in a variety of art work shops.  Key stage two children learned about the willow pattern story and painted their own willow pattern designs onto paper plates.  They also explored Chinese calligraphy and had the opportunity to recreate some of the icons involved.

Key Stage 1 children participated in some traditional fan dancing with a Chinese artist called Fen Fen.  She wore her traditional costume and each child had one of her traditional fans to dance with.  It was beautiful to watch the movements that the children were making to the Chinese music.

The Early Years children, made a giant Chinese dragon out of recyclable materials.  They decided to call him,’Lung’, which is Mandarin for dragon.

The children got so much out of their morning and their learning outcomes are clear to see.  There are several new displays in the hall to demonstrate our learning.  Please do take the opportunity to pop in and see them at Parents’ Evening.

It just remains for me to say, ” Kung hei fat choi!  Happy New Year!”dragonsscrollswillow

Hip Hippo Hooray!

This week has seen the return of Dave and Jules our SUMO experts.  They came in to teach the children about the SUMO principle: Remember the Beach Ball.  This teaches the children to try and see things from other peoples’ points of view.  I’m sure you will agree, a very important life skill.

In addition to running workshops on this theme, Dave and Jules were asked to judge the ‘Hippo Areas’ that staff and children had created as part of their SUMO work last half term.  Dave was absolutely thrilled and joked that he thought Simon Cowell had lost his number!

Dave and Jules took their role as judges very seriously and after lots of consideration, they decided that Nursery and Class 4 should split the prize money and receive £50 each.  More importantly was how impressed they were by the Hippo corners as a whole.  They visit lots of schools and were amazed by the time and effort that the staff at our school had put into creating these safe spaces for their children.  They took photos to show other schools the good work that was going on at Gorse Hill. I couldn’t have felt prouder and would like to thank all the staff and pupils for buying into the SUMO principles.  I am a big fan of SUMO having seen its impact at one of my old schools but whilst walking around looking at the SUMO work going on, it was evident that Gorse Hill has really embraced it too.

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Feeling like a celebrity!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the job (other than working with the children!) is to be able to visit other schools.  This is valuable on two counts.   Firstly, the reassurance that what you are doing at your school is comparable to what is going on at other peoples’ schools and secondly an opportunity to steal (sorry, borrow) good ideas and practise!

This week, as part of my Deputy Head teacher induction programme I had the opportunity to visit a primary school in Urmston.  The training was great, with a very motivational speech by the Head teacher and the opportunity to meet other deputies, which gave me a chance to talk about my own priorities for the coming year.

Part of the visit includes a tour of the school.  Secretly this is my favourite part of the training because as I said you get the opportunity to borrow good ideas.  This school tour turned out to be particularly enjoyable one.  The Head teacher showed us around, pointing out all the improvements she had made over time and began showing us the classrooms.  As the large group were ushered into the classrooms, I was welcomed with whoops of joy and “Mrs Chrysler!”  It turned out that a lot of the children remembered me from when I had taught them at the local infant school.

I felt so privileged, as the children came up to share their news with me.  One little girl told me that her Mum had, had a baby since I had last seen her.   It was a lovely reminder of why I do this job.  To build these lovely relationships and to make a difference to the life of a child.

Anyhow, I left the meeting floating on air and with the cockles of my heart well and truly warmed.  Also, with a tiny glimpse into the world of an international, jet-set celebrity!Selena-with-Fans2