St John’s News

An interesting start to half term with some of us starting the first weekend listening to Heart Radio and reading the Independent to find Sally being interviewed  and a photograph of her plus an article in the Supplement on the benefits of magic skills being integrated into the school curriculum. One of the ways of helping with the vital issue of self confidence and public speaking is through these learning these skills,  which the children perform firstly to their own class and then to others.  This also improves their speaking, listening and concentration skills.  This publicity certainly put St Johns on the radar of all those listening to the programme or reading the article.


On the first Monday after half term parents of children in Forms 5 and 6 came to a meeting to be introduced to the Curiosity Curriculum which Form 6 will be taking part in this term.  This was started last year with great success  with Sally being one of the pioneers of the idea which has now been taken up by many other schools.  This learning platform offers an excellent opportunity for pupils to develop their study skills and encourage self-motivation.  The input of parents is essential in this curriculum and so valuable as it is an ideal way of forming a joint partnership in a particular aspect of their child’s education and we are indeed fortunate in have Sharon Moore to lead these classes.  I hope I have wetted your appetite enough for you to log onto where you will find all the details.


Sevenoaks Rotary 10K Run

For the interest of all keen runners this will take place in Knole Park on Sunday 2nd April.

10.15am          1.5k Fun Run Age 9-14

11.00am          10k  Run         Age 15 plus

You can enter on line at or enter on the day.


Hollybush Residents’ Association

This week I was elected at the AGM to be Chairman of the Residents’ Association  It is very encouraging for us all to realise that St Johns is held in such high regard in the area.

A Social Week – Posted by Edward Oatley

The week before half term sees the school entertaining the older generation, starting on Monday with the 20 strong KS1 Smarties choir going to Gloucester House Nursing Home for a pre lunch sing song. The choir looked really professional in their choir sashes and were so impressive, even bringing two part harmony into their singing. The songs chosen were well known by the audience who were able to join in and sing along and it was obvious how much the residents were enjoying themselves.  A great start to the week with a pleasant walk from the school on a lovely sunny day.


On Wednesday afternoon Years 4C and 4P entertained residents from nursing and residential homes in the area. They had made delicious chocolate cakes and biscuits, written poems and arranged songs to sing.  Sadly only 10 people were there to appreciate the children’s hard work but those who were thoroughly enjoyed the home made cakes and the entertainment which was top class.  We will definitely repeat the invitation in the future and try to persuade more homes to bring their residents along to enjoy an excellent afternoon’s entertainment.


Thursday afternoon saw Form 1 and Reception entertaining over 60 grandparents with songs and mime before treating them to sandwiches which they had made themselves. It must be said that St Johns certainly has some of the youngest looking grandparents in the whole of Kent!  The children’s reading books were on display and for 10 minutes of so the children were able to read to their families as well as helping to eat the sandwiches.  Some of the grandparents then walked round the school.  What a great way to start half term and highlight the importance of the St Johns family atmosphere.

The Romans, the Great Plaque and the Fire of London!

I have always believed that teaching is an extension of entertainment and whilst I am pleased to say that is the norm at St Johns it was certainly very much on show when Chloe of Crew UK came into school today. In the morning she ran a Roman workshop for Form 4 and in the afternoon a workshop on the Great Plague and the Fire of London.
The secret success of these days is in the preparation by the teachers beforehand and this was done to perfection by Judy, Danielle and Bev. Consequently the children were all well versed in the topics and were able to understand all that Chloe was saying. Form 4 were all impressively dressed as Roman men and women and took part in role play on life as lived by a Roman family as well as life as soldiers. During the afternoon the children discussed the morning’s activities and made mosaics and drew pictures.
After a lunch break Chloe changed into a 17thC costume and it was Form 2’s turn to experience by role play what it was like during the Plague and the Fire and Chloe explained to the children the reason for and the consequence of both events.

All in all a brilliant day of practical learning with periods of history being brought to life in a meaningful way.

St John’s Advent Service

On Sunday the school’s Advent service was a great way in which to bring the school and the church community together.

The school choir and their families joined the church congregation for the service with the children reading all the prayers and singing the Scots Nativity.  Fr  Matthew gave an excellent sermon explaining to the children that the next four weeks were a time to prepare for the real meaning of Christmas as well as enjoying all the festivities.

There are a number of photographs displayed in the church dating from the 1940s up to the present day and these have brought home to me how just how important St John’s and the old Bayham Road school have been to the church and the wider St John’s community over the years.  This exhibition of photographs is certainly worth seeing.

Christmas Term

The last month of the Christmas Term is always busy with a huge variety of enjoyable events.

Last Friday was Quiz Night where the competitive spirit of parents and staff was apparent as teams put their heads together to answer the wide ranging questions compiled by Mark Semple, the Quiz Master,  and David Stringer.  There was cheese and wine aplenty and in the end it was a close run thing with no one seen to be “phoning a friend”!

On Tuesday evening a Reading evening took place for parents where  Sally, Sarah Grimble, Liddy Clark and Jane Gillhauley explained how reading is encouraged throughout the forms and gave advice to the parents who came on how they can best help their children at home. These sessions have proved to be extremely useful and very worthwhile.

Thursday the 24th saw the last of the Open Mornings for new parents.  Over 20 families came and listened to the choir practising before a talk from Sally and Sophie.  The children from Form 5 then showed the prospective families round the school, visiting the different classes, talking to the staff and walking to the school fields.  Once again the children were the stars of the morning in the way they spoke naturally and freely about their school.

Cycling at St John’s

The morning started with Sally, Fr Robin, Dennis Ward and I listening to a few minutes of the choir practising the songs they will be singing at Gloucester House Nursing Home and Knole Park Golf Course in December. It was like listening to one of Gareth Malone’s choirs on television, the children were doing so well. So that was a really good start to the morning.
I then joined Ollie Ireland and fifteen Form 5 pupils on their cycling morning at Sevenoaks County Primary school. Ollie has become a very talented mountain bike instructor and with the help of Sevenoaks CP has developed some excellent tracks in the woods adjacent to their grounds. There are 6 tracks in all catering for all the different levels of difficulty to which primary school children can aspire with the right training. Having walked to the school with our bikes the children spent over an hour attempting most of the tracks, starting with the easier ones and as they gained in confidence progressing to the more difficult ones. As always at St John’s it was great to see the children enjoying themselves and encouraging one another, always positive, never negative.

Life at St John’s – Cross Country and the 1987 Hurricane

Sport is just going from strength to strength with Sheralyn Silvester leading an impressive school culture of doing your best and going that extra mile to really achieve outstanding results.  This was shown on Wednesday when a Primary Schools Cross Country run was held at Radnor House.  There were about 120 children taking part in each of the four races.  It was so encouraging to see all the St John’s runners do so well.  McKenzie Copp came second in the boys years 3/4 race with Lily Ridler 4th and Anya Huppack 10th in the girls 5/6 race and Alfie Chart 5th in the boys years 5/6 race.  To cap it all St John’s were runners-up in the Team competition for years 3/4 boys and years 5/6 girls – not a bad afternoon.

Last week I went in to see Form 1’s work on the damage caused in the South East from the October 1987 hurricane.  The children had obviously learnt a great deal which their writing and drawing showed with some imaginative descriptions.  Sam Kemp had managed to obtain a vast quantity of newspaper cuttings and copies of Bob Ogley’s books on this devastating event.  I then answered many interesting questions thought up by the children.  Then today I joined From 1 for their nature walk to the Vine and was greeting by what seemed like an invasion of Stone Age children and their teachers walking around the school.  It seemed that Form 3 were having a Stone Age day with a visiting Stone Age expert to help them  experience what it would have been like to live at that time.

We had a very productive morning on the Vine firstly seeing the post hurricane oak trees and then following up Form 1’s class work by drawing leaves and finding out the perimeter and height of the trees.  After a sit down to eat biscuits we walked back to school.  A perfect morning weather wise and with Autumn approaching there were many different coloured leaves starting to fall.

New Parents’ Morning

We have had two such mornings, one today and one last week, when over 30 families came to school.  We have a very helpful band of Mums who come in to serve refreshments and talk to everyone as they arrive before Sally introduces herself and talks about the school, followed by Sophie Allen who speaks about the early days of life in Reception.

Pupils from Forms 5 and 6 become ambassadors for the school, taking the families around the classrooms and sports field to meet the pupils and answering their questions.

Then back to the hall for final questions and answers with Sally, Jane Smith and myself. The children were outstanding in the confident way in which they conducted themselves and certainly “wowed” the new parents with their PR skills.

St John’s is all about the development of children, helping them to gain self confidence so that by the time they reach their final two years they are happy with themselves as individuals.  This was certainly apparent this morning and is what makes teaching such a very special and rewarding profession.

St John’s Blog 11

I have been in and out of school this week and as usual so much is happening.  Choir practice took place this morning in what seems like a new hall.  The floor is newly polished and the storage cupboards built during the holidays are really big and store everything, including the music stands and instruments so the hall seems twice the size.

The Form Reps for the School Council will be chosen this week and their first meeting will be next Thursday.

Sheralyn Silvester and I attended the local Primary Schools Sports Meeting yesterday and put our case for making the annual Primary Schools Sports Day in June less overwhelming and crowded by having two events, one for the larger Primaries and one for the smaller ones.

It was very encouraging to see that St John’s pupils are taking advantage of the excellent coaching on offer by Sevenoaks Rugby, Football and Hockey clubs on Sunday mornings during the winter months.

I chatted to Joshua Still to make sure everyone knows that Sevenoaks Football 1stXI are playing Chesham Town of the Ryman League in the FA Cup second qualifying round at Greatness Park on Saturday, k.o 3.00pm.  They have never reached this round before so hopefully they will have plenty of support.

Lots of school events are coming up.  Unfortunately I shall be away for the new Reception children Welcome Assembly on the 26th September but I look forward to being there for the Open Morning for the 2017 new parents on the 11th and 17th October.

Governor Blog – Ed Symes

As I sit writing this on the August bank holiday, I cannot quite believe that another summer is about to come to an end and the new year will begin.
At the end of last year, the teaching, learning and attainment committee sat down to assess academic progress and attainment and the results of this feed into the objectives for the next year.  To do this we look at a pile of data expertly compiled by Christine Platt and Jeannie Newhouse and also take account of our governor monitoring visits over the year.
I am delighted to say that last year was extremely successful for St Johns with some of the highlights being an 100% pass rate in phonics in year 1 and all our year 6s hitting expected grades.  Sally and her team are to be congratulated on the work they put in over the year to achieve this.
That said, St Johns is not one to rest on its laurels and we noticed that writing had not performed to the high standards we set ourselves.  We have agreed that the core academic objective for this year will be to improve our performance in writing and you can expect to see plenty of new initiatives from the school.
We will continue to monitor progress over the year and would welcome any feedback from parents and pupils.  These first hand experiences are vital for keeping St Johns at the levels of excellence we have all come to expect.
I wish you all a happy and successful year,
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