Open Morning for New Parents Mon 15th Oct

So far this term we have had 2 open mornings with not far short of 60 families joining us.
This is when I enjoy so much being here, because you see first hand the success that St John’s has had in developing self confidence in children, enabling them to communicate freely, and feel happy to talk about themselves and their school with others.

So this morning around 50 parents and some grandparents joined us with some of their young ones (who are given plenty of activities to amuse them) and after a coffee/tea Sally then talked to them about the school followed by Sophie Allen, the Reception teacher.
Then at about 10 o’clock half of Year 6 take over, and I mean take, by taking small groups of parents around the school. The Parents soon realise how enthusiastic these children are about St John’s, and see all the wonderful experiences the children have in and out of the classroom – the team spirit; the friends they make; the down to earth staff who they so respect and trust and are such fun. By 11.15 with assembly over, break nearly finished and the kitchen getting ready for lunch some of the parents were still with us talking with the children.
I am sure the new parents will remember all that Sally and Sophie said but for myself – having totally failed to get a word in all morning (except when I had some parents to myself on the school fields) I was just in awe of the way the children and the parents were in deep conversation with each other, and yes they will come, thanks to the children and that, for me, is why it’s the perfect day.

Daily Events

A very enjoyable few days with St John’s.  The Harvest Festival service at the Church was a wonderful occasion with, as usual the whole school taking part and a packed church.  Years 1 and 2 with their “A Song for Harvest” and Year 6 with their “Streets of London” sang beautifully and so clearly.  The service was in aid of the school charity Toybox (changing the world for street children) and Year 5 explained to us in great detail all the charity does.  There were some stirring hymns, another excellent sermon, prayers from Year 3 and the choir inspired us all with “Harvest for the World”.

Janet and I were lucky enough to attend the Duncan Edwards 60th anniversary of his death in the Munich air crash in Dudley on Thursday evening and the family, team and town spirit that came through so strongly when talking about Duncan’s too short life made us both feel so grateful that in a changing world this same atmosphere still prevails at St John’s.

This was also evident when I arrived back on Friday and took part in the House sports afternoon that Danielle Hollands had organised for Years 3-6.  Every child represented their House and the sportsmanship and team spirit that is so much a part of the school made the whole afternoon so enjoyable.

To finish off a great day the parents’ quiz took place in the evening.  This was all organised by the parents, including the setting of the questions and the hall was packed.  14 teams took part, one of them won and one took the wooden spoon, but the success of the evening was the great fun had by all and the sense of togetherness of all being part of St John’s school.

Forest School

I went yesterday with Class 1 to their first day of Forest School at Sevenoaks Prep. The Prep are kindly giving us one of their trained Forest School teachers, Lucy McGilchrist, every Monday afternoon to give all of Classes 1,2 and 3 a really meaningful Forest School experience in rotation by the end of the academic year. If the first lesson is anything to go by then it will be a year to remember. A cross section of Class 1 arrive by school bus, get out and are met by Lucy, someone they have never seen before. She introduces herself, gives them a game to play immediately and then takes them over to the Forest School. From the moment they got out of the bus they were concentrating the entire time, asking interesting questions and taking on all the tasks with real energy and thought.  It was just all so impressive, and to think they are only 5 and yet to get that behaviour at that age just again proves the great teaching strength that St. John’s has, to make sure the children know how to get the best out of themselves and all around them.

Open Day

This is the perfect example of the family atmosphere and spirit that is St. John’s. The school was open to all families to come in and talk over their years work and look, with their children, through their books. Filming from a “ Drone” you would have seen all the areas of the playground, gardens and footpaths filled by families with some in the classrooms.

Talking to the parents,as I was, it just gives me so much pleasure to know that they really do appreciate exactly what St. John’s stands for, and how important that is in this fast changing world – and also the immense respect they have for Sally and her entire staff for making that possible.

Talking with the children and seeing their smiles, their self confidence and their friendship with each other they also feel the same.

School Summer Production

The summer plays have been amazing spectacles with two performances on both Monday and Tuesday.  Every pupil has taken part; Years 1, 2 and Reception in “The Animals of Knole Wood” and Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 in “A Twist in the Tale”  with Years 5 and 6 writing their own parts and creating their own props. The overriding strength that comes across from these performances is the teamwork from everybody which is such an important part of the St. John’s DNA.

Sophie Allen’s KS1 play had all the hallmarks of excellence, with the perfect togetherness of all the children as they performed the words and actions of the songs.  A great deal of thought had gone into the KS2 play, not only in the writing, but also the costumes and the cast has certainly learnt the art of comedic acting.  Lizzie Hughes and her music team played a large part in the success of the play and Siaron Moore’s dance routines with Class 3 and Emma-Jane Rushby’s dance group were “simply the best”.

The Ship Theatre was full to overflowing for all four performances with a total of over 700 in the audience who all went away marvelling at what the children had just produced on stage and how fortunate these children are to have the St. John’s staff and their parents to support them in reaching such high standards!

This really does show the St. John’s spirit at its very best.

The volunteers at the school number 46, covering a wide range of activities and general help: reading; writing; Maths; school plays; costume making; sport; music and school visits, not forgetting all the fund-raising events the PTA organise.  What gives the volunteers so much pleasure is the joy of working within the school’s relaxed but concentrated work ethos. This results in the pupils being able to talk freely with everybody and so friendship and trust is fostered which enables the volunteers to make their own contribution to the well being of all at St. John’s.

The whole school attended the Assembly, the 43 strong Key Stage 2 choir sang a superb rendition of “Count on Me” and Sally thanked the volunteers and brought home to everyone the importance of their role in so many different spheres.  Each year group then stood up, one after another to applaud, and pupils presented every volunteer with the gift of a notebook and a beautifully hand written “thank you” card on behalf of all the school.  This was followed by a lovely tea.

46 volunteers is a truly amazing number to have in a school and there were smiles all round from everybody in the hall.

Sports day

What a perfect summers day for our school sports day.

Sheralyn Silvester along with the rest of the staff staged a well organised sports day that all pupils took part in. Our school Athletics field was looking it’s best thanks to Dave’s efforts.

It was a day that says so much about the school’s team work, parenting at its very best, the sporting atmosphere where it is so obvious every child is trying her/his best but the sincere encouragement everyone was giving to each other made this a living Olympic experience.

A memorable St John’s day and one not to be forgotten.

Year 4 Cricket

A great day at Sevenoaks Prep who hosted a six-school cricket festival for years 3 and 4.  It is a real pleasure and inspiration for me to be with eight children who are so willing to learn, to enjoy all they are doing and to just go on improving throughout each match.

It was great to hear that cricket coaches who were helping them in the nets were taken aback by their keenness, determination and general attitude.

The St. John’s cricketers were: Harry, Harrison, Dante, Bailey, Lexie, Tia, Mia and Iona.

Well done all!

Cricket

Last week there were two afternoons of Key Stage 2 cricket tournaments.  With Yr 6 being away in Seville it gave some of the younger pupils a chance to have a go.

On Wednesday we took part in the Kwik Cricket tournament against five other primary schools.  In front of tremendous family support the squad immediately realised that they had a lot to learn, the best way being to learn from their mistakes. They took on board that they had to concentrate on all they were told and show real determination to improve with each match – and this they did!  There were smiles, hugs and laughter at the end to celebrate a really enjoyable afternoon with the children realising what great fun there was to be had from the game of cricket.

We were all proud of the team: Sonny, Luke, Sam, Erin, Adele, Sebastian, Benjamin, Finley, Oliver, Caitlyn, Edie, and Hannah-Rose.

Friday’s competition followed normal cricket rules and was held at Sevenoaks School.  Again with no Yr 6, St John’s had a young side and the challenge for the team was to learn.  In the first match against Amherst we showed we had the ability, but bowled too many wides, made a few fielding mistakes and did not hit the bad balls often enough, so we lost.  The second match saw a real improvement in bowling and fielding but not in the batting and this resulted in a win for Sevenoaks County Primary by 10 runs. We managed to bring it all together in the last match but sadly had a disastrous one and a half overs when Ide Hill scored nearly all their runs. As hard as we tried we were unable to reach their total.

It was a learning process for everyone and it was so gratifying to see how enthusiastic all the children were to learn; so well done to the following for a great afternoon in the sun: Jamie, Finlay, Griff, Benjamin, Isaac, Georgia, Laura and Rebecca.