Tuesday 2nd June

Baby Canniford is here!

Sophie shared the long awaited news with staff this morning that Ernest Canniford was born late last night. He looks really gorgeous and the news of his arrival certainly was good news we all welcomed as we came to school.

Those who were in today settled into the long morning very happily. Some understandably had a slightly wobbly start but seeing friends taking part in all the learning and activities really seemed to hit the spot!

So, congratulations to Sophie and Will Canniford and welcome to the world Ernest.

Thursday 21st May

Today has been one of those busy days. It’s been full of meetings and business but also of lovely class zooms with bright faced eager children. As I finished the last zoom I took our dogs out into the garden. It’s still so warm and the evening light is almost as beautiful as that early in the morning.
Years ago my parents gave me this horse chestnut tree for my birthday. It was tiny and my small children and I watched and waited with great excitement for it to produce a conker. Look at it now, an absolute beauty!
Fortunate to have been blessed with truly fantastic parents, the gap they left when they died recently seemed huge. It’s odd how close they feel in this tree. Both immensely practical people who’d lived through the Second World War and the hardships of being small tenant dairy farmers, I hear what I believe their sound advice would be in tough times such as these we are living through.

So, ‘best foot forward, one step at a time’  is what I hear as I take in the beauty of this tree.

And that’s the attitude that St John’s community has adopted over the last term. Parents and children have given their absolute best managing home learning alongside so many other demands, staff have given their all in providing the care and education that they can remotely.
As we continue into Term 6 we have dig deep to find the courage and commitment to implement our Government’s drive. I give thanks for the support and love of wonderful parents – my own, those of our pupils and theirs as well.
Well done St John’s!

Wednesday 20th May

It was so lovely to see Year 6 on their zoom meeting today. They all brought the book they’re currently reading to our meeting. It was incredible how the group managed to express themselves while so naturally giving time to others to do the same. Genuinely there was a feeling of recommendation and passion for reading. Year 6 seem to have mastered seeing the  value of honesty in their reading. Some happily expressed the love of rereading an old favourite book while others were happy to try a challenging read. Everyone’s contributions were valued and celebrated. Well read our lovely Year  6!

The scavenger hunt was entertaining. The challenge to find 3 things and be first back in front of camera was taken seriously. This group were certainly fast off the mark!

After a general sharing of our pets it was time to say goodbye all too soon. Thank you for providing a highlight to my day Year 6.

Tuesday 19th May

We’re busy preparing to open school to a limited number of pupils on June the 1st, as directed by the government.
There is so much to consider it’s quite a worry. It’s fortunate that many hands make light work, or should I more correctly say lighter work!
We are reorganising classrooms and planning a very different kind of St John’s for the time being.
Thank you for completing the survey by this evening. We can now proceed to hone our plans with the numbers we expect.
Your decisions for your child to return or to stay home are completely understood. There will be no judgement either way and most importantly no fines.
So tomorrow is due to be even hotter followed by storms on Thursday. There’s never a dull moment with English weather I’m pleased to report!

Friday 15th May

Through this time we are all managing days where we feel ok and days when we don’t. This picture from the wonderful book by Charlie Mackesy has a message worth grasping.

As I wrestle with planning for the possible partial opening of St John’s, maybe at the start of June, I most definitely need to be brave and seek help. The amazing thing about St John’s though is that I find I rarely need to ask because people are there and offering their support so willingly and thoughtfully.
I hope you all have people who are able to support you but if you find yourself feeling alone with worries, please ask. We’re a big team and there are so many people offering their help in so many ways, just get in touch headteacher@st-johns-sevenoaks.kent.sch.uk

Thursday 14th May

I’m completely zoomed out!

How really lovely it was to see all those children and to hear all about the lockdown ups and downs. Every child in every class exercised such patience keeping themselves on mute and listening to their teachers and class mates.
I’ve seen so many teddies and pets today, what a caring school we are!

It was great for Reception and Year 1 children to meet their new teachers, Mrs Menzies and Miss DeVille today. Also Mrs Hanna, our new music teacher, I think, met every child in the school! The class teachers were joined by specialist teachers and support staff and probably most excitingly …Buzz, who is a very fluffy dog in lockdown!
Let’s do it all again next week!

Wednesday 13th May

Apologies that I failed to blog yesterday; with budget setting, meetings and power cuts the day disappeared. I woke this morning and realised I’d missed the boat!

Earlier today the year 6 pupils, their teaching team and I had a very lovely zoom meeting. It was so really good to see you all and to hear snippets of the things you’ve been doing in lockdown. Baking, caring for animals, walking, cycling, music and art all featured in the feedback. Some of us are already looking forward to next week’s virtual gathering. The children listened attentively to the flattering and sensitive feedback their teaching team gave.

Our Year 6 know the value of using primary sources when researching recent history. I pointed out that they as adults they will be able to speak to Primary School children and give first hand experience of living through the 2020 Lockdown. I hoped that the experience of staying at home in lockdown had given them time to reflect, to think and to appreciate. I read them the following poem by WH Davies,


What is life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.


Zoom tomorrow with all the other classes, looking forward to seeing you all.

Monday 11th May

My first cones planted as suggested. Now we wait “some time” to see the shoots appear. I wonder how long that it?!

Today has been spent on many calls and platforms discussing the Government’s proposed phased return to school from June 1st. I’m not surprised that this has evoked such mixed responses among our school community. At this point we have to remain patient as we await further guidance and trust that science is informing our leaders’ decisions.
Meanwhile today parents, grandparents and carers have been trying to support their children with the home learning as usual. Some weeks and some days are most definitely harder than others – it’s really alright to leave school work when that is the case for you and your child. I read this in the teachers’ daily emails and they really do mean it.

Friday 8th May

A special day of celebrations to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe.

So many people managed to mark the day in some way while keeping their distance at all times, of course.

Piers’ father served in the navy during WW2 so all things naval are in his blood, I suppose! Our Nelson flags are hanging on our hedge and spell out a message, “England expects that every man will do his duty.” This message was originally sent on the 21st October 1805 by Nelson to the British fleet just before the battle of Trafalgar. The sentiment remains poignant, I think.


Thursday 7th May

Today has been an exciting day for our two donkeys, Alf and Woody. I say that sarcastically…they aren’t over keen on having their hooves trimmed! It has to be done though otherwise their feet would grow so long it would make walking uncomfortable.
This morning, very early they came into the yard and stood as good as gold while Jim, the skilled and lovely farrier, trimmed and neatened them up. Actually it doesn’t hurt them, it’s a bit like having our fingernails trimmed I’m told.
A good job done!