The Autumn Term began in usual fashion: blazing sunshine; lots of happy smiling children; lots of even happier, smiling (relieved?) parents; a body of staff raring to go; home clothes; fun and games in the grounds and the mother of all barbecues….
This is the longest stretch of the academic year without a break and we have finally arrived at the first Weekend Out; two weeks and two days may not seem a long slog but, after a 9 week Summer holiday, it does take a while to get back into the swing of things, particularly from an academic point of view.
In order to help encourage this, we have introduced this term the BOFA learning platform which the children can do online; this gives them both practice and assistance with Maths, English, VR and NVR tests and acts as first-class preparation for the battery of ISEB tests that they are now subjected to by the senior schools. I am delighted to see how happily and successfully they have taken to this and that the children are all now back in the groove academically.
That is not to say that it has been all work and no play!
On the first Weekend In, there were no matches but some excellent training sessions followed by free time and then Saturday Sweets. Mrs. K. has surpassed herself this year; she ordered 250kg of sweets which needed to be brought into the school on a palette truck; the choice is simply mesmerising.
On Sunday we had a morning service, at which I got my tutees to preach; this was followed by ‘Inflatable Fun’ – the boarders had three hours playing on a range of inflatables in the grounds – a full report, with aerial photos, appeared on our Facebook page.
The first Hockey matches of term took place against Kilgraston, although they were ‘home’ fixtures we had to travel to Meadowmill to play as the new Astro at Hallhill was not fully carpeted in time (I am delighted to report that it is now open – the ribbon being cut by our own Scotland hockey international, Mr. Riddell.) We were victorious in both.
Form 5 went on their annual pilgrimage up Traprain Law with Mrs. Parks and Mr. Bailey – at the summit there was an excellent historical and geographical talk given by Mr. Bailey and, more importantly, some restorative Freddos.
The second Weekend In of term, saw the first rugby fixtures of term for the U11s and U9s – they are both strong teams and are coming to terms with the new Age Grade Variations (AGVs) laid down by the SRU. We were victorious in both – although I am likely to be chastised for saying so, as part of the reason behind the new AGVs is to encourage inclusion rather than competition; no comment.
On the second Sunday of term (after a first foray for a while to Belhaven Parish Church), as is fast becoming tradition we held a charity event to which all parents were invited. This year it was a school fête, organised predominantly by the school’s Charity Club under the watchful eye of Mme. Brodie and ably supported by the PTFA, to raise money for UNICEF and a local charity, the Teapot Trust.
Although the weather turned against us and we had to move most of the stalls into the Sports Hall, it was a huge success – throwing the wet sponge at the Headmaster was a particularly popular attraction, as was the ‘Guess which teacher is which toddler?’ photo board (bottom left in picture on the right), although nowhere close to the lure of the Tombola for which there was a queue throughout. Again, there are plenty of photos to enjoy on the school’s Facebook page. We raised just over £1250.00 for the charities and, equally importantly, many of the boarders spent a very happy afternoon with their families – a great time was had by all.
This week there has been a rush of children off to pre-test at Harrow and Uppingham. Unfortunately, due to Storm Ali, all Wednesday fixtures were cancelled but we did send a team to the Loretto Golf tournament on Thursday.
Today the parents of the Form 6 children (the littlest and newest ones at the bottom of the school) are coming in to see what they have been up to in their first few weeks at Belhaven; the PTFA are kindly providing cakes and coffee as a journey breaker for all and, after an academic meeting over soup and sandwiches, the staff will disappear for a well-earned rest, ready to launch headlong into the next section of term on Monday morning.
That is all.