From the Headmaster's Desk

The end of another busy week at Lyonsdown. In fact the boys and girls have been so busy that it would be easy to forget that half-term is now upon us. I am constantly learning new things from the pupils at the gate, at play or ten-pin bowling and in the Dining Hall. This week’s discoveries largely circle around favourite lessons and activities, but I have also learnt that the school gate spider (now evicted by Storm Brian) is called Alfred and that sushi is in vogue. Learning, in whatever form, is at the heart of all that we do.

Mrs Windsor’s assembly on Thursday was entitled “We Love Learning at Lyonsdown” and focused on how pupils learn. The children were all very animated and enthusiastic in sharing all the various ways. These include dancing, singing, writing, using the computer, performing, talking and listening to each other, reading, making, playing sport and playing with each other in the playground. Each of these ways to learn have their place of course, and together they provide a rich learning environment, allowing children to discover, express and consider what they are learning, using all their senses, so that learning has meaning, relevance and purpose for them.

It has been a very successful first half-term for Reception, culminating in an action-packed day. In the morning, the children enjoyed a seasonal walk in Greenhill Gardens led by Mrs Gunn and the Reception staff. Binoculars in hand, they observed the effects of autumn.  Mrs Murphie accompanied the classes, and was ready to answer any queries. Thank you to Tabitha’s mother for joining this first outing. On their return, after a short break the children were introduced to the joyful customs of Diwali courtesy of Mrs Kathirgamanathan. To round off a wonderful day ‘A Pocketful of Nothing’ entertained the children in the afternoon with animated stories. The gales of laughter around the room left no doubt as to the children’s involvement and enjoyment.

On the subject of Diwali, thank you to Mrs Sivaram and Mrs Shah for visiting Year 3 to give a very enjoyable and informative lesson about the festival, its history and traditions. Pupils also enjoyed learning more about the Festival of Light and how it is celebrated by many religions and in a diverse range of countries around the world. 2F completed the Lyonsdown Diwali experience with a wonderful assembly that clearly explained the story of how Rama rescued Sita from the demon-king, Ravana. Not only did the boys and girls learn their lines off by heart, but the acting was confident and full of emotion.

Last week, I made a brief mention of our success at a regional Art Competition, but this downplays our pupils’ achievements. Mrs Cowie writes: last Thursday, we took a selection of 2D and 3D art work created by pupils from both the Lower and Upper School to the annual ISA Regional Art Competition. It was an exciting and inspiring day for Art teachers and Heads from different schools in the London North area to enjoy, as the art work was of an extremely high standard this year. The different themes and use of unusual media in work was fabulous, and some pieces of work were enormous. Nine Lyonsdown pieces of art won first place, and have qualified for the ISA National Finals next month, which is fantastic! Six pieces of work won second place prizes and two pupils were awarded Highly Commended for their work. Well done! A report, together with a full list of the successful Lyonsdown winners and photographs of the artwork can be seen on the news section of the Parent Portal.

Whilst discussing exciting news: so much is happening at Lyonsdown that I would implore you to sign up to our Twitter account @LyonsdownSchool for even more updates: Year 5’s jellyfish attack, for example. Social media is increasingly popular with our parents; 155 users viewed one post last week and there is much more to come on this front.

Mrs Windsor would like to draw your attention to Remembrance arrangements this year. This year, Remembrance Sunday falls on Sunday 12th November. At Lyonsdown, we will be commemorating Remembrance with a special assembly on Thursday 9thNovember, and Year 6 will be visiting the New Barnet war memorial on Wednesday 8th November to pay respects on behalf of the whole school. Each year, The Royal British Legion sends us a box of poppies for pupils to wear, with a suggested donation of ‘a pound a poppy’. This year too, we will have some other items for the children to purchase for £2 each. These will include wrist bands, bracelets, rulers and reflective poppies which can be attached to coat zippers and bags for the week of remembrance. The Year 6 Charity Prefects have organised Year 6 to sell the poppies and other items in school each day from Monday 6th November. If you wish your child to buy a poppy, please could they bring their donation in during the first week back after half term. As a historian, it is strange to think that next year will mark the centenary of the end of the First World War; a similar period passed between the Battle of Waterloo and 1914. No matter what period of time has passed, I am proud that we will be remembering the significant sacrifice our Armed Forces made, and continue to make.

Only one parish notice this week: if you bring your son or daughter into school after the playground has been locked in the morning, or in the middle of the day, please report to the School Office and do not take your child directly to his or her classroom. We will register your child and take them to their lesson.

I finish with two pieces of staffing news that have already been announced. Mrs Hirsch, our wonderful Director of Music, will be leaving Lyonsdown at the end of the Autumn Term to return to the Secondary sector. Mrs Hirsch has developed Music at the school into one of our strengths, and her enthusiasm and energy for nativities, carol services, assemblies and productions has inspired the boys and girls to new heights of achievement. We wish her all the best for the future. Following a comprehensive recruitment process, I am pleased to announce that we have appointed Emma Roberts to be our new Director of Music from January 2018. Mrs Roberts brings a wealth of experience to Lyonsdown, from both the Secondary and Prep School sectors and I am sure you will join me in making her feel welcome in the Spring Term.

Miss Pilmer begins her maternity leave after half term. We wish her all the best for the arrival of her new baby and look forward to seeing mother and child at some point in the near future. Fran Smith will be taking over Miss Pilmer’s class for the duration of her leave, and has already met the majority of Year 2 parents. We look forward to welcoming Mrs Smith to Lyonsdown when we return to school in November.

And, a final thought. Today, I accidentally opened my diary to the first week of September and, by flicking through the pages, had the pleasure of revisiting everything that the pupils at Lyonsdown have achieved in the last seven weeks. Even children should take time to reflect on their successes, and areas for development, and I would encourage you to speak to them about their learning journey. They should all be very proud of the hard work they have done at Lyonsdown this year.

All the best for the half-term break. Children – remember to read and engage with the news every day. I look forward to seeing you all when we return on Monday 6th November.

C. Hammond