Lets reflect on 2017 and look forward to 2018

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We are open!

Since the 23rd March, together with the rest of the UK, we have been in lockdown. The once busy corridors filled with laughter and happy children were only allowed to be open to the children of key workers. Whilst virtual learning has been successful, it doesn’t beat the face to face contact, so we were thrilled last week when the Government announced that as long as the classes do not exceed 15, we were allowed to open our doors to all the year groups. Seeing the pure excitement as the children lined up, following the social distancing rules, it was clear how happy they were to be back at school. This has only been made possible due to our long standing commitment to keeping class sizes small.

Class size is defined as the number of pupils in a class with one teacher. The average class size for primary schools is 27.1 pupils. However, the 2017 Government figures revealed that there were over half a million primary school pupils in classes of 31-35 children. In addition, 39,088 primary children were in classes of 36 or more pupils, and of these, 16,571 children in classes with 40 or more pupils.

At Hopelands Preparatory School we keep our classes small – at an average of just 12 pupils per class. Being a small, happy school, we are dedicated in enabling all our children to achieve their full potential.

Here are 7 reasons why your child could benefit from smaller class sizes.

  1. More attention from the teacher
    The fewer pupils there are in a class, the more time and attention the teacher can give each one. A teacher will have more opportunity to get to know their pupils, observe how they work and help them improve on their weaknesses. All our teachers get to know each child personally and make a positive contribution to their development. This is not so easy in larger classes as any specific weaknesses or lack of confidence can go unnoticed for a longer period.
  2. Better academic results
    Research has been carried out that links smaller class sizes to achieving greater academic results. Here at Hopelands we seek out the innate talents in each child and provide additional assistance and encouragement where needed. In the last 2 years we have had an average of 95% of our pupils go on to one of the many excellent local Grammar Schools. For a non-selective school, we believe that this says a great deal about the quality of our teaching and learning.
  3. Quieter classes
    The more children in a class, the noisier it becomes. For some children this can be a real distraction and can lead to many disruptions of the lesson being taught. We believe a lesson should be focused on learning and ensuring the children understand what is being taught rather than becoming distracted.
  4. Pupil confidence
    With smaller class sizes pupils feel more confident to put their hand up and ask questions. They feel more at ease contributing their own ideas and feel less intimidated if they do not understand something. This helps strengthen a teacher and pupil relationship and the pupil becomes more engaged in the learning. In larger class sizes, it is easier to ‘hide’ behind the other pupils which could lead to not being able to understand the lesson or they could become bored which can lead to disruptive behaviour.
  5. Social benefits
    Being at school is not just about how well you achieve academically. It is also about learning positive social skills. At Hopelands we work to build resilience, this is achieved through our secure environment which promotes positive attitudes in every child, so they feel able to take risks and become more confident. We also believe in respect; manners are very important to us and each child is taught to be respectful and courteous to each other and staff. All of this will translate positively into the workplace later in life.
  6. Tailored instruction
    With larger class sizes it can be incredibly difficult for a teacher to keep all the pupils fully engaged as their range of abilities could be extreme. With smaller class sizes a teacher will be able to tailor the way they teach to suit the abilities of all the individuals in the class and not just those who need the most help. At Hopelands when we identify an extra learning need, we have the facilities to break into smaller groups to be able to focus on a specific area.
  7. Being able to teach!
    Behind every teacher sits a mountain of administration work. Lesson planning, marking work, sourcing educational events and numerous administration tasks. Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching. In larger class sizes, the actual teaching can become sidelined for all their other non-teaching tasks. The benefits of having a smaller class size enables the teacher to spend more time focused on doing the job they signed up for – being able to teach!
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The Benefits of Small Class Sizes

Choosing which school for your child is an incredibly important decision and can seem daunting. There are many questions to ask including:

  • Will they receive an excellent education?
  • Will they be encouraged to be creative?
  • Will they learn resilience and how to get along with their peers?
  • Will they have fun?
  • Will they have opportunities to explore music and dance in extracurricular activities?
  • Will they be happy?

There are many areas to consider and compare when making the decision, one of these is the size of the classes.

Class size is defined as the number of pupils in a class with one teacher. The average class size for primary schools is 27.1 pupils. However, the 2017 Government figures revealed that there were over half a million primary school pupils in classes of 31-35 children. In addition, 39,088 primary children were in classes of 36 or more pupils, and of these, 16,571 children in classes with 40 or more pupils.

At Hopelands Preparatory School we keep our classes small – at an average of just 12 pupils per class. Being a small, happy primary school, we are dedicated in enabling all our children to achieve their full potential.

Here are 7 reasons why your child could benefit from smaller class sizes.

  1. More attention from the teacher

The fewer pupils there are in a class, the more time and attention the teacher can give each one. A teacher will have more opportunity to get to know their pupils, observe how they work and help them improve on their weaknesses. All our teachers get to know each child personally and make a positive contribution to their development. This is not so easy in larger classes as any specific weaknesses or lack of confidence can go unnoticed for a longer period.

  1. Better academic results

Research has been carried out that links smaller class sizes to achieving greater academic results. Here at Hopelands School we seek out the innate talents in each child and provide additional assistance and encouragement where needed. In the last 2 years we have had an average of 95% of our pupils go on to one of the many excellent local Grammar Schools. For a non-selective independent school, we believe that this says a great deal about the quality of our teaching and learning.

  1. Quieter classes

The more children in a class, the noisier it becomes. For some children this can be a real distraction and can lead to many disruptions of the lesson being taught. We believe a lesson should be focused on learning and ensuring the children understand what is being taught rather than becoming distracted.

  1. Pupil confidence

With smaller class sizes pupils feel more confident to put their hand up and ask questions. They feel more at ease contributing their own ideas and feel less intimidated if they do not understand something. This helps strengthen a teacher and pupil relationship and the pupil becomes more engaged in the learning. In larger class sizes, it is easier to ‘hide’ behind the other pupils which could lead to not being able to understand the lesson or they could become bored which can lead to disruptive behaviour.

  1. Social benefits

Being at school is not just about how well you achieve academically. It is also about learning positive social skills. At Hopelands School we work to build resilience, this is achieved through our secure environment which promotes positive attitudes in every child, so they feel able to take risks and become more confident. We also believe in respect; manners are very important to us and each child is taught to be respectful and courteous to each other and staff. All of this will translate positively into the workplace later in life.

  1. Tailored instruction

With larger class sizes it can be incredibly difficult for a teacher to keep all the pupils fully engaged as their range of abilities could be extreme. With smaller class sizes a teacher will be able to tailor the way they teach to suit the abilities of all the individuals in the class and not just those who need the most help. At Hopelands Preparatory School, when we identify an extra learning need, we have the facilities to break into smaller groups to be able to focus on a specific area.

  1. Being able to teach!

Behind every teacher sits a mountain of administration work. Lesson planning, marking work, sourcing educational events and numerous administration tasks. Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching. In larger class sizes, the actual teaching can become sidelined for all their other non-teaching tasks. The benefits of having a smaller class size enables the teacher to spend more time focused on doing the job they signed up for – being able to teach!

 

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A day in lockdown at Hopelands

We are in week 5 of virtual learning at Hopelands Preparatory School and after late nights for teachers who were busy exploring the world of Microsoft Teams, school life has started to settle down. Children are adapting and embracing this new way of learning.

Although all year groups are following the online timetable, each class has modified it to ensure the sessions apply to their children’s strengths and learning needs. Here is a typical day for our 7-8-year-old pupils in Year 3.

8.45 Morning registration & presentations

Pupils log onto the system and mark themselves in. They see their teacher and class friends and wave with a smile and a hello.

Pupils are given the opportunity to do a presentation to the rest of their class. They take turns to write a PowerPoint on a subject/hobby and upload it which enables everyone to see it. This is a great way for them to practise their presentation and communication skills and further develop their self-confidence. Today’s was on the exciting event of chickens hatching. The presentation was brought to life with plenty of pictures of eggs ‘rocking and rolling’, resulting in fluffy chickens. Pupils are invited to ask questions and discuss in more detail.

Afterwards the class has a general catch up where they share how they are feeling. In these unprecedented times it is more important than ever to enable interaction and discussions which support positive mental health.

9.30 – 12.30 Lessons

Subjects covered, on different days are Maths, English and Science, and the lessons are split into mixed ability groups. The teacher sets the work and the pupils are encouraged to share ideas and ask questions to each other within their groups. The teacher spends time with each of the groups, listening to them read to each other and discuss thoughts. Towards the end they all come together to share what they have learnt.

13.00 – 16.00 1:1s

The afternoon is spent on 1:1s. Every pupil has 30 minutes each with the teacher every 2 days. Work is reviewed together to check their understanding. The teacher will also listen to them read. Marking is done with them in real-time, the teacher reads their uploaded work and then directs the pupil to edit and review it. Marking together has been immensely beneficial to both the teacher and the pupil. For pupils not on a 1:1 they can choose how they spend this time. This can be catching up on work from the morning, reading, playing sport, doing a creative activity or having fun with their families.

It’s a busy day for our teachers but at the heart of all this is the children so we asked them what they thought of it.

What do the children think?

‘I am really enjoying the virtual learning particularly the Science experiments as they are a mixture of work and fun. My favourite one so far is testing daisies in different coloured water to see if they change colour in different temperatures. I’m hoping the blue wins…’

I love the online teaching.  The lessons are great although some of the work is hard and I definitely enjoy the interaction. We all get a chance to put our ideas forward and I really enjoy the early morning presentations. I love seeing and interacting with my friends and my teacher. I feel “happy and cheerful and good” about the online classes. I really enjoy that we can go into our own groups and really like the one to ones and being able to talk to the teacher and ask questions.’

And behind every child is a family who is helping and supporting. Here are some of their views:

What do parents think?

‘The family has enjoyed being back in the classroom and I have enjoyed experiencing the class interaction and dynamics first-hand. I must confess, there has been an improvement in my learning and understanding of the key subjects. How times have changed…’

‘Our IT skills have improved enormously during the past three weeks and we have experienced working in virtual groups and navigating our way round Microsoft Office. The teachers have helped enormously by providing clear instructions and adapting the procedures regularly to help facilitate the process.’

‘The Y3 children are supported by the 1:1 teacher and student sessions. These events take place periodically and allow for valuable time to discuss the day’s events and help to keep the children focused and motivated.’

‘Overall, we are finding the process enjoyable and manageable.’

‘As a parent, these daily lessons have made an amazing difference to my child’s attitude and outlook. Before they started, they were very low in self-confidence and we had a lot of tears and upset. However, she is now back to her usual self and going from strength to strength!  Being able to interact with friends has been wonderful and she has found the work the teacher has set incredibly inspiring and has wanted to do more things outside of class as well. Like everyone we have our good days and bad days, but the lessons really help to keep a structure and balance in these uncertain days. I can’t really express how thankful I am to Hopelands, and her teacher in particular, for putting these lessons together – they have really helped and made her so much happier and self-confident it’s been a joy to see.’

To find out more about Hopelands Preparatory School call us on 01453 822164 or email scompton@hopelands.org.uk

 

 

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How Hopelands are keeping children happy and learning in lockdown.

With the world seemingly turned upside down and many life events put on hold, the one thing that has not stopped is education. Children are still learning. Parents are frantically learning too. Pythagoras, fronted adverbials and PE with Joe, whilst working from home, cooking, cleaning and generally trying to keep sane! How we are all missing school and its community.

To keep providing the education, and support both our children and their families, Hopelands Preparatory School is operating a virtual learning timetable which runs from 8.45-12.30. The children attend the lessons, interact with their form teachers, see their friends, ask questions and receive feedback on their work. We know that home schooling can be both uninspiring and isolating, so having this interaction with their teachers and peers is key to continuing the successful relationship the pupils have with school. To date we have 100% attendance with our pupils through this virtual learning – this is an outstanding engagement rate that we are incredibly proud of.

Children’s progress is consistently monitored so that any gaps can be quickly identified and worked on. Children thrive on structure and security, therefore having this timetable in place helps them remain focused, motivated and fully engaged. Parents have both embraced and supported the timetable:

“What an excellent maths lesson today. Brilliant. It’s all falling into place and I’m getting more confident at leaving my child to it.”

In the afternoon, several different activities have been suggested which the children can do either on their own or with their families. For example, this week Reception class were set the task of making shapes out of nature and we received some fantastic pictures.

All our staff have gone above and beyond. Easter holidays were spent learning and testing new technology, planning lessons and working out a new virtual timetable which will strengthen pupils’ resilience and continue their passion for learning. We are truly grateful and incredibly proud of everyone’s hard work and dedication.

As you can see, we may not currently be able to open the doors to everyone, but we are very much working harder than ever. Please call us if you wish to find out more, email: admin@hopelands.org.uk and call 01453 822164.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hopelands Paris Trip 2020

I thought I might write the Paris report before we left. It’s all predictable. We know the routine and we know the children.

But in truth we have no certainties. Paris is brought to a halt by a heatwave or a flood or les Gilets Jaunes or by rioting Dental Hygienists. Angelic children and the more wayward unaccountably swap roles. The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, as we know. It’s about time and chance. We learn this with our own children on the day out to London, which begins all smiles and ends in the Chamber of Horrors.

The Hopelands foray got off to a fine start. The train left on time, waved off by parents who lingered on the bleak platform as their offspring headed out to the great unknown, and Swindon. I looked round the coach. Was there a dry eye amongst these children? Answers on a postcard, please.

We caught Eurostar at St Pancras and sped off to Paris. I’ve used the service virtually every year since its inception and it just gets better. And faster. In no time we were in France. Farms and houses flew by. Of course, that could have been Storm Dennis. Anyway, the children were unconcerned, as they were busy with their picnics. Hannah and Lexi munched contentedly; Oscar peered over his glasses at my humble fare. I think he was about to comment but I forestalled him by announcing that we were on the outskirts of Paris. We weren’t, but soon we were.

Our first sight of Paris reminds me how things change. The shop opposite the ticket office in the Métro is no longer the boring boutique with fresh pastries and hot croissants; it is ‘Go Johnnie Go’ offering ‘drinks and food’.

The people in the ticket office are inclined to give me the third degree about the ages of my party. Primary school children are meant to travel at half price and should one of my taller protégés surge into view there is trouble. To avoid this, I take one of the shorter ones to the counter with me, although the thought did cross my mind that Miss Porter might agree to come forward on her knees. In truth, it’s a toss-up between Amy and Matilda but I opt for Matilda as Amy appears to be in high heels. After the usual game of slamming down the window when the customer reaches the head of the queue, we buy our tickets, and I let Matilda rise from the crouching position. Then it’s off to the hotel.

Aurélie and Maria are waiting for us, which is a delight, as are the refreshments. This first evening, we usually cross Paris to the Sacré Coeur or go up the Arc de Triomphe to get our bearings high above Paris, but this time we decide to take a break and settle into our rooms before marching off to our diner for supper.

Like so much of Paris and no doubt the world, the little Matisse has been embraced by the American way – or been strangled by it. The paintings have gone and been replaced by the restaurant name in Harley Davidson lettering. The hand-thrown pizzas are no longer available, but you can have ‘un Chicken’ or ‘un Double Cheese’. Yes, there are still the hot dishes and the grilled haloumi and the fantastic salads, but it would all be pretty disappointing for me were it not for the staff who are wonderfully welcoming.

‘We heard you were here.’ says Mo.

I don’t ask how. It’s like a homecoming.

And so, to bed. Oscar and Sam have the dorm next to my room. I observe this fact to them.

‘So, you’re quite safe,’ I say reassuringly. Again, Oscar gives me one of those looks over his glasses. And I shut the door.

Friday is St Valentine’s Day and begins with an appropriately hearty breakfast, after which we buy the baguettes from Madame Thévenin who greets us enthusiastically. She shows no sign of ageing except that her eyesight isn’t what it was.

‘Oh, Monsieur,’ she beams over the counter, ‘vos enfants! Ils sont si mignons!’

It’s like one of those ‘should have gone to Specsavers’ advertisements …

Having acquired the rest of our picnic, we head off into the city, pausing for a snap in front of Natalys, with the girl herself centre stage. I thought the manager might rush out and offer to buy the photograph for company publicity. Fat chance!

Our first visit was to be the hospital at Denfert Rochereau. It’s a fine building, famous for its work for over two centuries.

‘This, I announce, ‘ – ‘

It isn’t there. The medics have left. No longer do nuns in their white cowls glide across the courtyard. Instead, coffee bars and burger joints have sprung up randomly amongst the scaffolding and cement mixers as work goes on to convert the ancient building into ‘un centre commercial’. At least there are conveniences. So they trail in, Lexi, Hannah and all, disappearing into the bowels of the gutted building.

‘All right?’ I ask when they emerge into the sunlight. ‘Did you have to pay?’

‘Yes and we should ask for our money back,’ responds Amy crisply.

We pass the catacombs. Of course, they aren’t. They are tunnels from the plaster of Paris mines. In the eighteenth century when a major reordering of the city took place and the charnel houses were emptied, they needed somewhere to stack seven million bodies. These workings seemed appropriate and one can visit this necropolis on specific days. Oddly today, St Valentine’s, was such an occasion and there were queues stretching round the block. Perhaps there is a special piquancy in plighting one’s troth beside a wall of skeletons. Max, ever curious, would have liked to take a peek but others were reluctant to wait for an hour or so to see something macabre; one can do that sitting at home watching Midsomer Murders.

We paused to learn about the Lion de Belfort. It recalls Gambetta’s escape from Paris by balloon at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. Until then, Paris had held out against the Germans after the surrender of the French armies at Metz and Sedan, tearing itself apart much as it had done in 1789. Napoleon III abdicated and sought sanctuary in England. It was an abject humiliation for a man who had endeavoured to repeat the triumphs of his great-uncle and failed at every turn. He died in Chislehurst, Kent, broken by illness and thwarted ambition. His last words were:

‘Were you too at Sédan?’

I think he was too hard on himself. The legacy of Napoleon I is the legal and administrative system of France, and the memory of glories. Napoleon III left us Paris, one of the world’s greatest, most beautiful cities. It was entirely redesigned and rebuilt thanks to his energy and vision and the ruthless brilliance of the planner, Baron Haussman. The object was to let Paris breathe and let people move about easily, enjoying the monuments and green spaces. This is Napoleon III’s triumph.

We had a glance at the Val de Grace, the scene of the Duke of Buckingham’s assignations with Anne of Austria. Joe sprang forward to take a photograph. I’m not surprised. It’s a gem of a building. Next, we wandered through the Luxembourg gardens. We could see the Panthéon through the railings. It’s a fine church, reminiscent of St Paul’s and built as a thank-offering to God when Louis XV recovered from illness. True to form he refused to foot the bill, as did the Church, and today it’s sort of pay-as-you-go basilica. The crypt contains the remains of literary and national heroes like Rousseau who coined the watchword of the Revolution, ‘Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’ Actually, it’s not free to visit his tomb

The weather was perfect. The trip was going splendidly. Then tragedy struck. As we sped towards the Fountain of the Medici. Lily hurled herself to the ground. Instantly, our emergency procedures clicked in. Surgeon Commander Porter applied dressings with a dexterity, which made those long minutes in First Aid Training suddenly worthwhile. Natalie gave specialist advice. Sophie intoned the word ‘Gosh’ with deep emotion. We were a little huddle of friends gathered round a broken bird. Well, not quite. In no time at all, Lily had made a recovery – miraculous. Well, perhaps. Anyway, it seemed appropriate to stop in front of St Sulpice church for our thanksgiving picnic. The building is beautiful but odd; the south tower has remained unfinished for two hundred years because the architect, depressed at how his creation was turning out, climbed up and threw himself off the top. In recent years, the church has suffered further indignities at the hands of conspiracy theorists tricked by the Da Vinci Code into believing it is a good idea to dig up the floor with pickaxes.

There were two nice surprises here: In the magnificent fountain, mallards were swimming, two drakes on guard in the top bowl. And as we were watching, suddenly a group of students came up bearing gifts, heart-shaped lollipops for Valentine’s Day. No charge. Just pass on the message.

We follow the rue Bonaparte, the only street in Paris to bear the name. It’s full of intriguing shops but sadly Pierre Berkmann the ivory carver has gone and the shop selling original documents written by the likes of Beethoven and Molière, has also vanished. So too has my dream of turning a smart profit by offloading a genuine Harry Miles. We speed on. Sophie chatters with Grace. In these times we need grace.

After a pit-stop at the crêperie beside St Germain des Prés, we glance at Picasso’s statue of his friend Apollinaire. It’s sad that it’s so ugly but then it might be entirely accurate. Sam nodded sagely. He does that rather well, and usually has something to add. Not this time, for we were off over the Seine, seeing the Louvre for the first time and on to the rue de Rivoli. Underneath our feet was the tunnel of the catacombs where the French Resistance had their headquarters during WW II; above was the Hôtel Meurice where the Gestapo had their Paris HQ.

On we marched to the Place Vendôme. It’s where Anton Mesmer of hypnotism fame once lived. He disappeared from Paris before the Revolution. Some say he feared his association with the nobility would serve him ill in those uncertain times; others say that he became alarmed by his own extraordinary and inexplicable powers and fled to eke out his days in obscurity. That mystery aside, the square is full of interest, above all, literally, the column Napoleon erected to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz. It is a copy of Trajan’s column in Rome, and the bas-relief, made from the bronze of six hundred captured cannon, depicts his military triumph. On the top stands the man himself, in the guise of a Roman emperor. Mr Modesty he was not.

We looked at the Opéra, the architect Charles Garnier’s stunning contribution to Napoleon III’s new Paris, and then headed for the Arc de Triomphe. We nearly didn’t make it and when we finally did arrive, we were faced massive queues where pre-booking meant nothing. I sent the troops up to survey the structure whilst I conducted negotiations for the tickets. Modern France, born in the Age of Reason, is, nonetheless a place where murder is forgivable if it is ‘un crime passionnel’. So the rule is: don’t argue; just appeal to sentiment:

‘These poor children have their hearts set on this great experience. I have one little mite who was recently … involved in … (gulp) an accident.’ A tear makes its way down my grief-stricken face – the old man in the corner blows his nose loudly and two minutes later the group is climbing the monument. It’s more than Napoleon could do. The builders, ordered to construct it on this very spot, had to contend with the fact that this was the site of a vast rubbish tip, and each time they got above thirty feet or so the thing began to disappear into the mud. Indeed, when it came to the triumphal opening by Marie-Louise in 1812 they had to erect a fake arch of boarding and scaffolding for the purpose. It wasn’t finally completed for over a quarter of a century and by then Napoleon was long dead.

Our final visit of the day was to the Invalides. We didn’t tour the Army Museum, which can take a whole day but went through the complex to see Napoleon’s tomb. I think it’s a monstrous affair, which ruins a beautiful church but it is surely impressive. That’s like the mixed feelings one might have about Napoleon himself. And I do recall that Queen Victoria took her small son there and ordered:

‘Kneel down, Bertie. You are in the presence of a great man.’

Perhaps he ignored her. Perhaps he took another swipe at some passing member of the hoi polloi with his riding crop. Perhaps like a modern child he simply said. ‘Why?’ Or just perhaps he experienced that out-dated sentiment, awe.

Saturday was a good day. It started with a present from Libby, Lily and Amy, a wonderful kindness. It was also sunny again and that was a great boon.

We went by bus to the Ile de la Cité. It’s rather fun, the bus, a sort of guilty pleasure as I recounted to Company Secretary and Honorary Colonel Compton. I reminded her that Louella, Countess of Westminster said that anyone who had been on a bus after the age of thirty had ‘been a failure in life.’ Mrs Compton seemed to find that amusing – or perhaps she was noting how this applied to me.

We looked at Notre-Dame. From the far side of the square it looks much as before. It will recover. It was used as a barn during the Revolution and had become so dilapidated by the second half of the nineteenth century that Victor Hugo wrote a little thing [The Hunchback of] Notre-Dame to stir up a public demand for its restoration. Yes, Notre-Dame will arise again, the only question is in what form? We did our usual visit to the Museum of the Revolution in the Conciergerie of the old Palais Royal. Much refurbishing has taken place here and much of it diminishes the experience. The dummies dressed as guards with their quills and swords and tricorne hats, and prisoners on straw and filthy mattresses have gone. Marie-Antoinette’s cell has lost the screen over which a guard watched her night and day; it’s lost the guard; her table is gone and the letter to the Chevalier de Rougeville, pricked out with a needle to outline a plan of escape has no doubt been recycled. The original engravings of Robespierre, ‘the sea-green incorruptible’, of Danton whose mighty voice could be heard on the far side of the Seine, of mad Damien, roasted to death for his attempt to murder Louis XV fifty years earlier, all these – and everything else has been replaced by illuminated screens. Nevertheless, the troops showed real interest. Max was thoughtful, Hannah too. Libby’s pompom ears drooped, overcome with emotion.

The failure of the new arrangements in the Conciergerie has not been replicated in the Sainte Chapelle. The stained glass is still the truly glorious blaze of light and colour that it has been since St Louis commissioned the chapel as a shrine to hold Christ’s crown of thorns. Of course, the crown could be a fake but the building isn’t. Like faith, it endures. The wonder of it made Grace gasp and Joe set to with his Lumex taking his score of snaps to about the five hundred mark.

We picnicked in the Jardin du Roi where the last Grand Master of The Templars was burnt at the stake in 1415. This macabre detail does not alter the fact that it was a cheerful occasion, a good meal followed by a wild race round the lawn. I think this was won by Hannah or maybe Grace, but after a stewards’ enquiry, victory was awarded to Sam. (See Rule 49, sub-section G. on use of ear-studs).

At the Louvre, I had more trouble with the electronic world. The scanner with which the official read my documents could not identify that strange thumb-print thing which is a sort of bar code.

‘Je regrette …’ he began, shaking his head.

I wasted no time.

‘I have this injured child in my group,’ I told him, ‘and I fear …’ I shook my head. The official at the counter removed his glasses and wiped his eyes. An old man blew, his nose loudly. It was probably the same old man I had encountered at the Arc de Triomphe and probably the same nose.

Of course, the Mona Lisa – called La Joconde or La Monna Lisa by the French (logically, since her name was Madonna Lisa) – was disappointing as usual, but we’d seen it.

Outside, the Saturday ‘manifestation’ was an increasing problem. No one seemed to know what the protesters were protesting about but the gendarmes were busy blocking roads, rather randomly, it seemed to me. I think our old friend Gaston Lafarge was masterminding the operation. He recently gave up his job in the river police having failed the requisite ‘Eau’ level.

‘Jules,’ he says to his sergeant, Jules Planque, ‘ve must put up ze roadblocks.’

‘Aha,’ responds his colleague palindromically, ‘You ‘av un plan.’ He is impressed, but there’s a first time for everything.

‘Euh, not exactement,’ admits Gaston,

We were faced with the likelihood that we wouldn’t get to Les Halles, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Hôtel de Ville as planned, so we decided to head for the Sacré Coeur. It was thus that, on the massively crowded Métro, we split into our manageable groups and sailed off. The lads and I got off at Châtelet but Miss Porter and Mrs Compton tried a different route and sped up into Montmartre. I understand Amy brought significant navigating skills to this hike. She has aspirations to join the navy, and this success might prove a winner on her CV. Meanwhile, having tried in vain to contact the errant girls’ group, we chaps were having refreshments in a nearby bar, the stools were high, and the prices higher.

And so, back to the hotel, our last night and the final day …

It was blowing a hooligan but you have to do the Eiffel Tower. Gustav has much to answer for. When we arrived, we found a new defensive glass wall around the whole base and tight security checks. Hundreds of tourists were waiting but despite the website’s claim that it opens at 9.00 tous les jours the queue only began to ease forward half an hour later. Clearly, there was now limited time but, nonetheless, all the troops rose to the challenge and led by Miss Porter and Mrs Compton, sprinted up the stairs and down again. We made it back to the hotel and on to the Gare du Nord, and finally onto Eurostar with minus three minutes to spare. Thence, it was the long trail back to London. Libby was sketching. I was allowed a peek and was impressed. Joe played chess with Harry, who looked immaculate as ever. Then it was my turn. Fortunately, I managed to fend off Joe’s wily moves until we reached St Pancras where I was forced to declare a draw.

Many of the trains from Paddington were cancelled due to the torrential rain that Britain had enjoyed in our absence, but ours left and arrived on time. We had made it, the first Hopelands Paris Trip.

The pioneers acquitted themselves well. As I said at the outset, the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. Nor, sadly, is the accolade always to the kind and the considerate, the courteous and the appreciative. Such individuals often get overlooked yet during this expedition, probably during any expedition they were the true stars. So to them, a special thank-you, and from us all, heartfelt thanks to Miss Porter and Mrs Compton. We couldn’t have managed without them.

As for our friends in Paris, they were as ever amazingly generous and welcoming; they have too the gift of making us feel that we are really doing them a favour by being there. I hope we continue to merit their warm-hearted loyalty and affection.

I believe we will.

The Hopelands Paris Party of February 2020 comprised: Oscar Coggins, Lexi Coles, Joe Dunn, Sophie Ganderton, Lily Haywood Bhatta, Grace Horrell, Matilda Huertas-Mason, Libby Hughes, Amy Jones, Sam Kennedy, Hannah Luff, Harry Miles, Natalie Pearse, Max Safizadeh with Mrs S. Compton, Miss E. Porter, Mr Martin Piper

Written by Monsieur Piper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What to look for in a Primary School Visit

Choosing the right primary school for your child is one of the hardest decisions for any family. At such a young age you are deciding the next 7 years of your child’s school life. Everybody has a different set of criteria in terms of what they are looking for in a school. However, most parents and grandparents want to ensure their child achieves the following:

  • Happiness
  • Academic Excellence
  • Creativity
  • Confidence
  • Resilience

and probably most importantly to instill a love of learning that leads to academic success.

There are several key things to look for when choosing the right primary school for your child:

  1. Open days/mornings are great but to get a true feel for the school, visit again during a normal school day. See the children in the classroom environment, do the pupils look happy and engaged in the lessons, are they working in teams, are they inquisitive? Observe a break time, are the children being kind and respectful, is there any bad behaviour and if so, is it dealt with both quickly and efficiently. Do they walk around school calmly and well behaved? Are they good ambassadors of their school? Do they wear the uniform with pride? Did you feel welcome when you first entered the school?
  2. Look at the displays, they can give a good indication of what the children are working on in class. Do the displays celebrate the pupils’ work and achievements, are they interactive?
  3. Ask questions, how does the school support high or low achievers, is there a parent / pupil survey which you can look at, where do children normally go to secondary school afterwards, is there morning and/or after school provision etc.
  4. Find out if the school offers extracurricular clubs. If a school has a wide variety of both lunchtime and after school clubs this can really add to a child’s school experience, and is a sign of committed and passionate teachers, who will want to go the extra mile to support your child’s educational journey.
  5. Study the schools’ website. Is there information on there about the school’s ethos and values? If so, do you agree with them? Read their latest OFSTED/ISI report. Does the school have regular newsletters, it may be useful to have a look through recent ones as this will give you an insight into daily school life, are the children’s achievements celebrated frequently? Check out the school calendar, is it filled with different trips and excursions? All these will enrich a child’s learning.

As well as considering the factors above, it is also important to trust your instincts when choosing the right primary school. Nothing beats the feel-good factor when you walk round somewhere. Primary schools can be a fantastic experience for both you and your family; great relationships, academic excellence, and a love of learning which will continue to grow.

The deadline for Primary School Applications for September 2020 is the 15th January 2020.

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The Benefits of Small Class Sizes

Your child is about to start their school journey, seven years at Primary and then onto the world of Secondary. Choosing which school for your child is an incredibly important decision and can seem daunting. There are many questions to ask including:

  • Will they receive an excellent education?
  • Will they be encouraged to be creative?
  • Will they learn resilience and how to get along with their peers?
  • Will they have fun?
  • Will they have opportunities to explore music and dance in extracurricular activities?
  • Will they be happy?

There are many areas to consider and compare when making the decision, one of these is the size of the classes.

Class size is defined as the number of pupils in a class with one teacher. The average class size for primary schools is 27.1 pupils. However, the 2017 Government figures revealed that there were over half a million primary school pupils in classes of 31-35 children. In addition, 39,088 primary children were in classes of 36 or more pupils, and of these, 16,571 children in classes with 40 or more pupils.

At Hopelands Preparatory School we keep our classes small – at an average of just 12 pupils per class. Being a small, happy primary school, we are dedicated in enabling all our children to achieve their full potential.

Here are 7 reasons why your child could benefit from smaller class sizes.

  1. More attention from the teacher

The fewer pupils there are in a class, the more time and attention the teacher can give each one. A teacher will have more opportunity to get to know their pupils, observe how they work and help them improve on their weaknesses. All our teachers get to know each child personally and make a positive contribution to their development. This is not so easy in larger classes as any specific weaknesses or lack of confidence can go unnoticed for a longer period.

  1. Better academic results

Research has been carried out that links smaller class sizes to achieving greater academic results. Here at Hopelands School we seek out the innate talents in each child and provide additional assistance and encouragement where needed. In the last 2 years we have had an average of 95% of our pupils go on to one of the many excellent local Grammar Schools. For a non-selective independent school, we believe that this says a great deal about the quality of our teaching and learning.

  1. Quieter classes

The more children in a class, the noisier it becomes. For some children this can be a real distraction and can lead to many disruptions of the lesson being taught. We believe a lesson should be focused on learning and ensuring the children understand what is being taught rather than becoming distracted.

  1. Pupil confidence

With smaller class sizes pupils feel more confident to put their hand up and ask questions. They feel more at ease contributing their own ideas and feel less intimidated if they do not understand something. This helps strengthen a teacher and pupil relationship and the pupil becomes more engaged in the learning. In larger class sizes, it is easier to ‘hide’ behind the other pupils which could lead to not being able to understand the lesson or they could become bored which can lead to disruptive behaviour.

  1. Social benefits

Being at school is not just about how well you achieve academically. It is also about learning positive social skills. At Hopelands School we work to build resilience, this is achieved through our secure environment which promotes positive attitudes in every child, so they feel able to take risks and become more confident. We also believe in respect; manners are very important to us and each child is taught to be respectful and courteous to each other and staff. All of this will translate positively into the workplace later in life.

  1. Tailored instruction

With larger class sizes it can be incredibly difficult for a teacher to keep all the pupils fully engaged as their range of abilities could be extreme. With smaller class sizes a teacher will be able to tailor the way they teach to suit the abilities of all the individuals in the class and not just those who need the most help. At Hopelands Preparatory School, when we identify an extra learning need, we have the facilities to break into smaller groups to be able to focus on a specific area.

  1. Being able to teach!

Behind every teacher sits a mountain of administration work. Lesson planning, marking work, sourcing educational events and numerous administration tasks. Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching. In larger class sizes, the actual teaching can become sidelined for all their other non-teaching tasks. The benefits of having a smaller class size enables the teacher to spend more time focused on doing the job they signed up for – being able to teach!

 

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Let us celebrate everything we have achieved as a school this year

As we close school up for the 64th time (yes 64 years we have been opening our doors to lots of children and their parents) and say goodbye to our Year 6s we can look back on a very happy and successful 2017 / 2018 year. There have been lots of achievements, friendships and happy memories gained for both our pupils, teachers and friends.

 

Speaking to our year 6 children this morning they were all excited for their next chapter but also talking so positively about the years they have spent at Hopelands from the teachers that have helped them on their journey to the friends they have made and the experiences they have shared. During the last 7 years, these 16 pupils (some obviously joining us a little later) have achieved so much from sporting, academic, musical, drama, science, engineering and most importantly personal growth. They joined us back in 2010 as young 4 year olds excited about what their future at Hopelands held and I am pleased to say they are all leaving us as confident, happy, determined children with the mind set I can, I will, I do!

 

This year our school family has once again produced outstanding SATs results and 100% pass rate in the 11 plus for Gloucestershire Grammar schools as well as seeing other successes across both the core curriculum and other activities that our teachers and support staff work so hard to offer the children.

 

This year we have also seen success in national challenges for KS2 children. Earlier this year most pupils in years 5 and 6 tried their best to take the very difficult Primary Maths Challenge. This year 68,000 pupils from all over UK and some from abroad entered the first round in November 2017. Out of these, 3255 pupils who scored 20 or more (just under 5% of the total) were invited to take part in the Bonus Round in February 2018. Two pupils at Hopelands qualified for the Bonus Round, of whom we are enormously proud. This is a terrific achievement for them. One of our pupils achieved a Silver medal with the highest score, just missing the Gold, which is truly outstanding, as there were only 167 children with scores above her.

 

As always, the children’s enjoyment in learning is paramount at Hopelands, and thus, we have tried to offer pupils as many opportunities to experience lots of interesting things. To celebrate 2018 as the year of Engineering, Hopelands children in years 4, 5 and 6 took part in the STEM Leaders’ Award; they designed what they would make if they were engineers. All of our children worked with passion and purpose in their creations. We are proud of all our pupils for their effort and work ethic, and we are glad some of our children submitted work that was recognised by the Judges as special. The work of 4 children was shortlisted; the work of a fifth pupil was Highly Commended by the Judges, and the work of a sixth pupil was awarded a trophy; these six entries have been selected for public exhibition. Children should be very proud of their achievement, as solely in the South West there were 2,712 entries.

 

In addition to those activities the children have enjoyed a variety of out of school activities to support their learning this year including:

  • Westonbirt Arboretum for a day at the arboretum and a ‘day in space’
  • Regular termly trips to Forest school
  • Skill Zone in Gloucester where they learnt all about being safe in their environment both inside and outside of the home
  • GWR Steam railway museum where they had full WW2 dress experiencing what it was like to be an evacuee.
  • Edward Jenner Museum in Berkeley where they learnt about how to prevent the spread of diseases.

 

This year we have also helped our children understand some Fundamental British values by welcoming the following activities:

  • UK Parliament Week where our local MP visited and addressed the children at an assembly, to explain his role in Government.
  • Parliamentary Outreach – an officer joined us to meet with the children and ran workshops for KS2 about elections, debate and affirmative action.
  • Stroud Mock Trials where the children worked hard as a team to put a strong case across.

 

Our sporting achievements are always outstanding for a small school and Gloucester rugby club coaches commented on the quality of the children’s rugby skills in year 5, with wheelchair rugby being a new introduction. Our PE teacher offers the children such an array of sports including Lacrosse, high jump, hockey, cross country, rounder’s and lots of fun in between, this summer has resulted in lots of water fun!

This year the successes are numerous with highlights including:

  • Only two rugby games lost throughout the entire TWO rugby DISTRICT tournaments.
  • Silver in both DISTRICT netball tournament and track and field athletics.
  • EIGHT children qualifying for county cross country championships and WINNING the district swimming and cross county trophies.

 

This ethos shines so brightly in our music and drama department, culminating annually in our summer concert and prize giving event in July. Our music and drama teachers ensure they get the best out of every pupil and ensure they all have an opportunity to shine whether that be in music, drama, dance or singing. Hopelands children always enjoy the opportunity to sing with lots of other schools from across the country at Young Voices every year and to take part in the Cheltenham festival, they work so hard and produce such quality.

 

At Hopelands we also like the children to appreciate the world around them and the school council chooses a nominated charity every year that the school will raise money for, this year they picked ‘Water Aid’ as well as ‘Toilet Twinning’.  It is great to see the children supporting our charity and thinking up innovative ways to raise money but it is also fantastic to help them understand their Social Responsibility for other people around them and for the world in which they live. As well as our chosen charity pupils ask to help other charities throughout the year including:

  • Macmillan Coffee morning
  • Gloucestershire young carers ‘Snazzy Sock Day’
  • Macmillan Cancer research with ‘The Great HopelandsBakeoff’ where the pupils even received a handwritten note from Mary Berry herself.

 

We are always busy at school and the teachers work so hard ensuring the children have lots fun, enriching experiences and it is fantastic that so many of our parents and Grandparents help us in so many ways.

 

Finally we’d like to thank all of our pupils for working so hard again this year and just to say have a very relaxing and enjoyable Summer break!

 

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