It has been an absolute joy to be able to welcome all our pupils back and once again be united as a school community. Indeed, it has been so lovely to see the children’s happy smiling faces as they come through the gate in the morning and hear their voices and laughter fill the classrooms, corridors and playground once more.
Over the summer we worked really hard, putting in place all the necessary measures to ensure that everyone will be able to stay safe over the coming months. The children as you are aware have been grouped into class ‘bubbles’ for all their lessons; we have staggered drop-off and pick-ups, breaks and lunch-times and we are limiting the number of external visitors to the school. It is early days yet, but so far everything is running smoothly and I would like to THANK YOU enormously for your continued support and patience while we adapt to our new normal.
Last week the staff from both Goudhurst and Benenden, spent 4 very enjoyable and productive INSET days, virtually of course! We have carefully planned the curriculum for the ‘first 60 days’ ensuring there is a strong focus on well-being, safety and learning behaviours. The aim will be for learning to be reactivated as soon as possible, with a strong focus on recovery of core subject curricula knowledge and skills whilst maintaining breadth in the curriculum to ensure children remain engaged in their learning. We have been really impressed with how eager and happy the children are about being back at school.
In addition, for the first seven weeks, we are following the "Worry & Wellbeing" Intervention Programme (written by Benenden Independent Girls School), to help our pupils manage their emotions and to ease them back into school. The skills-based emotion regulation programme focuses on anxiety, as well as anger (often a manifestation of anxiety in children and adolescents), and self-esteem building activities.
Finally, we are delighted that the green roof has now been successfully completed. The builders have worked tirelessly over the summer and we would like to thank Kier for all their hard work and commitment to the ongoing project. We would like to extend our gratitude to everyone in the village for their continued support and patience throughout the whole building project and I hope you will agree that it was all worthwhile! The long awaited new school building is, without doubt, an amazing piece of architecture, which I know will be enjoyed by many children and families over the coming years.
We are certainly ready to go!
We hope that you and your families are well. We are mindful of the challenges that you are all facing at this time and the impact it is having on your children.
Since the announcement by national government to close schools we have been working really hard to provide engaging learning materials and to stay in contact with you. We’ve also been listening to your feedback on your experiences so far. In parallel we have also been looking at ways that we can better use technology to support the learning process and to enable communication between teachers, pupils and classmates.
Therefore from Monday 27th April we have decided to introduce Google Classroom as we believe that this will bring lots of practical and positive benefits. The key benefit is that it will make accessing learning tasks easier and more manageable for you and your children.
We feel that the move onto Google Classroom is a very positive one, making access to learning easier, as well as giving a greater sense of class community. We are looking forward as a staff to the opportunities Google Classroom will bring and hope you will share our optimism at what is a challenging time. There are many schools around the country moving to platforms like these and once we are back to normal, we very much hope that we will continue using Google Classroom in other ways too. If, however, you have any questions or concerns whatsoever, please do not hesitate in contacting Mr Goodman email@example.com
Looking ahead, whilst the lockdown continues and school remains closed, we are working hard as a teaching team to refine the nature of home learning. Alongside Benenden, as 'Google Schools' we are now delighted to be ready to launch Google Classroom platforms for Year 1 - 4 (Year 5 & 6 are already starting to use it) from Monday 27th April. From that date, most learning will be managed through Google Classrooms.
Hippos will continue to use the Tapestry portal - the communication between school/home has been brilliant in both directions, may I add! Well done to you all!
As ever, we appreciate that family circumstances, priorities and ability to support learning at home vary tremendously, however we will do all we can to support and adapt our provision accordingly. As you can probably imagine this is quite a challenge and we are constantly reflecting on how we do this. We miss the children very much, but we must follow the government’s guidance to keep everyone in our community safe.
We can’t say yet when we’ll be able to open the school fully, but rest assured that we’ll continue doing our utmost to keep your child learning and our school community connected.
Thank you for your continued support.
This is an interesting article and confirms why we think giving your children opportunities to be outside is really important.
Call it parental instincts or call it common sense. Parents know that nature is good for kids.
Yet it was only fairly recently, that the scientific community sought to verify these instincts and observations. Luckily today, it's not hard to find studies that make a claim related to the benefits of nature on children's learning and development. In fact, there are a large number of studies but many are poorly designed and, unfortunately, overreaching in their optimistic claims.
Recently, a team of researchers decided to take action and gain some clarity on the question, "Do nature experiences promote learning and child development?" Supported by a grant from the NSF and a strong network of experts to tap, the team performed a thorough review of a wide array of studies.
The studies covered topics ranging from nature in the inner city, to the study of nature's effects on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or the impact greenness has on test scores. At the end of their deep dive, they answered the question with a resounding "YES!". Nature does promote learning in children in both direct and indirect ways. Nature can help a student feel more attentive, less stressed, more self-disciplined, more engaged, more interested and more physically active and fit. And it can also provide a calmer, quieter, safer, warmer, more cooperative setting for learning.
Author study Cathy Jordan explained in an interview, "We often think about nature or greenery as a pleasant backdrop, but it can be so much more. As my colleagues and I reviewed the published academic literature, we found evidence that nature has a restoring effect on attention; improves self-discipline; reduces stress; increases physical activity and fitness and promotes motivation for and engagement in learning. All of these effects have been shown to improve learning."
One of the most valuable applications of the research was to help explain the mystery of how even small doses of nature can have surprisingly large effects. The key to the puzzle lies in how these effects work together, in a student and in a classroom. Nature exposure might make a student not only more attentive but also less stressed and more interested in learning. And if you have a whole classroom of students who are less stressed and more cooperative, attentive, interested and absorbed, you can begin to see how the individual and classroom level impacts multiply.
The researchers identified these eight distinct pathways through which experiences with nature benefit students.
It perks up mentally fatigued adults and children and helps kids concentrate. Whether just a view from the classroom of a field trip, nature has a proven rejuvenating effect on attention
Nature is undoubtedly a great stress reliever. You don't need a trip to Yosemite. Just a window view of greenery from reduced heart rate and self-reported stress in students.
Boost to Self-Discipline
Greater self-discipline in children with ADHD, learning disabilities or neurotypical children is commonly cited in the scientific literature.
Studies show that learning in nature may improve motivation most in those students who are least motivated in traditional classrooms. Experts believe these effects are due to nature's reliably positive effects on mood and lead to a general increased interest in school and reduced absenteeism.
Children tend to be more physically active in nature-based learning and particularly nature play. This can improve fitness, control weight and possibly reduce risk of chronic diseases related to being overweight. Simply greening school grounds can counter children's trend toward decreasing physical activity as they approach adolescence.
Build Better Relationships
Greener environments are calmer and quieter and foster warmer relationships. Add in "loose parts" and relative autonomy for a true learning boost.
Calmer, Quieter, Safer Places for Learning
The calmness and peace of a natural environment have been tied to greater student engagement and academic success Nature also reduces disruptive or aggressive behaviors, many of the behaviors that lead to kids missing outdoor time ironically.
Foster Warmer, More Cooperative Relations
Maybe its because it's less restrictive and freer, but learning in nature brings out cooperation and comfort between students and teachers.
More Autonomy & Creativity
Children's play becomes more creative, physical, and more social when you add in loose parts like sticks & stones.
The authors plan to dive deeper. The team has proposed a research agenda to drive the next chapter of research on nature-based learning.
The team also hopes to gain insight into such questions as to whether decreased stress, improved attention, or enhanced engagement might explain the relationship between learning in nature and academic success.
But one of their biggest goals is to help create optimal conditions for nature-based learning, addressing practical questions about how to prepare teachers to work successfully in nature and how to support their adoption of this approach.
We’re delighted to announce the launch of The British Library’s new website for primary school children, teachers and book-lovers of all ages. This free-to-access resource – Discovering Children’s Books– explores the history and rich variety of children’s literature, through treasures from the British Library, Seven Stories, Bodleian Libraries and the V & A.
Explore over 100 fascinating items, from one-of-a-kind manuscripts to illustrations and printed books. Go down the rabbit hole with Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Rifle through Roald Dahl’s drafts, John Agard’s poetry notebooks or sketches by Judith Kerr, Axel Scheffler and Liz Pichon.
For the writers and artists of the future, there’s a gallery of activities to spark children’s creativity and inspire their own stories, poems, illustrations and more.
Dive in here and share the link!
Before Christmas, the children were given the opportunity to enter a Christmas Story Writing Competition run by Cranbrook Rotary Club. We were one of 22 schools in the area that entered stories. Stories were chosen from each year group across the 22 schools and prizes were given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The judges had trouble choosing between some stories and a new category of Highly Commended was created. In our celebration assembly, Norman Freestone came to award the children who had been chosen with book tokens.
Well done to all children who took the time to write and enter their stories and congratulations to the following children who won a prize:
Year 6 Archie 2nd prize, Tommy 3rd
Year 5 Sevvie Highly Commended
Year 4 Sophie 2nd prize
Year 2 Ella 3rd prize
Don't forget to get writing for the Radio 2 500 word story competition!
Following the girl's football tournament held this week at Colliers Green I am delighted to say that I received this message from one of the teachers from another school who also attended the event:
"Benenden were amazing, as they fielded a younger side who showed great spirit and resilience, with two of their players won player of the night for these attributes."
Well done to everyone and particular thanks go to Miss Harris who accompanied the children.
Please do look at our sports blogs to read about all our sporting experiences.
Well Done to everyone for talking part in our Dance-a-thon on Thursday last week. We raised a massive £1,000 for our chosen charity Starfish Malawi.
A huge ‘Thank You’ to Mrs Plewes who organized the day so successfully. We saw some great dance moves!!
Yesterday 22 children and 3 adults left Benenden to journey to London to take part in the Young Voices Concert at the 02. We picked up the choir and staff from Goudhurst on the way which added to the excitement of our adventure. The concert as always was amazing; the energy in the stadium was quite electric and the children were an absolute joy. Indeed, all the children were impeccably behaved; what a wonderful community we are and what an adventure we all had. A huge thank you must go to Mrs Brook, Miss Harris and Mrs Deshmukh-Hayes for accompanying the children on the day and a special thank you to Mrs Brook and Miss Harris for leading and preparing the choir. Please see below an email that I received from a parent:
I trust you had a good nights sleep and have recovered a little from the monumental effort of taking the children to Young Voices. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to you both for giving the children such a fantastic life affirming experience. I know it’s lots of extra work and I wanted you to know how much our daughter enjoyed it and how much we appreciate it. When we got into the O2, the atmosphere was electric and excitement palpable - the whole experience was joyous.
Once again thank you."
Date: Wednesday 29th January
Location: Colliers Green School
Children Who attended:
Year 3- Hannah, Pippa, Dolly and Lillie-Lou
Year 4- Josie, Grace and Summer
Year 5- Abi, Skye and India
Year 6- Kelcey and Eden
Fantastic effort from all the girls. Some of them hadn't played football before and got stuck in and showed amazing sportmanship.
Players of the Tournament: Kelcey and Skye
Well done- hopefully we will do some more girls football matches and training at school!