Newsletter - Summer Term, 31.05.17
There’s another industrious week under way ahead of the exams and with Sports Day on our near horizon, lots of energy has been expended on the Athletics tracks too!
After the long Bank Holiday exeat, the final week of revision is here before Common Entrance and whole school exams. The heat is definitely on, although the lucky band of pupils who already have their places at Winchester, Harrow, Charterhouse, Benenden and Downe House are spared the ‘exam’ anxiety of their peers, having successfully passed their entrance to public school via other portals, mainly through the scholarship route.
While no one challenges the hurdle of CE there have been queries nationally over the use of formal exams for youngsters as a form of assessment. Cottesmore has maintained its rigour academically through the up and down waves of pedagogic fashion, having always held exams for every pupil at least twice a year. This summative assessment moment, combined with the continuous assessment of coursework and class work provides a clearer overall picture of academic progress for teachers, parents and pupils. It is stressed to pupils lower down the school that these moments are but snapshots of a moment in time, but represent a definite time when they can peak to produce their PB (personal best).
Nationally, there has been a move away from ongoing assessment due to the influence of the internet, parents and tutors. Far too many "coursework assessments" were being polished by the aforementioned groups, not to mention the great advantage (for some pupils) of having an older sibling who had just completed it. The movement back to basics has been mainly driven by the increasing awareness that the tutorial advice on the internet can be exploited in extremis and the resulting grades are not the property of the pupil who allegedly produced the work.
Conventional ‘pen and paper’ testing has an academic transparency that is even more appealing now than it ever has been. Cottesmore has ridden through a full circle of academic trends, being consistently certain of academic priorities and taking careful note of the feedback from the elite public schools that Old Cottesmorians attend. The Headmaster is a well known figure in these top schools, with regular contact, frequent visits and well developed personal relationships with key figures at these schools.
After next week’s exams the staff will deconstruct, analyse and prepare the pathways for individual progress towards selected academic goals. The feedback process is both rigorous and formative, building on solid success and working to underpin and support every pupil, with the overall aim of maintaining the enviable record of successful entrance to major public schools that Cottesmore has held for very many years.
Forms 1 and 2 trip to Drusilla’s Animal Zoo. On a recent hot and sunny day our pupils travelled to the pretty Sussex village of Alfriston, where they saw a wide range of animals and habitats which ties in with their Geography learning in the classroom. A particular focus was on the conservation of endangered species and how animals adapt to the environment. Our visit involved two talks led by the park experts. The adaptation talk involved keen volunteers dressing up to replicate how a penguin keeps warm and swims!
There were many highlights of the day but for many it was being able to tentatively stoke a cornsnake (a very dry feel) and an incredibly soft and furry chinchoua.
To keep even the most energetic children occupied the park has an excellent range of zoolympic challenges where pupils can compare their own abilities to those of the animals, including how fast can they run compared to a cheetah, how loud can they scream compared to a whale, how long can they hang on bars compared to a monkey. Everyone enjoyed a very informative and active learning day.
The pace is gathering for Sports Day and the Athletics track is seeing plenty of use! Last week’s heats were very successful and this week we return to our cricket and rounders fixtures.
Sam H enjoyed a thrilling sporting weekend when his local U12 team did battle against 15 other sides from elsewhere in Europe. This brilliant experience culminated in a 5-0 victory against the French club Epernay in the final. Well done to Sam and his team, especially as they were playing in temperatures of 33C!
The sun hats and sunscreen are even more ‘at the ready’ this week as the Pre-prep head to the beach on Friday for a super day filled with seaside activities.
Preparations for their Sports Day are well under way and it’s hoped that everyone will enjoy the afternoon, with tea to follow. The date is Friday 9th June at 2pm on the sports field.
The Year 3 Pre-prep children are looking forward to a taster morning in the Prep School after half term, in readiness for their move up in September; there’s also going to be an optional boarding tasting night the previous evening.
Here’s the latest class news:
This week the Reception class will be learning to recognise, spell and sound out words with ‘ing’ at the end. In preparation for the beach trip on Friday, they will be studying the book ‘The Sand Horse’, creating a seaside scene in ICT and making lists of things they need to take to the beach. The little ones are also thinking about how to keep safe in the sun and at the beach, and use their ‘bossy’ words in their writing. In their mathematical development the children will be learning about capacity, using their water tray and sand pit to learn in a practical way. They will also be creating some fun artwork thinking about what is under the sea, creating waves and sea creatures.
This week in Creative writing Year 1 will be writing their news from the Bank Holiday. They will also be starting the story of ‘The very hungry caterpillar’. The children will continue to weigh using non-standard and standard weights, as well as revising Time. In Science they will be finding out about the life cycle of a butterfly, and painting butterflies and caterpillars for a display. They are all looking forward to going to the beach on Friday!
This week Year 2 are using the text ‘Maisie’s Dragon’ and will start the week by asking Maisie questions about the dragon. We will use the ‘question hand’ technique, writing a question for each ‘finger’ (Who? What? Where? When? Why?). We will also be looking at the pre-fix ‘un’. In art we will be carrying on the dragon theme by making a dragon puppet.
In maths we will be revising the 2,5,10 times tables and also starting to work on the 3 and 9 times tables. We will also look at using corresponding division facts.
In Science we continue to look at the conditions needed for successful plant and seed growth.
The focus during English lessons this week will be paragraphing. The children will learn how to lay their texts so that they group the same ideas in one paragraph and also order them in importance. During Maths session time related problems will be solved. In Science the children will record the results of their experiment where we tried to find out if water travelled up the stems of plants at different rates depending on temperature; they will then dissect a flower.
During RS the children continue to learn about the Islamic faith; this week they will discover its special festivals. In their Art sessions the children will finish their LS Lowry townscapes.
Hopes for sunny days have a real bearing on this week’s Sunday Funday outing as strawberry-picking is high on the wish list – though the fruit must of course be ripe enough!