I tuned into Autumnwatch on the BBC last year for the first time and really enjoyed the start of Winterwatch this week. The programme takes a look at the natural world of animals in the New Forest, Cornwall and Wales as they face the coldest conditions of the year. Not only is it a great way to learn about nature, it leaves you with a sense of curiosity about what is happening in your own local area. I enjoyed break time today with Pre-Prep exploring all of the creatures in our Bee Hotel. Screen free day on Tuesday will be an ideal opportunity for the children to explore Winter visitors in your own gardens. Have a lovely weekend.
Senior School Updates
Last week ended with a truly breath-taking performance of Little Shop of Horrors, showcasing not only the tireless efforts of the Performing Arts department but the dedication and focus of a small group of year 11 pupils alongside a live band. A quite wonderful effort which oozed hard work and professionalism, it certainly brought a smile to my Friday evening and showcased the many qualities of this hugely talented group in difficult circumstances. The show must go on!
We have now completed our third week of Remote Learning and find ourselves at the half-way point of this half-term. The attendance and application in Remote Learning continues to be excellent and we hope the slight changes made to the timetables at the end of last week will allow pupils to sustainably manage their work alongside having an opportunity to get outside at least once each day. These timetable changes will be reviewed every two weeks and we would welcome any feedback as we look to strike the right balance.
Commendations this week have been awarded to Josie B, Violetta P, Frankie M and Annabelle R for their outstanding acrostic raps in English which I am assured were not only perfectly produced but also greatly entertaining - well done to all of you, and to all those working hard across the year groups. Another successful week.
Prep and Pre-prep School Updates
In Pre-prep this week, pupils have made the most of more opportunities to log on to Google Meet to interact with their teachers, peers and wider staff from our School community. A particular highlight was Mr Macdonald's Joke session on Wednesday afternoon, which featured an array of hats! Year 1 also thoroughly enjoyed their live session with our school nurse, Mrs Sarjant. There is more about this in the 'Message from Matron' piece!
This week Year 3 pupils read one of my favourite books, The Day the Crayons Quit, before writing informal letters from items in their pencil case. Year 4 created some wonderful pyramid projects in Topic and Year 5 have continued their work on advertising, using the tricks that they have learned to create posters to promote their own fictional company and products. Year 6 have in fact been very negative this week - in Maths, working on negative and positive numbers! They've also been very moody - in English, writing descriptive pieces to set and sustain a mood for the reader! A huge well done to all our pupils for another week of fantastic willingness and dedication to their learning.
Our Prep School Council met virtually with Mrs Lock on Thursday morning to feedback pupils' opinions on Remote Learning so far. The teacher's look forward to reviewing their comments this upcoming week. As a result of pupil feedback following the last period of Remote Learning, this week, various classes have tried 'break out' rooms to enable online pair and group work, which the teachers hope you've enjoyed!
On Wednesday morning, in Prep School Assembly, we awarded a number of Values Certificates. Congratulations again to the following recipients:
Effort - Arthur H, Freddie P, Tansy-Bela T, Poppy F, Eddie C, Rose S, Rhys W, Jude B, Ben K, Chester S.
Responsibility - Jack R, Henry R, Jack M
Staff and parents have been blown away by the independence, resilience and organisation of time and work spaces that has led to many of these awards. It would also be truly wonderful to see some further examples of our other School Values - Honesty, Kindness and Respect - over the coming weeks too, so please keep us updated of any examples that you see at home.
As we look ahead to next week, we eagerly anticipate our No Screen Day scheduled for Tuesday, 26th January. Hopefully this will offer an important break away from devices and screens. You have hopefully received an email from Mr Wright this afternoon containing further details regarding the activities your No Screen Day could involve, should you wish to collect or organise any resources over the weekend in preparation.
Stars of the Week
Nursery - Lottie F for her excellent use of language and new vocabulary.
Reception - Clementine R for sustained effort and progress in handwriting.
Charlie S for wonderful clear reading in our online sessions.
Year 1 - Tombi W for working so hard, being so polite and a great role model in Key Worker school.
Year 2 - Olivia W for a delightfully positive attitude towards every Home Learning task this week. You blow me away every day with the amount of work you do!
After another busy and productive week, we wish you a relaxing and enjoyable weekend. Well done everyone!
Prep School Council
The Prep School Council met on Thursday , their first meeting during Remote Learning. The council members had used a morning Form Time as an opportunity to discuss ideas with their peers and collect in opinions and suggestions about how Remote Learning was progressing this time. The response to their new timetables and Live lessons was very positive with the majority feeling that the balance was good. There were a few pupils who wanted more Lives and a few who wanted less as well! The pupils were looking forward to No Screen Day next week but some thought they would miss seeing their friends that day! We will have regular meetings to keep up to date with the pupil voice.
Former Duke of Kent School pupil, Gemma Barton (1984-1989), an accomplished photographer was interviewed on BBC South Today on Wednesday evening where she spoke about The Children of Salisbury Charity project.
This project was is a charity portrait series exploring the positive effects of lockdown on children. It is a wonderfully emotive series which has had a big impact nationally. Below is a link to view the images in the portrait series:
We are hoping to have Gemma visit Duke of Kent School in the future when restrictions are lifted to hear all about the project, her career and some happy memories from her time at Duke of Kent School.
Virtual Art Club
Virtual Art Club is being launched by popular demand on Wednesday at 12.40. It is open to years 7-9. If students would like to join they just need to accept the invite in Google Classroom. We already have 42 members!
We are going to begin with a largescale, mixed media piece based around the theme of trees. All the tasks are optional and designed to give those with a passion for Art something to explore in their free time.
Ready, Steady Cook!
On Monday the Virtual Ready, Steady, Cook competition began and the students have until 1st February to enter. The challenge of making a dish using only 5 ingredients will certainly test the skills of the budding chefs in our student body!
During this half term, there will be a new optional House competition launched at the beginning of each week, to offer the Prep and Senior students a range of activities to get stuck into. All of the necessary will be posted in the House Classrooms and every pupil who enters will earn 3 House points just for taking part. These are the upcoming competitions are:
MFL Idiom competition
Picture recreation competition
The Prep and Senior students can still earn 3 House points by for every Star and Diamond as well as 15 House points for a Prep Values Award or Senior Commendation. These points do often make a significant difference to the overall totals for each House. At the moment, Chichester has earned more House points from the rewards but Whittle are very close behind them!
The House of the Year competition has been very close this year, with Hillary sneaking into first place during the final days of the Autumn term and they still maintain a slim lead over Whittle.
There is no doubt that without the aid of digital and screen technologies, remote teaching and learning at Duke of Kent School would have been a much harder and possibly lonelier experience. Google Meet has allowed staff and pupils to communicate both verbally and visually with one another and remain connected when we cannot be together physically.
However, screentime requires a different type of concentration and can be very mentally draining. This is something we recognise and are constantly striving to ‘strike the right balance’, as evidenced in the changes to the timetable and the fact that Tuesday the 26th of January sees the first Duke of Kent School ‘No Screen Day’ of this remote learning period.
Over-exposure to screens, particularly amongst young people, has been the subject of many studies - with varied results. One thing that can be agreed upon is the importance of screen breaks for the physical health of eyes - the 20-20-20 rule developed by a Californian optometrist suggests moving eyes away from the screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds to focus on something approximately 20 feet away to maintain the muscles that work between long and short sight. If we consider our minds a muscle, it stands to reason that we also need to give our thoughts and bodies a break from screens and engage in other pursuits - not moving from our computer work straight to our mobile phones or TVs! This is a way to maintain overall wellbeing.
Social media and screen breaks allow the mind to focus on more internal thoughts and have greater ‘present-moment awareness’. Whilst digital technologies are often used to combat loneliness and isolation (all positive benefits), they can risk becoming a self-reinforcing pattern of habitual checks. Devices being taken out of the working area for regular controlled periods has proven to have a positive result on academic achievement.
Nobody is suggesting that digital screen technology should disappear from our lives - it is far too beneficial for that - rather that we should be mindful of allowing ourselves regular breaks. If your children tell you there is ‘nothing else to do’ without the TV, computer or their phones, there are many suggestions which have proven wellbeing results.
Teaching your pet a new trick - stress-relieving benefits of engaging with an animal and a sense of achievement which releases endorphins (the feel-good hormones).
Baking - can relieve stress and the challenge of trying a new recipe can exercise the brain.
Reading - provides an escape from a perhaps harsh current reality or stressors.
Painting or collaging - allows the opportunity to tap into our creative brain which connects closely with our emotional self-regulation.
Writing a letter - provides an opportunity for social connections in a different medium and allows opportunity to craft thoughts.
Dance to your favourite song - raises endorphins and lowers cortisol (the stress hormone).
With that in mind, I hope everyone makes the time for a Friday night kitchen disco this evening and makes the most of the ‘No Screen Day’ on Tuesday!
Mrs Douglas, Wellbeing Coordinator
80% of children aged 12-16 think their parents’ rules on screen time are unfair.
3 | Don’t pull the plug
Emerging from the immersive world of video gaming is like a deep-sea diver coming back up for air – do it too quickly and it can have a negative effect. Give your child reasonable warnings about when to turn off, to help them ease out of their game, private chat or video.
Performing Arts News
Little Shop of Horrors movie success!
Last Friday evening saw the Premiere release of our Year 11 production of Little Shop of Horrors - and what a triumph it was! The small cast managed to pull off a remarkable production last term, in trying circumstances and Friday's film, livestreamed at 6pm, was a wonderful end to an incredible journey for the whole team. The film looked great, sounded fabulous and the cast were amazing. We were so proud of them all and we look forward to the Summer Term when we hope to be able to hold a live screening in the PA Hall. Below is a picture of the Livestream base where I sat nervously hoping it wouldn't all go wrong!
Don't forget to get those first round entries in by Wednesday 10th February - email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Fizz has been furloughed!
But fear not Pre-prep as Barry the Bongo and his Bouncing Band have stepped in. The first two songs of this series of sing-along family songs can be seen below. There will hopefully be weekly songs.
Check out the latest edition below - 'The Milkman of Human Kindness' - an exploration of kindness, compassion and friendship in song - something we all need plenty of right now!
A Message from Matron
This Thursday, it was a real pleasure to join Miss Walpole and year 1 for a Live lesson on "People Who Help Us". Not only was it lovely to catch up with the pupils face to face, but it was lovely to see how enthusiastic they were to find out about my job, some of the equipment I use, and to discuss what makes a good nurse. They also had all the right answers when we discussed what they've learned about handwashing this year; well done year 1! This was also a chance for me to reflect on how much I love my job as a School Nurse, despite its many challenges. I'm sure we all find that helping people makes us feel better about ourselves; I know it works for me!
As a result of the majority of people adhering to the lockdown rules, the really good news is that numbers of new cases of Covid-19 in Surrey are starting to decrease across all boroughs this week. However, we must not be complacent, as of Tuesday this week, infection rates were still above 400 per 100 000 per week in our catchment area, so although we are very much heading in the right direction, there's still no rationale for the lockdown to be eased.
Please therefore continue to minimise your social contacts, and for those utilising Nursery or critical worker places at school, please do ensure your child is well, and that there is no one in your household who is potentially symptomatic with Covid-19, before bringing your child in to school.
Since the pandemic is likely to be with us for quite a while longer yet, this week, I thought I'd remind you of ways in which you can boost your immune system in order to keep your body's defences at the ready!
Top tips to boost your immune system:
Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables (for people who find this challenging, consider taking vitamin supplements)
Exercise regularly (within the rules of lockdown of course!)
If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation
Get adequate sleep
Take steps to avoid infection (hands, face, space)
Try to minimise stress!
Some of this is of course easier said than done during this stressful period of time, but every little helps! And on this note, I wish you all a healthy and restful weekend.
BOOK CLUB IS BACK!
The next Book Club meeting will be Thursday 28th January at 8pm on Zoom. We will be reviewing Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford. Please do join us, reading of the book is not compulsory.
Zoom details will be sent out via all class reps, so keep an eye out for the information.
Any recommendations for a new title are greatly received so recommend away!
Hope to see you there, happy reading!
School Social Media
At Duke of Kent School we have two social media platforms, Twitter (@DoKSchool) and Instagram (dukeofkentschool).
Our Twitter account is public however, our Instagram account is private to keep it strictly for the Duke of Kent School community only. You will need to request to follow the account.
Please do follow the accounts to receive the regular updates and to see highlights from each day at School. There is a link to the Twitter account below.
Mrs Knox joined Pre-prep at break time today. The children chose to take Mrs Knox to look at the Bee Hotel and to see what creatures might be hiding inside! #OutdoorLearning #PrePrep #Head #CreaturesBigAndSmall #Exploring https://t.co/LJWN9N0hbu
Back by popular demand it's Mr Rye's podcast! This week the theme is kindness and compassion through music. We hear from Paul Simon, Bach and Billy Bragg, as well as a host of others, enjoy! #Podcast #Music #KindnessAndCompassion