Dear Parents

A very warm welcome back to the start of the Lent term.  It has been a delight to see the children enjoying their learning and ready to embrace new challenges and opportunities in their topics. This afternoon I was able to accompany the U9 teams travelling to their fixtures, and I was very impressed with their enthusiasm and skills after a very short introduction to different sports this term.

As you will read below, the first week back has been exciting, busy and full of wonderful learning!

Reports

As I mentioned at the end of last term, Michaelmas Term reports can be accessed through My School Portal.  Please use the link to log in: King’s Ely (myschoolportal.co.uk)

Calendar

Our new website shows calendar dates for one week, however, we are aware that dates for the whole term are far more useful.  We are therefore addressing this, until then, I would urge parents to use the link below to filter dates and events for Fairstead House.

https://calendar.kingsely.org/

Fixtures

The children have enjoyed plenty of success in their first fixtures of 2024. Our U11 girls headed to Brookes Cambridge for netball matches, blowing off the cobwebs they moved the ball with speed and precision to create lots of chances.  The shooting accuracy improved throughout the match with lots of goals scored.  I am looking forward to their development over the rest of the season. Next up is a fixture at King’s Ely on Wednesday.

Our U9s made the trip to South Lee for their first hockey and rugby matches.  The girls were strong on the ball and were developing their push passes as the game went on.  It was great to see the Year 3 girls taking their first steps into competitive hockey.  Year 3 boys had their first tag games and developed their understanding of match play and focused on the principle of moving forward with the ball.  A total of 29 trys were split between the two teams in an epic 40 minutes of tag!  The Year 4 boys had their first venture into contact rugby and can be very proud of their efforts.  Each of them made a great effort with their tackling and ball carrying and I am really looking forward to their continued development.  Anyone that really enjoyed the match, I know that Newmarket Rugby Club are always on the look out for new players.

Mr.Salt

Reception

It has been a super start to the new year in Reception and the children have thoroughly enjoyed their first week back to school. It was wonderful to see so many happy and enthusiastic children returning to school on Monday morning.

2024 has been the focus both indoors and outdoors, and the children have participated in a range of different activities linked to this. They have enjoyed seeing how New Year’s Eve is celebrated around the world, joined in with ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and even written some resolutions of their own!

A new topic has also been introduced this week, ‘Once Upon a Time: Animal Antics’.

The children brought in their favourite animal stories from home and spent time sharing them with their friends. They also had lots of fun drawing and colouring their favourite animal characters.

A huge thank you to the Heads of School for being our first ‘Surprise Readers’. They read their favourite animal stories beautifully and it was a super start to our new topic!

Year 1

We began our new topic by going on a fact hunt! We were challenged to find 10 facts that were attached to an object related to dinosaurs and then hidden around the bark area. Once all the facts were found, we read them out knowing that some were true and some were false. We had to work out which ones were which though! Some of them were trickier than others, such as ‘All dinosaurs were bigger than Mr Radford,’ and ‘We drink the same water as the dinosaurs.’ We are really looking forward to finding out which facts are true and which are false over the next few weeks!

In our art and topic lessons we have been learning about dinosaur fossils.

We learned that dinosaurs and humans didn’t co-exist, so all the information we know about dinosaurs has come from studying their fossils. We looked at a number of fossils found around the world, including the recent ichthyosaur fossil found at Rutland Water, and then created our own dinosaur fossils using art straws. Finally, we made trace fossils by pushing small dinosaurs and dinosaur bones into clay to make an impression.

Year 2

Welcome back!

The children have settled in brilliantly and have been working so hard this week! We have been capitalising on the weather and learning all about snowmen. We have written a detailed list of instructions for building a snowman, being sure to include imperative verbs, time connectives and really clear sentence structure. We have also read a book called ‘Snowmen at Night’ which poses the question ‘What DO snowmen do at night?’. The children made outstanding predictions and planned 3 new activities for the snowmen in our story. We have been writing short paragraphs introducing the idea of supporting sentences to add more information and detail, alongside using our writing non-negotiables. In maths we have been learning all about money. This is such a tricky concept as children do not really use money in the traditional sense, but they have embraced the challenge and have been creating amounts with coins, making the same amounts in different ways and counting money with confidence. We have started our new topic ‘Amazing Animals’ and this has informed our humanities learning this week. We have looked at animal adaptations in different continents, what it means to be alive, and have been learning about the bible story ‘Jonah and the Whale’. It has been a wonderful week!

Year 3

This week, Year 3 have had a super start to the year with the launch of our new topic. This term, our topic will be ‘Rainforest Calling’. The children were so excited for our geography lesson this week where we refreshed our knowledge of the continents, the equator and the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. We identified the rainforest areas around the world and matched countries to their continents using the atlases. In science, we started our new ‘Rocks’ unit by exploring different types of rocks including metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary. In maths, our focus has been on making connections between related multiplication facts. The children impressed themselves with the difficult calculations they could tackle by relating facts to simple multiplications. We also had our first swimming lesson of the year to add to the week’s excitement.

Year 4

It has been wonderful to have the children back in the classroom and even more so because they have returned with enthusiasm and a desire to learn.  This reflected perfectly the idea of growth mindset which we have been looking at this week.  We have discussed how failing can be a great way to learn and how, by persevering, something that was difficult can become easier.  In class we have put this into practice in various ways from building houses of cards through to origami and playing Kim’s game.

Our new topic this term in science is sound.  This Thursday, we used data loggers to look at different levels of sound around the school grounds as well as thinking about what causes those sounds.  We even managed to include some map-reading into the lesson as the children had to find their location from an aerial photo in order to mark the location of each sound reading in their book.  As this topic progresses, we will at more sources of sound and understand what causes sounds.

Year 5

The new topic in science is ‘Changes in Materials and their Properties’ and today the pupils were investigating thermal insulators and conductors.  They had to think critically to design a fair investigation into different containers and how much they would insulate and stop ice cubes from melting.  Pupils made predictions and recorded results and will fully draw conclusions on Monday.

After Laila’s suggestion, we also conducted another, more fun experiment to see who could keep an ice cube in their mouth the longest! The children surprised the teacher’s prediction of ‘for not very long’, with some sucking theirs away to almost nothing.  They seemed particularly pleased with this experiment and it is important to remember that it is the small things in life which bring the greatest joy, as well as the fact that children’s mouths are surprisingly resilient to cold temperatures and perhaps need to be fed more ice-cream!

On Friday, Year 5 started their DT lessons with Mr Peace and, as you can see from the photos below, rose to the challenge of creating a basic marble run out of folded A4 card – no glue or Sellotape, just card. They had to work as team – pairs, fours, then the whole class – to join individual chutes together and get the angle just right so that a classmate could catch the marble at the other end. Many more challenges to come over the next 10 weeks, Year 5!

Year 6

In English lessons, Year 6 have started a new topic on playscripts and this week’s focus was on stage directions. The children had fun writing a short conversation between two characters from The Lion King, knowing the characters well from their recent drama rehearsals. They thought very carefully about what each character could do as well as say, then performed each playscript to the rest of the class. Year 6 are looking forward to writing their own playscripts in forthcoming weeks, choosing a cast and becoming directors!

You may recall that, last half-term, Year 6 wrote letters to family, friends and celebrities. It has been lovely to receive five out of ten replies so far, and the children have enjoyed reading out their letters. One recipient even wants to visit Fairstead House later in the year!

This week, in RS lessons, Year 5-6 continued their study of the topic entitled ‘What is a church?’ They learned that a variety of spaces can become churches – cinemas, theatre auditoriums, even a slate mine in Colombia! The lesson also provided the opportunity to touch upon the more serious subject of refugees in Calais who construct makeshift churches out of wooden planks and plastic sheeting. We then discussed the foundation of the Christian church and how Jesus’ disciples faced persecution. Mr Peace has been very impressed with the children’s interest in Thursday afternoon humanities lessons, their enthusiastic contribution to class discussions and desire to share stories and artefacts with classmates. Well done!

Have a lovely weekend!

Michael Radford