Primary School News

Science and Library Stories

Dear BSM Primary Families,

I hope last week’s half term provided a restful break from the new normal routine that we follow. Hopefully, this provided you the opportunity to get away from screens and focus on family and non-electronic pursuits. For me reading is a pleasure, books have the wonderful capacity to take me on a journey. At this time in particular to be transported away to far-off places in lieu of being able to travel is a welcome thrill. Reading can also place you in the shoes of others and provide perspective on your own life and situation. I read voraciously and would rather have a book open than a screen. My most recent read was a biography entitled Boy in the Water, a compelling tale of an 8-year-old that I read in a day during half term. He was an ordinary 8-year-old, not particularly good at anything, struggling with some things at school and he was scared of challenges. This was especially the case with his swimming lessons that he would try to find excuses to get out of each week. His mum then did something horrendous and signed him up for additional swimming at the local pool. He could think of nothing worse and was terrified! 

Within three years, and lots of fears and tears later, he had become the youngest ever child to swim the English Channel. This was 12+ hours of swimming and on his crossing 30 miles. This is the equivalent of swimming 2,000 lengths of the pool at BSM! Three years before, he was not able to do one without putting his foot down. As he stepped on to the beach in England, I had a tear in my eye. This was far from a story of sporting prowess, training regimes and the like. It was much more a story of conquering fear, overcoming barriers, community support and an inspirational coach. It gave me perspective on our current situation. He had his ups and downs, but through everything he got through it and was successful. He had strong family support and a community that encouraged and was there for him. A tale of what is possible if you put your mind to it, and a heart-warming tale to share with you and inspire in difficult times. 

I hope you have discovered the magic of books; they are wonderful at any time but in quarantine they have the power to take you on fabulous journeys.

Library Stories 

Further magical episodes have been added by popular demand as Mr Jay and Ms Kristine have added more stories to our online library. Find out: 

  • What happens to the Stray Dog? 
  • Who are the Three Rigs? 
  • How Freddie nearly gets his wishes granted, but not quite!

Plus these three titles: 

  • I’m here 
  • The snail and the whale
  • So few of me

Please click on this link to enjoy more Library Stories

Science Week (Y2-6)

Science has been our key learning focus this week, as mentioned in my last newsletter it is scientists we are looking to at the moment to come up with solutions to our problem and for advice on returning to normality or as close as we can, safely. 

Students have been looking at a variety of concepts across the school and posed challenges to apply their understanding. Year 4 have looked at the concept of Energy and Forces in the context of Space, with the aim of stimulating curiosity and developing understanding of:

  • Gravity 
  • Mass/Weight
  • Air Resistance
  • Sound (in space)

Tasks have prompted recap of knowledge of the main scientific investigation variables and they used these to experiment with paper rockets. An apt week to be exploring with NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, proposed lift off on 27 May, to the space station. 

Year 2 students looked at the concept of forces related to materials. They looked at different types of materials and used their understanding to carry out a ramp experiment. This gave them the opportunity to see forces in action and to use some great scientific vocabulary (bend, squash, twist, gravity, buoyancy, air resistance, friction). As Year 4 did, they then got to put their understanding into practice making boats and planes.

Year 6 continued their biology unit looking at the seven life processes and how these are used to determine whether something is living. The first two lessons developed the skills of observing closely and looking for similarities and differences. They looked at different ways to sort living things before moving on to using branching keys to classify. Students then designed their own fair tests to see what conditions affect mould growth and practised the scientific skill of drawing conclusions from results by looking for patterns with their research. Thursday was an interesting one as they looked at how traits are inherited from parents through reproduction. Designing their own new dog species followed! They then looked at certain traits animals have that enable them to live successfully in their habitat, designing their own species to suit a given habitat. Evolution rounded off the week, looking at inherited traits and environmental effects, and the consequences these might have upon an animal’s survival.

Year 5 were asked the question:

‘How can understanding cycles change human behaviour towards the environment?’  This links science with their global citizenship unit. Here are some student responses from early in the week:

“If we understood we would stop killing animals in our food chain because if one of them goes extinct then our food chain will be broken which will leave a catastrophic result.” (Naihla)

“I think that understanding cycles will help humans understand that we rely on all living things from a small bug to the biggest whale. I think humans will also understand that taking one thing out of a cycle will affect the whole. So they will realise that we need to take action.” (Ishaan)

“Because if humans can see (so to speak) the cycles then we can understand that if we continue cutting down trees then we will eventually die. All of us, humans, animals… anything that breathes oxygen.” (Liam)

And some thoughts on the human effect on the water cycle:

“A number of human activities can impact on the water cycle: damming rivers for hydroelectricity, using water for farming, deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.” (Melchior)

“People are affecting the water cycle by doing many things we don’t know harm nature.” (Wolfie)

And experimenting by recreating the water cycle in a bag from Taylor:

Finally Year 3 were asked : What is light and how does it behave? Using a box, objects and a light source, the children learnt about the conditions of when we see and cannot see. They also discovered how light travels in straight lines. Here is Marni’s conclusion table beautifully presented:

Tuesday’s questions were: How is light reflected on different surfaces? Which colours show up best in the dark? Students were given a design task to create a reflective strip for a book bag. Using a reflection tester out of white card and a torch, they tested different coloured fabrics and different materials and had to share their designs and explain their reasons why they chose this material. On Thursday, they investigated opaque, transparent and translucent materials and applied their understanding to another design challenge.  Finally, on Friday, they got to make a shadow puppet theatre. Using their box from Monday, they transformed it into a simple shadow puppet theatre and investigated how shadows are formed and how we can change the shape of a shadow. On Monday, next week, they’ll be using what they have learnt to retell part of a well known story, the Gruffalo.

Some wonderful science going on there.  I hope you enjoyed the tasks set for you, increased your understanding whilst also practising both English and maths skills. 

Well-being

In my opening I talked about books being able to place me in the shoes of others. Our counselling team have that as their key focus this week and I include information and links that they have put together on this to support students at this time, they introduce this by saying:

Being able to get along with others may require that you step into their “shoes,” to understand how they see things and feel their feelings too. By doing so, you can solve problems together in better ways. 

Students can watch the video, “Stand in my Shoes.” and try doing what the character Emily did, observing others and imagining what they might be feeling in their situation. Here are further supporting resources:

Empathy (EYFS & KS1)

Seeing someone else’s side (KS2)

Finally 

We have sent out this week an introduction to our plans on a return to school and we continue to work on a model for primary students that we feel will work. Student safety and well-being will be at the centre of this and we look forward to sharing further details with you.

As we contemplate a return to school, albeit next school year, there will be anxieties for students, parents and teachers and over the next few weeks we will begin to address how to approach these. 

Thank you for your continued support, this is much appreciated and valued. 

BSM is one big family and we look after each other. Stay safe, stay positive – we are in this together. 

Please click this link for my latest video message. 

Glenn Hardy
Head of Primary School

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