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Reflections on a busy term

It is always a feature of our Friday morning assemblies, that children are encouraged to take part and contribute. A couple of weeks ago, as the end of term approached, I asked them to volunteer some of the things they had accomplished or taken part in this term. The result was something of an eager Mexican wave and we could have used the assembly in its entirety on this alone! I then explained that it was not surprising that many felt tired as they had all done a huge amount; they probably also didn’t even remember some of the things they had done earlier in the term when it was still light and warm.

Of course, much has been achieved in the classroom and we remain academically ambitious for the children. For example, this term, Year 8 listened to Frederick Naftel who provoked thought and discussion on antisemitism and prejudice; I was struck by how well they dealt with this difficult and challenging topic, even identifying the need to cover such subjects.

I hope you will enjoy reading about many of the children’s activities and achievements outside the classroom which complement your children’s academic experience at DH.

One of the major events this term was the Year 7 Business Enterprise project, which features in detail on pages 6 – 7. I have been so impressed by this group, and the way in which the project as a whole has developed hugely since our first appearance at Arundel Farmers’ Market in the summer of 2021. The children really worked as a team and recognised their own strengths and interests throughout the process. It was fantastic to see the group interacting with the general public on the day; they really made very effective salespeople. One lady said to me as she walked away: “Well, I have just been very pleasantly fleeced; they could sell coals to Newcastle!”

I believe that this project, together with our programme of careers talks for the prep school, can really sow the seeds of interest in paths our pupils may wish to follow in life, and we certainly strive to broaden their horizons.

Many of you will have enjoyed watching your children’s classes in their informal concerts this term and it is always good to see how children grow in confidence during these events as they progress through the school.

We cannot report on all the occasions when children stand up and present or perform in front of others, but it is routine – from Reception children showing their skills on the interactive whiteboard in the classroom to older children speaking in assembly or reading in church.

You can keep up-to-date on the many day-to-day events and successes via our Facebook page which we post on several times each week.

One thing which always amazes me about the staff here is their creativity and the ways in which they make learning fun and relevant for your children. This starts with Reception where children have, this term, earned their superhero licences!

We are all grateful to the PA for donations towards an end of term staff party and as I write this, we are looking forward to the first chance for us all to be together since 2019. The PA have also funded the purchase of a large Tipi which has been put up in the woods and will form the initial stage of the development of our enhanced outdoor learning environment. We are consulting with some highly creative experts in this area to draw up some very exciting longer-term plans and we will be reporting on these in due course.

In Years 7 and 8, we encourage the children to learn from their peers and this term, we welcomed a group of Hurst pupils from Y11 – 13. They ran various sessions, from how to structure and write an email to how to put events into calendars. They also looked at OneNote, SharePoint and other different platforms. Whilst our pupils cover some of this in school, these were practical workshops, from a pupil’s perspective, which addressed the ways in which technology will be used in their senior schools.

My dissertation at university was around ‘changes in self-concept during outdoor education courses’. It was clear from my research that improvement in how young people perceive themselves is marked during and at the end of such adventurous training. If I were to study this area again however, it would be to seehow long this effect lasts for and most importantly, how to maintain it. I believe that the micro-opportunities and experiences we give your children, do this alongside the more major events within our leadership programme.

I am proud of the fact that we are preparing children so well for life at senior school and beyond and it has been great to hear of last year’s leavers and the progress they have made as they enter Year 9. As you may know, they moved on to a wide range of senior schools – both locally and far afield. Some are boarding and some are day pupils, but they are all making their mark and taking full advantage of what is on offer.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Matt Thomas


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Celebration Assemblies

Every Friday, we celebrate children's achievements