Calshot 2021: Day 3

Another very busy day at Calshot. After a good night’s sleep everyone was ready to try some new activities on a cloudy but humid day.

Breakfast was the same as Tuesday with plenty of choice, and soon we were off on morning activities. For many of the groups this involved initiative tests and the team swing. The initiative tests were great because they really forced the children to work as a team and to think carefully. What really impressed me was how each team improved dramatically after a less than impressive start and one group produced the best performance I’d ever seen on the mushroom test.

The team swing consisted of two children being hoisted up on a giant swing and then released. This was a lot of fun, but appeared quite challenging and scary at first. Everyone had a go and many of the children went to the very highest setting before being released.

Lunch involved hot dogs and spicy wedges before a quick turnaround and an afternoon of sailing and kayaking. Conditions were perfect and the children (and some of the adults) had a great time before cooling off in the Solent at the end.

After a roast chicken (or pasta) dinner the children went off to either Rushing Rockets or the Egg Drop. By 8.30pm everyone was completed exhausted and needed a good sleep.

The final day will involve more skiing, climbing shooting and team swing before we have lunch and then head back to Liss for 3.30pm.

Calshot 2021: Day 2

Day 2 dawned at Calshot and the early signs were not good. The skies were grey and it was raining steadily. However, good news was not far away: Mr Parrott led the room inspections and was pleased to report that the standard of cleanliness was very good – particularly in the boys’ rooms (cue Mums fainting in shock all over Liss). The range of excuses were brilliant this year too. When one boy was asked why there were biscuit crumbs on the floor, he replied.

“They must have fallen from the ceiling!” Somehow I don’t think this room will be winning the tidy room competition.

By the time we walked down to the canteen for breakfast, the rain had just about stopped and the skies began to lighten. Breakfast consisted of bacon, sausage, beans, hash brown, toast, yoghurt, cereals and various spreads. You could choose as much or as little as you wanted.

The morning saw everyone down at the Sopwith Hanger as half the children (Gps 1,2 & 3) were sailing and the others (Gps 4,5 & 6) were kayaking. The children spent a very active and fun morning learning these skills and applying them in various games and challenges.

Lunch was a burger in a bap with potatoes and from there we moved indoors for the afternoon. Among the activities the children took part in was climbing, shooting, archery, skiing, laser climb and ringos. The afternoon brought some fresh challenges and the children were able to relate strong feelings of satisfaction from showing the necessary resilience, resourcefulness and reciprocity when we had circle time later that afternoon.

After a busy afternoon session we had dinner which was a choice between chicken curry or mac and cheese. From there we returned to Lawrence House where Mr Frost managed to rig up his laptop to a projector just in time to see the last 20 minutes of the football and England dispatch the Germans.

The evening activities were Epic Engineering for Gps 1,2 & 3 while Gps 4,5 & 6 had the egg drop challenge. Remarkably, two of the four eggs survived the challenge due to some well thought through designs.

By this time the children were absolutely out on their feet, so when we returned to Lawrence House most of them hit the showers and went straight to bed afterwards. Lights out moved forward 15 minutes to 9.30pm and within 30 minutes Lawrence House was quiet. A very busy Wednesday awaits.

Calshot 2021: Day 1

Hello everyone from Calshot. We had an excellent first day! We left a rainy Liss at about 9.45am and by the time we reached Calshot the sun was out and the day was heating up. We arrived and were met by Richard Birkinshaw, our course director. He gave the children a talk about what to expect over the four days with particular emphasis on staying safe with the covid restrictions. After running a quick fire drill and then unpacking, we went to lunch.

There is only one other school at Calshot (and they are leaving on Wednesday) so we had half the canteen to ourselves. Lunch was pizza and chips which appeared to go down very well. The afternoon sessions involved such activities as archery, climbing, ringos, skiing and laser climb. For many of the parents reading this ringos and laser climb won’t sound familiar at all. Basically, ringos is going down the dry ski slope in a big rubber donut with sometimes 3 donuts tethered together. Laser Climb was absolutely fascinating. A projector is used to project challenges onto a small touch-sensitive climbing wall and the children had to compete together or sometimes against each other to complete the challenges. They had a lot of fun.

The main course for dinner was bangers and mash before the children went off for their evening activities. Half took part in rampant rockets where they used water pressure to fire rockets at various targets. The other activity was Epic Engineering kits where the children had to construct the numbers 1 – 10 (trickier than it seems) and build the highest freestanding tower possible. There was some excellent teamwork and some very original (and strange) ideas.

All but a couple of children got off to sleep very quickly and everyone got a good night’s sleep ready for sailing and kayaking this morning.

Which is the real writing from Stormbreaker?

In English we have been studying Stormbreaker, the brilliant Alex Rider spy novel by Anthony Horowitz. We asked the Rowan Class pupils to rewrite the car crusher scene from Stormbreaker after watching a clip from the film and without allowing them to read the relevant pages in the novel.

We discussed all the features of Anthony Horowitz’s writing (from different parts of the book) and set the pupils the task of producing writing so convincing that the general public wouldn’t know which was the real scene from Stormbreaker when put alongside some pupil entries. There are seven samples of writing, but only one is the real scene from Stormbreaker written by Anthony Horowitz. Vote for the writing you think is produced by one of our favourite authors. Will it be the correct choice or will one of our pupils have produced a piece of writing so good that it could be mistaken for Anthony Horowitz himself? Read on below and then please vote. All comments are welcome.








Wants & Needs work with Year 6 at Liss

Greetings to all of our friends in Kafuro. We have heard that there is the possibility of P7 returning to school on September 20th. We hope that this works out and that you are able to resume your learning before Primary Leaving Examinations.

Year 6 at Liss Junior School have begun their work on the wants and needs learning that takes place in the UK every year and allows us to make some comparisons with Kafuro.

Our first task was to give each pair of children the outline of a child and  to give the outlined child a name. Next, we discussed what this child would need to grow up into a happy and healthy adult. The children were set the task of identifying twenty things that would help the child achieve this. At this point there was no input and the children could completely decide for themselves.

Once the pupils had completed their twenty things that a child would need, they wrote them on post its and placed them in the middle of the child. Next, they were asked to remove five of the things that the child could do without – this reduced the items to fifiteen. This exercise was repeated twice more and generated a lot of debate on each table as the children argued over what should stay. Eventually, each group had five items left which they shared with the rest of the class and compared.

Our next step was to introduce UNICEF wants and needs cards and perform a similar exercise. However, firstly the children were asked to divide the cards into three groups: those they thought were Most ImportantImportant and Least Important. Then, once again, Mr Stanley asked the pupils to reduce the cards down to just five, and the classroom became very animated as the children had to make some very difficult decisions over what should stay and what should go. It was interesting to see how the children made their choices compared with previous years. Although there were a lot of similarities, there were also some notable differences. This will be shared in a future blog post.

Once the pupils had completed this exercise, they compared the five wants and needs they had left with the post its they had created in the previious lesson. As a class, we then discussed the difference between wants and needs.

Needs: the things that are absolutely necessary for all children to have a happy and healthy life

Wants:the things that are nice to have but not necessary for a full life.

We finished this first session by discussing some key questions: Are wants and needs different for people in the UK and Uganda? Why don’t all children in the world have what they need?

To the first question, the pupils were quite clear that needs would be the same in both countries. However, there was an acknowledgement that wants would be different. For example, a pupil in the UK might want a Playstation or an Xbox, but for a pupil in Uganda, where electricity is scarce in places, a new bike would be something that they might really want. We were able to use Eben’s expertise as he was able to tell us that growing up in Malawi there were often power cuts, so what was the point of having a console?

The pupils were y not shocked that children in the world didn’t have everything they need. We discussed some of the reasons why this may be so:

  • War
  • Some countries don’t have enough money to feed people
  • Some governments are corrupt
  • Exploitation of poorer countries by richer countries
  • Climate change

There was widespread disbelief in the class that millions of people go hungry in the world when there is more than enough food to feed everyone comfortably.

Next, the pupils looked at the needs of children are protected. We studied the United Nations Charter for the rights of the Child. It was interesting to see the children make links with their work in the first session. One group were delighted to see that the right to play was enshrined in their convention and felt that justified them placing ‘play’ in their final five cards.

In our next session we will be trying to marry up each need from the first session with other rights in the charter.

Goodbye to Rowan Class 2019 – 2020

It was the last day of a unique year today. In 25 years of teaching I’ve never experienced anything like Covid – 19 and the chaos it caused. It is a credit to all of our children how much resilience they’ve shown during lockdown and how they’ve responded to re-entering school in socially distanced bubbles.

Both Mrs Gill and I have been amazed at how quickly Rowan pupils adapted to the ‘New Normal’ and the last half term has been a lot of fun. Although I would have preferred to have the whole class in a normal year, it has been wonderful to get to know the children a bit better in the bubbles and to keep in touch through TEAMS.

Normally, on the last day there would be a Leavers Assembly with all of the parents invited, but social distancing measures has prevented this happening. However, the children’s thoughts on leaving school, their favourite memories and hopes for the future are available to view on TEAMS.

Finally, a big thank you to all the children and parents for your very kind words. Reading your cards and notes has been very moving and I feel very privileged to have taught such a lovely class.

Have a fantastic summer and we wish you all the best of luck at secondary school.