The Magazine of the Alleyn's Junior School Association

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The Magazine of the Alleyn's Junior School Association

The Magazine of the Alleyn's Junior School AssociationTRINITY TERM 2009Theatre Gala openingsbook: Performing Artsat Alleyn’sPastoral CareDevelopmental Stagesin ChildrenAJSA parents’ talk:Self EsteemCharity:Down’s SouthSNOW DAY


Alleyn’s Junior School AssociationFrom the chair of the Alleyn’s Junior School AssociationWelcome to the latest issue of Heartbeat, the magazine of the Alleyn’s JuniorSchool Association, which aims to share information about the school relevantto Alleyn’s families. The focus of this issue is pastoral education and support. Isuspect that I am not the only parent who was attracted to Alleyn’s Junior Schoolby both its academic track record and its supportive atmosphere. But I alsosuspect that I’m not alone in being pretty ignorant about the different policiesthat the school has in place to support the pastoral development of our children.This issue aims to give you more information and also the opportunity to giveyour views.There have been always lots of ways to make to make your views known butwith the help of the AJSA, Mr O’Donnell has started to hold periodic focus groupdiscussions with small groups of parents to seek feedback on issues affectingour children. There will be opportunities to get involved in these discussions, soplease do volunteer through your form representatives, if you are interested intaking part. You may have seen a report of the first focus group discussion in arecent newsletter; look out for further reports in coming months. We asked youlast time for your feedback on the magazine. We got some, all of which was verypositive about the magazine. All of that is due to the huge amount of time andeffort that Tania Hurt-Newton, Margaret Leonard and Flick Bullard put into itsproduction. Very many thanks to them.More feedback is sought this time please. Of course we want to know if you likedthe magazine, but we also need to know what else you would like it to cover and inparticular whether you would like to be involved inits production. Please have a word with me or anyof the current editorial team if you are interested.Theatre Gala openingsBook: Performing Artsat Alleyn’sPastoral CareDevelopmental Stagesin ChildrenAJSA parents’ talk:Self EsteemCharity:Down’s SouthSnow Daypage 4page 8page 10page 20page 22page 25page 26Heartbeat this term celebrates theJunior School’s Gala evenings in thenew Michael Croft Theatre, which weregiven more than a touch of glamour bythe celebrity old Alleynian thespians whohelped mark the occasion. You can findout about a new book detailing the school’sdistinguished links with the performingarts too. Another event the children willnever forget was Snow Day, when thegrounds were blanketed in white andbreak-time turned in to a great snowballfest. With Mr Sood-Smith’s help, we’veproduced a photographic record for allthose who managed to beat the elementsto get to school that day, andfor those who didn’t. We’ve alsogot a report on the local charitywe are supporting for the nextfew terms, Down’s South.Alleyn’s Junior SchoolTownley RoadDulwichLONDONSE22 8SUReception: 020 8557 1519Anne-Marie LawlorChair, AJSAcontentsEditorial Team Anne-Marie Lawlor, Flick Bullard,Margaret Leonard, Tania Hurt-Newton, Jane Mines.Photographs: Mr Sood-Smith, Sam BourneWith special thanks to George Kegler, Janie Yang,Kate Beck, Rachel Evans andElisabeth Powell for contributions.Cover: lovely flower artwork done by Year 1Designed by Tania Hurt-Newton.Bursar’s office: 020 8557 1450Headmaster’s Secretary:020 8557 1519Absence line: 020 8557 1519Fax: 020 8693 3597After school care: 07823 5392653


TheatreGALAtheir sense of occasion, the children werevisited by Jude Law in the green rooms.His reception was another of the evening’shighlights for staff, as Mrs Morris describes.“He went into the boys’ green room and said‘well done, lads’ and they said ‘thanks’ andhe came out again 30 seconds later. Then hewent into the girls’ green room and we heardthis huge squealing noise, before he came outfollowed by a stampede of awe-struck fans. Itwas a perfect, exciting and wonderful play anda real bonding experience for us. It happenedbecause there was strong team of committedchildren and committed staff, which is whatmakes a production get off the ground.”‘Doing The Deliverers was one of the most amazingthings that I have ever done! It was brought togetherreally well and involved every one of us Year 6’s.Every day for about a month and a half was pureacting on our scenes. There was solo singing, dancinggroups, acting and a whole lot of teamwork. We all gotvery excited about performing in such a big theatrein front of 400 people! It was very nerve-racking butalso extremely fun.We also got to meet Maggi Lawwho directed the whole play, adding in eye wateringlyfunny scenes. Finally for a special treat on the firstnight we all got to meet Jude Law! Overall we all hadan immensely fun and enjoyable time.’Lucy Powell‘I was happy when it was over becauseI had been so nervous but now I wish Icould do it all over again .’© Nobby Clark© Nobby Clark‘One of the things I enjoyed most wasrunning from room to room shoutingTheatreGALA© Nobby ClarkThe Senior School’s Gala openingof the Edward Alleyn building thathouses the new theatre took placeon March 1st. The school quadsand halls were all turned into adramatically decorated stage set fora great party followed by stunningfireworks display. George Kegler,father of Ian in Year 7 and Fiona inYear 5 remembers it.God’s GiftThe Senior School’s Gala opening of theMichael Croft Theatre and EdwardAlleyn Building was preceded by months ofpreparation by students, teachers, staff, actors,musicians and stagehands. The excitement‘I really enjoyed being at the new theatre and even performing. Ithought it was amazing that we were actually on the same stage assome really famous actors. I was very nervous at first but when wegot on stage I enjoyed it so much that I forgot that the audience wasthere. It was really amazing and probably the best thing I’ve everdone. When I was waiting in the wings I couldn’t help thinking thatsomething might go wrong, but luckily it didn’t!’Corrie Kinghornour daughter, Fiona Kegler (Year 5), felt in theweeks leading up to the evening was palpableto our whole family. She and thirteen of herYear 5 classmates, performed in the curtainraisingmini-play “God’s Gift” and they wereready, willing and, thanks to great coaching,most able. What a thrill for her, live on stagewith a packed house out front.Our family was impressed by the range ofstudent talent that was spread throughoutthe new building that night. Skits, singing,interviews and performance art everywhereyou looked. Not to mention the array of famousactors amongst the guests chatting away andhaving a grand time, an evening not to beforgotten. Fiona had the best time.‘I enjoyed seeing all the art on the walls of thenew building as we entered. My most memorablemoment was when I walked onto the stage and Ithought, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of people’. I felt a littlenervous and then just got on with it. That was fun!I also remember waiting back-stage under the bluelights before we went on, which made my greenconverse trainers light-up. But, I will never forgetthe big applause as we left the stage. It was great!’Alexandra Lindsay-BlackFiona Kegler‘The play was oneof the most amazingexperiences and areally nice memory ofthe Junior School.’Emily Morganthings like “All the dwarves on stagenow!” Working with Maggi was great!But meeting Jude Law was even better.We had so much fun I didn’t want it toend! When I was on stage everything feltso natural, I didn’t feel nervous at all.We had done it so many times! When Isaid the last line of the play at the secondperformance it only hit me when I was offstage that that was the end of our play!’Ella Mather6© Hannah Maule-Ffinch7


The Performing Artsat ALLEYN’SBOOK REVIEWSue Miles and Mick Keates have trawled thearchives and tracked down former pupilsand teachers to produce a stunning book aboutthe history of the performing arts at Alleyn’s.The book is being sold by the school in aid ofthe Alleyn’s Bursary Fund which supportsbright children who could not otherwise affordto come to the school. As well as a history ofhow the Elizabethan actor/manager EdwardAlleyn founded the Dulwich schools, it coversthe origins of the National Youth Theatre, setup by former teacher Michael Croft and someof the memorable productions that featuredmany a future acting star. The pictures heregive you an idea of the scope and quality of thebook.You can buy it from theSenior School Reception for £158


PastoralCARE‘Children learn wellwhen they are happy’A school’s approach to pastoralcare is one of the most definingelements of its ethos. For parents itis probably also one of the highestThe Chief Inspector for Schools recentlysaid that pastoral care at the Junior Schoolwas outstanding with “no holes”. Asked tosummarise it, Mr O’Donnell’s says his philosophyis that “children only learn well when they arehappy, so that good pastoral care is vital notjust to their emotional development but to theiracademic achievement”.thought our children did really face morepressure than earlier generations.Teachers feel that at the Junior School theyhave the advantage of working in a close-knitcommunity where every child is well known sothat they can respond with their pastoral careto each child on the basis of their individualare geared towards helping children managethese changes with their own strategies.Most importantly, teachers recognise thatevery child is an individual and will responddifferently and have different needs. Patternsof behaviour only give a scenario which is astarting point to understand why somethingis happening, not how it is to be resolved.priorities when choosing where toeducate their children. Academicperformance tends to be easier toThe school’s policies in this area are set in a veryparticular context, since it is both fee-payingand its children are selected by ability. One of theneeds.Naturally all children are continuallyundergoing developmental changes thatIn interviews with Heartbeat, the school hasgiven a very strong sense of its role in helpingchildren through these developmental stages.measure — parents can see academicresults and the school can track eachchild’s development in relation tohis or her potential for differentareas of the curriculum, but the sametracking documents do not exist forpastoral care. What parents can see isthe outcome of strong pastoral care,key issues parents wanted to learn more aboutis how the school balances high achievementin a competitive and affluent environmentwith creating the space for everyone to feelvalued and included. How does the schoolnurture self esteem and a sense of kindnessand thoughtfulness in today’s culture andfoster that alongside children having a healthycompetitive spirit? Aren’t there prevailingcultural messages that can so often run counterto this; aren’t there commercial pressuresoften fall into recognizable behaviouralpatterns. For example, girls between the endof Year 4 and the beginning of Year 5 oftenstart to form larger and more complex socialgroupings and it can be a difficult time forthem to navigate personally. What may appearto a parent to be a very personal crisis mayto a teacher be typical of the age. Teachersrecognise that it is essential neverthelessfor the children to appreciate that they arevalued for who they are so that they do notThe junior school has aimed to have aprogressive approach to pastoral care sinceits foundation in 1992. Mrs Jo Perks, oneof the founder teachers, appointed as Headof Physical Education, felt that the schoolshould also offer Personal, Social and HealthEducation. She had been instrumental inintroducing what she called Social Educationin her previous school. “I felt the childrenneeded some form of education in such thingsas relationships, that would affect their wholePastoralCAREthat is happy, well-adjusted childrenwho feel secure in their environment.Your instincts about the feel of aschool are a good indicator here, forthe characteristics of pastoral careare built into the fabric of the schooland may not always be visible. Inthis edition of Heartbeat we decidedto look a little closer at the policiesand mechanisms in place to supportpastoral care.that push children earlier and earlier intocompetitive consumption and adult behaviours?Doesn’t exposure to new technologies createrelationships in virtual space and hinderchildren’s social development?Cries of lost innocence have been heard fromevery generation of parents, as Ed Mayo pointsout in his book Consumer Kids. If you worryabout computers taking over, pity the poorparent at the turn of the last century whobewailed the spread of the telephone, a sourceof corruption that he feared was about to spreadunregulated in to the living room of every childin the land. So we asked staff whether theyfeel they are being treated as part of a mob,conforming to stereotype. Managing thisarea of girls’ development is very important;sustaining their self-esteem and self-worthare vital both for their academic and socialdevelopment. In Year 4 boys start discoveringthe joys of toilet humour and are impressedmore easily than previously by male rolemodels who can become very important forthem. Teachers and parents hear a lot aboutfootball heroes for a time but by Year 5 theyare identifying with their mothers again andgoing back to wanting to please. So, a lot ofthe policies the school has developed and theinterventions teachers subsequently make,lives and make a difference to how they taketheir place in a group or in society,” she recalls.This was before any of these ideas had becomecommonplace, especially in independentschools, and long before Personal Healthand Social Education was made part of thenational curriculum. Since then the schoolhas explored many new ways of building on itspastoral care. One of the most significant hasbeen the adoption of the “no blame” approachto dealing with bullying It has also expandedits provision for special needs considerablywhile retaining the same overall philosophy:that children only learn well when they arehappy.1011


PastoralCAREThe Pastoral StructurePastoral care is woven into the detail of all the school’s activities down to the type of languageteachers try to use with the children (no sarcasm, open gestures, no finger pointing, noshouting) and the way adults in school communicate and respond to each other. Teachers as well aschildren sign up to a code of conduct – which is in the school manual given to all parents. Teachersaspire to be role models and at the risk of making them sound too saintly and us feel inadequate,they no doubt achieve that aspiration with more consistency than ragged parents at the end of along day.Mrs Amanda Childs has had overall responsibility for pastoral care as deputy head, working closelywith other staff who have specific responsibilities in this area. (From September Mrs Alison Wrighttakes over the role as deputy head.) Mrs Wright was appointed to the school nine years ago and hasworked in every aspect of school life so she is well equipped to take over this new role.Form TeachersForm teachers have primary responsibility for each child’s pastoral care and are the first portof call for a parent worried about any issue, large or small. They can be contacted most easilyby email, or by dropping in before or after school. Knowing when to intervene or raise an issue canbe hard for parents to judge, but email makes it very easy. An email can be read by a form teacherbefore the school day and quickly passed on to colleagues if necessary. It is always worth telling theteacher whether your child knows you are in touch with them or not.Each form from Years 3-6 has Circle Time once a week, when they discuss how to behave with eachother and children are encouraged to bring up anything that’s bothering them. Teachers mightalso raise an issue, if for example two children are not getting on, and it might be discussed in ageneralised way.Weekly staff meetings begin with pupil news and form teachers and other staff will raise any concernsso that all staff know what needs keeping an eye on and can make sure a consistent approach istaken in supporting any children who are having difficulties. The fact that the school is small is agreat advantage since the staff are able to know all the children individually.AssembliesAssemblies are another forum for talking about behaviour and relationships.Children meet each morning for 15 to 20 minutes to make them aware of whole school events;to celebrate each others’ achievements and milestones; to discuss issues of a topical or spiritualnature. Most importantly, these are whole school meetings where life issues are thrashed out. Thisyear for instance the assembly time has been used to reflect on and discuss anything from SantaClaus or a chess competition, to even the death of a pupil and the threat of a flu pandemic. “Schoolcannot solve the world’s problems but we can use school to deal with issues of a personal, social oreven global concern and help children to assimilate ways of understanding, develop strong personalqualities and see themselves as playing a positive role in problematic or difficult circumstances,” MrO’Donnell explains.House Tutors and House MeetingsThe school also runs a house system with children belongingto one of four houses run by a house tutor. The idea is thateach child has a member of staff in addition to the form teacherwho gets to know them over an extended period. The house tutorstays with the children as they move through the school, overseeingtheir social development. House meetings take place on Wednesdaymorning every other week, with additional meetings before housecompetitions.The house also provides an outlet for being competitive in a healthyway. The pursuit of excellence becomes a group activity that atthe same time provides a safe environment for those who do notexcel in one area but may have different strengths, whether socialor academic. House points are awarded for good behaviour as wellas academic achievement and for being a good citizen – it mightbe for holding doors open or helping with another year group.The points are not counted individually but are instead collectedfor your house, so you compete as part of a team not for yourself.Children are encouraged to support each other in competitions,including congratulating those who find certain activities difficultbut persevere with them. Booing is not allowed.12 13


hurtful to others. They are also encouragedand expressions of powerto speak out if they experience themselvesin the playground thator see between others behaviour that makescan leave some childrenthem uncomfortable.feeling hurt. When theseThe No Blame approach recognises that thosetip over into being awho have been bullied at one time can becomeproblem, the staff implement thebullies themselves at another and that definingno name, no blame approach to deal with them.bullying in terms of the fixed roles of victimIf you have reported concerns about your ownAnti Bullying StrategiesThe school has a whole raft of strategiesand policies in place to prevent bullyingand to tackle any cases quickly if they arise.Every November the school takes part in AntiBullying Week.. This is a national initiativefunded by the Department for Families,Children and Schools and coordinated bythe National Children’s Bureau. Mrs Perksorganises the programme which is based on aspecific theme. This year was “Being different,Belonging together”. Each child was given abird on which to they were asked to write whatmade them special and they were then askedand perpetrator is not necessarily helpful.Everyone is taught that bullying is both apersonal and institutional responsibility andthose who allow it to happen are playing justas much of a role as those who bully.The Junior School is well staffed at playtime,with at least one teaching member of staffalways being on duty, accompanied by atleast 2 non-teaching staff, so that unhelpfulgroupings in the playground are quicklyspotted, and brought up at weekly staffmeetings if necessary. A child wanderingaround the edge of the playground with noone to play with will be quickly identified too.Physical bullying is thankfully very rare, butAlleyn’s is not immune, any more than anyother school, to the type of group dynamicschild, this is what you can expect to happen. Staffwill talk to each child to find out their side of thestory and how the are feeling. They may be askedto write down those feelings for the teacher toshare with the group containing the perpetrators.The teacher then assembles a group which willinclude the child or children whose behaviourneeds addressing, and a selection of otherchildren who act as “good citizens”. At this stagethe group will not include the child who feelsbullied. The teacher will share what the bulliedchild has written and then lead a discussionabout how that person might be helped to feelbetter.The group comes up with ideas and is thensent away to implement them. Staff will havearranged a separate meeting with the personbeing bullied a few days later to discuss if thingsare getting better. The group is called back aftera few days to find out if they think their strategiesare working. and whether life has improved forthe particular child concerned. The approachgives the bullier an opportunity to understandthe impact of their behaviour and an opportunityto change it without attaching the sort of blamethat can exacerbate the problem. On the wholethe approach is very effective and situations canbe turned around quite quickly, in Mrs Perks’experience. Occasionally where it doesn’t work,parents may be asked to become involved andany persistent problems involve parents and theHead Mr O’Donnell directly.to decorate it. All the birds came to roost on theAnti Bullying tree displayed at the back of theHall. The Caboodle Arts company was invitedto present “Billy BooHoo” which was followedup with workshops. The aim is to reinforce thePastoralCAREmessage that bullying is totally unacceptableat AJS early in the year so that each new intakelearns how they are expected to behave. Thechildren undertake role plays to help themunderstand the kinds of behaviour that are1415


If a child does not respond to a missedand separating those who may not work wellDisciplineThe policy on discipline is that it shouldon the whole be based on positiveencouragement of good behaviour rather thansanctions against bad behaviour. This is basedon the view that in a highly selected and wellmotivatedgroup it is generally more effectiveto focus on those who are behaving well toencourage a norm than to give attention tothose who are not conforming.play, then each individual circumstance isdiscussed and in unison with parents andteacher a decision is made about taking thenext step. This might involve more carefulmonitoring than normal, and a report cardcould be introduced to check behaviour fromone part of the day to the next. Essentially, theschool recognises the fundamental principlethat there is a reason for all behaviour andonce there is an understanding of whysomething has happened it is not too difficultto draw on the expertise or help of othersto help address the issue. All parents andteachers know that from time to time, andfor all sorts of different reasons, there can beparticularly challenging behavioural issues inindividual forms or groups. The school aimstogether and involves a certain amount ofdiscussion among teachers. “Towards the endof Year 5 most of the pastoral issues are aroundgrowing up and differing rates of social andbiological development. And then againtowards the end of Year 6, as the children aregetting too big for the school and are ready tomove on to a bigger social environment.”Giving children responsibilityAnother important aspect ofpastoral care is giving childrenresponsibility. Year 6 children applyfor school positions and have to saywhat qualities they think will beneeded to fulfil them. They take turnsat being monitors for half a year,helping with reception classes, andwith charity projects. There are alsomonitors for music, games, library,recycling, science, and art and design.Forms also chose captains and vicecaptains and members of the schoolcouncil and eco council. Each househas a captain and vice captain too.PastoralCARESince our offspring are not absolute paragonsof virtue, sometimes poor behaviour does haveto be addressed, although on the whole “thisage group likes to please and they don’t wantto get into trouble; most of them are mortifiedif they do,” according to Mrs Childs. The firstsanction is 5 minutes of missed play, and veryoccasionally a whole missed play, althoughtypically there would only be about tenchildren who miss play in a term. Occasionallydiscipline has to go beyond that – anyphysical hurt to another child automaticallyinvolves calling in parents for example, and ifbehaviour has been sufficiently poor to merita detention parents are always involved too.Sometimes if teachers notice a deteriorationin behaviour, they ring home to ask if theremight be specific reasons for it and to workout what support is needed.to apply its policies but also recognises theneed to discuss and address issues specific toindividual circumstances where necessary. Itis sometimes the case that behaviour is relatedto a learning difficulty and the school is wellprovided to address this problem within theconfines of an academically selective setting.The ultimate sanction of exclusion has notbeen used by the school in the present staff’smemory.Teachers say that, “We sometimes seechildren become more restless towards theend of each year as children become tiredand more confident in their year group butalso start to get nervous about the next year,especially if it’s a point at which they will bemixed up as is the case for Years 2 and 4.” MrsChilds says. Reorganising the classes is veryimportant to helping new children assimilateCounsellingAs well as their form teachers and housetutors, the children are made aware thatMrs Perks, who is a trained counsellor, is alwaysavailable as a “listening ear”. Some turn to herthemselves, others may be referred to her by formteachers who feel they would benefit from talkingto someone privately outside the structure ofthe form system. Counselling sessions can alsobe arranged outside lesson time if parents feel itwould be helpful so that a child’s peer group isnot aware of them.16 17


too, receive regular training in differentiatingputs in place herself and that may includepsychologist, Mrs Powell comes in to schoolfor the needs of individuals in their care. Thesesessions with Antonia, or recommend thatto do a morning’s assessment, at the end ofSpecial needs and differentways of learningThe school has expanded its provision forspecial needs in some profound ways.The current phrase among educationalistsis “learning differences” to encompass arange of difficulties that can affect childrenof all abilities.additional professionals provide an essentialbackup for dealing with issues that have anenormous impact on children’s ability to feelthey are making good progress.The big question for parents is whetherlearning difficulties such as dyslexia anddyspraxia are becoming more common orwhether they are just being picked up more.The learning support staff overall seem toa further formal assessment is made by aneducational psychologist to identify the exactnature of any learning difference.which she gives verbal feedback to parents andfollows up with a written report. The next stepis drawing up an Individual Education Planfor the child, which typically summarizes thechild’s needs and target areas of development,such as literacy, concentration, or strategiesfor social functioning, and what needs to bein place in the classroom to help teachersand the child with those needs. The IEP isusually reviewed once a year. Children fromPastoralCAREMrs Pat Reed joined the Junior Schoolabout four years ago as head of learningsupport, with a background in teaching, andexpertise in both specific difficulties such asdyslexia, and in general child development.The school also employs a full time learningsupport assistant, Mrs Nikki Burge. Theywork closely with Antonia Fryer, a speech andlanguage therapist who is based in the SeniorSchool but divides her time with the JuniorSchool. Like Pat, Antonia also has trainingin emotional and behavioural developmentand therapies. Both are fully funded by theschool. Any formal diagnoses of learningdifficulties have to be made by a fully qualifiededucational psychologist, and the school hasa close association with Elisabeth Powell, whocarries out assessments for it in consultationwith parents at parents’ expense. Elisabethis also a clinical psychologist qualified to helpwith behavioural problems. She has workedextensively in the past in the public sector,both as a former head of learning support forWandsworth Council and as a senior clinicalpsychologist in the National Health Service.Elisabeth comes into school regularly to carryout assessments. Antonia might typicallyhave a caseload from the Junior School of acouple of dozen children at any one time. Staffagree that the answer is a bit of both. “Atthe Junior School I think we’ve got better atidentifying learning difficulties and we havethe luxury in a well-resourced school of beingable to put them under the microscope to seehow we can help,” Mrs Reed explains.The general pattern is that children arereferred to Mrs Reed if teachers feelsomething is interfering with their learning.The concern might initially be academic butacademic frustrations can easily have animpact on behaviour and vice versa; the twoare frequently bound up with each other.“I’ll chat to the children about how they feeland whether they feel they are good at things.Quite often it can be that children have a milddifficulty but perceive themselves to be failing.Self-esteem is so key, especially in a schoolwhere all the children are able.”If Mrs Reed thinks their difficulties areworth further investigation she books a 2-3hour assessment during school time over acouple of weeks in consultation with parents.During this series of assessments she cancheck a child’s underlying cognitive abilitiesand whether their learning matches thoseor not. If not, she can either recommend aprogramme of support for the child, that sheAs examples of programmes run withinschool, a child with mild dyslexia might begiven a course of phonological work, or MrsReed might use multisensory techniquessuch as creating spelling patterns with sandtrails to help them secure these, or learningmnemonics for word and letter patterns.Antonia might do specialist speech therapywith younger children in Year 1 and 2 whohave delayed language development or slightlisps on sounding out letters. She will also workwith children who have difficulty processinginformation. “We work a lot on assessingchildren’s ability to understand informationand what the obstacles are. They may haveauditory or written processing difficulties,or a short-term memory problem or a poorability to sort and categorise semantics.I do quite a lot of work with visualisationtechniques, encouraging children to visualiseverbal information and find ways of retainingand recalling it.”If a more serious difficulty is identified, anda child is referred with parental agreementfor formal diagnosis by an educationalthe Junior School with IEPs who transfer tothe Senior School have their IEPs transferredtoo. Roughly 12-15 children in each year inthe Senior School have IEPs.“In the past people have assumed that becauseAlleyn’s is an academic school, not manychildren have extra support, but actuallythere’s quite a large range of needs. Thereused also to be a sense that in an independentschool there couldn’t be behavioural problems,but I think the school is now incredibly goodat recognising issues,” Antonia comments.Mrs Reed agrees and says the most importantthing for parents is to think about what typeof school is best for their child. “Parents oftenfeel anxiety at a diagnosis. It may be that theyare revisiting their own demons, or some seeit as a failing on their part. But all the childrenhave been chosen to come here because theyare intelligent, there is no stigma, and nowthere is so much more information about howto help. There’s lots of drama and sport andart and all children have strength in somearea. That said, it’s a fast-paced curriculum,and we are not a specialist unit so there’s alimit to how much time we can take a childout of the classroom for extra support. It’s18 19


PastoralCAREimportant to ask whether it’s the right sortof school for your child because if you feelat the bottom of the pile, you are not goingto thrive emotionally. We try to encourageparents to see the bigger picture. Alleyn’s isabout maximum participation in curricularand extra-curricular activities and if a childis having more than about two one-to-oneperiods outside of their normal timetable, andneeds to be missing out too much on whatothers are doing, then it is probably not theright school for them.”Occasionally staff will also pick up traits thatfall in to the category of autistic spectrumdisorders, such as Asperger’s syndrome.These might be children who see instructionsin very black and white terms, or have slightobsessive traits, or unusual social skills.There can be a fine line between passionateinterests and obsessive behaviour and mostpsychologists encourage us to think thesedays in terms of everyone falling on differentpoints of what is a continuum of personalitytraits rather than that one type of behaviourshould be perceived as good and anotheras a problem. One person might be betterat social interaction than another, one atconcentrating fiercely on detail while anotheris creatively disorganized — at the outerreaches of the continuum these traits canshade into behavioural or learning disorders,many of which are mild and would have beenput down to eccentricity or quirkiness in thepast but for which support can now be offered.Different practitioners argue over whetherdiagnosing them is limiting or enabling, butoccasionally if not addressed some traits canlead to adult social or mental health problemsand such vulnerabilities are therefore worthpicking up early.Developmental stages at schoolby Elisabeth PowellChildren’s social horizons gradually widen throughouttheir seven years at primary school. Teaching staff includedeveloping relationships with others, both peers and adults,as an integral part of the learning they plan in the classroom.There are also many less formal opportunities for childrento develop their behaviour and social relationships throughtheir primary years.Children start at 4 years old with lots of experience in theirfamily’s social world. In the first few years at school, each childdevelops their capacities for thinking, remembering, talkingabout experience, and learning and following social rules. Asthey develop these skills, they learn how to be positive in theirapproach, adaptable to external demands, understanding ofothers and resilient in the face of difficulties.Lots of experiences, in the classroom, around school, ingames and sports and in the playground help each childdevelop social skills and relationships. In the classroomlessons and activities are planned to provide experienceof working on a task alone, in pairs, in small groups and atwhole class level. Sports and games offer similar experienceswith the focus on the game or activity.In the playground they have further opportunities todevelop skills. The youngest children have a more shelteredplayground with a higher ratio of staff to support anddevelop play, games, social relationships and friendships.As the children get older, the social opportunities inthe playground expand. Each child acquires greaterunderstanding of other children’s feelings and emotions.They do this through their games and play, and throughsquabbles; from standing back and watching and frombeing in the thick of it. As they take different roles withinthe group they also learn about close friendship and aboutbeing one of a group of friends.Many girls form intense friendship groups where tiny upsetscan loom large in the social landscape. These normal ups anddowns in friendship help understanding of other people’spoints of view and in developing tolerance and resilience.Many boys prefer high-energy activities such as impromptugames of football, running and chasing and rough andtumble games. These all release energy but also developsocial skills and relationships and this is how they acquirea growing understanding of themselves and how to takedifferent roles and recognise vulnerabilities.Child Protection andHealth and SafetyMrs Perks is the coordinator for childprotection, working with DavidMorton, Assistant Head in the Senior School.He has overall charge of child protection forthe whole school community. Needless tosay, everyone working at the school, whetherin the classroom or elsewhere in the schoolgrounds, undergoes the required policechecks. Safeguarding Children is an Actof Parliament which has received severalimportant changes in recent years and theregulations surrounding the implementationof the Act are rigorous.Child protection also encompasses health andsafety. Any trips out of school, from day trips toresidential courses, are subjected to a formalrisk assessment, which includes taking intoaccount the special requirements of childrenwith medical or behavioural needs. Theseassessments are monitored by Mrs Perks inher role as Educational Visits Co-ordinator.When it comes to accidents, most teachershave some first aid training and several haveexcellent qualifications in first aid, includingMrs Mines and Mrs Bowne, who are often thefirst port of call for the sick and injured. Whenin doubt the Junior School also has the backupof the Senior School’s medical room which isstaffed by trained paediatric nurses.All staff get annual training to keep them up todate on child protection. This includes trainingin spotting signs of neglect or abuse, since childabuse knows no socio-economic boundaries,but this aspect of child protection thankfullyvery rarely comes into play. Also thankfullyrare, but more likely to be encountered bystaff, are issues arising from health problems,including parental illness and the effect thiscan have on children, and, higher up theschool, occasional depression, and eatingdisorders. One of the great strengths of theschool, as Mr Morton who joined last year hasnoticed, is how close the children’s friendshipswith each other are. Those friendshipsare often formed in the Junior School andcarried on through life,and as students get olderthey tend to be very openand supportive of eachother. If they are havingdifficulties at a particularpoint, they often discussthem with each other andhelp each other through.The safety of the children on site is constantlykept under review and is always a priority. Theschool operates from 8:15am to 3:30pm as adiscrete site with all the spaces, both indoorand outdoor, being learning environmentsfor children. Parents who need to visit theschool during the working day are asked tomake themselves known to the office andthen leave anything they want to drop offwith staff to pass on to their children ratherthan walking through the building. Parentswho are CRB (Criminal Records Bureau)checked because they need to be at school fora particular reason on a regular basis shouldstill check in at the office before heading off tothe Second Hand Uniform shop, or a Cake Salebecause the school needs to have a registerof everyone who is on site at any particulartime. It is against the law for anybody withouta CRB check to be on site unaccompanied.Even workmen coming to fix a blocked taphave now to be accompanied at all timeswhile undertaking repairs. “The safety of thechildren is a top priority. In a Junior Schoolthis can create a feeling that we are distancingourselves from the parent community butparents play a big role in a structured wayalready at the school by making themselvesavailable to help with AJSA activities;accompanying school trips; helping withswimming lessons; joining in clubs and evenrunning them. We are currently lookingat more structured ways in which parents,especially in the Infants department, can bemore involved in finding out about what theirchildren do during a school day and we willbe reporting back to parents about this in thenew term,” Mr O’Donnell told us.14 20 15 21


SelfESTEEMchildren with high or low self-esteem can bevery successful at school without developingBuilding Self Esteemthe balance of respect for themselves andothers which they will need in the longerWhat can parents do?In April, the AJSA arranged for JulieJohnson, expert in child counselling,to give a talk to parents on fosteringself-esteem in children. Those parentswho were able to attend found itinvaluable, and many of those whocouldn’t make the date asked for tips,so here we give a summary of whatwas said.term.Sound self-esteem hasseveral key elements:• a sense of security, based onrelationships with family and friends; ifthere are problems, children need to beable to talk through them, and understandwhat other people are feeling.• a sense of identity, particularly withinThe first thing to remember is to separateyour own self -esteem from your child’s, andto make sure you are not expecting them tofulfil your own aspirations.Offer them both praise and constructivecriticism – don’t tell them that everything theydo is wonderful if it isn’t, but don’t dismisstheir efforts or humiliate them; they need tolearn that it is all right to make mistakes andthat you can learn from them.Listen to them, and be honest with them.Acknowledge your own emotions and helpthem to understand theirs and those ofothers. Sympathise with problems, but don’tjudge other parties to a reported dispute (eg.friends or teachers); get the children to thinkabout their perspective.Treat your children as individuals – they don’tall have the same needs or aspirations. Valuethem for who they are.PastoralCAREEven the experts can’t entirely agree on adefinition of self-esteem, but they do allthink that it is crucial in the development ofchildren, helping them to build relationshipswithout succumbing to peer pressure, toexplore and learn from new experienceswith confidence, and gradually to develop asindependent individuals.Both high and low self-esteem can bedamaging to this process. High self-esteemcan lead children into bullying others ortaking excessive risks. Low self-esteem canrestrict a child’s ability to develop friendshipsor try out new things, and in extreme cases itcan lead to eating disorders or self-harming.Both are easily misinterpreted. For example,a larger family or school, which they canonly get by being treated as individuals,and above all by having adults listen tothem.• a sense of belonging, both to a familyand to friendship groups, which meansthat group activities remain importanteven as children grow up.• a sense of purpose, which childrengain by identifying what they like doingand persevering to achieve things despitemistakes.• and a sense of competence, includingtheir own and others’ strengths andweaknesses, which helps them to sharesuccess, accept failure and supportothers.Don’t over indulge your children; setboundaries, even for teenagers (who oftenwant you to show that you care), but make surethey get to enjoy rites of passage (eg. later bedtimes, house keys) at the appropriate age.Reinforce good qualities, but don’t step backfrom challenging negative behaviour - givesensible warnings and stick to them. Try tobe consistent with your partner in this, anddon’t undermine each other.Encourage them to try new challenges, butmake sure they are realistic so that they canfeel successful. Don’t over protect or rescuethem from difficult situations before they havehad a chance to deal with them themselves.Give them time on their own with you –children need both quality and quantity fromtheir parents, and they need to be able to talkwith you individually, especially if they havesiblings – bedtime is very important even forolder children, but you can take them out for awalk or a treat on their own.Remember boys tend to be 3-5 years behindgirls in terms of their emotional development,and they are more likely to need physicalexpressions of affection just as girls aremore likely to need verbal approval (dads– it’s important to keep hugging your sons,and telling your daughters they are beautiful,wonderful, etc).2223


DOWN’SSOUTHPersonal, Health, and Social Education,and CitizenshipThe children are given Personal, Socialand Health education throughout theschool. In reception, the form teacher takesthe children through various topics thatcover elements of PHSE. As they progressthrough the school, the subject is expandedto include citizenship and is integrated intovarious lessons, including science, dramaand religious studies. Year 5, for example, aregiven education on the dangers of alcohol anddrugs as part of their science syllabus. Foryears 1, 2, 4 and 6 at present PHSE lessons aretimetabled in their own right.Year 6 children are givenspecial talks on pubertyand sex education in theTrinity Term in a mixedgroup by Mrs Perks. usingthe Channel 4 Living andGrowing course and aseries of DVDs called LivingThe age at which incipient eating disordersbegin has lowered. Children can be veryaware of body image and style and comparewith each other at really very young ages. Wework a lot on this in assemblies and try toinstil the idea that they are all appreciated forwho they are, what they do, how they behave,their strength of character, their own talentsrather than for what they look like.”Mrs Perks is currently organising workshopsfor Years 5 and 6 to be run by an organisationcalled B-eat. To be held next term on October7th, they will cover eating disorders, selfesteemand body image. Later that day theteam from B-eat has been invited by the AJSAto give an evening presentation for parentswho are interested.CharityGoing LocalThe Alleyn’s Junior School charity for thisyear is Down’s South, a new local charitysupporting children with Down’s Syndromeand their families. Parents and children fromthe organisation visited school earlier thisyear to talk to pupils about how the moneythey raise would be used.Although the charity only became formallyregistered last year, the organisation behindit has been established for some time. It beganas a small voluntary group in 1998, and hasnow grown to support around 35 children,bringing together over 150 families acrossSouth London during the past ten years.The original voluntary group was set upto help develop the children’s social andcommunication skills. Local parents ofchildren with Down’s Syndrome identifiedtwo gaps in provision for their families: therewas no local network for sharing information,These sessions continue, and are now led byspecialist therapists. By 2001 the therapygroups and workshops had expanded toinclude not only parents and carers, but theeducational support assistants and otherprofessionals who work with the children intheir mainstream schools and nurseries.The group holds a resource bank of readingand education materials which are invaluableto new parents. The therapy sessions haveforged a supportive group which meetsthroughout the year to exchange information,as well as holding family social events.With its charity status now secured, the grouphas embarked on extensive fundraising. Itis hoping to broaden the range of therapiesoffered in certain areas where there is ashortage of provision within the NHS. In2005 for example, the group launched a clinicin oromotor therapy — that is specialisedexercises for the mouth muscles to improvespeech and sound production.All therapy sessions are free for families andand Growing.and there was a lack of speech and languageare paid for entirely through fundraising.PastoralCAREMrs Childs highlightsawareness of body image asone of the pressures that hasincreased in her experience.“What we find more difficult todeal with are the types of rolemodels children have today.therapy available via the NHS.Parents from the group led sessions in speechand language therapy at a Southwark childhealth centre to help not just the children,but also the other parents, who gainedskills and knowledge from the workshops.The focus remains very much local – this isa resource for families right on our doorstepwhere the money our children raise can makea real difference in their own community.24 1425


SNOW DAY‘ At first I was very sad that I had to go to school, I tried to persuadeMummy not to go to work and to let me and my brother stay at homefor another day but when I got to school it was fun. We had packedlunch on the floor like a huge indoor picnic. In the afternoon we hada really big snowball fight which was brilliant and I hit Mrs Davieswith an enormous snowball- that was one of the best bits of the wholeday! In the end I was really glad I was at school on a snowy day.On February 2nd the heaviest snowfall for18 years paralysed parts of the countrybringing chaos to roads, railways and airports,closing thousands of schools and businesses.In the south-east snow settled to a depth of25cm.Despite adverse conditions Alleyn’s JuniorSchool was open on Tuesday 3rd with agood turn out of teachers and 80 childrenregistered. So what was it like to be at schoolin the ‘Big Snow’?Noah Baker Year 2‘ When I got up on Tuesday, I didn’t want to go toschool but when I got there it was great fun. Thefirst activity I did was P.E. Everyone behaved likeit wasn’t a proper lesson therefore we all got lotsof fun out of it. After break time on the completelycovered field of snow, I had a whole double lesson inthe I.C.T ROOM. We got to do whatever we wanted.For lunch we had to bring in a packed lunch. Thefew boys that came in all sat together, tradingeach other’s food. Then we came to the best bit ofthe day…. Lunchtime Play. We had the choice ofwhat to do; stay inside or GO OUTSIDE AND HAVEA SNOWBALL FIGHT. It was simple; we were allagainst Mr Molloy and Tom. All of the throwerswere told to move to a fresh bit of field where therewas new snow. Some of us dropped off behind tocreate the most massive snowball. It took twopeople to carry it. Mrs Chin was about to blow thewhistle for the end of play…. When we threw thelump of snow onto Mr Molloy’s back.In the afternoon we got the choice again of what todo. The choice was a film, music room or I.C.T suite.I chose the music room. It was great fun and wemade a huge noise. Being at school in the snow wasbrilliant and it will be a day I will never forget’.Oscar Baker Year 5SNOW DAY2613


cover illustration from Year 1 paintings of flowers

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