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Message from Mr Hymer: 04 March 2022

The boys all seemed to be glad to be back and energised after their half term break. There is so much to look forward to during the next few weeks as we head towards our concert, Year 4 production and all our sporting tournaments. This week marked the first time for many months when we did not have any boys self-isolating. With the boys (and staff) enjoying the fun of World Book Day, it feels as if school is finally returning to normal. 

Whilst everyone will have enjoyed the break from school, I am sure that the events in Ukraine will have dominated many discussions. Our boys are naturally curious and many have been upset by events. As with other schools within the Foundation, we have families with relatives and friends in both Russia and Ukraine. For them the conflict is very near and real. It is always a difficult balance in shielding children from the horrors of war, but equally to answer the inevitable questions they may have and to provide as much reassurance as possible.

This half term one of our learning strengths is Communication and I took the opportunity to talk to the boys about how we become effective communicators. It is always fascinating to see how children learn language and the crucial importance of the primary years. I talked about the milestones in becoming an effective communicator and how vocabulary is developed. I think they were genuinely surprised to hear that at this stage in their lives they may be adding up to eight new words each day to their lexicon. The statistics show the stark difference in vocabulary growth from the reluctant readers in the bottom quartile and the top performing readers. Avid readers are adding twice as many words each day as their reluctant classmates.  The boys were amused to see the graphs that showed how rapidly children add to their word power whilst adults' language acquisition becomes almost negligible as they enter middle age.

I then talked to the boys about the often neglected part of being an effective communicator namely being a good listener. Many people may claim to be an effective speaker, but far fewer have equal skill as a listener. We had some fun illustrating the point when I asked for volunteers to pass on a message from one to another and to see how the message changed as it was passed down the line. This helped illustrate why disagreements and disputes often occur, not only in the playground, but also in the wider world. So many of today's problems have origins in the inability or reluctance of leaders to listen as well as to speak.

I know many of the boys will want to do something to help the present situation. Across the Foundation, we will be hosting a non-uniform day on Friday next week, encouraging pupils to donate to the UNICEF Ukraine appeal. Coincidentally, Scott House chose UNICEF as their charity to support over the year. They will be hosting a special table top sale of toys and books on Thursday. An email was sent to parents earlier this week with details of how to support this event. We hope that by the end of next week we will have a meaningful sum to send to help those displaced and suffering through war.