Junior Heads Blog Archive | Portsmouth High School

Cyber sea monsters help reveal dangers on the internet

As a follow up to one of my earlier Updates I thought it would be useful to report back on the Cyber Ambassadors training that I attended on Tuesday. Four girls from year 5 and 6 joined me on a day that was run by the Police Commissioner’s team. The programme is a pilot that will be rolled out to more schools in the future, with the senior school day hosted at PHS the previous week.

Rather than focus on the considerable content it will be more useful to share the strategies advised to the children during the day. The course is based around cyber sea monsters who represent different dangers on the internet. What is particularly powerful is that the girls have been trained to give the messages to their peers. Below are the ways they have been advised to combat the monsters.

Angler – phishing for clicks:
Ask your parents to set up controls on the internet to filter content.
Use a child friendly search engine such as swiggle, kindle or kidsearch.
Sit with an adult when you search the internet.
Never click on a pop-up box or strange links without checking with an adult first.

Bi-Diphorous – stranger trying to make contact:
Remember not everyone is who they say they are.
Never make friends with someone online that you don’t know in real life.

If you want to talk to someone online check with an adult first.
If you are chatting online and the other person starts asking personal questions tell an adult.

Info-Eater – wants your information:
Don’t share personal information online.
Social media sites and games will have privacy settings, set them as high as possible.
Set strong passwords and never share them.

Selphire – wants your unsafe selphies:
Think carefully before you post or send any pictures online.
What could that picture tell someone about you?
Is it rude, embarrassing or hurtful?
Set your privacy settings high.
Don’t post or send pictures or videos of yourself that you wouldn’t be happy for the world (or your gran) to see.

Meantaur – the cyber bully:
Ask yourself before you post or share something online. How would I feel if this was said about me? Would I say this to someone’s face?

If you are upset by something someone says online or think someone else is being bullied tell an adult.
Use the Internet to say and share nice things.

The overall message is: If in doubt give an adult a shout.

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A good Junior School experience should enable girls to ‘hit the ground running’ when they start Senior School

I have been listening to podcasts increasingly over the last few months. I find the vast range of different topics available intriguing and it feeds my interest in history, geography and science. 

On a typical evening I may be listening to History Hit, followed by Lost Origins, Ted Talks, or even Myths and Legends. If I tire of one particular genre then there are many more for me to choose from and I often find that there is surprising crossover between seemingly unrelated areas.

This made me consider the everyday curriculum at the junior school. Much like the podcasts the girls have a rich diet of subjects which give them variety and a range of different skills. When the curriculum was redesigned skills were put at the forefront. However, I do feel it is important to label our subjects in what some might consider a traditional way as the girls are able to relate to them as they move on to the senior school.

At Portsmouth High Junior School we believe that links between subjects are important and that enquiry should be key to all areas which means the very best aspects of the creative curriculum are still included. Mathematics has a strong problem-solving element, science is very practical, investigation is a large part of geography and English has a full range of methods from drama to comprehension.  These are just a few examples.

Subject specialisms increase as the girls move through the junior school and, by the time they have completed year 6, they are ready for the senior school. This was brought home to me on Tuesday when I saw a parent of a year 7 child. He said that he felt that the junior school experience had very much prepared his daughter and that she had ‘hit the ground running’. I can think of no better endorsement.

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Helping those around us is a core value of our school

The start of the school year can be a nerve wracking time for everyone in schools. I find that I sleep poorly on the evening beforehand, despite feeling fully prepared and ready to go. I am sure that the girls feel the same way, getting that strange emotion in the pit of their stomachs that was once described to me as “nervocited”.

None of us need to have worried though. I was immensely impressed by the calm, happy faces that arrived on the first morning. The children have settled in very quickly, inclusive of the new starters. As with every year I am reminded of what a positive and energising place is the Junior School.

I greeted the girls with an opening assembly based on a heartwarming story about twins who were born twelve weeks premature. Both girls were placed in separate incubators and one immediately began to do well, whereas the other struggled and did not seem to make any progress.

The medical professionals became more and more concerned as she then began to deteriorate. As something of a last resort one of the nurses suggested that the babies be placed in the same incubator. They were staggered to see that Kyrie, the stronger of the two, immediately put her arm around her sister. Brielle, who had been given little chance of survival by this point, began to recover. Her heart rate and breathing stabilised and continued to improve from that moment.

I stressed to the girls that helping those around us is a core value of our school. Not just the physical reassurance but the mental hugs that can be given out with compliments and showing kindness. If we can all look in from the outside and come up with an idea that might help someone, just like the nurse, then we should take the opportunity.

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Another fantastic year at Portsmouth High Junior School

Another academic year is complete at Portsmouth High Junior School. In a few short months our Year 6 girls will have moved on to Senior School and our Pre-School girls will be taking their fledgling steps into Reception.

I have now been at Portsmouth High Junior School for six years and am delighted that the family atmosphere of welcome and happiness continues unabated. There have been facets of the school that have particularly impressed me this year and I will comment on these in this non-exhaustive list below.

Resilience in learning
I have talked about this much this year but I do feel that the girls have embraced positivity and grit in their approach. They are more willing to take risks and not so afraid of failure.

Sport and activities
Opportunities for sport have been plentiful. From netball to gymnastics, cross–country to swimming there has been a host of chances for the girls to perform. This large range of activities allows both individual and team players to test themselves.

Music and drama
The two have intermingled this year with our productions including some stellar musical performances.

We have seen our girls performing on stages all around the area, individually and en masse.

Academic excellence
Outstanding results in the transfer test and summer exams were the culmination of the hard work that our girls engaged in this year. The sheer amount of effort that the girls put into their work is a joy for their teachers. It is not all about those headline performers though, I am just as impressed by those that have made progress and improved using their own intrinsic motivation.

Art, DT and science
The creativity shown this year by our girls across many subjects has been phenomenal. Some of the art work, DT and science projects I have seen are well worthy of the rewards they have been granted. This is a real strength of the school and one that is always being developed.

There are many more such examples I could use and several that should really grace the words of this column. Suffice it to say that it has been a fantastic year at Dovercourt. Good luck to our Year 6 girls whom I look forward to seeing on my travels to the Senior School.

I also look forward to bright smiles as we begin our new year in September.

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‘We try to win but losing well is just as important’

As we approach the end of term some of the girls receive awards for their achievements during the course of this year. They have also been taking part in competitions such as sports day, selected for teams or asked to speak at events. During this time only some girls can achieve victory or be selected to participate.

My assembly on Monday was linked to this as I discussed winning and losing with the girls. The inevitable phrase ‘it is not the winning but the taking part that counts’ was raised. I countered this by suggesting that winning is important, if the competitors do not strive to win then the contest is hollow.

We decided between us that a better phrase might be ‘we try to win but losing well is just as important’. By this I mean that you are trying your level best.You may not win, but you will be happy with your performance and congratulatory towards everyone else, including the winner.

The girls at Dovercourt are particularly good at this. They put their best efforts into competition or presentation of any type but will be magnanimous towards others. They show confidence in their actions and demeanour but do not display arrogance at any stage. It is one of the many reasons that I value working with such amazing children.

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Girls show an aptitude for both leading groups and being good members of those teams

I have been reflecting on the leadership and teamwork of the staff and girls at Portsmouth High Junior School. 

Our girls show an aptitude for both leading groups and being good members of those teams; skills that are regularly reinforced, reviewed and encouraged by teachers and support staff. Academic performance is essential, but schools should be about much more than that. I believe that the girls who enter Year 7 from Dovercourt are rounded, grounded and able to tackle the challenges that lay ahead.

Year 5 girls have been preparing and submitting letters of application to me this week as they seek out the opportunity to become the next head girl of the Junior School. They have clearly spent much time and effort in putting these letters together

and the standard is extremely high. As always it will be a very difficult decision to choose for this important position. Fortunately we have a robust system that is tried and trusted. The girls will perform a short presentation to their class and members of the Junior leadership team. After that the year group will cast their vote with regards to who they believe will do the best job, as will the staff. This process is valuable for all the girls who go through it regardless of the result, letting them experience an application and selection process in a non-threatening environment. I am always extremely impressed with the approach that they bring to this procedure and know that we will appoint the right candidate at the end of it.

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