Lower School

Bug Hotels, Batik, Pond-dipping and Seesaws.

Well, well well... who would have believed that? What a very strange turn of events but everyone must celebrate the manner in which we all grasped a new style of ‘school’. Throughout Lower School all staff and children quickly stretched their IT skills and became very au fait with the Seesaw learning platform. Zoom chats were flying across the airspace and a huge variety of videos involving staff family members were being directed in back gardens to aid teaching and learning. As a department we were really pleased with Seesaw and it was wonderful to interact with the children and receive positive feedback from pupils, young and old! Zoom calling the children was great but something was missing and the corridors and classrooms were silent - especially as doors were closed for recordings and numerous retakes! We got the same messages each day: “... we miss our friends … we miss school … we miss our teachers …” and that was just the parents! So just imagine how happy we were when Mr Teesdale and Mrs Schofield gave us the green light and we were back. It has all been a little different, but we are delighted to see everyone and to see the happy faces of the children and staff. The last two-and-a-half weeks have been wonderful and there have been many trips to the river enjoying the beautiful sunshine; Forest School art being created, ranging from batik to building insect hotels; and pond dipping in our newly-developed pond. We have found it a little different as we can’t all be together running around, but there are no complaints as we are very thankful for our surroundings which have allowed us to enjoy the rest of the term, embracing school life. Sadly, as the academic year ends, we have a couple of big goodbyes to say to staff in Lower School. Many years ago, my boyfriend at the time asked me to come and assist in a classroom in his mother’s school just outside Uffington. I remember a new teacher with two young boys (Tim was born a couple of years later) being employed to teach an ‘overflow’ Reception class in a prefab. That was Mrs Boughton. Over the last 27 years, Claire has guided the younger members of the school through their tricky transition times with a kind, gentle but firm manner which has been appreciated by parents. We will miss Claire and her ‘Narnia’ classroom cupboard and wish her well in her retirement as a new adventure begins and ask her to keep in touch as she enjoys a new life by the sea.

Another goodbye is to another Claire. By now, I had married the boyfriend and I was about to go on maternity leave with my youngest daughter, and Claire came to fill my position. She has remained at Copthill for the last 18 years. After my return, we have worked together for more than eight years in total, both in Year 2 and 3, and we have shared many laughs and supported each other through trickier times. Personally I will miss walking into school and sharing with her family news or the next Netflix show to watch, and it’s been great to make a dear friend over the last 18 years. We will miss the ‘Claires’ as they head off for the next chapter in their lives in either Devon eating cream teas, or spending days in the South of France sipping wine by the pool - remember us and come see us soon! So, that’s the end of academic year 2020. Not sure it’s what we envisaged all those months ago, and who knows what the next few months will bring, but at least we all know that, whatever happens, Copthill will still be ‘open for business’ as long as we can and we can’t wait to see you all in September. From all the Lower School staff have a great summer; stay safe and a huge thanks to everyone - staff and parents - for making the end of the summer term brilliant!

Mrs Teesdale

Lower School Leader Pastoral

Somewhere, over the rainbow...

The other day I noticed a child in my class watching a rainbow that had been cast through the fish tank in our classroom from the sunshine outside. He was fascinated and wanted to know every last detail about how it had been created. After trying to simply explain the refraction of light and the electromagnetic spectrum to a five-year-old he remarked: “You always need sunshine to create a rainbow, Mrs Dimbleby.” The positivity and hope that all our children have shown is humbling. Even though their routines have changed significantly all of our children have looked for the sunshine. I have been fortunate enough to have both my children return home from university for a long period of time. A time that I thought I would never have with them again, and one I will always cherish. Back at school, like many other Copthill teachers, I have been privileged to spend every moment with my class. I have watched the delight on their faces as they were reunited with their friends and the look of pride and achievement when they have learnt a new skill. These are special times when all of our children can explore areas of the school campus that they didn’t realise existed. They can also access every aspect of the Copthill curriculum in our magnificent grounds and learn some of the most important lessons in life: to be kind, considerate and thoughtful. In every moment at school we have looked for that sunshine and the positives of what we can do, rather than what we are not allowed to do at the moment. I am sure that, like myself, many of my fellow colleagues will reflect back upon the last academic year and feel a sense of achievement from acquiring a new range of teaching skills. I certainly have learnt a variety of different ways to deliver lessons to children. Alongside the children, I have embraced the attributes of ‘The Copthill Learner’ through problem-solving, working as a team, independently exploring and thinking creatively. It has also been a unique opportunity to have an interlude from the normal hustle and bustle of life and, like the little boy in my class, be a reflective learner. When you see a rainbow, always look for the sunshine!

Mrs Dimbleby

Academic Head of Lower School