Castles, Bubbles and Awards.... 

So half term began with the Spoken English competition and what an eye-opening experience that was...but more on that later. Before I write about that, I have the last couple of weeks to distill into a few short paragraphs....
 
Since I last ‘blogged, the Form 4s have been to explore Tantallon Castle, something I hope to do this week, and the Form 3s went off to the Science Day at Merchiston, something that would be completely beyond me. There were rugby fixtures against Clifton Hall where our U12s got their first run out of the season, winning comfortably. There were also matches for the U10 As and Bs against Loretto and a full complement of Hockey matches against St. Marys – reports in the usual places.

On Friday 14th we welcomed all the Dandylion trialists to Belhaven, both for rugby and hockey. Thankfully, Mr. Curry had, that very morning in assembly, given us a brief, potted history of the Dandylions so I felt fairly confident that I knew what was going on and why.

There were representatives from five schools for the trials. On the rugby field there were 36 boys hoping to make the final squad of 20. I was fortunate enough to have been given the afternoon off to watch the rugby and it was hugely impressive, almost brutal, but nowhere near as brutal as when the names of the final 20 were read out at match tea. I felt elated for those that had made it and, at the same time, gutted for those who hadn’t. Belhaven got 5 boys into the squad, including one named as captain, and two girls in to the hockey side – that’s very impressive, I think.

On Saturday 15th we had our October Open Morning where the various, visiting families were entertained by the pipers playing on the stairs in the front hall, followed by a full tour of the school in all its glory with some of the Form 1s – who, as usual, were outstanding (and honest) guides; there is no doubt that they are incredibly proud of their school.

Sunday began as usual with a late, lazy breakfast of croissants and pains au chocolat, followed by letter writing and the Sunday service. It was my turn to talk and so I gave the congregation my thoughts on the ‘evils’ of Monopoly! It was after lunch that the fun really began though....
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Mrs. Knight had arranged for Bubble Football to visit Belhaven. If you have never seen this before, it basically involves getting inside a huge inflated bubble and charging around knocking other people over, whilst pretending to play football – a sort of modern day version of ‘It’s A Knockout’. The Form 1s were up first and I think had the best of it as they were big enough and strong enough to send each other flying!
 Bubble football at Belhaven Hill School
 
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Once they were done, it was then the turn of the Form 2s and so on, right the way down to the little ones. I only meant to stay and watch for 20 minutes or so but, as a spectator sport, it was brilliant! I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Unfortunately, there was time at the end for the staff to have a go. I say ‘unfortunately ‘ for two reasons: first, because after three hours of constant use the bubbles had become rather smelly and sweaty and second, because I thought it would be far more fun to watch than to play. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was wonderful.

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Bubble football at Belhaven Hill School near Edinburgh 
I fully intend to buy a set of these for the school.
 
Finally, back to the Spoken English competition. Public speaking is an art; some are better at it than others. How brilliant though, to encourage every single child at the school to prepare a three minute talk on the subject of their choosing. Whether picked for the final or not, it is a wonderful skill to have and they will all benefit from it in years to come.

As an English teacher, I had the privilege of watching the Form 3s prepare their talks – ranging from the problems of having your parents as teachers (not from one of my girls....yet) to the history of golf, Emojis, Minecraft, Quad-biking and holidaying in South Uist. I learnt a lot. Mr. Wilson and I also had the unenviable task of choosing who went through to the final. It was a tough decision. There were so many who could have made it but we were limited to four in Form 3 and I think we chose the right ones.

There were 17 in the final and, again, it was an absolute joy to witness the confidence these finalists displayed, in front of an audience of over 200 people. The two winners, one from each end of the school, richly deserved their prizes and I am indebted to Mrs. Lotte Wright who came from Sedbergh to adjudicate – never an easy task! I must at this point, make particular mention of the girl who chose as the topic for her speech, ‘Mr. Knight’. I had no idea what she was going to say and so I think being referred to as a ‘furry-faced southerner’ was getting off pretty lightly. I commend them all.

Not only was I extremely proud of their achievements on the day, but I was also able to announce at the end of the Spoken English that Belhaven had just been awarded the prize for the ‘Top performing secondary school in Scotland’ for the Accelerated Reading and Star Reader programme. We were also the only school in the UK nominated for both primary and secondary.

Mrs. Parks was at the awards ceremony in London to pick up the trophy! This is a fantastic achievement, not only reflecting the hard work that she, Mrs. McAleese and other members of staff have put in to get this of the ground, but it also shows how much the children are enjoying reading and the benefits that they are getting from it.

Oh, and two boys won Sports scholarships to Rugby so, all in all, not a bad first six weeks of term.

That is all.

Henry Knight, 26/10/2016