A very warm welcome back from the half-term break.

It has been an incredible week for our older children. Year 6 have enjoyed a week of water-based activities at Rockley and Year 5 have been deep in the forests of Oxfordshire; living off the land. Witnessing pupils around the campfire yesterday on their Bushcraft adventure confirmed my belief of how these experiences shape character, build resilience and create bonds that will stay with our young pupils for the rest of their lives. A little closer to home Reception have enjoyed a trip to Sir Harold Hillier Arboretum and Gardens and Year 3 to the Winchester College Museum. Not to be outdone, Year 4 journeyed to Lepe Beach; with thousands of troops departing from there for Normandy on 6 June 1944 (including soldiers from my Regiment who were the first tanks ashore), Lepe Beach formed part of the great campaign that many pupils learnt about this week to liberate Europe and bring the Second World War to its end. (Thank you to Mr Macdonald for his reassuring words that Mr Thacker isn’t quite old enough to have been part of that campaign.) As The Prince of Wales noted, remembering 75 years on this week those who did take part in this truly courageous event is probably the last chance to pay our everlasting respect to those remarkable veterans. We will continue to remember them at Prince’s Mead and this is why we are adding a battlefield tour to our future programme of learning.

On the staffing front, I am delighted to announce that Mrs Patrizia Thompson has been appointed as an additional full-time classroom teacher for 2T from September. Out of 40 applicants for the role, Mrs Thompson stood out particularly strongly in inspiring our young pupils in a way that Prince’s Mead does best. She is a keen advocate of holistic education, including our Forest School that will be launched in September, where she has considerable experience. Mrs Thompson trained as a teacher for five years in Switzerland before undertaking a degree in contemporary dance in London. She has over 15 years of teaching experience in the UK, including many in Year 2. Witnessing a splendid Year One assembly this morning, I can see that she will enjoy nurturing their talents and creativity all the more alongside Miss Fecher next year. I am also pleased to announce that Mrs Kathryn Little has been appointed as an additional member of the teaching staff in the next academic year working across a number of year groups. Before that she will be supporting the Sports Department for the last three weeks of this term. Qualifying at King Alfred’s College, she has since accrued a wealth of teaching experience. Over the years she has developed collaborative community links to encourage children to take part in netball, tag rugby, football, cross-country, athletics, basketball, tennis, dance and gymnastics, delivering netball and basketball success in the Hampshire games and reaching the Tag Rugby National Finals. We also welcome Mr Gary Bettridge and Mr Bob Halling as new additions to our minibus driving team this week. A warm welcome to them all.

Wishing all our families a most relaxing (and hopefully dry) weekend.