Welcome to Red Class!
Summer Term in Red Class!
This term our topic is Rivers. We will be investigating the River Stour and also finding out about the features of rivers. We are hoping for some sunny weather so that we can do some river sketching too!
We had a brilliant time on our residential trip to Pencelli. Scroll down to find out the winner of the Pencelli Poetry competition, to read Mr Rich's Blog and to see some photos of our adventures!
One of our evening activities was a competition night. We got into teams to do a scavenger hunt and then followed that by writing our own 4 line poems.
The instructors and Mr Rich judged our efforts. They were all very funny but the overall winners were...
(Poppy, Lily, Alice and Niamh)
Flush, flush, flush in the toilet,
You can squirm like a worm,
Duck, duck, duck like a duck,
Beware! Teachers get stuck!
The girls impressed the judges by their clever references to different challenges!
“I'm sorry, but there is just no point sitting in the drying room and waiting for your socks to dry.”
I apologise in advance if this blog makes no sense or is in no way relevant to the trip as a whole or to your children as members of Mere School. I have hit the proverbial wall and nothing seems real anymore. Instead, it's all very surreal.
We awoke to rain (I know!) on day 4 of Pencelli, with a drop in temperature and an overcast sky.
The boys were so worn out after Wednesday’s activities that Mr Rich had to wake some entire rooms this morning by turning on the lights. When Mr Rich opened the door to Room 9, however, it appeared that he had opened the portal to Armageddon. It was like the moment when Dana opened the door of her fridge in Ghostbusters and saw the Kingdom of Zool, complete with all of its monsters. But with clothes and towels.
Mr Rich very quickly instructed the boys to clean the room before outside play and breakfast, offering the boys the lend of Henry The Hoover. What ensued very quickly descended into what can only be described as chaos as the boys started hovering without clearing the floor of said clothing, towels, Top Trumps cards, food(?) and toothbrushes. The conversation took a turn for the surreal too, as many things started to disappear up Henry The Hoover’s hungry tube (which brought its own angry hoover noise) whilst Mr Rich listened, enrapt outside the door,
“Ah! Me Croc!”
“Flippin Nora! I got a bin bag in it!”
“My trousers have gone in!”
“What? Up the sucker?”
“I like jam. My leg is dry.”
“I got a sock in it!”
Carnage. At 7:35am.
Room smell update - the boys’ bathroom is currently smelling exactly like the bat room at Bristol Zoo. But exactly.
In fact, most rooms in the boys’ lodge are now starting to become optimum growing conditions for penicillin. We may well arrive home with more medicine than we left with. Possibly. Mr Ings and I have talked about opening a small pharmacy here in Brecon and supplying the locals.
In the lodge before breakfast this morning, one rather clumsy boy managed to make Mrs Green laugh til her sides hurt by tripping over the ‘CAUTION WET FLOOR’ sign. The incident was prolonged and compounded by the boy’s wet socks which re-wetted the floor and made it slippery again. Looking on, Mr Rich and Mrs Green brimmed with the irony of the situation as the boy went skidding off down the corridor.
Mr Rich then turned around to see another boy, who doesn’t like to be in the wrong, trying to open a door with a large handle and an even larger sign that read 'PULL' by pushing it.
“You have to pull it.”
“It always does that,” came the forlorn reply!
At breakfast, Miss Beckwith was reminiscing about the milk in her olden times of yore always being in glass bottles like the ones here, with foil lids.
“Of course,” added Mr Rich, “everything was in black and white then.”
“What, there were no colours?” asked one boy, whilst pouring sugar onto his Frosties. Again.
Other tables were talking about the creatures that live in the canal that can ‘eat your eye off.’
“Aren’t they sharks?”
“No, definitely not. Sharks will eat your whole head off.”
Fuzzy logic but mainly accurate.
In the briefing for canoeing, Yellow Group was asked what we needed to bring with them that they could eat.
A conversation then continued for a while about the group eating their helmets for lunch and then putting sandwiches on their heads for the journey. This continued in this surreal manner, under the keen supervision of The King Of Surrealtown himself, Mr Alfie B.
Yellow Group and Orange Group both eventually got to the water with their canoes where they both enjoyed a quiet lollop down and along the Brecon Canal. There was such calmness and serenity in both groups today, who all worked brilliantly together on the various challenges that they were set, including much clambering across canoes, lying down to travel underneath bridges and having to find Lexie’s welly at the end of the journey when she jumped in the water and promptly lost it. Well done Lily for finding it! Extra pudding at tea time was the prize. No sign of the canal creatures that eat your eyes out, although many 'crocodiles' (logs) were spotted today.
Black Group went caving today at Porth Yr Ogof, where they excelled through the Wormhole, along Death Ledge, down The Toilet (‘flushing’ on Miss Beckwith by emptying wellies on top of her) and through the extremely tight Letterbox (leave it) and The Washing Machine. Instructor Kelda was so impressed with this group and how they tackled their challenges today – all getting each other through pretty much all of it – stunning teamwork and support. Much better than Mr Rich. Miss Beckwith became a new unit of measure as the group were keen to know how tall certain parts of the cave were. One particularly large section was ‘two Miss Beckwith’s high.’
Quote of the day came from Sophie who said upon arrival,
“We’re here? Well, I can’t see ANY caves!”
Finally today, and on a more serious note, I would like the parents of Red Class to know that their children have saved us this week; in every sense of the word. In my case, quite literally yesterday in the cave. The strength and the courage, the compassion and the determination in the face of adversity has been astounding for young people their age, in a very alien environment, far away from home and way out of their respective comfort zones. We have seen joy, resilience, achievements, exhilaration, as well as the arguments, the lies, the spooking, the tears and the wind ups. We have seen and heard it all. And worry not; your secrets are safe with us!
Honestly, this has been the best Pencelli trip EVER, in the most beautiful sunshine in one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure to return to. I have laughed and cried and laughed until I’ve cried (mainly at Mrs Bache, or Bach, or Bach or Bashay; whatever her name is) and her complete lack of a moral compass.
The children are now packing to come home to you, after demolishing their last supper of fish fingers, chips and peas, with pancakes, ice cream and syrup for dessert. Indeed, they have devoured every meal this week with astonishing gusto and asked for seconds and thirds of EVERYTHING. They will certainly deserve the huge hug that you will give them tomorrow when they step off that coach.
Oh, and they might need a bit of a sleep...
Thank you for reading!
“Mr Rich! Monty isn’t dead!”
What a day at Plas Pencelli! In the beauty of the sunshine, which we have now enjoyed for three days whilst here, Red Class have squeezed every last drop out of Wednesday in Wales.
The day had started with the quote above, from a boy who shares a room with Monty, who was thrilled to find his friend alive and well this morning. Apparently, Monty had ‘looked horrendous’ and ‘was gonna chuck’ last night at bedtime. This was investigated by Mr Rich and was found to be down to pure tiredness. However, it may have also had something to do with Monty’s daily consumption of what has been named, ‘The Big Monty’ sandwich – a sandwich that Monty has apparently made for himself on both Tuesday AND Wednesday morning, that consists of a white floury bap, filled with each and every filling on offer in the sandwich-making room. This includes; ham, cheese, tuna, salad, egg and various condiments. This may be the reason why Monty was feeling rather peaky last night. He was fighting fit and up with the larks this morning to set about his day of climbing with the promise of another ‘Big Monty’ waiting for him at lunch.
RE: Top 20 Tips For A Year 5 Pupil On Residential:
Try to eat less ketchup.
Each time you go over a small wall on a walk, you don’t have to pretend that it’s in fact Donald Trump’s proposed wall between the US and Mexico.
A lace-up shoe should have its laces tied and should not be worn like a slipper.
If you are told to tie up your shoe laces, try not to just tuck them in the sides.
Not every insect is ‘a massive cockroach.’
At the meal table, even if you are really hungry, try not to lick from your plate/drink from your bowl. Even if your parents say it’s ok – it’s really not.
When showering if staying with other people, try to wear clothes to and from the shower instead of the smallest towel you can find.
After showering, avoid leaving a trail behind you akin to a giant snail by drying yourself before moving anywhere.
Try not to knock on your friend’s door and run away again and again and again. This gets boring after the second time.
If someone says stop, try to stop – even if every impulse within you is telling you to keep doing what you’re doing.
Open windows at night/always pack an air freshener. This way, your room at least has a fighting chance of not smelling like woodland fungi.
If you can’t find the (insert vital item) that belongs to you, try not to just take someone else’s (insert vital item), because then they won’t have any (insert vital item).
If someone is looking a little unwell, try not to tell them that they ‘look horrendous’ as this might make them feel worse.
Keep hoods down at the meal table, even if you are in a mood and attempting a 'dark-eyes look,' like Darth Sidious or Prince Phillip at the Royal Wedding.
Try to sit on your bottom at the meal table and not on your feet/knees/friend’s lap.
Cutlery does not constitute a musical instrument or poking device.
There are many other ways of communicating other than shouting, especially if the person you are communicating with is less than a metre away from you.
Trying to constantly make yourself burp for long periods (an entire mealtime) can very easily lead to you feeling sick.
Not every stretch of water is an ocean.
If you add sugar to sugar-coated cereal, everyone loses.
Yellow Group went caving today in the beautiful setting of Porth Yr Ogof. They were lead expertly through some very tough challenges by instructor Kelda, one of which was the infamous letterbox. Here, Mr Rich encountered a few ‘technical issues’ getting himself through the tight gap and needed the help of the entire group to push him through (destroyed emotionally face emoji). Indeed, there were a couple of long minutes when Mr Rich thought he may become completely stuck tight in the cave and die there. But, with some extreme elbow grease (try 10 children and 2 adults pushing you to make you feel great about your weight), he managed to squeeze his way through to the cheers of the gathering crowds. On the bus home, Mr Rich was reflecting on this incident and thanking his lucky stars that the group managed to get him out. He likened himself to being rather like Winnie The Pooh, stuck in Rabbit’s hole in the Hundred Acre Wood, just waiting for days to get thinner and becoming a feature of the wall resplendent with table cloth, vase of flowers and frame. Learning from instructor Kelda (who also moonlights as a member of the Brecon Cave Rescue Team) what the possible alternatives and real-life procedures that she was beginning to contemplate were, Mr Rich’s relief increased ten-fold.
How To Get A Stuck Person Out Of A Tight Spot When Caving (according to Kelda From Pencelli/Brecon Cave Rescue):
Remove all of the stuck person’s clothing (clenched teeth emoji).
Lubricate the person (crying emoji).
Use hammers and chisels to remove some of the rock (sore head emoji).
Blast the stuck person out with explosives (horror/ghost face emoji. Times 3).
I think you may understand, dear reader, the extent of Mr Rich’s relief at having not had to endure the four, ever-intensifying, levels of this process. Indeed, the thought of a naked, lubricated and slightly singed Mr Rich possibly landing crumpled on the floor outside of the cave entrance having been blasted out was too much to bear for Mrs Bache, who obviously found the whole experience hilarious and even offered to go and find the random blonde, chiselled man that she had spotted in the car park during lunchtime to ‘help with the pushing.’ On reflection, Mr Rich was even more content that said chap didn’t have to come and extricate him from the cave. Asking the strong man to come and help push the fat man out and to bring some grease with him would have, in no doubt, compounded Mr Rich’s self-esteem to even further levels of despair and increased his subsequent and very real future diet to an extreme level not seen since the dawn of the current Conservative Government’s cut backs. Dignity in the face of adversity = grace, doesn’t it?
Orange and Black Groups both enjoyed a day of climbing at Morlais Quarry today. All children challenged themselves but the girls were singled out for particular praise by the centre staff. Indeed, this has become rather a theme of the week. During climbing, Black Group apparently solved the age-old problem of the chicken and the egg with simple logic. One boy of a twinset reasoned that, because we eat eggs for breakfast and chicken for dinner, then therefore the egg must have come before the chicken.
And to think people have been trying to work that one out for years...
Science (most notably light and dark) is on Miss Beckwith’s curriculum plan for Term 6 following the question,
“ Why is the rock in the shade cold?”
Upon their return to Plas Pencelli this afternoon, the boys with the vacuuming in Room 5 came to us with the scandal that,
“Mr Rich, someone’s trashed our room!”
At closer inspection, it turned out that a drawer was left slightly ajar, the beds were not made to the correct standard and some clothes had been put in the wrong place. These Room 5 boys have extremely high standards!
As I type, Red Class are currently enjoying a challenging scavenger hunt, after having devoured a very welcome dinner of pasta, meatballs and garlic bread with profiteroles for dessert.
The plan is to finish their evening task half an hour early this evening at 8:30pm, as they are all completely shattered. One girl fell asleep on the minibus on the way back to the centre after caving and one boy asked to go to bed before having his tea!
Here’s to a very quiet night and our last full day of activities (#sadface) tomorrow.
“God instructs the heart, not by ideas but by pains and contradictions.”
Jean Pierre de Caussade.
After a good first night’s sleep, Red Class were up at dawn (literally) with the chorus of singing birds and the bleating of the sheep.
It became very apparent very soon this morning that the children were not the only ones in their rooms and bathrooms last night – Mr Rich was alarmed to hear of something named Jeff who had infiltrated the lodge and was in one of the boys ‘rooms overnight. First reports suggested that Jeff was a cockroach. Others thought him to be a bird ‘or an eagle’(?!) but it turned out that Jeff was, in fact, a may bug. The girls then reported that there were ‘about 15’ may bugs in the girls’ bathroom overnight. However, before Mr Rich set about naming them with his favourite names (Keith, Barry etc), it turned out that there were ‘only 3.’ Panic over. Mr Ings then caught a group of boys setting about Jeff in a most disorderly fashion outside the drying room, giving him a right old pasting. Mr Ings subsequently informed the boys of the age-old knowledge that;
“You pick on a may bug, they gonna get you t’night.”
The boys then stopped, went a bit white and went to play football.
Mr Rich was pleasantly surprised this morning, not by the 6am awakening, but by the request for the use of the vacuum cleaner from the boys in Room 5. After picking himself up from the floor, Mr Rich dutifully showed the boys in the direction of Henry and then looked on with mouth agape as Room 8 then borrowed it afterwards. Meanwhile, the boys in Rooms 6 and 9 played some more football.
The first quote of the day came following a hearty breakfast of cereal (where we had our first seminal Pencelli moment of watching as one boy of a twinset applied sugar on top of Frosties), bacon, hash browns and spaghetti hoops with enough toast to bury a short parent.
This quote came from a girl of another twinset.
“Miss Beckwith, when will we eat our lunch?”
Thus ended this brief conversation. Exit girl twin (with big grin).
After breakfast came the daily briefing on the subject of the day’s activites. Yellow Group to the quarry at Morlais (near Merythr Tydfil) to climb, Orange Group to Porth Yr Ogof Caves to cave and Black Group to the canal to canoe.
One boy of a twinset then took an opportunity to tell his instructor that he was ‘ace at orienteering’ last night as he ‘knew the woods,’ which left all in earshot more than a trifle baffled...
Black Group took to the canal like Year 5s to water. A certain adventurous young man did his very best to get into the water at every chance he got. He was reminded very quickly that this was canoeing and not canalling. At the day’s first toilet stop, one boy of a twinset merrily told the group that he had just watered somebody’s garden. This left Miss Beckwith fretting about English/Welsh relations and collateral wee damage to Bryn and Daphne’s petunias.
Orange Group enjoyed a fantastic day of caving, where all of the children excelled and pushed themselves to the limit, especially those with limited mobility, whose determination and perseverance was an inspiration to Mrs Green as she supported her group. One boy of a twinset made the clever remark that the group had all been ‘posted’ through the letterbox...
At the end of the caving, there came an interesting turn of events when it seemed that one boy had taken a roll from lunch down in his caving suit for the afternoon session. It was unclear as to whether the boy was anticipating feeling peckish or whether the said roll was placed on his person by A.N. Other in the group. The following conversation then ensued;
“What’s the matter?”
“Somebody put a roll in my suit!”
“Is it your roll?”
“No, it’s not mine! It’s got tuna in it!”
“That’s not tuna , that’s bread love.”
“Urggghhhhh What am I gonna do with it?!
“You’re going to have to wash it.”
“But it’s not mine!!”
And so on.
Climbing was amazing – Yellow Group enjoying a day of challenging activities in the sunshine. All came away completely worn out with tales of their accomplishments and in need of their dinner. Tonight, the children enjoyed chicken casserole with roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings, followed by jam roly poly and custard.
Finally, after a very wet and muddy dingle descent this evening, the children are all tucked up and snoring as I type – thoroughly exhausted!
“Do you have to pay to get into every country?”
Anon. (Red Class member).
After the beginning of the journey on the A303 (?) and Miss Beckwith wondering (or hoping) whether we were actually off to Cornwall, Red Class soon settled into their Star Wars impressions and their asking if we were there yet before we’d even got to Yeovil.
Miss Beckwith has already taken the time to do some Geography assessment following the journey, after such questions as;
“Is this Weymouth?”
“Is that the ocean?”
“Wait, is Wales, like, a different country?”
All met with the obligatory eye roll emoji (my absolute favourite of all the emojis) and the vow of Miss Beckwith to do some more UK Geography on her return to school.
Time intervals may also need some work, as one girl asked directly after stopping for 45 minutes why the time left of the journey was the same as it was 45 minutes ago when we stopped (scratching chin emoji).
Upon crossing the Severn Bridge, the class were fascinated by the toll (or, actually by the mishearing of that word and then by looking for the troll who was, apparently, taking everyone’s money to cross his bridge). Finally, Toby P worked out that the water was not actually an ocean by finding out that we were crossing the Severn Bridge. House point for that man!
Upon arrival, the class walked up the track, were given their room numbers and told to make their beds and their lunches. This was done (well, lunch was done and bedclothes were arranged in some form of cloth origami at the ends of most beds).
The first physical activity of the week then came around – the adventure walk. This is where Red Class really came into their own. With the encouragement of the centre staff, they learnt very quickly how best to help their team mates accomplish the various challenges; all of which were cleverly designed to lead them gently into the tasks that will face them later in the week. The adults in each group all commented at how well the children supported each other today. Daniel S needs a special mention here, due to his awareness that one boy in his group was finding crawling through the tight spaces a real challenge. Daniel had opted out of one particularly tight space (in a river under a low log) only to go back and do it alongside the boy who was finding it tough – allowing both boys to achieve success and all the adults watching on to feel huge amounts of pride.
Note to parents – as well as bed making, drying of socks may need addressing as an important life skill. It seems that the current thinking is to leave wet socks on the floor, outside the door to the building, and absolutely NOT on the nearby washing line or in the drying room NEXT TO said door (clenched teeth emoji).
As I type, the children have enjoyed a deliciously filling tea of pizza, chips and beans with mandarin cheesecake (we think) for dessert and are currently completing their orienteering task and starting to settle down for a good first night’s sleep. They have thoroughly got the most out of their first day.
Lastly, on that note, I would suggest to anyone reading this that they should immediately go now and buy shares in Heinz Tomato Ketchup because Red Class have eaten it all. All of it. All of it in Wales.
Mr Rich (smiley face emoiji - wait, I have one of those...).
Geography fieldwork in Alfred's Tower Woods.
Red Class visited the woods around Alfred's Tower to investigate how they were the same as the Amazon rainforest.
We did this by comparing land use and features. We were able to identify the Emergent Layer, Canopy, Understory and the Forest Floor.
We also had to use map reading skills to identify and follow the path we needed to follow to get to the Hill Fort.
After arriving successfully at our destination, we had time to build some dens and make forest art structures.
Red Class Homework.
Red Class have homework set every Monday and Thursday. On a Monday we set a maths task (usually from a workbook) and this has to be handed in the following Monday. On a Thursday we set an English task (usually from a workbook) and this has to be handed in on the following Thursday. We will try to mark the homework together in class.
Sometimes we may set projects and give the children a few weeks to complete these tasks.
As well as this we expect all children to try to read every day for at least 10 minutes. Even though the children often like to read independently we would like an adult to hear them read at least once a week at home.
Every week the children will also have spellings to practise which will be tested on a Friday. We would also like the children to practise multiplication facts regularly.