A Word from the Head

19th April 2024


We have had the odd glimmer of that round, yellow object in the sky but not nearly as much as we would like!  

Of course, we would all like some warmer, brighter weather and a bit of sunshine; apart from anything, it helps regulate mood and anxiety as well as having health benefits such as increased production of Vitamin D and lower blood pressure – you just feel so different when you can walk around in bright weather and start to see some colour and light.

The summer term is always an incredibly busy one and as I write, the children have already been on several trips and are getting ready for residentials.  The first performance of our Upper School play “Aladdin” was an absolute triumph; this drama production is always the highlight of the year.  As usually happens, we were blown away by the dedication and talent of the children and every year there is always a chorus of ‘who knew he/she had that in them?’ from the staff.

We have started the next phase of improvements in the Early Years playground with a new sunken sandpit and a beautiful colourful shelter which was completed this week.  Looking ahead, we also have plans to improve the surface of the multi-sports pitch to make it more weather-proof as it is such a wonderful facility to have.

This term we are holding our swimming gala; after half-term we have music concerts, sports day, visitors from Spain, Senior 6 transitions, Senior 6 BBQ and party, prizes assembly and the Grand Ramble.  Phew! 

On a final note, for this last term, we are delighted to announce that Indiya is our Head Girl.  She has already made a fantastic start to the role with her fund raising for Manorlands Hospice and her amazing performance as the genie in Aladdin.  Well done Indiya!



27th February 2024

Why have school assemblies?

The focus of our most recent whole school assembly was on ARK or RAK – any idea what this is?  The children had lots of suggestions and amazingly (because they are very intuitive children), they decided that the ‘k’ must stand for kindness, and they were absolutely right!

I explained to the children that the weekend before the assembly had been ‘Acts of Random Kindness’ week or, as some people prefer, ‘Random Acts of Kindness’, it doesn’t really matter which phrase you use.  We have participated in this week before and the emphasis has always been on trying to encourage the children to see that kindness comes in all forms and being kind is not something to focus on for one day but is something we should be thinking about every day.  We ended the assembly with the quote; ‘people may not remember what you said or did but they will remember how you made them feel’.

Assemblies are an important part of our school day and, where possible, we try and include one most days but they take many different forms; whole school assemblies led my me, different classes or teachers, visitors from a variety of organisations and often House or Form assemblies.  The content of the assemblies can vary; they can be quite generic, but will often focus on a particular event or a significant date in the calendar year or they may have a moral message.  Assemblies this year have included a presentation about Windrush, the importance of teamwork, British Sign Language, Hanukkah, Diwali, mental health, courage, Advent and the Civil Rights Movement, to name but a few.

A well-planned and engaging school assembly is as important as an academic lesson.  It enables the whole school community to reflect and to think deeply about themselves, their world and beyond.  We want our children to be challenged, to develop a moral compass and understand how other communities work. 

Whether part of a faith school or not, assemblies provide a fantastic opportunity to build a strong sense of community.  They help reinforce a school’s ethos and its values, the hallmark of a strong and successful school.



26th January 2024

January Blues

Well, we are half-way through January already and speeding along to half-term!  It is easy to see why some people feel a bit down in January and especially since we returned from the Christmas holidays, as the rain has been incessant, followed by freezing temperatures and ice and then finally over the last few days, two lovely storms with gusting winds!  Contending with the weather and the impact it has on how we organise the school day for the children has been a constant headache for all head teachers and staff, not just at Moorfield. 

Speaking to a colleague only yesterday, we were both remarking on how quickly the days and weeks seem to go by when you work in a school, ‘it’s Friday already!’ is a refrain I hear a lot at Moorfield.  There is no time to have the January Blues or complain about the weather as we are all too busy to notice!  We have already taken the children on several trips:  EYFS have been out bird-watching, we have had an author visit, new after school clubs have started, a dinosaur themed Reception Open Day, a Gruffalo hunt at Nell Bank, auditions for our new drama production in a few weeks, entrance exams for senior schools and, when weather allows, sports fixtures at various schools.

Having busy, purposeful, interested and engaged children and staff is always noticed by visitors and prospective parents and our children thrive on a sense of purpose and responsibility, both for their learning, themselves and to each other.  We see this particularly in our Senior 6 children as they take on new prefect roles such as sports captains, house captains, Reception, music and office prefects. They approach their roles with such a positive attitude and they want to make a difference. 

As well as the various prefect roles, we have two new Head Pupils.  This term our Head Girl is Francesca Castle and our Head Boy is Matthew Boardman.  Both children have been chosen for their calm, steady manner, ability to get on with anyone and for their willingness to help out where needed.  Our thanks go to Annabel who was an exemplary Head Girl last term.  The children were given their prefect responsibilities in our first assembly of the year and we have every confidence that they will carry out their duties brilliantly.




14th December 2023


 Last year, my talk at the end of term assembly focused on gifts, giving and compassion.  I commented that we are living in a world at the moment where we all need to be compassionate and think about the importance of giving.  Sadly, that message is still resonating with us all this year; if anything, it feels even more urgent.  I thought this was a good opportunity to revisit this theme so have included my talk from last year.

‘Christmas is always an exciting time in school, full of excitement and packed with different activities.  This year though, it has felt slightly different.  In the background, there has been much more of a feeling that in the middle of all our celebrations, there is more of a need to be thinking of others – you only have to read the news to see why.  I think this feeling has been permeating through school in our assemblies, circle times, PSHE and RE lessons and in all the charities and fund-raising activities we have been involved in – a more of an understanding that the world needs compassion. 

With that in mind, I am, as usual, very humbled by the way Moorfield families have given so generously and the sleigh in the entrance hall is brimming with gifts for children who may not receive a gift at Christmas.  As we did last year, the gifts are going to the Keighley Healthy Living project, a charity which aims to support the health and well-being of the local community.  Every gift is matched to a particular child and last year the KHL team were absolutely overwhelmed with the love and thought that had gone into the gifts.  This year, those gifts are needed more than ever before.

Just out of interest, I asked some children what they were hoping for for Christmas.  We did have some fun with it but the real reason we discussed it was because it led to an interesting discussion about gifts and the fact that the best gifts are often those you can’t buy and wrap.  The writer Robert Louis Stephenson said this:

The spirit of Christmas is Christ-like love.  The way to increase the Christmas spirit is to reach out generously to those around us and give of ourselves.  The best gifts are not material things but gifts of listening, of showing kindness, of remembering, of forgiving and giving your time.

So, I asked the children to imagine they had magical super powers and if they could give a gift to the world or a group of people or a special person who really needed it, what would they give?  This is what they said:

  • shelter for everyone in the world and making sure no-one is poor
  • eternal and lasting kindness
  • to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes
  • clean water, no strikes and free medicine
  • houses for people who don’t have any homes
  • for everyone to be warm in winter
  • to be able to understand why other people are upset
  • love and respect and to stop all wars
  • everyone to be equal
  • for everyone to have a home, food and an education
  • for everyone in the world to have hope and happiness

The children were not prompted to say any of these things, this list is what they came up with.  Our hope is in the kindness and compassion in all of us and our children are showing us how to do this’.

May you feel compassion and kindness this Christmas, wherever and whoever you are.




18th October 2023


Mrs Hellen is a Senior 6 teacher at Moorfield School and although she has only been with us for a short time, she has made a huge impact!  She has a wealth of talent and skills and we wanted to find out more about her, so here is a brief summary of her illustrious career.

Mrs Hellen studied for at BA (Hons) degree in English and European Studies at Sussex University which also included a year in Aixen.

After Mrs Hellen had her two children, she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher and applied for a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), graduating in 1994.  Following this, Mrs Hellen taught at 6 primary schools with the Bradford district, including Ashlands Primary School in Ilkley.

Over the years, Mrs Hellen’s experience and skills have seen her take subject responsibility for computing, design technology, maths and music, teaching across the age range from year 1 to year 6.  Acting as a Teacher Governor at several schools has also given Mrs Hellen the opportunity to see how schools are run from a different perspective.

Among other notable achievements, Mrs Hellen is proud of the work she did at her previous school, taking on the role of Pupil Premium Co-ordinator, making a difference to the lives of many children.

Now, Mrs Hellen is making a difference to the lives of children at Moorfield. Not only is she an exceptional Year 6 teacher, she speaks fluent French and is responsible for teaching French across the school.  Originally, Mrs Hellen came to teach at Moorfield to cover a maternity leave … we would not let her leave!  She absolutely loves Moorfield, loves teaching and would not want to be anywhere else; the glowing comments from parents, staff and children are testament to her exceptional qualities.




26th September 2023


At our recent Meet the Teacher evening at the beginning of term, my focus was on the incredible job all parents do – this is an extract from that speech.

‘My hope for parents new to Moorfield is that your experience of this school is a feeling of being welcomed and cared for as much as the children are – you are now part of the Moorfield family. 

Parenting is a tough job, probably the toughest you are ever likely to do as an adult.  Most of the staff here are parents, Mr Herbert and I are the parents of two grown up daughters and we have sat where you are now.  Parenting is messy, taxing and sometimes it will, indeed, bring you to your knees.  I think I may be speaking for many parents when I say that it is only your child or your children who can transport you to such extremes of pure love, joy and pride and at the other end, can make you incandescent with rage – or am I the only one?  Being a parent or caregiver is not for the faint-hearted.

I’m reminded of a couple of quotes I heard recently which I think will resonate with most parents here this evening:

 ‘Being a parent suddenly means wanting to call your own parents every day just to say sorry’.

 ‘Having children is like living in a first year student house; nobody sleeps, everything is broken and there’s a lot of throwing up’.

While parents experience all sorts of unique trials, tribulations, emotions and moments, they all have one thing in common:  Through it all, it is always worth it.  Being a parent truly is the greatest journey in the world, but it is a rollercoaster – sometimes terrifying, at other times a thrill.

 As educators, we are in the privileged position of being on that journey with you – a successful school embraces that partnership, it is a two-way process and it means working together for the very best outcome for your child.  There is an old adage amongst teachers (I am sure you will have heard this yourself) we often say to parents about their children – ‘we won’t believe everything they say about you if you don’t believe everything they say about us’! 

Actually, there is quite a lot of truth in that! 

Parents and teachers engaging in constructive dialogue, conversations and working out strategies together are part and parcel of what we do and form an important part of pastoral care; we all want the absolute best for your children and to make their experience at school the best it can be. 

We know we are so fortunate to have the most supportive and engaged parents.  The amount of enthusiasm you show for everything we do and your generosity in supporting our various charities and fundraisers speak absolute volumes – you are doing an amazing job with your children and it is why we love being with them.

Can I end with just a final thought?  The great Michael Jordan said:

My heroes are and were my parents.  I can’t see having anyone else as my heroes’.


13th September 2023


It has been an unusual start to the year, I can’t remember the last time we came back to school in September in the middle of a heatwave!  To have warm, dry weather in the playground on that first morning was definitely a blessing and as one parent commented, ‘it feels as though there is a real buzz in the air’.

It is always one of my favourite times of the year, full of expectation and anticipation for the year ahead and even more pleasing when we can start the year on a positive note.  We are very pleased to report that analysis of our maths and English assessments across the school shows that our children achieved an average of 25% above national expectations in the end of term GL assessments.  I am beyond proud that we still manage to achieve this while at the same time excelling in music exams, Wharfedale and Skipton festivals, sporting events and incredible music and drama productions.

We are welcoming several new families to Moorfield this September and many of our classes have increased in number.  We also welcome new members of staff including Ms Isabel Ashman (EYFS practitioner) and Mr Chris O’Doherty, ex-deputy head at Westville House School and now Senior 6 teacher at Moorfield. 

Our Senior 6 children are excited to be at the top of the school and have taken their prefect responsibilities very seriously.  Congratulations go to Annabel, our new Head Girl.  Annabel has always impressed us with her enthusiasm for learning, her ability to get on with anyone and her ‘can do’ attitude – I know she will do a super job.


21st June 2023


Moorfield places a lot of emphasis on the performing arts, carefully balancing the curriculum so that children continue to thrive in their academic studies.  In different ways, we try to boost our pupils’ confidence and communication skills – they’ll be invaluable to their lives ahead.  If a child has the skills and self-esteem to speak aloud and ‘command’ a stage (even if that’s merely talking to a group of their peers), they’ll be better equipped to succeed in years to come.

Being able to speak persuasively is skill that is well worth having.  This is not just for politicians, business leaders and teachers.  It’s important because most children, later on in their lives, will be required to persuade others.  These crucial skills can be overlooked and underdeveloped in schools at a stage of life where pupils are most responsive.  For university and job interviews ahead, they can make an important difference.  Communication skills are so important to many employers that they send management trainees to special workshops to learn how to cope with public speaking.  Children who are already confident in this because it has become natural to them at a young age will therefore have an advantage in their careers ahead.

Every year, the school mounts a big drama production involving pupils from Years 4 to 6.  The children have to learn their lines, attend rehearsals and follow the choreography instructions.
It’s a long-standing tradition that students in the final year (Year 6) perform the lead roles in that year’s show.

Throughout the year, we provide many opportunities for all children to perform in different ways too – in musical concerts, school council, assemblies and house talent shows.  It’s all about learning to stand up and talk in public – a skill we know will be important later in life.  We’ve seen that (with encouragement), even children of a shy disposition become more comfortable and gain confidence when they’re given the support they need to ‘shine’.  With practice, the children gain an increase in general confidence as well as a sense of achievement.  They’re often nervous the first time they have to perform in front of their classmates or parents, but with practice the nerves melt away and they begin to enjoy the process.  Self-confidence is gained from each tiny success, which in turn leads to more success.

So, here are what we view as the top six benefits of taking part in a school play, outlining the new skills that will be transferable to the children’s adult lives.

1. Communication Skills
What they learn in communication skills will help children in many future social situations.  That’s right down to making them more comfortable answering questions in class, public speaking and even successfully interviewing for university places.   

2. Confidence
The skills developed through drama train children how to deliver a message convincingly.  It also helps build the confidence they need to take command of a stage.  A school production obliges children to step out of their comfort zones and get over their insecurities.  Playing another character helps them make realise that what is pretend in the moment can actually be made real.  Children develop a “yes, I can!” attitude.

3. Collaboration
A school play is an awesome team-building exercise and it’s a great way for children to understand what’s possible when everyone pools their skills and weight.  A shy child may just have a small dancing part without lines or do their bit by painting the set, but every part is important.  The school production needs sound, make-up, props, music, costumes, scenery, performers and more – every element is crucial to the final outcome.  Mutual respect is essential.

4. Non-Verbal Communication
This is a big one that will be useful later in life.  Through experiences in drama, children learn intuitively how to react to body language.  They have to watch each other and react to each other to make the performance work.

5. Perseverance
As with any subject, practice is needed.  A school play means learning lines.  It’s a great discipline.  Healthy work habits, such as being on time for rehearsals and performances, respecting the contributions of others and putting effort into the success of the final piece gives results.  The reward for this perseverance is hearing the audience’s applause!

6. Accountability
Taking part in a school production means that each and every child has to not only think about their own role, but how their role contributes to the big picture.  When something goes wrong, it affects everybody!  Learning this is a good life lesson.




28th April 2023



If you have been following us on Facebook, it will not have escaped your notice that we have recently been looking after two lambs in school; in Reception class to be exact.  When Mrs Minshall suggested the idea to me, it was ‘I think you may say no to this’ … a phrase which always fills me with trepidation!

Learning to care for animals and treat them with kindness is an experience that children can easily transfer to their relationships with humans – it helps to build empathy, understanding and respect for both their peers and adults.  Children learn that looking after a pet takes commitment, responsibility and patience.  It has been such a joy to see how all the children in the school have responded to our little visitors and our Reception children have demonstrated how sensitive they are to the lambs’ needs, taking care not to be too loud and boisterous around them and handling them gently when picking them up or at feeding time.  Of course, this is not just about having two cute lambs in the classroom, attracting lots of visitors; this experience has been used for all sorts of opportunities for academic learning and teaching moments.  The children in reception have had to measure out food accurately, understand timings for food, learn about growth and the next stage of life, make a list of things the lambs will need in a day, describe them in writing and write a useful guide on how to look after a lamb or a pet.

Speaking of ‘new life’ neatly brings me on to our own Head of Sport, Mr Snook!  Mr Snook’s baby son was born in April and we are all delighted for Mr and Mrs Snook and send them our love and congratulations.

Congratulations are also in order for our new Head Boy and Head Girl.  Sid and Lauren were chosen this term as they have demonstrated resilience, kindness and an understated ability to show what being a role model for other children is all about.  We are delighted for them and they thoroughly deserve this accolade.  Our thanks go to the out-going Head Girl, Olivia, who is a natural ambassador for everything we want our children to be when they leave Moorfield – she is a superstar and is one to watch for the future!



30th March 2023



It is always gratifying to look back on a busy term and see how much we have all achieved individually and as a school community.  We have had so much to celebrate this term and as I have commented numerous times before, it is always the children who make us so proud; I make no apology for repeating that!

This term was no exception as we encouraged and applauded our children during the House Music Competition, the first time we have ever run this event.  My thanks go to Mrs Kay who thought of the idea in the first place and organised everything, the staff who supported the children during auditions and rehearsals and Mrs Rix, our Director of Music and Drama, who was on hand to make sure instruments, music, microphones and all things technical were working perfectly. 

What an afternoon it was!  There is nothing more satisfying than seeing normally quiet and reticent children suddenly shine when on a stage, performing to an audience.  Who knew that little Reda in Reception had such confidence to belt out a song on her own, or what an absolute talent Laura (Senior 6) is when it comes to musical theatre?  Nell (Form 3) has been slowly building up her confidence to perform in front of others and now she is a star in the making.  Josh and James (both Form 4) could easily start their own band as they wowed us on the guitar and drums.

Plato said, ‘music is a moral law.  It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm and gaiety to life and to everything’.  There was such a buzz about the House Music Competition and the benefits of children learning to sing, play an instrument or work together in a choir or performance has been well documented.  Watching the children last Friday afternoon, I would go further than that and say that music is a gift which is meant to be shared.

It was an afternoon full of joy for parents, children and staff.  Everyone was celebrated; the children generously applauding and cheering for each other, no matter which house they belong to.  In the end, Blackbirds were the overall winners, but there were some stunning performances from Blue Tits, Robins and Thrushes … everyone was a winner!


Let’s Connect

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week and the theme this year is ‘Let’s Connect’ which we introduced to the children through our assembly at the start of the week.

There has been plenty of research on the impact of Covid and particularly the effect of lockdown on mental health, so it comes as no surprise to learn that, according to the World Health Organisation, there has been an increase in the number of people experiencing anxiety, low moods and depression.  Lockdown left many people feeling isolated.  Human beings thrive in communities and this connection is vital for our wellbeing and our survival.  When we have healthy connections – to family, friends and others – this can support our mental health and our sense of wellbeing.  When our need for rewarding social connections is not met, we can sometimes feel isolated and lonely which can have a negative impact on our mental health.  Many schools have noted that, on returning to school after lockdown, many children had to re-learn those social skills which enable interaction and friendship – in other words, they had to learn how to reconnect with each other.

In our assembly, we explored the idea of connecting with each other and the positive impact it has on our feelings of confidence and self-esteem.   We are used to talking about mental health at Moorfield and the children quite quickly could link this to other themes we have talked about, namely ‘doing good does you good’ which we have taken as a sort of mantra at school!

We have taken the idea of ‘let’s connect’ and aim to practise what we preach through the support we have given to such projects as ‘Wear Red Day’, raising money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund in Yorkshire, in particular, the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit.  We also have a link with a local care home through the music and singing we present at Christmas and have recently expanded this link by arranging regular visits to the home, enabling different groups of children to interact with the residents, sharing books, activities, music or just chatting.  Our children and the residents benefit so much from this connection; important for both young and old.



16th January 2023


Kindness, kindness, kindness. I want to make a New Year’s prayer, not a resolution. I’m praying for courage.  

(Susan Sontang, writer, philosopher and political activist).

I can’t think of a better quote to start the new year with.  At our Carol Service in December, we sang a new song all about compassion and in my closing comments at the end of the service, I reiterated how compassion and kindness are so important, now more than ever, when there is so much suffering and anxiety in the world.  Interestingly, in Ms Sontang’s quote, she links kindness and compassion with courage; sometimes doing the right thing requires courage.

This term, our value at Moorfield is courage and we started the new term with an assembly exploring what it means to be courageous and who came to mind when we thought of acts of courage.  Unsurprisingly, there was a variety of answers, ranging from fire fighters and soldiers to characters in films and animations.

I explained to the children how I have to draw on some inner strength whenever I have to get up and speak or address a hall full of parents; the children were very interested in this and it certainly resonated with them.  We then went on to talk about the times when they have to have courage in all sorts of situations; presenting something in front of parents or other children, standing up for themselves or for other people or even trying something new – all of these things can take courage.  We ended the assembly looking at famous people who had shown ‘quiet courage’, resisting oppression and fighting for human rights and justice in peaceful ways and I then read a famous quote from author, Mary Anne Radmacher: ‘Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.’

Here’s to the new year and being courageous!




25th November


We have had an extremely busy couple of weeks with trips, fixtures, music and sports clubs, visitors to the school and, of course, hedgehogs!  More about that later.

One of the many duties I particularly enjoy as Head is greeting parents and children when they come into the playground in the morning; it is always a great opportunity to catch up and have a chat.  This week I had a lovely chat with a parent who is fairly new to the school and was almost incredulous at how much we pack into the school day and how much work goes into planning and implementing a range of creative and exciting opportunities.  It was gratifying of course to hear such compliments about our ‘gem of a school’, and I am very proud of what we offer.  However, making sure our children receive a range of experiences and opportunities is something that is part and parcel of what we do on a daily basis; for us, it is embedded in everything we plan.

This week has been no exception.  Preparing for a visit from the ‘Prickly Pigs’, our Reception children walked to the local supermarket to buy some food for our special visitors.  Mrs Minshall never loses an opportunity to use an activity as a teaching moment and the children were keen to learn how to look for things in the supermarket, load a trolley, use a checkout and pay for their goods.  It was all worth the effort as you will see if you take a look at the photos on Facebook; the look of delight on the children’s faces as they meet their new hedgehog friends is priceless.

We are also very proud of Moorfield’s sporting achievement and have started the academic year with huge successes on the sports field, often against much bigger schools than ourselves.   Well done to our Senior 5 and Senior 6 children who all won their hockey matches at the recent tournament in Adel.  We are becoming a force to be reckoned with! 

Other activities this term include celebrating Diwali, dressing up as Victorian children for a school history trip, Children in Need day, a school disco, success at the Wharfedale Piano Festival, with many children placed first and second, Mr Herbert’s new Robotics Club, Maths Games Club, a visit to an art gallery to see the Van Gogh exhibition, a ceramics workshop at Bradford Grammar School, Samba Band and Jazz band – there really is something for everyone at Moorfield!


12th October 2022


Choosing a school at the start of your child’s educational journey is a rite of passage for all parents.  For some parents, the myriad of choices and factors to think about can seem overwhelming, but it does not need to be; armed with enough information and careful research, parents can feel confident about the decision they make for their child.

To start with, you cannot over-estimate the value of thorough research and I would recommend talking to friends/parents who have children at the schools you are interested in.  Visit the school website and if, like Moorfield, the website has some virtual tours, do explore those.  Look at what the school offers over and above the normal curriculum, read the latest inspection report and any other reviews the school has had, such as The Good Schools Guide, and read any testimonials from parents.  Like Moorfield, many schools have a significant presence on social media (often Twitter, Instagram and Facebook), so follow schools you are interested in and take time to build up a picture of each school.  All of this will give you information about the school, facts and figures, strengths, facilities, academic success and the senior schools children eventually attend.

This is all useful of course but to really get the ‘feel’ of a school, understand its culture, values and ethos, you really do need to visit and I would certainly recommend visiting more than once.  Attend as many open days as you can and make sure you check that particular staff will be available to chat to – you may well be looking for certain strengths in a school which you know will appeal to your child so it is vital to find out how your child will be able to make the most of these opportunities.

A strong school culture produces dedicated teachers who connect with the children in their care:  you will want to choose a school with engaged staff, a nurturing environment, a holistic sense of responsibility and a sense of the school being a community which is committed to a shared vision of being the best it can be.  This is where the school values come in and they are a benchmark in identifying the vision that everyone in the school, children, staff and parents all share.  Beyond the quality of education, you should select a school whose values will promote positive behaviour and you can see the impact of this when you take a tour of the school and see the children in action.  Prospective parents often say to me that they knew Moorfield was the right school for their child two minutes after walking through the door; some parents even compare it to buying a house, you get that ‘feeling’ which you can’t put your finger on, it just feels right!  I would suggest that if a school has strong values and an ethos which aligns with how you feel personally about what education should be, you recognise it when you see it;  you notice it in the animated and enthusiastic children in classrooms, the relationships between staff and children and the way children treat each other.  Courtesy and good manners can seem old-fashioned values – not at Moorfield and we make no apology for that.

We are extremely proud of our ‘end product’ and if you are looking for a reception place for your child, spend some time chatting to the older children and ask yourself whether you would like your child to turn out like the children you meet. 

Good luck in your decision-making!  Please do come to our Open Doors mornings on 17th and 18th October.




16th September 2022


 The whole school assembly on the first day of term is one of my favourite times with the children.  There is always a buzz in the air, new classrooms, new teachers and often new friends.  I am always mindful though that many children come back to school experiencing a few wobbles and it is so important to reassure the children that it is perfectly normal to feel like that; it made them all feel better to discover that many of the staff feel like that as well!

By lunchtime though, it was all smiles, chatter and bouncing around in the playground – and that is just the staff!  The children all seem settled, happy and purposeful so we are looking forward to a good year.

Congratulations to Lexi who becomes our Head Girl this term.  Lexi is an excellent choice and has always impressed us with her friendly and cheerful nature, her work ethic and her sense of responsibility, so I know she will do a fantastic job.

A big thank you to all the parents who attended ‘Meet the Teacher’ evening earlier this week, enjoying a chat and glass of wine before presentations from various members of staff.  It was lovely to see so many parents getting to know each other and having the opportunity to talk to staff in a relaxed and informal way; it bodes well for lots of other social events throughout the year.

Well done everyone on a brilliant start!



23rd June 2022


 As usual, this last half-term promises to be full to the brim with activities, concerts, plays, sports and a whole myriad of trips and experiences.  Senior 5 have just returned from a fabulous action-packed few days in the Lake District.  Residential trips are an important part of our PE and outdoor education curriculum, particularly this year.  For all children in this year group, the opportunity to be away from home, explore the great outdoors, interact with the natural world, develop friendships and team-building skills and challenge themselves, has been lost over the last two years because of Covid, so this was the very first school residential for those Year 5 children.  Needless to say, they rose to the challenge brilliantly and from my observations of them so far, have returned with a more confident ‘bounce’ and a realisation that they are more than capable of ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’!

Outdoor learning of course is a big part of what we do at Moorfield and the impact it has on children’s well-being, confidence, sense of achievement and academic progress cannot be over-estimated.  We are fortunate to have the grounds and expertise to be able to provide an excellent outdoor learning experience, but the impact it has is best summed up by a feature that Mrs Nicola Minshall (Head of Early Years) has written for the Moorfield Times:

‘In Early Years at Moorfield, we don’t just stress the importance of being outside, but also the need to become physically and emotionally involved with the natural world around us, learning to use our eyes, ears, nostrils and touch receptors. We recognise the importance of contact with the natural world and the unique experiences offered by the seasons and the weather, giving children exploratory, play orientated, hands on contact with nature, not just didactic or curriculum related activities. This in turn develops an understanding of nature and the interdependence of plants, animals and humans. This exposure to the natural environment (through visitors, visits and use of our own experiences at home and within our grounds) gives all children a greater sense of self-worth and a reduction in stress, which in turn leads to happier children who are ready to learn at a deeper level.

If we are able to pass on to the children in our care an awareness, respect and love for the natural world, we will hopefully awake a desire in them to respond appropriately to issues of conservation and ecological sustainability on a global level as they become older.  More importantly, however, we are offering the benefits, the joy and the fun of an outdoor childhood’.



2nd May 2022

Cherished Memories

‘Moorfield is a gem.  This is what education should be all about – broad, challenging, nurturing and above all fun.  They get the recipe right here and as such, produce some charming well-rounded young people in the process.’  

Good Schools Guide review, March 2022

Although the summer term is short one, it is extremely busy, packed with activities, trips, residentials, plays, music concerts and sporting events.  I was reminded of how much we shoe horn into this last term during our staff meeting this week when we tried to organise dates for all of these events – did we really do all this pre-Covid?

It is an important term in many ways, not least for our Senior 6 children.  I am convinced they have all come back after the Easter holidays taller, straighter, more confident and absolutely blossoming.  One of our Senior 6 teachers, Mrs Turner-Thompson, has the rather unenviable task of collating all the material and photos for our end of year book; a special treat for our Senior 6 leavers and one we hope they will cherish as they move onto their next schools.  It takes hours of work, but included in the book are photos and memories of the children from their very first days at Moorfield and for some of those children, that is way back in nursery when they were only 2 years old!

It is so gratifying for the staff to look back on those very early photos, remembering the children as they were then and now knowing them as they are now – the shy and hesitant 4 year old who can now sing a solo in front of an audience of children and parents, the child who struggled with phonics but who has now won a scholarship at their chosen school, the child who found it difficult at first to settle into school and make friends but who then shows immense qualities as a leader, problem solver and role-model, popular with adults and children alike.  This is our end product and we are extremely proud of the way our children turn out.  If you wanted any evidence of that, you only have to meet our two Head Boys this term:  William and Ethan are so deserving of this award for their leadership, integrity and kindness.  As The Good Schools Guide concludes; ‘they get the recipe right here and as such, produce some charming well-rounded young people in the process.’


22nd March 2022

‘Ukraine Day’ – A BIG thank you!

Our Form 3 children, with a little help from their teacher, organised the ‘Ukraine Day’ that we held last week to raise money to support people in Ukraine who have had to escape their country and have found themselves displaced and without a home.  The children initiated the idea during discussions in class and all the ideas for making and selling items came from them, ably assisted by Mrs Kay who has never done so much baking in her life and certainly not with a class of 15 children!

Form 3 set up the ‘shop’ in their classroom; children and staff from all the different year groups came to visit, browse and select items to buy from the many and varied items on sale – friendship bracelets, bookmarks, magnets, buns and planted sunflower seeds, there was even a face painting station.  Children and staff alike got into the swing of it by dressing in blue and yellow and donating money for the privilege. 

It was the most upbeat and joyous day and I am pleased to be able to tell you we have raised over £500!  The money will be sent to UNICEF who are currently involved in the organisation of supplies and services which children and their families will need as they come to terms with what is happening. 

It is an incredible achievement for such a small school and I am proud of the children for their kindness and generosity of spirit.  Of course, it could not have happened without the support of our parents, many of whom sent money for their children to spend and insisted that the change was donated; in many cases, this was quite a considerable amount.  I would like to thank our parents for their part in making this event so successful, giving so generously, understanding the importance of reaching out to others and for encouraging their children to do the same; a simple thank you does not seem enough.


18th February 2022

Happy Half-Term!

I’m sure everyone will be ready for a break over half-term; staff, children and parents.  Like all schools, we are starting to feel a sense of relief that, for the most part, we have been heading towards normality.  Of course, we have still battled with absences due to Covid and, more recently, the rather dismal weather.

Bushcraft at Moorfield is not for the faint-hearted when the weather is bad but it does not stop the children from enjoying themselves; rather than putting them off, the constant rain has been a great excuse to try the bushcraft mudslide!  Ruth McBain, our highly qualified bushcraft instructor, maintains that there is ‘no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing’.  Please be reassured that the children were all wearing appropriate outdoor clothing and absolutely nothing could dampen their spirits – the cleaning up afterwards is not so pleasant but everyone puts their best foot forward.

There have been many highlights in the 6 weeks of this half-term; here is my list but you will of course have your own highlights:

  • A phenomenal report following our inspection in December
  • Our Senior 6 children all getting into their first choice of senior school whether maintained, independent or selective
  • Auditions for our big production of Wizard of Oz in the summer
  • A wonderful tuck shop “treat” organised by the Parents’ Association
  • At last, starting up our Big Band, String Group and Ukulele bands – it has been a while since we have been allowed to play instruments together
  • Reception children celebrating Mental Health Week by finding joy in nature and enjoying a ‘joyful’ trip to Ilkley Park
  • Senior 5 celebrating Burns Night
  • Lessons on the James Webb space telescope
  • Building rockets using a 3D printer

Added to this, we have had enormous success in the Wharfedale Cross Country League with several children achieving first place in the individual races within their year group, more children coming second and third, and first places for many team races.  Congratulations and well done to all our children (and parents!) who pitch up in horrible weather but still do their best – what great examples of determination and resilience you are!

To finish off a very productive and happy half-term, we have also had more enquiries for places than we have ever had before – Moorfield’s reputation for excellence all round is clearly becoming the hot topic!

A very happy half-term everyone and we look forward to seeing you on Monday 28th February.


26th January 2022

Success through nurture

By now, you will be aware that Moorfield has achieved an ‘excellent’ rating from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI).  We are of course delighted, as any school would be, but I am particularly pleased for my staff who give their all to ensure our children not only achieve their best academically, but are constantly encouraged to be the best people they can possibly be.  

One of the important points to come out of the inspection was the emphasis on how well the children are nurtured; increasingly, this has to be such an important element in the education of our children.  A recent document from local government states that, ‘a nurturing approach has a key focus on the school environment and incorporates attunement, warmth and connection alongside structure, high expectations and a focus on achievement and attainment’.

An approach to nurturing in schools has to be based on six main principles:-

  • Children’s learning is understood developmentally
  • Environment offers a safe base
  • Nurture is important for the development of wellbeing
  • Language is a vital means of communication
  • All behaviour is communication
  • Transitions are significant in the lives of children and young people

The points on this list seem obvious, don’t they?  However, these principles can easily be overlooked in the drive for higher and higher grades and top positions in league tables.  The point is, a nurturing approach is not just an ‘add on’ but is part and parcel of a rounded, holistic education and is a significant factor in helping our children to be successful and fulfil their potential.  We are so pleased that the inspectors recognised this at Moorfield.


6th January 2022 


For many people, returning to work in the cold, dark month of January can feel a bit depressing after all the celebrations and festivities of December; not for me though!  At the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, standing in the playground and greeting all those smiling, happy faces is enough to cheer up even the most cheerless grey morning.  It is particularly nice to hear that children ‘couldn’t wait to come back to school!’

As usual, we have started the term with a whole school assembly so that we can welcome everyone and announce the Senior 6 prefects and Head Pupil.  Many congratulations to Leena who is our Head Girl this term.  Leena has been at Moorfield since Reception and was a very popular choice for her lovely, calm approach to everything and commitment to our school values of kindness and courtesy; I know she will make us proud.  Many thanks to Catriona who did such an impressive job in the first term; I am sure she will be asked to take on this role again when she gets to senior school!

This term, we have 8 new children joining us in EYFS and from the settling in sessions we have had so far, the children already seem happy and engaged.  It is going to be a busy term as we are already planning for creative DT lessons in Forms 1 and 2, making and filming documentaries in Senior 5 using ‘green screen’ technology, STEM projects involving 3D printing, a swimming gala, a school production, residential trips and, back by popular demand, Moorfield’s Got Talent.  Phew!  As many of our recent visiting prospective parents have said, we certainly do pack so much in for a small school.  Watch out for all of these events over the next few months. 

16th November 2021 

Doing good does you good

If you have been keeping an eye on our Facebook page since the beginning of this term, like me, you will be in awe of how hard our children and staff are working and how much they are managing to pack into the days and weeks!

Of course, the excellent teaching and learning continues as usual but what is apparent from the numerous photographs and posts, is how much learning and enjoyment the children receive from all those other areas of school life.

Over the last few weeks, the children have been discovering for themselves that ‘doing good does you good’ – a phrase we frequently use when we are talking about how we should treat others, not just our friends and people we know, but recognising that we have a responsibility to other people in the wider world.

We have been putting ‘doing good does you good’ into action through the many events which support the different charities we are associated with; to date, we have raised awareness, money or both for:

  • PAFRAS – Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  • POPI – an organisation in Silsden supporting families with new babies
  • Bradford Central Foodbank
  • The Big Cat Sanctuary
  • Climate Action Ilkley
  • Teddy Day – Moorfield School Council raising money to enable us to buy a defibrillator for the local community surrounding our school
  • Heart Day – raising awareness of the importance of First Aid and CPR skills – donations were sent to the British Heart Foundation
  • Ilkley Playground Project
  • Give a Child a Hope – Mutugga, Uganda
  • MIND – Reception children did the Whernside challenge for this very important mental health charity
  • Children in Need

I know I have mentioned this before, but I would recommend parents and children read ‘doing good does you good’, a wonderful guide written by the Mental Health Foundation.  Not only does it emphasise how much children can learn from putting other people’s needs before their own, but evidence shows that helping others can have a positive effect on mental health and well-being.

Giving to charities and raising awareness are only two examples; the guide suggests little acts of kindness which go a long way to helping people feel better about themselves.  In anti-bullying week, we can all do our bit to spread kindness in whatever way possible.




18th October 2021                                            

What are the skills our children will need in the future?

Over the last few years there has been a noticeable shift in the way we are preparing our young people for the future.  This is driven in part by changes in the world economy, the changing patterns in the way in which people work but most of all, the shift in the type of skills both businesses and employers are looking for now.

In a survey of parents by the World Economic Form in 2020, they listed the top skills parents wanted to see in schools and it makes for interesting reading, see below:

  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • People management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Co-operation with others
  • Cognitive flexibility

Clearly, parents know from their own experiences of the workplace that employers want a different skill set; parents want their children to fulfil their potential academically of course, but personal, social and all round life skills are now equally important.

I make this point because it links to another study which looks at the characteristics that make recent graduates successful.  For employers, the skills they would like potential employees to possess include:

  • Being socially competent, mature and measured
  • Having self-control and a sense of perspective
  • Balanced, knowing yourself well
  • Resilience

In terms of productivity, being reliable, hard-working, adaptable, proactive in terms of decision making and problem solving are considered just as important as academic qualifications.

So, who is teaching all this? 

Clearly, the curriculum in schools will need to evolve to reflect the growing demand for these skills and for all schools, the task is to create classroom experiences that teach the skills the world needs; primary and prep schools are in exactly the right place to start this. 

You will know that we have been developing this over the last couple of years, planning problem solving elements in all areas of the curriculum, both inside the classroom and out; even our youngest children are used to honing problem solving and critical thinking skills every time they are engaged in outdoor learning.  PSHE lessons, circle time and assemblies are dedicated to exploring and developing personal and social skills, learning to work together, to listen to each other and to develop empathy.

Formal lessons of course only go so far; it is in the every day interactions with the children, conversations, jokes, taking them for walks on the moor, giving them opportunities to meet different people, modelling to the children how to deal with setbacks and disappointments; these are all part of the hidden curriculum and our nurturing of the children, preparing them for the future, is embedded in everything we do.  A recent comment about Moorfield really sums up what we are about:-

‘Moorfield School has recognized that a holistic approach to education, the emphasis on individualised care and the focus on developing resilience and life-long skills does not detract from academic success but rather, enhances it.’



10th September 2021

Welcome back!

The smiles of the children were nearly as bright as the sunshine on the first day of school this week!  It was such a pleasure for staff to be able to greet parents and children in our usual friendly, relaxed way.  A particularly warm welcome to everyone who is new to Moorfield this September.

We have got off to a wonderful start and, of course, the weather has helped.  We have a number of after school clubs running this term, including some exciting new ones and there are already some team building days, trips out and theme days planned.  Parents will have received the clubs timetable this week but do check it out on the website as well.

Well done to our Reception children who all received silver stars today for getting changed for PE completely independently.  I had a very happy time in Reception learning how difficult it is to get the correct button with the correct buttonhole and dressing in the right order; the children explained it to me in great detail!  Mrs Minshall was pleasantly surprised and delighted by their independence and said they were the best class she has had for getting changed for PE!

Congratulations to Catriona in Senior 6 who is Head Girl this term.  It is always hard trying to choose a Head Girl or Head Boy from a year group where every single child impresses us.  Catriona has a wise and sensible head on her shoulders, treats everyone with respect and has shown great leadership skills – we know she will give her all to this role.

One final note … Exciting news hot off the press!  From a shortlist of about 50 small independent schools, Moorfield is one of only 6 schools nationwide to be selected as a finalist for The Independent Schools of 2021 awards.  We are obviously thrilled by this; it is testament to excellent teaching and learning, the creative and inspiring curriculum and most of all to the hard work of every member of staff.  Thank you so much everyone.

7th July 2021


It will not have escaped anyone’s notice that most of the nation is in the grip of football fever!  I am no exception; everyone at Moorfield knows I love football.  I have supported the same team for many years (I’m not saying who that is), love going to live matches and have spent many a happy hour, standing on freezing touchlines, cheering on my younger daughter when she played for Ilkley as a teenager.  I even coached football when I first arrived as a teacher at Moorfield, ten years ago.

During our assemblies this week, I have been using football to talk to the children about the importance of working together as a team.  There were some very amusing answers when I asked the question, ‘who is the most important person in the England football team?’.  Eventually, of course, we all managed to reach the conclusion that actually, there isn’t anyone on the team who is more important than anyone else, they all play their part and are all equally important.  Being the bright sparks they are, the message I was trying to get across to the children was not lost on them –   we want to value each and every child for what they bring to ‘Team Moorfield’.

We are incredibly proud of our ‘Team Reception’ this week as they tackled the Whernside Challenge.  An eight and a half mile hike is certainly ambitious for four and five year olds but, once again, our adventurous and determined Reception children rose to the challenge, spurred on by Mrs Minshall, Mrs North and Mr Seddon.  Facebook photos show many happy, smiling faces and not one complaint all day; if that does not show resilience, I don’t know what does.  Even better, the children also raised £1,311 (and still counting),  for the mental health charity, MIND.  Well done Reception!

As I said in my last Word from the Head, it is important to try and celebrate and be thankful, despite the tumultuous 18 months we have had.  I am thankful that we had dry weather for four days in a row so that we could hold four different Sports Days in bubbles.  As we edge closer to the end of term, we look forward to the Senior 5 and Senior 6 play, the Senior 6 barbeque and the Leavers’ Assembly and hopefully, just hopefully, England in the final of the Euros.



18th June 2021

I can hardly believe we are now in the last half-term of an incredibly busy and eventful year.  It has flown by!

Despite the relentless challenges everyone has had to face, I can’t help but feel that there is much to celebrate and be grateful for.  Looking for the positives has been a focus in school; we have explored it through assemblies, circle time, philosophy, PSHE and also in general conversations with children around school whenever the opportunity has arisen.

Encouraging children to see a positive side to disappointments and challenges is part of how we aim to develop resilience in children and is the key to sustaining mental health and well-being; in our experience as educators, resilience and mental health go hand in hand – the two are invariably linked. 

During the last few weeks, I have asked the children what they think the ‘positives’ of the last 18 months could be and their responses were thought provoking, surprising, touching and, at times, downright hilarious!  Many children love the increased opportunities for outdoor learning and nearly all children felt there were many new experiences this year, such as Heart Day, Earth Day and Maths and Languages Day along with sports and Forest School activities during the holidays and exciting STEM projects. 

Other positive responses included:

  • It is nice to have new children in the school
  • I don’t even mind homework now and I did before
  • I’m much better at using a computer than I used to be
  • I was bored at home and it made me realise how good school is
  • I don’t complain about stuff as much as I used to
  • I’m good at washing my hands now and I always remember
  • My grandad got a dog during lockdown and now I am not scared of dogs

Interestingly, our children felt that their friendships were stronger and more important to them and  that teachers really cared about them; it is a source of pride for me that our children have reflected on these discussions in such a mature way and found ways to put things into perspective and be positive.

For Senior 6, one of the highlights of the year is to be given prefect responsibilities or to be chosen as Head Boy or Head Girl.  Jasmin has been an exemplary Head Girl and I want to thank her for her commitment and kindness.  Congratulations to Evie who now steps up to this important role.  I know she will make us proud.





21st April 2021

It has been a delight to see how much the children are enjoying school, particularly in this beautiful spring weather.  There has been so much going on since we returned after the Easter holidays; it almost seems as though we have packed a whole half-term into just 2 weeks!

We are making the most of the wonderful facilities in our grounds and as well as our dedicated bushcraft lessons, the children have been benefitting from some fantastic outdoor learning which has been the inspiration for science, English, maths, design technology and art lessons.  This is how education should be; inspiring children to be creative problem solvers using our natural environment as well as all the resources we can offer in our school building.

You will see from Facebook posts that our close proximity to Ilkley Moor is a huge advantage; within 5 minutes, we can be up on the moor and at the tarn, usually to continue outdoor learning but, sometimes, just because we can!  Do take a look at the Cow and Calf art work from Senior 5 which is the result of an afternoon’s walking, looking, listening, sketching, talking and then jotting down thoughts and reflections back in school. Something so simple can be the basis of incredible writing and debate.

At the start of a new term, we select a new Head Boy or Head Girl.  I would like to thank Arthur for the wonderful job he has done as our outgoing Head Boy; he is a great example of someone who treats everyone with respect and should be congratulated on the way he has negotiated the last, difficult term.  We are very pleased to announce that Jasmine is now taking over the reins as our new Head Girl.  We know Jasmine’s mature and calm manner will be an asset as she fulfils her duties as Head Girl and we wish her well.


12th March 2021

Why is music so important in school?

‘A successful school is often a musical school.  Music can be the catalyst that makes a good school exceptional.  When the magic of music is allowed to permeate the whole curriculum, it can have a positive impact on everything from academic attainment to pupil attendance.’

                               From ’10 Things Schools Should Know About Music’ – Music Maker journal      

 If you wanted any proof of the transformative power of music, you need only watch our children brim with confidence as they master a new piece on an instrument or you could watch enthralled young faces as they feel the power and emotion of singing together during choir lessons and performances.

Music has always been central to the curriculum at Moorfield and the impact it has on confidence, intellectual development, creativity and self-discipline cannot be over-estimated.    

The positive relationship between overall attainment and participation in music has been well documented by music scholars.  Our experience is that through music, children develop a growing sense of positivity, teamwork and resilience.  Children encourage each other to be successful which helps them to develop a true sense of belonging and community.

The value we place on the high quality music provision at Moorfield is reflected in our staffing and teaching – we are the only local prep school with a dedicated Director of Music, a professional choirmaster, a successful and highly qualified singing teacher and a talented group of peripatetic teachers for individual instrument lessons.  In addition, the children are encouraged to join Big Band, Jazz Band, String Group or Samba Band and to participate in the music festivals in Wharfedale and Skipton; all children are welcomed and benefit from participation in musical activities whatever their ability.

Moorfield’s reputation for music is well known in the area and is one of the many factors which make the school ‘exceptional’.


1st February 2021

Why is Year 3 such an important year?

In schools up and down the country, Year 3 is often regarded as a ‘stepping stone’ between what we used to call ‘infants and juniors’, now KS1 and KS2.

It is an important year in many ways; children have had a solid 3 years in KS1 leading up to this, acquiring skills, knowledge and independence.  They have been nurtured and encouraged to develop their imaginations and creative talents and have begun to learn how to interact with others and negotiate relationships in a more meaningful way.

Many Year 3 teachers will tell you that the transition from KS1 to KS2 can be difficult for children, both socially and academically, as there is so much that is different; this is something we are very aware of at Moorfield.  It is why we place such emphasis on developing children’s resilience, mental health and general well-being.  Moorfield’s Year 3 teacher is the Mental Health Lead for the school and is highly skilled in helping children make that leap into Year 3 with relative ease.  The children soon become used to academic expectations without fearing them and positively embrace the new challenges of KS2.

From the comments we have had from parents as their children leave Year 3, we know we get this right.  The strength of our curriculum in Year 3, alongside the nurturing of each individual child, means our Year 3 children continue to make exceptional progress and are well prepared for the rest of their learning journey.

14th January 2021

What a Start to the Term!

A belated Happy New Year to all our Moorfield families!  Not quite the start to the term we anticipated but, as in the last lockdown, Moorfield is rising to the challenge.

Like most schools, we were unable to conduct our usual formal assessments at the end of the academic year; continuous teacher assessment however was always part of or our on-line provision.  With the children back in school in September, it was important to assess the possible impact the lockdown and summer holidays may have had on the attainment of our children.

So, did last summer’s lockdown affect our children academically?

Our most recent assessments indicate that the lockdown has had barely any affect at all.  The results of the Autumn term GL assessments demonstrate that, once again, Moorfield children are working well above national average for English and maths, despite nearly 6 months out of school.  What an incredible testament to Moorfield staff, children and parents – well done each and every one of you!

This time around, our on-line provision is even better; emails from happy and grateful parents are evidence of this.  Live lessons throughout the day are supported with ‘drop in’ sessions where children have access to their teacher during independent task time, marking, assessment and feedback are all part of the normal day as they are when the children are in school.  Added to this, the on-line curriculum is further enhanced by all those creative extras which are part of the Moorfield ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum.  During the week, children have live baking sessions, PE lessons led by our Head of Sport, music and art lessons, philosophy and even our weekly choir lessons are still being delivered by our resident choir masters and music teachers, Emma and Steve Bradnum.  It really is a team effort from everyone and I can only say a huge heartfelt ‘thank you’.

13th November 2020

Technology Update

It is no secret that Moorfield has been developing and embracing a STEM curriculum; science, technology, engineering and maths.  We are fortunate to have enthusiastic teachers who are keen to incorporate technological learning experiences which really motivate our children, ably supported by our resident computer scientist and teacher, Chris Herbert.

Our youngest children are already developing simple coding skills and finding their way around software design packages which help them to develop fine motor skills and hand/eye co-ordination.  For our older children, the benefits of technology in project based learning are immense, harnessing interest in the world around them and combining knowledge and skills from multiple subject areas, such as language, arts, mathematics, geography and science, to name just a few.  This interdisciplinary approach encourages the transfer and application of knowledge to a whole range of projects.

This term, it has been a joy to see how engaged and excited our children are in anything engineering and technology based.  Coding allows children to work on logical sequencing and problem solving; Form 3 and Form 4 have been developing these skills to estimate aircraft landings and take offs!

Our Senior 5 children have been creating audio stories using the software package ‘Audacity’ and applying appropriate sound effects at various points in the story.  Both Senior 5 and Senior 6 have enjoyed learning how to program microbits and the most recent projects have involved the use of our 3D printer.  Here, the children have been learning how to use the 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) system “Tinkercad” which has allowed them to design key fobs and bookmarks.  They are now in the process of designing decorations for the Moorfield Christmas tree, which will all be printed on the 3D printer – photos of these wonderful designs will be on Facebook very soon! 

We are still discovering that a 3D printer can do so much more than we thought!  Senior 5 have used it to create different blade designs for wind turbines and then tested them to find out which designs were the most efficient in producing electrical currents; all part of a fantastic sustainability project planned by Mrs Welsh.

October 8th 2020

How important are traditions in a school community?

This year, Moorfield is celebrating its 90th year, its doors having been opened to children in 1930 by Miss Thorpe, Moorfield School’s first Headmistress.  The school was initially housed in West View, Ilkley, moving to Holme Lea in 1936 when numbers grew.  The school was eventually located in Wharfedale Lodge in 1968 where it continued to flourish into the outstanding school we know and love today.

Moorfield School has gone through many changes in its ninety years; the development of new classrooms, a purpose-built gym, the extension of Early Years provision and under Mrs Crossley’s Headship, the conversion of the tennis court into a multi-purpose pitch and the successful introduction of boys into Moorfield in 2012.  The school may now be entering a new era, but the traditions of Moorfield, which have always marked it out as a leader in independent education, remain the same.  

Making the decision about your child’s education is probably the most important decision parents will make, but research shows that for many parents, the history and traditions of a school are a key factor in their choice.  Traditions help children to feel grounded in the school, building a sense of community as significant milestones are observed and celebrated.  At Moorfield, we recognise how important these are to parents and children, traditions which include such things as the uniform, the names of the houses the children belong to, the bestowing of the title ‘Head Boy’ or ‘Head Girl’, Speeches and Prizes Day, the school’s support of many local and international charities, the Winter Banquet and even Mrs Glover’s Chocolate Square – a favourite lunchtime treat!

A common saying among educators is that there are two gifts which we should give our children; one is roots, the other wings.  Children need to feel the strength of those roots in order to make the flight which will carry them into the future.  One of the best expressions of this can be found in the Moorfield School Parent Handbook, found on the website, which refers to the history and values of the school:

“The strength of our ethos, which has threaded its way through Moorfield’s history, encourages the following qualities; treating others kindly, good living with a sense of responsibility, quiet confidence, hard work and celebrating individuality.  The Moorfield of today is a school where children thrive by working hard, achieving their academic potential and having fun.  By being happy and feeling valued, they develop the confidence to be successful.”

18th September 2020

Is the study of Philosophy good for children? 

Children are natural philosophers – ask anyone who has encountered a three-year old constantly asking the question “Why?”. 

I was reminded of this today as I popped in to see Reception and Nursery having their first STEM lesson; yes, even our youngest children are more than ready for the challenge of STEM!   The focus of the lesson was to think about what we need to launch a rocket into the air and if you look at our Facebook page on the Moorfield website, you can see the sheer enjoyment on the faces of the children.  During the course of the lesson though, what really struck me was how even young children can ask those ‘big’ questions.  Children are naturally curious about all sorts of things and philosophy harnesses that interest.  Today, we had questions such as:

  • Will it get broken if it can’t go any higher?
  • Is there anyone in the rocket?  Why not?
  • Why would you make a rocket if no-one can ride in it?
  • Why do we want a rocket to go up into the sky?

 Over the last few years, there has been a huge interest in developing a philosophy curriculum in primary schools and those schools that are starting to embrace it are seeing the benefits.  They find that children are much more likely to approach learning situations with an open mind, understand that there might be more than one right (or wrong) answer, look for evidence to support ideas and ask questions based on evidence.

Pete Worley, the co-founder of The Philosophy Foundation, references the newest study on this which shows that teaching philosophy in Years 4 and 5 also leads to higher academic achievement in terms of maths, reading and writing, with pupils in the study making approximately two additional months’ progress in reading and maths.  Children develop skills of analysis, interpretation, evaluation, inference, problem-solving and decision making, all essential skills in critical thinking which, in turn, have a positive influence on their confidence to speak, listening skills and self-esteem.

 So, what does a philosophy lesson look like at Moorfield?  Well, the answer is that philosophy and critical thinking have always been embedded in much of what we do in school; from interesting conversations about why people hold certain beliefs to discussions about making good and bad choices in PSHE lessons.  However, a dedicated philosophy curriculum is something we are aiming for and we are fortunate to have teachers who have experience in helping children develop the critical thinking skills needed to get to grips with some of those big questions.  

 A typical lesson may start with a stimulus such as book, photo, short film clip or piece of music which then encourages children to think about what sort of questions they may want to ask – anything from, ‘Are friends more important than family?’ to, ‘Is it ever okay to lie?’.

 This half-term, Form 3 is looking at the ingredients needed for the concept of happiness to be realised.  After much discussion about how we might recognise the qualitative feel of happiness, children are encouraged to share ideas about what those ‘ingredients’ are and then prioritise them, rationalising and justifying their choices.  This has led to questions such as:

  • Can we make our own happiness?
  • How do we know we are happy?
  • Would we want to be happy all the time or is it better to have some unhappy experiences?

 Schools should always seek to improve and develop new and interesting areas of learning; it is how we help our children prepare for the wider world and we are very excited about how this area of the curriculum may pan out. 

 Finally, you may be interested to know that, due to a technical hitch, the rocket launch today was not as successful as we would have liked (we are going to try it again next week!). However, we are going to use this as an opportunity to ask the important question, ‘Is it a good thing that sometimes things don’t work the first time?’.  Who knows how our Reception and Nursery children will answer that, but we will put interesting and funny comments on Facebook next week!

September 5th 2020

The first day of school in September is always a mixture of excitement and nerves as children, teachers and parents anticipate new things to learn in the classroom, new experiences and a slightly different routine; all teachers have their own way of organising their classroom and our children very quickly adapt to this. 

Now, think of this and imagine how it felt on the first day THIS year – all those feelings magnified tenfold! 

Moorfield staff have spent the summer making preparations for this day and have almost reinvented the school!  However, the most important preparations have centred around managing and supporting the well-being of our children, as this is something we felt would be the most important thing to address in the first couple of days, or even weeks.  We needn’t have worried, as the children have been nothing short of magnificent!  They have slotted into the new regime as though they have always done it this way.  It was such a joy to see happy, smiling faces, friendships carrying on where they left off and new friendships forged by the end of the day. 

Thank you to all our parents who have accepted and embraced the different way we have to operate; your patience is very much appreciated.  Moorfield parents are the friendliest group of parents I know, so it was lovely to see our many new families being welcomed so warmly by everyone.  To new Moorfield families, we do hope you feel part of the bigger Moorfield family in no time at all.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Charlotte Braham-Smith in Senior 6 who is the new Head Girl this term.  In true Moorfield fashion, the rest of Senior 6 were delighted for her and showed their enthusiasm for our choice with exuberant clapping and smiling.  Like all our children, Charlotte is a credit to her family and her school and I know she will take this responsibility seriously.  Well done Charlotte!

 June 12th 2020

The weeks leading up to opening the school to children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Senior 6 have probably been among the most challenging of times for any school.  The logistics of trying to create an educational experience for those different year groups, while at the same time trying to adhere to all the government guidance on safety, hygiene, social distancing, separating children into bubbles, organising staff so that they do not ‘cross over’ into a different bubble, finding a way to give staff a break during the day (as they are not allowed to leave their particular group of children to be supervised by anyone else), staggering entry and break times so different groups are not sharing the same space and a whole host of other issues, have certainly tested staff, governors and the Senior Leadership Team.

What has been apparent is the incredible team spirit in the staff who, against all the odds, have managed to develop suitable spaces, resources and an imaginative curriculum in order to create a learning environment which, although different to what the children are used to, has certainly had an impact on them so far.  The amount of work involved in preparing for such a small number of children is immense, even down to seemingly insignificant things such as sanitising lunch boxes every morning –  who is free to do that?!  Actually, that’s my job and I am more than happy to do it!

Of course, the children themselves have shown tremendous resilience as they have become used to all the restrictions we have to think about.  They have willingly accepted that they can’t walk or sit where they want to, mix with a friend who may be working in a different bubble to them, use sports equipment or play games in the way they would normally during breaktimes and PE lessons.  However, they have been nothing if not resourceful, finding ways to talk to each other across a 2 metre gap on the pitch, avoiding  bumping into each other in the corridors and today I spotted a ‘bubble’ devising what looked like a well thought out game which they could play without compromising distance or sharing equipment. 

This is not a situation I ever thought we would find ourselves in and certainly is not something I would want for my staff or children.  However, my experience so far is that this uncertain and difficult challenge has truly brought out the best in everyone at Moorfield and for that, I am incredibly humbled and grateful.

 May 11th 2020

Like many schools across the country, Moorfield has had to quickly embrace the concept of remote teaching and learning.  No doubt many schools are discovering that teaching and learning in this way is a lot more complex than most assume. The past couple of weeks has seen teachers dealing with a whole wealth of problems that, quite simply, nobody could have prepared for.  Having now completed our fifth week of remote learning at Moorfield, there are one or two things we have learned from our own experiences.

No one single technology or one method of delivering lessons will suit all age groups; the different technologies schools use will all have limitations.  Live-streaming and pre-recorded lessons have worked well for our younger children but only for short periods of time.  In the classroom, young children spend the day engaged in a variety of activities and tasks, working independently or with others, problem solving, investigating science and maths concepts, finding different ways of recording their work, moving around the classroom to take advantage of resources – they would not be sitting in front of the teacher for long periods of time so we would not expect them to do this at home in front of a screen.  Older children have benefitted from the structure of Google Classroom which, along with pre-recorded demonstrations and lessons, has allowed children to access carefully planned assignments and receive daily feedback on their work.

What has become apparent as we reflect on our practice is that children and parents manage this new way of learning much better when we employ a range of approaches.  Pre-recorded and live-stream lessons, practical activities, a theme for the week, encouraging children to record in different ways (we have discovered some budding film-makers during this time!), engaging in family debates, using a hands-on task to explain or reinforce maths concepts; all of these approaches, alongside the more traditional maths and English teaching we have planned, have helped to keep children engaged and motivated.

We have also found that children have a more positive attitude to remote learning if we are not rigidly sticking to a prescribed curriculum.  The children all have weekly and daily time-tables but, within these, we expect children to pick and choose from some optional activities and we encourage them to follow a topic or theme by pursuing their own independent investigations and interpreting tasks in their own way; you only have to watch our weekly Good Work Assemblies on Facebook to see how imaginative and creative our children are!  We have discovered that learning has a more meaningful outcome if children are guided towards following their own interests within a topic or theme – often, the best learning happens when children don’t even realise they are learning but just assume they are having fun. 

Above all, and fundamental to everything we are trying to achieve during this difficult time, is that we want our children to maintain a sense of balance, happiness and well-being which, as we know from our experience as educators, goes hand in hand with academic success and never more so than now.  

April 3rd 2020

This Friday was supposed to be the last day of term at school.  The days leading up to this are usually full of fun and activities for the children including Easter Bunny Day, dressing up, an egg decorating competition and an Easter egg hunt in our school grounds, an eagerly anticipated event.  Our last assembly is always all about recognising and celebrating the achievements of the children during the term, not just academic achievements and prizes for sport and music, but recognition of personal development, perseverance and courtesy. 

We are now all trying to adjust to a new reality and, in a very short space of time, those events which have always been reliable, fixed features in our calendar each term have now been taken over by other events.  We are not able to give out prizes in our end of term assembly, but every single child at Moorfield is deserving of a prize.  You may remember a few months ago that my focus for “Word from the Head” was on the subject of resilience and how we can support our children during those times when unexpected events occur, both in our personal lives and as we are experiencing now, a life-changing global event.  During the last few weeks, I have been humbled by our children who have displayed resilience, perseverance, independence and yes, even at times, good humour; they have truly tried to live up to the school’s values.  Examples of these qualities have included:- 

  • Older children supervising younger children on thorough hand washing
  • Preparing assemblies on kindness
  • Organising an alternative activity when they have been prevented from attending a fixture or a trip
  • Listening and talking sensibly with each other about their worries
  • Learning how to use positive thinking strategies to combat feelings of anxiety
  • Continuing with a positive attitude towards lessons and homework
  • Persevering with music practice ready for the Skipton Festival
  • For our Senior 6, showing great strength of character in putting on a fabulous performance of ‘Matilda’ for the whole school, even though parents could not be there to see it
  • A real determination from all the children to make the best of it

This is a time when taking care of both our own and our children’s mental wellbeing has to be a priority.  Keeping busy with home learning, activities, chores, reading and exercise is important but so is that precious family time when parents and children can just talk together.  Children will have anxieties that they may want to discuss and I would recommend using the guidance on the Mental Health Foundation website and Every Mind Matters.  In addition, there is very useful guidance on www.gov.uk – a document entitled ‘Guidance for Parents and Carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’.

Parents, please make the time to be kind to yourselves as you take care of your families.

March 3rd 2020

The Joy of Reading

In an age when our children are more used to communicating and interacting via computer games, social media apps, mobile phones and tablets, it feels almost rare to see children actively choose a book over screen time.  This week, the National Literacy Trust reported that, in 2019, just 26% of under 18’s spent some time each day reading.  Enjoyment of reading, according to the report, dwindles with age and overall ‘just 53% of children said they enjoyed reading “very much” or “quite a lot” – the lowest level since 2013’.

There is no doubt that the importance of reading for children cannot be underestimated.  Reading for pleasure can benefit a child’s education, social and cognitive development, their wellbeing and their mental health.  According to a recent study by the Book Trust, reading ‘facilitates social interaction between adults and children, and encourages children to engage with the world around them’.  The study points to other benefits of reading:-

  • developing empathy – experiencing the lives of other characters helps to develop a greater understanding of emotions; essential in social development.
  • gaining a deeper understanding of the world – children are transported to countries and cultures they may not otherwise experience, learning about different people and events
  • improved literacy skills – helping with language acquisition in very young children and stimulating the part of the brain that processes language.
  • extensive vocabulary – children are introduced to more adventurous vocabulary which they then become accustomed to using in their own writing.
  • developing higher levels of creativity and imagination – children have to use their imaginations to picture characters and settings in stories and this leads to greater creativity in writing.

So how can we instil a love of reading in children?   I ask this because in the same week that the National Literacy Trust report is published, schools up and down the country are celebrating World Book Day.  At Moorfield, we will be marking this by a focus on shared reading between children and parents.  At the end of the school day, we are inviting parents to join us to ‘snuggle up’ and read aloud to their children or sit with them while they listen to a story.  It helps that the staff and children will all be in pyjamas, just to make that precious bedtime story aspect more authentic!

Interestingly, a recent Government report advocated the return of story time at the end of the school day, something that has been increasingly lost in many schools; but not at Moorfield.  Shared reading, using high quality texts as stimulus for writing and reading aloud to children during the day and also at the end of the day, has always been an important part of the curriculum and routine of our school day.   The English curriculum at Moorfield, together with other subjects such as history, RE and PSHE, gives our children numerous opportunities to discuss the meaning behind texts, the impact of carefully chosen vocabulary and their own responses to descriptions of events, characters and settings.  We have discovered that using a shared class book as the basis for the teaching of all genres of writing, including creative writing, significantly enhances and improves the children’s own writing.  In addition, we want our children to read a range of texts so that they have a greater variety of material which not only motivates them to read further, but helps them to become discerning readers.

Parents can help their children by modelling a love of reading themselves, talking to their children about books they enjoyed reading at school and why they enjoy reading as adults.  Encouraging children and parents to read together and to use that precious time at the end of the day to share a loved book not only enhances the pleasure of reading but provides parents with an opportunity to have a regular shared event that they and their child can look forward to.

February 13th 2020

At Moorfield, we are acutely aware of how important Year 6 is for our children, not only academically, but also in terms of personal development.  It is always gratifying to see our children really blossom in that last school year; a combination of the ethos of the school, excellent pastoral care, the opportunities to take on responsibilities and most of all, to recognise that this is the year when they can fulfil all the expectations we have had for them.  Being at the top of the school gives children a sense of having ‘made it’ and they eagerly anticipate this important stage in their education, not only for the kudos it gives them but also for the opportunity to experience this important time together as a close group of friends.

This final year is the one our children look forward to the most. They know they will become prefects and they discharge their prefect duties with great pride, helping to do jobs around the school, looking after our younger children and relishing the role of ambassadors for the school.  It is in Year 6 that children experience the thrill of having special privileges, reserved only for the oldest children in school and it is in this year that we start to see significant changes in our children.  We have noticed that the children leave the end of Year 6 completely unrecognisable from how they were at the beginning; children who have had to work hard at developing confidence academically or in other areas of school life begin to harness their inner strength and show us what they are really made of.  In the Spring and Summer terms, all those enriching experiences, such as the entrepreneur projects, the school play, residentials, days out, team building events, sports fixtures and the opportunities to showcase talents in a variety of ways, all give us the chance to see how far our children have come – no wonder it is an emotional day when they eventually have to leave us!

Year 6 is the pinnacle of everything the children and staff have worked towards throughout their time at school and this is also reflected in academic achievement.  We are delighted this year that, once again, those children who have opted to take entrance exams for a variety of schools in the area have all gained places at their first choice of school.  Added to this, we are celebrating 100% pass rate for selective grammar schools, two academic scholarships, four drama scholarships, one music scholarship and a Chartered Award – only given to a child achieving the highest score out of all children in the area taking the entrance exam.

 It has given me the greatest pleasure to talk to Heads of senior schools about Moorfield children; comments included, ”you can just tell they have had the best start possible in their education” and “their independence, willingness to interact with others, ability to tackle a task or problem, attitude to learning and the courteous way they conduct themselves really makes them stand out”.

As the Head of Moorfield, those conversations with other Heads not only make me extremely proud of all our Year children but confirm to me, and our parents, that what we do absolutely works and the ‘end product’ in that final year is a result of a whole staff approach to excellent teaching and a commitment to developing the whole child.

February 7th 2020

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week, but at Moorfield, we promote mental health and well-being all year round.  This is the article written by Mrs Herbert last October.

There has been much in the news over the last few months about the rise in the number of children who have been referred to health professionals for mental health and wellbeing issues.  We only have to look at the many influences and demands on young people to see how this rise has happened.  The World Health Organisation has reported that the pressure on children to attain only the highest grades, negotiate their way in an increasingly competitive world and to be seen to be ‘perfect’ is creating a climate of low self-worth and anxiety.

The Mental Health Foundation has created a pack entitled, ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ which lays out simple rules for building resilience and explains how parents and teachers can support children in developing emotional wellbeing.  The tips are:

Get connected – encourage children  to have conversations with different people in school,  join clubs and teams, organise events to have opportunities to socialise, such as school coffee mornings.

  • Get active – encourage children to try a range of sports and activities, make exercise important.
  • Be mindful – develop opportunities for children to participate in circle time, notice what is going on in their minds and bodies, try yoga.
  • Keep learning – whether it’s creative, IT skills, or a discussion about the news, it doesn’t matter as long as it excites, interests and keeps those brain juices flowing.
  • Give to others – organise charity events, help a friend in the classroom or playground, support a younger child.

 I mention the Mental Health Foundation pack because as I read it I realised that at Moorfield, we already embrace all of these rules during the normal school day and week; even the coffee morning idea which was such a success last week.  Equipping our children with the skills to be able to deal with change, the stresses of everyday life, cope with setbacks and maintain positive relationships with others is a crucial part of our ‘hidden’ curriculum.  It is the responsibility of all schools to help children to develop the confidence to negotiate life’s choppy waters and I am proud that we are a school which takes this responsibility seriously.

Yesterday morning Peter Willox (Vicar at St. John’s) led our assembly and I was inspired by something he said.  He explained to the children the meaning of the ‘good news’ for Christians and during his talk he encouraged children to be good news; to do something kind for someone every day.  If you want to read more about how important this particular rule is, please encourage your child to read the ‘Doing Good Does You Good’ guide which can be found on the Mental Health Foundation’s website.

January 17th 2020

Does SATs preparation and testing ruin the last year of primary school for Year 6 children?

This is a question which has been debated for a number of years and is something I am often asked by parents, staff and anyone who has an interest in the education of children.  Having worked in the state sector for over 20 years, I think I can answer that question with a resounding ‘yes’!  My experience of teaching Year 6 is that all learning opportunities are put to one side as soon as children start the academic year in September; a year taken up with SATs practice.  Despite schools and staff working incredibly hard to minimise the impact of this on the curriculum, I know that, for many schools, the implications of the SATs results make the stakes very high.

Further evidence comes from the independent National Foundation for Educational Research.  They have found that children are simply being more effectively coached for SATs rather than educated:  History, art, drama, discussions and music get squeezed out of the curriculum and all those enriching experiences which so benefit children in the last year of school are either crammed into a few weeks at the end of term, or indeed not done at all.  They also point out that as children are coached so intensely, the end results are not always a true reflection of ability.  Speaking to colleagues who manage the transition to Year 7 in senior school, it is clear that they no longer rely as much on SATs results as an indicator of ability or performance, preferring instead to assess children themselves once they join Year 7.

Independent schools have a choice whether to participate in SATs testing or not and some schools have continued with it simply as a way of being included in the Sunday Times Good School Guide.  However, it is telling that the number of independent schools who choose this option is now less than 25% and falling.  They have discovered, as we have, that eschewing SATs tests actually enhances academic performance.

At Moorfield, along with 75% of good prep schools, we do not do SATs and yet the children leave at the end of Year 6 performing well above the national average in English and maths.  We want our Year 6 children to say farewell to us having experienced an enriched curriculum and all those ‘extras’ which make memories of school so special. 

January 4th 2020

As we start our new term, I thought it an opportune time to reflect on all we have achieved during last term.  If you attended the end of term assembly, you will know that I included lots of ‘highlights’ which the children had shared with me in the run up to the last week.  I have included the list below for those parents, carers and grandparents who were unable to be at the assembly:

  • winning five out of five hockey matches in one festival, we didn’t even concede a goal.  We were unbeatable – way to go Mr Snook!
  • sharing a cake with my mum at the Macmillan coffee morning
  • The Wizard of Oz – I absolutely loved it!
  • pretending to be a news reporter in a geography lesson
  • going to Mrs Herbert’s office for a silver star
  • Mrs Herbert putting a silver star on my nose instead of my jumper
  • Mr Well’s jazz band on a Thursday
  • getting lovely and muddy on the Otley Chevin
  • using coding to build and control a buggy in Mr Herbert’s computing lesson
  • holding an owl called Midge
  • going to the pet shop with Miss van Eede
  • pretending I’m dead (a reference to one of Mrs TT’s emergency first aid lessons)!

It comes as no surprise to discover that, for the children, the highlights are all about sharing successes and experiences with others, celebrating personal achievements and thoroughly enjoying creative and challenging lessons.  I also have my own highlights which I included in my Christmas letter to parents in December.  If you have not had the chance to read it on your email, I have included the main body of it here.  It can of course also be found on the Parental Portal on our website.

Dear Parents

As always, the last two weeks of the term are a whirlwind of excitement and activity as children prepare for the Christmas break.  I am sure you will agree with me that both the Nativity and the Carol Service reminded us of the wealth of talent, courage and musicality our children demonstrate when they are called upon to perform.  I’m sure, like me, you could not have failed to appreciate the wonderful Christmas message told so sensitively and endearingly by the children; without doubt, the perfect way to get us all into get into the Christmas spirit.

It is fitting then that I can wholeheartedly say that the highlight for me has been the over whelming generosity, kindness and compassion which has been so prevalent throughout the term, both from children and parents.  As I write, the sleigh outside my office is over flowing with gifts, bought and wrapped by Moorfield families, ready to be taken to other children in the Bradford area.  Those gifts will be truly appreciated by all those who work for the organisation, ‘Staying Put’, as they work to help children and parents recover from difficult home situations.

Our Children in Need day, which was completely organised and run by School Council, raised over £1000, with £648 coming from EYFS alone, as parents and children braved the weather to undertake a walk with the specific purpose of helping other children.  The MacMillan Coffee Morning, together with a donation from a member of staff, raised nearly £800 and another £200 was the result of the Jeans for Genes day in September.  Alongside this of course is the donation of food to Ilkley Food Bank as part of our Harvest giving and the Christmas collection for the Revival Centre in Matugga. 

When I say that Moorfield is a small school with a big heart, this is exactly what I mean.  It is not really about the money, impressive though that is, it is about our willingness to reach out to other people in our community and do what we can to show our support – this is what it means to uphold and cherish the values of the school.

Finally, it only remains for me to say a heart-felt thank you for supporting Moorfield in all manner of ways and to wish you all a very happy Christmas.  We look forward to seeing you in January and hope you all manage some rest and family time over the holiday.

November 22nd 2019

Last week was an extremely busy week in school but I am always amazed at how well our children greet each new activity with such a ‘can do’ attitude; don’t they ever get tired?  It seems not!  Busy weeks, of course, can also be productive, thought provoking and actually joyful. 

When I look back at the calendar from last week, the range and scope of learning opportunities is both exciting and inspiring.  It was very much a science and maths focus starting with class trips to the Otley Science Festival.  If you haven’t already, do look at the Facebook photos which show Form 3 enjoying the ‘School of Water Wizardry’.  Senior 5 have been looking at how to reduce their carbon footprint through renewable energy which inspired them to investigate how water wheels work and the factors which affect how much electricity is produced.  Form 4 and Senior 5 were also involved in a streamed live STEM lesson from the Caribbean where they learnt about the anatomy of the coral polyp.   Further activities during the week included a focus on maths investigations with all children involved in maths challenges, which encompassed building tetrahedrons, using maths in coding lessons and working out a combination problem involving houses, teddies, colours and streets.  I popped in to see the children and hardly anyone looked up to acknowledge me, not because they had forgotten their manners  (these are Moorfield children after all)  but because they were so absorbed in what they were doing.

It is wonderful that our children have all these opportunities and as we already know at Moorfield, learning is not confined to a timetable, structure or the classroom.  I know from the excited reactions and conversations during the week that these experiences will be remembered for a long time, inspiring our children to be curious, adventurous, innovative but most of all, helping them to develop a love of learning and discovery which will last a life-time.

November 13th 2019

One of the most difficult things to do as a parent is to allow your child to make mistakes or even fail. It is a natural instinct to want to protect children from disappointment; I know from my own parenting experience that I have been guilty of trying to smooth the way and remove any obstacle or bump in my children’s path.

There are many research papers, parenting guides and academic theories penned by all sorts of experts about how to build resilience in children and there are differing points of view in them all. One thing on which they do agree is that allowing children to take risks and make mistakes also helps them learn to solve problems and understand natural consequences.

Donna Volpitta, founder of the Centre for Resilient Leadership in the USA, maintains that “children can gain so many lessons from failure. When we don’t swoop in to save them, they’re forced to learn how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. It pushes kids to learn to try new strategies. Parents can use failures as opportunities to teach those lessons”.

“That is easier said than done,” I can hear you say and of course you have to make a judgement about when the time is right to let your child get on with it.  A good rule of thumb is to let children fail when they have a good chance of learning from it and they can be supported in developing a strategy for next time.  Parents can help by giving the right kind of praise and talking about strengths and weaknesses and, although it may pain us as adults, we can be role models in showing our children how we deal with our own setbacks and disappointments to better prepare them for life’s challenges.

October 24th 2019

Our value during these first few weeks of the school year has centred around ‘thankfulness’, so it is fitting that the end of the first half-term coincides with a Harvest Assembly in school.  We have so much to be thankful for but sometimes it is so easy to forget this; I am grateful to Reverend Shannon for reminding us of this in such a warm and engaging way. 

I am thankful for our wonderful parents who gave so generously to the work of Ilkley Food Bank.  As I mentioned at the end of the assembly, it is important to remember that even in a town such as Ilkley, there are many families who, for one reason or another, may experience difficult times and need the support of all of us to help weather a rough patch.  I was reminded of this when I read about the work of the Ilkley Food Bank volunteers who explained that they collect, prepare, pack and distribute over 50 bags of food every week to families.  They went on to make the point that none of us are immune to a sudden change of circumstances which may result in any one of us relying on this sort of support.

So as we come to the end of the first half-term, I am thankful for our wonderful school, talented and hard-working teachers and our kind and well behaved children.  Most of all though, I have been extremely thankful for the willingness of parents to support us in everything we do and for all the good wishes and encouragement I have received personally since the beginning of term – I could not have wished for a better start.

Enjoy a restful half-term break, you all deserve it!

October 11th 2019

Switching roles from class teacher to the Head of Moorfield has many challenges as you can imagine.  While I miss the close interaction a teacher has with a class and the joy of seeing children completely engaged in their learning, a Head’s job does have many compensations!  Over the last week, I think my highlights have all been about celebrating the success of the children and, of course, being Head means that I can be involved in the celebration of many children, not just one class.  

This week I have had some interesting conversations with Form 1 who all came to see me to show me their ‘Autumn Riddles’ and took great delight in making me try and work out the clues.  The writing and imagination in such young children were exceptional and they all deserved their silver stars. I know I use the word ‘proud’ more times than I should but the whole week certainly did make me proud.  Our Reception children braved the wind and rain to spend a day on the Otley Chevin; not a single complaint from anyone and the Facebook photographs show a group of children revelling in the mud, rain, wind and each other – what better advert could you have for demonstrating how resilient our children are? 

The rugby festival at Gateways was a triumph for the boys and for Mr Snook.  For many children, it was their first rugby match and so there were nerves all round when they set off, but goodness me, how they rose to the occasion – four wins out of five, well done everyone!

To complete an already magnificent week, Senior 5 and 6 made me proud just by being Moorfield children.  Mrs Crebbin reported to me that during their wonderful trip to Bradford Cathedral, the cathedral staff was full of praise for the ‘delightful, well behaved children’ who all showed such interest and asked sensible, thoughtful questions.  The conductor on the train back to Ilkley personally thanked our children for being so wonderfully polite and well behaved. Oh dear, I’m going to use the ‘p’ word again! Well, it won’t be for the last time I’m sure.

October 4th 2019

There has been much in the news over the last few months about the rise in the number of children who have been referred to health professionals for mental health and wellbeing issues.  We only have to look at the many influences and demands on young people to see how this rise has happened.  The World Health Organisation has reported that the pressure on children to attain only the highest grades, negotiate their way in an increasingly competitive world and to be seen to be ‘perfect’ is creating a climate of low self-worth and anxiety.

The Mental Health Foundation has created a pack entitled, ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ which lays out simple rules for building resilience and explains how parents and teachers can support children in developing emotional wellbeing.  The tips are:

Get connected – encourage children  to have conversations with different people in school,  join clubs and teams, organise events to have opportunities to socialise, such as school coffee mornings.

  • Get active – encourage children to try a range of sports and activities, make exercise important.
  • Be mindful – develop opportunities for children to participate in circle time, notice what is going on in their minds and bodies, try yoga.
  • Keep learning – whether it’s creative, IT skills, or a discussion about the news, it doesn’t matter as long as it excites, interests and keeps those brain juices flowing.
  • Give to others – organise charity events, help a friend in the classroom or playground, support a younger child.

 I mention the Mental Health Foundation pack because as I read it I realised that at Moorfield, we already embrace all of these rules during the normal school day and week; even the coffee morning idea which was such a success last week.  Equipping our children with the skills to be able to deal with change, the stresses of everyday life, cope with setbacks and maintain positive relationships with others is a crucial part of our ‘hidden’ curriculum.  It is the responsibility of all schools to help children to develop the confidence to negotiate life’s choppy waters and I am proud that we are a school which takes this responsibility seriously.

Yesterday morning Peter Willox (Vicar at St. John’s) led our assembly and I was inspired by something he said.  He explained to the children the meaning of the ‘good news’ for Christians and during his talk he encouraged children to be good news; to do something kind for someone every day.  If you want to read more about how important this particular rule is, please encourage your child to read the ‘Doing Good Does You Good’ guide which can be found on the Mental Health Foundation’s website.

September 27th 2019

We have been thinking about language and how we communicate.  ‘European Languages Day’ has been the perfect opportunity to try out different ways of greeting each other and expressing ourselves.  In an age where the study of modern foreign languages seems to be in decline, certainly at GCSE level, we want to do all we can to encourage our children to see the value in this very important skill.   When you can speak to people in their own language you deepen connections and understanding.  If you learn a foreign language as a child, you will have a lifetime to reap the benefits of cross-cultural friendships, broader career opportunities, exciting travel adventures and deeper insights into how others see the world.

There are other benefits too.  Research shows that learning a second language boosts problem-solving, critical-thinking and listening skills, in addition to improving memory, concentration and the ability to multitask.  Children proficient in other languages also show signs of enhanced creativity and mental flexibility.

 Obviously, these are all important reasons and we are very fortunate that we are able to offer both French and Spanish at Moorfield, even to our younger children.  What has been apparent as I have watched Mrs Hewitt’s lovely language lessons and observed the children singing, reciting, counting, role-playing and participating in language games, is the complete joy they experience from immersing themselves in a new language. 

 During this week, the children have embraced the fun of learning a language; from dressing up in the colours of the Polish flag, asking for their lunch in Spanish, experiencing food from other countries and learning how to conduct basic social interactions in French, Spanish and Italian.  Our Spanish lunch was such a success this week that Mrs Collier has suggested we have a ‘Language Lunch’ every half-term, not just on Languages Day.  Well, I say ‘twoje zdrowie’ to that – Polish for ‘cheers’!

September 20th 2019

You would be forgiven for thinking Form 1 was moving classroom this week.  I popped in to see them on Wednesday and couldn’t find a single child anywhere, but there they were, hiding among a pile of huge cardboard boxes!  It soon became clear that this was the start of an exciting train building project, inspired by a fabulous ride on the Bolton Abbey steam train the day before.  This is why we love teaching at Moorfield; harnessing the enthusiasm and interest of children and observing how much they enjoy learning is definitely one of the best things about the job.

Our younger children continually surprise and impress us.  Mrs Turner-Thompson’s First Aid lesson really was a revelation.  I was so proud to see children as young as five years old confidently following the correct procedure for dealing with an emergency – it seems that we have some budding medics in our midst!  During role play, they checked their ‘casualty’ for breathing and injuries before calling for an ambulance, remembering to explain their location and briefly summarising the problem.  We are so fortunate that we have a teacher who has a wealth of skills and experience in life saving and emergency procedures and even more fortunate that we have children so prepared to give this a go.  As I mentioned at Meet the Teacher Evening, every child in school will receive the benefit of these very important life lessons.

Finally, if you have not had the chance to catch up with all our goings on through the school Facebook page, do have a look.  Only Mrs Minshall would think of taking Nursery children to a car wash!  Those photographs will keep you smiling for days to come.

September 13th 2019

There is so much to celebrate in school this week.  Already, Reception children have received silver stars for beautiful letter formation and handwriting, Senior 5 children are busy impressing Mrs Welsh in maths lessons and everyone in school is greeting each new opportunity and challenge with great enthusiasm.

A huge thank you to parents for attending ‘Meet the Teacher’ evening. It was a pleasure to see so many of you there and have the chance to get to know new faces.  Feedback since then has been very positive, with parents commenting on how much they appreciate the chance to hear from their child’s teacher about plans for the year ahead.  As I mentioned at the meeting, as part of our focus on helping parents and children to use technology safely, we are running a series of lessons and workshops looking at on-line safety and we are grateful for the expertise of the Bradford District Cyber Team, along with West Yorkshire Police, who will be helping us with this.  Please keep an hour free on the afternoon of 15th November as we will be inviting you to a special workshop for parents, grandparents and carers.  Keeping our children safe and helping them to protect themselves is becoming even more important in the world in which we live. 

Another highlight this week has been a wonderful assembly on the theme of curiosity and what a surprise at the end!  I won’t give too much away here but watching the children’s reaction and hearing such delighted laughter was certainly one of the best ways I know to start a busy Thursday.

September 6th 2019

What a lovely first day back we have had!  The sun has been shining, well most of the day at least, certainly there has been enough dry weather for the children to go out to play. I have been delighted to see so many smiling and absorbed little faces as I have walked around school and popped into classrooms.  There has been a definite buzz in the air which has been delightful. 

Our Senior 6 prefects are very proud to have been given responsibilities this term and, in honour of our library being reinstated, we have asked Sam to be in charge of it, a prefect job he is particularly thrilled with.  Congratulations to Lucinda who is Head Girl this term, I know she will undertake this role brilliantly.

May 16th 2019

The Summer term is a short but very busy one and it seems incredible that we are already almost half way through the first half of the term.  There is so much to fit in!  Last week began with a Bank Holiday but school was very much to the forefront for many of you at the Ilkley Carnival.  I do hope that all involved had a wonderful time; I know that the children have talked about it with great enthusiasm. 

Even though the Bank Holiday left us with a four day week, there has still been time to squeeze a lot in.  The Wharfedale Festival was prominent and I’m really pleased that so many of the children were involved.  Those children who performed in the Poetry Recitals achieved superbly well; there was a first and second place in Form 2, a second and both joint thirds in Form 3, a first and second in Form 4, a first, second and third in Senior 5, as well as a second in Senior 6!  The String Group also achieved a first place and by all accounts performed very well.  I was present to watch the performance of the Senior 5 and Senior 6 choir and I thought that they were excellent; as usual watching them made me feel incredibly proud of the school and the dedication and abilities of the staff and children involved.  Besides all of this, there has also been time for a very successful residential trip for Form 4 to Bewerley Park.  I’m told that the children behaved themselves superbly and that a wonderful time was had by all.

This week promises to be even busier:  Many of the children will be completing annual assessments during the week and, in addition, children in Senior 6 and some children in Senior 5 will also be out on the roads on their bicycles as part of the Bikeability programme.  All of this goes on, of course, alongside the rehearsals that are continuing for next week’s production of “Mary Poppins”.  The play is getting very close now and the excitement and anticipation are noticeably beginning to build!  I am certainly looking forward to seeing my first Moorfield School production enormously.

In the near future we will be issuing a school survey which will give parents the opportunity to feedback to us about things which are going well and of course also where there is room for improvement.  This is a vital tool for school development so please look out for it and do get involved if you have the time to complete one.  The children will also be having an NSPCC assembly in the final week of half term which delivers the “Speak Out. Stay Safe Programme”.  Once again, please look out for a letter with further information about this initiative.

I do hope that you and your children enjoy the rest of the half term. Things promise to be even busier when we return after the half term break.

Paul Baddeley

April 12th 2019

The warmer weather and brighter skies are finally here and spring is definitely upon us!  As we prepare for our Easter Break, it seems a good time to reflect on some of the extremely positive things that I have seen and experienced at Moorfield over the last few weeks.

It has been so pleasing to see the impact that the children here at Moorfield have within the local community.  There were of course excellent performances at both the Harrogate and Skipton Festivals.  In fact, in all there were 110 performances by our pupils at the Skipton festival alone and ten of these were chosen to be in the final concert, which showcases the best performances throughout the week. 

Closer to home, it was a pleasure to take part in the school’s Autism Awareness Walk.  The children looked fantastic in their uniforms and hats as we walked around Ilkley and gave a wonderful impression of our school through both their appearance and their polite and friendly manner towards anybody that we encountered. 

Resilience is a key word in the school values and I have seen the way that the children who have been joining in with the weekly cross-country runs are able to display this in abundance. They turn up in their numbers to some windswept and rainy locations and then run up and down hill in treacherous conditions without a word of complaint, all in the name of representing their school, well done to all involved.

As you would expect this last week of the term has been a very busy one.  It began with the wonderful shared event that was the Easter Service at St. John’s Church.  It was lovely to see so many of you there to experience the very moving singing and the powerful readings which were so well executed by the children in Senior 6.  There has also been an exceptionally high quality of entrants to the Easter Bonnet and Decorated Egg competitions; some wonderful attention to detail and a serious amount of creativity in evidence there.

I hope that you all have a very relaxing and fun Easter break together and look forward to seeing you all again next term.

Paul Baddeley

March 2019

One of the many great privileges of having a career in education is that on occasion there is an opportunity to accompany children on a residential visit. Last week I was able to enjoy my very first residential with children from Moorfield School. In this case it was the Senior 6 trip to London. The trip was a wonderful treat for me, not just because of the fabulous cultural opportunities that were on offer but because this sort of trip always provides a chance to get to know the children much better and to see how they socialise with each other over a long period. 

As you might imagine, they were all a credit to the school and to their families. Consistently polite, open to learning and new experiences, both tolerant and compassionate with each other and cheery and positive throughout. The residential was superbly organised by Mrs Hewitt and Mrs Crossley’s experience of both the trip and the city meant that I was in a really good position to observe and enjoy the children’s interactions. They made the most of everything and even when they were clearly tired and hungry they never stopped being positive and caring. The whole trip was an affirming experience and one to make a head teacher very proud, I look forward to the next one.

Paul Baddeley

February 2019

In recent weeks we have continued to focus on how we can look after and respect our planet. This has involved setting out on some different environmental projects. You are very likely to be aware of Reception’s ‘Sea Cycler’ which currently has pride of place in the entrance foyer. What you may not be aware of is that as a school we have recently signed up to a scheme whereby our food waste is now being recycled and converted into energy. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing information with the children about how this process works and how much energy we are able to create.

As well as this, Miss Van Eede also attended a recent Ilkley meeting entitled ‘The Solution is Less Pollution’ on the school’s behalf, which was about water pollution in the town. We will be following up on this as a school after the half term. Finally, we have also just begun a school project on air po