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    This year in the Pringle Centre, we have tried to enhance the learning environment further and expose the boys to different opportunities. Yoga and dance in the centre, at breaktimes, have become a popular pastime and the boys relish the chance to try something new and have fun. The ever-changing foyer ‘themes’ have allowed the boys to have an input into what they want their school home to look and feel like.

    MerchistonCastleSchoolYoga

    At Christmas, the boys built an igloo out of recycled milk bottles to magic up a vision on Narnia and most recently, they have all been involved in making bird collages to add to our ‘Twits’ theme, tying in with the J4/5 upcoming drama production of the book. 

    MerchistonCastleSchoolJuniorsIgloo

    By far the most popular centre addition has been the rabbits. Domino and Parsnip joined us at the beginning of the year and have been a great hit with the boys, parents, visitors, families of staff and staff alike. It is well documented that animals have a positive impact on the wellbeing and behaviour of young people and the impact of having these fluff balls hopping around the centre at breaktimes, ‘helping’ in the classroom and providing cuddles when needed can not be underestimated. The boys adore them and learning to look after, and care for something other than themselves has been incredibly positive. They have developed their empathy, responsibility, teamwork skills and confidence. 

    MerchistonCastleSchoolRabbits

    Klassens Tid was introduced on Wednesday mornings to give the boys a time to reflect and promote wellbeing. First developed in a school in Denmark, Klassens Tid (or empathy) helps build relationships, prevent bullying and succeed at work. It promotes the growth of leaders, entrepreneurs and managers. During the Klassens Tid sessions, boys discuss their problems, either related to school or not, and the whole class, together with the teacher, tries to find a solution based on listening and understanding. The boys think about how best to care and support each other and ‘walk in another’s footsteps’ through the use of ‘empathy glasses’. 

    The new weekly bulletin provides parents with a pared-down calendar of events for the coming week but is also an opportunity to celebrate the boys’ achievements during the previous seven days. Photos of what has been going on in the centre and ‘shout outs’ to boys who have done particularly well feature heavily. We want to celebrate all successes and to build confidence and pride (in moderation) within our boys. The older boys also have the opportunity to shape how the bulletin looks and I have taken on board their advice for some modern cartoon strips, joke section and task for the week to ensure they read it. This helps develop their leadership potential, sense of responsibility and creativity. 

    Our celebration of the week at 4 pm on Friday afternoons is an opportunity for parents, carers and guardians to come and see what their son has been up to. We feel this is an essential step in a boy’s learning and development, and we love the fact that our parents are engaged and get the opportunity to share in their son’s learning. The boys show their work from the week in their jotters and also showcase what they have learnt by performing poems, providing an afternoon tea for parents centred around cakes that were made in an instruction text Literacy lesson, and playing solos, for example. It is the perfect way to end the week. 

    Alexandra Torrance