Richmond House School is an independent, co-educational primary school providing the highest standards of education for children aged 3-11 in Far Headingley, North Leeds.
About the school
The school boasts extensive facilities, including 10 acres of sports fields, an adventure playground, tennis courts and an Outdoor Learning area with an outdoor classroom.
It has a friendly and welcoming environment where “children are happy to learn”, small class sizes of a maximum of 18, along with specialist teaching from Nursery to Year 6 in Music, PE, Languages and Outdoor Learning. With a family feeling and a strong community emphasis, the school has an ethos of creating a positive learning environment, encouraging children to learn inside and outside of the classroom.
A challenging and varied curriculum is offered and academic success is reflected in the 11+ examination results, with pupils having their choice of secondary schools and a substantial number being awarded scholarships each year.
Mr Chris Bouckley, Headmaster of Richmond House School discusses procrastination and why it shouldn't always be seen as a problem for children.
22nd October 2020 — Like most people there are some things I don’t like doing, there are jobs I put off whether it is at home or at work. I know I have to do them at some point, but I will get round to them in my time (not yours). This is an oft spoken phrase at home (less so at work) though I am thinking about it (a lot) whilst engaging in conversation.
The received opinion from psychologists is that 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators whilst 80-90% of children ‘suffer this affliction’. In a recent article for the publication ‘School Notices’, Dr. Trevor Richards, a fellow headteacher wrote:
“Whilst we need to help our children overcome procrastination to develop their study skills, it is also helpful to understand why some pupils are more likely to procrastinate than others and how we can support them overcome this impediment”.
I take issue with the first and last sentence, rather than ‘overcome procrastination’ or ‘support them to overcome their impediment’, I think it should be recognised and then embraced.
Of course, I am not saying that a child should be left endlessly to while away their hours without any productivity, but it is at what cost. It is difficult to look at a cost/benefit analysis in the world of secondary education, as we know it; the short lessons and the constant moving from room to room, from teacher to teacher, in fact allows the child freedom to idle away their existence. In the primary setting the opposite is probably true and teachers are on top of the children for almost every minute of the time they are with them. Here children are less likely to be able to ‘let their mind wander’; this is detrimental, I believe, to the final outcome in some children.
The psychologist, Adam Grant, has tested the hypothesis of procrastination versus productivity in a large pizza chain, identifying store managers who are known procrastinators and measuring their performance against their more ‘organised’ counterparts. He found, as he did with 100 companies in India, that productivity was greater with leaders who were procrastinators.
Whilst theories expound the importance of avoiding procrastination, Valerie Brown and Andrea Jackson agree with me in embracing it. Although they use different nomenclature (passive vs active as opposed to accidental vs deliberate, respectively) the principles are the same. In the active/deliberate procrastination the task is still there in the mind of the individual and they spend their time ruminating on how to start the work; they are waiting for the catalyst. The catalyst will come in their time and not yours, which is why parents get so frustrated because they feel their child is not applying themselves to the task, in the way that they would. Da Vinci was a procrastinator, whilst he was painting the Mona Lisa he was also drawing pictures of helicopters and all manner of other ideas!
The important difference between the two perspectives is not laziness, as parents may choose to describe it, but a difficulty in “finding that one piece in the supersonic jigsaw puzzle they have just started”, (Andrea Jackson). This is one area where I agree with Dr. Richards, he says, “Sometimes the bareness of a blank piece of paper at the start of an assignment can be an obstacle in itself.”
Whilst I am advocating procrastination as a tool for good we must not let it mask other issues we may see with children: low self-esteem, fear of failure, rebellion, a handy excuse to hide behind… and the way we do this is to introduce what Tim Urban calls the ‘panic monster’, the deadline to you and me! Using the neuro-psychological approach, like Prof. Steve Peters, Urban goes back to basics. The human brain has a rational brain and an instant gratification brain (which they call, the monkey). The latter is very strong and can overcome the former readily and so it is easy to procrastinate; why wouldn’t you want to research the episodes of Pingu for the number of times the seal popped out of the hole in the ice, when Mr Bouckley’s long division is calling?
It is at this stage that the panic monster needs to be unleashed: set a deadline and the chimp slowly moves into the background. And, as the deadline draws close, their creativity comes to the fore and the child becomes much more productive in completing the work. Phrases such as ‘pull the rabbit out of the hat at the last minute’ and ‘It’ll be alright on the night’ were made for procrastinators…
As such, I would counter those who frown on the procrastinators of the world and encourage them to allow children the time and space to be both creative and productive; if Google and Pixar see the benefit of putting physical distance between toilets and workspaces to encourage longer breaks and ‘bumping’ spaces along the way to facilitate the ‘water cooler’ conversations, then I am all for it.
So, how do we help the children? Building on the work by Dr. Richards, I would agree with some of his advice and add one or two of my own, but certainly advocate the following:
· Be aware of it - and relieve the guilt (everyone procrastinates). Share a personal example with your children, so they know it isn't just them BUT don't let them off the hook.
· Understand the difference – between deadline based and open-ended tasks; between your time scales and theirs… and understand that you cannot project your time scale onto them.
· Metacognition – Learn about learning and then build in wriggle room; plan for distractions and plan for it not going right in the initial tasks but expect it to get better over time. Oh! and give them a short deadline for each part.
· Scaffold the work – move away from the glaring white sheet of panic and help them get started; cut the big piece of work in to smaller chunks (you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time)!
· Do the task for just a few minutes – this allows the problem to be ‘fixed’ in their brain’s processing system and even though they may not be working on it, the cogs are turning…
· Remove temptation – If you can see the children have fallen into the passive phase of procrastination, remove temptations, they are more likely to be distracted by them. Apply the ‘do nothing’ policy where the choice is either get down to work or do nothing: no screens, no books, no snacks – nothing!
Mr Chris Bouckley - Headmaster, Richmond House School
New Building Development Begins At Richmond House School
Richmond House School is delighted to announce a significant investment into the buildings and facilities for its youngest pupils.
15th May 2019 — Richmond House School is delighted to announce a significant investment into the buildings and facilities for its youngest pupils.
Over the Summer Holidays the school is preparing to demolish and rebuild the Early Years building, replacing it with a new, purpose-built Nursery School and two Reception classrooms. The building is designed to create the optimal learning environment for the younger children. This will include areas for quieter learning, space for messy play, and a cosy, age-appropriate library to encourage a love of reading. The design even includes separate welly storage for the children’s all-important outdoor learning lessons in the school’s yurt and 10 acres of fields.
Helen Stiles the Headteacher says “We are very excited about our new Early Years development. Whist the new building creates a more spacious learning environment, it does not increase the capacity of the school, as we want to maintain its warm, family feel. The increased, carefully designed space, will give our youngest children the best opportunities to learn, develop and play from the moment they join our school”.
This development will be completed for the start of the Autumn term and is the first of 3 phases of building development planned for the school.
Richmond House School, celebrated Book Week with a variety of activities.
11th March 2019 — Last week was the annual World Book Day event for which many dress up as their favourite book characters. Richmond House School, the independent school for children aged 3-11 years in North Leeds decided to go a step further and have a whole week to promote a love of books and reading for pleasure.
Throughout the week, various quizzes and competitions were undertaken by children across the school. Staff were photographed hidden behind their favourite books and the children had to guess the teacher. The School Council also ran a competition to name a large cuddly teddy bear after a book character in aid of this term’s chosen charity – Candlelighters.
A book swap event took place on Wednesday, pupils from Nursery to Year 6 brought in a book to swap, the children were all delighted with their chosen new books. Pupils also brought in photographs of themselves “extreme reading”, i.e. reading in an unusual place. Some of the locations chosen were ingenious, and it was fantastic to see children reading outside of school.
All week pupils shared stories and read with other classes and year groups. Year 4 even wrote their own animal based stories which they shared with Year 1.
On Friday the school celebrated World Book Day and children and staff dressed up as an array of different book characters, there were numerous Harry Potters and Hermiones, lots of David Walliams characters and many princesses and superheroes.
Headteacher Helen Stiles said: “It always makes me smile when I see any of our children so engrossed in a book that they are oblivious to what is going on around them. It is not just the benefits to a child’s learning that makes reading so important, but to read a good book is one of life’s pleasures, Book Week is a great opportunity to promote and develop this and I do hope as our children grow older they take with them the gift of enjoyment of reading”.
Richmond House School Marks the Armistice Centenary
Richmond House School in Leeds installed eight life size soldier silhouettes in their fields as a tribute in the week running up to Remembrance Day. Every child in the school made a poppy to place at the feet of the soldiers during the ceremony.
12th November 2018 — Richmond House School, the independent school for children aged 3- 11 in Far Headingley, North Leeds commemorated the WW1 Centenary last week.
The school has installed eight life size soldier silhouettes on their school fields in the run up to Remembrance Sunday, which were their representation of the British Legion Silent Silhouettes national campaign.
On Friday morning, the school held a ceremony, each child took part in a silent procession out to the soldiers on the fields and placed a poppy they had made at the foot of each soldier. Watched by the parents, the ceremony was extremely moving and a mark of respect to those who were lost in the war.
Helen Stiles, Headteacher of Richmond House School said “We are very proud of our children this week, they have worked extremely hard making their poppies, writing poems and discussing family members who were involved in the war. The soldier silhouettes on the field with the poppies made by the children are a fitting tribute to the fallen. We also remembered the women who worked so hard during the war and all who were and still are affected by warfare. It is so very important that future generations do not forget the sacrifices that were made for them”.
Helen Stiles, Headteacher of Richmond House School, Leeds writes about how important outdoor space is to a child's education.
24th October 2018 — As I am sure with any new building development, discussions around what is essential or desirable are paramount, and the same is true at my school, as we finalise plans for a new Early Years building. Yet, whilst making sure classrooms and toilets are perfectly positioned, creating quieter work areas as well as noisy, creative play, it is the outside space that I think is increasingly important for all children as well as those in Early Years. The DfE states that outside provision for EYFS is essential, but with an increase in the number of children attending Nurseries, there is rising concern about the wide variation in provision of outside space, some of which can be inadequate. We hear statistics stating that over 1 in 5 children are overweight before they begin school, rising to 1 in 3 by the time they leave primary school. The recommended amount of physical activity is 60 minutes a day for young children, but with screen time on the increase for children when at home, with many under 5’s being able to use an iPad better than their parents, it is the responsibility of Nurseries and Schools to ensure young children are exposed to outside physical activity.
It is not just the health benefits of physical activity that are important, but being outside makes a significant impact on children’s emotional wellbeing and their ability to learn. Last week, I took a Music lesson with Year 1 children, and we went on a listening walk around our grounds, simply getting the children to stop, close their eyes and listen to all the sounds around them. Their concentration when back in the classroom improved as expected after being in the fresh air, but noticeably, the lesson became child led, with them enthusiastically describing what they had heard and talking about which instruments they could use to replicate these sounds. Taking children outside enables them to be more creative, asking questions about what they see and hear rather than seeking permission. Instead of following rules of a game, they create their own games and interact more with each other, which can only be of benefit to their social interaction development.
Most under 5’s are naturally very energetic and need to spend time outside, even if it is deemed to be “bad weather”. I am proud of the fact that the children at our school are happy to be outside in all weathers, at playtimes, (unless severe heavy rain), for sport and other lessons. I often see our Nursery and Reception children outside on mini-beast hunts, nature walks, or going to our Yurt for their outdoor lesson, wrapped up warm, with their wellies on if it’s cold and wet. Being welcomed at the Yurt by the warm fire, ready to make hot chocolate or popcorn makes it even more fun. We are so very fortunate at our school to have such extensive outside space for a primary school that enables us to enhance our curriculum. Simply walking across the fields to the outside area for their lesson gives the children the well needed fresh air, vitamin D and exercise they benefit from and teachers at our school are keen to incorporate our outside space when planning for all subjects.
So, while I deliberate over the internal plans for our new Early Years building, we need to bear in mind that it is not just a well-designed internal space that facilitates learning, the outdoor provision also enhances education. Therefore, space to store warm coats, hats and wellies is definitely an essential.
Richmond House School raises over £580 for Martin House Children's Hospice by hosting a 5K Family Fun Run.
11th April 2017 — Richmond House School in North Leeds has raised over £580 for Martin House Children’s Hospice by hosting a 5K Family Fun Run.
The fun run, which was held last Saturday, was open to everyone and took place on the school’s 10 acres of sports pitches. Over 130 runners took part, with even two and three year olds running in the 1K children’s race!
Headteacher Mrs Helen Stiles says: "Our chosen charity for this year is Martin House Children’s Hospice and we are very fortunate to have the space to be able to host an event like this. It was lovely to see so many families come along to raise money for such a great cause. Children enjoyed trying to race their parents and it was a great start to the weekend. The event went so well; it will definitely be an annual event in our calendar from now on!”
Martin House provides family-led care for children and young people across West, North and East Yorkshire with life-limiting conditions.
Please call to make an appointment to visit the school at your convenience.