Thames Water wade in on Empty Classroom Day

Andromeda girl paints pot

Signature spots: outside the classroom, every child in Infants painted a pot for the new rainchains.

Brought in by Andy Ollard – husband of our very own teaching assistant Kim in Cygnus – a team of extremely hardworking volunteers from Thames Water pitched up at school bright and early for a day of hard graft in the wild garden along Carleton Road.

It was no coincidence that today was also Empty Classroom Day, and one major outdoor project was inspired by our volunteers and their know-how about the ecological use of water. The result is beautiful new rainchains that have been installed outside Andromeda and Ursa classes to help irrigate the raised beds there. Visit the school’s own website for more about the children’s other activities today.

Thank you to the tireless parents who contributed to making today such a success, and to the team from Thames Water, who could not have been more helpful and brilliant to have around.

What the HSA Committee talked about…

…on Tuesday 19th May 2015

Cupcakes, lobby walls - you name it, we'll put smarties on it.

Cupcakes, lobby walls – you name it, we’ll put smarties on it.

A stream of “thank you”s were high on the agenda: to all parents who helped out at the fantastic Give & Gain day on 15th May (there were SO MANY of you!) and to our corporate supporters – Jewson, Santander and Chris Stevens – as well; and in particular, to Andromeda and Cygnus parents Rachel, Patrick and Adam for leading design and execution of the new-look corridor and lobby. Replacement furniture and a new IT installation are still to come, but the space is already truly transformed.

Is this the face that shipped a thousand lunches? (Well, it's one of the faces - thank you ALL involved!).

Is this the face that shipped a thousand lunches? (Well, it’s one of the faces – thank you ALL involved!).

Also, a massive thank you to everyone who helped make the extraordinary whole-school trip to Sobell Centre on 18th May happen, and happen so successfully: most notably Carolyne (mum of Emma and Luke) for kicking it off and our co-Chair Fiona for seeing through every detail. The school’s kitchen staff, chef John and Caterlink area manager Noel also went all out to help make the day special, as did the lovely instructors and staff at the Sobell.

The forthcoming Summer Fair (Carnival!) on 11th July necessarily took up most of the meeting’s discussion. Look out for the next HSA newsletter in your children’s PACT folders for full details of the stalls that are planned and what we need to make the fair another huge success. It’s certainly never too late to come up with an idea for a stall or activity of your own. And it can’t be said too often: we will always, ALWAYS need more face-painters than we have! Please volunteer – older siblings are also warmly welcome to help.

Even before the fair, the rest of this term is choc-a-block with HSA activity. Tuesday 16th June is recording day for the Music Learning Treat – a CD of songs from across the span of the last 100 years. Entries for the CD cover competition are on display in the school lobby: go in and take a look. They’re wonderful – hard to believe that someone is going to have to choose just one…

On Friday 19th June, national “Empty Classroom Day”, we’re focusing on ecological water use in honour of our volunteer team from Thames Water, who are coming to help build the foundations for the school’s Early Years forest school. Rain chains, soaker hoses, drip irrigation… there’s a whole new vocabulary to be learned.

The annual children’s Fun Run is the following week, Thursday 25th and Friday 26th June. Carolyne (again) and HSA resources manager, Becca, have kindly responded to our appeal for new parents to organise the event now that Fun Run instigator and brilliant long-term HSA supporter, Sara, is moving on.

And to end with another thank you: thank you Anna, mum of Freya in Aquila and Evie in Cygnus, for stepping up as HSA secretary. Anyone on the email list can expect to hear from Anna soon…

Thank you for the transformation

How to say “thank you” loud and long enough to everyone who helped transform – metamophosize! – the shabby insides of our school on Give & Gain Day?

Make room for the teams! So many parents showed up to help - it was standing room only in the corridor.

Make room for the teams! So many parents showed up to help that it was standing room only in the corridor.

Two commercial partners – Santander bank and Jewson – gave cash donations, and the lovely people at Chris Stevens on Holloway Road enabled us to buy a veritable ocean of paint for much less than it could have cost us.

And then, the show of goodwill and volunteer muscle on Give & Gain Day itself was nothing short of amazing.  About 50 people – business volunteers from Santander, local councillor, Kat Fletcher, and many, many wonderful school parents – showed up during the day to help get the work done, and to bring cakes and other food to keep the volunteer army marching.

Our design team, Rachel and Patrick – both parents at the school – have donated extraordinary amounts of time and professional skill to make this happen.  They’ve been assisted before and after Give & Gain Day by production designer Adam and a small group of apparently tireless parent volunteers. Thank you all – your commitment has been phenomenal.

Though finishing touches are still to be added, the scale of the metamorphosis is fully apparent. What a fantastic effort by the community: it feels as if we really can do anything if we do it together.

Going for gold: playground on the shortlist


Sometimes the grass is greener on this side of the fence.

It seems the judges at the Society of Garden Designers are mighty impressed by our beautiful Infants’ Playground, and they’ve shortlisted Jackie Herald’s fantastic design in the Community Space category.  The ceremony is in January – but with only three finalists, we can’t go home without bronze, silver… or gold.


  • Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Courtyard Garden
  • Tufnell Park School Infants Playground
  • Willow Wood Hospice Sensory Garden

They say it’s a jungle out there…

Herbs and grasses arrive in the infants' playground for planting out tomorrow.

Herbs and grasses arrive in the infants’ playground for planting out tomorrow.

…they should see it in here!

No-one at the school today can have failed to notice the deliveries for tomorrow’s Give & Gain Day.  We’re still short of spare spades, wheelbarrows and trugs for carrying earth.  If you’ve got them, please do lend – we’ve got a lot of soil to shift.  And it’s going to be a scorcher, so bring plenty of suncream and a thirst-quenching drink if you’re coming to help.

Meanwhile, thanks very much to everyone for your patience while the playground gates are closed.  Roll on Monday.

Our trusty team sort through the new arrivals.

Our trusty team sort through the new arrivals.

A real dump truck! At primary school! That should happen every day, right?

A real dump truck! At primary school! That should happen every day, right?

Cedar logs ripe for jumping on - just wait until they've been settled in tomorrow.

Cedar logs begging to be jumped on – just wait until Monday…

Paint appeal – the final push!

One more thing we need in our line-up for Friday’s Give & Gain day in the infants’ playground: Paint! Please donate your left-over half-pots of brightly coloured paint for a series of circles that will be painted on the playground wall (is it a target? is it a ball? is it another planet?). The new base coat will be white: the dots will be whatever colours you bring in.

This cedar tree is coming to our school...

This cedar tree is coming to our school…

...after this man has sliced it into beautiful stepping logs.

…after this man has sliced it into beautiful stepping logs.


These gorgeous rosemary plants are coming too.

These gorgeous rosemary plants are coming too.

And this fine fellow is intend on hitching a ride.

And this fine fellow is intent on hitching a ride.




It’s all coming together for the final push. We’re very grateful to the tree surgeons and house owner who’ve donated the cedar, and to the Patrick of The Plot Doctor (local gardeners) who helped us collect it. Also to Andria and Genine at Glebe Nurseries, for squeezing some extra plants into our tight budget.

And to all of YOU for loans, donations, lovely food and your time, time, TIME.  It’s going to be a fantastic playground.

What the HSA Committee talked about…

…on Wednesday 30th April.

Summer Fair planning has begun. The fair is on Saturday 12th July and the next two planning meetings are Tuesday 20th May and Tuesday 17th June. Please come: the room was buzzing with ideas and we need lots of people to make it all happen.

Ah! The British seaside! Who can forget the legendary infants' trip to Southend in June last year?

Ah! The British seaside! Who can forget the legendary infants’ trip to Southend in June last year?

Our theme this year is SEASIDE. Candy floss, deck chairs, coconut shies… has anyone got a donkey? Seriously.

We also talked about fundraising. The HSA has grown ambitious and successful in what it funds, which is exciting. But we can’t forget that our income is far from guaranteed. The more people associated with the school – parents, carers, children – raise money through their own projects and sponsorship, the better. We need people to think about supporting us just as they would another charity. Cygnus and Nursery parents did a fantastic job over Easter of raising funds for a feature of the new infants’ playground that was outside the scope of our budget. But donations don’t need to be huge: every little really does help.

The HSA itself has scope to organise one further event during spring term, so we’re thinking of offering family bingo for all the school. Autumn term is bookended by the Cygnus welcome picnic and Winter Wonderland, and in summer term we organise the Fun Runs and Summer Fair.

Come and help on Saturday 10th May, and baby comes too...

Come and help on Saturday 10th May: baby comes too…

Our most immediate project took up the rest of the discussion. The transformation of the Infants’ Playground is well and truly underway and it’s a massive undertaking.

Finishing the Playground

From now: Please lend tools and equipment for Give & Gain day. Email us if you’d like to be on our email list about this and other plans.

Saturday 10th May – Come to the school from 9:00am for as much or as little time as you have, and help us prepare the site for Give & Gain Day. Kids welcome.

Friday 16th May – Give & Gain Day. Come help prepare our picnic feast or work alongside 30 business volunteers who are helping us finish the playground.

Monday 19th May – The new infants’ playground opens.

Lady with trees: update on the infants’ playground

"It's a jungle in here!" Designer Jackie Herald brings the outside in.

“It’s a jungle in here!” Designer Jackie Herald brings the outside in.

Look what’s sprouting at Tufnell Park School!

Playground designer Jackie was snapped in the foyer on her way to Reception class this morning. The Cygnus children have been put in charge of looking after our potted bamboo forest until it’s planted in the playground on Friday 16th May.

We’ll need two groups of volunteers on the day: people to help provide a picnic lunch by the pond for everyone working on the project, and people to work alongside the 30 volunteers from Flamingo Consulting as they plant, paint, weed and dig. We’ll also be looking for donations of food and drink, and for equipment to borrow.  We’re co-ordinating those donations by email – please let HSA secretary, Lucy, know if you’re not on the list and would like to be.

If you can’t come on the 16th – or even if you can! – we also need a lot of people to help prepare the site on Saturday 10th May. Come any time from 9:00am and bring a paint scraper with you…

Get out your diary – dates for this term

It’s summer term already and our Summer Fair is on Saturday 12th July.  Please bring your ideas and offers of help to the HSA Committee meeting this Wednesday at 8:00pm in the café bar of the Tufnell Park Tavern.

Back to the drawing board... it's time to plan the 2014 Summer Fair.

Back to the drawing board… it’s time to plan the 2014 Summer Fair.

If you’ve got any free time on Saturday 10th May, do come to the school from 9:00am to help with the annual clear-out and reorganisation of the HSA shed as we gear up to fair season.

In a particularly thrilling development, we have been given our OWN SHED under the rock-solid control of resources manager, Mags Wild. Every silver lining has a cloud, though, and we’ve got a lot of stuff to schlep from the old shed to the new one.  Please help.

Speaking of rocks, a certain Alan Baldwin has been sourcing possible boulders for the infants’ playground in advance of Business in the Community’s volunteer day – 16th May. It’s coming up fast.  We need parents to join the volunteer team from Flamingo Consultants in setting up, planting, painting and stenciling on the day, plus donations of food and drink to give all our volunteers a great picnic lunch.  Oh, and thanks, Alan – but you know that’s going to exceed your baggage allowance.

2014 - 1 Boulder too

Just when you need it most, you find you’ve left the superman outfit at home…

Finally, let’s all stoke up our energy levels at Columba class’s cake sale this Friday, 2nd May. They’re the only class going it alone on a cake sale, so please donate baked goodies if you can.  And if you can’t give cake, buying cake at the sale is just as good!

From this...

From this… this, in 5 minutes. The magic of cake sales.

…to this, in 5 minutes. The magic of cake sales.


If you go down to the school today…

…you’re in for a big surprise!

While we’re all away enjoying the holidays, Jackie Herald – landscape designer – and her team are hard at work reconfiguring the infants’ playground. They’re preparing the ground (literally) for our big volunteer day on Friday 16th May, when we’ll be looking for as many volunteers as possible to help finish the job. Please put it in your diary and plan to come if you’re able.