All posts by James

Moving Up – Christian Foley

Moving Up: How to Ace Secondary School is a handbook that all Year 6 children should take a look at. Foley guides the reader through all aspects of the transition into secondary school discussing the practicalities of having different teachers, subjects and uniforms but also tackling the meatier topics about relationships and bullying.

Moving Up is divided into 3 sections. Part 1 focuses on Year 6, dealing with all the rumours that are going around about secondary school and which ones might actually be true. Part 2 is all about Year 7 and what to expect when you get there: the first day, the subjects, getting lost, the rules, and so on. The final part is probably the one that I’ll be coming back to the most. Much of it doesn’t seem overly relevant at the moment, with talk of peer pressure, bullying, social media and relationships a little way off for my kids just now, but I’m sure they’ll be on the agenda soon enough.

We’ve finished the book and really enjoyed it but it will not be the last time I’ll use it. I will be sharing it with pupils and parents at school and returning to it with my own children at home. It’s a useful book, upon first read, for answering questions that many Year 6s will be concerned about and putting worried minds at ease, but it covers so many important issues, I’m sure we’ll be revisiting certain passages as they move into secondary school.

Tom, age 11, says: “It’s given me tips about secondary school. It’s good to know before I go what things I’ll need for different subject and it was really helpful in letting me know about the different uniform I’ll need.

Discover more brilliant books for Key Stage 2 children below…

Chicken City Vs Egg United – 11.5.24

Match Report by Tom, 11.

Setting the Scene

This was the second year of Alex Horne’s Comedy Football match. Comedy football because it’s played by comedians, but also because of the rule changes that Alex introduced.

  1. You must shout your own name every time you shoot.
  2. A goalscorer can double their goal by pulling off a crossbar challenge immediately after.
  3. Goalkeepers must go up for every corner.
  4. Managers must be in the centre circle at all times but mustn’t touch the ball.
  5. When ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus is played, a second ball will be introduced.
  6. If you get a yellow card, you must wear a yellow marigold glove for the reast of the game.
  7. If you get a second yellow card, you must do the washing-up after the match.
  8. If a team goes three goals up, every outfield player on that team must hold hands with another of their players while ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ plays (This rule was never introduced throughout the game).
  9. If the referee thinks that you’ve done something very well, you must wear the wonderful wig – a pink curly one! The player wearing the wonderful wig at the final whistle gets a £20 cash prize.
  10. Each manager has a party popper/ confetti cannon each and they can fire it whenever they want (but the ball must be out of play.) They then must choose one player from each team to play a one-on-one for the next two minutes. Both goalkeepers keep playing too though.

It was a really hot day and the match was taking place at the home of Chesham United, the Meadow.

My mum’s favourite bit was the songs that were played before the game. There were lots of well known songs that had place names in, but the place names were all changed to Chesham. Galway Girl, by Ed Sheeran, became Chesham Girl, Back in the U.S.S.R by the Beatles, became Back in the C.H.E.S.H.A.M and Walking in Memphis by Cher became Walking in Chesham. There were loads of others and they were all very funny.

Before kick off the teams lined up for the anthems. You can see the lyrics below.

The teams line up for the anthems

The Teams

Both teams were made up comedians with a handful of players from Chesham United’s men’s and women’s teams helping them out.

Chicken City

The reigning champions who played in the home kit of Chesham United in claret and blue.

Stuart Laws (GK), Mathew Baynton, Doc Brown, Maisie Adam, Ivo Graham, John Kearns, Matt Winning, James Gill, Elis James, Gemma Fraser (CUFC), Ellie Doerr (CUFC), Kieran Murphy (CUFC), Eoin Casey (CUFC), Ennis Alhashimi (CUFC), Hugh Dennis (Player Manager)

Egg United

The host, Alex Horne’s, team were wearing the Chesham away kit of yellow and black.

Tom Rosenthal (GK), Alex Horne, Tim Key, James Acaster, Mike Wozniak, Mark Watson, Sophie Duker, Charlie Baker, Annie McGrath, Alex Brooker, Jon Richardson, Jim Daly, Andy Devonshire, Becky Fraser (CUFC), Tasha Smith (CUFC), Lewis Rolfe (CUFC), Jeanmal Prosper (CUFC), Matt Rose (CUFC).

Director of Football – Nish Kumar

The Match

First Half

The game began with both teams in their own goals and when the ref blew the whistle, they all ran to the middle to try and get the ball. To start off, the holders, Chicken City, looked like the better team. The control then changed hands when Egg United scored the opener.

Then one of the Egg Utd players attempted the crossbar challenge and… failed. The Chicken City players continued to attack and their continuous relentlessness finally resulted in a goal. The Chicken City player failed the crossbar challenge and it was at 1-1.

The Chickens continued to press and it became 2-1 to Chicken City not long after. Can you guess what happened for the crossbar challenge? If you said that it would be missed, you would be correct. The Chicken City players weren’t as attacking but still scored again to make it 3-1, the crossbar challenge remained unconverted.

Now in came rule 5, the one about ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus. The second ball caused some chaos, with the host, Alex Horne taking advantage and scoring for the Eggs. 3-2! Egg-citing! The crossbar challenge still remained uncompleted. Do you think that this rule is pointless?

Then Egg United had all of the momentum and, using that momentum, they score again just before halftime but, again, they didn’t convert the crossbar challenge.

Half-Time

During halftime, there was a penalty shootout between 75 local schoolkids and it only took two rounds to find a winner. At first glance, the goalkeeper looked tiny, but he made some great saves. in the second round, there was only one goalscorer out of about 35 kids.

Alex Horne led a minute’s applause for a local boy who tragically lost his life recently. If you are able, you can contribute to a Go Fund Me page to support his family here.

Also during half time, Sam Campbell presented Chesham United with their new mascot, Chess Ham. Chess Ham is a pig with a big chess piece on it’s head. Unfortunately, soon after Chess Ham came onto the pitch he started being chased by a butcher who wanted to make sausages out of him. It was very funny.

Second Half

The second half contained even more silliness and fun. The fox in the box, Alex Horne, kept causing havoc in the City box and made the 7th goal occur with the luckless John Kearns steering it into his own net. Oops! The crossbar challenge conversion was failed once again.

As the second half progressed, the Chicken City player/manager, Hugh Dennis, became the first of the two managers to fire his confetti cannon. This meant that there was a 2-on-2 match, including goalkeepers, happening for two minutes before the rest of the team rushed back on to join in again. This was a clever and funny rule, however, it didn’t result in any goals and the players involved looked quite tired. The same happened later on when the Egg United manager played his.

Throughout the second half, the tempo slowed due to the intense heat and the game looked to be heading for a 7-5 Egg Utd win. However, in the 90th minute, Maisie Adam scored to make it 7-6. As she stepped up to take the crossbar challenge conversion, the crowd were silent. Then, she became the first player, at the 13th attempt, to complete the crossbar challenge. 7-7! Adam celebrated in the same way that Chloe Kelly celebrated her winner at the 2022 Women’s Euros. She took her shirt off and sprinted around in extreme ecstasy. The crowd went crazy. The referee blew his whistle. The game had ended.

Penalties

The penalties were taken in a MLS-style shootout. Each player had 5 seconds from the referee’s whistle to score from about 40 yards out. They ran forward and tried to beat the ‘keeper. Most missed, finally Andy Devonshire scored meaning Chicken City had to score to stay in the game, but Elis James stepped up but couldn’t round Tom Rosenthal. Egg United were the Comedy Football Trophy Champions for 2024!

Congratulations to Egg United who lifted the massive pineapple

Notable Performances

Mat Bayton: Good on the ball driving forward from midfield.

Maisie Adam: A really good player and the only one to hit the crossbar making it a very exciting end to the game.

Elis James: Not great, but not as bad as Nish Kumar was telling everyone he was.

Alex Horne: He was clever by taking advantage of the confusion of the two balls on the pitch.

Mark Watson: A good defender who runs a bit like he’s stepping on Lego.

Mike Wozniak: Good at passing.

Jon Richardson: Tidy on the ball.

Tom Rosenthal: The only one to wear the wonderful wig twice because of some good saves. He looked really hot in it.

Nish Kumar: A funny commentator.

Stuart Laws: Decent in goal and unlucky with a few ‘offside’ decisions that didn’t go his way and led to goals. He told us afterwards that the linesman had warned him, he’d be booked if he carried on complaining about it. Harsh.

Follow this link for more match reports and theatre reviews.

Egg United warm-up in the Chesham sunshine
Me and my sister enjoying the match

The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

Roz is the only surviving robot when the cargo ship she is being transported on sinks during a storm. She adapts to survive and learns to thrive on an island uninhabited by humans (or other robots).

As great as this book was to share as a bedtime story, it’s even better for sharing in school. The learning is everywhere. From exploring and learning about the natural world, along with Roz, to the greater life lessons that can be taken from the robot’s approach to discovering new things and building relationships with new creatures.

Charm and good manners don’t come naturally to Roz (well, nothing comes naturally to Roz as she’s a robot) but she soon learns the benefits of being kind and friendly. Roz needs to adapt to her surroundings and finds out that her chances of survival are significantly improved when she is helped by the, initially reluctant, animals who inhabit the island.

The Wild Robot is a great book for many reasons and for many children, but it’s particularly poignant for neurodivergent readers. They may relate to Roz’s struggle to understand the world around her and how she feels the need to ‘act’ to conform with the norms of those around her.

We were thinking this book would make an excellent film, then we learnt that it has been made into one and it’s due to be released in October 2024. Here is the trailer, it looks wonderful.

The Wild Robot is a heart-warming, epic adventure and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Sort of everything you’d want in a book for 7-11 year olds, really.

Tom, age 11, says: “I enjoy the adventure that Roz goes on. I really like the message about the importance of family and friendship and helping each other. My favourite bit is the dramatic robot battles at the end when all the animals come to help Roz. My favourite character is is Chichat because she chats a lot, like me.

Discover more brilliant books for Key Stage 2 children below…

With You Every Step – Rob Burrows and Kevin Sinfield

The friendship shared by, former Rugby League players, Rob and Kevin is the inspiration and heart of this book. Their story of overcoming adversity with love and support is inspirational.

With You Every Step isn’t a novel, but rather a collection of phrases, thoughts and words of wisdom about friendship that are perfect to share with children. It’s a lovely book to return to at anytime but particularly when discussing what healthy and positive relationships can look like.

The messages within the book are brilliantly depicted by a collection of some of the finest illustrators working today. Rib Biddulph, Reggie Brown, David Litchfield, Gill Smith and Sam Usher all have worked featured.

Discover more brilliant books for Key Stage 2 children here…

Mr Gum and the Power Crystals – Andy Stanton

I think this could be my favourite Mr Gum book. There are some wonderfully silly and funny moments and it features Old Granny who has a sneaky fondness for sherry, teaches everyone about the old ways and gives this particular reader a chance to show off a wonderful impression of an octogenarian from the West Country.

After finding the Power Crystals, Polly discovers that they have magical powers and want to cause harm to her beloved Lamonic Bibber. She is desperate to not them fall into the hands of Mr Gum and Billy William, but she is powerless to stop the inevitable. As ever though, her band of friends come together to save the day in this dramatic, heart-warming and very funny story.

Bella, age 8, says: “I liked it because it’s really funny, especially when all the chapters are the same from 3-11. I liked that joke.

My favourite characters are: Barcelona Jim because all he says is HEE-HAW and I like the donkey-ness of him; Friday because he used his teeth to pull on the rope and Mrs Lovely said, ‘good boy’ and fed sugar lumps into his mouth; and Polly is great because she’s the main character. She finds the stones and goes on a wild adventure with them. I like the accent that my dad does for her and I like that she always tries to do the right thing even when she could do bad stuff.”

Tom, age 8, says: “It’s really funny. My favourite bit is when Old Granny tells Polly about what Mr Gum is going to do so that Polly can try and stop them. My favourite character is Polly because she is so brave when she faces up against Mr Gum, Billy William and Nicolas De Twinklecakes. I was a bit worried when it sounded like Lamonic Bibber was going to burn and burn, but it was ok in the end.”

Mr Gum and the Power Crystals also has the funniest collection of chapters in any series of books. See Chapters 3-11.

Discover more brilliant books for Key Stage 2 children here…

Discover more brilliant books by Andy Stanton here…

Havant and Waterlooville VS Tonbridge Angels – 9.3.24

Setting the Scene

The Hawks are second from bottom and running out of games to turn it around. They won the last match and were looking to make it two in a row against Tonbridge Angels. Earlier in the season, however, against the same opponents, the match finished 4-1 to the Angels in the reverse fixture.

The Line-ups

Havant & Waterlooville: Worner (GK), Stanley, Innocent, McNerney, McCarthy (C), Carlyle, Seager, Jewitt-White, Kealy (Deacon 45’), Whittingham (Jebb 45’), Roberts

Tonbridge Angels: Henly (GK), Fielding, Lyons-Foster (C) (Gard, 45’), Higgs, Odokonyero (Popoola 86’), Hinds, Dabre, Sutcliffe, Shields, Vincent, Hanson

First Half

It was a bit of a scrappy start with lots of high balls and not many players able to control the ball on the ground, they mostly headed it instead. Tonbridge took an early lead with Tariq Hinds chipping helpless goalkeeper, Ross Worner, after just six minutes. Quarter of an hour in and it was 1-1 after the pressing paid off for the Hawks. Jake McCarthy was in the action with a shot firing to the back of the net.

On 25 minutes, Ryan Seager, The Hawks’ main man up front, turns in a well placed cross from the right wing. 2-1!

Moments later, James Roberts breaks free down the left and the header from his cross was glanced narrowly wide. Havant were on top and looking to extend their lead.

A few minutes later, Tonbridge had a good chance and when the ball got chipped towards the box, McNerney, the Hawks centre half, attempted to clear the ball and, by doing this, inadvertently cleared the ball with a shot on his own goal, with Hawks’ ‘keeper, Worner, saving the shot with a quick reaction leap.

Half Time: Havant and Waterlooville 2-1 Tonbridge Angels

At half-time, I got myself a 25th anniversary edition Havant and Waterlooville 3rd kit, which is a dark blue colour and really nice. We also got The Hawky Porky from the food van. It’s chips covered in pulled pork, BBQ sauce, crispy onions and cheese and you have to get one if you ever go to a match at Havant. So good.

Second Half

Havant brought on Roarie Deacon and Jack Jebb for Callum Kealy and Alfy Whittingham at half-time to take further control of the game, but I think that it’s safe to say that the plan quickly backfired.

Mohammed Dabre made it 2-2 with a fine finish from 30 yards out 5 minutes into the second half. This forced Havant to try and regain control of the game. The majority of the crowd were Havant supporters but there were a group of Tonbridge fans who’d brought a drum along with them, which they banged quite a lot, singing different songs and they got particularly excited when Dabre scored.

The 25 minutes that then followed were mainly controlled by Havant, with a couple of Tonbridge counter attacks, but still no goals for either side.

Jake McCarthy had a rasping shot tipped over by the Tonbridge ‘keeper on 75 minutes after lots of Hawks’ pressure and attempts on the Angels’ goal.

It was fairly even for much of the second half after the Tonbridge equaliser but there was some good link up play between Deacon and Stanley down the right hand side for the Hawks during that time.

Harry Jewitt-White was tidy in the middle of the park, throughout and looked composed on the ball. Surely a career at a higher level is ahead of this loanee from Portsmouth.

Full time: Havant and Waterlooville 2-2 Tonbridge Angels

The game ended as a draw which isn’t much good to Havant who are still 10 points from safety with 10 games to go.

Player Ratings

Worner (GK) 8, Stanley 8, Innocent 8, McNerney 7, McCarthy (C) 9, Carlyle 8, Seager 9, Jewitt-White 9, Kealy 7 (Deacon 45’), Whittingham 7 (Jebb 45’), Roberts 8

My Player of the Match was Jake McCarthy who scored Havant’s opener and made a couple of other good chances.

Thank you…

A big thank you to Ellie from the Commercial and Events team who made sure we were well looked after during the match.

Find all of my previous match reports here.

The Havant players celebrate their second goal.

The Final Year – Matt Goodfellow

This book is a must read for all year 6 teachers and children. It’s a very modern classic and, after teacher/education social media went crazy for it in the autumn of 2023, we had to get a copy.

The Final Year is all about the final year of primary school and touches on all of the big events that 10/11 year olds go through. The residential, SATs, transition day, the leavers assembly and much more besides. These are all covered from Nate’s perspective and written as short poems.

Nate has a fairly challenging life and experiences some pretty tough events through the year, but with the help of his friends, family and excellent teacher (Mr Joshua) he gets through it all, learning and growing along the way.

This book has been pretty well hyped but, it turns out, with good reasons. We both really enjoyed it and related to much of what Nate was experiencing (broadly speaking). It’s well worth reading with your Year 6 classes and it’s handily pretty quick as well. Perfect.

Tom aged 10 says… I like that it’s all about the final year of primary school and the transition in to secondary school because that’s what I’m going through right now. It’s written like a diary entry with poems and I’ve never read a book like it before. The main character, Nate, is the eldest of three, and loads of really hard events happen to him, like when Dylan, his youngest brother, has a heart problem and goes unconscious for a while. Also, at the start of the year, he loses his best friend PS to Turner, the class bully, which is really quite difficult for Nate to swallow. Overall I’ve really enjoyed the book, so much so that I’ve given a copy to my teacher and he’s going to read it with the class.

Discover more brilliant books for Key Stage 2 children here…

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a novel come picture book come graphic novel come historical fiction. It’s inspired by the films of early French cinema pioneer, Georges Méliès, and he (and some real aspects of his life story) features in the book.

After Hugo loses his father to a fire, he goes to live with his uncle at a train station, where his job is to keep all of the clocks at the station running to the correct time. The uncle goes missing and Hugo keeps the clocks running on his own by sneaking around the station, evading the attention of the station master so he doesn’t become homeless. The novel is the story of how Hugo restores an old machine that his father had previously worked on and discovers the secrets that it holds.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a beautifully illustrated book with the hundred of pictures helping to tell the story. It’s a really intriguing mystery with loads of twists and turns along the way and we really enjoyed making predictions about what was going to happen.

I’m not entirely sure if the invention the title refers to is the mechanical device that he salvages and mends, the magician he becomes or simply Hugo himself. I guess it could be all of them.

Tom aged 10 says… I really liked this book. I enjoyed the adventure side of it and the mystery of what was going to happen and everything that Hugo had to go through. I also liked that it was recounting things that happened in real life. My favourite part was when it all cam together and the automaton drew the picture and signed the name. My favourite character has to be Hugo because he’s a good engineer and he’s clever in what he decides to do.

The Amazing Edie Eckhart – Rosie Jones

The Amazing Edie Eckhart – Rosie Jones

I’m not normally one for celebrity authors. I rather like authors that got really good at being authors before having their books published rather than ones who got good at being celebrity panellist before being offered massive book deals. But Rosie Jones is different for me in two important ways. Firstly, she has a story to tell, and a good one at that. Secondly, my eldest was born with cerebral palsy, so it’s fantastic for him (and us) to see disability represented in the main character of a great book and written by an author with similar lived experiences to him.

Edie Eckhart is just about to begin secondary school when we meet her and the book charts the journey of her first term. This is also pertinent for my son, as he’s in Year 6 now, so about to reach the same life milestone himself.

At the beginning Edie has one best friend, Oscar, who she loves spending time with because they have loads in common and he really cares for and supports her in many ways. Over their first term in Year 7 they are put in different form groups and begin to make new friends and find new hobbies. At first that seems like that might be a bad thing, but all’s well in the end.

We read this as a bedtime story as a whole family, and I honestly think it’s one of the most important books we’ve ever read. Every few chapters Edie says something that really hits home or that leads to great conversations. It’s brilliant for our boy to share his experiences of growing up with a disability, with us. Also, it was lovely to hear from our youngest about what it’s like having a brother with cerebral palsy and how other people treat him (and her) because of it.

Tom aged 10 says… I’ve never read a book with a cerebral palsy affected character before and because I’m in Year 6 it’s good to hear about the transition to secondary school. I’m always being asked, ‘what happened to you? ‘what happened to your legs?’ or, ‘what’s that for?’ when people see my walker so it feels good to read about somebody else having the same problem as me. It feels good to not be the only one. In the book she says that she doesn’t see any disabled characters in her comics and that’s how I felt until I read this book.

Bella aged 8 says... I really liked Flora because she was really artsy, like me. In parts the book was funny and at parts it was sad but I liked it. I really enjoyed that Edie had cerebral palsy because not many film or book characters have disabilities. Lots of people are different and that’s one of the differences and it’s good to realise that and see it in a book. I don’t know why they don’t do that more because she was still an interesting and funny person.

Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World

Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World – February 2024

Who? Kenny Wax Family Entertainment in association with MAST Mayflower Studios

What? Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World

Where? Chichester Festival Theatre

When? 14-18 February 2024

What the show is about? The show is about a girl called Jade who gets lost on a school trip and ends up in an off limits part of the museum. Whilst there, she meets some of the women who changed the world in wonderfully different ways.

Jade usually always does the right thing and usually gets the feeling that she is invisible. The women she meets throughout the play inspire to be braver and take more chances her by telling her their own incredible stories.

The women she meets include: Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earheart, Marie Curie, Emmeline Pankhurst and many more motivational women who you may have heard of.

What was really good about it? I liked the songs and the dancing especially ‘Quiet Children’ because the chorus sounded quite good. Another good one was ‘ Where do you wanna go?’ because the harmonies sounded brilliant. Also ‘ Deeds not Words’ sounded good because the lyrics talk about the hurdles the women had to jump over to get the vote. I also enjoyed ‘World of Colour’ because they talk about having ‘wings to fly’ and ‘painting outside the lines’ which basically means breaking some of the rules at the time and just having fun.

I really liked that we could see the band above the stage during the show. There were 3 of them who played a variety of keyboards and percussion instruments and one of them came down to join the actors for one song when they did a drum solo.

What could be better? Maybe an interval to have an ice cream in but it was a 1hr 15mins performance so that is ok and anyway afterwards I had ice cream for the dessert after my meal at the Bell Inn to top off a very nice fish fingers and chips.

I can’t think of much but my sister suggested the sound could have been better because at the beginning of the show she couldn’t hear what the actor were singing properly. I only had this problem for a couple of minutes but after that it was fine.

What my Dad thinks? It’s the second time we’ve seen this show and I think it’s got a bit better in the last two years. The whole thing was just that bit tighter, the asides that bit funnier, the songs that bit more impactful and just generally a better show. That said, I couldn’t pin point anything in particular that was different, but it just was, okay? We sat slightly to the side this time and it’s clear show is designed to be played on a proscenium arch stage and it would have probably been a better experience both visually and in terms of the sound quality. A thoroughly enjoyable show though and a really inspiring one to take the children to.

Star Rating? 5 Stars!