There’s no better place than Dunwich Beach to sit and contemplate the passing of time and to write a poem, which is exactly what the children of Fressingfield School did today.

The day started with either a tour around Dunwich with Sister Luke, or a visit to the lovely Dunwich Museum.

Those with – the bare-footed – Sister Luke were treated to an historical tour of what remains of ancient Dunwich. A walk along St James’ Street – once the great thoroughfare into the busy port – lead to a short walk through the woods along the clifftop path to the back of Greyfriars Monastery. We stopped to learn about the plant Alexander, which was imported by the Romans because it tastes a bit like asparagus and the legionnaires were missing their vegetables, and which now grows rampantly throughout the village, and to look at the last remaining grave of All Saints’ Church, which fell into the sea about 100 years ago.

In Greyfriars, we learnt about the merchants, wool-traders, ship-builders and other tradespeople that used to live in Dunwich. We also learnt that the town was a stopping off point for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. For the walk back to the museum, we marched, like real pilgrims, ringing bells and singing and banging sticks to let people know our purpose.

In the museum, Jane Hamilton, with the help of a fantastic model, told us about the great port of Dunwich and the storm of 1286 that destroyed the harbour and started the long decline of the town’s fortunes. Meanwhile, the children upstairs were able to handle some of the finds that had been found on Dunwich Beach over the years, including spurs, sheep bells, musket balls, keys and even the leg bone of a woolly mammoth. Sarah the Archaeologist was on hand to answer the children’s many questions.

As the weather was glorious, lunch was had on the pebbles of Dunwich Beach and then we split again into groups for the afternoon’s workshops. Some children started with a sketching activity: using viewfinders, they were able to select a view to sketch in the homemade books we had brought with us for the occasion. Others were on a slow, noticing walk along the tide mark to gather small items that had been washed up by the sea which they stuck onto pieces of card to create beautiful collections. At the same time, a third group were writing poems based on their walks along the beach, which will be written up when we get back to school.

All in all, we had a fantastic day. The staff at the museum and all those who came with us were really impressed by the children’s behaviour and the excellent questions they asked.

I would like to thank all those that came with us; we hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.

Jeremy Leicester

Immersive Days

As part of our new writing scheme, we plan in Immersive days. These may be practical, sometimes drama-based or may involve watching and discussing some high-quality videos related to their writing. They really bring the topic to life for the children, help them to imagine being somewhere else or someone else and enable them to use the strong language we would like them to use in their writing. When children are sparked and enthusiastic, it is so much more fun to write!

In our recent block based on a book called Whale (by Ethan and Vita Murrow), one of our immersive days involved discovering our main character Lucy’s rucksack. What might be inside?  Children took it in turns to take out and look at the contents, which included a map, compass, screwdriver and a mysterious letter. What might Lucy be doing?  Where?  And why?  Everybody was very excited!

Another immersive lesson involved watching some awesome Blue Planet footage on whales at sea. The children loved hearing the expert voices of Sir David Attenborough and Steve Backshall. Quite a few of them came in the following morning with even more whale facts! By now, everyone in the class understood why our character Lucy was so passionate to go out to sea and spot a real-life whale. 

Our next immersive day involved a team effort to create a boat from scratch using recycled materials. The challenge?  It needed to hold a 200 g weight and stay afloat for 20 seconds. The children werable to empathise with Lucy after her boat was damaged in a terrible storm. 

The children are now really excited about writing their own whale-spotting stories. Watch this space!

Anglo-Saxon Houses!

Children in Congo Class have been rounding off their recent history topic by using authentic building techniques to create their own Anglo-Saxon houses. Using different methods such as weaving willow twigs and mixing ‘wattle and daub’ from damp soil and straw, children used their plans to create cosy homesteads fit for any Anglo-Saxon!  And then the roof of each involved designing, measuring, sawing and glueing. What a great architectural feat it was! Whilst we’re pretty sure the Anglo-Saxons didn’t have glue guns, we all agreed this project was great fun.

Hilltop Residential Day 3

And so we reached our final day at Hilltop. And the biggest challenge was most definitely getting all those clothes back into the cases!  How did we get the clothes inside in the first place?

We’d all had a very calm night, with children far too tired to miss home. We ate our last delicious Hilltop breakfast with gusto, all agreeing that Hilltop sausages are ‘the best’. 

Well, the sky was grey and there was definitely drizzle in the air. ‘Prepare for the worst’ they say, and ‘Hope for the best’. This we duly did, and kitted ourselves out head-to-toe in waterproofs.

There is a reason there are far fewer photos today – the activity was the high climbing course. This required 100% concentration by ourselves, as well as checking all the children were able to clip and unclip themselves. This activity required agility, technical skill, support from each other and a wee bit of fearlessness!  We needed to learn a ‘clipping and unclipping’ technique, which ensured we were always 100% safe. Half way through, the rain stopped. But nobody noticed. Everyone was so focused on the job in hand. Everybody was definitely in their ‘stretch zone’ today, and a few deep breaths were also needed before tackling some of those more demanding bridges and tunnels. It was so lovely to hear the cheers and encouragement from children to each other. Everybody had done their very best – and then a little more. 

Before we realised it, it was almost lunchtime!  Another delicious meal awaited us. 

We’ve all agreed – it was wonderful.  Lots of us wanted to stay longer. But all of us thought the idea of our own beds tonight was maybe a little better. 

Many thanks to everybody who has supported us with this, to make it so special and memorable for our children, especially parents and carers. 

Hilltop Residential Day 2

After rising early to sunshine and blue skies (some of us earlier than others), we all enjoyed a hearty breakfast of cereal, toast, bacon, hash browns and beans. 

Our morning activity focus was climbing and teamwork. The instructors helped us put on harnesses and hard helmets, then we worked in two groups. One group was on the climbing wall, the other playing a crate stacking game. Could you work with your partners to build the crates, climb on the crates and then ring the Bell of Victory?  Climbers had the treat of knocking down the wall afterwards. 

We all learned loads of different climbing terms, including belaying and grigri. We also learned lots about moving out of our Comfort Zone and into our Stretch Zone. This is what Hilltop is all about  – being the best we can be!

After a lunch of the most delicious jacket potatoes with a choice of filling, and then a homemade flapjack, we ventured into the wood for our bushcraft session. Bushcraft is all about surviving and thriving outdoors. It’s also about campfires!  But to make campfires, we needed to collect the wood first. Our leaders explained to us about what a fire needs to burn and also how to light a fire. Caution – always try this at home WITH an adult. 

Once our fire was warm and crackling, we had a veritable feast of marshmallows, hot chocolate and popcorn in an amazing contraption made from two sieves. 

The afternoon was pretty chilled and a great alternative to the climbing in the morning. We also remembered to tidy away and ‘leave no trace’. 

Thank you Hilltop, for another delicious dinner, and a scrumptious pudding. 

We had a really clear evening and saw lots of stars. We also played an intriguing game, which involved finding a chain of UK train stations, running from board to board and avoiding the mole hills and rabbit burrows. Well done, Year 4s – more great team work. 

We are really thinking this group is one of our best ever – they have been such a delight to take. 

Congo Y4 Residential

And the Fressingfield Class of 2023 (Year 4) has finally arrived at Hilltop!  The sun shone and the welcoming faces of the Hilltop staff also beamed sunny smiles. 

This year, unlike others, we were in the Seaview area. This is bright and light, with a beach hut theme. 

After a packed lunch where the children all seemed to have packed lunches double the size of the Fressingfield staff’s, we set off to be hard-hatted and harnessed up for the zip wire. This one, of course, is bigger and better than most. 

After a couple of rides each, we warmed up on the agility course to prepare for the assault course. Ellis our leader showed us how to camouflage our faces with mud. We reckoned this was a gentle introduction to mud, as some of the activities on the course had a distinctly wet and muddy theme!  Despite this, everyone managed to stay dry and we all emerged on the other side. 

After a leisurely, but filling, supper, it was back outside with torches, jackets and partners, to play Owls and Mice (a bit like hide and seek) in a very large – and dark – forest. How exciting was that!  

Tomorrow (Tuesday), the forecast says mild and dry. Most of us have gone to bed rather tired, but dreaming of bacon butties for breakfast!

Floella Benjamin

Congo Class has been researching somebody totally amazing!  As part of our history curriculum, we have been finding out more about the life of Floella Benjamin. Beginning with the amazing book she wrote, Coming to England, we explored how Floella travelled across to England from the West Indies to settle in a new chilly country, England!  Children researched online to find out more about her life and her achievements. 

We couldn’t believe how she not only became a children’s TV presenter, but also started up her own TV production company. And she received an award from The Queen, as well as becoming a member of the House of Lords!  Ms Perry couldn’t believe she has run London Marathon ten times!  Here are some of the great timelines we made.

Waste Recycling

Congo Class has had an amazing session with a local Waste Recycling Officer. Sam showed us a really informative video, talked about what we can and can’t recycle and then played some great games with us. The children were so enthused by this topic, that they have asked to organise an assembly AND a competition!  Watch this space for more information. 

Meanwhile, for more information, have a look here:



European Day of Languages

What an awesome day the children in Congo Class have had!  This year, we had chosen Germany, and all came to school wearing various combinations of black, red and yellow. At the start, we did a wordsearch, to work out and say the days of the week. Then we looked at a great map of Germany, and found out about foods named after Hamburg, Frankfurt and the Black Forest. Can you guess what these are?  

We then learned to count to twelve in German, and used our numbers knowledge to make bookmarks. 

We also listened to some songs and stories in German. But I think Congo Class would agree that the best activity was the taste testing!  We sampled a range of German foods, including rye bread, smoked cheese and German sausage. And did you know Haribos are also German?  

Well done to Congo children, who all made a fantastic effort to listen and engage with something a bit different.