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Above and Beyond

It is often the unexpected within the familiar that grabs our attention. On Wednesday we took our Reception class to see Red Riding Hood at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington and two things stood out for me. The first was a kindly wolf.

We give thanks (and flowers)

On February 14th, just before our half term break, whilst others were celebrating Valentines Day with roses, a group of our children went to give pansies to residents at Dell Field Court, a local care home in North Finchley.

The flowers had been planted in mid-January as part of a Tu Bishvat initiative, organised by Mitzvah Day and Jewish Interactive. The idea was for children all over the country to decorate flower pots and take them to the elderly, but at Alma we decided to go a step further

Healthy (digital) Diets

“The rules!" shouted Ralph, "you're breaking the rules!" One of the key messages of William Golding’s novel ‘Lord of the Flies’ is that, given total freedom, it can be a struggle to make the right choices.

Next Tuesday is SID, Safer Internet Day, an international event designed to remind us all of the dangers that can exist online for young people. As technology becomes more enmeshed in our lives,

Active Kids

activekidsWe are collecting Sainsbury’s Active Kids Vouchers which you can collect in-store, online and at Sainsbury’s petrol stations between Wednesday 29th January and Tuesday 20 May 2014.  We are hoping to get lots of vouchers for activity and cooking equipment for our school.
Please give vouchers to the office.

Singing from the heart

‘I show my mum I love her through hugs’, Joseph told us. This week we have been speaking about matters of the heart. Learning to understand our own emotions and those of others is an important part of our approach at Alma. How we feel about things, and how we show what we feel, is as important as the things we know, since feelings often have more influence than thinking on our actions.

You Can’t Do That!

Marriage, as the old joke goes, is not a word but a sentence. The double meaning of sentence, is shared by the Hebrew word ‘mishpatim’, which means rules or laws, as well as a grammatical unit of sense. For the average five year old rules abound. Children are subject to a vast range of rules imposed by those seeking to control their behaviour, and for this reason in our reception class this week explored the concept of laws by asking the children if rules are important.


We had a tree-mendous day yesterday, learning, planting, making decorations, dancing and singing, all in the name of nature. Tu B’shvat, the Jewish New Year or ‘Birthday of the trees’, was a time for us all to reflect on the importance of trees and plants to our lives.

Thriving Sharansky

On December 24th I sat in a meeting with Natan Sharansky, exploring ways to enhance Jewish life and thinking about the importance of thriving.

I was at Limmud conference, an exciting event which attracted over 2,700 people to learn as well as to enjoy music, theatre and art. Sharansky, a human rights activist and author, is famous as a ‘refusenik’,one of the many Jews who were refused permission to leave Russia to go and live in Israel in the 1970s.

Diligent Partners

The Zulu expression “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu” expresses the idea that ‘a person is a person because of other people’. We have come to the end of our first term together and we have a number of successes to celebrate, but foremost in my mind is the partnerships we have created.

Dreams and Delights

‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Hieronymus Bosch is an incredible medieval painting, which throws you into a world of frantic imagination and outlandishness. Last weekend I was at a European conference in Madrid, where the three-panel painting is on display at the Prado Museum (you can also see it in spectacular detail on the museums website, by clicking here). I’d been invited to take part in the conference exploring what 21st century learning looks like and was struck, during the various sessions, by our ability to imagine or dream of things which don’t exist and then to describe, or even create them.

This morning in Reception we read 'Dinosaur Train' by John Steven Gurney. In the story a young boy combines his favourite obsessions in a dream about riding a train populated by dinosaurs. Our community of enquiry discussion with the class explored the power of dreams. ‘Dreams are just in our heads and aren’t real’ Toby told us, whilst other children shared some of their own dreams and thoughts about dreams.

Bosch’s painting demonstrates the power of our creativity, to teach to improve and occasionally even to scare us. As Indie reminded us in our class discussion, ‘There are daytime dreams, but there’s also scary dream which are nightmares.’ I'm sure Bosch would have agreed.

Shabbat shalom,

Marc Shoffren