THE INFANTS DEPARTMENT REPORT - 1961
"Is space higher than heaven, or is heaven higher than
space?" This is just one of the many questions asked by the
five to seven year olds during the year. To work with children
of this age is very interesting and refreshing (and frequently
most amusing). The children gather together snippets of information
like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and are quite confident that "teacher"
will not only be able to fit the puzzle together but also supply
all the missing pieces !
The past year at school has been most interesting and eventful.
We were all very pleased to be able to welcome Lady Grantham to
Verdala when she visited us during the Christmas term. Lady Grantham,
who was unfortunately prevented by ill health from presenting
the prizes at the Prize Giving which had taken place during the
summer, spent the morning with us and watched the children at
work and at play. The little children love having visitors in
their classrooms and chatted away happily to her. Lady Grantham
spent break time in the Staff Room talking to members of the teaching
On February 22nd the Flag Officer, Malta, Rear Admiral D.H.F.
Hetherington, D.S.C., made his annual inspection of the school
and talked to many of the children and to members of the teaching
staff. In March the school was again inspected, this time by Her
Majesty's Inspectors who spent three days observing the work being
carried out at Verdala. Miss Walley, one of the inspectors, who
spent most of her time observing and advising in the Infants Department,
was immediately adopted by the younger children as a friend who
would hear them read and help them with their work and they were
not disappointed. The teaching staff received much encouragement
and helpful advice so that the inspection proved enjoyable and
stimulating. Her Majesty's Inspectors were pleased with the children's
high standard of attainment and with their poise and courtesy
- as are all visitors to the school.
Infant Department Activities.
This year we have again been pleased to welcome the student
teachers from the Mater Admirabilis Training College, Rabat, who
come to observe the Staff and children at work. They are always
such charming and appreciative visitors that we are always pleased
to see them. We hope that their visits to Verdala prove helpful
and we wish them happiness and success in their studies and in
their future teaching careers.
In a school such as this frequent changes are to be expected
and we are always saying "farewell" to children and
to members of staff. We are always sorry when the children leave
us, especially when they have been in the Infant Department for
two years or more and we have watched them grow and develop from
tiny, somewhat overwhelmed five year olds to self-assured, capable
seven year olds. However, we have to let them go and we send with
them our good wishes and hopes for their happiness and success
in school wherever they may be.
Staff changes, too, are inevitable and we said "goodbye"
at Easter to Miss Lee who had been teaching at Verdala for four
years and is now married and living in Canada - we wish her and
her husband every happiness. At the same time we said a temporary
farewell to Miss Board who a few months later returned to Verdala
as "supply" teacher Mrs. Bell. We send Mr. and Mrs.
Bell our very best wishes.
At the end of the Summer term we were sorry to lose Miss W.
Townsend and Mrs. Roberts. Mrs. Roberts is still living in Malta
and comes to visit us bringing with her baby Jonathan. We hear
that Miss Townsend is teaching in Crawley New Town and has been
entertaining ex Verdala colleagues in her flat there we understand
that she is now an expert on interior decorating ! !
Shortly after Christmas some of the Staff went down to Pinto
Wharf to wave "goodbye" to Mrs. Gee who with her husband
Surgeon Lt. Gee, was returning to England. Both were well known
at Verdala and we miss them very much. A few weeks later saw us
there again wishing 'Godspeed' to Mr. and Mrs. Keane. Mrs. Keane
had been at Verdala for almost three years and had taken such
an interest in the school that it was hard to realise that she
would not be returning. We miss her and hope that she and her
husband had an enjoyable overland journey home. Miss Stideford
also left us at the close of the Easter term and is now married
and living in England. We wish her and her husband every happiness.
In Malta we also have the pleasure of greeting many teachers
who arrive here from U.K. full of enthusiasm and with up to the
minute knowledge on educational matters. During this year we have
welcomed Miss Parkinson, (who transferred to the Junior Dept).
Miss Strong, Miss Pickett, Miss Adams (on to the permanent staff)
Miss Biddis, Miss McIntyre, Miss Jarman and Miss Conisbee. We
wish them all a happy stay in Malta. In case it should appear
that we had a complete change of staff it must be mentioned that
Miss Holmwood, Miss Whitelaw, Mrs. Jordan, Miss Postings, Miss
Eastland and Miss Head have remained with us throughout the year,
helping to maintain continuity and to give stability to the school.
We are grateful to them for all their hard work for it is in no
small measure due to their efforts that the school has enjoyed
a most successful year.
There have been many improvements to the Infants' School premises
during the year. Old stone floors have been covered with pleasant
grey tiles, class rooms have been re-decorated in pretty pastel
shades and the very sunniest rooms fitted with very attractive
and useful pale blue venetian blinds. Water tops and small butler
sinks have now been fitted in all infants' class rooms and the
children and staff find them a great asset. We have managed to
keep our little hall throughout the year and the children were
thrilled when they returned after Christmas to find that it had
been repainted in pale blue and cream and that the floor had been
covered with pale green linoleum which makes it ideal for dancing.
The construction of an orderly bus park at the school entrance
has been especially appreciated by everyone and particularly the
teachers of the youngest children. I well remember when the buses
drew up, all higgledy piggledy in the quagmire and teachers with
groups of children could be seen picking their way through mud
and puddles in search of "Johnny's bus". However, all
that is now in the past and the thirty or so buses on arrival
in the morning wait in a queue to unload children at the front
gate. In the afternoon children come down to a row of buses clearly
numbered and parked in order so that children and teachers need
no longer have "bus night mares."
It has been of great benefit to the school to have, at long
last, the services of a State Registered Nurse to deal with the
many small emergencies that are bound to occur in such a large
school. Improvements have also been made to the sick bay and a
bathroom and toilet have been added so that children feeling unwell
can receive attention in complete privacy. It is worth noting
here that there has been a tremendous improvement in toilet facilities
throughout the school and also that several drinking fountains
(fitted with water coolers) have been installed.
We were all very sorry when our first Nurse, Mrs. Feekery,
left to go to Australia. We often think about her and wish Mr.
and Mrs. Feekery, Louise and Colin happiness and success in their
new life. However, as good friends leave us new friends arrive
and we are fortunate now to have Mrs. Prideaux who takes a genuine
interest in the children's welfare.
School activities have been interesting and varied. We have
submitted entries to the Child Art Exhibition in Valletta. Last
year several of our entries were exhibited and some were awarded
Certificates of Merit.
Inside the classrooms work has gone on vigorously throughout
the year. The children enjoy a full school life; they have boundless
energy and work in bright attractive classrooms. Outside they
make full use of the very large playground where they can run,
jump, climb in fact enjoy all those vigorous activities necessary
for the healthy growth of children.
As in previous years, we sent a class to sing at the Schools'
Music Festival held this year at St. Andrews'. Miss Posting's
class sang very charmingly the story of "The Three Little
Kittens" and a gay little song called "Buttons."
Whilst the Infants did not actually take part this year in
the Christmas Play "Peter and the Wolf" they thoroughly
enjoyed being "audience" and readily recognised the
music when a recording was played to them some time afterwards.
The Infants' classes had their own concert as last year and entertained
each other. They also enjoyed the traditional Christmas parties
which are always a tremendous success, due, in no small measure,
to the generosity of parents who help to provide the party fare.
This year we were able to decorate the Infants' assembly hall
with poinsettias which looked very beautiful and we made a simple
crib. However, it was the children of Class 1 who really helped
us to remember the true reason for our festivities. They performed
for us a Nativity Play which they had written and produced themselves
with Miss Holmwood's guidance. Every member of this large class
took part and the children performed with reverence and sincerity.
We were sorry that this, so appropriate Christmas activity, could
not be shared by the children's parents since to watch such a
performance, by little children, helps to bring one nearer to
the first Christmas Day with its message of "peace and good
So yet another has passed and we are now planning for next
year, which seems an appropriate place at which to leave this
report and wish all Verdala pupils, both past and present, happiness
and success wherever they may be.