Queen of Katwe review

This is the first film review on the Kafuro Liss blog, but Queen of Katwe is the first major film in many years which is actually based about ordinary Ugandan people as opposed to politicians such as Idi Amin (The last king of Scotland). The film is based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl, who sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess. You don’t have to be a chess fan to watch the film; the main themes are poverty, ambition and aspiration. What I really liked about the film is that it wasn’t condescending or patronising towards Ugandan people. It also brought back many happy memories of a country I love and one that feels like a second home to me.

I’m intending to show this film when I visit Kafuro next year, but would highly recommend it to Liss pupils and parents for an entertaining, thought-provoking and uplifting half-term treat. It’s also got an absolutely brilliant soundtrack!



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Harvest Festival at Liss

Today was the Liss Junior School Harvest Festival and the entire school went to St Mary’s church in the centre of Liss to celebrate this occasion. This year’s theme was regional harvests for England and each class presented about produce for a region. Ash Class talked about peas from Lincolnshire, Elm Class presented about tomatoes from the Isle of Wight, Oak Class discussed carrots while willow and beech discussed vineyards in Sussex and watercress in Hampshire respectively.

In the Upper School, Pine Class talked about cider from Herefordshire, Birch presented wheat from Yorkshire, Rowan Class discussed hops from Surrey and Kent while Maple Class talked about dairy produce from Devon.

This year children and parents of the school donated items towards Liss Foodbank. This supports families who are struggling to feed themselves. Some people in Uganda think that all muzungu are rich and have everything they need, but the reality is very different.

We would like to ask our friends at Kafuro Primary School how you celebrate the harvest? Do you have a church service or hold some sort of festival?

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Installing a wormery at Liss Junior School

When Mr Burford retired from teaching in July, he bought two presents for the children at the school. One was a crab apple tree which was placed next to our orchard. The smell of the crab apple tree attracts the bees and, in turn, they pollinate the nearby orchard.

The second present Mr Burford bought the school was a wormery. Today, children from Rowan Class (with the help of Mrs Stokes) built the wormery and began filling it with food waste which can be turned into compost.

In assembly this morning, Mr Stanley explained to the school how worms were very important to creating usable compost. He explained that there are 26 British species of earthworm that are of a variety of sizes, the largest is 30cm and the smallest is around 6cm long, and they range in colours from a dark red to pale a yellow/green. The different types of earthworm are not easy to tell apart – identifying them requires a magnifying glass, an eye for detail and a lot of patience! However, one group ‘the litter dwellers’ are the most distinctive, living either in the leaf litter, at the soil surface or within compost heaps; they have dark red or brown colouring and in the case of the Tiger worm a set of dapper stripes.

The Tiger worms play their part at the very start of the recycling process consuming dead plant material when it first lands on the soil surface. They process it by eating it and recharge the soil with nutrients and minerals. The worm ‘casts’ – the small piles of processed soil or worm manure – are especially rich in the mineral calcium, which is needed by plants to absorb nitrogen – essential in helping them to grow. Earthworms also break up and aerate the soil like mini-ploughs, improving the texture of the soil which also helps produce healthy plants.

Charles Darwin recognised the  importance of earthworms and spent a large amount of time studying and understanding them, eventually writing his last book ‘The formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms, with observations on their habits’. The research methods he utilised ranged from the very standard to the more unusual, for example he played a number of musical instruments, while assessing their reaction, and eventually he concluded that they are deaf!

Tiger worms also assist in living more environmentally friendly lifestyles, as they are one of the main worms used in wormeries. They allow us to process our kitchen and garden waste breaking it down and eventually creating rich compost for gardens, allotments and window boxes.

The children built the wormery and filled it with the Tiger worms (they have been living in plastic bags), strips of newspaper and bedding. As the worms mature, we will be able to add more and more food waste. In time, the worms will produce lots of fantastic compost that we can use to help grow vegetables.

We’d like to thank Mrs Stokes for assisting the children this afternoon. Most of all, we’d like to thank Mr Burford for his generosity in giving the wormery to the school and enabling us to produce fantastic compost.

We’d like to ask our friends in Kafuro if they use worms to recycle waste matter in Uganda.

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Getting the Liss bees ready for winter

Today Mr Stanley and Mr Haycock went to prepare the Liss bees for the British winter. Each year we have made sure that the bees have enough food for the winter and that their hives are secure against intruders. This means checking that the bees have enough honey stored and that mouseguards are put on the hive entrances to stop mice getting in.

When we checked the first hive we found that the bees had stored quite a lot of honey, but we didn’t think that there was a surplus, so we decided not to take any frames. However, there were plenty of bees and there was lots of activity with bees bringing back pollen from various plants.

The second hive continues to be a worry. The queen is still laying, but the numbers are not huge and they have little or no stores of honey. Mr Haycock and Mr Stanley made sure that a container with sugar solution was filled up and the hive was completely secure.

Unfortunately, there won’t be any honey to sell this year as the bees need it, but we hope that the numbers of bees increase next year and that there is enough good weather for a bumper crop of honey.

We would like to ask our friends in Kafuro as to how your bees are progressing. Mr Stanley was very impressed with the level of foliage around the Kafuro hives over the summer. Has this led to bumper crops of honey?

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Harvesting our fruit

Greeting to our friends in Kafuro. We hope that you are enjoying your third term and we look forward to hearing about your learning.

As the autumn season begins, we have been harvesting the fruit grown on the school site and preparing for winter. Pupils from Years 5 & 6 have been picking apples and pears with parent helpers and we have launched a competition for families to bake dishes using the fruits. The families will bring in what they have made and there will be a prize for the best looking dish. All the entries will be sold to raise money for the school. This ensures that none of the fruit goes to waste.

The pupils have also been clearing up the garden area and renewing the flower pots around the side of the school.  A local garden centre, Hilliers, have very generously donated bags of compost and bulbs to enable us to freshen up the pots and to ensure that we will have more lovely flowers in the spring.

We would like to ask our friends in Kafuro what they have been doing with the fruits around their school grounds and how they are looking after the school environment?



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