I had no idea the school was so large. What an enormous playground, and what a lot of children!”

Remarks such as this are frequently made by parents visiting Verdala for the first time. What, then, are the reactions of the children? What are the five year old's impressions of Verdala on his very first day at school? What are his thoughts as he cautiously climbs down from the school bus, firmly clutching his "white card" to join the stream of children making their way up the steep drive? Is this anything  like the school he imagined?

Is he excited? Is he feeling apprehensive? Is he overwhelmed by the vast expanse of playground, the numerous different classrooms and the masses of strange faces? Daily, the staff in the Infants Department are amazed at the adaptability of these very young children, since the majority readily accept this new environment and take to school like "ducks to water". They very soon learn their way about. They abound with energy and seem thoroughly happy and at ease at school. In spite of this we have been concerned for some time for the very tiny, timid children, trying so hard to play their little pretending games of "mothers and fathers" and being "buses" or "engines" amid the speed and hustle of bigger children chasing each other and playing ball games. It was generally agreed that these little ones would have a much happier, calmer day, if at playtime they could have a special portion of playground and a toilet block reserved for the use of "Infants Only." This idea has been tried during this term and whilst some of the younger children still prefer to play in the main section of the playground with older brothers and sisters many are glad of the refuge offered by the Infants' Playground.

Two blocks of classrooms at Verdala have now been made almost exclusively Infants' Blocks to accommodate ten classes. The eleventh class, started in January of this year, occupies a classroom made by drawing the sliding partitions across the centre of the hall (much to the disappointment of staff and children who had previously enjoyed their P.E. and Music and Movement in this attractive little hall). Mrs Farr joined the staff in January to take charge of the newly‑made Class Eleven and quickly transformed a very bare-looking room into a most gay, attractive classroom. The walls are colourfully decorated with the children's own artistic efforts. Touring the infants’ classrooms one cannot help but be impressed with their bright, attractive appearance. The staff have obviously spent much time out of school, producing for their classes a considerable amount of interesting reading and number reading apparatus of all kinds. Such apparatus is both useful and decorative and when introduced into the classroom it acts as a great stimulus to young children endeavouring to master the early stages in the basic subjects. The children's own efforts at picture‑making and modelling ("ships" incidentally are a most popular subject) displayed about their classroom help to make it their own. For most of the year the classrooms have been gay with flowers, many

of which the children have gathered from the fields adjoining the playground. Several children, with help from teachers and parents, made very careful collections of pressed wild‑flowers and were so interested it was decided to hold a competition during the Easter holidays for the best collection of ten different flowers.

On days when the weather has been suitable many of the younger classes have enjoyed lessons out of doors in the shade of the verandahs and under the trees growing near to the school.

As usual the Infants ran their races on Sports Day and collected their sweets afterwards! During the Summer Term many of them took part in the Swimming Sports and did extremely well.

Last Spring Term a group of seven-year-old boys and girls, who had been taught by Miss Instrell, took part in the Schools Music Festival. They played two percussion band pieces with great precision, and enthusiasm! This year Miss Burke’s class will be singing at the concert to be held at the close of this year's Music Festival.

During February and March students from the Mater Admirabilis Training College at Rabat paid their annual visit to the school to observe teaching methods. What charming and delightful visitors they are. They are so interested in the children, so readily fit into the programme planned for them and are so appreciative of the help given them by our teaching staff. Some weeks before the students visited Verdala a group of five and six year olds were taken to the College by Miss Burke who gave a demonstration lesson for the students. The children's very sweet singing and graceful movement delighted everyone. The children thoroughly enjoyed the lesson and the orange squash and delicious homemade cake, which followed. Before returning to Verdala the children had a romp in the hall and played games organised by the students. The experience was a happy and profitable one for all concerned.

Changes in the staff this year have been very few. Miss Instrell left In August to go to Salisbury Rhodesia to be married. We wish her and her husband much happiness. Mrs Birch transferred to the Junior Department and we have welcomed into the Infants' Department Miss Stideford, Miss Holmwood and Mrs. Farr. We have also been grateful for help given us by Mrs Hicks, Mrs Preston, Miss Morris, and Mrs Gee, who have come into the school as supply teachers. There has been a very settled atmosphere about the school throughout the year, due undoubtedly to the fact that the remainder of the staff, Miss Batty, Mrs Beech, Miss Burke, Mrs Davies, Mrs Keane, Miss Lee, Miss Townsend, and Mrs Wicks have now been on the staff at Verdala for a considerable time, so that new members of the staff met well-­established colleagues who readily gave help and co‑operation wherever it was needed. Throughout the year all the staff have worked together as a team to ensure smooth running of the department, and consequently the children have enjoyed a full and varied life. A good standard of work has been maintained throughout the school and many children have achieved well above average standards.

During the Autumn Term we said Goodbye to Commander Paynter and Mrs Paynter who returned to Gosport. We have very happy memories of their stay in Malta and we send them our very best wishes.

Shortly before Commander Paynter left we had welcomed Commander Brookes and Mrs Brookes to Verdala and the younger children were most interested by the fact that for a few days the school had two headmasters! We were so pleased that Commander Brookes and Mrs Brookes were able to join in our Christmas festivities.

This year some of the infants took part in the school pantomime as the boys and girls and baby rats in "The Pied Piper".

We sincerely thank Miss Lee who arranged their dresses and supervised rehearsals, Mrs Wicks who gave considerable help with the costumes and all the members of the staff who helped in various ways during pantomime time. We had our usual Christmas Parties which began with games in the small hall, especially decorated for the occasion. Tea was set out in the classrooms and the children thoroughly enjoyed the party fare so generously supplied by parents.

Just before the end of term the six and seven‑year‑olds performed a Nativity Play. The children, young as they were, played their parts with  sincerity and reverence.

Christmas is always a happy time especially where there are young children, for they enjoy everything wholeheartedly. With tremendous enthusiasm they set to work to produce mountains of decorations. They were so delighted with the coloured lights on the Christmas tree.

They vigorously coloured Christmas cards for Mummy and Daddy, then laboriously wrote their Christmas messages inside. They listen intently to the Christmas story with its message of love and goodwill, peep quietly inside the Christmas crib, and sing softly ‘Away in a Manger’ and all the other carols so loved by children and adults.

It is said that in retrospect one always sees the good things in life, and that the difficulties overcome are forgotten. Doubtless we have had our problems and difficulties in the Infants Department during the past year, but we must have overcome them fairly easily for they are now forgotten, for the memory recalls only that the year was a thoroughly happy one.

V. North.