Junior School and Pre-Prep Newsletter, 4 April 2019
Festival of Learning July 2019
We are living in extraordinary times. If the world is a challenging place for adults to negotiate, just imagine how it presents itself to young learners trying to make sense of it. Whilst our national political crisis consumes the time of our politicians, arguably the greatest challenge facing mankind, climate change, is being lost in the heat of partisan debate. I was greatly struck by a recent article in the Financial Times by Simon Kuper @kupersimon about the drought in Cape Town, South Africa. Last year Cape Town nearly ran dry. Kuper observes wryly “the bathtub felt like a relic of a lost civilisation… Beside it was a shower containing an egg timer. The two minute shower has become standard….”. The long term future of cities like Cape Town in Kuper’s opinion are problematic and the creation of water refugees a real issue.
In the face of mounting evidence of irreversible environmental damage across the globe, what can be done to alert everyone to the real and present danger to our planet? In recent weeks in the UK we have witnessed Eco activists making their presence known in the House of Commons’ gallery during a Brexit debate and school children across our country (and the world) choosing to truant from school to make their concerns about climate change known.
At the Foundation we look to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as international points of principle to help shape our thinking around sustainability; yet we want to do more. Our Festival of Learning on 9 July will be focussed on this crucial issue exploring how our young people regenerate our fragile planet. I am delighted to announce that we shall be joined in this mission by Mr Angus Forbes, a businessman and philanthropist, who is evangelical about empowering young people to believe they can make a difference. Angus and his team are advocates for the creation of a Global Planetary Authority (GPA) whose sole focus is to protect and enhance the biosphere (Votegpa.com). We look forward to our older learners participating in the GPA and our younger learners engaging in a range of activities designed to inform and inspire them about the world around them.
The Festival of Learning is very much a community event and I would ask any member of our broader community, our parents and alumni, who would like to participate either by facilitating discussion, speaking to our learners or supporting activities to contact the school. Mrs Handford (firstname.lastname@example.org) can offer an overview of the 3-11 proposed programme whilst Mr Walker (email@example.com) is responsible for overseeing the 11-18 activities. Mrs McKenna (firstname.lastname@example.org ) is our Inspire and Guide Coordinator and is also happy to speak to anyone interested in contributing to this important event or more generally to our speaker programme.
The success of our CamMUN event earlier this term convinced me that our young people are ready and more than capable of addressing the challenges to our biosphere. It is our responsibility to ensure they are properly equipped and educated.
The last few weeks of term have been busy for pupils and staff, in both the Pre-Prep and Junior School, with a variety of special events, as well as all the usual activities in the classroom, playground and beyond.
The recent fine weather has made outdoor pursuits particularly enjoyable and we are delighted that nearly all pupils have participated in Forest School, Outdoor Learning or Nature Reserve trips since half term. These off-site learning opportunities will continue next term, with the addition of Outdoor Learning sessions for Year 3 and trips to the Nature Reserve or Botanic Garden for Years 3-6.
As the hockey and netball season, for boys and girls respectively, draws to a close there is much to celebrate and everyone is looking forward to spending time at Latham Road next term, with cricket, athletics and Sports Days on the agenda.
Year 6 pupils have spent more time than usual at Latham Road, adding Bikeability to the list of activities done on that site. After passing Level 1 training on the games court at Latham Road, the 50 pupils participating in the course have moved on to Level 2, which involves six hours of intensive training on public roads near school. We are grateful to the excellent instructors from Outspoken and also to everyone for accommodating the unusually high number of bicycles on the driveway this week. It has been very good to hear really enthusiastic feedback from our cyclists and we wish them well with their practical assessment this afternoon.
We have enjoyed a feast of class assemblies during the last fortnight and are very proud indeed of pupils in both Reception classes and both Year 3 classes for sharing their learning confidently and creatively.
While these assemblies gave us a glimpse of pupils’ work across many aspects of the curriculum, other highlights have been specifically in Art, Music and Drama.
This week our Pre-Prep pupils on both sites have held Art exhibitions. Tuesday morning found parents viewing the art work of City children in the Hall and this afternoon it is the turn of Madingley children to showcase their art in Madingley Village Hall. This special event has brought the half term topic, ‘Picture This’, which has involved trips to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Kettle’s Yard and our own Visual Arts Centre to a fitting conclusion.
Meanwhile, nearly 40 members of Years 3 & 4 are to be congratulated on their Performers’ Platform Concert last Wednesday. As always, it was a delight to see great progress from those who had played in previous concerts, as well as courage and pride from all who took their turn to play in front of a packed audience.
As the end of term approached we became aware that Year 5 pupils appeared to be spending more time in the Senior School than in the Junior School and, as their walks between sites became more frequent, we spotted costume bags and interesting looking props being carried. Posters appeared on corridor walls announcing two performances of ‘Dream On’ and excitement levels rose. At last the day arrived and the scene was set. The audience was transported to Athens where Duke Theseus and Hippolyta were preparing for their wedding. What followed was something quite enchanting as our Year 5 pupils presented a musical version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, in which every member of the year group acted and sang, including several solos, absolutely superbly. Not only was this show visually attractive with effective scenery and stunning costumes, but it was thoroughly entertaining and the children clearly loved conveying the humour, as well as the various stories within the tale. Mrs Marty and her Year 5 cast brought Shakespeare alive most successfully and this skilfully adapted and directed production will certainly live long in the memory. Lili, who played one of Titania’s fairies, would like to add, ‘Listening to the first rehearsal was the best part because nobody knew what anyone would say. Everyone thought when Lysander told Demetrius to marry Hermia’s father it was incredibly hilarious!’
Barnardo’s Day has been an annual or biennial event in the Senior School for decades and today our Year 5 & 6 pupils are experiencing this colourful and eclectic event. With a clear understanding as to the importance of fund-raising for our nominated charities, they left with full purses and high expectations then returned an hour or so later beaming with happiness and thinking ahead to when they are tasked, as seniors, with setting up such activities linked to a theme. We look forward to hearing how much has been raised at the 2019 Barnardo’s event.
When pupils’ wellbeing and mental health is discussed there is a tendency to look for specific pigeon holes for where this is addressed - is it through PSHEE, does it happen in assemblies, should it be an aspect of lessons or playtimes, how can it be fitted into after-school clubs and events? We would argue that wellbeing is the lifeblood of our schools which underpins every aspect of the curriculum and extra-curricular provision, as well as the social times of every school day. A glance through this newsletter gives just some examples of how the staff in our settings are creative in finding different ways of supporting our pupils in their learning journeys and to ensuring they feel really proud and happy about both individual and collective achievements.
We wish you and your family a lovely break over Easter and look forward to welcoming everyone back to school for the summer term on Thursday 25 April.
Year 6 pupils have all enjoyed recent visits to the SPF Nature Reserve, the second in a series of termly trips, which allow them to chart the seasonal changes in climatic conditions and how these affect the living organisms found in its various habitats.
Giving children the freedom and time to explore and interact in wild and open spaces is critical to all aspects of development and learning. The outdoor classroom is unique: no walls, no boundaries, no bells – an endless horizon of opportunity.
The term has culminated with a busy few weeks of sport in the Junior School and we have seen some terrific performances.
The boys’ hockey season will end this week with a friendly U11 fixture against Dame B’s. The boys have so far had a fabulous season, performing well at tournaments, winning some silverware and most recently securing two draws against New Hall School.
The netballers have once again played some delightful netball and secured some very impressive victories. The U11s finished fourth at the regionals and only lost one other game all season, whilst the U10s are certainly our most improved year group and the U9s have given us reason to be excited about the next couple of seasons.
The weather is set to keep improving over the holidays and the students are very much looking forward to some cricket, athletics and tennis next term. The pre season cricket camps are nearly at capacity and this bodes well for a successful start to the season.
For all the other fixture news and results remember to check the website www.stephenpersesport.com and follow us on twitter @SPFSport.
Upcoming Junior School events
Spring term ends
Summer term begins
Summer Fair 2019 - call for volunteers
Thanks to all who took part in the Summer Fair 2019 survey - please use the following Google Drive link to view the results: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Dfvrt_hK4zDDOf2EIwS6WqzG7X2BPZKl We plan to have an evening event on Friday 28 June at the Senior School - we might do well to position this as a mini-mid-Summer Festival, with food/drink, music, games and associated fun things.
We're looking for additional volunteers for the organising committee and we are happy to receive additional thoughts for the fair/festival - so if you'd like to get involved (it is a fun thing to do overall!) please do get in touch via ClassList or by email on: email@example.com
Next PFA meeting
The next PFA meeting is at the Senior School at 8pm on Wednesday 1 May 2019. If you'd like to make suggestions for PFA activities and events, or otherwise get involved in organisation and volunteering for these, please do come along. We'll lay on some refreshments for anyone who comes.
If you'd like to add your 2p on any or all of the above, then please do get involved by contacting the PFA directly either via your year-rep / the PFA committee on ClassList or by email on: firstname.lastname@example.org