Junior School and Pre-Prep Newsletter, 10 May 2019
It was lovely to welcome everyone back to school on 25 April and, after the glorious weather enjoyed by most over Easter weekend, it really did feel like the summer term. Temperatures have dipped a little since then but the events, activities, clubs and sports which are unique to this time of year are well underway and being thoroughly enjoyed. Playing out of doors takes on new meaning when unencumbered by coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots!
We have been giving thought to how pupils and staff in the Cambridge and Madingley 3-11 schools make connections, both within and beyond the Foundation. The fact that young children take for granted that they can connect with their peers in different settings, as well as with family members and friends, when they wish to do so is a great starting point. They see no barriers in terms of technology, distance or language - they simply get on with the business of communicating effectively and addressing the pressing issues of the day, whether that is what to expect on the next World Food Day menu, how the Frequencies project canvases are developing or which teams have been promoted and relegated.
Drilling down, it is clear that important connections happen all the time during a school day - in the exchange of ideas, in the learning of new skills, in the understanding of needs and in the appreciation of creative and performing arts, to name but a few. Our aim at the Foundation is to create a rich variety of opportunities which encourage pupils to feel connected to others, as this underpins mental wellbeing, to build connections in their learning and to value connections beyond themselves.
Collaborative projects across the 3-11 schools are one of the most successful ways in which our pupils learn how to establish good working relations and friendships with peers whom they do not see every day. Early Years pupils are well accustomed to visiting each other in one of the three settings or on mutual territory, such as a Forest School location.
We have enjoyed hearing about their experiences to date and look forward to tales of Reception’s Sikhism Collaboration at Madingley today and to the visits to Bridge End Gardens and Shepreth Wildlife Park later this term. Year 4 pupils are also collaborating with their counterparts from Dame Bradbury’s today, as they join forces at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village in Suffolk. Meanwhile, Years 3 & 6 have collaborative projects coming up later this term.
Cross-phase collaboration is just as important and when some of the oldest and youngest pupils of the Foundation come together there is an almost magic quality. A collaboration between Pre-Prep pupils and 6th Form Art students, involving the painting of a mural and creating a large piece of art, was inspirational and motivated our youngest pupils to develop their skills and impress their role models. All we heard for the next few weeks was, ‘When I am in the 6th Form…’ Even Kindergarten pupils, who recently visited the Visual Arts Centre Exhibition, were truly inspired to set up their own art gallery and have clearly set their sights high, for their onward learning journey into the 6th Form.
Pre-Prep pupils have also made strong connections with people in the local community, both in Cambridge and in Madingley. Over the past few years, members of the City Year 2 class have developed a strong relationship with residents at St George’s Care Home in Cambridge. During visits to the care home, the children have shared their learning and elements of their daily school life. As part of literacy they have developed their poetry writing skills, by focusing on writing for an audience and then reading their work to the residents. They have also completed a project where they have created their own eBook stories about a resident. The care home staff feel that capturing these memories helps residents to reflect and remember and, in spending time with them, the pupils develop their altruism and skills simultaneously.
Meanwhile, at Madingley, several service learning projects have been undertaken at the village park where, for example, Year 1 pupils set up activities in which villagers could take part. These activities provided learning purpose and direction to motivate pupils, and gave meaning and context to the skills that they learnt. Extensive use of the village playground, village hall, Madingley Hall and the 800 Wood keep pupils connected to the outdoor community space and life beyond school. Valuing, learning and being in these spaces develops their connection to the village itself. Over the next few years we hope to strengthen our relationship with the local community, space and people of Madingley, through village creativity projects.
Year 3 pupils have been connecting on a global scale, by exploring how climate change is impacting on extreme weather conditions around the world. They have been looking at the challenge of how food can be grown on flooded land, particularly in Bangladesh. As a result of climate change, there is more rain in Bangladesh than ever before. Land where farmers used to grow their crops, is now flooded on a regular basis, with the result that families can go hungry.
Our pupils have been designing and building model structures which will enable farmers to grow crops, even in an area that may become flooded. They were encouraged to reuse and recycle a variety of items to create their own floating gardens and bonus points were even given if the floating garden could support a chicken! They were amazed to learn that bamboo poles can be laid over hyacinth to create a floating raft. The raft is covered with soil, compost and cow dung then sown with seeds. These rather clever rafts can even be moved to shady or sunnier places to improve growing conditions.
This was creative problem solving at its best, as our young designers worked enthusiastically, with a solution based focus, on real world challenges. Empowering people to realise that, wherever we are in the world, we can all work together to improve living conditions and adapt to change is now a top priority and being connected is an essential piece of this complex jigsaw.
Year 6 pupils spent four days out of school last week and they impressed the accompanying staff by the manner in which they conducted themselves throughout a fairly rigorous residential trip. They coped brilliantly while learning ‘on the move’, organising themselves, looking out for each other and making the most of every opportunity to expand their personal horizons. This was an incredibly rich cross-curricular learning experience, which left us in awe of our pupils’ capacity to utilise the thinking toolkit in any environment. To read more click here.
Year 5 pupils will embark on their residential trip later this month. In the meantime, they grasped the chance to visit the Oscar Murillo exhibition at Kettle’s Yard earlier this week. Having had Murillo’s Frequencies project canvases on the tables in their classrooms from November to April, they were excited at the prospect of seeing sections of these on display, as well as other works by the Columbian artist. Little did we know, when we accepted the invitation to the exhibition, that Murillo would be one of four artists nominated for the 2019 Turner prize! Frequencies is a superb example of connections between young people on a global scale, as it is reaching out to urban and rural schools in every continent. While those drawing on the canvases will rarely meet one another, the project provides fascinating insight as to the similarities of conscious and unconscious thoughts amongst 10-16 year olds across the world.
From artistic endeavours to coding, and pupils in Years 3 & 4 have been getting to grips with connecting a microbit to their iPad via Bluetooth. Once this was achieved they have had fun programming the microbit screen to display moving images and words. They have had to learn to debug any problems with their program or connection and their next step is to use the microbit to create games.
Connecting with nature is also well established within our school community; this week our Year 3 pupils have been hard at work on the Nature Reserve during their Science lessons and members of the Year 4 Botanic Garden Club spent a happy lunch break participating in a range of activities designed to encourage appreciation of the world around them. Recently they have hunted for nature’s treasures, adventured on pine tree trails, watched for wildlife, explored colours and textures, and looked for signs of spring.
We look forward to welcoming you to some of the summer term events which are listed on the Pre-Prep and Junior School calendars.
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.
5A pupils will present their class assembly in the Junior School Hall. Parents of pupils involved are invited to attend, with refreshments in the Library beforehand.
5Alpha class assembly
8:40am – 9:10am
5Alpha pupils will present their class assembly in the Junior School Hall. Parents of pupils involved are invited to attend, with refreshments in the Library beforehand.
Year 5 residential trip
SIMS Parent App
In late November we launched the SIMS Parent App for iOS and Android devices to help you make updates to the information we hold on your children and your contact details. Many thanks to everyone that has used the app to provide updates so far. The original invitations have expired, so anyone who has not yet activated their accounts will need a new invitation code. Our Data Manager will issue new invitation codes to anyone who has not activated their accounts on Monday 13 May. The invitation will come from a Capita email address. If you have any questions about the app please email firstname.lastname@example.org
PFA committee meeting - May 2019
Thanks to all who attended the termly PFA committee meeting on 1 May at the Senior School, the full minutes will be posted shortly. The next meeting will be the AGM in September 2019.
We had a great discussion on activities and events the PFA can support, including a funding project run with the School Council's support. The Junior School have selected a range of outdoor play equipment that we'll need your help to source. The Senior School will also have the opportunity to bid for funding/support this term too.
At the meeting, we confirmed that our purpose is the facilitation of connections between the families at the school via various social events (please see below). If you'd like to suggest or organise a social event, please contact your Class Rep or a PFA committee member.
PFA summer event - Friday evening, 28 June - save the date!
Plans are being finalised for a PFA summer event in the evening of Friday 28 June. While we had planned a summer fair, the best option right now is likely be a movie night which we intend to run at both the Junior School and the Senior School to cater for all film-loving tastes!
We are hoping to couple this with a parent’s social at the Senior School, including a paid-for bar, to make the most out of the summer evening (and keep from embarrassing any teenagers with our presence).
Second-hand uniform sale - Wednesday afternoon, 3 July
The next second-hand uniform sale has been arranged to coincide with the Induction Day - this will be open in the afternoon, with full details to be confirmed shortly, with a main site at the Senior School.
We have a good stock of second-hand uniform, but are also looking for additional donations you may have, particularly for any used sports kits and sports equipment in addition to regular uniforms (e.g. hockey sticks!). Collection points will be at all three sites (Madingley, Junior School & Senior School). All the funds raised at the sale goes back to PFA activities and events.