As I look back on the last half-term, which has flown by, it is with a strange mixture of feeling like I’ve been here forever, whilst still finding myself occasionally walking down a corridor only to find a room I didn’t know was there. It’s been a joy to see the school full of life and energy this term as we have all found our feet with a sense of newness and excitement about what this new year will hold for us all.
As you may remember, I started the year talking in assembly about the importance of trying new things, and using that as a means to find out more about ourselves, and the things that we are passionate about. It’s been pleasing to see that in action with lots of interest in the clubs and societies fair in the first few weeks of term; and with the Year 10 and 11 students getting to pick their enrichment activities. It’s also been great to see the genuinely inspirational ‘Inspire & Guide’ programme up and running with lots of interesting conversations following the visits by our speakers this term. So far we’ve heard from Dr Emma Woodberry, Head of Neuropsychology at the CUH NHS Trust; Steve Carden from PA Consulting who specialise in offering consulting services related to management, technology and innovation; and Professor Richard Fentiman, a Professor of Private International Law, from the University of Cambridge. They have each had fascinating careers and have offered us all truly inspirational insights into the career possibilities ahead!
On the musical front the concert programme for the year is well underway with several of our students already having performed at one of the Michaelhouse lunchtime concerts, and last week we had our first major concert of the year around the theme of the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s births. It was wonderful to hear the school full of the music of Mendelssohn. Alongside this, rehearsals for the Autumn concert are well underway, as is the vibrant rock school.
Drama has started with gusto this term with casting and preparations already underway for the senior production of Electra which is coming up in November. The Year 11 Drama students had a fantastic trip to London to see two very different shows; A Very Expensive Poison at The Old Vic Theatre dramatised the true story of the poisoning of former Russian FSB and KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, whereas Everybody’s Talking about Jamie was a very different show altogether - also based on a true story. The students (and staff!) were also lucky enough to get some selfies and autographs from Jamie star Layton Williams at the stage door. Next term holds plenty more dramatic delights with the Year 11 IGCSE Drama showcase coming up, and the Year 10 theatre trip to see CS Lewis’ beloved The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at The Bridge Theatre. There will be plenty going on for the younger students later in the year.
In our non-examined lessons this year we’ve added in a new activity, where students are encouraged to build on and develop their skills when speaking in public. In order to build up their confidence and improve speaking skills, this half term we have been looking at ways in which you can prepare yourself, how to use information on slides more efficiently and maintain audience attention, and develop a small group presentation: all key skills needed to express themselves clearly.
The new Year 7s have enjoyed the new wider range of language options available to them this year, with French, Spanish, Chinese and German all available as options. Très bien! ¡Muy bien! ??! Sehr gut! To complement the languages work in Year 7 we also celebrated the European Day of Languages with various activities in the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. A number of our classical languages students have just attended the Cambridge Greek Play, whereas others are jetting off to Greece itself over the half-term break to experience some of this amazing country’s culture for themselves.
On the trips front, despite only being a few weeks into the year, lots has already happened with several smaller trips making excellent use of the fantastic facilities Cambridge offers us on our doorstep including the Botanic Gardens, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Zoology. The Year 11s undertook their field study to Epping Forest, and on a rather grander scale the Year 9s had a fantastic day out at Milton Country Park, topped only by Year 7s camping (or should that be glamping) adventure out at Chalkney Water Meadows.
All in, it’s been an amazing first six weeks, and I don’t know about the students but I certainly need a rest! I hope very much that half-term brings them time to pause and relax, but my challenge from the start of the year also stands; I encourage them to try something new if the opportunity presents itself. You never know where it might lead.
Dr Andy Kemp
Head of Senior School