I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas! In the run up to the end of term, I’ve been reflecting on the last few months, and the amazing amount of stuff we have managed to pack in! There isn’t the time nor the space to mention it all, but there have been some fantastic opportunities and achievements, of which I’d like to share just a few with you.
The academic year started with change for many, with new teachers, subjects and activities, and a whole new school for some - myself included! The year so far has been full of energy and excitement, with lots of trips including the Year 7 Residential and Year 9 Activity day; the Year 8 Hockey tour; Greece trip; various theatre trips to see some great productions; the Year 9 trip to the V&A Museum amongst many others. As well as heading out of school we’ve been privileged to have lots of visitors this term to speak to the school about various things, whether for Inspire & Guide or the various subject specific talks such as the recent debate on the question ‘Is religion compatible with science?’. My huge thanks to the many parents and alumni who have given up their time to share their wisdom and experience.
We’ve had a number of exciting musical performances; from the formality of the Autumn Concert which involved over 100 students, to the more informal lunchtime such as this week’s rock concert in the Activity Space. The glorious carol service in Great St Mary’s was a wonderful start to the Christmas period for me, and it was good to hear everyone singing with such gusto! It is wonderful to see (and hear!) so many students experiencing the joy that music has to offer.
On the stage we’ve also had a number of impressive drama productions such as the outstanding rendition of Electra put together by Years 10-13, or the rather dark Year 11 GCSE Drama showcase! It’s amazing to see what they are capable of. I was reminded of the huge journey they have been on since their first times on the stage as I watched the nursery Nativity play last week which for many was their first performance!
There are far more details about the sporting successes of this term in the section below, but for me one of the key values of sport is about inclusion and effort. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has represented the school in sport this term, at whatever level and whatever the outcome.
Alongside the many co-curricular activities, we’ve also had a number of exciting academic enrichment opportunities this term. The Classics Department hosted a Virgil Vigil where students in Year 10 and above were invited to attend a recreation of a Carthaginian banquet and to read extracts from Virgil aloud. The aim was for the students to lift the words of this text off the page and imaginatively try to inhabit the story, in the midst of Aeneas' arrival in the opulence of Carthage and his dislocating flashback to the horrors of the fall of Troy. Earlier in the term, the Visual Arts department encouraged us to all take part in the national ‘Big Draw’ where we were encouraged to bring art into our day and our teaching! For my part, I explored some of the building blocks of Escher’s recursive art from a computational perspective with my Year 7s. The languages department hosted ‘Les Trois Mousquetaires’ workshop for Year 7 this week. The Mathematics department have been busy with a number of recent trips and competitions, including some outstanding results in the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge, with 142 senior school students achieving a Distinction, and 86 proceeding to the TCS Oxford Computing Challenge next term!
All of that said, some of the events which I’ve been most impressed by this term are those which have been led and organised by the students themselves. The Eco Committee organised a fantastic clothes swap event; tutor groups have organised charity fundraising events (including many cake sales!); the Wellbeing Committee organised the excellent 9 Day’s of Wellbeing Challenge; and the term ended with the outstanding House Talent competition. My huge thanks to the House Captains Team for all their work this term supporting and developing these, and many other aspects of school life. As they start to come towards the end of their term in office, I encourage the current Year 10s to think about how they might make a difference in these roles!
One aside I wanted to mention is that, following a period of consultation with colleagues, we will be piloting some small changes to the timing of the school day next term. This will make no difference to the start or end times for the day, but will ensure that lessons start cleanly and promptly by building in a short period of travelling time between single periods which will enable us to maximise the effective use of our teaching time. The exact details of the changes have been shared with the pupils.
So as we come to the end of the longest and darkest term, we do so in the advent spirit, anticipating that the light will soon come! I hope that the Christmas holidays offers a true chance to stop and take a breath. There will inevitably be a need for some work for some, particularly those with mocks in the next term, but this must not overshadow the need to stop and enjoy time with friends and family; it’s all about balance.
Therefore, whatever you are doing with the Christmas break, I hope it will be a time of joy and peace; and we look forward to welcoming you back home to the Stephen Perse family refreshed and renewed in the new year!
Dr Andy Kemp
Head of Senior School
Senior and sixth form students collaborated to produce and perform a very dramatic and visually compelling production of Sophocles’ Electra. Using a contemporary text by Nick Payne, director Mrs Georgina Walker incorporated contemporary dance and stylised movement sequences to dramatise some elements of the story that would not traditionally be performed on stage, such as the death of Clytemnestra, which gave the production a very contemporary dynamic. She also split the chorus into a number of smaller groups: whilst some of these took the role of more traditional Greek choruses and commented on the action or spoke directly to the characters, other choruses had a more symbolic role as they represented the inner thoughts and feelings of Electra herself, expressed through stylised movement, inspired by the theatre company Frantic Assembly. One chorus group, wearing white bloodstained dresses, represented the ghosts of past and future trauma experienced by Electra and her family: they performed original dance sequences that foreshadowed the tragic ending of the play.
Special mention should go to the four students who choreographed the ghosts’ dance routines during enrichment sessions and to the backstage enrichment group who helped to create the fabulous costumes in the stark colour scheme of black, white and red.
To watch the showreel of Electra please click here.
Inspire & Guide
The Year 7-13 Guidance program, Inspire and Guide, continues to flourish. Whilst the Year 7 students started their journey with a mini workshop to evaluate what work and a career actually are, our Year 11 students who are now approaching their GCSE exams have reflected further on the requirements needed for various defined career paths. Both the Year 10 and 11 students have been fortunate to hear about the career paths of Caroline Crawford a British astronomer; Daniel Pearl a commissioning editor on Channel 5; Oli Fulbourne a agritech entrepreneur; Charlotte Gayer-Anderson a psychiatrist who works through virtual reality; and Ms. Marina Velez who specialises in art and sustainability. We thank our parents and associates for the inspiration and enthusiasm they convey to the students. Alongside this Year 10 have been considering the benefits of staying in higher education and the different ways in which this can now be achieved. We look forward to launching Morrisby profiling with our Year 9 students during a half day January workshop on decision making and GCSE choices. This dedicated online resource www.morrisby.com/ will now be there to support their decision making and career aspirations through to Year 13 alongside our highly successful Unifrog platform www.unifrog.org/
What a term of sport we have had. It is the longest term of the year and reflecting on the brilliant performances should bring a great deal of satisfaction to the students. With a very busy schedule right up to the penultimate week, we are very proud of the dedication shown by the students in training, fixtures and tournaments alike.
The hockey season has drawn to a conclusion and there have been some very memorable moments. Most recently the Girls’ U14B team travelled to Redbridge to compete in the Tier 3 Regional Hockey finals. They acquitted themselves very well at this level and only narrowly missed out on a place in the semi finals. They eventually finished fifth and very much enjoyed their day out at one of the Olympic training venues.
The U13 girls have continued to demonstrate their strength in depth this year, with many strong results from the large number of club attendees. The A team played very well at the county tournament and made it through the final round of matches. In the end they missed out on qualification for the regionals by a single point. The B team have been very hard to beat this year and so the prospect of 11-a-side hockey next year is very exciting indeed.
Despite the weather dictating that House Hockey needed to be rescheduled, we have seen some great action in the lesson times. At the time of writing Pollock have been crowned Year 7 champions, whilst the ever capable Kennett members of Year 9 managed to regain their title for a third year in a row.
There have also been some stand out football performances in recent weeks from a couple of teams. The Under 13 Girls’ team displayed their outstanding progress over the last year by finishing fourth in the EFL Girls’ Cup competition at Bottisham Village College. They were unbeaten in the group stages and didn’t concede a goal, only missing out on the final through goal difference. In the third/fourth place play off the girls were narrowly defeated 2-1.
The Under 14 Boys’ team played exceptionally well to progress into the last 16 of the National Cup with a superb 4-0 win against Shipston High in the third Round. They now have a very tough away tie against Langley School in Norwich.
Netball at the school has continued to thrive this term. The U14’s and U16’s were crowned County Champions with the U19’s finishing as Runners Up. It means that all three teams have qualified for the Regionals next term.
The Senior School teams have also played in the prestigious ‘Sisters in Sport’ netball tournament this year. This has enabled them to really stretch themselves against some of the best schools in the country. Each year group has impressed, with one or two being defeated by the narrowest of margins against sides who are tipped to win the title and who regularly feature at the National finals. It all bodes very well for the Spring Term and we are looking forward to January as a result.
We welcome Mr Ray Mordini into his post as Head of Cricket. He is very excited to be tasked with developing the cricket programme throughout the school. Look out for the clubs list next term as pre season cricket is very much on the agenda.
Finally, there were some wonderful performances at the ESAA District Cross Country Championships. Click here to read Mrs Booth full report.
To stay up to date, please do follow us on twitter @SPFSport and remember to check the sports website www.stephenpersesport.com for fixtures, results and team selections.
The Christmas Fair last Saturday at Rosedale House was a jingle-tastic affair thanks to all who volunteered, attended or otherwise supported the event. Particular thanks go to the organisers, Sophie Hirst and Susie O'Connor, who made it look easy!
There were stalls, games, crafts, and a magical Santa’s grotto, and it really was jingle-all-the-way as the children used the special Christmas-Fair 'jingle' currency for their preferred stands. The children seemed to have a lot of fun and the event raised over £1,000, so great work!
If you have any feedback on the event, or thoughts for next year, please don't hesitate to let us know as it helps a lot - you can use the following form: https://forms.gle/TAHVAkb9toCJDBSM7
Future PFA events
Please do watch out for and engage in parent meet-ups arranged for your children's year(s) by your Class rep - they're great opportunities to network and to get more involved with the school community, and mostly arranged via Classlist.
Next term we will have the Valentine's Bake Sale on Friday, 14 February 2020, as well as the next Movie night coming up on Friday, 28 February 2020, both at the Senior School - volunteers and cake donations (remember, no nuts!) will be needed.
Beyond that on Thursday, 7 May 2020 we'll be holding a Quiz Night at the Sixth Form - if you reckon yourself to be quizzical or just have an encyclopaedic knowledge and esoteric education, we'd love you to step forward as Quiz organiser! Please contact us via Classlist or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For now, have a great Christmas and New Year break, and we look forward to a fun-filled year ahead in 2020.
Our senior school pupils are having their Christmas lunch today and the dining and senior school halls have been festively decorated! #Lunchtime #Christmasdinner #LifeatStephenPerse https://t.co/zt9aGdYFi9