OPEN DAYS & NEWS - SYDENHAM HIGH JUNIOR SCHOOL GDST

How going ‘soft’ helps Sydenham High students get ‘tough’

 

New research demonstrates impact of soft skills in promoting mental wellbeing

The high levels of mental toughness delivered by Sydenham High School GDST’s student development and mental wellbeing programmes have been confirmed by new research 1.

The research was conducted by leading psychometric test publisher AQR International for the Independent Schools Council (ISC) using the using a model which looks at important so-called ‘soft skills’ such as control, commitment, challenge and confidence.

In the test, which defines mental toughness as the 'mindset that every person adopts in everything they do', nine and ten year old students (Year 5) at Sydenham High Junior School achieved a strong total score of 4.2. This is in line with the average across all ISC schools taking part1 and contrasts with the lower 3.94 recorded by state schools. It was also higher than the average score for all female pupils in the study (4.0). In addition, a number of students scored considerably above this, particularly for confidence, challenge and emotional control - some as high as 8-10.

 

By performing at the top end of the scale, Sydenham High’s students show an exceptionally positive ‘can do attitude’; are more content and able to manage stress; more ambitious; more aspirational and prepared to take risks; more likely to persevere and achieve their goals in higher education and employment.

According to the Head of Sydenham High Junior School, Claire Boyd, the school’s innovative Flourish and Fly programme, introduced two years ago, has added a new dimension to the school’s already successful approach to mental wellbeing and developing resilience.

Ms Boyd said: “Junior schools as well as senior schools have a duty to deliver a robust and holistic approach to student development from the outset.  If we are to support good mental health that approach is vital in helping our children develop into resilient individuals.”

Embedded into all aspects of Junior School life, Flourish and Fly is designed to inspire, challenge and embolden pupils. Each half term focuses on one of the four Girls’ Day School Trust values –Girls First; Be Bold; Be Principled and Networked – culminating in a week of special activities, workshops and challenges to bring each value to life. The initiative works across all subjects and through year groups to stretch ability, build confidence and develop collaborative working. 

Ms Boyd continued: “Flourish and Fly is not a fledgling idea but a fully grown approach that ensures students feel empowered to be what they want to be and do what they want to do when the time comes.  The results of this research clearly demonstrate its positive impact along with our overall approach to educating our pupils.

“We can’t predict what the future will hold for our students but we can prepare them with the skills – psychological as well as academic – that they will need to face that future head on.”

Author applauds “remarkable” play performance

The author of BBC play Archie Dobson’s War has praised Sydenham High Junior School’s performance of the WW1 centenary tribute as “remarkable” and the production as “stunning.”

Staged by Year 6, the play about a young boy living through the Great War wowed audiences with mature and poignant performances usually associated with much older actors.

Writer Rob John attended the final performance on 21 May with the play’s musical arranger Barry Gibson and BBC School Radio editor Andrew Barnes.

Afterwards, Mr John paid tribute to both the young actors and their teachers, saying: “I was honoured to write the play and it has been a joy to see it being performed all over the UK and in Europe.  However, I doubt any production will come anywhere close to this one.  The skills you showed as a team and individually were remarkable and the production values were stunning. You and your teachers should be so proud of what you have achieved.”

The play, originally written for radio, followed the fate of nine-year old Archie as the war gradually impacts on the lives of his friends and family between 1914 and 1918. With a backdrop of factory work, national conscription and trench warfare, the play blended humour, emotion and historical fact to powerfully highlight the sacrifice made by the millions of men, women and children during WW1.

“Lest we forget: three simple words which we frequently hear in connection with WW1 centenary celebrations and which could not have held greater significance for our young actors and their audiences,” said Claire Boyd, Head of Junior Sydenham High Junior School. “Our production stands as a fitting and moving memorial to the 46 service men and women from Sydenham who lost their lives during the conflict.”

The school approached the play not only as an extra-ordinary theatrical exercise but as full educational experience.  The girls even visited the war graves of Northern France to seek inspiration for the production.

“We saw an opportunity to deliver an in-depth cross-curricular study of the period and at the same time support the GDST value of Girls First,” said Ms Boyd.  The girls worked collaboratively to devise the set, props, sound and lighting as well as compose their own locally focused and female-orientated additions to scenes and the original musical score. Resulting additions included a scene about the Women’s Land Army, a song about Zeppelin attacks on Sydenham and a sequence on how women knitted to help win the war.

The strong creative result attracted attention from the Imperial War Museum who also attended a performance.

Alongside their rehearsals, students also experienced a Make Do & Make-up master class so that they could apply their own and each other’s theatrical make-up.  A Frontline Food cookery workshop gave them a literal taste of WW1 so that they could make trench cake to serve at the play interval. An art, jewellery and artefact workshop also enabled them to make poppy brooches, bracelets and hair slides to sell at the performances in aid of charity War Child.

The play was directed and produced by Year 6 class teacher Cheryl Mitchell-Morgan who, prior to teaching, was a professional theatre director and trained actress at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.  Mrs Mitchell-Morgan was ably supported by fellow Year 6 teacher, Zoe Shippey, and by Head of Junior School Music, Biann Duval.

Sydenham High Headteacher Kathryn Pullen told the girls: “I thought the play was magnificent: funny, moving, informative with really imaginative, with powerful sets and staging. Its enormous success is the result of all your hard work and commitment.  And it was particularly exciting to have the BBC, the play’s authors and representatives from the Imperial War Museum in attendance.  I am really proud of you all.”

Open Days

 

Junior School Open Day

For weekly tours book on 020 8557 7000

 

www.sydenhamhighschool.gdst.net

admissions@syd.gdst.net

 

SOME OF OUR SCHOOLS REQUIRE YOU TO BOOK A PLACE AT AN OPEN DAY. PLEASE CHECK SCHOOL WEBSITES FOR DETAILS.

Flourish and Fly - Learning to be principled through nature

As part of their latest Flourish and Fly activity week just before the end of term, girls from across the school planted tree saplings for the local community as part of the Earth Restoration Society project.  Each girl is now the custodian of a silver birch, an oak or a cherry tree sapling until it is mature enough to be replanted at a restoration project in the local area.

The tree planting was the flagship event in the school’s second co-curricular activity week under the Flourish and Fly banner, this time focusing on the theme: Be Principled.  

Throughout the activity week, girls from Reception to Year 6 have been exploring and celebrating the natural world, working together to devise a principled approach to protecting and enhancing the local environment.  As well as tree planting, their activities included devising a campaign to raise awareness of a Fairtrade initiative and constructing a sustainable bamboo art installation for the school playground.

“Connecting with the natural world in an urban environment such as Sydenham has provided an invaluable opportunity for the girls to consider the principles by which they live,” said Head of Junior School, Claire Boyd. “Just as we can flourish and fly by building positive relationships with those around us, so we can also work together to ensure a sustainable and engaging local environment for all members of our community.”

School treks 7,192km in a day for Nepal earthquake relief

Students and staff at Sydenham High School GDST yesterday (10 June) travelled 7,192km – the approximate distance from London to Kathmandu - in a challenging 12-hour sponsored event to raise awareness of and aid for the victims of the recent devastating Nepal earthquakes.  

 

Over 450 girls from Reception to Year 10 cycled, jogged, ran and walked to Nepal on the school’s Astroturf, as well as rowed in the fitness suite, in shifts from 7am throughout the school day. They were joined from 4pm by family, friends and combined staff-student relay teams to help reach the target with an hour to go. Some older girls also came back from study leave to take part.

 

Several teachers challenged themselves to trek for the full 12 hours, including Deputy Head Karl Guest who, together with Acting Head of PE Georgina Calvert, masterminded the fundraising event.

 

The aim of the trek was to not only raise awareness of the difficulties faced by the people of Nepal but to provide actual aid.  In addition to all participants making a £2 donation to wear sports kit for the day (maximising ‘travel’ time) girls also gained sponsorship in the form of items from a specific aid package list.  The list includes: emergency torches, dried food, cooking pans, bedding, children’s clothing and water purification tablets.

 

The intrepid trekkers were joined in the afternoon by Geraldine Finney, the Regional Director (London) of Excelcare (pictured, centre of second row in red), which has a large number of Nepalese employees working in its seven London care homes, two of which - Castlebar and Peartree - are near the school. Also taking the trek were Bromley-based Excelcare nurses Bhim Shakya (pictured front row centre left) and Anita Gurung (pictured front row centre right in red), whose father is a Gurhka.  They are co-ordinating major aid deliveries to particular areas of the stricken region which are home to the families of staff working in the care homes including Bhim and Anita.  The aid items collected at Sydenham High will join one of these consignments.

 

“The staff at Excelcare are delighted and touched at the compassion shown to them by this amazing school community,” said Ms Finney.  “We hope that links forged through this event can be built upon, maybe with some of the girls visiting the families in Nepal in the future, so that they can see exactly where their efforts have made a difference.”

 

“Over 8,000 people lost their lives in the recent earthquakes in Nepal and many more have been left injured or homeless,” said Karl Guest.  “We were determined to bring our school community together to not only raise awareness of the difficulties survivors face but to provide them with physical aid.  When he heard about the Geraldine’s plans we were only too happy to join forces and get the girls to collect aid packages as well as money.  We’ve had an amazing response and will be providing hundreds of items for their appeal.”

 

The school has also opened a JustGiving account in support of the Earthquake Appeal –https://www.justgiving.com/sydenhamhighschool - which has already raised over £1,700. Further donations can be made there which will go directly to the Disasters Emergency Committee campaign.

How going ‘soft’ helps Sydenham High students get ‘tough’

 

New research demonstrates impact of soft skills in promoting mental wellbeing

The high levels of mental toughness delivered by Sydenham High School GDST’s student development and mental wellbeing programmes have been confirmed by new research 1.

The research was conducted by leading psychometric test publisher AQR International for the Independent Schools Council (ISC) using the using a model which looks at important so-called ‘soft skills’ such as control, commitment, challenge and confidence.

In the test, which defines mental toughness as the 'mindset that every person adopts in everything they do', nine and ten year old students (Year 5) at Sydenham High Junior School achieved a strong total score of 4.2. This is in line with the average across all ISC schools taking part1 and contrasts with the lower 3.94 recorded by state schools. It was also higher than the average score for all female pupils in the study (4.0). In addition, a number of students scored considerably above this, particularly for confidence, challenge and emotional control - some as high as 8-10.

 

By performing at the top end of the scale, Sydenham High’s students show an exceptionally positive ‘can do attitude’; are more content and able to manage stress; more ambitious; more aspirational and prepared to take risks; more likely to persevere and achieve their goals in higher education and employment.

According to the Head of Sydenham High Junior School, Claire Boyd, the school’s innovative Flourish and Fly programme, introduced two years ago, has added a new dimension to the school’s already successful approach to mental wellbeing and developing resilience.

Ms Boyd said: “Junior schools as well as senior schools have a duty to deliver a robust and holistic approach to student development from the outset.  If we are to support good mental health that approach is vital in helping our children develop into resilient individuals.”

Embedded into all aspects of Junior School life, Flourish and Fly is designed to inspire, challenge and embolden pupils. Each half term focuses on one of the four Girls’ Day School Trust values –Girls First; Be Bold; Be Principled and Networked – culminating in a week of special activities, workshops and challenges to bring each value to life. The initiative works across all subjects and through year groups to stretch ability, build confidence and develop collaborative working. 

Ms Boyd continued: “Flourish and Fly is not a fledgling idea but a fully grown approach that ensures students feel empowered to be what they want to be and do what they want to do when the time comes.  The results of this research clearly demonstrate its positive impact along with our overall approach to educating our pupils.

“We can’t predict what the future will hold for our students but we can prepare them with the skills – psychological as well as academic – that they will need to face that future head on.”

School treks 7,192km in a day for Nepal earthquake relief

Students and staff at Sydenham High School GDST yesterday (10 June) travelled 7,192km – the approximate distance from London to Kathmandu - in a challenging 12-hour sponsored event to raise awareness of and aid for the victims of the recent devastating Nepal earthquakes.  

 

Over 450 girls from Reception to Year 10 cycled, jogged, ran and walked to Nepal on the school’s Astroturf, as well as rowed in the fitness suite, in shifts from 7am throughout the school day. They were joined from 4pm by family, friends and combined staff-student relay teams to help reach the target with an hour to go. Some older girls also came back from study leave to take part.

 

Several teachers challenged themselves to trek for the full 12 hours, including Deputy Head Karl Guest who, together with Acting Head of PE Georgina Calvert, masterminded the fundraising event.

 

The aim of the trek was to not only raise awareness of the difficulties faced by the people of Nepal but to provide actual aid.  In addition to all participants making a £2 donation to wear sports kit for the day (maximising ‘travel’ time) girls also gained sponsorship in the form of items from a specific aid package list.  The list includes: emergency torches, dried food, cooking pans, bedding, children’s clothing and water purification tablets.

 

The intrepid trekkers were joined in the afternoon by Geraldine Finney, the Regional Director (London) of Excelcare (pictured, centre of second row in red), which has a large number of Nepalese employees working in its seven London care homes, two of which - Castlebar and Peartree - are near the school. Also taking the trek were Bromley-based Excelcare nurses Bhim Shakya (pictured front row centre left) and Anita Gurung (pictured front row centre right in red), whose father is a Gurhka.  They are co-ordinating major aid deliveries to particular areas of the stricken region which are home to the families of staff working in the care homes including Bhim and Anita.  The aid items collected at Sydenham High will join one of these consignments.

 

“The staff at Excelcare are delighted and touched at the compassion shown to them by this amazing school community,” said Ms Finney.  “We hope that links forged through this event can be built upon, maybe with some of the girls visiting the families in Nepal in the future, so that they can see exactly where their efforts have made a difference.”

 

“Over 8,000 people lost their lives in the recent earthquakes in Nepal and many more have been left injured or homeless,” said Karl Guest.  “We were determined to bring our school community together to not only raise awareness of the difficulties survivors face but to provide them with physical aid.  When he heard about the Geraldine’s plans we were only too happy to join forces and get the girls to collect aid packages as well as money.  We’ve had an amazing response and will be providing hundreds of items for their appeal.”

 

The school has also opened a JustGiving account in support of the Earthquake Appeal –https://www.justgiving.com/sydenhamhighschool - which has already raised over £1,700. Further donations can be made there which will go directly to the Disasters Emergency Committee campaign.

Flourish and Fly - Learning to be principled through nature

As part of their latest Flourish and Fly activity week just before the end of term, girls from across the school planted tree saplings for the local community as part of the Earth Restoration Society project.  Each girl is now the custodian of a silver birch, an oak or a cherry tree sapling until it is mature enough to be replanted at a restoration project in the local area.

The tree planting was the flagship event in the school’s second co-curricular activity week under the Flourish and Fly banner, this time focusing on the theme: Be Principled.  

Throughout the activity week, girls from Reception to Year 6 have been exploring and celebrating the natural world, working together to devise a principled approach to protecting and enhancing the local environment.  As well as tree planting, their activities included devising a campaign to raise awareness of a Fairtrade initiative and constructing a sustainable bamboo art installation for the school playground.

“Connecting with the natural world in an urban environment such as Sydenham has provided an invaluable opportunity for the girls to consider the principles by which they live,” said Head of Junior School, Claire Boyd. “Just as we can flourish and fly by building positive relationships with those around us, so we can also work together to ensure a sustainable and engaging local environment for all members of our community.”

Open Days

 

Junior School Open Day

For weekly tours book on 020 8557 7000

 

www.sydenhamhighschool.gdst.net

admissions@syd.gdst.net

 

SOME OF OUR SCHOOLS REQUIRE YOU TO BOOK A PLACE AT AN OPEN DAY. PLEASE CHECK SCHOOL WEBSITES FOR DETAILS.

Author applauds “remarkable” play performance

The author of BBC play Archie Dobson’s War has praised Sydenham High Junior School’s performance of the WW1 centenary tribute as “remarkable” and the production as “stunning.”

Staged by Year 6, the play about a young boy living through the Great War wowed audiences with mature and poignant performances usually associated with much older actors.

Writer Rob John attended the final performance on 21 May with the play’s musical arranger Barry Gibson and BBC School Radio editor Andrew Barnes.

Afterwards, Mr John paid tribute to both the young actors and their teachers, saying: “I was honoured to write the play and it has been a joy to see it being performed all over the UK and in Europe.  However, I doubt any production will come anywhere close to this one.  The skills you showed as a team and individually were remarkable and the production values were stunning. You and your teachers should be so proud of what you have achieved.”

The play, originally written for radio, followed the fate of nine-year old Archie as the war gradually impacts on the lives of his friends and family between 1914 and 1918. With a backdrop of factory work, national conscription and trench warfare, the play blended humour, emotion and historical fact to powerfully highlight the sacrifice made by the millions of men, women and children during WW1.

“Lest we forget: three simple words which we frequently hear in connection with WW1 centenary celebrations and which could not have held greater significance for our young actors and their audiences,” said Claire Boyd, Head of Junior Sydenham High Junior School. “Our production stands as a fitting and moving memorial to the 46 service men and women from Sydenham who lost their lives during the conflict.”

The school approached the play not only as an extra-ordinary theatrical exercise but as full educational experience.  The girls even visited the war graves of Northern France to seek inspiration for the production.

“We saw an opportunity to deliver an in-depth cross-curricular study of the period and at the same time support the GDST value of Girls First,” said Ms Boyd.  The girls worked collaboratively to devise the set, props, sound and lighting as well as compose their own locally focused and female-orientated additions to scenes and the original musical score. Resulting additions included a scene about the Women’s Land Army, a song about Zeppelin attacks on Sydenham and a sequence on how women knitted to help win the war.

The strong creative result attracted attention from the Imperial War Museum who also attended a performance.

Alongside their rehearsals, students also experienced a Make Do & Make-up master class so that they could apply their own and each other’s theatrical make-up.  A Frontline Food cookery workshop gave them a literal taste of WW1 so that they could make trench cake to serve at the play interval. An art, jewellery and artefact workshop also enabled them to make poppy brooches, bracelets and hair slides to sell at the performances in aid of charity War Child.

The play was directed and produced by Year 6 class teacher Cheryl Mitchell-Morgan who, prior to teaching, was a professional theatre director and trained actress at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.  Mrs Mitchell-Morgan was ably supported by fellow Year 6 teacher, Zoe Shippey, and by Head of Junior School Music, Biann Duval.

Sydenham High Headteacher Kathryn Pullen told the girls: “I thought the play was magnificent: funny, moving, informative with really imaginative, with powerful sets and staging. Its enormous success is the result of all your hard work and commitment.  And it was particularly exciting to have the BBC, the play’s authors and representatives from the Imperial War Museum in attendance.  I am really proud of you all.”

How going ‘soft’ helps Sydenham High students get ‘tough’

 

New research demonstrates impact of soft skills in promoting mental wellbeing

The high levels of mental toughness delivered by Sydenham High School GDST’s student development and mental wellbeing programmes have been confirmed by new research 1.

The research was conducted by leading psychometric test publisher AQR International for the Independent Schools Council (ISC) using the using a model which looks at important so-called ‘soft skills’ such as control, commitment, challenge and confidence.

In the test, which defines mental toughness as the 'mindset that every person adopts in everything they do', nine and ten year old students (Year 5) at Sydenham High Junior School achieved a strong total score of 4.2. This is in line with the average across all ISC schools taking part1 and contrasts with the lower 3.94 recorded by state schools. It was also higher than the average score for all female pupils in the study (4.0). In addition, a number of students scored considerably above this, particularly for confidence, challenge and emotional control - some as high as 8-10.

 

By performing at the top end of the scale, Sydenham High’s students show an exceptionally positive ‘can do attitude’; are more content and able to manage stress; more ambitious; more aspirational and prepared to take risks; more likely to persevere and achieve their goals in higher education and employment.

According to the Head of Sydenham High Junior School, Claire Boyd, the school’s innovative Flourish and Fly programme, introduced two years ago, has added a new dimension to the school’s already successful approach to mental wellbeing and developing resilience.

Ms Boyd said: “Junior schools as well as senior schools have a duty to deliver a robust and holistic approach to student development from the outset.  If we are to support good mental health that approach is vital in helping our children develop into resilient individuals.”

Embedded into all aspects of Junior School life, Flourish and Fly is designed to inspire, challenge and embolden pupils. Each half term focuses on one of the four Girls’ Day School Trust values –Girls First; Be Bold; Be Principled and Networked – culminating in a week of special activities, workshops and challenges to bring each value to life. The initiative works across all subjects and through year groups to stretch ability, build confidence and develop collaborative working. 

Ms Boyd continued: “Flourish and Fly is not a fledgling idea but a fully grown approach that ensures students feel empowered to be what they want to be and do what they want to do when the time comes.  The results of this research clearly demonstrate its positive impact along with our overall approach to educating our pupils.

“We can’t predict what the future will hold for our students but we can prepare them with the skills – psychological as well as academic – that they will need to face that future head on.”

Open Days

 

Junior School Open Day

For weekly tours book on 020 8557 7000

 

www.sydenhamhighschool.gdst.net

admissions@syd.gdst.net

 

SOME OF OUR SCHOOLS REQUIRE YOU TO BOOK A PLACE AT AN OPEN DAY. PLEASE CHECK SCHOOL WEBSITES FOR DETAILS.

School treks 7,192km in a day for Nepal earthquake relief

Students and staff at Sydenham High School GDST yesterday (10 June) travelled 7,192km – the approximate distance from London to Kathmandu - in a challenging 12-hour sponsored event to raise awareness of and aid for the victims of the recent devastating Nepal earthquakes.  

 

Over 450 girls from Reception to Year 10 cycled, jogged, ran and walked to Nepal on the school’s Astroturf, as well as rowed in the fitness suite, in shifts from 7am throughout the school day. They were joined from 4pm by family, friends and combined staff-student relay teams to help reach the target with an hour to go. Some older girls also came back from study leave to take part.

 

Several teachers challenged themselves to trek for the full 12 hours, including Deputy Head Karl Guest who, together with Acting Head of PE Georgina Calvert, masterminded the fundraising event.

 

The aim of the trek was to not only raise awareness of the difficulties faced by the people of Nepal but to provide actual aid.  In addition to all participants making a £2 donation to wear sports kit for the day (maximising ‘travel’ time) girls also gained sponsorship in the form of items from a specific aid package list.  The list includes: emergency torches, dried food, cooking pans, bedding, children’s clothing and water purification tablets.

 

The intrepid trekkers were joined in the afternoon by Geraldine Finney, the Regional Director (London) of Excelcare (pictured, centre of second row in red), which has a large number of Nepalese employees working in its seven London care homes, two of which - Castlebar and Peartree - are near the school. Also taking the trek were Bromley-based Excelcare nurses Bhim Shakya (pictured front row centre left) and Anita Gurung (pictured front row centre right in red), whose father is a Gurhka.  They are co-ordinating major aid deliveries to particular areas of the stricken region which are home to the families of staff working in the care homes including Bhim and Anita.  The aid items collected at Sydenham High will join one of these consignments.

 

“The staff at Excelcare are delighted and touched at the compassion shown to them by this amazing school community,” said Ms Finney.  “We hope that links forged through this event can be built upon, maybe with some of the girls visiting the families in Nepal in the future, so that they can see exactly where their efforts have made a difference.”

 

“Over 8,000 people lost their lives in the recent earthquakes in Nepal and many more have been left injured or homeless,” said Karl Guest.  “We were determined to bring our school community together to not only raise awareness of the difficulties survivors face but to provide them with physical aid.  When he heard about the Geraldine’s plans we were only too happy to join forces and get the girls to collect aid packages as well as money.  We’ve had an amazing response and will be providing hundreds of items for their appeal.”

 

The school has also opened a JustGiving account in support of the Earthquake Appeal –https://www.justgiving.com/sydenhamhighschool - which has already raised over £1,700. Further donations can be made there which will go directly to the Disasters Emergency Committee campaign.

Author applauds “remarkable” play performance

The author of BBC play Archie Dobson’s War has praised Sydenham High Junior School’s performance of the WW1 centenary tribute as “remarkable” and the production as “stunning.”

Staged by Year 6, the play about a young boy living through the Great War wowed audiences with mature and poignant performances usually associated with much older actors.

Writer Rob John attended the final performance on 21 May with the play’s musical arranger Barry Gibson and BBC School Radio editor Andrew Barnes.

Afterwards, Mr John paid tribute to both the young actors and their teachers, saying: “I was honoured to write the play and it has been a joy to see it being performed all over the UK and in Europe.  However, I doubt any production will come anywhere close to this one.  The skills you showed as a team and individually were remarkable and the production values were stunning. You and your teachers should be so proud of what you have achieved.”

The play, originally written for radio, followed the fate of nine-year old Archie as the war gradually impacts on the lives of his friends and family between 1914 and 1918. With a backdrop of factory work, national conscription and trench warfare, the play blended humour, emotion and historical fact to powerfully highlight the sacrifice made by the millions of men, women and children during WW1.

“Lest we forget: three simple words which we frequently hear in connection with WW1 centenary celebrations and which could not have held greater significance for our young actors and their audiences,” said Claire Boyd, Head of Junior Sydenham High Junior School. “Our production stands as a fitting and moving memorial to the 46 service men and women from Sydenham who lost their lives during the conflict.”

The school approached the play not only as an extra-ordinary theatrical exercise but as full educational experience.  The girls even visited the war graves of Northern France to seek inspiration for the production.

“We saw an opportunity to deliver an in-depth cross-curricular study of the period and at the same time support the GDST value of Girls First,” said Ms Boyd.  The girls worked collaboratively to devise the set, props, sound and lighting as well as compose their own locally focused and female-orientated additions to scenes and the original musical score. Resulting additions included a scene about the Women’s Land Army, a song about Zeppelin attacks on Sydenham and a sequence on how women knitted to help win the war.

The strong creative result attracted attention from the Imperial War Museum who also attended a performance.

Alongside their rehearsals, students also experienced a Make Do & Make-up master class so that they could apply their own and each other’s theatrical make-up.  A Frontline Food cookery workshop gave them a literal taste of WW1 so that they could make trench cake to serve at the play interval. An art, jewellery and artefact workshop also enabled them to make poppy brooches, bracelets and hair slides to sell at the performances in aid of charity War Child.

The play was directed and produced by Year 6 class teacher Cheryl Mitchell-Morgan who, prior to teaching, was a professional theatre director and trained actress at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.  Mrs Mitchell-Morgan was ably supported by fellow Year 6 teacher, Zoe Shippey, and by Head of Junior School Music, Biann Duval.

Sydenham High Headteacher Kathryn Pullen told the girls: “I thought the play was magnificent: funny, moving, informative with really imaginative, with powerful sets and staging. Its enormous success is the result of all your hard work and commitment.  And it was particularly exciting to have the BBC, the play’s authors and representatives from the Imperial War Museum in attendance.  I am really proud of you all.”

Flourish and Fly - Learning to be principled through nature

As part of their latest Flourish and Fly activity week just before the end of term, girls from across the school planted tree saplings for the local community as part of the Earth Restoration Society project.  Each girl is now the custodian of a silver birch, an oak or a cherry tree sapling until it is mature enough to be replanted at a restoration project in the local area.

The tree planting was the flagship event in the school’s second co-curricular activity week under the Flourish and Fly banner, this time focusing on the theme: Be Principled.  

Throughout the activity week, girls from Reception to Year 6 have been exploring and celebrating the natural world, working together to devise a principled approach to protecting and enhancing the local environment.  As well as tree planting, their activities included devising a campaign to raise awareness of a Fairtrade initiative and constructing a sustainable bamboo art installation for the school playground.

“Connecting with the natural world in an urban environment such as Sydenham has provided an invaluable opportunity for the girls to consider the principles by which they live,” said Head of Junior School, Claire Boyd. “Just as we can flourish and fly by building positive relationships with those around us, so we can also work together to ensure a sustainable and engaging local environment for all members of our community.”

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