Introduction from the Headmaster It is unusual for me to write an introduction to the Highlights magazine but the 2019 – 2020 academic year has been unusual and unique in the School’s history. In these pages we have tried to capture the wide variety of activities in which the children have been involved as well as their extraordinary achievements in a year which saw so much change in late March. None of us would have believed in September 2019 that the beginning of the Summer Term would start with the School’s provision being entirely online. The end of the Lent Term was the beginning of a steep and challenging learning curve for the whole community as we entered the lockdown period enforced on us by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the School was determined to keep the children’s well-being and learning at the heart of its provision. I pay tribute to the fantastic way in which the children and staff rose to the challenges and, in particular, to the Form 6 leavers many of whom saw nine years at St John’s come to an end in a way none of them expected. I also thank the parents for their support and forbearance which has helped us all through difficult times and I hope those reading this publication who do not know St John’s so well, will get a flavour of what an extraordinary school this is.
Front Cover: Mandala Art by Frankie Benstead (aged 9) Back Cover: Artwork by Chloe Ridley (aged 9)
Remote Teaching & Learning 4
Remote Pastoral Care
Mindsets for Learning
Sustainability & Outreach 20
Action on Climate Change 26
Creativity as Practice
Learning through Play
Emotions for Learning
PSHEE, Philosophy & RS
Digitally Enhanced Learning 30
Clubs & Enrichment
© St John’s College School 2020
63-75 Grange Road, Cambridge CB3 9AB
COVID-19 It is not difficult to predict that the overwhelming memory for the children of the 2019/2020 academic year will be the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives, their schooling and society as a whole. All of us, young and old have been touched by this global situation. Those of us fortunate enough not to come into contact with the virus have at least each had our own personal response as the patterns of our daily lives changed on 23 March 2020 with the introduction of the nation-wide lockdown. For our School this coincided with the end of the Lent Term and afforded the children a period of transition during the holidays and the staff time to prepare for the implementation of the School’s Remote Teaching and Learning and Remote Pastoral Care plans, which are explained in more detail in the sections which follow. Though this time has been unhappy for some, adjusting to new routines and ways of working and relying on online tools to keep in touch with school, friends and family, with the support of parents, pupils and teachers, we have come together as a whole school community to support each other and ensure as much as possible that teaching and learning have continued and the children’s emotional and social development have been nurtured.
“I would like to let you know that I think the staff of St John’s are amongst the best in the country. They are calm, kind and managing to motivate and teach remotely as if they have always been doing it. They are amazing.” “It was an inspired decision by St John’s to move to Google Classroom all those years ago. It has made the transition to homelearning much easier.” “Our children are very lucky to attend such a wonderful school and to be given the opportunity to carry on happily with their education during this very strange time.” “We have been so supported as a family by so many of the staff. I can honestly say that in the current scenario, I am so thankful that we are going through this with St John’s.” 2
Far from being fallow time, the challenges of remote teaching and learning have been opportunities for both our teaching staff and pupils to put into practice the many skills and mindsets which we have been developing through our innovative curriculum for a number of years. The ability to think creatively, to be open to explore through play, to be resourceful and independent, to get the best from digitally-enhanced learning, to show initiative, collaborate, experiment and share ideas have all been essential during this period. The children have also benefitted from the strong focus we place on emotional literacy through our E4L programme and mental health and well-being through Mindfulness practice. What has also been notable is the strong sense of empathy and compassion as the children have reached out to support each other, as well as the wider community. They have given of their time willingly to share artwork, poetry or messages of support with residents of local care homes who have been isolated and lonely, cut-off from their family and friends, and those on the front line in the NHS. We have also been very proud as a School to be able to reach out to assist Park Street Primary School in Cambridge by hosting their Year 6 pupils on site. As we start to exit the lockdown and society slowly opens up again, we have begun to reflect on what we can learn from this period, thankful that our ethos based on pastoral care and emotion well-being, creativity and innovation and academic excellence has helped us to flourish in the most unprecedented of circumstances. 3
Remote Teaching and Learning Our Remote Teaching and Learning plan, which came into effect at the start of the Summer Term, has delivered teaching and learning content tailored for each age range. In the Pre-Prep parents have been provided with daily (KG) and weekly (T1 and T2) Learning Letters consisting of a series activities, investigations and challenges from across the curriculum, as well as guided ‘stillings’ and mindfulness practice, assemblies and story time. Teachers have been available to the children via Google Meet each morning in registration and then at set points throughout the day. In Forms 1 to 6 learning content has been shared via Google Classroom and detailed weekly ‘learning logs’ and teachers have been available to the children via Google Meet during morning registration and their normal timetabled lessons. Specialist teachers have also created activities and set challenges for the children which can be done at home. Not all learning has been undertaken through technology, but rather attention has been paid to ensure there has been time for physical exercise and a break from the screen. The plans have also been able to be tailored to take into account individual family circumstances. Individual music tuition has continued online throughout the lockdown. We were well prepared for remote learning as the use of Google Classroom has been integrated into the curriculum for a number of years and our Digitally Enhanced Learning initiative has always sought to equip the children with the right skills and mindsets to reap the most benefit from online technologies. Building on this strong foundation, our teaching staff tailored their teaching resources to deliver the classroom-based teaching wherever possible through Google Meets or pre-recorded videos. Our focus on creativity (see the section on Creativity as Practice) has also allowed pupils and teachers to face the challenge of working remotely as an opportunity to explore new topics, new skills and ways of working. As much as possible, teachers have created lessons with an appreciation of the different working environment at home and have focussed on topics which have allowed the children to also process their responses to the lockdown as something valid and worthy of reflection. Reflecting on the experiences of home-learning, teachers have been struck by three things: the impressive quality of work (showing independence, creativity and a positive attitude); the ways in which online learning has changed the teaching practice of many staff in positive ways; and the compassion many children have shown to others in school and the wider community. Foundations laid in school of compassion teaching, Emotions for Learning, Google Classroom use, Mindsets for Learning have enabled the vast majority of children to respond very positively to the online learning provided.
“After a full week of studying, our household is happy with the new system and rarely seem at a loss or frustrated by the assignments. The live Google Meets for registration (as well as tutor meetings) are relaxed and fun for the children, and the regular lessons seem to enable group conversations as well as more linear teaching.”
“We think that you should all be congratulated on your hard work in setting up such a comprehensive and successful home-schooling routine. We are delighted with the system that you have set up which we feel is working brilliantly.”
“We have a sensible scheme of work, judged by age and with proper acknowledgements that different families have different needs/ possibilities. I am hearing the message loud and clear that little ones need to play, to explore, and to be comforted - and that is what I love about SJCS.” “Thank you so much for everything that you are doing. Everything is so easy to follow and organised, and I'm super impressed at how clear, helpful and creative everything is. Thank you so much!!”
Top: Outdoor poetry writing in Form 1 - Bottom: Form 3 Google Meet History lesson on “Was the Tudor era the Golden Age of exploration?”
Remote Pastoral Care Our Remote Teaching and Learning Plan was put into action concurrently with a Remote Pastoral Care Plan. Our aim was to provide a pastoral structure of support for children to continue the sense of the loving community of St John’s whilst at home, to keep lines of communication with parents open and to help children put into practice the aims and ethos of St John’s by helping them to show compassion in their communities at a difficult time. To achieve this, we have provided pastoral sessions each day through registration time with the Form Teacher and tutors via Google Meet, in which children can be seen doing anything from cooking breakfast, to fancy dress dances and from games to presentations, as well as daily lunchtime dropin Google Meets with senior staff, providing the children with a forum for sharing riddles, jokes, games and chatting about their own experiences. We have provided recorded assemblies, often reflecting various aspects and emotional responses to lockdown and tutored mindfulness practices to help the children to practice mindfulness at home. Tutors have been in regular communication with children and parents at home to offer support. Compassionate action challenges have resulted in a wealth of kind actions in the home and wider community, including: writing letters to elderly people (including to residents in our local care homes who would normally be visiting us for their annual summer garden party); creating welcome posters for the children from Park Street Primary School; taking photographs that represent beauty to send to a loved one; playing a ‘gratitude game’; taking part in a virtual strike for action on climate change; undertaking to do secret acts of kindness around the house and many more. We have been struck by the spontaneous acts of kindness many children have shown, such as when a child set up a weekly session to continue reading with his KG buddy. It has been lovely to see how the foundations laid through Emotions for Learning and compassion teaching in school have helped the children to engage with, process and reflect on their emotional response to lockdown, find positives to celebrate and provide support and encouragement to others. Above: Rainbow designed by Cordelia de Graaf-Rose in Kindergarten
“My tutor kept in touch with me lots during lockdown and checked that I was feeling ok about the online learning and also whether I had any questions at all. I felt secure.” “I really looked forward to registration time each morning as you got to see all your friends and we played games to start the day positively, my favourite thing was the riddles because they were always really puzzling.” “Every Wednesday we had a virtual meet with our Tutor and this felt like a continuation of what happens in school. They checked if we felt happy with our learning and they always asked if we had anything we wanted to share or any worries. This made me feel calm, happy and supported. It was a good way to start the day.”
“It’s very clear that in everything you are doing and saying, the children (and their happiness) are at the centre of everything, and their long term prospects and emotional well-being are at the fore, not the need to pander to external pressures, league tables or anything else. I think this is amazingly special, and I have so appreciated it from day one. It has brought so much happiness to me and my family. We feel so lucky to be an SJCS family, especially now.” “Today was fun - the online assembly prompted a deep and meaningful conversation with my daughter. She asked me if god was social distancing. Before I had a chance to reply, she told me he must be, as he could keep his clouds two metres away from the clouds that other gods sit on!”
Left: Cards for care home residents based on ‘An English Summer’ by Arabella Fox Watson - Right: Acts of kindness: Providing snacks for KG Movie Night
Creativity as Practice (CAP) Creativity is one of the most sought after skills by employers today. Children are born creative: the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking shows that 98% of children in KG are ‘creative geniuses’, yet by 25 only 3% remain ‘creative geniuses’ according to this same test. At St John’s, we believe that creativity can be taught and our curriculum seeks to nurture its development. Building on our Child-initiated Learning (CHIL) programme and staff training delivered by the Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination partnership in ‘Creativity as Practice’ (CAP), this year we have explored how teaching and learning approaches in arts subjects can be used to enhance learning and nurture creativity across the curriculum, focussing on four key aspects:
This page: Form 2 using viewfinders to re-imagine the familiar; Opposite page bottom: Form 1 exploring words in response to the book Phileas’ Fortune and Top: T2 creating a collaborative sea mural - ‘We are all in the same storm but not in the same boat’ in response to the COVID-19 crisis
Pupil Choice: giving children greater ownership of, and leadership in, what and how they learn, how they express their learning as well as the environment in which, and the tools through which, they learn. This is not just the case in child initiated learning topics but in all areas of learning. For example, in Form 1 this year children turned their classroom into a ‘word world’ in response to a book, creating the world in all kinds of different ways using different materials before writing their stories. The Creative Arts: using the creative arts more richly in an interdisciplinary way to enhance and deepen learning in other subjects, in particular to nurture children’s imaginations. For example in Form 2 children employed the artist’s desire to re-imagine the familiar by using viewfinders and touch to explore trees in ways they had not thought of before, then used their discoveries to write powerful poetry. Play: how to nurture the naturally inquisitive and exploratory approach of children to the world. For example, in response to the book ‘Phileas’ Fortune’, children played with and explored words, choosing which ones they liked best and then holding a ‘word auction’ in class (compassion received the highest bid!) ‘Slowliness’: this involves giving children more time to reflect and develop ideas. For example, in lockdown children in T2 were encouraged to go outside and spend time just watching and observing clouds, before writing poetry about them. Children are given permission to explore the unexpected, to re-imagine the familiar, and to discover powerful imaginations and fantastical possibilities. Our focus on nurturing creativity has borne fruit during lockdown, in which we have seen many examples of children leading learning, questioning, exploring topics through creative arts and taking time to engage with new concepts and ideas.
Learning Through Guided Play Play has been called the highest form of research. Through play, children are involved in active, engaged, mindson thinking that is fun and driven by intrinsic motivation. Play offers a risk-free environment where children can explore ideas and deepen learning through application and collaboration. Learning through play comes naturally to children. In learning through guided play, the classroom environment becomes a â€˜third teacherâ€™, sparking curiosity and giving opportunities for extending, rehearsing and enriching learning in independent contexts. The teachers arrange resources to be accessible, introduce learning points or stimuli, offer challenges and play alongside the children to scaffold, direct, engage and lead the children on to a deeper level of understanding. This year, our play-based approach has extended into T2. Our play-based learning approach has been underpinned by research on learning for young children which demonstrated that children learning through play show improved attainment, well-being and learning dispositions. Our own observations have shown that children are more independent, creative, collaborative, motivated and also more willing to take risks and tackle challenges. 10
For example, in a notoriously tricky lesson on fractions, the children’s attitude was a ‘can-do’ one in which they set about solving the problems collaboratively rather than waiting passively for the teacher to come and help. Walking into a classroom in which children are learning in this way, one is struck by the breadth, variety, engagement and buzz of motivated learning. For example, inspired by a story on the ‘Leaf Man’ children in T2 could be found creating nature collages, writing songs for the Leaf Man to sing, making musical instruments to perform, using ‘PicCollage’ to make the Leaf Man sing the song they wrote and mapping out the Leaf Man’s journey, all guided by and in response to the children’s exploration.
Child-initiated Learning (CHIL) In Byron House, the children continue to be motivated by choosing their own topic for one term each year. This year, subjects covered have included Rainforests, Movies, Japan, Bacteria, Lego and North America. The children are given the freedom within the topic to further their learning in areas that interest them and planning by teachers responds to this. As in previous years, high levels of motivation, engagement and involvement have been observed. Our research this year into ways of nurturing children’s intrinsic motivation has found that two of the key ways of achieving selfmotivated learning are autonomy and purpose. These are both natural features of the child-initiated learning topics. The children have ownership of what they are learning and how they are learning it. For example, in the child-led topic ‘bacteria’, children began by a thought shower in which they asked questions and discussed where the topic might go, resulting in work on DNA, penicillin and a micro-organism workshop. As topics are chosen and directed by the children they can immediately see the purpose and also additionally create their own purposes. For example, in the Africa topic children became interested in deforestation and decided that they wanted to write to local companies. As a result, one company invited the children to come in and discuss their work towards sustainability with them. This page: Designing maps of South America in Form 2K Opposite page: Form 2V studying their Bacteria topic
“I have learnt so much about the culture and daily life in South America. I loved finding out about the differences with each country and also about the cave paintings. It has been fascinating researching our own interests. ” “With our topic on bacteria we looked at cells and researched different types of cells. We then looked at viruses and how the bacteriophage can destroy certain bacteria. We also explored how cells replicate and then looked at colony morphology.” “Child-led topics make learning more interesting because they get voted for. I would like to do another one as I found the first one on Lego really fascinating.”
Child-initiated learning also takes place at Senior House in History, Music and Art. In Music for example, during the lockdown the children listened to recordings from a wide range of composers before selecting one to investigate. They were given a free rein to research whatever aspect of the composer or their music they were interested in and were not constrained in any way when presenting their findings. The child-led topics also provide opportunities to further embed thinking skills, covering questioning, information gathering, critical thinking, creative thinking, decision-making and memory skills. Fostering these skills and encouraging independent, active thinking and learning, has equipped the children well for the home learning experience. For example, despite not being in school to collaborate face-to-face, many children in Form 2 were able to employ the skills learned through CHIL to choose a medium to reflect their learning, select their resources and present their learning in different ways. They also suggested topics for their own research and presented this to others, sometimes leading their own registration times with the teacher taking a back seat!
Emotions for Learning (E4L) Emotions for Learning (E4L) is a curriculum and an approach to learning and relating at school that has been developed uniquely at St John’s. We have created an entire social and emotional curriculum for our youngest children based on research and evidence about how children’s minds and brains develop. It is designed to encourage children to express their opinions and feelings and give them the knowledge, skills and understanding they will need to be able to think creatively and problem solve effectively in all areas of their lives. In addition to various outreach activities with local state schools mentioned earlier, twice annual E4L training was also provided for St John’s parents. One of the core principles in E4L is that a strong positive connection between a child and their teacher allows them to feel secure, take risks, explore the world around them and develop confidence in their own abilities. When planning for lockdown, new and innovative ways to continue the strong relationships in a virtual world between children and school were at the top of the list. Children had access to see and speak with their Form teachers and tutors on a daily basis during Google Meets for morning registration and informal lunchtime virtual ‘drop-in’ sessions for a catch up and chat with Ms Pipe and other members of staff who dropped in regularly. Mindfulness club continued online in a lunchtime club and regular Stilling and Mindfulness videos kept children in touch with the practices to support self-regulation, resilience and calm.
“Thank you Ms Worthington. That made me feel so relaxed and ready for more school work.”
An example of one of Ms Worthington’s Stilling videos
‘Action Story’ - Peer-to-peer massage at home during lockdown
“Doing one of the stillings made me feel a lot less rushed and worried that I have to get all my work done. I’ve started doing meditations with my mum as many mornings as I can and it makes me feel less stressed for the day ahead.
“Me and my sister did action stories on each other in lock down and it helped us to keep calm and to stay positive for each lesson.” “If you know how to dialogue a problem then it is much easier to solve the problem, E4L really helps me with that.”
“These moments have truly allowed me to find a pause and in it a stillness that had all but escaped me. The training was led with such clarity, such compassion and with such an empowering feeling of shifts taking place inside.”
Flexible Learning Cognitive flexibility is prized at St John’s as a means of enabling the children to better understand the process of learning for themselves, to recognise different learning styles and to identify what makes a ‘good’ learner. The use of the ‘Mindsets for Learning’ (M4L) throughout the school has provided the children with vocabulary with which to comprehend, discuss and develop their own meta-cognition. To help shape the children’s behaviours and mindsets, teachers develop a consistent culture of high expectations and quality feedback that is centred on effort rather than outcome, on process rather than attainment. Children utilise M4L when faced with a challenge or problem and use flexible thinking to think through an issue for themselves. Flexible thinking helps children to get along with others, helps groups to be more effective and helps solve problems and try new ways of approaching tasks or situations. Teaching children to be flexible thinkers by reflecting on their learning and opening them up to the ideas of others is achieved (in part) through the ‘My Mind’ curriculum, Mindfulness and school Assemblies. One of the key aspects of flexibility is the willingness to make mistakes and understand that this is how we learn. We would like all children to have the attitude that one of our T1 children showed when commenting on a teacher’s difficulty with a task: “Don’t worry, we all make mistakes. It’s alright, I make mistakes too.”. One way in which children develop this flexible mindset is through a better understanding of the progress that they are making. To this end, we have this year explored some better ways of communicating children’s progress to them. For example, in Form 1 and 2 children were given a ‘progress line’ with some key aspects of a topic along it; children positioned a ‘monkey’ on the line at the start of the topic to show where they felt they were and then repositioned it at the end so that they could see their progress. In T1 and T2, children worked with the teacher on their own ‘Next steps’, recording areas of progress made.
“At the beginning of corona I set myself a target, to try my best and to be my best. At first that was difficult but every day I learned and now I am not finding it hard any more. Flexibility was what helped me a lot. 16
Mindset for Learning (M4L) We continue to use our Mindsets for Learning (M4L) to help foster effective learning dispositions in the children, encouraging them to think about how they learn as much as what they are learning. The twelve characteristics that we feel underpin such effective learning (focus, collaboration, curiosity, risk-taking, flexibility, reflection, linking, perseverance, compassion, imagination, rigour and enjoyment) are part of the language of every classroom and are incorporated into all areas of teaching and learning. These dispositions help support the development of a ‘growth mindset’: the belief that, with effort, a person can develop their abilities, become a more successful learner and therefore achieve more. Children are encouraged to identify those dispositions which they feel are a strength and those they feel need to work on and, together with their teachers, look for ways to develop and improve these. During lockdown, several of the children reflected on which mindsets they had used and found particularly helpful.
“I find the ‘focusing frog’ mindset really helps me to concentrate on my work and not get distracted. It makes me keep going with my task.” “I found that the ‘collaborative crab’ reminded me to work as a team and in a team you listen to everyone’s ideas so it’s really useful for a Science investigation.” “I enjoy being an ‘imaginative crow’ during independent learning as then you can have ideas you didn’t even know you could think of and you feel proud of yourself.” 17
Mindfulness Mindfulness continues to be used across the school as a way of slowing thinking down, bringing attention to the present moment and reducing stress. Practising mindfulness has been shown to help at each stage of the creative process and therefore in addition to starting lessons with a mindful moment, mindfulness activities may also be used at different points of lessons or events, such as in preparing for a drama production. We use different mindfulness exercises to help children bring attention to the present moment, including focussing mindfully on breathing (using different taught breathing exercises), the body (using a body scan), an object, a piece of music, or our thoughts themselves.
“Sometimes a moment of quiet breathing space opened us up to listen to each other. It gave me the opportunity to ask my daughter how she was feeling and her answer was often nothing that I would have assumed! Mostly she has been fine, but sometimes she was missing grandparents and worried when we might see them again. Doing the mindfulness practice put us together in a space that let us chat and listen to each other about feelings like that.”
This year, the school has offered the 8 week .b Foundations course to staff and parents.
“We enjoyed joining mindfulness club online during lockdown and found that we were all much calmer and happier after a session than we were before. Doing mindfulness/stilling together helped us all reconnect and get into a learning mindset before a new activity. It really made home schooling much more manageable.” “Doing the mindfulness put us together in a space that let us chat and listen to each other about feelings.” 18
Ms Worthington leading a Mindfulness practice during lockdown: “Grounding”
St John’s takes part in National Mindfulness ‘Sit’ Nearly 400 children and staff across the School took part in a national mindfulness ‘sit’ on 9 October to mark World Mental Health Day 2019. The Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) invited teachers and pupils who regularly practise mindfulness in school to come together to raise awareness of the need for young people to develop skills to support their own well-being both inside and out. #SchoolsSitTogether is part of MiSP’s wider ‘A Million Minds Matter’ campaign to bring mindfulness to more children and more schools. Byron House Deputy Head, Ms Worthington, explained, “The children all practise Mindfulness throughout the school day in class groups and in clubs. However, we have never come together before for a sit. I felt this was a perfect opportunity for children to feel the special quality of and support that practising Mindfulness mediation in a large group can bring. The sense of being ‘emotionally held’ by a large group of people was further amplified by the fact that this was being done nationally. The idea of joining in with other schools and other children and adults across the country in a shared intention of breathing and being together really resonated with the children. The strong silence in the Hall, as we practised for a longer time than many of the children had previously experienced, was testament to the strength of the intention to sit together.”
Sustainability At St John’s we aim to foster the aptitudes and nurture the growth of each child so that they can become their best selves. To be one’s best self involves being compassionate and aware of the world so that one has the skills, ability and courage to re-envision the world and take action to right what is wrong. We want to encourage our children to find their ‘voice’ and to understand that they can make a difference. ‘Sustainability’ is used in its ‘integralist’ sense to include environmental issues as well as humanitarian concerns (social awareness) – care for the world and for each other. Over the last year, in addition to our ongoing support for the work the Humanitas charity does in Ghana and our international outreach in China, the outreach element of our sustainability programme has continued and expanded including pupil-led activities such as Compassionate Action in the local community, sharing our Emotions for Learning and Mindfulness programmes with local schools, ‘Dancing with Dementia’, Drama, Debating and Action against Climate Change. You can read more about these in the pages which follow.
‘Dancing with Dementia’ Outreach Form 2 took part in a ‘Dancing with Dementia Patients’ project as part of the school’s Compassionate Outreach programme. The aim was twofold: to provide opportunities for the children to increase their understanding, compassion and self-awareness whilst also developing their sense of responsibility towards others in the local community. We believe that by doing this, children will be given opportunities to embody and develop the values of trust, compassion, love and understanding. The children worked with dance artist and teacher, Filipa PereiraStubbs, and the Horizons Community Centre, a day care centre for people with Learning Difficulties which also has a supported living area for people with Dementia. She led a discussion on dementia; what it looks like, how it presents in adults and what the children might expect to see. Filipa led a seated warm up and then the children were invited to move with the elderly people and a beautiful, chaotic, but gentle dance ensued.
“Watching the compassion, care and understanding that the children showed the elderly people was extremely touching. They now have a much deeper understanding of dementia and an understanding of how to communicate and make relationships with those who are very different from themselves.” 20
Compassionate Outreach during Lockdown The teaching of compassion is part of the curriculum at St John’s for pupils in Forms 3 and 6 and for other year groups we maintain a focus on compassion as one of our Mindsets 4 Learning. Now in its third year, our Compassion Outreach activity sees the children giving something back to the local community, be it running some Mindfulness training for local primary school children, or visiting residents of care homes. The lockdown curtailed our plans for the children to visit members of the local community in the Summer Term but we felt it even more important to keep the idea of compassion alive during this period, a time when our local community felt anxious and lonely but empathy for those suffering around us was ever present through media. Many of our children contributed beautiful artwork to the Gratitude Wall of the non-profit ‘A space between’ website. This beautiful artwork is now gracing the walls of Addenbrookes Hospital. More images created by children at St John’s were also added to a virtual gallery at Addenbrookes for staff to enjoy. All children across the school had the option to participate in a weekly Compassionate Action activity, chosen to help increase empathy, community spirit and well-being in the school community and beyond. Some children wrote to care homes or family members far away, others contributed to a play-list with musical offerings to cheer others up. Children discussed empathy and made ‘empathy glasses’ to try and understand others’ points of view. They also acted upon a secret kindness for loved ones at home and took photos of beautiful things to send to people they missed. Others made artwork and cards and wrote poetry on the theme of ‘An English Summer’ to send to the residents of local care homes and boost morale. Top: Artwork on the Gratitude Wall at Addenbrookes Hospital; Middle: Bunting celebrating the NHS; Bottom: Cards for care home residents
E4L and Mindfulness Outreach
St Luke’s Primary School
Our E4L and Mindfulness outreach work with Linton CofE Infants School is now in its third year.
This year, we have started working with St Luke’s CofE Primary School in Cambridge, in an exciting new partnership with the aim to develop a long term, sustainable partnership that benefits both schools. Emotions 4 Learning training started in the Michaelmas Term and will continue to run as a 3 year project. We have also run a weekly debating club which was very well received by the children. We supported the school with the creation of a Remembrance Art wholeschool project of clay poppies, which make a wonderful welcoming display at the front door of the school. Some children have attended talks by visiting speakers such as a fascinating talk on ‘Mozart and Maths’. We have supported the development of the curriculum in Drama, Art and Maths through meetings with teachers and with team teaching in these subjects. The school library has been restocked and the school ran an amazing Book Week with support from our librarian.
Over the last year all staff, parents and Governors have been trained in the principles and the delivery of all aspects of the E4L curriculum which is now firmly embedded in the school. Staff have noted improvements in children’s emotional literacy with a wide range of language used to talk about and describe emotions. One member of staff has completed the Massage In Schools Association (MISA) training and three members of staff have been appointed to coordinate E4L. Two members of staff trained in Mindfulness at St John’s are now running two successful Mindfulness Clubs at Linton and there are plans to extend some training to the Linton Heights Junior School to support the children moving up from the infants to continue their E4L journey.
“The children are all blossoming in their emotional vocabulary, their confidence to express feelings, needs and goals and also in their skill at managing problems. They respond well to adults expressing their feelings about behaviours in class too.”
Cambridge Literary Festival As part of offering Outreach to a wider community, one of our school librarians is now the Education Officer for the Cambridge literary Festival. This is a small charity with a big impact who have struggled to get their work to children in local school. This role has focused on relationship building and auditing of current obstacles to children attending wonderful sessions with authors. Planning is afoot for a children’s day book festival in 2021 with a focus on getting all children to benefit from these events. 22
Computing Outreach Now in its second year, the School’s Computing Outreach has continued with the Cambridge Centre for Innovation in Technological Education (CCITE) in partnership with ARM Holdings, and John Beer, a venture capitalist committed to supporting schools in regions of economic disadvantage and specifically within rural and coastal communities. The team has created a micro:bit scheme of work on which to base teacher training for primary schools. Several training sessions have been delivered in Downham Market and the wider region. Work has also continued with the Cambridge Teaching Schools Alliance to provide continuing professional development course for Computing teachers in the schools which they represent and for those in initial teaching training in the teaching schools.
Drama Outreach The aim of our Drama outreach is to bring specialist Drama teaching into schools with limited funds for the Arts to support children’s confidence and well-being alongside improving their English academic ability. Head of Drama, Mr Tim Clarke, is now in his third year working with Gislingham Primary School in Suffolk, supporting their teaching of drama, directing rehearsals for the Shakespeare Schools Festival and staging performances. The children’s engagement has reaped benefits in other areas of the curriculum and the children have demonstrated increased confidence and improved oracy skills. This year our drama outreach has been extended to work with St Luke’s CofE Primary School in Cambridge, teaching pupils in Year 2 and Year 5.
“What has changed is the children’s attitude towards reading. We have found that the pupils who were not engaged or inspired to read at home are now reading at least 3 times a week to an adult at home. Their teacher has also seen a remarkable difference in some of the pupil’s writing: they are writing with more cohesion and depth. They are spending more time editing and reading over their work to address any punctuation because they have learned how important punctuation and pauses are when acting. “This whole experience has enabled the children to showcase their talents, open their eyes to possibilities they hadn’t considered and to believe in themselves.” 23
International Outreach, Ayensuako School, Ghana St John’s has continued its collaboration with Humanitas and the school that was built in Ayensuako, Ghana, funded with money raised through our charity initiatives. A secondary school is currently being built adjacent to the existing primary school in Ayensuako. The new secondary school will have 6 large classrooms, a library, sports ground and a water well. The newly painted library is being established and will be available for the use of the whole village. Old textbooks were taken from St John’s to Ayensuako for the children to use. The money raised at Form 4’s Victorian Fayre went towards the charity and, in March, a few members of staff ran the Cambridge Half Marathon for the second year in order to help raise further funds for Humanitas. Humanitas have been working with their corporate sponsor IDNET to bring free Wi-Fi to the Ayensuako to help improve the communication void. A projector from IDNET has already been sent over and the school is putting it to good use: pupils can now watch educational videos; video updates from schools in the UK involved in the project and sometimes a good old fashioned movie. Humanitas is very aware that without the help of supporters and beneficiaries many of their visions for the region would be unrealised. As a school, our Humanitas work on a Thursday afternoon can now be shared with our school in Ayensuako so that they can see how life in our country is different, but in many ways so similar to our own and we also welcomed a Humanitas charity representative who gave an informative talk about how the money is spent in Ghana. 24
International Outreach, St John’s College School, Nanjing The School’s international outreach programme which aims to share the St John’s philosophy with others is now in its second year with the steady growth of a nursery school in Nanjing, China, for children as young as two years old who will move on to a Chinese primary school when they are six. The Nanjing team have fully adopted the St John’s ethos and are determined to give young Chinese children the educationally positive start in life of which our School in Cambridge is so passionate. The architect designed building and landscaping has been created very much with the St John’s ethos in mind, linking in the indoor and outdoor spaces, creating a vegetable growing area and a forest garden for the children to learn and explore their outside environment. Following the four month enforced closure of all schools in China due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school has reopened and is looking forward to welcoming a new intake of pupils in the next academic year. Despite the closure, online training in the Emotions for Learning (E4L) curriculum has been conducted during lockdown to continue the process of embedding the St John’s ethos as new staff are taken on. A new E4L curriculum for the youngest children has been written and will be rolled out in September. One member of staff said “I loved the training, I find attachment theory so interesting and I like reflecting on it for myself and watching it at play in the children.”
Action against Climate Change The School’s commitment to educating the children about sustainability and grow awareness among the children about climate change continues. This year the baton has been passed from last year’s departing Form 6 Climate Action Group to an equally committed and passionate group of children from different year groups. Some chose to join the Global Climate Youth Strike in Cambridge on 20 September as part of a week of global action. Others chose to raise awareness of the dangers of climate change with a display of homemade banners outside the school gates. One Form 4 child who took part explained, “We protested outside school and other pupils joined us, chanting ‘There’s no planet B, ‘Act now or swim later’ and ‘Let’s stop climate change’. We were inspired by Greta Thunberg and last year’s Form 6 Eco Committee. We wanted to raise more awareness at St John’s and make an impact.” Some pupils also attended the rally in the centre of town which took place every evening from 20 – 27 September to show their support.
“I decided to go on the strike because I feel the government isn’t taking enough action and I’m hoping, by going on the march it will persuade the government and others to act.”
Cambridge Schools Eco Council A group of Senior House children have signed up with the Cambridge Schools Eco Council, a group of young people who meet once a month on a Saturday to discuss the climate crisis and how best to tackle it. The Eco Council works with other organisations to plan the monthly YouthStrike4Climate protests. The Cambridge Schools Eco Council was set up by a group of primary and secondary school students in February 2019, just after the first international YouthStrike4Climate. There are now children from over 30 schools attending. The theme of the last meeting was on Air Pollution. One of our Form 5 pupils also had the chance to co-chair one of the Eco Council meetings.
“I co-chaired one of the seminars, which involved researching the background of each speaker so that I give them a proper introduction as a part of the zoom meeting.”
Form 2 Pupil Responsibilities Children in Form 2 have ‘pupil responsibilities’ set to help them develop a strong sense of ownership and pride in their school and environment, leading the rest of Byron House in modelling care and kindness to each other and the environment. ‘Playground Pals’ welcome children arriving at school in the morning, alongside the designated adults, and hold the doors open for the younger children. In the playground, they offer support and kindness to the younger children and develop caring relationships with them. ‘Helping Hands’ assist during lunch times by pouring water for other children, circulating around the dining hall to offer fruit on trays and offering any help to the younger children as the need arises. ‘Buddies’ look after their KG and T1 charges during their first lunchtime in school, through playtimes, at special events such as Christmas dinner and each week share stories together. During lockdown, the children have missed their buddies so have exchanged letters and drawings with each other to keep in touch. The ‘Teaching Team’ have written and typed stories with younger year groups and have spent time sharing books and helping with maths.
Pupil Forum Listening to children and looking at the world through their eyes is at the heart of the St John’s ethos. The Pupil Forum has been developed as a vehicle for both listening to children as well as developing leadership skills and a sense of agency in their school. Representatives from each year group meet every week to discuss and plan ways of improving the school. At Byron House this year, the Pupil Forum has been responsible for adding a new option for lunches, including the introduction of a ‘salad bar’ for the children. The children have also researched, discussed and created a plan for a way in which the school community might be able to support the national ‘walk to school day’. The children have also put forward ideas for ways to improve the Forest Garden and play times and these will be implemented upon the children’s return to school after the lockdown.
Philosophy and Religious Studies
Form 1 Philosophy Project
The teaching of Philosophy has been an important part of the St John’s curriculum for children aged eight onwards for some years. We aim to teach children to think logically and critically, to reflect on their own thought processes and to question the world around them. Pupils are encouraged to think flexibly and to examine their own reasons for thinking what they do, with the intention that they can understand and therefore explain their viewpoints. Philosophical thinking is invaluable in an age of information as it teaches the children to evaluate what they hear and form opinions on it, giving them the tools to be active, thoughtful members of society. The skills are learnt through a range of topics and stimuli, utilising many different branches of philosophy including aesthetics, logic, ethics, metaphysics and epistemology. Children transfer skills learned in philosophy lessons into critical and analytic writing in Religious Studies, History, Geography and English, learning how to support arguments with evidence and to consider opinions before reaching a conclusion.
In the Lent Term pupils in Form 1 took part in the ‘Inquiring Science’ philosophy research project which explored how children can best be prepared by education to think critically and protect themselves from false or inaccurate claims. The project was funded by the non-profit think tank, the PHG Foundation, which is based at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge, as part of The Bridge Centre for Research Translation and Oracy Cambridge, the Hughes Hall Centre for Effective Spoken Communication.
Pupils have lessons in Religious Studies throughout their time at St John’s. We aim to nurture broad-minded, tolerant, reflective and critical thinking pupils. The subject covers all main religious traditions - Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism - with the intention of giving a broad and comparative understanding of what spirituality means, and has meant, to different people across time and across the world. Pupils are encouraged to compare and contrast the different beliefs and practices of the major world religions and to develop an understanding, tolerance and respect for people of all faiths and persuasions. In the upper Forms, Religious Studies leans more towards ethics and philosophy and pupils approach important questions of morality by looking at key topics such as the environment, crime and punishment, and prejudice and discrimination. Pupils discover the lives and thoughts of key influential philosophers and critically analyse their arguments. They learn skills in building and defending arguments, dismissing counterarguments and structuring essays through project work, class debates and extended essay writing.
The output from the project will be disseminated to SAPERE (the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education) as part of their national Philosophy with Children programmes. https://www.sapere.org.uk/
The ‘Inquiring Science’ research project teaches primary school children to think like scientists. During ten weeks of these discussion-based sessions, the children learned to critically evaluate evidence, enhance their questioning skills, and begin to use different types of reasoning to develop explanations.
“We had different stories each week and used our skills of deduction and philosophical thought to assess the information. It made you think in a logical and scientific way but without accepting information as fact.”
General Election Children in Forms 3 to 6 had the chance to take part in a St John’s version of the General Election last December. All four political parties were represented as volunteers from Form 4 explained their party’s election manifesto during a special election Assembly. The points raised included key areas such as Brexit, education, health and the environment. On 12 December (coinciding with Christmas Jumper Day!) Senior House children were able to vote with ballot boxes and slips of paper, just like in the real election polling stations, and there was a 95% turnout with great excitement about the result. The children were encouraged to consider which political party’s issues they related to the most, rather than concentrating on personalities. The results were announced the next day with an overwhelming majority for the Liberal Democrats.
“I didn’t know much about the election before but suddenly it all made sense and I had a feeling about the party I connected with the most. It was a good idea to hand the power to the children.” “The day before the election in school it was all anyone could or wanted to talk about and there was huge excitement about which party deserved to win.” “We felt like we had a voice, a say and an opinion and it made a huge difference hearing about the main issues from people our age, rather than listening to adults reporting on the news.” “It was a fantastic feeling standing up in front of all of Senior House and speaking passionately about politics, knowing your ‘colleagues’ were by your side, ready to back you up. It was a great feeling when everyone clapped after each speech.”
Digitally Enhanced Learning The use of digital technologies to enhance the children’s learning at St John’s has been embedded in our curriculum for a number of years now. The wide range of tools at the children’s disposal allows them to work collaboratively, communicate effectively and to be creative in their thinking. In Form 5 the children have developed their digital research skills further with new bespoke lessons on Thursday afternoons and all children are encouraged to use digital tools to present their ideas in exciting new ways. Our digitally enhanced learning programme is underpinned by the principle that new technologies are trialled before implementation and an evidence-based evaluation system measures and quantifies the benefits to the children’s learning in advance of roll-out. In Forms 1 to 6, the Google Suite for Education has been integrated into our curriculum for some time. This allowed for a more fluid move to delivering learning content remotely during the lockdown. In the Pre-Prep the use of iPads and other technologies is fully integrated in the Learning through Guided Play approach, providing experiences and skills that came to the fore during the summer term. Through different sharing tools, such as ‘Padlet’ or the ‘stream’ function in Google Classroom, the children can quickly post suggestions and links to the class that can be used in research, presentations and discussions. These tools have come into their own during the lockdown as not only a means for pupils to share content remotely with their teachers, but also to share their ideas and findings with the rest of their class in an open and collaborative way which encourages creativity and diversity of thought, and promotes the exchange and debating of ideas. Remote learning has also provided direct evidence that our aim for digitally enhanced learning to develop the children’s responsibility for their own learning has come to fruition. During this time when the children, with the support of their teachers, parents and peers, have had to maintain their own momentum in their learning, often sitting independently at home in front of a screen, the 30
School’s approach about the appropriate use of technology and the flexibility the children have to research, discuss and present their work have provided them with the freedom and confidence to take responsibility for their own learning and move at the pace that is right for them.
Computing Form 1 and 2 computing lessons are hands-on. The children are taught how to apply logical reasoning to computing problems and learn how to create algorithms to plan their solutions. In their programming Form 1 children learn how to sequence, select and use repetition in programs, later on adding variables and various forms of input and output. To ensure they understand how computers are used to build the Internet of Things and for control, all of the Form 1 children have carried out some physical computing, learning how to program a set of traffic lights. As part of their STEM Lighthouse project this year Form 2 children were given the task of programming a Raspberry Pi computer to control systems involving inputs from electronic sensors. Computing lessons continue in Forms 3 and 4, building on and extending the skills of computational thinking and programming learned at Byron House. The children investigate a number of applications including digital images, video and audio editing, data logging and data handling, control systems, databases and website creation and publishing. Computing lessons cease for the Fifth and Sixth forms but computing continues, particularly in Science lessons which make extensive use of the micro:bit. From Form 1 upwards children can further explore and develop their interest in Computing and computer science by joining the many clubs on offer.
â€œHaving bought a PC game that crashed the computer, my dad and I upgraded the RAM during lockdown, then realised we needed a faster CPU, as well as a new motherboard and so on. Eventually we had replaced all the components and effectively built a new computer that, wonderfully, worked when we switched it on. Then we found out that you can play the cloud version of the game over the internet with any old computer anyway!â€? 31
STEM Faculty Afternoons As part of our Thursday afternoon enrichment programme when pupils come ‘off-timetable’ to explore other areas of the curriculum, we have introduced Faculty afternoons. Pupils in Form 4 took part in a STEM Faculty workshop and had the chance to create a walking ‘Robot Duck’. They were provided with a kit consisting of basic components, but no instructions and were given a set time in which to create their basic two-legged (bipedal) walker. They had to apply their logic and creativity to construct their robot, in the process developing an understanding of mechanics and the impact of geometry. The brief for Pupils in Form 5 was to design and build a marble-run that would keep a marble in continuous motion for the longest time. They had to work collaboratively, against the clock, to design the runs, select recycled materials and plan ways of joining parts securely. For the Science element of the activity they had to consider the impacts of gravity and friction and compare how the surfaces of different materials affect the movement of objects. They employed their Design Technology skills to design a functional, purposeful product based on the design criteria, their engineering skills to make, test and evaluate their marble run and their mathematical skills to measure the size of components and time the duration of their run.
STEM Mechanical Hands
National Science Quiz
Pupils in Form 3 learned about the anatomy of the hand, biomedical engineering and push/pull forces with their STEM mechanical hand project. The children studied the movement in their own hands to understand the control of the fingers and the importance of the thumb in grabbing and holding objects of different shapes and forms. They learned of the interactions between bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments in control movement and studied examples of complicated or tiring tasks which prosthetic or robotic hands can perform more easily than a human hand. They then went about designing and building their own mechanical hand using recycled materials at home.
Three St John’s teams took part in this year’s 12th Quiz Club National Inter-Schools Science Quiz Championships in the Area Heat and all three reached the Finals, due to be held at the Dominion Theatre in London in June, but these have since been postponed to October 2020. As always, the questions were above and beyond the knowledge of the National Curriculum but the children took the challenge in their stride and battled it out to finish in second place. Each quiz comprises 40 multiple choice science questions covering subjects such as human biology, astronomy, great inventors and inventions, physics, zoology, ecology, earth science, oceanography, geology, meteorology, botany and chemistry.
“My mechanical hand was made from an old shoe box lid. I cut around the shape of my own hand, and bent the cardboard fingers and thumb to create joint and attached straws, strings and rubber to make tendons, ligaments and muscles to move the fingers.”
The annual National Years 5 and 6 (Forms 3 and 4) Science Championship is an exciting and challenging way for children to broaden their scientific knowledge as well as for young scientists to showcase their abilities as part of a team representing the school. From the solar system to the smallest creatures on earth, from inventions that transform the world to science on everyday lives, the Quiz encourages participants to explore science in a fascinating, engrossing and educational way. With more than 400,000 Key stage 2 children taking part each year, the Quiz Club National Championships are the largest inter-school competitions in the country.
“We met up every week to discuss which apps and websites to look at to research such a wide range of Scientific topics and we really supported each other along the way.!” 33
Design Technology Design Technology has continued to thrive with a wide range of exciting projects across all year groups; a sample of these is shown here. Senior House pupils also had optional cooking and baking challenges during lockdown, as well as a weekly mystery design object to research and projects encouraging the use of recycled materials.
DT Remote Learning clockwise from top: T2 Puppet Theatre, Form 2 Pop-Up Book, Form 3 Electronic Matching Game, Form 1 Shadow Puppet & Form 5 Woven Container
Clockwise from top: T2 Wind-Up Story, Form 6 Michael Brennand-Wood Textile Workshop, Form 5 Lamp & Form 2 Dizzy Dowel
Creativity in Maths In addition to learning the fundamentals of maths, the children across Senior House have participated in many different activities to broaden their understanding of how maths underpins many other disciplines. These were also opportunities to think creatively, plan investigations and problem-solve. The 3rd Form designed, built and trialled a board game based on ‘substitution’ in algebra. They also used maths in a practical way, using their geometry skills to build a model house, exploring the physical properties of 2D and 3D objects. In Form 4, children created beautiful designs as part of the ‘Mystic Rose’ investigation which focused on developing an understanding of circles, sequences, constructions and rotational symmetry. Pupils in Form 5 created some masterpieces in the annual Mathematical Bake-Off. The children had to research, plan, source ingredients and create a bake with a distinct Mathematical theme, using their weighing, measuring, timing, and estimating skills. Children in the 6th Form broadened their experience of maths by taking part in a range of investigations and projects in four new areas: a statistics project where children carried out experiments looking at fitness tests, taking measurements and analysing data on lung efficiency; a geographical bearings topic which involved interpreting and drawing bearings and planning a route using maps; a constructions project where the children developed their understanding of shapes, angles and loci to design their own building; a circle theorems project including evaluating proofs and problem-solving, culminating in creating their own piece of art work inspired by circle theorems.
National Maths Challenges The Primary Maths Challenge is a national competition designed for pupils in Forms 3 and 4. Pupils enjoy preparing in teams or small groups and use diagrams, number lines, pictures and charts to help solve a wide variety of interesting questions, which encourage them to use of higher order thinking skills and to think creatively in order to find solutions. Top scorers who were awarded gold certificates, of which there were 9 in Form 3 and 24 in Form 4. Jimmy Diggle, Milton Saibrosa, Vincent Sprik, Daniel Wicks and Ella Wigan performed exceptionally well in the first round; they were then invited to attend the bonus round for the best candidates. Form 5 Remote Learning - Maths-inspired Bake-off
Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract In Byron House, children are introduced to a new mathematical concept through the use of concrete resources, which may range from everyday objects such as fruit or toys, to mathematical resources such as bead strings, Dienes blocks and place value counters. Once they are comfortable solving problems with these physical aids, they are given problems with pictorial representations of the concrete objects they were using. As their confidence and ability grows, they move onto to solving problems where they only have the abstract information (the numbers and symbols). Using this CPA approach (concrete, pictorial, abstract) across a lesson or series of lessons, can help children better understand the relationship between numbers and the real world and so helps to cement their understanding. Rather than just thinking about a question, the children are encouraged to ask themselves what they could do or draw to help them and to be open to a range of methods. The goal behind this approach is to develop the childrenâ€™s mastery of mathematics by instilling in them a feeling of confidence which in turn enables them to persevere, take risks, make links and be flexible learners, all key St Johnâ€™s Mindset for Learning dispositions.
BBC 500 Word Short Stories
This year, across the whole of the UK, a record 134,709 pupils entered the BBC 500 Word Short Story Competition, the 10th anniversary of the UK’s largest story-writing competition for children ages between 5 and 13. Their stories could be about anything - space-ships, grannies, insects, time travel - the only stipulation was to adhere rigidly to the word count and be exactly 500 words long.
Children in T2 investigated onomatopoeia, the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named. T2W pupil Aniruddha Reddy (aged 7) used the opportunity to reflect on the lockdown.
There was fierce competition and just 5,000 stories made it to the second round, of which over 20 were our very own Senior House. The Reading Agency, who judged the writing, were ‘hugely impressed’ with the quality of the stories. The standard was, in their words, ‘exceptional’.
She came as a whooshing wind, and took away the buzz of a busy morning
Art to Poetry Challenge Tabitha Pearson’s poem, ‘Inside my Head’ has been longlisted in the ‘Art to Poetry’ Challenge with the Young Poets Network. The challenge was to write an ekphrastic poem, one that is inspired by a work of visual art, which does not exceed 40 lines. Young Poets Network is The Poetry Society’s online platform for young poets up to the age of 25. Overall winners and the winning poems will be published later this summer, to coincide with an anthology of the top 3 poems and the winners of the adult competition.
‘Mind’s Eye’ Creative Writing Now in its fourth year, “Mind’s Eye” is annual anthology of creative writing edited and published the King’s School Canterbury with contributions from prep schools in the southeast. Seventeen schools participated this, generating 84 articles, two of which were written by pupils in Form 6: “Stolen Child”, lamenting the tolerance of child marriage and “Alright, pet?” on the benefits of owning a pet.
Noisy World to the Quiet World
I can’t hear the cars zooming anymore I can’t hear people rushing anymore I can’t hear the doors slamming anymore I can’t hear the aeroplane whirring anymore I can’t hear the giggles in the playground anymore I can’t hear the classroom chatter anymore I can’t hear the school bell ring anymore She came as a whooshing wind And the whole world went quiet In the quiet world, I could hear the birds chirping I could hear the bees buzzing I could hear the clock ticking I could hear the leaves rustling in the wind I could hear the neighbour’s cat meowing She came as a whooshing wind, and the whole world calls her ‘The Super Virus’
Aniruddha Reddy (aged 7)
Book Week Book Week is a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and reading. Byron House enjoyed visits from authors Matty Long, Andy Shepherd and Korky Paul. ‘Book at Bedtime’ was again a resounding success, as was the ‘Extreme Reading Competition’. The week closed with ‘Dress as a Book Character Day’ in aid of the charity Humanitas.
Literary Festival The Senior House Literary Festival welcomed four authors (Abi Elphinstone, Dave Shelton, Piers Torday and Karl Nova) as well as the Heffers Book Fair. There was great excitement as the winners of the School’s 500 word short story competition were announced. This was the second year of the popular ‘Shelfie’ competition where teachers photographed their bookshelves and the children guessed the owner from the books on display. The inaugural ‘Reading Rocks’ competition encouraged artistic creativity as the children painted book-themed rocks for display in the Senior House Library. The older children took part in a ‘Read for Good’ sponsorship. The £506 raised will help to provide a regular supply of brand new books and a resident storyteller to every major children’s hospital in the UK. Extreme Reading Competition
Charities Money has been raised this year for a variety of good causes: £249 was raised for Macmillan Coffee Morning. The retiring collection at the Services in Preparation for Christmas raised £1,429 for Centre 33 and Young Minds. The Byron House Easter Fair raised £335 shared equally between Humanitas and Bridges to Belarus. The Victorian Fayre raised £1,214 for Humanitas. £350 was raised for Children in Need on Silly Sock Day. Christmas Jumper Day raised £490 for Jimmy’s Night Shelter. The Form 5 Drama production of Peter Pan raised £800 for Great Ormond Street and Shakespeare Schools Foundation. The Byron House Harvest Collection raised £124 for Cambridge City Food Bank. The ‘Read for Good’ sponsored readathon raised £506. The school staff team raised for £940 Humanitas at the Cambridge Half Marathon, coming first in the mixed category. £308 was raised by Poppy Marr for Humanitas by decorating calculators at the Judge Business School. £240 was raised for Sport Relief with ‘How Far do you think SJCS can Travel?’ Opposite top: making clay mugs and bowls to raise money Opposite bottom: Bike Challenge, both to raise money for NHS
Raising Money for the NHS Following a class English lesson spent writing a birthday letter to war veteran and fundraiser Colonel Tom Moore, a T2 child was inspired to set up a bike challenge to see how many kilometres he could manage to travel in one weekend and asked family and friends to sponsor him. He completed a distance of 23km and raised an impressive £140 for the NHS. Another child in F3 also decided to raise money for the NHS by holding her own ‘danceathon’ by choreographing 26 dances herself during the month of May. She has already raised nearly £1000 and is staying fit at the same time as raising money too for NHS Charities Together to, in her words, ‘Help those on the front line who are helping us’. Two siblings (Form 5 and Form 6) combined compassion and initiative to make their own homemade pottery during lock down which they sold to passers-by, raising £138 for the NHS.
“With my danceathon I have raised nearly £1000 and am staying fit at the same time as helping the NHS Charities Together so we can help those on the front line who are helping us.”
‘How Far has SJCS Travelled?’ for Sport Relief St John’s pupils supported Sport Relief by rising to the challenge to see the distance travelled in all the sports activities during lessons and to work out how far St John’s could ‘travel’ virtually in the space of a week. Activities were not confined to the Sports department as other academic subjects used the theme for lessons throughout the week, adding to the motivation to try and cover as much distance as possible. In total the School ‘travelled’ 2,500km and raised £240 for the charity.
Each year the Parents’ Association prides itself on putting on a programme of wonderful events for the school community to enjoy, many of which raise money for charity. Happily, before the lockdown curtailed the schedule for the Summer term, they managed to pack a great deal into the first two terms of the year with a range of wonderful and generously supported events including a spectacular Fireworks Night and strongly contested ‘Curry and Quiz’ night. All was not lost in the Summer term however as the annual charity Fun Day, usually held on the School’s playing fields, was reinvented ‘Miles for Smiles’; a remote ‘get-together’ encouraging children and families across the school community to think creatively and raise money for charity whilst having fun. As a result of all the various activities across the year, the Parents’ Association has been able to donate £7055 to Macmillan Cancer Support and £6,229 to local charity, The Laughter Specialists who bring cheer to children hospitalised with severe illnesses.
Clockwise from top left: Christmas wreath making, Fireworks Night, Virtual Fun Day and Macmillan Coffee Morning
Alumni - 1990s reunion
At the start of the academic year, the School welcomed back a number of leavers from the 1990s, together with their families, for the school’s first reunion event.
“Seeing the school now with the expansion of facilities that has gone on over the years was interesting, some small changes, some more significant, but all in keeping with the ethos of caring education that I remember from my time.”
“When you are at St John’s, I don’t think you realise how lucky you are – it is such a kind, nurturing and supportive environment.” “It was wonderful to see how much St John’s is flourishing, to spend a day with old friends and to revisit the scenes of happy memories.”
Extra Curricular Clubs The school is proud to be able to offer a rich and varied programme of extra-curricular events. On average over 90% of children in T1 to Form 6 take up the offer to participate in a wide range of activities before school, during lunch breaks and after school. Nearly half of the children participate in three or more clubs each term, in addition to after school play rehearsals and music ensembles. Over 70 different extracurricular activities are on offer throughout the year, covering the areas shown below. Reading Chatterbooks Poetry Free Writing* Debating Italian* Greek Spanish European Film Club* Sign Language* Model UN Pupil Forum Philosophy* Mindfulness
“We get so much choice with clubs and they are not all after school. It is a chance to learn something you love, something new, develop a hobby and meet new friends and have fun!” Mathletics Maths Puzzles Maths Clinic Digital Craft Computer Control & Electronics Game Maker Programming Python Programming Programming & Robotics* Art Cookery Drawing Design Technology Kitchen Garden Jewellery Making
* denotes a club that would have been offered during the Summer term
3rd and 4th Form Choir Chamber Choir Junior Choir Music Composition Grade 5 Music Theory Pop Choir Potential Music Scholars Musical Theatre Drama Shakespeare Schools Festival Board Games Chess Lego Challenge Card Games* Warhammer
Athletics* Running Boys’ and Girls’ Cricket Football Golf Boys’ and Girls’ Hockey Kung Fu Multi-Sports / Saturday Sports Netball Rowing Boys’ Rugby Softball* Squash and Fives Swimming Strictly at SJCS Tennis
Enrichment Afternoons Thursday afternoons for children in Forms 3 to 6 offer ‘off-timetable’ time during the school day to cater for a wide range of enrichment activities. In addition to the regular schedule of lessons in the ‘My Mind’ programme (incorporating Philosophy, Tai Chi, Mindfulness, Critical Thinking, Study Skills and Online Safety), each term we are able to offer a wide range of talks, trips, workshops and activities to enrich the children’s learning; a sample of some of these events and activities is shown here. The Enrichment Programme for the Summer term moved online and was still as varied and as interesting as normal for all Senior House year groups.
Mindset for Learning team building Art Trip to Imperial War Museum at Duxford Talk by sports psychologist Helen Davis Talk by Ms Coward, co-founder of Sustainable7 ‘The Big Draw’- the world’s largest drawing festival Talk from teacher Anthony Kerr-Dineen on music & Mozart Rugby and Hockey House matches Humanitas Charity workshop Tai Chi sessions Design Technology workshop with Michael Brennand Wood Talk by racing driver & presenter Vicki Butler-Henderson
Geography field trip to Epping Forest Trip to the Cambridge Buddhist Centre History trip to Stibbington Talk from Dr MacLennan, Department of Earth Sciences Internet Safety Day Trips to the Cambridge Buddhist Centre and St Giles’ Church Literary Festival with visiting authors STEM Faculty Afternoon Introduction to German Design Technology Air Boat Building and Race Faz Shah Beat Boxing sessions Hockey and Netball House matches
Maths Bake Off Design Technology cardboard shoe making challenge Guinness World Record for World’s Largest Art lesson with illustrator Rob Biddulph WWF ‘Learn to Love Nature’ session Language Learning Doodles Philosophy- ‘Where do right and wrong come from?’ Making homemade ice-cream and sorbet SJCS Alumni podcasts
Tai Chi session for Form 4 with Cambridge Kung Fu
Art The Art department has continued to flourish this year with the children producing a wide range of work in multiple media. The children’s freedom to experiment and sense of creativity were very much in evidence during the lockdown with projects such as ‘imagine what birdsong looks like’ and ‘draw what you see when you hear a piece of music’. Though working remotely, the children were nevertheless encouraged to spend time outside, in nature, to gain inspiration, with projects such as ‘patterns in nature”. They also took inspiration from studying the works of famous artists.
This page, top left: Kandinsky inspired painting by Arthur Griffiths; top right: painting inspired by the piece The Flight of the Bumble Bee by Florence Wicks; Bottom right: Paint a starry night by Zebbie Halban-Taylor and bottom left: Inspired by birdsong, unnamed
This page: Top left and bottom right Isla Thompson, top right Annie Dunton, bottom left Cosmo Benyan Opposite page: Left top and bottom Isla Thompson; top right Theo Pafitis, middle unnamed, bottom Ellie Pottle Previous page from top left: Kangqi Gong, Rufus Hodge, Zoe Loose, Melissa French, Finn Maclennan, Hugo Wells, George Hornbuckle and Isobel Morbey
Music Music in the school continues to develop apace and, through its many curricular and extra-curricular strands, remains at the heart of the daily life of our community. Over 70% of children in T2 and above learn at least one instrument in school, and a good number of the remaining pupils learn outside school. Nearly 400 instrumental and vocal lessons are taught every week. 50% of children in T2 and above have been involved in optional weekly choral activities and just over 40% of the same year groups have been involved in optional weekly instrumental ensembles. The lockdown has reminded us of the many great benefits of a musical education, partly through ongoing activity and partly through the absence of some of our usual opportunities; on one hand, our Visiting Music Teachers have adapted brilliantly to online teaching and many pupils have been progressing even more quickly than usual, given increased practice time; on the other hand, though, we have greatly missed our usual ensemble and performance programmes in the Summer Term and very much look forward to engaging with them again soon.
Performance We staged or were involved in approximately 40 concerts in the first two terms of the year and performance continues to be a great strength in the school. Amongst the highlights, our Senior House Chamber Choir took part in a performance of El Cant des Ocells, a traditional Catalan folksong, with the Sinfonia of Cambridge, conductor Howard Williams and violinist Emma Lisney at the West Road Concert Hall in January and our young organists were privileged to be invited to perform again in the organ recital series at St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London; Angus CrichtonStuart (Form 3), Lorenzo Granado, Anna Tomkinson (both Form 4) and Thomas Watkin (Form 6) gave an outstanding concert in a series which is otherwise offered by the leading senior public and specialist music schools.
Examinations Exams were not taken in the Summer Term, but 70% of music exam results for exams taken with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College London in the first two terms of the year were in the merit and distinction categories. Three grade 8 exams have been successfully attempted this year: Polly Casey (French horn, distinction and Recorder, merit) and Thomas Watkin (Piano, distinction).
Opportunities Outside School Ella Davidson (Form 6), Amelie Kirk (Form 3), Eliza Robson Brown (Form 4) and Sophia Wickham (Form 2) are members of the St Catharine’s College Girls’ Choir. Amelie Grace Nair-Grepinet (Form 6) is a member of the Pembroke College Girls’ Choir and sang in a BBC broadcast concert conducted by Gareth Malone, Matthew Chippington (Form 5), David Low (Form 6), Adekoya Okusaga (Form 5) and Max Wickham (Form 2) are members of the Jesus College Chapel Choir. David Edgington (Form 5), Archie Goodale (Form 4), Adekoya Okusaga (Form 5) and Anna Tomkinson (Form 4) are members of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. 51
Rednotes Band Lockdown Recording There are several much-anticipated music events during the summer term that have been cancelled due to the current lock down but the St John’s Rednotes band were determined to continue their music remotely. Rednotes teacher, Mr Lepage-Dean, encouraged the musicians to come together online and to record a well-known track from the comedy musical Little Shop of Horrors. After the track had been recorded, synced and mixed, the final version was shared with the school community.
“We had a download of the accompaniment to sing along to and the sheet music of our parts. We had to sing with AirPods or head phones on so that we could hear the track and not get out of time.” “It was brilliant to keep our music going through the lockdown and to get together to record the piece. It was great when we heard the final track with all of our sounds coming together.”
Lockdown Video Diaries In the Summer Term, pupils in Form 6 were asked to create a short film as their personal lockdown video diary, documenting their experiences through this strange final term of their time at the School. The children were asked to consider the rhythm of their day, what made it normal, what made it unusual, what had become familiar which had been alien and what had started to feel alien which had once been familiar. A wide variety of quirky short films emerged, some of which feature the children’s own musical compositions as soundtracks.
St John’s College Choir’s ‘Magnificat’ Album St John’s College Choir’s latest album, Magnificat, contains six contrasting settings of the Evening Canticles, repertoire that plays an important role in the Choir’s daily music-making. Each of the settings chosen by Director of Music Andrew Nethsingha has personal significance to his musical life – his time at the Royal College of Music, Truro Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, and now, St John’s College.
St John’s College Choir Tours to France and The Netherlands Each year the College Choir is much in demand on tour across the world, providing our Choristers the opportunity to travel to locations far and wide and to sing an expansive repertoire in some of the best concert halls. Despite a foreshortening of the touring schedule due to the pandemic, the Choir nevertheless had highly successful Christmas tours in Aix-en-Provence in France and the Netherlands.
Virtual College Chapel Services during lockdown Since 21 April 2020 the College has continued to broadcast a variety of services online which feature both the College Choir and St John’s Voices. Each service is led by either the Dean of Chapel, The Reverend Canon Mark Oakley, or the Chaplain, The Reverend Andrew Hammond, and broadly mirrors the format of services in Chapel under normal circumstances. The Choir has supported four charities throughout this time: Amnesty International; Christian Aid; Doctors without Borders/Médecins sans Frontières; and the Red Hen Project, a Cambridge charity that helps primary school children and their families overcome barriers to learning. 53
Drama Form 5 took their audiences on a magical journey to Neverland with their production of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. They tackled this production with enthusiasm, commitment, maturity and a great sense of comedic timing, resulting in a series of complex, moving performances, beyond their years. The entire cast captivated the audience through both pathos and fun, highly energetic fight sequences with exciting characterisation.
“There were so many magical elements and we were all part of evolving our ideas and making this adventure come alive.”
Form 5’s production Peter Pan
Kindergarten - Whoops-A-Daisy Angel (top and middle left)
Transition 1 - Christmas with the Aliens (middle right and bottom)
Form 1’s ‘The Lost Words’ Form 1 gave heartfelt performances of songs, dances and poetry all based on the enchanting book, The Lost Words by Dr Robert Macfarlane. The children became ‘shapeshifters’ and ‘fluttering goldfinches’ as they breathed life back into many forgotten words. The children spoke, acted and moved powerfully with one voice and were poised and elegant. The Lost Words was also used as a Byron House Drama podcast as a lesson stimulus as part of the children’s remote learning.
Form 4’s ‘Three Folk Tales’ “The plays were an amazing experience and performing in the round was exciting. The dances were fantastic because they gave a burst of energy right at the end making everyone energised and prepared for the next story.” “Performing in the ‘round’ was a completely new experience and you had to think about projecting your voice, using facial expressions and exaggerating your body language.” 57
Form 6’s Passion Play Form 6’s production of The Passion recalls the final days of Jesus’ life – from his entry into Jerusalem, to his crucifixion five days later – and all of the complex plotting, political sidestepping and betrayal that facilitated Jesus’ downfall. The Passion Play is a moving story that required a deep intensity and thoughtfulness, which Form 6 delivered. It is tradition for all children in Forms 1 to 5 to end the Lent term watching The Passion. Due to current the restrictions of the lockdown, plans were made at very short notice to film a performance and broadcast it to the rest of the school online.
“The filming marks the moment very well. What the children put on camera is truly remarkable – for their age range, with no warning, no ‘film acting guidance’, and, most importantly, no audience to fuel their performances. It is raw and captures these children in this moment of time – it tells the story and, in some respects, is the most extraordinary Passion Play the School has produced.” “Our ‘Passion Play’ was unique as it was not watched by a ‘live’ audience but was filmed instead. This made our performances even more intense and emotive. You could really feel the tension build up on stage.”
Drama during lockdown Podcasts This term the Drama Department for the Prep School created a weekly Video Podcast to offer a TV style Drama lesson in which the children saw teachers play Drama games with The Pod Team. The idea from the outset was to model classic drama games that the children could play at home or online with their friends - and for them to watch their teachers playing them. Hit games like Two Truths, one lie and the Birthday game put the teachers through their paces. The Pod also geared each Podcast to the subject of the guest teacher; games were modified and played in French for example, or with a historical twist and even with scientific terminology. Every podcast also set an optional Drama mission that the children could do at home. These ranged from being a French secret agent, to recording yourself saying an Elizabethan insult.
â€œI loved all the Drama podcasts in lockdown, especially when we had the chance to watch the Form 6 Stop Motion Films as they inspired me to make my own!â€?
The Green Screen Mr Clarke converted a room in his house to be a mini recording studio complete with Green Screen backdrop so that he could create Drama storytelling adventures for the younger children to enjoy and act along with. Some of the characters the children met were the Friendly Alien, A Selfish Giant and Mr Clarke and his twin, Storytelling Me and Role Playing Me. He stood taller than Byron House and as small as a mouse, been upside down on the climbing frame, flown through the air with an umbrella and even been inside a paintings. Every Adventure has had a Drama learning intention and the children have been invited to listen, react, freeze, mime and role-play. 59
Shakespeare Schools Festival A group of Form 6 pupils took part in the national Shakespeare Schools Festival for the eighth year running, performing Much Ado About Nothing at The Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre at The Perse Upper School. Pupils involved had the opportunity to prepare and present their own approach to Shakespeare’s theatre as well as to watch and learn from productions offered by other schools. The cast were fantastically focused and motivated throughout the rehearsal process and did the St John’s community proud on the show night with their phenomenal performances. 742 schools took part nationwide.
“It was a real comedic spectacle about love, misunderstanding and deception and it was a privilege to be part of this adventure and bring it to life.”
Talent Show Due to popular demand, the talent show took place for the second year running and was organised and produced by a dedicated committee of pupils in Forms 3 to 6. The children brought their creative ideas to weekly meetings and helped organise the logistics and detailed planning. They also set up a â€˜Talent Showâ€™ Google Classroom to stay in touch and share ideas. There was even a Senior House competition to design the Classroom banner, which changed each week. Registrations opened with two categories: groups and solos. The committee held weekly auditions, judged by a panel of four staff volunteers, from which two acts were selected each week to go through to the Grand Final. There was a mix of talent on display: magicians, dancers, singers, comedians, musicians, bands, poetry and even hula-hoopers. The use of professional-standard lighting made everyone feel they were experiencing something very special. The Grand Final was a perfect end to the Michaelmas term with Third Form Musical Theatre Club opening the show with their performance of Oklahoma!
Arts Award The School has participated in the national Bronze Arts Award for a number of years, moderated by Trinity College London. The programme invites children in Forms 5 and 6 to submit a portfolio of work for accreditation in this nationally recognised qualification. Arts Award inspires young people to grow their arts and leadership talents and is particularly suitable for children who are self-motivated to pursue artistic endeavours in their spare time. In much the same way as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award places a strong emphasis upon young people’s ability to take the initiative as part of a team and individually, the Arts Award aims to inspire candidates to devise their own programmes of activities and self-manage their workload. This early taste of independent responsibility is the perfect preparation for managing the demands of life at senior school and beyond. Due to the lockdown, this year’s Arts Award participants gave virtual presentations during the Summer term to complete their Bronze Level. This year’s participants have entered with the following subjects: Art, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Design Technology, Music, Photography, Singing, Structures and Animation.
This page: Photography by James Chesterfield and painting by Polly Casey - Opposite page: Drama Production of Evita (middle) and painting by Annie Dunton
“As part of the Arts Award on Drama you have to describe how you have improved your arts skills. I developed projecting my voice by practising a loud voice at home. I practised each word and how I was going to say and emphasize it so it really had meaning.” “In ‘Be the Audience’, I went to the ‘Homelands’ exhibition at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge which highlighted the different versions of home around the world. It also explored migration and refugees in South Asia and beyond. I particularly liked the images by Munem Wasif.” “I enjoyed painting and drawing almost every day. I took the opportunity to broaden the palette I used and to experiment with the juxtaposition of different colours.”
Sports Our vision is to instil a love of sport and physical activity in each child, equipping them with the skills they need and inspiring them to enjoy and carry on with sport and physical activity in their next school and into adulthood. This challenging time over the last few months of the lockdown will have brought into focus the importance of physical activity in whatever form, for both physical and mental health. Despite missing out on the normal diet of Cricket, Athletics and Sports Day in the Summer Term, our remote learning were provided the pupils with a variety of activities to maintain their general fitness and develop new skills. Pupils in the Pre-Prep also had the opportunity to participate in their own ‘virtual’ Pre-Prep Sports day at home, following a programme of tutored videos to demonstrate the activities. The Michaelmas and Lent terms saw a busy programme of festivals and fixtures, including some which were new and proved to be very positive opportunities for our pupils. In both terms, all pupils who play the main term’s sports in F2-F6 were involved in fixtures to represent the school. There were some excellent performances both collectively and individually, with regional success and teams reaching national finals. House competitions were full of competitiveness and sportsmanship as always. The new format for House swimming this year provided pupils with greater choice and was a terrific success. Our 6th Form set a fantastic example for the other years to follow, performing with determination, respect and good sportsmanship and applying themselves with hard work and perseverance. It is a wonderful achievement that so many have received Sport scholarships or have been asked to join elite athlete programmes at their next schools. Sports ‘swaps’ have also been a feature during our Thursday afternoon enrichment programme with mixed netball and girls’ rugby and as well as opportunities for the children to take part in new sports activities and work with others that they might not get the chance to so regularly. Off the pitch, sport also featured in the Thursday programme with a talk on sports psychology. 64
Hockey continues to be a favourite sport amongst the girls with many playing for local clubs, helping to further develop their skills. The U10 girls participated in friendly quadrangular fixtures with St Faith’s, King’s College School and The Perse, which was a great learning environment and every U10 girl was involved. The U11 girls had a fun start to the season being part of the ‘curtain raiser’ for the Haileybury 1st Xl at the Olympic Park as a pre-season warm up. They participated in the County hockey tournament where they came a creditable 4th place and did especially well at the IAPS tournament getting to the semi-final in the Plate. The U13 A team girls proved what dedication and training can do as they started the season winning the Old Buckenham Hall Hockey Tournament with some excellent team play. They then went on to have a strong season culminating in being the Plate winners at the IAPS tournament. The depth of hockey being played at St John’s is very exciting to see and across the board the girls’ should be very proud of representing the school and achieving so much in their matches.
An unusually short term provided the platform for an action packed and incredibly successful boys’ hockey season. The astro turf felt like it was in constant use as the school put out 6 Senior teams on numerous occasions. A great deal of progress was made throughout the teams and a fresh brand of fast-paced, organised and creative hockey is emerging. The 1st team set the tone throughout and were quickly crowned Cambridgeshire County Champions, performing brilliantly on the day. This was just the beginning as they went on to secure a top four finish in the East Regionals and secure qualification for the IAPS National Finals. Without a doubt, the highlight of the season was a trip to Cheltenham College for the National Finals, in which the boys played superbly to reach the quarter finals of the cup competition, only narrowly losing on penalty strokes. The Colts were not to be outdone, finishing runners up at the County tournament, East Regionals and IAPS Regionals. A quite terrific set of results, capturing the work rate and levels of determination of the squad. Unfortunately their IAPS National Finals were cancelled due to safety reasons, but this will only serve to inspire and motivate the year group for future years. The future of St John’s hockey is in exciting hands, with all of the U9 and U10 boys representing the school with increasing enjoyment and success. Oliver Sawtell and Kit Denison-Smith were part of the Cambridge City U12 team who won all their games from County, Regionals and National Finals where they won the In2Hockey Cup National Finals. The team did not concede any goals at the Finals and also won the Indoor Hockey National Grand Slam.
The netball term, although cut short by the lockdown, proved to show some strong performances from all year groups.
It was another successful and enjoyable term on the rugby field. The senior boys’ rugby team narrowly lost their first match at home against Witham Hall. It was a highly attritional match which involved a tremendous effort particularly in the second half which included some wonderful tries and hard tackles. They went on to win all of their remaining weekly fixtures and only lost narrowly to one other school at the County Tournament and one other school at the Framlingham Festival. The team was captained by Arthur Woodhull, who along with Emerson Gilbertson, has gone on to train with the Northampton Saints Academy. The Under 12s had a slow start to the term but through hard work and determination their performances improved each week. There was lots of progress made in the Colts teams and the Under 10s enjoyed some wonderful matches which included some away wins against St Faith’s.
The U11 girls worked hard and had some exciting matches with close results. The girls made progress with their skills and game play. At the IAPS Regional Tournament they had some very close games with the team losing by a just few goals, reaching the quarter-final stage of the Plate final. The U13 girls had some tightly contested matches throughout the season and came into their own at the IAPS regionals at Uppingham. The girls played incredibly well to top their group, beating King’s Ely in the quarter finals in extra time, facing Beachborough in the semis, and Bromsgrove in the final. Despite losing to Bromsgrove the girls qualified for the Nationals at Bryanston School which were unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic.
Cricket While the regular cricket season wasn’t able to take place because of the lockdown, two Form 5 boys put their skills to the test by taking part in a cricket ‘bat-a-thon’, helping their Cambridgeshire Youth Cricket Under 12 squad to raise £2,180 for the Cambridgeshire Coronavirus Community Fund. Each member of the squad took their turn to bat for 30 minutes in their gardens at home, in the 12 hour ‘bat-athon’, smashing their original target of £1000.
“My teammates and I each batted for half hour slots, completing 12 continuous hours to raise money for the charity. I really enjoyed the team effort, and it was fun being outside in the sun with my family bowling. I’m really proud of our team and so happy that we have so far raised £2,180.” 66
Swimming This has been another fantastic year for swimming. The children participated in two galas at The Leys, hosted by St Faith’s. This was a great opportunity for the children to put all their hard work to the test and race in a 25m pool with diving blocks. The Lent Term saw some exciting racing in the House competitions for Forms 3-6. This year we introduced separate galas for boys and girls, allowing the pupils to compete in more races. Swimming clubs have been well attended throughout the Michaelmas and Lent Terms at both Senior House and Byron House. The highlight of the year was the IAPS Regional Competition held at Bishop Stortford, with some outstanding races against strong opposition. Many children represent various clubs outside of school and regularly compete in galas. Of note was Bel Vandermeer’s performance in the National Arena League B Final for the City of Cambridge Swimming Club.
Cross Country Eight pupils participated in the District Schools’ Cross Country at Netherhall School this year. Henrietta Allpress and Cosmo Benyan both did incredibly well and qualified for the next round and represented the Cambridge District in the Cambridgeshire County Schools’ Cross Country. The strength of their performances allowed them to progress further again to represent Cambridge County at the Anglian Cross Country Championships. Some strong performances in the Form 3-6 House Cross Country bode well for the future district and county participants. 67
Fives & Squash
In the Fifth and Sixth Forms, children have the opportunity to choose rowing as a games option. We are fortunate to use the facilities of the Lady Margaret Boat Club, where our rowers gain confidence and proficiency on and off the water, sculling in singles and quads. The Michaelmas term saw us in competition with St Faithâ€™s School and Kingâ€™s College School in an indoor Ergo Regatta. This was a fantastic occasion which celebrated the best of sporting conduct by children trying a new sport. The lengthening evenings in the Lent term afforded us some longer outings on the Cam, with increasing levels of technical proficiency making for many satisfying and enjoyable sessions.
Children in Forms 4 to 6 have the opportunity to choose to play Fives and Squash at the University of Cambridge Sport Centre as an alternative option to the main weekly team sports. With both Fives and Squash, the children engage in active sports sessions which increase agility, hand-eye coordination, flexibility, concentration and fitness levels. Fives is an intuitive sport and it is the only racket sport that enables children to use both sides of their bodies.
Leavers’ Destinations & Awards 59 Form 6 boys and girls are leaving for Senior Schools. They are proceeding as follows: 12 to The Perse Upper; 8 each to The Leys and King’s Ely; 7 to Oundle; 6 to St Mary’s; 3 each to Stephen Perse Foundation and Uppingham; 2 each to Eton, Freman College and Gresham’s and 1 each to Brighton College, Culford, Framlingham, Oakham, Rugby and St Christopher. At the time of going to press, the following 23 awards were achieved as follows: Thomas Aldred Cosmo Benyan William Buttery Freya Cameron Polly Casey Ella Davidson Kit Denison-Smith Freddie Fish Emerson Gilbertson Tamsin Loose Archie McEwan Priyanna Morrill Marennah Prempeh Jesse Rainey Oliver Sawtell Isla Thompson Thomas Watkin Harry Winn Arthur Woodhull
Art & Academic Scholarships Art & Drama Scholarships Music Scholarship Sport Scholarship Art & Music Scholarships Academic Scholarship Dedicated Athlete’s Programme Drama Scholarship Headmaster’s Award Sports Scholarship Drama Scholarship General Scholarship Sport Scholarship Art Scholarship Sport Scholarship Art & Sport Scholarships Music Scholarship Sport Scholarship Dedicated Athlete’s Programme
St Christopher The Leys Uppingham St Mary’s King’s Ely The Perse Upper Oundle Uppingham Gresham’s Stephen Perse Foundation Framlingham Oundle St Mary’s Gresham’s The Leys St Mary’s Brighton College The Leys Oundle
Where a child has gained an award in the same discipline for more than one school, only the award for the destination school is recorded.
Highlights is written by St John’s College School staff and designed, produced and edited in house by Mrs P Dely and Mr A Loria.
© St John’s College School 2020
Highlights from the academic year 2019-2020 at St John's College School, Cambridge