Front Cover: Ascension Day ~ Inside Front Cover: Whole School Photo Day 2022 ~ Back Cover: sewing design mural for ‘The Big Draw’ by Senior House children
Headmaster’s Introduction 2
Emotions for Learning
Mindfulness & Tai Chi
Reading for Empathy
Book Week & English
Winton Cup & French Prize 27
Digitally Enhanced Learning 28
STEM & Maths
National Science Quiz
Earth Sciences Iceland Trip 33
Pupil Forum & Catering
Enrichment & Clubs
© St John’s College School 2022
63-75 Grange Road, Cambridge CB3 9AB
Archive: Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, being greeted by the pupils of St John’s during her visit to celebrate the Quincentary of St John’s College, April 2011.
Headmaster’s Introduction The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year has been a time to look back but also to look forward. A great deal has changed in the last 70 years and commentators state how the pace of change is faster than ever. At St John’s, we have certainly felt this over the course of the last two years, but as we emerge from the pandemic, there is an opportunity to reset, reestablish our priorities, learn from a unique time in recent history and consider what is important for us as a school over the next few years. 2
“I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.” Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II I am often asked by prospective parents, how I would want children who are leaving St John’s College School to be. My answer is simple: I wish them to be comfortable in their own skins, to be their best selves, understand what this means, and therefore go on to the next stage of their education and beyond with confidence. The Queen’s steadfastness, sense of duty and extraordinary perseverance in times of dramatic change, I believe, has been a shining example of someone who has considered carefully what it means to be their best self. She certainly would not have been the consistent, constant presence in our nation’s life without being comfortable in her own skin. For her, central to this has been her Christian faith but, whether we are people of faith or not, an understanding of who we are and always striving to be the best we can is my aspiration for every St John’s child and every member of our community. Our priority therefore remains a focus on each child’s well-being, the importance of nurture, compassion and care in order that children can flourish and learn to be their best selves. With the help of research, we want to ensure that the well-being of our whole community is at the forefront of all we do. One area we have looked at in detail over the last year has been that of intrinsic motivation and you can read more about this on page 10. The College’s decision to include girls in their world-famous choir has been a historic and important change not only for our community but throughout the world of choral music. It has been a delight to welcome the first three girls into the choir in the summer term of 2022. What gives me the most joy in my role as a Headmaster is seeing the School community come together, to watch children and staff combine their efforts on the sports’ field, in drama productions or musical performances, and see the fruits of achievements in the classroom. As we hopefully put the restrictions of the pandemic behind us, it has been wonderful to witness the power of collaboration and community: the Parents’ Association firework display and Summer Fun Day; the Christmas Services and Ascension Day Service; the regular sports fixtures; the Nativity Plays and Passion Play. We have missed the regularity and rhythm of these crucial elements of the school year. This Highlights magazine gives a snapshot of the amazing achievements of the children of St John’s. As we continue to navigate uncertain times, my hope is that this great school continues to give opportunities for children to flourish in a community that nurtures and cares.
Neil Chippington 3
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. 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. This year, in addition to various outreach activities with local state schools, we have again hosted our E4L Morning for parents, offering the chance to participate and watch E4L lessons in their child’s class. 4
“We have a story or something to focus our thoughts on with each ‘Stilling’ exercise. I liked the one where you send friendly wishes. Some people believe that we can really make a difference to how we feel about ourselves, to how we feel about other people and to how other people feel about us. They also believe that when people feel good about themselves and about each other, the world becomes a kinder and more loving place.”
‘Action Story’ One of the core E4L practices we teach the children is ‘Action Story’ which is based on a peer massage programme where the children are led through a set of massage strokes devised by the Massage in Schools Programme. The aim is to promote the wellbeing of young children in the knowledge that nurturing touch is a basic need and powerful tool to help children develop into healthy, well-balanced human beings. The children and teachers will confirm that Action Stories are an integral part of the Emotions for Learning (E4L) curriculum at Byron House and help the children to find calm and centre themselves before learning. Byron House parents were invited to attend an Action Story (peer to peer massage) session and learn the strokes that the children use in school. Parents came for this relaxed session and experienced how these massages are carried out and the vocabulary used.
“Touch is one of our basic needs. In early experiments, it has been noted that both people and animals develop very slowly if they are denied touch. Today, many studies support the theory that touch is extremely important if the nervous system is to develop normally.” Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg (physician and professor of physiology) 5
Creativity Creativity is listed amongst the top 10 skills that employers are seeking in today’s world. Yet in a longitudinal test of creative potential, where 98% of 4-5 year olds scored at the ‘creative genius’ level, only 2% of adults scored at this level. At St John’s, core to our ethos is the desire to nurture children’s natural creativity so that their learning is marked by imagination, curiosity, rigour, perseverance and the ability to collaborate; to see the familiar in a new way. Central to nurturing creativity for us is exploring how the approaches of creative arts subjects can be used as fundamental approaches to all learning. For example, through the use of play, ‘slowliness’ and pupil choice. Through developments such as play based learning, Child Initiated Topics and Independent Research projects, we aim to create the right environment and foster the learning the essential skills children need to be able to notice the world around them, be inspired to think about questions that fascinate them, enjoy creating something unique, express their own ideas and take the time to wonder and explore.
T2 looking through boxes of sand to find ‘washed up’ flotsam and jetsam objects
1D working collaboratively on a class mural to draw worlds for their Chinese dragons (CHIL topic)
“We made our own boats from recycled materials and it was really fun seeing all the different designs. We had to think which one would float or sink or do a bit of both.”
“We read ‘Timothy Mean and the Time Machine’ and designed our own time machines and timelines and then calculated perimeters and pathways.”
“It was amazing when we rummaged through the flotsam and jetsam which had washed up on the beach; we even found some jewellery and bottles!”
“When we learnt about the properties of shapes we read ‘The Perfect Fit’ and we used our iPads to make animations of our tesselations.”
Learning Through Guided Play A core element of the St John’s ethos and an example of embedding creativity in the curriculum is our focus on learning through guided play in our Pre-Prep. Learning through guided play helps children feel more able to take the lead, make mistakes, and form their own decisions in a safe space, without repercussions or ‘wrong answers’. A play-based approach encourages a positive attitude towards learning, nurturing imagination, curiosity, enthusiasm and persistence. The inquiry-based nature of play is supported by the social interactions between teachers and the children as teachers take a supportive role in guiding children’s interactions in play, helping them to reflect on their learning and next steps. Watching a sharing session at the end of the day in KG you can hear children talking confidently about what they are most proud of in their work, what they would like to develop or improve next time and who was inspired by what they did.
T1 searching for minibeasts in the Byron House Forest Garden
T2W Drawing club
Form 6 Research Projects Creative approaches to Teaching and Learning are not the sole preserve of the younger children in our care. These themes continue throughout the School and work hand in hand with a skills-based approach to assessment and learning. One example this year has been the introduction of extended research projects for our departing Form 6 pupils. Once the pressures of senior school exams have been overcome, time has been given over to exploring a topic of their choice and they have the opportunity to implement the skills they have learned, such as creativity, critical thinking, questioning, reviewing and communicating, to discover as much as possible about their chosen topic and develop the resilience to pursue a line of enquiry independently. Some research questions were:
This year, we have used two new tools in our play-based learning. Developed by Greg Botrill, author of ‘Can I Go And Play Now?’ and ‘School and the Magic of Children’ which call for education to embrace childhood and the ‘echoes of play’, they aim to help children develop skills needed in choosing a challenging learning experience and extending their imagination and language. In Drawing Club, children use a story or film clip as inspiration to explore imaginative possibilities and develop language skills through drawing together. In play projects, children’s ability to plan out different challenges on a particular theme is developed, encouraging a deeper level of thinking, planning and linking of ideas. Children take a theme of their choice and map out in advance what they intend to do in given areas, such as writing, building and drawing.
• What is the biology of a vampire? • What is the relationship between fashion and celebrity? • What is the impact of social media on the mental health of teenagers? • What makes a good logo? • Is Artificial Intelligence a positive step forward for society?
“After the stress of our entrance exams, it has been fantastic to be able to have the freedom and the time to research an area each one of us is fascinated in or would like to investigate further.” “One of the best parts of the Extended Research sessions has been that all of our projects are so diverse. We have the same research skills and have completed smaller projects but now is our chance to explore by ourselves, choose our approach and work out which mindsets will help us.” 9
Intrinsic Motivation At St John’s we believe that emotional and social wellbeing, self-awareness and confidence are inextricably linked with academic progress and one aspect of creating an environment in which these can flourish is a better understand of the role played be traditional forms of motiviation and reward. Over the past three years St John’s has conducted research, both internally (through surveys of children, parents and staff) and externally (through literature) to investigate what kinds of motivation leads to the highest levels of achievement and well-being and how to encourage this motivation. We have found an overwhelming body of evidence, led by the discussions of our own children, to show that the more intrinsic the motivation is, that is to say, based on a personal sense of achievement rather being based on the attainment of external, physical rewards, the more the children will be motivated to higher and deeper the academic attainment. From the very start of our research, the children expressed problems with our extrinsic reward systems, talking about it being unfair and de-motivating: “All of us work hard and some people are more visible and teachers can’t see everyone.”; “It feels unfair when we try hard to and don’t get anything to show for it”. Instead, they described deriving motivation from enjoyment, challenges, practical lessons, creative lessons, positive feedback, mindfulness, independence, relationships, feeling that they can do well and learn new things. These are all features that a leading research group into motivation, ‘Self-determination theory’ have put forward as the best ways to nurture intrinsic motivation, summarising them under the three headings: autonomy (linked to independence and choice), mastery (linked to knowledge of progression and success) and relationality.
There are now a large number of research papers to show that the more ‘autonomy-supportive’ the teaching is, the better children learn and the more successful they are. Autonomy-supportive teaching, which nurtures intrinsic motivation, has been shown to lead to more engagement in learning, more independence, better risk-taking, more creative learners, higher self-esteem, better self-regulation, less anxiety, more perseverance, better collaboration and higher achievement. Learning is also longer lasting where children are intrinsically motivated. Consequently, at St John’s we have now removed most extrinsic reward systems such as stickers or group tally charts. Instead, we focus on giving clear, positive and constructive feedback to the children, helping them to reflect on their learning, giving them elements of choice in what they learn and how they learn it and providing a meaningful rationale. For example, we give children opportunities to reflect on their knowledge and skills at the start and end of topics so that they can see their own progression; we focus feedback on dispositions developed as well as right answers, such as being flexible or collaborating; we teach them Emotions for Learning and Executive Functions that enable them to problem-solve, work collaboratively and be ready for learning; we provide opportunities for children to choose topics in our ‘Child-Initiated Learning’, independent research projects or ways of showing their understanding (such as written, drawn or spoken responses to questions). Competing against one’s peers still has its place and we still celebrate children’s success in events such as sports matches, House Debating or the Latin Play, but a competitive spirit with the aim of obtaining an external prize no longer pervades every aspect of school life.
Already, comments from secondary schools are bearing witness to the success of this approach, describing St John’s children as those who rise to the top and are natural leaders due to their resourcefulness, resilience and ability to take risks without fear of failure and deal diplomatically with situations. St John’s children are known for their ability not only to perform amongst the top ability groups but to take the initiative and think creatively, motivated by a desire to gain knowledge and skills for their own sakes and be their best selves.
“I have learnt as a parent that my child is motivated by the sheer pleasure of learning something new and by the engaging and stimulating environment around him, rather than any external rewards.”
“It is not about winning or being better than those around you but working to be the best you can be and learning to be proud of your own successes.” 11
Child-initiated Learning (CHIL) Our research 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 style which is a core part of the curriculum at St John’s. The children have ownership of what they are learning and how they are learning it. As topics are chosen and directed by the children they can immediately see the purpose and additionally create their own purposes. For example, in their choice to study Zoology, the children became interested in life in Indonesia following the reading of Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo. They became fascinated by tsunamis and the need for sustainable cities which took the learning in a completely different direction from their initial ideas. This knowledge that they have autonomy over their learning fuels the children’s interest and enthusiasm. 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. The children are given the freedom within the topic to further their learning in areas that interest them and, as in previous years, high levels of motivation, engagement and involvement have been observed. The skills based curriculum enables teachers to respond to and plan around the children’s ideas while ensuring progression across the skills levels in the different curriculum areas. This year, subjects chosen by the children in Forms 1 and 2 have included Metal, Zoology, Sport, China and Oceans. Childinitiated learning also takes place at Senior House in History, Music and Art.
“We went to see how a farm works for our ‘growing’ topic and we saw gigantic tractors and had a ride in an army truck.” “We found out about the Shang Dynasty who were the family who ruled China in the early period of its history. I also enjoyed finding out about the old Chinese legend of the mischievous monkey king.” “With our ‘metals’ topic we made creatures from scrap pieces of junk metal like saucepans.” T2K’s trip to Stetchworth Estate Farm for their ‘Growing’ topic
Top left: 2V’s ‘Metals’ topic; top right: 1D’s ‘China’ topic; bottom left: 2K’s tsunami project in connection with their ‘Zoology’ topic & bottom right: T2K’s ‘Growing’ topic
“We did an experiment with a box filled with water and sand to create our own tsunami. We looked at how places hit by tsunamis that do have environmental buffers, such as coral reefs or jungles, experience less damage than areas that do not have any buffers.” 13
Learning Dispositions At St John’s we believe that when children have a metacognitive understanding of learning, analysing the process of learning and categorising this into discrete learning dispositions, it makes them more flexible learners. ‘Learning how to learn’ gives them a strong foundation so that they are better able to initiate tasks, take risks, persevere and be creative and rigorous. It enables them to move beyond merely aiming to ‘get the right answer’ to developing an understanding of how to harness the dispositions which will allow them to flourish in new situations where there might not be a ‘right answer’. An important part of the curriculum is therefore our ‘Mindsets for Learning’ (M4L) which focus on 12 dispositions that are needed to be a good learner. M4L is now fully embedded across the school, with age-appropriate terminology so that even the youngest learners can identify the dispositions they are or could be employing. At Senior House, ‘Executive Functions’ builds on M4L to look in further detail at learning dispositions in the context of the process and timeline of the development of the brain.
Mindsets for Learning (M4L) The Mindsets for Learning (M4L) are now deeply embedded across the school and are referenced in every lesson. The M4L are designed to help nurture effective learning dispositions in the children at Byron House, 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 with language appropriate to the age group. 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. Someone with a growth mindset believes that intelligence is cultivated through persistent learning. Children are encouraged to identify those dispositions which they feel are a strength and those they feel they need to work on and, together with their teachers, look for ways to develop and improve these.
Executive Functions Executive functions are a family of topdown mental processes that make possible: mentally playing with ideas; approaching unanticipated challenges with flexibility; taking the time to think before acting; resisting temptations and staying focussed. Executive functions are interrelated, and they depend on a neural circuit in which the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain plays a prominent role. They help us to filter distractions, prioritise tasks, set goals and control impulses. They include working memory, emotional control, time management and metacognition. We are not born with all of these skills, rather they develop over time and on average reach full maturity when we are in our mid-twenties.
“Learning about Executive Functions has allowed the classes I teach to look at some quite advanced neuroScience and realise that the effects of their developing brain on the way they work can be changed by working on strategies. I feel that they have seen this as an opportunity to use scientific language that was otherwise unfamiliar as well as support the progress of themselves and their peers.”
Now in its second year, the St John’s Executive Functions development has continued with all teachers receiving training this year in how to tailor their teaching using their knowledge of neuroscience. Three members of staff then undertook further training and coaching to increase their understanding and became Executive Functions ‘champions’. In collaboration with the Connections in Mind Foundation (www. cimfoundation.org.uk) and Cambridge University, our ‘EF Champions’ have been developing their use and awareness of executive functions across a range of different subjects. The Form 4 children were surveyed as part of our research into the effectiveness and benefits of this approach and two Masters students from the Cambridge University Faculty of Education are also analysing the results.
“An understanding of executive functions contributes to a child’s intrinsic motivation towards learning. Skills such as Task Initiation, Sustained Focus and Emotional Regulation are starting to become the language and habits among pupils which they see making a difference.” 15
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. The School’s teaching of Mindfulness is based on the Mindfulness in Schools Programme (MiSP) and includes ‘dots’ lessons for our T1 children (short, 15 minute lessons), ‘Paws b’ for Form 2, ‘.breathe’ for Form 4, which then preempts the ‘.b’ sessions for Form 6. Each course is designed with the age group in mind and, at the centre, a focus on bringing a greater curiosity to what we are experiencing. This year we have also run a successful .b Foundations Mindfulness course for parents and staff. Mindfulness practice is rooted in paying attention, non-judgmentally, to thoughts and feelings in the present moment. Regular practice of this technique allows us to respond skilfully to thoughts and emotions and supports attention and focus. Practitioners of Mindfulness see significant improvement in concentration levels and an ability to focus and direct attention at will. 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 focusing mindfully on breathing (using different taught breathing exercises), the body (using a body scan), an object, a piece of music, or our thoughts themselves. Mindfulness helps train your attention to be more aware of what is actually happening, rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen. We learn to bring greater curiosity to whatever it is we experience. 16
“Mindfulness helps me to become more considerate of others and my surroundings. It also allows me to be more conscience of my own actions and emotions.” “It is good to use mindfulness if you are cross or angry as it is very calming and it can make you feel happy and peaceful. It helps you to focus on what you are doing next.”
Tai Chi In Forms 2, 3 and 4 children continue to have a series of Tai Chi lessons in school with Cambridge Kung Fu as a way of helping to focus the mind through the use of the body in reflective and intentional movement. While practising Tai Chi, the focus of your awareness in the present moment is on the movement of the body. This nurtures the connection between body and mind. The children learn that Tai Chi means ‘Supreme Ultimate System’ with the intention of focusing and balancing their body, mind and spirit to develop a fully integrated system for living a long, healthy, happy and successful life. Tai Chi’s low-impact, repetitive motion of the exercises relaxes the nerves into ‘letting go’ and this releases any physical and mental tension. The continued focus links the breath and the controlled movements. Just as physical exercise keeps a body fit, the mental concentration required for Tai Chi exercises the brain. These sessions develop the ability to help retain more information, stay focussed on the task at hand, and make quicker decisions.
“We learnt that ‘Tai Chi’ stands for ‘supreme ultimate system’ where you focus both your mind and your body at the same time.” “We have different movements in Tai Chi and each one is slow on purpose so you think about your balance and posture. We also love the games at the start because they are fun!”
Reading for Empathy Research shows that empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, a vital social and emotional skill, is a significant factor contributing to young people’s academic attainment. For some years St John’s has been involved in projects to evaluate and understand how empathy can be taught and this year has focused on the role which reading can play. Science has shown that immersion in literature is an effective way to build our understanding of other people and that the empathy we feel for characters in a book wires our brains to have the same sensitivity towards real people. Underpinned by training from the EmpathyLab, a not-for-profit Community interest company which works to build children’s empathy, literacy and social activism through a systematic use of high-quality literature, staff have been working in various ways to foster the link between reading and empathy at St John’s. In the Lent Term a ‘Read for Empathy’ extracurricular club was set up with a group of Form 5 pupils, to encourage them to understand more what empathy is, the positive impact it can have and how reading can be a training ground for understanding emotions. The club members have visited Byron House on a weekly basis to read with the younger pupils, discussing the themes raised, talking about the feelings and emotions present in the books and making connections to their own lives and beyond. In the Summer Term pupils in Senior House also marked ‘Empathy Day’ which included online workshops and activities with authors and illustrators including Onjali Q Rauf, Joseph Coelho, Karl Nova and Elle McNicoll who are all familiar to the pupils having visited the School during recent Book Week celebrations.
“My favourite empathy-boosting book is ‘Odd Dog Out’ (Rob Biddulph) about a dog that struggles to fit in but soon learns there is a place for everyone and that differences are celebrated.” “Empathy Club helps you to think how others might feel even if you haven’t been in this situation yourself.”
Philosophy 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. Philosophy teaches children how to pose meaningful questions, inspect and scrutinise their often deeply held beliefs, and work out their own ideas with care and rigour. Our Philosophy curriculum starts from the age of 8 with the 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. These skills are learned 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 Forms 5 and 6 Philosophy and Ethics becomes part of the Religious Studies curriculum.
“If the world is a simulation, what is death? What is the end goal?” “Humans are like AI – evolution is just a program that learns constantly.” “Is free will caused by quantum uncertainty?”
This year discussions have included: What is thinking? (Form 2), I think therefore I am (Form 3), Moral Relativism versus Objectivism and What is Art? (Form 4) and How should we punish people? (Form 5), What is a Just War? What makes life valuable? Syllogisms, a form of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two propositions that are assumed to be true (Form 6). 19
International Outreach: Humanitas Charity The School has continued its strong support for the charity, Humanitas, continuing to provide financial support for Ayensuako School in rural Ghana and this year also supporting the charity’s work in Ukraine. Various initiatives have taken place across the year to raise funds with the most significant being the children’s ‘Grow-a-Pound’ initiative which raised over £4,000 during the Easter holidays. Ayensuako School, Ghana St John’s has been working with Humanitas for over six years, helping initially to fund the building of a school in Ayensuako, a small and isolated rural community. Over the years St John’s continued support has helped the school in Ghana to expand and provide more facilities for children who would otherwise not have access to an education. This year, 8 children from a local orphanage in Ayensuako joined the school. Not only have these children lost their families, they have also been living in difficult conditions with very little opportunity to learn or to play. And when learning and play become a luxury, a child’s world shrinks and they grow into adulthood too quickly. Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine Money raised by St John’s for Humanitas has also gone towards the charity’s Ukraine Appeal. Their team has been working day and night to buy and transport medical supplies across the Romanian border to a regional hospital in the country. Most of the medication has then been distributed by train to the hospitals that are in war zones. Since their work began, 150,000 people have arrived in the town that Humanitas has travelled to as people have been forced to flee their homes because their houses have been bombed, or because it is too dangerous to stay. In their latest convoy, the charity took hygiene products, food and homeware for these families that are now living in schools, community halls and churches.
“Words cannot express how grateful we are, and what a long way it will go to helping us to get medical supplies into the hospitals in Ukraine. Our team in Romania is working hard to organise the collection and distribution of some of the 176 medicines and syringes that the Ukrainian doctors are desperate for.” (Joanne Wearn Director of Humanitas) 20
International Outreach: St John’s College School, Nanjing The School’s international outreach programme which aims to share St John’s philosophy with others is now in its fourth year with the steady growth of the Nanjing nursery school, China, for children from two to six years old. The Nanjing team of loving, creative and energetic teachers have fully adopted the St John’s E4L ethos and are determined to give young Chinese children the educationally positive start in life by using the ‘St John’s Way’ to develop the children’s best selves. 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, with 12 main classrooms, 3 Individual Needs classrooms, Music and Dance studio, Library, Art Studio and Science and Construction rooms. The school boasts an outside handcraft area, floral gardens, pottery workshop, wood workshop, as well as an indoor mini kitchen housed in the large sunny Dining Hall. In the past year one of the highlights has been the successful introduction of parent and child rowing activities as well as the use of a Forest School within walking distance from the Nursery.
Drama Outreach Drama outreach has continued this year at both St Luke’s CE School in Cambridge and Gislingham CE Primary School in Suffolk, respectively. Drama is now becoming embedded into the curriculum at Gislingham and the children performed The Tempest, (as part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival last November) which is the fourth year St John’s Head of Drama, Mr Tim Clarke, has worked with the school and this age group to create a production. The Year 6 children worked with Mr Clarke to perform a jovial version of Macbeth at St Luke’s.
Computing Outreach This year we have continued to develop an outreach partnership between St John’s and Mansa-Colley Bojang School in The Gambia. Since November 2021, Head of Computing, Mr Graham Hastings, has conducted a pilot in which he has been teaching live computing lessons to a cohort of 45 students at the school. The aim of the pilot was to assess the viability of teaching computing to pupils over such a long distance in a developing country with minimal technology psrovision. The Honourable Minister and the Deputy Minister of Basic and Secondary Education in The Gambia, Head of Maths and Computing at Mansa-Colley Bojang School and representatives from Rotary International have now committed to supporting the project with ongoing funding from the Gambian government. Top: The Tempest at Gislingham CE School and bottom: Macbeth at St Luke’s CE School
Book Week Book Week is a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and reading across the school and 2022 was extra special as all the events were in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The children enjoyed visits from authors Simon Mole and Mini Grey at Byron House, Ross Welford and Elle McNicoll at Senior House and Kevin CrossleyHolland for Forms 1 to 6. The ever popular Byron House ‘Book at Bedtime’ and whole school ‘Dress as a Book Character Day’ were firm favourite events, as was the Book Fair where the children perused a wealth of fiction and non-fiction books.
“I dressed up as Mini Grey’ Space Dog character because her picture books are really fun and she was one of the authors who came into school.” “I just finished reading Elle McNicoll’s first novel, ‘A Kind of Spark’, so I was excited to hear her talking about what inspired her to become a children’s writer.” Top left: Extreme Reading Competition; top right: Simon Mole’s author talk; middle left & bottom right: Book Fairs; Middle right: Mini Grey’s author talk & bottom left: dress as a book character day
English Pupils at St John’s have particularly enjoyed English this year during this post lock-down era of teaching and learning. They have been engaged in creative aspects of English, ranging from story-writing to non-fiction pieces to poetry composition where the children are encouraged to express themselves. Reading is an essential element in progression in English and with this in mind, this the reading list has been expanded. New books have been added to the curriculum with the intention of increasing the diversity of literature and language that our pupils are exposed to. In any given week, pupils might be enjoying works of fiction based on The Blitz (When the Sky Falls- Phil Earle), neurodiversity (A Kind of Spark - Elle McNicoll), Nazi Germay (The Book Thief - Markus Zusak) or refugees (The Boy in the Back of the Class - Onjali Q. Rauf). Pupils also love the ‘lighter’ reads, particularly in the lower years, where they study writing by authors such as Pullman, Sachar, Horowitz and Morpurgo. Importantly, as well as studying novels which introduce diverse viewpoints, cultures and writing styles, they play a vital role in understanding the structure of language, grammar and punctuation. Poetry writing continues to flourish throughout the School and all pupils are given the opportunity of entering their own work into our own ‘Poetry Please’ database: there have been over 600 poems submitted this year, some of which are included in the Eaglet Magazine and the Poetry Anthology. A selection of these poems are also submitted to national poetry and senior school competitions. Debating is now an established and exceptionally popular part of the English curriculum. At Senior House, pupils in all years are invited to join Debating Club, which runs throughout the year. The skills the children develop cannot be underestimated: confidence to the shy, logical thought progression, complex rhetoric and persuasion, public speaking, active listening, recall and counter-argument. Going forward we hope to be able to introduce competitive debating with inter-school debates with Cambridge prep schools and beyond.
The Starry Night The artist sees the magnificent milky blue sky in all its glory, Blue seahorses swim among a forest of glistening diamonds, An enchanted herd of suns graze mysterious indigo hills. Beyond the bushes, rise black flames like elves’ ears, Silky golden flares dash deliriously across the horizon. Cold silver winds sweep over the metallic church. Frigid weather traps the iced-out city while Overhead, the heavens are ablaze What an unimaginable event. By Reda Chebli (aged 11) Tree Sparkling bark on silver birch Pointy leaves like jade spears Ebony shadows flickering through trees Sun shining through emerald green Gnarled trees like jagged precipices Calm and peaceful, relaxed feeling. By Leo Barron Humphrey (aged 9)
“We have debated motions such as ‘This house believes that St John’s should abolish examinations and tests’ and ‘This house would go to bed when it likes’. There are normally three speakers and one rebutter.” “In debating, we learn to think on our feet and to respond to what is being said rather than to rely on reading a script. We have learnt how to develop points and to explain this with evidence.” Debating Club
Latin Play A group of Form 6 classicists won the annual ‘Ludi Scaenici’ Latin Drama Competition at The Perse Upper School with their play entitled, It’s a Matter of Life and Death. A number of schools took part, each entering their own specially-created play, written and performed in Latin. The pupils involved are in the fourth year of learning Latin and the plays have to be crafted from language and situations that they have encountered while studying Cambridge Latin Course Book 1. In the St John’s entry the gods have become bored and they decide to lay a game to make their world more fun. Things get out of control and all the favourite Cambridge Latin Course characters end up in the underworld, dead. Pluto is not best pleased and orders the gods to put the mortals back in their bodies. Unfortunately, it is too late as the funeral pyres have been lit. One spare body is found, but who deserves to have it? The mortals hold a debate and Pluto asks the audience to clap the loudest for who will be deemed the winner.
“The Latin play performance an amazing experience and I especially liked the electric guitar music we used and how we adapted the characters. All the practice paid off and I think it also helped that we had written the play so we knew and understood the words we were saying and were therefore able to act well.”
The Winton Cup Competition A group of 6 pupils took part in the Prep School Humanities Competition, The WInton Cup, at Stowe School. This year’s Winton Cup had the theme ‘Climate Ambition’ and the Guest Speaker was Dr Amy Munro-Faure who is the Sustainability Coordinator at Cambridge University. Dr Munro-Faure worked as a Research Assistant at the Royal Society and the Zoological Society of London and she recently spoke at COP 26 at the launch of the ActNowFilm.
“At the Winton Cup Competition, we listened to speakers talk about the importance of sustainability, took part in debates in a mock-chamber and created a piece of art to persuade people to change the way they think about climate change.”
The children engaged with various humanities subjects to begin to appreciate how, through exploration of the humanities, we can learn to think creatively about climate issues. The sessions included compiling a New World and Old World menu based on the Columbian Exchange in History, a debate on a Climate Action motion in the style of the House of Commons in Politics, the creation of a piece of Conceptual Art in Art History, identifying Climate Zones in Geography and also looking at Climate Action in light of different world religions in Religious Studies and Philosophy.
Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators There were over 3,200 submissions from more than 260 schools for the Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators and in all over 14,000 pupils took part in the competition task alone in 2022. A team of undergraduates and professional translators judged entries to the competition and the judges were very impressed by the standard of entries. Kieran McGurran (Form 5) was the Area winner for the East of England, French Level 2. He has been put through to the National competition, the results of which are pending.
SJCS team at Stowe School for the Winton Cup Competition
“In Science we used our Chromebooks for researching interesting facts about what we are learning which help our understanding. I used my Chromebook to find out how many times the moon would fit into the sun.”
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. 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 bespoke lessons on Thursday afternoons and all children are encouraged to use digital tools to present their ideas in creative 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. Google Suite for Education is used across the site from KG to Form 6 and in the Pre-Prep the use of iPads and other technologies is fully integrated in the Learning through Guided Play approach. 28
Through the use of new applications offered on the Google platform, the children can quickly post suggestions and links to the class that can be used in research, presentations and discussions. The children have particularly enjoyed the auditory feedback applications enabling the teachers to verbally feedback on children’s work. These tools provide a means for pupils to share content 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.
Computing The aim for computing in Pre-Prep is to develop computing competencies and confidence by using a range of different devices and applications. 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 competencies developed during BH Computing lessons. In particular, at SH we have covered computational thinking and programming. The children have also investigated a number of applications new to them, including digital imaging, 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 Maths through the use of Python and Science which makes extensive use of micro:bits. From Form 1 upwards children can further explore and develop their interest in computing and computer science by joining the many clubs on offer.
“We used Raspberry Pi single-board computers to program algorithms to make traffic light sequences. My favourite part of this lesson was definitely using Python to figure out the coding.” Top: Computer Control & Electronics Club; Bottom: Form 2 STEM incorporating Computing
STEM Our Form 2 classes benefit from a Wednesday afternoon of STEM every week throughout each of the three terms. The children are able to use the extensive facilities on offer at Senior House in our two Science labs and computing suite. In these sessions, the children tackle a range of projects with specialist teachers to guide them. Tasks such as the designing, building and testing of bridges and researching, building and programming a lighthouse, understanding the workings of the skeleton are presented to the children who must make design decisions and solve challenges using aspects of all four of the STEM disciplines. This integrated curriculum approach not only gives children knowledge and it also gives them ‘agency’ – it develops them as active learners, who take responsibility for their own learning.
“We had a session where we studied the anatomy of a human hand and how the bones, muscles and joints work. After cutting out the shape of our hand in card, we made finger joints with straws and string.” “STEM is a subject where you can learn a lot all at once and you discover it for yourself through investigations. It is important because it comes into all parts of our lives.” Left: Forms 3 & 4 STEM Prosthetic Hands; right: Form 2 weekly STEM session
Imperial College STEM Roadshow St John’s hosted a STEM Roadshow led by Scott Marley from Imperial College, London in partnership with Oundle School’s OPEN Learning Partnership, which took children and parents alike on a journey to space and beyond.
National Maths Challenges Primary Maths Challenge
Junior Mathematical Challenge
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 higher order thinking skills and to think creatively in order to find solutions. This year gold certificates were awarded to 6 children in Form 3 and 16 in Form 4. In addition, 26 silver and bronze awards were issued to children in Form 3 and 17 to children in Form 4. Five pupils performed exceptionally well in the first round and were then invited to attend the bonus round.
The Junior Mathematical Challenge is a 60-minute, multiple-choice challenge for Forms 5 and 6. It encourages mathematical reasoning, precision of thought, and fluency in using basic mathematical techniques to solve interesting problems. A record of 36 certificates were awarded to Form 6 with Form 5 also receiving 30 certificates with one Form 5 pupil and one Form 6 pupil qualifying for the Junior Olympiad. 31
National Inter-School Science Quiz Three SJCS Science Quiz teams competed in the Semi-Finals of the Quiz Club National Inter-School Science Championships. As always, the questions were beyond the knowledge of the National Curriculum but the children took the challenge in their stride and battled it out for 5th place (team 1), 8th place (team 2) and 9th place (team 3). With more than 400,000 Key Stage 2 taking part, the Quiz Club National Championships are the largest inter-school competitions in the country. They are an exciting and challenging way to broaden our children’s scientific knowledge and they also offer a platform for our most able young scientists to showcase their abilities as part of a team representing St John’s. 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. 32
“One of the questions was, ‘What do we call the nuclear process within a reactor where atoms are split when bombarded with sub-atomic particles, releasing large amounts of energy?’ As a team we chose ‘fission’ which was correct.”
Bottom right: photo courtesy of Issy Drokov (Sixth Form)
Earth Sciences Trip to Iceland During the Easter break, a group of Senior House Geographers and Scientists set out to explore the wonders of Iceland. The children investigated volcanic activity, lava fields, hot springs, geysers, stunning waterfalls and dark, mysterious beaches. They viewed first hand natural phenomena such as geothermally heated water, the effects of the 2010 eruption at Eyjafjallajokull and the way the local people have embraced and harnessed the benefits of what could otherwise be an inhospitable climate and terrain.
“My three favorite things in Iceland were the glacier walk, the Secret Lagoon and the fly over. I learnt that the glacial meltwater is so clean you can drink it straight from the source. I loved the Iceland trip!” 33
Design Technology In Design Technology, all of the children learn a huge array of skills and develop their capabilities in critical thinking as well as the skills of construction with a wide range of materials but we aim for more - for our children to be designers, inventing problems, creating solutions, engineering the three-dimensional world. The wide range of projects have included: catapults (looking at trajectory and triangulation structures), dizzy dowels (fun pulley systems), puppet theatres (frameworks), shadow puppets (linkages), fairground rides (movement principles), ball mazes (computer aided design and materials), clock faces (2D design with manufacture) pencil holders (plastics and use of advanced machinery), vehicle racers (engineering), cushions (textiles technology), casting (pewter pendants), design Process – wooden boxes and open ended personal choice projects (using a theme to create and make solutions to problems) and use of our new 3D printer. The school also hosted an Imperial College/Oundle School STEM Roadshow on space and beyond for parents and children to attend.
Top left: Dev Patel (aged 10) concept of cam mechanism; middle: Daniel Wicks (aged 12) clock design & top right: Sebbie Gray (aged 11) pewter casting Bottom left: Form 6 acrylic pencil holders & right: Form 2 dizzy dowels
“The best part about DT is we can be creative with our designs whilst learning new skills at the same time and you end up with a model you feel proud of.” “We thought about bold colours, geometric shapes, patterns, stripes and abstract designs for our Memphis boxes, as well as joining techniques.” Top left: T2 containers; Top right: Form 4 sewing / tie-dye cushions; Bottom: Form 5 Memphis boxes by Hugo Wells & George Gibbes
Parents’ Association The Parents’ Association have had a fun and busy year with many well supported events. The events raised the following: £735 for second-hand uniform, £1,170 Macmillan Coffee Morning, £2,600 Fireworks, £1,100 Christmas cards, £1,900 for the Wild West Lent Party and £5,500 for the fabulous Charity Fun Day. In total, over £13,000 was raised for charity, of which £11,800 was donated to Castle School in Cambridge. The final event to complete the year was the Parents’ Association Summer Party.
Top left & right: Fun Day; bottom left: Fireworks night & bottom right: Macmillan Coffee Morning
Charities The school continues to be committed to raising funds for various charities throughout the year and the spirit of giving has continued with support for projects such as Mustard Seed Relief Mission’s ‘Love in a Box’ and ‘Odd Socks’ Day to raise awareness for Anti-bullying Alliance. Children, staff and the school community raised money for the following good causes: £640 was raised by the St John’s team at the Cambridge Half Marathon for Humanitas Christmas Jumper Day raised £761 for Jimmy’s Night Shelter Grow A Pound Project raised £4,636 for Humanitas Bake Sale for Ukraine raised £550 Byron House Summer Fair raised £1038 French Fayre raised £741 for Médecins Sans Frontières Services in Preparation for Christmas raised £385 for Castle School in Cambridge The Byron House Harvest Collection raised £114 for Cambridge Foodbank £1,026 was raised for Comic Relief on ‘Happy Hat Day’ £592 was raised for Childhood Eye Cancer Trust at the Form 5 Production of ‘Bugsy Malone’
Top left: Grow a Pound Project; bottom: ‘Happy Hat Day’ for Comic Relief
Celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee IIn 2022 Her Majesty the Queen became the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, with 70 years of service. To commemorate this occasion and to celebrate Her Majesty’s historic reign in the run up to the Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend in June, the School held an afternoon tea complete with two enormous Union Jack Victoria sponges. Colourful crowns were created, Union Jack flags were coloured and ‘God Save the Queen’ was sung in fine spirit before children and staff tucked into afternoon tea, provided by our Catering staff. Our afternoon Jubilee celebrations provided the chance for the school community to come together at Byron House and at Senior House to celebrate the historic milestone. Head of Catering, Mr Richard Goldby, used around 300 eggs to make the incredible cakes for the occasion and the Catering team provided delicious afternoon teas, which included strawberries, lemonade lollies, sausage rolls and crisps as well as cold drinks.
Catering Team Success The St John’s catering team achieved 100%, in both Byron House and Senior House kitchens as part of the Connect Catering Audits that happen three times a year. The audits are unannounced and cover all aspects of the catering department, from accounts and budget control down to the cleanliness of a tin opener.
“Points are deducted for every fault found and the team was awarded 100% in every inspection which is hardly ever done; to make it even better we achieved this over both kitchens which are classed as separate sites.” Head of Catering, Mr Richard Goldby
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 is now an established vehicle for both listening to children as well as allowing children to develop 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. This year the Senior House Pupil Forum proposed during their self-run Assemblies across the school that the St John’s community should adopt a ‘Greener Week’ where all children and their families were encouraged to consider how they could reduce their impact on the environment during this time. Other ideas have included: Discussions on having respect for gap students which led to a Gap Student Celebration assembly; ‘Bring a pet to school’ day, creating a pond in the Forest Garden, setting up a gardening club, buying gazebos for shelter during outdoor sports matches, cubby holes for Form 3 and providing a wider variety of Byron House breaktime sports.
“We have Pupil Forum representatives at Byron House and Senior House and we meet to discuss what changes we would like to make in the school community and why.” “Pupil Forum gives us the chance to have a say and for others to hear our thoughts.”
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). Some subjects cross three terms, such as: My Mind, Philosophy, Tai Chi and Digital well-being.
Cambridge Synagogue trip ‘The Big Draw’ Design workshop with Michael Brennand-Wood .breathe Mindfulness Executive Functions General Knowledge Quiz Hannukkah Talk Art Trip to IWM, Duxford Humanitas Workshop My Mind Spanish WWF Challenge Language Faculty Afternoon Tai Chi sessions Sports Psychology talk by Helen Davies
Research Skills Arts Award Mosque Visit Art Trip to The Backs French Fayre Buddhist Centre trip House Debating Finals Sports Coaching Activity Trips Week Leavers’ Programme Child-Led Learning Trip to the Museum of Classical Archaeology German Philosophy
Research Skills Digital well-being STEM Faculty Afternoon Buddhist Art House Swimming Author Talks for Book Week DT Boat Race Reasoning St Giles’ Church trip Epping Forest Trip 40
Top: Form 4 Buddhist Art Bottom: Form 6 Geography trip to Epping Forest Field Centre
Form 5 Invitation Art club
Extra-Curricular Clubs The school is proud to be able to offer a rich and varied programme of extracurricular events across the year, a sample of which is shown below. 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.
“I felt proud being a member of Eco Club as we set up a campaign to find out how much food was wasted each day and what steps we could take to decrease this.” Book Café Chatterbooks Debating Greek Italian Mandarin Art Design Technology Eco Gardening Pupil Forum Sewing Sugar Craft Sustainable Photography Wool Craft
Aquathlon Athletics Boys’ and Girls’ Football Boys’ Rugby Boys’ and Girls’ Cricket Boys’ and Girls’ Hockey Fieldrun Football Golf Mini Tennis Multi Sports Netball Rowing Running Squash and Fives Swimming Tennis Forest School
Calm Reading for Empathy Mindfulness Ballet Drama Shakespeare Strictly@SJCS Grade 5 Music Theory Music Composition Music Ensembles Musical Theatre Pop Choir Potential Music Scholars Year Group Choirs Chamber Choirs Junior Choir
Board Games Card Games Lego Maths Puzzles & Chess Tabletop Games Computer Control & Electronics Digital Craft General Programming Micro:bit Python Programming
Art The Art department has continued to flourish this year with the children producing a wide range of work in multiple media. We have continued to display an Art of the Week piece at both Byron and Senior House as a way of celebrating the children’s artwork. Projects have included: rainforest collages, peacock watercolours and shell printing, New York cityscapes, 3D space sculptures, etchings, plaster cast models, clay ice creams and lollies, artist studies, plus trips to Imperial War Museum Duxford and The Backs. Eloise Halban-Taylor (Form 4) represented the school in the IAPS ‘Iart’ competition with her entry inspired by NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.
“We worked on our rainforest pieces in stages and built up layers with adding marks into paint, building up collages using ‘precious’ paper and adding animals and leaves for a 3D effect.” 42
Artwork: Top: Jasmine Francis & bottom: Poppy Nicols (both aged 7)
Top row: Mercy Milton, Adam Ahmad & Lexi White; middle row: Anna Tomkinson, Milton Saibrosa, & Vincent Sprik; bottom row: Eliza Robson Brown, Alice Tomlinson & Sean Wang (all aged 12)
Music It has been wonderful to return to a much greater sense of normality in our Music provision in the 2021-22 academic year, whilst carrying with us some of the silver linings discovered amongst the clouds of the pandemic; for example, we continue to live-stream many of our events despite having opened our doors to audiences. Our Performance and Ensemble programmes have been brought fully back to life. Music, through its many curricular and extra-curricular strands, has re-established its place at the heart of the daily life of our community. Approximately 70% of children in T2 and above are learning at least one instrument in school, and a good number of the remaining pupils learn outside school. Fifty concerts (not including Musical Theatre productions, Carol Services and Class Concerts) have been staged during the academic year, offering valuable opportunities for children of all abilities to gain the pleasures and benefits of musical performance. Our lunchtime concerts continue to offer inspiration in many, and perhaps especially in the following, ways: a child playing an 8-bar melody after only half a term of lessons can share the same platform as a child performing a concerto movement; many non-performing children willingly attend the concerts at both Byron House and Senior House, highlighting the value of these events in our school community; two of our Senior House pupils have offered their own individual lunchtime recitals, performing 20-25 minutes of repertoire at a very high level and introducing their performances with great maturity.
Above: T2 choir performing in an Informal Lunchtime Concert & opposite page: Sevices in Preparation for Christmas at St John’s College Chapel
In the Lent Term we staged our first Jazz Evening; the first half was performed by the St John’s College Jazz Band and the second half by SJCS pupils in Big Band, Rednotes, Senior House Chamber Choir and in some solo performances. In the Summer Term, we greatly enjoyed two lunchtime concerts offered by Form 5 pupils performing their own compositions. This is a hugely important project for young people, for whom the opportunity to learn to express their thoughts through the vehicle of music is significant. Our West Road Concert at the end of the Summer Term, a musical feast and a fitting celebration of a year’s Music, once again demonstrated our commitment to inclusivity and to extending our most able, through various smalland large-scale performances. Our Instrumental/Vocal Exam offering continues to broaden, offering a choice to pupils who may be better served by one type of exam over another, and we have entered many children for a variety of face-to-face and digital exams with different exam boards. The results received in the last twelve months have been outstanding, with 80% of them being in the merit and distinction categories. Three pupils have attempted Grade 8 exams in the last two terms; all three have achieved distinctions. 36 exams (instrumental/vocal/Music Theory) have been successfully attempted at grade 5 level or higher in the last year. Our choirs, sadly silent for some extended periods of time time during the pandemic, have reformed and have made excellent progress, as shown in the Carol Services in the college chapel in December and on other occasions. Nearly 50% of children in T2 and above are involved in optional weekly choral activities. Pupils learning to play the organ have enjoyed opportunities to perform at the Leys School and at St Andrew’s Chesterton.
Full congregational singing, another very significant facet of the musical and community life of the school, restarted properly at the end of the Lent Term; the children are working hard to build up their repertoire of hymns, which are used in assemblies and in the College Chapel before Christmas and on Ascension Day. A number of pupils perform in notable external choirs: Adam Ahmad (Form 6), Amelie Kirk (Form 5) and Anna Tomkinson (Form 6) are members of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain; Emmanuel Mba (Form 3) and Max Wickham (Form 4) are members of the Jesus College Chapel Choir; Amelie Kirk (Form 5), Anne Vinokurov (Form 5) and Sophia Wickham (Form 4) are members of the St Catharine’s College Girls’ Choir.
“We listened to music that was written as a response to events that actually happened in the world during the life of the composer then worked in groups to compose the lyrics to our own songs about something that meant a lot to us, such as climate change. Our lyrics had at least two verses and a chorus and we performed them to our friends.”
St John’s College Choir: Girl Choristers’ First Service The Choir of St John’s College, whose choristers the School is proud to educate, welcomed this year the first girls and women to join its membership since its founding in the 1670. This historic moment places the Choir in a unique position amongst Cambridge and Oxford Colleges as no other choir of its kind combines the voices of males and females in both adults and children. The girls’ first service was on Ascencion Day when the choir traditionally sing from the roof the chapel.
“Extending membership to talented female singers creates an exceptional new musical opportunity for women and girls, as our much loved choir continues to make a highly valued contribution to the musical life of St John’s and the wider world.” Director of Music, Mr Andrew Nethsingha
Drama Through Drama the children learn the vital skills of collaboration and communication, resourcefulness, responsibility, rigour, resilience and risk-taking. Every child at St John’s has been involved in a performance this year, from our youngest in the Nativity play to a more child-led production in Form 2, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes version of Cinderella in Form 3 and onto the spectacular all-singing, all-dancing Form 5 production of the musical Bugsy Malone. The Sixth Form staged The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the start of the year and performed the Passion Play with deserved seriousness and aplomb at the end of the Lent term, as well Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Macbeth, as part of their Leavers’ productions.
Form 6 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Form 5 Bugsy Malone
Top left: Kindergarten Nativity; top right: T1 Nativity; middle left: Form 1 Bumblesnouts Save the World; middle right: T2 The Ginger Man & bottom: Form 2 The Circus
Top: Form 6 Leavers’ Plays Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet & Twelfth Night; middle: Form 4 The BFG & bottom: Form 3 Cinderella
Form 6’s Passion Play Every year the Passion Play is performed by the whole Form 6 year group at the end of the Lent Term. This important milestone for children who are midway through their final year before leaving for their senior schools, is not only a retelling of the Easter story itself, but also a significant step in their development as communicators, learning to engage with serious subject matter in a thoughtful and sensitive way.
“We have watched the Sixth Form perfom in the Passion in the past and now it was our turn to tell this serious and emotional story. It was a memorable experience.”
Children Film BBC Documentary at St John’s College 12 children were invited to take part in a BBC film documentary on culture called ‘Art That Made Us’ with their filming based at St John’s College, Cambridge. The children were involved in filming an episode to celebrate the 20th anniversary since the publication of the first Harry Potter book, The Philosopher’s Stone. During filming, they acted as different characters in fight scenes, took part in quidditch matches, cast spells and read extracts from the book itself. ‘Art That Made Us’ is a landmark 8-part series for BBC Two. Through 1500 years and 8 dramatic turning points, the series presents an alternative history of the British Isles, told through art.
“It was a real priviledge being asked to take part in the filming for the documentary and we learnt so much about the filming process in such a short space of time. I felt proud when we finished.”
Arts Award Children in Form 6 have again had the opportunity to participate in the national Bronze Arts Award, which is moderated by Trinity College London. The programme invites children in Form 6 to submit a portfolio of work for accreditation in this nationally recognised qualification. The Bronze Level Arts Award involves 40 guided learning hours plus 20 independent learning hours and the children need to collect in an individual arts log or portfolio of their experiences of: developing their interests, knowledge and skills through actively participating in any art form; experience of at least one arts event/experience as an audience member and their review of that event/experience; researching the career and work of an artist or crafts person that inspires them; passing on an arts skill. Arts Award aims to inspire children to devise their own programmes of activities and selfmanage their workload. This early taste of independent responsibility is the perfect preparation for managing the demands of life at senior school and beyond. This year’s participants have entered with the following subjects: Theatre/Drama, Visual Arts, Photography, Literature, Cookery and Dance.
“Taking part in the Arts Award has enabled me to follow my interests in art and to visit exhibitions that I may not have previously considered. One of the benefits has been learning to manage my time and have the confidence to share my skills.” Photo courtesy of Johanna Hindmarsh
Sport At St John’s, we want to foster a love of sport in our pupils that will allow them to lead healthy lives and maintain physical activity and sport through to their future schools, universities and adult lives. That love and passion for sport and physical activity has been very much in evidence this year as all schools have seen a return to normality following two years of pandemic restrictions. Many pupils have had the opportunity to represent the school in school fixtures again, while in PE lessons, activities such as gymnastics and swimming have returned to the normal and vital part of the curriculum. Just as in the run-up to a drama performance or musical recital, it has been thrilling to witness the rush of energy and adrenalin before engaging in a sporting event; confirmation if it were needed, of the importance of sport to the children and the important value it contributes in a St John’s education. Pupils have embraced a return to normal PE and Games lessons with enthusiasm and commitment, from rugby, netball, rowing, hockey, cricket, tennis to gymnastics, squash, fives, basketball, badminton, and orienteering. They have developed the physical skills needed for school sports and activities, as well as their physical literacy and fundamental movement skills throughout the year. In addition they have developed their communication, teamwork, leadership, perseverance, goal-setting, ability to reflect, tactical understanding and importantly, creativity.
Byron House Fieldrun on the St John’s Playing Fields
The Under 13 1st Boys’ hockey team finished third in the Regional Round of the IAPS competition and qualified for the national finals where they came 11th in the country. The Under 13 Boys’ A hockey team finished as runners up in the county and then an impressive third in the East Region. The Under 11 Boys’ A hockey team also finished 3rd in their county tournament. In the Lent term, the Under 13 netball team won their group stage at IAPS and went into the quarter finals against a strong Witham Hall side who were the eventual winners. The Under 13 girls had a very positive hockey term reaching the quarter finals at Iaps; getting to both knockout stages is a terrific achievement. The children have thoroughly enjoyed being back in the pool this year, as evidenced by the large number trying out for the swimming Iaps. 31 Form 3 to Form 6 pupils took part in the IAPS Swimming Competition which included individual events of 25m and 50m. This event was part of 40 qualifying galas with more than 400 schools entering the competition. One of our themes for this year has been to instil a love of running. Two initiatives have been used to begin this journey. Our ‘SJCS Fieldrun’, has proved highly popular. Based on the popular Parkrun model, the number of runs and personal best performances are recorded and used to motivate each child to improve. The annual cross country event for Forms 4 to 6 has also been updated and now links with the Fieldrun ethos whilst retaining the competitive element. A moving finish line catches up with the runners as the race progresses and when this passes them they have finished. We have witnessed more motivated runners as a result, running further than traditional cross country races and those who are less fast have still retained the motivation to do well for their House.
Photo courtesy of Lucie Milton
We are blessed across the school with many good athletes and athletics is as popular as ever both in lessons and after school clubs in the Summer Term. We had meets with St Faith’s coming 3rd overall with notable success with the Form 5 and 6 Girls’ Relay team. The Stowe meet proved to be a valuable experience again and Ben Sawtell performed exceptionally well to win both the 800m and 1500m in the middle distance events, Isobel Morbey won the high jump and Eloise Halban-Taylor the 300m. Three St John’s teams took part for the first time in the School Triathlon at Oundle School from Forms 3 and 4. Over 7500 13 year olds took part in teams of four, completing relays of swimming, cycling and running whilst raising money for charity. Our U13 sailing teams came 4th and 16th overall at the IAPS Sailing Regatta out of 33 boats and joint 3rd for the school sailing team. A group of Form 6 children spent Thursday Afternoons in the Summer Term planning a series of skills-based games to coach to the T2 and Form 1 children at Byron House. The idea was to share their passion for sport and the skills they have developed as keen sports people but also to learn how to communicate with different age ranges, plan and deliver engaging sessions effectively. Children in older years have also had the option of squash and fives, tennis and rowing on Wednesday afternoon games sessions instead of hockey, rugby, netball and cricket.
Leavers’ Destinations & Awards 61 Form 6 boys and girls are leaving for Senior Schools. They are proceeding as follows: 13 to The Perse Upper; 11 to the Stephen Perse Foundation; 10 to The Leys; 9 to King’s Ely; 6 to Oundle; 2 each to Eton, St Mary’s, Cambridge and 1 each to Bedford, Culford, Harrow, Royal Hospital School, Sancton Wood, State School (awaiting allocation), Stoke College and Uppingham At the time of going to press, the following 18 awards were achieved as follows: Adam Ahmad Felix Bamford Joshua Davidson Lottie Dely Bertie Denison-Smith Lorenzo Granado Johanna Hindmarsh Isabel Keightley Lucas Mudkavi Lucas Nair-Grepinet Gabriel Ng Martha Sangster Ben Sawtell Anna Tomkinson Theo Logan Lexi White Ella Wigan
Music Scholarship Music Scholarship Music Scholarship Creative Writing Scholarship Dedicated Athletes’ Programme Music Exhibition Academic Scholarship Oundle Scholarship Drama Scholarship Music Exhibition Academic Scholarship Sport Scholarship Sport Scholarship Music Scholarship Academic & Drama Scholarships Drama Scholarship Oundle Scholarship
King’s Ely Harrow King’s Ely St Mary’s Oundle Eton Oundle Oundle The Leys Eton Stephen Perse Foundation Stephen Perse Foundation The Leys The Leys King’s Ely 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.
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