It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you to the first St Faith’s newsletter of the 2021-22 academic year. I want to begin by paying tribute to my predecessor, Nigel Helliwell, who retired this summer after a decade of outstanding service to the school. Nigel and Jane contributed most generously to the full life of the school community and I wish them every happiness in their new adventures.
I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and working with St Faith’s staff since I arrived in Cambridge in August, and I have been enormously impressed with all that happens behind the scenes at the school to provide such inspiring opportunities to pupils. Without exception, every member of staff I have encountered in the school has been cheerful, helpful and genuinely delighted to be working here.
This week at the school gates, I have also been delighted to meet many parents for the first time. It has also been really pleasing to see how happy and enthusiastic the pupils are about being back at school, looking extremely smart in their distinctive St Faith’s uniform.
The school year began on Wednesday morning in the Ashburton Hall with two smaller assemblies to enable social distancing. This graduated approach to in-person school gatherings, represented a return to a more normal routine in line with government guidance, given the Hall had been used as an interim dining room last year and whole school assemblies necessarily held virtually. The assemblies gave me a welcome opportunity to introduce myself to the children and to remind them of some of our most important guiding principles of kindness and good manners. I also used the magnificent trees which populate our beautiful school campus to highlight their similarity to our community. In this context some of the taller more established trees can be considered to represent our older pupils, while the younger saplings that we are nurturing for the Earth Restoration Trust, reflect our younger pupils just starting out on their educational journey here at St Faith’s. Warming to this theme, our truly impressive Giant Redwoods, surrounding in the Southfield playground are a wonderful representation of our school community. Despite their height and size, these Giant Redwoods, which can live for hundreds of years, actually have comparatively shallow root systems, but the trees gain their strength and support by intertwining their root systems, very much like our supportive and inclusive school environment.
Thinking of intertwined roots and indeed the longevity of the St Faith’s community, we were delighted to receive a message from a group of Old Fidelians, who this week celebrated 70 years since the start of their own St Faith’s journeys with a small reunion lunch. I am told that it was ‘a delightful occasion with endless trips down memory lane’. The ‘Group of 6’, as we affectionately know them, reflect that at St Faith’s, they made a lifetime of friendships and treasure each other to this day – strong bonds indeed.
At the end of assembly on Wednesday our Year 8s and most senior pupils were presented with their ties and pins in recognition of their new status as School Prefects. Every pupil has worked exceptionally hard over the years to earn this distinguished honour. To retain this fine school privilege, our Year 8 pupils must continue to uphold the school values and act as excellent role models and ambassadors to the rest of our school and indeed beyond the school community. I really look forward to working with the Year 8 pupils this year and it is a wonderful opportunity for them to excel and make the most of all their curricular and wider curricular opportunities- already I have been greatly impressed by their maturity, politeness and keen sense of purpose.
Pre Prep Assembly
It was a pleasure to join the first Pre Prep Celebration assembly of the year earlier today, and it was a really happy and enriching experience. With activities ranging from pupils performing on the piano, to a number of certificates to share and a lot of birthdays to share, complete with a delightfully sung rendition of Happy Birthday to You in Spanish, this small snapshot of life in the Pre-Prep demonstrated the confident and vibrant start children make at St Faith’s. It was also a pleasure to meet our youngest children in Foundation and their parents, on the children’s very first day at school. For many families this involved a number of early morning starts and excited children who couldn’t wait to put on their smart school uniform for the first time!
This week, pupils across the school were thrilled to return to the full school lunches which they know and love, with the first meal including delicious options such as beef and chickpea curry, poached egg and hollandaise sauce, a fully stocked salad bar and a mouth-watering chocolate roulade. To even greater delight, pupils were able to discover and eat in the newly expanded dining room. While the original main room and annexe are still very much in operation, over the summer the ‘Cabin’ has been installed. This creates a large and airy addition linked to the main servery, which has almost doubled our dining room capacity for our pupils and staff to enjoy their delicious and nutritious lunches.
Food Service ‘Cateys’
Speaking of enjoying our delicious school meals, I am delighted to share with you the news that our Head Chef Kevin Johnson, has recently been announced as a Finalist in the Chef of the Year category of the Food Service Cateys (the Oscars of the UK catering industry!). Kevin is in distinguished company in his category with the chef at Manchester United Football Club also shortlisted. We wish Kevin every success at the awards ceremony in London next month.
In other news over the summer I was most impressed to receive an email from Head of English, Mrs Greaves, informing me that two of our Year 8 pupils, Hannah and Laia, have won first and second place respectively in their age category of the SATIPS National Handwriting competition. This is a most notable achievement and I was pleased to join Hannah, Laia and Mrs Greaves this morning to present them with their book token prizes.
Junior Maths Challenge
Over the summer holidays the results of the Junior Maths Challenge Kangaroo and Olympiad rounds were also published. The three pupils who qualified for the most advanced round, the Olympiad, performed exceptionally well, with a Merit for Henry and Distinctions for Archie and Ryan, placing them in the top 30 pupils nationally. Meanwhile, in the Kangaroo round, eight pupils gained a Merit – another fantastic achievement. Mrs Rainsford and the entire Maths Department are justifiably very proud of all their pupils for these excellent results.
Last term, pupils in Year 4 took advantage of our Green Screen capabilities to film four highly entertaining ‘Rhyming Pantomimes’. Using the pupils’ own artwork as the backdrop, as well as simple costumes and extensive theatrical talent, the children, all under the experienced tutelage of Ms Allen, produced very memorable videos which are highlighted below. They can be found in full for current parents on the VLE.
I really look forward to getting to know you, your children and the wider St Faith’s community as the term progresses. Meantime following an excellent first few days of term, may I wish you a very enjoyable weekend.
With all good wishes,
Dr Crispin Hyde-Dunn