This week at St Faith's

08 February 2019

Variety is the spice of life, as some say, and there has been no lack of variety at St Faith’s this week. In the space of just a couple of hours on Thursday morning, I witnessed an outstanding presentation on drug development by a team of Scientists from AstraZeneca, a Year 7 poetry lesson involving the use of oxymorons that would not have been out of place at GCSE level, and a trampolining lesson in which Year 8 pupils were twisting and tumbling like experienced athletes.  All this was happening at the same time our Year 4s were enjoying a day of engineering challenges at Marshall Aerospace. This newsletter can only begin to scratch the surface on what has been another busy week, but I hope it provides you with a glimpse of the many exciting events that the children have been involved in over the past seven days.

Foundation Concert

‘We just want to say thank you to Mr Gorick and everyone else for putting on last night’s Foundation Concert. We were thrilled to see our daughter singing in the Senior Singers and were really impressed by the event as a whole.’ (Parent email). My sentiments entirely after hearing the excellent performances of the St Faith’s ensembles, The Leys Chamber Choir and instrumental soloists, and the mass choir finalé in which pupils from both schools performed Bob Chilcott’s ‘Little Jazz Mass.’  Thank you to the Music staff of both schools for such an entertaining evening, particularly the two Directors of Music, James Gorick and Max Kenworthy who, so skilfully, put the whole show together and gave us all a night to remember.  The beautiful sound of the two school choirs singing together will stay with me for a very long time.  Here are a few photos of the concert rehearsals.

Year 8 Senior School Entrance Exams

Results of the the senior school entrance exams have been landing on my desk this week and I am delighted to tell you that they have been excellent. In addition to all the place offers, 29 scholarships have been awarded and we still have some results to come. Many congratulations to the Year 8 pupils and their teachers; they have worked so hard for these exams and fully deserve this success.

Castle Fine Art Gallery Art Competition

You may recall from a previous newsletter that two weeks’ ago, Year 8 pupils visited The Castle Fine Art Gallery in the Grand Arcade.  The children were given a tour of the gallery, learnt about the range of artwork created by the contemporary artists and were given the task of creating their own piece of art in response to the work of an artist which inspired them.

On Tuesday afternoon, the pupils returned to the gallery to present their work and discuss their projects. The winner of the competition was Sam H, whose vibrant, colourful and abstract cityscape, painted on a foil surface with acrylic paints, was inspired by the large scale paintings of Paul Kenton. Natasha R and Dominic A were also prize winners; their interpretations of the artwork of Bob Dylan and Richard Rowan were highly commended by the Gallery.  As the winner of the competition, Sam will have his artwork framed and displayed alongside Paul Kenton’s paintings in the Castle Fine Art Gallery for everyone in the Cambridge community to see!

AstraZeneca Visit

Year 6 were given a fascinating glimpse into the world of drug discovery and development by a team of four Scientists from AstraZeneca, including Dr Menelas Pangalos, EVP and Global Head BioPharmaceuticals Research and Development who is responsible for AstraZeneca’s pharmaceutical research worldwide and – far more importantly – is a St Faith’s parent!  The workshop linked very well with the pupils’ recent Science lessons on cell biology and provided a great opportunity to extend their knowledge and see how it is applied in real life.  Pupils raced against a robot to test chemical properties and worked in teams to build chiral compounds. The complex chemistry was clearly explained by our visitors and the practical hands-on activities gave pupils a clear understanding of the medicine development process which takes, in most cases, at least 14 years. Not surprisingly, our Year 6 pupils loved this special lesson and were left inspired. Many thanks to the AstraZeneca team and particularly Dr Pangalos who had flown overnight from Washington to help deliver this workshop to the Year 6 children.

Visit to Marshall Aerospace

Year 4 had a fantastic visit to Marshall on Thursday, an event organised by Cambridge LaunchPad.  Our pupils were encouraged to engage in and understand the engineering process as they worked in teams to build motor powered cars, experiment with parachutes to protect a water balloon and build chariots strong enough to transport teammates across the hangar.  The children’s problem solving skills were further tested as they worked together to save a nuclear reactor from going into meltdown.  Thankfully, all teams managed to avert disaster and safely move the nuclear waste across the assault course.  Pupils also had a tour of the site and a visit to the fire station.  A truly inspiring day was had by all!

County Champions

Many congratulations to the U11 Boys’ Hockey side that won the County Cup this week, beating The Perse 2-0 in the final.

Newton Road Closure 

Many of you will be aware that Newton Road, at the junction with Trumpington Road, will be closed next week in order for essential repairs to be made to a gas main.   We will soon be sending out our plan for dealing with this challenge. Please could I ask that you read this carefully in order to make drop-off and pick-up as safe and as smooth as possible.   Thank you.


I am just off to do my annual impression of Jeremy Paxman, by acting as the Quiz Master at the Inter-House Geography Quiz.  I will try to be a little gentler on our contestants than Jeremy is on university students and I will let you know next week whether or not Latham have retained the trophy.

Speaking of trophies, thank you very much to every parent who has conveyed a message of congratulations to the school on winning the TES Prep School of the Year Award. As I said in my email to you earlier in the week, this award endorses the work of our outstanding staff team and provides a great platform on which to develop further. On our journey of continual improvement we remain grateful for parental support and feel fortunate to be working with such talented and fine young people.

With all good wishes,

Nigel Helliwell