As we approach the half-term break, we have an opportunity to reflect on the past six weeks and to celebrate all that the children have achieved at St Faith’s. From our Foundation pupils developing new friendships and attending school for the very first time, to our Year 8 pupils growing into their Prefect roles, impressive progress has been made all round. Although we are still working within a ‘new normal’ set of restrictions, we have been delighted that the children have also been able to resume a number of popular activities and events this term, including sports fixtures. A particular highlight of this week for me was the opportunity to join in a game of ‘Roman God Top Trumps’ with Year 4, utilising special cards they had designed themselves.
As I reported in the previous school newsletter, we were visited by the Independent Schools Inspectorate last week, and we expect to receive the report for our Educational Quality Inspection and Focussed Compliance Inspection in approximately 5 weeks’ time. I look forward to sharing with our whole school community the outcomes of the inspection and the inspection report in a dedicated mailing to all parents as soon as this report is available. Once again, I would like to commend and thank all our staff and pupils for their positive and enthusiastic engagement with the Inspection team.
Today’s Academic Enrichment Day has been a wonderful way to complete the first half of the Michaelmas term. These ‘off-timetable’ days provide an opportunity to extend and deepen pupils’ understanding of a wide range of concepts beyond the set curriculum. Days such as these provide exciting new experiences as well as nurturing talents, developing life-skills and offering opportunities to visit places of local and national interest. As you will read below each Year group has enjoyed a busy and fulfilling day, a perfect way to round off a busy half-term.
Year 3 & 4
Year 3 took the opportunity to extend their recent studies of Ancient Egypt by arriving in school dressed as Egyptians. They spent the day designing hieroglyphics, making scarab beetles out of clay, building pyramids and making collages.
Year 4 have been making their own Roman-inspired shields for homework recently and came to school this morning brandishing their shields and wearing their togas. They spent a wonderful day designing Roman banquet menus, making mosaics and coins and studying Roman fashion in more detail.
Year 5 & 6
Year 5 have been studying Islam this term and today they visited the local Cambridge Central Mosque, a ‘unique prayer space that fuses traditional and modern architecture, and has green credentials that reflect Islam’s ideals of earth, soul, and community care’. Following on from this informative trip, and having learned about the ‘green’ credentials of the Mosque, the pupils spent time in the science laboratories and classrooms considering the science and implications of climate change.
Year 6 were to be found ankle deep in the local water course, Hobson’s Brook, as they took part in field-work to consolidate their recent work on rivers. From flow rates to water depths, the children diligently recorded all their observations before returning to school to compile their research and write their reports.
Year 7 & 8
Year 7 have focused on mental health and resilience today, with a series of sessions looking at the impact of diet, music, activity and even social media on their well-being. They also participated in Engineering activities in the workshop and watched the film, ‘The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind,’ to link the concepts of well-being and resilience to real life situations. In the images below, pupils listened to ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling!’ by Justin Timberlake and were then asked to illustrate their current emotions.
Year 8 have enjoyed a day of reflection upon their time at St Faith’s. They have started compiling their individual pages for the Yearbook with which they will be presented on their final day here as pupils next summer. They also took part in a First Aid training session and spent time listening to and asking questions of a Sports Psychologist, an ideal preparation for those considering applying for Sports Scholarships to senior schools.
Girls’ hockey has been flourishing once again this week. Year 3 began to get a taste of competitive hockey as they took part in the inter-house competition. Meanwhile girls in Years 6, 7 and 8 enjoyed their games against Bishop’s Stortford College at Latham Road.
The boys too have been busy. Year 5 finally enjoyed their re-scheduled football matches against The Perse on Tuesday on School House Field. Elsewhere, Year 6 boys revelled in their highly competitive House rugby matches on Wednesday afternoon and those in Years 7 and 8 participated in matches against Bishop’s Stortford College at Latham Road.
Year 8 Prefects enjoyed the opportunity to develop their leadership and mentoring skills in their first official ‘Buddy Session’ of the academic year. Children in Years 3-6 spent half an hour working with their Year 8 Buddies thinking about ‘likes and dislikes’. In exploring this topic, the children gained greater understanding how we are all different and reflected on the fact that that is what makes each of us special. The Buddy system is a very popular programme throughout the school. The younger children certainly look up to their older Buddies, while the Year 8s gain confidence and a sense of responsibility through planning and leading the sessions. From the feedback I have received, Monday’s event was a resounding success and the children are all looking forward to their next session together after half term.
Pupils in Year 1 have been thinking about the seasons recently and looking at the evidence around the school of our trees changing colour and appearance as we move into Autumn. As part of their work they have made beautiful 3-dimensional ‘season trees’ which depict the changing seasons. I was fortunate enough to join an art lesson in which the children were preparing their tree drawings, ahead of making their models. In these photos you can see the children proudly standing with their own trees in front of one of the school’s iconic trees in Ashburton Courtyard.
I have enjoyed visiting Maths, Science and Engineering lessons across a range of age groups this week. Whether it is practising addition and subtraction using number lines, learning about the elastic properties of materials and applying these to catapult design, or investigating the friction properties of various surfaces, St Faith’s pupils are keenly enthusiastic to demonstrate their practical skills.
On a similar theme, children in Year 2 have been learning more about the principles of ‘fair testing’ this week – a type of investigation where one variable is changed and all other conditions are kept the same. Here, they used coloured water and a number of beakers covered with various materials including clingfilm, blotting paper, cotton and kitchen towel. The children examined which materials are better absorbers of liquids, recording their results as they went.
Covid precautions during half-term
As families look forward to a well-earned half-term break, I am pleased to report that the number of Covid cases in our community is at its lowest level since early September. However, we remain mindful of the high number of Covid cases in the Cambridgeshire area and have been asked to share the following video with our community by Cambridgeshire Country Council: Cambridge – Be Part Of The Solution… – Video
I am aware that many families will take the opportunity of the half-term break to spend time with relatives and take some holiday. We are grateful for your ongoing respect of Government advice to wear a face-covering where social distancing cannot be maintained, especially indoors, and also for families and our Year 7 and 8 pupils to continue with regular lateral flow testing. We have been very grateful for your support this half-term in engaging with our school track and trace system, which will continue into next half-term. We also greatly appreciate your support in ensuring that any child with symptoms or a positive lateral flow test does not attend school unless a negative PCR test is returned.
With cases rising nationally, we intend to continue with our current measures (including one-way system, wearing face-coverings where appropriate, regular use of hand sanitisers) next half-term, and will keep you regularly updated.
Chaucer enjoyed their House Assembly on Monday when Miss Kennerley, Head of Chaucer, talked to them about the phrase, ‘Run Like a Girl.’ Identifying and recognising the historic negative and sexist connotations of these words, the pupils were then invited to consider how this phrase could be changed into having positive meaning. Factors contributing to this positive interpretation included the pioneering achievements of Violet Piercy in 1926, when she became the first woman to run a competitive marathon. The pupils also considered a number of other high profile and high-achieving female role models in sport. Indeed, we also have a number of excellent role models in our own community. This past weekend I am delighted to report that four members of St Faith’s staff competed in the Cambridge Half Marathon; Miss Gamble (who was running to raise funds for Baby Loss Awareness (see side bar), Miss Gilford, Mrs Place and Mrs Wakefield. In addition, Health Centre nurse, Mrs Knight, who won the 2019 Cambridge Half-Marathon, this year helped to coach and train those runners who were taking part for the charity Tom’s Trust. Well done to everyone who took part.
Whether you are travelling or staying close to home for the half term break may I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a relaxing rest from the daily school routine. We have a great deal planned in the second half of term and I look forward to welcoming everyone back on Tuesday 2nd November.
With all best wishes,
Dr Crispin Hyde-Dunn