The penultimate week of the academic year is one of the most highly anticipated in our calendar, for pupils and staff alike. While residential trips to Kinver, Spain and Rome have been taking place for pupils in Years 6, 7 and 8, pupils in Years 3, 4 and 5 have enjoyed a variety of activities closer to home during Enrichment Week. The purpose of our Enrichment programme is to offer pupils opportunities to develop and extend their understanding across a range of concepts both within and beyond the set curriculum. During the programme, pupils are also able to visit places of national interest as well as to connect with our local area.
A whole variety of activities have taken place this week; a trip to Whipsnade Zoo (Year 4), Geology Day (Year 3), a trip to Duxford Air Museum (Year 5) along with a whole host of both on-site and off-site experiences. As those of you who follow our school Twitter feeds will already have seen, it has been a wonderful, action-packed and busy week. I do hope that you will enjoy the collection of photos, giving you just a flavour of events this week.
Pre Prep Concert
The Pre Prep Concert opened with four talented pianists entertaining the audience as they took their seats and awaited the arrival of the Year 1 and 2 children taking part in the music showcase. The theme of ‘Maths and Music’, and the many intersections between the two disciplines was interwoven through each piece of music.
Eleven string players performed with Mrs Cobb, demonstrating what a truly magnificent sound can be achieved by beginner violins. Expertly co-ordinated, rhythmic and tuneful, the children showed off their new skills and future potential to an entranced audience. The children then sang their Pre Prep anthem, ‘Being our Best Selves’, written by Emma Cooper, illustrating their ability to pitch correctly, sing beautifully and understand the importance of great stage presence.
Each class then performed one or two pieces that they had been rehearsing, and accompanying slides were used to explain how the children had been exploring the many links that Maths has with Music. This included counting, multiplication, ratios of size in high and low pitch, length of sounds, shapes, and patterns. The Wednesday after-school activity group had composed their own song based on an original German idea and composition. They created echos to highlight soloists, who had each crafted their own words for the song.
The Year 1 team showed their learning and understanding of musical skills including playing in time, counting for rhythms, using rests and naming different percussion instruments, whilst Year 2 showed even further evolution of these skills, including their ability to play as a band, using scales, bars, phrases, dynamics and the 12 bar blues.
The show finale was a highly entertaining version of the ‘Sound of Music’ classic ‘Doh a Deer’ and no doubt many found themselves humming that famous tune again later in the day.
Foundation Wild Place Drop-in and Picnic
Throughout the week, the ‘Wild Place’ has been populated by squirrels, hedgehogs, foxes and owls. Not real ones I hasten to add, but these are the names given to groups of our Foundation children when they visit our forest school. They were delighted to be joined by their parents for fun activities such as whittling, making mud pies and magic wands and much more besides. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a well-deserved picnic in Tom’s Garden. This activity reminds us how lucky we are at St Faith’s to have such extensive, beautiful outdoor spaces for the children to explore and play.
Year 1 Castle Topic
Staying with the Pre Prep, as pupils come to the end of their exciting Castle topic, many of the children in Year 1 have made their own model of a castle. This was a homework project, and the models are very impressive. The children remembered to include all the important features of a castle and presented them to the class.
On Wednesday Years 1 and 2 completed a mini cricket game led by the pupils themselves. In groups of six, they played a mini cricket game with one pupil per role and then swapped around. The roles were: batter, bowler, wicket keeper, scorer and fielders. This was a very engaging way for them to learn how to score a cricket game. Following this, on Thursday, the Year 1 pupils really enjoyed their team building activities in Ashburton Hall.
Year 2 has recently completed an investigation into the ideal conditions for plant growth, including finding out what is necessary for a seed to germinate. Together with their teachers, they set up and conducted some experiments, making observations and drawing conclusions from the results. Recording on the iPads using Seesaw enabled detailed photographs and audio recordings to be used as part of the evidence collection process. There was lots of discussion across the classes as the results differed between rooms, providing opportunities to learn about scientific method and fair testing. Many children were surprised to learn that seeds would still germinate and grow in the dark or without soil, as long as adequate water was provided.
Science ‘Off The Page’
On Monday, Year 3 pupils’ Geology Lab Day enriched and extended their Science unit on rocks and soils. The children categorised and examined different kinds of rocks under microscopes, described how fossils are formed and explored the fact that soils are made from rocks and organic matter. They also used different types of scientific enquiry to investigate erosion and weathering. The highlight was setting up a practical investigation to determine the effect of building on a floodplain.
Local Area Walk
Tuesday was the day for a walk around the local area and a land use survey. Children then recreated their walk on a texture board, imaginatively inventing their own ordnance survey symbols and texture board of their route.
Maths and Games Day
On Thursday, Year 3 enjoyed an energetic morning of dodgeball, table tennis, volleyball and relay sprints. This was followed by an afternoon of applied Maths activities: constructing 3D shapes from nets, practising 2D shape names with an iPad investigation, trying to measure the capacity of containers (without spilling too much water!) and investigating different pentomino shapes using five cubes. The problem-solving Maths treasure hunt around the field and tennis court was particularly popular.
Year 3 and Year 4 pupils shared a fascinating Viking Day on Wednesday. Nigel Amies from Historical Education led the morning and discussed lifestyle, food and clothing of the Viking period. Warfare and politics were also explained through interactive interpretations of tales, including the story of King Edmund and the Battle of Maldon. Children also discovered the impact of the arrival of the ‘Great Heathen Army’ in 865AD and the subsequent repercussions. The children were shown Viking shields and armour, as well as learning about Viking battle tactics. They returned to their classrooms where they used their new knowledge of Vikings to design a creative, colourful shield, as well as their own Viking Longboat. They applied themselves patiently to this task, and showed real perseverance in perfecting their designs, and their final longboats and shields were superb!
Year 4 Enrichment Week
Year 4 have enjoyed a fun filled week of activities which began at Whipsnade Zoo, linking to their topic in Science of habitats. The weather was fantastic, and the animals were in their outdoor enclosures in the sunshine for the children to see. The pupils even managed to take a steam train ride around ‘Asia’ to see some glorious elephants and camels.
The next day, the children dressed up as characters from Harry Potter, where they were immersed in learning about Professor Snape’s Bubbling Potions, designing their own magical creatures, and finishing the day with a Spelling Bee competition.
On Thursday, and as part of their topic in Religious Studies, Year 4 visited Little St Mary’s Church in Cambridge where they were able to see at first hand a range of different objects inside the church, many of which they had previously discussed in lessons.
As part of PSHCE this term, Year 4 have been learning about finances, and in particular exploring the concepts of profit and loss. Putting their financial skills into practice, the pupils ran a popcorn sale on Friday, raising funds for the Ethiopian charity – Meseret for Women. This is a charity which has been set up by one of our parents. Ahead of the fundraising activity, the pupils were inspired by a parent talk which explained the vital work of the charity and the difference it makes to the lives of young mothers and their children. You can find out more about the charity by clicking on this website link: About | Meseret For Women
On Tuesday, Year 5 enjoyed ‘fantastic futures’, a morning based around careers. At the start of the day, pupils took part in a careers carousel, listening to a variety of inspiring speakers talking about diverse aspects of their work. Pupils considered how different pathways can lead to their ‘dream job’ and they were inspired to follow their dreams even if at first they encounter setbacks. From the excitement, but unsociable hours of working as a stage manager, to setting up a charity to give children better access to cancer treatment, pupils saw how people can choose different jobs and careers and follow diverse journeys – they even found out about some previous jobs held by their teachers!
During the careers carousel, a wide variety of different career paths were presented to pupils. They heard about the rising numbers of female pilots, how to prepare for flying a plane and the challenges of landing on different runways. Pupils also enjoyed seeing how they could apply their learning in Engineering, Maths and Computing, to draw up plans for buildings and then manipulate these using software.
The children were inspired to hear from a sound engineer about how many people it takes to manage the sound for a big performance, the opportunities to travel the world, and the challenges of controlling the heat and power associated with sound equipment. They also heard about the qualities and skills needed to become a vet, including how Maths and English are used in this role, how we can all look out for hedgehogs. They were also excited to see an x-ray of a hedgehog, as well as learning about a leveret- a baby hare.
After break time, pupils took part in four different workshops. These included an ‘Apprentice’ style task to design a chocolate bar and a slogan to accompany it, playing future careers top trumps with a focus on how roles may evolve in the future, team challenges to develop their teamwork, and communications skills to complete team challenges, before ending with a session learning all about tax and why it is important.
Thank you to all of our parents and external volunteers for giving their time so generously to our Fantastic Futures day. The time preparing inspiring talks, the candour sharing both the highs and lows of their roles and the patience in answering all the insightful questions posed by our pupils, was greatly appreciated. Thank you as well to all the teachers who helped to guide pupils and run workshops.
Digital Day was an exciting event for Year 5, filled with a range of engaging activities. The pupils explored virtual reality in a workshop, got creative with stop motion animation, embarked on a digital treasure hunt, mastered video editing skills, built shelters in Minecraft, and were captivated with Lego Robotics. The children had a fantastic day filled with a lot of fun and learning.
Year 5 Orienteering
On Thursday morning, Year 5 completed an orienteering activity around the school grounds. Pupils had to use their map skills to navigate around the site, finding flags and solving clues. They successfully and enthusiastically completed three challenges and showed excellent teamwork! In the other half of the day pupils went to the tropical rainforest glasshouse at the Botanical Gardens, and looked at plant adaptation and the chocolate industry.
The Leys Activity Day
On Monday, a number of pupils from Years 7 and 8 visited The Leys to take part in a fun-filled day of sport. The pupils took part in five different activities across the day, making use of the excellent facilities. The activities were badminton, table tennis, strength and conditioning, squash, and kayaking. A huge thank you to Mr Henderson and Mr Earl from The Leys for helping to organise the day, and Mr Coe and Mr Hill for leading fantastic sessions. Please watch the video for a snapshot of the event!
Rye Meads RSPB Nature Reserve
Year 7 and 8 pupils had a memorable day at Rye Meads RSPB nature reserve on Thursday. They learnt a variety of ecology field skills from experts at the reserve, including identifying birds on one of their lagoons, using sweep netting to sample and identify invertebrates and finally, pond dipping. Highlights of the day included spotting a rarely seen Egyptian goose and gosling, finding a myriad of insects and spiders when sweep netting, and catching six newts all at different larval stages of development. As always, our pupils were a credit to the school and staff enjoyed their company too.
Swimming Gala v Culford and King’s Ely
Our U9 and U10 teams took part in a triangular swim gala at Culford School on Thursday of last week. This was the first time we have taken a Year 4 team to a swim gala for five years, and it was also the first school gala for the U9’s and for many of our U10 team too. It was a convincing performance all round. Our A team mixed medley and freestyle relay teams across both age groups won every race, and there were four individual events where the two St Faith’s swimmers finished in 1st and 2nd place! Three new school records were set: U9 boys’ 25m breaststroke, U9 girls’ 25m freestyle and the U9 mixed freestyle relay team. Overall, points were St Faith’s 196, King’s Ely 151 and Culford 121. Well done everybody, this was a super conclusion to our school swimming fixtures for the year. Good luck to all of Year 5 and 6 who are taking part in House Swimming on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, pupils in Years 6-8 took part in a local outreach day. In the morning, they prepared scones with the catering team, which they shared with residents at the Arthur Rank Hospice when they visited them for their afternoon tea-run. The Arthur Rank Hospice is the chosen charity of Chaucer House and our pupils took time to look at the memory tree there, one of the leaves of which is dedicated to our former member of staff, Mrs Kate Allanson.
Pupils also went shopping with lists from the Salvation Army to purchase items for their food bank parcels. The shopping activity ended with a two minute ‘supermarket dash’ to find as many other items as they could for the food bank parcels. Having delivered the items to the Salvation Army Headquarters in Cambridge, the pupils helped to sort and make up food bank parcels. They then purchased some records from the Salvation Army shop and completed their afternoon by taking the records to Cambridgeshire Music in Histon, which is the county hub for music education and arts therapies. The records were put to good use, as the pupils helped to create two new wall displays.
Concert and Afternoon Tea
Today, we have welcomed visitors from Age UK and the Royal Albert Homes who were entertained in an afternoon concert performed by our Year 3 and 4 pupils. They were then hosted for a lovely afternoon tea by our older pupils in Years 6-8.
‘Meet the Class’ Foundation 2023
The new Foundation children for September 2023 came into Southfield today to ‘Meet the Class’. Although the children have already visited Pre Prep on previous occasions, today was the first time that they had met everyone in their new class, as well as meeting their new form teachers for September. We are excited to see the next generation of St Faith’s pupils so eager to join us.
At the other end of the pupil age spectrum, we will enjoy the final week of their time at St Faith’s with our Year 8 pupils next week, upon their safe return from Italy. There will be many celebrations and special occasions to savour, culminating in our Prize Giving event next Friday 7th July and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible throughout the week.
As this will be the last weekly newsletter of this term, may I take the opportunity to thank you for your generous support of the school throughout the academic year. For all those pupils who are leaving St Faith’s at the end of next week, I wish them every success and fulfilment for the future. As they take their leave and so become Old Fidelians, I do hope they can look back on their time at St Faith’s with great happiness and a real sense of accomplishment. I hope too that during these formative years at St Faith’s, they have been able to forge friendships which will be sustained for years to come.
With all best wishes,
Dr Crispin Hyde-Dunn