Category: School

Rise in DofE achievement rates draws praise in Lewisham

Sydenham High has been praised for exceeding national achievement and participation rate targets set for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.

According to the recently published report on DofE awards for the London Borough of Lewisham in 2016/17, Sydenham High both exceeded the 50% Achievement Rate target at 58% and increased the number of young people participating in DofE programmes last year by 9%.

The school’s DofE co-ordinator, Michael Angel, drew particular praise from the scheme’s operations manager in Lewisham, Jack Kirby, for helping to deliver the increases.

Sydenham High is a directly licensed centre for the DofE Award. Students from year 9 upwards can take part in the scheme to achieve their Bronze, Silver and eventually Gold DofE awards through volunteering, expeditions, skill building and physical activity.

In year 9 students start the Bronze award and undertake their Bronze practice expedition in the summer term with the assessed expedition in the following September of year 10. Some Year 10 students will have the opportunity to complete the Silver Award. The Gold award is offered in the Sixth Form, started in the Autumn term of year 12 and completed by the end of year 13.

Self Made Bianca publishes definitive business startup guide

Sydenham High alumna and successful entrepreneur Bianca Miller-Cole, has added ‘published author’ to her list of skills and achievements.

Bianca, who was a finalist in the 2014 series of The Apprentice and now runs both personal branding company The BE Group and Bianca Miller London hosiery, has just published her first book providing practical advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs.

Self Made: The Definitive Guide to Business Startup Success, provides a comprehensive but easy to read toolkit for anyone who wants to make a success of running their own business.

In the book, Bianca de-codes the jargon that is prevalent in business circles to provide straightforward advice on converting an innovative business concept into a commercially viable proposition. Featuring interviews with well-known entrepreneurs and industry experts, the book covers every tier of the business development process, from start-up to exit, offering implementable and global advice for success.

Having grown up in an entrepreneurial household and shown a clear aptitude for becoming an entrepreneur whilst at Sydenham High, Bianca made her business dreams a reality at just 23.  In doing so, she learned her biggest lessons.  “I witnessed first-hand the many pitfalls and potential mistakes that can be made in business.  Conversely, I also saw the success that can come from areas often overlooked in business such as networking, personal branding and mentoring.”

Bianca hopes that the book, along with a programme of Business Mastermind & Mentoring sessions that are being organised to coincide with the launch will help aspiring and new entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.

Self Made has been written jointly with her entrepreneur and philanthropist husband Byron Cole and is published in paperback by John Murray learning.

Christmas celebrations begin with musical magic

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas at Sydenham High, with seasonal music and annual community events leading the festive feel.

Members of School Council and the Flourish & Fundraise Charity committee were honoured to represent the Junior School at a special Christingle service hosted by The Children’s Society at Westminster Abbey on Friday 1 December. Accompanied by the Head of Junior School Ms Boyd and Headmistress Mrs Woodcock, the girls enjoyed taking a good look around the Abbey and learning about the symbolism of the Christingle at Christmas time. The service was very rousing and the girls sang the Christmas carols with enthusiasm and gusto.

A few days later, the Senior School Chamber Choir performed the Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten in the historic and beautiful surroundings of St James Church Garlickhythe to a spell bound audience.  Sitting just a few hundred yards from St Paul’s Cathedral, St James Garlickhythe is another of Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpieces of architectural and acoustic design.

Marvelling at the fine melodies sung by the choir and an inventive accompaniment by harpist Isobel Frayling-Corkon, the audience were treated to exceptional concert performance. Sydenham High’s Choral Director Caroline Lenton-Ward conducted the Chamber Choir as they moved from the warm welcome of Wolcum Yole to the frosty tones of In freezing Winter Night.  Beautiful solos were sung by Jessica Whight, Maddy Telford, Flora Lippa, Tyla-Rae Fatinyobo, Antonia De Avellar Forth and Kara Hardie.

One parent declared afterwards: “They truly all sang this superb music so incredibly beautifully, and indeed brought a tear to the eye.”

The term will be rounded off next week with the Junior School nativity play, carol services at St Stephen’s Church, South Dulwich, and the annual Crisis Review, organised by the Sixth Form.


Sydenham High athletes show true spirit in latest challenges

The Sydenham High motto ‘Fear Nothing’ was front of mind for the school’s sports teams and individual athletes this week as they took on a number of challenges.

First of all, when Sydenham High’s netballers stepped out in the all-Kent finals last weekend they faced tough odds.  Not only was the standard exceptionally high but they were the youngest team in this year’s tournament category. Despite playing some of the best netball of their lives, they were denied a medal position. As one proud parent said: “They deserve huge praise for their determination, drive and never giving in with each and every match they played.”  They should indeed be proud of their performance as one of the top 8 teams in the county this year.

During the same weekend, students from year 9 attended a successful hockey tournament at The Royal High School in Bath which saw over 250 girls from across the Girls’ Day School Trust competing in a Cup, Trophy and Plate competition.  The event was headlined by Kate Richardson-Walsh, Captain of the GB Hockey gold medal winning team at the Rio Olympics. Accompanied by RHS 1st XI hockey captains, Kate visited each pitch during the tournament inspiring the young players with her gold medal and signing a great number of sticks! Kate later spoke to all girls inspiring players and staff alike with her story.  The Sydenham High team won their first match but were disappointed in subsequent games, despite playing extremely well.  It was a great experience for them and they look forward to competing again next year.

Could fortunes be reversed on Monday for a badminton friendly with Streatham & Clapham High?  They could.  Five teams (20 girls) from year 7 through to year 11 (incl some GCSE PE players) played a series of matches  There were wins in every team with the overall total being 23/25 games won.

In addition, year 10 runner Ellie Osmond clocked up a great time in her latest £10K race which would put her 26th in U17 rankings and 3rd amongst 15 year olds in the UK.

This was followed on Thursday by the news that both Sydenham High’s street dance groups had won through the next round of the Great British Dance Off competition.


Sydenham High rowers pull together for tumour survivor’s fundraising Atlantic record bid

Sydenham High School’s rowers are pulling together for a very special charity world record attempt by rower and Cushing’s disease survivor Kiko Matthews. Kiko is raising money for the new critical care unit at King’s College Hospital by attempting to become the fastest female to cross the Atlantic solo and unsupported. The team from Sydenham High is hoping to raise £1,000 for her cause by aiming to row a total of 3,000 miles in training – the actual distance Kiko will be rowing in January (minus the Atlantic’s 40ft waves!)

Since her 2009 diagnosis of a rare and life-threatening disease, Kiko’s life has been saved not once but twice by the doctors and nurses of King’s. To thank the hospital, and challenge herself, Kiko decided to use her love of rowing to raise money for the new unit, which will help save many more lives in the future.

More than 25 rowers, including captain of boats Phoebe and year 12 rowing scholar Darcy, have been taking to the school’s ergo machines, to add to their river training, to clock up the necessary miles and reach their sponsorship target.

Kiko herself joined them on the river for a training session and was paired with year 11 rower Elena.  Afterwards Kiko announced on Twitter: “Having a year 11 girl in charge and showing me the ropes was awesome. Totally loved my afternoon.”

The Sydenham High team was inspired to support Kiko after she was the guest speaker at senior school prize giving in July.  They are one of one hundred female supporters and groups being recruited by Kiko through her 100TogetHER fundraising campaign.

Young photographers in the frame for Spirit of the Community challenge

Two young photographers have shared the top prize in Sydenham High School’s first community photographic competition.

The winning photos of local life were taken by Isabella Dutton from Sydenham High Junior School and Evie Sloan from Oakfield Preparatory School.  Their shots were judged to be the best entries to capture the spirit of their local community, by Sydenham High’s Headmistress Katharine Woodcock and professional photographer John Russell.

Young photographers from schools around Sydenham have been snapping away to enter Sydenham High’s Spirit of the Community photography competition which has been running for the last month with students from years 5 and 6. The standard of photos received was very high.  All images were judged anonymously and six finalists images were chosen with two winners and two runners-up ultimately selected.

Isabella (11) took her winning photo of a man on a bench watching a football match in her local park. “Every Sunday there are children playing in football matches and locals often stop and watch. They can use the local park benches to sit down and many have plaques in memory of loved ones. I think the photo reflects my local community spirit.”

Judge John Russell said of Isabella’s photo:  “I like the way the photographer is observing the scene and recording it, unknown to those captured. A lovely documentary-style composition that draws in the eye. A well balanced, interesting image that commands a second look. We could be sitting on that bench and we know that feeling of sitting in the park on a sunny day. The football game and the person sitting on the bench coexist in their individual communities but both are brought together in this moment.”

The winning photo from Evie (10) is a contrastingly bustling street life scene in Herne Hill. She said: “Herne Hill is lively, fun-filled community with a weekly market, packed with scintillating stalls and scrumptious smells.”

Judge John Russell commented: “I like the street photography style of this image. A well-executed photo that shows a busy market, nicely framed and captured. A well-balanced image that has the quality of a painting about it.”

There were prizes for two runners-up: Elana Aristidou (10), also from Oakfield Preparatory School, and Liberty Bowden (10) from Sydenham High Junior School. Their images – of participants in a charity walk to raise money for King’s College Hospital and the People’s Piano at Herne Hill station – also caught the eye of the judges.

Commendations also went to the other two finalists – Olivia Hennings (10) and Audrey Kim (10), both from Sydenham High Junior School.

Exploring languages and cultures in MFL Society

Sydenham High Sixth Form students are currently presenting a series of lectures for the Senior School’s Modern Foreign Languages Society.

‘TWI: a Ghanaian language’ was the focus of this week’s lecture. Maya Rose in year 13 shared her cultural background with the audience, eloquently explaining the origins of the Twi language, as well as some of the Ghanaian traditions.

Odd socks and cybersafety: Sydenham High celebrates uniqueness for Anti-Bullying Week

“Everyone deserves to celebrate their uniqueness and shouldn’t feel that they have to hide their differences.”

This was the powerful message from Head Girl Phoebe Emburey, delivered at a Senior School Assembly to launch Sydenham High’s Anti-Bullying Week activity.

The Sixth Form-led assembly took this year’s theme #All DifferentAll Equal as its central theme, focusing on the recent Eastenders storyline, which involved cyberbullying as well as face-to-face school bullying of one of the main characters.


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