Category: Prep

Eco Week at Sydenham High School

From Monday 25 until Friday 29 November we marked ‘Eco Week’ at Sydenham High School.  Pupils from Reception to year 13 have participated in a range of activities designed to help them consider individual and collective environmental responsibility.

At Prep, the week started on Monday with an insightful assembly by pupils in Eco Club.  Following this, pupils participated in a range of activities during the week including tree planting, autumn vegetable planting, environmentally inspired art activities and talks.  Pupils also created a tree of promises which stands by the entrance to the Prep School Hall.  Thank you to all parents who have supported us with activities.

At Senior School, pupils learnt all about ‘earth overshoot’ day, which marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources (fish and forests, for instance) and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year, and it is getting earlier each year. An interesting fact was that London’s ecological footprint is 293 times its size and 42 times its biocapacity (the capacity of an area to generate an on-going supply of renewable resources and to absorb its spillover wastes). There was a lunchtime film screening of a talk given by John Francis on how we are to ‘Walk this Earth’, sharing the message of environmental respect and responsibility, and in form time pupils learnt about the impact of cosmetics on the earth, particularly through the use of palm oil, and how we can save the planet one mascara wand at a time! Please bring clean, empty mascara wands to the humanities office and we will send them to help orphaned animals. Pupils also thought about the importance of local action and supporting local business and the week culminated in a pledge making day where staff and pupils detailed what they will do to reduce their eco-footprint and push earth overshoot day back! There is a social media campaign #movethedate, and we encourage everyone to share their ideas. Some examples can be found here. Eco Club gave a fantastic assembly on Fast Fashion, telling us how much water it takes to grow the cotton for our clothes and how important it is not to buy into the throw away culture of fast fashion and to think about using charity shops or clothes swaps – just like the one we will be hosting on Friday 6 December! During our own clothes day we also fundraised £324.62 (at the latest count!) for the Woodland Trust’s Every Tree Counts campaign.

It was a very engaging week and helped us to think of even more things that we are able to do as part of our whole school eco commitment. Huge thanks to our Eco warriors, Mr Welch and Mr Wagg for their organisation of the activities.

The Beckenham Festival of Speech and Drama 2019

The Beckenham Festival of Speech and Drama was held at the Westwood Theatre on Saturday 12 October. Prep and Senior Sydenham High School pupils performed at the competition alongside pupils from neighbouring schools. The visiting Adjudicator, Marcia Carr, who is Deputy Head of Examinations at LAMDA, was delighted with the high standard of work on display and the confident performances of LAMDA pupils! The delighted audience was treated to scenes from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Jane Eyre, Goodnight Mr Tom, Hansel and Gretel, as well as extracts from Shakespeare and a variety of poems.


Ruby Hogwood

Freya Harris

Orla Hogwood

Miller Buckley



Jess Scott

Alba Buckley

Christine Wilkinson



Allegra Carver – SOLO ACTING

Maia Bonney and Isabelle Harris – DUO ACTING



Daisy Morrissey – SOLO ACTING


Many other pupils were competing for the first time, gaining valuable performance experience as well as a sense of pride in their involvement.

Stewards helping out on the day were Nyama Swaray, Ayla Goldsmith and Lucy Johnson, each an excellent ambassador for the school.

Well done everyone!


– Miss Borge, LAMDA Teacher/Coordinator and Festival Organiser

Sydenham High Prep shortlisted in the Independent Schools of the Year 2019

Pupils and staff are celebrating after being praised by judges for the outstanding experience we provide to pupils from Reception through to year 6. A year after its rebrand from Junior to Prep, Sydenham High Prep School is one of a number to be shortlisted in the competition, which is run by Independent School Parent magazine and open to independent schools from across the country.

Ms Victoria Goodson, Head of the Prep at Sydenham High School GDST said:

We are so proud of our school and the experience that we offer to our girls. It is wonderful to have been recognised for the preparation we provide for our pupils, academically, socially and emotionally. I would like to thank our staff for their genuine commitment, hard work and dedication as well as the children, whose enthusiasm and input into the curricular and co-curricular activities of the school makes our community so special.

The awards ask to see evidence of success stories that feature both individuals and innovative practice, for a judging panel that is made up of heads, governors, parents and representatives of membership associations from across the sector and chaired by Dr Helen Wright, former President of the Girls School Association and Vice-Chair of the Independent Schools Commission.

David Moncrieff is Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board at Independent School Parent magazine who run the awards. He said:

“Following the huge success of the inaugural competition last year, which saw more than 250 school nominations entered, we are thrilled to have surpassed that figure for Independent Schools of the Year 2019. The awards have again been designed with the student experience at their heart and to provide schools with a platform to showcase their stories of innovation and success. The judges now have a tough job on their hands picking the winners from the shortlisted entries that were of such a consistently high standard.”

Neil Kirby is Marketing Director of Bupa Global, Sponsor of Independent Schools of the Year 2019.

He said:

“We are delighted to be supporting the Independent Schools of the Year 2019 awards, and to see so many schools taking up the opportunity to showcase the exceptional experience they offer their pupils. The entries gave a powerful insight into the choice and flexibility being afforded to students in the independent sector, and we are pleased to be part of such a new and exciting celebration of the hard work and dedication of all those involved in private education in the UK.”

This year saw a record number of entries from a wide range of schools; from tiny rural pre-preps through to large urban secondaries from a broad range of geographical areas. There were twenty different categories, a reflection of the depth and breadth of the independent school experience.

Showcasing talent and achievement across Sydenham High

Monday saw the Prep School celebrating all the successes of its pupils and say goodbye not only to year 6 as they move up to Senior School but also to the wonderful Ms Boyd as she leaves to become Head of the Junior School at Wimbledon High GDST. We are so sad to see her go but know that she will retain her giraffe girl spirit – as will our outgoing year 6 on their next adventure. We were also treated to more from author and lecturer Christopher Lloyd, What on Earth books, who followed on from his work as part of our Senior School’s Socrates Programme by giving the key note speech. He reminded us all of the importance of developing a lifelong love of learning and to remain curious, questioning the world around us. Wise words that we wholeheartedly endorse from Prep through to Senior and Sixth – and into adulthood!

The following day we welcomed Senior pupils and Sixth Formers – plus many members of our supportive parent body to reflect on the past year and congratulate our pupils on all that they have achieved. We were delighted that London Fire Brigade Commissioner, Dany Cotton, was able to take time out to join us as our special guest. She gave an empowering speech about her journey to becoming the first female Commissioner and some of the positive changes she has been able to initiate in post, such as the use of firefighter instead of fireman, as well as encouraging our pupils to go out there and be whom or whatever they want to be, grabbing every opportunity. There is no room for gender stereotypes and we firmly advocate risk taking in our pupils and going beyond comfort zones – everything is a learning opportunity, whether it goes well or not! We believe in you all so go for it!


Zut alors! Year 6 travel to France

Year 6 enjoyed a wonderful 5 days in France this week. Alongside the chance to soak up the beautiful sunny weather, the girls spent time visiting the war graves at the Somme, learning more about the experience of soldiers caught up in the Great War and paying their respects to the fallen. They also got up to some activities that got pulses racing: high wiring, climbing and rafting, which all pushed their fearless Giraffe Girl spirit to the limits! Other activities during the week included a mayonnaise making workshop, visit to a bakery, chocolate factory and market where they were able to put their French into action.

Inspiring Females Summit 2019

On Friday 21 June, a group of year 5 and 10 Sydenham High School GDST and Sydenham School pupils were among the fortunate pupils in attendance at the 2019 Inspiring Females Summit. Inspiring Females is a unique programme, created in 2016 by the girls and staff at Norwich High School for Girls, which has developed significantly since it’s conception. In only three years, the programme has inspired over 2,500 young women aged 11 to 18 with over 300 guest speakers volunteering their time to take part.

The Summit, hosted at Chelsea Football Club, featured over 40 inspiring speakers for a day of networking and interactive sessions designed to prepare young women for their futures. A Trust-wide event, our pupils heard from inspirational speakers and also had the chance to network with pupils from other GDST schools and partnered state schools.

The line up of speakers and workshops was simply breathtaking, including Kelly Caswell-Treen, First Female Company Sergeant Major at Sandhurst, Dr Jess Wade, British Physicist and Researcher Imperial College London, Annamarie Phelps CBE, Vice Chair British Olympic Association and Olympic and World Championship Rower and Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Lawyer and Political & Women’s Rights Activist. The list of inspiring females was highly impressive and the event concluded with an ‘Inspiring Dads and Daughters’ event which was equally impressive. For more information about this summit please do click here.

Pupils were given a choice of sessions to attend with talks led by industry experts from journalism to tech, healthcare to fashion, politics to business and many more. They particularly enjoyed the ‘Can you be a game changer?’ TED-style talk, in which successful women from the worlds of business, literature, charity and wellbeing shared top tips on how the girls can make a difference in their futures whatever path they choose. A notable speaker for our pupils was Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu who reminded us that “difficulties are challenges and challenges are opportunities” and that “the only way to change the world is to do something. Speak up, show up, stand up. The world needs you.”

Our Prep School pupils had a morning conference on the same theme of ‘Game Changers’ and centered around shining the spotlight on women from all walk of life who can offer inspiration to the GDST girls from the country. The day began with a keynote address from Cheryl Giovannoni, CEO of the GDST and Alex Paske, Founder and Managing Director of the Mintridge Foundation and Sunday Times’ Sportswoman of the Year 2018. This exciting start to the day was followed by a selection of workshop sessions led by other inspiring women and ranged from topics such as Courageous Leaders and Kitting Out the Dream Team! The event ended with a Q & A panel (chaired by Ms Boyd!) which provided opportunities for girls from across the GDST Junior and Prep Schools to ask questions to each of the inspiring workshop leaders.

The day came to a close with an ‘Inspiring Dads and Daughters’ panel discussion, over 50 dads and daughters to learn together the best ways to take on gender stereotypes and smash glass ceilings, chaired by BBC broadcaster Dr Stephanie Hare and featuring Chelsea Football Club CEO Guy Laurence.

Opportunities such as these are key to developing a rounded educational experience for our pupils. Being exposed to successful women in a variety of industries further fuels their ambitions, leaving them feeling empowered and confident about their futures.

– Katharine Woodcock, Headmistress

Being part of the GDST brings unique and exciting opportunities for our pupils, not just on the scale of the Inspiring Females Summit, but also on a smaller scale too. Recently our year 12s were invited, along with sixth formers from all GDST schools, to apply for a week’s work experience with asset management firm, Jupiter, set up by the GDST Careers department. There were only two places available and the standard of entry was extremely high but I am delighted that Junova Buckman, year 12, was successful in gaining a place. It was a very competitive field and Junova has done extremely well to be selected so a huge well done to her. With events such as the IF Summit we are sure that our year 10s will follow in her footsteps in grabbing every opportunity open to them.

A Morning of Debating with Dulwich College Junior School

We were delighted to welcome year 5 from Dulwich College Junior School to join us for a morning of debating on Monday. This is the third year in which we have run the event and it was better than ever. Supported by our year 6 Debating Club, the year 5 boys and girls from across both schools engaged in a range of thought-provoking debates and explored motions from a range of different subjects areas. The quality of discussion was very high and everyone was impressed by the articulate and poised performances on show.

The pupils gained so much from working together and looking for ways to approach motions they did not necessarily agree with or have much experience of. Once the morning was over, the boys and girls moved up to the Senior School where they enjoyed lunch together. Thank you to Miss Nayler for leading this event.

Reception class learn outdoors

The wet weather did nothing to dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of our youngest learners on Monday as they spent the day exploring The Beeche Centre.

Situated in High Elms County Park , BEECHE is an education and visitor centre offering environmental education to schools. It is a site of special scientific interest. The building is a single storey timber frame with a ‘green’ sedum roof, straw bale walls and sun pipes to bring in natural sunlight to the classrooms.

Our Reception pupils were able to use their learning from Prep School to investigate, observe and discuss the wide range of natural wild and plant life at the centre.


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