Category: Prep

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.


M M Vaughan Author Visit for y4-7

Year 7 students were invited to Prep School this week to join the years 4-6 students at an author visit by Monica Meira Vaughan, writer of science-fiction for children.

Monica talked about her books The Ability and Six before giving a short reading from her newest publication Slick, a moving story about the friendship between a boy and an android. Monica told students Slick was inspired by a news story about an experiment in Japan to use robots in care homes, and her wondering if it was actually possible to be friends with a robot..

Monica talked about becoming an author, getting ideas for stories whilst working as a teacher trying to inspire reluctant readers, how she writes with classical instrumental music in the background so she is not distracted by any lyrics, and how she likes to plan her stories well, visualising each chapter as a film in her head before writing it down. She also explained the publishing process and the time involved in actually translating an initial idea for a story into the physical book on sale in a book shop.

Monica’s favourite author was and still is Roald Dahl, who she had the great pleasure to meet at a friend’s birthday party when a teenager. Her top tip for aspiring authors is simply to read as much as possible.

Find out more at her website:

Hampton Court hosts year 4

Over the course of this term year 4 have been fascinated by their Tudor themed CONNECT+ topic. On Tuesday they travelled to Hampton Court Palace for an extended day visiting one of the country’s most enthralling historical landmarks.

During the course of their day, year 4 had the opportunity to  experience the public dramas and private lives of Henry VIII, his wives and children in the world of the Tudor court. They also spent time admiring Henry’s great Hall, the infamous Haunted Gallery and the Tudor kitchens, as well as the spectacular baroque palace built for William III and Mary II and explore the magnificent gardens. Thank you to the parent helpers who gave up their time to support the trip.

Y1 Trip to Museum of Childhood

On Monday year 1 travelled by train to the V&A Museum of Childhood. The V&A Museum of Childhood is the UK’s National Museum of Childhood. It is the largest institution of its kind in the world. Its mission is to hold in trust the nation’s childhood collections and to be an international leader in engaging audiences in the material culture and experiences of childhood.

As you can see from the photos, the girls had a fabulous time exploring the interactive resources and artefacts in the museum’s collection. The day was a lot of fun and also provided a fantastic opportunity for the girls to deepen their knowledge knowledge of how toys have changed over time. Thank you to all the parent helpers who gave up their time to support the trip.

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