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!
On Wednesday 3 July the Senior School took to the sports ground for the annual sports day festivities. There was the usual buzz of excitement from the house tents as everyone prepared for their events and wondered who would be victorious this year. It was well supported by parents and there were some fantastic records broken including:
- George Budden breaking year 9 javelin record by a metre
- Samiyah Harris breaking the triple jump record by 24cm
- Lily Russell breaking the shot putt by 55cm – a record that has stood since 2008
- Aliyah Paydar breaking the 100m record and the high jump at a height of 1.41m which had stood since 2008
- Issy Rayment and Bea Budden also broke records for the 1500m and hurdles respectively
All in all it was a fun filled day with a fun run and tug of war as well as the annual staff versus sixth form relay race, which was an electric affair as alumna Isabella Hilditch, who is currently at Princeton and runs for England, joined one of the staff teams and blew away the competition! Stanley was awarded the cheerleading trophy and Morgan Lee took home the special Victrix Lidorum prize for not only participating in events but also helping to coordinate the complex scoring spreadsheet of house points.
Gurney were the overall winners but the camaraderie and Sydenham spirit was evident throughout all events, with staff and pupils cheering each other on the whole day.
Recently we visited the campsite, Ferny Crofts, where we tried many different and enjoyable activities, over the three days of our presence. We did everything from Raft Building to Crate Stacking; experiencing many new activities that perhaps some of us haven’t experienced before. Though all the activities were fun and diverse in their own ways, I, on behalf of many, believe that ever since the trip, I’ve gained confidence when doing activities, like mega climb or crate stacking; therefore, pushing myself to strive even more in order to achieve other significant things within the future. Some people argued that the trip was too short! The trip helped people bond with each other via activities like team building, which was also very beneficial. Overall, Ferny Crofts was a great experience and I enjoyed it very much; I would love to go again.
– Adia Beraki, year 8
Some of the key things we have learned are:
- Making new friends
- Organisation skills
After asking the class of what they thought of the trip, this was the main conclusion:
It was really fun and encouraged people to face their fears and work together. The facilities were good and the tents were small but fun.
– Trixie Sambidge, year 8
From my perspective, the trip was really enjoyable, seeing the girls pushing themselves, trying new things, working together was very fulfilling. We all had a lot of fun and pupils have been asking if we can do it again next year! I would not have been able to do it without the outstanding team of teachers I had: Ms Graham, Ms Finlay, Ms Hunt, Mr Whitley, Ms Hawley, Mrs Symons and Ms Longley.
– Mrs Evans, Head of Year 8
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.
Our bespoke Socrates Programme is in its second year and the range and quality of projects produced by our y7-9 scholars is truly inspiring. On Thursday 20 June the Longton Hall was buzzing with friends and families who came to view the 43 projects from this year’s cohort. All the scholars had worked incredibly hard on choosing, researching and producing their projects and it is also such a joy to see the variety of topics that pupils choose to work on.
The idea behind the programme is to stimulate a lifelong love of learning and to follow Socratic teaching in terms of giving pupils questions, not answers, and modeling an inquiring, probing mind. Each pupil attends lectures throughout the year by various inspirational people including alumna and entrepreneur, Jacynth Bassett, Editor Jo Elvin, physicist Dr Jess Wade among others, as well as a workshop with author and lecturer Christopher Lloyd, who challenged the girls to draw a historical timeline to connect the history of nature and humanity into a single sweeping narrative.
Our guest speaker was author, lecturer and former teacher, Martin Robinson. He was very impressed with the range of projects and emphasised the importance of continuing to question what we know and what we don’t know in order to learn. He also spoke to us about Socrates versus Artificial Intelligence and the importance of maintaining humanity in the face of increasing knowledge of machines and the threat of potential replacement of teachers-and even pupils-by robots! It was very thought provoking indeed.
The projects were so strong that there had to be joint winner in some categories!
1st Darcey Hill (made a costume for a character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
2nd JOINT – Hope Skinner (wrote a play in Shakespearean language) and Isabella Dutton (Scuba Diving)
3rd JOINT – Francesca Ratcliffe (Women in Journalism) and Elena Aristidou (Greek Cookbook)
1st Tiffany Igharoro (Sperox, an app to help donate money to the homeless)
2nd Grace Pappas (Embroidery – sparked by her great, great, great grandmothers embroidery of the alphabet)
3rd Ella McGovern (the 4th dimension)
1st Eve Griffiths (portfolio of different portraits)
2nd Maia Evans (computer programme on Greek mythology)
3rd Lilly Russell (mental health)
Headmistress’s Commendation Ruby Gratrick (plastic pollution)