Category: Senior

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.

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.

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.


Rose’s small tales help launch Paddington 2 movie

Year 10 student Rose Chaloner has helped lead a series of story creating workshop at the Museum of London as part of the launch of the Paddington 2 movie.  Rose joined Small Tales Storytelling Club founder Debbie Guneratne in running the event, following the completion of a seven-year storytelling apprenticeship which started at Sydenham High Junior School.

Debbie, as founder of the Small Tales Storytelling Club, was invited to lead workshops to celebrate the launch of eagerly-anticipated Paddington movie sequel.  For the event she devised a special game to get participants to create storylines for the next Paddington movie, which she and Rose delivered as a storytelling team.

The workshops were aimed at adults and children 6+, and Rose’s friendly manner and confident story skills enabled the participants to enjoy creating their own stories.  They were particularly impressed by Rose’s commitment to the storytelling tradition. One adult participant commented:: “It’s good to see young people helping and we’re amazed that she has completed seven years.  You can tell by the way she communicates.”

Small Tales has been operating as a club at Sydenham High for eight years and Rose joined when the club was fairly new.  The children come from years 3 to 6 and once they reach year 7 they are invited to join the group at Ripley Arts Centre, so they can continue their apprenticeship.

“I started these clubs to fulfil a dream of changing lives,” said Debbie.  “When I work with the young storytellers like Rose, I realise that the future is in safe hands!”

The club has been running for over 21 years and is the first and only storytelling club that trains future storytellers.


Kent U12 Netball Academy selection, Lewisham badminton glory and regional cross country successes

Many congratulations to three of year 7 girls, Kayla, Sienna and Harmoney, who have all been selected for the Kent U12 Netball Academy.  Over half term they attended trials for the academy and were up against a large number of other girls from schools within Kent.  It was an extremely strong field of athletes that day and so to have been selected is an amazing achievement. The academy is “athlete centered and will follow a programme recommended by England Netball which aims to develop the individual athlete”. Very well done to all three girls and we look forward to hearing how they progress through the programme.

The school’s KS3 and KS4 badminton teams were also victorious in the first heats of the Lewisham badminton competition on Tuesday (14 November) and Thursday (16 November)  respectively and now go through to the next round. The teams played extremely well and represented the school in a positive manner, with two KS3 players getting recognition for their teamwork and self belief. The KS4 team made it through by just one point with excellent singles displays from Grace and Elena..

Meanwhile cross country runners Tilly, Ellie and India finished in the Top 20 runners at the finals of the ESSA regional Cross Country Cup, coming 10th, 16th and 19th respectively. This is a major competition with a very high standard for all participants.

Digital leaders give Children’s Commissioner tour of Facebook online safety expo

Six senior Sydenham High Digital Leaders had the privilege of showing the UK Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, around a major new digital online safety showcase, and then drew praise from Facebook representatives for their ideas and ingenuity.

Ester Schomberg, Sophia Michael, Jessica Verri, Deeya Patel, Emily Coulson and Zoe Kellaris were invited to attend ‘House of Us’, in London on Wednesday , which marked a new partnership between  ChildNet, the Diana Award and Facebook to widen the availability of their online-safety programmes to schools across the country.  The invitation followed on from the students becoming Qualified Digital Leaders through the ChildNet online platform, so there were excellently prepared ambassadors for the school and the programme.

The experiences during the day ranged from exploring a sensory maze, designed to show the isolation and loneliness caused by cyberbullying, to a voice-controlled room, which visually represented the impact of positive actions online.

The Digital Leaders discussed issues with students from other schools but the highlight of the day was being given the honour of showing the UK’s Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, around the House of Us expo. They also gave a very polished presentation on their idea for a new showcase experience to her and to representatives from Facebook, who gave them high praise for their insightfulness and ingenuity.


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