Category: Senior

Linguists enjoy Easter break in Venice

With its marble churches, grand palaces and labyrinthine waterways, Venice has a unique magic. We were truly enchanted by this city that seems to float on water, as we walked along the canals, through the many alleys called Calle and on our gondola ride!

Venice is brimming with culture, from artistic masterpieces to Moorish and Byzantine architecture, such as the stunning Palazzo Ducale, where our guide told us intriguing stories of Venetians imprisoned by the Doge. Our day trip to the other beautiful islands of the lagoon, gave us an opportunity to see how the famous Murano glass is made, see the intricate laces in Burano and walk through green fields in Torcello. As well as exploring Venice and its islands, we enjoyed a cookery lesson: we made bruschetta and gnocchi, so much fun and delicious too!  In addition, we spent three hours every day in a language school, where we practised our Italian language skills. We are almost fluent now!

We will never forget this charming city, our treks through the streets, and of course all the gelati and pizza we had! Looking forward to another fantastic trip to discover Italy and its heritage soon. Ciao Venezia!

Lecture Series launched by Dr Broadbent

Friday 22 March saw over 300 pupils gather to hear from Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Dr Broadbent, describe the function of the Bank of England, such as ensuring that banks are safe and inflation is stable, and talk about choosing a career path. Dr Broadbent began by explaining that a central bank is designed to preserve the value of and safety of money and how important it is as a central clearer to facilitate the smooth distribution of payments from consumers to banks. He explained that most money is held as deposits rather than the physical coins and notes that you might imagine represent most of the money in the country and introduced the fact that a new character will be appearing on the £50 note very soon!

Dr Broadbent then went on to discuss his thoughts on career paths and his belief that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a plan, using several quotes as examples, including: “Everyone has a plan till he gets punched in the mouth.” (Mike Tyson). He advised everyone to follow things that they are interested in and see where it leads – he particularly endorsed studying economics!

The session concluded with a challenging Q&A section led by a panel of sixth formers who had prepared their own questions as well as reading questions sent in by pupils in the lower years. Topics included Brexit’s impact on the economy, how he would manage Venezuela’s economy, the gender pay gap at the Bank of England, China, the treatment of women and ethnic minorities in the banking industry and many more. After his grilling, Dr Broadbent spoke to a small group of scholars over afternoon tea, where they were able to ask further questions and find about more about his job.

Dr Broadbent launched our Lecture Series, which will see prominent speakers across a range of industries speak to our pupils each term. We hope that exposure to a range of experts will broaden the aspirations of our ever-ambitious pupils.

Bletchley Park reveals computing secrets

A group of pupils enjoyed a trip to The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park as part of their studies. The Museum is an independent charity housing the world’s largest collection of functional historic computers, including the rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, and the WITCH, the world’s oldest working digital computer. The museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.

The museum runs a highly successful Learning Programme for schools and colleges and promotes introductions to computer coding amongst young people, especially females, to inspire the next generation of computer scientists and engineers.

Pupil Voice

The guides were very informal and friendly. When they found out I was in sixth form they talked in more detail to me which was very good and I was able to see some extra parts of the museum. They explained all the information in detail and the activities, for example coding on the old and new computing, were very interesting and engaging.

– Bethany, year 12


I enjoyed the Bletchley Park trip because it combined history and computing. We were able to see what is inside computers and how they have evolved since they were invented. This was interesting as we could see the computing behind the programmes that we use in lessons.

– Emilia, year 9

The second year of #700STEMChallenge

On Monday evening the 21 finalists of this year’s #700STEMChallenge writing competition gathered to hear the final placing of their entries. We had even more entries this year, from schools across the country and so the judges had a hard decision to make as we had such a phenomenal range. The pupils had the choice to write around 700 words on any topic within Science, Technology & Engineering or Maths and then the entries were shortlisted into under 14, under 16 and under 18.

The evening kicked off with a fabulous presentation from Cyprian Njamma, Director of SEI Investments, discussing his path from school in Nigeria, through to Oxford University and how his passion for maths transferred to physics and then on to finance. He talked through the importance of maths to the financial industry and his passion for its universality, transferability and power in communication and was asked several probing questions about his role. Our year 12s launched a table quiz to test the STEM knowledge of pupils, parents and staff and we heard from our second judge, alumna and airline Captain, Olivia van Lieshout who spoke about the life of a pilot, from training through to receiving command and the decision making involved on every single flight that simply can’t be replaced by autopilot! She also shared easyJet’s campaign to encourage more women to train as pilots and how the airline now has 16% female pilots compared with the industry level of 5%. Her message was clear: if you’re interested, try a flying experience – you’ll catch the bug! As she had to fly early the next morning, she then presented her awards for the Technology & Engineering category. Our final judge, alumna, Consultant Cardiologist and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Professor Diana Gorog spoke about her journey to Medicine and how she chose to focus on cardiology & the importance of combining compassion and strong communication skills in her work. Final message: do what you enjoy & reach for the stars!

Nominees and essay titles
(listed in alphabetical order by surname)
Radiocarbon Dating The Shark That Time Forgot
– Emily Boland, Streatham & Clapham High School
The Discovery of a New Microscopic Vessel in the Leg Bone
– Gabrielle Hobson, Sheffield High School
What is changing as the Moon moves further away?
– Maya Vyas, Streatham & Clapham High School
Stress: its effect on the brain – Ashwini Garneti, Sheffield High School
The Periodic Table – Julia Grzywacz, Wimbledon High School
Why is glass transparent? – Asiya Qureshi, Northwood College for Girls
LIGO: The ultimate streaming app for Black Holes
– Samar Al-Haddad, Notting Hill & Ealing High School
Will doctors ever become extinct due to the existence of artificial intelligence?
– Madhulika Joglekar, Norwich High School
Neglected Tropical Diseases – Darcy Quist, Sydenham High School

Technology & Engineering
Is teleportation possible? – Tiffany Igharoro, Sydenham High School
Wind Turbine Rap! – Lara Kerr, Wimbledon High School
The Highs and Lows of Supersonic Passenger Planes – Elodie Owens, Sydenham High School
Light activated robotic stingrays: – Ella Bolland, South Hampstead High School
Virtual Reality: A giant leap for medicine – Aditya Chougule, Wilson’s School
Quantum entanglement and teleportation – Constance Harris, Norwich High School
Has the film industry accurately portrayed space? – Samah Mughal, Wimbledon High School

About Right – Eleanor Roberts, South Hampstead High School
Mathematics: The Order and the Chaos – Amia Guha, Oxford High School
What is the most beautiful equation? – Morgan Lee, Sydenham High School
Journey of the number zero – Elena Gupta, Wimbledon High School
Quantum computing – Joshua Soyke-Pinon, Dulwich College

For the results please read our Finalists Magazine 2019

STEAM Festival 2019

As part of Science Week we held a fantastic STEAM Festival for parents, pupils and local schools, jam packed with lectures, a careers fair, live experiments and exhibitions. The theme was artificial intelligence and whether it is changing the world for the better.

Our lecture series was very well attended – clearly a popular topic! The first lecture was given by our Physics teacher & Digital Strategy Lead, Mr Llewellin, and sparked lots of conversation regarding learning about AI as part of the curriculum as well as developments which will impact our lives and new apps we can already test out! Our Head of Maths, Mr Brewin gave a fascinating history of AI, from rebirth of knowledge and perfection of the mind toward enlightenment, to the creation of autonomous machines to house human consciousness. The lecture made everyone think and started a slight existential crisis as we tried to work out how to use machines to enhance our humanity, whilst differentiating us from them. Our final lecture was by Managing Director at Accenture Digital, Conor McGovern, and took a positive slant on artificial intelligence as offering us the opportunity to extend human capabilities and showing us how pervasive machine learning already has become.

We had a hugely popular careers fair with exhibitors from a variety of STEAM professions. Huge thanks to all of our exhibitors:

Kit Carter, Solicitor, Carpmaels and Ransford LLP
Valerie Charlton, Design Director, Sebastian Conran Associates
Jennifer Geary, Chief Risk & Operations Officer, Asto (powered by Santander)
Titus Hill, Executive Producer – BT Sport Rugby, Sunset + Vine
Punita Hossain, Management Consultant/Non Exec Director
Sharon Lee, MICE CEng, Associate Director Project and Programme Management, Arup UK
Nicola Osinaike, IT Internal Audit Manager, Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA)
Nigel Triner, Technical Director, Jacobs
Olivia van Lieshout (Sydenham alumna), Airline Captain, easyJet
Preya Wylie, Head of Support & Customer Success, pi-top
Ayo Abbas, Senior Marketing Communications Lead, pi-top
Women of the future STEM Ambassadors:
Laura Whelan, Programme Principal, Fibre First, Openreach
Alice Mooney, Business Manager to the MD of Service Delivery, Openreach
Hurvashee Gya, Risk Graduate in Conduct, Compliance and Operational Risk, Lloyds Banking Group
Haadiyah Fakira, Risk Graduate in Conduct, Compliance and Operational Risk, Lloyds Banking Group
Siobhan Randell, Education and Engagement Manager, WhiteHat

Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London
Oxford Brookes University
The University of Leeds
The University of Surrey

Looking forward to next year already!

Year 6 & 8 netballers enjoy GDST rally at Condover Hall

On Friday 1st March, whilst the rest of the school were on their morning break, the year 8 netball squads were on the coach with the year 6s and were heading off to Condover Hall in Shrewsbury. The bus ride was long so Mrs Bhadeshia and Mrs Calvert promised us we could stop off at the service stations for a break. I think everyone was relieved to be off the bus – even though it did have WiFi. I can tell you that the year 8s were especially happy about this and that meant that most of us watched movies during the long ride.

When we got there, we couldn’t contain our excitement and we couldn’t wait to get off the bus. Unfortunately, our dorms weren’t ready so we played hide-and-seek with Mrs Bhadeshia crawling through the bushes and mud to find us.

After dinner, there was a range of entertainment that we could all go to, however, I think that year 8 will agree with me when I say that the most entertaining was Mrs Bhadeshia’s dance to ‘This Is Me’ in the cafeteria. We also played a friendly netball match in the dark with South Hampstead and Putney using a size four football. We  had also made plans to bring face masks on the trip so we put them on and let’s just say, we definitely didn’t look like ourselves.

The next day brought activities like Abseiling, The Leap Of Faith, Lazer Maze and Tunnelling. These activities kept the year 8s entertained through the morning until lunch whilst the year 6s were playing their first set of matches. This was the time to get our game faces on and start focusing on what were really there for – netball. We played four games that afternoon, winning three and losing one to Putney by one goal. However, we held our heads high and played exceptionally well in the next game. That night, year 8 all gathered in one dorm and had a night in. We played games like 21 Dares and Kiss, Marry, Kill.

Sunday came and we were ready to play some more netball. We had another four games, winning three and losing one to Oxford 3-1. Unfortunately, this meant we would not be able to go through to the semi-finals. Sydenham did brilliantly and I think we are all proud of ourselves. On behalf of the year 8 netball teams I would like to say a big thank you to Mrs Bhadeshia and Mrs Calvert for organising and taking us on such a wonderful, exciting trip and I hope the year 7s who will be going next year have as much fun as we did!

– Kayla, year 8

IWD19 kicked off by Founder of PJoys

Michelle Morgan is Co-Founder of 6 businesses and a parent at Sydenham High School. She kicked off International Women’s Day this morning – in front of her daughter and peers – by telling us her story. Michelle navigated through school but failed most of her exams and didn’t go to university. She talked to us about overcoming shyness, anxiety & lack of self-belief to build a multi-million pound business, Livity,. It was founded in 2001, after Michelle spent time at an ad agency that she managed to talk her way into, and is a youth-led creative network bringing brands and young people together, for the better. Livity was an experiment – a business that placed equal importance on profit & purpose.

Michelle openly talked to us about her struggles with depression and anxiety at periods in her life and how she only recognised what it was after reading Ruby Wax’s book Frazzled, which allowed her to go to her GP for help and to begin recovering after a particularly violent, physical and mental burn out. After discovering the language to talk about how she was feeling she used the stimulus of days spent in her pyjamas to create a new business giving PJs purpose! Pjoys offers beautiful organic cotton pyjamas as a blank canvas for internationally acclaimed artists. It aims to capture lots of conversations, ideally in their pjs, to make into beautiful, useful films that will sit on platform and be a resource and inspiration.

Our purpose is to make mental health an everyday conversation. We believe that talking about our feelings and our mental health is critical to addressing the mental health crisis the world is experiencing.  We’re creating Pjoys as a way to have and share everyday conversations about mental health. 1 in 4 people are affected by mental illness at some point in their lives and there are 450 million people around the world currently suffering from a neurological condition. But if 1 in 4 people are affected then what about the 3 in 4? We all have mental health. 

You can read more about Pjoys on their website:







YA Author Holly Smale visits on World Book Day

The international best-selling YA author Holly Smale treated year 5-9 students to an engaging and inspiring presentation for World Book Day. Holly entertained students with stories about her childhood, being a desperately unhappy teen and how she has managed to turn the negatives into positives.

She began by talking about decisions she remembered making when she was only 4 years old which have stuck with her ever since – being a vegetarian, being a feminist, and wanting to be a writer. She recalled hitting a boy with a stick when he said she couldn’t be an airline pilot because she was a girl – she was angry and indignant because she believed she could be anything she liked and was adamant that boys and girls were equal. Holly called this being inherently feminist. She only realised as an adult that she didn’t like airplanes!

Holly attributes her love of books to her mother, a retired English teacher, who read Shakespeare, Tennyson and Keates to her as bedtime stories when she was a toddler. She fondly remembered the first age-appropriate book she was given, The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton and being completely entranced by the magical world it portrayed, taking the book absolutely everywhere with  her.

When asked where the book came from, Holly’s mother explained about “the lady making up a story, getting it published millions of times all around the world, becoming rich and famous, then dying” – a goal Holly, aged 4, decided to emulate.

A naturally curious and inquisitive child, Holly enjoyed primary school but on starting secondary school was targeted by other students as weird, geeky and different to them. Holly spent a lonely 5 years turning from a happy chatty child to a shy insecure teen. At break times, Holly would hide in the changing rooms to escape into the world of books, and just read and read.

On a school trip to the Clothes Show at age 15, however her life changed when she was spotted by a modelling agency. This was an opportunity for a gangly teenager to make a transformation – to become a sophisticated woman which would help her fit in with everyone else. Sadly it just made things worse with her fellow students, so after acing her GCSEs Holly decided to quit modelling and forged her parents’ signatures in order to change school for sixth form.

Life improved for Holly and she tucked all her bad experiences away, completing an MA in Shakespeare and attempting to pursue her goal to become a published author.

Holly’s first book, a horror story for adults, was rejected by publishers. On the suggestion of a good friend she began writing a YA novel about a teen wanting to be like everyone else and not be different who gets spotted by a modelling agency and the Geek Girl series was born.

Ten years later Geek Girl has sold some 1.4 million copies in 34 languages and series has grown to 9 books. This has literally changed Holly’s life and reinforces her belief in the power of books as well the importance of being able to turn things around. In the Q&A Holly said her favourite word was metamorphosis.

Holly’s new books series The Valentines is about 3 sisters and a brother from a generations-old movie-star family and about their lives as famous people and perhaps wanting to be more ordinary. The first in the series Happy Girl Lucky is told from the perspective of Hope who lives much of her life in her own made-up film scenes.

Following the presentation two groups of students enjoyed inspirational workshops with Holly creating a collaborative story using the 8 point arc method discussing genre, setting, characters, and critical choice.

– Mrs Pett, Librarian & Careers Leader

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