Pupils at Danetree Junior School in West Ewell abandoned their usual burgundy school uniform in favour of a slightly more attention grabbing pink for one day recently to help raise money for Cancer Research.
The ‘Think Pink’ fundraising day is a regular fixture on the school calendar, and is held in memory of the school’s former Higher Level Teaching Assistant Jane Mingard. Pink clothing – the brighter the better – was the order of the day for staff and pupils, with a selection of activities taking place, including a mufti day, guess the number of sweets in the jar competition, badge selling and a commemorative balloon release, to help bring in money for the charity.
In total, the children and their families raised £700. “We can’t thank everyone enough for the all their efforts and generosity,” said Danetree head teacher James Broad. “Jane was a wonderful colleague to many here at Danetree, so this cause and charity are particularly
close to all our hearts. A lot of fun was had along the way, but even more importantly, once again, the whole school and wider school family has rallied round and helped us come up with this fantastic total. Everyone should be proud of what they’ve done and the difference they have helped make."
Pupils from Whyteleafe School had a chance to showcase the school’s musical ability recently when they took part in a choral concert at the Dorking Halls, organised by Surrey Arts.
A group of 60 children from Years Three to Six teamed up with singers from eight other local schools for the annual extravaganza of young singing talent, which has become a regular feature on the local schools calendar over the past decade.
Following a two-hour pre-show rehearsal at the venue, the Whyteleafe choir sang a selection of popular hits from West End musicals, before the second half of the concert which included participation from the audience - which included many Whyteleafe families.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the children and all the effort they put in,” said music teacher Emma McCheyne. “Music isn’t just something we focus on for big occasions like this, it’s an important part of the curriculum here at Whyteleafe. The choir have already performed at the Royal Albert Hall this academic year, and at Christmas they were involved in the Carols evening and Grandparents’ tea party."
It is not just about the choir, however – instrumental music is also prominent. “We have an orchestra and recorder groups, and in Year Four all children learn the clarinet for a year, then in Year Five they have a term of learning the ukulele,” Mrs McCheyne explained. “It’s
great for the school to have the platform of events like the Dorking Halls concert to show the work it’s doing in teaching music – and it’s great for the children to have that chance to show what they can do too. It makes them very proud, and rightly so.”
Pupils at Cuddington Croft School in Cheam have come up with a unique way of leaving a lasting legacy on the building – by creating a tile wall made up of self-portraits.
The mosaic wall is a feature of the school’s new library and classroom complex, which pupils and their families have been able to watch going up through the course of the academic year, and which was opened by the mayor of Epsom and Ewell in April. Now over 400 children have been able to claim a little piece of it as their own with the ceramic
“The idea came about when the school converted to Academy status last September,” said head teacher Scott Maclean. “We knew we had the new building coming, which was the start of another new era at the school, so we thought what better way to capture this moment in Cuddington’s history than to allow every child, and also every member of staff, to leave their mark for years to come. We’re lucky that two of our parents run Cheam Village Ceramics, so it seemed a really original and appropriate way to commemorate this year."
What was envisaged as being a piece of decoration has also become a useful way of keeping the children entertained at play time – and their parents at pick-up time. “The children love it – they spend ages looking at it, picking out themselves and their friends,” said Mr Maclean. “And it’s not just them – I’ve seen plenty of parents gazing at it at home time as well, so it’s keeping everyone entertained!”
Year Five pupils from Marden Lodge School in Caterham had a rare opportunity to view life on the other side of the television screen recently when they went on a behind the scenes trip round Sky studios.
The 20 children made the trip to west London as part of their classroom project Lights, Camera, Action, snapping up the last available place on the hugely in-demand guided tour.
Highlights included a look round the studio from which Sky Sports was producing coverage of major international golfing tournaments, watching a sports report go out live, and access to the edit suite to see how television broadcasts are put together, before finally, the children were given the opportunity to make a celebrity news round-up of their own.
“Obviously anything to do with watching television is always going to go down well with children of this age, but this was genuinely awe-inspiring,” said Year 5 class teacher Rachael Nicholls.
“They were fascinated by seeing the technology that goes into making television, so they were particularly proud when they had an opportunity at assembly to show the whole school the bulletin that they had made. The Sky staff said they were very impressed by their organisation and the way they went around their tasks when they were putting it together.”
The pupils’ experience has been implemented across the curriculum, with the trip being the launch pad for several new classroom projects. “Before we went, they had already been looking at script writing, and the subject of the report they made – celebrity – has been used as a discussion topic in Citizenship classes,” Mrs Nicholls explained. “In addition, some students interested in news making are putting together a newsletter in IT class, they’ve been using celebrity images to produce Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol-inspired Pop Art, and we’re also studying the history of broadcasting.”
And just like a popular television series, there will be a sequel to the trip. “In July our Year Six class will also be taking the tour,” Mrs Nicholls added. “We can only hope it’s as successful as the first one”.
Year Six pupils at Cordwalles School in Camberley were transported out of the classroom and onto two of history’s most infamous voyages recently when author and illustrator William Grill visited to talk about the Titanic, and Ernest Shackleton’s legendary South Pole
Willow and Maple classes discovered his work during their recent Antarctic project, and then began doing work on the ill-fated ocean voyage, which he also covered during his visit.
“William was absolutely brilliant with the children,” said teacher Philippa Leah, who organised his visit. “He’s only 24, so they could relate to him, and he told them all about how he got into the world of illustration and writing, as well as showing them his artist’s
sketchbooks where he did his working. They were fascinated."
It was not just a day of watching and listening, either, as the children soon got their hands dirty in the name of art. “He was showing them how to use different ink and brush strokes to create visual effects, and before long was demonstrating how to make entire pictures out of blobs of ink, then creating big pictures,” Ms Leah explained. “Then with Willow class, he created a large scale drawing of the Titanic, and with Maple he worked on passengers who might have been on board. The children were fascinated by watching him work and
getting involved themselves."
One pupil who has taken the Titanic to his heart was given a particularly special treat. “Harish in Maple class is so into the topic that he’s creating his own children’s book all about it, so William took particular time out with him to discuss ways he could develop his ideas, and give him a professional masterclass and a whole sheet of ideas”, said Ms Leah. “It was brilliant to see someone in the classroom being so inspired by and benefiting so much from one of our visitors. That’s precisely what school visits should be about.”
Children at Cuddington Croft School in Cheam have had found their school under military occupation recently - thanks to the school's own replica of China's famous terracotta warriors.
Year Two pupils at the school have been looking at China as part of their studies, and as well as more obvious topics like the Chinese New Year, they decided to build their own slightly smaller scale replica of the world-famous attraction in the city of Xian.
Teacher Kerry Stringer said the China project had proved a real winner with pupils across the curriculum. "As a school we have been thinking about targeting boys for writing and how to engage them in their learning. We though that themes such as the Terracotta Army and the Great Wall would really motivate the boys to write and spark their interest," she explained.
The scheme seems to have worked. "The children have really enjoyed the topic so far, and produced some fantastic texts about the purpose of the Terracotta Army," she explained, "and most enjoyably of all, they've created their own class army, with each warrior having individual features and being markedly different - just like the real thing."
Other activities lined up include a Chinese dance workshop, the ever-popular Chinese food tasting session, and looking at differences between life in Cheam and a typical Chinese village. The final part of the project will see the children put their accumulated studies to good use as they draw up their own holiday brochures for China. "It would be nice to think that maybe one day some of them might even get to go there and see the real Terracotta Army," said Ms Stringer. "Then they can see how the school's version compares!".
Schools are used to celebrating pupils’ achievement and success – so it is a turn up for the books when it is the parents who end up winning an award. But that is what happened to the Friends of Windmill Primary School when their stall was named the best on display at the Wokingham May Fayre.
Their reward for their work was a certificate from the Mayor – with the added bonus of the stall raising £500 towards the group’s efforts to help the school library.
“It was a wonderful surprise but thoroughly deserved as the volunteers had been collecting items for the stall for the previous 12 months,” said the group’s chair Lynne Simmonds. “We were lucky enough to have two professional cake makers on the team who donated items for the day – they were absolutely stunning, and definitely helped attract attention to our stall as well as customers,” she explained.
And that may be the secret of how the Friends caught the eye of the Mayor whilst he was judging the competition. “After we’d set up, he came round and had a chat with myself and vice-chair James Baston, and he seemed particularly taken with the cakes,” she explained. “I was on the stall most of the day but whilst I was away on a lunch break, he
came back and presented the award to Kirsty Moors, who’s a school governor. We didn’t expect it at all, so it was a lovely reward."
No sooner had the team enjoyed their victory than work began on the next stall. “Our treasurer Elaine Brewster had one day off, and she’s already working on plans for next year,” said Lynne. “We're hoping to be at the Mayor’s charity fayre in December as well, so we’d better start thinking about Christmas cake recipes!”
A pupil from Glyn School in Ewell could be on his way to following in particularly famous footsteps after his recent success at the British Gymnastics championships.
Jack Neill, 17, was crowned British U18 pommel horse champion, a title previously won by Olympic silver medallist Louis Smith, as well as finishing third on the parallel bars and fifth in the all-round competition.
Jack, who represents Ireland at international level, began training at Tolworth Gymnastics Club at the age of five. Supported by the Mary Peters Trust and GLL Sport Foundation, he has already competed at the 2012 European Championships and 2013 European Youth Olympics, and hopes to take part in this year’s World Championships in Glasgow.
Competing at such a level means he trains for more than 20 hours a week on top of his school studies - which only serves to make his achievement in securing an offer from Cambridge University to study engineering, which he hopes to do after taking a gap year to concentrate on his gymnastics, all the more impressive.
“Staff at Glyn have always been hugely supportive of my gymnastics and also provided academic support whenever I’ve needed it,” he explained. “Last summer I took three AS Levels when I was out in Bulgaria competing at the European Championships – the school made arrangements with the British Council for me to be able to do my exams when I was
there, and stayed in touch to check how the competition was going.
Glyn’s head of sixth form Joe Gale has watched Jack throughout his school career, and says his success is thoroughly deserved – and appreciated by his classmates. “Jack has a great work ethic,” he explained. “I was his biology teacher for two years and saw no sign of
the huge amounts of work he was putting in to his gymnastics, as his work was always done on time and to a high standard."
It was not just the teachers who were unaware of quite how much work he was doing. “Jack’s very humble and many of the other students were unaware of his success until we persuaded him to let us show one of his performance clips in assembly,” Mr Gale explained. “They revelled in the brilliance of one of their own year group and what he could do, and gave him a standing ovation at the end. The whole school is incredibly proud of him and what he’s achieved, and we can’t wait to see more.”
Year Five pupils from Danetree Junior School in West Ewell were taken out of their comfort and also their usual learning zone recently on an outdoor team building exercise trip to Henley Fort in the Surrey hills overlooking Guildford.
The children, under the guidance of Year Five head Joanna Singleton, got to try a whole range of new experiences, including sleeping in yurts, as part of the outward bound exercise – and Ms Singleton said the whole endeavour proved to be a huge hit with both pupils and staff.
“It was the first time we’d been to Henley Fort, and it was a huge success,” she explained. “The main focus of the event was about confronting them with new experiences, in a challenging outdoor environment, and seeing how they responded. Many of them had never done things like camping out before, so that was a novelty in itself, and the activities they were involved in put a lot of emphasis on working together and group problem solving.”
Highlights included rock climbing, building shelters, and the slightly less daunting but equally enjoyable challenge of cooking popcorn over an open campfire. The spectacular location – a historic fort, built to protect London against the danger of invasion by the French - just added to the sense of occasion.
“It was a wonderful experience and I cannot recommend the venue highly enough,” said Ms Singleton. “It was a great educational experience, as well as being a hugely enjoyable one. I know the children have taken away some really useful new knowledge from this trip – but equally importantly, they’ve taken some very happy memories.”
Pupils at Springfield Primary School in Sunbury had a music lesson with a difference recently when self described ‘vocal voyager’ Randolph Matthews dropped by the classroom for a day of music activities.
The percussionist turned singer turned beatboxer and general soundmaking machine held pupils entranced as he led them on a journey of sonic discovery, demonstrating the wide variety of sounds he can make – and helping them discover some of their own.
“It was an amazing day and produced a real buzz around the school,” said music leader Hannah Gregson, who organised the visit. “We wanted the children to experience a new kind of music lesson. He was recommended to me by a colleague who’d had him visit a previous school, and he really involved everyone in what he did – there was a lot of laughter around the school.”
Using his unique vocal skills, Matthews began by demonstrating his ability to produce sound effects, and then moved on to beatboxing and using recording equipment to loop sounds to create original music, using the names of the children.
“The highlight of the day came at the end when he got the whole school involved in creating a song and dance routine,” said Ms Gregson. “It was an amazing way to round things off, and sent everyone home with a smile on their face. We wanted to give them something a bit different, and in Randolph Matthews, we certainly did just that. It’s a music lesson none of them is likely to forget in a hurry.”
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