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Welcome to the Sydenham School weekly e-newsletter: Edition 126
we have listened to what parents have said about what they want from the newsletter and made some changes….



There was a lunchtime double celebration at Sydenham School this week, as the winners of two prestigious competitions came together with their cups, medals and certificates.  For the four Year 8 girls who recently came out in front of 22 rival teams from seven local schools in the Lewisham Book Quiz, it was a case of maintaining a series of triumphs stretching back five years.  Meanwhile, the success of the Year 9 and 10 girls in the London-wide regional final of the Deutsche Bank Debate Mate Cup held at the London School of Economics was a first for the Dartmouth Road School; the culmination of over six-months of after-school debating practice, and a passport now to national finals later in the summer term.

“I suppose there was a bit of extra pressure on the Sydenham Book Quiz teams to do well again this year,” said Pia Houghton-Budd (13), “but once the questions  began we really focused and had fun.  We worked well as a team because we all have pretty varied reading tastes and so could help each other in every round.”  Among the challenges they faced were rounds on mythology, science-fiction, the opening lines of classic novels, and a picture round where they were asked to identify books from details taken from their covers.  “We were very strong on fantasy stories,” added Saoirse Spy (13), “and even managed to correct one of the answers about The Lord of the Rings.  The only sad thing is that this is the last time we can take part – it is only open to Year 7 and 8 students from Lewisham schools. ”

“I am very proud of the girls – they did terrifically well scoring 72 out of a possible 80 points and displaying a familiarity with some really quite exceptionally demanding literature,” said Diana Adams Sydenham School Learning Resource Centre Manager.  “We do absolutely nothing to help the students - it is entirely down to the fact that they read a lot that their book knowledge is so good.”

The success of the four-strong Sydenham Debate Mate team, was, by contrast, the culmination of a process of after-school coaching in the techniques and art of debating going back some six months.  “Once a week since October we, like all the other competitors at the other schools, have met a Debate Mate mentor who has trained up to face the challenge of debating current affairs topics with very little preparation time,” said Abigail Huruy (14).

The girls needed the rigorous preparation as the London finals were a gruelling occasion involving numerous debates conducted over a single day, and often with only 20 minutes notice given the teams as to the subject and the perspective – for or against – they had to adopt.  “We started at 9.00am and the final result was announced at 6.00pm,”said Phoebe Butter. “With over 70 schools represented and 140 teams taking part, the debates were spread all over the place so often our limited preparation time was cut even more as we had to rush to get to the room where we were expected.”

Having battled their way to the finals, Sydenham Team B had to propose arming the police.  In their feedback the judges praised the Sydenham School girls for their cool in face of a highly vociferous audience and their use of effective rebuttal and points of information to press their arguments, despite having the less popular viewpoint to advance on a highly emotive topic. “It was really hard in the final round as we had to sound convincing despite not agreeing personally with our allotted standpoint. And the shooting the day before of someone by a policeman in North Carolina did not help our cause,” said Phoebe Butter (14) from Forest Hill. “We were all amazed that we won – in fact when we heard we were not among the runners-up we began to pack-up to go,” recalls Amy Gibbs (15). 

“The girls did exceptionally well, but their success is down to their determination and application – coming regularly to the after-school meetings,” said human sciences student teacher Michelle Mangal.  “They now go forward to the national finals due to be held at the Houses of Parliament and where they’ll be facing the best teams from England’s state schools.”  For the girls involved the benefits have extended beyond coming out top of the London crop of young debaters.  “I have definitely become more confident,” said Zhora Iqbal, “it has also really expanded my knowledge and interest in current affairs.” _________________________________________________________________________________

Spectroscopy in a Suitcase


Year 12 chemistry students were treated to a visit from William King of the University of Greenwich on Tuesday.  William brought along materials for the Royal Society of Chemistry's Spectroscopy in a Suitcase event.  Students engaged in problem solving activities, including using a genuine infrared spectrometer to analyse samples of unknown chemicals.  Students also got the opportunity to talk to a biomedical science undergraduate about her university experience so far.  Perhaps the highlight of the event was the free periodic tables and science themed sweeties which were handed to students as they left!

Kent University visit  

On Friday 24th April 32 Year 11s went to spend the weekend at Kent University in Canterbury. They went with a team of English and Maths teachers to do some intensive work on improving their grades in these subjects and to inspire them to aim for University. The Kent campus was brilliant and every girl had her own on-suite bedroom but the work was tough – lessons until 9 at night and even exams on Sunday morning to see how much had been learnt. Despite the hard work the students had a great time with great food and a bit of aerobics, hoola hooping and scrabble during their breaks. Rhiannon Foster, one of the students who attended said, ‘When I went away to the University of Kent I found that it benefitted me more than I thought it would. At first I thought it would just be boring and the work would be non-stop but when I got there I found it was actually highly motivating. I wished that it could have been longer because I learnt a lot and would like to learn even more. I am now more interested in doing revision and feel as though I will do better in my GCSEs thanks to the trip.’ The trip was such a success that we are considering using Kent University for more subject residentials in the future.


Announcing the Gold Standard Rewards Trip

There are just over two weeks to go before students discover whether they have qualified for the Gold Standard Rewards Trip to Disneyland Paris, which recognises those students who have consistently achieved Gold in each of our 5 standards. Those students who were awarded the Gold Standard for each of Track 1 through 4, will automatically receive a place on the trip.

In addition, students who achieved Gold for every standard in any of the 4 tracks will be entered into a draw to join them on this exciting adventure. Students will receive an entry into the draw for every Track in which they achieved the Gold Standard, thus increasing their chances of being picked! The draws will take place during assemblies in the week beginning 11th May.

The trip itself will take place on Friday 17th July (the last day of the school year). Students will leave school on Thursday evening, travelling overnight by coach and ferry, spend a day in the park, and return to school in the early hours of Saturday 18th July. More details will be provided to prize winners in a few weeks time.

Changes to the Behaviour Standard

Thank you to all parents and students that have provided feedback on the Gold Standard system during the course of the year. As a result of some of this feedback, we have decided to make a further change to the way in which the Behaviour Standard is calculated each Track. From now on, the only way a student would be either Blue or Red for Behaviour Points, is if they have a minus score, having received Demerits from their teachers, indicating a cause for concern around behaviour to learning.

To achieve Gold, students will still need to achieve at least 20 Merits from their teachers. Students who achieve a positive score of less than 20 will be Yellow.

More details will be provided on the Colours report that students will receive in two weeks time.


The Day Magazine, a great new online resource  

Topical news stories written for 11- 18 year olds

  Current Affairs For Schools
Access it in school or at home, from the intranet home page/Sydenham Gateway under Sydenham Apps.
The Day is written to explain the news and raise questions about the world. Daily news articles are published on The Day  homepage, and you can sign up to have them emailed to you each evening. On The Day website, you will also find a range of features and a news archive with stories relevant to each part of the curriculum. It is currently running great articles about the election, making it easy for students to understand the issues and to be able to form judgements about the parties and policies.



Sydenham School  is unique in that it runs 4 STEM clubs every week.

Yr7’s are working on making their own apps (SL001 Mondays 3.30-4.30pm).
Year 8 are constructing their own AM radios in SL002 Mondays 3.30-4.40pm.
The year 9 STEM club are doing a variety of exciting projects that will result is a Crest silver award (Monday P3.007 3.30-4.30pm).
Year 10s are  doing their project on a Thursday (SL001 3.30-4.30pm) The year 10’s are producing  stop frame animation films.

The STEM clubs are open to ALL pupils in years 7-10. Some projects take one session, others will take place over a number of weeks. The teachers are on a rota so pupils will experience different staff for different projects. Please encourage your daughter(s) to give STEM club it a go.

K Matheson-McLaughlin
STEM Curriculum Leader


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