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Welcome to the Sydenham School weekly e-newsletter: Edition 138
we have listened to what parents have said about what they want from the newsletter and made some changes….


The Lion the Witch & the wardrobe

I had the pleasure to watch Sydenham’s whole-school production ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ on Wednesday night.
From the moment the audience took their seats, they were spellbound. The gleaming new school hall was transformed into a West End theatre. Two stages, a central runway and a phenomenal house band greeted the capacity audience as they took their seats. The lights dimmed and the journey to Narnia began.
The action opened in an English country house with our four heroes, an irascible professor and their no-nonsense housekeeper. Authentic 1940s costumes, dusty books and, of course, a magical (rotating) wardrobe made the set convincing. This was to be only the beginning as curiosity got the better of our protagonists and suddenly we were in Narnia.
Superb dance performances punctuated the performance; dancers threw both snow and limbs into the air, while eerie music and stark lighting evoked a haunting atmosphere.  An irreverent Mr Tumnus was matched only by the arrival of the evocative Snow Queen and her dreadful, hideous horde of witches, goblins and stags. Younger members of the audience were visibly terrified as cast members stared menacingly into their eyes.
Providing much-needed comic relief, the two beavers lightened the mood with witty one-liners and a fantastic fish-frying song.
Just when the audience thought that nothing could outdo the Snow Queen, Aslan appeared. He was a skilfully constructed puppet brought to life by three puppeteers that evoked audible gasps when he made his dramatic entrance. Aslan commanded the stage as he prepared his troops, an assortment of forest animals, for the final battle.
The battle, complete with strobe lights, thunderous drums and weaponry, stole the show. All too soon the audience was brought back to the real world. A rapturous song concluded the show and the audience left the new school hall, humming the songs and wondering how Sydenham School will outdo itself next year in their new hall.
Each element of the production was a testament to Sydenham’s talent. From make-up, costumes and props to music, lighting and direction: whole-school teamwork was the star of the show.


Student Experiences

“I have really enjoyed my experience being backstage helping out in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe production. Since I am a Year 7 student I wanted to be involved because I thought that this experience would help me with my skills and improvement in many different forms for the future years to come. I helped out doing makeup and Scene changes backstage. From this experience I have made a few new friends from different year groups and I cannot wait for the next big performance. I think I have also gained more trust by many different teachers that I have also met along the way!”

Charlotte 7N

“Over this year I was lucky enough to get involved in an amazing performance that I was able to put my heart and soul into. Even though it took what seemed like forever to make, when we put it together it was a great performance and everyone thought it was different and unique! It was very enjoyable and would definitely do it again. I met new people and had new experiences which meant it was really worth it. My part in the performance was small but fun, and I was able to show that a small part can be a big part if you really try. I couldn’t have done it without all the staff that spent their time into helping me learn my part when I got it halfway through the year. I can’t wait for the next production and hope to take part in it too!”

Francesca 7A

Foundation For Jimmy


Foundation For Jimmy was working with 25 Year 7 Sydenham Girls pupils designing a transition and induction day programme for their new Year 6. The Foundation delivers 20 one-to-one and small group work sessions over two terms to identify a social action project that meets the needs of the school, pupils and local community.

Pupils challenge themselves by creating, organising and running a community event for the school, helping them to develop character, confidence, leadership, problem solving and teamwork skills. After a successful Induction Evening, that saw 240 pupils and over 300 parents and carers at the event. On 6 July Educating For Jimmy organised a ‘First Day’ for the 240 new Year 6 pupils with treasure hunts, games, sports, performances.

The Foundation delivers 20 one-to-one and small group work sessions over two terms to identify a social action project that meets the needs of the school, pupils and local community. Foundation For Jimmy works to build a legacy of peace in Jimmy’s memory and make young people safer. The Foundation runs programmes in schools across the country, provides youth employment and work experience through its cafés in Lewisham as well as having an active Young Citizens group.

“The students are really becoming more confident. Lots of teachers have made very positive comments about the changes that they’ve seen in the students. Academically, all of the students seem to be moving in the right direction,” Janet Emmanuel, Assistant Head.

I’ve seen the children grow so much in confidence from the beginning of the course to the end of the programme. Kids that I would usually see as being quite shy or quiet seem to speak confidently and have become really good role models for our school,” Anna Mastihi, Teacher.

“The best advice I have for the year 6’s is to just keep calm and put your head down and work and at break, sit down with your friends but don’t get too involved were you get angry or you get into fights,” Erin Sullivan, pupil.

New School - A Paradise For Young Readers  

Headteacher Reveals Plans For Idyllic Library in Next Phase of £23million Redevelopment As Reading Achievements of Young Book Enthusiasts Rewarded.

At a special ceremony held this week to celebrate the achievements of young readers at Sydenham School, head teacher Carolyn Unsted explained how the next phase of the £23 million redevelopment of the campus on Dartmouth Road will include a complete re-vamp of the library facilities. 

“The new library and learning resource centre will occupy what used to be the lower school hall in the former grammar school building.  It will be a substantial space, and students will also have access to an enclosed, landscaped reading courtyard,” explained Ms Unsted.  “It should be a real paradise for book borrowers in warm weather where they will be able to sit on benches or under trees and read to their hearts’ content.  It will be at the very centre of the new school.”

Such prioritizing of the library and its staff chimes with a recent All-Party Parliamentary Group report ‘The Beating Heart Of The School’ (July 2014) which highlighted the importance of school libraries and trained specialist staff and raised serious concerns about a steady decline in such provision including the disappearance of some 280 school librarian posts across England in just the previous two years.  “I remember when my primary school turned the library into a new classroom – it was terrible,” said Meghan Sarris (11) from Catford – who collected an award for being one of her year group’s best and most prolific book reviewers.

Alongside her receiving acknowledgement for reading achievement were 20 fellow students in Years 7, 8 and 9.  Their success was marked in a number of categories including awards for most borrowing from the library and for those girls that took on Sydenham School’s ‘book challenge’ requiring them to read titles across a wide range of genres including biography and other kinds of non-fiction.  In the latter group, Abiola Morris-Walker (12) from South Norwood was applauded for borrowing and reading 167 books in just a year, while Cadhla McCarthy (14) from Forest Hill received special praise for borrowing and reading 523 books since she started at Sydenham in September 2013.  Meanwhile, the Champion of the year was Aliyah Abdulrasaq (13) from Sydenham who barely spoke any English when she first came to the school but whose keen reading has supported her becoming quite fluent in under two years.

“The girls are asked to fill in a form every time they finish a book telling us what they thought of it,” explains Diana Adams, manager of Sydenham School’s Learning Resource Centre.  “And so we know they are really reading the books they borrow.”  Congratulating the girls, she reminded them of the many additional ways in which reading is encouraged and celebrated at Sydenham School thanks to the close relationships that have been developed with publishers and the steady stream of high-profile young people’s writers that visit each year.  Sydenham is also a keen participant in book quizzes and competitions and contributes young readers to a special Puffin Book Club.

“It is quite a remarkable thing to be able to borrow a book for free,” added Carolyn Unsted.   “It is something that should not be taken for granted, and certainly everyone here today can be congratulated for taking maximum advantage of the opportunity.  And quite apart from the pleasure it affords, reading is also the passport to improved writing and academic achievement.”

“I think the reason I love reading,” said Stephania Nutu (12) from Crystal Palace, “is the chance it gives me to live other lives and have experiences I could never have - and it gives me a bigger vocabulary too!”


Exam results day

The exam results days will take place on Thursday 13th August for A-levels and Thursday 20th August for GCSEs. A-level results will be available from the sixth form common room, and GCSE results will be available from the school hall.

BTEC and other vocational qualification certificates can also be collected on these days. The remaining certificates will be available to collect from November onward.

If you are unable to collect results on the day, or have other questions, please contact Mr Lake, the exams officer, on 020 8699 6731 x533 or, or in the data office in room 230, Basil Spence building." 

Gold Standard Rewards Trip to Disneyland Paris              


We are very excited about our upcoming rewards trip to Disneyland, which is departing next Thursday (16th July). Students who are attending the trip should arrive at school no later than 11:00PM on this date.

Students who are attending the trip should have received and returned medical forms to reception this week, and we will need these prior to students being allowed to travel, so if your daughter hasn’t brought one home for you to sign yet, and she is going on the trip, please contact Mr. Guest by email on as soon as possible.

A reminder about what to bring on the trip:

  • A Valid Passport
  • Snacks/ drinks for outbound coach journey
  • Light/ foldable raincoat – just in case it rains
  • Small wearable bag – note we won’t be able to return to the coach during the day, so these must be small/ light enough to be carried throughout the day, including onto any rides etc.
  • Spending money in Euros – for food/ drinks/ souvenirs

We are very proud of all the students who achieved the Gold Standard this year, and look forward to even more students achieving the Gold Standard in the coming year.


Year 6 induction day

Our Year 6 Induction Day took place on Tuesday 7th July. It was attended by 210 students and supported by next year's Year 7 tutors, Year 7 and 9 helpers, TAs and workshop leaders from the Jimmy Mizen Foundation. Parents and students have given feedback to Ms Emmanuel and Miss Garrick about the positive atmosphere around the school and the support their daughters have received so far. All are looking forward to joining us in September.

The Key Stage 3 pastoral team for Year 6/7 would like to thank all staff involved in making the day a success.


Lost Property

All lost property not claimed before the end of this term, Friday 17 July, will be disposed of. Students are encouraged to come and claim their belongings before or after school, during break or lunch time. Lost property is kept in the First Aid Office on the first floor of the STEM Building. 

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