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Welcome to the Sydenham School weekly e-newsletter: Edition 190


Message from the Headteacher

Dear Families

This last week seems to have flown by and as usual, there was much to note and celebrate across the school community. We welcomed back staff and 60 students who went to Berlin on a 4 day tour to this fantastic European city. Students visited a number of world famous sites including the iconic Brandenburg Gate. They also went to the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, which is a moving tribute to all of those who died in the Holocaust during World War 2. I know that the students had a great time in Berlin and that they would like to join me in thanking all of those members of staff who gave up their own time so willingly to provide this memorable experience for them. The timing of the visit also fitted in with this point in the year when we mark ‘Holocaust Memorial Day’. All week, Ms Alexander has been leading assemblies, with student participation, and we thank Ms Alexander very much for organising these so well.

Last but not least, Sydenham School hosted the Secondary Urban Deabate Mate, which saw a number of other schools converge on the school site to develop and display their skills of oracy. It was a real pleasure to see young people from so many different schools articulate themselves respectfully and coherently to their peers. Everyone lapped up the opportunity to practice putting across an argument that was suuficiently persuasive to be voted the strongest in each round. Confident and articulate students are exactly what every school sees as part of their responsibility to nurture. Monday evening was certainly an excellent 'stage' on which to allow this to happen. Thank you very much to Ms Virgo-Furrs for expertly leading 'Debate Mate'.

Next week we are looking forward to the ‘Battle of the Bands’ which I am told is one of the school highlights of the year. I have booked a front seat and look forward to reporting back to you in next week’s SYD Newsletter on what I am sure will be another successful event at Sydenham School!

As ever, I wish you a restful weekend and thank you for your ongoing support of the school.

Kind regards

Mrs Lowe


Sydenham debaters shine again!


A huge well done to all the Debate Mate Club members who participated in the first round of the Secondary Urban Debate League on Monday 23rd January. Sydenham School was one of several London schools participating in the tournament. Our school entered four debating teams, including one for the Novice Cup. The other schools involved were Carew Academy (one team), Harris Invictus Academy Croydon (two teams), Oasis Academy Shirley Park (two teams), St Saviour’s and St Olave’s School (three teams), Norwood School (one team), Bacon’s College (three teams), Burntwood School (one team) and  The Elmgreen School (two teams).

Our teams, Sydenham A and Sydenham D won against Bacon’s College and Oasis B respectively. Sydenham B and Sydenham C won against St Saviour’s and St Olave’s B and Oasis A respectively. All our teams did extremely well, and teams B and D deserve a special cheer as they mostly comprised of first-time debaters!

Many more of our students chose to observe the tournament and said enthusiastically at the end of the tournament that they were inspired to take part in the next stage which is coming up in the spring.
Special thanks go to all the students who volunteered to welcome tournament participants and provide them with refreshments during the break.

RAF visit  

On Wednesday 18th January, a group of Year 8 and 9 Science classes had the opportunity to see a presentation by some members of the Royal Air Force. The main focus was engineering and how planes works. The RAF shared many examples along the way. This included showing smaller versions of engines and how they use advanced technology to get information. The presentors then answered our questions and gave an insight into what kinds of jobs you can do in the RAF. This was an enjoyable experience and students have a better  understanding of what goes into the many jobs available in the RAF.

Joyce Kadibu

West End theatre experience thrills students!


“It was fantastic!” That was the verdict from Year 11 students who were treated to a visit to the Playhouse Theatre to see a spectacular production of ‘An Inspector Calls’. A total of 70 students attended two separate performances of the West End play, which is a key part of their GCSE English Literature course.

The incredible set featured a house that opened up and collapsed in a spectacular explosion towards the end, while the cast of the play (directed by Stephen Daldry) included several familiar faces from TV and film – including Liam Brennan as Inspector Goole. 

Year 11 student Sydney McKelvey said: “I really like the storyline and seeing the play on stage helped me to understand the differences and contrasts between the class of the characters. I also could see how being part of the audience at the time would have felt and how contemporary audiences would have related to the play.”


Women in Science Residential (Years 10 and 11) - 5 - 7 April 2017 - Pembroke College, Cambridge

A wonderful opportunity has arisen for students  to stay in Pembroke College, Cambridge University (founded in 1347), for FREE and attend a Science taster course

Pembroke College is delighted to be hosting a three day Women in Science residential in April 2017, where participants will have the opportunity to stay in College, meet current students, take part in academic sessions covering a range of sciences, and find out more about Cambridge – both as a city and a university. We hope that students who participate will get a real taste of university life and a better understanding of what they can do now to prepare themselves for this step. (Closing date 28.02.17, only 30 places. Please do speak with Ms Taylor, our Careers and Enterprise Co-ordinator).


Medical Work Experience for Year 12 Students at Lewisham Hospital – applications open on 01 February

These are suitable for those students who intend to study medicine and want a shadowing opportunity specifically concerned with the work of doctors.  Applicants must be 16 years or older.
For observational placements at University Hospital Lewisham, please send a CV and covering letter to:
Molly Payne
Medical Undergraduate Coordinator
Education Centre
Lewisham Hospital
Lewisham High St
SE13 6LH
Or email:

Please note: Observational placements are usually held during the summer (mid June – end of August).  Availability is limited, competitive and preference will go to those students who live/school in the London Borough of Lewisham. Applications must be submitted between 1st February and 30th June for that year.Requests made outside of this period unfortunately will not receive a response.

Parent volunteers to speak at Careers Seminars

We would be delighted if parents would like to volunteer to come in and talk about their vocational area.  It is always excellent to hear from “real people” about how they made their career choices and what they are doing (or have done) in their work life.  Please contact Fiona Taylor if you would be willing to take part in a Careers seminar.  Many thanks.

Microsoft Showcase School Tours

On Tuesday and Thursday this week, we were delighted to open our classrooms to almost 100 educators, policymakers and technologists from around the globe. Delegates from as far afield as Russia, Latvia, the Ukraine, the United States, Finland, Norway and the United Arab Emirates (to name but a few) were in London for the annual BETT exhibition, and signed up to come and see how we are using technology for learning as one of only two Microsoft Showcase Schools for secondary-aged students in London.

Visitors learnt about our journey with technology over the past 5 years, and our vision for the future as a pioneer school for High Performance Learning. They then had the opportunity to visit lessons, and to see first hand how our Certified Microsoft Innovative Educators (or MIEs for short) are using and exploring the power of digital technology to support learning in their lessons, including products such as Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Sway, Microsoft Office Forms, Impero Classroom, Kahoot and many more.

Every member of staff at the school has now either been certified or is working towards certification as an MIE and our visitors were impressed with the professionalism, enthusiasm and skills on display from staff and students alike.

A large delegation from a school in Russia left us with a variety of gifts and an invite to visit them in Moscow later this year.

Micro:Bit Theremin Air Guitar project

On Monday this week, we were delighted to welcome Jacqueline Russell from the PXT development team at Microsoft, who worked with our Year 9 Computer Science students to design and construct a working Theremin Air Guitar using the BBC Micro:Bit.

The BBC Micro:Bit is a small programmable device with on board sensors that was issued to every student in Year 7 (now in Year 8) by the government last year, in partnership with Microsoft and the BBC. As a Microsoft Showcase School, we were provided with even more free Micro:Bits for students and all students in the current Year 7 were also given their own device to take home this year, as well as class sets of Micro:Bits to use in Computer Science lessons.

Students can use a variety of interfaces to programme the micro:bit including block-based visual programming languages such as TouchDevelop or PXT, Python or JavaScript. Your daughter can go to the  website to get started.

Year 9 Computer Scientists meet Antony Salcito

Having designed their Theremin Air Guitars earlier in the week, our Year 9 Computer Scientists were invited to appear on stage with Microsoft Education Worldwide Vice President, Anthony Salcito, on Wednesday.

Students travelled with their guitars to the Excel Centre in Custom House, talked about how they had constructed their guitars and got to demonstrate their playing skills on stage during Mr. Salcito’s keynote speech to a packed BETT Arena. We have retweeted a video of Mr. Salcito’s keynote, which sadly ends just before our students entered the stage, on our twitter feed.

A couple of our students were a little reticent, posed for pictures with Anthony, encouraged Anthony to put his autograph on their BETT badges or air guitars and then went hunting for free items on the stands, whilst exploring the STEAM Village (where they met lifesize Daleks, spotted a Minecraft YouTube celebrity and saw many examples of how the Micro:Bit can be extended to build a variety of gadgets).

Year 7 Parents’ Evening

Based on parental feedback over the past year, we are trialing a new approach to booking Parents’ Evening appointments for our Year 7 Parents’ Evening this term.

You told us that often those parents who booked appointments as soon as the system allowed, were able to get to see all their daughter’s teachers, but that those who booked later, often found that teachers they wanted to see were already fully-booked, or didn’t have any suitable times available. This especially affected certain subjects, such as Dance, Design Technology, Drama, Music and Computer Science, where a year group may be taught by only one or two different teachers.

Through our online booking system, parents will now be able to book up to 8 different appointments for the evening. This should ensure that whether you make your bookings early or late, all parents will be able to see a range of subject teachers during the course of the evening, ensuring a fairer spread of appointments for all students.

We will seek feedback from Year 7 parents and teachers following the evening and review whether this new approach will be implemented for other year groups.


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