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Welcome to the Sydenham School weekly e-newsletter: Edition 239


Message from the Headteacher

Dear Families

I hope that your festive break was both enjoyable and restful although it may feel like a little while ago now! I am pleased to say that the students have returned to school with a real sense of purpose. The CPD day on Monday 7th January allowed staff to continue to think about and plan for developing literacy across the school for all year groups. Ensuring that all students are confident readers ,writers and speakers is a key aim of the School Development Plan this academic year.

On Thursday 17th January, I was delighted to accept an Award from Teach First, which is a charity that Sydenham School has been working with for the last 10 years. Teach First is a national organisation which offers schools the opportunity to employ high quality graduates who want to make a difference to the lives of young people through teaching. We are fortunate to have secured a number of Teach First participants over the years as teachers, as well as to benefit from the wide connections that Teach First has in a number of areas including the ‘world of work’. These links have enabled students to secure excellent Work Experience placements for example.

Students from a number of year groups have been leading assemblies in order to explain the role of Student Voice in the school and to update year groups about what the school has done as a result of suggestions made by their peers. Working in active partnership with students, encouraging them to share their views and to ‘have a voice’ are all important aspects of our commitment to ongoing school improvement.

I hope that as ever, you have a lovely and restful weekend with your friends and family.

Kind regards

Mrs Lowe



Smartphones-  to use or not to use?  
80% of secondary school age children are in possession of a smartphone, so it is therefore very important that as a school we take an active role in monitoring their use.

Until we are confident that the Internet is completely safe and reliable, please ensure you check your child's browser history. There are many sites which may appear harmless on first inspection, but are sometimes inappropriate. The amount of time young people spend on their smartphones using "WhatsApp and/or Snapchat" may well be damaging their mental health. Sometimes things said on these platforms are not always  kind nor compassionate. At times, young people do not always take time to reflect or learn about the consequences of their actions.
Please encourage your children to use their devices safely and responsibly. There are parental devices and controls you can access on some phones to check the way a phone is being used.

At Sydenham School we encourage students to talk to each other during break and lunchtimes in order to develop their social skills and deepen positive peer relationships. A reminder that the school policy on mobile phones is that they are switched off at the school gates and placed in the bottom of the school bag. Phones are only permitted to be taken out again after students are beyond the school gates. This rule applies regardless of what time students leave the school site.

We are aware that some students may be wary of placing their phones at the bottom of their bag due to a fear of the phone being cracked. Our advice is to buy a robust case to eliminate any risk of damage. Some students may also worry about theft. Our advice is to leave any expensive equipment at home and invest in a less expensive phone. Theft of phones in the school is rare. Moreover, phones in trousers or blazer pockets are much more likely to be vulnerable to theft and damage. Our Mobile Phone policy is not No See No hear. If your daughter’s phone is not switched off at the bottom of her bag it will be confiscated. You will then receive a phone call from the school in order to arrange an appointment to meet with the Headteacher in order to have the phone returned. Thank you for speaking with your child about using their phones responsibly both in accordance with the school rules and in general.



Debate Mate League  

Last term Sydenham’s debating team attended our very first competition of the academic year and it was a wonderful start to the year! We are now second place nationally in the 'Debate Mate' table.Hosted by the Debate Mate charity, the tournament took place at multi-award winning insurance firm, Simply Business. I can say that the experience was nothing short of fantastic.

The competition consisted of two rounds, each presented with a different motion in which teams debated the topic at hand. Our first motion was: 'this house believes Career Advisors in schools should encourage students to pursue STEMS subject over the Arts'. With only fifteen minutes to prepare for five minute speeches, the pressure for such a challenging motion was definitely on.
Unfortunately, team opposition took the win for that round which meant for Round Two everyone really needed to be focused in order to make an excellent contribution. For the second round, the motion was: 'this house believes that the Media should report on the public lives of politicians'. This was a controversial topic that required strong points supported with detailed analysis because as proposition we were to set the debate into motion. Although it was a demanding twenty minutes of back and forth debating, I am really pleased to say we took the win for that round. In addition to this, it was made known to me that I had been awarded full points in my speech which was a first for me. Members of the team are:Tasha, Abby, Maya,Ronald,Victoria and Lisa. Very well done everyone.

What followed next was a very insightful careers talk from various employees at Simply Business who talked about their roles and responsibilities at the firm. What I found most interesting about the insurance company was that it has a breastfeeding facility available for mothers to use throughout the day. It’s good to see companies being progressive in supporting a return to work by female employees.

Thank you to Ms Virgo- Furrs and Ms McKoy for their support and advice throughout the competition.  And a big thank you to our debating mentor for her dedication in consistently challenging us during our coaching sessions as it made the real competitions that little bit easier.
Please see below for the current standings of the top 6 DM+ schools out of the 12:

1st - The Sydney Russell School
2nd - Sydenham School
3rd - Brampton Manor Academy
4th = Sacred Heart Catholic Secondary School
4th = St Angela’s Ursuline School
6th - Central Foundation Boys’ School



St. Bartholomew's Church Carol Service

On Tuesday 18th December, I performed with Sydenham Dance Company as part of the Carol Service.  It was a great opportunity to perform with Sydenham’s Dance Company in front of an audience. The dance was set to Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ which was played live by Mr Dottridge on the piano. Year 13 student Keshalini Katpakanantha and Ms Hemstead worked with us to devise the choreography. The audience received us warmly and we were proud of our contribution. Mince pies were served and Christmas drinks were enjoyed by all.

By Nehir 10Y

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience – King’s College Hospital - Youth Awards

Please tell your child about these Youth Awards. 
If successful they will win a £50 book token and 2 days work experience at the IoPPN in the summer. You can find more details about the awards here:

The Awards allow young people (aged 15-18) from schools in the local area to have direct experience of research in the IoPPN, aiming to encourage them to stay in Science and maths education and go on to study these subjects at university. This is particularly important for girls as women remain unrepresented in these important areas of work.


Imperial College, London University,  Summer Schools 2019

Have a look at the opportunities for Year 9 to Year 12 students:

Please do a Google search for the other University of London Summer Schools and Widening Participation opportunities.

Fiona Taylor, Careers and Enterprise Coordinator,


Protecting The Royals" Careers Talk, Monday 04 February, 15.30 to 16.30, Sixth Form Common Room

Everyone is invited to hear Dr Simon Wilson, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist who works at Buckingham Palace, speak about how his team keep Harry,Meghan and the rest of the Royal Family safe from the risk of assassination.  Dr Wilson will provide an overview of what the work of a forensic psychiatrist actually entails.  It promises to be a fascinating insight into this high profile world.  Please encourage your child to attend.


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