Dear parents and guardians,
Junior School pupils have enjoyed an excellent start to 2018 and appear energised by a variety of new challenges across the curriculum. It has been good to see engagement in new topics, the buzz and excitement of a new season of sport and the grasping of new opportunities.
On 17th January we marked SPF’s birthday with a special assembly during which we reflected on the early days of the Foundation, including the introduction of our very popular School Houses, and what it means to be part of SPF nowadays. Trays of mouth-watering doughnuts awaited everyone at morning break and these met with even more approval than anticipated!
Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees
Year 4 pupils started term with a new cross-curricular topic entitled ‘Money Doesn't Grow On Trees’. Their thinking skills were put to good use with questions such as, ‘If you don't want to pour your money down the drain, how do you keep it safe?’ which pupils answered by creating a diamond nine of the different options. In Maths this topic enabled the children to consolidate their number skills, e.g. adding how much a family might spend on a day out and then subtracting how much change they might receive from a given amount. They also played some fun games to help them to understand credits, debits and budgets. In English they thought about a day in the life of a £5 note and what adventures that note might have and all the places it might travel to. They looked at different ways of paying for items, how to read a bank statement and a payslip, what taxes pay for and what expenditure households have. One of the most interesting tasks was learning about ‘good value’. This involved looking at different deals on offer in supermarkets – the children were very surprised that some items on offer can still turn out to be the most expensive option. In Art the children designed a new £20 note, thinking very carefully about whose picture to incorporate. As a result of this topic, Year 4 pupils have learned a great deal about money and have a new appreciation for how expensive life can be.
I learnt some new words and their definitions including: pensions, mortgages and insurance. I now understand how tricky it is to be an adult. Lili
We learnt that Jane Austen was one of the few women who has ever been pictured on a UK bank note and that there are special patterns and a watermark to stop people copying them. Sam and Iyla
Money week was ‘Fun that money can’t buy!’ Katie
Co-ordinating the curriculum of the future
Every teacher should feel empowered to equip our pupils to be citizens of the future – to help them acquire the skillset that will train them for jobs which don't exist yet and to cope with technology which hasn't been invented yet. This, and the fact that the curriculum never stands still, are the main challenges facing any digital learning co-ordinator. It is a subject which is constantly evolving and reinventing itself. New and exciting apps offering a range of educational opportunities appear on the market every day. Year 4 pupils were very excited recently to use an augmented reality app to hatch out a baby dragon and interact with their new pet as he bounced around the classroom tables!
Providing regular opportunities for staff to share ways in which different apps can enhance learning is of vital importance. The pupils themselves provide most of the inspiration and drive to keep the curriculum fresh as they come to us with increasing skill each year – coding activities that were suitable for Year 5 pupils last year will probably be too easy next year, so new tasks will need to be introduced.
The most important aspect of the digital curriculum, however, is enabling our pupils to become computational thinkers. Skills such as learning how to decompose a problem into manageable chunks, debugging errors, tinkering and refining instructions, persevering and collaborating are important life skills, not just for the realm of digital learning, therefore all our teachers are working hard to find more opportunities in their subjects to promote these. Skills, not content, are what will determine our pupils’ success in tomorrow's world.
Kathryn Saeb-Parsy, Junior School Digital Learning Co-ordinator
Primary Maths Challenge and UK Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge
In our last newsletter we reported that Junior School pupils had the opportunity in November to utilise their computational thinking skills and their mathematical knowledge in the Bebras Challenge and the Primary Maths Challenge (PMC) respectively. The results of both arrived shortly before the end of term.
We were delighted to learn that many of our pupils achieved merit and distinction certificates for their efforts in the Bebras Challenge. Congratulations to them all, especially those with the top scores in their year groups: Amelia D in Year 6, Genevieve in Year 5, Ellis in Year 4 and Imogen in Year 3. We were also thrilled to discover that nine members of Year 6 have qualified to take part in a new challenge aimed to help talented computational thinkers develop their skills further by challenging them to solve tasks with programmed solutions. The Oxford Computing Challenge was trialled last year and the first official challenge is being held in March. We wish Amelia D, Amelia F, Juliette, Marton, Celeste, Henry, Alexey, Haruka and Jaylan all the best as they prepare for what looks like a tough challenge.
Congratulations also to Jonathan, Henry and Juliette, all in Year 6, who have been invited to take the Primary Maths Challenge bonus round paper next week.
SATIPS General Knowledge Challenge
Meanwhile, the Year 6 classrooms have been buzzing with General Knowledge facts during form periods on Tuesdays and Thursdays this term as pupils and staff have been quizzing one another and exchanging top tips, in preparation for the 2018 SATIPS Challenge. Good luck to the 38 pupils who have opted to take the paper on Friday morning.
SPF pupils celebrate their love of language learning
Back in September Mrs Liese Neely, who teaches French and a little Spanish across the Junior School and Pre-Prep, helped her classes to create lots of short video clips as part of a world record attempt to mark European Day of Languages 2017. This challenge, hosted by the Council of Europe, was to create the largest collection of videos ever assembled on the subject of languages. With 2,742 videos being submitted, this new world record was confirmed and it is very exciting to have been part of the success! Our videos clips can be found here in Video 4 with City Year 1 pupils at 7.22; 5A pupils at 7.54; City Year 2 pupils at 8.25; 6A pupils at 16.05 and at 6Alpha pupils at 20.11. Furthermore, it is fantastic to see that two of our clips have made the editors’ cut, a short selection of 17 clips to give a flavour of the project. Well done to all the children who took part and showed their enthusiasm for language learning. The Editors’ choice clip, which features Marton and Charles in Year 6 and members of City Year 1, can be found here.
Creative and Performing Arts
Our Junior School Young Voices Choir have been rehearsing for their big experience at The O2 since September and there was much excitement when we waved them off, complete with SPF banners, for their concert on Wednesday. This event will be reported at a later date and, in the meantime, follow our updates on Twitter.
Last Wednesday afternoon we were treated to a fantastic Performers’ Platform Concert by members of Years 5 & 6. We enjoyed a varied programme, involving solo performances and one duet, and it was good to see the progress being made by many of our musicians and an impressive number performing on their second instrument. Well done to all involved! This concert was organised by Mrs Hannah Mulholland and at the end we took time to wish her well for her maternity leave, which has now begun, and to welcome Miss Catherine Buczak, who has joined the Foundation staff to cover Mrs Mulholland’s leave.
Year 5 pupils are now hard at work in preparation for their Drama production on 27th March. ‘Pirates of the Curry Bean’ by Craig Hawes looks set to being great entertainment and we wish the cast all the best as they get to grips with their parts in rehearsals through the next two months.
In sport the first major event of the term was The Bedfordia Cross Country, at which our Junior School team performed exceptionally well. We were very proud of all who particiapted, especially Verity in Year 5 who came third in the individual event – a tremendous achievement. Read more about our success here.
Meanwhile, the girls’ netball season is proving exciting, with some great results already, and the boys’ hockey season is getting into its stride. If you wish to follow the fortunes of our Junior School teams we warmly recommend keeping up to date with the results.
Finally, it was wonderful to see so many parents, from across the Cambridge schools, at the PFA EGM on Monday evening. We greatly appreciate all the support which parents provide via the Association. It seems no time at all since the hugely successful Christmas Fair in early December. We are now looking forward to the Valentine Cake Sale next Friday. Thank you very much, in advance, to Junior School parents for sending in Valentine bakes and goodies for sale and also for filling your children’s purses and pockets with small change for the sale. I hope some of the purchases make their way for teatime in your homes!
With best wishes for a good break over half term when the time comes,
Head of Junior School
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