Eltham College has always enjoyed a tradition of providing the richest possible educational experience for its students and this year was no exception. From academic to co-curricular successes across the board, there has been much to celebrate as a community over the last twelve months.
These successes have happened against a wider backdrop of progress on the Turberville Building, our tree-planting campaign to commemorate the College’s 175th anniversary and the move towards full co-education. Reviewing such a full year has provided plentiful opportunities to reflect on the school’s rich history and traditions. As a school, our aim has been to keep building strong foundations for a future which continues these traditions for the next generation of Elthamians.
Record breaking GCSE results, sporting, musical, artistic and dramatic triumphs are just the visible fruits of the wholehearted efforts of our wonderful students and committed staff. The fuller summary in this autumn’s Elthamian will provide further opportunities to reflect on the academic year past. However, for now, I hope the summary below provides a snapshot of College life in all its variety and fullness since last summer.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
Public examination results continue to be a reflection of a great deal of hard work over the year and last year’s GCSE and A Level results reflected wonderfully on our diligent students and dedicated staff. Just under nine out of every ten grades at GCSE was an A or A* with over a third of the year group obtaining straight A* grades. A number of students were offered places at Oxford and Cambridge in a wide range of subjects.
Changes in the A Level and GCSE frameworks prompted a curriculum review across both the Senior and Junior schools. I am grateful for the contribution parents and staff made to the review process. As a result of the review, a number of changes, including an increase in A level teaching time and further choice in languages, will be happening from September 2018. In addition, we are compiling a curriculum map for Years 7-11 which will be published to parents in September. The second phase of the Junior School Curriculum Review will be focussing on the development of a knowledge-rich curriculum following the successful initiatives in English this year. Heads of Department from both schools have also devised a suite of transition activities across different subjects applicable to boys in Years 3 to 6 to continue the drive towards greater integration between the schools. In the Senior School, two additional academic clubs (Astronomy Club and Geology Club) are planned for students in Year 9 in order to continue to broaden the academic horizons and interests of our students.
A vibrant and varied co-curricular life continues to be at the heart of what we do. In the last few months alone, Senior School pupils have been involved in a wide range of trips from outdoor pursuits on Dartmoor for Year 8 students to a selection of academic trips. The Duke of Edinburgh Qualifying Expedition will take place this summer as will a senior rugby tour of South Africa. Continuing in a valuable tradition, Lower Sixth students will visit Buikwe in Uganda to assist with a local water project.
The Parents’ Association kindly funded the George Band Climbing Wall this year and it has been in near constant use since its installation with three, new climbing societies making the most of it. Three chess teams have qualified for the National semi-final of the English Primary Schools Chess Association competition and opportunities for rowing at Glebe Rowing Club are proving a success across age groups. Several new clubs have also started in the Junior School including the popular Critical Thinking Club for Years 5 and 6 and Junior School Dance Club. In September, a Journalism Club will begin in the Junior School with further opportunities for debating in both schools.
A relaunched MUSIC ALIVE! has allowed many students to try new instruments in the Junior School, hopefully starting a life-long love of music. This year also saw Eltham College musicians perform at a number of prestigious venues. The Royal Festival Hall hosted students from the College Choir performing Symphonic Adiemus with the Philharmonia orchestra whilst the Chamber Choir sang at Evensong at Chichester Cathedral. Our annual Jazz Concert at Ronnie Scott’s was as excellent and as popular as ever. Later in the term, the summer concert at Cadogan Hall saw a world premiere of music by internationally renowned film composer Michael Lawson who dedicated this work to the music students of Eltham College. A great highlight of the evening was the rousing performance of Out of the Storm composed by current student, Matthew Martin, as well as a pieces by the great British composer, John Rutter, who was in attendance. In March there was an excellent Ensembles concert in the Junior School Hall and this term saw a wonderful Junior School Summer Concert with students rising to the challenge of Vivaldi.
Thanks to the hard work of the Drama Department, students continue to benefit from the vast range of performing opportunities on offer during their years at Eltham College. An excellent production of Oliver! in Michaelmas Term was followed by a powerful production of Julius Caesar for the Shakespeare Schools Festival and a topical two-night run of Accidental Death of an Anarchist in Lent Term. This term saw the Lower School’s wonderfully entertaining production of Around the World in 80 Days and Year 6’s triumphant outdoor production of The Wind in the Willows. The end of the school year sees a talented cast rehearsing Assassins to return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.
Junior School Rugby teams performed superbly well against some traditionally tough opposition with a large number of pupils representing the school. The U11A team lost only one match whilst the U11B team were unbeaten. The U9A team won the St Dunstan’s tournament and, at Under 8 level, our A-C teams were unbeaten. The Senior School 1st XV built on their successful summer tour of Biarritz to secure victories against a number of local rivals. In early December, the U14A Rugby team and Rugby 7s’ U18s and U15s became Kent Champions. In late November, the Netball squad became also became Kent County Champions, beating a number of schools to seize the county crown and progressing to the Regional Finals where they narrowly missed out on a place in the Finals, placing third among all the schools in Kent, Sussex, Essex and Middlesex after a brilliant season.
The Lent Term saw many promising displays from Eltham College Hockey sides, most notably the U13s, U14s & U18s (Kent Cup semi-finalists) and 1st XI (Frank Mason trophy plate winners). Twelve students have gained county recognition, and the girls’ 1st XI Hockey side achieved their highest place yet in the Kent Championships, finishing third in the qualifying round. Our U14 skiers won silver at the English Schools’ Championships in Norwich with Lachlan Jarvie selected to represent England U15 in upcoming international tournaments. The Ski Racing Team enjoyed success at the DHO British Schoolboys’ International Races in Switzerland, winning three gold, one silver and two bronze individual medals. Meanwhile, the Fencing Team finished first in the U15 Foil at the British School Teams Fencing Championships.
In Athletics, Alex Macheath represented England, whilst Millie Smith qualified for the English Schools’ Cross-Country Championship and the European Championships in the Czech Republic. Ethan Fiore won silver and gold at 800m and 1500m respectively and our Year 7s were Kent runners-up in the 800m relay. Nine Senior School students have been chosen to represent Greenwich in the London Schools Athletic Championships. The 1st XI Cricket team fulfilled the promise shown last year, getting to the regional final of the National Schools Twenty20 competition. Meanwhile, the U15A Cricket team finished the term as Kent Cup champions. The girls’ Cricket team played their first competitive fixtures, finishing third in an 8-aside tournament at Colfe’s. Akhil Venugopalan, already a key member of the U11 Kent team, has been placed in the West England Cricket Hall of Fame .
There were swimming galas against a number of schools, with the Senior and Junior schools combining for galas against Dulwich and Colfe’s, whilst two competitive and enjoyable Junior School house swimming galas took place in early May. Our Water Polo teams had an excellent year, enjoying a successful tour to Athens in October, representing Bromley and placing third in the London Youth Games and triumphing as U14 winners of the London League.
Our new Artist-in-Residence, Stephanie Farmer, has been working with students and, alongside developing and showing her own work, has curated key exhibitions at the Gerald Moore Gallery this year. The Gallery has shown the Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition of Louise Bourgeois’ work and the group exhibitions Tender Blues, In Quotes and Full Scale Model of a Day, as well as showing the work of parent, Nikki Hill- Smith, and the first solo exhibition of Hannah Turner-Duffin, entitled dyb dyb dyb. Artists across the school have had well-received exhibitions in Central Hall and the Junior School exhibition this past term was a wonderful showcase of talent and hard work. In addition, the Art Department has taken our artists on inspiring trips to Margate, Dungeness, Copenhagen and Cornwall.
We say farewell this year to four longstanding governors. Mrs Prue Corp stepped down in April, having served as governor for fourteen years after her time in the Common Room at Eltham College. Mr Richard Blyth, another former member of the Common Room as well as an Old Elthamian, has also contributed a great deal in his twenty years on the Governing Body representing the Baptist Missionary Society. Nigel Betts and Chris Ring, representatives from Bexley and Bromley councils respectively, have also come to the end of their term of office on the Governing Body. I am deeply grateful to all of them for their service and contributions to the life of the College.
I would also like to acknowledge the immense and varied contribution of members of the Common Room who will be retiring or moving on this year. A full list of staff farewells is recorded later in these programme notes and in this Autumn’s Elthamian, but it would be remiss of me not to thank all of those listed for their service and hard work without which this year would not have been possible.