Head of Junior School Newsletter: 22 March 2024

Message from the Head of Junior School

Mrs Vikki Meier

Dear Parents, 

There has been such an exciting variety of events over the past fortnight that it is difficult to know where to begin.

A number of transition activities have taken place, including RS for Year 4 and several Art workshops for Year 3. We have also welcomed Senior School pupils to the Junior School to perform or present to their younger peers, including a Music Scholar’s mini concert for Years 4 and 5 during their afternoon Form Period, with some fantastic performances from ex-JS students, and an excellent explanation of the importance of Ramadan from two of our Year 10 students during a special whole school assembly last Thursday.

As Year 5 pupils and their families begin looking ahead to their Senior School transition, they were also invited to two special ‘Visitor Mornings’ in the Senior School, where they toured the buildings and facilities, spoke with key staff representing the pastoral and academic spheres and heard talks from the Headmaster, Head of Lower School and current students in either Year 7 or 8. Although many of our parents will already be familiar with aspects of the Senior School side of our site, this is a key annual opportunity to ask specific questions and hear from those students who have recently completed their transition journey. I hope that those of you who attended found it informative.

Year 3 continued their work on computer coding with a series of coding workshops run by CodeKids, who are familiar to many of our pupils from their ever popular after school Minecraft Coding clubs, and Year 6 have been enjoying their Chinese cookery workshops over the past week, run jointly by Mrs Pan and our catering team. Mastering the shaping and filling of homemade dumplings is not an easy skill, but the output not only looked amazing, but also greatly impressed the tasters.

The musical term wrapped up with two final concerts: an informal concert in the Hall last week, and the formal ensembles concert this past Monday evening. This term has seen more opportunities for dipping toes into public performance than ever before, and it has been a pleasure to see the confidence of so many of our young musicians blossom. It takes a huge amount of work behind the scenes to make these events happen, including practice time at home, and I’d like to thank Mr Alexander, Mr McGlone and the VMT teaching team for the time spent planning and hosting these wonderful opportunities for our pupils.

Sticking with the Arts, Mr Timbrell and Year 5 treated us to a fantastic evening of Shakespeare last Thursday evening, as they performed their ‘Shakespeare’s Stories’, covering Macbeth, The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet. As I said on the evening, one of the challenges of learning Shakespeare at a young age is not only understanding the somewhat archaic language, but also appreciating the layers of story, tragedy and comedy well enough to bring it to life and engage the audience. Year 5 managed all of this with aplomb, their enjoyment of drama and performing with their class apparent throughout. They should feel extremely proud of their achievements and the progress they have made in the subject this year.

Although Year 6 have their formal performance still to come next term, their work on comedic acting, and particularly the art of the ‘sketch’ this term culminated in their ‘House Fireside’, which took place yesterday morning in front of an appreciative audience of their teachers and peers across the Junior School. Each House wrote, developed and directed their own sketches with minimal adult input, taking inspiration from the world around them, often pushing characters to satirical extremes. There were sketches about school life, restaurants, the experience of a doctor’s waiting room and an airport security terminal just to mention a few, interwoven with witty one-liners, puns and classic slapstick acting. All who took part earned points for their House, and we look forward to hearing the overall winners later today.

A few acknowledgements regarding events still to come next week. A team of parent volunteers have planned our ‘Easter Hunts’, with events for both Years 3 and 4 and Years 5 and 6 on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons respectively. This event was an extremely popular treat for the pupils last year, and we thank those involved for their time and effort in putting it together. We are also looking forward to our annual Easter service in Chapel on Wednesday morning; as always, parents are most welcome to attend.
I would also like to mention an event that will be taking place over the Easter holidays. You may recall that Aayat, Amelia and Yueci qualified for the ECF girls’ chess tournament finals back in January, an excellent achievement considering the quality of players around the country. The finals will take place over the weekend of April 6 and 7; we wish them all the best of luck and look forward to hearing how they have fared.

Finally, a note regarding communications over my upcoming absence. We are delighted to welcome Mr Richard Lock as acting Head until I return early next year; as Mr Sanderson explained in his letter, Mr Lock will be part time over the Summer Term and full time from the Summer Holidays. The other members of the Junior School Senior Leadership Team will remain in place and be available to parents as usual, as will the Form Tutors and the rest of the teaching team. My email account will no longer be monitored from the holidays onwards, so please direct any communication to the relevant member(s) of staff, which may include Mr Lock who can be reached on [email protected] from Easter. There will be ample opportunities for those in our community to meet and begin to get to know him once term resumes in April, but if any parents are unsure of who to contact in a particular situation next term, please contact the office or Mrs Tunstall who can direct you to the most appropriate person.

I look forward to seeing many of you next week, whether at the Easter service or during last day of term pick-up, but wish you a restful weekend in the meantime.

Wishing you a restful weekend,

Vikki Meier Signature

Vikki Meier
Head of Junior School