Head of Junior School Newsletter: 23 February 2024

Message from the Head of Junior School

Mrs Vikki Meier

Dear Parents,  

For most, the February half term break was a week away from school-related life, but for a group of Year 5 and 6 pupils and accompanying staff, it marked the long-awaited return of our annual ski trip. Although several of the group had never skied before, they all made remarkable progress over the course of several lessons and enjoyed plenty of apres-ski activities and time spent together, serving as excellent representatives of the school and being commended on both their behaviour and resilience during the week. Thanks to Mr O’Dwyer, Mrs Chamberlain, Madame Martin and Mr Dale for leading the trip; being away with a school group over a half term and then returning to work on Monday is extremely tiring and we are grateful for their boundless enthusiasm and support of the pupils. 

In the last newsletter I mentioned our upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations, which took place the week before half term. Mrs Pan hosted an excellent assembly involving not only a number of our pupils but also several representatives from South Bank University, who demonstrated martial art techniques and a range of regional dances. This was followed by a circus of workshops, enabling all classes to try Chinese painting techniques, visit a mock market and attempt a few martial arts moves themselves. It was a fitting way to welcome the Year of the Dragon, and our thanks to Mrs Pan for putting together such an exciting experience. 

There have been a number of transition activities and workshops for different year groups over the past fortnight, but one to draw particular attention to was the visit of Rob Hunt to speak to Years 5 and 6 about careers in languages. Rob last visited us remotely via Zoom a few years ago, in the midst of Covid regulations, so it was a pleasure to welcome him in person as he spoke about the value of language learning and the opportunities it presents. As a school that believes passionately in the importance of languages, not only those on the curriculum but those that are spoken at home, it is lovely for our pupils to hear from linguists who have found professional success in this area. 

There were also Computing transition workshops for Year 5, and on the topic of computing, year groups marked ‘Safer Internet Week’ with e-safety projects and online resources during their Computing lessons. These will be followed by external workshops over the coming term, reinforcing the importance of keeping personal information secure in online environments. 

Safer Internet Week coincided with ‘Children’s Mental Health Week’ this year, another occasion that we always mark. This year’s theme was ‘My Voice Matters’; through form periods, school council and special activities followed by an assembly organised by Mrs Madduri and Mrs Saunders, pupils explored the importance of their voice and how they can express views and opinions in school and when conversing with adults. 

Informal concerts have long been a feature of the musical calendar, but over the past year we have also introduced informal section concerts, focused on instrumental families. Shortly before the half term break, it was the turn of the brass section and we were treated to a riot of sound from across the brass family. As usual, there were a number of individual performances, but also the opportunity for members of the Year 5 and 6 ensemble and the Year 4 Music Alive Band to play pieces together. The progress each pupil has made since their last performance was evident, and our thanks to Mr Thompson, Mr Alexander and Mr McGlone for putting the event together. 

This week has seen the return of the Scholastic book fair, with a number of exciting choices on offer for all ages over lunchtimes and after school; it will finish next week and a proportion of the money raised is donated to the school for new library books. Year 6 also enjoyed a special House team-building Form Period with their Senior School peers on Wednesday, as they begin to look forward to their transfer to senior education. 

Finally, a couple of pieces of staff news. We had the great pleasure of welcoming back Ms Tersia Louw to the Junior School just before half term, as she covers Mrs Sargeant’s maternity leave. Ms Louw has previously covered leave in Year 3 and left a lasting impression on the pupils; with her warmth and energy, she is a valued member of our wider teaching community. At the end of this term, I will also be departing for a period of leave until early 2025. Mr Sanderson and the Governing Board are currently finalising plans for my cover; once we have final confirmation on how this will look, we will ensure that it is communicated to all parents, although the rest of the Junior School Senior Team will also provide full continuity over the period. 

Wishing you a restful weekend, 

Vikki Meier Signature

Vikki Meier
Head of Junior School