Head of Junior School Newsletter: 8 March 2024

Message from the Head of Junior School

Mrs Vikki Meier

Dear Parents, 

A particular highlight of the past fortnight has been our STEM festival, organised by Mrs Barber and Miss Johnson, with a focus on engineering. The event opened last Wednesday with a visit from Mercia Bartlett, a local engineer, who spent the morning speaking to all year groups about her background, academic journey and career path, alongside the many inspirations that first fired her passion for maths and physics. Although practical lessons during her schooling were high on the list, the pupils were delighted to see that her early love of technology came from episodes of Doctor Who, Science Fiction books and tinkering with her favourite string-activated talking doll, who never quite recovered from the ordeal. Mercia then visited classes to offer advice on their ‘Primary Engineer Programme’ project, as pupils designed their own inventions to solve a problem of their choice. The science and engineering theme continued into this week, with a series of ‘Science Shows’ for the Junior School, demonstrating exciting experiments, and Form Period activities looking at ‘accidental inventions’ throughout history.

Next week’s ‘Peake Lecture’ is a Science-themed evening, as we welcome Jo Marchant, author and journalist, as she discusses the science of mind and body, exploring impact on medical healing and wellbeing. There are still a few tickets left, which can be booked via TicketSource for free here.

On the Music front, our series of informal section concerts continued last week with afternoons from both the string and piano departments. As ever, it was wonderful to see the progress made by our pupils over the past half term; the strings concert boasted both a wide variety of pieces and an ever-increasing maturity of playing, and the pianists demonstrated light, energetic hands and benefited from some helpful advice for their upcoming exams from Miss Brits at the end. As ever, our thanks to the many VMTs, the Heads of the Music Sections and to Mr Alexander for facilitating these lovely events. Several of our pupils were also invited to take part in the Senior School Chamber Music event this week, playing in evening concerts with their Senior School peers. Despite an already busy programme so far this term, there are still two more musical dates for the calendar before we break up: one more informal concert next Monday after school and our termly Ensembles Concert at St George’s Church the following week. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Continuing with the musical theme, last year we were delighted to welcome Mr Acharya, one of our parents and an extremely talented musician in his own right, to the Junior School to run an Indian music workshop with Year 3. The afternoon was a great success and we were thrilled when he agreed to return again this year. Last Friday, Year 3 were introduced to the scales used in Indian music, the wide range of instruments and the differences between the North and South, before trying some singing for themselves. Even the staff were caught up in the rhythm; it is certainly a credit to Mr Acharya’s teaching that I was able to recall so much from last year’s session this time around.
Finally, you may recall that a few newsletters back, I mentioned the success of our JS Quintet in progressing to the semi-finals of the Pro Corda competition. This took place at the very end of February, and they once again impressed all present with their skill and musicianship. Mrs O’Leary is still awaiting the results, but we are all extremely proud of their achievements so far in such a competitive field.

We have also celebrated World Book Day over the past week, with various Form activities and a visit from local Kent-based author Penny Chrimes who spoke to each year group about her writing process and inspiration before signing pre-ordered copies of her fiction books: magical fantasy stories that reflect her love of the natural world. During this morning’s assembly, I ran a quiz with the children on the childhood books that most impacted our staff during their own early childhoods and we reflected on which were still popular and the themes of magic, adventure and escapism that ran through many of them. The pupils loved discovering which member of staff had chosen which book and why, and we have encouraged them to have similar conversations with family over the coming weeks too.

This weekend marks the beginning of the month of Ramadan for those in our community who obverse the holy month and this central pillar of Islam; pupils will explore more about what this means in their RS lessons and assembly next week.

We are all looking forward to our annual House Football tournament tomorrow morning. Every team contribution counts towards the overall score, and both parents and wider family spectators are warmly welcome to attend – the weather promises to be as mixed as we have come to expect over the past few weeks, so please arrive prepared for both a little wind and some possible drizzle ready for kick-off at 10.00.

Wishing you a restful weekend,

Vikki Meier Signature

Vikki Meier
Head of Junior School