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Last night, I had the absolute pleasure of attending our first Junior Informal Concert of the year. It is something I look forward to every term because it always blows me away how talented and confident our musical performers are. Some of the children are only just in Form 2 and they are standing in front of an audience, delivering wonderful performances.

Our formal and informal concerts are designed to give our children the opportunity to perform in front of a small and supportive audience which really builds their confidence. I am always grateful to our parents who clap and cheer so loudly for their own and everyone else’s children. I am also so grateful to our wonderful visiting music teachers and to Mrs Nolan-Stone and Mr Vanburgh who prepare the children so well for these performances. Thank you also to our music prefects Katy and Iris who served teas and coffees and looked after all our parents so well last night.

There were so many big smiles last night – and I did spot the odd tear or two from some parents! Truly it was a wonderful evening.

This morning we had our usual celebration assembly. Well done awards were received by Grace, Violet, Sofia, Daisy and Arthur. Academic Excellence cup winners were Aiden, George, Logan, Alice, Abbas, Finlay, Louis, Seb and Will A. We also celebrated Vira’s Grade 1 theory exam! Congratulations to you all!

For Monday’s assembly, our focus was on diversity as it was odd socks day in school. The children were given the opportunity to wear odd socks as a way to express themselves and celebrate their individuality. In assembly we talked about difference with Junior Prep and for the Seniors, looked at where ‘banter’ becomes bullying – which will be followed up in class discussions. A new anti-bullying strategy will be launched in the new year with input from the School Council. The School Council will also be contributing to the behaviour policy, including a child friendly version.

There was much excitement this week when Ian from Origin Studios Photography came to visit us to take some new photos for our website and other marketing materials. Ian did a great job keeping to a very ambitious timetable and from the photos that we saw while we were going along – I think we are going to have some fabulous photos. The children really enjoyed themselves, were very enthusiastic about being in the photos, and were beautifully behaved. The photographer was very impressed. Even some of the staff enjoyed being snapped – Mr Stazicker was told he was a natural in front of the camera and now has some rather lofty modelling ideas!

This week, Form 3 and 4 visited the Dorchester Community Centre to attend the ‘Life Exhibition’, a nationwide initiative to inform school children about Christians belief about Jesus, following the requirements of the religious studies curriculum. Mrs Smith says:

‘This was a very engaging and interactive experience for the pupils, who had a great time moving around each of pods using iPads to learn about his life through stories and songs. The red pod seemed to be particularly popular! The children completed the afternoon with a reflective quiz, where they got the chance to use a special key pad to record their answers. Well done to all of the children for being so inquisitive and making the most of this opportunity.’

Another guest this week was author and local historian, Brian Bates, who came to present to Form 8 about World War I in Dorchester. Through a series of photographs and a variety of sources of evidence, he was able to discuss the war effort and systems that were adopted at this time, such as the Defence Against the Realm Act. The pupils learnt about Dorchester as a military town, the role children played, the military hospital that was set up in Colliton House and the prisoner of war camp that was created where Mole Valley Stores and the Curiosity Centre now reside. One of the most poignant moments was where he described the Pope families involvement and the loss of three of their sons to the Great War.

Brian has visited us at Sunninghill for many years and we are very grateful to him for sharing his fascinating understanding of the local area.

We were also lucky enough to have two people from the Weymouth branch of the Samaritans organisation talk to our Form 8 pupils this week. They discussed their role as volunteers and how they help those who may feel they have no place else to turn for support and help. They offer a listening ear and are non-judgemental in their approach, not offering solutions to problems, but allowing the caller to find a way forwards whilst sometimes signposting certain organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. They explained how they also partner with organisations such as Network Rail, to be present helping to stop suicides from taking place. The final part of this session focused on how they found it immensely rewarding. One of the volunteer having passed their 25 years mark at the organisation! A huge thank you to our visitors for the time and all of the information they shared with us. I’m sure they made an impression and the pupils will now have time to reflect and continue to ask further questions if they have them beyond this session.

Samaritans number: 116 123, available 24 hours a day.

We now have a final total for Children in Need which is an incredible £1,338! Absolutely amazing! That is over £1,000 more than last year! Thank you so much to you all!

On the subject of charity, I am now on Day 24 of my November Challenge to do 100 press ups a day for Macmillan Cancer Support – a charity very close to my heart. Thank you to all of you who have so generously supported me by sponsoring me so far – it really has encouraged me as I know it is a charity that has not only helped my family, but sadly helped so many other families in our Sunninghill Community.

Click here for Just Giving Link

I have 6 days left – which means 600 more press ups! When I say I couldn’t have done it without your children I really do mean it! Not a day has passed where I haven’t had several children say ‘Drop and give me 10!’ as they then do the press ups with me – that was the rule after all! This has meant that I haven’t been able to get away with missing a single press up – and have not had to go home at the end of a long day with a lot of press ups to do. For that I am so grateful! They are so fab and supportive and I am one lucky Head!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Christmas officially starts at Sunninghill next week with the PTFA tree decorating on Monday morning, and our wonderful Nativity on Thursday and Friday next week! I can’t wait…

Best wishes

David

David Newberry

Author David Newberry

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