Skip to main content

We are seeing signs of autumn around the grounds with lots of conkers and leaves changing colour on the trees. It was looking glorious in the sunshine earlier in the week. Form 1 have been marking the change in season with some amazing art work. Following a nature walk around the grounds they completed some beautiful art work which, I am delighted to say, will be adorning the wall in my office very soon. Before I left for the HMC/IAPS Conference in Scotland, I had a chance to kick a football around with some of the senior children and chat with our younger children at break time. Fortunately, the photos do not show the moment I miss timed my shot completely, after a beautifully placed cross from Zac!

Since I left for the conference, there continues to be a lot going on in school and further afield:

Form 4 have had a wonderful time on their residential to Brenscombe Outdoor Centre. It has been a three-day adventure packed with activities. Mrs Moss and Mrs Baker encouraged them all to join in with canoeing and raft building, a night walk and camp fires, bush craft and tackling the high and low ropes. Mr Stazicker also joined them in the evenings and overnight. I am sure they will enjoy being back home for the weekend for a well-deserved rest!

After impressing staff last weekend at a music summer camp, Iris (Form 7) was invited to perform in a concert as part of the Broadstone Music Series. Iris learns the harp in school and is also an excellent pianist. Our harp department has grown massively this term, we now have 3 pupils learning the harp in school! Mrs Nolan-Stone is planning the first ever SPS harp orchestra!

Mr Moss accompanied a number of Form 5 children to Sherborne’s Cracking the Code event on Thursday. They had a fantastic time trying to solve a series of challenges around the school. Working in teams, they had to try translating Abma, an ancient Austronesian language, counting in Bambara, a West African Language, deciphering codes with prime numbers and many more taxing tasks. The children really enjoy this annual event and thanks to Sherborne School for hosting and inviting us.

Mr Willemse, Head of PE & Games has provided me with an update on what has been happening this term so far from his department.
We have enjoyed an excellent start to Sport at Sunninghill this term. All pupils from Reception to Form 6 have received weekly swimming lessons and the weather has been fantastic (most of the time). Some pupils in Form 6-8 have also been able to swim as part of their enrichment activity.

During their PE and Games lessons the children in Forms 3 to 8 have participated in match fixtures. Sports etiquette, endeavour and spirit has been fantastic in competitive play with Sunninghill winning, losing and drawing fixtures and skills are developing steadily. Below are a couple of photos from hockey and rugby matches this week against Salisbury Cathedral School.

The clubs and activities programme is in full bloom, with at least 84% of children taking part in a club and most in multiple clubs a week. The tennis coaching programme has commenced with over a quarter of pupils having weekly tennis tuition. Finally, but by no means least, the enrichment programme has been busy and varied. Activities have included visits to the library, dance projects, Design and Technology, FTY Lab, windsurfing, photography, swimming and gardening. We will continue to grow and introduce clubs and enrichments as the academic year progresses.

We will be celebrating Go Red for Dyslexia Day next Wednesday 12th October. Ms Thomasson, Head of Learning Support, is organising all the activities. The aim of the day is to celebrate neurodiversity and raise awareness of dyslexia in particular.
Everyone is being asked to wear red and bring in a donation. All monies will go to support the Dorset Dyslexia Association.

Mrs King, our Wellbeing Co-ordinator, is championing Mental Health Awareness Day on Monday and also involving children in Red Card for Racism Day next week. The day is actually during half term but it is important for us to continue to raise awareness and promote positive mental health and wellbeing with the children. Mrs King will be leading children in activities during her PSHE classes.

I would like to remind all parents to please complete the Parent Survey sent out on Ping and a big thank you to the many who have done so already, it is appreciated.

We are also discussing the launch of an art class for parents so watch this space!

Whilst I am missing being in school this week, the IAPS and HMC conference has been a very inspiring place to be and is a useful reminder that we are all lifelong learners. There has been a huge range of incredibly inspirational speakers including Mark Randolph, the founder and CEO of Netflix. He asked that we all focus on creativity in our schools so the next generation are ready to face the ever-changing job market. As you know, creativity is something we value deeply at Sunninghill, so I was reassured to hear from one of the most successful CEO’s of recent years that this is what the world of work demands. He also reminded us of the importance of work life balance. As parents, I would like to thank you all for your consideration to our teachers, you are always very considerate in sending emails during the day. This allows my colleagues to have down time so that they can refresh and recharge, are always at their best and can also maintain their work life balance.

The broadcaster Mona Siddiqui picked up on another of our key skills that we promote at Sunninghill, that of empathy for others and how it is the foundation for any thriving community. Always making people feel welcome is all important. Our pupils are exceptional at this and I have been so proud of the children in recent weeks as I have been conducting tours for prospective parents. They are naturally so welcoming and engaging with visitors showing emotional intelligence way beyond their years. With this in mind I am excited to welcome so many prospective and current parents next week for the Open Morning. It would be lovely to see as many of you as can attend on Friday 14th 9.30-12.00.

Mona is also a university lecturer and she has seen a decline in the resilience pupils show when they start university. I hope that through our adventurous activities led by Mr Stazicker, we can continue to help our children develop these skills early so they are resilient and independent. The photos of our Form 4 children enjoying the outdoors this week, in spite of the weather, will have certainly helped with this resilience building!

I have also attended thought provoking lectures on working towards net zero. Schools up and down the country have a lot to do and I am pleased to share that we already have our first steps planned. I look forward to sharing more about this in the future.

The celebrated violinist, Nicola Benedetti, came to share her passion for children learning instruments in school and the link to good academic progress. Music is something we hold very dear in school and I am delighted that we have over 100 individual music lessons every week. I am hoping Mrs Nolan-Stone will be impressed by my efforts to join a ‘scratch choir’ during a lunch break session. It proved to the conference that anyone can sing!

There have been many other inspirational speakers including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson who reminded us all to ‘seize the day’. Angie Browne gave some very clear messages on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, which is something I am very keen to involve the parent body with going forward. We also had Bruce Adamson who is the Children’s Commissioner for Scotland, a UN Ambassador and many more. This afternoon I also heard from Sarah Brown (Gordon Brown’s wife), who is the founder of a coalition for global education. It has been a very exciting week and I am feeling even more positive, if that were possible, about the journey our children are on at Sunninghill. I look forward to seeing you all back at the gate, at parents evening on Tuesday, or at the Open Morning next week.

Thank you all for the contribution you put in to making Sunninghill such a wonderful community to be part of.

Have a lovely weekend.

David Newberry

David Newberry

Author David Newberry

More posts by David Newberry