October Newsletter

Welcome to Kensington's October newsletter edition of the academic year 2020/21

A WELCOME FROM THE HEADMASTER, Mr Michael Bayes

In September we were faced with many new protocols but now, as October draws to a close, we are all becoming increasingly comfortable with the ‘new-normal’ way of being at school during a pandemic. Despite all the differences this first half of term has been remarkably ‘normal’ since classroom based in-person lessons have been extremely successful. As will be evident from the half-term school reports the vast majority of our students have made very pleasing progress since September 7th . Our pupils have been adaptable, sensible and co-operative during these extraordinary times and we congratulate them on their mid-term grades – keep up the good work everyone!

As always, we are arranging parent consultation meetings for mid-November so that our teachers can discuss the progress of their students with families and elaborate on any issues raised by the half-term reports.

To comply with COVID secure procedures these meetings next month will be conducted remotely. We will send you full details in the coming weeks once the technical aspects have been confirmed. I would stress that these brief conversations with teachers are not designed for dealing with more complex educational matters.

Parents are most welcome, at any stage of the term, to request, via the office, a meeting with any of my senior colleagues, Miss Canwell, Mr Evans, Mr Voller, or myself, to discuss any school issue.

In the past month we have been delighted to welcome Albie, Alice, Ashlee, David, Jordan, Ju Hwan, Milan and Sofia to our small community. It is never easy moving schools, particularly after term has started, but they have all made impressive starts to their Kensington School careers. With previous experience of schools in Andorra, California, China, England, France and Russia our new pupils certainly enrich our international profile.

The following news items should give you a flavour of what has been happening here in recent weeks. As you will see from this sample the children continue to be fully occupied in a wide range of vibrant activities both inside and outside the classroom; from pumpkin carving to target setting and from poetry festivals to maths challenges.

Some senior students even came into school at 8am on La Hispanidad national fiesta to sit a Physics international advanced level exam! Such sixth formers are in the midst of preparing for the next stage along their academic pathway. They are actively applying for courses at a range of leading UK and European universities and we wish them every success with this increasingly competitive process. We will be beside them every step of the way as they plan their exciting futures.

Our teachers continue to keep up to date with educational developments via regular online courses and the most valuable two-day visit to Kensington of Tricia Taylor, an authority on modern approaches to teaching and learning.

We trust that everyone will have an enjoyable and relaxing half-term holiday – richly deserved!

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What an eventful month it has been! After a strange September, the pupils are taking the 'new normal' rules in their stride and it's back to business as usual.

A NOTE FROM THE HEAD OF JUNIOR SCHOOL

What an eventful month it has been! After a strange September, the pupils are taking the 'new normal' rules in their stride and it's back to business as usual. The staff are constantly finding creative ways to keep the lessons interesting despite social distancing restrictions and the decision to celebrate Halloween within the individual classes has been a deserved reward for the end of this half term. I can say with certainty that resilience and ICT skills have improved in leaps and bounds across the school. Rehearsals for our Christmas performances will begin after the short break - the children will be stars of the screen this time as we plan to create short films for each class - watch this space!Have a well-earned rest, everyone.

- Mr Steve Evans, Head of Junior School

Early Years

"How do you ensure social distancing whilst giving instructions to 3 and 4 year olds?"

This is how! Our Early years children attended their first swimming class at the local Kensington swimming facilities. The facility provides swimming lessons exclusively for young children and the pupils from Nursery and Reception thoroughly enjoyed their first class.

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J1

As part of their Science topic, J1 have been looking at how we, as human beings, are all different. From our eye colour, our hair, the colour of our skin and our height.

Using a variety of media to make self portrait inspired collages of what they look like using fabric, plasticine, chalk and other art mediums, they made fantastic pieces of work which are being displayed in the Junior School corridor.

J2

Geography

On Thursday 22nd October, the children in J2 went on a trip to the Cervantes Park as part of our Geography work about the local area.

The children were given the challenge of finding a statue and a hotel for bees and wasps. They took it in turns to decide which path we should take, turning left or right, and used a compass to identify in which direction we were walking. We also located our position on a satellite photograph of the park at different points on the walk. The children successfully located both the statue and bee hotel!

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English

The paper cat was a character, Hamish, from the stories of the Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch by Ronda and David Armitage which we have been enjoying in our English classes. They have been communicating by email with Mr Grindling, the Lighthouse Keeper and suggesting ways to stop the pesky seagulls eating his picnic lunch! They have also written sandwich recipes and their own stories about the lighthouse.

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J4

J5

Our J5 class have been learning about Ancient Egypt History and in Art they made some clay cartouches, where the students wrote their name in hieroglyphs. They then painted, decorated and varnished the cartouches. You will find these displayed in the Junior School corridor.

J5 Ancient Egypt Artwork 2

J6

Black History Month

J6 have been learning about black scientists and inventors who have made significant contributions to the advancements of technology and science. In ICT this week they have been doing a research task on black inventors – we found some really amazing inventions which they hadn’t previously been aware of. They enjoyed watching the Kensington Perspectives video (featured later on in the newsletter) and found it interesting to hear from Kensington teachers, pupils and parents and listen to their personal experiences.

Yana Black History Month research
Dima and Guillermo Black History Month research

Team Building

As J6 have been split this year we are trying to foster a team spirit across both classes. Once a week students get together on the pitch for some team building exercises which involve skills of problem solving and communication. Students really enjoy their time together as a whole class. This week J6 were creating objects as a team with only our bodies and team work to help us and the added pressure of a time limit – check out their human giraffe.

J6 team building

Congratulations to everybody on working together through such difficult times - I wish you all a very relaxing and safe half-term break.

A NOTE FROM THE HEAD OF SENIOR SCHOOL

As we come to the end of a very successful first term we have had time to reflect on how well all our new procedures are working. Whilst the academic side of our school is continuing almost as normal we have been looking at ways to reintroduce pastoral activities; another important part of school life.

In the last week of October we held our first socially distanced assembly of the year. Assemblies allow us to come together as a school and recognise the achievements of our students in a more formal setting.

Mr Voller presented books to the winners of the Poetry Competition and in my role as Head of Maths I was delighted to finally present certificates for the online Junior Maths Challenge that students sat from their homes way back in June. A big well done to Apple, Kazu, Sania, Peter and Luis in Form 3 and Yaphel in Form 2 who all achieved bronze certificates.

After half-term we will also start introducing tutor time in Forms 4, 5 and 6. The months leading up to the public examinations can be a stressful time for the older students and it is important that we find time for tutors to support their tutees through it.

As part of our successful target-setting initiative that Mr Voller introduced last year, tutors will also be meeting with their tutees on an individual basis to talk through how the term has gone and discuss targets that could help them improve still further.

And of course we couldn’t let the half-term finish without our annual inter-form Halloween fancy dress competition.

Congratulations to everybody on working together through such difficult times - I wish you all a very relaxing and safe half-term break.

- Ms Viv Canwell, Head of Senior School

National Poetry Day 2020: Vision!

National Poetry Day 2020 was certainly a bit different this year from previous instalments of the event. In a normal year, the school theatre would be packed with poet-performers, judges and punters keen to hear the competitors recite. This year, by contrast, the whole event had to take place online.

Please enjoy watching the winners' videos, and look out for the special entry from our resident P.E. Poet, Mr Vanderhayden, who, as in previous years, was inspired to contribute his own vision of hope for a brighter world.

Winners' Videos

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Students have been developing their still life drawing skills this month. They discussed the meaning of objects and drew objects that are important to them, inspired by artists. They had the opportunity to increase their independence and developed personalised tasks and final pieces, in preparation for GCSE.

Sixth Form

Physics

Our Year 12 physicists have been calculating the force of friction between two wooden surfaces. During their practical lesson they look at a synoptic exercise in which they used lots of concepts which they had recently learned to prove their research.

Biology

As part of the practical requirements for A Level biology The students are required to plan an investigation on the effect of temperature on the growth of invertebrates. Daria is measuring the length of Meditterannean Flour Beetle larvae found in Madam Grandhomme’s almonds! Claudia is taking the mass of snout weevils she found in her Agave plant. Both are keeping their larvae at different temperatures.

A Visit from: Tricia Taylor

Learning expert, Tricia Taylor returned for her second visit to Kensington School this month. Working with Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 pupils, Tricia’s workshops focused on how we learn and how we remember and understand information. She gave the children, staff and parents a range of strategies to use to make sure we “Think hard and work smart” without overloading our memory buckets.

Key points included: going over previously studied topics; using quizzes to see what we can remember and what we need to work on more. Repetition is key to remembering, repetition is key to remembering, repetition is key to...

Virtual seminars took place throughout the school for students, staff and parents.

Tricia is a former teacher and leader in schools in the UK and US. With 20 years of experience in both primary and secondary schools, Tricia founded TailoredPractice to pursue a passion to make educational research more accessible to educators, youth and parents. Tricia has since worked with a wide range of British and international schools, presented at numerous conferences and is the author of a new book called, Connect the Dots: The Collective Power of Relationships, Memory and Mindset in the Classroom (John Catt).

Tricia is also a former Associate Lecturer for English at Goldsmith’s University teacher training programme in London and Education Consultant for PowerTools, based in New York City. Tricia holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Journalism and a Master of Education. At Kensington we are committed to supporting pupils to develop the most effective habits for learning. This is why we teach the children about how memory works, why the brain likes perseverance and what researchers say are the best ways to learn.

On Friday 6th November, Tricia will be doing a workshop with Form 4 students to share with them her advice about how they can learn more effectively, based on knowledge of the ways the brain works.

Black History Month

October is Black History Month, we shouldn't need it but… until Black History Month is fully integrated into our curriculum it's an opportunity to learn about important, inspiring people and events that have shaped our society. Helping to gain equal rights for all people, regardless of the colour of their skin.

Now, more than ever, we are witnessing, even hundreds of years after slavery being abolished, generations after the civil rights movement, radical prejudice remains present in our world.

It is an opportunity for students to learn about inspiring people and important events that have shaped our society and brought about equal rights for all. Across the Junior school, children have been learning about key figures from the civil rights movement such as Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and Rosa Parkes. Children have also explored the scientific contributions made by black people such as George Washington Carver and Mae Jemison. Mr Kelly has dedicated the weekly assembly 'On this day in History' segment to important events related to black history, including the end of segregation of schools in October 1969.

A special thanks to Aisha Waqar Perez, Mrs Vera Bannerman and Miss Ruiz for sharing their personal experiences about racial prejudice for the short film 'Kensington Perspectives' - a look at how racism still exists in our society.

Happy Halloween!

What a Halloween spectacle! I think it is safe to say that we were truly blown away by the calibre of the entrants with pumpkins large and small adding a terrifying touch to the last few days of this half term. We received a whopping 50 entries and it was clear that each and every one of the pumpkins had been carved with buckets of creativity, skill and, in some cases, a dash of humour. We had some ghoulish gourds complete with gruesome teeth and spine-chilling stares, and others who played with the lighter side of Halloween, including our very own pumpkin "pi".

Staff and students had the chance to vote for their favourite pumpkin; far from an easy task owing to the high quality of each entry. The competition was extremely tight but in the end the top three pumpkins were carved by: Sofia J1, David J5 and Tiansa J4.

We also invited students to come to school in fancy dress, adding another element of fun to the end of the first half of term 1 and our halloween celebrations.

A huge congratulations to each and every student who entered the competition, and to all the Mums and Dads who helped out at home. Your petrifying pumpkins were a highlight of this half-term and have set the bar exceptionally high for next year!

Next Monthly Newsletter Issue - Friday 27th November

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