Monthly Archives: August 2019

We care, don’t we?

There was a time when the role of a teacher was simply to educate the academic aspects of the brain, to worry only about public examination outcomes and to consider how we could make sure that every child learned their sums, practised the skills taught in art class or was able to write a well-structured history essay. How outdated this approach now seems. Life for youngsters today is far more complicated than ever before. They live a life which straddles the real world, of family relationships, day to day routine and the normalcy of school and a life online of Instagram, celebrities, perfectionism and ‘relationships’ with people they are never going to meet. And of course, on top of this, we still expect them to fulfil their potential academically. 

 

The pressure that comes with being a young person growing up in this ever more pressured world has led all of us who work with young people to recognise that positive relationships and good mental health should be at the heart of a school. If our pupils are happy, balanced and secure in their lives, then they are much more likely to work hard, enjoy the myriad enrichment activities that we offer and, crucially, able to meet their potential academically.

 

It is this which lies at the heart of We Care. This is our initiative to ensure that positive mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront of all of our minds, and to help our pupils construct and maintain excellent relationships with other pupils and the adults they encounter in school, and with it responsible and positive behaviour for learning. We Care is a school wide initiative, starting with the very youngest children in the Pre-Prep and going right through to the oldest pupils in the Sixth Form. It is a restatement and a joining up of what we have been doing for many years as a school that believes in the best quality pastoral care; however, we hope that, by being a bit more explicit about relationships and mental health and wellbeing, we can make the outcomes even better.

 

We care also extends to our staff body (and not just the teaching staff!), and the HR department is working hard on wellbeing initiatives such as yoga and gym membership, to help all of us to feel more positive about what happens in school each day. We hope that it will be an approach that parents will understand and take home to their own relationships there too, and we look forward to hearing feedback from families in due course. 

 

When Claire Harvey, a British Paralympian, visited our school last year she talked about the impact that anxiety and poor wellbeing have on pupils in schools around the world. She urged us to be inclusive and equitable in our relationships, and to consider how we can make the structure around us positive and supportive for all. This is what We Care is all about – showing that you worry about others, and being ready to extend the hand of friendship and to help a colleague or pupil feel included. Because this makes us feel happier, and when we are happier, everything seems better, even our history essays!  

An Old Paulean time capsule – buried but not forgotten

Imagine a school teacher had asked you to create and bury a time capsule, a memorabilia of present-day things to be discovered in the future. You choose your favourite items, put the capsule in the ground, finish school, move to another country and the time capsule becomes history. But then several years later someone finds your capsule…

This is the story of Timothy Barker, an Old Paulean. In 1985, aged 10, he buried his capsule with:

– a rather lovely drawing of a boy gazing ahead

– a beautiful poem about fireworks, and

– an identikit: a picture of himself, shards of hair, his thumb prints, the flag of a club he and his friend had set up and other details about himself.

Carmen Sapsezian, who manages the Old Paulean group, contacted Tim about this discovery just a month ago through his sister Melody, who also attended St. Paul’s along with their siblings Eleanor and Samuel. Tim was thrilled to hear the news, amazed that the capsule had survived for this long. The class had buried the capsules in the corner of the biology plot. “They were placed in layers with those expected to leave sooner at the top and those staying till the end of school in the bottom layer, mine was at the bottom.

“I remember the excitement of placing the capsules in the ground. I had not forgotten about the time capsule but did not think the school would take kindly to finding it.”

When Tim left St. Paul’s in 1992, the biology plot no longer existed and had been paved over, marking the end for the capsules. It was until 34 years later, when the Pre-Prep area was being refurbished. Over the past year, engineers and other workers had been working tirelessly to transform the Pre-Prep area, building new, modern and secure facilities that allow our children to feel safe, explore and ready to learn.

As the workers were redesigning the Pre-Prep area, one of the engineers stumbled across Tim’s time capsule and took it to our bursar, Nelson Sapsezian.

Jill Brading, who was Tim’s teacher at the time, said the project was in response to some novels by Betsy Byars (a well-known American children’s author) the children had been studying and she included the activity as a personal history idea. The capsules were a rarity as it was only Tim’s class (then Junior Five) that had undertaken this project.

Mrs Brading, now retired, worked at St. Paul’s in the Prep School for three years from 1985 – 1988, along with her husband Neil, who taught history. She fondly recalls a terrifying thunderstorm that made everything so dark that no one could see across the classroom, as well as organising a maths and science exhibition for parents and swimming galas and sports days held on Saturday mornings.   

What a find! Perhaps it’s time to resurrect the project and see what one might discover at St. Paul’s in another 30 years’ time? What would you put in yours? #timecapsulestpaulssp

Rising stars in the Sixth Form!

Every year we enjoy celebrating with the new Lower 6th Form pupils as they receive their IGCSE results in the middle of August; this year is no different, with 50% of all the grades obtained yesterday at A/A* or distinction/* distinction, the top two grades, and 75% A* to B. This is a remarkable achievement and every pupil is to be congratulated on their individual successes.    

Studied by virtually every pupil in the UK system, with exams at aged 16, the IGCSE is an internationally recognised, UK curriculum based qualification which is externally set, assessed and moderated. Our pupils study a broad and balanced curriculum including the arts, sciences, humanities, maths, and languages, and they generally sit 9 to 11 subjects. The pupils who attained the best overall results in the IGCSE, BTEC, and AS Portuguese literature exams are: Amogh, Felipe, Victor, Julia, Lucca, Lara, Eduardo, Laura, Victoria, Gabriela, Rodrigo, Isabella and Gabriela (see main photo, from left). They are to be congratulated especially; many of these have achieved all A and A* grades. This is no mean feat and they should be very proud of their achievements.

The breadth of success across the departments reflects the many strengths of the St. Paul’s curriculum and the determination and commitment of our pupils; those studying foreign language French, Spanish and Portuguese all scored 100% A/A* grades. In the sciences, IGCSE computer science (64%) and physics (59%) pupils both did very well. And in the humanities, 76% of pupils who chose global perspectives, a new course introduced just 2 years ago, did brilliantly to obtain an A/A* grade. Finally in the arts, music technology pupils attained 100% * distinction, the very top grade.  

Doing well in examinations is not everything, but these results open doors for our pupils for the future. It will lead them, we know, to great success in their IB diploma programme studies in the final two years of school, and to great college offers when they graduate in 2021. Well done everyone!