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This is a nurturing environment where children, staff, parents and governors know each other and share a common understanding of the School’s purpose – to ‘aim high’ and through shared understanding of Gospel values, ensure that the potential of every child is fully achieved. Our children are happy, sociable, well-behaved and value our diversity, which enriches everything we do. We are recognised as ‘outstanding’ by the local authority and are confident this will be endorsed at our next Ofsted inspection.

Friday, 23 October 2015

What's Happening for the Young (WHY) Festival 2015

Yesterday, five of our children, including the Head Boy and Head Girl, visited the WHY Festival at the South Bank Centre in Central London.  The children went to find out more about what makes a good childhood as well as to learn more about, and celebrate, young people's rights (something that links with our work in School on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child).

Before the children went, Mr Weighill and Mrs Saunders asked the children two very important questions that they hoped, by the end of the trip, the children would be very confident in answering - 'Why are you going to this event?' and 'How is it linked to the Rights of the Child?'

Once there, the children took part in a number of activities.  First, they listened to a debate about the 'Happiness of Children', where the two questions that most intrigued them were - 'Does a happy childhood mean a happy adulthood?' and 'Should adults keep secrets from children?'  These topics were wonderfully discussed amongst the SMM children throughout the day.

Next, they took part in the 'Peace Mosaic'.  Organised by The Jimmy Mizen Foundation ('For Jimmy'), the mosaic is a collection of handprints of young people across London.

Each handprint symbolises a pledge of peace to make our communities safer and will be displayed on the wall alongside the River Terrace cafe at the Southbank Centre for the next two weeks.  It will then be delivered to our School at an assembly next term.

Our children decorated Article 13 - Freedom of Expression 'Every Child must be free to express their thoughts and opinions and to access all kinds of information, as long as it is within the law'.  Afterwards, the children enjoyed finding out about all of the other 41 articles.

Finally, the children learnt about how children can manage their money and deal with stress.  They also took part in another wonderful idea organised by JUMP PARTY.  Over the four days of the festival, JUMP PARTY hope that every child that takes part will draw a character with their arms open.  They will then join every picture created together virtually via social media so that they will be able to go all the way around the world thus giving the world a hug.

On the journey home, the children concluded that they were very lucky compared to lots of children. They have become more knowledgeable about the rights that every child in the world should have and some that they take for granted.

One commented that "I enjoyed the day because we got to have a good experience. We learnt that we should not take our rights for granted and we should be happy with what we have.”  Another claimed "My favourite part of the day was when we did the handprints because we learnt more about how Jimmy was denied his rights." [Schoolboy Jimmy Mizen was killed by another teenager in Lewisham in 2008.]

At the end it was clear that all five children were able to answer the two set questions asked at the beginning of the day with confidence.  They also believe they will be able to successfully share their findings in an assembly after half term and we wish them the best of luck!

Sally Saunders/Ben Weighill

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Community Tea Party - 20 October

Yesterday afternoon Yr.6 welcomed over 20 members of the local community, plus some governors, to a tea party at the School.  Individually designed invitations were made and delivered in recent weeks via the pupils and our Church.
After making all the advance preparations, excited and nervous pupils mingled freely with guests.  With some encouragement, they were able to chat, learning about their lives and indeed the history of our School.  Two former pupils and an ex-cleaner were among the gathering.
The children looked very smart, especially those who wore bow ties.  After greeting guests at the gate, they showed them to tables and began to interact.  Sandwiches, snacks and cakes were enjoyed by all, along with tea and squash.  Many of the cakes had been made by Year 6 themselves, and some had also helped in the making of the sandwiches during the morning.  One child was heard to say, “What a lot of work, I just thought parties happened!”

After about an hour the entertainment began.  Five members of year 6 played piano, saxophone and flute, then all of the year group sang two songs we had rehearsed.  Matthew gave a brilliant introduction to 'He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands', sharing our desire to show our faith because of God’s love for everyone.  The second song was a three part round in tribute to Glenn Miller, one of the musicians were have been studying. Called 'Hey Mr Miller', they sang clearly and managed to sustain the three parts superbly.  This was followed by the choir who also sang two songs.  The first was a Russian folk song, 'Minka', written in typical Russian style getting faster as it went on.  For the second number the choir were accompanied by Daisy and Kelvin on two djembe (African drums).  Tinga Leyo is a rhythmical and happy song from the Caribbean about a donkey.
The entertainment concluded with songs from Miss Julia Burnett, a professional entertainer who had been part of the tea party last year.  Julia sang several songs including a weather medley, but the highlight was when she took us back to the 1950s for an Alma Cogan medley.  Julia moved about the hall, shaking hands with children and adults, and giving us a wonderful end to the afternoon.
Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves and any spare food was wolfed down by the choir after the hall had been cleared.  Several people gave a lot of help in order to make this event so successful and we thank them all.  It gave our pupils a wonderful opportunity to interact with adults, prepare and run an event, but also to feel good that they had done something to show God’s love to our near neighbours.  On leaving, Miss Burnett said what lovely polite children they were - so well done Year 6, you made us very proud.
Anne Gardener

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Poetry Fever spreads throughout the School

Last Wednesday, the children of St. Mary Magdalen became extremely excited about a national poetry competition.  Both Key Stage One and Two were told about a writing competition that they could enter before the October Half Term, with the chance of not only becoming a published writer, but also winning £1,000 to buy new books for the school.
Mr Weighill explained that the children of SMM were able to share with the world their writing talents as well as improve their knowledge of using new poetry techniques.  Every class is expected to take part, using their English lessons as a vehicle to express their creativity.  The Infants will be writing their poems in class using their 5 senses, whilst the juniors will be writing a poem about a chosen emotion.
The School will perform an in-house prize winners assembly before the October Half Term once all classes have completed this activity.  All of the children's entries will then be sent off to be judged by Young Writers.
If you would like more information about this competition, please go to:
The teachers can't wait to see what the children produce and think a competition winner from our school is definitely achievable!
Ben Weighill
English Leader

Music for Youth

On a rainy, grey day Years 5 and 6 went by public transport to the Royal Albert Hall with teachers, parents and one of our Governors to experience this concert whi showcased young talented musicians from around the United Kingdom.
Harrow Tamil Orchestra opened the concert with traditional Southern Indian music.  Gifted young musicians played sitars, electric keyboards, traditional hand drums and violins.

Dulwich Hamlet Junior School Fusion Ensemble were next up, playing ' Londinium' a piece they had composed themselves, reflecting a day in the life in the capital.
The Royal College of Music Junior Department Chamber Choir sang a quietly lyrical song, about a Yorkshire lady singing to the wind to bring her true love back.  They then sang out 'Lord I'm Free', an uplifting spiritual declaration of faith.

Berkshire Symphony Orchestra played Holst's 'Jupiter' a piece that included audience participation, clapping, sounds and of course a Mexican Wave.

Finally an upbeat funk jazz version of 'Lady Marmalade' was performed by Young Brasscals.  Drums, tuba, saxophone played while the audience danced to the expertly played instruments, followed by a song about Brooklyn, an amazingly atmospheric piece.
Thank you to Mrs Saunders for organising this event, enabling the children to experience live music played by young people with such skill at one of London's most iconic music venues.
Ms Bekir

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Year Six meet Carol Harris, journalist

Year Six were delighted to welcome Carol Harris, journalist and author, to the School.  When Carol began her career computers were not used!  She began as an 'office junior' - making tea, filing and typing.
To gain experience she began writing newspaper articles that no one else wanted to do.  This led to her becoming a journalist on a 'news desk', where she reported on major stories from Parliament and historical events like Margaret Thatcher's last speech.
Having worked sometimes up to 60 hour weeks, Carol became an editor, which was very exciting as that meant she could choose what news stories to report.  One of her most memorable campaigns was to gain access for disabled people on buses and in public places - something we take for granted today.

Mrs Saunders and Carol Harris

Her life changed when she had children and she became 'freelance' which, she explained, was a word from the days of knights and chivalry.  A knight who was not employed by a baron or lord would be free to offer his services to anyone, carrying his trusty lance - so 'free-lance'!
Her interests in vintage fashion and history led to her publishing books on the subject.  She kindly donated two signed copies of her books to Yr.6.
Then children had the chance to ask Carol some questions.  They asked - who had inspired her to be a journalist?  Carol explained that when she was a child male and female roles were clearly defined roles and only men were journalists.  However her mother and grandma worked all their lives, so she was inspired by them to work and earn a living for herself.  As she had grown up seeing them work, going to work was something she expected to do herself.
The children then asked - what makes a good journalist?  Carol quoted from an inspirational Editor she worked with that said "Comment is free, facts are sacred."  She then explained that accuracy is essential;, that you should always check your facts; and that you should always edit, improve and get someone to check your work.  Furthermore all journalists have to work to a strict timescale and a good journalist will always meet publication deadlines!
One other memorable quote from Carol - "News is what someone somewhere does not want to be printed, all the rest is advertising."
Carol said that having a 'work-life balance' (not letting work rule your life) is important - and she enjoys gardening and volunteering at the Imperial War Museum where she talks about artefacts there. It is essential, she explained, to choose a career that interests you - as you will spend a long time working, so it might as well be something you are passionate about!
Nilgun Bekir
Notes: Carol Harris is a freelance journalist and lecturer, with a special interest in World War Two. She is the author of Women at War 1939-45: the Home Front, and Women at War in Uniform: 1939-45. She co-authored The Wartime House (Sutton, 2000), with Mike Brown, her husband.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Thursday 22 October is Movie Night

The School PTA is holding another Movie Night on 22 October.  Children will be able to watch films chosen by their class, in their classes, after school between 3.30-5.00pm.
Tickets are £3.50 per child (2nd child from same family £3.00) and must be purchased in advance.  This includes crisps, hotdogs and drinks.  Any profits will, as ever, go towards projects that benefit the School as a whole.
Parents must complete the permissions slips sent in schoolbags and return them, with correct payment, to the Office in an envelope marked 'PTA Movie Night' by 12 October.
Any children not attending the Movie Night on 22 October must be picked up promptly at 3.30pm. 
Mel Ruggeri
PTA Chair