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Coombes Girls School

January 2020

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I am always delighted to see students getting involved in the myriad of performing opportunities and enrichment activities hosted by our music department. Last term, this has included the excellent Upper School Concert and the Canbury Singers Concert. These were two fantastic events where Coombe students excelled themselves in both individual performances and large ensembles. In October, we were delighted to welcome Phil Short, a professional guitarist, to our first "In Session With" as part of the music department's enrichment programme. An award winning artist, Phil talked about his road to music success. Well done to all those who attended and thanks to Mr Fisher for organising it. The number of ensembles run by Coombe has increased year by year and we were delighted by the newly formed Party Band. Finally from music, a massive well done to all the students who were involved in Carols by Candlelight. It was a fantastic musical evening which really showcased the amazing musicians and singers at Coombe and there were some really moving performances.  I would like to thank Mr Houlston for his leadership on such a memorable event. some content for your blog post here.

Another annual tradition is the Key Stage 3 Coombe Christmas Challenge. At the start of December Mr Jones challenged each tutor group in Year 7, 8 and 9 to create a Christmas hamper of non-perishable food items which was picked up by the Kingston Foodbank on the last day and made available to those people in need in the local area through the food gifts that students provided.  Thank you to everyone here who has contributed towards the hampers and considered others this Christmas. 

Coombe Sixth Form is a dynamic part of our community and we delight in the leadership students demonstrate every day. A large number of Year 12 and 13 students are currently part of One to One reading here at CGS and, for the first time this year, are also helping younger students at KnollmeadPrimary School. RAG week, when sixth formers raise money for charity also requires drive and creativity. This year, Year 12 and 13 students voted overwhelmingly to give raised money to local charity Lunchbowl which provides food and support for orphaned children in Kibera in Kenya. RAG week raised a whopping £735 (nearly twice as much as last year) and this total will be added to with the money collected at Carols By Candlelight this week. Thank you to everyone for your generous support. 

Our school runs more trips than any other school in the borough and the sixth form is no exception. This term, a number of Year 13 students recently took part in the Hate Crime conference which covered areas such as what a hate crime is, how to report a hate crime, and issues of discrimination. Our Year 13 representatives were commended for their mature approach to this sensitive subject. Our school excels at debating under the leadership of Mr Williams. 

I am very proud of our school’s approach to the Extended Project Qualification or the EPQ in the sixth form. Students have a free choice of topic to research and write about and the project is challenging and fulfilling. Earlier this term, we were treated to the presentation part of this qualification where yr 13 students presented their extended projects with confidence and competence - the projects were fascinating and topics included for example applications of aerodynamics to athletic achievement, benefits of music therapy to people with autism, the role of social media in people opting for cosmetic surgery

Preparing for life beyond our sixth form is a key focus for those working with and in Year 12 and Year 13. Congratulations to Iiman Abdulle Yr 12 who has been successful in her application for a place on the K+ scheme at King’s College London. K+ is a two-year scheme of events and activities, taster lectures and master classes, cultural trips and experiences with a current King’s student as an e-mentor. There were over 1900 applications for 300 places on this year’s programme and the competition for places was of an extremely high standard so well done to Iiman. Year 13 students have been busy this term applying for their choice of university courses or employment. As well as careers talks and practice interviews, over the last three weeks or so, 7 students have been attending rigorous interviews at Oxford and Cambridge universities for subjects including History, Biology and Archaeology. We also have students waiting to be interviewed for places on Medicine and Dentistry courses. I wish every student luck in getting their dream place for next September set up and thank all the staff who help to make that happen.

There are so many more events I could mention including the Year 7 Federated Day, the students who accompanied me and Mr Jones to the Remembrance Day service, the trip to the Aachen Christmas market in Germany when students had a really good time as well. Thank you to all the staff who have put on such enriching experiences and to all of you for participating in them so well. 

Well done to all teams who took part in this year’s Enterprise Project. Students’ have worked extremely hard, and have shown outstanding team work, creativity, business initiative, accountancy skills and overall maturity and dedication to the success of their team. Congratulations to The Wacky Watermelons (Shazia Goulamaly, Sharuthi Murugathas, Amy Allen, Emily Kearney, Daisy Mcdonnell, Kashfa Shoaib) who were awarded 1st place in this year’s Enterprise competition. The judges were particularly impressed by the originality of their product, and their Partnership with another team for promoting their product. This team will be celebrating in style with a feast at Nandos, followed by a trip to the Odeon Cinema to watch a film of their choice.

At Coombe, we continue to champion challenging ourselves to move our learning forward. Congratulations to the students in Years 10-11 who have participated last term in the Aspirations Project as part of our partnership with King's College Wimbledon. We are looking forward to welcoming Year 9 students onto the project this month.  Well done to all those involved with Ad Astra attending clubs or the 'Coombe Talks' series this term. There have been many exciting talks from staff taking you beyond the curriculum including those on the Iberian Peninsula, the Mycenaean Civilisation and the issue of queer baiting in the media. Please look out for next term's series of talks when we return from Christmas. 

A large number of students also participate in sport at school. Extra curricular clubs have been very popular once again and thanks to the addition of new lunch time clubs and the year 7 Hockey club there are more students than ever finding something to enjoy. 

Coombe continues to compete in a significant number of tournaments with schools from the local area. In the Cross Country special congratulations goes to Gabby (2nd place), Maisie (8th place) and Zoe (5th Place) for being in the top 10 of their age group and qualifying for the next round. Overall the Year 7 team came 5th and the Year 8/9 team came 8th.

It has been a pleasure to host both the Borough Badminton and the Borough Gymnastics - the home advantage had an impact for our KS3 Badminton team who came second overall. 

Year 7 Football Club has been so popular this year that we fielded two teams at the Borough Competition. Both teams did exceptionally well winning their pools and as a result had to face each other in the Semi Final! They eventually placed in second and fourth position out of 9 teams. 

Our KS4 Dance competitors won the  Borough competition for the 3rd year running beating tough competition to go on the Regional Finals at the Copper Box, Stratford. In their first year in the competition the KS3 dancers did very well performing a beautifully choreographed piece by Poppy Mulcahy and came second in their category. 

November saw the year 11 GCSE cohort take on Rock Climbing for their practical assessment. The girls battled wind, rain and frosty weather to master the art of climbing and belaying and even had some energy left over for Mocks revision!

House Benchball tournaments have been run successfully last term by the Sports Leaders for years 7, 8 & 9. The fiercely fought matches saw over 200 students battle it out to be crowned the winners. In year 7 Mercury were the winners in Year 8 it was Venus and in year 9 the winners were Neptune. 

We were delighted to hear about the achievements of one particular student in Year 10. Emily Wilson decided to choose swimming for the Physical element of her Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. For this, she has signed for the Swimathon event raising money for Cancer Research and Marie Curie, along with her friend, Shayda. Emily will be training for 3 months and will be taking part in the final challenge is a 5k (200 lengths) swim at the Malden Centre pool on Saturday 28th March 2020. If this was not enough, Emily has also been selected to be a Swimathon ambassador, one of only 6 in the country. As part of the launch event, Emily got to meet Duncan Goodhew, a Gold medal winning British Olympic swimmer. Emily did exceptionally well and was complemented by Duncan on her swimming technique - high praise indeed! We are very proud of Emily’s commitment and wish her every success in the final challenge in March.

Jack Petchey winners this term; 

Nancy Bucke (11VE) for being proactive, energetic, enthusiastic, positive and inspirational. Nancy is a natural leader in the Diversity Club and has helped to organise a number of presentations linked to challenging stereotypes. She promotes inclusion, open dialogue and fairness. She’s brave to speak her mind and determined to make a difference in our school community.  Last year, Nancy was particularly involved in contributing to research on diversity and social media conducted in Coombe by UCLA, drawing from her experience of co-hosting an instagram account which aims to inform young positively about LGBTQ+ issues.  Her approach is always considered, reflective and positive.

Gwenan Pearson (11VE) for always being polite, proactive and mindful. Gwen is involved in the Diversity Club and has taken part in a staff meeting to give examples of how inclusion can be promoted it in lessons. Gwen helps to run events in our school community and advocates inclusion, tolerance, respect and fairness. Last year, Gwen was particularly involved in contributing to research on diversity and social media conducted in Coombe by UCLA, drawing from her experience of co-hosting an instagram account which aims to inform young positively about LGBTQ+ issues.  Gwen’s input makes a difference and her peaceful personality is admired by many.

Alessia Perugi (10PL) for being proactively involved in the community. Alessia happily volunteered to participate in a number of events, including music and drama productions. She also represented Coombe at the Jack Petchey Ceremony evening at the Rose Theatre. Alessia is creative and polite. “She inspires lots of younger students,” one of the nominating students has said.

Congratulations to the Julius Caesar company who performed a stunning version of the play at the Rose Theatre in November as part of the prestigious Shakespeare Schools Festival. 25 students in Year 9 and a Sixth Form Technician worked together brilliantly over a period of a few months to create a really inventive performance. Such was the success of the piece that the company were invited to perform at Burlington Junior School the following week. We look forward to expanding our Primary Schools tour next year!

A Level Drama & Theatre students have enjoyed 3 trips this term, to see performances at the Rose in Kingston, the Curzon in Richmond and The Other Palace in central London. They have been thoroughly inspired by what they have seen, and brought back lots of ideas for their practical and written work. GCSE Drama students are looking forward to a number of trips next year - watch this space.

The Billy Elliot company are deep into rehearsal for their production, which runs from 5-7 February 2020 in the school hall. We are delighted to have so many committed and enthusiastic students involved, who are taking on the Geordie accent with superb bravery! Particular mention must go to our choreographers Annabel and Zoe in Year 12, who are leading the dance side of the show, with amazing professionalism, dedication, and attention to detail. Tickets will go on sale this month, and we look forward to sell-out audiences seeing the results of everyone’s hard work.

Thanks to all students in Drama who have behaved with great maturity and resilience around the building site, and coped admirably with our current lack of space. We are really excited that our new Drama Studio will be open in the Spring, and look forward to the opportunities that this will bring for sharing your brilliant work with our community.