A quick look back at Term 3 at Kingdown School. We managed to fit in an awful lot in to five weeks and five days (one snow day!)…

Kingdown Wall of Fame

The Wall of Fame was updated to reflect on students and their attitude to studies in Term 2. It was fantastic to see 280 students being recognised in Kingdown Week (link). The Wall of Fame is our way of celebrating the Top 20 students in each year group, who have the best Attitude to Learning on their most recent Data Collection. What is an Attitude to Learning? This is the part of your school report when a teacher says your attitude is ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’, or if they have concerns. We give each of these comments a score which, when added together, gives each student in school an average Attitude to Learning total.

The number one boy and girl in each year group received a giftcard and tea with the Headteacher. We look forward to updating our Wall of Fame board throughout the year and to see lots of new names and faces. The board is located outside Mr Dudley’s office (Top Floor English)…students, make sure you have a look next time you’re passing.

Beginning to push on using reusable food and drink containers

Kingdown School has begun to take action on increasing the number of reusable food and drink containers used on the school site and think about reducing the amount of waste we generate as a school. We asked students to start to bring into school reusable containers for takeaway drinks and meals, rather than using the disposable containers used currently. This will also produce a cost saving for the school which will be passed on to students directly:

Remember:

  • Hot Drinks – students with reusable drinks containers will benefit from a 5p discount per drink
  • Takeaway foods (small container) – students with reusable containers and cutlery will benefit from a 5p discount per meal
  • Takeaway foods (large container) – students with reusable containers and cutlery will benefit from a 10p discount per meal

The discounts are available at all of our food outlets – the Dining Hall, Snack Shacks and the Sixth Form block. As part of this drive, on Friday 25th January Kingdown School had it’s first ever Plastic Free Friday…

Plastic Free Friday

Friday the 25th January saw the launch of Kingdown School’s first ever ‘Plastic Free Friday’.

Headteacher, Mr Locke, wanted to raise awareness in the school, and the community, about the over use of single-use plastics. Students and staff were asked to bring their food and drink in reusable containers and to ensure packed lunches, or purchased food items, were not wrapped in disposable plastic.

In support of this move, the school’s kitchen and dining hall, replaced the plastic drinks bottles with cardboard compostable cartons and plastic cutlery was replaced with a more environmentally friendly wooden knives, forks and spoons. Mr Deverill, Executive Head Chef, said he has been working hard with suppliers to reduce other plastic use in the kitchen and is also investigating options replace other forms of plastic packaging currently used in the school dining room and food outlets, such as the baguette bags and the plastic pasta pots.

Mr Locke expresses his thanks to students, staff and parents for their support on this, the first ‘plastic free day’, and for taking part in what will be a range of initiatives raising awareness of the school’s impact on the environment.  If you have any further ideas for ways we can improve the Kingdown School environmental footprint, please do feel free to get in touch.

Wellbeing Champions

Students were reminded of our staff who are Wellbeing Champions – members of staff who are happy to talk to students about their wellbeing, and point them in the right  direction if they need some support. Check out the Wellbeing boards going up outside Mrs Alston’s office (and soon to be outside English) to find out when and where you can easily find a Champion to speak to.

Keep an eye on the Wellbeing section of the school website too (link), for lots of updates and useful links…

Take 5 Introduced

In our ongoing efforts to support healthy minds and positive wellbeing at Kingdown School, we updated our map of support. This information, which we are calling ‘Take 5’, can also be found on the wellbeing section of our website (link), on our wellbeing display boards, and in classrooms around the school.

Wiltshire Cross Country County Trials

On Saturday 19th of January, eight Kingdown School students ran for the West Wilts team at the Schools County Cross-Country Championships. The race was held at Sheldon School where runners who finished in the top 10 would qualify for a place to represent Wiltshire at the South West Championships.

They had perfect conditions for a cross-country race, with rain from start to finish making for a muddy course. All of our runners performed exceptionally well and three students qualified for the Wiltshire Team who will run at the South West Championships at Bath Race Course on Saturday 2nd February:

  • Lewis Green (8th Minor Boys)
  • Mim Gray (3rd Minor Girls)
  • Orli Cranston (8th Inter Girls)

Well done to all of our runners who ran extremely well, representing both Kingdown and the West Wilts team:

  • Abbie Reynolds(Inter Girls)
  • Jack Wiper (Inter Boys)
  • Peter Lister (Inter Boys)
  • Malin Cranston (Junior Boys)
  • Jess Hiscock (Junior Girls)
  • Violet Clarke (Minor Girls)

Well done to all runners and good luck in future competitions.

Ebola Talk for Year 11 and 13 Scientists

On Monday 21st January, the Biology Department had a fascinating visit from a guest speaker, Dr Mark Fife. Over fifty Year 11 and Year 13 students packed into S13 to hear him speak. Dr Fife works at the Pirbright Institute, which is a research centre for scientists studying infectious diseases that affect farm animals. During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, Dr Fife and his team travelled to Sierre Leone in West Africa, to help test samples from suspected patients for the presence of the Ebola virus.

Dr Fife described in vivid detail the extreme precautions they had to take before handling the samples, as well as the harrowing consequences if a false negative, or false positive result came back from the testing. He explained the technique he was using (PCR, or polymerase chain reaction), which our Year 13 Biologists will be studying this term in their Biology lessons.

For more information on the work of the Pirbright Institute, visit www.pirbright.ac.uk

Annapurna Base Camp Trek 2018

Report by Mr Nick Trimby

On the 18th December 2018, after two and a half years of planning, 14 students (aged 15-17)  and three members of staff from Kingdown School said goodbye to friends and family and set off for Nepal to trek to Annapurna Base Camp where we planned to hold the World’s Highest Student Lunch Party at 4,130 metres.

We arrived in Kathmandu on the 19th December and met by our hosts Nima and Tsering from  www.sherpakyadventures.com.  I trekked with Nima and Tesering on our previous expedition  in 2014. We were warmly welcomed with Garlands of flowers and, once the formalities were over, we were whisked off to our hotel. After a quick freshen up, the students were eager to explore this amazing, but very hectic, city. They spent the day hunting down bargains with their new found skill of bartering, followed by dinner and an early night.

We awoke the next to the sounds of the city’s incessant traffic horns and people busying themselves for the day’s trading. We were treated to a day’s sightseeing and another early night, as we had another early start and set off, with bags packed  for our short flight to Pokhara, which was where we would start our trekking.  After a short bus journey, and a three hour walk, we arrived at our first tea house where we were warmly greeted with huge amounts of black tea. This was the first time we met the whole team who would be looking after us on our amazing journey. We had five mountain guides. Nima, our lead guide, has reached the summit of Everest seven times and also owns the record for the highest dinner party at 7,020 metres (23,030 feet). Nawang, with three summits of Everest, three summits Mount Cho oyu and two summits Mount Manaslu (these are all 8000 metre peaks) and young Nima, also with three Everest summits, two Cho oyu and two Island Peak.  So along with Tenzing  and Tsering, we were in very safe hands. We also had eleven porters, lead by Som Tamang, and these men were the backbone of our trip and truly amazing. Without them, it would have been possible to undertake this journey.

The next morning, when we awoke to total peace, not a sound could be heard. We visited a local school where we were warmly greeted by the students. They put on traditional dance and song, with more garlands of fresh flowers which had all been hand made for us the day before.

We handed out much needed stationary to each of the students, along with hats and gloves. Then we all joined in with a whole group dance. After a couple of hours we had to say goodbye to our new friends. I think our students would have quite happily spent the whole day there, given the chance.

After another four hours of hiking, we arrived at our next tea house where we could drink as much black tea as you could consume and had a hearty dinner of dahl bhatt. Over the next couple of days we gradually trekked higher and higher with breathing becoming a little harder as we gained altitude. We eventually arrived at Poon Hill viewing area, at 3210 metres, and what a view it was: 360 degrees of the Annapurna range. Absolutely stunning!

On Christmas Day, we had a 5 hour trek to Chomrong where we celebrated Christmas with our guides and porters and unwrapped gifts we had brought with us from home. A surprise steak dinner was very welcomed by all, as was the evening of music and song and numerous games of cards. Over the next couple of days, the scenery become more spectacular than ever, with “out of this world” sunsets and sunrises on the mountain peaks. On the 28th December we arrived at our last guest house where we spent a very chilly night; it was -10 degrees in bed!

The next day, after a two hour trek, we arrived at Annapurna Base Camp at 4,130 metres.  With a tear in my eye, I could not believe that the whole team had made it and that we could all celebrate our World’s Highest Student Lunch Party. A fantastic achievement! With a quick change of clothing to bow ties and shirts and ladies in their finery, we settled down to a three course lunch all washed down with hot mango juice. It was truly amazing and very much enjoyed by all. After lunch, we spent time taking in the stunning views. We then had to descend to our tea house for the night. The next day, a 1600 metre drop and seven hours later, we arrived in Sinuwa for the night. On New Year’s Eve we trekked to our very last tea house in Jhinudhada, and enjoyed a memorable evening singing and dancing with our guides and porters .

On New Year’s Day we headed to Pokhara city for our last evening and a very welcome hot shower. We travelled back to Kathmandu for all to get their last minute souvenir bargains! In the evening we were all invited to a traditional meal and dancing. What a way to end this incredible journey. It was an absolute pleasure travelling with this group of students.

Early the next day we set off to airport for our long journey home. I can’t thank the team in Nepal enough for looking after us so well.  We finally arrived back at school on the 4th Jan, after midnight, greeted by very happy parents.

Friday 1st March: Snow Day

Snow descended on to Kingdown School and we had to close for the day. The Site Team did a fantastic job and cleared the site over the weekend to ensure that we could open as normal on Monday.

Showcasing our Performing Arts Department

Two Performing Arts events took place in the same week. First of all, above, The Battle of the Bands followed by the Key Stage 4 Music showcase.

Children in Need

Kingdown School raised a fantastic £1,113.62 to go to the Children in Need appeal. A fantastic amount thanks to the generosity of students and their families making their donations.

A ‘Thank You’ from Jacob’s Ladder

At the end of January, Kingdown received a very kind ‘Thank You’ letter from all the staff at local charity Jacob’s Ladder (the Wimbledon house charity), for a donation of £95 from the staff at Kingdown School.

The money was raised by asking staff to sign a ‘One For All’ Christmas card rather than send individual cards.

Dear staff

I am writing on behalf of all staff, volunteers and children at Jacob’s Ladder to say an endless and heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for choosing to donate money to our organisation over the Christmas period. The money you have kindly raised will be going towards finding a permanent home for the children of Jacob’s Ladder. In September we made the heart-breaking decision to postpone running after school club and playschemes, as we did not have a venue suitable enough for meeting the needs of our children. This has meant over 30 families have not received the care and support they need. We support children with a wide variety of complex needs, from learning disabilities, Down syndrome and ADHD to medical needs such as epilepsy.

Without a space that is tailored to these needs, our growing organisation and our growing children we cannot provide the level of support We cherish all the support our local community offer us and are grateful for all the time people give to help us as a small organisation. Your help and support over the Christmas period will aid in making that possible.

Again, a huge thank you from everyone at Jacob’s Ladder.