Brighton & Hove

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SUSSEX SCHOOL WELCOMES NEW HEAD

Burgess Hill Girls is to see a new head arrive at the school to replace long-time incumbent Liz Laybourn, who is retiring from the school after 36 years.

Parents learnt this week that Lars Fox will join the independent school next September, arriving from a girls’ school in York where he was acting head.

German-born Mr Fox is a passionate supporter of all-girls education and has spent the last 20 years in the sector, in Newcastle, Durham and then York.

The language teacher said: “Having invested my entire professional life in the success of girls, I understand the reality of the challenges of gender equality and whilst perhaps never having experienced these challenges personally, I have developed strategies for success beyond those challenges, ensuring women are ‘at the table’ making decisions.

“I think it is a sign of the confidence of the governors in the quality and strength of the school that they believe that the success of Burgess Hill Girls is linked to having a leader who inspires and nurtures each girl’s potential.

“My daughter recently completed her A-Levels at a girls’ school and I have seen the positive transformational changes in her as a direct result of being taught and looked after by educators who believe in the value of single-sex education and I am excited to be part of the dedicated team at Burgess Hill Girls wanting to do the same for all of its girls.”

The father of two added: “I come from a family of educators. My sister is a maths and geography teacher, my mother was a university statistics professor, and my dad was a university lecturer in maritime economics. I’m really looking forward to starting work at Burgess Hill Girls and I’ll be looking at building on the foundations laid by Liz Laybourn around community and belonging as well as continuing the great work done around confidence building, enabling creativity, fostering independence, and developing the soft skills that are so crucial in the working world.”

Teens take on mammoth trek for Mind

TWO 17-year-olds took on a 57km walk through the undulations of the South Downs Way in a bid to raise cash for mental health charity Mind after seeing how many young people had been affected by the pandemic.

Harriet Pringle and Megan Vandersluis, pupils at Burgess Hill Girls School, were determined to help Mind after seeing how much the charity did for young people post lockdowns.

The pair set off with their teacher Monika Andrews and two fellow students Charlotte Tormajer and Holly Cunnington, who walked the first 25km, from Eastbourne at 8am earlier this month and walked for 14 and a half hours until they reached Hove Park.

Said Harriet: “During lockdown we wanted something to motivate us and inspire us to train and push ourselves to a challenge. We agreed with our teacher to take part in the South Coast Challenge at the beginning of March and continued to fundraise and train all throughout the summer holidays.

“We felt MIND is such an important charity, especially at the moment during the COVID pandemic. So many have been affected by mental health challenges throughout the past year, so it felt right to support them. It is also a charity that focuses on the mental health of teenagers and young people, so we wanted to support a charity that helped people of a similar age to us.”

But the walk, which followed the cliffs at Birling Gap before heading inland over the South Downs, was no easy task, with many uphill treks and blisters to contend with.

Harriet added: “It was really tough at times but towards the evening the beautiful sunset across the Downs was so lovely that it motivated us to go on towards the end.

“After reflecting on the walk two days later, we agreed that the last 10km of the challenge was by the far the hardest thing we have ever done and the most physically challenging thing we have attempted to complete. The final 10km involved walking through central Brighton and across the seafront towards Hove. Our feet were all in the most immense amount of pain having walked all day, and it seemed like the finish was getting further and further away. Despite this, we knew the ending was near and kept (very slowly) walking towards the finish. Shortly after 11:30 pm we finished and we trekked the short walk to the car to head home.

So far the four girls and their teacher have raised £1763, making their painful journey all worthwhile.

Added Harriet: “It has been so rewarding to raise money for Mind while having the opportunity to walk across the most beautiful sections of countryside, laughing and enjoying the experience with one of my closest friends.”

Burgess Hill Girls is celebrating fantastic A level results with 95% of students having already secured a place at their first choice University. 

It has been another year of fantastic A level results for Upper Sixth Form students at leading Sussex independent school, Burgess Hill Girls. 95% of students have already secured a place at their first-choice institution and will be going on to study a variety of subjects, from Robotics Engineering at the University of Bath to Accounting and Finance at the London School of Economics to Classics at the University of Cambridge.

Megan Watmough secured two A*s and an A. In addition to her studies, she has been the school’s Charity Prefect, leading on a variety of projects which have raised thousands of pounds and donations for MIND, Chailey Heritage School, and local foodbanks. She will go on to study Geography at the University of Exeter.

“I am really chuffed. My results are better than I expected, and I am so relieved. I have found it difficult to keep going at times during online learning, but my teachers and friends have kept me going. I have loved being at Burgess Hill Girls these past couple of years and will miss it dearly.”

Hannah Lovejoy received two A*s and an A. As well as being a talented artist she is an accomplished flautist and has represented the UK at karate. She will continue her artistic pursuits with a foundation degree at Brighton MET.

Rumbi Mpofu, a boarder from South Africa, was awarded 3 As. Fittingly, for a finalist in the Institute of Chartered Accountants prestigious BASE competition, she will study Accounting and Finance at the London School of Economics.

“I am extraordinarily happy with my results. The pandemic has definitely made studying for A levels challenging, I have been away from home for a year and have had to adjust to online learning. All the teachers, leadership team and boarding community have been extremely helpful, accommodating and understanding throughout this challenging time, I owe much of my success to them.”

Birdie Griffiths was also awarded two A*s and an A as well as an A in her Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) on the adoption of electronic vehicle use. Alongside her studies she led the Sixth Form team which organises their own annual ‘Tomorrow’s Women’ conference for teenage girls in Sussex. She will study Robotics Engineering at the University of Bath:

Head Liz Laybourn could not be prouder of all the Upper Sixth Form students at Burgess Hill Girls:

“This group of determined young women have had to deal with the disruption caused by COVID-19 throughout most of their A level studies.  What they have achieved in terms of their results and University admissions deserves even greater recognition. Overcoming the challenges of the last few years will stand them in good stead for what I am sure will be bright futures.”

Mental Health Awareness Week at Burgess Hill Girls

Burgess Hill Girls is embracing National Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 10th – 16th May with a theme of ‘Nature’. A wide range of nature themed activities, a programme of visiting speakers and the launch of their own mindfulness film, ‘Nature of Burgess Hill Girls’ are all planned.

May 10th to May 16th is National Mental Health Awareness Week. The wellbeing of pupils, staff and the wider community is a key priority for Burgess Hill Girls, so they have decided to recognise this important week with a mind-boggling number of activities.

In the Nursery, children will take part in outside yoga, sensory walks, smoothie making, building bird feeders and binoculars for bird watching. They will also create hanging mobiles, using objects from nature, and have been growing sunflowers to gift to their families.

Children in the Nursery and Pre-Prep will be visited by the St Francis Animal Welfare Hedgehog Rescue Centre, giving them the opportunity to meet a Hedgehog as well as learn more about this popular, but sadly endangered, British mammal.

There are number of nature activities planned in the Pre-Prep and Prep School, including building bug hotels and dens, reading outside, mindful tai chi, nature trails and nature sketching, and collaborating to create a giant outside artwork using natural materials. Children will have a session with School Nurse, Liz Hall to explore how to manage their worries. Catering Manager Alan Pierce will be providing fruit and vegetable tasting sessions and there will be an opportunity for the girls to make their own healthy drinks using a self-powered smoothie bike.

In the Senior School and Sixth Form, staff and students will be taking a subject led approach to Mental Health Awareness Week. In Psychology, they will explore nature themed therapies for common mental health conditions such as OCD. In Music and Drama there will be outside Samba band performances and outside readings of Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Language departments have created a vocabulary-based scavenger hunt and in Science they will study sleep.

Led by students in the Sixth Form, there will be digital detox day on Wednesday 12th May, students will leave their phones at home, stay off social media and engage in lots of good old-fashioned conversation.

The Senior School and Sixth Form students will also benefit from a range of visiting speakers including Nutritionist Karen Newby, Sexual Health expert Robbie Currie, Yoga and Mindfulness teacher Emily Gilchrist, the Schools Consent Project, and Ruth Summers, who will give students a chance to experience the relaxing benefits of her Sound Bath.

For teachers and staff there will be Zumba, Pilates, and meditation sessions on offer. They can also sign-up to the ‘Secret Buddy’ programme, enabling them to give and receive secret supportive messages and gifts throughout the week. St. Andrew’s Church in Burgess Hill, a long-standing community partner of the school, will be offering a quiet space for staff to visit at lunch time for some reflection and meditation.

Finally, the week commencing 10th May is also Burgess Hill Girls’ Open Week. Building on the National Mental Health Awareness Week’s theme of nature, the school has created a 5-minute mindfulness film celebrating the nature of Burgess Hill Girls. They are encouraging all visitors to watch the film as well as promising to take in aspects of the nature of Burgess Hill Girls on visitor tours during the Open Week.

Assistant Head Pastoral and Boarding Nikki Donson is the mastermind behind the schools’ week of activities.

“As so many young people’s mental, emotional health and resilience has been affected over the past year, it is vital for Burgess Hill Girls as a school to recognise Mental Health Awareness Week. We know that young people do better in all aspects of life if they are happy and healthy, so it is a no-brainer to do everything we can to promote good mental health.”

Annabelle’s Haircut Raises Over £1,000 for Little Princess Trust

As the nation returned to barbers and hair salons this week, 13-year-old Annabelle Sankey-Rigby has managed not only to a get a long overdue haircut, but also to raise over £1,000 for the Little Princess Trust.

The idea to get a sponsored haircut first occurred to Burgess Hill Girls pupil Annabelle in 2020. She had been watching Netflix series ‘Alexa and Katie’, in which Alexa starts to lose her hair due to Cancer and Katie supports her. Annabelle, who has had hair down to her waist for some time, was inspired to launch a sponsored chop of her hair, 19 inches in total. She decided to raise money for The Little Princess Trust, a charity that create wigs from hair donations for children suffering hair loss because of Cancer treatment or Alopecia, as well as funding research into childhood cancers.

Annabelle visited Denziloe hair designers for the chop on Wednesday 14th April. Little Princess Trust will now turn her hair into a wig, the process taking several weeks as it must be hand stitched. To date Annabelle has raised £1,020. You can still donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/annabelles-sponsored-haircut, 100% of the funds go straight to the charity.

Annabelle is thrilled with the amount raised for such an important charity:

“Alexa’s story in ‘Alexa and Katie’ shows that losing hair is very traumatic for children, especially when they are already having to deal with a serious disease. I have had long hair my whole life and it is very special to me. But the programme made me realise that others could benefit from it more. I hope the money raised will benefit lots of children and my hair helps its new owner feel a bit better when they get their wig.”

Burgess Hill Girls Head Liz Laybourn is immensely proud of Annabelle’s achievement:

“Over the last year I have been bowled over by the thoughtfulness of our pupils, not only to think of others but to throw themselves into a challenge and see what they can actually do for others. Annabelle’s achievement is a fantastic example to us all.”

Burgess Hill Girls pupil stars in Facebook Ad

Nine-year-old Burgess Hill Girls pupil Leyla Jukes is pictured playing the piano in a new Facebook advertisement

The Facebook video advertisement was launched at the end of last year. Called ‘More Together’ the video shows how, despite the various lockdowns in 2020, communities have been able to come together on the Facebook platform. Leyla is pictured playing piano at the start of the advertisement with her image projected onto a giant wall in Los Angeles.

Piano is one of the key activities that Leyla has been able to keep enjoying over the last few months. She has been playing since the age of five and during lockdown has been continuing her lessons with her Burgess Hill Girls teacher via Zoom. She also plays the recorder and next would like to learn the guitar.

Music has been a wonderful distraction for Leyla during the previous and current lockdowns.

“I never get bored during the lockdown as there is lots of time for me to play the piano. Luckily, there are lots of apps with new music to learn. I like learning to play songs by my favourite singers Billie Eilish and Dermot Kennedy.”

Burgess Hill Girls Head of Pre-Prep & Prep Heather Cavanagh is delighted for Leyla:

“The lockdown is particularly hard for younger girls as I know they miss seeing and playing with their friends. It is fantastic to see Leyla embracing the new opportunities lockdown can bring and to see her piano playing skills being recognised.”

Elves Raise Over £2,000 for Hospice

Over one hundred and ninety pupils and teachers at Burgess Hill Girls took part in their first ever Elf Run raising over £2,000 for St Peter and St James Hospice in Wivelsfield Green.

Pupils and teachers at Burgess Hill Girls Prep School and Burgess Hill Nursery, battled the frosty conditions to complete their first ever Elf Run on Wednesday 9th December. Wearing Elf hats and costumes the children skipped, danced, jogged and walked around the festive route.

St Peter and St James Hospice costs £8,000 a day to run, £19 pays for 1 hour of care and £23 covers a nurse to visit someone in their home. The £2,272 raised so far will cover over 100 hours of care or almost 100 nurse visits.

The Elf Run is one of the many activities run by Burgess Hill Girls to support the local community this Christmas. The Prep School pupils have also sent Christmas cards to residents in local care homes, and together with pupils in Year 7 and 8, brought in six items each for the Burgess Hill Community Food Bank. Pupils in Year 9 put-together care packages for Sussex Oak Leaf to help young people with mental health issues in Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath. Pupils in the Senior School also organised their own Woolly Hat Day on 9th December, raising over £1,000 for Chailey Heritage Foundation.

Head Liz Laybourn commented:

“Community is an important word at Burgess Hill Girls. The Christmas period offers lots of opportunities to get out and do our bit and I am immensely proud of the pupils’ efforts this year.”

Support the Elf Run and donate to St Peter and St James Hospice here.

Support the Woolly Hat Day and donate to Chailey Heritage Foundation.


 

THE BRIGHTON WALDORF SCHOOL INTRODUCES AN ORIGINAL AND INNOVATIVE NEW FLEXI CURRICULUM

New Flexible and Blended Educational Offer to Support Parents and Pupils

Now celebrating its 36th year in the City, The Brighton Waldorf School is building on this year’s exam successes, looking forward to the next academic year and implementing ground-breaking educational changes to its curriculum delivery.

The Brighton Waldorf School is introducing an exciting and innovative blended, flexible curriculum to support pupils’ continuous educational pathways and learning journeys which, at the same time, financially assists parents who find themselves living the ‘new normal’ in these still uncertain times.

The new ‘flexi’ schooling offer has been designed and initiated to support pupils’ continued learning journeys whilst they are facing and living with the restrictions created by the COVID pandemic.

Commenting on the new flexi schooling offer, School Director, Damian Mooncie said: The flexi schooling offer is there to support all pupils and families impacted by the COVID pandemic. We envisage that the cultural and social offer to interact and work together will support young people’s well-being by gaining a sense of identity within our School community and give a release from the constraints of social isolation.

“We designed the new way of delivering our curriculum with two aims in mind. Firstly, to support local home schooling families by giving them access to our School’s educational, cultural and social provision that can be integrated with their elective home educational programme; and secondly for our existing and prospective parents, to give them the opportunity to economically decide upon the number of days per week their children can attend the School, where they can still meet with their friends, experience the joys of childhood, see their teachers and continue on their learning journeys.                           

“On the days pupils are not physically attending school, they will still receive their educational quota through their parent’s preferred home schooling programme and, from November, by accessing our Threshold Learning Suite.”

 The new flexi schooling offer is an additional provision which demonstrates the School’s ethos of working collaboratively with parents to secure their child’s best interests. The offer supports parents with its availability, flexibility and affordability in these unprecedented times, giving them assistance and backing to be able to support and continue their children’s educational, cultural and academic provision through the current, extraordinary world-wide situation.

Damian added: “When physically attending the School, the majority of experiences the pupils will gain through the flexi offer will be cultural and artistic subjects such as art, drama, hand work, woodwork (design technology), sports and music.

 “Through integrating art, design and creativity, pupils will learn how subjects relate to one another. For example, through clay modelling in the pottery art classes, the symmetry to physics is clearly demonstrated and when working on ceramics, the link to chemistry through firing in the kiln and the chemicals used to make the glazing is shown.”

 The School has been busy over the summer making sure all facilities are ‘COVID Ready’ and that all UK Government guidelines are followed and adhered to. Damian continued: “The Brighton Waldorf School is a COVID safe environment and we have ensured all government guidelines have been put in place. Risk assessments and detailed planning have been done so that we can make sure the School is as safe as possible for our pupils, school staff and our wider community. 

 “All the teaching faculty want to reaffirm a culture of consciousness and we have plans in place to ensure a behavioural change to create a healthy school.”

But The Brighton Waldorf School is not stopping there. Damian continued: “In addition, we will be continuing to deliver our International Students Programme which is open to pupils world-wide and from all corners of the globe, to give them an unmatched and unparalleled opportunity to experience the diverse, inclusive and creative cultures in both Brighton and London.”

In closing Damian said: “During lockdown, we continued with our educational provision to support the children of key workers and vulnerable children and appreciate that some pupils may be nervous about coming back for a new term; but our staff are trained to identify and help any pupil who may be suffering from anxiety or return to school stresses.

 “We are excited to welcome our pupils back into the School and are sure they will all enjoy the next steps on their learning and educational journeys.”

For any enquiries on any of our new programmes, or to request a tour of the School and our facilities, please click HERE.

Alternatively, for any queries regarding the International Student Programme, please click HERE.

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“Remarkable students, who are both kind and bold”
Brighton Girls praises the empathy, achievement and resilience of its students as they receive their GCSE results

Despite the national upset caused by A Level results and the speculation surrounding the release of GCSE results, students at Brighton Girls arrived at school today with their customary good cheer – there were many smiles, both before and after the envelopes were opened. “Our students welcomed Monday’s announcement and were relieved to hear that their teachers’ professional judgement would at least be taken into account,” said Head, Rosie McColl.

With 23% of results being Grade 9, 48% Grades 8/9, and over a third of the year group achieving straight 9-7 Grades (the equivalent of A*/A in the old letter grading system) both staff and students at Brighton Girls have every reason to feel proud. There were some strong individual performances but particular mention must go to Phoebe (10 Grade 9s and an A in Additional Maths), Belle (10 Grade 9s and an A in Additional Maths) and Isobel (9 Grade 9s and an 8 in Further Maths) on their outstanding results.

“Our GCSE students have been through a lot,” said Rosie McColl. “They were dismayed when the cancellation of exams denied them the chance to prove themselves, and they have since faced an agonising wait for their results. Having been told initially that their grades would be determined by a computer algorithm, then witnessing national fallout following the release of A Level results, and the subsequent Government U-turn, many must have looked forward to today with more than the usual mixture of trepidation and apprehension. This has been an unsettling time for them all. I was reassured to see so many here to collect their results in person, and proud to see the way they conducted themselves – congratulating their friends, thanking their teachers, and showing the same empathy and resilience they have demonstrated throughout the COVID crisis”.

“As I said to the Year 11s at their final assembly, they are a special group – the experience of the last few months will make them stronger: living through the Covid-19 pandemic has fine-tuned their knowledge of politics and economics; increased their awareness of social injustice; and brought home the importance of positive mental and physical health. Exams have only ever been one small part of a learning process that lasts a lifetime, and the events of this year have brought that into sharp relief. Increasingly employers are looking beyond paper qualifications – they want to see evidence of empathy, emotional intelligence, resilience, creativity and confidence. At Brighton Girls, these attributes are wrapped up in our values and in our tradition of developing individuals who are both kind and bold – these are the things that will count in the long-term and, after recent events, I have no doubt that our students will be better equipped, and even more determined, to go out and make a positive difference in the world”.

Students receiving their results today expressed their relief that school would return to relative normality in a couple of weeks. Many have enjoyed the bridging and extension classes offered as part of the school’s #BrightFutures programme during lockdown, and are keen to embark on their A Level courses. At Brighton Girls, staff are looking forward to welcoming all year groups back in September and those joining the Sixth Form can look forward to a two-day induction, which will bring brilliant individuals from across the city to Brighton Girls, to tell their story and to inspire students at this crucial stage of their educational journey. From self-defence to stand-up comedy, from leadership to the launch of Brighton Stargazing project (a community STEM programme, which will see Sixth Form students working with pupils from St Andrew’s Primary School in Hove), the school has devised an action-packed programme to celebrate the return to school, and to mark the beginning of a new chapter. The future looks bright for the GCSE class of 2020.

Congratulations to them all!

Brighton Girls will re-open to all year groups in September, providing high levels of academic and pastoral care to girls aged three to 18. We are fortunate to have the space and capacity to open all our sites safely and we look forward to welcoming all our students back into school for the new academic year. Having delivered a full timetable online throughout lockdown, showing incredible levels of resilience and creativity, our teachers are also looking forward to being back in the classroom for what will, no doubt, be another interesting year for us all.