FRIDAY FLYER-Issue 99
As I referenced to colleagues in Staff Briefing this week, the announcement of the impending circulation of a Covid-19 vaccine has instigated a renewed sense of hope, both in Malaysia and globally. We would all agree that the world desperately needed this news and we can approach the future with greater confidence, and with a rejuvenated spirit of optimism. However, one must balance that overt positivity with the honest appraisal that we remain some distance from the mass distribution of an impactful vaccine.
Thus, the ongoing influence of the pandemic continues to reverberate through education, and it remains challenging to have all schools technically closed in Malaysia until the 17th December (although our Term 1 finishes on Friday 11th December in any case). Nevertheless, I remain uplifted by all the quality online learning and teaching that continues at Epsom, and this Friday Flyer carries features and snapshots of these productive activities in both the Prep and Senior environments. The engagement of the pupils has been largely excellent and this bodes well, especially with Trial Examinations scheduled for Years 11 and 13 in January 2021. Furthermore, there remain many opportunities for students to both attend and participate in online presentations, with universities being especially keen to interact with potential students in this unsettled time. I would urge pupils to take advantage of these sessions and we always appreciate parental support on these matters.
In addition to the ongoing splendid pastoral care provided by the HMMs and their teams, and the academic guidance supplied by HoDs and colleagues, I am also heartened by the great input from the Key Stage 3 & 4 Coordinators (and the Assistant Head (Sixth Form) for Key Stage 5). This triumvirate of HMMs / HoDs and Key Stage leaders, comprising alignment between the academic and pastoral spheres, is so important to the operations of any boarding school and it is very refreshing to see their marked contributions in these pages of the Friday Flyer also. Thank you to everyone involved.
As a final point, we will of course update parents further on any announcements pertaining to the start of Term 2 in January 2021. As it stands, we remain hopeful that we will be allowed to continue with the published commencement of Term 2 on the 4th January 2021, however we will keep all parties fully informed, as we receive the communications from the respective Malaysian Ministries.
For now, I wish you every good fortune and I hope that you enjoy reading the contributions in this Flyer.
With thanks and best wishes,
Dr Murray Tod
University Applications During Online Learning
While this Term would normally have been rich with visitors from universities giving talks on all sorts of topics to our students, this year these visitors have been unfortunately unable to fly out from their home countries. However, on a positive note, in response to this there have actually been even more options available as universities are offering webinars covering all sorts of topics, ranging from lectures on viruses from the University of Manchester to film production workshops from the New York Film Academy. There is something for everyone, as they look to enhance their exposure to universities and the courses available to them, as well as providing them with material that they can discuss in their applications.
As all of this is going on, it is that time of year when many of the Upper Sixth send off their university applications. For some, this has already occurred and offers have started to come in, as well as our applicants for the University of Cambridge already having attended their virtual interviews. Just before lockdown, the prefects suggested a university bell, so that a student can ring it when they have submitted their application. This has been bought and stands ready for each application to be sent off.
Now, of course, any ringing of the bell has to be done virtually. However, that is not a problem, as the latest CMCO is not stopping university applications from being submitted. If anything, the latest CMCO frees up some students allowing them more time to complete their personal statement, as well as producing some extra work to help demonstrate their potential to their teachers in finalising their predicted grades. Every day, the students are available to sign up for 1-to-1 meetings to discuss their personal statements, university choices and applications in general, as they look to finalise everything.
In reality, the UCAS deadline is not until 15th January, but students should certainly not wait until the last minute to finalise their application. Even if they are in the process of proving themselves for higher predicted grades, now is the perfect time to get the application almost complete, so they are all set to press “send” and ring that bell, when they have maximised their predicted grades.
Mr Jon Barker
Assistant Head (Sixth Form)
Key Stage 4 (KS4) Update
It’s back to online learning for our Key Stage 4 (KS4) students, and whilst this has been a disappointment to some, the intensity and enthusiasm shown by KS4 students has not diminished. Many of our students are now able to work very effectively, having used much of the software and systems previously. Students have shown great fortitude, but are also exhibiting some excellent skills and computer literacy. This has enabled our KS4 cohort to get more out of the experience of online learning, and push the boundaries of what they can do whilst online learning remains a reality.
Students are also working creatively in this time and, if possible, avoiding some screen time with their work. For example, in Year 11 English lessons, students are demonstrating creativity and resourcefulness by making models of a scene in their current text (An Inspector Calls). As you can see in the images below, there has been some great effort put into this task by Miss Hargreaves’ class. Whilst much of the day of our students is being spent online, it is great to see students temporarily working away from their screens and using some creative skills.
It is crucial at this time for KS4 students to maintain their excellent work. Year 11 students will soon be sitting their Mock Examinations, which will be an opportunity for them to prepare for their IGCSEs and to exhibit their abilities to subject teachers. In Year 10, students will be completing their first term of IGCSEs very soon, and will therefore likely be assessed by their teachers too. On the whole, it has been such a productive term for KS4 students, and there has been a tremendous amount of effort both in the classrooms, and online.
Mr Francis McGinty
The Show Must Go On!
Our Key Stage 3 (KS3) pupils are well versed at showing resilience by now. However, returning to our online learning platform hasn’t thrown our pupils into despair! On the contrary, our pupils have adapted smoothly to the change, as I knew they would, attending lessons promptly and offering the same enthusiasm and zeal for learning as before.
Within these tumultuous times, we want to offer our KS3 pupils a sense of normalcy, and routine. We also want to remind pupils that these challenges don’t need to impede on their learning or lives. Through creativity, open-mindedness, and enthusiasm, we have the power to control more than we realise; we can still do the things we love and cherish, despite the obstacles in our way.
These ideas are presented in Amazon’s recent campaign, entitled ‘The Show Must Go On!’, where a young ballerina’s dreams of dancing the lead in her final show are cancelled due to Covid-19. Inspired by her own resolve and creativity, the girl’s sister organises her ‘own version’ of the show, using a slightly different setting than the Grand Theatre. In an emotional finale, the ballet dancer performs on the roof of their building, lit by a hand-held torch. The main themes of this campaign were shared in our recent KS3 assembly, and our KS3 pupils discussed how this could be applied to them and their current circumstances.
The KS3 pupils have therefore been challenged within their tutor groups to create a motivational video of their own, inspired by this empowering campaign. Their submissions will be entered in a competition and the form group winners will be announced towards the end of this half-term.
I’m hoping this challenge will allow our pupils to reflect on their attitude to obstacles, and allow them to see that opportunities can be made possible with a little imagination, resolution and positivity!
The Prep Students Create Amazing Art!
Recently in the Prep School before the return to online lessons, we have been producing exquisite pieces of Art. We have created scenescapes, sunsets, silhouettes, pointillism and Andy Warhol inspired pictures amongst many more masterpieces!
We have used a wide range of materials including paint, crayon, watercolors, pastels, and even natural resources such as leaves!
The senior prefects challenged the Prep leadership team to create a poster promoting the safety procedures required for Covid 19. They accepted the challenge and the results were very impressive.
In the Prep School we are inspired by so many things and we love to express ourselves creatively and put our fantastic imaginations to good use!
Mrs Alice Stokes
Head of Prep School
Art & Design during the CMCO
Some have also been enjoying working outside at their homes creating experimental 3D installations. This one is exploring Greek mythology:
A few students are still in their home countries and are focusing on the cultural influences around them:
We sent all of our exam group students home with full packs of resources so that online learning would present minimal barriers. As such, our year 11 students are able to continue with their GCSE portfolios. They are also being very prolific and creative with some hand-drawn and painted pieces, which are very thought-provoking:
A few students in this group are also experimenting with digital art.
We have also seen some interesting photography compositions including this one, which is far more detailed than it might first appear:
All of our students, across all age groups and key-stages have been actively involved in our online classes and activities.
Mr Joe Daly
Head of Art & Design
Ms Meaghan Roshestar “I love that my students really, really want to be involved”
I really enjoyed meeting Ms. Roshestar and learning about her past and future plans, even though it sadly couldn’t happen in person and instead occurred over a Google Meet this week. Ms. Roshestar is our new Year 2 teacher and unfortunately started teaching at Epsom just as we went back into another lockdown. Luckily, she had met her students on two separate occasions before this, which she felt definitely helped the transition process.
Ms. Roshestar realised she wanted to be a teacher when helping her younger sisters with counting and the alphabet when she was only in Year 3 (something I can definitely relate to!). This eventually led to teaching in Japan for two years before moving to Malaysia and continuing to teach, this year being her third year teaching in Malaysia. Her journey is planned to continue down this road as she is currently on her way to getting her Master’s Degree of Special Education from George Washington University, and despite the slightly higher cost, the specialisation in ‘culturally and linguistically diverse students’ aspect of this course is what encouraged her to study it and an aspect that I personally find very interesting.
Ms. Roshestar, although starting off as a Learning Support teacher, is now teaching whole classes and sees it as a “fun challenge”, especially due to the massive added challenge of online teaching. The separation through the computer definitely makes it difficult, especially for topics such as English which she sees as more personal than maths and would thrive the best with 1-on-1 help. However, her students’ enthusiasm in answering questions and being involved in classes definitely makes it better for everyone involved. I wish Ms. Roshestar all the best and hope for the sake of her English lessons and everyone else, that we will be able to start in-person learning again soon.
Head of College