Visit From Russian Expert
Historian and journalist Anna Reid visited on Friday 27 November to speak to two U4 classes about the 900 day siege of Leningrad during the Second World War. For their English Literature IGCSE the pupils are studying Helen Dunmore’s novel The Siege, which focuses on one family’s struggle during this traumatic period in modern Russian history. L4 pupils who are studying Russian were also in the audience. Ms Reid is the author of Leningrad: Tragedy of a City Under Siege 1941-44, a highly acclaimed study of life in the city during the Nazis’ siege, and her talk gave pupils the important historical context to their literary studies. Ms Reid said that for a long time she resisted reading Helen Dunmore’s novel, “Whilst I was researching my book, I was often asked whether I had read the novel. However, I didn’t want to muddle fact with fiction, nor did I want to be disappointed if the novel was inaccurate or if I didn’t like it!” When she finally did read the novel, Ms Reid found it to be “factually very sound with a real feel of time and place.”
She gave a fascinating, often graphic, insight into the struggles of the people of Leningrad who endured horrific conditions during the siege; they faced an incredibly harsh winter, mass starvation (a quarter of the city’s population died of starvation), neither running water nor electricity, and dysentery spread by lack of sanitation. When researching her book Anna Reid had spent much time looking at first-hand accounts, especially diaries of Leningraders; these dispelled the sanitised myths spread by the Soviet authorities which suppressed the true nature of the siege. “Some of the translators who worked with me on the diaries were shocked by what they read – this was not what they had been taught in school.”
Pupil Aishwarya Jadeja said, “I'm glad that Anna Reid was able to speak to us, because when I read The Siege I don't think I had been able to fully understand how bad the conditions actually were.” She continued, “ I sat through the entire speech just shocked. I suppose what made it even more effective was the fact that she'd actually been to Russia and seen official documents, and had talked to the survivors of this time.
This talk was unusual for Anna Reid who confessed to being more used to speaking to a much older audience at literary festivals. She agreed to come to the School after being approached by English Teacher, Mr Kevin Gallagher, who had read her account of the siege. She agreed to waive her usual fee in exchange for a donation from the School to her favourite charity: “Allotments in Siberia”.
Senior Maths Team Challenge
Congratulations to our top senior mathematicians who have achieved School history by qualifying for the finals of the most prestigious senior national competition. The team of four - Methusha Sakthipakan, Kavin Vijayakumar, Francis Clark-Murray and Peter Andreev - were up against some of London’s best young mathematical brains at the London Regional Final of the Senior Team Maths Challenge held at Queen Mary University on Wednesday 27 November. In a reversal of last year’s outcome, Bancroft’s beat Westminster School, who were placed second. Maths teacher and Head of Junior Maths, Mrs Penny Thompson, said, “Our teams have a history of doing very well in the Junior Maths Team Challenge and have become frequent qualifiers for that Final but this is the first year in which we have reached the National Finals of the Senior Team Challenge, which is a newer competition for pupils in years 11-13 The team were most impressive on the day, beating some of the very best Schools in the London Region, including Westminster School who have been Regional Champions and National Champions in three of the last four years.” The National Final, which will be held at the Camden Centre in February 2014, will see about 60 elite teams coming together in a fiercely fought competition to win the title of best school senior maths team in the country.
Return Visit of Groundbreaking Pupil
One of Bancroft’s very first female pupils paid a visit to the School on Saturday 23 November. Karen Dodd (nee Sklayne) was one of two girls who joined the Sixth Form in 1973. She had previously been a pupil at the all-girls City of London School but left as she was not allowed to study separate sciences for A Level. She told parents and pupils of her first day, “I was late because they were building the M11 and was told to stand at the back of the Great Hall. All I could see was a sea of trouser legs. I had been told at my interview that there were going to be twenty girls, but I couldn’t see another nineteen! Katie, the other girl, was also late. We were both put into North House so that we were together.” She recounted the various skills Bancroft’s had given her – learning to barter for furniture for the girls’ common room and playing Brag at the back of the chemistry class. More importantly, her time spent at Barnado’s in Barkingside as part of General Studies laid the foundation for her career; she is currently Assistant Director of Therapies and Head for LD Psychology for Surrey and Borders NHS Trust. Karen was the guest of East House for their seventies themed family evening, during which the pupils took a light hearted and rather fanciful look at how the arrival of girls impacted life at Bancroft’s.
Lord's Lunch 2013
On Friday 22 November, 190 guests sat down to lunch in the prestigious Long Room at Lord’s for the Seventh Bancroft’s School Lord’s Lunch. This annual event acts as a major fund raiser for the programme of sports tours undertaken by the pupils at Bancroft’s, the most recent being the girls' netball and hockey tour to South Africa last July with the boys going to South Africa for a cricket tour in December. A rugby tour to Canada is planned for next July. The funds raised from the event will have supported those pupils who might otherwise not be able to participate for financial reasons. It is hoped that in excess of £12,000 was raised, mainly through a very successful and often competitive auction of sports memorabilia.
The speakers at the event were two former England cricket captains, Mike Gatting and Chris Cowdrey who participated in a question and answer session chaired by the School’s cricket coach, former Essex and England player John Lever. It was a privilege for the School to have Mike Gatting as one of the speakers. Gatting is the current President of MCC, the owners of Lord’s Ground. Organiser of the event and of the forthcoming cricket tour Mr Jeremy Bromfield said, “All present were very grateful to Mike Gatting for fitting this event into what is a very demanding Presidential schedule.” Also present were former England and Middlesex batsman, now President of Middlesex, Clive Radley and former Essex Captain, Paul Pritchard.
During the lunch Mr Amarjit Shokar of Romford Mazda, the sponsors of the new School 1st XI cricket shirt, presented the shirts to Samraj Sadra, the Captain of School Cricket.
County Successes for Netballers
Bancroft’s was represented by three teams at the County Round (Essex Met) of the National Schools Netball Tournament held at Redbridge Sports Centre on a bitterly cold Sunday 24 November. Following past successes in the Tournament, expectations were high for the 35 Bancroftians to perform well and the pressure was on. All three teams played some fantastic netball against strong opposition and lost only three matches between them out of the twenty three played.
The U19s had been shaken by the loss of two of their shooters Lizzie Austin and Clarissa Cameron; however the team rallied and showed true faith in each other to pull off some great performances, none more so than the 10-7 victory over Robert Clack. Becki Mead, the U19 Captain, said, “Although we had a slow start, the U19s played some great netball with strong, quick passages of play showing that we were definitely one of the top teams on the day, winning all but one of our games.” This single defeat was against old adversary Barking Abbey (5-10)
The youngest team, the U14s, also showed great teamwork to cruise through their round with a series of comfortable victories. They only lost in a real nail biter against Wanstead High School (8-9). The U16s were surely the most unlucky team of the day. Their age group was the most fiercely contested with an extremely high standard of netball from some very strong teams. They were very unlucky to miss out on qualifying by a single goal and finished third in their age group. Their coach Miss Grimwood was bitterly disappointed for the girls as “they had played their hearts out.”
Both the U19 and U14 teams qualified as Runners Up for the Regional Finals, which take place in Rainham, Kent on Sunday 26 January 2014. Miss Mugridge, Director of Sport, concluded, “All our players performed brilliantly throughout the day and there was some excellent teamwork displayed both on and off the court.”
Senior School Parents' E-Bulletins
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