Spotlight on: Year 5 & Year 6

Spotlight on: Year 5 & Year 6

Our Year 5 and Year 6 teachers on their year group's activities this term

Year 5 – Miss Agata Wygnanska and Miss Edie Stewart

Year 5 has had a very exciting start to the year! Most of the girls’ learning has centred around Mediaeval England and Renaissance Italy. They have explored the depths of Sherwood Forest, searching for Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men; investigated the many inventions of Leonardo da Vinci and looked at how the Renaissance sparked the Scientific Revolution. This has also been a great springboard to the next topic: Space. After half term, the girls will also continue to look at key historical figures, such as Galileo and Copernicus.

In an interdisciplinary study of Art and Humanities, Year 5 has been exploring the difference between Mediaeval and Renaissance paintings. During their visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum, the girls had the opportunity to apply this knowledge by visiting the Italian galleries. Coinciding with this, they were fortunate enough to see the temporary exhibition of embroidery samplers, which complements their Textiles work. The girls were most impressed with the skills displayed in pieces created by children their own age from the 17th century.

The girls have been investigating states of matter and properties of materials. One of the Science lessons this half term was focused on how different materials are used to make a range of shoes that are designed for different purposes. The girls enjoyed applying their knowledge to this task and to their subsequent design of a shoe fit for Maid Marian’s adventures in Sherwood Forest.

In Humanities the girls have been discussing the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci, paying particular attention to his fascinating inventions. The class looked at how his designs were some of the earliest examples of modern technology and all were impressed by Leonardo’s many talents. The girls then created advertisements for some of the inventions, imagining that they were tasked with marketing their chosen inventions. The advertisements were creative and informative.

On Thursday 12 October 15 of the Year 5 girls participated in a 'CrumbleBot Taster Day' organised by BT Education. The girls spent the day at BT Headquarters in Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, and took part in a series of practical sessions focusing on programming ‘Crumble’ Robots. The day culminated in a team competition, during which the girls put their new programming skills to the test against teams from other schools. This was one of a number of similar sessions leading up to the ‘UK National RoboCupJunior Rescue Line Tracking Championships’ in June. Read more about how the teams got on here.

Year 6 – Mrs Sarah Cliff, Ms Jane Freebairn and Mrs Susan Mackay

The girls hit the ground running back in September when they completed a transition day at the Senior School – and we don't think they have stopped! They have been working incredibly hard in all their subjects and certainly impressing their teachers. The past seven weeks have been full of excitement, hard work, quite a few trips and lots of fun with their learning.

Some of the highlights outside of the classroom include visits to: The Centre for Computing History, All Saints Church and a visit to the Gunpowder Mills.  

The first allowed the girls to learn more about the history of computing, and of course, see the advances women have made in this area. How many of you remember the old BBC machines? The girls enjoyed coding on these and creating Morse code messages.

The remaining two visits allowed the girls to tie in their classroom learning of the Victorians with some practical work. The trip to All Saints Church was an opportunity for the girls to see the beautiful and historic church with the William Morris décor. The girls, eager to show their learning in the classroom, were quick to put their hands up to answer questions set by our wonderful guide. Once they had had time to answer and ask questions, they set about on a rotation of activities: writing poetry, searching for clues around the church and stamp making. It certainly was a breath-taking afternoon.

Dressed the part, the girls travelled back in time to experience life as a Victorian at The Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey. They experienced a lesson in a Victorian classroom where their handwriting skills were put to the test. Their own class teachers don't seem quite as scary now! They were put to work in the workhouse where they shined shoes, counted matches and did the laundry. The girls had to use a washboard to scrub tea towels; if they weren't clean enough, they had to start again. They also learnt about the differences between the rich and poor, playing with genuine Victorian toys, and they also found out what it was like to go to the seaside at the time. The girls really enjoyed the experience and it provided an enriching opportunity to enhance their understanding of the Victorian era.

As part of the Junior School’s own Festival of Ideas this week, Year 6 pupils had the fantastic opportunity to work with Mrs Benson on the question: 'Why do we compare ourselves to others?'. There was lots of discussion around the question and it certainly helped to set the festival off well. Other guests have included: Molly Taylor, who spoke about whether we will find a cure for Cancer, and two Sixth Form students who posed the question 'Why should we go to university?'. The Festival of Ideas has been a huge success, not just with Year 6 pupils but with girls across the Junior School.

The topic this half term has been all about adaptation and evolution, and the girls have certainly enjoyed their learning. They have been creating new animals, especially adapted to specific environments, and have learnt how to extract DNA from strawberries and also about cladograms. The strawberry extraction was particularly interesting. With goggles on and a 'secret' extraction solution in place, the girls learnt about and discussed ways of extracting DNA. The classrooms certainly had a fruity smell but thankfully the experiments were successful and DNA was extracted.

The girls have been appreciating the work of Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens. They have looked at Oliver Twist in depth this half term, and have honed in on their creative writing skills too, developing some fabulous stories with powerful vocabulary and excellent turns of phrase. Recently they looked at answering questions in detail: making a point, evidencing it and then explaining. As the year progresses, this will become a focal point to their learning.

On Tuesday 17 October 14 of our Year 6 girls participated in a ‘CoSpace Virtual Robotics Taster Day' at BT Headquarters in Martlesham Heath and took part in a series of practical sessions focusing on different aspects of programming ‘CoSpace’ Virtual Robots. Read more and find out how they did here.