The Leys is primarily a boarding school, and our emphasis is on providing a caring, friendly and secure environment for all our pupils. Each child, whether a boarder or day pupil, is attached to one of 11 houses, where study areas and comfortable accommodation are provided, along with a high standard of pastoral care and supervision from housemasters or housemistresses.
The coronavirus outbreak means that, for now, pupils cannot make their usual regular trips into Cambridge for Science and Technology lectures. Fortunately, Science and Technology has come to the rescue with many lectures moving online.
16th December 2020 — “This means that other universities, who often invite us along to their public lectures, have suddenly become that much more accessible,” explained Andrew Harmsworth, Head of Physics.
On Friday (December 11), he and a number of pupils, all socially distanced by being at home or in their House, remotely attended a special lecture: “From Climate to Energy: Physics is Key to the World’s Most Pressing Issues,” with Professors Myles Allen and Henry Snaith at the University of Oxford’s Physics Department.
The scientists talked about the current situation and the latest scientific understanding of it. They also discussed Oxford’s own initiative, Oxford Net Zero. This aims to pull together all its diverse strands of expertise to address the legal requirement of the UK to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The University of Cambridge has its own version, Cambridge Zero, which includes an Absolute Zero approach.
Andrew Harmsworth commented: “Until the direct train line returns between Cambridge and Oxford at some point later this decade, such attendance would be unjustified and terribly time-consuming. We can hope perhaps that one small positive of the impact of the virus has been to accelerate the transition to online broadcasting from lectures.”
The Christmas Cabaret, the school’s inspired creative response to Covid restrictions on live performance, has gained the big audience it deserves by live streaming.
14th December 2020 — The show had an initial hit count of over 360 viewers when it went out on December 11, and members of the school community with a portal log-in can view a recording of it now.
Cory Pulman-Jones, who produced the Christmas Cabaret, said: “The live stream was a total success. Alex W (U6), cutting between four cameras, produced an amazing result!”
Paul Durose, Theatre Manager of Great Hall at The Leys, said: “This isn't the first time we have live-streamed as we did the Autumn Concert too, but it is the first full Drama production we have live-streamed. It is now the second most-viewed video on our internal video system, after a publicity video about The Leys which used to be part of the school website.
“We won’t be able to do this for every school production, as the publisher's permissions are very strict about filming, but we were able to freely film the Cabaret because it was a series of excerpts rather than a fully published play.”
The Christmas Cabaret was staged in stringently Covid-secure conditions in Great Hall and drew on the talents of Music and Dance as well as Drama. It was the school’s first stage production since February: a light-hearted blend of music, dance, and comedy sketches performed by pupils in Years 11 and the Lower and Upper Sixth forms in their year “bubbles”. The audience watching in Great Hall was much reduced because of the need to comply with social distancing regulations.
The show must go on!” goes the old theatrical saying, and when the pandemic halted the school’s planned musical production the Drama department came up with a lively and creative alternative seasonal entertainment.
11th December 2020 — The Christmas Cabaret, staged in stringently Covid-secure conditions in Great Hall and drawing on the talents of Music and Dance as well as Drama, was the school’s first stage production since February. It was a light-hearted blend of music, dance, and comedy sketches performed by pupils in Years 11 and the Lower and Upper Sixth forms in their year “bubbles”. The script, a mix of original writing and adaptations, made occasional topical references to the pandemic but was full of good cheer.
The sections were introduced by familiar panto characters: Buttons, the Ugly Sisters and Cinderella and two Dames (pictured), all resplendent in colourful costumes by Carol Bye. The audience was treated to dance routines, heartfelt singing of songs including numbers from Fiddler on the Roof (which would have been staged in normal circumstances), a topical sketch by teacher Dominic Bell entitled “One Way System”, a comic scene featuring lovelorn Adrian Mole and his beloved Pandora, and much more.
The audience may not have been able to shout out responses in the true panto spirit, but the Dames encouraged plenty of clapping and the band skilfully blended festive classics such as The Most Wonderful Time of the Year and Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song into the programme. As producer Cory Pulman-Jones said in her welcome: “Putting on this show has been a wonderfully affirming experience.”
Special mention for "Frau" Helen in German Teacher Awards
Helen Williams, our popular and inspirational Head of German, has received a special mention in the German Teacher Awards 2020.
30th November 2020 — Simon Leader, Head of Modern Foreign Langauges, said the commendation was well-deserved.: "Helen's passion for German, for teaching and her dedication to her pupils is unsurpassed by any educational professional that I have worked with. She reflects tirelessly on how to bring her lessons to life, which as any pupil of hers will tell you, certainly are very lively! She willingly offers her evenings, weekends and holiday time to tutor her senior students to fantastic, and sometimes unexpected, exam success."
He said she encouraged pupils who might have given up on languages to continue, and links she had established with local primary schools had given given younger pupils a desire to study German. As well as helping pupils to achieve excellent exam results, she took opportunities to recreate German cultural life and traditions through activities such as Lebkuchen decorating and a Christmas visit from St Nicholas for younger pupils.
"The pupils adore her, and even the ones she doesn't teach call her 'Frau'!" he said. "Her infectious enthusiasm and unfailing positivity has ensured that Helen has bucked the national trend of falling numbers studying German at GCSE and A level. Over the last seven years the an average of 62% of GCSE German entries have achieved A*/A and at A-Level the A*/A average has been 80%. This is all backed up by a wonderful and busy programme of activities, challenges and trips, both here and to Germany."
The Leys in top five East Anglian independent schools of the decade
The Leys has been named in the top five Independent Schools of the Decade in East Anglia by The Sunday Times Parent Power School of the Decade list.
30th November 2020 — Last year The Sunday Times Schools Guide, Parent Power Parent, awarded The Leys the accolade Power East Anglia Independent Secondary School of the Year. This was in recognition of what Parent Power editor Alastair McCall, described as: “A stellar year academically".
Parent Power lists the 2,000 highest-achieving schools in the UK, based on exam results.
Sophie C (L6) has been selected to train with the Cambridge Saracens Mavericks, part of the Netball Superleague that covers the east region and develops players.
27th November 2020 — Sophie, who plays Centre, has been selected for the U19 Cambridge Futures Academy. She will train with them once a week in preparation for matchplay days when all the “hubs” compete against each other. The system is designed in a pyramid format, so improving players can try out for the older age-group teams.
She has been a keen player since joining the school, which nominated her for county trials and put her on the England development pathway. She also plays for her local women’s team, Comberton, and until recently played with Loughborough Lightning U17 Academy.
“Playing Netball here at the Leys has been an integral part of my life and my Netball journey so far,” she explained. “I started playing with the 1st VII team in Year 10 which enabled me to play with older players, so that I could keep pushing myself and improving as a player this helped me enter the regional franchise teams such as Saracens Mavericks.
“The support from the Leys Sports staff has been incredible. From amazing training sessions on-court to weekly strength and conditioning sessions at the gym, The Leys Sport staff have improved many aspects of my game, and I have developed as a person. There is never a day where there is no sporting activity available, or someone to help you discuss coping with workload alongside sporting commitments.”