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Michaelmas term 2020

17 December 2020

Our Michaelmas term 2020 saw a return to Palace Street following lockdown and remote learning, with new safety measures in place and many aspects of everyday school life resuming.

Our first week included a staggered start by year group, ensuring our young people received training on new procedures, such as year group ‘bubbles’, hand sanitisation stations and one-way systems around our School. This helped all settle back after lockdown, as Year 9 pupil, Joel, explained in his article for our website:

“Even my mother was, at first, afraid of sending me back and, to be honest, I was too. I was scared all my friends were going to have changed or that I was going to get ill and give it to my mother. Then I went back to Westminster City School and we have to use hand sanitiser wherever we go, my bubble has a whole part of the building to themselves, we wear masks when walking through corridors, and it turns out my friends are the same as always! After my first day, I was excited for the next.” 

Michaelmas term usually sees all attend our Re-dedication Service at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey but, since the pandemic made this impossible, only our Year 7 pupils took part in a socially distant service there. This formally welcomed them to our School, with the Reverend Anthony Ball, Canon of Westminster, delivering an inspiring talk on wisdom. 

Pupils enjoyed getting back into sport this term and have walked to nearby Green Park for their weekly PE lesson, with the fresh air, positive conversations and healthy walk beneficial for all. Once there, lessons consist of a high intensity fitness session, long distance running and football. 

Mr Huxley, Director of Sport, said: “Pupils walked sensibly and adhered to social distancing guidelines, and their application at Green Park has been exceptional. In normal circumstances we teach table tennis, basketball and handball this term and so the way pupils have engaged with new sports, not necessarily to their expectations or personal choice, has been admirable."

Beyond the curriculum, individual instrumental lessons resumed in real-life, after many moved online during lockdown. Lessons in brass, strings and woodwind, plus piano, guitar and drums, make use of our rehearsal rooms, which are regularly cleaned and a suitable size for social distancing. 

Mr Cecile, from our Music Department, said: “This term normally sees our ensemble groups rehearse each week, as we prepare for forthcoming concerts. We have been disappointed that, at present, such activity cannot take place. Yet we are thrilled that our instrumental lessons can continue.”

For one music teacher, our School is very familiar! Westminster City School Old Boy, Ediden, is now studying business at college. This term he returned, in his free time, to teach piano to the next generation of Old Boys.

Other extra-curricular activities moved online this term, including our Latin Club. Our English Department has been running this since 2019, so Years 7 and 8 can now keep up with this fascinating subject as our Latin Club’s teacher, who studied at Cambridge, creates engaging lessons on Microsoft Teams. 

In addition, our sixth formers and Year 11 have enjoyed WCS Insights, our online careers programme featuring professionals in fields ranging from politics to engineering and from science to law. Our first webinar saw Westminster City School Old Boy, Wes Streeting, talk about his career. Wes has been Labour MP for Ilford North since 2015 and, in October, was appointed Shadow Minister for Schools. He tweeted that he was “absolutely thrilled” to take on the role, adding: “Having grown up on a council estate, on free school meals, experiencing child poverty in the 1980s, I wouldn’t be where I am today without a great state education.”

Following his promotion, Wes was interviewed by The Guardian and what better place to conduct that interview, during half-term, than his old school! You can read his interview here. Mr Broughton, Headteacher, said: “Congratulations from all at Westminster City School to Wes on his frontbench role. This is a fantastic achievement at such a young age and we look forward to seeing what he will do in this new position.”

Wes is not our only alumnus making headlines, with actor John Boyega taking the lead in Steve McQueen’s acclaimed Small Axe film, Red, White and Blue. Playing the trailblazing founder of the Met’s Black Police Association, our Old Boy’s performance was described by critics as one that “takes his career to the next level”.

A number of events moved online this Michaelmas term, including a parents/carers’ evening, our Headteacher’s Forum and our Remembrance Service, which featured The Last Post by current Year 9, Riksen. You can view a recording here. The final week of term saw our carol service take place online, raising funds for The Passage (parents/carers can donate further via ParentPay) and organised by our new School Chaplain, Rev Steve Taylor. Speaking about joining our School, Rev Taylor, who is also joint vicar at St James Alperton Church in North London alongside his wife, said: “I’m looking forward to getting to know our School community, and to being able to support and care for our young people.”

Reflecting on Michaelmas term 2020, Mr Broughton said: “Michaelmas term 2020 saw the start of an academic year like no other but I am delighted at how our community has settled back into life at Palace Street. Attendance has been excellent, demonstrating that our young people value the opportunities provided by our School, whilst ongoing encouragement from parents/carers is much appreciated.

“I would like to thank all staff, pupils, students and parents/carers for their continued support and understanding as we move into 2021.”

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