Fitness at SJCS in Lockdown

13th Nov 2020

Tutor: “You look exhausted?”.... 

A member of the Form 3:… “Well I have had a very active day, swimming club this morning and then badminton in PE, then it was our turn to have extra Sport on Thursday afternoon, so we learnt how to play ultimate Frisbee, finished our capture the flag competition and then ran a Field Run as well!!”

With most grassroots sport being on hold, there has been much written in recent weeks surrounding the vital importance of physical activity amongst our younger generations. It seems the nation now unanimously understands that sedentary lifestyles can lead to all sorts of wellbeing difficulties further down the line. The NHS’s 'Change 4 Life' campaign is recommending that kids take part in 60 minutes of activity each day. As we find ourselves in a second lockdown, there is much for the St John’s community to celebrate and be thankful for, not least the continued high levels of access to physical activity.

It is clear now that the pandemic is going to span the majority of a calendar year and throughout we have encouraged students to take further ownership of their active lifestyles. We hope, therefore, that St John’s students would be able to confidently provide multiple good reasons for why we should all keep moving. Answers would include ideas such as: improves attention levels, strengthens muscles and bones, maintains a healthy weight, helps them sleep better and improves their mood!

The dialogue above indicates that the levels of activity this term have been as high as ever and the variety of sport on show has arguably increased. Measuring a whole school’s level of activity is very difficult. Readers may remember that during sports relief week last year, we estimated how far the St John’s students would have travelled during their Games and PE lessons in a week. Amazingly we discovered that by adding up all of the activities taking place, we could have reached Finland by day 5! 

One method of potentially demonstrating how active our students are in these unprecedented times would be to measure their number of daily steps. Many students are currently wearing watches that can measure this, but they have to take them off for Games and PE. Mr Millward would love to give special permission to any students to wear their watch, where it is safe to do so, in order to carry out a mini experiment.  

Watch this space for the findings over the coming weeks….



Girls' Hockey & Form 5 House Matches 2020

13th Nov 2020

The girls have made a fantastic start to the hockey term bringing their enthusiasm and desire to learn to very lesson – come rain or shine! So far this half term we have combined working on their general fitness with really honing the basic skills and then introducing the younger girls to positional play. The older girls have had a chance to learn some 3D skills which has really challenged them as well as taking time as a team to really think about set pieces and the tactics involved in these.  The progress the girls have made is evident from all years and they seem to have really benefited from the extra time we have devoted to skills in lessons. We have used small sided games and lots of  ‘conditioned’ games to put into practise what they have learnt and after half term we are looking forward to some more competitive games in our year groups and some inter-house competitions. This week the Form 5 girls enjoyed four five-a-side House hockey matches with Fisher 1st, Gunning 2nd, Beaufort 3th and Sandys 4th.

Movement Skills & Physical Literacy at SJCS

18th Sep 2020

For many, prep school sport fosters visions of character building, camaraderie and passion. The variety and attainable competition has proved to be a great starting place for lifelong involvement in sport. Memories have always been made in local fixtures, where students are given the opportunity to represent the school at a level appropriate to them. Now, with coronavirus challenging much of this system, the question is whether prep school sport can adapt and evolve in the short, medium and potentially long term.  

At St John’s, we are a progressive PE department and have been exploring what a forward thinking school sport system looks like for some time. The current situation has provided a wonderful opportunity for us to take a further step in answering the below question:

Assistant Head of Sport, Mr David Millward, explains how you hold onto the glory of Prep School sport whilst ensuring pupil wellbeing, inclusivity and a culture of health and fitness are at the centre of delivery.

"With no fixtures due to take place before half term, we have been able to explore and evolve a curriculum with a subtle shift in focus. We are now into the second week of term and have placed a greater importance on developing fundamental movement skills and physical literacy. The aim is to give students the tools necessary to take further ownership of their individual physical development. Ask a St John’s student to show you a bear crawl and hopefully you’ll get a great demonstration! As further information floods through from national governing bodies we will be adjusting and developing our curriculum. We want to ensure that the intensity of high performance sport is not lost, whilst also looking to provide quality alternatives where necessary. Watch this space for more information on exciting initiatives such as St John’s Parkrun, ultimate Frisbee and an inter House competition like no other before it!"

U13 Eastern Hockey Regionals

16th Mar 2020

The U13 1st Boys’ VII hockey team performed brilliantly at the U13 Eastern Regionals last week. As Cambridgeshire County Champions, the team qualified for the East Regionals, held at an Olympic training ground in Redbridge. Assistant Director of Sport, Mr David Millward, commented, "In windy conditions the standard of hockey did not disappoint and the group stages were fiercely contested. This team have been working particularly hard on converting goal scoring opportunities and this proved to be very useful in the shortened tournament matches."

The boys beat Norwich, Robert Bloomfield, Forest and Bishop’s Stortford schools before drawing 0-0 with Culford. Mr Millward remarked, "This left them joint top of the group but second on goal difference. The news filtered through from the other group that our opponents in the Semi-Final would be Felsted, the team who knocked us out of the IAPS Nationals on penalty strokes!"

The boys were highly motivated but experienced a challenging first half with high intensity and pressured situations as the team went into half-time 3 goals down. The boys used a collaborative and positive mindset to change their play in the second half and, with a minute to go, the score line ended on 2-3. Mr Millward commented, "The boys should be tremendously proud of the way they persevered in the second half and the tenacity that they showed right up until the final whistle.This has been an exceptional season for the team and they have shown that they really are one of the best teams in the country. The boys have represented the school with aplomb both on and off the pitch and will now move forward with some long lasting and wonderful memories."

Colts A VII Boys' East Round Hockey Tournament Finals

11th Mar 2020

The U11 Colts VII Boys' team had a fantastic day at the East Round Hockey Tournament Finals on 6 March. The team travelled to Gresham's School and played 6 group games with the winner of the group then playing the winner of the other group in a Final.

The boys faced Barnadiston Hall first and got to a flying start in 15 minutes games each way and won 2-0. With a speedy break in between the boys' following match was against Stamford School and they worked well collaboratively to win 2-0. After a well-deserved rest our U11s played Chigwell, winning 2-1 before a tough contest against Bishop’s Stortford where the boys drew 1-1. Beeston Hall was next with a 0-2 loss meaning their final game against Gresham's was all to play for and a 'must win' and the team won with a convicning score of 3-0.

Director of Sport, Mr Gareth McComb, stated, "All the boys were fantastic, they really applied what they had been working on with Mr Millward, Mr Harding and Andy our hockey coach over the previous weeks, playing with width, getting off to a fast start and lots of work rate and energy in attack and defence. It was a real squad effort with all of them featuring in each game. The Final saw us meet local rivals the Perse Prep, who we played in the previous qualifiers to get to the Finals. A very closely fought Final with some terrific hockey from both school saw the Perse Prep beat us by a goal. The boys played some fantastic hockey and their resilience and perseverance throughout the day and team spirit was crucial to their success as well as their ability to apply the feedback and coaching they received."


IAPS National U13 Boys' Hockey Championship

11th Mar 2020

The 1st VII Boys’ team performed brilliantly at the IAPS National U13 Hockey Championship on 6 March. Having qualified through the East Region, the 1st VII made the journey to Cheltenham College for the National Finals. Assistant Director of Sport, Mr David Millward, explained, "Fully aware that the standard at these tournaments is extremely high, the boys arrived with a very positive mindset. The team realsied that the roller-coaster of tournament hockey would surely require a great deal of perseverance and collaboration throughout the day."

The team played incredibly well throughout the morning to secure second place in the group. Results were as follows: 0-0 vs Bedford School (0-0), 2-0 vs Dragon School (2-0), Ardingly College (0-0), Junior King's School (1-1) and St Andrew's Prep School (1-0)​.

As a result the Cup stage of the tournament beckoned and this was a chance to highlight the hockey skills the boys had been working hard on all season. Felsted were the opponents in the Quarter Finals and the quality of hockey from both sides did not disappoint. Despite numerous chances at either end, the teams could not be split in full time and they entered a period of Golden Goal extra time. One of our youngest players in Fifth Form made two unbelievable saves to keep the team in the contest as the spectators were treated to a thrilling end to end battle. In the end, the match was decided by penalty strokes and Felsted won 3-2.

Mr Millward remarked, "After the initial disappointment, the boys realised how well they had done and were enthusiastically discussing whether ‘joint fifth in the country’ or ‘top eight in the country’ sounded better! A huge thank you to the travelling support who could be heard experiencing every moment throughout the day."

U13 A VII Girls' Netball Team Qualify for Nationals

11th Mar 2020

The U13 A VII Girls' Netball team travelled to Uppingham School to compete in the East Region IAPS Netball tournament. The team played seven games in the Regional play-offs and worked hard to top their group stage to qualify to get into the Quarter Finals. The girls beat King's Ely in a thrilling and tense game which resulted in extra time. During the Semi Finals they faced Beachborough School and showed great skill and determination to win. In the Cup Final the team battled hard but Bromsgrove team managed to clinch a win. 

Head of Girls' Games, Mrs Nikki Taylor, remarked, "This was a great day of netball being played at a high standard and the girls' worked hard to include key netball skills to be able to qualify for the Nationals at Bryanston School on 21 March. I am hugely proud of their success, both regarding today and the season as a whole."


U11 & U13 Boys' Hockey Teams Qualify for National Finals

4th Mar 2020

The U11 boys performed brilliantly in very wet and cold conditions at Haileybury School for the IAPS Regional round. Head of Sport, Mr McComb, explained, "We got the tournament off to a flier with two quick goals straight off the whistle in the first game winning 3-1 against Winchester House. We then beat Chigwell Junior 2-1 and drew our third group game 0-0 with New Mount. After lunch we entered the Cup Competition and faced Aldwickbury in the Quarter Finals. A very tight game saw us 1-1 at full time which went straight to 3 penalty flicks each and we won 2-0 on flicks."

Next up was Gayhurst in the Semi-Final which got off to a cracking goal from one of the SJCS U11s with the boys ended up winning 4-0. They took on St George’s Junior in the Final and lost 4-0 to a team that had not conceded a goal all tournament.  Mr McComb commented, "The boys were played an impressive standard of hockey throughout the day and kept their concentration and motivation, despite the inclement weather conditions." The U11s have now  qualified to compete in the National Finals on the 18 March at Rugby School.

Fresh from their win earlier in the term when they were crowned County champions, the U13 Boys' 1st team successfully competed in the IAPS Regionals on 20 February and secured their place in the National Finals on 6 March at Cheltenham College. Assistant Director of Sport, Mr David Millward, commented, "The boys travelled to Bedford School with high spirits and plenty of optimism and were ready to work as a tight team. The weather forecast predicted that it was going to rain all day but this certainly didn't dampen the boys' levels of motivation."

The team started well against Old Buckenham Hall and Witham Hall, winning both games 1-0. A narrow defeat to Bedford Prep, the eventual runners-up and a 1-1 draw with Bilton Grange and an emphatic 3-1 win against Town Close House left the team second in their group. This position secured the team's entry into the afternoon's Cup Competition. The Quarter Final proved to be tough but six teams were able to qualify for the National Finals and the boys' following play-off match against Winchester House was essentially a final in itself. A win meant a place in the National Finals and a loss meant going home early. It took a period of Golden Goal extra time before one of the boys skilfully squeezed the ball across the line.

The day was rounded off with a win on penalty strokes against Westbourne House School which left the team finishing proudly in fifth with their place secured for the Nationals. Mr Millward commented, "It is a fantastic result for the boys to get through such a hard-fought tournament and a great experience for all of them."


IAPS Regional Round Swimming Competition

4th Mar 2020

The SJCS swimming team travelled to Bishop Stortford College to race at the Regional round of the IAPS swimming Championships with had boys and girls competing from Forms 3 to Form 6.  Head of Swimming, Mrs Gill, explained, "The whole team performed very well and looked professional when racing. The technique and speed demonstrated by everyone was excellent. There were some strong relay performances in all year groups and some outstanding individual swims."

Senior Boys' House Hockey Competition

3rd Mar 2020

House matches for any sport are a real highlight in the school’s sporting calendar and yesterday's Senior Boys' House hockey matches were no exception. Assistant Director of Sport, Mr David Millward, explained, "Traditionally speaking they are the earliest form of school competition and often deliver very passionate and determined performances with children working together as a cohesive team."

This term the senior boys' House hockey matches were 10 minutes one way and consisted of an A and B tournament. With two teams therefore representing each House, every boy played their part and there was plenty of peer support from the sidelines. Inevitably, the Houses who worked best together and in particular utilised their strengths were able to succeed with scores in goals. Mr Millward enthused, "With such short matches it was crucial that teams capitalised on goal scoring opportunities. Throughout the afternoon it was great to see the more experienced players encouraging and supporting their teammates. Each House left nothing out there in terms of effort and the sporting camaraderie was clear to see as the results we read out!"

The A Tournament results:1st – Fisher, 2nd - Beaufort, 3rd - Sandys​ and 4th – Gunning. The B Tournament results: 1st – Gunning, 2nd - Beaufort, 3rd - Sandys​ and 4th – Fisher.