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The Explorer newsletter Spring 24

22 Apr 2024 |

By Chris Calvey


Read all about it! News from the Spring term 2024

The wiz

Pupils in Years 7 & 8 mesmerized audiences with their amazing performance of ‘The Wiz’.

The Wiz

The Chapel was transformed into the wonderful Land of Oz as we followed the much loved characters of Dorothy (Layla), Tinman (Rupert), Scarecrow (Elliot) and Lion (Charlotte) on their journey to see The Wiz (Eliza) in order to make their dreams come true.

Our lead characters were superb in acting their scenes, singing their songs and dancing their way along the yellow brick road. Here they came across a range of strange and mysterious obstacles, which our fantastic cast brought to life through catchy songs and complex dances. There was much excitement in the lead up to each show. Phoebe, who played Lord High Underling said she particularly loved getting ready and the atmosphere before the show.

This year’s cast have been nothing short of amazing – it was a delight to see them take to the stage and show off all their efforts. What made it really special this year was just how much they all seemed to really enjoy themselves on the stage. Audience members commented on their professionalism in moving set and props and how naturally they performed all their roles. Special thanks to our stage managers Lucas and Toby who took on these vital roles. Sammy, who played numerous ensemble roles explained how much he enjoyed the fact that “everyone involved had lines to say, not just the main roles, and that all the dances included everyone”. Members of our grandparents audience commented that it was the most “atmospheric” show they had been to. With fantastic lighting and the live band led by Jemma Packer, they really felt like they were a part of the Emerald City.

A huge well done to all the children involved and as always thanks to everyone for their support.

"Putting on costume and makeup and being all together was really fun!" Phoebe


FOGWA have had a busy Spring Term which kicked off with a brilliant after school disco for the children in January. Our families raised a fantastic £900 with their Olympic Challenges which will be put towards new playtime equipment. We have really enjoyed seeing posters, photos and videos of what the children chose to do. For parents, we’ve had second hand uniform sales, woods walks and our annual Quiz Night. A huge thank you to Mr Fuller, Mrs Bland and Mrs Rees for organising and hosting a brilliant evening. My thanks to the whole FOGWA Team for their efforts in planning, organising and delivering events. We are always looking to widen our team

If you would like to get involved with what FOGWA does, please email
gwfogwa@gmail.com. We are always looking for more people to join our team

Pi day

The sun was shining for Pi day, with the pupils enjoying cracking the codes to save Great Walstead from alien invasion. Year 4 united as dominoes and were a force to be reckoned with, while the Pre-Prep were enchanted with ‘fairy tale’ maths. A fantastic lunch of delicious chicken pie and, for dessert, banoffee pie was provided by our very own ‘Pi man’, Simon.

And, finally, the ‘Mud Pi Hunt’, a scavenge around the school to unscramble the words ‘maths is magnificent’. The Pi recitals were most impressive; Emma R (Year 6) recalled Pi to an incredible 54 decimal places, Savannah C (Year 6) beat her previous record by 10 digits, recalling Pi to 110 decimal places. Alana H set a new record for Year 4 by reciting Pi to 77 decimal places. Amazing!

Pi day

Where did you get that hat?

Our wonderful Pre-School took to the stage with great confidence for their Easter Bonnet Parade. Their enthusiasm was contagious as they showed off their fabulous Easter bonnets and beautiful singing voices. What a wonderful show!

Easter Bonnet


Get to know Jemma PackerDirector of Music.

GWS Newspaper Spring 24 1920x1080 0008 Jemma Packer

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Thailand. It has a beautiful culture, scenic beaches and friendly locals!

What do you wish you’d done at school that you didn’t choose to do or couldn’t do? 

More dance. I would have liked to continue my ballet as a child instead of training for Grade 8 during my university degree. That was a challenge! 

Would you rather have a cat or a dog as a pet? 

Neither. Tropical fish all the way.

What did you enjoy most when you were at school? 

All of the creative arts of course! Embracing different characters on stage and combining my love for music, drama and dance altogether. These experiences are part of my happiest memories.

Calling all OGWs!

In 2025 we will be celebrating Great Walstead’s centenary. We have a range of activities and events planned to mark this occasion and would warmly welcome your memories and photographs to add to ours.
Please email ogw@greatwalstead.co.uk to share your reminiscences of the School.


The weather most certainly did its best to dampen the spirits of the sporting programme during the spring term but it did not hold back our pupils. The first official girls’ football season sprang into action and there were some impressive performances from all age groups. The boys’ rugby season made way for hockey and, once more, there were some exceptional results. The U13 team qualifying for the national finals at Repton School was undoubtedly the highlight.

GWS Newspaper Spring 24 1920x1080 0003 U13 Boys Hockey IAPS
GWS Newspaper Spring 24 1920x1080 0002 U13 Girls Football


Over the Easter holidays, 41 of our pupils flew to southern Spain for our first joint football and netball sports tour. Our boys acquitted themselves brilliantly against some impressive local Spanish teams, whilst the girls travelled over the border to Gibraltar for some superb netball fixtures. Throw in some sun, sea and games by the swimming pool and fun was most certainly had by all.

GWS Newspaper Spring 24 1920x1080 0001 Theatre visit

Theatre visit

Years 5 and 6 were treated to a superb production of ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’, closely based on the book by Onjali Rauf, at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Told from the perspective of a child refugee, it gently portrays the trauma and discrimination faced by the child alongside the extraordinary acts of friendship from his new classmates. Many of the children know the book well, from reading it at home and in class, and we feel a personal connection to the author as a school as we hosted her here at Great Walstead two years ago.

"Exciting; I enjoyed the plot twists" Laurie

I learnt important values – even if someone comes from a different background, everyone should be treated fairly" Amelia

"As good as the book!" Isabel


We all celebrated World Book Day in great style, with fabulous costumes from both pupils and staff. Children from Pre-School to Year 4 started the day with an exciting parade in the Chapel, followed by the World Book Day Bop – a joyful opportunity to dance in costume with their friends. It was fun to share the books we love. Across the school, all year groups participated in writing challenges which used ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak as a starting point. Our March book celebrations ended with a visit from vet, zoologist, author and TV presenter Jess French, who thrilled children from Reception to Year 4 with her wide range of books about animals and the environment, also launching her new fantasy series ‘Beastlands’ with Years 5 and 6.

Wilbur W in Year 4 arrives for World Book Day

Houses of Parliament

In January our Year 8 pupils enjoyed a journey through the political foundations of Britain. Standing next to the tombs and memorials of British titans in Westminster Abbey is always a powerful experience. Equally, a chance to wander through the empty House of Lords allows the children to connect to both the past and the present. This was enhanced later in the day, as the pupils sat in the gallery and watched MPs debate in the House of Commons on NHS dentistry provision. At both sites we were lucky to have knowledgeable and dynamic guides. The day ended with a workshop on Laws and Debating, educating us on the process of turning an idea into a law. Our pupils were then split into Government and Opposition groups, with Alana G serving as our Speaker of the House, to passionately debate the proposal to abolish exams. The pupils particularly enjoyed the opportunity to shout ‘Hear! Hear!’, although the Speaker kept them in tight order. Unsurprisingly, the motion was carried.

International Womens day

International Women’s Day this year focused on the theme of “Inspiring Inclusion.”The day kicked off with an enlightening presentation by Mrs Scotland, who highlighted the significant advancements women have made over the past century, while also pointing out the persistent barriers impeding access to education, careers, and decision-making roles for women and girls.

Our lineup of guest speakers delivered engaging and interactive talks based on their personal experiences with overcoming stereotypes. The impact of these discussions was profound among our students. Tamsin said, “I was inspired by Lieutenant Abi who demonstrated that balancing a family with a successful career is entirely achievable.”This ethos of inclusion was vividly brought to life through a role-playing workshop, enabling students to confront and dismantle gender stereotypes. The “Inspiring Inclusion” theme encourages all of us to foster an environment where every individual’s unique differences are not just accepted but celebrated, creating a brighter future for all of us.

GWS Newspaper Spring 24 1920x1080 0007 international womens day


In connection with International Women’s Day, Year 8 spent some time in art looking at the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. They recognised how she described major events in her life through her art and how imagery can be used as an important tool of expression. They made initial line drawings featuring the artist before adorning the background with decorative collage.


By Lucy B in Year 8

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