The academic year ended in spectacular fashion on Saturday 2 July. As anticipation built for the return of Speech Day (the first since 2019!), the last few days of term were packed full of celebrating everything we love about belonging to the St John’s community.

The last week of term always provides unique opportunities for enrichment, and high-spirited activities. Pupils embarked on two fun-filled enrichment days, packed full of extra-curricular activities on Wednesday and Thursday. With activities and trips such as film making, a political history walking tour, psychology competition, fantastic workshops, work experience, visits to Oxford University, Hampton Court, Chessington World of Adventures, Tate Britain and the overnight CCF field trip, all pupils enjoyed enthusiastically exploring new topics, adventures and challenges.

The Lower School Speech Day took to the marquee on Thursday afternoon and saw pupils and staff reflect upon an incredibly fun and busy year of sport, music, drama, charitable fundraising, trips, and academic challenge. The individual and enthusiastic approach that Lower School pupils have taken to this academic year has been incredible, and this has shone through in their brilliant and engaging Lower School Projects. Pupils spoke wonderfully as they talked about the friendships they have formed, the laughter, the sense of belonging, the teamwork and collaboration they have enjoyed, and how much they are looking forward to the next stages of their St John’s education.

On Friday 1 July, the whole school was transported by 15 coaches to enjoy a fantastic Sports Day at K2 Sports Centre in Crawley. In only its second year Sports Day has already become a firm favourite in the St John’s calendar. Pupils (and staff!) ran, jumped, and threw in a spectacle of athletic prowess, good-natured rivalry, and house loyalty, which was all topped off with a good measure of ice-cream kindly sponsored by the SJPA.

The academic year at St John’s ended with the much-anticipated return of Speech Day on Saturday 2 July. The sun shone gloriously on the Quad as pupils, parents, staff, and governors joined to celebrate the year, present prizes, and bid a fond farewell to our departing Upper Sixth.

The Head, Rowena Cole, was able to share the outstanding news that St John’s School has achieved the highest grading possible during our recent ISI Inspection, and was judged to be excellent in all areas, alongside meeting all regulatory compliance standards. The news was met by rapturous applause and shared delight across our community. We are incredibly proud of the results of the inspection, and we have great pleasure in sharing with you some of the key findings from the inspection report and a few of the comments from the inspection team, here.

Alongside awarding end of year prizes, The Head highlighted the varied array of achievements of our community over the last year, from sports, performing arts, academic and creative excellence, CCF and DofE, fundraising, and adventures – the list is vast! The academic year also focused on the reconnection and return of audiences and events, and above all rebuilding the elements we most missed from St John’s during the Covid 19 pandemic. Discussing the return to events, The Head commented: ‘every time we came together for events, the sense of connection felt more intense than we had experienced previously’.

As we bid a fond farewell to our departing Upper Sixth, The Head spoke of their legacy: ‘You and I arrived together in September 2017 and none of us expected the disrupted and unusual journey we have shared. One of your greatest legacies to St John’s will be leading us out from the difficulties of Covid, reasserting some of the important traditions and characteristics of St John’s while also leading us forward in so many different domains from diversity and inclusion, to anti-bullying and sustainability. You have proved to be a force to be reckoned with this year and in the very best of ways. I would particularly like to thank the prefect team and Amelia and Dan, our school captains, for their leadership. You have demonstrated integrity, intellect, compassion and energy in your leadership and truly represent the very best of what it means to be a St John’s pupil’.

We were thrilled to have welcomed award-winning author and journalist Matthew Syed as our guest speaker, whose insightful and thought-provoking words resonated with many of the 1600 guests in the audience. Aided by his inspiring words, we look forward to returning in September full of optimism, and resilience to grasp, and grow through, the year ahead.

The end of term celebrations provided a unique and special moment to pause and look back on the previous few years, and the overarching resilience, strength, and spirit of the St John’s community.