World Book Day!

World Book Day celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and fittingly enough we had arguably our best turnout of literary costumes from both staff and students yet, as you can see from the photos included here!

Other highlights of the day included Staff/Sixth Form Mastermind (won by the talented Mr Gibbons), a Harry Potter-inspired lunchtime menu in the canteen, the annual ‘Book Slam’ that took place during Lit Soc and us raising a very large sum of money with which to buy books for the KYGN children of Tanzania, who we built a library for last summer. Thank you everyone for getting in to the spirit of what turned out to be a very fun day!

World Book Day Menu Competition!

Would you like to decide what food you eat in the canteen at lunchtime on World Book Day, Thursday 2nd March?

Of course you would.

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All pupils in Year 7-9 are welcome to enter our competition to design the menu for what will be served in the canteen at lunchtime on World Book Day. You can select any food you like, so long as it is related to a particular book or series of books. You have the option to mix and match books, or have the same theme throughout the menu.

So…Eye of Newt/Toe of Frog soup for starters? Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham for main? Jam tarts from Alice in Wonderland for dessert? The choice is well and truly yours. Use the template below to design your menu. Be sure to include the main ingredients you will need in each dish!

Click here>>>>>>>>>>>> World Book Day Menu 2017<<<<<<<<<<<<Click here

All entries to Mr Humphreys please, either via e-mail or in person. Closing date for entries is 4pm on Wednesday 8th FebruaryGood luck!

Surbiton High School Digital Library now available!

We are pleased to announce that you can now borrow eBooks from the Surbiton High School digital library using the Overdrive app on your catalogue!


To find out how to set this up on your iPad and start borrowing books, click on the ‘Digital Library’ link in the menu above. If you have any questions please contact Mr Humphreys in the library.

Tanzania Expedition Video

Mission accomplished – A library built in Tanzania!

Our three week expedition to Tanzania this past summer was the culmination of two years’ hard work. Fourteen Surbiton High School students, together with Mrs McCool and Mr Humphreys, had been making preparations to build a library for the Kilimanjaro Young Girls in Need (KYGN) School in Tanzania, which involved raising over £8000 and cataloguing 1000 books, among other things.

The group were abuzz with excitement and anticipation – and perhaps a little apprehension – when we finally departed for Tanzania at the start of the summer holidays, flying in via Abu Dhabi and Nairobi.


The three week long trip started off with a week at the KYGN School, which was a deeply affecting and life-changing experience for the group. It was truly humbling to see these remarkable young Tanzanian children, who lived in poverty and came from troubled backgrounds, always have a smile on their face. This redoubled our determination to make a very real difference to their lives, in the shape of both the library itself and everything else we hoped to do for them.


The girls duly excelled themselves in all they did at the School, not least when they were unexpectedly called upon to do some teaching. The younger children could not speak very much English, so teaching them was particularly challenging, but they came through it!


Undoubtedly, the library itself was the group’s most tangible achievement, and the KYGN children were very excited when we opened the library to them, browsing and borrowing the books with uncontained enthusiasm. It was a reminder that simple things that we take for granted make a very real difference to the lives of those who are less fortunate than us, and that we should never take our own libraries for granted.



It was difficult to leave KYGN, but the remainder of our trip was also highly enjoyable, with highlights including a tour of Tanzania’s famous Northern Safari circuit – where we spotted lots of beautiful wildlife in stunning surroundings – and a three day trek through the Usambara Mountains. These aspects of the expedition posed challenges of their own, such as getting lost in dense rainforest and finding ourselves under attack by a nest of angry ants, and once again the group rose above them.



The girls conducted themselves in an exemplary manner throughout the three weeks, and should be proud of all they learned and achieved. Special thanks go to our trip leader, Richard, and to Wilderness Expertise for helping make this expedition a truly memorable experience. We would also like to thank all members of the Surbiton High School community who have contributed to this expedition in ways great and small. Our work at the KYGN School has only just begun, and we hope to return again in the future. Watch this space!

Kingston Borough Literary Quiz Double Triumph!

Surbiton High School has enjoyed a hugely successful track record in recent years at the Kingston Borough Literary Quiz. This competition, ran by Kingston Borough public libraries, is designed to test the literary knowledge of all schools in the area. In 2015 we won the Year 7/8 trophy, and the year before we achieved the unprecedented feat of winning both the Year 7/8 and Year 9/10 trophies.


This impressive literary pedigree meant we were under some pressure when we took part in the tournament on Thursday 11 February. As ever, the participating pupils were required to answer questions on everything ranging from a series of set books, the Mr Men characters and Children’s Laureates in the picture round through to nursery rhymes and Shakespeare in the always tense, on-the-buzzer general knowledge round.


Remarkably, our two teams repeated the feat of 2014 and won both trophies again this year! This means that we have now won five out of a possible six trophies in this tournament over the last three years, which is a truly exceptional achievement. We now move on to the Inter Borough Final in March and the chance to add even more trophies to our collection. A huge well done to all the girls!


Tanzania Library update

As most people who are reading this are aware, a group of 14 Year 10-13 girls are heading out to Tanzania this summer with Mr Humphreys and Mrs McCool to open up a library for the Kilimanjaro Young Girls in Need (KYGN) school near Moshi.

We have been working hard on this project for the past two years, and so far we have…

  • Raised over £6000 for the library build, through various fundraisers inside and out of school.
  • Catalogued over 500 books.
  • Taken part in two training weekends, where we learnt invaluable teamwork, leadership, campcraft, navigation and organisational skills, and also planned a provisional itinerary for our three weeks in-country.
  • Made other preparations for our time at the KYGN school, including displays/decorations for the library.

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As you can see from the picture at the top of this page, we have achieved quite a lot, but we are not there yet. We still have to do the following…

  • Raise a further £2000 to ensure that the library building can be completed. Fundraisers include Mr Humphreys and Miss Handley competing in a sprint-triathlon in May.
  • Catalogue another 500 books!
  • Finish off all preparations for our time at the school – as well as decorating the library, we need to plan a series of activities for the children, including a whole day of fun sports activities.
  • Make final preparations for the expedition itself, including confirming the activities we will do when exploring the country.

The build-up to the project has been so long that the reality we are heading out to Tanzania in just over five months’ time is only just starting to sink in. Our excitement is increasing with each passing day – we can’t wait!

Coming soon…

We have a very packed program of upcoming library-related events taking place this term and early in the next. Save these dates for your diary!

Friday 22nd January – Gemma Malley Author Visit (Year 8)

Monday 25th January – Human Rights Young Researchers Project Trip (Year 9)

Thursday 4th February – Harry Potter Book Night


Thursday 11th February – Kingston Borough Literary Quiz

Tuesday 23rd February – Tanzania Expedition Theme Evening

Tuesday 1st March – Lauren St John Author Visit (Year 7)

Year 7 and 8 team

Friday 4th March – World Book Day Celebrations

Thursday 10th March – Kingston Borough Literary Quiz Inter-Borough Final (TBC)

Monday 18th April – Human Rights Young Researchers Presentation Evening (Year 9)

Friday 22nd April – Shakespeare 400 (TBC)


…to say nothing of the Reading Challenge, Carnegie Medal Shadowing, weekly Lit Soc sessions (see the Lit Soc blog for more) and the constantly ongoing preparations for the Tanzania Expedition, which will culminate with us heading out to Tanzania in July.

A busy, packed 2016 lies ahead of us…and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Reading Challenge 2016

It’s nearly December, and that means it’s time for the annual SHS Reading Challenge!

As you can see from the video above, there are many new features of the reading challenge this year. On the library learning space, we will be publishing your reviews of the books regularly, so keep watching this space!

James Dawson Author Visit

It is a sign of an author’s quality when they’re invited back to Surbiton High School for a third time. James Dawson first visited in 2012, when he had recently published his debut novel. With several more titles under his belt, he returned as a guest judge at the literary-themed fashion show that took place in January. Most recently, he came to talk to Year 9 on Friday 13 November.


James had recently made headlines for revealing he was about to undergo gender transition, and it was his formative experiences that informed both this decision and the books he has written. His latest novel, All of the Above, referenced many real-life examples of LGBT issues. James read some extracts from the book, including a poem about teenage anorexia, to illustrate the point that poetry can be relevant to our everyday lives, rather than something that is merely taught in the classroom.

The main focus of James’ talk was feminism, and how we should all consider ourselves feminists if we believe that there should be true equality between men and women. Drawing on examples of how many influential female role models are still objectified, he made the girls realise they will play a key role in redressing the balance in the future. This was a hugely inspirational talk, as reflected by the sheer number of books sold at the end. We will certainly be inviting James back in the future!


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