From the Co-Headteachers
In the 1984 movie ‘Billy Elliot’, a young boy from northern England finds his passion for dance while navigating a range of social and personal issues. It really does depict the very best of British people. This week, our own version of 800 Billy Elliots have been involved in Wider Learning Week (WLW). They have been exploring the modern social issues across 2023 London when visiting educational, historical, political and recreational venues spanning our great capital city.
It has been an opportunity for them to both explore their own aspirations and challenge their own boundaries as well as stereotypes. To be out in the “real world” is a release; this is hands-on, first-hand learning at its very best. We are thrilled to still be able to offer our students this superb opportunity to be immersed in the deep, rich culture of London.
Publicly, we would be like to profoundly thank all parents/carers for their support and, of course, our teachers – especially trip leaders and the WLW coordinator – for their whole-hearted dedication and commitment to going the “extra mile” and “buying in”. Again, we would like emphasise how, as a state comprehensive school, we continue to offer outstanding opportunities well beyond those offered by similar schools.
Please enjoy the summaries below, some of which were written or contributed to by our Year 9 journalism group.
The regular features of this newsletter, including our weekly House Point Champions, will return in the final newsletter of the term. It will publish on Wednesday morning next week. Please also note that, at the time of writing, the Barcelona trip was still ongoing – we will report on that in the next newsletter.
Simon Fisher and Jo Higginbottom
by Malakai Payet (Year 9 Journalist)
This week, all Year 7 students had the opportunity to take part in Battle Day, during which they learned about and played medieval sports. The activity was led by Mr Judge, history teacher and keen sportsman.
We spoke to Noah in Year 7 who told us about Stoolball, a version of cricket which dates to the 15th century and originated in Sussex. Two key differences between Stoolball and Cricket are that bowling must be underarm for Stoolball and that each over consists of 8 balls as opposed to 6. Students also played medieval football which shares similarities with modern day Gaelic football. Lots of fun was had by all!
During the Year 7 week, every student went on an exciting trip to learn more about their house’s namesake. Adam took a trip to the V&A Museum in South Kensington to learn about the 18th-century architect, Robert Adam. For Brunel students, they learned more about the work of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the Science Museum. Shackleton house took to the seas – metaphorically – as they went to Greenwich Maritime Museum to discover about the life of explorer Ernest Shackleton. Finally, Turner travelled to the Tate Britain on London’s Southbank to find out more about famous painter J.M.W. Turner.
Play in a Day
Mr McDonnell led a fantastic immersive theatre experience for Year 7, which took place across the week in house groups. Titled ‘The Investigation’, it was first run during Year 7 remote lessons during the Covid lockdown of 2020. Repurposed for Wider Learning Week, this activity asked students to uncover a conspiracy, working out what caused a sinister event to take place. Lots of staff played roles within the experience, with students having to work collaboratively to solve problems and answer certain puzzles to gain information. It was a great test of students’ improvisational skills, as it all led to a final performance at the end of the day.
By Year 9 Journalists
On Thursday, Year 7 students took part in Police Day. The day started in the hall, watching a video about gang crime as an introduction to the day, which focused on safety in the community.
Year 9 journalist, Randeep Singh, spoke to Manav in Year 7 who described the contents of the video and what he had learned from it. He said ‘it’s always important to tell an adult where you are going and what you are doing so that you are safe.’
Students rotated around different rooms in the school to speak to representatives from the Metropolitan Police and the London Ambulance Service.
by Alex Lee and Yacine Bouaroudj (Year 9 Journalists)
Another activity on offer for Year 7 was Science Day. Students used the bunsen burners to make energy drinks from different solutions. They were then able to take their delicious drink home! Meanwhile, in the other science room, students had to create a solution from different types of acids and bicarbonates, learning about the science of chemical reactions. These students were doing exceptionally well and made sure they always followed the safety precautions. Well done!
by Alex Smith, Fatin Ishraq, Randeep Singh and Manpreet Khalsa (Year 9 Journalists)
Based on the hit BBC TV show featuring Lord Alan Sugar, Dragons’ Den involved designing, then pitching a product to a panel of ‘Dragons’. Students got the chance to work on laptops to design their products which were linked to the topic of hydration. For example, one group had designed a ring called ‘Hydr8’ which reminds the wearer to drink water regularly by beeping every 30 minutes.
One of the visiting Dragons was Sarah Speake, director of Speake Up Consulting. When asked what it takes to be successful in business, Sarah told Malakai Payet and Alex Smith (Year 9 journalists) – “confidence, positive attitude and to always have a hunger to learn.” She was really impressed with the creative ideas of our Year 8 students and was confident that some of them will be successful entrepreneurs in the future.
Film day took place within house groups, led by Mrs Axten and Mr Jackson. Activities were themed around the Indiana Jones film series – timely considering the new film has just been released in cinemas this week.
Students watched the whole of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ before learning about the range of camera techniques used to create key scenes in the film. They then used cardboard, paper, glue and foliage to make ‘dip sets’ of iconic scenes (see above). Then, in the afternoon, students recreated the famous boulder chase scene in the corridors. This was a fantastic way to introduce key film concepts and skills.
This fascinating day saw students focus on the importance of healthy nutrition. Students learned about eating in a balanced way, considering what nutrients are contained in the food they eat every day. They then applied these principles to elite athletes, considering how the sportsperson’s diet is different to their own.
Students then worked with our caterers, CucinA for a special cookery session – making special healthy bread containing vegetables. Students loved the hands-on learning – and, of course, the delicious fruits of their labour!
All Year 8 students had the opportunity for an exciting day out in London – heading on the tube to the Science Museum in South Kensington. During the day, students took a tour of the many engaging and interactive exhibits, and were given the chance to try many of them out! They were also lucky enough to enjoy a question and answer session with a team of museum technicians and engineers, which gave them a great insight into the work they do.
The DT team prepared a fantastic Structural Challenge for Year 8. It was all focused on bridges, so the sessions began with students learning about different classifications of bridges and how forces are distributed so that they stay standing.
Then, working in small house-based groups, it was time for the boys to get building – choosing which bridge they wanted to make and then creating it out of only paper and tape. It had to pass a stress test – being able to support 1kg without collapsing! Students worked brilliantly in teams to create some very impressive structures. There are clearly some budding engineers in the year group!
This fascinating week began with a trip to Bletchley Park on Monday – home of the famous WWII codebreakers. Above you can see students trying the enigma machine! On Tuesday, they visited the ClueQuest escape room in London, put through their paces as they completed puzzles and challenges to escape a themed room within an hour. This prepared students nicely for activities on Wednesday and Thursday, as they planned their own escape room in school. The week ended on Friday with younger students trying out the I&S escape room!.
The computing week was themed around modern and innovative technology. Students enjoyed a special workshop at Legoland Windsor on Monday, programming their own Lego robots! Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in school, with students learning about cyber-security developments and then using the PCs to program animated Augmented Reality characters. Thursday saw another visit, down the road at Sky Studios exploring green screen technology as well as virtual reality headsets! Then, on the final day (Friday), students enjoyed a very special 3D simulation from the Red Arrows. It was a fantastic, hands-on week for these computing enthusiasts!
Students taking the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award had a packed week as they took great steps to completing their Bronze award. Monday and Tuesday were preparation days in school, getting ready for the assessed expedition on Wednesday and Thursday. For this expedition, the 42 students headed in the minibus to Boidier Hurst campsite, near Boxhill in Surrey. It was a great test of their campcraft and navigation skills! On Friday, students returned to school and reflected on their progress this year. For many of these students, it was their first experience camping, and they did a great job.
Investigating the Human Body
The science team led an exciting and in-depth look at the human body. Students learned and then practiced animal dissections on Monday and Tuesday – after going through all the safety procedures, of course! On Wednesday, students were suturing (stitching) on chicken wings, before they did phlebotomy (taking blood) on a plastic arm during Thursday. Friday saw the boys visit The Old Operating Theatre in London Bridge – the oldest surviving surgical operating theatre in Europe!
This group had a fantastic crash-course in journalism. First, students learned some of the basics about being a journalist and what the career pathway can offer. Then, throughout the week, they visited different activities across Years 7, 8 and 9. This meant interviewing students, taking photographs, and contributing content for this very newsletter. On Wednesday, they particularly enjoyed their Twitter takeover activity, using our official social media account to report on all the fun that was taking place inside and outside of school!
What a fantastic week for these students, with each day focused on essential skills that they will need later on in life. On Monday, students learned some basic financial strategies as well as how to budget effectively. Tuesday was spent in the kitchen, cooking pasta bakes and Rocky Road after first travelling to Tesco to buy ingredients on a set budget. Wednesday was careers day, to help them start to identify potential pathways in the future, before they worked on draft CVs and practiced job interview techniques on Thursday. Friday was a fun day at Boston Manor park, completing a biodiversity and survival skills workshop.
Mr McKeever has led a brilliant week focused on the nuts and bolts of music production. Using the Apple Macs, students have examined various aspects of the music production process throughout the week. The week culminated with a special treat on Thursday and Friday. The boys acted as mentors to Year 5 students from St Mary’s and Marlborough primaries, taking the younger students through the process of recording a jingle, including producing the drumbeat and sequencing melodic riffs. It was a fascinating week which allowed students to dig deeper into the music they love.
Our budding photographers had a fantastic week building up their portfolios. After spending some time learning about key photographic concepts in school on Monday, it was time to get out into the world. There three trips all focused on nature, with visits to Kew Gardens (Tuesday), Richmond Park (Wednesday) and Osterley Park (Thursday). This gave them ample opportunity to practise their composition and hone their skills. The end result was a fantastic ‘visual record’ – a coll age showcasing some of their best photographs.
Always one of our most popular pathways, students had the chance to play some sports they may not usually play! They stayed local on Monday, heading to Thistleworth Tennis Club (just over the A4). There were two types of golf during the week, but not in the conventional sense – ‘Top Golf’ at Addlestone on Tuesday and ‘Foot Golf’ in Hounslow on Thursday. Sandwiched between these on Wednesday was a fantastic day in the volleyball arena at Barn Elms in Barnes. The week finished on Friday with another student favourite – high-octane competitive go-karting!
As part of Wider Learning Week, Year 12 students took part in Sixth Form Futures Week. The aims of the week were to introduce students to the process of applying to university, and prepare them for Year 13 and career pathways.
Monday was a self-evaluation day, with students asked to reflect on the year so far and the progress that they have made. Tuesday was a day of presentations to support the transition to Year 13, including examination technique from Exam Busters and several devoted to mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Wednesday and Thursday were UCAS days, with students onboarded into the system, and working on their personal statements. Friday saw students continue this work and complete an online Springpod course focused on careers.
Many Year 12s also acted as student leaders on various activities for Years 7-9, offering their assistance with all aspects of the day. They were great ambassadors for the Sixth Form!