Two Year 9 students have taken part in a government-led tour of the World War One battlefields in France and Belgium to commemorate the centenary years of the Great War.
Nathan Phillips and David Bennett along with History teacher Mr Lomas joined teachers and students from around 50 other schools from the Stoke-on-Trent, Chester and Manchester areas on a four-day tour of the Ypres Salient and the Somme.
World War One cost the lives of over 10 million soldiers and millions more civilians. It signalled the start of modern warfare and changed the world dramatically. Between 2014 and 2019, HM Government is funding every state school in the UK to visit the battlefields and learn about the conflict. The tours are led by educational tour operator, Equity, as well as the Institute of Education.
The first day of the tour was devoted to preparation for the visit and was based at Grosvenor Hall in Kent. Students took part in team-building exercises whilst the teachers took part in CPD sessions and discovered ways to deliver WW1 teaching in the centenary years. The day concluded with a WW1 artefacts lesson led by the Institute of Education and the British Army.
The second day saw us head off to Ypres, a key Belgian town which saw some of the heaviest fighting in the entire war. We were given time to look round the "In Flanders Fields" museum inside the magnificent Cloth Hall building before visiting Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery where 9,901 Commonwealth war graves are located along with hundreds of other nationalities. Significantly amongst the thousands of men lies one woman, Staff Nurse Nellie Spindler, who was killed when a shell exploded at her casualty clearing station, she was just 26. We then moved on to the Death Cells Museum at Poperinge to learn about the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were shot by the British Army for various offences such as cowardice or desertion.
That evening the schools took part in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, laying wreaths to honour the countless men who died in war but their bodies were never found.
On the third day we crossed the border into France and to the Somme battlefields. We visited the Ulster Memorial Tower, dedicated to the brave soldiers of the 36th (Ulster) Division who attacked the nearby Schwaben Redoubt on the first day of the infamous Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916. The visit took in a tour of excavated British trenches. We then continued on to Sheffield Memorial Park and Danzig Alley British Cemetery before arriving at the Thiepval Memorial, a grand memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutwens (who also designed the Cenotaph) dedicated to the men whose bodies are still missing on the Somme. In the evening the Army led workshops to show what a soldier's life is like today.
On our final day, we visited Langemark German Cemetery and Tyne Cot British Cemetery as well as a pottery studio in Ypres, where we all made clay figures which will be used as part of a memorial to all the Belgian civilians who died during the war.
It was at Tyne Cot however where we found the memorial to Trooper Harold Miles Averill of the Household Battalion, a former student of King Edward VI Grammar School (our predecessor), who died on 12th October 1917 and had lived in Middle Friars in Stafford.
The whole tour was a moving and enriching experience for all and perhaps a reminder of why and how war is a terrible thing. Our job now is to pass on our experience to others through the Legacy 110 programme.
Report and interviews by Olivia Rose and Megan Dashfield
Two of our students from Year 7, Beth Jones and Ruby Murphy, have participated in two events within the community, for which teachers have praised them for - Beth Jones has won first place in a gymnastics competition, and Ruby Murphy has played a leading role in a recent performance at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre.
Beth Jones came first out of 49 competitors in the West Midlands Regional Gymnastics Grade 4 Championships that took place on 7th March. She started gymnastics because she liked it and thought it looked interesting when she was 5 years old- she has currently been training for over 6 years, and practises a whopping four times a week! Even though she enjoyed the entire day, her favourite part was her floor routine, which she also came first in.
Ruby Murphy was part of the play that was recently showed at The Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, and originally joined because her mum thought it would be good if she took part in it. Out of the entire performance, her favourite part was her costume, and is only been doing it for a year!
The school is very proud of these two for taking part in activities outside of school, and we hope other students will continue to do so.
Headteacher, Mr Christey, said "Ruby and Beth are excellent role models for other students in their year group. On top of their school work they have devoted their free time to demonstrate their unique talents. To come first our of 49 worthy competitors is a huge achievement and Beth should be proud of her hard work and training. Similarly to get a leading role in a theatre production and to demonstrate your talents to a large audience is challenging yet Ruby has achieved this through her hard work and dedication to her interest in drama. Well done to both of you on your achievements. The Governors, your school and I are incredibly proud of you both and wish that your success continues into the future."
Leader of Year 7, Mrs Harte, added, "Well done girls, what an incredible achievement. You have both proven yourselves talented young people. You are an asset to your year group, your school and your community."
CBBC Productions are currently testing a new programme idea where children aged 10-14 pitch their business idea to a "brainbank" of young entrepreneurs.
You will have 2 minutes to impress the Brain-Bank with a pitch. If they like your pitch, you could earn a month's worth of pocket money to develop your business idea, with the help of a young entrepreneur working with you.
I have been approached by CBBC Productions to find 3 or 4 business ideas, that could be used to help test the programme format, before it goes live. We would need to go to Media City for filming on Wednesday 22 April, and then either Thursday 23 or Friday 24 April.
This means - that if you are interested in pitching your idea, you need to e-mail me an outline of your business idea, and why you think that you would need a month's worth of pocket money to help you develop your business proposal. Everybody who puts forward a proposal will gain house points, but four ideas will be chosen to put to the CBBC production team.
However, this needs to happen fast. I will need your business ideas e-mailed to me by 12.00 mid-day this Thursday 2nd April. If you are one of the successful four ideas, I will then need to get in touch with your parents to get permission for you to be involved with the programme.
This is a really exciting opportunity, so let's do it! Pitch that business idea!
My e -mail adress is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and good luck.
Leader of Business and Enterprise
It’s no secret that technology is a massive part of our lives. We use it to talk, to learn and even to share what we’re doing with everybody else- technology is a necessity that has become irreplaceable in our lives. In the future, they will even be able to drive our cars. The area in which has been most affected by technology is the youth. But is it a good thing? What are the side effects of letting the youth have access to so much information, and letting their lives play out online?
Social media is a massive reason why teenagers are using more technology than ever- we are immersed in it. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr are some of the main social media sites that teens are using, with an average of 9100 tweets being posted on twitter every minute and now have over 645,750,000 active registered users. Social media extends the number of people we can interact with, from making it easier to communicate with people, to enlarging the number and diversity of the people that we can talk with. It also allows people, teenagers especially, as they have the most contact with technology, a direct and simple way to their problems, with the answers “being only a click away.” Technology, such as phones and social media, allow youths to communicate much more easily than ever before- with people locally and from around the globe. This allows people, especially youths, are they are the most easily influenced, to experience and learn about different cultures around the world. Never has it been so easy to make a “pen pal.” For example, in this group alone, we have friends from America and Italy, the likes of which have been made online, through social media such as Twitter. Hopefully, this will help to reduce prejudice in future generations.
One of the more obvious good points of technology is the internet, or more importantly, search engines such as google. Through these, youths can easily access a wealth of knowledge. The most popular of these websites are Google and Youtube- we couldn’t last a day without these! Using these websites and search engines enable youths to access nearly unlimited resources for their homework, the likes of which was impossible to access just twenty years before. For example, in a 2012 study by the Pew Internet Survey, 75% of 2,500 teachers agreed that the Internet is having a positive effect on youth’s research skills. In the words of RJ Jacquez: "…the thing is 'mobile sets Learning Free' and we can now learn virtually anything, anywhere and anytime and that's amazing."
However, the internet is not just an amazing resource for learning- it’s a brilliant way of staying in touch, too. Friends and family members that move away need no longer fade out of your life, because it’s now as easily to find them as looking them up on social media, something which is very helpful with keeping families close, and appeals to a lot of people.
On the internet, it’s easy to make friends; as we’ve said before, people in this group alone have internet friends. Using the internet to make friends lets youth experience new cultures, to meet people with different interests, and is brilliant for helping people with disabilities or who don’t do well in social situations- as after all, online, we’re all the same.
But, like all things, technology and social medial comes with the bad, as well as the good. Although technology makes things so much easier, from homework to interacting to even finding people online, that is also one of its negatives. This is because kids growing up in the digital age have it different than any other generation that has gone before. One of the main side effects of technology on youth is that the virtual is stepping over from the phone and into the real.
This is because the youth today are a generation that expects, and to an extent, demands applications- or shortcuts for completing tasks. We ourselves are no different- we’ve lost count of how many times we’ve gotten homework out of our bags and quickly opened up the google tab. This is a side effect of the technology, not just simply on the youth, but having grown up in the time when technology is booming. The youth of today can sometimes shy away from long, methodical tasks, the ones where there is “no app for that.”
The way our generation approaches tasks is not the only way technology has affected our lives. It also effects the way that we talk, the way play- not only that, it has effected youth’s social behaviour. You’ve all seen them- the moody girl or boy with their headphones in when they’re in public, or the teenager immersed in their phone as soon as they step outside. Technology has drastically effected the youth’s social behaviour, because, as we have stated before, they are the age group that is most easily influenced by those around them- including technology.
Although brilliant in many ways, technology can be a negative influence because it isolates people from reality- for example, putting your earphones in and immersing yourself with music whilst in public, as this disconnects you from the real world. For some people, for example people who feel uncomfortable with dealing with the uncontrollable factors in our world, technology can be an anchor to something familiar. However, you could argue that this is a bad thing. After all, if we do not have to face reality by experiencing new things, making personal relationships, as it was found by Bob Affonso in his article “Is the internet Affecting the Social Skills of our Children” that those who used the internet frequently spend on average 100 minutes less with friends and family than none- internet users, how will we be able to function normally as adults? We asked Charles Arthur, ex- editor of the Guardian and the Independent respectively, what he thought of this problem: “Physically, some people can get lost in the internet - it becomes a replacement for direct experience. But you won’t learn what the granite of Yosemite’s El Capitan feels like from a screen.”
Another big disadvantage of using technology and the internet is that it is very hard to monitor exactly what youths are viewing online- one major worry is that they might be viewing something that is inappropriate for their age group. This raises the question of whether it is a good idea that youth have access to so much online, including social media and Youtube. Although this is obviously a problem, it can be helped with methods such as blocks for certain things, which are very easy to install. Anyway, what’s the alternative? Block youths from the internet completely?
This solution is not to block youths from using the internet- this would be impossible to do, as it inevitable that young people will have access to the internet. It’s becoming built in to everyday devices, cost of access is falling, and so on. The question in which we should be asking is “whether social networks and other systems have actually been designed with consideration for what is appropriate for people of different ages to access. YouTube, for example, makes no distinction in age-appropriateness for anything between 0 and 18; it sees the world as those who are under 18 and over, which to any parent is ridiculous. Yet there’s no feature to ensure that children only access content on YouTube that’s appropriate. That means that if you want to guard against inappropriate material, you have to supervise every minute of a child’ use of it - unlike books or television. Its flaws like this, and what amounts to laziness on the part of those who set up these networks, that create real problems,” says Charles Arthur.
So, in conclusion, the technology and the internet in youths in neither good nor bad. Technology provides people, especially youths, as they are usually the most tech- savvy, with the means of not only accessing an amazing wealth of knowledge, but it also helps us to communicate with people in a much easier way than ever before, both locally and the other side of the world. It can also strengthen the confidence of people who, in the classroom, may not do that well, but thrive online.
But on the flipside, there are certainly bad points to technology and the internet in youths. These include inappropriate content, a lack of social skills- something the likes of which is very dangerous for the future- and the hindering of personal communication, to name a few.
By none of the points above mean that technology in youths is a good or a bad thing. This is because technology is not something that was created with a good or a bad purpose in mind; it is a tool. And like all tools, you can do good and bad with it- it just depends on what your means are. For example, someone who trolls the internet and puts people down about their looks isn’t doing or creating any good. But a person who goes on sites like social media to make new friends, perhaps from a different side of the world, is doing good and creating good.
So, if we work hard to fix the problems that plague the internet, like, for instance the age- appropriateness on Youtube, or help social behaviour for the future, there’s no reason why technology shouldn’t be used by youths- in fact, in the growing technological- age, it should be encouraged!
Last term at STEM Club we created a cardboard chair strong enough for Mr Christey to sit on. The chair had to be ONLY made from cardboard, no sellotape or glue allowed. We gathered our ideas from the internet and got inspiration to create our ideal cardboard chair. During the process of producing the chair we had to create proto-types which we tested the strength of with weights to see if it would stay standing. After this we picked a suitable proto-type to make as our finished product. After a lot of cutting and fitting, our chair was complete ready for it to be tested out. Mr Christey judged on: folder work, preparation, chair look, stableness and how comfortable it was. Overall our chair won and we have now had points added onto our overall STEM Club progress chart.
Headteacher Mr Christey said "congratulations to Annie, Chloe and Vhari on their successful investigation and experiment. It worked very well and I was impressed with the skills they demonstrated".
Report by Annie Sowerbutts, Chloe Burrows and Vhari MacDonald
On 13th March 2015, STEM Club and selected Year 8 students visited the NEC in Birmingham. All of the students had a great day working in the workshops there and everyone learned lots!
Some of the activities were:
· A space/star dome
· Shows about scientific things
· Lots of K’NEX
· Experiment using different scientific materials
· and much, much more!
The students learned about different substances and how they adapt to their specific environment. There were four different types of shows at the NEC, they were the Big Bang Stage, the Hydrogen Stage, the Oxygen Stage and the Titanium Stage.
Some experiences that people had were:
· Visiting the planetarium
· Holding a bald eagle
· Talking to staff
· Hands-on practical experiences
· Hex bug challenge
· VEX competition
Report by Thomas Schoolar, Emily Bromley and Lydia Rogers-Hinks
On 12th March, Year 12 went to Manchester for a higher education fair run by UCAS. After having to get up at a ridiculous hour to then sit on a coach, the fair was going to have to be good to cheer up the tired and moody sixth formers!
The fair was held in a humongous hall room filled with hundreds of different universities from around the UK and other various career and future provider options including MOD recruiting and apprenticeships from graphic design to working for Rolls Royce.
Throughout the day there were seminars on different aspects of the application to university and life at university and if you weren’t interested in anything educational, you could spend the day trying to collect as many pens, pencils, chocolate and other freebies!
Many students have said that the fair was very useful, informative and valuable. Another said ‘It has given me motivation to go to university and you can’t say no to freebies’ another said ‘it was extremely helpful and helped me decide which university to go to’.
The fair was packed full of ambassadors from UCAS and universities willing to answer any questions or offer any guidance you need.
The fair is a great day out and we will all recommend going!