w/e 17th February 2023
Wow! Where did the time go? What a busy half term!
Have a look at some of the fantastic activities that our young people have been involved with over the last few weeks, and also some of the range of experiences that they are exposed to as part of our commitment to learning outside the classroom.
Hosting international Students
Since September 2022, we have hosted three groups of international students from two different companies: UKLC and Conlan Language School. Two of the groups came from Spain and one from Italy.
We have attempted to generate these links in the past and have had several ‘provisional’ bookings recently, but these are the first groups that have come to fruition since Covid. The last time we welcomed a large international group was in 2017 when we hosted thirty students from mainland China.
Initially, the presence of a number of international students was very novel and the first group got a lot of attention as our students got used to seeing some new faces and hearing some foreign voices in and around school. However, this attention soon gave way to ‘routine’ with the arrival of the second and third groups. The international students helped out with spoken language lessons in Spanish, especially with our Year 11 students who are preparing for their GCSE.
Students from years 10 and 11 acted as in-school ‘buddies’ and this model worked really well with the same students already volunteering their services should we be asked to host further groups in the future.
It is massively beneficial for our students to meet, chat and engage with children from other cultures and they very soon realise that, while they may speak in a different language, teenagers are, pretty much, interested in all of the same things. It was great to see some positive relationships develop during the time that our visitors stayed with us. Additionally, our students engaged with our international visitors out of school and, in some cases, even joined in their weekend activities.
Unfortunately, these visits are from students of families who have paid for the privilege of the foreign language experience, so we do not have the opportunity for reciprocal return visits using this model. However, there is still value in continuing to host international groups, which I absolutely believe offers experiential benefits to our students. I am hoping to investigate further opportunities and potential funding streams in an effort to extend international collaborations via the British Council.
I am delighted to announce that we have recently received an invitation from the Vasil Levsky High School, our twinned school in Karlovo, Bulgaria, to re-commence our student exchange programme this summer; as you will be aware, the exchange trip has not been possible since 2019 because of the impact of Covid 19. Despite being unable to run the exchange trip, I have remained in frequent contact with my peers in Karlovo and have managed to sustain a really positive relationship with them and we have provisionally agreed dates at the end of June; we always go at this time as it is after GCSEs here.
I am currently working with my colleagues in Karlovo on what the focus of the learning will be during this year’s trip and look forward to sharing the detail with you when I have it.
The school in Karlovo want to keep the group at approximately six to eight students, which is manageable for them. When students from Blacon High School put their names forward, it is important that they consider that there will be a reciprocal visit, usually in October, when the students from Karlovo come here and need to be hosted by the same students.
It is really heart-warming to know that some students from as far back as the first exchange trip in 2017 are still in frequent contact; this was one of our main goals when we set up the programme. For the Bulgarian students, the exchange trip is focused on enhancing their spoken English, whilst for our students, it offers a fantastic opportunity to experience a very different culture.
Blacon High School has recently established links with the Children’s Commissioner’s Children’s Advisory Board, which effectively offers an opportunity for our Student Parliament to engage with, and work alongside, school councils on a national level. We have already had some online meetings to establish initial links across the UK and, at the first meeting, signed up for the possibility of contributing to a meeting of the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Subsequently, representatives from Blacon High School were selected to be one of the schools that contributed and three Year 11 delivered a presentation at the international meeting that was held in Geneva on 7th February. Students attended the meeting virtually and were supported by myself and representatives from the Children’s Commissioner’s Board. This is something of a major coup, both for the students who presented at the meeting and for the wider school community.
The aim of the Children’s Meeting is to amplify the voices of children in England and across the world and ensure children’s voices are embedded into recommendations for policy makers, decision takers and Government. The UNCRC Children’s Meeting is an opportunity to represent children in England on an international stage at a major meeting at the United Nations.
The ultimate aim of the programme is that our representatives will learn about children’s rights, lead talks with key policymakers and meet children across the UK and from many other countries who are also children’s rights champions.
A massive ‘Well Done’ to the three students pictured above who presented (remotely) to the United Nations Conference Committee for the Rights of the Child in Geneva on 7th February.
Excitement is building in the Performing Arts Department as Year 9 students have begun to submit their set designs as part of their homework project. This work was originally arranged in October and the deadline is looming for when we return after the half-term break.
Their task is to create a box set design for a production of Dennis Kelly's DNA, which is set in the woods. Students are encouraged to recycle materials in their work, for example: packaging, egg box cartons, inner cardboard tubing from kitchen roll/gift wrap/toilet rolls, etc. Mrs Salisbury and Miss Thomas will judge the models with a prize being awarded to the most creative design in each class.
Year 7 Basketball
It’s great to be able to report that our Year 7 boys won the Chester and District basketball tournament. They won all four of their hotly contested matches scoring lots of baskets along the way. Alfie Scott and Lucas Jay Mackay gave consistently fantastic performances as part of a superb, confident and able team.
Well done boys!
Students in Year 10 have been looking at iteration and loops within programmes. To consolidate this knowledge, the students used the board game snakes and ladders. The game allowed them to look at how each player will loop/iterate with their turns to try to complete the game.
As a treat to close the half term in MFL, we introduced students to the first visit from ‘Onatti Productions’, a specialist language theatre company.
All of our Year 8 students, along with our Year 10 students who are studying GCSE French, watched a 50-minute play that the actors delivered entirely in French. The play, 'La Maison Hantée', told the story of two backpackers arriving at a deserted house, where all was not what it seemed.
Our students enjoyed the production very much and demonstrated great resilience in remaining focused throughout the performance. Their feedback on the experience was really positive. What was really impressive was that everyone could work out what was going on in the play, even if they didn’t understand every word.
We are very much looking forward to another visit from Onatti Productions that is scheduled to take place in June, when they will deliver a production in Spanish to Year 7, Year 9 and Year 11 students who are studying GCSE Spanish.
Children’s Mental Health week – February 6th – 10th
This year's theme: 'Let's Connect', ties in nicely with our whole-school approach to Learning and Teaching as we endeavour, where possible, to give all of our students the individualised support they need.
Students discussed times when they felt both connected and disconnected. Then, along with staff and peer discussion, they looked at solutions and tried to find ways of feeling more connected for more of the time. Students then created some fantastic, positive posters to advise each other of potential strategies they might try in an effort to connect with and build positive relationships with others.
I, for one, am more than delighted to say ‘goodbye’ to the cold of winter as the days finally begin to get longer and lighter as Spring approaches.
As always, we will continue to explore opportunities enhanced learning experiences in a variety of contexts; we remain committed to ensuring that all of our students are exposed to new experiences and look forward to inviting your children to join us on new adventures.
As always, thank you for your continued support as we enter this new, very short half term in the run up to Easter. Please keep an eye on the school website and all social media platforms for news and updates.