It is fair to say that it has been an interesting couple of weeks weather-wise! The extreme snowy and stormy conditions meant that last week’s blog was not finished. Therefore this edition covers events over the last two school weeks.
Last week saw Plymstock School’s annual Reading Festival take place, where we celebrated all things from the world of literature. A wide variety of activities were planned, including a visit from children’s author Ally Kennen. Ally’s first book, Beast, was written in 2006 during a Master of Arts Programme in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. The British Librarians named it one of six finalists for the annual Carnegie Medal, which recognises the year’s best children’s book published in the UK. Her fourth book in 2010, Sparks, was one of eight books on the longlist for that year’s Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. Two years later Ally made the Guardian Prize longlist again with Bullet Boys (It had been The Guardian newspaper’s ‘teen book of the month’). Ally talked to the students about her life, her books and discussed the creative writing process. It was thoroughly enjoyed by both students and staff. We thank Ally for making the trip to Plymouth and spending her valuable time talking to our students.
The big event of the week was planned to be World Book Day, but due to the snow closures, we weren’t able to go ahead with it. Consequently, the event has been moved to Thursday 15 March. Keep your eye on the blog for pictures in the coming weeks.
On Monday, our Year 13 Criminology students, along with Ms Williams, Mr Sprenkel, Mr Freeman and myself, visited Channings Wood Prison. This is a Category C Prison, located in the village of Denbury, near Newton Abbott, and houses just over 700 inmates.
It is fair to say that the experience was a real eye-opener for our students. We were given the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with two inmates and several Prison Officers. One inmate was three years into an eight year sentence, whilst the other was 17 years into a life sentence. Both had been convicted of very serious crimes. We talked about their crimes, their regrets, the reality of life in prison, the rehabilitation work and preparation for life beyond prison. It was really good to also get the Prison Officers perspective on prison life too, and the challenges they face with increasingly stretched budgets.
It was an absolutely fascinating afternoon and we are really grateful to Channings Wood Prison for arranging this opportunity for our students. Thank you to both the officers and the two inmates for giving us such a significant chunk of time.
Recently our in-school careers team were delighted to welcome Amy and Charlotte from the Babcock International Recruitment Team to Plymstock School. They joined us for three days to provide students with a realistic experience of the application and interview process. 29 students were really put through their paces. As expected, our students were exemplary. They were punctual, polite and appropriately ‘suited and booted’. They made an excellent impression on the Babcock team. Many of the students have already applied for the highly regarded Babcock Apprenticeship Scheme and this opportunity gave them a valuable insight into the process, in addition to receiving detailed feedback on their ‘performance’. We would like to thank Babcock International for their time and expertise in supporting the aspirations of our students.
Congratulations go to one of our Year 8 students – Jake Alldritt. Nearly two years ago Jake joined Plymouth Argyle Ability Counts Team. Last season Jake’s team got to the final of the FA People’s Cup where they beat Aston Villa 3-1. Before the FA Cup started, Jake had just turned 12, but he was asked to play for the Under 16 team. At the FA Cup Final, Jake was interviewed by CBBC and BBC Sport, as he was the youngest player in the tournament by three years and everyone was really impressed with his skills.
Over the last month, recognising his amazing talent, Plymouth Argyle have signed him as a long-term player. He has just joined the Goalkeeper Academy, as well as still playing for Plymouth Argyle Ability Counts Team. In addition, he will be having trials for England this month.
Well done Jake – what an amazing achievement and we’re really proud of you. You are also our well deserved student of the week for Year 8.
Our Year 8 students have continued their Industrial Revolution presentations in History this week, with groups studying specific aspects of change between 1750 and the present day. The challenge of this task was that that the content was assessed, as well as the group work and final presentation, challenging students to take on the role of the teacher and set out to teach, engage and motivate their peers. With access to information thorough the internet being relatively straightforward, the students had to discriminate between what they should and should not include, and how to deliver this in a stimulating way, ensuring the class learnt their topic.
Presentation, volume of information, use of pictures, pace of delivery, public speaking, statistics and video were all elements considered by students in completing their work successfully. The standard of the work produced this year was amongst the best we have seen and with reflection on the feedback from their teachers and peers, we look forward to even better results when we re-visit these skills later in the year. Well done Year 8.
On Friday, the week before last, a small group of Year 7 and 9 girls went with Ms Elliott to see author Sally Nicholls at Hele’s School. Sally’s book, Things a Bright Girl Can Do, is about the Suffragettes. The girls have been reading the book in our book club. The book has also been nominated for Plymstock School’s own book awards, ‘The Hogwards’.
Sally gave the students a brief talk about the courageous Suffragette movement and then they were able to ask questions about her writing. She spent time with the girls individually to sign their books and answer any further questions they had. The students and Ms Elliott had a brilliant time. A big thank you goes to Ms Elliott, Hele’s School and the Plymouth Library Service for arranging the opportunity. We also thank Mr Freeman for driving everyone there.
Our 8YBasel German class were very excited to receive letters from a school in Germany who use the textbook that Plymstock School is actually featured in. They have written replies that are now on the way to Germany. We are looking forward to the next package arriving. Here are some photos of the students with the letters they received, along with a selection of the letters they have written back in German.
Two of our teams – the Under 12 Boys and the Under 12 Girls Futsal Teams recently represented Plymouth in the Devon Futsal Finals held in Paignton. There was some really tough competition and the students had to play match after match with little rest in between. The girls only lost two games and ended up coming 3rd overall in Devon, and the boys finished fourth. For teams that had not been together for long, this is a really encouraging and positive performance, and will be the platform for even greater success next year.
Our recently formed Year 7 Netball Team have just had their first two matches. The students were a real credit to our school, and they put in an amazing performance winning both matches comfortably. The results were:
- Plymstock School 5 vs Plymouth High School for Girls 1
- Plymstock School 13 vs Stoke Damerel Community College 1
Well done girls – fantastic results.
It’s student of the week time and we start with four winners in the Sixth Form. Helena Brodie, Katie Pratt, Ryan Whitehead and Ellie Parsons have all won in recognition of their fantastic letters of application to participate in the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project. All four were successful and made their way to Poland to visit Auschwitz, braving temperatures of -20 degrees. It was a very powerful and poignant experience for them and they will be using what they learnt to work with our younger students over the coming months.
Our Year 11 student of the week is Hannah Taylor. It is for simply exemplifying the true spirit of Plymstock School. Hannah is very hard-working (on or above target in every subject), community spirited (as shown by Peer Mentoring of Year 7 students), and for being an accomplished sportsperson (as part of the exceptional Year 11 Netball team). Well done Hannah.
We have two winners in Year 10 – Ebony Cleaver and Katie Eakers. Both of these students have shown an outstanding effort and attitude in Health and Social Care. It is a new course for them in Year 10 and they have seriously impressed Mrs Dover with their work ethic (impressing Mrs Dover is never easy!).
Ed Beresford is our Year 9 student of the week. Ed is a valuable member of the Plymstock community who is involved in a wide variety of school activities, including the Student Senate. Ed always tries to do his best in lessons and frequently goes out of his way to be supportive to his peers.
Finally we reach our Year 7 student of the week. The winner is Scott George in recognition of his achievements and commitment to swimming – training both before and after school. On top of that Scott is a really kind, polite and friendly young man. Scott – you a good role model to all.