For this week’s blog I’m going to take you all on a tour of some of the varied and exciting learning experiences that take place at Plymstock School on a typical day.
Our Year 7 students are now into their fifth week of studying a foreign language, building on the work from primary school. The group of students in this class were getting ready for their first verbal test in French. They had been learning phrases about themselves for homework and then, using a cooperative learning strategy, began a Q&A session with their shoulder partners. The students then peer-assessed each other on the quality, accuracy and fluency of their responses – all in French! It was very challenging (plus a good test of who had done their homework!) but the students really stepped up and tried their very best.
In Year 7 Ethics, Philosophy and Culture, the students were taking part in a photo analysis activity, using one of our cooperative learning strategies. The aim was to get the students to understand the wide variety of very different (and often quite strange to us in the UK) customs and cultures around the world. The students had to generate interesting questions about their images and then through discussion start to understand the origin and purpose of those customs. The room was buzzing with enthusiasm and amazement and about the sheer diversity of our planet.
Our new students have been getting to grips with ‘Google Classroom’. This is a blended learning platform developed by Google for schools, that enables the creation, distribution and assessment of student work in a paperless way. The students were engaged in ‘Improvement and Correction Time’, known as IaCT, which is our new marking/feedback approach in school which we introduced in September. It is designed to empower students to act on teacher feedback and move their own learning forward. In this lesson, students were learning how to write formal letters. The feedback from the students was that they love Google Classroom and were full of enthusiasm for the task at hand.
Then it was on to Year 7 Music. The students were learning to play the keyboard. The tune of choice was ‘What shall we do with a drunken sailor?’. The students had picked up the basics quickly and many were now advancing on to playing the tune with one hand, so they could then start building in a melody with their other hand.
In History, Year 9 students have been studying the USA in the 1920s and the reasons for the economic boom. Central to this, is the role of Henry Ford and his creation of the assembly line. In mass producing cars he showed the way for other consumer items to be mass produced and consequently become affordable to ordinary people, revolutionising our lives. Having studied the British Industrial Revolution in Year 8, the students were posed the question ‘Why has Britain declined and America replaced her as the world’s leading economic power?’. Taught in the style of the Apprentice TV show, students had to evolve and replicate Ford’s techniques through cooperation, industrial espionage and frantic hard work in eight, two minute rounds or be fired!
Our Post-16 Criminology students have been looking at campaigns for change. The students have been working in small groups and have each chosen something they feel really strongly about, structuring a campaign (including rationale and objectives) and producing supporting materials. It was great to see students choosing a number of national and even global issues, such as climate change, hunting, racism, hate crime and consent.
The Year 9 Design and Technology ‘curriculum in the workshop’ this year involves the students creating a concept for a national competition run through the Design Museum in London, called Design Ventura.
The Year 9 groups are at different stages of the process, with some in the creative stage, trying to come up with ingenious solutions to everyday problems, whilst other groups have reached the prototyping stage. These groups are using a variety of materials to create models to test out their ideas. Once the prototypes are made, the groups will start considering the target audience and where the product will be sold. A few of the unique and interesting ideas I heard about, included an adjustable picture frame to accommodate a wide variety of picture sizes and a hand-hold device for use on the London Underground that keeps you stable when the Tube is packed and no hand-hold poles/grips are free.
At the end of the process, one idea from each of the groups gets submitted to the Design Museum. If any of our students’ ideas are shortlisted, they will be invited to London to make their pitch. It is the first time we have entered this competition at Plymstock School but I am confident our students will do us proud.
It really is great to see our new Year 7 students embracing life at Plymstock School. Below is a photo of some of our Year 7 rugby players. These students are currently involved in ‘Central Venue Games’, playing against Coombe Dean School, Plympton Academy, Hele’s School and Devonport High School for Boys. We have over 30 players in Year 7 and we are the only school attending who have enough students for two teams! The boys now go on to play in the West Devon Tournament in November. Many thanks to Mr Steward and our five Year 11 Rugby Leaders for their support with the teams.
On Wednesday 22 November we will be holding our annual GCSE Awards Evening to celebrate the successes of last year’s Year 11 students. As you know – they brought in a fantastic set of GCSE results. Each year we invite a special guest to present the certificates/awards and address the students, parents and staff. This year we are absolutely delighted to be welcoming Kerry Bennett.
Kerry (age 33), who grew up in Plymouth (and actually went to school with Mrs Richardson in our Social Sciences department), is a pilot with the RAF, who has just been on the BBC show – Astronauts: Do you have what it takes? Kerry did exceptionally well throughout the gruelling process, and made it all the way to the final, which was shown on Sunday night.
After completing a Master’s degree in Geophysics, Kerry trained with the RAF as a fast jet pilot and now flies the RAF’s Air to Air refuelling aircraft in and out of warzones, including Iraq and Afghanistan. In her previous role as a VIP pilot, Kerry had the opportunity to fly Daniel Craig into Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.
We really look forward to welcoming Kerry to Plymstock School and hearing all about her experiences.
On Sunday last week we had a number of staff taking place in the Race for Life ‘Pretty Muddy’ event in Central Park. For those that aren’t familiar with it, it’s a 5km muddy obstacle course, involving scrambling A-frames and crawling through the mud pits. The purpose of the event, despite being great fun, is to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Below are before and after photos of three of our staff who took part – Miss Evans, Mrs Harris and Ms Offer. Well done.
One of our Science teachers, Mr Luscombe, is a very talented musician and outside of teaching he is in a local band called ‘Glass Curtain’. The group entered the ‘Plymouth Top Talent’ contest a few weeks ago and performed live on stage last weekend. They are now into the final three and voting is open (but closes at midnight on Friday). The winners will be performing live on Plymouth Hoe on bonfire night next month. We wish Glass Curtain the very best of luck.
To vote for Mr Luscombe’s group click HERE
It is student of the week time and our first nominee is Poppy Glass in Year 7. Poppy is this week’s winner for simply being a wonderful, positive and hard working student, who has settled in really well to Plymstock School. Her tutor, Miss Angevi, is full of praise for Poppy. Keep up the great work and well done.
Our Year 8 student of the week is Joe Taylor. Joe has been playing for Plymouth Marjons Hockey Club since the age of 4. His determination and hard work has been rewarded by being selected for the Under 14s Devon Hockey Squad. Joe was one of 20 boys to be selected across the county and he starts his first training session this weekend, a fantastic achievement especially considering he is still 12 years old!
Our Year 9 student of the week winner is Alex Roche. He has won it for delivering an absolutely brilliant presentation in Physics this week on the topic of renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. It was outstanding, impressing both the staff and fellow students. Well done Alex.
Jack Weekes is the Year 10 winner this week. Jack has really impressed on his new catering course. He has been very positive and incredibly hard working right from the start. An Environmental Health Officer was recently invited in as a guest speaker and Jack asked very thoughtful and insightful questions. In addition, Jack has also created his own cooking video on his YouTube channel for revision purposes. Keep up the great work Jack.
The Year 11 student of the week is Illora Brandt. She has been nominated for her outstanding effort, dedication and commitment to Computer Science. She has really impressed Mr Rogers (which is never easy!), not only with her attitude in class but out of school too with her home learning. Well done Illora.
Our Post-16 students of the week go to Andrew Hudson, Hamza Feisal and Ryan Whitehead who took part in the National Citizen Services Graduation Awards last week. This is a national project for 16/17 year olds to experience new activities, build skills and form a cohesive group to give back to their local community.
All three students took part in the three week programme during the summer holiday, which involved a week in Weymouth for team building and adventure activities. They were in a group of 15 other young people from across Plymouth. The second week they were based at Plymouth College where they not only took part in activities, but they had visits to Plymouth University and received talks to aid their understanding of the meaning of NCS and planning on giving back to their local community.
In the third week the boys took the lead within their group to build and create a pallet bench for the local ‘Help for Heroes’ garden. This took planning, motivation and organisation skills to the next level whilst having fun with their new friends. In that week they not only gave something for the charity to have in their garden but gave back their time to society. They raised money to buy some of the materials but through their determination they managed to gain things for free! All three students showed an aptitude for leadership and commitment to manage a huge project. They were highly credited by their Team Leader for what they achieved. Well done.