I start off this week with some good news. Plymstock School has just been awarded the AcSEED Accreditation for mental health and wellbeing – currently the only school in South West England to achieve this. Following an extensive review, the organisation concluded that Plymstock School meets the AcSEED criteria for emotional wellbeing and mental health support. This is still an area that we are developing in the school but are delighted to see this endorsement of our work so far. The review was particularly impressed with the following:
- Declaration of inclusive wellbeing ethos in school ‘core aims’.
- Excellent overview of available provisions is available on website: ‘Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing’.
- Use of Online MindEd training.
- School improvement plan, including wellbeing aims, available on website.
- Use of evidence from questionnaires to guide improvement plans.
- Young Carers and HMS Heroes groups.
- Wellbeing workshops on topics such as stress management and anxiety.
- Promotion of mental health events such as ‘Time to Change’.
- Parent forum.
- Good range of counselling options.
- Wide range of peer support opportunities.
- Range of options for counselling referral.
- Staff online training through MindEd.
- All staff taking key mental health modules through MindEd.
- Weekly staff Mindfulness sessions.
A huge thank you goes to Mrs Littler, our Mental Health lead, who has, and remains, instrumental in promoting positive mental health across the school.
Last week saw 13 of our GCSE French linguists take part in the Erasmus+ visit to Brest, France, as part of the ‘Ocean Citizens of the Future’ Project. The students set off on Sunday night, eager to meet up with their partner students at the Lycée de L’Iroise on Monday morning. Accompanied by Mr Downes and Ms Ziegler, the students were welcomed at the Lycée with a traditional Breton breakfast, before exploring their accommodation for the week and returning to school for some activities.
Tuesday saw the students carry out some exciting work experience in two of the project’s partner primary schools – Petit Paris and Jaquard. Our students had prepared some songs and rhymes, based on the theme of the sea, to teach to the primary children. The French students really enjoyed the activities and the staff were impressed with the professional way our students delivered the lesson.
After presenting to their partner students on Wednesday about the maritime features of Plymouth, our students followed their partners through a morning of lessons – French style! It was an eye-opening experience as lessons in France are rather different to what our young people experience at Plymstock. After lunch, they enjoyed a rather wet trip around Brest’s historical harbours, keeping the theme of the sea very much at the heart of the visit.
One of the absolute highlights of the visit was a trip to the hugely impressive Océanopolis, which is another partner of the project, along with our own National Marine Aquarium (NMA). Here the students learned all about the sea life around the coast of Brest and were able to compare this to what they had learnt during a preliminary visit to the NMA earlier in the month. The focus here was the differences and similarities between the two coastal regions.
Plymstock students are now very much looking forward to welcoming their exchange partners next month when they make their return visit. A big thank you goes to Mr Downes and Ms Ziegler who accompanied the students throughout. Below is a slideshow video of more highlights from the visit.
Sticking with the French theme – last week we were visited by staff and students from Collège René Cassin in Ernée, Normandy. Over 40 French students spent the morning with Plymstock School students in Year 8. They met each other in The Galley and got to ask each other questions about their likes and dislikes, followed by a game of a rounders. Despite the pouring rain it was a very successful morning. We also now have the opportunity to visit the school when our Year 7 students visit France later this year.
Over the weekend, 37 Plymstock School students undertook their practice Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition. It started early on Saturday morning, and despite the cold and windy weather, everyone was in high spirits for the walk ahead. Following a kit check, the students and staff headed out from Jennycliff and walked 9 miles, with full packs, towards their camp for the evening in Brixton. That evening the students engaged in a variety of activities, before an early rise and the walk back.
The students were absolutely brilliant and the external Duke of Edinburgh Assessor, said that they were one of the best groups he has yet seen. They were a real credit to the school. A huge thank you goes to all the staff (especially Ms Tyrrell’s outstanding organisation) who gave up their weekend to support the event, plus all the parents who forewent their Saturday morning lie in to get their children to Jennycliff bright and early.
On Wednesday this week, Plymstock School was visited by the Riding Lights Theatre Company.
Riding Lights is one of the UK’s most productive and long-established independent theatre companies. Founded in York over 30 years ago, partly through the initiative of a city-centre church, the company continues to take innovative, accessible theatre into all kinds of communities far and wide. Their aim is to create unforgettable, entertaining theatre in response to current issues and the hopes and fears of the world we share.
All of Year 9 were treated to a brilliant performance that focused on many contemporary issues such as politics, race, religion and discrimination. It was a fast-paced and high energy show with interwoven story lines. In light of the tragic events in Manchester this week, the themes were important to explore.
A great experience all round and a big thank you goes to Mark Oliver at the Plymstock Chapel and the Riding Lights Theatre Company for enabling this opportunity take place.
Also on Wednesday, a group of talented musicians in Years 7-9 got the opportunity to watch a concert by the Band of HM Royal Marines, Plymouth. This was a fantastic opportunity to see some of the world’s finest musicians playing live and all the students really enjoyed themselves. The concert featured well known pieces like the William Tell Overture, Defying Gravity from Wicked, Music from the James Bond Films and The Theme from the Pink Panther. They saw amazing soloists including one man playing a toilet(!) and the World Famous Corps of Drums astounded the audience with their precision stick drill. Our students, as ever, were impeccably behaved and described the concert as ‘amazing’ and ‘fantastic.’ Certainly a smashing time was had by all! I would also like to thank Mrs Lowe, Mrs Richards, Miss Hordern and Mr Adamson for their support in enabling the visit to take place.
This week some of the students in our French club said goodbye to Enora, our French Foreign Language Assistant, who has been with us since October 2016. We would like to say thank you for all the support she has given to our GCSE and A level students throughout this year. Younger students have also benefited from the experience of working in small groups with Enora to improve their speaking skills. We wish her all the best for next year as she embarks upon her teacher training course at Marjon University.
Our Year 7 student of the week is Courtney Hart. We have a number of students at the school who are talented boxers and Courtney is no exception. She has just been selected to compete in the final of the Championship School Girls’ Boxing competition in Manchester this weekend. Well done Courtney and the very best of luck.
Arina Creci is the Year 8 winner this week. Arina took a Year 6 student on a tour of the school at the end of last week. The accompanying member of staff said that she was amazing. She was really friendly and clearly understood how the Year 6 student would be feeling. Arina – you are a great advocate for our school.
Our Year 9 student of the week is Beau Edwards. She has been nominated for this for just being a wonderful, hard-working and extremely positive student. She’s a real credit to our school.
The Year 10 winner this week is Marcus Merrell-Jones. This is in recognition of his outstanding mock examination performance. It showed that Marcus had worked incredibly hard and bodes really well for next year. Well done Marcus – keep up the great work.
Finally, our Post-16 winner this week is Emily Norton. Emily is a great student who works hard and maintains a positive attitude. She recently achieved 96% in her controlled assessment in Criminology – a great achievement. We have also just discovered that Emily is quite the authority on Hamsters! When she was in Year 7, in a bid to get her parents to allow her to have a hamster, she produced a large ‘dossier’ of evidence and research (pictured), along with a YouTube video that has had a staggering 55,000 views!