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What’s New? School News


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What’s New? School News

Business breakfasts, West End stars and UK Top 40 success make the headlines this half-term

Daunstey’s, Wiltshire

Part of the group who ran over 867 miles for charity

A team of 95 Sixth Form pupils and five staff from Dauntsey’s has completed a 24-hour Runathon to raise money for the School’s chosen charity for 2019, The Jemima Layzell Trust, which helps fund the provision of care for young people suffering brain injuries. 

Some 867 miles were run over a total of 2,242 laps of the running course, raising more than £1,500 in sponsorship. Special mention must go to the five pupils who completed 68 laps, meaning they ran more than a marathon, as well as a further 19 pupils who ran more than half a marathon.

Jane Hubbard, Head of Charities, Dauntsey’s, said: ‘The Runathon has become an annual fixture in our fundraising campaign and this year the pupils and staff surpassed themselves by completing more than 2,000 laps of the course.’

‘Thanks must go to all the – now exhausted! – runners and to the pupils and staff who cheered on the runners and counted laps for the 24-hour period, braving the cold night time supervision slots with good humour and enthusiasm.’

Chafyn Grove, Wiltshire

The children at Chafyn Grove school chilling out

In the week before half term, Chafyn Grove had a ‘Wellbeing Week’. The school spent time, in various different guises, teaching the children to look after their wellbeing, and helping them build and learn the tools to do it.  Embedding it into our curriculum is the goal, and so having a wellbeing week meant that the school actively considered how to support the mental health of children at the school. James Shone (I Can and I Am) inspired the children with his personal story and his passion about self-worth in all children.

Steph Collins, an Olympian, came in to speak to the children about fitness and having a growth mindset, and Victoria Whittley gave a powerful talk about mental health and peoples’ responsibilities to each other. Throughout the week, staff spoke to the children about various ways to maintain their wellbeing, and from slippers to yoga, it seems all the children really benefitted from speaking openly and frankly about how important it is to look after themselves, and of course, each other.

Rockport School, Holywood

Paul Brannigan, BlueMac Manufacturing (centre) and Rockport Sixth Form students

Rockport School recently held a Business Breakfast as part of their Enrichment Programme.  The Enrichment Programme supports students in terms of achieving not only exceptional A-level grades but also offers support and guidance in gaining valuable skills that will help them to stand out from the crowd. 

Alongside dedicated UCAS and careers sessions, short language courses in Arabic for example, the Business Breakfasts provide an exceptional opportunity to gain confidence in business-type scenarios and develop networking skills.

Fifteen businesses from across Northern Ireland attended the event, including top Wealth & Investment firm, Investec Wealth Management, Ulster Rugby, Ulster University, SERC and McKeowns Solicitors.

The event was a great success with very positive feedback from guests, students and staff. The key address was delivered by Mr Paul Brannigan, BlueMac Manufacturing, who said of the event:

“I was really impressed with all of the students and it was great to hear that some of them secured work experience opportunities and made valuable connections as a direct result. Networking is a really useful tool that nobody ever teaches you, so for Rockport to be proactively providing this opportunity for their students is brilliant and something the students will use throughout their career.’

I thought the event was a great opportunity for us to engage and make important connections with a range of business representatives. I really enjoyed Paul Brannigan’s speech, hearing about his line of work and the individual opportunities and advantages that are available after we leave school. It definitely gave me and my fellow students the chance to broaden our horizons and think about ‘knocking on the door of opportunity.

William Linley, a Sixth Form Student at Rockport School

Saint Felix, Suffolk

Guest judges James Powell and Sarah Keeton

On Thursday evening, pupils from the Senior Department aged between 11 and 18 from each of the four houses took to the stage in front of seasoned West End professionals shortly before half-term for their annual ‘House Shout’. Performing as individuals, in small groups and in a whole-house choreographed singing performance, the judges awarded each act points, with the prestigious trophy awarded to the house with most points at the end of the evening. 

Guest judges Sarah Keeton and James Powell, both experienced musical theatre professionals, awarded scores to all performances, which this year followed the theme of ‘musicals’. 

Sarah has performed in the West End and on national tours in a large number of musicals including Mary Poppins, Anything Goes, Chicago, Cats, Evita and Me & My Girl. She is also a dance teacher, leading specialist workshops across the country and at Mountview Theatre Academy. 

Fellow adjudicator James Powell was an actor for twelve years before taking over as Resident Director of Les Misérables at the Palace Theatre London. He has also directed touring performances in the UK and around the world, including Olivier award-winning Singin’ in the Rain.

Best solo performance was awarded to Year 13 student Jess Brown, for a haunting rendition of ‘Memory’ from the Lloyd-Webber musical Cats. Kitty-May Hayes, Year 10, and Hollie Heil, Year 11, performed ‘Waving through a window’ from the Broadway smash Dear Evan Hansen to take home the Best Ensemble award. 

The grand finale saw all Senior Department pupils performing with their houses, where Rowell House were deemed winners for an energetic rendition of ‘The Time Warp’ from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Rowell House were subsequently declared overall winners for the first time in ten years. 

Speaking after the show, judge Sarah Keeton said ‘We were blown away by the level of talent on the stage tonight. For a non-specialist performing arts school, we were amazed at the professionalism shown by all of the pupils in their performances.’

I am very proud of all of our students tonight. We place great emphasis on the importance of the arts to an all-round education, and it is fantastic to see youngsters across a range of ages having such fun on stage together. We are lucky to have a number of exceptionally talented singers and musicians at Saint Felix, who are ably supported by a dedicated team of teachers and we are very grateful to our guest judges for coming tonight to give us the benefit of their professional experience.

Headmaster of Saint Felix, James Harrison

Music and Drama are available to all students throughout the school as extra-curricular activities and at GCSE and A Level.  Scholarships are available for entry from the age nine through to the Sixth Form.

Newham Sixth Form College, East London

Martin and Dennis studied at NewVIc and now form the Afrobeats group, NSG

Afrobeats group NSG (New Sound Group), two of whom studied Level 3 Music Technology at NewVIc and graduated in 2015, have reached number seven in the UK Top 40 charts with their hit music track ‘Options’ featuring Tion Wayne.

The Hackney crew are also at number six in the UK MTV Urban Top 20 and have already received 6,000,000 views for their track. The crew is made up of rappers and producers Papii Abz, Kruddz, OGD, Mojo, Mxjib and Dope. Martin and Dennis are NewVIc grads.

NSG’s distinctive sound has taken the energy of grime and pushed it into Afrobeats. Afrobeats has risen in popularity in the UK over recent years; a fast, melodic sound close to the dance craze-causing scene popularised in Ghana and Nigeria. The group and have been described as one of the best live acts in the scene.  Known for taking over the stage with crazy, amped up performances, grabbing the mic from one another, pulling dance moves and flying through their hits.

The group debuted in 2013 whilst Martin and Dennis were students at NewVIc, juggling their careers alongside their studies. Both Martin and Dennis successfully completed their courses with merit grades. They managed their studies and careers very well and not let it get in the way of their education.

Martin and Dennis always had a cheeky grin and a good ear for a catchy Afrobeat groove whilst working in the college studios. The musician’s tutors, myself, Gabriel Armstrong and DJ/producer Femi Akinyemi, distinctly remember negotiating sound checks and rehearsals with the pair, as they balanced college performances and music production work with late night gigs across London and long weekends making music videos with their crew… Distracting, but clearly they were headed to big things in the music industry. We are so proud of their hard work, resilience and passion for creative work. It is amazing to hear their sound and urban flavoured videos in the Top 20 and Top 40. Congratulations and here’s to a long career in the industry. We look forward to them popping back to inspire the new generation at NewVIc.

John Crockford, Programme Manager for Visual and Performing Arts

Dunottar School, Surrey

Left to right: Daniel Wilkinson, Nicky Dunderdale and Ian Ballantyne

In February, Dunottar School hosted its first ever Digital Careers Evening. The Reigate-based school welcomed visitors from Amazon, Psyon, Jellyfish and Google who talked about their experiences in the technology industry.

The evening was part of a programme of lunchtime networking events and evening subject-specific events, which aim to broaden pupils’ horizons by hearing from industry experts and learning about career opportunities.

The Digital Careers Evening, which explored routes into IT careers, provided a 150-strong audience of pupils and parents with the opportunity to quiz the speakers about their career pathways.

Jason Taylor, Software Development Manager at Amazon, runs a team that looks after the prime video websites in each territory, aiming to keep each respective website running smoothly in each country, no matter how busy it is. He entertained his listeners with insights into how he worked his way up into a senior management level position at Amazon.

Dunottar also welcomed former Dunottar student Nicky Dunderdale, Director of Digital at Psyon, a technology, analytics and wellbeing team dedicated to transforming customer experience of employee benefits. Passionate about inclusivity in STEM, she sits on the #techshecan Improving Education Steering Group. She also talked about her mentoring sessions with students in the Reigate area, in which she helps them to find out more about the diverse range of careers in technology.

She was followed by Daniel Wilkinson, Head of Paid Media and award-winning senior digital marketeer at Jellyfish, a digital marketing agency. Former international ballroom dancer Daniel believes that success is 90% hard work, 5% luck and 5% academic attainment. He provided a fascinating insight into the different routes into ‘tech’ that require a balance between academic attributes and the personal attributes of being a collaborative, creative, solutions-focused person.

Finally, guest speaker Ian Ballantyne, who works at Google, talked about his career as a Developer Advocate (someone who helps other developers to understand technology). He works as part of the Ads Developer Relations team and helps Google partners provide scalable digital advertising to millions of small to medium businesses. He gave his listeners advice about what he would tell his past self, thinking about careers in the year 2000: technology can improve our lives and achieve the unimaginable.

Rachel Wilshaw, Head of Careers at Dunottar School, said: ‘The purpose of the evening was to help pupils understand that jobs that will exist in five, ten and twenty years’ time don’t necessarily exist yet.’

‘What is important is that pupils develop their skillset and foster a positive work ethic. They need to demonstrate open-mindedness and a hard-working attitude—these character traits will help them to achieve their aspirations.’

READ MORE: The Ones to Watch: Young Adult Fiction 2019 | Is Music an Important School Subject

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