Tuesday, 10 October 2017

British alpine skier Anna Turney wows pupils on visit

Written by Holly, Year 8 student reporter

On Wednesday 27th September, Anna Turney visited Whitley Academy for a talk to our young pupils. We all knew it would be a day we would remember for a long time!


Anna started with a short introduction about her younger years, before the serious accident on the slopes of Yamagata in Japan in 2006. She grew up in Northampton, and when she was young, a popular snow dome was built. Anna had the opportunity to snowboard and enjoyed it massively.

However, the 2006 accident left her paralysed from the waist down. One day a friend of hers showed Anna a picture of a paralysed person skiing. She promised herself, no matter what, she would have a go at it. Anna wanted to prove that something bad might happen to anyone, nevertheless, it could result in new positive direction for that person’s life.

Then after one whole year, she was finally allowed to ski again and she did, on the anniversary of the crash. She stayed true to her word! 

"Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts"Dan Gable

After the shaky start of mono-skiing, Anna’s determination was known further afield, and she was invited to join the British Disabled Ski Team. In this new capacity of working with the best people in Great Britain, there were moments she doubted her ability, but she carried on. 

Thanks to the support of her coach, who continuously assured her that she had lots of potential, Anna put herself back on track for the next Paralympic games. It was ONLY two and a half years away!

"To be a good athlete, you need to train both your mind and your body."Anna Turney

In the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics she managed a sixth place in the slalom. It was fascinating to hear from Anna that in the two hours break awaiting the second run (there were two runs altogether), she phoned her brother and was advised  to push harder. Hence she did! Wow!

From her fascinating talk, we were then taken to the giant dining halls of the Paralympic Games: it was amazing to witness the massive cheering from everyone there when a winner came in (in various ways) with the medal proudly hanging round their neck.

She then went on to tell us about how she had achieved thirty-one European and World Cup medals!

In the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Anna qualified for the Sochi Games despite the fact she had to fight for her place in the Games. It’s her determination that has helped her all the way.

It was after this 2014 Paralympic Games that she realised the importance of setting one’s own BIG goals as well as SMALL goals and work towards them.

Anna shared with us how she has built up her support network, which has enabled her to achieve the unthinkable so far. Some of us might not naturally have a good support network, we can still build our support network from people working around us: our teachers, our school staff, and our friends.

Some other inspirational ideas we learned from Anna:

There are things you can’t control (In her case they were: what if she did not do well enough, how the press would report about her performances, if snow felt too heavily, what if her kits broke etc.). Do not worry about them. However, worry about things you can control (she could control how she would breathe whilst competing or control what she focused on).

We asked Anna if she ever had moments to doubt yourself.

“Yes of course. There are always moments of doubt as I tried to do better. Think about some ‘personal truce’ about yourself. It could be anything, for instance, ‘I am friendly’, ‘ I am dynamic’, ‘I am strong’. Have them displayed around you. It’s easy to forget good stuff about yourself.”

A Conversation with Anna

The second part of her visit was the conversation between Anna and the Year 7, 8 and 9 student reporters. 

We asked her questions about her childhood, teenage years and how she got to where she was now. Anna was very at ease to respond to our questions which resulted in more and more questions from us. 

We realised that Anna’s upbringing was just as ordinary as ours, being very close to both of her parents, she had rivalries between herself and her brothers (who later was her rock when she was recovering from the serious accident). 

There was a moment the whole audience shared their laughter with Anna when she was asked about her first ever ‘crush’ in her teenage years. The response circulated around a much older boy student called 'JT' who was in sixth form, whom she thought was gorgeous. In her giggling, Anna asked us to move on to another topic. We did!

The day ended with a very nice lunch in the School Conference. We all were very lucky to spend more time to be around Anna and reflected our thoughts on the day.

“Really good. I felt her story came across really well and she linked it to potential issues/struggles that students may face whilst at school.”Mr. Abbot

“Really enjoyed it. I found it inspirational and students were really engaged.”Miss Oakman

From Anna’s personal story, many of us have found it relates to our personal lives. She took us onto a journey starting with the spinal injuries to the sweet memories when she was a teenager in school (being silly in lessons, imitating birds’ singing whilst the English teacher was in the classroom). We all listened attentively to all of her advice.

I personally keep on thinking about her words that we should try not to worry, especially things we can’t control as it has been her weakness to worry too much.

Our MASSIVE THANKS to Anna for giving us all such an inspiring talk.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Monday, 2 October 2017

KS3 pupils commended at Celebration Evening

Written by Ellis, Year 8 student reporter

On Thursday the 28th of September, Whitley Academy hosted a Celebration Evening for Key Stage 3 pupils (new Year 8 and 9 this academic year).

6:00PM - The event started.

The Auditorium was packed with supporting parents, children and students. As the celebration started Mr Rex (our Principal) introduced the agenda of the evening.

The evening started with a great speech from Miss Rachel Sandby-Thomas, the current Registrar of Warwick University. She told the audience about her academic journey, including university days at St. Catharine’s College in Cambridge. 

Her background was in law. The audience was amazed to learn that Rachel used to work as an advisory lawyer for HM Revenue and Customs and other big government organisations. Wow! She also shared with us her passion in working with young people aiming to make a difference in their lives.

It’s now time for the rewards!

Mr Skelton read them out one by one, subject by subject. The room was filled with quietness as the first names were read out, then it was led by a massive round of applause to congratulate the winners. 

After the Year 8 rewards came the spectacular dance performed by Molly, Year 11 student. Molly used her whole body to depict the story line of the chosen music so well that she received massive applause from the audience.

Now it’s time for the second part of the evening.

The crowd re-gained the excitement and carried on clapping until the last name was read out. For Year 9 there was more subjects; hence the list of student nominees was longer. Every student got rewarded a £10 voucher and a stunningly designed certificate.

At the end of the very nice evening, it was time for refreshments! 

In the Canteen next door, the beautifully designed biscuits, frosted cakes, and fruit were on display for human consumption. It was much more than mouth-watering!

The refreshments were definitely the best because of the scrumptious chocolate cake and super relaxing oranges.

My excitement was out of this world but my Mum’s was even bigger as she kept smiling and cheering me throughout the evening.

Attending the Celebration Evening has made me realised even more what the school motto means to us all: ‘Be the best you can be’.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Whitley hosts European Languages Day

Written by Holly and Deborah, Year 8 student reporters

On Tuesday 26 September, Whitley Academy hosted 'European Languages Day' for Year 7, a day designed to introduce new language and culture to our pupils.

At the beginning of the day, we decided to visit Miss Williamson's class. Pupils were matching up countries to their capital cities, everybody was raising their hands eagerly to answer questions. 

In Mr Haxby’s classroom, pupils were matching celebrities to the languages they could speak. Of course the focus was about European languages.

In Mr Purslow’s lesson, an interesting short clip about the European Union and its countries were shown to pupils.

Then we paid a short visit to Miss Williamson's class again to witness an engaging group discussion between the teacher and the whole class.

The reflection of the Day…

Some pupils were asked what they thought, most said it was interesting, great and fun. Others said it was different and helped them find out about new cultures. One said they loved their big new school, Whitley Academy, a lot.

Miss Williamson and Mr Haxby commented that students engaged in new activities and enjoyed learning about different cultures. Also there were lots of great activities to participate in and discuss.

And then it was the end of the day!

Thank you for reading our blog.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

‒Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A morning of sport for Year 11

Written by Melissa, Year 9 student reporter

On Friday 22nd September 2017, AP Racing (a local engineering company) along with Wasps Community and Vibe, visited Whitley Academy to run engineering based activities through sports for our Year 11 pupils.

It was a rather chilly morning, as our breath was visible whist we spoke. It was a day of autumnal equinox in Coventry after all.

The Year 11 boys were outside on our rugby pitch learning some rugby skills and trying some strength building activities. The girls were in the gym doing some Zumba. For your information, Zumba is an aerobic fitness programme featuring body movements usually accompanied by backing music. When the music was on, everyone followed the instructor's words and started moving.

Back to the boys, who were working with the Wasps Community team and Paul Sackey (ex England and Harlequins professional).

All students looked very smart in their PE kits and football boots. Everyone showed their eagerness, listening to the professionals for the best tactics in playing rugby. It was fascinating to see how competitive each Year 11 boy was when it was time for the ‘test of strength’. 

Laughter was everywhere, and more amazingly, above the sky the sun was shining beautifully. 

Slowly I realised that the aim of the morning was to show Year 11 pupils how a simple activity could reduce their stress, especially with mock exams creeping around the corner, and after that their GCSE exams.

After break time, the next group of Year 11s were to have their session.

One instructor told me;

“I really enjoy helping the Year 11 students, especially overcoming the stress of exams. Zumba helps to release that negative energy.”

The rugby session had exactly the same purpose, making sure students enjoyed something physically competitive, focusing on team work. The coaches were very tough, shouting as if the students were taking part in a real rugby match. 

Overall, I felt the students:

  • Enjoyed physical activities to help de-stress.
  • Enjoyed taking time away from normal lessons amidst the stress of exams.
  • Improve their mental health and strength without them realising.

Mrs Morgan, our Vice Principal, shared her thoughts: 

“I think it’s great for smaller local businesses to engage with us as a school and ensure students are exposed to different career opportunities. It’s also great to encourage older students to continue to participate in sports.”

Thank you to AP Racing, VIBE fitness and Wasps Community rugby team for the amazing morning!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Parents and pupils visit for Open Evening

Written by Chase and Melissa, student reporters

On Thursday 14th September, Whitley Academy welcomed parents and pupils into the school for Open Evening.

Starting at 6pm, Mr Rex the Principal welcomed our visitors, and talked about what Whitley Academy had achieved over the years, especially the GCSE and A-level results in the last academic year 2016-2017.

Mr Downing, the Chair of Governors, shared his experience as a parent of his three children and how he felt secure to send his children to our school. He was very down to earth and the audience listened attentively to his short stories.

Afterwards, Miss Bloom (our Vice-Principal) talked about the school’s expectations for new Year 7 pupils and a variety of enrichment activities students could take part in. Sitting amongst the audience were the student reporters (the new Year 7 pupils are welcome to join the student reporters as early as they wish) who got the mention in Miss Bloom’s talk. They surely felt very proud of their hard work.

Then parents (and of course future Whitley Academy pupils) were invited to explore the school.

Walking around the school you could see each department had a room full of activities and books from the finest of our students.

Miss Allen and Mrs Stanbrook lead a classroom about our RSA 8 programme. It was largely to do with charities.

The English and Maths departments prepared games about the subjects so visitors could get a feel for some Whitley learning. The Science department was up to some shocking experiments. Mr Eborall was demonstrating the amazing Van der Graaf electrostatic generator. For your information, it creates static electricity and, if you want to have a go at it, it does make your hair stand up! 

Many children gathered around the generator having fun giving their parents an electric shock! There were also plenty of other scientific activities around the room.

In Geography, Miss Ward was leading an activity to match the food to their origins. In History, Miss Wright had an activity to design your own crest for your family. How cool!

All the Opening Minds classrooms had different team building games. This was to make sure the visitors could get an understanding of our Opening Minds curriculum. 

In the Learning Resource Centre, Mrs Nguyen and the student reporters were hosting a series of activities and explaining how hard the student reporters work. Some of the reporters enjoyed playing the giant tower block games with the visiting children.

In Catering, Miss Stones and the other staff members were showcasing the students’ cooking, and an amazing lentil curry.

On the third floor in Drama department, Mr Samuels got super creative with an interactive production. Everyone who got involved, evolved the showcase into something completely creative in their own way!

In Arts, Miss Bradshaw was showcasing the Whitley Arts programme. This also included the journey from Year 7 to 11 and how the students’ works have been evolved and improved over the years. We all loved it!

Walking along the corridors of different floors you could see the smiley faces of parents and the laughter of the children around. Everyone must have shared a fantastic time with a part of Whitley in their hearts.

Our MASSIVE THANKS to all of our dedicated staff and teachers who have spent countless hours to stay behind to help make this Open Evening “THE BEST IT COULD BE”!  

Friday, 25 August 2017

Congratulations to Year 11 students on completing more terminal exams than ever before

Congratulations to all our Year 11 students who have completed more terminal exams than ever before. In English 68% achieved level 4 or above and in Maths 64%. Significant numbers of students achieved 7-9 (Grade A/A* equivalents) in both subjects.

There were some fantastic individual results with 12 students getting 5 A*/A or more.

Julia Lubiszewska achieved  a 9 in Maths, an 8 in English Literature, A*’s in core Science and Additional Science, an A* in Further Maths, and an A in Art.

Katie Yuan achieved the best ever results by a Whitley Academy Student, with 9’s in English Language and Literature, a 9 in Maths, a A^ (higher than A*) in further maths, and A*’s in all her other subjects apart from French which was a A. She also achieved full marks in Art.