Thursday, 20 October 2016

Barclay's 'Life Skills' tuition popular with Year 9 pupils

On Thursday 13th October, Year 9 pupils took part in workshops delivered by a Barclay's 'Life Skills' team, focussing on overcoming challenges, body language, and behaviour for work. Our students made fantastic contributions to the workshop throughout the day, and the Barclay's facilitators were impressed with both their knowledge and maturity.

On Thursday 20th October, the 'Life Skills' team will be back to deliver a CV workshop to our Year 10 year group.

These sessions continue to be very valuable to our pupils and aim to give them the best preparation possible ahead of key decisions in Year 11.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Whitley pupils tour the battlefields of Ypres

Written By Melissa O’Brien (student reporter), Ms Wright and Ms Ward

Ypres, 23rd - 26th September 2016

It was quarter past four in the morning and twenty students were about to set off for Belgium. Everyone was tired and some quickly fell asleep as we set off. Three hours later we arrived at the Shuttle. When we were on the tunnel we were allowed to get off the coach and look through the windows. We arrived in France an hour and a half later but had only been travelling 30 minutes - the time zone had changed.

Essex farm was our first stop. The cemetery was fairly colourful, lime scale grave stones and red poppies glistened in the afternoon. Miss Wright (our resident cemetery expert!) told us to find a particular gravestone. The gravestone said V.J Sturdwick. He had lied about his age, joined the army and died aged at just 15 years old!

In the evening we walked into the city centre.  As I was walking I was taking photos of the amazing scenery! We were given time to explore the town square. Of course I went straight to the chocolate shop. The man in the shop noticed we were Whitley Academy students and we got a special offer!

At 8:00AM on Saturday we heard a loud knock at the door. It was Miss Ward who is very lively in the mornings and expected us to be too. At 8:30am we went down for breakfast and they had such a wide variety; pain au chocolat, fruit and much more. After breakfast we visited the Flanders Field Museum.  This gave us lots of background information into the different events that happened in Ypres during the First World War. The videos told us stories about people who participated in the war.

Our first stop of the afternoon was a cemetery. Miss Wright told us again to find a grave. This cemetery was full of soldiers but we were looking for Nelly Spindler. She was a staff nurse who was buried with the soldiers. We went on to Hill 60 where Mr Newel told us about a World War One memorial which had bullet holes in it as this area had experienced fighting during the Second World War too.

After this we went to the death cells where soldiers who had deserted the trenches were sentenced to death. We learnt how most of these soldiers would have been very ill from their experiences in the trenches and today would get hospital treatment instead.

In the evening we went into Ypres again. This time to the world famous Menin Gate as it began to darken. The gate was lit up and we observed the daily service that takes place to remember those who died. The service was 20 minutes of pure peace and remembrance. Each day they read out the name of one soldier who died. It will take 150 years for them to read out every soldier’s name.

On Sunday we went to visit the trenches in the Somme.  They were very interesting and we heard lots of stories about the events of July 1916. We visited the Newfoundland Memorial Park which is owned by Canada.  The Canadians had purchased the site so that it could be kept as a permanent memorial site and it is run by students who told us why the site is important.

At Newfoundland Memorial Park you can see both the British and the German trenches. In no man’s land between the lines of trenches you can see all the holes made by the shells.  We learnt that the British and German trenches were the same the only difference was that the Germans were deeper. This had advantages and disadvantages.

After lunch we went to Thiepval Memorial where wreaths of poppies are left by visitors. Each wreath had its own message.  On the memorial it lists the names of the over 70, 000 British soldiers who went missing during the war and have not yet been found.

In the evening we got the opportunity to see how army uniforms and army medical treatment has changed over the years.  Some of us got to dress up and pretend to be injured soldiers.  The teachers then surprised us with some drinks and snacks as a last night treat.

On Monday morning we visited the German cemeteries. Compared with the British cemeteries we had visited, they were dull and lifeless. It was interesting how they were just stone, all randomly cut up. They are not cared for as much as the British ones. It was ironic how we heard church bells, which broke up the deathly silence.

We visited one last British cemetery before heading home. This one was particularly special as it contains the soldiers from Coventry who died in the war. We found the grave that belongs to Anthony Ward. He used to live at 29 London Road, Coventry, not far from our school. We then began the 8 and a half hour journey home. However the traffic wasn’t bad and we arrived back at our school two hours early at 5:30 PM!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Year 7 enjoy Modern Foreign Languages Day

Written by Brandon Ash and Daizy Taroni – Year 8 

On Friday 26th September, Year 7 pupils were plunged into a mass tidal wave of European Languages. All students had a special assembly, absorbing pieces of new cultures into their brains and squeezing it out throughout the lessons.

The students explored the exciting world of languages, doing fun activities and co-operating very well with their new teachers.

Brandon and Daizy (student reporters) even got the chance to take some photos and go round to different classes to see what students were doing (it was really cool!). They felt special with a nice camera around their neck and a notepad to go around classrooms to take notes of the exciting activities in different rooms.

In some classrooms, students got together in small groups and questioned why learning a modern foreign language is important. It was so LOUD that you could imagine a thousand lions were kept in a massive cage and all were awake!!!

In other classes students did games, and quizzes on general knowledge of some European countries.

Some small groups were given specific time to go around the school looking for staff members with BIG badges. Their task was to look for information to fill in their worksheets as correctly and fast as they could. The groups with the most correct answers won the competition.

The day ended on a very high note with students’ happy faces. Everyone experienced a day meeting new faces and tasted exciting activities. It’s a day we will remember for a long while.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Whitley celebrates KS3 pupil successes

On Thursday 29th September, Whitley Academy enjoyed celebrating the success of current Year 8 and Year 9 students. Awards were given to students which reflected their academic progress, attitude to learning and resilience in subjects.

This year also saw awards given for student leadership skills, contributions to the RSA events, contribution to school life, and creative attributes. The staff at Whitley are very proud of the students and their success, and hope that this continues for the rest of the academic year.

Whitley Academy would also like to say a big thank you to parents who attended the event.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Blues festival of the year!

For the second year in a row, Whitley Academy students have participated in music workshops through the  Upton blues festival.  Professional blues musicians have come to the school to lead workshops and prepare the students for performances. Alongside students from the other RSA Academies' with the students actually performing this year on the main stage  of the festival. 

We are also excited to announce that, for the second year running, The Upton Blues Festival has been named Blues Festival of the year by the British Blues Awards. 

It must be that Whitley influence!

A student directed documentary of the blues project is coming soon!

For more information about the Blues Festival please click here
Our last Whitley news item with photos relating to this can be found here

Whitley pupils quiz Mark Carney in BBC live broadcast

On Friday 16th September, Whitley hosted the visit of Mark Carney (Governor of the Bank of England) in a live BBC television event. This was an invaluable experience for our students, who were given the chance to observe the BBC live production team, work with BBC reporters and presenters, and quiz Mark Carney on issues impacting their families locally.

The Day the Governor Came to Whitley

Written by Duncan, Melissa, Divya and Eliana - Year 8 & Year 10 Student Reporters

The day had arrived! Outside the weather turned a bit cooler than yesterday, Thursday 15 September was the hottest September Day for a long time.

We all arrived at school much earlier than usual to get prepared for the arrival of Mark Carney. For the whole week before his arrival we did some research about him and watched the BBC News to get ready for the event. We all were extremely excited (and of course nervous). Mr Steinhaus, Mr Price and Mrs Nguyen (our main teachers who organised the event) must have felt the same.

Josie from the BBC School Reporters came to help us out the day before. It was really amazing to see how much preparation needed to be done before Mark Carney’s arrival. We knew there were questions sent to us from BBC School Reporters around the country, and finally 18 questions were chosen for us to ask.

In the Auditorium, we were told that Mark Carney had trouble getting to Coventry because the train he was on was derailed. It took him a bit more time to come to our school. We were given extra time to think about the questions and of course some more … cookies.

9:45am - We went into the auditorium and waited for 10 minutes before Mark Carney arrived at our school. Minutes before going live Paul (the floor manager) told us when he waved we needed to clap our hands. It was unbelievable to see all the equipment the BBC staff had to arrange for a live television event. They came to our school at 6 am this morning! Wow!

Tina Daheley, BBC Presenter, introduces Mark Carney to an excited Whitley Academy audience. 

Then Paul counted …five…four…three…two …one! It’s live now.

As we went live it was hard to keep yourself under control. No sneezing, talking or yawning. Of course you had to switch your mobile phone off completely!


It was quite nerve-racking when Tina Daheley (the BBC presenter for BBC Crime Watch) started talking because once we went live there was no going back.

As Mark walked in we applauded him. He gave us a short speech about the journey to come to Coventry (there was a landslide in Watford Junction), the UK economy, what the Bank of England does, and how he came to be who he is today.

I (Melissa), asked him a questions about his childhood nickname. He told us that he used to be called “Carnage” and “Carnival” because his last name was Carney. He was quite relaxed to answer my question. I found it interesting to know that he preferred the nickname Carnage. So would I if I were him!

Once you put aside the technical difficulties, everything ran smoothly. I even managed to sit in the same chair that he sat in during the live event!

After the live talk with Mark Carney we headed back to the Learning Resource Centre, which was transformed into our base for the day, and had a little talk with Kamal Ahmed. We sometimes see Kamal on BBC News and now we could talk to him in person. How cool!

The way how he interacted with us made us feel comfortable and confident to ask him many questions. Joe (our Year 10 reporter) was busy with the filming so that we could have a look at the video and learn more later.

Some of the questions included:
  • “How did you become a journalist?”
  • “Is your job hard?” 
  • “How would your past self react to the job you have now?”
  • “What do you do in your free time, as you are quite a busy person?”
Kamal talked about how he came from a state school education and when he was 16 he had no idea of what he wanted to do in the future. By taking the opportunities that were given to him along the way he managed to end up with the job he has now.

After studying in university he chose to start print journalism from the bottom and work his way up. By doing this he had the opportunity to gain more experience and even told us some of his stories about the small articles he wrote – one of them being a report in 1990 on how the new phones which had the internet were going to replace newspapers. Wow!

Through Kamal’s talk we learned that you need to have a passion for the job you want to do and take the opportunities that come your way. How true!
Our reflection after the visit of Mark Carney.
  • William (Year 9 reporter): “ Never give up and always follow your dreams!
  • Joe (Year 9): “You need to be passionate in what you are doing in order to succeed.”
  • Melissa (aged 12): “ If a normal Canadian can be the Governor of the Bank of England, then anything is possible”. 
  • Kian (aged 13): “No matter where you come from or how much your parents earn, you can do anything if you put the effort in it.”
  • Divya (14 years old): “Despite being from a  low income family, it’s up to me to decide how my future will go and we all need to take every opportunity that comes my way because I never know where that could take me to”.
Going into the BIG INTERVIEW, we didn’t know how Mark Carney would relate to us. However; after meeting him and hearing about his life, we at Whitley have learnt so much.

We hope to interview many more inspiring and influential people that help to shape our futures.

The event was broadcast live on the BBC's 'Victoria Derbyshire' programme, and is available to view here -

Kamal Ahmed, Economics Editor for the BBC, reported on the event, which is viewable here -