Friday, 22 May 2015

Mrs Allen collects her OBE

Mrs Lorraine Allen OBE, Principal of Whitley Academy was invited to Buckingham Palace to collect her OBE for ‘Services to Education’ on Friday 15th May 2015 from Prince Charles.
Mrs Allen joined Whitley Academy in 2004, at this time the school was in financial deficit and with a cohort of 746 was experiencing falling rolls. Mrs Allen led a crusade, supported by the governing body, for greater autonomy and sustainable viability, firstly by becoming a Specialist College in 2007 and then a Foundation School in 2008. Academy conversion was achieved in July 2011.
Today the school’s student population has grown and it is over-subscribed for new admissions. It is using surplus funds, the majority of which are generated by the school itself and mostly from Mrs Allen’s work as a National Leader of Education, to complete a new Sports Hall, expand classroom capacity, drive teaching and leadership development and enrich the curriculum. Over the last four years the school has spent over £1.0m on these improvements which will be an enduring tribute to Mrs Allen’s dedication to the school.
Under Mrs Allen’s direction Whitley Academy achieved an “Outstanding” Ofsted judgement in 2010 and again in December 2013.  Ofsted praised Mrs Allen personally saying:
  • “The Principal, who is a National Leader of Education, provides very determined leadership, promoting a clear focus on continual improvement, including the sixth-form.  She drives school improvement with a clearly articulated vision for the future”. 
  • The academy has a strong commitment to working with and supporting other schools”.
  • “The Principal is a National Leader of Education (NLE) who is working in partnership with other schools in the region offering support and challenge towards school improvement”.
Mrs Allen’s passion for the equality of opportunity for every child,  and her unwavering commitment to enhancing students' life chances through education have enabled an unquantifiable number of young people to fulfil and exceed their potential, both at Whitley Academy and through her work supporting under achieving schools as a National Leader of Education.  Over the past 8 years she has supported 16 schools, most of which have improved from near Ofsted Category to Good or Outstanding.  She is always extremely modest about her enormous contribution, but she does make things happen for students and for the better. Mrs Allen’s “Service to Education” is exemplary and worthy of this recognition.

This article can be viewed in the Coventry Telegraph here

Friday, 15 May 2015

Japan Day


Origami, Calligraphy, Teriyaki, Sumo, Kendo – you name it, we had it… and all in a very Japanese way tocelebrate Whitley Academy’s second Japan Day on May 15th 2015. Teachers and pupils worked together to produce some wonderful work which is now showcased in the school and on our website; the day started with an assembly to highlight the importance of the link between Whitley Academy and the Kamokita High School in Coventry’s twin city of Hiroshima. The Japan Day for Year 8 also complimented the inaugural visit from the Japanese school to Coventry which took place in November last year, where 50 Japanese students were hosted by Whitley and experienced the very best in UK hospitality, as well as a visit to our beautiful and historic city centre.
Our Japan Day progressed last Friday with more experiences of creating artwork and reflecting on the similarities and differences in our two cultures as well as appreciating what a traditional school day would look like for a student in another country. From Geography to Catering; from Art to PE, the day culminated in a showcase of the excellent work produced and an opportunity for confident and brave students to share their experiences with their peers holding aloft examples of their hard work.

We are looking forward to welcoming the Kamokita High School again in November 2015 and students from current Year 8 will be their hosts; many thanks to all staff involved, to the student reporters and to Year 8 who worked extremely well and showed respect maturity and an understanding of another culture in a purposeful way.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Whitley Students Visit Houses of Parliament and Tower of London

Coventry Telegraph Article - View.
By Abigail Rodgers and Emma Smith of 7D  
On Friday 8th May 2015 a big group of 29 student reporters got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London. Three of us were unable to make it for the trip. However it will be very exciting for us to learn about the Houses of Parliament, especially after on the day after the general election.
It was an early start and we had to be at Coventry train station at 7:30am.
Outside the weather was very nice with light wind and sunshine. Everyone was very excited and we talked non-stop on the Virgin train journey from Coventry to Euston.
9:15am We arrived at London Euston train station and had to catch the London underground to the Portcullis building. It was the first time for many of us to travel to London, let alone the Portcullis House.
9:40am We lined up outside Portcullis House waiting to go through security. All of our three teachers (Mrs Nguyen, Mrs Stanbrook and Mr Allen) had to go through proper body searches as they had cameras and their belongings with them.
10:00am We were divided into two smaller groups and started the tour.
We spent a few short minutes looking around the ground floor and ceiling of Portcullis House. It looked like a ship with very nice and curvy glass ceilings. Through the glass ceiling we could see quite a number of very high chimneys. Later on we found these chimneys function as an unpowered air conditioning system for the building. Wow!
There were many MPs walking back and forth.
We were then taken to Westminster Hall by two very nice and friendly staff members of the Educational Service. All of us were astonished to know more than 600 tonnes of wood was used to create the roof beam of the Hall!
Then onward to the Central Lobby, the Commons Chamber and the Lords’ Chamber.
There were many facts for us to take in and we all listened to the two Education Service staff members attentively. Some facts were shared including the government in power sit at the right hand side of the Speaker and the opposition sits at the other side of the room. We were also shown the ‘Despatch box’ (rectangle shape with light yellow colour) where the Ministers or the Prime Minister stand and make their speeches. On the other side of the Despatch box there is a similar box and it was called ‘the Opposition Despatch box’.
Jonathan of 7A asked a question about the big green chair positioned opposite the Speaker’s chair (but at the other end of the Commons Chamber). We were told that it’s the Serjeant at Arms’ chair (who is there to represent the authority of the Speaker). The floor above the MPs’ chairs include the Press and the public galleries.
All benches were green.
We were then taken to the Lords’ Chamber where we stared at the Woolsack  - it is the seat of the Lord Speaker. We then found out that it was stuffed with wool brought from around the Commonwealth.
We found the similar ‘Despatch box’ on the large table in the red and it was so amazing to see the golden throne where the Queen sits when she does her speech once a year for the State Opening of Parliament.
After the very detailed tour we went back to Westminster Hall and had a workshop about elections and voting. We were very privileged to have the workshop with Dawn in the nice room on the left-hand-side of the Westminster Hall.
Dawn talked to us about writing our own manifestos and how to present it to our fellow student reporters. Then came the voting time! And the result was: Khalid of 7B – the Prime Minister, Oliver of 8A – the Deputy Prime Minister, and Corey of 7D – the Chancellor of the Exchequer!
12:05 We left Portcullis House to have some lunch. While most of us enjoyed our packed lunch in the Parliament Square, eight reporters got a little bit lost! Thankfully Mr Allen was with them, and with a good search we found them.
Soon after finishing our lunch, we caught the tube to Tower Hill and then made our way to the iconic Tower of London.
A workshop of 90 minutes was booked for us: “Imprisonment, Escape and Execution: Elizabethan religious upheaval”. Unfortunately we could not make it on time so the workshop was cut a bit short.
Simon, our workshop leader, took us to the Salt Tower and explained to us the long history of the Tower. We have learnt that it was this Tower that kept very famous prisoners including John Balliol - a Scottish King and was captured by Edward I and imprisoned at the Tower in 1296 for three years. Some other prisoners included Anne Boleyn in 1536 and Lady Jane Grey in 1554 when she was just 16 years old!  
Simon showed us some of the prisoners’ graffiti. We felt overwhelmed to look at it.
Then we started the self-guided tour around the Tower. We went to the execution site  where Anne Boleyn (and two other English Queens) were beheaded.
Our last stop was the Crown Jewels building.
Everyone was excited about going to see the Crown jewels but to my surprise it was incredibly busy! Inside the building you could see many household items made from real gold. The Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the Imperial State Crown were also on display. To be able to see it you have to follow the flow on people carried by an automatic conveyor belt. Everything on display was amazing!
4:15pm We decided to go back to the train station and stroll along the shops outside the Tower.
5:20pm After a rushed return to the Virgin train back to Coventry,  we all applauded Mark –the Virgin train staff member who took all of us to the train before members of the public arrived.
We finally made it back to Coventry at 6:45 pm.
Here are some comments from our fellow student reporters:
Amy and Courtney of 7A: “We learnt that Anne Boleyn got her head chopped off also that a man escaped from the Tower of London using oranges, feathers and string. Our favourite part was seeing the Crown jewels because they cost a phenomenal amount of money to make and keep”.
Fatima of 7C said “The funniest part of my day was when Khalid ran away from the birds in the Parliament Square“.
That is it for now.
See you in our next article.
Abbie and Emma

Friday, 1 May 2015

Whitley Students Visit Roald Dahl's Home

Telegraph article here

The following is a recollection of the visit from Joe Lea, an '8A' Student Reporter.
07:00 – 70 year 7 students meet at the front of school and get sorted into groups.
07:15 – We make our way down to and board the coaches. We are off to Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire!
It is a bit earlier than our normal school day but it seems everyone is too excited to remain silent for more than five minutes. You could hear the laughing and the talking across the coaches. We are very lucky to be on the big black and very comfortable coaches. And again the talking and the laughing continues until we arrive in Great Missenden village.
09:35 – Destination at last!
Upon leaving the car park where we are dropped off, we have to climb over some metal bars as we go the wrong way! There are only some of us who have to do so. The other students go in the right direction though.
On we go….towards the High Street….
Everything around us is very clean and green.
We see many beautiful houses with blossoming flowers on display outside the houses.
We see the Great Missenden Library on our right-hand side and the red petrol pumps on the left hand-side. We will learn a lot of facts when we start our self-guided tour by our teachers.
10:00 – We split off into two big groups: one group with Mr Hudson and Miss Wilson and the other group with the remaining 3 teachers.
As the Museum workshop could accommodate maximum 35 of us at one time, our group A does the morning workshop and group B goes for the afternoon one.
All of us are so excited.
We go to the Great Missenden Library first where we get to speak to a lovely lady who works at the Library as a librarian. She tells us about the little girl named Matilda in the book Matilda. She showed us the area of the Library which is now named Matilda’s Library.  She also tells us how she met Roald Dahl when he was still alive. She used to work in the Village bank and he used to be the customer there.
Then we bid farewell to the very nice librarian and move on towards the Church of St .Peter and Paul.
On this journey we stop by the Great Missenden Post Office where around 4000 letters were sent to Roald Dahl per week! (We reckon it could have taken Roald Dahl a bit of time to go through all the letters from his fans all over the world!).
We also spend a bit of time listening to Mrs Nguyen’s explanation about the red petrol pumps on the other side of the High Street. Actually this very precise petrol pump was the description of the Garage in the book Danny the Champion of the World. Then we learn that Roald Dahl used to work for Shell Oil after he left school! No wonder why the petrol pumps are now a landmark of the tour!
Not far from the red petrol pumps is the Crown House (on the same side of the road with the pumps). The House is actually a private house. We have to treat it with respect. We are also told that this House was Roald Dahl’s inspiration for Sophie’s ‘norphanage’ in the book BFG! ( I hope you are aware of the new word of Roald Dahl ‘norphanage’ in the story BFG.)
Finally we reach the Church of St Peter and Paul!
Chris – the volunteer – greets us and tells us that the church is over 800 years old! He also shares with us the stories how the old bells were restored in 1990 and the Holy Water Font. We are intrigued. Chris also tells us that some parts of the church are ‘invariable’ – meaning that it hadn’t changed at all over 800 years! Wow!
Then comes the very solemn part…. We walk up the path round the top of the graveyard and down to the memorial bench under a big green tree. The tree has benches around it which each has the names of Roald Dahl’s five children and three stepchildren.
Then we follow the BFGs big footsteps and go to see Roald Dahl’s actual resting place where someone placed two yellow daffodils down crossing over each other…This is such a nice touch.
12:00 – Lunch Time!
We walk back to the Museum. It is a Grade 2 listed building. Later on we learn that Roald Dahl moved to Great Missenden in 1954 and until after his death in 1990, in 1996 the building was bought and his wife (called Lissy) worked very hard to fund-raise to make the Museum as it is today. Wow!
Back at our two groups…
We meet back up and have lunch together as a group until around 12:30 where we get back into our groups and swap the activities.
12:30 – The afternoon activities begin.
The workshop starts with a discussion, then a chat in a remake of Roald Dahl’s writing hut.
We then get a chance to look around the Story Centre and visit the two galleries ‘Boy’ and ‘Solo’. More things to learn and enjoy…
We come to realise how tall Roald Dahl was! Very and very tall of 197 centimetres!
Grace – the Museum Assistant tells us a brief history about Roald Dahl’s life, how he came into writing and beautiful small artefacts around Roald Dahl’s writing hut. They are amazing! We did not know that Roald Dahl used to be a pilot in Africa during WW2, how he hated school life and how he tried to get away from his life in St Peter’s boarding school in Weston Super-Mare!
The students then all collaborated together and headed for the coach.
14:30 - We are all on the coach and ready to leave for Coventry!
16:30 – Back in Coventry! The perfect end to a perfect day!