Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Pupils enjoy meeting their pen pals, as Collége Jean Mermoz visits

On Thursday 6th April, pupils and staff from our French partner school, Collége Jean Mermoz, visited Whitley Academy. 

Collége Jean Mermoz is situated in the town of Faches-Thumesnil, just outside of Lille in Northern France, and has worked with pupils and staff at Whitley Academy since 2012. 

The visit was to continue the collaboration projects between the two schools, ranging from work on protecting local environments, introducing pupils to new language and culture, and commemorating the events of both World Wars.

The exchange complements the International Status of Whitley Academy, with additional link schools in Japan, France and South Africa.

The day of the visit

At the start of the day, everyone settled down in the Auditorium, and despite a few initial nerves, pupils soon began to settle down and get comfortable awaiting the arrival of their French pen pals. 

At 9am, fifty four students from Collége Jean Mermoz and their four teachers arrived; they were shown to the Auditorium where the day started off with an introduction speech from Mr Purslow.

Students were given some snapshots of life between the two cities, Coventry and Lille, then came the time for an exchange of presents from both schools. The teachers presented each other with art work that symbolised the two cities of Coventry and Lille. 

At the end of the morning, the audience was split into four groups, with pupils pairing off with their pen pals to start collaborative lessons. In these lessons, pupils were encouraged to sit with pen pals, communicating in both French and in English. After the lesson, it was time for a lunch break; everyone went to the canteen for food and then to get changed for some outdoors activities.

It was a lovely sunny day in Coventry - pupils were split into small groups and played frisbee. Everyone was smiling and pupils got to know each other better through teamwork.

After a quick break to get changed, it was time to head to the City Centre, where the Collége Jean Mermoz students were shown around Coventry. Highlights included the Cathedral, the Statue of Lady Godiva and the Transport Museum. Many pupils had the opportunity to wander around town with the French students, allowing everyone to make some fond memories.

At first it was difficult to communicate, but through perseverance students did their very best. When they couldn't understand each other, they resorted to using hand gestures and actions, making everyone laugh and become more comfortable. Many French students went shopping for souvenirs and clothes around the city, as well as getting some food. As the pupils spent more time together, closer bonds were made, and everyone had a great time together despite some initial language barriers.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience for both the Whitley Academy and Collége Jean Mermoz pupils. 

Many thanks to the visiting pupils, to the staff involved; and to the student reporters with Miss Nguyen. Au Revoir!

Watch our video about the visit - 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Stepping into the past at Kenilworth Castle

Written by Destiny and Benjamin - student reporters.

On Thursday 30th and Friday 31st March 2017, two groups of Year 7 pupils explored the history and the making of Kenilworth Castle. 

It was a fairly mild day, great for a trip, with a few showers, but nothing stopped us from treading deeper into history! We all set off, after a quick class of Maths revision, buzzing in excitement! We rushed out of class, and raced down the Whitley Academy hill at about 9:30am. The coaches were there waiting for all of us!

Soon later, at about 9:45am, we saw a long, jagged silhouette, almost like a castle, we had arrived! 

First, we looked around the castle ruins, travelled up a case of stairs, and gazed at the spectacular view. Only now we realised we were so high up.


Then, we walked around the castle garden and spotted some initials (R.L because the castle was owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester) dotted around the ruins. The gardens were built especially for Queen Elizabeth and now we were in the royal gardens admiring the tall marble fountain and the birds that chirped away in the aviary.

After that, our teacher explained some important parts of the well established history of Kenilworth Castle. We were all in awe to know the Castle was first built in the 1120s! We were allowed to explore the ruins and even stood looking out of the arrow slits that once were used to defend the castle! In the kitchens we were able to stand in the old oven too! How fun! 

We then discussed things that had occurred during the time the castle was whole. We learned about Robert Dudley and his relationship with Queen Elizabeth I. They were childhood sweethearts. Robert Dudley was a suitor for Queen Elizabeth and he really wanted to marry her. He had even built her a guesthouse for when she came to visit. One visit lasted eighteen days, and we learned that Robert Dudley had made the castle extra luxurious just for her arrival. Wow! The garden was built and the castle was decorated fit for a royal arrival. We felt just like royalty on the trip too!

We ventured a bit further after that, going into Queen Elizabeth’s most private room, and finding out that two of the buildings had once been symmetrical. 


Then, we could all choose something from the gift shop! There was so much to choose from, from stress balls to swords, it was so hard to decide!

We had another break, but for half an hour this time, and walked around some more parts of the castle (it was so big), whilst some of the student reporter team took some snaps of the scenery and class.

The battle began!

We used the ruins of the old chapel to perform our battles. It was at this point we learned a lot about defending and attacking a castle. We split into two teams and had to form a strategy quickly, trying to find the best way to defeat our opponent. It was a lot of fun, and at the end there was an amazing gymnastic performance from Matae (7SGR). 

Lunch time!

All of us were hungry now, and we started snacking on our lunches, but, by the time it was lunch time, some had ate all of it! Luckily, Mrs Boyne was at the rescue, there were some spare school lunches! Yay! A feast fit for royalty, thank you Miss Boyne.


We had a run around once we had finished our royal banquet, not knowing we should have saved some of our energy for the treasure hunt race we had coming up.

In short, we had to find the places marked on the piece of paper, and describe what it looked like when we found it. The winning team got a prize. We had to be back by 2:00pm.

We didn’t get to complete the treasure hunt unfortunately due to restrictions in place at Kenilworth Castle. It was such a shame but the fun didn’t end. We were able to draw and sketch pictures of the castle and played games with the parachute too. The winner of the castle sketches won a king and queen pencil from Miss Boyne.

Unfortunately, none of us found out what the treasure hunt prize was in the end. But, anyway, we all had a fun-filled day, tracing the steps in history.

We were all sure to have a long snooze once we got home.

Hope you enjoy reading our blog as much as we enjoyed the whole day full of fun!