Thursday, 20 July 2017

A day of 'Transitions' at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Written by Ethan, Year 10 Student Reporter

The background of the project was that three schools in the RSA Family of Academies were given a written script, and each school performed their own version of this script on consecutive nights.

The script focused on what it meant to be part of a family of academies, the impact this has on teachers and students, with some reflection on the education industry as a whole. The students received the completed script less than a month ago, and so they have worked very hard to produce and learn a performance in a very short time.

8:42 AM
On Friday 14th July, we left Coventry for Birmingham. The journey was short and smooth via Virgin Train. The weather was very windy and cool, but the sun was soon gliding over the clouds. Walking through the streets of Birmingham, we saw mesmerising landscapes and witnessed a lot of modelled bears unusually scattered around. Then we walked around the astonishing theatre (the REP) to find the Stage door. This made us feel as if we were real actors.

9:30 AM 
After a short wait we were greeted by Daniel Tyler - the Head of the Birmingham REP. He then took us to a small theatre for the rehearsals. Later on we realised we were based in a theatre called The Door with its capacity of 140 seats. We were also amazed to learn that the REP has a long history, dating back to the year 1913. Wow!

Rehearsing was a very detailed and precise process. We did not have enough time to memorise the script. We tried our best during the past three weeks. It was now time to work through the script together using the stage lighting, projection and the sound system. The whole day rehearsal had helped us to remember and improve our lines.

Clive, the Senior Sound Technician, stayed with us throughout the morning to check all the sound clips whilst we were doing our rehearsal. His job was to ensure the sound clips and the visual effects go precisely with the scenes of the play.

Not far from where Clive was sitting was Ruth, the REP Stage Manager. Ruth was sitting casually on the steps and went through all the scenes and the scripts with us very carefully.

Mrs Nguyen was in the audience seat. She slowly realised that a big part of the script was about the BBC Student Reporters and her commitment with BBC School Report during the past 10 years. Ten years, such an exciting journey for her and her student reporter team. This ‘Transitions’ play has accurately reflected what has happened back at Whitley Academy.

11:40 AM
We were taken to the dressing rooms and got changed. Then we practised some more, practice makes perfect after all.

After a quick lunch we got back to rehearsal. Mr Samuels talked to us all to make sure we knew how to project our voices to the far end of the theatre. We also discussed with him where our confidence fell short. This enabled us feel better for the real show, also improving our projection and emotions in our voice.

After  a long day of rehearsals we all went out for a nice, refreshing walk around the Birmingham Centenary Square. We then followed the flow of people going through the shiny Symphony Hall, Bridge Street, and finally spent some of our precious time at Brindley Place where you could sit for hours watching the live Wimbledon tennis matches on show. 

We all took some lovely photos including some funny ones of Abbie teaching Mr Samuels how to do a dance called ‘Floss'.

After the walk, we went back to The REP and had some dinner and a couple of students were interviewed by a staff member from the RSA. We were asked questions about the performance and how it linked towards real life at school. 

The nerves were really building up. Our parents and grandparents were there in the audience.

We heard the massive applause from the audience. Such a relief!

The following is our reflection of the Day at the Birmingham Rep.

"At the start of the day I began to feel nervous. As we rehearsed more and more, I started to feel exited as well as the rest of the group" - Abbie.

"I have performed before in a theatre in Leamington so I am quite familiar with performing. It is not easy to remember the script but hopefully I will remember my parts when it is the performance time" - Max.

"So far the day has been great. I have been able to remember my lines and not get brain stuck. All of us have felt nervous a lot. A part of the play was about the experience as a Whitley Academy student reporter. I myself have been a student reporter for 3 years, I have been to the London Houses of Parliament and some other amazing places. I love taking the risk and pushing myself as far as I can. That’s the reason why I am here today"- Jade.

"From the start of getting involved in the play I have worked with people that normally I don’t really work with and don’t really speak to. We share everything together and we are a strong team" - Morgan.

"Coming here has boosted my confidence in Performing Arts. It’s made me realise who I really am. Naturally I am a very shy girl. It’s only in Performing Arts that I could express myself as the person I want to be" - Holly.

My own thoughts were that this day made me feel like a proper actor. The experience has made me so confident about performing in front of people and I want to go to drama school. Tonight was the special night for me and it really boosted my confidence to find out that my Grandad, who doesn’t really go out, was coming to watch my performance! I have made him very proud. 

Thanks Grandad!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Making rockets at the BASE summer event

Written by Melissa O'Brien, Year 9 Student Reporter

On Thursday 13th of July, pupils and parents were invited to an after school event hosted by staff members of the BASE, with the support of teachers from the Science and PE departments. There were some fun activities such as rocket making (and launching), popping canisters, and static electricity. The evening was also a taster for some of our new Year 7 pupils, who will start our school in September 2017. 

Mrs Stanbrook, Mr Billyeald (Head of P.E), and Miss Roberts oversaw the barbeque burgers and hot dogs. The weather was very summery with light winds that made the smell of the barbequed food spread all over the school. From the distance towards our school lake you could see small troops of Canadian geese standing on the grassy ground, staring their black dotted eyes towards the crowd of ‘human beings’ who were consuming such mouth watering food!

The crowd got bigger and bigger with parents, pupils and their siblings. The teachers did such an amazing job that they even ran out of food!

In the Dining Hall, there were arts and crafts for visitors to get involved in. This was where the rocket making took place. There was yellow cardboard with clear instructions stuck onto the table for everyone to have a try at making a paper rocket. As soon as you finished making the rocket, you could take it to the canteen door where you would get help from Miss Williams (who teaches Science) and your rocket could be launched. 

Not far from the rocket making table was another Science stall, where the static electricity demonstration took place. Mr Shah and Mr Eborall demonstrated with this curious set-up. On the tables you could see some equipment to generate static electricity including the Van der Graaf electrostatic generator. 

In simple terms, you put your hands on a silver ball which generates static electricity. You get a funny feeling inside. Then if you tap someone you will give them an electric shock.

Standing in the sun enjoying his barbecued hamburger, Tyler of 7ESM said, “It’s great as it gets kids off their electronics and spending quality time with their families.” 

I agreed whole-heartedly. Tablets and phones take up time, leaving no social connections. In the end spending time with your family is one of the most important things we all should do. 

The Base and Science departments as well as all the other teachers put in the extra time to provide this fun free event. They stayed for nearly 4 hours longer than a regular school day.

Overall the event was great, and everyone (with their families) had an amazing evening. 

Thank you to all the teachers and students who stayed behind and helped. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Reporting on our staff CPD showcase

Written by Paige and Chase, student reporters

On 28th June, 14 student reporters and Mrs Nguyen attended the Whitley Academy staff Continual Professional Development (CPD) showcase in our school Assembly Hall. 

At the beginning of the day we were unsure what CPD was about. We then found out that teachers and staff members of the school do their own self-learning, attend courses and share their good practice together.

All around the Auditorium there were different stalls from different departments: Middle Leaders, Senior Leaders, Health and Safety, Business Support, NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers) to name but a few. In the green canteen next door there were mouth watering refreshments, which were later to be enjoyed by everyone.

3:40 pm - 

10 minutes in, Mr Purslow (Director of MFL & CPD) made an announcement that Ms Alison Critchley (Chief Executive of RSA Academies) was going to make a speech. It was a very short, sharp speech that highlighted the on-going training that all staff attend and benefit from. She went on to say thank you for sharing their CPD journey so far.

After that there was a prize raffle. Mrs Nguyen won the first prize (a gift card), Mrs Billyeald won the second prize (a massive bag of sweets) and in third place was Mrs Devgun, who won a bottle of champagne. We felt that all the teachers have worked hard enough to receive a prize as well!

With our student reporters, we moved across the Hall inviting teachers and staff members to take part in our interviews.

4:30pm – 

It’s home time. We have now realised that teachers and other staff members have their own learning journeys and share their good practices so that we the pupils can achieve our best results. We felt privileged and overwhelmed to be in the CPD Showcase celebration.

Thank you Mr Purslow for organising everything for the celebration!