Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Upgrades to the school entrance system

During the summer break we took the opportunity to upgrade our site entrance system and thereby increasing security of the site and students. 

The electronic opening gates include an intercom system so as visitors and delivery drivers are required to fully introduce themselves to reception before gaining access on site. 

There are also peak times when vehicles are denied access to allow students to arrive and leave school safely via the pedestrian gate. Vehicles are also denied access at break and lunch to allow students to fully use the grassed areas with reduced risk. 

There is offsite parking within close proximity and a pedestrian gate can be used should visitors arrive during these peak times.

Students requiring site exit during the school day now have to use the intercom to be approved to leave the premises. Post-16 however can use their ID badge to enter and leave site as required. 

If you are a visitor to the school we appreciate your assistance and understanding around our new entrance system.

iPad proves popular as curriculum resource

A new curriculum resource was introduced during the summer term of thirty iPads for use by students in a class-led setting. 

All teachers across all teaching departments have the availability of some or all of the iPads for use in lessons, and usage has soared since launch, with learning now enveloping a new technology. 

One teacher’s feedback so far;-

“It has completely re-energised my love for teaching and engages the students in a way I’ve rarely experienced”. 

We are currently looking at growing the number available in school as well as constantly exploring new apps and uses that the iPads could bring into the classroom.

Monday, 30 October 2017

A visit from Ian Taylor (Alumni)

Written by Ciaran & Duncan - Year 9 student reporters 

On Tuesday 10th October 2017, we received the visit of Mr. Ian Taylor, who was a pupil at our school (Whitley Abbey School) back in the years 1956-1963.

Later on we realised that Mr Ian Taylor was an MP (Member of Parliament) for 23 years until 2010. He was also the Minister for Science and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry for four years from 1994-1997. We all were amazed to listen to the inspiring jobs Mr Taylor has done over the years.

In his talk, the audience were the lucky Year 9, 10 and Post 16 students. The topic of the talk was STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.

The first slide was a picture of Jonathan Ive.

Ian explained that Jonathan Ive is a British designer, and is now responsible for Apple products including iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. From his humble beginning, in 1988, Jonathan was awarded with two 'RSA Student Design Awards'. Sitting in the audience we felt overwhelmed with pride, as being Whitley Academy, we are part of the 'RSA Academies'. For your information, 'RSA' stands for the Royal Society of the Arts.

Afterwards, Ian shared with us the email he received from Professor Brian Cox. It was about what inspired Brian to become a scientist and how important the STEM subjects should be to the students.

It was then fascinating to get to know that the technology used by the McLaren Formula One for its drivers have been trialled at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. It is for monitoring the young patients’ heart rate, breathing rate, and oxygen levels so that early warning signs of problems could be recognised. Wow!

We then listened as Ian explained about the Lunar Mission One, which is a mission to dig 100m into the moon's surface. After filling our minds with so many interesting facts and information, Ian went on to answer some questions our students had on their minds.


Q    Who is the most influential person you have ever met?
A    Helen Sharman as she was not only the first English person in space but also the first female in space.

Q    What has been your favourite job so far?
A    Being the Minister for Science of the UK. 

Q    What do you think the next step is for science?
A    I believe that we need to find a new anti-biotic as viruses are now becoming immune to them.

Q    What got you interested in science?
A    The fact that we could go to space and explore it.

Q    When will the first self-driving cars be on the roads?
A    Hopefully within the next 5 years. They will be complicated; however, and will need a lot of technology- not only in the cars but on the roads as well. They will be interesting definitely a  technological advancement.

Q    What subject did you like apart from Science?
A    I liked History and Politics. I also joined the Drama group. But I realised that I was no Tom Cruise (or whoever the hero of the time was). I did realise from this that I liked to project my thoughts though.

Q    What's your opinion on commercial space travel?
A    It will come. You would have to be very rich and probably rather stupid to invest in such a thing but there will be those ready to go for it. Richard Branson already has 3 flights booked for when Virgin Galactic is a working branch of his company!

Mr Ian Taylor ended his talk by saying that he wasn’t trying to get us to be scientists but to work with Science. It is an important part of life and by the year 2022, the UK alone requires 2,000,000 more scientists.

We still vividly remember his words: 

“Scientists don’t just work in a lab or a reserve. They work in everyday jobs such as: teachers, engineers, farmers, technicians and so many more.” 

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; and also to the national charity Speakers for Schools, for giving us the opportunity to meet and talk to Anna.

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’.