Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Pupils hold mock trial at Coventry Magistrates' Court

Written by Mansi, Year 9 pupil

On Saturday 18th March 2017, 12 perceptive pupils from Whitley Academy participated against six other schools in the Coventry Magistrates' Court 'Mock Trial 2017'.

This was a competition where pupils from different schools took up the roles of lawyers, witnesses, and magistrates, and then prosecuted or defended in a domestic criminal case.

I hoped this experience would teach me a lot of things about crime and how sentences are given, in a more interesting and fun way.

Outside, the weather wasn’t the best. Although it was warm, it was cloudy and drizzling. The warm air rushed around us when the cold water sprayed against our faces. It wasn’t ideal for taking photos outside. We felt very warm inside as the adrenaline started kicking in. We were so ready for the competition.

At around 9:00am, we familiarised ourselves with the court and practiced our roles. We checked the display boards for our court numbers - if your school name is at the top, you are prosecuting, and if your school name is at the bottom, you are defending.

Whitley Academy would be against Caroline Chisholm School in Northampton.

As soon as the session started, I was the first person to talk (as the prosecution lawyer). The nerves kicked in. Consequently I spoke a bit too fast. But after some time, I got back on track and continued to present to the court the credible evidence I had researched so far. 

I had to make sure the evidence was precise, even if it might suggest that the defendant is not guilty. Together with my prosecution team, we got to make sure the court reached the right verdict, not just a guilty verdict. 

Everyone in my Whitley Academy team performed their best and tried as much as they could. It was definitely not an easy job to talk confidently in front of so many people and the real-life magistrates.

After the round was over, the magistrate specially praised the Whitley Academy prosecution witness (Joe of Year 9) as he managed himself really well and responded smoothly to the defence lawyers with their very tricky questions.

It was time for some quick group photos.


Then Mrs Nguyen helped me to secure some minutes to talk to the Magistrate. He praised me for delivering such a difficult role impressively. He also advised me to control my nerves better for future public speaking opportunities. I agreed with him wholeheartedly. I felt the massive privilege to spend some precious minutes listening to such useful and effective feedback from him. It really made me feel ecstatic as no one else got any personal feedback from the Magistrate.

Then it was time for home.

We left the Magistrate Court feeling overjoyed with the experience we had for the day. Although we did not win the competition, we won by participating in it. For me participation is more important than winning. 

We all enjoyed the whole event and learned a great deal from it. We were so ready for next year’s opportunity.

Goodbye for now!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Pupils practise valuable skills for Duke of Edinburgh Award

Whitley Academy has recently launched the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Twenty Year 9 pupils have signed up to undertake this nationally recognised award and will be completing it over the course of this academic year. 

The Award is a personal challenge; it pushes young people to their personal limits and recognises their achievements. All participants must complete four sections; they must practise a skill, volunteer somewhere or for someone, partake in a physical activity and then complete a two day expedition in the countryside. 

In order to complete the expedition section, participants must attend a series of training sessions to learn camp craft, navigational skills and first aid. 

On Tuesday 14th March, Whitley pupils went on their first practise walk. Pupils walked around the Berkswell/Meriden area, in Warwickshire, and practised their map reading and navigational skills. 

The day was a huge success!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Pupils speak at Frankly Speaking Competition

Written by Duncan, Year 8 student reporter

At 6:00am, I woke up to get ready to go to London for the Frankly Speaking Competition, held at the Bloomberg L.P building, and organised by the Benjamin Franklin House organisation.

For your information, Benjamin Franklin House is the only surviving home of Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the USA. 

After a quick breakfast, I left for the train station.

There were five of us: Amy and Chirag - our Post 16 Head Boy and Head Girl, Imogen and Louise - Year 11 pupils, and myself, reporting for the school website.

At around 7:50am, we arrived at London Euston station. We headed to the underground and looked for the Northern Line. There were people walking back and forth, all around us, very fast moving.

When we got out of the underground, it took us sometime to locate which direction to go with. Thanks to Imogen’s Google map, we reached our destination well ahead of planned time.

On going inside the Bloomberg building, we couldn’t believe our eyes! It was massive. The building had a cuboid shaped block with frozen plants inside. There were real white flowers which had bloomed perfectly.

When we looked around we saw lots of security standing around, the building was highly defended yet beautiful at the same time.

Later on, we realised the main focus of the employees inside the building was to provide data for financial markets and investors. The data needs to be accurate, fast and relevant. We were also told that the data needs to be transparent so that there is no risk to everyone who got involved in it.

Back to our day…

After spending a short time at the reception desk, each of was given a nice pass with our photos on them. It was interesting to find out that behind the chairs of the receptionists, was a wall with a line of hidden cameras and we were asked to stand in front of the camera to get our pictures taken.

We were then lead up to the floor above. There were three security staff standing near the escalators and reminded us to scan our passes before going upstairs. The first thing we saw was an enormous aquarium with a large amount of tropical fish right in front of our eyes. They must have had every species in there.

On the way to our meeting place, we passed by a humongous room without any wall! What you could see was just food and drinks on display! It was a world of colours: the colours of the nice lights hanging from the high ceilings, the food, the cereals, the fruits and the flowers! Wow! And people! There were many people walking around.

We were then lead down the stairs to the nice and cosy auditorium.
Whist waiting for the other schools to come, we started wandering around the place. Everything looked new and shiny.

After having some refreshments (with help from the four Bloomberg staff), we were then lead to the main presentation hall and sat down. We were given a swift summary of what was going to happen and where everyone was going. The first names to be called out were Chirag and Amy of Year 12 and 13. Mrs Nguyen and I decided to follow Chirag and Amy for the first heat.

Devonte, the Bloomberg apprentice took us through some offices to another room where the debates for Years 12 and 13 took place. Chirag and Amy were against Prince Henry’s Grammar School in West Yorkshire. The topic was to maintain open borders to EU citizens after Great Britain has left the EU. How interesting!

Both teams came up with many sharp arguments, for and against the topic. Each speaker had a maximum of 7 minutes to deliver their speech and answer questions from their opponents. Sitting at the back facing the two teams, we could see how much the students had researched for their talks. The hard work had paid off after all.

Then came a short break before the second heat. During this time, Ms Nguyen talked to Paul, one of the two judges who also worked in the building. Paul told us he has 29 offices across Europe to supervise and spoke about how he didn’t go to university but still got the job at Bloomberg. How inspiring!

We then met Devante (the Bloomberg apprentice) who took us to Imogen and Louise’s debate on the sixth floor. Devante told us he was working in Bloomberg for a year before he goes to college to learn Economics.

There were a lot of offices behind the shiny glassed walls with staff working on their many screen-computers. Everyone was focused. There were some people walking around and talking to other people over the phones. Everyone worked.

We kept walking towards the room for the Years 10 and 11.
The topic was about the advancement of Artificial Intelligence (A.I). The format of the debate for this year group was exactly the same as the one for the Post 16 students. Our Whitley Academy team was in opposition.

Personally I found it fascinating to see how each team member worked. They took notes and raised questions whilst the speaker delivered the speech. It was challenging to keep track of your speech and make sure they responded to some points of information (POI) from their opponents.

Some points raised by Imogen from Whitley Academy really fascinated me, such as in around 40 years time, Artificial Intelligence will be more intelligent than humans. I need to do some research into this one day.

12:20 pm - Lunch time! 

After lunch we all gathered inside the Hall to listen to the results of the first half of the day. Unfortunately our two teams didn't win. We comforted each other with our ever fighting spirit, that it is the taking part that counts.

We will be so ready for the competition next year. 

We spent some time going through our two teams' performance, making sure lessons were learned. Finally and reluctantly, we decided to leave the impressive Bloomberg building.

However, we left on an extremely high note knowing that Chirag,  Head Boy of Whitley Academy, just received the brilliant news that he was invited to join in the Introductory and Finalist Residential on 9 - 12 April in London. It is hosted by the Sutton Trust US Programme 2017. Wow!

On the underground there was a delay and we ended up missing the train. We had to wait till 7:42pm until we could get back.

After an hour on the train we arrived back in Coventry and I was picked up by my dad. Overall all of us enjoyed the trip and learned lots about public speaking, despite the fact we did not win the competition.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Pupils meet famous authors and illustrators on World Book Day

Written by Holly and Destiny, Year 7 student reporters

On Tuesday February 28th, fourteen book loving Year 7 students gathered in the Learning Resource Centre, ready for a trip to the biggest book show on earth! Everybody was extremely excited to be going to the Warwick Arts Centre for World Book Day’s 20th anniversary.

We all knew we were about to observe a handful of authors and illustrators, their magic tricks, how they wrote their books, and how they had begun their journey of writing.

The presenters, authors and illustrators for the day were Steven Butler; Alex T. Smith; Holly Smale; Nick Mohammed; Julian Clary and David Roberts; Sam and Mark; and Jessica Ennis-Hill.

10:05 AM

After a short trip in the school’s minibus, the group arrived and took their comfortable seats in Butterworth Hall, Warwick University, in amazement. The room was just so BIG.

Curiosity enveloped every one of us, and in a rush of excitement, we were soon exploring the Warwick Arts Centre. After a few quick flashes of the camera, we returned to the Hall to watch the performances.

The first to perform were a group delivering a short section from one of Enid Blyton’s classic series of novels, ‘the Famous Five’. Even though the reading and acting was simply outstanding, most were absorbed in watching the cute, fluffy dog that sat with the group.

Second up, presenter of the show and author of ‘the Diary of Dennis the Menace’ was Steven Butler, to introduce Alex T. Smith.

Alex was very funny and shared with us very interesting stories. He was born and brought up in Coventry, and went to Coventry University to study for a degree in Illustration. Alex then talked about drawing a dinosaur, which turned out to be a turtle. He was witty and brilliant! Alex then shared with us some childhood memories of his grandad who inspired him to become an illustrator. 

Next, it was Holly Smale – the author of the ‘Geek Girl’ series!

Holly shared with us her school experiences of being bullied and singled out by her friends. We all went silent to hear her story. She also told us of how she became a professional model at the age of 15. She did not like it and left modelling after two years.

Holly then talked about how she started with her first book. It was the life of Harriet Manners, a nerdy 15-year-old girl who tried out modelling to reinvent herself. Harriet was a geek and always will be. Just like Holly’s life!

On next were Sam and Mark (the CBBC television presenters) who told us about their background since meeting and went on to read an extract from their first book. How cool!

After that, Nick Mohammed performed some magic with the help of two lucky members of the audience and introduced the four main characters from his first book.

Up on the stage next were Julian Clary and David Robert who got the audience to help create a new character out of three different animals that ended up making most people laugh.

Finally, Jessica Enis-Hill, who you may also know as an athlete, told us how she had to sit under the table with her publishers due to her son having a tantrum. She spoke a bit about her first book, and soon after, all of the authors and writers came back to the stage to sign autographs and to say goodbye.

After the show, we all raced to the University bookshop to ensure we got the books we wanted, and then went to get our copies signed by the authors.

It was an extremely inspirational and fun-filled day for all of the team.