Thank you to all of you at home who are doing an absolutely brilliant job in these challenging times.
I am sure that at times it may not feel like it but we are really proud of what our students, staff and parents are achieving and we sincerely hope that you are keeping well and safe.
The Head's Blog today has contributions from staff and students and we hope you enjoy catching up with our news
Around the World in 40 Days
Day 24/40 and greetings from a warm and sunny Hobart which is the capital and most populous city in Tasmania.
To date we have travelled 10,710 miles and as the weather forecast for the weekend is good I'd like to encourage you all to get outdoors and cover some miles.
Any form of physical transport will do but we really need the cyclists to contribute so please don't forget to log your distances.
Thanks to all and have a great weekend.
Congratulations to Edward Warren 11E who recently submitted an entry into the 2021 Immerse Education Essay Competition. In recognition of his work being of the ‘highest calibre ’he has been awarded a partial scholarship for the Cambridge summer programme this year.
Congratulations also to Joe Smith 10C who has passed his grade 5 ABRSM music theory with distinction. Joe would have been taking grade 7 French horn this term (but unfortunately the practical exams have been cancelled) and he plays virtually with the Plymouth Youth Concert Band and Devon Youth Wind Orchestra.
Student Book Reviews
Thank you to Reuben Barnes 9N who has recommended this set of books:- The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E Feist.
Reuben said, “This Cycle of 27 books spans four generations and is enchanting. Very complex and magical, these books are a mighty task to vanquish but worth while when you do. I recommend this most strongly”.
Mrs Downes, Head of English, added, “This is a series of fantasy books with challenging concepts that may be more suitable for older students”.
If you have a book to recommend then please complete the Google Form at this link.
Sixth Form Update
Ms Davidson, Assistant Head Post-16 says it is marvellous to see so many students engaging with their tutors on a daily basis in the mornings and on one to one Google meets on Wednesdays.
From general chit-chat to quizes and general advice and guidance, we are able to work together, stay connected and strong as a community.
Through attendingthe tutorials, many students are showing empathy for others who remain more isolated in this remote learning period and we are grateful and delighted that they are doing so.
Friday tutorial materials have included creative challenges (to stage a silent movie film scene), watching presentations about Apprenticeships and the future of work, online university course selection via microsoft teams (from Bath University) and today a self directed Eton x course for Year 13 students on making an impact, being assertive and how to build trust and influence people!
Next week, Year 12 will be invited to enrol in a course on entrepreneurship whilst Year 13 learn more about student finance. Our weekly quiz has a strong uptake and whilst we obviously look forward to being back at school together, it is encouraging to hear of the super engagement of our students and I am grateful to our excellent pastoral team for their ongoing commitment to direct contact with the wonderful young people who make up our Sixth Form.
See if you can work out the film titles from these stills - thanks to Felix Powell and Matthew Williams!
Well done to students in 7P who, having got one lesson ahead of schedule, took time out with Dr Colvile to collaborate on a document which can inspire us all with a sense of perspective that there's still a huge, amazing, long-lived universe out there while we're confined to our homes for this short period of time.
Dr Colvile said, “ I was amazed at how much 30 students could achieve in half an hour through the wonders of Google Docs collaboration and a little bit of guidance”.
Mrs Mintoft has also sent some work which demonstrates how students are working together even although they are physically apart and working at home.
She said, “These are screens shot of some work that my Year 12 students have done which shows how we are adapting and changing some of our activities from in-class discussion to utilising online resources that we didn't know about even a month ago”.
Well done to the following students who have been keeping active during this period of national lockdown and remote learning.
Archie Wisdom 9E has ben painting warhammer 10k figures and Tom Rickard 7N has been going for runs and playing on his drum kit,
Robert Toepperwein 8P has been walking on average for two hours a day while Elliot Mair 8C has been swimming in the sea at Devil’s Point in Firestone Bay.
We hope you’ve all been recording your activity and miles in our Around the World in 40 Days Challenge!
Mr Manley has given me a copy of a thank you letter from the Gift of Hope project.
Thank you again to all families who donated food to both the Plymouth Foodbank and the Gift of Hope project in December.
You donations made a real difference to many families.
The lessons set via tutorial Google Classrooms for each year group were released at 9.00am this morning as usual; we hope that students are continuing to work through these each week (even though there is no work to be handed in) as we aim to develop knowledge and skills in many different areas; inform future career possibilities; and help to maintain self esteem, resilience and good mental health in general.
The Year 7 lesson this week revolves around an incident occurring on a school bus, with a 20 minute film and then some follow up activities. This lesson is usually led by the peer mentor team and aims to promote safety and good behaviour on all the school buses.
Year 8 students have a lesson about family values, dealing with various issues and considering, for instance, how they think family values may have changed since their parents' or grandparents' days.
The Year 9 and Year 10 lesson linked with young persons' mental health week, and in particular the "Time to Talk" day initiative which was yesterday. They focus on how to start a conversation (not necessarily about mental health) using questions such as Would you rather have the power to teleport, or to shape-shift? or maybe How far would you read the story of your own life, if you had the chance? Up to the present day? Right to the end? Or would you not read it at all?
The Year 11 lesson was all about bringing students up to date with the current offer on apprenticeships, a route some may well be exploring for next year. We recommend looking through the presentation even if this is probably not a choice at the moment; circumstances change and this could form a useful Plan B.
Apprenticeships may well be something to look at after A levels as an increasingly popular alternative to university.
One more week to go of this very strange half term, with certainly a few more weeks of remote learning on the horizon. Keep safe and take care everyone!
The ability to communicate via technology has kept most of us sane during lockdown but this time we are seeing a shift away from some of the communication giants of Whatsapp and Facebook to alternative platforms. This week we look at some of the different chat apps available and how safe they are.
ooVoo is a free video calling, voice calling, and cross platform messaging app, where users create a profile and add friends before they can start communicating. All photos and videos are are public and searchable by default. You have the ability to record the calls and all watch the same youtube videos while chatting. You can collaborate to make chains and search for trending topics.
ooVoo users can block specific users if they need to, like in instances of cyberbullying or inappropriate messages.
The free version of the app features ads, but users have the option of subscribing to ooVoo’s ad-free premium service. This app also features in-app purchases.
Publisher Recommendations 13+, Common Sense Media 16+
Threema is an anonymous messaging and message encrypting app that allows users to communicate via mobile device through a secure connection - its not free, currently £2.99. Threema is an app that secures all communications with a mobile device. The Threema app encrypts text conversations, photos, videos, voice calls and voicemails, in an effort to protect personal privacy and data when on a mobile device.
Whilst this app is rated for everyone, due to the anonymous nature of this messaging app, I dont think it's suitable for children. Yes, their data is safe as it does not require personal information but other users through this app are anonymous too, which can have stranger danger and cyberbullying issues.
Based in Switzerland, Threema uses its own servers and software for the platform, and users are able to enjoy the privacy laws for which Switzerland is known. Publisher Recommends 4+, Common Sense Media 16+
Airtime is a group video chat app similar to Facetime, but with additional social features. Users can video chat in groups of six or less, or exchange text-based messages with up to 250 other users at a time.
Airtime facilitates sharing user-generated content. Videos and music from popular media platforms, including YouTube, Soundcloud, and Spotify, can be imported directly into the chat and simultaneously shared between the group. Airtime is rated E for Everyone in Google Play, but the app is not safe for children. Private use of the Airtime app may only be appropriate for older teens who are able to engage maturely with adult content and situations.
Interestingly, Airtime is rated for users ages 17 years and older in the iTunes App Store, but users as young as 13 years of age are able to use the app, per Airtime’s terms of service. However, users under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian agree to the terms, and take responsibility for monitoring minors’ activity with the app.
Some parents report effective control over safe use of the Airtime app by directly approving all of their child's contacts, limiting them to people with shared community standards of online conduct. This is easily circumvented by older children, however, and should be subject to verification. Common Sense Media say 17+
Telegram, self-described as the fastest messaging service in the world, is a communication app rated for users 17 and older. All data is stored on the Telegram cloud, so group chats of up to 30,000 people are possible. There is also a “Secret Chat” feature, in which the message self-destructs on from both devices, leaving no trace.
App Store 17+, Common Sense Media 17+