The week commencing Monday 9th November was Maths Week England. Lots of challenges and competitions run throughout England to help boost engagement and enthusiasm towards Maths.
As a school, one of the initiatives we decided to focus on was the MangaHigh competition. MangaHigh is an online educational platform that uses mastery, retrieval and problem solving to help students make great progress in Mathematics. Not only were the company offering free access to their platform all week, they were also awarding Amazon vouchers to the top 10 schools!
Knowing that many schools would be competing and that COVID restrictions would limit the opportunity for students to take part using computers in school, we knew a lot of independent work would be needed in students’ own time to secure a place in the top 10. We pledged that if we were to be successful, we would use the £100 to buy presents for local families this Christmas. The way in which this inspired the girls is an absolute testament to their character – spurred on by the incentive that their hard work could help others, they worked tirelessly to get us into the top 10!
As the week progressed, we climbed the leaderboard every day. From 26th place, to 18th, to 12th, to 10th, to 6th, to 5th and then by the time the competition ended at 8pm on Saturday, our girls had secured….
This means that the girls have won £250 worth of Amazon vouchers to buy gifts for families in need this Christmas! We could not be prouder of the commitment, effort and achievement shown by the girls and would like to thank all of those who participated for their enthusiasm and hardwork!
The top 10 students have now been given the responsibility of deciding how the money will be spent. Each of the students listed below showed outstanding commitment and effort with this initiative and have therefore been invited to decide what gifts we should purchase with our £250 prize.
Students will be given a £25 budget and will be able to research items on Amazon with their teacher and decide who they would like to help and which gifts they would like to purchase. We look forward to being able to share photos of all the gifts that the girls have been able to purchase as a result of their hard work and resilient attitude!
Below are some statistics and figures from the week:
Just before half term, Year 10 took part in the first of 4 Natwest workshops that we will be hosting across school this year. The workshop was called ‘Crime Scene Investigation’ and the main objective was to raise awareness of the importance of keeping yourself and your private information safe online.
All students in Year 10 worked collaboratively to solve a fraud case, similar to those that the bank handle every day. Students had to critically analyse bank statements, emails, adverts and social media snapshots to determine how and when an act of fraud had been committed. We were all thoroughly impressed by the students’ ability to recognise suspicious information and by the end of the workshop, most groups had correctly used the resources provided to solve the crime.
After the session, we asked students to feedback on the session. Here are just a few of the responses from our students about what they had gained from taking part in this enrichment opportunity:
“I have learnt all about how to stay safe using a bank account and I’ve learnt new ways to prevent myself from getting scammed. I have also found out more information on how easy it is for people to use your social media to get information about you or your details and I now know what not to put on social media.”
“I enjoyed the NatWest investigation and learned things I didn’t before. I learned that in the future, I should clearly check bank statements to see if there is anything unusual. However, I did already know about not oversharing information or putting it online but it was a good recap. The lesson was fun and had useful and interesting information.”
“I have learnt that we have to be careful about what we put online, such as your location. We also shouldn’t have the same passwords for many things because if the scammer knows one of your passwords they are most likely going to try that password for other things.”
“I learnt how fraudsters can easily access your information from social media so we need to be careful on what we publish online. I also learnt how to look at a bank statement to find unusual activity and how to spot a scam email.”
“Before this session, I was not fully aware of what fraud was and what types of fraud there are. I now understand that fraud is criminal deception which could cause financial/personal issues in your life and it could happen in many ways. Some examples of fraud that I now recognise are internet fraud, mail fraud, debit card fraud and bank account fraud. Thank you so much for the amazing lesson. I absolutely loved it! It was fun, interesting and fascinating. Even though NatWest couldn’t come, I still found the session really cool and it has helped me a lot, so thank you! :)”
Year 11 students are now able to purchase GCSE History flashcards to help them revise and prepare for the history exams in June. The flashcards include key terminology, facts and their meanings and cover the entire course. You can purchase a full set of cards via ParentPay for the bargain price of £15!
The poet laureate, Simon Armitage, has written a poem to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior. It is entitled ‘The Bed’. You can listen to Simon Armitage reading his poem in Westminster Abbey here: https://tinyurl.com/y4y395mc
‘The Bed’ by Simon Armitage
Sharp winds scissor and scythe those plains.
And because you are broken and sleeping rough
in a dirt grave, we exchange the crude wooden cross
for the hilt and blade of a proven sword;
to hack through the knotted dark of the next world,
yes, but to lean on as well at a stile or gate
looking out over fens or wealds or fells or wolds.
That sword, drawn from a king’s sheath,
fits a commoner’s hand, and is yours to keep.
And because frost plucks at the threads
of your nerves, and your bones stew in the rain,
bedclothes of zinc and oak are trimmed
and tailored to fit. Sandbags are drafted in,
for bolstering limbs and pillowing dreams,
and we throw in a fistful of battlefield soil:
an inch of the earth, your share of the spoils.
The heavy sheet of stone is Belgian marble
buffed to a high black gloss, the blanket
a flag that served as an altar cloth. Darkness
files past, through until morning, its head bowed.
Wednesday 11th November marked the 102nd anniversary of the end of the First World War. Head Girl, Darcy and Deputy Head Girl, Tegan represented the school at Penwortham War Memorial at 11am and took part in the remembrance ceremony. A wreath was laid on behalf of the pupils and staff of the school. The students who remained in school observed a 2 minute silence, which followed a recital of the Last Post by Mrs Little on the trumpet.
This year was particularly poignant because it was the 100th anniversary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.
On 11 November 1920, the body of one of the tens of thousands of British war dead was carried from Victoria station, where he had arrived from France and taken through the London streets to be “buried among Kings” in the Abbey. It involved teams of soldiers returning to several battlefield sites in northern France and Belgium to exhume a number of bodies. Although the exact number of bodies exhumed is unknown, most historians believe it was either four or six. Those bodies were secretly taken to a chapel at a British base near the French town of Arras, where the Commanding Officer chose which one of them would represent all those who had been recorded as missing in action, presumed dead, without a grave or a proper funeral. He was not told which unit had exhumed which body, nor which battlefield they had died in. No official record of how the Brigadier made his choice was ever released.
Officials at Westminster Abbey had to lift the stone flags to be able to dig the grave and it was the first time soil at the site had been disturbed since the Abbey was built in the 11th Century. When the coffin arrived at the Cenotaph just before 11am, it was met by King George, who placed flowers on it and a personally written note.
Year 7 students have impressed the History department with their models, poems and posters of the Anglo-Saxon warrior, Hereward the Wake, his horse Swallow and his sword, ‘Brainbiter’! Hereward bravely rebelled against William the Conqueror in 1170 before eventually being caught and murdered by William’s Norman knights. Here is a selection of their work:
Students across PGHS recently took part in a mock US Presidential Election, organised by the History Department. There was already a lot of interest in the election but few students (like many British adults), understood the complexities of the US electoral system, particularly the workings of the Electoral College. In our mock election, PGHS was made the unofficial 51st state, with 12 electoral college votes based on a population of 7.7 million people (we have 775 students on roll!).
Having heard and discussed the policies of both the Democratic and Republican parties, each class took part in a secret ballot and cast their votes. 731 students voted and the results were as follows:
Joe Biden – Democratic Party – 723 votes
Donald Trump – Republican Party – 8 votes
An emphatic landslide victory for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party!
Of course, the real excitement came when it appeared that the election was going to be a very close-run thing; several students stayed up to watch the results coming in live, wondering whether the 12 electoral college votes from PGHS would prove to be the deciding factor.
What was most impressive for us, was seeing the enthusiasm and engagement in politics. From Year 7 through to Year 11, many students spoke passionately and eloquently about the two parties and their policies.
On Tuesday 10th November, Year 10 students took part in a virtual career mentoring event, organised by Northern Power Women. The organisation was founded by Simone Roche MBE to accelerate gender equality and promote the growth of the Northern economy. Simone joined us for the event, along with her husband and the rest of the IT support team. Only four schools throughout the North West were chosen to take part in the initiative.
This was an invaluable opportunity to talk directly to 30 senior figures from a wide range of industries and professions including New Look, Lidl Hong Kong, United Utilities, the Royal Navy and British Army, Kellogg’s and Manchester Airport. Students were arranged into small groups and then had a Zoom meeting with two different mentors. They asked questions and the mentors shared their stories and tips for getting on the career ladder.
Our students acquitted themselves superbly; asking questions with confidence and listening intently. Afterwards they were extremely positive about the experience and it was fantastic for me to see students fired up about their futures. Here’s some of their feedback:
“I learnt to not be afraid to try new things and have a go at anything that comes your way.”
“I learnt that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can always achieve if you believe and try your best.”
“I learnt about different jobs that I had heard of but didn’t know anything about. I also learnt about people skills and how you can become anything, you just need to work hard for it.”
“I really enjoyed the mentoring session; the mentors were engaging and friendly. They encouraged questions and gave me lots of great advice.”
“The mentors were able to bring back hope to young people and proved that they still have a chance of getting jobs, even in the current circumstances.”
“I felt confident sharing my ideas and being open so they could give me ways to help and encourage me to study further after secondary school. I hope we can do something like this again.”
“I really hope the rest of the year groups below us get a chance like this because it’s a great experience.”
“I think talking to women with successful careers was important but seeing how they got to their positions in totally different ways was cool. They had different educational backgrounds and didn’t always know what they wanted to do when they were our age but eventually found their passion, which is reassuring.”
The mentor feedback was extremely positive too and the Northern Power Women team are keen to work with the school in the future, including arranging work experience opportunities and (hopefully) face-to-face sessions at our school in the not-too-distant future. Here’s a selection of their feedback:
“Fantastic, my daughter goes to PGHS and it’s a great environment for a young woman.”
“This was great! As a former pupil, I’m so pleased to see this at Penwortham Girls’ High School.”
Time and time again, research demonstrates the importance of reading on a child’s emotional, intellectual and social development. At the moment, when the range of activities open to us is severely limited, books can provide an escape to somewhere and something different to our current situation. I know how tempting screens can be, but finding a short amount of time in the day for your child to read can have enormous benefits.
Reading increases vocabulary and helps to improve communication skills.
Those who read tend to have a much better vocabulary than those who don’t. Having a more varied range of words to express how we feel and get our point across allows us to become clear communicators.
Reading makes us better spellers and writers.
Reading exposes us to other styles, other voices, other forms and genres of writing. Importantly, it exposes us to writing that is better than our own.
Reading improves focus and concentration.
Sitting down with a book often involves long periods of focus and concentration, which at first is challenging to do. In fact, it’s probably one of the main reasons that we choose not to read in the first place.
Reading improves imagination.
Our ability to imagine impacts everything we do, think about and create. We are only limited by what we can imagine. The worlds described in books, as well as other people’s views and opinions, help us to expand our understanding of what is possible.
Reading reduces stress.
In a world where stresses and strains are ever present, reading often tends to take a back seat, and why not, when there’s so much else that needs to be done? Studies show that reading actually helps to reduce stress. Taking a moment out of our busy schedule to read and enter the realms of escapism, has been proven to slow down heart rate and ease tension in muscles.
Reading improves memory.
Reading gives us a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. When we read, we have more time to think and contemplate.
Reading leads to academic success.
When we read, we often don’t even realise how much knowledge we are actually taking in. It’s no surprise to learn that books at home have been strongly linked to academic achievement when we consider all the skills reading helps to develop and improve.
Reading increases capacity for empathy.
Reading fiction has been shown to develop empathy by increasing our knowledge of others’ lives and experiences, helping us to recognise our similarity to them; it has the power to disrupt our stereotypes, making us contemplate and often reassess our position on a particular subject.
Reading is entertaining.
Although mentioned last, this is probably one of the most important reasons for reading. If reading wasn’t entertaining, then it would simply be a chore.
In the English Department, we are only too well aware of how many teenagers lose the good reading habits that they developed at primary school – this is something many parents discuss with us at Parents’ Evening. We have an important role to play here. To promote and encourage reading, we are launching a reading challenge at KS3.
Students will receive a ‘reading passport’. The aim is to read their way around the world – each step on their journey is 10 minutes reading. We want to encourage students to read a little each day and gradually build up their reading stamina and create a reading habit. Their reading will be recognised in school by their teachers but we would like parents at home to support this too.
So, the question you’re probably asking now is, how can I support my child to read at home? Some of the ideas below are very simple; others require a little more investment but the most important way to support your child’s reading is to show them that it is an enjoyable, worthwhile activity. By modelling this good habit to your child, you’ll be setting them a good example. Please remember that all reading is valuable – magazines, kindles, cook books, and with Christmas just around the corner, this is a great time to support your daughter with some of these suggestions.
No cost suggestions:
Join the local library. Kingsfold Library is still open during the national lockdown, although it is operating reduced hours:
This app allows the download of e-books completely free.
Encourage your daughter to use the form libraries in school. If she can’t find what she wants, our form librarians will take suggestions and ensure these are ordered.
Many newspapers and magazines are available for free online and don’t require a subscription.
Many authors run their own websites with extra chapters and character biographies. These are a really engaging way into reading. The most famous is www.pottermore.co.uk but there are many others.
Low cost suggestions:
Make sure that your home contains books that will interest your teenager.
Encourage your teenager to read magazines, newspapers or the sports guide. Leave them around your home. It doesn’t really matter what your child reads, as long as they read!
Share articles you’ve read from the newspaper or a magazine, especially if it’s something your teenager is interested in. Sunday supplements are particularly good.
Play audio books in the car. This will encourage reading for enjoyment. Recommend adult-themed books that would be appropriate.
Introduce books which are part of a series and biographies.
Ask teenagers to recommend books for younger readers in the family.
Many charity shops have a range of books that have been donated and are both in excellent condition and extremely cheap. St Catherine’s Hospice runs a bookshop on Wellington Road which is a great place to browse – you can stock a home library in an inexpensive way and support the local community.
More cost suggestions:
As Christmas is fast approaching, you could consider a subscription to a magazine that your teenager has an interest in as a present; subscriptions often represent a discount compared to buying the magazine weekly or monthly.
Create a ‘book nook’ in your home to encourage reading. There are lots of fantastic ideas on sites such as ‘Pinterest’ and this could provide a place that is a welcome escape during lockdown.
Invest in a kindle or e-book. E-books are often significantly cheaper than physical books and research has proven that kindles are more effective in encouraging reluctant readers in particular.
Stuck for ideas?
Helpful websites providing advice on choosing books are below. A great way into reading is often with a film or TV tie-in: