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For All The School Community . Pupils . Staff . Parents . Old Birkonians . Friends . Visitors

Murder Mystery evening

In January, two of the 6th Formers involved in the International Science Research project (Edward Sherrard and Harry Sturgess - back row right on the photograph) travelled to Tübingen, Germany in the company of Headmaster, Mr Clark, and Head of Science, Mr Hayward, to join students and teachers from the other participating schools for the final stage of the pilot project. On the Friday evening, Edward and Harry and their coresearchers gave a presentation about their research work at Unilever (see page 17). They were hosted for the weekend by German families and had lots of time to exchange ideas and to socialise. The weekend was rounded off with a celebratory dinner to mark the successful conclusion of the project. The dinner was prepared entirely by the students, each nationality taking responsibility for one course. Edward and Harry created a very fine smoked mackerel starter, served with ciabatta, which was greatly enjoyed by the thirty or so guests. The teachers spent the Saturday planning the continuation of the project through to 2014 and are in the process of applying for European funding to finance future students.

L to R: Pam Jervis, Sport England; Mike Woollard, Cheshire Cricket Board, Club Development Manager; Steven Croft, Lancashire CCC; John Clark, Headmaster, and Clive Button, Bursar. See also page 27

At the beginning of February, the School golf team won 2 – 1 against Queen Elizabeth‟s Grammar School, Blackburn, at Pleasington Golf Course. Elliot Smith and Chris Way won 4 and 2 but the story centred around Daniel Knight from Year 9 and Elliot Bainbridge of Year 8. Drafted as very late replacements as a result of injuries to Andrew Crosby and Mackenzie Newton-Jones, they played and defeated their 6th Form opponents 2 and 1 to win the crucial point. An excellent performance, which put us through to the Northern semi finals to play Loretto from Edinburgh. Unfortunately, this match will be at home! J McGrath, i/c Golf

New York trip Page 10

Wellies wanted Page 12

BS Choral Society concert Back cover


In Focus February 2012

Above: Patricia Routledge with Piers Lane

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Award-winning actress and National Treasure, Patricia Routledge, CBE, is to open the newly refurbished Bushell Hall on Friday 24th February 2012 after her concert, ‘Admission: one Shilling’. This is the opening concert of the Two Rivers Festival 2012, now in its 5th year. In „Admission: one Shilling‟, Patricia Routledge and international concert pianist Piers Lane tell the extraordinary story of Myra Hess and her famous wartime National Gallery concerts. In Dame Myra‟s own words taken from letters, books and interviews, interspersed with piano pieces by Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Beethoven, we hear in this delightful evening of entertainment how the „great adventure‟ of these 1600 lunchtime concerts began, and how it continued while bombs rained down on London. Miss Routledge and Piers Lane have toured Britain with the show to great acclaim, appearing at the Shakespeare Literary Festival, Buxton Opera House and the National Gallery. Miss Routledge has close associations with Birkenhead School; her brother Canon Graham Routledge is an OB and she herself attended Birkenhead High School. She was our guest of honour a few years ago at Senior Prizegiving and has guest presented several of our Gala Charity Christmas Carol concerts held at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. surplus and using the money to reinvest in buying battery chickens. Sam‟s mum and dad have been very supportive, converting a shed to house the chickens. Sam, however, takes full responsibility for cleaning and feeding his charges. Although Sam and his family have a smallholding, once upon a time virtually all Liverpool and Wirral‟s back yards would have had a couple of chickens so, in fact, you need very little space outside to give a couple of battery chickens a luxurious new home. Sam will sell eating eggs at £1.20 for 6, hatching eggs at £3 for 6 and sell two laying hens for £10.

Sam Keenan with one of his rescued chickens On 1st January 2012 Farmers in the UK freed more than 80 million hens from especially cruel and cramped lives in one of the most significant changes to animal welfare legislation in decades: the end of battery cages. Year 8‟s Sam Keenan‟s personal bid to save chickens from the battery farm was featured in In Focus last summer when his letter to Her Majesty the Queen, asking her to intervene to stop the practice, was answered with an encouraging message of support. Her Majesty had directed that Sam‟s letter be passed on to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The recent legislation must be down to Sam and others like him! Since last year, Sam‟s cause has featured quite extensively in the local press and his parents‟ smallholding has become home to a rehabilitation unit of around 50 birds which Sam nurses back to health. Once their feathers have returned and they‟re thriving in the open air, Sam sells them to good homes – and invests the sale price in rescuing yet more chickens to rehome. He is also putting their eggs to good use too by selling the

Our congratulations to Carl, on the School Catering team, and his partner on the birth of their daughter. Elise Calla Hodgson was born on 9th December 2011, weighing in at 8lb 3 1/2 oz. Both Carl and his partner Elizabeth were convinced throughout the pregnancy that it would be a boy. Both are delighted, however, with their beautiful, healthy Elise.


In Focus February 2012

A guard tower at Auschwitz Birkenau When I first signed up for the “Lessons from Auschwitz Project”, my initial hope was that it would be a memorable experience that would remain with me for my whole life. However, what I was not expecting was how powerful and emotionally challenging the place would be. Prior to the visit to Auschwitz1, and Auschwitz-Birkenau, the whole group was fortunate enough to have been given a testimony by Holocaust survivor, Kitty HartMoxon. Kitty elaborated on her time in various ghettos before being transferred to the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp, where she was held until late 1944. Even though we could never truly imagine what she may have witnessed, it did open my eyes to the fact that the perpetrators who formulated “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question” were just human-beings. What meant the most about Kitty doing the talk was that there are still survivors alive today and sharing their experiences to a younger audience. An original sign at After visiting various sites in Auschwitz1 Auschwitz1, it finally hit me that this was a place where suffering occurred on a mass scale and I felt more able to relate to Kitty‟s story and other details I had heard and read about the Holocaust. For me the two major features that have stayed with me are: the original gas chamber, which is the only one left standing as the Nazis destroyed the others, and the quotation: “The one who does not remember history is bound to live though it again”. We would like to think that we have learned from the deaths of 6 million individual Jews, 1.1 million of these at Auschwitz, but genocide is still very much an issue of today. The main part of the camp: Auschwitz 2 or Birkenau, was built by forced labour in late 1941 as Auschwitz1 was not deemed “efficient” enough for the killing of Jews, now that Germany had invaded Russia and more people were bring imported daily. Before I went I was told it was a very eerie place, surrounded with trees and mass quantities of electric fencing. The site at Birkenau lived up to this expectation and is much larger than first appears, as it stretches even further than the eye can see in every direction.

Page 3 The first sight when entering Birkenau is the train tracks that lead into the main part, which would deliver thousands of prisoners every day from across Europe to the camp. Some children upon arrival were sent to the gas chambers for being “unfit to work”. It is believed that only an estimated 11% of Jewish children, who were alive in 1933, survived the Holocaust and up to 25% of those killed were under the age of 18. The prisoners were lucky if they would even be able to use the toilet once a day and most would suffer from thirst or starvation. The people who were at the camp were deprived of every right that they had, their number was what they were referred to by the guards, and there was no aspect of individuality, which is a horrifying thought. I have already mentioned the perpetrators being human, but I cannot understand in any form how they would use gas as an “impersonal method” of killing. Even to their dying day, they never showed any remorse. They had been brainwashed and remained loyal to their Führer. For me one of the most emotional times was during the end of our visit, when we were taken into a room and shown photos of Pre-War Jewish Life and this emphasised the fact that such a profound thing as the Holocaust cannot be taught in schools or in textbooks, it is something you have to witness and picture for yourself on a visit like the one I went on. I would strongly recommend anyone to go; it is something that you will never forget but at the same time it is hard to assimilate many of the images and takes days to recover emotionally. However, there is no one way to react and it can vary from person to person. Above all else, my visit made me appreciate what I have today and how lucky we are in the sense that we‟re not being oppressed by such people today, and we don‟t have to worry as much about our race or be considered inferior on any level. Electrified barbed wire Shaun Wilbraham, fencing at Auschwitz1 U6th

Auschwitz1: between blocks 10 and 11 where summary executions took place.


In Focus February 2012

Page 4 agreed that this had been a very successful visit and were grateful to Baroness Walmsley for taking time out of a very busy schedule to speak to the Sixth Form. Ciaran Anderson, U6th

Baroness Walmsley On the notable date 11/11/11, the 6 th Form played host to the eminent Liberal Democratic politician, Baroness Walmsley. The 6th formers were duly enlightened as to the workings of the House of Lords, of which the baroness has been a member for the past 11 years. She drove a coach and horses through the tired old concept of dotty lords and ladies in their ivory towers with her practical good sense and wisdom, perhaps gained from her earlier experiences as a secondary school Biology teacher. When the „elephant in the room‟ was eventually mentioned by one Sixth Former, the Baroness explained with great sympathy the reasons for the university fees policy and even strayed into the realms of illegal drugs about which the Sixth Form knows nothing, of course. Ciaran Anderson, who was one of the luncheon guests after the lecture, commented „how refreshing it is to encounter a politician who answers questions both passionately and honestly.‟ All were

Biography: Born 1943, Joan Watson was educated at Notre Dame High School Liverpool, gained a BSc at Liverpool University and her PGCE at Manchester Polytechnic. She taught at Buxton College from 1979-86 before going into PR Consultancy. In the 1992 general election she stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in Morley & Leeds South, and Congleton in 1997 general election, but was defeated on both occasions. She was raised to the peerage as Baroness Walmsley of West Derby in the County of Merseyside in 2000, whereupon she took the Liberal Democrat Whip. She was the party's spokesperson in the House of Lords on: Education & Skills (2001–2003); Home Affairs (2003–2004); and again for Education & Skills from 2004 onwards. Lady Walmsley was formerly President of Women Liberal Democrats and the Campaign for Gender Balance, and has been a member of most of the Party's major committees. She lists her political interests as child protection, young offenders and prison education, the environment and renewable energy. She is Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children. She is active in charity work relating to children and the environment. Her principal charities are: Botanic Gardens Conservation International (Chairman); UNICEF UK (Board Member); NSPCC (Parliamentary Ambassador); SKVC Children's Trust, a charity for street children in India (Patron). Her husband is Lord Thomas of Gresford, a fellow Liberal Democrat peer, QC and Shadow Attorney General. Baroness Walmsley and her husband are one of the few couples both to hold titles in their own right.

Earlier last month, pupils from Years 7-9 competed in the Youth Speaks competition organised by the Rotary Club and held at Birkenhead Sixth Form College. The winning team comprised Alexandra Scott who gave the vote of thanks, Eleanor Hilton who was the chair and Rosie Anderson who was the main speaker. Rosie spoke eloquently on the motionm „Ban the Burqa‟ and, by wearing a headscarf which she later removed, demonstrated how difficult it is to truly interpret another person‟s responses in a dialogue when that person‟s face is obscured. The team‟s prize was a £15 book token each and to be guests of honour at a Rotary lunch held at Prenton Golf Club. They will repeat their winning performance in front of the Mayor at Wallasey Town Hall. L to R: Kathryn Podmore, Principal Birkenhead Sixth Form College, Alexandra Scott, Rosie Anderson, Eleanor Hilton and Rtn Bill McCutcheon, President of Birkenhead Rotary


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Warcop, North Pennines, 19th – 20th November 2011 We set out at around 1pm, after a few minor issues had been resolved - someone forgot their boots, which are rather essential on such a trip. After we had stopped off at King‟s Chester to pick up their cadets, we began the journey to Warcop. It was long and when we finally arrived the sun was just beginning to set. After we had settled in our accommodation which, though basic (what do you expect from the Army?), was good. We then went to the mess (dining hall for you “civvies”) for our tea. The food was very good, surprisingly so. I was expected something worse because the regular Army managed to earn itself a reputation for less-than-great food in the past. At the end of the meal, because it had been Second Lieutenant Barnes‟ birthday on Friday, Colour Sergeant Macaulay brought out the cake we had bought for him and we sang „Happy Birthday‟. It was a heart-warming occasion, and I think he was genuinely surprised. After tea, we had a session on Orienteering, highlighting some useful techniques and explaining the differences between an OS map and an orienteering map – they‟re huge. A major difference is that lightly wooded areas are coloured white on an orienteering map, which led to an educational and amusing analogy, involving Norwegians (who have lots of snow) and them liking to run through trees. After a “decent” night‟s sleep (it wasn‟t) we were woken up at 07:00 on Sunday morning, a lie-in by military standards, to get ready for the orienteering competition. We entered 3 teams – Senior Boys, Senior Girls and Junior Girls, and also a Junior Boys‟ team, though sadly because they were a member short of the required team number, we could only enter them as individuals. While orienteering is traditionally an individual sport, for the competition we were entered both as individuals and in teams. The winners would have the shortest combined time. I was part of the senior boys‟ team and, having competed in county level orienteering competitions with School, I can safely say that it was the toughest course I have ever done in my life. It involved an extremely steep hill, thick woods, and some very boggy terrain. The course itself wasn‟t technically challenging, but was certainly physically challenging. While we were out on the course, I spotted a large group of soldiers on exercise, which we later found out were the famous SAS, made household names because of their daring hostage rescue on the Iranian embassy in April 1980. There was also a dead sheep – which explained the stench for miles around. The Senior Girls came first in their category and a cadet from Queen‟s School, Chester, also won the Senior Girls‟ individual, which is extremely impressive considering this was a national competition. The Senior Boys didn‟t win anything, though it was frustrating that, if we had entered as an ACF rather than a CCF, we would have beaten the winner of their category with lead of 2 hours! We joked that next year we should enter ourselves as a Marines Cadet Force, because there are so few in the country it would be impossible to lose! Nevertheless, it was an extremely enjoyable experience that I look forward to doing again next year. John Warburton, Year 11

Assault course at Annual Camp

Exercises at Dale Camp Ranges

Night navigation at Upton Hall

The concert featuring Bar-line, the School’s a capella group, and other acts raised a magnificent £1400 for the charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. The organisers would like to thank everyone who supported the evening - all the musicians, the catering staff, the technical crew and most of all, the audience.


In Focus February 2012

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Group photo outside the Castel Sant’ Angelo Day 1 We drove through the cold night to Manchester Airport‟s Terminal One for our 6:50am flight to Italy. We landed in Rome at 9:30 am or rather,10:30 am. We felt some confusion as we approached passport control but that was soon solved by a total lack of interest in us from the Italian officials. Then there was the worrisome absence of our coach, threatening to scuttle our plans right there but, after some anxious moments, we found it. Now what could stand between us and our hotel? Protestors, that‟s what! So vast was the throng that it blocked the road we needed to turn down so, we had to disembark and walk to our hotel. Assigned the ominous-sounding “Room 13”, we left our bags to begin our sight-seeing tour. We headed towards the Trevi Fountain (and incidentally got lunch from a café next to it, where the queue for food was more like a pitched battle), climbed the Spanish Steps, then returned to our hotel. Day 2 We readied ourselves for another day of landmark touring, this time of the ancient variety. However, the first thing we came across was decidedly more recent: new lines of graffiti on walls, smashed windows and a burnt out car, which were the result of the previous day‟s protest. Finding our guide, Maria Teresa, at the Coliseum, we began to explore the vestigial remains of the Roman Empire. We began with the Coliseum, or to give it its proper name, the Flavian Amphitheatre. “Quick facts, and pay attention at the back, there will be a test!” 155 ft tall, it has a capacity of 60,000 and was built over a period of 8 years and finished in 80AD. Having taken our pictures, we moved on. Next was the Constantine Arch, a work dating back to 300AD. Restoration work in the 1700s replaced some of the decorative work, but the original arch still stands. Just behind this is the

Palatine Hill, the home of the original kings of Rome and later on, the palaces of Emperors. Moving on, we entered the ancient Roman Forum, the hub of the old city. The Forum held the Senate building (today, we see an exact reconstruction dating from the 17 th century), the tomb of Julius Caesar, the Sacred Way and, at the top of the route, the Arch of Titus. This was built during the Flavian Dynasty to celebrate the crushing of the Second Jewish Revolt (70 A.D.). Being one of the first arches in Rome, it is interesting to note

The Trevi Fountain, Rome that it much simpler than later arches, both in inscription and engraving. It marked one end of the Sacred Way. At the other end, of course, was the Flavian Amphitheatre! The next stop was the Pantheon (meaning “to all gods”), a


In Focus February 2012

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massive temple built by Agrippa in the 1stCentury BC. The Pantheon today, however, is the result of a rebuilding project by Hadrian. It has a perfect spherical shape inside, and a 30m circle opening in the ceiling to allow in light. In the 7 th Century AD, it was converted by the Pope to be a Christian church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and all the saints. It is also the resting-place of Victor Emmanuelle, the first king of (modern) Italy. Finally, we wandered round the Piazza Nuova where we bought souvenirs and rested after our long day. Day 3 We boarded a bus and headed to the Vatican. There our tour guide handed us all receiver sets (all the better to hear him!) and then we re-queued to get in the Vatican Museum. We

Arch of Titus over the Bay of Naples. We were assigned our room (171 for trivia‟s sake) and then we roamed Vico Equense (located near the ancient city of Pompeii) for a short while before heading back to the hotel for dinner. The dinner itself was excellent; not to put down our restaurant in Rome, but this hotel‟s food was primus inter pares.

The Coliseum proceeded around the palaces of the Pope, looking first at the collection of sculptures, from Classical and Hellenistic Greek to later Roman pieces. Then, the paintings of the Renaissance masters - Botticelli, Raphael and Michaelangelo. Also on display were the various tapestries and painted maps, hung together in the hallways. Then, down a flight of stairs, past signs warning „no flash photography‟, was the Sistine Chapel. Perhaps the best known of all the commissioned pieces by the Catholic Church, certainly the most astonishing and the most intricately detailed and unfortunately the most crowded, is Michaelangelo‟s ceiling fresco. After a brief respite, we headed to St Peter‟s Basilica which is the second largest church in the world and designed in the shape of the Constantine cross. It is lavishly decorated over every inch of it, though the many decorations are, in fact, not paintings but tiny pieces of marble which make up mosaics of incredible detail. Another tour finished, we headed next towards the Castel Sant‟ Angelo. Once the fortress of the Popes and originally the tomb of Hadrian, it is now a Museum. Further along, on the opposite side, we saw the larger and earlier tomb of Augustus. Eventually we reached the Spanish Steps (again) and finally the hotel, to pack for travelling onward the next day. Day 4 En route, we stopped off at Monte Cassino, a monastery rebuilt, and not for the first time, after it was obliterated in the Second World War. It was reconstructed in a variety of styles - Corinthian columns lead to a Peristylium (an open courtyard) in the Renaissance style, then through to a faintly modernist Chapel from 1949 - it is a mixture of simple patterns and a Baroque ceiling. After a short stop at a service station, we returned to the coach and continued on our journey. Late in the day we reached the Hotel Oriente (3 stars) with a commanding view

Vesuvius in mist Day 5 After breakfast, we took a coach up most of the way to the summit of Vesuvius and walked the rest. The clouds got thicker as we climbed. At the point where we stopped, visibility was in single figures. On the way back, after repeatedly almost falling over and, at one stage, nearly hitting a dog, we realised that running down a steep volcano-side wasn‟t the smartest idea. Next we headed to Herculaneum and a spot of lunch! Under the excellent guidance of Mr Allister, we navigated around the ruins and observed the remains of the sea-town that had been buried under mud for nearly 2,000 years. After dinner we held the first panel games of the trip: „Just a minute‟; and finally bed. Day 6 Another day and another Roman town buried by a volcano, this time more famous: Pompeii. Far larger and better excavated than Herculaneum, looking round this site would take a whole day. Some selected highlights: the two cemeteries, the two theatres, the amphitheatre, and a very large number of houses. All were well preserved, if not quite up to the same quality as Herculaneum. Mr Allister once again stepped into the breach as our tour guide, and once again made a very good job of it. After dinner at the hotel we


In Focus February 2012

Herculaneum with Vesuvius in the background

Pompeii with Vesuvius in the background had another panel game, this time it was “Call my bluff”. Also, on the entertainment roster was a musical-song-spotting contest, which was a most tightly contested affair. Then, finally, to bed. Day 7 Today we visited the Museum of Naples. It was filled to the brim with statues, paintings and mosaics, far more than could be absorbed in one day, but we made a stab at it anyway. En route back to our hotel, we stayed for a while in the town of Sorrento, providing a good income for the icecream vendors. Eventually, we headed to the train station and returned to Vico Equense. After dinner, we packed for the long journey home the following day.

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Like any student changing school at Sixth Form, I was naturally a little anxious over the summer before my arrival as to how things would work out at my new school. It was a big decision and an even bigger change when, like me, you come from a relatively small school to a significantly larger one. When I first visited Birkenhead School, I was attracted to the new, light, bright Sixth Form Centre, which I felt would be a great place to spend time and study in. However, my main concern was, of course, my AS level studies. I was looking forward to specialising in my four favourite subjects, but I was aware that this would involve getting used to quite a few new teachers even so. I need not have worried on that score as I was amazed at how soon I got to know all the new faces and, better yet, they seemed to get to know me quickly too – hopefully for the right reasons! I felt like part of my lesson groups immediately and was able to seek help from my teachers after lessons or in break times if I needed to check on work that had been set or any other issues that concerned me. For me, the readiness of the staff to provide this additional support was greatly reassuring. I have also really enjoyed the scope of the weekly „Beyond the Curriculum‟ sessions offered at Birkenhead School which allowed me to choose a subject, Politics, which interests me greatly and provides a brilliant contrast to all the science I study every day. The amount of work in the Sixth Form is a step up from GCSE level but I find that Politics on Thursday, followed by a (generally) really interesting lecture, provides a change of pace ahead of the weekend. I also joined my house quiz team. As a developing team we achieved some success, falling at the last hurdle unfortunately – hopefully another chance to win will beckon soon. All in all it has been a very busy but thoroughly interesting start to my A level studies. Even though I have only been at Birkenhead School for a number of weeks, I have been amazed at how quickly I have felt at home and that this is my school. There is a great sense of history here, but our Sixth Form facilities and the outlook and culture of the school are, above all, modern and forward looking. The staff and the other students have been so welcoming and the initial Lake District Bonding Trip, which enabled us to set off at a good pace, was a truly memorable start. I have been so pleased with my decision to come to Birkenhead School and I am looking forward to the next two years of studying here, to developing my knowledge and benefiting from all that the School has to offer in terms of preparing for university and life beyond! Jonathan Welsh

Daniel Formston, Year 10 Photo right: The Lower Sixth trip to the Lake District each September is two days packed with excursions, outdoor pursuits and cultural activities. Above all, an ideal opportunity to get to know each other!


In Focus February 2012

Leo Westbrook in Year 9 has been selected for a national trampolining team. He is one of only six boys in the English Under17 Double MiniTrampoline (DMT) squad. Leo, a North West champion and National bronze medalist in the sport, will take part in his first international competition in Belgium in May. His trampolining talents were spotted by accident two-and-ahalf years ago. Leo had been watching his younger sister, Beth, doing a DMT workout and decided to have a try himself. Coach Andy Wilde – who is a national DMT trainer – noticed Leo‟s innate abilities and encouraged him to get involved. Now he trains five evenings a week at the Momentum Gymnastics Academy, Birkenhead, and weekends often involve travelling around the country to competitions. Leo, whose other hobbies include climbing and preparing for Grade Five piano, aims to progress as far as possible in the sport. Conventional trampolining is part of the 2012 Olympics and there are hopes that DMT will be included in 2016. If it is, Leo wants to be a competitor. (A double mini-trampoline is smaller than a conventional trampoline. It has a sloped end and a flat bed and athletes show different skills as they jump from one to the other and finally to the landing mat.)

Back row left to right – Adam Dutton, Edward Tilleard, Chris Rowlands Middle row – Will Lawrence, Alex Herod, Toby Brown Front row – Ben Travis, Noah Lawrenson, Jack Breheny, Adam Durband, Ben Way

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Team member Marcus Stam, OB (1993-98), hands over the impressive Grafton Morrish shield to the Headmaster, John Clark. The Public Schools Old Boys‟ Golf Association‟s coveted Grafton Morrish Trophy is now on display in the foyer of the Lodge. For the first time in the history of the Competition, a team from Birkenhead School‟s Old Birkonian fraternity has won it. For more information about the competition, visit the School website or see feature in In Focus for November 2011. On Monday 16th January, 11 Year 5 children went to Merchant Taylors‟, to play in a rugby match. When we arrived, we did a quick warm up and swiftly got into some drills. The starting team was Adam Dutton and Edward as the props, Jack as hooker completing the front row. The backs were Adam Durband as scrum-half, Toby as fly-half, Ben Way and Ben Travis as centres and Noah and Will on the wing. Chris and Alex started as rolling subs. We started sharply as a quick try from Ben Travis gave us an early head start. However, Merchants‟ struck back quickly, breaking the line, and adding one to their tally. During the rest of the half, we scored and then they struck back, with tries from Adam Dutton, Ben Travis, Adam Durband and others. After an inspiring team talk by Mr Halpin, we walked backed onto the pitch, only to let Merchants‟ gain the crucial upper hand. They got one try but then we got one, until they came back and struck us by taking the lead by one. We kept our heads high and went down to the other end and managed to make it level. The last few minutes were tense with each side threatening to score. Then we got a five metre scrum and worked our way over to win 12-11. This, I think, was thoroughly deserved. We would like to thank Mr Halpin for making this event possible! Toby Brown 5H


In Focus February 2012

Page 10 amusing scenarios acted out during the workshop including a memorably seductive scene between Cameron and Harriet and a Scouse version of Hakuna Matata by Nick Gill. This fantastically energetic morning culminated in Shaun Wilbraham as Prince Charming dramatically confessing his undying love to his beautiful princess and English teacher, Mrs McGoldrick. Onwards! We progressed to lunch at the oyster bar in Grand Central Station and en route we witnessed Tina Fey being filmed in a mock protest for an edition of „30 Rock‟. Some of us purchased cupcakes from the shop in „Sex and the City‟. Next we headed to New York‟s public library, accompanied by an incessant drone from Mr Bell rambling on about films of fifty years ago set in the locations we were visiting in the city. The rest of the group also recognised these places but from slightly more modern films such as, „I Am Legend‟, „Spiderman‟ and „The Day After Tomorrow‟. Next we ascended 67 floors in a lift to the top of the Rockefeller centre, home to the best views of the

Photo above: The bright lights of Times Square. Photo below: Our Art Deco-inspired hotel.

New York Central Library - (featured in the film ‘The Day after Tomorrow’ 2004, the NY Central Library has been used as a location in over 40 films since Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961)

After a tedious twenty-two hour journey, our somewhat large group of twenty two were welcomed to New York by our tour guide Darren. His first job was to escort some extremely tired students to the Edison hotel, situated in the centre of the luminous Times Square. An early start next day saw us attend a theatre workshop with two „professional‟ Broadway actors. There were some really

Drama workshop on Broadway

entire city of New York. After Mr Bell and Allan Lowey had taken photos from every angle possible, the entire group went for steaks and burgers at a typical American diner, Applebees. In our free time that evening, the majority of the group stayed to explore Times Square. A gloriously sunny Tuesday saw us journey on the subway to Columbia University where, it seemed, you had to be a complete genius to attend. Obviously, we all fitted in perfectly! As we were given a tour by an overly enthusiastic couple of undergraduates, we were informed that Fraternities and Sororities aren‟t as crazy as they are in films like „American Pie‟, mainly due to the fact that any money the students have goes towards paying the incredibly high $60,000 tuitions fees (and we thought £9,000 was ridiculous!). A nice stroll through Central Park left the group feeling relaxed and in love with this wonderful city. Then our teachers decided that we should all squeeze on a jampacked aerial tram in the scorching heat to visit Roosevelt Island. Mr Bell assured me we would see beautiful views of the whole of New York. I assure you, all I saw was a beautiful view of the back of Mr Bell‟s head! That night we all travelled in style, chauffeured in a stretch limousine to see „Phantom of the Opera‟. The entire group sat in complete silence captivated by this incredible production and I‟m sure I saw several of the group, including „tough‟ rugby fanatic Mike Doneo, close to tears at several


In Focus February 2012

Grand Central Station (also used in many films including Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest’ and, more recently ‘Men in Black’) points. We walked back to the hotel singing songs from the show in harmony, nearly as perfect as the actors we had just seen, and returned to our rooms buzzing. What is the perfect morning for a bunch of still jet-lagged English

Boyz in the hood

Top of The Rock at sunset tourists in New York on a day as wet and rainy as those we are accustomed to having in the Lakes District? Apparently, it is an hour-long boat trip accompanied by an overly-excited American pensioner as a tour guide. Despite the constant rain and

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Mixing with the locals on the subway. descending mist, being the optimistic tourists we are, the majority of the group ventured on deck, wrapped in plastic ponchos as effective as cling film, for a hazy view of Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, there was a minority, including myself, who sat, head in hands. We had succumbed to seasickness, as the boat forced its way through the choppy East river. On terra firma again, we caught a bus to Ground Zero, a sobering experience for all of us. It was eerily quiet there and very unsettling. We also witnessed at first hand the protestors occupying Brooklyn Bridge and Wall Street. Despite Mrs McGoldrick‟s encouragement, none of us showed our solidarity and joined in but instead, we attended to our capitalist desires and headed for the shops. Our group, Mrs McGoldrick, Miss Feeny, Tom Beaumont, Mike Doneo, Gabriel Jones and I chose to use this time wandering between Giorgio Armani and other designer stores. We used our acting skills, taught at the workshop, to pretend to be ridiculously wealthy tourists and tried on jackets and suits worth the „small‟ sumof $5000! That night, the group re-assembled in smart attire yet again, before splitting up into three groups. One group was going to the Hard Rock Cafe, another to the „Laughing Lounge‟ Comedy Club and the other to Dizzy‟s Jazz Club, a typical New York Jazz Bar, to celebrate the birthday of jazz great Dizzy Gillespie. Each group returned to the hotel later to report on their brilliant evening. One of the highlights was the amazing birthday cake Ben Berkson had received from his parents‟ friends, native New Yorkers and proud owners of a cake shop. They had produced the edible equivalent of a Blackberry and we were able to celebrate Ben‟s 18th birthday in great style at the jazz club with the cake! Beginning to tire of walking round, cameras in hands like the common tourist, on Thursday morning we felt we needed something with less walking involved. Luckily, on our day in New York, Kyle Lowey, Tom Beaumont and I had been stopped in the street by a man giving free tickets away to see one of the greatest Englishmen of all time, Jeremy Kyle. Being students from Birkenhead School and having picked up a few tricks from Mrs McGoldrick, we managed to get the entire group VIP tickets with breakfast included and free transport to the studio for the Thursday morning show! When Thursday came, we discovered that VIP tickets to see Jeremy Kyle only got you a bagel, butter and no knife, a coffee and a seat on the floor of a waiting room, not too dissimilar from that at Arrowe Park Hospital. Still, our Continued overleaf


In Focus February 2012

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Have you any old wellies? Birkenhead School is participating in the community project „Welly Road gets the Boot in‟ Hundreds of old Wellington boots are being planted and will be displayed outside local businesses and buildings in a sustainable project which will also beautify the neighbourhood. Already hundreds of old boots have been donated and planted with spring bulbs. When these have finished, they will be replaced with summer perennials. Alison Bailey-Smith, a local artist and resident in Wellington Road is the project‟s co-ordinator. She has already been into Overdale one lunchtime and assisted Year 7 and 8 pupils to plant about a hundred Wellingtons. The boots are being kept under wraps until the famous Oxton Secret Gardens Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors from across the Wirral and beyond. We are looking forward to fantastically colourful and novel displays along Wellington Road and round the School. Please bring your old Wellingtons to the Lodge - we can’t have enough!

Culture in the Big Apple ctnd

hopes remained high. An Indian Prime Minister once said, „Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit‟. So, perhaps sitting in the audience of the Jeremy Kyle Show, watching an argument develop over the baby of a seventeen year-old girl who claimied the father was a twenty eight year old man, wasn‟t, after all, the most cultural thing to do. However, since the majority of our group watch Jeremy Kyle transfixed in the 6th Form common room every morning, it was definitely the right thing to do - well, perhaps not for Ben Berkson, who quickly became the target for several jokes about being ginger and having no friends by Jeremy himself! That night, we said our goodbyes to New York with nothing but memories of the good times had by all. Oh, and the couple of thousand photos taken by Mr Bell! Not many schools get taken to a city as huge and amazing as New York on a school trip and the whole group are very grateful to Mrs McGoldrick, Mr Bell and Miss Feeny for giving us such a wonderful opportunity and joining in with the banter! Sam Davies,


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B I R K E N H EAD S C H O O L’S

forthcoming production of

J. M. Barrie’s

Peter Pan will take place on Thursday 3, Thursday 4 and Saturday 5 May 2012 in the Bushell Hall

All welcome!

Jana, Year 10, Lisa, Year 7, and Charlotte, Year 3 send all their friends at BS best wishes for the New Year. Before the family left England to return to Germany at Christmas, they held a farewell party in the Dining Hall. Jana started at BS in January 2009, soon after the family moved to England. She enjoyed BS so much that she persuaded her sisters to follow her here. When the time came to return to Germany, all three girls were very sad to leave. Back in their hometown of Herne in the Ruhr area, they are trying to settle back into German schools but are still missing Birkenhead and all their classmates.


In Focus February 2012

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A group of 16 Sixth Form students are taking part in a trip of a life time to Mongolia and China this summer through the organisation World Challenge. This trip is a month away in which the students participate in an activity which helps out the local community; for example this year‟s group is going to a local orphanage. This week-long project will involve teaching children to read, write and speak English, also helping look after some of the younger children. This is viewed as „soft‟ charity work, but as well as this, hard activities such as construction work will be done. This may include helping to build, reconstruct or paint the rooms to make the orphanage a brighter more welcoming place to live with the ultimate aim to create something permanent that benefits current and future generations. After the project phase we will embark on a 10 day trek which will be a combination of trekking on foot and horseback. Our final reward will be a few days in Beijing to experience its culture and attractions. One of the aims of World Challenge is to give the pupils independence right from the start. This is why the students get to plan out their own itinerary. We have been able to choose where we visit, stay and what we do for the charitable work. Along with this, we have organised group fundraising activities. Our next event is to be held on Saturday 3rd March and will consist of musical performances from acts including the Birkenhead School Big Band, Jazz ensemble, Sax Quartet, as well as a variety of singers such as the a capella group, Bar Line. Tickets are already sold out. Miss J Moore, i/c World Challenge Expedition

BOOK ONLINE AT www.birkenheadschool.co.uk OR CALL: 0151 651 3095

Last autumn Year 7 went on an exploration of the Roman remains in Chester as part of their Latin lessons. Below are extracts from the students‟ accounts of the trip: We boarded a ship which took us on a trip back to Roman times. It landed by a market place where we found that they ate pretty normal food but they used every bit of the animal, including the bones, which they ground up to make toothpaste. It sounds disgusting but, if you look on the back of your toothpaste tube, you’ll find it is still made of ground down calcium. In the Roman gardens there was a suspended floor (it wouldn’t have been in Roman times) so that you could see how the under floor heating system worked. The Romans would light a fire in the next room and direct the heat under the floor so the stone floor would heat up. James Taylor The Dewa Roman Experience was brilliant and in the workshop we could do all sorts of things, from sitting in a golden chariot to smelling a Roman toilet! Georgia Delargy After lunch, we went to the

Grosvenor Museum and took part in an investigation and tried to work our how a Roman man had died. We had real pieces of evidence to help make our theories more accurate. Another activity in the Museum was to do with food. We learnt more about the recipes they used and ground down some spices. Some foods were quite normal, such as cucumber salad but others were a bit odd, particularly sausages made from animal intestines. Phoebe James Salve! As soon as we walked into the building of the Roman Experience, it was like we had travelled back in time. Every room was very authentic and there were lots of things to look at and, in one room, to play with. One of my favourite things was the jewellery; some of the pieces looked like things women would wear today, especially the really colourful ones. In the Webster Gallery, we looked at Roman gravestones. They were all extremely detailed and told a story. We had to answer a question sheet which made me look harder than I normally would at the artefacts. Probably the most memorable thing was when Georgia Delargy got to wear all the Roman armour and carry all the weapons. She looked really scary! Georgia Varey


In Focus February 2012

The L6 & U6 Product Design pupils visited the Jaguar Land Rover Manufacturing Plant in Halewood, Liverpool, in November. The Jaguar Landrover group, owned by Tata, have 6 different facilities across the country, employing around 20,000 people, and contributing ÂŁ3 billion to the UK economy. At Halewood they make the Freelander 2 and the brand new Range Rover Evoque, which is ground breaking in its styling, design and performance. The Plant is a very large manufacturing site, covering 350 acres, split in to 4 different facilities. The Press Shop, Body Plant, Paint Shop, Trim and Final. In the Press Shop they make the body panels from flat sheet materials (steel and aluminium) using press lines and die tools that use up to 1,200 tonnes of pressure to form the complex panel shapes. The Body Plant is the next step where all the panels are fixed together using spot welding or riveting. This is a highly automated process that runs 24 hours a day with 520 robots doing the majority of tasks. Each Robot can do the work of approximately 18 people, is reliable, efficient and guarantees

quality. The Paint Shop is the only area we could not go in to as it is a sealed area; if any dust or dirt entered the area it could easily contaminate the paint and affect the perfect finish on the cars. The last process, Trim and Final, is all about logistics, getting all the right parts to the car at the right time. Its an amazing process to watch, where everyone is highly organised and knows exactly what they are doing. A finished vehicle rolls off the end of the production line every 70 seconds. The Sixth Form students were able to find out about the range

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of systems used across the factory that ensure quality and efficiency at every stage in the process such as, JIT (Just in Time), CKD (Complete Knock Down), Health and Safety (PPE), Tolerance, Self Diagnostic Early Warning Systems, Ultra sonic testing, Laser measuring and Kanban stock control systems, to name but a few! In the afternoon of the visit the pupils got to have a go in a brand new ÂŁ50,000 Freelander vehicle on a specially made all terrain test track, where the vehicle was put through its paces driving up and down extreme gradients, over obstacles and through deep water. If you are interested in how products are designed and made, ask any of the D&T teachers for more information. S. Guinness Head of D&T


In Focus February 2012

How does solar energy work? Solar panels make use of the photo-electric effect, which is the release of electrons from atoms following their absorption of light energy or „photons‟. A flow of electrons is an electrical current which we can harness. In layman‟s terms, the panels turn light into electricity. Our panels contain thin sheets of silicon crystals which are efficient photo-electric materials. How much electricity is produced? Our array of panels has a capacity of 9.7kW. This is the maximum which they will generate in bright sunshine when the sun is high in the sky. In less ideal conditions they will generate less – for example, on a cloudy afternoon last week they were generating 1.2kW. As long as there is some daylight, the panels will generate electricity. Allowing for the weather conditions & seasonal variations, we expect our panels to generate around 9000kW hours or „units‟ each year. We have recently fitted a large external monitor on the Sports Hall wall: this shows what is being generated at any time & the total generation since the panels were installed in March. It also shows the tonnes of carbon dioxide which we have saved by generating „clean‟ electricity rather than obtaining the same amount from fossil fuels How much were the solar panels? £34,000. They were paid for by the Birkenhead School Foundation Trust. How much are we saving? The Government pays us for every unit we generate. The payment is currently £0.378 unit. This is expected to give us an income of around £3000/a. What‟s more, the Feed-in-Tariff, as it is called is linked to RPI & is guaranteed for 25 years. In addition, by using some of the electricity we generate we will save around £400. Selling the electricity we don‟t use will give a further small income of perhaps £130. The total benefit to us expected to be around £3500/a – but you can see that this is dominated by the Feed-InTariff from the Government. Why don’t we get 100% of our electricity from solar panels? The array on the Sports Hall roof generates between 2-3% of the electricity the School uses each year. We simply don‟t have the area of south-facing roof to install perhaps 40 of these arrays - & the cost would be enormous – well over £1M. It is important to realise that we are still connected to the grid. Our photo-voltaic panels‟ peak generation is in the summer, when we use least

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electricity. This is an issue for most „alternative‟ energy sources – such a solar, wind energy & tidal power – they don‟t generate the power you want when you want it, so there will always be a place for nuclear or fossil-fuel power stations which can respond to demand. How long will the panels last? They are guaranteed still to have 80% of their output in 25 years. Do you feel proud? Yes, I am pleased that we are doing something, but equally pleased that our solar – PV scheme is a good investment in financial as well as „green‟ terms. Parents would not thank us for „saving the planet‟ if that meant doubling school fees. Green energy has to be affordable. Anything else planned? We have done quite a lot to reduce our environmental footprint and to save money over the last few years: We have substantially reduced water consumption by eliminating leaks & fitting „water-less‟ urinals. Wherever we refurbish or put up new buildings, we fit movement-activated light switches. The new Prep extension has a passive air conditioning system, which uses external air movement to ventilate the building, rather than electrically powered air conditioning. We have fitted improved boiler energy management systems. ...............................But what I would really like to do is to encourage people to stop wasting electricity! We spend around £30,000 a year lighting buildings yet often you find empty rooms with lights left on. We all need to play our part in reducing energy consumption.

Congratulations to Dominic Maddox (near left) and Patrick Doyle (far left) in Year 10 have been selected to represent Cheshire at U15 rugby.


In Focus February 2012

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2 1

Tiger by Franz Marc

Birkenhead School, along with our partner schools in Germany and Spain, have set up a unique pilot multi-national project whereby teams of students from different countries work together to research solutions to problems. Living independently in a foreign country for two weeks also helps students develop their language and social skills, fosters greater self-reliance and promotes a deeper understanding of other cultures. The first teams on the pilot were involved in science-based research but, because the idea has been so well-received, Mr Clark and Mr Hayward, the project instigators, want the programme to expand and to set up research teams in other subject areas, for example, Economics. Featured recently on the front page of the Bridge, Unilever‟s R&D site magazine, were Harry Sturgess and Edward Sherrard in the Lower Sixth, and Dominic Gargya from Germany and Pablo Zulet from Spain. They spent two weeks at the Centre for Materials Discovery, Liverpool University, and in the Unilever Research Labs in Port Sunlight last October looking at the extraction of substitute polymers from waste products to reduce the use of crude oil in a range of Unilever products. They also made a deodorant formulation from raw ingredients and a full schedule of meetings and tours was arranged to give them an overview of industrial chemistry and show them how science is applied in the real world. They also learned that a professional chemist need not work just in a laboratory but can also digress into finance, HR, law and marketing, for example. Other students worked in similar multi-national teams - in the public health labs in Pamplona looking at contamination in foodstuffs and water supply, at the University of Pamplona looking at obesity and with Siemens, near Stuttgart, working on robotics. Those involved from Birkenhead were: Jack Granby, Neil Lawrence and Curtis Wright. The School hopes to attract European Union funding to continue and expand this ground-breaking project.

Photo 1 L to R: Harry Sturgess, Edward Sherrard (Birkenhead School), Dominic Gargya (Geschwister-Scholl-Schule, Tübingen), Pablo Zulet (Colegio Santa Teresa, Pamplona); 2. the boys work on a problem; 3. On a tour of the Research Laboratories in Port Sunlight.

3 Photographs courtesy of Unilever. Our students made the front page of December issue ‘The Bridge’, Unilever’s Research and Development magazine Port Sunlight.

The „pets‟ project shows the influence of German Expressionism and the work of Franz Marc (1880-1916) in particular. The medium used is oil pastel. E Wilday Other examples of the Year 7 art work can be seen throughout the magazine.


In Focus February 2012

Page 18

Spanish partners. On Tuesday, we visited the caves of Mendukilo, which were quite remarkable. They were very far underground and very dark. The caves were full of stalagmites and stalactites, which we were told were thousands of years old. After the caves, we visited San Miguel de Aralar, a very peaceful church dedicated the archangel Michael, which was situated on top of a mountain. On the coach to Aralar, the Spanish teacher, Elena, told us all about the legend associated with the mountains of this area. We were gripped as Mr Rimmer translated the myth of Theodosius and the dragon. In the afternoon, we made our way to the nearby park where we sat in the sun and The group enjoy the morning sun just before were given a quiz on this previous day‟s activities. entering the pitch darkness at Mendukil It was amazing how much Spanish we had learnt in such a short time! On Wednesday, we took a trip around Pamplona, where we were given a tour around the Town During the October half term holiday Hall and we went to the Museum of the Encierro. 2011, language teachers Mr Rimmer and On Thursday we went to San Sebastian, where Miss Moore took a large group of 25 we first visited the aquarium and Chris Fay students to Pamplona. I know there famously beat up a shark! Then we went to the were 25 of us because of Mr Rimmer‟s beach where Mr Rimmer very kindly bought us a incessant head-counting! We took the football to play with on the beach. short coach journey from Bilbao airport On Friday we visited „La Foz de Lumbier‟, taking a to Pamplona but it was still late evening long walk through the canyon there, where Chris when we arrived at Colegio Santa 6 inches Fay first displayed his free climbing skills. After Teresa to meet our exchange partners. to path! the walk, we visited an old castle, where Chris Fay We thought we had arrived just in time once again impressed us all! He pretty much for bed but we were surprised to find scaled the walls of the castle without the use of that we were still in time for dinner! ropes. The castle was very interesting as it had Spanish mealtimes and the quantity of lots of history. food they eat would become a real That night the Spanish partners took their English talking point during the course of the partners bowling. Miss Moore and Mr Rimmer, as week. well as a number of teachers from the Spanish At the school, we were greeted by a sea school, also bowled. Miss Moore isn‟t the greatest of Spanish teenagers. When we had all bowler in the world, to put it mildly. At the finally managed to find our partners, we N.B. No Chris Fays were harmed in bowling alley, there was a cinema which had a set off to their homes, awkwardly the making of the Spanish Exchange short film in six(!) dimensions. There was also a explaining in broken Spanish and English screen outside the showing room and the English what the ludicrous presents our parents had bought for our partners‟ parents actually were. We spent the pupils stood and watched Miss Moore and Mr Rimmer become weekend with our new families but most of us met up in the absolutely scared out of their wits! Of course, Chris Fay wasn‟t countryside and tackled a high rope course. This was where Chris at all bothered by the scary show, in fact, he almost fell asleep! Fay first made his name as an action man extraordinaire; I don‟t We spent Saturday with our families and on Sunday we returned think that I‟ve ever seen anybody go as fast down a zip wire as to Bilbao to fly back to Manchester. All the students on the trip will agree that we had a great time. We are all very grateful to Chris. After spending the weekend with our partners, we all met back at Mr Rimmer and Miss Moore, who went to a great effort to make the school on Monday morning, where we had a very interesting the trip interesting and fun. We would also like to say a thank you and detailed welcome speech from the Headmistress. After this, to the teachers from the Spanish school who gave up their free we had a quick tour around the walls of Pamplona and then time to accompany us and guide us on the excursions. returned to school to have an afternoon of lessons with our Luca Galvani

San Miguel de Aralar

Pamplona’s Town Hall

The breathtaking view at Lumbier Gorge

Olite Castle


In Focus February 2012

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Currently I am senior cadet and head of Army Section in the School‟s Combined Cadet Force, holding the rank of Cadet Colour Sergeant. Earlier this year, I was put forward by Captain Joseph for the Mayor of Wirral‟s Cadet of the Year Award. Any Combined Cadet Force, Army Cadet Force, Air Training Corps and Marine Unit from across the Wirral can put one of their senior cadets forward for this award. The nominated cadets were invited to an interview with the Mayor herself and she chose the cadet that she thought would suit the position most. This year I was chosen for the Mayor of Wirral‟s Cadet of the Year. As Cadet of the Year, I am invited to accompany the Mayor to any military events she attends. One of the most important was the Remembrance Service held at Birkenhead Town Hall. As holder of this position, I represent the cadet forces from across the Wirral and show how cadet organisations help and demonstrate what they do. My position runs until the middle of 2012, so I am hoping to attend more events with the Mayor and maybe get my photo in the paper! Alex Macaulay, U6th

Oliver Mills, L6th (front row 1st from right) and Patrick Cannon, L6th (front row 5th from right) with the victorious Colts team.

With an emphatic victory over Lymm, the Wirral RFC Junior Colts proved they're the best in the North West by winning the Raging Bull Junior Colts "A" League. In the Wirral Junior Colts team are Patrick Cannon and Oliver Mills, who played in front of a bumper crowd at the Memorial Ground, Clatterbridge. Playing some electrifying rugby, the Junior Colts beat Lymm 58-0 and cemented their place at the top of the league. Andrew Mills, Team Manager and parent, said ”Congratulations to the players and coaches on what has been a tremendous season so far. The Colts now have national and regional cups to look forward to with some confidence.” During the season they have beaten teams like Caldy, Lymm, Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Sandbach and Preston Grasshoppers and now look forward the National Colts Cup. Wirral RFC, celebrating its 75th Anniversary, has never won the Junior Colts “A” league before. Andrew Mills


In Focus February 2012

What provokes otherwise normal and sane people to contemplate camping in Essex in January? The lure of Wintercamp, held at Gilwell, the National Scout Headquarters, that‟s what. Six leaders, 2 Explorers and 7 Scouts travelled down on the Friday just before term started. Was it worth it? Judge for yourself:“We were at the camp with over 2,500 Scouts and Explorers, so we needed patience in the queues”. “I was shocked to see so many exciting activities all in one area; there was too much to do in one day!” “I tried to do all the stuff that I wanted including zorbing, abseiling, rock climbing, Jacob‟s Ladder and the real challenge of coconut tree climbing in winter!” “I went on a rotating rock climbing wall against an Explorer Scout, and I beat him”. “One of my highlights was the military simulator of a fighter plane in a dogfight over the desert”. “The best ride that I went on was the Miami ride, even though the seats were really big so when it went round you banged your hip on the side of the chair”. “The 3G swing probably had the longest queue, but it was worth it, I felt I was a bird flying in the sky”. “We also went on the Waltzers”. “Robo football was fun, but the robots were really hard to control”. “The laser clays were clay pigeon shooting with lasers; you got 2 points if you hit it once and 5 if you hit it twice in the same go; I scored 14 in total”. “We took part in the Wide Game on Saturday evening, but let‟s just say we didn‟t do great in it”. “Although it took four hours to get there, we had so much fun that I would recommend Gilwell to everyone”. All in all, just another fun-filled weekend for the Troop. If you feel this might appeal, we have vacancies for anyone, male or female, from Years 6 or 7. Among our next challenges are Equinox, a giant game of orienteering mixed with hide-and-seek in Delamere Forest, Canoe training at Guinea Gap, the Lord Derby Skills competition, and, undoubted highlight, the Great Escape, a camping weekend featuring 15 challenges on the theme of “Escape”. We meet 5.30 – 7.30 at Mac Field every Thursday, see Mr Britton for further details. Compiled by K M Britton, 20th Birkenhead Group Scout Leader

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Those who attended the Murder Mystery Evening, organised by Mrs Mills to raise funds for the forthcoming Hockey Tour, had a memorable evenin g. Many of us hadn‟t experienced the like before, so didn‟t know what to expect. The four actors, from the Ad Hoc Company in Manchester, moved among us in Edwardian dress, introducing themselves as His Lordship and his staff and welcoming us to his manor house (slight stretch of the imagination in McAllester Pavilion) for a splendid dinner. Before long, however, the sixty or so parents and friends heard the inevitable gunshot ring out and from then on everyone was on the alert, ready to grasp every clue and be the group to solve the murder of our host! Just before dinner was served, the inspector arrived and opened the inquiry. As a small diversion, everyone was asked to make up a limerick about the evening over dinner. And what a feast! Dr and Mrs Ratnaike had volunteered to cook and prepare the meal free of charge as their contribution to the hockey tour! There were piping hot dishes of mango chicken with saffron, Caribbean pork, coconut Sambal, Sri-Lankan egg curry and Debi‟s famous spuds and plenty of rice, side dishes and Naan bread. It was all delicious and plentiful but had taken the Ratnaikes two days to prepare and two days off Dr Ratnaike‟s leave sheet! A huge thank you to them both from everyone, though that seems scant reward for all they did! Feeling replete from the wonderful food, we were interrupted by more revelations about the murder and a quiz to re-focus our thoughts. More actors - Mr Edmunds and Mr Unsworth - were recruited from the audience to add more suspects to the mix. The dénouement arrived and, although most tables had „solved‟ the murder, the Bramwell‟s table won because they were judged to have provided the most detailed and accurate narrative about the clues which led to unmasking the murderer! It was a fun evening and raised a magnificent £700 toward the hockey tour. Thank you to Mrs Mills for organising it, and to her helpers Siân Rogers, Melanie George and Heather Thomas, and to the boys who were on hand to serve us throughout - Oliver Mills, Oscar Ratnaike, James Knight, Tom Weller, Ian Lock and Edward Thomas.

Left: The Inspector with a suspicious character, Mr Ian Unsworth and above, the servants/actors and the two additional suspects (middle: Mr Unsworth and Mr Edmunds take a bow).


In Focus February 2012

Page 21 Photos - Left: The Houses of Parliament which is also known as the Palace of Westminster. Building began on this, the 3rd palace, in 1840 to replace the 2nd palace, which was destroyed by fire in 1834. The 2nd palace, in turn, replaced the 1st palace, also destroyed by fire in 1512. The 1st palace was the primary Royal residence and hence the name ‘palace’, which has endured but it has been the site of the British Government since the 16th Century. The 3rd palace was designed by architect Charles Barry in Gothic style and took until well into the 20th century to complete. It is a World Heritage site. Below: Jonathan Welsh (front row second from left) and other members of the Wirral Investment Network group with Esther McVey, MP (front centre) in the private dining room.

Wirral Investment Network (WiN) is a partnership between public and private sector organisations which works towards new business support initiatives and, in association with the business location team, Invest Wirral, is establishing links with numerous small and medium sized businesses across the Wirral. A delegation was gathered together by WiN for a keynote visit to the very heart of UK government - not a junket, as some cynics had suggested! Having been lucky enough to be invited to join the WiN trip to the Houses of Parliament, one Wednesday, morning last October began earlier than usual because I had to rise at 4.30am in order to reach Liverpool Lime Street in time to catch the train to London. At that point, I wasn‟t feeling quite so lucky! More disconcertingly, at Lime Street, we were informed that an engineering train had broken down at Edge Hill, delaying all southbound trains. Some time later, an announcement advised all passengers waiting for our London train to board a train to Manchester and take a train to London from there instead. For a few agonising minutes, we worried about whether we would get to London at all and seriously doubted we would be in time for our tour of the Houses of Parliament. Fortunately, another direct train to London, which had been delayed for an hour, arrived and we boarded swiftly - just in time for the essential English breakfast. Despite the early drama, we arrived at Euston in time and headed off by taxi to the Houses of Parliament. Upon reaching Westminster, next we had to negotiate the airport-style security at the entrance, before we were allowed to set off on our tour of Parliament. Once inside, we headed for the House of Commons. Sadly, we were asked to leave long before we had time to take a thorough look around. Then we walked the quarter-mile through the Central Lobby to the House of Lords, a far grander room and, as one member of the group drily commented, an ideal place for a nap. After our tour ended, we lingered in the souvenir shop which sold such tasteful delights as House of Lords jelly beans and egg cups bearing the likenesses of past Prime Ministers. Then, we were introduced to the extremely personable Conservative MP for

Wirral West, Esther McVey, and were led to one of the private dining rooms. At 11:35, Mark Prisk, the Conservative MP for Hertford and Stortford and the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, joined us to talk about business opportunities on the Wirral, and to listen to some of the areas business leaders‟ concerns. He pledged to reduce the amount of red tape that provides a hurdle for anyone attempting to start up a new business. Shortly after his informative speech ended, Prime Minister‟s Question Time began. This brought not only the usual entertaining trading of blows between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, but also the start of lunch. Eventually, it was time to leave the Houses of Parliament and return to the Wirral. Our return journey was without incident but, during the course of the day, we had braved delays and potential rail chaos, policemen armed with machine guns, signs describing the day‟s terrorist threat as „substantial‟ and enough food and drink to satisfy even Eric Pickles. I was exhausted, but I felt that it had been a truly memorable day, and a genuine privilege. Jonathan Welsh, L6th


In Focus February 2012

Cute they may be but suitable as pets in the home, they are not. People see animated films or adverts in which animals like the Meerkat and Fennec Fox appear as markedly more endearing versions of their real selves. Matthew MacDonald in Year 8 thinks a Licence requirement may check the rise in this type of pet trade. He wrote to the Queen to argue his case. Like Sam Keenan and his championing the plight of battery hens, Matthew has found a cause about which he feels equally compelled to make a stand.

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Matthew MacDonald 3 1

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5 In the last few years there has been an incredible rise in the possession of exotic animals such as meerkats. Personally, I think this is wrong and, if people had to at least pay for a licence in order to keep an exotic animal in captivity, they might think twice about buying them in the first place. Without a licence, people might also treat the animal worse than they would if they had had to pay for a licence to keep them as pets. In any case, most people cannot provide such animals with the conditions they need in order to survive happily in captivity. Most of these animals, for example, need natural heat, which you cannot provide in this country because it is often cold and damp. By taking exotic animals out of their natural habitat and into an environment where they do not have to hunt for their food or protect themselves against their natural enemies, they will forget how to fend for themselves if they are ever returned to the wild. Finally, if you only have one exotic animal species you cannot give it a family as it would have in the wild. Single animals held in captivity often pine and die. It is for all these reasons that you should have to pay for a licence to keep these animals rather than just having to have a licence to breed them. Matthew MacDonald Can you identify the 12 animals on the right? Answers to: meb@birkenheadschool.co.uk Small cuddly prize to the first correct submission drawn.

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In Focus February 2012

Still under wraps - Mr Mark Mitchell introduces the LFA The Design and Technology Sixth Formers were lucky enough to be invited by Mark Mitchell, Managing Director of the Mitchell Group, to visit the showrooms of Lexus, Chester. It was a very special day because the students were treated to a viewing of the new £352,000 Lexus Supercar called the LFA. There are only four right-hand drive versions available in the world and Lexus Chester had two of them in the same place at the same time! This was going to be a very rare and privileged opportunity.

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On arrival, the students and staff were greeted with fresh coffee and orange juice by the Lexus team, headed by Mark Mitchell. The Headmaster would have been very pleased to see that Mr Mitchell started the visit by checking that all the students were suitably dressed for the occasion, shirts tucked in, ties done up and shoes looking polished. We were then given an extremely thorough and personal introduction to the world of Lexus, the way a motoring franchise functions and why the Lexus showroom sets it apart from its competitors. The excitement was building as both LFA supercars were still under cover at this point. It was clear that the students were chomping at the bit to see the „beasts‟. Next came the unveiling of the Mitchell Groups LFA. As the plush car cover was pulled back, the students got their first glimpse of this impressive machine. A sublime, sleek and powerful looking supercar lay before us, finished in metallic silver with deep red leather interior. Truly breathtaking!

Above and below: LFA Number 2 - the supermodel

Above and below: LFA Number 1 revealed

After a very detailed technical explanation about performance statistics and manufacturing by Ian Wild, we were shown the second LFA which was the Lexus-owned car that has been used in much of the global press coverage. A pearl blue exterior paint on its carbon fibre body with a white leather interior was the chosen colour combination. It also has huge carbon ceramic brake discs.


In Focus February 2012

Outside the sleek Lexus showroom At this point, Ian asked whether any of the students had a full UK driving licence. All the staff put their hands up but Mike Canner in the Upper Sixth and a driving licence holder was chosen. Unbeknown to Mike, he was about to start up the beast. As he sat behind the leather-clad steering wheel, paddle shifts held secure and his foot firmly on the brake, Ian turned the key to fire up the 4.8 litre V10 engine that produces 552 bhp. The engine has 10 independent throttle bodies that allow it to rev to 9,000 rpm in just 0.6 seconds! Due to this amazing statistic, the rev counter on the dash board needed to be digital to keep up with the fast

You‟ve all read the headlines and seen the news stories: food allergies are a growing concern in schools. Millions of children children who are perfectly healthy and normal in every other way – must watch every single bite they eat, or risk suffering a severe or even life-threatening reaction. A major health issue such as this must be taken very seriously, and it has always been the policy of Birkenhead School to make the safety and wellbeing of our students our top priority. Some of our students have a serious nut or peanut allergy - the food allergies that claim more lives each year than any other. A child with a serious nut/peanut allergy can suffer a reaction merely by touching a nut/peanut-containing food. Therefore, we are asking all our parents and students to follow these simple guidelines: Please do not send any nuts/peanuts, or foods containing nuts/peanuts or to be eaten as snacks in School. If your child has eaten peanuts/nuts before coming to school, please be sure your

Page 24 revving engine. Once the LFA had reached idling speed Mike was allowed to rev the engine so that we could all hear the engine note which was a cacophony of thoroughbred racing growls. Luckily the car stayed stationary instead of reaching its 202 mph top speed and we were able to prise a petrified Mike from inside the car. He said that it sounded a little better than his Fiat Punto! After a photography session, Mark Mitchell took us on a tour of the rest of the Mitchell Group facility. We were given a real insight into the day-to-day running of the business from the preparation of the cars, to servicing and sales and also their marketing and finance. Mr Mitchell then treated us to lunch in the boardroom where we had a „Young Apprentice‟ style question and answer session over some delicious pizza. Students were quizzed about their A Level subjects, possible University courses and, of course, there was plenty of talk of cars too. The day‟s activities and details have been used by the A Level Product Design students to add a section into their coursework about scales of production, manufacturing techniques for batch produced supercars and details about marketing and potential target markets. All in all, it was a fantastic experience. The Design and Technology Department would like to thank Mark Mitchell and all of the staff at the Mitchell Group for their time, hospitality and for giving us the benefit of their expertise. The day was truly fantastic and a real one-off. It was also, importantly, of great benefit to our Product Design students. S Parry, Head of Year 10 & Product Design Teacher

child‟s hands and face have been thoroughly washed before entering the School. We will not be doing any classroom projects that involve nuts (like bird feeders) or peanut shells (art projects). Birthday parties are a special time for children, but can be a difficult time for the food-allergic child. If you would like to send in baked goods, please be careful about the ingredients. It would be especially helpful if you could let your child‟s teacher know a few days ahead of when you‟d like to celebrate your child‟s birthday, so that the food-allergic child can provide his/her own safe treat. This is a learning process for all of us, but we trust that you understand how deeply important it is to respect and adhere to these guidelines. If at any time you have any questions or concerns about food-allergy-related issues, please do not hesitate to contact me. J Pizer, School Nurse


In Focus February 2012

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The Ladies’ Committee

The Ladies‟ Committee, a group of over twenty mums of pupils past and present, is always on the look-out for new members. Together they do an awful lot to support the School - providing refreshments and a warm welcome for potential parents and pupils at our Open Days, serving refreshments at Parents‟ Evenings, doling out goodie bags to hundreds of local primary school children at our annual Science Fair, staffing the tuck shops inOverdale and McAllester Building during morning break every day and serving the match teas at home games. Financially, the Committee has also paid for or contributed to many items for different groups throughout the School: A turtle tank, materials for the Darwin Pond, rucksacks for the teams on the 2011 Netball and Cricket Tours, bags for the team on the 2012 Hockey Tour, mutes for the trombones and trumpets in Big Band, new cassocks and surplices for Chapel Choir, gym equipment in the Sports Hall, leather settees for the Sixth Form Centre, independent remote lighting for the recently refurbished Bushell Hall, a laser printer for D&T and enamelling equipment and kiln for the Jewellery Making Club The Ladies‟ Committee are a friendly lot who meet once a term and, deservedly, treat themselves to a social evening together twice a year. If you are interested in joining the Ladies’ Committee, please contact Heather Thomas on 07850 806 928.

BOOK ONLINE AT www.birkenheadschool.co.uk OR CALL: 0151 651 3095

Last year, the Ladies’ Committee bought for the School - a Terrapin tank (left) and five leather sofas for the Sixth Form Centre (right) - there’s a song in there somewhere!


In Focus February 2012 In November a group of fourteen Year 10 pupils, accompanied by Mr Hayward, Head of Science, and Mr Armstrong, attended the GCSE Science Live Conference at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Most of the pupils who attended were members of the Biology Department‟s Solar Group. They were privileged to hear five of Britain's top scientists, all working at the cutting edge of their field. An additional lecture by an experienced examiner provided pupils with top tips on examination success. Dr Kate Lancaster Dancer-turned-scientist, Dr Kate Lancaster told us how nuclear fusion works, under the title of her talk: „How to make a miniature star with humungous lasers‟. She described how in 10-15 years, sea water could be used as fuel to power our homes. Although lasers have to be designed to heat minute quantities of fuel to 100 million degrees C in a vacuum chamber, a beaker of sea water, potentially, has as much chemical energy as a tanker full of oil. Nuclear fusion could be beneficial as it doesn‟t release CO2 into the atmosphere, so no danger of climate change. Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock A space scientist working, among other projects, on the James Webb space telescope, Dr Aderin-Pocock makes optical instruments that are fitted to telescopes, to view various types of radiation emitted from stars of distant galaxies. Arriving to take the lecture with her baby held in a papoose, Maggie‟s enthusiastic presentation included a graphic description of the problems (and solutions!) of going to the toilet in space. Dr Aderin-Pocock‟s baby attempted to eat a tissue during the lecture! Professor Lord Robert Winston A pioneer of IVF treatment and a renowned communicator of science, Robert Winston gave an excellent talk on the effects of ageing on reproductive ability and his challenge to increase the chances of older women having healthy babies. His experience as a speaker allowed him to engage the whole audience also adding comedy to his talk. Dr Andrea Sella A synthetic chemist, Dr Sella used oscillating reactions to demonstrate what caused chemical reactions to happen. Considering the question of how a zebra got its stripes, he explored the idea of how chemical feedback loops could be responsible for switching on and off particular genes in living organisms to produce patterns.

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Professor Steve Jones In the near future, we will be able to read someone‟s entire genome in an hour for a cost of around £100, enabling this technique to be common practice in analysing patients for medical treatment. Professor Jones continued to discuss the nature-nurture debate in the context of obesity in modern society. Some people, with a tendency to be overweight, have a leptin protein deficiency that normally results in someone feeling satisfied after eating, while for others it is simply the large proportion of processed foods making up their diet. P Armstrong, Head of Biology

Zara Dunn, 5C, recently returned home from the UCWDC World Dance Championships held in Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Florida, USA as a DOUBLE WORLD CHAMPION. Zara beat off competitors from around the globe having qualified around Europe throughout the year. She won her first world title in the solo category which requires the contestants to be extremely diverse in their skill set. They must dance a variety of five styles Street, Latin, Ballroom, Contemporary and Pulse. In taking the title she won all five dances! Her second world title was in the pro-am division in which she dances with her professional dance teacher, Steve Dunn, who also happens to be her dad. This category required her to perform seven dances also of varying styles. The highest mark you can achieve is Gold Graduate and Zara collected six Gold Graduates winning first place in six of her dances. Photo: Zara front row second from right.


In Focus February 2012

At a ceremony on 16 January 2012, the new cricket nets and lighting were officially opened by Steven Croft of Lancashire CCC. Representatives from the English and Wales Cricket Board and Sport England, who had supported the project and contributed over ÂŁ25k to the ÂŁ33k upgrade, were present at the ceremony. The upgrade will mean we can provide additional cricket coaching opportunities for School teams and increase the number of girls playing cricket. The nets will also be available to local clubs and the Cheshire Cricket Board for district and advanced coaching sessions. Aged 27, Steven Croft will go down in Lancashire folklore as the man who hit the winning runs to secure County Championship glory for the first time in 77 years on the fourth day against Somerset at Taunton in 2011. He arrived at Lancashire's Academy in 2003, was awarded a scholarship in 2004, and made his first-class debut for the county at Oxford University in 2005. He burst onto the Lancashire first-team scene with a bang in 2006 by hitting the last ball of a Twenty20 match against Leicestershire at Grace Road for six over cover to secure an unlikely win. 2011 was the best season of his career to date, which he capped off by winning the One-Day Player of the Year for the second time after doing so in 2008. Also present at the opening were two of our finest home-grown cricketers - Andrew Clarke (20022009) MCC Young Cricketers and David Varey (1973-1981) formerly Cambridge, Cheshire and Lancashire.

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BOOK ONLINE AT www.birkenheadschool.co.uk OR CALL: 0151 651 3095

Nets coaching session at the opening


In Focus February 2012

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In Focus, February 2012  

The School's magazine for February 2012.

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